“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #12

I know it’s been several months since I’ve posted. Between personal difficulties and a cascade of Exalted assignments, I had to cut back on a lot of activities, and the blog was a casualty. But my personal life has settled back down, and I’m currently between Exalted drafts, so this seems like a good time to start catching back up on the Exalted developers’ Q&A thread on RPG.net.

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2
Q&A Summary #3
Q&A Summary #4
Q&A Summary #5
Q&A Summary #6
Q&A Summary #7
Q&A Summary #8
Q&A Summary #9
Q&A Summary #10
Q&A Summary #11


kenichi-kun:
Will the gentes of Lookshy be getting a similar redeaign/focusing? Any changes there that you want to share?

John:
Lookshy has been given an almost total overhaul. Main features are still pronounced.


Prometheus878:
Economic question!

The two metallic currency standards mentioned in 2E were the jade obol and the silver dinar. Will gold be considered valuable as a universal currency? Would it be more, less, or the same value as silver? (I’m sure jade will retain its place as the most valuable “common” metal by far.)

Vance:
There isn’t a gold-based currency, or at least, not one with anywhere near the massive geographic scale of the Realm’s jade standard and the Guild-backed silver. The possibility of refining gold into orichalcum probably means that gold would demand a high price if you could find the the right buyer, but there aren’t going to be enough legendary craftsman to make up the entire demand for gold in any society. I’m sure that there are some cultures who like making jewelry and ornaments out of the shiny gold metal and so value it highly, just like I’m sure there are cultures who don’t bother mining it because they have no use for a soft, weak metal.


Anu:
The South gets the Caul and the Dreaming Sea to spice things up a little. What does the North get that’s equivalent to that?

Lea:
The North doesn’t currently have a single new multi-location region like the Southeast has the Dreaming Sea and environs or like the Southwest has the Caul or the Cinder Coast, but there’s no reason we couldn’t figure out one later. Just, nobody had an exceptionally cool idea for anything like that during the writing process and we didn’t much want to force it.

This edition we don’t plan to not ever introduce new stuff past the core and early setting books, so it’s not like 1e+2e where was Scavenger Sons and then An-Teng and that was it. If someone comes up with an amazing idea for an entire cultural milieu for the southern shores of the Fang Lakes, we can drop it in.

Lea:
The thing about Frosty Dorito Island is that it’s supposed to be a blank, unsettled, unexplored area to find whatever your ST thinks would be cool but is really ideal for any story descended from the “Explorers visiting the Antarctic for the first time” genre, and that makes it difficult to actually publish anything about it.

Coikzer:
So I can run Beyond the Mountains of Madness there?

Lea:
Or The Thing, yeah.

I mean, it’s pretty much there on the map at all because I asked Holden “Hey, your favorite movie is The Thing and your favorite episode of Doctor Who is the one where he’s trapped in an isolated base with a bunch of innocent researchers and a monster; can I put someplace on the map that enables that sort of story?” and he said “Yes, do that.”

Lea:
(Some day some freelancer is going to notice that nobody’s written much about that island, and they’re going to write a really cool proposal for some relatively minor society of ice-fishers or beastmen or something that could live on that island, and and it’s going to be really quite well-thought-out, and they may even put it into a manuscript without asking whether they should or not, and a dev is going to have to say “No, because not having anything there is more valuable than having your cool idea there.”)


Random Nerd:
Eh, the problem is how fast Solars go from tricky to kill to Unstoppable Ninja-Jesus-Zilla. You gotta gank them while they’re still gankable, in case they change their mind later on and decide that your country would look nice on their mantlepiece.

Lea:
Solars in 3e do indeed still scale up to “Your country would look good on my mantlepiece” quickly, in the context of a setting where even quick large-scale conquest typically takes place over years or decades and with the aid of broad and partially decentralized support from human resources apparatuses. They just no longer quickly scale up to “Your country would look good on my mantlepiece” in the context of five people who never leave each other’s line of sight conquering nations without outside help within weeks.

Overshee:
I understand what you mean, but I’m less sure how to implement it into my game. As an ST, how do I differentiate the magnitude of difference in difficulty between a Solar Circle in 3e taking over a city in a week long siege and conquering a country in five years? An extended war roll doesn’t sound very exciting, but neither does the PCs personally attending to every HR problem the army faces. As an ST I struggle with anything past pseudo-military, and one of my players has an idea for a Eclipse general, so this is definitely an area I’d like to improve in. I’d welcome examples from everyone.

Lea:
Conquering a city in a day is a thing that can happen. You can do the Conan thing where he signed up as the mercenary general of Aquilonia’s armies and then, later, lead a popular uprising against its tyrant-king, killed that king himself, and won the crown by popular acclaim.

The Solar charm set is no longer constructed so this is the expected outcome of Solars existing, though, so the rest of the setting no longer behaves as if that’s normal.


Wuse_Major:
That made me wonder. Just how easy is it for a Solar to pose as a normal person, Godblood, or other similar not as religously terrible being? It seems like the main thing to avoid would be the anima banner, but are there other signs that a Solar needs to watch out for?

Holden:
Nobody’s generally carrying around scouters to uncover you as a Solar; you should be okay if you’re careful not to make a huge public spectacle of yourself. Not only have most people never seen a Solar, and can reasonably expect they never will; most Wyld Hunt veterans have never seen a Solar. They’ve been vanishingly rare for all of modern history.

Prometheus878:
But if the ST wants to sic the Wyld Hunt on you, there’s still the Bronze Faction looking for any sign of your passing, right?

(I’ve noticed the reasoning behind many revealed setting decisions seems to be “whatever interpretation works for the ST’s game.”)

Holden:
The Bronze Faction doesn’t really have scouters to infallibly track you across Planet Namek, either. :-p They have to do legwork to track someone down, too. They’re just quite good at it.

Aquillion:
Is this a change from previous editions?

Or does legwork include “time spent pouring over the Loom and doing advanced Fate-mathematics to determine where you are at this exact moment or where you’ll probably be in X days?”

Sometimes it seemed like canon was inconsistent on how practical and reliable the Sidereal ability to track people through the Loom was; about how difficult is it to do? Is it something they do a lot, or is it such a pain that they only rely on it when it’s absolutely essential to find someone now and none of the other options are working?

Holden:
No, forum conversations have always enormously inflated Sidereal man-tracking powers compared to the published material, particularly post-1e hardback, which didn’t really give them much of anything useful for that purpose.

Lea:
There was that bit in the first book of the Trilogy of the Second Age, which started with a Sidereal reading some ink in a bowl of water and going “Right, there’s a Solar right over there, send a death squad.”

Holden:
That excerpted bit has had its wordcount shaved down slightly since it was previewed, but the thrust of it is unchanged. The Wyld Hunt sorties against the Lunar Anathema more frequently than anything else, and then it’s a big drop-off to whatever occupies the #2 slot, which may well be Solars; it takes a pretty remarkable spirit or Fair Folk threat to draw a full-blown Wyld Hunt against itself, at least in areas where the Realm has a significant presence.

Wolfwood2:
From the excerpt, it sounds like the key words there are “full-blown”. Three Outcaste Dragonblooded (who don’t normally cooperate) getting together with their retainers to go after a god too big for his britches might well feel themselves to be acting in the spirit of a Wyld Hunt, even if they’re far too small for most folks to call them one.

