“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #15

This latest compilation of quotes from the RPG.net Exalted developers’ Q&A thread has caught up with the present! All Q&A info should now be available, at least until a dev responds to something new. Enjoy!

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
Q&A Summary #12
Q&A Summary #13
Q&A Summary #14


Wuse_Major:
Holden, the last Monday Meeting indicated that you guys have gotten to see a near final layout. So I wanted to ask, is it Awesome or is it Totally Awesome?

Holden:
It’s prettier than Cthulhutech.


sakii:
what is the best MA for a sailor?

Vance:
Snake, as ever, is a pretty sweet style for everyone.

Tiger can be extremely brutal in shipboard combat, but is much less effective if your enemies can just jump over the side and swim away from you.

Righteous Devil is probably not a good idea to use on a boat.

Crane is going to be having some crazy wuxia fun with the ship’s rigging.

Silver-Voiced Nightingale lets you weaponize sea chanties, which is pretty awesome.

White Reaper is useful for boarding an enemy ship and murdering everyone on it, but may sometimes be hindered by a boat’s inability to hold as many opponents as they want to be taking on.

Dreaming Pearl Courtesan is not particularly suited to a sailor’s life, unless the people you plan on doing grievous bodily harm to are on your ship.

Ebon Shadow is badass if you are willing to transgress the boundaries between pirate and ninja.

Black Claw is going to enjoy the audience that being on a ship generally entails.

Steel Devil will work fine, as long as you don’t have a hook-hand.

Single Point Shining Into The Void doesn’t really seem like the best match for the overall naval milieu, but that don’t stop it from being hella deadly.

Cod Of Justice:
I’m kind of terrified (in an impressed way) of what White Reaper style’s optimal number of opponents is if a boatload of enemies is potentially beneath it.

Vance:
The optimal number of enemies for a White Reaper is “how many you got?”

sakii:
do the martial arts need noral charms to supplement them??
Like if i have Single Point Shining into the Void do i need to invest in some melee parry charms??

Vance:
You won’t need Charms from any of the four main combat Abilities, but drawing on some of the “support” Abilities like Dodge, Resistance, or Stealth can be very useful. Which Abilities are relevant varies from style to style.

sakii:
Before we were talking about how using shining point and white reaper would make a nice combination.
What other styles would make a good combo?

Vance:
Snake+Crane and Tiger+Ebon Shadow are the first ones that come to mind.

Holden:
Those are scary-good combinations.


The Exigentleman:
Actual question: I think you’ve already been asked this a while back, but I’m not sure. I can’t find it, and don’t know if it’s changed anyway. So… how easy will it be to design custom Evocations? I’m not talking about anything too elabourate, just a few simple charms to make my weapon feel like mine. I’d imagine Arms of the Chosen would give more support, but will this be doable out of core?

Holden:
Doing up custom artifacts is pretty easy, although it’s not a paint-by-numbers process.


Kahbiel:
I completely understand if this query falls under too mechanical or too early to tell; but just in case it doesn’t.. Is Violet Bier of Sorrows a discreet martial art style, or the general Siderial Brawl package?

Holden:
That book is still years off.


Winwaar:
On an entirely random note, I’ve been wondering about something: How many sets of clothing would people from across Creation own/wear?

I mean, one assumes that the answer doesn’t change from peasant on the Blessed Isle to peasant near the Sea of Dreams, but say, a merchant on the Blessed Isle versus a Khan near Chiaroscuro versus a Lookshayan mortal member of the Legion, and so on.

It’s an interesting thought, I think.

Holden:
Clothing is a mixture of social function and practical necessity for most people in Creation, which is to say– you have your feastday clothes that you probably also wear to services because really why risk irritating the gods by showing up wearing boots that smell like yak shit? Then you’ve got your work clothes possibly several sets if you have a complicated job like smith or leatherworker that actually requires some safety gear. You probably have at least one hat; depending on regional fashions, you might have two, one being part of your nice social clothing. And you probably have a quasi-shapeless but comfortable thing you wear at home after the work is done.

If you’re a member of the upper classes, clothing is social competition and you are announcing your status and competing with your rivals with both the quality and variety of your wardrobe.

If you’re in the legions, you have your battle gear, and a dress uniform, and -maybe- something simple to go on leave with that shares boots with your other kit, because you get to carry all your possessions from place to place so weight is your primary concern.

There are wild exceptions in all directions, of course. In the most blasted extremity of the South, even the nobles of Zinanza go adorned in only sandals and sun-hats, with jewelry to mark their high rank. They receive miserable sweating cloth-wrapped envoys from other states with amusement. Meanwhile, over in Ysyr, the sorcerer-princes strive to give away clothing to favored servants after wearing it only once, and to be adorned in new finery every day, though only a few can truly afford such waste.

Lea:
Elegant restraint among nobles tends to pop up in cultures where the merchant class has gotten really rich and is discovering the wonders of being able to afford all the things — nobles tend to move into “Oh, well, I could be into conspicuous consumption, too, but it’s so gauche!” to distinguish themselves from the nouveau-riche.

Realm doesn’t really have nouveau-riche.

David J Prokopetz:
On the other hand, it does have a class of nobles whose nobility is regarded as more of a technicality hanging around. I could totally see un-Exalted Dynasts being into conspicuous consumption in a big way specifically because the lack the inherent distinction of Exaltation to set them above the common masses – and, in term, Exalted Dynasts being into elegant restraint in order to provide a pointed reminder to their less fortunate relations that they don’t have anything to prove.

(Of course, they have plenty to prove, but not in that particular context.)

Lea:
I think it’d work out the other way, with Exalted Dynasts living big and passing sumptuary laws to prevent un-Exalted Dynasts and patricians from joining in on the fun — and, indeed, the ban on use of jade currency for everyone but the Exalted sort of supports that.

(To be clear I am not a dev; if John or Holden think it should work some other way, it works some other way. But the decadent pageantry vs. tasteful minimalism is probably a secular/Immaculate split within Dynastic culture itself, rather than being a split between mortals and Dynasts.)

So.

Victim:
I disagree. The social conflicts at high levels in the Realm seem to be generally organized as a House with its DB and patrician members

Holden:
Patricians are upper-class individuals who are not part of a Dynastic Great House, btw. There’s no such thing as a patrician member of a Great House. Some parts of a few older books seemed to think “patrician” meant “un-Exalted mortal Dynast,” but it doesn’t.


Lea:
Traditionally, the Realm does tax farming, but in the Threshold satrapies. Gathering taxes from peasants on the Isle is done through the Thousand Scales and such funds go straight into the Empress’s pockets.

This has of course changed since the Empress disappeared, when suddenly Dynasts in the Greater Deliberative started passing laws to put (their own!) Great Houses in charge of gathering rent on the Isle, and allowing them to claim (ever-growing) percentages of such gathered rent as their own.

I think.


Daerim:
Are we going to hit the same beats in the metaplot this time around as in the last two editions? Things like the Empress disappearing to Malfeas? Not assuming that everything is going to be verbatim, but are we getting basically the same story over again?

Lea:
The Empress has still disappeared, and certainly she can still have disappeared into Malfeas if you want, but we’re not going the “We’re not saying she’s in Malfeas, but wink wink she’s totally in Malfeas you guys” route this time around.


Isator Levie:
I’ve had this thought about creating a clandestine network that communicates via numerous pre-arranged codes and ciphers, such as going to a stall across from a secret safe house where you know somebody will be watching, and picking a red comb is an indication that you’re under surveillance or a gourd is a request for new instructions.

If designing and engaging in this kind of system was within the scope of the mechanics (I would think it should be; it feels appropriate and dramatic that there should be the usual level of mechanical effort and uncertainty behind whether or not your established standards are both opaque to outsiders and transparent to initiates, and whether or not a character trying to send such messages is able to keep it straight in the moment), I wonder what Ability would be most suited to it. Bureaucracy or Larceny? Linguistics, even?

Vance:
Communicating with a member of a secret society through the covert watchwords or ciphers of that organization is probably something I’d call for a Manipulation + Socialize roll for, though I’d be open to players suggesting a different Ability.

Actually devising and promulgating a cipher prooobably isn’t that interesting of a thing to roll for, but I could see the arguments for Linguistics or Bureaucracy that could be made if one were gonna roll it.

Isator Levie:
I’m hoping to extrapolate a lot from the presentation of managing organisations in general.

I’m compelled by a combination of reading about the organisational methods and procedures of insurrectionist groups in Imperial China and early Twentieth Century Ireland, and points about the civil service manuals of Prussia at the time that it was becoming a Great Power; I place a lot of stock in the significance of having a system that keeps everybody on the same page and, in the former case, can keep interlopers from breaking into it.

That and examples of how things break down when somebody makes a mistake; when they mix up signals or confuse portfolios or are just paralysed with indecision, and it spirals into something that exposes weaknesses.

It intersects with Solars particularly because one of the implications I tend to draw from the idea of them is as somebody who is able to command or communicate a complex system with a lot of… grace, if not fine control. I like the idea of a Solar who could make a clandestine group that would really effectively fly under the radar by virtue of training them in secrecy in a way that would be necessarily complicated while still managing to dodge the kinds of errors that complicated systems become prone to.

I just keep trying to spread my thinking out to the ground level of a rebellion, and keep seeing all the points at which they could give themselves away, and try to think of uncanny means of addressing that challenge.

