Exalted: The Misadventures of Silver Trout

The Desolate Manse

“I may have done something terrible…”

My thoughts as we came upon the edge of the barren wasteland, a place completely devoid of essence and lacking any trace of physical and spiritual life. We had been tracking down a group of Dragonblooded manse-raiders in the hopes of protecting the relics that they guard, but this place was unexpected.

The ashen dust of the land was completely still and settled and probably had been for years with no spirits of the air to stir it. Rivers bent away from the area, knowing full well the danger that the path holds. This land was touched by something strange, but fleeting memories gave me the feeling that I had somehow been responsible for this desecration.

It took us two days to travel to the center of the wasteland. Two days without any recovery of essence, as there was none to be had in the place. By the night our caste marks and animas were forced to blaze, and in the center of the land a beacon of essence erupted. Shou told us there were creatures moving through the essence, with the timing I would assume demons, but we never saw the things… only heard the screaming of the group ahead of us… Daylight brought with it another strangeness, by the light of the blue-tinged mid-day sun we were forced to kneel.

When I finally saw the manse the structure gave me chills, the design was something marked of Oramus, the Dragon Beyond the World. The being whose purpose declared what was to be “in” and “out” of creation. Those with stronger hearts showed little apprehension, but I must admit these signs were pressing me to find the safety behind the walls of Abinue and leaving this place completely.

Marks of battle were evident in this place, the bloody remains of soldiers gave us a grisly path to follow towards the center of the manse. We came upon the remaining Dragonblooded and the dozen soldiers that they brought with them in the middle of a pitched battle. A behemoth of flesh crafted with magical metals bound into the frame of a warstrider was fighting the group, without our aid the dragons would have met their end within a few more moments. In the heat of battle I barely managed to catch sight of the final blow. Xia Wren Ta’s might is really something to admire. Where most of us could merely scratch the automaton, the Silver Lotus managed to cleave the creation in two with a single mighty slash of her scythe.

We tended to the wounded mortal men and women, then proceeded to speak to the Dragons whose lives we had defended. The earth Dragon was most willing to speak, though guarded, and by the time we left the manse we were on at least fair terms with those in our company. Maybe they won’t shun the light forever? We left the wasteland, hearthstone at the ready, and made it home safely.

Oh yes, there was another important event of the last few days. An event that better explains how the place came to be. That, however, is a story for another night.

~Tunsu

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Poems of the Prophet - I

Dragons dig the earth
The dead and damned rise and fall
Dragon sleeps in earth

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Postmortem: 05.05.2012, East Circle

Players: Aron, Janae, Josh, Karina, Kyle H, Nate

Quick Summary

This week’s East session focused on intrigue, politics, and divinities as the Circle focused on conversations with the various factions of power in Abinue. Janae brought in a new character, the Zenith caste Nadia of Aeovast Abbey, and Shou suffers various nosebleeds as he absorbs the information-dense spirit/artifact “The Lexicon” directly into his mind.

The Characters

For the sake of those who haven’t been introduced to them, here’s a look at the composition of the East Circle:

Arashi “Still Sky” Tenchi: an Eclipse caste Solar. Still Sky is the owner of the Whispering Sakura, a tea house on The Avenue of Blue Herons, and a grizzled veteran who abandoned his career as a cavalryman in the army of neighboring Rhonioto after a dark incident in his past. World weary, protective and thoroughly rooted in the community, Still Sky seeks to right wrongs by wresting power away from corrupt authorities by turning the hearts of their own people against them though his impassioned speeches and righteous pen. Played by Aron.

Nadia of Aeovast: a Zenith caste Solar. A precocious, young warrior priestess of nineteen years of age, Nadia went from an obscure acolyte to a national hero after becoming exalted by the Unconquered Sun during a beastman invasion in her native Oscalon. Representing her young nation in a diplomatic mission to Abinue, her goals are nothing less than the obliteration of the Immaculate Philosophy and spreading the worship of the Unconquered Sun. She’ll do this through sweet words or the blade of her grand grimcleaver, making those who disregard the former regret their decision when they fall victim to the latter. Played by Janae.

Imak Bluetide: a Full Moon caste Lunar. Young, spirited, and athletic, Imak hails from the West. He finds himself in the Scavenger Lands as a foe of the Guild and all slavers, dealing barbarian justice to those who would trade in flesh. His outspoken demeanor and uncivilized ways are a shock of cold water to the socialites of Abinue, with Imak resisting any attempts by his Circle to learn tact. Whether striking out with multiple limbs in combat or grilling nobles about their thoughts on slavery in an otherwise relaxing party, Imak is always on the offensive. Played by Josh.