Lea:
No, those three outcastes are very much going out on a Wyld Hunt. They’re just not part of what most people think of when they think of the Wyld Hunt.

Holden:
That is totally a Wyld Hunt, and why I attached the qualifier to my statement about Realm-heavy areas. A marauding raksha & assorted hobgoblins are generally something for the local garrison and maybe one or two Exalted to ride out and deal with, there. In the hinterlands, that kind of threat might very well attract a handful of outcastes to band together, swear brotherhood beneath a tree on a hill, and then get ready to ride forth or set a trap to wipe those soul-eating fuckers out. Rural Wyld Hunts are often much more Seven Samurai than “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Anu:
I wonder if putting together a paramilitary Wyld Hunt and traveling all over Creation to hunt down Anathema for petty kingdoms and small city-states who don’t have enough Dragon-Blooded to do it themselves and who are too far away from the Realm to expect support is a viable career path for Outcastes.

Holden:
It’s a poor “career path” because the Wyld Hunt is a holy institution whose mantle is conjured when heroes ride out to protect the world. Which is to say, you’re not supposed to get paid by the locals for doing it. This would be… a scandalous but telling commentary on the fallen nature of the age, as an isolated event; as a roving business, many Dragon-Blooded would find it a standing mockery to their faith and spiritual authority, and you’d likely be ‘corrected’ with a jade spear-butt to the chin sooner or later.

Anaximander:
If Lunars are the main targets of The Wyld Hunt, do Lunars have anything even slightly analogous to combat them/mock them? Do young packs go out on a “Sylver Hunt” consecrated to Zatesh to hunt isolated Terrestrials or retrieve a new Lunar who Exalted in Realm territory?

Holden:
No. Most Lunars take the Wyld Hunt very seriously, as it’s been the leading cause of death among their kind for a thousand years now, and has slain some of their most honored and cherished heroes and mentors. The Wyld Hunt is also specifically an institution shaped and enabled by Terrestrial dominance of Creation, drawing on advantages the Lunars just can’t replicate without extreme effort.

Lea:
No, we don’t need that sort of forced symmetry, nor that sort of unnecessary Y. Lunars kill Dragon-Blooded and undermine Dragon-Blooded political interests all the time, but not in a way they conceptualize as “Our equivalent of their Wyld Hunt against us.”

Anaximander:
So all Outcastes still see themselves in terms of the Immaculate Philosophy? If a Terrestrial doesn’t believe in the IP, do they not participate in Wyld Hunts?

Holden:
All? No. Most do, since it uplifts them and gives them a (very enviable) place in the world, and they don’t have much reason to question it.

Agnostic Dragon-Blooded are likely to participate in the Wyld Hunt if one comes up. There are huge social and temporal benefits, and it’s frankly just a good idea to band together today to stop the thing that’s going to eat if left unmolested for long enough.

Lea:
The Wyld Hunt is part of the heritage of the Terrestrial Exalted in a way that’s subtly distinct from the Immaculate Philosophy; even outcastes who think the IO is bunk are likely to go “Oh, yeah, the Wyld Hunt; well, even a wrong philosophy like the IO gets some things right. They must have heard about it from our history and incorporated it into their beliefs.”

Or something like that. Point being, don’t universalize statements about the Wyld Hunt being part of Dragon-Blooded heritage into suppositions about the Immaculate Order being universal among outcastes.

(Also, by my powers of editor, I declare “outcastes” not universally capitalized.)

Jorlem:
So, Wyld Hunts don’t hire gods like Guild Caravans do (or acquire their services through other methods), in order to have someone along to Measure The Wind?

That’s kinda how I assumed the Sidereals actually found Solars and Lunars most of the time: They have some standing reward offered for Terrestrial gods that report and can lead a Sidereal to a Solar or Lunar. Sending reports to ensure that their domain is properly following Fate is already their job, so if they see something weird, and MtW says it is a Solar or Lunar, well, there’s a lot a Sidereal can do that would be rather tempting for a god.

Holden:
Measure the Wind is rarely that convenient. For a field god to use it, you need to stand in his field. For a blood-ape to use it, he needs to taste someone’s blood. The problems with having a summoned blood-ape bite everyone the Hunt runs across (and burn 5m per chomp) are self-evident.


Ekorren:
I have finally caught up with this thread (took a lot of reading), but can now finally post my own question!

Since I’ve been running a Denandsor campaign in 2E since 2011, I am very interested in whether or not Denandsor will be a thing in 3E. With a thing, I wonder if it will be mentioned at all as something that exists, if there will be sections about it in upcoming books, or if it will be removed completely.

Whether it will be a thing or not, if I want to convert my current game into 3E, I imagine that I would have to rethink the magitech aspects of the city, but what would the writers suggest would be the bigger fluff changes? I would imagine old and forgotten sorcerous workings oozing from the place, some of them probably unstable after the centuries. The miasma itself has always been open for interpretation in previous editions, but would it make sense to have it as some kind of adamant circle working rather than as an artifact/manse effect?

Keep up the good work.

Holden:
Denandsor will likely return. The 2e write-up will not influence its future portrayals except in a “what not to do” sense, as it totally deflated the intrigue and mystery that made the place so attractive to begin with back in ScavSons.


SrGrvsaLot:
Peleps Deled is not really that crazy. He’s just the Immaculate Order taken to its logical conclusion. I remember reading the Aspect Book in which he first appeared and thinking he sounded like a major asshole on a personal level, but exactly like the sort of person you’d expect to head up your roving death squads. To approve of the Wyld Hunt in general and then balk at the likes of Deled is basically just hypocrisy.

cliffc999:
Unless its hypocrisy to draw a distinction between ‘killing your enemies’ and ‘killing your allies’, and reward/punish the two separate instances in two separate fashions, then no, its not hypocrisy. Even in-setting NPCs who deeply and sincerely believe in the mission of the Wyld Hunt would still have a valid reason to object to Deled’s behavior — killing fellow Immaculates over minor points of doctrine that nobody else considers remotely important enough to kill over is counter-productive to the mission.

Y’see, you want two characteristics in the people who head up your roving death squads — effectiveness, and discipline. Deled is all over the first like white on rice, but he is a gaping lack of the second. A loose cannon is still less valuable than the other kind of cannon no matter how big a boom it can make.

John:
Deled snaps another Terrestrial’s neck while sparring and mocks her as her life flees. It looks like a training accident but most of the monks watching know better.

Murderers are drawn to roles that allow them to kill people and go unpunished, and the Immaculate Order offers such chances as a natural killer could only dream about.

AlphaWhelp:
Deled was intentionally written such that it would be up to the GM to interpret him as either insanely zealous or a sadistic murderer using religion as a front to get away with killing people. Neither version contradicts anything printed about Deled so far.