Really, when it comes right down to it, it’s the sort of thing that I see clear as day in the arrangement of the Guild in Masters of Jade. I would think that some level of mechanical engagement of the process of devising the Eternal Ledger and the Game of Masks would be warrented.

Vance:
Based on your post, I think you’re going to be real happy with the leadership rules.


Coikzer:
Like I said, the big two page artwork spreads makes me wonder if digital reading was considered at all when designing and laying out the book. It does make me doubt that the book will be up to modern standards of digital design, but we’ll see, I suppose.

Holden:
Exalted has had 2-page artwork spreads since the 1e corebook. Every nWoD book has them separating chapters. This is… not new or unusual at all, or in any way a layout challenge.

David J Prokopetz:
A crossover illustration doesn’t mean that the PDF suddenly jumps from singles to spreads when it gets there. It just means you only see half of the illustration at a time when viewing the PDF one-up. If you want to look at the whole thing while reading on a digital display, just turn your tablet sideways and flip your PDF viewer to two-up mode.

Holden:
Yeah. This is about as unusual and alarming as a car with four wheels. :-p

Hakushaku:
I’d be thoroughly disappointed if I paid $100+ for a Deluxe Print Book and got a book optimised for a handheld device.

Holden:
As would about half a million dollars worth of other people, I imagine.


sakii:
can you tell us how it is the change between “i want to learn sorcery” to “i am a sorcerer” story wise.

Vance:
There’s not just one story, so it’s hard to generalize.

Maybe you grew up in the alleys of Nexus, or Wu Jian, or countless other cities across Creation. Poverty, homelessness, and orphanhood marked you as prey for the strong, and whether it was your fists or your wits or your charm that you relied on, it was never enough. And then one day, while wandering the squalid wreck of an ancient temple, in search of food or treasure or a place to spend the night, the ground beneath you crumbled. You fell into an ancient ruin of a bygone age, and found the phylactery of a sorcerer-queen, an egg of brilliant amethyst. You held power in your hand, and teased out the secrets of spellcraft through trial and mishap. You don’t know the word sorcerer, but that doesn’t matter. The hunger pangs, the cruel men, the cold nights will never torment you again. All you lack for now is a purpose.

Maybe you grew up a changeling-child, spirited away from your crib to be raised in a raksha’s great palace of opal and chryselephantine. You thought nothing of reciting sing-song incantations of ancient spells, frolicking through the steps of eldritch rituals, and battening yourself on the souls your faceless father stole from the strange ape-people who huddled in their villages and camps. You grew up a sorcerer, and couldn’t imagine it being otherwise. And then the light of the sun shone in your heart, revealing the truth of what your master was. You smote him down with the very sorcery he had taught you, and ventured forth into Creation to atone for the sins of your childhood folly.

Maybe you came to the Isle of Voices full of pride and ambition, eager to enter the Heptagram and learn the eldritch arts of its sorcerous masters. You memorized alchemical formulae and arcane equations, observed the rituals of workings and summonings with a keen eye, and walked amid the strangeness of the Isle as a peer to the unknown. Your initiation was an instant and an eternity, a moment of satori as all the laws and principles you studied finally came together as something greater, finally clicked like the last lock of a puzzle box. You thought you had understood sorcery before, but as the cosmos unfolded before you, you realized the smallness of all the pride you had once borne.

Or something else!

sakii:
Are we going to have things like that in the core or the future book of sorcery??
Because those fictions always give me better ideas

Vance:
I came up with those off the top of my head, but all of them should be trivially easy to hack out of the corebook.

Part of the goal of sorcery was to make it very, very easy to translate a background story like those into a sorcerous initiation, instead of forcing you to contort your character’s past down a specific path in service of the mechanics.


Scoop Life:
A thing came up in the Blue Rose topic that intrigued me and I figured it might be neat in Exalted too. How hard would it be to have a winged cat as your companion? Like, just a normal cat, but with wings and it can flutter around and stuff. Not super intelligent or super powerful or etc. (Granted flight is a powerful advantage, but you know what I mean. I hope. >_>)

Beatrix:
Fairly easy, maybe not straight out of chargen but it is totally a thing that you can do with the right charms.

Holden:
You could do it at chargen by just taking Familiar •••, no muss no fuss.


SrGrvsaLot:
What level of sorcery does Mother Bog have in 3e?

Vance:
That’s probably something we’ll only find out when we write her.


sakii:
Im havin a problem of perspective here.
If i put Japan or the British Island in the map of Creation how big would they be relative to the other islands in the West??

Wolfwood2:
Maybe like about 1/3 the size of the Caul, I’d say.

Holden:
Hoo, no. The Caul is around half the size of Australia, as memory serves.

Wolfwood2:
Gives a different perspective on the West, doesn’t it?

sakii:
True, i always though that they were islands-cities that you could travel on foot but if all those pieces of land are so big than you can have hundreds of years of conflict without even leaving one island the West is fucking big.

Lea:
I tried really hard to get this across when developing Compasss: West, but don’t think I succeeded. But, yeah, to the extent that some place like Scotland can have hundreds of years of history of land-based culture and not too much focus on the sea, so can any given island in the West.


Shadowlost:
Will we see anymore of Mistress of Mirthless Smile?

Holden:
Probably!


sakii:
I just saw the brochure and Arms, The realm and Dragon Blooded wasnt there. Is it rigth to expect them to be released this year?

Holden:
I try not to tempt the fates these days :-p

But that’s the idea.

icarr757:
I think this is a great idea! However, logic jumped in and has me slightly confused. Please poke any holes in my logic as you will…

Ex3 core still needs to be indexed (no small task)

Holden:
Which is not my job and requires no work from me.

icarr757:
Then it needs to go off to CCP for the big red stamp of approval…

Holden:
Which is not my job and requires no work from me.

icarr757:
Then it comes back and the backer pdf goes out and backers comb thru it for 30 days sending in feedback/glitches they find

Holden:
Which requires some minimal work from me at some point in the future.

icarr757:
I have no doubt the writers can complete Arms and sorcery, and maybe even squeeze out a complete text version for Db by the end of the year. But a completed books with art/layout…? I still have major doubts a finalized Ex3 core pdf will be in backer hands before the end of the year with all that has yet to be completed.

Again, not taking a shot at the writers at all. The writing of these supplemental books may easily be done in their time frame, but transforming a wall of text into a book people want to buy? And the core book is still in layout with not insignificant steps to go before completion?

I am highly skeptical but I would LOVE to be proven wrong!

Holden:
I have no control over whether or not artists flake out and hold a book up by several months. Not my department.


Totentanz:
I own a lot of Exalted books, 1st and 2nd Edition. While I may want the crunch of Ex3, why should I buy books that are primarily fluff, like the Realm book? What is being offered in them that I don’t already have many times over?

Holden:
New plot hooks, different approaches to old material, solid writing, lots of old material that didn’t work very well in the past either re-imagined or pitched out and replaced with totally new stuff. In the case of The Realm and the Dragon-Blooded, heavily reinvigorated Great Houses[1] and a virtually brand-new Blessed Isle[2] are two of the big draws, along with a big chapter on the satrapy system that should help Storytellers represent the Realm beyond the confines of its homeland.

[1] House Iselsi is now scary as all Hell, and I am stoked about the Ledaal shadow crusade.

[2] You remember what was really cool about Ayreon Prefecture back in the day? Yeah, me either.

Totentanz:
Thanks! As a follow-up, are there are any significant improvements in the way you are approaching these fluff books over 1E/2E?

As an example, when I read the setting books from prior editions, most of it is well (enough) written. Some of it is just plain bad, or doesn’t fit, but mostly, it’s fun. However, it gets…tedious after a while. Not everything is Denandsor, or Nexus. Is there an effort to give every province/city/arbitrary geographical designation its own punch, some reason to make me read it and say “Hey, I can do something fun with this!” ?

Holden:
Nah we’re planning to fill the books with at least 50% shitty, uninspired writing with no plot hooks or points of mental engagement. 70% if we can swing it!

Come on man that is not an answerable question lol


abakus:
I’m relatively new to Exalted, but I’m absolutely in love with the vision y’all have put forward for third edition. One thing I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around is what you guys are planning to do with the two splats, Liminals and Getimians. Just with what we know, I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around what themes they’ll be exploring that will differentiate them from and illuminate their counterparts, the Abyssals and the Sidereals. Could you give us more info on how we might use these characters in a game? Will the storytelling chapters have material for what themes these Exalts explore? Thanks!

Holden:
The corebook is fairly light on them both, since they’re not playable yet– you get enough to use them as NPCs. The Liminal Exalted really have absolutely nothing to do with Abyssals aside from being sometimes located in the same neck of the woods, while the Getimians are sort of an inversion of the common themes of Exalted in general and the Sidereals in particular– what do you do when you discover that you had a great and shining destiny ready for you, but now you don’t because someone took it away? Both are character types that are somewhat unhinged from any proper place in the world, and who have to grapple with the question of what to do next.

Solar:
Which is actually something I am interested in… where do the Getimians hang out, mostly? Could they live in Heaven? Would they have to hide their nature entirely?

Vance:
I believe Holden’s mentioned a Getimian who works for the Bureau of Fate. Take that as you will.


Dulahan:
Don’t suppose you’re willing to spoil anything about the two unnamed [Exalt] types yet are you? Even if just a general theme as a teaser? Or a name?

Vance:
They are not neighborly.

Holden:
is it really only two?

well okay, one of them are the R__________________s.