Xia Wren Ta (“Silver Lotus”): a Changing Moon caste Lunar. Trained for the art of assassination in the Realm, Silver Lotus fled her old life to become the matron, top-end prostitute and secret bodyguard of the Whispering Sakura. Hiding her lethality behind her natural beauty, her loyalty to Still Sky was strengthened by her exaltation as the Lunar mate to the Solar he became. Capable of sweet smiles and quiet restraint, in battle she becomes a leanly muscled fox-woman wielding a massive moonsilver grimscythe, capable of hewing down the most heavily-armored foes. Played by Karina.

Tunsu Kaido: a Twilight caste Solar. Quiet and restrained, Tunsu lets the outspoken members of his Circle lead the way, whether through a delicate negotiation or a disastrously destructive battle, and supports with a serene smile (if sometimes a rueful one). A master of the esoteric Crane Style, Tunsu expertly defends his peers from deadly attacks, weaving a nearly impenetrable barrier of parries and deflections with his seemingly-delicate fans. When battle has ended, Tunsu’s life-saving mastery of healing Charms patches them up before their next fight. If it weren’t for the quiet wanderer’s aid, many of the Circle would have moved on to their next incarnation by now. Played by Kyle H.

Shou of the Boiling Pond: a Night caste Solar. Shou’s sole ambition was to take his grandfather’s renowned noodle-house, The Boiling Pond and to continue its legacy as the premiere destination in Abinue for delicious, filling food. Destiny had its own agenda, however, and since his exaltation Shou has found himself in countless escapades and battles wielding an orichalcum powerbow and seeking out foes with Charm-enhanced eyesight. Although combat becomes more and more routine for him, with his fingers now wielding a bow’s drawstring as easily as they once wielded a spoon, his heart and mouth continue to bumble and fumble as he gets peeks of just how torrid and horrid the world outside his restaurant can be. Played by Nate.

Recap

The session opened with Aria Rising in Sober Triumph, the exotically lovely Midnight caste Abyssal that has been traveling with the Circle, indicating to Still Sky that yet more tidings of disruption and danger have been coming from the nearby shadowlands. Unable to ignore them any longer, she heads out for Brightwall, the necropolis that stands in Abinue’s shadow in the Underworld. There she will seek out the source of these dark rumors and send word if she can.

In the late morning, the Circle is approached at the Whispering Sakura by Lord Primthorn, a member of the Royalist faction, ally to the Circle, and supplier of much of the Whispering Sakura’s tea supply. He leads them to their appointment with Lord Steelcut the self-made noble, wealthy owner of Abinue’s leading arms-manufacturing company, and the leader of the city’s Honest Brothers.

Meeting him at his manor atop the Hill of Forges, the party carefully hid their Exalted nature as they plied the powerfully-built businessman to learn more about the white-armband wearing Honest Brothers and their goals. Although his support of strong community ties and stated intent to remove the Realm presence from within and around the city are in line with their own plans, they seem less-pleased by his plans to then request that Prince Slender Willow abdicate in favor of a democratically elected city council. After some verbal jousting and digging into his intent they quickly withdrew to remove an increasingly more verbal Imak from invoking Steelcut’s ire.

The Circle then paid its respects to Valdeen, the childlike city mother and patron goddess of Abinue. While making plans to rendezvous with the goddess at her temple that evening to meet in secret with Prince Slender Willow, they are introduced to Nadia of Aeovast, a Zenith caste Solar who is an influential priestess from Oscalon. The city-state’s representative to pay their respects to Slender Willow prior to his coronation, she bears a dangerous relic from the First Age that needs to be secured from Creation’s enemies in a location none other than the Solars can enter… such as the fiery manse beneath the Hill of Forges.

At the manse, the Circle discovered a secure armory they had not found earlier. There they found a vast, aircraft hanger-sized chamber. It contained a heavily-warded vault as well as two royal orichalcum warstriders. In the vault they placed the dangerous relic, which was revealed to be a plate-sized disc of blue glass that had a strange, burning liquid fire trapped inside. They discovered several items in the vault, including a rune-covered orichalcum reaper daiklave that appeared to belong to Still Sky, a small, notebook-sized slap of crystal that seemed to go to Shou, and an ornate orichalcum and moonsilver necklace that seemed to belong to Nadia.

Things went awry when the crystal suddenly was absorbed into Shou’s skin. Tunsu was able to determine that it seemed to carry a spirit that embedded itself in part of Shou’s mind. During the integration process Shou suffered from all sorts of ailments, including blindness, a loss of language, the appearance of Old Realm runes over various people and objects he looked at, and several nose- and ear-bleeds. Imak tried to shake him out of it, triggering a defense system that locked the armory down and caused it to fire an essence cannon at the Lunar.