John:
Yes, he could very much be seen as a zealot. But consider the facts:

Deled doesn’t kill his sparring partner out of a belief that she has done the cause some great wrong, but rather gets away with killing her by exploiting the appearance of being zealous. He sees little more than a diacritical mistake in her understanding. More importantly, he sees an opening in her defense. He uses both as an excuse to murder her. He knows people will write it off as an accident to which his overzealous but admirable pursuit of the Dragons contributed, and that the blame will fall mostly on the inexperienced monk who unfortunately died. Accidents happen. Who can blame the Dragon for being a beast of prey and naturally deadly, especially when it is on the path of righteousness? No one.

However, the Immaculates do not actually just off and break people’s necks for treading blindly into hypocrisy or making small dogmatic errors. If they did, they’d run out of peasants (and initiates) very fast.

AlphaWhelp:
You’re leaving out some details, though. it wasn’t a sparring partner, they set up a match to fight in sort of a might determines right kind of deal. Deled won. It wasn’t intended to be a fight to the death, that’s just the kind of person he is. He didn’t dress it up as killing a heretic, he said “He slipped” and knew that nobody would have any way to prove him wrong even if everyone kind of knew he was full of shit. Secondly, the disagreement in question which started a match, was a “disagreement in interpretations of the text” which really meant more of Deled disagreeing the texts could be interpreted at all. The specific disagreement in question was the other monk said “The Exaltation is from the Dragons” and Peleps Deled said “No, the text says The Exaltation is of the Dragons, and your interpretation is wrong for 1, being wrong in the first place and 2, assuming you can interpret the texts at all.” Now the fucked up thing here is that Deled is actually right, the Exaltation is not from the Dragons, it is of the Dragons. That doesn’t excuse killing anyone over it, but he definitely had justification to kill her over zealotry being that she was spouting heresy (a really minor heresy, but still).

In the end it’s up to you or your GM to choose whether or not Deled killed her because he’s an insane zealot or a heartless psychopath who enjoys killing people (or maybe a little of both), but both versions of Deled are supported by the things he’s done.

John:
That was the minute “diacritical” error I was referring to.

I think the problem with your argument is that you are using the claim that he can be seen as a zealot without examining what that really means. In ye olden days, when a religion branded someone a zealot, that was a euphemism. What they were really saying is that Brother Bob is a murderer/rapist/thief/thug/brigand/whatever. For various reasons, it was impossible to call a member of the priesthood any of those things, so they became a zealot instead. Saying someone is zealous is to gloss over or avoid calling them what they are. You can’t say Deled is a murderer or he’s “just zealous.” He’s a murderer and they get around punishing him by saying he’s zealous.

SrGrvsaLot:
“Hypocrisy” might have been an overly contentious word to use. “Delusionally self-serving” might be more accurate. You can’t employ a hired killer then not expect them to act like one.

John:
I think your post was very interesting, but maybe a bit too absolutist? There are certainly good arguments for the hypocrisy of the Immaculates, but it’s a bit of a stretch to base it on them balking at Deled’s bloody-handedness. The Order teaches its monks to kill Anathema on sight, without prejudice, and automatically, but not its adherents. However, what is an Anathema? It is whatever Kejak wants killed, and it has been a brand given to non-Exalted in the past, and possibly without Kejak’s permission, simply by dint of following some precedent that was used in the past. At its most extreme interpretation you could say that Deled is just taking the Order to its ultimate conclusion, but I think that goes way too far in absolving Deled of his crimes and is a little too “anti religion” for my tastes.

Vault Dweller:
Canonically, wasn’t making Deled the Pinnacle of the Eye of the Hunt (aka the senior Wyld Hunter) actually a backhanded – and respectably deniable – attempt by his superiors in the IO to ensure his much desired elimination via convenient “squashing by Solar”? It just so happened to be counterproductive since he proved surprisingly competent at the new job…

John:
I don’t recall that. I would like to check out the reference though, if you can find it. It sounds plausible! As cliffc999 said above, Deled creates a liability in the structure of the Order. He isn’t Kejak’s ideal follower. He has his uses, but he also represents (as I implied in my previous post to SrGrvsaLot) a loose cannon, a person who is potentially going off the rails and using precedent to justify and hide the fact that he is a serial killer.

cliffc999:
The problem with that reasoning [“You can’t employ a hired killer then not expect them to act like one”] is that it assumes all fictional hired killers are the same, when its actually a continuum running from guys like ‘your average Call of Duty NPC’ on through guys like John Wick and then on down to the ax crazy fucknuts like Deled.

Or: I can indeed expect my professional killer to act professional. Some of the basic minimums of professionalism in this context would be ‘I’m paying you to kill the people *I* want dead, not the people *you* want dead’ and ‘Look, if I want an internal purge done I WILL EFFING TELL YOU. Until then don’t friggin’ team-kill, people are expensive to replace and random executions are harsh on morale.’

Cripes, even games like Saints Row — which is about as far away from “serious” as you can get — still go ‘A well-behaved street gang member does not kill the people in his own gang unless they are genuine traitors’. When Peleps Deled is exercising less impulse control than Johnny Gat of all people, something is direly wrong.

John:
I really like this post. I think you have a strong and compelling view of how characters on the ground see someone like Deled. But I also think it’s profitable to look at a system that allows someone like Deled to flourish with suspicion and some amount of dread.

Random Nerd:
With Deled, I wonder which of three situations we have:

1. He’s a murderous bully who’s figured out that if he mouths the right words, he can get away with it.
2. He’s a sincerely religious person who takes things way way too far.
3. You got your hate-chocolate in my murder-peanut-butter!

John:
He is definitely a fascinating character and invites a lot of great perspectives on the Immaculates.


Adama:
Are most liminals aware that others like them exist?

Holden:
Most become aware eventually, I would think.

Adama:
Whats something weird/exotic that Liminals can do that would surprise the people of creation? Aside from swaping out limbs.

Holden:
I think coming back to life after taking a spear to the heart would surprise most people. It surprises most Liminals, the first time it happens.

William Where:
Is their Dark Mother related to the Dark Mother they’re talking about in the Beast: The Primordial thread?

John:
Only Holden and I know who the Dark Mother is, so any connection there is just a nice coincidence. We came up with her before Masters of Jade was published, so the character concept is very old.

Holden:
I’ve been too busy to follow Beast developments, and I don’t think anyone on that team knows anything non-public about the Liminals. Regardless, I will now choose to believe Matt McFarland is ripping us off because it gratifies my ego. Y U SO UNCREATIVE MATT????

William Where:
Who exactly are they? A Solar is who he was before exaltation. The same for every other Exalted. But by the preview, the Liminals are not the one beign “resurrected”. It seems they are some other people? This is just rambling, I know 😦

Holden:
This is one of the big issues many Liminals struggle with.

Proteus:
Is the identity of the Dark Mother something that the Liminals book will reveal, or is it intended to remain a mystery?

John:
You will know more about her. I am not sure exactly how much we will reveal.

Tokezo Tenken:
Oh, interesting. Is there a chance we will find out who the Dark Mother is in the future? (If that’s been asked and answered, apologies.) I realize that some background stuff stays under wraps permanently. I have no problem with that either. Just my curiosity is piqued.

Edit: … answered in the time it took me to write the post.

John:
I will say this: she is connected to a well-known character.

William Where:
Well, that is something. A little bit more… Does she have more names than “Dark Mother”? Is that more like a title? Who calls her that way?

John:
That’s definitely in the realm of secrets best kept for now. I can say that both will be answered when we get to Liminals.

