General System

Action Rolls

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 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.

  • 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 a hero is expected 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.

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

The Storyteller should take the average number of successes for non-player characters as ½ their Dice pool, which is their [Att + Ability +/- Modifiers]

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. Should the thief match or surpass that number, they successfully sneak past. Should they not, the guard discovers them.

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. 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.

Push the Roll

Exalts can push themselves past their mortal limits and achieve the impossible—but it often comes at a price.

In exchange for taking a Drawback, the Player may gain up to +2 Successes or +1 Defense on any [Att. + Abi.] roll, succeeding at rolls they otherwise would be deficient in. (Or Exceeding at rolls they already would have succeeded at.)

If they are using their Specialty, they may gain up to +4 Successes or +2 Defense on their roll.

This may be used reflexively at any point during the roll, even after everything has been finalized.

Botching

If a character fails their action, they may choose to worsen their failure in a dramatic action, as represented by taking a Drawback. In exchange, they will gain a Strife Point.

If at all possible, the Player should try to include their Great Curse as reasoning for this Botch. Perhaps a prideful character could not help but reveal a secret in their boasting; a compassionate one unable to hide their disgust at conditions of the city when talking to an official.

Drawbacks

A Drawback can be any sort of action that the Storyteller deems to be a proper Price the Pay for succeeding (or exceeding) their roll.

The following are a list of Examples, but should not be treated as exhaustive or exclusive:

Gain Limit

Immediately Limit Break at 10.

The character gains 1 point of Limit, representing the spiritual stress required to do the task.

Wound/Exhaustion

Cannot take more than (-5) total Wounds/Exhaustions at a time.

The strain from pushing beyond their natural constraints causes the character to become injured or exhausted.

For the remainder of the scene, and then until the character can take an uninterrupted, restful night’s sleep, the character suffers (-1) dice to any roll made with the Attribute Category (Physical, Social, or Mental) they used on this roll.

This does not affect Static Values such as Resolve.

The Scene Turns Sour

This Drawback may only be taken once per scene.

After this action, the scene becomes negative, if not mildly hostile, towards the character. Perhaps they offended a vital character with their action, or they accidentally gave a secret up to the Antagonist that they can use.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The difficulty of an action can be modified by various conditions, whether it be environmental, helpful, or antagonistic. As generic term, these are called Dice Modifiers, but will more often is designated specifically as either an Advantage or as a Disadvantage, depending on if it helps the character or impedes them.

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. +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.

Any Modifier should be something significant to the scene—something that would perturb even an Exalt. A light rain, while thematic, would not count as a disadvantage. Only when there are levels of pummeling rain (-2), or even a raging Typhoon (-4).

Natural Modifiers and Difficulty

Difficulty, in its most basic sense, is a measure of “Base difficulty + all Disadvantages”. This can often be forgotten when choosing a Difficulty for a task, or when countering specific modifiers.

If a player removes the “visual impairment” modifier from a Difficulty 7 task, it is up to the Storyteller to decide how much of the Difficulty for the task was a result of “visual impairment”, and how much is simply the base difficulty of the task.

Stunting

The setting of Exalted encourages wild, ambitious, and perhaps dangerous actions of the characters. When a player describes their character doing a “cool” action, the Storyteller should reward them.

When a player performs a stunt, they get +2 Dice for their action, and are given more lenience on what actions they are able to perform.

The guiding philosophy of stunts is the “Rule of Cool.” If the stated action is “cool” and enhances an existing action, it should both be allowed and encouraged—even if it is not technically allowed.

There are limits to Stunting. A Player cannot dictate the actions or emotions of characters, for example, and the Storyteller reserves the right to reject or alter the stated effects of the stunt as needed.

Assisting

A player may assist another character, granting them +2 dice. The receiving character may only accept one Assist per roll.

The Receiving Player may both accept an Assist, as well as stunt their own action.

Assisting is considered a Simple Action.

Essence

Essence is the fundamental energy that flows through the world, all creatures, and mortals. Exalts are able to guide their own Essence flows to create powerful effects upon the world, called Charms.

A character’s Essence Rating is a measure of how in tune the character is with the flows of energy through and surrounding them. Much like an Attribute, it ranges between 1 and 5 for Exalts. Mortals have a Rating of 0.

The Rating of Essence cannot be directly trained. Instead, it only increases in rating as the character gains xp.

The Uniqueness of Player Characters

Player Characters are unusual in the sheer speed and heights they can reach with Essence. The constant stress and challenge of adventure accelerates the gain of Essence far beyond what is normal in the world of Exalted.

Non-Player Characters do not follow the same rapid gain of Essence that Player Characters do, and are often constrained and capped, limiting what Essence Rating they can reach based on their circumstances.