After some alarming moments where Shou seemed to be able to see from and interact with one of the warstriders, the Night caste was able to shake off the symptoms as the image of a Dragon King appeared in his vision, indicating that it was the Lexicon, a collection of information that could be shared to Shou on any topic from his own extensive notes in an earlier era.

The Circle was finally able to disable the security as Shou started seemingly talking with himself for a bit, and after a good deal of explanation the group left for its appointed date with Valdeen and Prince Willow.

En route they stopped at the city wall to seek out the old god of the First Age city that Abinue was built upon the ruins of. Instead of finding a babbling, apparently insane old man, they found a dusty, somewhat elderly individual with an old fashioned uniform with the insignia of the Blue Skull company and the ability to speak. Revealing his name to be Altenion, he initially brushed off their various entreaties for him to work with them, bemoaning his loss of any purpose after the fall of the once-great city he protected. However, Nadia was able to break through his malaise, and he agreed grudgingly to join them in their meeting.

God in tow, they arrived at Valdeen’s temple. They were shocked to discover that Prince Slender Willow had brought the Dragon-blooded woman Peleps Telessa with him, whom they believed to be complicit with the Realm “occupiers” and the Wyld Hunt. A complex political conversation that ran on many hidden levels ensued, with accusations, entreaties, disguised statements and bold claims all interchanged. By the conversation’s conclusion, Altenion had agreed to work with and protect Valdeen, Slender Willow had made it clear that he couldn’t directly oppose the Realm but that he wished to keep his city-state independent (offering up the Royal Manse’s hearthstone to Shou), and Peleps Telessa showed herself to be less concerned with Immaculate doctrine and more concerned with her own position in the Realm’s current game of houses.

The Circle learns that neither the Hunt (under the command of the monk Pool) nor the legion outside the city’s walls have her interests or the interests of House Peleps in mind, providing an unwanted escort that serve other, nebulous goals. She also clandestinely warns of the existence of a scouting party that has left to the north in a search for unclaimed manses and artifacts in the region.

Slender Willow is clear in intent, if cloaked in words: he needs a bride, which Telessa might someday be as he has currently no other choice. He still intends to create a strong, independent Abinue, but the city has no other military force than the Royal Guard and the mercenary contract with the Blue Skulls. Due to its position on the Yangtze, Abinue needs a navy to guard its interests, and gives the Circle a Letter of Marque to empower them to create one at the expense of local river pirates.

At the meeting’s conclusion the Circle gathers again at the Wandering Sakura where they lay out their next steps. The Realm scouting party poses a great risk, and must be stopped. But Still Sky has a plan: Perhaps they can be converted, not killed. Tea is poured, the Circle each offers up his or her own suggestion, and plots are made…

Feedback

This was my favorite session of the East Circle to date, with smooth integration and a good deal of involvement on each player’s part in the night’s events. I noticed in particular how hard each player acted to get others involved, finding ways for one another to participate in the creation and execution of plans in ways that complemented one another.

Synergy: Although Exalts are often pillars of perfection, with each person finding their shtick and becoming very good at it, you’re always all far better when you actively cooperate. This is most strikingly clear in combat, when multiple PCs focus on one dangerous foe to better contain and defeat him. In social scenes, even ones that aren’t social combat, it’s even more useful. Tonight proved that in spades, as you guys collectively hounded or guided the conversation to your ends in various scenes to great effect. Go team!

For the most part, this session focused on roleplaying over dice-rolling, so I have no real feedback on mechanics to offer. But in regard to role playing, I have a very small handful of notes that are mild nudges and suggestions.

Nate and Kyle: By and large you two are consistently the quietest members of the party in most social scenes. On social-heavy nights this makes me worried that I might be accidentally excluding you from participation. In cases where you feel your character genuinely wouldn’t be involved conversation-wise, I’d prefer some level of roleplay engagement to at least ensure me that you’re involved roleplay-wise. For example, Shou’s cake-eating was a pretty good method of staying involved (and pretty funny to boot). More of that (without interfering with actual speaking peeps of course) is great.

Josh: I really appreciate how you showcase Imak’s agenda (anti-slavery for example) and his barbarian-like forwardness (mouthing off around the prince, etc) but are completely content (at least, it appears) with others then scrambling to hush him without any sort of actual drama. That’s a great way to contribute to social scenes without making a scene, and it certainly adds some delicious spice.