Daerim:
Why did you choose the name Liminals? What made it the best word for them?

Holden:
They’re neither this nor that, alive or dead, who they were nor what they were created to be– they exist between states. Also I think it’s a bitchin-cool word.

Wuse_Major:
It’s been said before that you guys want the Non-Solar Exalts to have a particular feel and playstyle. What is playing a Liminal supposed to feel like?

John:
The Liminal play space focuses on horror and what it means to be human. Liminals have grave magic and deathly nature, they are harbingers of the Underworld, ominous and naturally uncanny, and though they are Exalted and blessed with great power, they strive to be human.

Wuse_Major:
What sort of game would be ideal with a group of Liminal PCs? If one player wanted to play a Liminal in an otherwise Solar focused game, do you think that would work? Would there need to be any changes to make that game work better?

John:
You can tie a character to almost any other character and tell a good story. You can put unlikely characters together and the story can even be about the unlikelihood of those characters being together, if that’s what you want to do.

Mechanix:
Is the fact that “dark mother” was not capitalized in the Liminal preview significant?

Lea:
Proper Noun Salad doesn’t always look good on the page.

Daerim:
Are Liminals Exalted Ghosts, bound into a body?

Holden:
Nope.


kenichi-kun:
So, the apex of the Solar Charms will be…. mimicking? The powers of the UCS. Mimicking is the wrong word, I’m sure, but you mentioned that it would be something like a pure expression of UCS? Not sure if that makes sense. In contrast the apex of Abyssal Charms will (not firm and in stone of course) lean towards the powers of the Deathlords as an apex.

How would you describe the planned apex of the other Exalted? Lunars, DB, Getimien and Nocturnal are what I’m really curious about.

John:
We have no plans to do a Nocturnal Exalt, did you mean Liminal? 🙂

In any case, the exact same process may not apply to every Exalt. It doesn’t really mesh with Sidereals, for example, and Lunars are grounded in the nature of beasts so that they can find infinite expression in the places between, as that better reflects Luna than a continual spiking-upward toward something certain and specific.


AlphaWhelp:
Will the original signatures (All/any of them, from Dace to Seven Forbidden Wisdoms) still be canon in the setting?

Vance:
There’s an very sexy illustration of Panther in the Kickstarter previews.


Mr Stabs:
1) When will the Exalted community be able to get on board Lyta’s Fantastic Heartripping Wild Ride? I haven’t heard much about her since the Dawn book.

John:
Great question. We’ll need to see if customers would be on board for a revisit of the Solars later in the edition.

Mr Stabs:
3) Who is the Triple H of Exalted?

John:
Mnemon


James Yakura:
What are the titles (for instance: Vizier, Steward, Deathknight) for the new Exalt types?

If the Liminals had been involved in the Primordial War, what would their role have been?

John:
No titles yet! We feel that giving everyone a title boxes them into a particular role. We’re not basing all of the Exalts around a role they exist to fulfill.

Zeea:
I really like that. I always felt like Exalted got a little too neat and clean with everyone objectively having some place they were made to serve, and it never changes, rather than it being a matter of belief and laws based on those beliefs.

John:
We agree, and it’s reflected in both the setting and the mechanics. Exalts are not function-oriented beings, and while Sidereals do have job descriptions as a fact of who and what they are, each individual Sidereal gets to decide how to best use her powers to do her job. Solars and Dragon-Blooded were not actually created for specific roles, but the very fact of the Essence that bore them pushes both types of Exalts toward certain tendencies. While Lunars have power that reflects a role and a purpose, the context for that role vanished at the end of the First Age and they have been freed to define themselves anew or embrace their pasts, and this is where most of their conflicts come from.

But the Exalts don’t have powers to “fulfill this role another Exalt can’t fulfill” because there aren’t many things an Exalt can’t do, Dragon-Blooded included. This is why we’re moving away from limiting titles like Vizier and Steward, and just letting them be Sidereal and Lunar Exalted, and letting that carry all the weight it needs to carry. Titles tend to distract people away from what an Exalt is, saying “this sums it up” when it really doesn’t, and creates a shorthand mentality that points to the Charm sets more than anything. Our setting material tends never to point at Charm sets, but at the heroes themselves, as legitimate bearers of the power of the Celestial Incarnae and the Five Elemental Dragons, granted the power and the freedom to decide how they should embody and apply the tremendous and unique forms of Essence that moves through them. That said, some Essences are more constraining than others, as some patrons are more naturally constrained than others. The Maidens are tied absolutely to the Loom of Fate, and their tone and presentation matches a more function/role based existence, one of constraints. Lunars meanwhile partake of the Essence of something indefinite, ever-changing, and grounded by and attached to Creation, something that is always in shift and moving toward its next phase.

Conversely, we embraced the Lawgiver title because it’s both profound and yet an understatement. The divinely-ordained “First Among the First” vibe it gives reflects a Biblical level, Book of Judges Yahweh level of fiat that fits any Solar, even the ones who are terrifying and who tend to take the laws of men and smash them over their knees. While I’m on it, deathknight remains a lowercase appellation for the Abyssals, but not a title, because it doesn’t reflect the roles or methods of every Abyssal. Deathknight enters Creation’s parlance during the attack on Thorns, where they were first reported and described. We tend to think of them now as death’s Lawgivers.


RxTKS:
Question for the Devs: Can a mortal levy a true curse on another mortal? Can a mortal levy a curse on an Exalted, Terrestrial or otherwise? I don’t need mechanics, but is a curse a spirit thing or a fate thing?

John:
A true curse? Like something magical? No. A sorcerer could, though, and mortals can become sorcerers.


Prometheus878:
I’m already on board, and the thing hasn’t even come out yet.

It seems kind of restrictive for each splat to have only one book and then they have to share every other book with everyone else. I’m hoping to see more splat specific books in the future, Solars included!

John:
We do indeed have books planned to work as supplements for specific Exalts.

Overshee:
I’d be so down for perioidic 20 page mini-supplements on a particular exalt, or a new location, or stuff that just doesn’t fit in any of the planned books (or that’s been created since a book came out). Sell ’em for a few bucks on DTRPG, kickstart a hardcover compilation once the fans are pleased with the concept?

John:
The print on demand business model makes something like a run of Caste books more plausible. Where the Solars are concerned, I am not ready to put something like that on the menu because the core book is going to deliver maximum Solar-ness and people are going to be over the moon [insert Lunar pun here] to see the other Exalts get air time. But maybe it’s something worth thinking about in a year or so.


Vault Dweller:
On the topic of mighty sorcerous workings: could a truly knowledgeable, ambitious and obsessive Dragon-Blooded sorcerer with utter mastery over the Emerald Circle (perhaps a House Ledaal master savant, or an outcaste magician-king of the Hundred Kingdoms) but who lacks access to a “cheat-code item” like the Mantle of Brigid, undertake a grand working to take the “step up” to accessing the Sapphire Circle?

Holden:
Yes, but probably not in the way you mean.


Jorlem:
On a related note, do you know if Onyx Path plans to make or license any Exalted merchandise of this sort?

Holden:
You can already buy a range of official Exalted shirts on Redbubble! It seems likely that their range will get expanded at some point in the future.


