Archive for the 'Exalted Hack' Category

I Am a Hack

2006 Nov 10

Specifically, I just realized that the Exalted Hack is doing a lot of the same things that I described Shreyas doing with The Golden Chain. It’s just that, instead of consuming external evils and trying to safely digest them, the protagonists of the Exalted Hack are trying to digest the ugly evils of their past lives, the crimes they committed during the First Age.

This is interesting because it’s not a metaphor for dealing with ugliness in the world but for dealing with ugliness within yourself, coming to terms with things in your past. But it’s also exploratory, because you start out with Jason Bourne amnesia and don’t know that much about who you once were.

It’s gonna be a difficult thing to model properly, especially in the 24 hours I have before shipping out for JiffyCon, but I’m going to do my best to pull all these threads together.


2006 Nov 6

We (Shreyas, Ashvin, and I) have been brainstorming about how to make the Exalted Hack more about its core principles, which I feel is like a standard indie game concern. If we want to make the game tightly focused, so it does a few things really well, how do we make the mechanics focus on those concerns? In this case, we have some amazingly cool answers. We’re not there yet, but getting closer all the time.

– every scene is a Memory, either of the present age or the First
– these are collected into chains that show progress on these paths
– completed chains advance various traits
– showing either your development or an awakening to your past
– present age development is controlled by individual players
– First Age awakening is controlled by the other players

– the Great Curse tied the Solars’ power to their horrible deeds
– you don’t learn Charms, you remember them from the First Age
– a Solar’s Charms embody the crimes they committed long ago
– Charms are inherantly VERY BAD, EVIL things
– Charms can be refined to be less evil and, eventually, neutral
– unrefined Solars cannot help but create evil everywhere they go
– evil created by refined Solars is of their own doing, not inescapable

– Solars are pressured to use Charms by a semi-“Say Yes Or Roll”
– free narration, but if they don’t like it, they can use Charms
– each Charm has a number of dice associated: “Bloody Wake” 2
– Charm use is a declaration, supported by the dice rolled
– for example: “My Ship Will Endure This Tempest” 3, 7
– declarations have a strength equal to the highest number rolled
– declarations stand unless a higher number is rolled in opposition
– at the end of a scene, all dice rolled create negative consequences
– refined Charms create consequences that are not necessarily negative

– before a scene begins, players declare appropriate traits
– each involved trait adds a die to a communal pool
– this represents the potential inherant in the scene
– all dice used in the scene are drawn from this pool
– when there are no more dice, no more Charms can be used
– the dice don’t have to be used at all, but they are there

Chronicle Creation goes like this:
1) Brainstorm the unthinkable glories of the First Age.
2) Ask why they are no longer.
3) Describe the flaws of the 4 Virtues that led to the Fall.
4) Extrapolate specific crimes.
5) Assign these crimes to each other, up to a certain number.
6) From your crimes, distill your Charms.

– every scene is a chance at atonement for a particular Virtue Flaw
– a step in the right direction can be made
– but also steps backwards or wasted opportunities

– Solar crimes are of hubris and pride
– Lunar crimes are of failure, debts of honor
– Terrestrial crimes are the betrayals of their ancestors
– Sideral crimes are?
– Abyssal crimes are of subserviance or something similar
– Robot crimes are?
– Demons don’t have crimes, they ARE warcrimes

This Weekend!

2006 Nov 5

This coming weekend is JiffyCon, a small indie games get-together organized by the Western Mass Crew (Bakers, Emily Care Boss, Joshua Newman, etc). I’m supposed to run the Exalted Hack there, which is a great opportunity for me to cut the crap, pick out the pieces that already work, and create a fun experience for some awesome people. Thankfully, through conversations with Shreyas and especially Ashvin, I’ve figured out what the game’s really about (at least the Solar portion). Here’s the pitch:

    Long ago, your kind ruled as god-monarchs over this land, but your vast hubris and wicked deeds brought about your downfall. Eons later, your souls have come round the Great Wheel and been reborn. Vexed with fragmented memories, do you embrace the monster that you were, run away from the past, or seek to finally set things right? Welcome to the Age of Sorrows. [Vaguely inspired by Exalted, but requiring no background in anything.]