Dragonblooded, for example, would find it takes a lifetime to even reach Essence 3—only the eldest of their kind would have access to Major Charms.

Motes

Essence expenditure is measured in Motes. When activating a Power that requires motes of Essence the exalt will first drain from their Personal Mote pool, and once that is exhausted they will drain from their Peripheral Mote Pool.

  • Personal Motes are intrinsic to the character. Expenditure of these motes are subtle and do not agitate their anima banner.

    • This pool is refreshed 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 refreshed at the beginning of a new Scene.

Antagonistic Locations

There are certain locations that are either devoid of Essence, such as the Underworld, or are filled with antagonistic Essence that cannot be easily drawn inward, like The Wyld.

In these locations, all characters will suffer a Penalty to their Peripheral Mote pool, lowering their capacity.

Example Locations

Mote Pool

Underworld

Wyld

-5 Shadowlands Bordermarches
-10 Underworld Wyld
-15 The Labyrinth Deep Wyld
-20 Void Expanse of Madness

Anima Banner

Exalts are brimming with energy, their souls suffused with the crackling energy.

Whenever a character uses Peripheral Motes, this energy crackles to life, and their very soul starts to show to the world in the form of the Anima Banner—a display of light that starts as a soft glow and eventually escalates to a towering bonfire of personal iconography and symbols deeply personal to the character.

As the Peripheral Pool is depleted, the Anima banner will automatically and reflexively ignite.

  • (0m) Dim The 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.

  • (1-5m) Glowing A thin outline of the anima appears around the character, with the respective Caste Mark appearing on their brow. Characters may still disguise and hide their anima through mundane means, such as clothes.

  • (6-10m) Burning Essence burns and sheds from the Exalts body, much like the burning of a fire. Hiding the anima at this level is impossible through mundane means.

  • (11m+) Bonfire A grand display of solidified Essence wraps around the body, shining its personal iconography to all of those in the scene.

Anima Flare takes 15 minutes to naturally abate and decrease in rating, so long that no action inflames them again. Often, this means that the Burning and Bonfire Levels will be active for an entire scene.

Exalts may choose to intentionally increase their anima to any desired level by spending One Mote (as a Reflexive Action). This lasts until the Exalt chooses to dismiss it where it immediately dissipates, unlike the natural Anima Flare.

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.

For Example:

  • 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.

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.

Ranging from 0-10, Limit Points represent how strained the Exalt is—how much wear and tear their psyche and soul is under.

If the character reaches 10 Limit, or if they fail on their Limit Trigger, the character will enter into a Limit Break.

Gaining Limit

A character gains Limit by either purposefully choosing it as a Drawback, or whenever their deeply-held beliefs or Intimacies are plausibly in threat.

An Intimacy being plausibly threatened is a loose term ultimately up to the interpretation of the Player, but there are a few guidelines, depending on the type of Intimacy:

  • Purposefully acting against it.

  • Being tricked, and realizing the harm that has been caused.

  • The target being significantly hurt.

  • Being forced to question core aspects of the Intimacy.

A character does not gain more than 1 Limit per scene from their Intimacies being in danger. Limit gained from Drawbacks does not count for this restriction.

A Dragonblooded Monk, through a complicated turn of events, is forced to work alongside Anathema. Being a true believer of the Immaculate Order, they would gain limit:

  • On the choice to work with the Anathema.

  • Whenever their compatriots does something that is “evil.”

  • On finding evidence that the Immaculate Order and the concept of Anathema is not as clear cut as previously believed.

    It’s important to note that the Monk would not have to gain limit every single day, but rather on every “event” that happens aggravating their Intimacy.

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 Triggers

When detailing out their Great Curse, the Player will also need to decide what sort of events will inflame their Great Curse. This is called the Limit Trigger.

A compassionate character might balk whenever they see a wanton, senseless act of cruelty upon another—such as a slave being whipped. Another might be the sense of failure and dejection when a plan spirals out of control.

A Limit Trigger is deeply tied to a character’s Intimacy being threatened—often the character will gain Limit at the same time. But the Limit Trigger is a specified, written aspect of the character, planned before time, and deeply tied to the character—even more-so than their normal Intimacies.

If a character has a Defining Intimacy, it is almost certainly an aspect of that.

When this event occurs (and the character has at least 2 Limit,) the Player must roll a 1d10. If the die roll matches or exceeds their current Limit, the Character is able to control their emotions for the remainder of the scene.

However, if the roll is under the current Limit, the Character enters a Limit Break.

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.

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 a 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.

Strifes

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. This moment is called a Strife.

Players are restricted to keeping no more than 5 Strife Points at a time. If Strife is gained above this limit, it must immediately be spent in the Scene or be lost.