Black Flag:
But to get things somewhat back on track, the idea that the Loom of Fate should preclude free will is another symptom of modern people’s tendency to define “free will” in such an absolutist way as to render it meaningless. The ability to make conscious decisions doesn’t liberate one from causality, and however chaotic it may be, causality follows regular patterns that a preternatural force might to be able to predict. That in no way invalidates the decisions of the individuals involved, which are factored into the prediction. In other words, the Loom is a great image that’s a nice callback to ancient ideas but ought not in any way to suggest that the characters in the game don’t make meaningful decisions.

Lea:
The problem we run into here is we have to produce material our audience will accept.

Black Flag:
Are you implying that your audience will only accept the Loom of Fate as a kind of hard determinism that precludes free will of any sort? That was never the impression I got before.

Lea:
No. I don’t think our audience will accept any of the rarified discussion people are having here. I think our audience will entirely reject engaging with any of the trickier implications of free will vs. determinism.

Like, I remember me and Holden and Neall and Neph inventing samsara. That didn’t work.

Lea:
Samsara was invented to answer the question “Okay, if destiny is ultimately malleable to the point of being decided by Heavenly committees subject to office politics and bribery, and if fate can be overturned with sufficient essence use and in fact just boils down to causality in the sense of ‘If you drop a rock, it is the rock’s fate to fall down because that’s what dropped rocks do,’ but also if the Maidens are subject to some immutable predestination that causes them to act all inscrutible and occasionally pronounce things that must happen and cannot be avoided, then where the hell are the Maidens getting those fell pronouncements? Because it sure can’t be destiny and it sure can’t be fate!”

Didn’t work. Scrap all that; dumb idea. That was me attempting to be so sharp I cut myself. Forget it, irrelevant, move on.

Gayo:
Does 3e have a specific, different solution to this, or will it just leave it uncertain?

Lea:
Shrug.


Black Flag:
Speaking of which, O Devs, are least gods of spoons still a thing?

Holden:
They are not.

Anaximander:
If least gods as in “the least god of this blade of grass” are gone, what’s the cut-off? A field? Any field? Some fields?

Vance:
Field guardians are still a type of god that exist.

The cut-off, OOC, is probably “would it be really really dumb for this thing to have a god?”


Kerredai:
A question for Mr. Vance: how did you handle defense stunts for PCs when you were running God-Kings of Lotus? Did you coordinate them in the OOC thread, just come up with them yourself, something else?

Vance:
It was a long time ago, but I think I’d just hit them up via instant message to get their stunt before writing the post that resolved to attack.

Moving over to Skype improved the quality of combat a gorillion percent


Jürgen Hubert:
As a project manager by profession, I am assuming that Heaven’s approach is something like this:

1. The Bureau of Destiny forms an agenda, which is “Creation must survive”.
2. The predictions of the Loom of Fate give a baseline of what will happen if the Bureau of Destiny does not interfere.
3. A thorough analysis by the Bureau of Destiny spots issues in that baseline which may cause problems for Creation if they are not addressed.
4. The Bureau of Destiny creates a committee consisting of senior members of the Bureau which comes up with an action plan for addressing these issues – complete with monthly Milestones, regular reports, and so forth.
5. The members of the committee may or may not have their own agendas when developing said action plan, prioritizing their own pet concerns over the ultimate goal of the plan.
6. Inevitably, those who created the action plan are not the ones who will actually execute it – instead, the work is palmed off to junior members of the Bureau.
7. Said junior members inevitably discover that (a) the original plan is worthless, as it doesn’t address all sorts of issues that might or might not have been apparent at the beginning, or is too inflexible to adapt to a changing situation, and (b) they have been given insufficient time and resources to implement the entire plan anyway.
8. So the junior members concentrate on the parts of the plan they think are the most important (sometimes doing stuff that was never part of the plan in the first place) and do a half-assed job at best on the other stuff, or else ignore it and hope it will go away.
9. They dutifully write their regular reports, claiming great successes despite unforeseen circumstances making following the original plan difficult, and any problems are the fault of some other office anyway.
10. Suddenly, large numbers of Fair Folk/nephwracks/a Second Circle demon appear, and the junior members of the Bureau are suddenly very busy with field work while the senior members go in full-out warfare mode to figure out which office should be blamed.
11. Somehow having survived yet another five year plan, a new committee meets to discuss the plan for the next five years…

Lea:
This matches my understanding of how things worked in previous editions, albeit, ideally, with less emphasis on farce and more emphasis on “That’s how it works because that’s how real political bureaucracy works, and if it sounds too farcial to you, I’ve got some bad news….”

I’m unsure whether Holden and John have changes in mind that for that bit of Heaven’s working in particular.

Lea:
One of the problems one runs into here is “Politics is like sausage — you don’t want to see how it’s made.” Realistic, even somewhat realistic, even just reasonably consistent portrayals of bureaucratic politics, the sort that don’t fall apart into plot holes when you poke them, have to depict something resembling how bureaucratic politics actually work…

…and “How bureaucratic politics actually works” often reads as infuruiatingly farcial to anyone who isn’t familiar with the process.

We could write bureaucratic politics as not working like that, but we’d have to redesign the entire concept of bureaucratic politics from first principles in order to make it hold together conceptually, and the end result would necessarily have to in no way resemble any sort of politics as actually practiced by any real examples we could draw from for inspiration.

Wuse_Major:
My main problem with it in 1e and 2e was that you couldn’t really interact with it in any meaningful way, except for when it tried to screw you over. It made Heaven into a a place you wanted to avoid at all costs so they couldn’t sucker you into a fixed Audit that stuck you in a mountain for 700 years or, even worse, made you the TPS Report Supervisor. I work at a small engineering firm that employs roughly 20 people and we still spend an annoying amount of time doing paperwork. I do not need even that much paperwork simulation in my pretendy funtime games. Not without some sort of concrete benefit to it anyway.

If the game previously had ways to leverage your position to become a political fixer or methods for getting at the massive stores of information that Heaven has or any one of a hundred other cool things you could do with access to Heaven and a privileged position with the Bureaucracy, I think the Sids might have been much more fun for me. But it always felt like it was more about the TPS reports than fun.

This is one of the things I’m looking forwards to about the new edition. Getting to play Sidereals as James Bond, or at least Bob Howard, instead of Dilbert.

Lea:
More attention could definitely be paid to acknowledging that the infuriating elements of politics necessarily exist, while keeping the spotlight firmly on the interesting, engaging bits.


Overshee:
Question for the devs: Would a Liminal Exalt be more interested in opening or closing a Shadowland?

Holden:
Closing, generally.


Prometheus878:
Will you guys be making more books supporting homebrew after the Exigents book? I’m looking forward to seeing the crazy stuff people will do with your guidance to help them.

Personally I’m toying around with the idea of a Star Wars-alike space opera setting inspired by Heaven’s Reach, except more (ironically) “down to earth,” with a more focused intended play experience and entirely unique Exalt types.

Holden:
I am not really sure what else one could need after Exigents, besides maybe a Storyteller book.

Aretii:
Will Exigents contain guidance for building an Essence-based Charmset a la 2E Infernals, or is that a model of Exaltation that you’ve decided just doesn’t work with 3rd Edition?

Holden:
There will, at the very least, be Essence-based Exigents.

Aretii:
Ooh, what is the primary inspiration of the R__________________s?

Holden:
Oh, that’s easy. The primary basis of inspiration were D_______________.

Aretii:
Out of curiosity, is there one of those in the offing?

Holden:
Maybe!


LordofArcana:
A question for the devs: What is the difference between a sorcerous working and a crafter when it comes to helping people? Would it be clear to a savant that an idyllic village had a major artifact making life easier for them as opposed to benefiting from the actions of a sorcerer?

Vance:
There’s not always a clear, dividing line, and there’s potential for IC confusion and ambiguity. The biggest tip-off that something’s an artifact is that, well, there’s an artifact. It’s a physical thing, made of stuff. Usually that’s gonna be a good sign that it’s an artifact, although it’s not always dispositive.

Isator Levie:
I’m hoping that there’s going to be a consistent sense of the powers of Artifacts making sense as something that would come from some kind of tool or construct, as well as the idea of Artifacts as tools or constructs that would produce effects.

There’s a point at which I feel ideas of making just any random object that projects a generic “good vibes” field or whatever makes the whole sense of Artifacts become so nebulous as to render them disengaging.

Hmm, I hope that sentence makes sense…

Vance:
It does!

An Artifact that benefits a community is probably going to take the form of, say, a jade fountain that flows with clean water that is a panacea for common diseases, or a mighty golem that plows the fields, or a larder that is proofed against all rot and vermin. An auratic sort of blessing is more likely going to be the result of a demesne or manse.

Odd_Canuck:
That does get fuzzy though as somethings can happen through both artifacts and projects… If I wanted a sentient stone bust that I could give to a village to act as the immortal mayor for example, well I could craft that as an artifact or I could do it as a sorcerous project I’d think. Well, unless projects and/or artifacts have been radically reworked since the playtest days.

Vance:
Yeah. Of course, 99.99% of folks in Creation probably aren’t going to know the difference between an artifact and a sorcerous working that’s anchored in a physical object, let alone be able to tell the difference.


Simon Mcglynn:
I’m really curious about Infernals lately. Is there anything you can tell us about them that is changing between 2e and 3e? I get that it’s a long way off but I really like the little I know about 3e infernals. Really I just want to know if the moment of exaltation is gonna be more or less the same.

