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Momentum Exalted v.0.01 - an experimental rules hack to speed play in Ex3

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  • Momentum Exalted v.0.01 - an experimental rules hack to speed play in Ex3

    Hey all!

    We tried out a rules hack at my home table over the weekend, and I think it went very well.

    I'll be pasting the first version of Momentum Exalted below. Please give it a read and see what you think - I'd be eager to hear feedback, especially if anybody else decides to give it a go.

    Even playing through for the first time, we thought it was a lot faster than core Exalted 3rd. One of my players is already talking about getting a custom-printed battlewheel.

    I also roughed out a Charm Stack sheet, which I have hosted at (!ApbQbY5ZIprJ4xKhu7CkjWACaSAN )


    Synopsis (ver. 0.02)

    Momentum Exalted is an attempt to improve play in Exalted Third Edition. At our table, we found that our best, most fun combats had the quickest cycle around the table. We found that we liked having a visual, tactile reference for the scene.

    We found that we greatly liked the Third Edition take on cinematic combat, but the multitude of resources (initiative, essence, willpower, health, anima, sometimes charge) were a lot to keep track of on the fly. The fluctuating order of actions was easier to mistake than it was to keep straight. The specific triggers and behaviors of Charms kept our faces in books or PDFs.

    Momentum Exalted attempts to reinforce the best, most fun aspects of combat, while better handling resources and keeping us out of computers and books.

    What's changed?

    There are three major changes in Momentum Exalted.
    The Battlewheel

    Players may remember the Battlewheel from Exalted Second Edition. For Momentum Exalted, we return to the wheel.
    The Charm Stack

    Charms are laid out in a larger format, with costs and effects clearly marked. Beads for motes and other resources are placed right on the sheet when reckoning your turn. A good way to do this is to lay out a card protector with Charm cards, but paper will work fine too.
    The Momentum (Initiative) Pool

    As you build up dice for your Gambits or Decisive Attacks, they go into a cup. This is a visual cue for the rising drama of the scene.

    The Momentum System

    Exalted Third Edition rules are unchanged, save where Momentum Exalted modifies them.

    Exalted combat is a scene of rising tension and drama. Every attack increases the drama, as more and more dice are added to the building momentum around the table. Exalted combatants struggle to take control of the combat, pitting withering attacks against each other until finally one side crashes and is vulnerable to the decisive blow.

    We track the rising momentum as a Momentum Pool. Initiative Pool is a complete synonym - core Exalted makes many references to Initiative, which we don't want to break. However, Momentum Pool does not drive the order of combat.

    Most attacks are withering attacks, and are used to "attack" your opponent's Momentum Pool and steal dice out of it. A Momentum Pool may be emptied (crashed!) but may not become negative.

    A decisive attack or gambit use all the dice in the Momentum Pool. Afterward, the Momentum Pool is reset to 3, unless otherwise modified.

    Order of combat is tracked on the Battlewheel. This is a circle divided into at least eight segments, one for each tick of combat. Almost all actions are speed 5 - meaning that your next turn will be five ticks later on the Battlewheel. A few actions are other speeds. (Exalted Second Edition used a similar system, but each weapon had its own speed. Third Edition removed weapon speeds and balances weapon effectiveness in other ways. Momentum Exalted does not add weapon speeds, nor does it change the stats or balances of various weapons.)

    Exalted combatants regain one mote per tick. In most cases this means five motes per turn. The distinction of Essence per tick rather than five per turn may become important, for example to power defensive Charms during an enemy's turn.

    Players don't need to wait until their turn to reckon their dice pools or essence costs. Using their Charm Stack, they can lay out the motes (and willpower, etc) they will spend, and the dice they will roll. Players are encouraged to collaborate as the turns tick around the wheel, so everyone stays in the action!

    Join Battle

    Each player rolls their character's Join Battle. Place a marker for the highest-rolling combatant on Tick 1 of the Battlewheel. Working down the list, each slower combatant taking Tick 2, Tick 3, etc. Ties begin on the same Tick. Do not skip ticks between Join Battle results. If you have more combatants than 8, the slowest will tie for Tick 8.

    Initial Momentum Pools are filled with three dice plus that combatant's Join Battle.

    To begin combat, the combatant on tick 1 takes their turn, as normal.

