General System

Actions

When a character encounters a situation where their success is uncertain, the Storyteller should call for an Action Roll to determine the outcome.

The Storyteller will ask for a combination of an Attribute and Ability that is appropriate for the situation, and then determine an appropriate Difficulty for the roll. The Player will then roll a number of Ten-Sided Dice (d10’s) equal to the combined rating of the selected Attribute and Ability—this combined number is called the Dice Pool. This will be referred to as [Att+Abi] xd10’s.

Some powers and actions will call out specific Attribute + Ability combinations, such as [Wits + Awareness], but others may simply specify one or the other. For example, an “Awareness Roll” or a “Wits Roll”. The two still require a full [Att + Abi] combination, they simply allow the non-specified part to be determined by the Storyteller.

Only Roll if the Result is Unknown

If the outcome of an action is already known beforehand (either as a failure or a success), there is no need for a roll—simply declare what happens and continue on with the story.

Successes

After rolling their Dice Pool, the player needs to count the number of dice that are showing digits equal or greater than the Target Number of (7). Examine the results of six rolled dice:

1, 4, 4, 7, 8, 8

The values of 7, 8, and 8 are greater than or equal to (7), so they are each counted as a success, meaning this particular roll would result in 3 Successes.

Double 10’s

A die that shows 10 is counted as two successes, rather than one. If the roll had instead been:

1, 4, 4, 7, 8, 10

7 and 8 would be counted once, and 10 counted twice, making a total of 4 successes on the roll.

Difficulty

Before a roll is performed, the Storyteller should determine the Difficulty of the roll—the number of successes that the roll must match or exceed for the action to be considered a success. Here is a guiding scale for choosing difficulties:

  • **Difficulty 1 (Easy)
    **This task is expected to be passed by a skilled mortal, but there is still a reasonable risk of failing.

  • Difficulty 3 (Typical)- This task is challenging to a mere mortal, but an Exalted Hero is more than likely going to pass it. Picking a lock, calming an irate guardsman, or basic first aid would fall under this category.

  • Difficulty 5 (Difficult)- Tasks which are daunting fall in this category—climbing a sheer cliff in winds, charming a staunch Dynast with sweet words, or avoiding the bite of a venomous beast.

  • Difficulty 7 (Challenging)- Tasks which should be near-impossible for any mortal. Such as noticing things in pitch darkness, or landing on a precise spot hundreds of feet below.

  • Difficulty 9 (Impossible)- Tasks a mortal could not possibly do, no matter the circumstances. Running straight up a building, leaping across a chasm unassisted, or keeping a patient alive without a heart for hours at a time with their bare hands.

Failing Forward

In a high-powered setting such as Exalted, properly handling it is important, and is in a way more difficult than a success, as it puts the burden of keeping the story moving on you, the Storyteller. Remember: you are not there to punish the players for daring to take an action, only to provide boundaries, restrictions, and consequences.

There are a few general paths to take:

1. A simple failure—the character don’t do the action, the story continues. Typically you pick this path when the players already know of different paths they may take. Sometimes letting your players step back and reanalyze their approach is

2. An important part fails, but not all of it—the character does squeak by on what they intended, but at a great cost. They open the doors, but only enough for one person to slip by or by causing a great commotion. Choose this path if halting the action would kill all momentum of the session.

3. “No, but...”—If players have heavily invested in an action, and it just doesn’t work out because of bad luck, don’t give them nothing. Sure, they failed at the task they were intending, but another pathway opens. Maybe they failed to convince the Queen of their plight, but the Prince overheard and wishes to speak to them. Be judicious of choosing this option, as overuse may make your game feel consequence-free.

Action types

Most rolls are simple: the Player dictates what they are intending to do, and the Storyteller tells them which (Attribute + Ability) to roll, and how much the difficulty will be. While this is overwhelmingly the most common dice setup, there are a few alternate rolls that can be called for.

Contested Actions

Certain actions are contested between abilities of two or more characters, rather than a simple difficulty.

In this case, all characters simply roll their appropriate Dice Pool, and compare who got the highest number of Successes.