Holden:
That’s an interesting question, since there was so much ambiguity in 2e about what their Exaltation was supposed to be like.


Nabla:
Speaking of Hell, I do not understand Cecelyne. If she has a blank black sky, does it mean travelers can not see anything? If not, where does the light come from? Is the temperature cold like in a normal desert by night? Also, is everything a infinite erg or are there hamadas too?

Isator Levie:
I thought the sky of Cecylene still contained some bleak, dead stars.

Regardless, I would say that she is a world in which the principle of light being required to see does not apply in the same way.

Holden:
The stars of Hell are demons who read something they ought not have learned within the glass libraries of Orabilis and a a result have been cast into the sky by Orabilis, where they burn away to nothing. So the answer to “does Hell have stars?” is “sometimes.”

Cecelyne, like the rest of Hell, is lit by the mad green glow of Ligier.

Doleco:
Does the Sun set one day, and Ligier rise the next during the journey?

Lea:
Night in Hell is when the Ebon Dragon passes between Ligier and the Demon City.


Leliel:
I like the Fallen Races. However, due to 2e’s pathological fear of shaking the status quo, one of the two kind of got a bum deal.

My point is, what’s going on with Mountain Folk?

Holden:
Mountain Folk are still a loooong way off


Daerim:
Hmm… Ligier, the First and Forsaken Lion and Prince Balor are all placed under a powerful, unbreakable curse that prevents any of them from accomplishing anything (not pertaining to conflict between the three parties) while the other two live (very liberal definition of “live”).

Who is left standing after the dust settles?

Vance:
I feel like this runs into the whole Batman v. Superman preptime thing. Does the First and Forsaken Lion get to raise up an army of war ghosts led by his Deathknights? Does Ligier have time to chill in his workshop and craft the dual-wielded daiklaves Ghostfucker and Rakshafucker? Does Balor lead numberless millions of raksha, monstrous prodigies, and conceptual viruses into play? There’s too many variables!


DrLoveMonkeyMD:
It’s also worth noting that ex3 is OPs longest book yet as well. So if any book is going to smash the proof passes record this one probably will.

Matt.Ceb:
No, it’s not.

Mage20 is confirmed, by an OP employee, to be larger than Ex3.

Holden:
M20 is bigger, but not by a lot.


Lea:
Not speaking as a developer: I would be really surprised if Havesh is ever officially disavowed in a published product, as some people want; I would sort of be equally surprised if he’s ever officially recognized. And equal to both, I would be surprised if we ever work to give any sort of impression that people like him are ineligible for Exaltation.

Holden:
Harmonious Jade makes for a pretty good example of a villain uplifted by the Unconquered Sun because he saw some potential in her to be more than the killing tool of a demon cult. Havesh, by contrast, is a villain who gained the power of Solar Exaltation and promptly used it to be an even bigger villain. I think that in 2015, we don’t need to put a Night Caste whose entire modus operadi can be summed up by “hey, now that I’m a demigod I can murder and rape anybody I want” into the books in order to inject moral ambiguity into the game.

Which is not to say that Solars can’t turn out to be villains– they most assuredly can– but when they put on a RENEGADE 4 LIFE shirt the moment their caste mark lights up for the first time, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion than a) the Unconquered Sun is a moron or b) Exaltation is a complete crapshoot. Neither of those are impressions we want to give.

This also isn’t an edition where we feel the need to trot out every single character or place or thing that was ever mentioned in the game’s publication history just because it was once a thing. I suspect Havesh will remain Sir Not Appearing in This Edition, because the effort needed to make him less of a gruesome cartoon would probably be more productively spent just inventing new characters, and he’s not actually important in any major sense, unlike say Ma-Ha-Suchi, Mnemon, or Raksi.

Holden:
Each of the old Caste Books, by design, has one really scary Solar in there that is supposed to make the reader go “oh, this kind of shit is what Kejak built the Immaculate propaganda of the Forsaken, the Unclean, the Deceivers, etc, around.” That is to say, Havesh was not supposed to be a rogue whose adventures we cheer on even though we know he’s a greedy selfish pissant like Jayne Cobb (and frankly the most likable thing about Jayne was that he was associated with characters the viewer genuinely did like, and had good banter with them). Havesh, like Lyta, is supposed to be pretty horrifying.

Lea:
For those who want the full set, it’s Lyta (textbook ultraviolent genocidal Forsaken), Wind (who’s not awful but he’s a super-preacher dedicated to dismantling the Immaculate Order, so pretty much the Immaculate idea of the Blasphemous), Fehim (because, you know, demon pacting, ergo Unclean), Havesh the Vanisher (pretty Wretched!) and the Mirror Flag rounds it out representing the Deceivers.

I don’t know whether it was intentional or accidental or whatever the way they each represent the Immaculate stereotype of their respective Castes in such different ways, but Havesh does seem to be the worst of them in terms of the reaction he inspires.

Holden:
I think it’s probably more than Havesh brings nothing particularly special or desirable to the table to make him seem complex or interesting, rather than simply revolting.

Isator Levie
:
Okay, Holden, the person I’m asking and the co-developer, has said “Havesh being Exalted makes the Sun look stupid or terrible”, as a criticism. I am asking what makes a person like Lyta appropriate as one of the Solar Exalted while somebody like Havesh apparently undermines the concept.

While I’m at it, I also feel like asking what exactly the difference is between Solars who make the desirable kinds of villains and Havesh “starting out as a villain* and using his new power to become an even worse one”.

What are the standards for an “appropriate” Solar villain that the setting could depict for the sake of giving players ideas?

* Which I find to be a somewhat… troubling read on the idea of an impoverished and desperate young person resorting to crime, but whatever.

Holden:
To the modern reader, Lyta is a psychopath. To plenty of pre-modern (and some few non-Western modern) cultures, Lyta would look plenty heroic– a lot of people in Creation straight up do not have a problem with sacrificing your enemies to curry the favor of the gods. You could tell them, “yes, but Lyta ties Dragon-Blooded to huge bronze mirrors and aims them at the sun, then chants prayers to the deity that empowered her while her captives roast to death,” and as long as Lyta was aligned with the listener’s interest, they would remain politely quiet. They’d still be waiting for you to get to the point. Lyta is a violent extremist, but she is out there waging her own war against the hegemony that murdered her kind and stole the thrones they once occupied, and that fits plenty of definitions of “heroic” in the Age of Sorrows. Maybe the Unconquered Sun felt that the rolls of his Chosen could use a Rorschach or two?

On the other hand, first, Havesh is a villain by pretty much anyone’s rubric. He’s a contract murderer who lives high on the hog and rapes his victims’ wives, then goes on to take on the next contract to murder whoever the hell for whoever’s willing to pay. Second, he’s using his divine might to satisfy the petty feuds and vendettas of the scumbags the Night Caste exist to scourge and regulate. The Zenith equivalent to Havesh would be a prostitute who, once Exalted, decides they can use their newfound superhuman allure to raise their prices and stop worrying about VD, and then calls it a day. He’s not only a blackguard with no real redeeming value, he’s also a waste of an Exaltation.


sakii:
How man spell and workings would the regular mortal sorcerer have??
Whats to much and what is to little?

Vance:
The system does not place any mechanical restrictions on mortal sorcerers with regards to this, although obviously the logic of the setting does.

If you want to play a mortal sorcerer, you’ll be able to begin with four spells out of chargen, albeit at the cost of basically all of your BP. I don’t think that’s representative of what a “novice” sorcerer in Creation would know.

sakii:
Ah, no, im not talking about my characters.
Im walking around and suddently a wild sorcerer lair appears how many spells and workings would that sorcerer have.(I know the storyteller decides but 1 to all terrestrial and 0 to 1000 golems is a big range that im trying to narow)

Vance:
In terms of the workings, the best way to gauge how many it’s sensible for them to have that are applicable to the current situtation is to get a gage of how much time or relevant advantages that sorcerer would have put into creating them. An apprentice geomancer might have successfully animated a stone golem, but having a thousandfold legion of them is just a bit beyond his reach. Conversely, the dread lair of Koschei the Deathless, who hid his life in an egg and has been kicking around since the First Age is going to have basically as many damn workings as the ST says it has.

Holden:
There’s basically no such thing as an “average” sorcerer, or a standard advancement arc for them. They tend to be very unique individuals.


Wuse_Major:
…Also, can you use a Working to do that “remove your heart to become unaging and unkillable” thing or equivalent?

Vance:
You can try!


molikai:
I would comment on ‘The Unconquered sun choosing [who to Exalt]..’
He doesn’t do the choosing. by Design, because if he did the choosing, he could be ordered ‘don’t choose’ by the primordials.

Holden:
That’s a post-hoc justification for certain 2e Infernal Charms.


Matt.Ceb:
The last multiple weeks of “Layout pass #x” semi-updates weren’t really that riveting, to be frank.

Holden:
The highly detailed version, wherein Rich asks Maria to move the text of a sidebar just a smidge to the left so it isn’t so close to the border, and to push this header over to the top of the next column of text so it isn’t sitting there down at the bottom of a column all on its lonesome, and I ask for one sentence to be added to the Sail rules, wouldn’t be much more riveting. We’re at the stage of the “patch notes” where it’s just a wall of “Fixed a bug preventing the correct sound from loading when players summoned their mount in Ironforge” type shit, i.e. unexciting but you’d be really fucking unhappy if we didn’t do it properly.