Solar:
Pretty exciting to think that the final text is in layout and layout is getting work on! I know we are all very excited to get the backer PDF, but how will the dev’s celebrate?

I also note from the MM Notes that Arms of the Chosen is in the Second Draft. We also know that the DB book is after that, yes? It’d be cool to see quite a swift release schedule coming behind the core, do you anticipate far more ease in terms of writing and producing the later books in the line than was the case with the core?

Holden:
Laying down the groundwork for a fast, smooth supplement pipeline to run over the next 6+ years is one of the big reasons the core took so long to do.


Anu:
Can you tell us what your favourite action in the combat system is? I’m not curious about the actual mechanics, just what it’s called.

Holden:
The “distract” gambit has a very unprepossessing name but is a huge game-changer. Also, disengage actions are wonderfully tense.

As far as name-woot goes, it’s still quite fun to yell “Join Battle!” although the slaughter action gives it a run for its money.


Notsteve:
Now I’m reminded of ideas I had for a mortal antagonist who specialized in Bureaucracy. It seemed like a cool idea; it would take a while for the PCs to even figure out someone was sabotaging them, since things would just go subtly wrong every time they had to deal with the government of their home city. And once they figured that out, they’d still have to figure out who was doing it, since the mortal wouldn’t have to be anywhere near them to sabotage them. It seemed like it would be a cool subplot to be going on while they were dealing with more obvious dangers.

Then I realized that a Solar could just pick up a single bureaucracy charm and have an “I win” button for this scenario and got sad.

Would this sort of antagonist work in Third Edition? And is there the possibility for interesting mortal antagonists specializing in other non-combat non-social skills?

And if I haven’t already asked enough questions for this scenario, what level of challenge would such a mortal prove? Let’s take as an example a mortal thief who’s trying to steal from a Solar who doesn’t know about them. How much of a chance of success do they have if the Solar has completely ignored any skills related to thieving? If they’ve dabbled in it? If they specialize in being a thief?

Holden:
Solar Charms aren’t like aiming the Eye of Sauron at a problem from the next kingdom over any more, so that kind of opponent could cause a fair bit of mayhem, although once the Circle has him in their crosshairs, he’s probably in a lot of trouble.

Mortals trying to challenge Solars head-on in their arena of competence are usually in for a bad day. On the other hand, a Solar with Larceny 0 and jack for Awareness isn’t going to fare much better against a thief stealing his stuff than any other dude would.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
1) How well would a mortal sorcerer fair as a mastermind antagonist for a circle of Solars?

Holden:
He could do fairly well, as long as he never lets himself get put in a situation where he has to face down an angry Circle head-on without copious amounts of back-up. But then, that’s true of most things.


Anu:
Can you tell us if a single sorcerous working can have multiple effects?

Specifically, I’m wondering about the viability of a sorcerous working that can 1) allow merchants to safely make their way to a specific city if they have something to trade, going so far as to allow demons and ghosts to freely leave Malfeas and the Underworld (because this cannot possibly go wrong), 2) impose the Eclipse diplomatic immunity on everyone currently trading in the city, 3) impose the Eclipse oath power on all contracts signed in the city, and 4) invite all merchants to visit the city once they’ve completed their first deal worth X amount of silver.

Vance:
The heart of a sorcerous working is an intention. “I want the mazy pathways of this forest to lead all travelers to my lair.” “I want to transform this guy into a loyal monster body guard.” “I want this city to fly.” If multiple effects are necessary for the working to uphold that intention—assuming the player’s choices and rolls have gotten her to a place it will uphold her intention—it can have them.


Zeea:
THis was probably answered two editions ago, but I guess I’ll just throw this in since it might be different in 3e.

Exalted ghosts are averse to salt, right? What does that mean for pirate ghosts, drowned ghosts, and other saltwater undead?

John:
Nothing. It’s not a chemical reaction, it’s a reaction to salt extracted and carefully laid in lines.


smarttman:
I’m sure this has been addressed before, but how beginner friendly, setting wise, will the core book be to new players/GMs?

Holden:
It was written specifically with new players/Storytellers as its target audience.


Gentleman Grunt:
How easy will it be to convert old artifacts that may not be in 3e yet? My intention is things like Glorious Solar Hand Cannon, artifact version of a flame piece, or even an artifact crossbow. Given a reasonable competency in bastardizing things for new systems.

Vance:
Really.


Poop Deck:
How is the Team approaching the development of Dragon-Blood Charms regarding the synergy effect of multiple Dragon-Bloods being involved?

Vance:
The Dragon-Blooded Charm set encourages and rewards teamwork. There’s not one uniform way this is done, like the Cooperative keyword in 2e, but is baked in to the way their Charms work.


Charles Gray:
Question– I’m really exciting about workings, so are the rules for them gonna be in the core book or delayed until another book comes out?

This is parhaps my biggest fear with EX3– there’s a lot of stuff those of us who have been around since 1e are gonna wanna see but the publishing schedule, If I’m right in my predictions, probably will have us be very close, if not past 2020 when the last updated material could be published (the core books+ expansions).

Holden:
Sorcerous workings are in the core. Sorcerers will get additional love fairly early in the supplement run, as well.


Zeea:
Speaking of Autochthon, and apologies if this has been covered, but is 3e going to dial back his influence on Creation and/or make it more ambiguous? Conversely, are there any plans to give his Exalted any presence in Creation?

Holden:
Yes / too early to say. Autochthon is, even by the standards of occult historians and savants, an obscure bit of fascinating apocrypha in the Age of Sorrows.

AlphaWhelp:
I really liked the 2e interpretation of autochthon where it said the gods credited him with a lot of stuff he didn’t do because he isn’t around to deny it and they didn’t want to credit the yozi with anything.

Lea:
Attributing a bunch of stuff to the Yozis that earlier books had previously attributed to Autochthon was a decent fix for a problem that, this edition, we can just sort of avoid from the start.

Holden:
Few individuals in Creation know the word “Yozi,” and most of those are dedicated savants, sorcerers, or Immaculate monks of a very scholarly bent. Of those, even fewer could actually name any of the vanquished demon princes of old. They’re not just considered unimportant in the Age of Sorrows, they’re largely forgotten; even those who are aware of them don’t tend to assign them much more importance than the Titans got in Greek mythology (i.e. they show up at the beginning and then are largely forgotten for the most part).

Anaximander:
Just don’t make Auto an uncool chump, please.

John:
We don’t plan to make anyone an “uncool chump.”


HoratioAtTheBridge:
I keep thinking about the interaction between Sorcery and the native charm sets. Is there some way that a Dragonblooded, Lunar, or Solar sorcerer might use their spells that would be different than a mortal? For instance, I imagine that something like the old Cloud Chariot would be pretty cool for a mortal sorcerer, but would be a great missile platform for a Solar sorcerer with a few Archery charms. Any other synergies come to mind?

Holden:
I’m currently playing a Twilight sorcerer/martial artist. Wood Dragon’s Claw + tiger style = death to all who oppose me 😀


will2goforth:
How different does brawl feel than an unarmed style?

Vance:
About as different as it is from Melee.

will2goforth:
If you were to see them both would it be obvious who was using brawl?