Taking the Average

To speed things along, the Storyteller is encouraged to take the average number, rounded down, of the NPC’s dice pool. If they have 4-5 dice, simply state that they get got 2 successes and move on.

The exception to this guidance are important characters, such as rivals or foes of great challenge.

######### There are two characters in the scene: a guard and a thief. The guard is keeping watch, and the thief is attempting to sneak past them. The dice pool for the player-controlled thief would be Dexterity + Stealth.

######### Since this is a NPC, and there are no dice-affecting powers active, the storyteller simply takes the average: (Wits + Awareness)/2, which turns out to be 3. Should the thief match or surpass that difficulty, they successfully sneak past.

Retrying Rolls

Once a roll has been decided, a Player cannot simply try the action again—it is assumed that the character has already approached the issue from multiple different angles before truly failing in the roll. For example, their failed barter included multiple tiers of money that they were willing to part with.

Only through powers like a Charm, or by a dramatic change of the scene is a re-roll allowed—for example, the marketplace erupting in a great conflict, convincing the merchant that they need to sell and leave as quickly as possible.

Recurring Rolls

The Exalted will suffer and inflict many sorts of ailments and statuses ranging from toxins and diseases to more esoteric effects such as curses and mental Influence.

The onset of the status is handled as normal: if resisting a toxin, it would simply be a (Stamina + Physique) roll against the Difficulty of the Toxin. On a success, they simply would not be poisoned.

On failing, they are now subject to the status effect, and now must either wait for the status to run its course, or take active, considered effort to try and cure themselves. Each time they take such an action, they are allowed to roll to resist again and potentially remove the effect. Each attempt must be some different methodology.

Any mundane statuses, even at their worst, will naturally be purged from an Exalt if they are given a full day of rest.

Teamwork

When a Player performs a successful action with the sole intent of helping another character, they grant their target character +2 dice. Alternatively, the Player may grant Peripheral Motes equal to the number of successes rolled to target character.

A target cannot gain more than +2 dice on an action from teamwork, though it explicitly stacks with other Advantages, such as Stunting.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The difficulty of an action can be modified by various conditions, whether it be environmental, helpful, or antagonistic. These should be provided by the Storyteller as deemed appropriate to the narrative.

By default, Advantages and Disadvantages are written in terms of dice available for the character to roll: (+2/-2 dice). Since this is the default, the “dice” moniker is often dropped—if a power ever simply says “+2”, it means to dice.

Whenever a Modifier affects a static value, such as Resolve or Difficulty, you should take the average, rounding up. +1 or +2 dice is +1 to Resolve, for example. Some powers will directly reference Static Value or Difficulty modifiers, instead of dice.

Assigning Modifiers

Modifiers can be granted from any source, such as any powers, the environment, or even the mental condition of the character taking the action.

Advantage/Disadvantage

Dice

Difficulty

Minor

±2

±1

Moderate

±4 ±2

Major

±6

±3

Any Modifier should be something significant to the scene—something that would perturb even an Exalt, and you should not concern yourself with keeping track of anything and everything that could be a modifier. Light rain, while thematic and aesthetic, would not be enough to affect the athletics skill of the Exalt.

Natural Modifiers and Difficulty

Remember that Difficulty has its own inbuilt assumptions—many difficulties are set because they are a particular “base” level of challenge with a specific disadvantage: picking a difficult lock (3) vs. picking a difficult lock while blindfolded in a hurricane (9).

If a character uses a charm or power to dismiss part of that difficulty—removing all impairments caused by weather— it is the same as granting them an equivalent Advantage!

Excellencies

Exalts aren’t restricted to simply accepting the roll that is given to them. When they need to, they may activate their Exalt-specific Excellency to push their roll further than they thought they could, both before they perform the roll, or after the roll (and all power effects) have been finalized.

For example, a Solar will be able to add their Ability Ranks as a number of Successes to their roll, turning what is a certain failure into a success.

