Exalted – Building Hearthstones

The Townend Gems

Image by Swamibu via Flickr

   At the moment, Exalted has a manse design system, guidelines for charm design, guidelines for Artifact design (and a more detailed system for first edition), and various other guidelines – but not much on Hearthstone design. Since that comes up in conjunction with manse design and certain charms, here’s a brief system for it.

   These rules won’t let you build every existing Hearthstone, but it will let you build thousands of unique stones. All powers start at a base of one dot; just come up with a theme and a name for your Hearthstone and add powers to it until it reaches it’s rating.

   Adding a minor side effect or some cosmetic modification is free. For example, a stone could make the user’s food taste better, or glow when the user is angry, or carry with it the scent of lilacs, or any of an immense variety of other trivial effects. As long as such an effect has no real game-mechanic effect, and is simply for style, it’s free.

   As for the actual power list…

  • +1 to each of two different DV’s. This does stack with the boost to individual DV’s – once.
  • +1 to a particular attribute or virtue. Stacks to a maximum of +4 and +2 above the character’s current attribute limit.
  • +1 to the difficulty of targeting the user with effects of a particular type, such as shaping. Add an additional +1 per additional dot.
  • +2 to a combat ability. May be upgraded by +1 per additional dot. Two dice may be converted to one automatic success when the stone is being designed if the designer so desires.
  • +2 to one virtue or attribute, -2 to another.
  • +2 to two noncombat abilities. May be upgraded by +2 per additional dot to a maximum of +6. If at +4 or better, add +* to add half the bonus to related rolls.
  • +2 to a particular DV or to Soak. May be upgraded by +1 per additional dot.
  • +3 to a single noncombat ability or to rolls related to a particular noncombat purpose. This may be upgraded to +6 at ** and +8 at ***. Note that +3 to an ability equates to full mastery of an Art and a +1 equates to knowledge of ten rituals.
  • +3 soak (bashing, lethal, and aggravated) versus a particular attack mode – such as fire, lightning, or arrows – and +1 on related rolls. For example, a stone that protects you from cold attacks would help in resisting blizzards. This may be stacked up to a total of +12/+4, +* to a stone rated at **+ to reduce ping damage from the source by 3 dice, +** to a stone rated at *** to reduce ping damage from the source by 6 dice, optionally a total of **** can simply offer immunity to particular attack forms.
  • -1 to the mote cost of charms related to a particular ability or – for lunar exalts – an attribute. This may be stacked, but will never reduce the cost by more than 50%.
  • -2 on the difficulty, or the target number, of a particular type of noncombat roll, such as crafting or treating medical conditions. Reduce the difficulty or target number by an additional -1 per additional dot.
  • Anima Stone: at * you can produce an illusion of a particular anima for five motes, at ** this is free, at *** you can duplicate the effects of a particular terrestrial anima for five motes, at **** this is free, and at ***** you can duplicate the effects of a particular celestial anima for five motes.
  • Artificer Stone: Each dot of this ability provides the user with +4 motes in his or her personal essence pool which may only be used to attune artifacts. For +* the user’s artifacts cannot be forcibly de-attuned.
  • Bokken Stone: At * you may inflict full damage with wooden or paper copies of weapons, at ** you may inflict lethal damage with unarmed attacks, at *** you may hurl small objects as effectively as thrown weapons, at **** your voice is equivalent to a bow or basic firearm, and at ***** your voice and hands can be used as effectively as any mundane weapon. Unlike most of the other powers with specified abilities on this list, these abilities are cumulative.
  • Double climbing speed and jumping distances. Triple them at *** and quadruple them at *****.
  • Double swimming and flying speeds. Triple them at *** and quadruple them at *****.
  • Double normal ground movement. Triple them at *** and quadruple them at *****.
  • Elemental strike: add +1L damage to attacks and +1 Soak versus the element chosen (bashing, lethal, and aggravated alike). This may be stacked up to four times.
  • Essence Stone: Provides +1 point of Essence up to a maximum score of (Stone level x 2).
  • Focus Stone: These stones can be attuned to a particular spell or charm, and reduce it’s mote cost by (Essence/2) at *, (Essence) at **, (Essence x 2) at ***, (Essence x 3) at ****, and (Essence x 4) at *****. This cannot reduce the cost below one-half the base however.
  • Gain a minimum score of three in a particular attribute.
  • Gain immunity to non-magical poisons and disease, or to bleeding, or natural insanity, or to some other uncommon hazard. More common hazards require more dots (for example, immunity to losing your balance, to operate easily underwater, or to survive forest fires and volcanic heat, requires three dots), automatic resistance to magical hazards of the same type requires +* (in the case on UMI, this will allow the user to automatically overcome it at the end of the scene). Actual immunity to supernatural effects in the category requires +***, although this includes the automatic resistance.
