The Time of Tumult is one of great conflict, and the Exalted that live through it will invariably find themselves in armed conflict, weilding their great weapons and powers of destruction.
Combat is split into distinct Rounds, where each character has a chance to take one Action, such as Attacking, using a Charm, or any other maneuver that they might wish to perform. Any powers that take up a full action are denoted as Simple Powers.
On their turn, a character is able to perform two actions, though only one can be a Strike by default. (e.g. a single Maneuver and Strike, or two Maneuvers.) The Actions may be performed in any order the Player desires.
There are some charms or powers that may grant a bonus action. There is a hard limit of 3 total actions per turn, no combination of Powers or effects can exceed that limit. Supplemental Powers that grant a maneuver’s effects through do not count to that limit. (e.g. If a Charm that supplements a successful Strike with knockback.)
If a character were to have a Charm that grants another Movement action and a Charm that allows another Strike action, they would have to choose whether or not to take an action such as: “Move, Move, Strike” or “Strike, Move, Strike”, but “Move, Strike, Move, Strike” would break the action limit.
Often, the actions of a character will be against a single target. While, mechanically, these are two different actions, they do not need to be described as such. For example, if a character performs a Brawl Strike and then Holds a foe, it can easily be described as “I lash forward, grappling them down, hitting them onto the floor.” Each aspect would still require the roll to see if it was successful, but they are handled by the same description.
If there is a Stunt, apply the benefits to both rolls.
The Storyteller starts combat by selecting the first side and character to act. Often, this will depend on the context leading up to the scene, such as one side ambushing the other. However, if it is ever unclear, simply perform a relevant Action Roll, with the character that rolls highest going first. Any ties should be determined by another roll. (If it continues to be a tie, simply flip a coin.)
If there is a roll, by default it will be (Wits + Awareness) to represent a character’s reaction to changing environments. However, it need not be. Any sort of contested roll can be used—if racing towards the battlefield, it would be (Dexterity + Athletics), for example. Or perhaps (Insight + Socialize) to realize that a negotiation has turned sour.
Once the starting character has been determined, they may take their action, and then pass the action to another on their side. This continues until all members of a side have performed an action, at which point it switches to a character on other side, chosen by the last character to go.
Once all characters on both sides have performed their actions, the round starts over with the original starting character.
Any character may Hold their Action, or wait to act based on something that happens in the battlefield. To do so, the must describe what it is they are waiting for: they cannot arbitrarily wait. When the specified event happens, they get a chance to act before or after the event, at their discretion.
However, if the event does not occur during the round, their action is forfeited.
Optional: Alternate Turn Orders
Everyone has their favorite way determining turn order, and they all have their benefits. Ultimately, while necessary to have one, the exact system of turn orders is not important.
Here are a few alternates:
1. Static: At the beginning of combat, all characters roll (1d10) and add (Athletics). Each round, characters go from highest number to lowest.
2. Alternating Team: The side with the highest total number of successes among all characters goes first. Each round, the team nominates which character will act for their turn.
3. Focus: There is no turn order, rather the turn jumps from character to character at the Storyteller’s discretion. (This is best used for small groups.)
The battlefield is split into distinct areas—inside the inn, weaving through the trees, or across the rooftops. These areas are called Zones, and characters can freely move inside, interact with, or importantly: attack any and all within the same zone. The character is constantly moving in the Zone, performing acrobatics, flipping off the walls, rushing from point to point—they do not simply hole up in a single spot waiting to be hit..
Zones should be split up logically based on the terrain, though if the Storyteller may choose to chop up a zone into smaller categories if they feel they are too large (i.e. a north and south side of a long path.)
There is no set size for a zone—they can be as large or small as needed.
Take an action to relocate between Zones. By default, this does not require a roll. However, if there are situations such as rough terrain, environmental effects, or if another character is restraining or otherwise blockading a path, a roll will be called for.
Ranged weapons, such as bows, have the option to attack cross zone lines as though they were in the same zone. However, zone boundaries often are marked by some sort of barrier, such as walls, which would still impede an attack.
A Maneuver is any action the character performs to gain advantage over the scene—be it to test the stance of their enemies, analyze the battlefield for strategic advantage, or to intimidate your foes through physical prowess.
Simple Charms, Powers, and other effects that do not deal damage are considered to be a Maneuver.
The Player describes any action that would grant them tactical advantage, and then rolls the appropriate [Att + Abi] dice pool if one is called for.
Remember, Exalted follows the dynamic and cinematic model—heroes should be leaping across narrow banisters, dancing steel in testing feints, and channelling their inner might during combat. Nearly any action, if described well enough, can grant a bonus to combat.
The one hard and fast rule of a Maneuver is that it cannot deal damage—that is a Strike. Knocking back a character through a wall, shattering the wall is a Maneuver. Knocking back a character into a wall, shattering their bones, is a Strike. (Knocking them back into the wall, breaking it and shattering their bones would be a Combined Manuever Strike, taking 2 Actions).
