Exalted Heartbreaker?

edited May 2009 in Story Games
On the Games that you really like... except for the deal-breaker thread, Exalted seems to get a lot of love/hate.

Frustrated with Exalted, what alternative games have you played instead? Have you been driven to design your own "Exalted Heartbreaker"?


  • Design? No. I do not design. Such a suggestion is madness, madness!

    I did run a Mutants and Masterminds Exalted one-shot though. I need to revisit it in light of the cool new fantasy supplement for that game.
  • I would run the setting using OVA for the anime-lovers or "Jaws of the Seven Serpents" depending on how over-the-top anime they wanted it to be played.
  • I've used the Wheel of Fate hack and really liked it. Can't stand Exalted's mechanics as-is.
  • I worked on a rules conversion for Exalted before deciding that that way lay madness. If I had players who were more interested in streamlining the rules, I might run a game using my Unworthy Charm Generation Method. I have a slightly updated version from that one, but the basics are there.

    The mechanics of Exalted are not a deal-breaker for me, just clunky. I always use the 2nd Excellency just because rolling a 4-attack flurry that starts at 16 dice takes goddamn forever. I love tick-based combat.

    It has definitely inspired some pieces of my other work, including a few pieces of technology in SA and an unfinished modern-day game called The Revolution (as in, "will not be televised.")
  • I just finished a sort of refactoring of some hacks I made for Exalted and Apocalypse World. It's called Radiant.

  • I love the look of Exalted. It's a beautiful game, but after one play, I was disgusted with its over-focus on combat. The alternative I went with surprised me, because Weapons of the Gods (WotG) was even more combat-focused than Exalted.

    What grabbed me was that in WotG, combat meant something. It fit within a larger drama, one with a fair bit of detail that expressed itself mechanically as characters struggled to fulfill xia and corrupt virtues and gain the attention of heaven. The ties to various groups, places and historical eras also produced much more powerful play, especially when character knowledge of those things opened up doors to related abilities.

    So, it turned out not to be the combat I hated, but the vagueness of how it related to the rest of the game setting, especially within the mechanics.
  • edited May 2009
    Radiant is pretty damn cool (read it a couple days ago). Like everyone else, I've been hacking Exalted on and off for years.

    However, the best version of Exalted, by far, is still the original quickstart version from 2001 (PDF). I would play that most any time. Also, if I continue hacking Exalted in the future, I think I might start with the quickstart and devolve from there.
  • Yea, I've hacked Exalted. I've played other's hacks of Exalted. I still sometimes play the quickstart.

    Hell, I sometimes even play something that closely resembles the Exalted from the 1st ed Core book alone. Its anything after that which brings ruination.
  • sooo... what's the best way to play with Graceful Wicked Masques? I've been wanting to try running an all Raksha game set in the middlemarches. Lots of shaping combat and questing against the unshaped and that kind of nonsense. No venturing into creation or fighting against the shaped at all (or at least not early on). Think that needs as much hacking to work well as the normal game does?
  • I haven't read the new version of GWM but Exalted: The Fair Folk needed a completely different character sheet than the one they gave you. Shaping combat is basically the same as normal combat except everything (Charms) is tied to your Graces / Virtues instead of your skills. However, like all the other Exalted types, the character sheet puts skills front and center even though they are much less important to Raksha. Also, my sense was that there was minimal guidance for telling stories about Raksha and zero mechanical support for it (not surprising, I guess, since Exalted doesn't give you mechanical support for storytelling aside from Limit Breaks and the new mission-y traits from 2nd), so I think mostly you'd have to wing it. Honestly, I'd hack those things in in the form of Keys / Aspects / Something, but that's just me.
  • Posted By: DenysI've used the Wheel of Fate hack and really liked it.
    Do you have a link, or do you mean Jonathan's game?
  • Posted By: Daniel H.Posted By: DenysI've used the Wheel of Fate hack and really liked it.
    Do you have a link, or do you mean Jonathan's game?

    Was talking about the Exalted hack here. From evil-hat
  • edited May 2009
    So far it's only some random notes. After working on it I thought "What the hell, I could as well design my own greek myths/Avatar/Wuxia mashup". But here it is anyway.

    I based my hack on the Disciple 12 rules and the Quick Start rules of Exalted 1st edition. It's pretty traditionnal so don't expect anything fancy.

    I named it

    Exalted Hacked, Mortal Edition
    A set of rules designed to be played by mere mortals

    Character creation

    Choose a Caste
    You have 15 points to distribute among your Castes, one of them must receive at least 6 points, this will define your character's Caste. No Caste can have a score superior to 7 or inferior to 1.