I’ll try to post a working draft of the playtest version before I leave.

World-Encompassing Spider Pattern

2006 Oct 30

Um, yeah. I’ve decided to create a giant chakra for all of Creation, representing the entire Loom of Fate woven by the Pattern Spiders. It is called, of course, “World-Encompassing Spider Pattern.”

The idea is for it to both serve as an emotional and thematic map of what’s going on in your Exalted game and also be a map of Exalted’s cosmology. Right now I have sketchy versions of the mortal world, Yu-Shan, and the Underworld maped to the Terrestrial Castes, Solar Castes, and Abyssal Castes respectively. I’d like to include Malfeas, Autochthon, and the Wyld as well, probably once I get Castemarks or other symbols for the Demons/Infernals (based on their Circles?), Alchemicals (metal), and Fair Folk (Graces).

I’m still unsure about the Lunar and Sideral Castemarks and how to incorperate them.

The problem with the Lunars is the Castes and Marks don’t match the actual lunar phases very well. There are 8 major lunar phases:

– New Moon (No Moon)
– Waxing Crescent
– 1st Quarter (a Waxing Half Moon, basically)
– Waxing Gibbous
– Full Moon
– Waning Gibbous
– 3rd Quarter (a Waning Half Moon, basically)
– Waning Crescent
– then back to New Moon

Basically, Waxing and Waning Moons aren’t specific shapes, but indications of whether the moon is in the process of becoming Full (Waxing) or New (Waning). Having Gibbous or Crescent Castes would have made a LOT more sense. But instead I’m trying to figure out how to symbolize the three historic Castes (Waxing, Waning, Half; which’ll be shown “in shadow”) and the Changing Moons that replaced them.

Sidereals I haven’t really begun to think about yet. I think I might use their section to show the Loom of Fate or the constellations or the gods themselves.

Ideally, I’d also like the “negotiator” Castes (Eclipse, Moonshadow, No Moon, etc.) to all come together at one specific point on the chakra, where you can can step onto another splat’s pathways. But I’m not sure how to do that yet.

Suggestions and drooling are most welcome.

Even More Anathema

2006 Oct 25

So the Exalted hack is developing slowly but awesomely. A draft of the first few pages is up here. The neat thing about working slowly on a project is that I stumble across neat things along the way that get incorperated into it.

In this case, there have been a couple of cool RPGnet threads about how Nobilis and Primetime Adventures operate. In the latter one, I stumbled into Ashvin, who is awesome and wrote a neat Exalted hack of her own. She is now consulting on this project.

Here’s some recent conversing:


Sweet. I gave it an initial read-through just now, and I’ll read it more critically a bit later when I have time.

On first read-through, the one thing that sticks out is the First Age Concept and Name. I think this feeling comes from trying to read the progression of Names as a character’s life story. It’s not odd that the First Age is relevant, but it sortof makes an appearance at Essence 3 and then runs away.

On the other hand, I love the bit where the other players come up with your crime.

Instinctually, I’m inclined to suggest something where a character’s First Age Names occupy a separate list, and they are discovered backwards in play. So you start with your greatest Name–and your greatest crime–and as your present self becomes more powerful, you remember what it was like in the First Age, when you were merely almost-great, then almost-almost-great, and when you are standing at the edge of godhood, you remember what it was like to be simply a person, destined for great and terrible things.

There’s a symmetry there that I like. But it might be too much extra work and baggage, and I’m not sure if it’s where you want to go with the game.

Anyway! Sweet stuff so far. I shall respond more after I’ve had a chance to read it and digest it a bit more.

~ Ashi


You’re 100% right on the First Age stuff. It was meant to be connected to your Memories which in turn are connected to your ability to use First Age artifacts. The way you describe it, working backwards from your biggest crime, is pretty hot too.

