Exalted – Keeping The Lesser Types In The Game

One of the basic problems with Exalted is that certain character types simply are not competitive with others. This is setting-required. You can’t have mortals or Raksha or the other minor types be truly competitive with Exalts in general or the setting falls apart and needs a complete rewrite.

English: Gurulu Raksha Mask , Sri Lanka Polski...

Here’s looking at YOU… whatever you are.

As a game, of course, that’s lousy design. In a system that’s supposed to be all about saying yes, and letting the player-characters shine, and opening options, it’s saying “these character types are unplayable unless everyone is playing one or intentionally holds back”.

Of course the only characters the gamers actually care much about are the protagonists – that is to say, the player-characters. We need a rules patch for them that explains why they’re different in the setting, is easily adjusted to avoid the unwanted ramifications that always pop up when you tweak a rules system (such as making such characters TOO powerful), and which only applies to a few exceptional characters.

Fortunately, that’s pretty easy. What makes a lower-powered character who’s hanging out with a bunch of higher-powered ones and sharing their adventures unique is… that he or she is a lower-powered character who’s hanging out with a bunch of higher-powered ones and sharing their adventures. He or she will be taking hideous risks and stretching to the limit merely to keep up with the rest of the group, will be constantly being exposed to (from his or her point of view) utterly fantastic powers and energies, and can be assumed to be constantly getting advice and bits of training from the incredible entities that he or she is accompanying.

Ergo they get more experience than the rest of the group. That’s not quite “super powers are contagious”, but it can come fairly close.

  • A mortal playing with a Dragon-Blooded, Raksha, Dragon King, Spirit, or similar group gets twice as much experience as the other members of the group do. A Mortal playing with a Celestial Exalted group gets three times as much experience as the Celestial members of the group do. In either case, they may waive training times, buy mutations freely, and even (eventually) transcend to become spirits (reducing further XP gains however) if they like. Associating with their betters drives them to greater heights and empowers them.
  • A Raksha, Dragon King, Dragon-Blooded, or similar character playing with (or in opposition to) a Celestial Exalted group gets twice as much experience as each of the Celestial Exalts do – and may waive training times and buy mutations (if applicable) freely.

Raksha don’t really have high-essence guidelines. As a rule, their charms are inherently chaotic. They’re flexible, but are less efficient at any comparable set of requirements than the charms of any other type. On the other hand, as they gain essence, their legends become more set and stable – and the rules state that their essence profile comes to resemble that of a god. Ergo: at Essence 6 they gain access to Spirit Charms. At Essence 8 they are considered an Ishvara (and should have plenty of unique thematic charms comparable to panoply charms). At essence 9 they may opt to start incorporating lesser Raksha into themselves – increasing their power and mote pools at the cost of the ever-increasing rigidity necessary to keep those lesser Raksha under control as the feedback enhances THEIR essence levels. If they continue this path through essence 10, they may (or may not; who knows?) wind up as Primordials themselves.

Yes, these particular rules are simply a quick fix, and haven’t been playtested too much, and will probably need some adjusting of the multiplier – but they should neatly keep “lesser” characters playable in a mixed game without having any major impact on the setting – except, of course, for providing an incentive for “lesser” types to keep getting entangled with those dangerous – but ever so inspirational and encouraging – “greater” types.