Exalted – Upgrading Excellencies

Well, it’s once again time to play catchup with a few quick posts about Exalted stuff…

Charms in Exalted are a horrendous mess. They may be cleaning that up with third edition, but I have my doubts; really cleaning up the system would mean that – like the Hero System, or World Tree, or Eclipse, or quite a few other systems – you wouldn’t really need anything but the core book. Sadly, that means that grinding out new sourcebooks isn’t as profitable – which is why it’s rarely the commercial business model of choice. Ergo, here’s a couple of quick general charms for Solar Exalts (the other groups get their own versions of course), with a few more to come.

New Excellency:

Fourth (Ability) Excellency; Fortunate (Ability) Benison

  • Cost 4M, Mins: (Ability) 1, Essence 1, Type; Reflexive (Step 3 for attackers, step 6 for defenders)
  • Keywords: Combo-OK.
  • Duration: Instant
  • Prerequisite Charms: None.

The perfection of the Unconquered Sun infuses the actions of his Exalted. Tapping into that perfection through Fortunate (Ability) Benison causes all bonus dice on that action from Stunts and Channeled Virtues to count as automatic successes. The Fourth Excellency is compatible with all three existing Excellencies.

New Excellency Modifiers:

Clouded (Ability) Sun

  • Cost: —, Mins: (Ability) 3, Essence 2; Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: None
  • Duration: Permanent
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any (Ability) Excellency, (Ability) Essence Flow

The supreme skill of the Solar Exalted becomes a natural part of their very nature, as unremarked as the air. The user’s (Ability) associated Excellencies become purely internal affairs. They are never obvious and do not disturb essence-senses. Motes spent on them, whether Peripheral or not, do not count towards anima flare, and they may be applied any time a relevant roll is called for – even if their use would normally be disallowed (such as during Shape Sorcery actions).

Unconquered (Ability) Perfection.

  • Cost: — (special), Mins: (Ability) 4, Essence 2 (3, 5, 8), Type; Permanent
  • Keywords; Obvious, Sorcerous, Stackable
  • Duration; Permanent (Special)
  • Prerequisite Charms; Any (Ability) Excellence.

When the Exalted set their wills to a task, the very fabric of the world can but tremble and obey. When the user channels a virtue into an (Ability) stunt, he or she may increase the base difficulty by two to attempt to pull off a normally impossible feat. While the feat must be appropriate to the ability used and to the virtue being channeled, it’s effects are basically equivalent to augmenting the usual ability with master-level Thaumaturgy. Thus:

  • A swordsman (melee) might attempt to entwine ectoplasmic threads from a spirit about his or her blade, allowing attacks against immaterial beings for the duration of the scene.
  • An archer (archery of course) might try to attack a small area, causing the arrow to ricochet from target to target – or he or she might attempt a shot that would snag an allies belt and carry him or her a short distance to safety.
  • A “master of the serpent style” (martial arts) might try to strike a pressure point that will induce uncontrollable laughter until the target falls unconscious.
  • A superb observer (awareness) might sharpen his or her senses – or weave a mirage from a handful of dust to confound others.
  • A scholar (lore) might try to utter a Raksha mantra to confound the minds of those who approach a particular area, leading them astray.
  • A mystic (occult) might sound a bell in a rhythm that disrupts the essence-flows of ghosts to raise a barrier against their approach.

With a second purchase at essence three the user may increase the difficulty by four to to attempt a stunt that would normally require Terrestrial Circle Sorcery – perfectly blocking some incredible attack with your staff and melee skills, turning a simple thrown knife into something like the Death of Obsidian Butterflies, invoking the lore of some ancient pact to gain the aid of an elemental, pronouncing an occult word of command to banish a minor demon, or using medicine to cast someone into deep hibernation or cure a truly deadly disease in a mere moments.

With a third purchase at essence five the user may increase the difficulty by seven to attempt a stunt that would normally require celestial circle sorcery. One might use Dodge to cross a city, Occult to perfectly block some mighty magical attack, martial arts to hurl everyone away from you like a bomb, pilot to sail a ship between worlds, or some similar stunt.

With a fourth purchase at essence eight the user may increase the difficulty by ten to attempt a stunt that would normally require solar circle sorcery – perhaps using Athletics to generate a tornado while running so fast that he or she is perfectly protected from ranged attacks, Lore to create an artifact design so perfect that it comes into existence spontaneously for a time, Craft to create a temporary warstrider or raise a city, medicine to heal a shadowland, and so on.

Given that this IS a Sorcerous Charm, it is possible to reduce the extra difficulty by up to one per level of Unconquered (Ability) Perfection known through the use of (GMO) appropriate magical components, by invoking an appropriate primordial entity (and thus owing it a favor or giving it a chance to meddle a bit), by making a special study of a particular, limited, group of effects (3 XP, acceptable groups of effects are – once again – up to the game master), or by taking your time to perform an appropriate ritual.

And yes, those ARE all up to the game master. This is a freeform ability, and that’s kind of inevitable.

Variations on this charm are available to most of the other Exalted.

  • Lunar Exalts base their abilities on their attributes and are limited to three purchases, but gain +1 level of effect when invoking effects related to transformation, nature, the wyld, or survival and self-healing. For example, if they pay and roll for a Terrestrial effect while turning a wild cat into a colossal steed, then what they’ll get is a Celestial effect. Sadly, this is not cumulative; such an effect might arguably fall under all three of transformation, nature, and the wyld, but one level of effect is all they get.
  • Sidereal Exalts are also limited to three purchases, but, rather like the Lunar Exalted, gain +1 level of effect when invoking effects related to Bureaucracy, Destiny (via Occult), Lore, Martial Arts, and Stealth. Thus, while Solar Exalts can still duplicate the effects of the “Sidereal Martial Arts”, they’ll have to work a good deal harder than a Sidereal Exalt to do so.
  • Dragon-Blooded are limited to two purchases, but gain +1 level of effect when creating effects involving blood relationships, elemental forces, or large-scale military actions.

Yes; this can effectively replace rather a lot of the higher-order charms. Admittedly, virtue channels and will are a little harder to renew than Motes, and the mote cost irself may be higher if you need to use a bunch of Excellencies to hit the difficulty – but in exchange you’re getting unmatched flexibility as well as a tolerably-consistent ceiling on what is and is not possible for a charm to do.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Unconquered (Ability) Perfection I (Channel a virtue and add +2 difficulty to add a thaumaturgical effect to your martial action) […]

  2. […] Upgrading Excellencies: New new excellencies and related charms. Includes Unconquered Ability Perfection, a general charm-replacer. […]

  3. […] Upgrading Excellencies: New new excellencies and related charms. Includes Unconquered Ability Perfection, a general charm-replacer. […]

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