So this morning, in the shower, I was thinking about how PTA gets everyone on the same page about “what’s going on” and how that really enables players to cut loose and make shit up. So here’s some sketchy ideas:


1. Choose a Premise. What is the epic that you are telling tales from? Is it the story of a rag-tag group of reluctant heroes rescuing the Scarlet Empress?

2. Choose a few major Themes that reflect what you want the story to be about. For example: Evil Can Be Seductively Appealing, Every Bad Choice Will Come Back to Haunt You, What Does It Mean to Be a True Leader? These form the narrative boundaries of the Chronicle. Whenever you’re not sure what direction to head in next, consult one of your Themes.

3. Name Your Chronicle: “Splendid Record of the Red River Bandits.”


The Chinese epic tradition comes from oral storytellers who eventually collected their tales in written volumes after passing them down orally for generations. Oral storytelling traditions continue to exist today. Within each epic tradition there are many smaller stories that make it up. For example, the epic of The Water Margin contains stories like “Wu Song Fights the Tiger” and “Swordplay Under the Moon.”

When collected in written volumes, stories were often titled in two parts, which describe two of the major things that happen in each story. For example, in Journey to the West the stories have titles like: “The Four Seas and Thousand Mountains Tremble; In Hell, the Tenth Category is Struck from the Register.”

So here’s my thoughts about session planning. The players brainstorm a whole slew of evocative and somewhat mysterious titles:

– Fire on the Mountains
– the Venerable Sleeper Awakes
– Death Waits in the Golden City
– the Flower of Love Bursts Forth

Then they combine them into pairs and arrange them in a general order. This provides an outline of the first few sessions. Between sessions, they can rearrange the order or adjust the titles or create new ones.

Once we get to Motivations… Short-term Motivations have to do with resolving the present story. They generally only last a single story before developing into something else. Long-term Motivations are things that will only come to fruition in later stories.



One thing that’s been bothering me about name-making, which might be just me and my obsession with names, is that it’s ferociously hard to come up with them, and maybe, somewhere here in the hazy country between past lives and past atrocities, there is some support that makes that easier?


You will have predicted this: I think this isn’t so great in its current form! BUT, let’s suppose that you link this into the characters, so that they have matching or contrasting crimes:
– did the oedipus thing with your demon mother
– haunted by the ghost of a companion you killed
– etc.
That could make it a lot cooler to me, and plus, it gives you a palette of templates for fresh crimes, once you have come to terms with the one you’re currently dealing with.

> 3. Name Your Chronicle

Names come in series; this isn’t the only time you should name the chronicle.





Well the names were supposed to be strongly connected to their associated concepts, right? So if you Exalted and managed to live three days in the belly of the beast, you might get a kenning like “Indigestable Jewel,” which would be hot. Is that not good enough for ya?

I was also thinking about a way of aestheticizing concepts. Currently, in their “Greedy Son of a Virtuous Merchant Prince” form, they’re kind of boring. And I was thinking about the way you handled traits in the original Torchbearer draft, Shreyas, as two parts, and was thinking that might work, since concepts are supposed to contain internal contradictions. It also resembles what I was thinking for Story titles. So a concept might be like:

“How He Revels in Conducting Business; The Son Counts Every Gleaming Coin”

I was wondering about tieing Themes to characters, but tieing them to past crimes is even better. Then the game really is about atonement, which is hot. However, themes are supposed to be part of what ties players and characters together, so making them individual kinda goes against that. Is there a way that themes can be collective expressions?

> Names come in series

Maybe you rename the Chronicle whenever a character increases in Essence? Or whenever all the core characters increase in Essence?

Should players re-name stories after they’ve been told? That seems to fit with the [OPEN] [/CLOSE] style of traits and names. Maybe each player renames the story to reflect their own personal perception of it? So, by consulting all the players descriptions, you end up with a fairly complete record of what happened in that tale?



Sorry, I didn’t clarify – I get blank-page syndrome at character generation. Indigestible Jewel is great, but where does the belly of the whale story come from? I think the crime, and too, the big list of atrocities to jump off from, does a lot to lift this weight, but (having not tried it), I’m not sure yet whether it’s enough.