David J Prokopetz:
The layout artist may come to you and say: “Hey, this section is exactly one line too long to fit neatly on a single page; can you trim it by 8-10 words?”

Holden:
This exact thing has happened several times, most recently with the Lunar portion of the first chapter in the last pass.

Wuse_Major:
…..Could you post the cut line? I get that it probably won’t make any sense and you probably just tightened up the passage anyway so there isn’t an actual “cut line” but, if there is, it would be kind of a fun mini-spoiler.

Holden:
I rarely ever cut, opting instead to re-write for less word use, where at all possible.

David J Prokopetz:
Yeah, in my experience it’s less “cut entire lines” and more “drop a superfluous adjective here, reword a non-critical dependent clause there, and hope that it actually makes a difference with respect to where the line breaks fall once the text has been justified”.

EDIT: Well, to be honest, the first step is usually “comb the entire column hunting for overlooked orphans to kill”.

EDIT2: In the interest of clarity, in layout jargon, an “orphan” is a situation where the last line of a paragraph consisting of three or more lines has only one word on it. They’re considered a minor faux pas in terms of reading flow, so ideally you don’t want to have any – but when it comes to “we need to trim exactly one line” situations, you kind of catch yourself hoping you missed one, because then you can save an entire line by trimming one word.

Holden:
Yep.

Good professional layout: not actually something that just any random idiot could do in a week with no training. Who knew?


Molez:
Is the plan to have a google docs version of the DB book ready for review when it comes to getting that Kickstarted? I feel like that will allay a lot of concerns that people will bring up – and seems to have been positively received on other game lines?

It seems like if we are going to get it published this year, there is probably enough already done for that to be viable?

Holden:
I will never, ever dump a raw-text version of an Exalted book, as I think it seriously harms a Kickstarter’s sales from day 4 onward and produces a shallow pledge tail at the end. That’s bad for a hype-driven fundraising mechanism. I also think raw-text releases for crunch-heavy games tend to feel discouraging and off-putting, and that good layout and art direction are really important for making something as crunchy as Exalted feel approachable and engaging, rather than intimidating.

The plan is to have the DB book well into layout before starting its Kickstarter, though, so we can do lots of “finished” excerpts complete with art and everything, and then release the PDF close on the heels of the KS finishing– the day after it closes, if I had my druthers, although that’s rarely the sort of thing you can guarantee in a hobby where just one artist flaking out can fuck the schedule by two months or more.

Molez:
I guess what I’m asking is – will you be putting out more previews for the DB book than you might for later ones, as a very definitive way of saying – look, this is 99% done, there is lots to get excited about etc.

Holden:
The plan has always been to go pretty heavy on post-corebook previews.


Molez:
Given the large number of posts talking about the leak, which aspect of the system are you most looking forward to people seeing once the leak comes out?

Holden:
AP reports in general. Character construction. As it stands, I can separate the voice of experience from the voice of “I read the thing and I think I know how this will play” with almost perfect accuracy.


Sigilistic:
So John Mørke has been going and previewing martial art styles, giving brief descriptions. He’s mentioned the oldies and goodies, but holy cow, there’s a lot of new ones.

John (as quoted by Sigilistic):
Snake Style, a “soft,” offensive style ideal for assassinations. Signature technique: striking through armor to deliver a fatal blow.

Sky Tamer Style, a “hard” defensive style that requires a bullwhip. Signature jutsu creates a vortex around you, your whip cracking and striking hard enough to shatter bones.

Dark Messiah, a “hard” offensive style using your bare hands to shatter bones and rip through tendons. Signature jutsu is destroying someone’s senses and shattering them with a hundred fists moving through the shroud.

Mantis Style, a style that is both “soft” and “hard”, defensive but primarily offensive. The Mantis signature technique is replying to any attack with a lethal counter attack, hands striking like steel talons.

Black Claw, a style with primarily “soft” defensive technique, and the dreaded jutsu for which it was named, wreathing your hand with caustic black Essence as you rip your target’s heart from his chest.

Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Style, a style that is “hard” and “soft,” defensive and offensive, and requires total mental and physical control of one’s Essence. The legendary jutsu of this style allows you to assume the stances of other supernatural martial arts that you have mastered simultaneously.

Stone Archon Style, a “hard” defensive style that uses soul-twisting koans to defeat an opponent’s mind and spirit, while increasing your physical strength and durability. The signature technique of Stone Archon allows you to enunciate and solve a cosmic riddle that transforms you into a mountainous archon of stone.

Ebon Shadow, a “hard” offensive style that uses stealth and subterfuge in lieu of a defense. Sowing chaos with your opponent’s senses, you strike horrifying blows with sai or fighting chains. Your signature jutsu is a defensive shadow aura that makes you incredibly difficult to strike.

Righteous Devil Style, an unclassified offensive style that utilizes a firewand and your Essence to control the streams of flame that leap from your weapon. The signature technique buffets your foe with the fires of judgment, forcing them to repent or burn.

Heaven’s Ladder Style, a “hard” offensive style that is legendary for using a ladder as a weapon, Heaven’s Ladder is the signature style of the Imperial City Fire Brigade. Its signature techniques involve scaling and leaping from the ladder, using it as a fulcrum, a catapult, a platform, and a clinching tool.

Monkey Style, a “soft” offensive style that emphasizes conservation of force to turn a larger opponent’s strength and momentum against them. The signature jutsu involves punching someone in the balls really hard.

Red Locust Swarm Style, an unclassified offensive style that involves the carrying of and mixing of volatile reagents with one’s own Essence, to hurl caustic bombs and acid bolts. A style made for maiming and killing groups of tightly-packed enemies.

White Reaper, a “hard” offensive style using a war scythe. This battlefield martial art focuses on wide arcing strikes and defense as offense, to slaughter groups of foes in tight formations. Its signature technique is the “Bleeding Crescent Strike” that expends arcs of burning momentum to deliver a critical strike with maximum force.

Ivory Pestle Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses a battle staff and scenery to create a nigh impassable defensive chokepoint. The signature jutsu of Ivory Pestle allows you to hold a closed position like a hallway, rampart, or bridge, launching a shattering counterattack on anyone who tries to move through you or past you.

Single Point Shining Into the Void, the legendary lost style made famous by the loculicidal duelists of the Solar Deliberative. Single Point uses a single-sided reaper daiklave; its characterization as a style that utilizes sheathe-drawing attacks is misleading. It is a “hard” offensive style that emphasizes understanding your blade’s natural rhythm and matching it to unleash strikes of unparalleled speed and fury.

Terrible Ascent Driven Beast, a style made famous by the bureaucrats of the Thousand Scales. Taking a sliver of the Wyld into your heart, you hold the raw chaos within the binding chains of tax codes, border surveys, archaic trade regulations, and hundreds of years of census survey and almanac knowledge. Subsequently, you are able to bind someone’s Essence and cripple their nervous system with citations and recitations of weaponized bureaucratic lore and bludgeoning with really heavy tax ledgers. The signature technique of Terrible Ascent Driven Beast is transformation into the Efficacious Wind-Borne Auditor, a phantasmal effigy of yourself that moves like the wind, can run on air and pass through walls.

Border of Kaleidoscopic Logic, a Sidereal martial art classified as “soft” and offensive, utilizing Essence understanding and reality-encoding mantras to merge with your opponent’s existence and alter it. The signature jutsu of this style forces your opponent to live his entire life backwards to the moment of birth. Outwardly, this takes only a few seconds. Internally, they experience this in real time.

Silver-Voiced Nightingale Style, a “hard” and “soft” offensive style that utilizes musical (sonic) weaponry, primarily your voice, to debilitate a target and end a fight before it starts. Used as a “hard” style, the voice can be shaped to blow a heavy oak door to flinders, put cracks in a stone wall, and bring down rotten or loose tonnage on the heads of your enemies. Used “soft” it can paralyze, stun, and disorient. The signature technique allows you to strike a foe with your voice like a solid fist.

Thunder on the Final Precipice Style, a “hard” offensive style that utilizes a familiar hunting hawk or other prey bird and fighting claws as a means of attack. The practitioner can cast his soul and his very senses into the prey bird, infusing its talons and beak with steel-hard Essence and making it strike like a heavy ballista, while borrowing its speed, accuracy, and incredible eyesight for launching his own attacks. The signature technique, “Ghosts on the Empty Steppe” allows you to perfectly counter one of your opponent’s Charms for the rest of the scene.

Graceful Hummingbird Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses a fencing blade to parry, stun, and disable attackers, emphasizing deterrence and minimizing wasted energy. Its signature technique involves striking someone the moment they attack, completely shattering their momentum before the fight begins.

Steel Devil Style, a “hard” offensive style that utilizes a blade wielded in each hand, Steel Devil emphasizes striking inside the line of your opponent’s attack with one blade while attacking their body with the other. Its signature technique unleashes a flurry of repeating strikes that continues to deliver sequential attacks with each successful blow.

Dreaming Pearl Courtesan, a fighting style popularized by courtiers and consorts in southern polities, where a member of the royal seraglio is just as likely to be a spy, assassin, and bodyguard. Dreaming Pearl is both a “soft” and “hard” style with offensive and defensive emphasis. It uses an eclectic blend of courtesan’s tools, including folding war fans, razor-lined sleeves and skirt-hems, sinuous dancing motions, and even one’s own hair to attack. The signature jutsu of Dreaming Pearl Courtesan transforms you into a massive flying carp dragon.