Janae: I’ve told you already, but I like Nadia a lot. She’s a great fit for the party, and adorable in her own right. It’s great to see how she’s focused on the divine aspect of social scenes, with gods, religion and such clearly in her focus. It provides a great boost to the Circle.

I really, really appreciate how everybody is coming together for social scenes more, finding ways to each break in with your own ways to contribute, and cooperating more coherently. Thanks, guys!

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Postmortem: 05.02.2012, North Circle

Players: Alex B, Conrad, Janae, Mariah, Taylor

I’ve decided to start providing postmortem posts analyzing our game sessions as they occur and providing my thoughts and feedback. It’s my belief that this will help me improve my abilities as a storyteller and provide a motivation for players to think about their performance in a game and consider how to improve it.

I want to open with this thought: The “win” condition for role-playing games is for everyone to be having fun. Any other scoring metric would be completely inapplicable to the open-ended, mutual world-building exercise that is role-playing.

Last night’s game was the first one for the Abyssal/Infernal circle in the North campaign. For Alex, Taylor and Mariah it was their first session playing Exalted.

The Characters

The Circle’s composition is:

Schezeric Deschilan: a Fiend caste Infernal. Schezeric prefers bargaining over combat, has no pretenses of bravery or valor, and develops a nervous twitch quickly when allies begin to aggressively posture. He’s a smooth talker who’s quick to compliment and eager to suggest mutually agreeable bargains. Played by Alex B.

The Raven That Feasts on the Final Battle: a Dusk caste Abyssal. Raven is frequently silent, relying on tilting his plague-mask and gestures to communicate most concepts until the situation absolutely demands him to speak. Although an incredibly dangerous warrior and contemptuous of unskilled foes, he appears to reserve deadly force for foes that are worth the effort, and is willing to delay sending an enemy to Oblivion or Lethe if another productive alternative has presented itself. Played by Conrad.

Tepet Tanis: a Slayer caste Infernal. Tanis is a monstrous berserker in a small package. Her short stature is compensated for by constant aggressive posturing, with her constantly testing her superiors, allies and foes with challenges and threats. It appears that if an opportunity for a fight is in the offering, Tanis is more than willing to start it. Bearing over-sized smashfists, her use of Infernal Monster Style has proven to make her an incredibly lethal foe to opponents much larger than her. Although her high Valor makes her unlikely to pursue and cut down fleeing foes, on the field of battle she has shown none of Raven’s mercy when dealing with those who stand and fight. Played by Janae.

Nameless Shadow of the Forest: a Day caste Abyssal. An independent Abyssal, Shadow is mistrusting of the Deathlords and appears to be reluctant to trust the motivations of loyal Abyssals. Despite this, when a potential fight appeared to be about to occur between the deakthknights and the green sun princes it was clear that she would back her own kind over the Infernals. Quiet and stealthy, she’s so far been willing to let her Circle-mates do the talking; in combat, she takes the same approach, silently and methodically dealing with her foes. Played by Mariah.

The Blood-Stained Ballad of Death’s Beckoning Embrace: a Midnight caste Abyssal. Bearing a shamisen and a slightly crooked grin, Ballad could be easily mistaken as insane by the careless. Which is a mistake he’s more than happy to let you make. In battle, Ballad first turns to his shamisen to harm foes, using Performance Charms to shatter minds and kill with dark songs which speak of the glory of death. When greater foes prove resistant to his dark ballads, his eyes fill with blackness and shoot dark jagged bolts of Essence that are far more dangerous than any song. Played by Taylor.

Recap

In their opening session the players found themselves assigned to an assault on a Seventh Legion expedition in the northern plains, aimed at stopping an excavation for a powerful First Age weapon. The two Infernals met with one of their superiors, a Defiler named Jubari Keymaker, who airlifted them to their target by airship. The Abyssals were taken through the Underworld by a necromancy-powered ship under the command of Lone Osprey Over Dark Waters. Both groups were informed that “another team” would be involved in the mission, but not given details as to who that would be.

The parties attacked from two directions. The Infernals air-dropped from above while the Abyssals crawled into Creation through a door spawned by necromancy, starting their attack from the bottom of the excavation pit.

The opposition was roughly a talon of Lookshy troops commanded by shozei Amilar Varas, a Dragon-blooded officer in his middle-age armed with a red jade grand daiklave. In addition to Varas, three other Dragon-blooded were in the encampment: quick-grinning Karal “Blaze” Tanaka, armed with a pair of flame-pieces and his roguish charm; the gravely serious Melehek Verik, a master swordsman who wielded a jade reaper daiklave and jade wavecleaver daiklave with deadly competency; and Hirea Red Antlers, a fur-clad barbarian woman who kept her distance while attacking with her jade powerbow.