> “How He Revels in Conducting Business;…”

That’s good. I particularly like the deliberate parallelism between concepts and story titles. It’s also cool how it’s expressive-but-ambiguous, which (I think) should be mandatory.

> Is there a way that themes can be collective expressions?

Yeah, I didn’t mean them to be individual; you can draw your first crime from seductive evil and your second one from lingering consequences, so that, taken as a mass, the stories are tied together. I’m not sure how you can make it more synchronic.

It’s kind of amusing to me that the game’s turning out to be about atonement; it’s really attractive and also totally unlike my past Exalted experience.

> Maybe you rename it whenever a character increases in Essence? Or
> whenever all the core characters increase in Essence?

Yeah, something like that…I don’t know about a specific implementation, but those are good starting points definitely.

> Should players re-name stories after they’ve been told?

Yeah, I think that could work. Sweet.

I really like the idea of starting out with a messy pile of story names that make seeds for play, maybe this fits somehow into the open/close structure? I see maybe like, when you name a story at the end, you also make another title-bit for a story opening, that reincorporates the story closing.

So like maybe you just played Hansel and Gretel in Exalted style, and you decide to call your closing “Witch and Fire Have an Unpleasant Meeting,” maybe you throw “The Vengeful Enchantress of Meat Mountain” on the title pile…



As you say, relating your first concepts and names to your first age crimes helps here, but perhaps not enough.

Maybe a motivation / intimacy (slash other stuff maybe) or list of some variety might be helpful here? I’m not sure what the status of those system elements are.

(Bias: I like ’em, broadly.)

The past crimes of a given character are decided by the whole group, right? That seems likely to produce a pleasingly connected effect, if only subconsciously.

It might also be helpful to ponder how crimes are revealed and closed in play. Limit breaks seem natural, but I think they’re probably too frequent. Gaining Essence is perfect, but gaining Essence seems to be the effect of finding atonement (of course, system causality could pretty happily be the inverse of in-game causality).

In either case, if the crimes are driven in some way to resemble in-game events, then the coherence of theme in in-game events will prompt more coherence of theme in the selection of crimes. (Which will, in turn… yes, yes.)

> Maybe you rename it whenever a character increases in Essence?

Possibly after every core character has closed one story? Which relates to this next bit…

> messy pile of story names

Where I second the awesomeness of story pairs, and the pile-o’-epic-titles idea, and wonder: who gets to name the closing and / or name the next story?

I kinda like the notion of each player picking a suitable closing title for the tale; each story is not simply one story, but five stories (er… n stories) within one story.

But who picks up the name for the next one?

Possibly: the group.

Possibly: whoever is the last character to complete a full traversal of the Chakram (though this is subject to how quickly we’d expect that to occur).

I have a certain fondness for the latter, because it suggests the notion that these are Solar stories, and as such, emulate the path of the sun in their narrative shape. It also heightens the perception of Limit Break as a perversion of this structure — not just metaphysically, but narratively.

~ Ashi


me: ha, you just created a system for subplots
Shreyas: yay; i’m so smart
me: i like it, but i think people should add ideas to the pile whenever; like, if stuff comes to them during play, jot a quick note down, add it to the pile of potential stories
Shreyas: yeah, they definitely should
me: it really emphasizes that these are just excerpts from a larger set of possible stories, which also makes me think you can resolve subplots between games, or maybe as consequences of a fight; so like, you could pick up “Vengeful Enchantress” and have her alerted to your presence by something that happened during a conflict, which serves to retie old plots back into the present
Shreyas: mmm, that is very cool
me: maybe that’s how the stories get renamed; their plots change over the course of play
Shreyas: oh, very efficient
me: i’m not sure if it quite works; it’ll be interesting to see how all these things interact, and if there’s just too much stuff to keep track of; my plan is for players to never be at a loss for what to do
Shreyas: heh
me: because there are a billion things that tell you where to go next, and they all kick ass
Shreyas: i think there will be a lot of good things, yeah


Plus some Anathema-relavent portions of an AIM chat with Ashi, which I don’t have a record of. But it was very cool too.