Tiger Style, one of the most famous and deadly of all fighting styles, Tiger is a “hard” offensive style that uses baghnakhs or fingers hardened to the strength of iron, to claw through joints, tendons and sinnew, and stiff punches and kicks to shatter bones. Tiger Style’s signature technique is being able to fight on the ground equally well as standing up; once an opponent’s leg is broken or back is injured, that is often where the fight goes.

Violet Bier of Sorrows, a style known to few. It is named after the symbology of the department of Saturn (the Maiden of Endings) in the Bureau of Destiny, and her constellations dwell within its astrological schema. Violet Bier of Sorrows is “soft” when it is on the offense, deflecting, evading, and countering with telling, crippling strikes; it is “hard” on the defense, disrupting a foe’s attacks with blows to their joints or torso by striking within the arc of their strikes. The typical practice involves a short slashing blade for offensive strikes, and a heavy cudgel for defensive strikes. The signature technique of this style is the “Metal Storm.” Sensing a crippled foe’s moment of defeat, you make it real, launching a volley of strikes impossibly from every direction.

Obsidian Chains of Torment, a style associated with executioners and gladiators hailing from the shadowlands. It is a “hard” and “soft” offensive style that exclusively uses a chain scythe with a huge sickle blade at one end and a heavy weight at the other. The signature technique of Obsidian Chains of Torment whirls the blade of the chain scythe with terrifying speed while advancing, forcing the attacker to flee–or if they rush their attack, to be surprised by a clashing blow from the weighted end of the weapon before being sliced in half as the sickle makes its next pass.

Hungry Ghost Style, a “soft” offensive style that uses baghnakhs but is wholly unlike Tiger Style in that it emphasizes passing around an opponent’s attacks at close range, dancing into their periphery and flowing around the arcs of their motion while slashing at vital areas with your claws and trying to drive them off balance. The signature technique of Hungry Tiger draws the life force from a heavily bleeding opponent to fuel the speed and power of your killing blow.

Crane Style, a “soft” defensive style common to vartabeds of the Near East. Crane uses war fans and graceful flowing movements to confuse an opponent and draw them into committing into extended attacks only to find that you have dodged at the last moment and delivered a bruising counter. A Crane stylist wears down her opponent with her defensive, punishing stances. Her signature jutsu is a counterattack that infuses her counterattack with incredible force when she retaliates against someone who has attacked her previously.

Charcoal March of Spiders, a “hard” offensive Sidereal martial art that involves honing your Essence into fine steel hard threads that can easily cut through stones. Casting these deadly wires out like a web, you make it nearly impossible to approach or evade as the fight progresses. Once you have crippled and trapped your opponent, you can strike them with the signature attack, Water Spider Bite, which allows you to rip out your target’s soul and devour it.
I am very much looking forward to a MA book.

Fire Dragon style, a “hard” offensive style that primarily uses your natural weapons (fists, feet, knees, elbows) to intercept an attacker’s blows with strikes of your own. It is a fast, aggressive style, whose signature jutsu involves igniting the Essence that lives at the end of your fist in devouring fireballs that explode on contact with your hapless foe’s torso.

Water Dragon Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses the Essence of water to accentuate your movements, allowing you to flow gracefully and fluidly away from and around your enemy’s strikes, while coming back at them with twice the force. Its signature jutsu involves shaping channels of water around you into punishing extensions of your normal attacks, extending your range with battering bolts of fast-moving liquid.

Earth Dragon Style, a “hard” defensive style that involves hardening your body by taking dozens to hundreds of strikes a day in training, and learning to hone your physical Essence in places of Earth aspected power, such as mountains, quarries, and so on. The signature jutsu of Earth Dragon allows you to channel the earth around you into your attacks, hammering your foe with walls of solid rock.

Wood Dragon Style, a “hard” defensive and offensive style that involves moving into your target’s periphery and forcing them to make unsteady attacks, attacking them when they are off-center, and holding your ground like an unmoving tree when they try to attack you. The signature jutsu of this style allows you to merge your Essence with the plant life around you, calling snarling roots from the ground to bind and slash at your opponents.

Air Dragon Style, a “soft” offensive style that uses winding, twisting motions and speed to turn your opponent’s own strength against him, stealing his momentum and putting him off balance for your own fast, punishing strikes. The signature Jutsu of Air Dragon allows you to command gusts of wind to accompany your strikes, throwing your opponents off balance with gale force upon landing an attack.

Quicksilver Limbus Style, a “hard” offensive assassination style that involves honing the Essence around your hands until they can slice through wood and softer stones (not to mention flesh, muscle, sinew, etc). Your lightning fast slash attacks eventually engender an ability to hurl your Essence like a dart, or to throw precise and incredibly fast throwing knives. The signature jutsu involves harnessing your Essence into a caustic silver streak that you hurl into a foe’s eyes, temporarily blinding them and making it impossible to dodge your flurry of thrown blades.

Savage Witch Style, a style used by those hardened, wizened old ancients who live on the Steppes on the edge of the Wyld in the Near North. It is an unclassified offensive style that uses the growth of a long, carnivorous beard as its main method of attack. Users of Savage Witch are known to have bestial claws on their hands and feet, run on air, and release swarms of flesh-eating one-eyed bats from their beards. The horrifying signature technique of Savage Witch is when the beard splits open into a giant, many-toothed maw and slams shut like an iron maiden around an opponent, devouring them completely.

Dread Cyclone Style, a “hard” offensive style that attacks almost exclusively with kicks. Dread Cyclone is heavily practiced on the southern and eastern shores of the Realm, where practitioners are said to be able to land kicks at any time, from any angle. The kick techniques allow even smaller framed women to use their momentum and body weight to land crushing leg attacks on much larger foes. The signature jutsu is the eponymous Dread Cyclone, in which you stun a foe with a shattering kick and then leap into the air, twisting leg over leg with a flurry of alternating kicks with the force of a compact hurricane.

Blood Riot Style, a “hard” offensive style used to train assassins in the lawless southern city states along the Diamond Road. The training in this style is brutal, infusing the killing techniques and methods deep into your mind and soul, burying it within your blood. Blood Riot uses wrist razors to slash and score opponents. It is an aggressive, fast style, but its signature jutsu involves releasing a vial of your own volatile blood, alchemically treated to release a scent that unlocks the full extent of your buried training. This transforms you physically, making your skin harder, your teeth sharper. Your fingernails become steel hard claws, and you move like the wind and fight blindly, slashing at a target that has been hit with your Riot Blood until they are dead or you are.

Dancing Golem Style, a style used in the jungle riverlands of the Southeast, named after the great war god statues of Zek’e. Dancing Golem is a brutal “hard” offensive style that uses the knees and elbows primarily to break an opponent’s arms and legs as they try to attack. It can also deliver shattering punches and kicks, though these are seen as tools to stun or finish an opponent. The signature jutsu is an Essence-infused flying knee that can topple a war god.

Serpent’s Tongue Style, used primarily by bandit clans in the highlands of the Blessed Isle, is an unclassified offensive style that uses a rope dart to fight at multiple ranges. Up close, the rope is used to snare limbs in order to throw or batter opponents while they are off balance. The rope dart is typically laced with a poison distilled from the practitioner’s blood and Essence by an alchemist who knows the trick of making it into a toxin that painfully inhibits Dragon-Blooded Essence. Stylists also put this poison on the spiked gauntlets they wear, and generally use a loose assembly of armor to protect their shoulders, knees, elbows, heel, and hands, coinciding with the body weapons they tend to strike with.

Cloud-Binding Focus Style, a style practiced traditionally by members of the Imperial Legion, this is an offensive style that is both hard and soft, and can be practiced with heavy armor. It complements styles such as Wind-Cutting Blade and the much more rare Single Point Shining Into the Void, but itself is an unarmed style emphasizing capturing your opponent’s limbs and hurling them to the ground. Tossing an armored opponent to the ground can leave them mortally injured before a weapon is even drawn to dispatch them. In addition to meeting and channeling an opponent’s force into brutal throws, Cloud-Binding Focus has a series of straight-line striking techniques for disrupting a number of attacks and breaking out of grapples. The signature jutsu is a perfect counter that absorbs the power of an incoming attack, increasing your strength tenfold as you bodily lift and slam your opponent into the ground.

Cobra Style, a style that derives much of its technique from Snake style and Crane style, it is a “hard” offensive style, with some defensive techniques that mirror Crane. Cobra stylists use short blades with a reverse grip, pointed down like the fangs of a viper. Their signature jutsu is the False Crane Posture, a neutral defensive stance that conceals their true movement, allowing them to strike an opponent’s vital centers with a lightning-fast poisoned Essence strike.

Throne Shadow Style, a traditionally unarmed “soft” defensive style that allows you to channel your martial talents through a number of subordinates, allowing them to move and strike in perfect synchronization as your weapons. This is its signature technique.

Citrine Poxes of Contagion, a Sidereal martial art that fashions your Essence into a virulent strain of unforeseen maladies that wreak havoc with your foe’s physical and spiritual immunities. The signature jutsu is a horrific withering strike that does damage to the soul and flesh and scars the opponent into their next lifetime.

