…Mechanically, Exalted mutations are really pretty simple.
…There are positive mutations. These provide some special ability or package of abilities and make you look weird – not that looking weird is really a big thing in a world full of gods, demons, odd human variants, and (literally!) random creatures wandering in out of the primordial chaos for a night on the town. This is why characters pay to get them.
…There are negative mutations. These inflict some sort of drawback on the recipient and make them look exceptionally weird. Players may – occasionally – take some of these during character creation to pay for other abilities, but it’s rare for it to really matter much. For the most part, you can get all the disadvantages that will actually give you more points to spend without resorting to mutations at all. As a rule, negative mutations only really come into play when your character gets hit by some odd effect that inflicts them.
…In other words, you get zapped by something and suffer a game-master defined drawback until you find a way to fix it. Functionally, negative mutations are just another form of injury; the focus is on getting them to go away – and, that actually isn’t very hard.
…There are a few mixed mutations – notably, getting smaller – but, for the most part, they lean very heavily one way or the other, and are best represented as a bundle of smaller positive and negative mutations.
…Unfortunately, in the actual rules, several types of characters, such as Lunar Exalts and Raksha, are strongly dependent on the (positive) mutation rules – and yet what mutation rules there are are spread over a dozen different books, exist in multiple, often contradictory, versions, have no underlying system, and are often repeated with minor variations in description as “new mutations”.
…Ergo, here are some general mutation rules.
- Mutations are rated in bonus points (or 2 XP per bonus point) and are built up out of basic effects. Just pick out which ones you want, add up the cost, and there you go. At least for the moment, since negative mutations are inflicted by the GM, they’ll continue to use the old “1-2-4-6″ point structure. The effects of negative mutations are arbitrary anyway.
- Exactly how they work, or how they look, doesn’t matter; exalted characters have both physical, spiritual, and magical aspects, all made up of essence, and all subject to mutation in virtually any fashion that can be imagined. The fluff text can be anything the game master thinks is acceptable.
- Characters can be temporarily or “permanently” (translation; “until again changed”) mutated by exposure to the wyld, charms, sorcery, thaumaturgy, strange energies, weird artifacts, chemicals, or what-have-you. The source doesn’t matter either.
- Any character with mutations carries signs of them. They may look impossibly perfect (like a god or one of the fair folk), smell strangely, have animalistic traits, radiate energy, be made of things other than flesh and bone, or whatever, but they’re generally pretty easy to spot as something other than human. How odd generally depends on how many mutation points – in total, including “negative” mutations – they have and on how they’re being examined, since each effect they have will be associated with some oddity. It’s perfectly possible to look pretty normal physically and be extremely odd on the magical / spiritual level or vice-versa.
…For the first sample “mutation” breakdown we have…
…Humans were originally designed with no ability to use the wild power of raw essence save through prayer. These days, however, there really aren’t any purebred humans left. If you can find someone who doesn’t have a few gods, exalts, raksha, or wyld mutants hidden somewhere in their family tree, they’re probably worth putting in a museum.
…Current-style human bodies are very good at channeling essence into effects (like prayer); but they aren’t so good at storing it. Thus, a human who boosts his or her permanent essence above three will burn out their body and turn into a spirit or “god” – basically a human without the limitations or benefits of a mortal body. On the other hand…
- A human who links themselves with an external power source can learn to channel it into charms related to the nature of that power source.
- If the power source is linked to their physical body, they’re known as “god-blooded”. God-blooded are still subject to a human essence cap, and – if they lose their bodies – they lose the speciality charm access that their physical power-link gave them.
- If the power source is linked to the two halves of their soul they can use the power sources essence rating instead of their own, and so can gain an EFFECTIVE essence of above three. Note that there are possible power sources other than Exaltation, such as Manses, Demsenes, and other oddities.
- Unfortunately, a soul can only be linked to one power source at a time – and trying to break such a link normally also breaks the links between the two halves of the soul. It may be possible to get around that with a great deal of work and patience, but no one has ever really bothered trying; you usually only want to power someone down if you don’t like them – and killing someone is one hell of a lot easier than getting their cooperation as you spend weeks or months tinkering with them.
- The Terrestrial Exalted are humans who have been given a tap into Gaia’s primordial elemental powers.
- The Celestial Exalted are humans with a great-big power-supplying artifact bolted on to their two souls. Whether it’s actually in them, or whether they just have a link to wherever it actually exists, is an open question.
- Ghosts are partial humans; Per the Errata, Ghosts can learn Spirit Charms. Presumably – if they want to – Spirits can learn Ghost Arcanoi. Why they would want to bother is quite another question.
…As far as the actual abilities go, none of them may be taken twice – which effectively bars most Exalts from taking them at all if they can manage to acquire mutations in the first place. The elements that can be built into an Awakening Mutation include:
- (2) Gain a personal essence pool of (Essence x 5) motes. This MUST be taken first.
- (1) Add (Essence x 5) motes of peripheral essence to the essence pool. Using these motes sets off a flashy – but functionless – anima display unless a point of willpower is spent to suppress it for a scene.
- (1) Eliminate the anima effect when spending peripheral essence motes.
- (1) Add (Willpower x 2) to the personal essence pool.
- (1) Add (Sum of all Virtues) to the personal essence pool.
- (1) Ability to learn Terrestrial Martial Arts.
- (1) Ability to learn first-circle Sorcery or Necromancy (not both).
- (1) Ability to learn one type of Charms (mortals normally default to Spirit Charms). Mortals who can learn other types of charms are very rare. With the storytellers permission, a character may pay +(2) to discard Spirit Charms in favor of another type of charms.
- (1-6): Add +3 motes to the character’s personal essence pool per point invested. This option is not available to Exalts and Raksha. It represents a physical ability to store power – and an Exalts power pool is essentially external, while a Raksha has no true physical body to store power in.
- Exalted – Ixiah, God of Thaumaturgy and Youngsters Playing Ninja (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Solar Guardian Presence Charms (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Oniwabanshu (“Garden Keeper”) Jun and Hidden Twig Village from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – The Way of Manse and Demesne (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted Combat – Dreaming Thunder Guardian (ruscumag.wordpress.com)