However, this does not come without a cost. The character is straining themselves beyond their mortal bonds, and so will gain a point of Limit, as well as inflame their Anima Banner, causing it to raise a level for the remainder of the Scene. The first use of the scene will set the anima banner to Glowing, while the second would set it to Burning.

Stunting

The setting of Exalted encourages wild, ambitious, and perhaps dangerous actions of the characters. When a player describes their character doing their action in a fun and creative way, the Storyteller should reward them. If the action described is reasonable and adds to the Scene, the Storyteller should simply let the Player dictate what happens without a roll—if a character swings from a chandelier in order to drop down on top of an enemy, don’t slow that down with an Athletics roll.

The Storyteller should grant the Player a Stunt as a reward and encouragement to others to engage with the setting and scenery. That said, Stunts should be kept short and sweet to keep the momentum of the game moving forward.

Stunts should operate off of the “Rule of Cool,” and may bend the rules a bit, both of reality and the game—such as falling great distances to land perfectly in a pose.

Spending Stunts

The Player may immediately use their Stunt on their action, gaining either +2 dice or +1 defense.

Alternatively, they may choose to store it for later use. However, Players may only store one Stunt point at a time.

Strife

The world of Creation will push even the mighty Exalted to the brink, and in those moments of desperation, forcing them to delve into reserves they did not know they had—and can rarely replicate when needed. This moment is called a Strife.

Strife is a powerful tool for Player Characters to change the world around them.

By spending 8 motes and performing or expending a Stunt, the Player may:

  • Reuse any limited-use Power.

  • Use a Lesser or Greater Power they have not purchased. (They do not need to meet the prerequisites, save that they must be able to purchase it. A Solar cannot use a Lunar-specific Charm, for example.)

  • Invent a Charm-like Effect. The Player should feel free to dictate how they use their powers in a custom-tailored way for the situation, though this does require Storyteller approval to make sure it doesn’t directly solve the problem of the scene.

Strife Guidelines

When using a Strife, the action should simply happen without a roll. So long as a character should be able to do something, and it is cool for them to do so, it does. In this way, it can be thought of as a more powerful Stunt.

There are a few guiding restrictions to keep in mind with Strifes, which should

  • Other character’s actions cannot be dictated: only those under control of the Player’s.

  • The Action cannot directly solve the scene; it can only assist and guide it.

  • The Action should flow naturally from the character—a Solar cannot suddenly shapeshift, for example.

Example

######### The Archer turns from the Dragonblood threatening her and focusing her essence into a point on their arrow. With a sharp hiss of air, she lets it loose into the nearest mountain, watching as the arrow explodes in an impressive show of Anima. The mountain rumbles as the snow dislodges, causing the newly-fallen snow to groan, rumble, and then start cascading into a deadly avalanche which rushes into the passage, sealing it and cutting off the dynasts reinforcements.

“I’m going to use my archery to cause an avalanche”. This example accomplishes two dramatic things: it changes the environment, but ultimately it is about stopping the Antagonist’s time constraint on their battle. It assists the Player and their scene, but does not solve the pressing issue—the fight with the Dragonblooded.

Essence

Essence is the fundamental energy that flows through the world, all creatures, and mortals—an energy that Exalts are naturally able to wield to their advantage. A character’s Essence Rating is a measure of how in tune the character is with the flows of energy through and surrounding them.

Essence expenditure is measured in Motes, of which there are two types:

Personal Motes

Characters start with a Personal Mote Pool of 10, expanding it as they gain Essence level. Personal Motes are depleted to fuel their Powers and actions.

These motes represent the character’s internal, innate power: something they always carry with them. They are slower to regenerate than Peripheral Motes, but persist scene to scene.

Personal Motes are only regained when the character is performing restful activities, such as sleeping, playing games, or otherwise participating in relatively stress-free activities.

The entire Personal Mote pool will be regained after a full night of rest. If a full uninterrupted night is not possible, the Exalt gains 1 mote back per uninterrupted hour.

Is it rest if I…

Typically: No. If an activity has any dual purpose or gains advantage (aside from the passage of time), it is not considered rest.