Many combat powers will call for something to happen “on hit”. If not specifically calling out a Strike, this can also include Maneuvers that target the specified Difficulty involving physical contact between the two characters/their weapons. For example, knocking back a character with a kick.(or specified difficulty, such as Block and Evasion).
If there is no specified Difficulty, use Defense.
The Action “Build Power” is considered a Maneuver in combat. Typically it will focus on gaining the tactical edge over the scene—studying movements of the foes, centering yourself, or making feinting moves.
What can’t I do?
Maneuvers are simply normal actions taken in combat, and so follow the same rule: “Does this make sense?” There are few hard limits imposed, rather relying on the judgement of the Storyteller and fellow players for the tone of the setting.
Can you knock back an enemy on a wave of sound by performing an epic ballad on your essence guitar? (Charismsa + Performance) Whether or not this is something you want in your game is your choice.
During combat, Physical Attributes and Martial Abilities can do the most, rarely needing an explanation or stunt to justify their actions.
|Sample Maneuver Effects|
|Block||Moves the target up to one Zone.|
|Evasion||Note the number of Successes rolled. The target must make a roll against that number as a difficulty, or else be unable to move.
This lasts until your next action.
|Evasion||When the target takes a Move Action, reflexively move one Zone. This does not cost an action.
This lasts until your next action.
Intimidate / Stun
|Resolve||You apply a Minor disadvantage on another character. If you exceed their Resolve by +3, this becomes a Moderate Disadvantage.|
|Recover||(3 / 5)||Reduce all Disadvantages by (1 / 2) levels. (e.g. for 3, remove Minor Disadvantages and turn Moderate into Minor.)|
|Smash Scenery||Based on Scenery||Change the scenery, such as by collapsing a pillar.|
|Based on Scenery||Attempt to find cover, granting yourself Minor/Moderate Defense Advantage.
You may also destroy other’s cover Advantage.
|Defend Other||(None)||Select a character in the same Zone as you. Attacks that target them must exceed your Block or their Defense, whichever is higher. They must remain in the same Zone.|
|Disarm||Block||Knock a weapon out of a hand, which cannot be reclaimed for a Round.|
The next attack against an opponent is either their Block or Evasion, instead of their Defense.
You may explicitly choose to gift this to another character to their advantage.
If you truly wish to kill your opponent, you may do so by striking at them with a dangerous attack.
First, roll the (Attribute + Ability) roll of the attack adding dice from Accuracy bonus gained from your weapon or charms. If the roll exceeds the Defense (or targeted value) of the enemy, you successfully Strike them.
Without the use of a Power or stunt, Striking is restricted to the Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity) and the Martial Abilities, typically Archery, Brawl, Melee, or Thrown.
Base Damage, by default, is the highest of (Strength, Dexterity, or Essence Level), as a character can pierce the defenses of their opponent through brute force, precision strikes, or sheer force of will if the other two do not apply.
The selection of Martial Arts may change or alter what source of damage can be used—a light weapon may require Dexterity, or a heavy weapon Strength. A more obscure style may wield Charisma as the damaging attribute.
However, no matter the source, or restriction, Essence remains the minimum for Base Damage.
The target’s health lost is the Base Damage, adding any bonus from weapons or powers, and then subtracting any defensive bonuses. The damage a character takes can be reduced all the way to 0—though this is still considered a hit.
Strike Order Resolution.
A Strike consists of two parts—the Accuracy roll, and the Damage resolution. Each time, the order favors the defender over the attacker.
Supplemental Powers that enhance damage do not need to be declared until after the Accuracy roll is determined—if the attack misses, don’t waste motes on a failed attack.
Use the flow of the table to determine your order, primarily. What is important is fun, not fiddly timing rules. This is just here to resolve disagreements.
Characters who are knocked out of battle are typically not dead—they are simply at the mercy of the opposing characters. Though, the Storyteller should rightfully note the effects of various types of damages used, such as slashing or piercing, and indicate that minor characters may perish without active action.
Characters rarely fight to the death—or even to the point of being knocked. Surrender, escape, or other options will become the pressing concern of any NPC who gets at or below 5 Health. They gain an Intimacy of “survival” at this point.
Player characters who are defeated gain 1 Limit from the humiliation, regardless of if they are in mortal danger or not.
Health lost in combat is regained much in the same way motes are: through rest and relaxation. 15 Points of Health are regained after a full night’s rest, or 2 points per hour if it is interrupted.
A dramatic moment of death is a perfect send-off and ending for one of the members of the Exalted. However, not all defeats are a dramatic moment—sometime it is not time for a character to depart from the story.
The Player is the sole arbiter of the their character’s fate. If it is not the time for their character’s story to end, that death becomes cheated. Somehow, the defy the monumental odds, crawling days through pain and anguish that none other have suffered for help.
