Exalted 3e: Holden’s Play Prep Checklist

With the Exalted Third Edition backer PDF now available for play, I’m republishing this invaluable Holden post advising players of earlier editions on how to prep for the game. It’s worth rereading!


With the backer PDF just around the corner, I thought it might be useful to make a prep-post with some useful advice for people coming into this with a head full of years of previous edition stuff, to minimize cognitive dissonance. Things to keep in mind:

• Try not to carry in too many assumptions from prior editions, because a lot of stuff has been deliberately thrown out or contradicted.
• System: A lot of stuff has changed. I strongly suggest reading the entire book, especially the parts where your instinct is to go “eh I know how this works,” because that’s probably a part we changed. Anima banners work differently than they used to, for example, and several Abilities changed definitions.
• The first three rules in chapter 5 are the most important, and are to be taken seriously. With wordcount as tight as it was, we didn’t add stuff for no reason.
• Defense is not the same as DV and doesn’t work the same way.
• The system has two kinds of damage rolls. You do get two successes for rolling 10s on one of them, but not the other. This is really easy for 1e/2e players to miss. See above: don’t assume old standards hold.
• Ox-Body is really, really, really good now, even though it doesn’t look very different. I strongly advise taking it on your first character.
• I very strongly advise using normal chargen for the first game you run with the edition, or if you have any new players, rather than the advanced chargen.
• Stunt standards are different. 2 and 3-point stunts are difficult to get and you won’t see them flying around constantly. House-ruling them back to 1e/2e standards is one of the fastest ways to wreck the balance of 3e, so be careful with that.
• Willpower is much harder to get than it used to be, and the system is extensively balanced its scarcity. Again, this is one of the parts of the rules I would advise caution in messing with.
• Combat balance is far more dependent on group tactics than individual character build, and group fights have a completely different logic and balance than one-on-one duels.
• Finally, if something looks weird or you’re not sure why it’s there, give it a try and it will usually become clear. This is a really tough system to predict from nothing but a read-and-eyeball approach, but it hangs together very nicely in play, and is much easier to understand in motion than when examined as a bunch of disconnected pieces.

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One comment

  1. Hey.

    I used these “suggestions” before I read them, and this lead me to some questions. For reasons unknown, I’m a big fan of “Exalted” setting, but I’m not a fan of Exalted, especially Solars. So, without betraying some trade secrets, can you tell me (or point me to the place where such an answer were told before), what about less exalted parts of the setting, especially:
    – What about thaumaturgy? A scraps put in main book suggests something marginally useful and not so organized and consistent as 2nd-ed one. Idea of thaumaturgy mutated between editions, from simple and not so good transplant of WoD hedge magic, through complicated system from 2nd ed, to… — well, to what exactly?
    – What about martial artists? Maybe I didn’t get new MA but they no longer seem to have various level styles. Are mortals able to train MA charms and to what degree?
    – Finally, what about all god-bloods? They exist still in new setting or they were cannibalized by exigent idea?

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