Famous Among the Barns

2006 Sep 18

If you haven’t noticed, the Exalted hack has gotten much longer and more complete now. Not all the way done yet, but we playtested it last night and now I have some new ideas for finishing it up. (At least until we play it a lot more, which will inevitably lead to more tweaks). I’m gonna keep editing and expanding the original thread, but I’ll also post new messages occasionally to let people know what’s going on.

There’s a massive thread on RPGnet about the hack (which I didn’t start, since I never really go there). I’ve posted some new ideas and updates there, including the playtest scene we ran last night. It’s pretty crazy how positive the response has been so far, considering how out-there some of this design stuff is.



2006 Sep 13

Last Updated Sept 17 2006.

The purpose of this project is to make use of the rich varieties of information in the Exalted core rulebook, to play by a completely different set of rules. These rules will largely be based on a “structured freeform” design aesthetic. This is a work in progress and comments and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks to Shreyas Sampat, Thomas Robertson, Selene Tan, Daniel Solis, Tobias Bindslet, Dev Purkayastha, Neel Krishnaswami, “Matt,” and Lauren Deans for help so far. And probably some other people too. Brand Robins really wanted to help but couldn’t.

I’m gonna walk through character traits to explain how to create a character and how to use your character in play. Shreyas and Neel have both created sample characters, with some dubious correlation to the actual rules listed here.


Aside from being what people call you, your Name also indicates the general power level of your character (what is normally called your capital-E Essence). It demonstrates this by the number of capitalized words in your Name. Mortal have 1 (Aeryn, Lukka), mortal heroes have 2 (Aeryn of Taelsin, Lord Lukka), and the Exalted have 3 and up (Aeryn the Blade of Forever, Lukka Mask-of-Seven-Winters). When you create a character, it’s important to record their previous names too, since they have not always been the August Lady Vespertine, especially to those who know them personally.

People can have many names, so the being who calls herself Deadly Arc of Ten-Thousand Angry Shadows may be a charlatan without an ounce of power to her name. But she might not be.

You need not determine your Name at the start of character creation. In fact, it may be easier to decide this last or at least tweak your final choice once you have a better sense of who your character is. Character creation can often be an exploratory process, so do what works best for you.


This is who your character is and who the world knows them to be. A good plan is to write down a basic Concept before beginning character creation and then, once you’ve finished, change your Concept to reflect who the character actually ended up becoming. For example, you might start out with something like Spoiled Princess of a Formerly Illustrious House. But during the process of creating her, you might take a bunch of abilities related to sailing and fighting, which doesn’t quite fit your original Concept. So in the end, you might choose to shift your Concept to Blacksheep Princess Slumming as a Privateer.

Your Concept also must change each time you gain a level of Name (Essence, in the original rules). This reflects that you are no longer the person that you once were and that the world has made note of this.


This version of the rules only includes guidelines for playing members of the five Castes of Solar Exalted: Dawn, Zenith, Twilight, Night, and Eclipse. Your Caste is notable for helping define your original array of traits. It also determines the initial stylings of your Anima banner, as usual.


These are exactly as normally described, the main purposes that drive your characer. Unlike the advice given in the core rulebook, Motivations don’t have to be especially mythic. They also include what, in other games, might be called ‘relationship traits’: you love someone, you hate someone, or you’re in a hierarchical relationship with them of some variety. In any case, Motivations are what gets you out of bed in the morning, whether it’s Killing the Elemental Dragons, Obeying My Mother, or Seducing Prince Hakka.

You should start with at least one Motivation but no more than two. Starting Motivations should place your character directly and unavoidably in the path of one or more of the other characters, for good or ill. Other Motivations can be spontaneously created during play.

In general, Motivations serve to frame the overall campaign (long-term Motivations) as well as particular sessions (short-term Motivations). Motivations develop over the course of play, either single sessions, multiple sessions, or the entire campaign. They inevitably transform into new Motivations, but at different rates based on whether characters are able to make real progress on them or not.

At the end of a scene in which a character has attempted to address one of their Motivations, their player should record a summery of what they were able to accomplish. If they were completely frustrated in their attempt, that’s important too and deserves to be written down. These are called Accomplishments.