But cheating death comes at a cost. The character will be invariably changed from their experience. There will be scars of their encounter—whether it is physical, mental, or social. The Player should work with the Storyteller to come up with a consequence from the implausible survival.
A dramatic change in Intimacies—such as the addition of (fear) related to the event.
A loss of an appropriate merit, such as an Ally who sacrificed themselves to save the character.
Physical reminders of the lost battles, such as scars.
Recurring nightmares, where the character is forced to relive the moment of their escaped death.
There will be times when an antagonist—intended to be recurring—is defeated, or otherwise dramatically halted.
These Characters, like Player Characters, have the ability to escape certain defeat if it best suits the plot. However, they should also suffer the same consequences for doing so.
Escaping death should never be cheap, and should not be done too many times. Let your Players have victories.
The Environment itself can be a “character” involved in combat, as a way to simulate things ranging from earthquakes to the turning of the night, to things such as the advancement of a firestorm raging through a city.
The Environment is generally impervious to any attacks thrown at it (You may throw water at a fire to repel its advances, but typically not pierce it with arrows), and does not have a mind of its own to coordinate.
If an Environmental “attack” is all encompassing in a Zone and predictable, such as rumbling earth, a landslide, falling a great distance, or a burning flame, there is no need to make an Attack roll. It is assumed to hit and deal damage.
Minor Characters, especially those that cannot alone damage their foes will naturally fall into Groups.
Groups act as a single character, but gain the following bonus based on their Group Magnitude:
Add 5 Health for every Magnitude Scale increment.
Add 1 Damage, 1 Accuracy, and +1 Dice on an action for every Magnitude Scale increment
Wearing armor is a tradeoff in Exalted – you gain additional Block or Evasion, and thus have a higher total Defense, but at the cost of revealing a potential weakness to be exploited later on.
Light armors are those that have been tailor made to aid in flexible movement—above and beyond what normal clothes will do. Typically, light armors will consisted of padded gloves, tightly wound fabrics, and other cushions to assist in acrobatic movements.
Medium and Heavy armors provide increasing Block protection, but at the cost of more limited mobility. Most traditional armors, such as breastplates, chain shirts, and articulated plate fit into the Medium or Heavy Category
Weapons are built using Tags, each with an individual cost in points. No individual tag may be applied to a weapon or armor more than once.
There are some tags with levels (e.g. Accurate (I) and Accurate (II)). They are considered the same tag, and so cannot be applied to the same weapon.
A standard mundane weapon starts with 3 Points in order to craft the weapon with a set amount of Tags.
Tags will often have some requirements associated with them. A weapon cannot have conflicting requirements.
|Mundane Weapon Tags|
|Accurate (I/II/III/IV)||(1/2/3/4)||Gain +1/2/3/4 bonus to Accuracy.|
|Damaging (I/II/III/IV)||(1/2/3/4)||Gain +1/2/3/4 to weapon damage.|
|Ranged||1||You may attack across 1 Zone boundary.|
|Long-Ranged||3||You may attack across 2 Zone boundaries.|
|Grappling||1||The Accuracy of the weapon is added to any attempts to make a Restrain Maneuver.|
Special weapons, Powers or Martial Arts will grant specific tags to be used when building a weapon. These are not available for purchase normally.
|Special Weapon Tags|
|Natural||2||The weapon cannot be disarmed.|
|Unique Ability||3||Use a specific, non-Martial Attribute/Ability Combo with this weapon. (E.g. Charisma + Performance). The damaging attribute is also changed.|
The mechanisms of reality are flawed. Items, particularly those not paid attention to, have a tendency to reappear and move to alternate locations. Mortals will often attribute this forgetfulness, or not recognize the incongruity at all, when in reality it is the tireless motions of the Loom taking shortcuts.
Exalts, long ago, learned how to quietly and easily exploit this—simply though sleight of hand, they can store their physical items in places and not feel the weight nor brunt of the equipment. It is not unusual for an Exalt to suddenly pull out a large daiklaive from little more than a handbag’s opening.
Depositing or retrieving equipment from Elsewhere takes an entire Action.
Sidereals have labeled this flaw as “Elsewhere,” since the items are neither here nor there, but simply somewhere…else. Certainly it is something that needs to be fixed. Eventually. Preferably by someone else.
Elsewhere is not all-powerful. The Exalt must reasonably be able to carry the items in the first place, and it must not be something that has a particularly close and important tie to reality. For example: living creatures cannot be kept in Elsewhere, as their mind and soul has far too great of self-awareness to be forgotten by reality.
As well, while time does not affect items inside of Elsewhere, the moment it is pulled out reality will quickly reassert itself. Food would rot within seconds, and we iron rust within a blink of an eye.
Items stored in Elsewhere of a dead Exalt will eventually reassert themselves into reality—often by finding themselves in nearby containers that may not have existed until needed for this precise purpose.