Vance:
Depends on the unnarmed style. If it’s Black Claw, for instance, totally.

will2goforth:
I totally missed that Black Claw was coming back. I’m interested in seeing how it will change with the new edition.

Vance:
Black Claw was one of the easiest styles to convert, mostly because Holden is really good at writing martial arts.

will2goforth:
What kinds of awesome things could a Solar brawling master do as opposed to someone using an unarmed style?

Vance:
There’s a whole lot of new hotness, but I appreciate the old, reliable standby of just Heaven Thunder Hammering a dude.

Holden:
They’re pretty different! When you see a master of Snake style deliver a pressure-point strike to the center of someone’s chest, followed by them staggering away coughing up blood as their Essence is corrupted into a deadly venom inside of them; or a Crane practitioner smoothly deflects a daiklave with the back of his hand, using the same motion to wheel into a back-fist to his attacker’s chest– that’s a very distinct thing from the Solar bruiser who steps into a huge Thing vs Hulk two-page splash illustration wind-up, then punches a guy clear through a teahouse with Heaven Thunder Hammer.

nexus:
Solar unarmed fighters are more restricted to being bruiser/prowrestler types unless they go for styles?

John:
Brawl hails back to the original purpose of the Ability, which was to allow people to play an archetypal bare-handed fighter who just goes on courage, rage, and natural talent, not any kind of formalized dojo system.

Argent:
Going from earlier editions, I suspect that playing a “disciplined” Brawler will be roughly as hard as making up cool descriptions for their fights.

Vance:
You’d be about right. You’ll be able to go deep in Brawl without ever having to touch the tree that Heaven Thunder Hammer is in, but honestly, why would you?

wheloc:
There’s also the question of “Why develop a fancy martial tradition, complete with esoteric philosophy and emulation of animal movements, if some farm boy with a mean right hook can beat you?”

John:
Because generating such a system means, generally, a farm boy with a mean right hook can’t beat you. NPCs aren’t able to read the Charm set and compare notes and mortals don’t use Charms. Brawl is a measurement of someone who can beat the hell out of someone without technical, systemic formulation of skills. It is a pulp fiction trope a thousand miles long, it doesn’t fit at all into the modern conception of martial arts—which Exalted does not use.

Lea:
Well you could totally be the guy who’s good at the punching parts of martial arts and doesn’t care about the esoterica, like the villain in a Karate Kid movie. If the game isn’t in the “Martial Arts Epic” genre, you’re unlikely to get two-timed by Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san for it, even.

Random Nerd:
Hmm.

Jeet Kune Do, Brawl or Martial Arts?

John:
Martial Arts. Jeet Kune Do is subject to all the systems that were used to make it. That construction is reversed in Exalted, where you come out of the mire of instinctual chairshots and liver punches to become something refined. Brawl has its own myth, but Martial Arts embodies many kinds of myths.

John:
Brawl doesn’t fit into a modern martial arts subset, so trying to describe it as “no style” JKD, which is absolutely a martial art, will create dissonance. It was written for guys like Indiana Jones, bare knuckle pulp fiction heroes who use the power of naturally-talented-at-violence to get things done.

Not everyone who plays this game knows about martial arts, or are enthralled by martial arts. Some people want to just grab ornamental an orichalcum engraving and hit a dog of the unbroken earth so hard it flies out of its fur.*

*May have happened in a recent EX3 playtest.

nexus:
So I’d have rewrite the previous PCs that are in my games who have figurative styles based on JKD, MMA and similar arts with MA to for 3rd?

John:
You don’t have to do anything with your homebrew inventions that you don’t want to do.

Solar:
I think he means more “I used to use Brawl to represent characters who fight in this manner, do I need to use MA now instead?”

I am wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. Do MMA fighters use Brawl or Martial Arts, for example? Or is Brawl limited to guys like Jackson in Bloodsport, Arnie’s Conan and Fantastic Four’s Thing, you know, big brute force sluggers?

John:
Well, Brawl didn’t exist in 2e, and in 1e it was exactly what it is in EX3, so I had to assume he was talking about something he made up.

Solar:
I am wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. Do MMA fighters use Brawl or Martial Arts, for example? Or is Brawl limited to guys like Jackson in Bloodsport, Arnie’s Conan and Fantastic Four’s Thing, you know, big brute force sluggers?

John:
MMA is one of those modern conceptions I’m talking about. You can mix up multiple martial arts styles by using different Charms, but that’s not going to look like the quasi-agnostic fusion shootfighting you see on guys like Brock Lesnar, etc. You can certainly do stuff that looks like that with Brawl’s grapple effects, and you can certainly crush people with knees and elbows, but you don’t actually have to have that kind of a background to use Brawl. If you’re okay with ignoring that it’s not actually representative of martial arts, go to town.

Lea:
To the extent that modern conceptions of martial arts are more accurate-to-life than those drawn from genre media produced over the broad period of the last century, and to the extent that Exalted draws on conceptions of martial arts influenced by genre media produced over the broad period of the last century rather than modern conceptions of martial arts, Exalted’s portrayal of martial arts may have difficulty emulating accurate-to-life martial arts examples, such as, indeed, real people who are real experts at real martial arts owing to having to exist in the real world rather than benefiting from genre tropes due to being fictional. This seems inescapeable to me!

Solar:
I think people might just be getting the idea that Brawl is for big dumb sluggers,

John:
People get a lot of weird ideas. *Shrug* The Brawler in my group is the Zenith, who is quite compassionate, intelligent, and brawny. She’s violently talented, and if she grabs a table end and drives it forward with Heaven Thunder Hammer, the Immaculate Monk on the other side still gets knocked ass first through a keyhole, and all of his enlightenment and discipline won’t stop that from happening, so who is actually the dumb one? In truth, neither one, since you know, any application of brutality can be done in some clever way, but if you want to distill things down to a binary (which I don’t) the dumb one is the monk who stepped up to a Solar with Heaven Thunder Hammer.

Solar:
It’s like the whole Dex/Str thing, it’s not really a big deal, but for plenty of people, Exalted is that game that they really wanted to play more but didn’t or even couldn’t because the system ranged from shaky to nigh-on unplayable. So when SLS says “look guys, Dex is a bit better than Strength in Ex3” they thing “oh fuck, here we go again.”

John:
It’s an inescapable reality that more accuracy > stronger hit. This is true because it is physically true. I think the expectation of something else is unreasonable.

That said, we didn’t build a game where you need to top Dexterity to have fun in combat.

Solar:
I don’t think people are saying “I want there to be a realistic portrayal of martial arts in Exalted!” so much as they are saying that Martial Arts styles tend to be a Thing, a style represents a particular philosophy or animal, sometimes you want to play a fighter who is not interested in all that but damn if they aren’t great when it comes to kicking people’s heads in. Like, have you seen The Raid? You know Mad Dog? He’s an incredibly skilled fighter but I can’t really say that he seems like a Martial Artist so much as he seems like someone who is an immensely good Brawler.

And that’s an aesthetic, not a demand for realism. Same with Tony Jaa in The Protector or whatever, he’s slamming guys through boards with knee strikes and clearly knows what he is doing, but the aesthetic is not jumpy wushu, it’s “I’m stronger and faster and tougher than you are and I know exactly how to put my knee through your face” I don’t think realism is what people want for Exalted at all, they just want to know, what variation of aesthetics fits for Brawl, and what fits for Martial Arts?