The Abyssals struck first, with Ballad singing a deadly song that nearly killed the entire talon of mortal troops in one verse. Varas leapt into combat and in deadly retribution nearly cut the bard in two with a single stroke from his grand daiklave. The other Terrestrials quickly followed suit into the attack, with Blaze nearly scoring a hit on the quick-moving Raven before being pushed back by Shadow’s furious counterattacks. Soaring over Blaze with a massive leap, Verik pressed Raven with an all-out assault from his two daiklaves, pushing the deathknight to heavily spend essence to keep from taking too deep a wound. Red Antlers peppered the battlefield with shots from above the pit, trying to push Shadow back from Blaze but failing to land any hits on the quick-moving Day caste.

At this point the Infernals dropped into the fight. Tanis cut her parachute early and collided into the earth just behind Verik with a heavy thud. Although the swordsman almost turned her shattering punch aside with his skill, she still landed a blow that burned with the fires of Malfeas and the deadly liquid of her acid-rime smashfists. Shezeric obliterated a soldier’s head with a well-aimed shot from his deadly needle artifact before landing quietly behind Red Antlers, who he stealthily approached in the shadows.

At this point the fight heated up. Sensing Verik’s relative deadliness, Raven and Tanis dug heavily into their essence pools to launch massive attacks on the swordsman, with the Infernal succeeding in crushing his skull just after Raven landed a fury of blows. Pressed back by Shadow’s advance and unable to score a hit with his flamepieces, Blaze suggested the better course of valor to his superior, Varas.

The Dragon-blooded officer called for his surviving allies to flee in response, then pressed an attack against Tanis to tie up the raiders long enough for his troops to escape. Although his attacks were backed by the power of the Dragons, Tanis was able to turn them aside before gravely wounding Varas in response. Sensing an opportunity for information, Raven switched tactics and landed a series of non-lethal strikes to render the shozei unconscious.

Shezeric caught a fleeing Red Antlers by surprise as she turned to flee, scoring a light blow on her before Blaze came leaping out of the pit to provide cover with his flamepieces. The Circle decided to let the fleeing Terrestrials escape (much to Shezeric’s disappointment) to concentrate on retrieving the artifact the Legion had been digging for.

Breaking into the partially-excavated ruins, they discovered a frisbee-sized disk of blue glass, filled with a glowing blue fluid. Shezeric recognized it as a sizeable piece of glass from one of the three spheres of the Principle of Hierarchy used as a final act of vengeance in the last moments of the Primordial War, and warning that it was likely an incredibly dangerous weapon that could obliterate a large portion of Creation if activated.

At this point, the Circle broke to in-fighting, with each faction demanding to take the weapon to their own masters for safekeeping. Shezeric proposed an agreement of watching over it together while they negotiated in good faith. Ballad seemed inclined to accept the bargain, but Raven was untrusting of sealing a bargain with a Fiend.

At this point a masked stranger named Unity approached the Circle. He revealed that it was him that asked Osprey and Jubari each to send their forces to help secure the item, indicating that he was a highly-ranked member of an organization called the Deliberative in Exile, an alliance of Abyssals and Infernals who felt that Creation and the Underworld would be better placed in the hands of the Exalted instead of the Yozi or the Neverborn.
Agreeing to the wisdom of such an arrangement, the Circle learned that as many as five more such discs existed throughout the North and perhaps the East and West, and that one was recently uncovered by Realm engineers building a new series of walls around the nearby city of Cherek.

Deciding to work together, they left the excavation site and headed out over the snowy plains towards one of the North’s largest cities, intent on wresting a dangerous weapon from the hands of the Realm before they could misuse it.

Feedback

As an inaugural session to a new campaign, especially one with several Exalted novices, I felt things went very smoothly. As can be expected, everything took longer: final character tweaks before beginning, the introduction of the game, combat, etc. But despite the extra time involved, it progressed with no major snafus (and virtually no minor ones).

That said, I’ve got some suggestions that I think we can all benefit from, as well as some specific advice for particular characters. I’m going to start with the generic advice, then work my way to the one for individuals. I suggest reading through it all, as some may apply to you.

1. Charms

Players shouldn’t have to do the following during game: open a book to figure out what their Charms do, then open up the Errata to confirm that they still do that, then decide what to do on their turn now that they have read through that all.

I strongly recommend everyone make Charm cards with the errata’d version of their effects carefully written out. This way you don’t need to consult one (or more) books and PDFs, and you have a very easy, very comprehensible resource to examine for knowing what special powers you can bring to bear.