    Dawn Caste : the Warrior, Strength.
    Zenith Caste : the Priest King, Willpower
    Twilight Caste : the Sorcerer, Lore
    Night Caste : the Spy, Nimbleness
    Eclipse Caste : the Traveller, Charisma,

    Caste Power

    Dawn Caste Power : Instill fear
    You can force (Caste score) hostiles to flee rather than fighting you once per day.

    Zenith Caste Power : Banish undeads
    You can destroy (Caste score) undeads once per day.

    Twilight Caste Power : Essence Armor
    You have a natural armor with a value of 1.

    Night Caste Power : Hide essence
    The Night cast Exalted use of charms is undetectable by the Wyld Hunt or anyone able to perceive Essence use.

    Eclipse Caste Power : Sanctify treaty
    Any oath sanctified by the Exalted cannot be broken.

    Secondary attributes
    Combat = Dawn caste level
    Sorcery = Twilight Caste Level

    Choose between Compassion, Conviction, Temperance or Valor. Each time one of your action is directly linked to your virtue, you gain one additionnal die.

    Exalted have lots of cool powers. The only problem is that the use of this powers is what sets them apart from the rest of the world. The more you use them, the more chances are that you'll succumb to the Solar's curse.

    The Exalted Hubris score starts at zero (unless he has permanent charms, see below) and it goes up :

    By 1 each time you use a charm or a terrestrial spell.
    By 2 each time you use a celestial spell
    By 3 each time you use a solar spell

    Permanent charms give a permanent hubris point (it cannot be lost).

    When you reach 10 Hubris the Exalted totally succumbs to its flaw (Martyrdom, Violence, Cruelty, No Emotion...)

    By building something significant for the realm : relationships, armies or cities you can expand your hubris meter. This means the more you act as a responsible leader of the realm the less the chance you have to become a dick.

    Of course, kicking monster asses and saving the innocent are good things to do, but you have to built something lasting to benefit from this.

    Whatever happens your Hubris meter goes up only by one dot at a time and the decision to award it is voted by all players. In case of a tie the GM's voice counts for two.

    The Exalt has 10 + Zenith Caste Level Life points. When you reach 0 points you're dead meat.

    All characters speak the Low Realm language plus a number of tongues equal to their Eclipse Caste level. You can choose among : high realm, old realm, riverspeak, skytongue, flametongue, sea tongue, Forest tongue, guild cant, tribal tongues.

    You now have to choose five charms for your character. At least three of this charms must come from his Caste.

    ((cue long list of charms)) (still much shorter than the original though)

    Weapons (range/damage/min. STR)
    Unnamed weapons have standard values. Your weapons damage depends on the number of descriptor you give :
    The weapon's type (sword, dagger, staff...)
    The weapon's material (Metal ? Orichalcum ? Liquid mercury ?)
    An additionnal descriptor (of the blessed, the Tiger King's...)

    These are basically the Disciple 12 rules available for free at the Dread First Book of Pandemonium site.

    The Great game
    An adventurer can build relationships by helping people or working for them. These relationships are noted as attributes Whenever you want to ask a favor to this person/group roll your influence dice.
    The GM will set a difficulty according to your demands from simple information (5) to substantial help (9) or even a huge favor (13 or more).
  • Thanks, Denys.
  • Exalted's setting has always intrigued me, but my one encounter with the rules convinced me it wasn't my game. Too much handling time, too slow to execute for my taste. So I tinkered and tried to run a Dragon-Blooded game with Trollbabe, achieving mixed results.

    I continued the campaign using Bailywolf's Wushu-Exalted hack, then reworked the rules into a bastard form of straight Wushu with lots of extra switches and dials, then grafted FATE Aspects onto that, and THEN finally ported the whole kit and kaboodle to the Wheel of Fate hack. However, I discovered the WoF Charms as written seemed to overpower the Aspects, which felt disappointing because the Aspects were where the characters' cool features really showed.

    I've considered resuming that campaign. If I do, I'd probably use Heroquest, though PTA is also tempting, given the preferences of my group. No more system surfing, though. I have very patient players, but I don't want to put them through another series of conversions.
  • I can see Houses of the Blooded working pretty well for Exalted.
  • An Exalted heartbreaker might be my next project. I liked Exalted initially, but the anime angle completely turned me off it.
  • Posted By: Chris PetersonFrustrated with Exalted, what alternative games have you played instead? Have you been driven to design your own "Exalted Heartbreaker"?
    The thing I hate about Exalted is the system, so there's no way I'd want to design a heartbreaker, which by definition would be essentially recreating the same system, with some small amount of tweaks and such.

    I've run Exalted with HeroQuest and it was perfect.
  • I think by now, the term heartbreaker has pretty much entirely drifted from "A gamehack with a few cool ideas that's still way too close to the original system, and thus it breaks my heart" to "this game broke my heart, so I shall design a game that directly answers what I see as the flaws in it."