Surging Fist Style, a style that is falling out of use on the Blessed Isle due to the rise of Cloud-Binding Focus. Surging Fist is a “hard” offensive style that teaches the user to harness his Essence in one place, allowing him to flash across short distances at the speed of light and deliver critical blows. Dragon-Blooded mostly consider this a showy circus style, unfit for the battlefield, though a few Exalted practitioners are working to revive it as a legitimate battlefield style. In any case, it uses no weapons or armor and relies on crushing kicks, straight punches, and uses very few roundhouse or spinning motions to generate momentum, forcing stylists to hone their Essence and rely on it for greater attack force. The signature technique of Surging Fist is opening the opponent with a flashing stunning strike that empowers the stylist to make an additional crushing attack instantly.

Wind-Cutting Blade, a “hard” offensive style famous in the Realm. It relies on use of the reaper daiklave, and features many telltale techniques that involve sheathing and drawing the blade at supersonic speeds. Wind-Cutting Blade is considered to be one of the most dangerous and impressive martial arts in the Realm. Few know that it is a somewhat weaker derivative of Single Point Shining Into the Void, a style that is almost unknown in RY 768. The signature jutsu of the Wind-Cutting Blade is to flash past an opponent, delivering a strike before they can react, and sheathing your blade to unleash the killing force of the attack upon their body a moment later.

Holden:
he’s assigning people MA styles upon request on Facebook, and ran out of published canon styles a while back lol

Holden:
This is someone fucking about to amuse himself on his personal Facebook feed, not a preview of upcoming material or a promotional thing. So…

Vance:
I am solidly convinced that Heaven’s Ladder is bad ass, although I think the direction I took it towards the capstone is misguided in hindsight.


Anu:
Which Martial Arts styles would you recommend for a Sorcerer?

Holden:
Tiger style + Wood Dragon’s Claw is a fearsome thing

Wuse_Major:
Hey Holden, which spells are included in the Core?

Holden:
Well, Wood Dragon’s Claw is there.

digitalronin:
Is Incomparable Body Arsenal there as well?

Holden:
It is definitely my view that there ain’t no party like an Incomparable Body Arsenal party.


Wuse_Major:
The other thing to remember about Exalted is that people didn’t quite appreciate the level of design needed to make Exalted’s system work properly for what they wanted it to do. It’s like trying to build a CCG that plays like Duel Monsters does on the Yu-Gi-Oh cartoons, instead of in real life*, layered on top of a fighting game, a wargame, a dating sim, minecraft, and a couple of other things. The system either needed to be pared back and made explicitly “oh, just give it your best guess” like Mage, or it actually needs this sort of complex iterative design where people can actually try stuff, break it, try other stuff, break that, until they get it right.

Given the number of different types of situations Exalted is ostensibly supposed to be able to handle, I’d say that, in theory, it probably has to be the most inherently complicated generic system on the market. I mean, to properly allow all of the five Solar Castes to really shine at what they do and keep the whole CCG thing, you have to build a system that can handle pretty much anything and then mix in a CCG on top of it. None of the other generic systems I’m aware of do that (I’ll grant that you could do it in GURPS and their magic system already kinda does it, but the magic system isn’t as extensive as the Charms of the Exalted need to be, given the setting.)

To do Exalted right, you either need to rework the whole charm tree thing and do something simpler and more controllable (I could see Exalted working well with a good core system that lets you do everything from Archery to War pretty well, and the Exalted getting inherent dice adders and other bonuses, possibly with Vampire style power cascades) or, well, it’s gonna take awhile.

*In the cartoons, everyone gets the exact cards they need to play these awesome combos when they really need to. If you tried to pull off some of those combos in real life, you’d get hammered to death waiting for that one card you need to pull this off. Which is kinda why I don’t really play Magic anymore.

Holden:
Yes. Our objectives included “everything the system does, it does well,” and “everything it does can support robust Charm interaction,” because we didn’t want another edition where the No Moon has an anemic Charm set because thinky-stuff is barely supported, or social stuff is barely supported, or whatever. So after trying to design the best cinematic combat system ever made and the best social engine ever made (whether we succeeded, we will leave up to the player’s judgment, but it’s what we were gunning for), we then had to design fun naval combat, tactical warfare, medicine and disease and poisons, crime and investigation, crack the RPG Holy Grail of non-shitty grappling, a kung-fu subsystem, sorcery, a sorcerous working subsystem that lets you do whatever you can imagine while still remaining granular and balanced, a new equipment subsystem, a magic item subsystem, and oh yeah, design the first set of crafting rules in the hobby’s history that don’t either totally sideline you or just amount to “input resource, receive thing.” And then lock Charms onto all that stuff. And then figure out how to streamline all of it so that it doesn’t kill Storytellers. While future-proofing against the 10+ corebook-complexity-level supplements we know are going to lock onto the top of all this stuff later on.

It turns out that takes a bit longer than the six months that were originally budgeted to get the project out the door, setting aside multiple life-threatening health issues and whatnot.

Solar:
I don’t think anyone has questioned the amount of work that’s gone into the project at any point.

Holden:
“I could put something together to take care of that in a weekend” has been presented to me as the commentary on things we wrestled with for 3-4 months or more, many times.

Dulahan:
I feel like the difference with Exalted, and why we have so many… angry opinions (to put it mildly) is how much closer the game sounded when we backed it, combined with just how much money people put into it.

I mean seriously, I put in like $120 and when I saw some data somewhere, I was below the MEDIAN pledge! A lot of people dumped a lot of money into this kickstarter – and to be frank, were I not unemployed at the time of the KS, I’d probably have dumped more in. Which compared to even some infamous Kickstarters that have been going longer since the pledge does make a big difference.

Money brings out the worst in people, and the more involved, the angrier they might feel.

Holden:
Imagine for a moment a world wherein RPG creators were actually paid, let’s say, the minimum wage of the state of Utah ($7 per full hour) for their labor, and only counting entire hours spent actively working on the project. I can reasonably expect that due to the fact that I do not live in that world, this project will put me in the hole– not generating earnings, but rather personal revenue loss– to the tune of $70,000. That’s, again, hypothesizing a world wherein what I do is no more valuable than asking if you want fries with that. In the world I live in, it’s a lot closer to making sweatshop Nikes in Uganda.

So while I am sympathetic to the outlook of “I spent my money, I wantz my book!” please keep in mind that the more time we spend ensuring this is a quality product, the more we– I, personally– lose on the thing, whereas you are presently going to get your book for what you paid for it, even though the production and shipping prices have gone up during the production cycle. And the book will be awesome.


Colin Fredericks:
How can I help?

Holden:
Run a game for your friends when the corebook drops.

Monkipi:
I’m considering trying to record my preludes and maybe first session with some high quality audio equipment when the book drops. Would spreading that kind of content be kosher or encouraged?

Holden:
Encouraged!


Anu:
Here’s another question: Can I barter with Madame Marthesine for Sorcerous initiation?
Follow-up question: If the answer is yes, what would that kind of Sorcery look like?

Holden:
Sounds cool to me. I would suspect she’d give you someone else’s power that they bartered away to her long ago! What might a person be able to offer her for such a mighty boon, though?


Aretii:
Probably been answered already, but how many Solar Charms (not counting MA/evocations) are there in the Ex3 Core? How does that number compare to Ex2?

Holden:
About three times as many as in EX2.


El_phantasmo:
Dragon Kings – Are there still only going to be the 4 species (Raptok, Mosok, Anklok and Pterok) or could there be a 5th type? I know the Pterok were the Northern ones, but any normal reptilian would suffer in the cold climes and always thought a more stocky type would suit better? Even a non-dino type or hybrid with the wooly mammoths/rhinos?

Holden:
Don’t really have any plans at the moment to introduce the oft fan-requested Brontok or to mess with the current 4. I should also note that nearly 0 thought has gone into the DKs at this point, they’re something that won’t get addressed for several years.


HoratioAtTheBridge:
Aren’t mospids basically archaeopteryxes?

Lea:
It’s raitons that are archeopterixes, being roughly raven-sized and occupying a roughly equivalent position in Creation’s common mythology as ravens do on Earth. Mospids are the same sort of “toothed bird”/”feathered dinosaur” animal, but are larger and more useful for falconry-type hunting and being combat-capable familiars. I don’t recall whether they correspond to any particular real fossil animal, but given the real gaps in the fossil record and the real morphological variance within any given animal type in real Earth history, it is almost certain that “Someing like an an archeopterix, but bigger and higher on the food chain” has been a real animal at some point.

taleswapper:
Ahhh, I’ve always been fond of Quetzalcoatlus. There’s a marvelous life-sized replica skeleton hanging from the ceiling at a museum in Dallas. The room it’s in is bi-level, so you can see it from the ground or go upstairs to confront the thing at eye-level. It’s really quite impressive. Though I can understand the desire for something more like the mythical figure.

Lea:
Quetzalcoatlus northropi is goddamned terrifying.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
How does something that big fly???

Lea:
“Powerful wing muscles,” basically.

Pterosaurs have an advantage over birds in that when birds launch themselves into the air, they do it with their hind legs, but when they fly, they fly with their wings. This means the amount of power they can put into liftoff is limited by the muscles of their hind legs, but more muscled hind legs increase their weight without adding to the lifting power of their wings. Pterosaurs ain’t havin’ any of that shit. They push off with their arms, and fly with their arms.

The other thing to keep in mind about the largest azhdarchids is that we’re pretty sure their hunting method is, first they fly around looking for prey, and then when they find it, they land near it and charge it and attack it with the big pointy beak. So imagine that thing loping at you along the ground with its giant weird skinny-ass “animated skeleton” gait, aiming to spear you.