It is obviously easier to work on Obeying Mom than Killing the Elemental Dragons. However, depending on the circumstances, the former might end up causing more pain and anguish (and, ultimately, growth) than the later. This game does not pass judgement on your Motivations. However, it does recommend that you try to maintain a variety of Motivations, from daily responsibilities to impossible moon dreams. This fits better with the rules and may even, we dare to suggest, lead to a more complex and fascinating character. But it may not.

If a character ever completes, abandons, or wants to alter their Motivation, another Motivation needs to be created to replace the previous one. This need not happen immediately, since it might take a few scenes for the character to figure out what to do next.

Once a Motivation has been replaced, its associated Accomplishments are converted into Experience — 1 XP for each. Note that this XP is not gained until the Motivation has been replaced, even if it has been completed or is no longer valid.

Virtues & Limit

Each character interprets the four core Virtues (Compassion, Conviction, Temperence, and Valor; but not Deference) in an individual way. This demonstrates their morals and general personality. For example, Compassion might be interpreted as Never Abandon Those in Need or as Treat My Enemies With Honor.

Virtues serve to frame individual scenes. Each space on your character’s Undying Bell Chakram is connected to a specific Caste (and their related Excellencies) and their chief Virtue. A piece representing your character is placed on your Caste’s space when play begins. You frame scenes around either (1) the Virtue you are currently on or (2) a Virtue that you are moving to. Acting on your current Virtue allows you to stay on that space. Acting on the next Virtue (following the arrows) moves you to it.

Going against one of your Virtues gains you a point of Limit, but it also enables you to move backwards around the Chakram, from sunset to sunrise. Going against your Flawed Virtue gains you 3 points of Limit. Every Solar — except Eclipses — gains a point of Limit from demonstrating Deference, which is unnatural for Solars. When you hit 10 Limit, you experience Limit Break, a crisis of Virtue, and descend into the darkness of your Flaw.

It is the GM’s job to frame scenes in which characters can demonstrate: 1) their Virtues, 2) their Motivations, or 3) their struggles in choosing between Virtues and Motivations. The GM should vary between these three different types of scenes and choose different characters to focus on each time. In a scene in which the GM is not directly addressing one of your Virtues or Motivations, see if you can address it anyway, making the scene multifaceted and more interesting, but not hogging the spotlight at another character’s expense. This earns you experience, gets your character closer to their goals, and is also considered BEING A GOOD PLAYER.


Sing, muse, of the rage of Achilles. You can pick a Flaw from the book if you like, but ignore the mechanics and keep mainly the descriptive concept. Or make one up. As usual, it’s tied to a particular Virtue (usually not the Virtue held sacred by your Caste, but it could be). Solars cannot have their Flaw be tied to Deference, which isn’t a proper Virtue, just something they’re all bad at. Eclipses are merely slightly less bad.

When you reach Limit Break, your Flaw takes over for at least the remainder of the current scene. You cannot continue around the Undying Bell Chakram to a new Virtue or demonstrate your current Virtue until you demonstrate your Flaw to the satisfaction of the other players (including the GM). Treat every new scene as a scene in which your Flaw (instead of a Virtue) dominates until this is resolved.

In order to crawl your way out of your Flaw-induced binge of sin, you must reinterpret one of your Virtues in a radically different way in order to restructure your values and carry on. Once you have satisfactorily demonstrated your Flaw, pick one of the Virtues that has been causing you to gain the Limit (by breaking it) and reinterpret it. For example, your Compassion might change from Never Abandon Those In Need might become Sometimes People Really Want to Be Left Alone.


These take the place of Charms, basically describing the cool things you can do. Some of them are bound to be combat-related, but none specifically have to be. In this version of the game, you can fight swords with rhetoric or dancing pretty easily. Excellencies start out with a rating that can increase over time as you develop your abilities. Like your Name, this rating is measured by the number of capitalized words in the title. For example, you might start off with (1) Sail, which later develops into (2) Unerring Navigation, (3) Expediant Migratory Pattern, (4) Sky-Spanning Solar Harness, and (5) How Perfect the Celestial Chart Memory.