Barring errata changes, the Charms will stay the same from that point on, and you can devise consistent strategies based on that knowledge. This will help you be more confident and effective with your character’s abilities, and will help speed up combat.

I did this with my NPCs for this battle, and found that I didn’t need to open up the Dragon-blooded supplement every turn, and it greatly accelerated my characters’ actions (and made them a bit more effective in the process).

2. Math

Exalted combat can be very complex. As such, the more preparation a player can do before their turn comes along, the smoother and quicker combat can be. Smooth and quick combat is more fun, and provides more opportunity for role-playing the rest of the evening.

This particular session went pretty smoothly despite the new players, but there were a few moments where a turn sequence slowed down greatly because someone had to figure out exactly how many dice to add from various effects, counting extra bits here and there from various source. I saw this happening less over time as combat progressed, with people knowing how much they were adding before their turn came, and it benefitted things a LOT.

So while being aware of what’s going on with combat, prepare ahead ideas for what you’re doing. I know that the situation can change just prior to your action, but if you get a feel for what you’re planning to do, and then start doing the math for it in advance, you’ll be able to take your turn in a more succinct, quick timetable that will keep the combat hopping and exciting.

Between points #1 and #2 I find combat gets more exciting for everyone, as they get to spend more time listening to descriptions and witnessing the effects of dice rolls than listening to idle chatter while people wait five minutes for someone to figure out what’s going down.

I want to really emphasize: The Circle did great tonight. I just noticed where things improved a ton from people being prepared. Charm cards, thinking out plans in advance, and doing the math ahead of time. Big, big factors for keeping combat lean and tight.

3. Stunts

There were a few moments where I could see someone struggling with the ideas of stunts. Although Exalted veterans are old hands at this, for the new players there can be occasions where it looks like you feel on the spot while coming up with ideas. I suggest that the best way to avoid this issue is to think out stunts in your head as you’re waiting for your turn.

Don’t over think them, however. Stunts should be easy to recite back, and not slow down game with laborious phrasing and pacing. They should be zesty, fun, and epic. Not plodding.

You’ll find by thinking ahead and keeping them lean that you’ll feel less “put on the spot” when you recite them back, and people will really appreciate the resulting epic imagery.

Now that I’ve addressed general comments based on how game went, I’m going to offer some specific advice to players. As this was the first session of a new campaign, I want to give people a chance to shake out the bugs in their character design and improve their ability to perform the kind of actions they want their characters to excel at.

With the following suggestions we should consider moving around your points to adjust for the strategies I’m suggesting. These are ultimately just suggestions, of course. If you like how you’re doing, please ignore it.

Taylor: I love Ballad, his theme, and his strategy. But if it weren’t for me retconning some damage, he would have died in the first attack by the first NPC in the first combat. An epic, tragically short life. So the first order of business is making him more survivable. There’s some ways that could be done.

One way is to get a guardian that uses Defend Other to keep him safe. After seeing this in play in the East campaign I can say it greatly improves survivability, but it does hinge on someone else wanting to play a defender type. If someone wants to, have them do it. If not, well, then it won’t happen.

You need to boost your DV, too. As it stands, the mortal extras had comparable DVs. On average, almost any Exalted combat-oriented character can hit Ballad every time they attack him. His anti-attack aura of fear is very nice, but has some holes, notably that two successes on a Willpower check is negligible, and if I take one or two dice of damage from the feedback effect in exchange for doing six to you, it’s worth the trade-off for the attacker.

I’d suggest considering moving some points around into Dodge, or adding a Specialty for Dodge. Additionally, you’d benefit from Hearthstone Bracers (which add +3 to your Dodge + Dexterity + Essence calculation for Dodge DV). Although I don’t have a list of Hearthstones in front of me, I think you could probably mildly improve this with certain Hearthstones as well (likely not by a lot, but by 1 or 2).

Additionally, improving your soak is very practical. I know your character design doesn’t favor heavy armor, but perhaps you should consider an artifact reinforced buff jacket (over your current normal buff jacket), as well as some Resistance soak Charms.

Lastly, get a perfect defense Charm as soon as possible. They’re expensive to use, but they can really help in attacks that you need to avoid at all costs.

Mariah: You need artifacts. Your native dice pools aren’t inherently high enough for your style of combat for you to keep in the same league as everyone else. I’d personally suggest getting one of your style’s form weapons: razor claws, smashfists, or bloodspike harnesses. Any of these will improve your combat output considerably (note: the harness only works for clinch, so if you don’t plan on clinches use one of the others). At the minimum I’d suggest hearthstone bracers if you don’t want a weapon. Better yet, get both a weapon and bracers.

