Charms are the natural expression of a character’s essence, a specific and trained way for their internal power to be expressed upon the world.
Typically, a character does not know they are using a specific charm: it is simply an instinctual channeling of essence to produce the desired effect.
Charms available to all Exalts, such as the Ability Charms will manifest uniquely based on their exaltation. A Lunar might borrow the eyes of a falcon to see further, while an Air Dragonblood would create a focal lens out of the air—but they both would spend the same number of motes and end up with the same perception advantage. The Player should be encouraged to take their own unique spin on the Charm.
Ability Charms are all Lesser Powers. (Except for Upgrades).
Don’t be afraid to take your own unique spin on describing a charm’s powers!
Charms, and other powers, will have a header designating quick information.
Type: Reflexive; Scene
The Type will designate the rules for how it can be activated, and how long the power will last, as follows:
Type: (Activation); (Duration)
Simple. Consumes an entire Action.
Supplemental. Does not consume an action, but can only be activated on a character’s turn. Often, the text of the charm will describe some additional restriction—for example supplementing a Strike action.
Reflexive. Does not consume an action, and can be used outside of the normal turn order. Often will have specific conditions that need to be met to be used, such as “in response to being attacked.”
Permanent. Once purchased, this power is always active.
Ritual. Requires a specific set of conditions to be performed, and will often take longer than a single action to activate.
The duration then specifies how long the power will naturally be active for. This ranges from the remainder of the Scene, to days, to even stranger conditions. If a duration is not specified, the duration is Instant, meaning that it immediately activates and then dissipates.
Exalts may always prematurely terminate their Powers early, if so desired.
Resolving Timing Conflicts
If there is ever a timing conflict, such as with two Reflexive Charms going off at once, the resolution goes according to the defender’s choice.
If that is still unclear, there should be a contested roll using the relevant Finesse Attribute: Dexterity, Insight, or Wits.
The cost of charms is almost always designated in terms of Motes (m) or Anima (a). The character must remove the designated number of motes or anima from their sheet to activate the power. The motes or anima then must be regained through their natural means.
Occasionally, a charm will require a prerequisite before being purchased, such as a different charm, or dots of a particular ability.
The Powers of the Exalted are not restricted to life-changing, magnificent events. Sometimes they just desire to Show Off.
Spend 1 mote and perform an action that is has a most a minor utility effect which appropriately themed to your character. Much like a Stunt: so long as it is cool and appropriate, it is allowed.
For example, you may use a burning Anima as a light source, shoot sparks into the air to the delight of onlookers, or purify your clothes of accumulated grime. A Fire Dragonblooded could light all candles in a room, punctuating a dramatic entrance.
Some Powers are designated as Greater or Capstone Powers. These powers require extra skill and precision to use, and so cannot be learned until Essence 3 or 5, respectively. Normal charms are sometimes called Lesser Charms, to help differentiate between the tiers.
There are very few Greater or Capstone Universal Charms—these almost always the domain of Exaltation specific areas.
Most charms can only be purchased once, and at a set power level. However, there are some Charms and Powers that may have their power increased through an upgrade—increasing a Lesser Charm to a Greater Charm, and so on. Only the XP difference must be paid, and the Exalt retains all lesser benefits when they do so.
Unstoppable Force, Immovable Object
As the player enters into the Capstone level of play, they will start to gain some extremely powerful Charms that simply declare that something happens. This can run aground of other effects of equal power that may something different happens. The classic situation is a Power declares that it hits another, while another Power declares that they are not hit.
Whenever a situation like this occurs, the two side should immediately perform a relevant Contested Roll (e.g. Accuracy vs. Defense) to see which Power overwhelms the other.
As consolation, the losing side regains half of the motes/anima spent to activate it (rounded up), and does not “use up” the Power if it is limited use—such as once per Scene.
Making and using Custom charms (or other powers) is completely encouraged. Creating a charm follows much the same rule as a Strife: “Is this cool?” and “Does it enhance the story to have?”
Lesser means this will be a standard power for an Exalt—something they would have with little training or experience. Remember that Exalted is a high-powered system: simple tricks are something you can do with a roll, and don’t require a dedicated charm!
These typically cost 1-2 motes to activate.
Greater powers will be those that fundamentally changes how your character plays and interacts with the world, and are only available after concentrated study and enlightenment. Greater Powers represent someone who is a master at what they do.
These typically cost 2-3 motes, or 1-3 anima.
Capstone powers are those whose presence and use will utterly warp the narrative around them, reserved for only the highest and most powerful of Exalts. Capstone Powers are reserved for Exalts of Legend, which is why Solars with their Supernal Force are so terrifying.
These typically cost 3-4 anima.
Note: Reflexive charms should favor using motes over anima.
You may notice that—compared to standard Exalted—charms that purely add dice are a bit more rare. This is an intentional design choice to limit dice inflation.
If a Power adds dice to a roll, it should be to a fairly conditional and specific thing.
The largest and most reliable way to increase a character’s dice pool is to purchase Attributes and Ability points.