El_phantasmo:
Which is basically brown trousers time.

Worse – they might have been pack\flock hunters?

Even more horrific? If that thing screeches\screams whilst loping its way towards you.

Meep!

Lea:
As Holden has said, Phorusrhacidae may have been the terror bird, but Quetzalcoatlus northropi is the pants-shitting terror bird.

Blaque:
If I remember right the ecological niche these things had was not much unlike that of a crane or a heron. Just you know, instead of frogs or fish it was dinosaurs and other archosaurs as large as humans.

Lea:
I distinctly remember reading that they were thought to be skim-feeders for a while, but recent evidence suggests they wouldn’t be able to fly that close to the water without getting pulled into it when they scoop with their beaks. So they were land predators that ran down their prey, using their flight to cover large distances, spot prey from far away, and quickly approach to charge position.

(Also, I’m pretty sure one of those things running at you would look bigger than a T-rex.)

Prometheus878:
Hm. Well, I hope that Tyrant Lizards are twice as big as regular T-rex in this edition, because quite frankly I don’t feel comfortable with T-rex getting upstaged by a bunch of big birds. (really big, terrifying birds, but still. It’s T-rex, man.)

Lea:
Oh, the T-rex is still bigger by mass. I’m sure it’d win in a fight against a Q-north (ugh, sorry). Just, you know, if you want to think about “Just how scary is a big azhdarchid?” keep in mind how big it looks when it’s rushing you.


Notsteve:
Does Creation have winged snakes?

Isator Levie:
Ixcoatli has the image of winged snakes as its emblem.

Given that they’re a society built on a union between snake- and raitonfolk, I hope this means that the symbol is adopted for the image of unity rather than because it’s an actual thing.

Icarus1138:
Given that this is Exalted, I’d hope that the political symbol was chosen based on the prophecy of the great future king that will be the first successful offspring of Serpent and Raiton. That child’s birth and Exaltation as an Air Aspect should set up a good story or two. Make him/her an albino serpent-raitonfolk for either a Cortez analogue or notice that winter is coming.

Lea:
The raitonfolk and serpentfolk occupy separate societal casts; mingling is Not Done. Children displaying traits of both are often killed at birth to save the parents shame, if the parents are high-status; those that grow up face bigotry. A bird-snake-person is actually not a big deal, save to the (great) extent that social roles within Ixcoatli make him or her one.

You could have a suppressed messianic prophecy about an albino bird-snake-person who rises from low birth to lead the nation to new greatness, though.


Prometheus878:
Will Wavecleaver daiklaves be making a return appearance at some point? If not in the core, perhaps in the first Different Skies book?

Holden:
Probably never coming back as a highlighted independent class of daiklaves because there just isn’t much point. You might see a particular wavecleaver at some point, as a weapon specifically designed for pirate-fighting.


Dulahan:
Any chance of a cover preview, especially if the proof doesn’t get CCP approval on the first go around? Or even while we wait?

Holden:
I haven’t even seen that yet. I do, however, have a shiny new Revision 7 proof sitting in my inbox this morning.

icarr757:
Argh! You tease!

Toy with our emotions some more! How many pages?!? Or if that is giving to much info, is it more or less bullet stopping than M20?

Holden:
666 pages. Not kidding.

Tyrrell:
Is this the same draft that has been sent to CCP for approval?

Holden:
Yep!


sakii:
1)Is making poisons craft or medicine

Vance:
I think making poisons would be governed by Craft, at least in the game I’m running, if only because the crafting system handles that well.

Medicine, on the other hand, would let you know which of your stockpiled herbs and elixers become poisons rather than cures at a certain dosage.

sakii:
2)Do we have things to make special effects poisons instead of just X damage in time

Vance:
Thousand Venoms Mistress would be very sad if there weren’t.


Sigrid Hex:
Speaking of which, how is John doing? Haven’t seen him post much around here lately.

El_phantasmo:
Indeed. All good and did the medical bills get covered/significantly assisted with?

Holden:
Well, it’s a good-bad-good news thing.

John is getting better, but has been quite ill recently. The good news is that the scariest of the things they warned him about when they removed the lymph node– like facial paralysis– never happened. What did happen was that since the lymph node’s removal, he developed sleep apnea, and it’s been getting steadily worse. For those unfamiliar with it, sleep apnea is the result of one of several conditions that cause you to stop breathing in your sleep, so that you bolt awake gasping for breath as your body emergency-reboots your breathing cycle. A very mild case might have you waking up a couple times a night a few times a week.

John went from “a few times every night” to “35+ interruptions per hour, nearly every time he tried to sleep.” If you’re wondering how a person gets any sleep when he wakes up every two minutes, the answer is basically “he can’t.” After trying every kind of non-medical-bill-oriented solution under the sun, John finally went to the doctor. The good news is, they had a solution. The bad news is, the solution was dreadfully expensive.

After getting to the point where driving became dangerous and he’d gotten 3 hours of sleep spread across 4 days, he finally bit the bullet and went through all the expensive rigamarole to get a CPAP machine to regulate his breathing, toting up a bill he can’t afford to pay. He’s running a GoFundMe campaign to try to get help paying it off currently*.

The other good news is that the machine seems to be working. So thank fuck for that.

*For those wondering why the government isn’t insuring him: John lives in Florida, which is a red state. The Florida State Legislature refused to accept federal funding earmarked for the Affordable Care Act in a fit of childish pique. Meaning that in this state, if your income is below a certain threshold, you are not eligible for government-funded health insurance, because that part of the funding isn’t there, because the state won’t take it. John is too poor to qualify for the health insurance act designed to insure poor people. Ain’t American politics grand?

PirateBrd:
Donated immediately. I’m glad to see a good chunk of money has been raised already; I hope the machine fixes everything.

Holden:
Heartfelt thanks, to you and everyone else who did.


Wuse_Major:
…Apparently earlier was correct. They not only already heard back from CCP, but the turnaround was quick enough that they’re practically ready to resubmit the files for review again.

“Ex 3 core book – RichT here: Maria is sending me her corrected PDF pages tonight. We’ll need to resubmit them to CCP, as per their request, but the changes were consistent style and format concerns mostly. We will also be awaiting the Page XX page numbers from the Devs for Maria to input, which Holden realized it was time to do before sending the backer PDF out.”

….Actually, Holden, can you give us some input on what exactly goes into the giving of the Page XX stuff?

Holden:
It’s just a mind-numbingly tedious process of looking up every XX reference and documenting where it should go.

Wuse_Major:
Hey Holden, I’m curious to know how many page XX references there are in the corebook. I’m not trying to sneakily pump you for a rough deadline or anything, honest! I’ve just started to wonder, in a book that big and, presumably, with a fair amount of cross linked info, how many of those references there are. If you’d rather say something like “It averages about X per page” or whatever, I’m good. I just got to wondering.

Holden:
Hundreds, especially in Chapters Four and Five.


Matt.Ceb:
I’m kinda baffled at the cover art artist /bailing/ from the assignment that late into the process…

Holden:
Not the first time it’s happened on this project, either. My favorite was the guy who spent three months half-responding to art correction requests on sections where precision was important, then just dropped entirely with 10 art pieces 2/3rds done and had to be replaced.

Plus side, the replacement artist’s stuff looks way better.

This is a general problem when working with a lot of new talent. Try out 10 new artists, you are nearly guaranteed at least one flake.

Vargen:
Ooh, new artists! Neat! Though with a work of this size I guess you’d need to find new artists just to get it the thing finished.

Are there any new EX3 artists you’d recommend checking out while we wait for the book?

Holden:
We stopped advertising which artists we’re using because it results in crazy people emailing them.


Manaran:
So, awesome devs, can you tell me anything cool about the North? With the PDF release in sight I have to start planning our next campaign, and we’ve fairly extensively explored the East, the Scavenger Lands, and the South. Thinking stag horned fair folk and viking raids will feature prominently, but was wondering if there was anything you’d like to share?

Holden:
I think the North and the West are competing for “most improved Direction” in 3e. West has the most dramatic overhauls, North has the greatest profusion of really, really fucking cool new locales. Things like Mongolian Transylvania, a giant underground prison long ago taken over by its inmates, and a city where the nobility are rumored to have come into possession of an elixir of immortality. (Surely this is unrelated to why said nobles now go about under parasols during the day, and why the tame lynxes of the palace hiss and slink away when they approach.)


DrLoveMonkeyMD:
There’s a discussion on the official exalted forums on whether or not DB animas actually are physical expressions of that element, like fire aspect animas are actually fire or just red flamey light. Different sources seem to contradict one another, what’s ex3 say about it?

Holden:
In prior editions, only Fire Aspects generated actual literal fire, via their anima power. (Even then, it didn’t burn their possessions, so, magical fire.)

That said, a person getting their face torn to shreds by a Wood Aspect’s anima may find the question of whether these are “actual physical thorns” or just “green thorny light” kinda academic. They won’t stop a Dragon-Blood from squeezing through a tight doorway, in any event.


Anu:
Can thaumaturgy handle items that would usually be considered magical, but don’t qualify as artifacts for one reason or another? I feel like outfitting an army with arrowheads of frozen lightning.

Vance:
I suspect the magical items created by a thaumaturge would be more along the lines of, say, the famed Seven Lighting Arrows of Yusef Solomon than the kind of thing you arm battalions of lightning archers with. The scale of the latter seems more the province of a working.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #16

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