Conrad: In a few instances you spent so much essence on defense that you might as well have paid for a perfect defense charm. I’d suggest getting a perfect dodge at some point as a backup for situations like this. I’d also suggest the dodge charm that permits you to disregard any Dodge DV penalties, as that would greatly improve your DV in some circumstances for very cheap (by bypassing whatever negatives are stacked up). That’s only a suggestion, though. You did fine on survivability, obviously. I just figured some efficiency on mote use would be handy.

Alex B: I suggest eventually getting either an Excellency or Shadow Spite Curse to help you hit others or avoid being hit. I know that combat isn’t your biggest focus, but one of those could help in the long-run.

Janae: Look into clinching more. You’re dangerous punching or clinching, but it’s pretty clear that the Strength-enhance nature of the style makes you far more dangerous as a clincher.

On my own end, I saw some organizational issues of my own. I should print out my small NPC sheets instead of keeping them on a tablet for quicker retrieval (complete with those Charm cards). In the instances where I had that info handy, it greatly sped up how quickly I could formulate a plan. Also, as more of a note to self: remember to synergize Dragon-Blooded actions more. They work way better as a coordinating team.

I was really pleased with how the session went and how players did. Thanks a lot guys for a fun night!

-Kyle

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Of Light and Dark
The Night of Exaltation

I had never thought that life would be boring upon moving to Abinue, but I will testify that I had never expected it to come to something such as this. I had set myself up in comfort, on the arm of a relatively handsome man who kept me well off with trinkets and doting, and who I was not altogether bored by. Perhaps I was even becoming fond of Lord Primthorn, but dwelling on any blossoming feelings is pointless now.

Everything changed, and the Whispering Sakura is responsible for it, although not guilty of what occurred. I frequented the tea house because it was stylish to be there, even if it was a not so carefully concealed front for an upscale brothel. My lord enjoyed watching the women, and I, with my baser appetites, enjoyed the view of the rougher guardsmen and dock workers who passed through the street on a regular basis. A sunny day shortly after Calibration is the perfect time for things such as this.

Even I, with my whimsical fancies, could not have ignored the men who appeared across the street that day at The Boiling Pond, a noodle house where I have never eaten. I know how it is, to wish to conceal one’s identity, but I also admit to a large streak of curiosity, and so I paid some attention to them.

I’m not sure, now, how everything unfolded. The night’s events are so clear in my mind and yet… so muddled and distant. I do know that Still Sky took Shou and the street cleaner with him off to a warehouse after some suspicious activity running back and forth. Later, I discovered that they went to meet with Black Sand Symphony, an assassin who was once the master of Xia Wren, and was seeking her continued services. He was refused, of course, but insisted that the mistress of the Whispering Sakura attend the Queen’s birthday party at the palace. Not a coincidence, we were sure, and although I was at the Whispering Sakura simply awaiting the return of a rough and tumble dock worker who had caught my fancy, I somehow got wrapped up in the excitement of the events.

It seems that I am unable to avoid such scandal as this, nor would I have tried. I love it.

We informed my lord of our suspicions regarding Black Sand Symphony and he agreed to give them invitations to his grandmother’s party – I was already expected to be on his arm, of course.

Things were normal, at first. We arrived, we danced, and everyone – men and women alike – were atwitter over Lord Captain Professor Silver Trout’s return to Abinue. I admit, his stories of adventure and his travels with the Solar Exalted set my heart beating as it did all who heard him speak. There is something irresistable about the man, whether it is his handsome looks, his charming smile, or his captivating way of storytelling. Whatever it is, that plus the dancing and the drink were enough to keep the crowd entertained and their eyes away from the assassins crawling up the walls and towards the ceiling. Even I was oblivious, and did not know until Shou and Xia Wren were running towards the stairs with Silver Trout in tow.

In the end, we were too late. The Queen’s chambers had been breached, and as we stepped over the threshold, a woman looking to be Xia Wren’s twin – or the woman herself – was already drawing a moonsilver dagger across her Majesty’s throat. Instantly, my comrades went from street rabble to warriors, and they stormed into the room with weapons taken from the body’s of her Majesty’s own fallen guard. I was no warrior, however, but even bitches have teeth and claws, and I have never been one to stand back and allow such callous cruelty to befall any.