Lea:
I get what you mean, and yeah, in that case, someone like Tony Jaa in The Protector would be well-represented by either a) taking Brawl, and using stunts inspired by Tony Jaa, or b) taking an appropriate Martial Art, and playing a martial artist who learned esoteric martial arts secrets primarily in order to wreck face. I mean, assuming e.g. Snake style is taught all around Creation, there will be some places where if you learn Snake style, you get an instructor who’s really into emulating snakes, and the philosophy of snakes, and how awesome snakes are, and sometimes you get an instructor who’s really into his particular tradition of martial arts, and his feuds with the Tiger style temple across the river, and sometimes you get an instructer who’s really into hurting people efficiently, and sometimes you get an instructor who’s really into, I dunno, fighting for the rights of the poor, and it just so happens that snake style was what he had the opportunity to learn so that’s what he uses. You can play someone taught by any of those last three instructors rather than the first one. There’s nothing stopping you from taking Snake Charms and then telling the ST “Look, I’m just taking these because I like the way they let me fight; I don’t actually care about snakes and if you start docking me XP for not roleplaying a Snake master correctly I’m going to stop helping to spring for pizza.”

That said, if Jeet Kun Do is a “martial art” specifically and explicitly based around the philosophy that esoteric martial arts philosophies are stupid formalistic wank by people more interested in puffing up their own sense of self-importance than learning how to actually fight effectively, and you should really just learn the best ways to punch people, and this turned out to be correct when empirically tested in the real world (which wouldn’t surprise me…), but Exalted assumes that learning esoteric martial arts philosophies really does impart secrets of the universe that result in learning how to punch people best, then, uh…?

Like, we want to provide options, but we can’t be expected to provide options aimed at negating our own theses here.

Solar:
No no, I get that.

And you need to pick a way to do it, of course.

I want to play Tony Jaa/Iko Uwais/etc in Exalted, if I am going to play any unarmed fighter, because movies with that style of martial arts are my favourite martial arts movies. But I’m less concerned with this definitely being in Brawl as I am just wondering how to portray this kind of fighter, very direct and powerful, not flashy but impressive given the sheer power, speed and aggression of the fighter. Which could fit in Brawl, or could be done with a Martial Art! And that’s fine too. Like I said, it’s a cool aesthetic that people want to evoke, and why not? It’s very fitting for Exalted, and is a nice change from the typical Wing Chun Wushu you tend to get in Martial Arts movies.

Lea:
I wanna say “Just take Tiger Style and don’t invoke tigers in your stunts.” Or whatever other style has Charms that fit with what you want to be able to do; I dunno.

Wolfwood2:
If a guy in Exalted is practicing Jeet Kun Do, I see no reason why he can’t be of the strongly held position that it’s much more efficient and effective to learn the best ways to punch people and ignore all the magical martial arts philosophy stuff. Maybe he thinks it’s the equivalent of being more xp efficient or something; all that magic shit is great but in the time you’re spending to learn how to sway like a cobra he’s learned to punch opponents through walls *and* through floors.

He doesn’t have to be objectively correct. He just has to think so and have enough pain in his punch to make onlookers wonder if he isn’t on to something.

Lea:
It’d be difficult to write that martial arts style in a way that excites the fanbase, because it’s even more explicitly, out-of-character wrong than the Immaculate Order, and goes against the point of the Sidereals, who are the setting’s iconic master martial artists precisely because their mystic connection to esoterica, which empowers their native magic, also allows them unparalleled insights into the esoteric mysteries that underly the martial arts.

Random Nerd:
I’ve been thinking about this, and I figured out why it bugs me.

You talk here about how “Exalted assumes that learning esoteric martial arts philosophies really does impart secrets of the universe that result in learning how to punch people best”, but does it?

I mean, my understanding is that Martial Arts is basically equivalent in effectiveness with other ways of fighting. Snake Stylist Sam and Dude-Puncher Steve may fight in different ways, but they’re both basically on the same level, assuming equal character-building and XP investment in their respective methods of violence. If Sam thinks that studying the movement of snakes or some other esoteric idea is the best way to learn how to punch people, he’s wrong, since it’s no more or less supported by the world than learning to punch people by a Rocky-esque training montage. And if Steve thinks that ignoring all that snake stuff and just practicing your punching a lot is better, he’s wrong too.

So if there’s room for adherents of what I guess for the purposes of this discussion we’re calling “figurative” martial arts styles to be wrong about that kind of thing without undermining the setting, how would it be any more genre-destroying for some sort of Bruce Lee or Miyamoto Musashi of Creation to be equally wrong in the opposite direction?

Lea:
You’re correct that martial arts are equivalent in effectiveness with other ways of fighting for balance purposes; that doesn’t mean you’re not actually learning esoteric secrets that lead to better fighting abilities when you learn, say… let’s go with Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style, because it lets you turn into a gazellecarp. That’s demonstrably not normal.

You’re not, as one may or may not be in real life, learning an effective fighting system that happens to only correlate culturally with a philosophy, taught by instructors who may or may not be mistaken about the degree to which correlation implies causation. (As Bruce Lee seemed to conclude.) You’re not just learning effective techniques for fighting with loose sleeves while hearing stories about the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan; you’re actually learning the real secrets of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan which, when comprehended, impart insights on how to fight effectively with loose sleeves and eventually how to transform into a flying deer-fish-dragon and if you’re not careful evaporate into dream forever.

You can make up a martial art that doesn’t care about that; that is interested in esoteric secrets only inasmuch as they increase one’s ability to wreck face.

It sort of throws a wrench into the whole thing to make up a martial art that is specifically based around the idea that esoteric martial arts philosophies are a bunch of antiquated bullshit by hidebound instructors who’ve confused correlation with causation, though.

Random Nerd:
What happens if someone tries to develop a martial art based on a conception of reality that’s false?

Like, if someone who’s spent too much time hanging out with Gilmyne tries to develop Opening the Saigoth Gates Style, and there are no Saigoth Gates, does it just not come together into a viable and coherent martial art? Do they end up accidentally developing Being Overly Credulous About Stuff Demons Say Style? Or what?

Lea:
I feel like this deserves Rumiko Takahashi’s answer to what happens if Ranma gets pregnant in girl-form: “I don’t think about that, and neither should you.”

More seriously there are precedents for that, but they’re called Terrifying Ascent-Driven Beast Style, Obsidian Shards of Infinity Style, and That Time The Saigoth Gates Became Canonically Real Despite Jenna’s Intentions Because Given A Long Enough Timeline, All Fables And Prophecies In A Fantasy Setting Will Turn Out To Be Objectively True, so. It’s up to you how clever you want to get with these things, but my experience suggests trying to get clever with them to any degree whatsoever rapidly leads you someplace you don’t actually want to go.