A character may play a game to relax, but using a game to strategize a battle plan is not. Talking jovially (or in commiseration) with fellows is relaxing, while trying to convince friends to join in a plan is not.

That said, the Storyteller should not be overly strict when telling the Players to regain their Mote pool—a night is a night, only count hours when it truly matters.

Peripheral Motes

Peripheral Motes, as opposed to Personal, are not retained between scene, and so character start at 0.

  • Personal Motes are intrinsic to the character. Expenditure of these motes are subtle and do not agitate their anima banner. This pool replenishes at a rate of 1 mote per hour of rest, or fully after a full night’s rest.

  • Peripheral Motes are the character’s ability to manipulate the world immediately surrounding them, channeling it to their will. Using these motes will expose their anima banner. This pool is completely refreshed at the beginning of a new Scene.

Anima Banner

Exalts are brimming with energy, their souls suffused with the crackling energy. Whenever they wish, they may choose to inflame this energy, crackling their soul outward in various levels from a soft glow around their body to a full towering bonfire of personal iconography and symbols deeply personal to the character.

Whenever they intentionally flare their Anima, they may also quickly retreat it back into their soul. (Both showing and recalling the anima is instantaneous.)

However, when a character uses 5 motes or more on an action, the Anima Banner will uncontrollably start to spill out, and the Exalt cannot do anything but wait for time to pass before they can recall it back into their soul.

The Difficulty for general onlookers in the Scene to notice the Anima Banner is equal to how many Peripheral Motes are remaining. However, characters who are face-to-face, or otherwise directly engaged with the Exalt, typically do not have to roll to notice the anima Banner once it reaches the Glowing stage, or are granted a Moderate (+4) Advantage to do so.

The Anima Flare should dissipate by the start of a new Scene, or roughly after an hour has passed.

Anima Steps

The anima gradually increases as the peripheral mote pool is depleted, but there are specific notable steps along the way:

  • Dim
    This is considered the default or natural state of the anima. It is invisible to all natural senses, but may be seen by those that can peek into the Spirit Realm.

  • **Glowing
    **A thin outline of the anima appears around the character, with the respective Caste Mark appearing on their brow. Characters standing face to face will most likely notice it, but may not be able to make out the exact iconography.

  • Burning
    Essence burns and sheds from the Exalts body, much like the burning of a fire. The Caste Mark is unmistakable to any close-by.

  • **Bonfire
    **A grand display of solidified Essence wraps around the body, shining its personal iconography to all of those in the scene.

The Great Curse

Exaltation is a great and wondrous blessing from the Gods, but with it comes a great and terrible Curse. Perhaps, as the ancient and lost stories speak, the slain Enemies of the Gods lay this Curse upon their servants as a last, spiteful word in their dying breath. Or perhaps it is simply inalienable nature of man, exemplified and given root in power.

Regardless of its source, every Exalt carries with them the Great Curse, an aggrandized character flaw that can interrupt and sabotage a character’s well meaning in spite of their better nature.

Each individual Exaltation book details their Great Curse, but it is important to know that these are all suggestions. So long as a character has a flaw that affects their decision, it is an acceptable Great Curse. Custom descriptions should always include three aspects: what the flaw exposes in the character, what triggers the flaw, and what the character will (most likely) do when they enter a Limit Break.

  • Solars suffer from their own Ego. They are those that tirelessly seek greatness and perfection, and may find others or even themselves not up to the standards they desire.

  • Lunars suffer from being trapped between worlds and are conflicted by the unknown. Are they man or beast? A part of society or apart from it? Their form is constantly shifting, so who are they really?

  • Abyssals have a portion of their self consumed by the void: something that is lost and that can never be reclaimed. It may be their name and relations; their lost vitality; a loss of emotion and feeling.

Fine Tuning Limit Gain

Each campaign will be different, and certain limit events will occur more or less often in the story you are portraying. Often this can be spotted before the game begins, but not always.

If you find yourself gaining too much or too little Limit as the sessions happen (the goal is an average of 1 per Session), feel free to fine tune and adjust the scope of the Limit Event.