You might notice that, as they develop, they also become more specific and imbued with a unique type of color, as you develop your own style and way of handling things. They also do not develop linearly, like (1) Melee, (2) Stabbing Things, (3) Stabbing Things Better, (4) Stabbing Things More Better, etc. Each new level centers on a different aspect of the level before it, becoming more powerful but also shifting focus. This serves to broaden the overall range of your abilities while narrowing specific instances of them, if that makes any sense.

When creating a character, you start with your five Caste Abilities and Favored Abilities (Solars get 5) as level one Excellencies. If you are starting play as a mortal hero and going to run the Exaltation, you get 3 points to spend on developing your starting Excellences, though none can be above level 2. If you are starting as a Solar Exalt, you get 8 points (3 + 5 more) and none can be above level 3. Feel free to draw inspiration from the Charms listed in the main rulebook (you may have to shorten or lengthen their names), but you can easily make up your own.

Excellences can be used during any scene, but they are most often invoked in conflicts, a special type of scene.


1. Call somebody out and have your challenge accepted.

2. Declare relevant Excellencies being used, giving a short explanation for each. (Example: “I’m using Unerring Navigation to try to lead my enemy’s ship into some hidden shoals.”) You can only use one Excellency from a given related set. (Example: You can’t use Sail and Unerring Navigation together.)

3. Roll dice (d10s, of course) equal to Name (Essence) + Total levels of Excellencies being used. Count 7+’s as Impact (not Successes), but DON’T TOUCH YOUR DICE AFTER THE ROLL. Note that Impact does not indicate degree of Success or Failure, but rather the degree to which your actions make a difference to others and the world. The failure of some people can matter more than a great victory by others.

4. The dice rolled are used to frame the narration of the conflict. This can work in two ways:

A. If you are rolling dice of two different colors (which makes this easier), put your dice in order, starting with the person who rolled the LEAST Successes. So that player would place all their 1’s in a line, followed by the 1’s of opposing player, then the 2’s and so on. This line represents the “shots” (think movies) that make up the conflict. Each player narrates for their dice.

B. You can achieve the same thing taking turns narrating. Each player just seperates their own dice into 1’s, 2’s…. 10’s. And then you narrate ‘tennis’ or ‘pin-pong’ style, starting with the player with the LEAST successes. They narrate their 1’s and then the other player narrates theirs, etc.

5. After the narration is over, you determine the overall consequences using the Impact rolled by each player and the character’s Anima levels, described below.


The rest of these are story- or character-sized pacing/structuring mechanics. Anima structures individual conflicts. Players define a range of Anima effects for their character (originally based on their Caste, but these can change over time). When a character uses Excellencies above level one, their Anima advances a level. Once the character reaches their last Anima level, they have exhausted themselves (run out of Essence, in the original rules) and cannot invoke more. Characters gain new Anima levels (and the effects that go with them) as they grow in power, which is a new thing. This means more powerful characters can use a lot more Excellencies before feeling the burn.

After a conflict, the Anima levels of the participants also determine the scope of the consequences. No Anima indicates a minor consequence, while Anima 5 means the situation of the entire region was likely changed as a result.



These are your recollections of your past lives. They start out cloudy and become much more focused and specific as play develops. So a mysterious guilt from past disobediance might turn into a complex story of betrayal involving specific historical people. Memories develop as players pursue them.

Memories are important for understanding and learning how to use Wonders, the lost relics of the First Age. Wonders only allow their secrets to be unlocked by those that understand their history or who were inimately connected to them in a past life.

Undying Bell Chakram

2006 Sep 13

Somehow I got started rewriting Exalted as a super-progressive story game, sorta like the stuff Jared Sorensen did in The Requiem Chronicler’s Guide. It’s gonna be sorta like the Avatar game, but a hell of a lot crunchier. The core cycle for Solars looks like this (based on Castes and Virtues):

I promise I’ll get this one into a playable form. Soon.