This creature – as we discovered shortly after, she was a disgusting chimera of a Lunar Exalted, twisted into multiple forms with limbs like an octopus and the legs of a horse – was not alone, either. At least half a dozen men filled the room, and with them was Black Sand Symphony, one of the children of the Dragons. We fought, with sword and arrow, with fist and feet, but what good were we against skilled men, let alone those chosen by gods?

I will never forget the feel of the blade sliding into my flesh, through my organs, out my back. I will never forget the pain and the darkness, the struggle to breathe, and the desperate will to cling to life. I will never forget the slackening of my limbs as I hung on that blade, and I will never forget the words etched into my mind, offering me a second chance at life. Would you not have taken it? Is anyone strong enough to not reach out for such a chance? I am not sure if it was a moment of strength, or a moment of weakness, but I knew there was no other choice. I took it.

The darkness extended out around me to encompass the beast and myself, even as my companions threw themselves at Black Sand Symphony, all of them required and failing at driving the great dragon’s child back. But even as the blackness surrounded and engulfed me, so were they surrounded by brilliant light. Yellow and white and blue and purple, beautiful spirals of the color of the noonday sun to the tinted displays of the sunset on the horizon. And the silver of Luna’s sweet rays.

As I am the darkness, they are the light. I know the truth now – there can be no light without dark, no dark without light. And as I shall be their sober reminder of the realities of this world, so shall they be my hope to overcome them.

-Aria Rising in Sober Triumph

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Exalted 2.5 Errata Is Out

The Scroll of Errata was updated with the massive Exalted 2.5 ruleset update. It’s filled with a lot of changes, some small, some large, that combine to greatly change how combat works. Most of the notable changes can be found in the General section at the start of the document.

Your charms will have likely changed to help reflect the system update. Please double-check any charms you take against the errata version of the charms.

The new version of the Scroll of Errata can be downloaded for free from here: Scroll of Errata

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Martial Arts Rulings

I’ve been doing reading and prepping for game, including evaluations of the awesome (and sometimes broken) martial arts styles available in the game. After a good deal of research, I got a feel for community consensus on what styles are broken, what styles aren’t, and what revisions that exist are best to use when possible.

In response, here’s a comprehensive list on what styles are permitted, and what revisions to use in some cases: Martial Arts Allowed and Altered

There’s two things I want to draw your attention to for your own sakes if you’re still looking at style choices.

1. Several styles exist in the Debris of the Fallen Races book. I’m not sure if we have a PDF, but it’s worth looking for. Only one is a CMA.

2. Holden (Exalted editor) wrote several styles that are in the wiki prior to his ascension to a full writer. These aren’t canon, but are considered Grade A, super good styles. We’ll be allowing them. They’re at the end of the list in my post and written up in the Exalted Wiki. They may be worth checking out.

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Campaign Preparations Underway

I’ve started preparations for our upcoming Exalted chronicle.

Here’s some details for everyone.

Game is on Saturday evenings, likely something like 6-10. We’ll work out the exact location and hours before the first session.

The players invited are Aron, Karina, Janae, Alex, Nathan and Kyle Halford.

The allowed character types are Solars, Lunars, Abyssals and Infernals. We’re seeing a decided skew towards Solars at the moment (3 solars, 1 lunar, 1 abyssal) so I wouldn’t mind seeing another lunar or abyssal, or even an infernal to help keep the group’s makeup dynamic. But whatever best fits people will be workable.

The game’s timeline is roughly immediately after the cessation of the last chronicle, which puts us four years past the setting’s default starting time. (aka, 11 years after the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress). Actions, consequences, NPCs and events that took place in the prior chronicles of the setting still apply here (although as mortals when game starts, none of you are likely to know of the majority of those events.)

There’s some adjustment to the way this game will be ran compared to my prior outings that should be taken into account.

1. I’ll be mixing in Social Combat and (if anyone decides to build a character for it) War, and make them as frequent occurrences as Combat.

2. I’ll be upping the ante with antagonists, providing a consistently higher challenge to keep-in-line with the developing powerscale of your characters.

3. I’ll be aiming for a location-centric campaign instead of a constant world tour. This doesn’t mean that travel and travelling between realms of existence won’t happen. It will. It will just always bring you back home after you’re done.

4. Nation-building and such will occur, forming a backbone to your adventures.

5. I will not shirk from you using awesome, mind-or-body splattering combos. If you’re finding ways to be legitimately awesomesauce, I’ll cope with it, and later try to replicate your coolness with my own badasses.

Some of you have more familiarity with the system or more comfort with character building than others. Game won’t start for a bit yet, so please feel free to ask me for advice and help. I don’t want to make characters for you, but I’ll gladly help you eke out the best build to make you feel awesome at what you should be awesome at.

-Kyle

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