Limit

The stress and wear of an Exalt’s life will build and press upon them, eventually driving them to a breaking point. This is represented by Limit Points.

A Character gains 1 limit point by either encountering the triggering event they have detailed (no more than once per scene), or by activating their Excellency.

Limit Points represent how strained the Exalt is—how much wear and tear their psyche and soul is under. The character starts at 0, not being stressed, and can raise up to 10, a level of duress which they cannot stand anymore, at which point they will be forced Limit Break.

Breaking Early

When a character is particularly stressed, such as by being defeated, having their goals turned against them, their Intimacies being credibly threatened, or any other event the Player deems “anguishing,” they may see if the character Limit Breaks early.

Roll a 1d10. If the result is equal to or higher than their current Limit, the character keeps it together. While they might be perturbed, hurt, otherwise emotionally compromised, they retain full faculty of their mind and actions. However, if they roll under their limit, they prematurely snap.

The Player, knowing their character better than any at the table, may forgo the roll altogether and simply decide their character snaps. Remember, this should highlight the character’s flaws, and how it can impact and impede the character’s own goals!

The Calming Effect of Time

Limit resets after a Limit Break, which is the main. However, long spans of rest, meditation, and peace may ease the Exalt down from their stressed life.

So long as the time breaks are particularly restful, the Exalt may lose 1 Limit per week.

Limit Break

When a character Limit Breaks, they lose all perspective on anything that does not align with their Great Curse and will make active and considered effort to fulfill it, regardless of the consequences.

A character Limit Breaking does not lose their faculties, nor do they forget their Intimacies—but those are simply secondary to their Great Curse. Often they will use convoluted and strange reasoning to justify their actions.

A Limit Break lasts for an entire scene. Only performing a grave offense against their own deeply-held Intimacies would be enough to snap the character out of their actions prematurely.

At the end of a Limit Break, reset Limit to 0.

During a Limit Break, the character does not gain any limit—even from activating their Excellencies. This effectively grants them free use of the Excellency for the entire scene, though it will still raise their anima level.

Ticking Time Bomb

There will be occasions when a character enters Limit Break, but turning it into a Limit Break Scene just doesn’t fit—it occurred during an otherwise lighthearted scene, or when the Exalt is in the middle of nowhere on their own, or the scene was just wrapping up.

If this occurs, with both the Storyteller and Player in agreement, the Character can postpone the Limit Break to a more appropriate scene—just don’t wait too long.

Storyteller Timelines

Rather than count the exact minutes and hours of effects, Exalted relies on a more cinematic sense of time.

  • Round
    Enough time for all characters present in the scene to perform at least one set of Actions.

  • Scene
    Long enough to set out and accomplish a single, dedicated task. Combat from start to finish would be a scene, as would characters searching for clues in an old abandoned monastery. This typically spans minutes to hours.

  • Session
    A single sitting of when Players begin and end roleplaying, spanning an entire night.

  • Story
    Several sessions that form a full narrative arch: from establishing a threat to reaching the resolution.

  • Chronicle
    A complete game, encompassing all the stories relevant to a set of characters.

Magnitudes

Exalted is styled in more of a cinematic, broad-sweeping style game rather than a precise simulation war-game. Instead of detailing out every person, time frame, or area, it will instead deal with measures of magnitude.

Some Powers will declare an increase (or decrease) in a magnitude. Those magnitude definitions are as follows:

Group Magnitudes

Scale Population Name Military Designations

1

1

Individual

-

-

2

10

Party/Group

Squad

Fang

3

50

Crowd

Troop

Scale

4

100

Hamlet

Company

Talon

5

500

Village

Battalion

Wing

6

1,000

Town

Regiment

Dragon

7

10,000

City

Army

Legion

8

100,000

Prefecture

-

-

9

1,000,000

Province

-

-

Time Magnitudes

Scale Name

1

Second (Instant)

2

Minute (Moment)

3

Hour

4

Day

5

Week

6

Month

7

Season

8

Year

9

Decade

10

Century

Elsewhere and Equipment

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.