  • Gain elemental control within the stones aspect; an air stone might allow minor control of winds, a fire stone allows the user to easily spark fires, a water stone might purify liquids, a solar stone can produce lighting effects, and so on. Related stones can reveal the presence of particualr elements or effects within a wide radius. More potent elemental control abilities require more dots of this ability. *covers a specific minor effect, ** covers versatile minor effects or specific intermediate effects, such as calling up very minor aides (usually at 1 mote each), *** covers versatile intermediate effects or specific major effects. **** covers elemental attacks (use Wits+Awareness, Spd 4, Acc 0, Dam (2x Ess)L, Rate 3, Range 20, elemental damage type) or calling up moderately powerful creatures (usually at two motes each), and ***** covers either versatile major effects or grandiose minor ones (for example, illuminate or darken a miles radius).
  • Gain lethal soak equal to stamina and the ability to parry lethal attacks unarmed without stunting.
  • Gain a minimum score of two in all physical OR social OR mental abilities. This increases to a minimum score of three at *** and four at *****.
  • Halve the time normally required for crafting, for magical rituals, or for some other specialized task. This is upgrades to one-third at *** and to one-quarter at *****. Alternatively, at *****, the stone may halve time to take all actions other than sorcery in combat and double movement out of combat.
  • Linking. At * the user may communicate with his or her manse, at ** the user may draw on the powers of the manse remotely, at *** the user may project an image and sense and communicate either through stone from the manse or to the manse while he or she carries the stone, at **** the user (and up to rating companions) may use the stone to teleport to the manse, and at ***** the user may also teleport away from the manse, following the dragon lines to any location within a hundred miles.
  • Material Creation: at * the user may create water, air, dirt, or some other simple common material, at ** the user may create basic foods, or wood, or other common materials, *** covers unusual mundane substances such as poison, brandy, or pitch, for +* the material may be created in substantial quantities each day, for +* it may be projected or shaped. If the quantity, or speed of creation, is drastically limited, apply a -* for each condition that applies.
  • May spend three motes instead of willpower in a particular situation – with respect to a particular virtue, to use thaumaturgy, or to resist unnatural mental influences.
  • Move normally in an unsuitable environment. For example, you could move through brush unimpeded, balance on ropes or lines, walk on liquids, or swim in the air (swimming through the earth is more difficult, and is rating **). For +1 dot this covers a wide group of environments, such as being able to walk on any surface. At **** you can walk on air.
  • Outfitting. The user may spend one mote plus one mote per level of the stone (and one mote per additional target) to produce basic gear for a scene. * provides normal clothing, ** provides normal tools or armor, *** provides normal weapons, +1 dot provides fine equipment, +2 dots provides perfect equipment.
  • Philosopher’s Stone: Negates the need for any incidental material components normally called for by a spell or ritual. * negates the need for Thaumaturgic components, ** covers Thaumaturgy and Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, *** covers components thru the Celestial Circle, **** thru the Solar Circle, and a (legendary) ***** stone eliminates the need for components beyond the basic seed of one of the five magical materials when creating Artifacts.
  • Recover a point of temporary willpower once each day. This may be taken as often as you like.
  • Regenerate one level of bashing damage per hour. At ** this applies to lethal damage. At ***** it applies to aggravated damage.
  • Shapeshifting. Minor cosmetic changes at *, ** covers disguises, *** covers changing genders or wide variations within a species, **** covers beastmen and similar near-humans, and ***** covers a complete transformation. Stones of above rating ** produce specific effects.
  • Speak an additional language. At ** this covers a language group, at *** it covers all languages, for +* it covers literacy, and for +** it translates ciphers, codes, and symbols based on the relevant languages.
  • Store any single apprentice or initiate thaumaturgical effect for reflexive use later. +1 dot per upgrade (any thaumaturgic spell – a terrestrial circle spell – a celestial circle spell – a solar circle spell).
  • Spell Duplication: For ** duplicate an apprentice or initiate thaumaturgical effect, for *** duplicate any thaumaturgical effect, for **** duplicate a defensive or utility terrestrial circle effect, for ***** duplicate an offensive terrestrial circle spell. This generally requires the use of a willpower point, but is reflexive.
  • Warstones: These negate some combat penalties. Being able to instantly draw a weapon requires *, ignoring darkness or blindness requires **, ignoring wound penalties, or penalties to either DV or PV versus EITHER ranged or melee attacks requires ***, ignoring penalties to DV or PV versus both ranged weapons or melee attacks requires ****, and ignoring penalties to both DV and PV for both ranged and melee attackes requires *****.

   In general, Hearthstones aren’t nearly as powerful as artifacts or spending points on charms. After all, Hearthstones also supply motes and come with impressive manses with their own neat powers.

   Next time I get back to this topic, I’ll be creating a few hearthstones.


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