Using Strife

Strife Expression

Each Exalt and their Caste, has a unique Expression that can boost their Dice rolls.

For example, Solars may double a favored dice, while Sidereals manipulate what the Target Number of a roll will be.

Each Exalt’s particular Strife Expression is detailed in their respective book.

Introduce a Fact

The Player is allowed to introduce a Fact about the setting, detailing something that is (and always has been) true in the world of Creation.

This Fact must be internally consistent with what has already been shown to be true about the world. As well, the Storyteller has a right to veto this introduced Fact (in which the Strife Point is returned), but is encouraged to try to make the new Fact work.

The Fact should be related to the Player’s character in some way, drawing from their Favored Abilities, Specialties, backstory, or Merits in some way. Introducing the Fact that there is ancient order of warriors known to be in the general area would make sense for a Player whose character is a swordsman, but not one whose character is a sorcerer, for example.

Charm-like Effect

In addition to their Exalt and Caste Strife Expressions, all players may use a strife point to create a charm-like effect, which will turn the scene in their favor. Inspiration can be drawn from any existing non-Greater charm, or it can be custom tailored for the situation.

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.

The only exception being if it directly targets an Exalt-level antagonist, in which case a contested roll may be used.

Strife Limitations

There are a few guiding restrictions to keep in mind with Strifes, similar to a Stunt:

  • 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 1

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.

Example 2

The Sorcerer looks apprehensive at his map. The desert has become inhospitable to their travels, and the rations for their mortal followers slim—if a solution isn’t found, they will arrive exhausted, or be forced to take a detour through the Guild’s controlled areas. His brown furrows, then suddenly shoots up: “Turn the caravan west, I see a Dragonline I can tap for water!”

“He’s going to use Sorcery to pull up water from the ground.” In this situation, the problem being addressed is exhaustion or avoiding a bad decision—preventing a negative.

Example 3

The Crafter analyzes the complex door in front of them, which is blocking their way, the code shifting and twisting before their eyes. “I can simply craft a new key to the puzzle. Hold on for a moment.”

“The door is locked? I can just open it with crafting.” Is bad because the main objective of this scene is to get past the door blocking their path. In a different scene where the door was not the main obstacle, this might be acceptable. Instead, an alteration can be suggested:

The Crafter analyzes the shifting patterns of the door, then with a swift kick, lodges one of the panels shut, stopping the patterns from constantly moving. “There, that should be easier to read now.”

“The puzzle glyphs are moving? I’m going to jam them down so it lowers the difficulty.”

Gaining Strife

Strife may be gained through two ways: Botches and Scene Complications.

Botches are Player-driven choices to drive their character’s failure into a magnificent failure—a low so that they may later rise to even greater heights.

Complications

A Complication is a tool for the Storyteller to inject danger, twists, and story momentum into the Story—without Player Characters being able to meaningfully react. (The Characters will almost certainly react, but the outcome is a forgone conclusion.)

In other words, while Players can spend Strife to Turn the Scene in their favor, Storytellers can give Strife to Turn the Scene against the Players—not simply describe challenges or consequences of actions.

The Storyteller gifts a Strife Point to all Players who are affected by this event—and this single Strife Point guarantees the outcome of the event in the Scene, no matter how many attempts are made.

Examples:

  • An Antagonist group escapes after their defeat in a fight, slipping the bonds or escaping pursuit.

  • The Caves the Party is in start rumbling, warning of an imminent collapse in but two short Rounds.

  • A source of information shoots down interrogation techniques, refusing to divulge important details.

Rejecting Strife

Players, by accepting the Strife, are giving up their ability to change the course of the event.

They have the option of refusing to take the Strife Point, defying the Storyteller’s influence. (This must be an all-or-nothing decision between all Players receiving the Strife—all must reject, or else all must accept.)

If this happens, the Storyteller must let the Player Characters challenge the event in a fair manner.

The Storyteller should also take care not to abuse the Complication mechanic to the point where it becomes frustrating—if they find that Players are constantly rejecting Strife, or grumbling and accepting, make sure to talk with the Players to see if the direction of the game is what everyone agrees with.

The main source of Strife is gained by players choosing to Botch their rolls.

Another source is being gifted a point by the Storyteller in exchange for letting certain events unfold as described—in spite of Player actions. For example, after a combat scene with a recurring antagonist, the Storyteller would grant a Strife point to allow the antagonist to escape without a (successful) pursuit, so they can lick their wounds and try again.

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.

Storyteller Timelines

Rather than count the exact minutes and hours of effects, Exalted rely on a more cinematic approach. A charm’s duration may be declared as a Scene, for example.

Description
Round

How long it takes for all characters to each perform a set of Actions, typically in Combat or an Encounter.

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