This is basically a weird edge case, in the sense that a) John is correct that the way Jeet Kun Do fights doesn’t “feel” like Solar Brawl Charms, and is probably best represented in the combat system with a martial art inspired by it, but b) if you were to do that and then base that martial art’s in-setting philosophies and Charm names around the actual foundational thought processes of Jeet Kun Do, the result looks stupid unless you do it very cleverly. And it’s unfortunate that our weird edge case seems to have popped up right in the middle of the extremely popular real-world martial art founded by the most famous real-life martial artist ever, but there you go.

Solar:
I guess you just have a guy who thinks turning into a flying Deer-Fish-Dragon is all well and good I suppose, if you’re a perfumed courtier, but that it’s not as purely focused on pushing someone’s teeth into the back of their head with your fist as their own technique. Which would be a Martial Art style in of itself, I guess. That’s actually a reasonably interesting idea, a Martial Arts style which doesn’t say “apply this to fighting” but instead says “apply fighting to fighting.” Chucking all of this stuff about proving all the complex philosophy to be innately not as good as kick-punching, what is the complex philosophy behind kick-punching, is what I want to know!

“I am very much interested in the esotoric concepts behind wrecking face. Specifically the esotoric concept of wrecking face, as that seems the most directly related.” Kind of like having Bruce Lee as your spirit animal.

Lea:
I would suspect, based purely on pattern recognition and not on any discussion with Holden or John, that at some point we’re going to do a KS where we open up previously-published Terrestrial styles as backer tiers the way previously-published Celestial styles were backer tiers for the corebook, and someone will pay money to have us upgrade First Pulse Style to 3e, and then that’ll be a thing, yeah. I could be wrong!


Lea:
(For what it’s worth, as a pure artifact of the system, at the mortal level I would tend to slightly favor the martial arts master over the brawl master for the simple reason that most martial-arts-master-character-concepts I’ve seen tend to slightly favor dexterity over strength, and most school-of-hard-knocks-master-brawler-character-concepts tend to slightly favor strength over dexterity, and, uh. This is not necessarily desireable, but there you go. Ultimately the whole thing is slightly arbitrary, and whether you want the esoteric philosophy guy to win over the school of hard knocks guy all else being equal or vice versa is down to what set of aesthetics you favor.)

Wolfwood2:
Was it really not possible to fix the supremacy of dexterity in the combat system? You guys rebuilt the system from the ground up, and a muscle-fighter being inferior to a fast-fighter has been a complaint for so very long.

Lea:
I’m sure there’s a hypothetical thorough fix; most likely this involved sufficient redesigning-from-first-principles as to ensure the result would enter new design spaces and encounter new, as-yet-unforseen problems, and/or create necessary cascading changes that the final result would not “feel like Exalted,” and/or invite streamlining that would eliminate mechanical hooks necessary for supporting a half-dozen separate Charm sets over the course of the next several years — all of which are problems that could also be solved, of course… at the cost of more dev time.

Hmm. Okay. Exalted 3rd Edition was at one point effectively delayed for an additional… I’mma say two weeks or so… because we moved to an abstract positioning system and a playtester broke that system in half, and Holden then had to fix it, and then John had to rewrite Charms that were contingent on the way it had worked before the fix. This isn’t secret — it was in Rich’s Monday Meeting reports. This is good! Because it was fixed, and our new abstract positioning system is all the better for it. (Certainly better than the old track-individual-meters-per-tick system that nobody ever, ever really used, except in the context of napkin math to determine if your flurrybreaker succeeds.) But it was also bad, because delays are bad, and more delays are worse. The further we move into uncharted design waters, the more testing is required, and while you can e.g. assert that if only we were more competent, we could test effectively in less time, it is tautologically true that the dev team is only as competent as it is.

I think we settled on bringing Strength and Dexterity as close to parity as we could manage without radically overhauling the attribute paradigm. This does still favor dexterity slightly — though less than in previous editions.

I thought it was interesting, as a sort of throwaway comment, how this interacts with the way esoteric master character concepts and school of hard knocks character concepts compete in the context of Martial Arts vs. Brawl. I fear I may yet again have discovered a throwaway topic so interesting that it threatens to derail the whole thread. Sorry, everybody!

Wolfwood2:
Understand, I’m not calling for changes at this point and it is what it is. I’m more curious about back at day one when you really were “redesigning-from-first principles”. Or are you saying that the dex/str issue is even more fundamental than that, rooted so deeply in the system that even the most basic of basic mechanics that you started with had it baked in?

Lea:
If you have a mechanic where you roll one thing to hit and another thing to do damage, and you don’t get to roll damage unless you succeed on the roll to hit, the thing you roll to hit will be more valuable than the thing you roll to damage because the hit thing gates the damage thing. This can, in theory, be mitigated by devaluing hits in comparison to damage, but in practice actually doing so is like balancing something on the edge of a knife — very easy to favor one or the other, very difficult to make equal. Especially when each is an independent variable that describes a part of a character and the goal is to make each equal no matter how much they vary on any given character.

You can fix it by throwing out that whole parading, by making damage fixed, by making attacks successful by default, by not separating your hit trait and your damage trait at all, etc. etc.. All of those things would have been a bigger departure from Storyteller than we wanted, as I understand it.

John:
We don’t think the game should try to say that speed and accuracy aren’t the province of the attribute that governs speed and accuracy. Rather, we wrote a game where you can absolutely get by without topped off Dexterity, and a game where playing a mechanically perfect combat character isn’t the only choice for having lots of fun. If you want to min max the combat, you can try, but you’re going to pour ten times as much XP out trying to do it. The rewards are big, but harder to achieve, and you’re going to give up eeeeeverything else that actually matters and probably get talked into things easily, because you ignored social influence, or get tricked, because you suck at Investigation and Larceny, or you pretty much can’t make anything because you don’t read (no Lore), you don’t build (no Craft), etc. Also your life is a soulless void because you don’t have Survival’s familiar tree. Also forget being the ultimate sea captain wrecking armadas. And being the one who rides a stealthy god-beast into battle, fuhgeddaboudit. Because you just focused on one thing, you ignored all the other things that mattered, so you know, hope your ST is going to cater to your decision there bub.

gourdcaptain:
Okay, I’m probably walking into something here, but you can be worried that Dex is a more optimal pick on a character which isn’t going all-in on combat because you want to be able to just dabble in combat without being completely useless at it because you invested in the WRONG thing with your combat investment. I’ve built Exalted characters in 2e who took secondary physical stats, put them mostly into Stamina, bought a cool-looking Martial Art, bought Martial Arts to 3, bought two to three Martial Arts charms, and then realized to my utter horror I can’t HIT anything because Dex was that important and my Stamina is nigh-useless for cutting down the damage from a grand killstick or what have you. So instead of being a mostly social guy with some combat, I ended up a guy who couldn’t effectively combat at all. So worrying about these things doesn’t mean we’re going to build monoexclusive combat beatsticks. Please don’t assume anyone who worries about mechanical balance of the stats is solely out to powergame their character into that.

John:
As I just said, you can have quite a lot of fun in combat without topping off Dexterity. I am confused because your post reads like I had said just the opposite.


Alderman:
I went back and finally read Masters of Jade the other day, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. And I gotta say, it is a fantastic book. It positively overflowed with sense of place.

So how much of that book will stay relevant in 3e?

John:
The spirit and tone of that book will be very relevant, though some of the details will not.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #13

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