    It's kind of like a heartbreaker heartbreaker.
  • I can't believe no one is gushing about Radiant. Wow! It's amazing. I wish I had an open game slot right now because I would jump all over that.

    My super-sekrit White Wolf system hack these days is: Dots = dice. Willpower/Essence/Etc. = Pool dice. Then use the Lady Blackbird system. But then Exalted has all those gorram charms to convert, so I would probably just play Radiant.
  • Posted By: John HarperI can't believe no one is gushing about Radiant.
    Link, please?
  • Here's my gush. Radiant is fuckin' awesome. I plan on using it next time I pick up the Exalted campaign. My only quibble is that an example of play might have clarified the questions I think I'm answering by repeated perusal of the text. Otherwise I really, really like this.
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: Daniel H.Posted By: John HarperI can't believe no one is gushing aboutRadiant.
    Link, please?
    Posted By: shreyasI just finished a sort of refactoring of some hacks I made for Exalted and Apocalypse World. It's calledRadiant.
  • Thanks for the love, guys.

    My only quibble is that an example of play might have clarified the questions I think I'm answering by repeated perusal of the text.

    The text is dense and imperfect. I can help! Ask away.

  • Why am I only finding Radiant now? This looks freaking rad.

    - Colin
  • Hi Shreyas,

    It's a really kickass text overall, and I speak as something of a connoisseur of Exalted ports, based on how many I've collected and played. This is one of the coolest I've seen. That said, it reads in places as though it could use a second pass for clarification. That's why I mentioned an example to illustrate the in-play operation of the rules.

    1 - Active resistance has some confusing language about what ability the defender may use. I get the Attribute split between might and finesse. If you resist an attack coming via Swordplay, do you do so with Swordplay? Evasion? If the attacker is an Endings Caste Sidereal and I'm a Dragon-Blooded Wood Aspect, can I use Evasion? How is the complementary Attribute chosen?

    2 - I'm not at all certain how to apply Charms. If you apply one, does that move you to the Charm row of the Stunt table?

    3 - Mobility Focus changes seem opaque to me. How does it work to roll current v. new Focus? I presume if current Focus wins, you don't succeed in changing Focus?

    4 - Why would a Solar use anything but the special Solar abilities against non-Solars? Ditto for the Sidereal Martial Arts. Seems to restrict some cool spheres of activity to Solars only (e.g., Crime), which strikes me as disappointing.

    Love the character sheets, love the flavor text suggestions and description lists. Love the Storyteller Advice. This is very nicely done. Freaking rad indeed.

  • 1 - So, you're Li Ku Unquenchable Fire, a Dragonblooded. You attack Miguel Miracle of the Green Earth, a Sidereal, with Swordplay. Miguel has Swordplay in Endings, so he can defend with Swordplay or Medicine. Then he attacks you, with Swordplay again. You have Swordplay in Fire, so you can defend with Swordplay or Splendor.

    2 - Right.

    3 - That paragraph suffered a lot from condensation. Try this.

    Changing the Focus is a competitive roll using the new Focus you desire. You roll against the highest pool of anyone who wants to resist your attempted Focus change (using a defensive Ability the same way as for attacks). Roll against an easy obstacle if nobody resists. Let X=0 at the beginning of any fight; if you win against resistance and your successes > X, then change the Focus and set X to your successes. If you lose then don't change Focus.

    Changing the setting is a competitive roll using the present Focus, rolling against the highest resistant pool or an easy obstacle. Again, change setting only if you win.

    4 - I dunno a good fix for that yet, but more thoughts in the morning.

    Thanks again!

  • Fantastic. Thanks!

    In the Swordplay example above, how would you handle the attribute selection to pair with the ability? Just pick the higher of your Might or Finesse traits? Or am I missing something?
  • You use the other attribute in the same category - if you, Miguel, are attacked with Dex/Swordplay, you can defend with Strength/Swordplay or Strength/Splendor.

    oh, on 4 - As a non-Solar, you can still, like, be a criminal, you just don't have a specialized Ability to incriminate with. You can totally sneak into someone's house with Concealment or Evasion, or break in with Lore, or whatever, but you need to be a Solar to simply snatch a necklace off someone's throat with impunity.

  • Thanks, that makes sense. Decoupling the skills from their usual spheres clarifies things a lot.
  • I only skimmed it, but Radiant looks very cool. I'll have to give it a more thorough read later. I'd complain that you didn't include Abyssals, but given their close relation to Solars, I imagine they'd be easy enough to work up anyway.
  • Thanks for the memory jog, Brand.
  • Hey Shreyas,

    Very cool to see that new cover in the other thread. It's beautiful. I plan on using Radiant when I reboot my Dragon Blooded game this summer, so I'm excited to infer you're tuning up your luxurious hack. FYI, one of the characters in my game is a Sorcerer, another is an Immaculate. The other two, while very cool, qualify as what I'd call "stock Dynasts."

    If you're revising Radiant, I'd like to suggest inclusion of a sample character. Given my particular game's quirks, I'd also be interested in reading your take on how to handle Sorcery. It seems as though Immaculate Martial Arts could be represented via Birthrights and Immaculate Charms.

    I'm starting to get the yen to bring this to GPNW and run it.

    Also, I noted on a re-read that the description for Travel seems focused on battlefield movement, whereas I'd first assumed a broader provenance that might include travel experience and skills such as riding, sailing, and so forth.
  • edited June 2009
    We're reskinning it too, to take the Exalted out of it (yeah strange right), but to answer your questions...(ps I'm super excited that you're thinking about using it)

    I'd handle Sorcery this way:
    Add a new row to your stunt table. It has values N, 2N -W, 3N -2W, where N is 1 less than the Standard/Charms entry. Sorcery stunt bonuses add to any other stunt bonus you receive, rather than excluding them.

    The second time you buy Sorcery, add 1 to N. The third time, add 2 to N and -W to all three entries. Everyone can buy Sorcery three times.

    So if you're Dragonblooded, your Standard/Charms value is 2. That means that your Sorcery entries will look like this at one, two, and three purchases:

    1 / 2 -W / 3 -2W

    2 / 4 -W / 6 -2W

    4 -W / 8 -2W / 12 -3W
    There are definitely sample characters in the revision!

    Read Travel broadly and narrowly too. It encompasses 'running around deftly' and also 'i know how boats work.'
  • Awesome. Thanks. Cool that you're reskinning the Exalted out of it, actually. I'd love to drop some bread on you for this. It's very cool.
  • I've run an Exalted game using Above The Earth, a quick and simple supers game.

    I heavily modified the system, though, mostly adding some more "crunch". It went pretty well, but I don't have the rules online (or, for that matter, in a form understandable to anyone but me). I could get them somewhere if anyone really wanted - mainly the game ends up being about how much power you have, how you use it, and what you do when you run out.

    Which, I suppose, might not sound very Exalted-y, but I found it worked well.
  • Hey, one more question that probably reflects my literal-minded take on rules. I assume you add dice awards vertically on the stunt table, taking the largest result from each row without adding horizontally. Yes?
  • I'm trying to get what you mean by 'vertically.' Um, that section suffered a lot from layout, so here's an expanded version:

    Since you can incorporate several things into your description, you can qualify for multiple entries on the stunt table in one action. Choose your favorite dice bonus and your favorite Willpower bonus separately.

    If you're also doing Sorcery, then choose one entry you qualify for on the Sorcery table and add it to your stunt rewards from the rest of your description. Sorcery usage *costs* Willpower, so you can voluntarily downgrade it.

    Read 'Standard/Environment/Impressive' as +1/+2/+3 Stunts in WW Exalted if that helps interpret them.
  • Thanks, I think so. Sorry about the confusing terms. Let me restate:

    - Each row in the table constitutes a separate source of dice: Description + Birthright + Charm + Teamwork + Sorcery. In each row, select the column that best fits the player's narration. Add number obtained from each row to get the total number of dice. Do not add "horizontally" within each row, but take the highest number your narration qualifies for.

    Hey, I'm wondering about the impact of employing multiple Charms. The limitation is the anima banner flare. Guess this is something to explore during play. Maybe a W spent to activate Combos?
  • I've been working on my own game for a while: Mask of the Emperor. It's about samurai, reputation-building, and castrated psychic monks. One thing that came up pretty quickly was that the system itself, being about public reputation and a feudal culture, could be used for all sorts of mods and whatnot. Czarist (or Stalinist) Russia would actually work really well with the Mask rules, I think, provided a few names were changed.
    Anyway, because of the setting, I figured it'd be a snap to plug in Exalted: I devised an alternate version of the Sorcery rules from my game, and then put in some stuff about how your magic stat, Attunement (the one I made up for this hack, not something in Mask itself), could fluctuate based on how brazen or cowardly you are about revealing your divine nature. Attunement would be used in play for casting spells, to heal yourself, and good ol' wire-fu.
    Early version of the rules here: Mask of the Emperor
  • I suspect everyone brings their own take to Exalted, just as with any other setting. Shreyas's theme of a world of crumbling glory resonates with me, but my main thing concerns the Lantern Bearers aspect of the Dragon-Blooded (preserving a decaying, flawed civilization against the encroaching night).
  • Could totally do it with another setting. Looking forward to the reboot of Radiant with the serial numbers filed off.
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