    The Tick

    Work around the Battlewheel in turn. Each combatant gains one mote of Essence per tick, available at the beginning of that tick. In most cases that means they will have regained five motes at the beginning of each turn.

    Each time they make a withering attack, their Momentum Pool gains one die, plus whatever dice they steal from their target. If they crash their opponent, they gain five Momentum dice. Keep those dice in the cup, as a visual cue.

    Players may ready their next turn at any time. On the area for each Charm in their Charm Stack, lay out the motes (or other) costs, and in the dice pool area lay out the dice to match. When their turn comes, all that's left to do is describe a cool Stunt. Roll the dice that are readied and spend the motes (etc.) that are already laid out.

    As each combatant takes their turn, move them back along the Battlewheel the appropriate number of Ticks - usually five.


    A character is crashed when their Momentum Pool is empty. They become vulnerable to decisive attacks as usual. Their next turn is delayed by three Ticks.

    Unlike in core Exalted, they do not remain crashed for three turns. Nor can their Momentum Pool go into the negatives. If they survive until their next turn, their Momentum Pool resets to three dice.

    A character can't usually have a speed slower than 8 Ticks, even in Crash. If this happens in your game for some reason, have them drop off the Battlewheel and Join Battle at what would have been their 8th tick.

    Speed Changes

    The speed (Ticks until a combatant's next action) will almost always be 5 ticks. Only a few cases change that.

    Taking a Guard action is up to speed 3. The action may be aborted at any time, such as to provoke a Clash.

    An Aim action is speed 3, gaining one point of bonus per tick. It may be extended while keeping the full bonus. If it is aborted early, without gaining the full bonus, it does not count as sufficient aiming for certain ranged attacks.

    A flurried action takes the slowest action between them. For example, guarding while attempting to use social abilities.

    A crashed combatant is delayed by three ticks, and is crashed until their next turn. Most likely this will be a total speed of 8 for them.

    The winner of a Clash has a speed of four ticks until their next action. (Breaking the Clash unless they choose to Guard one tick to clash again)

    Join Battle in Progress

    To Join Battle on a combat in progress, decide the Tick on which they join the scene. The character rolls Join Battle as usual. They get their first Tick in (8-roll) Ticks - the fastest they can join is the current tick, of course. Their initial Momentum Pool is three dice plus the result of their Join Battle. Withering Attacks

    Withering Attacks in Core Exalted add one Initiative just for making the attack. In Momentum Exalted that is changed to one Momentum per dot of Stunt. This is to increase the total Momentum gain a little bit.

    Gambits cost their Difficulty number, rather than Difficulty+1.

    Special Cases

    Some Charms require unusual trigger conditions.

    A Charm requiring higher speed than an opponent is triggered when any delaying action (Guard, Aim, Crash delay) moves them past you on the Battlewheel. For example, the Terrestrial Fatal Stroke Flash.

    A character may take a Guard action to deliberately Clash someone who will be attacking them. They may Clash someone attacking an ally, by using Guard Other to protect that ally. If the attacker wins the Clash, the protected ally is still attacked, without benefit of Guard Other on them. (ie, you can protect someone by either increasing their defenses or attempting to intercept, but not both)

    Momentum Plugins

    I have a few ideas how to handle other cases in the Momentum System. Those will be elaborated as I work on this!

    Last edited by Simon Darkstep; 01-19-2018, 11:57 AM. Reason: Updated to version 0.02 - discovered I can't edit the title though. :(

    Check out Momentum Exalted!

  • #2
    Looks great and interesting.
    Some questions rough

    Why is a caracther only crashed one turn? Is it just so they likely will not fall off the battlewheel?

    What would the speed of misc actions be? Like social actions? Speed 6 Maybe I Think that was it in 2nd.


    • #3
      Originally posted by light-hero View Post
      Looks great and interesting.
      Some questions rough

      Why is a caracther only crashed one turn? Is it just so they likely will not fall off the battlewheel?

      What would the speed of misc actions be? Like social actions? Speed 6 Maybe I Think that was it in 2nd.
      Woo feedback!

      I have them crashed one turn, in part so they don't fall off the battlewheel, yes. And related, so I don't have to add some other sort of token or counter. There is arguably a bug in this, though: If you have a hero on tick 1 and villain on tick 2. The hero crashes the villain back to tick 5 but doesn't go again until tick 6, missing the chance to catch them crashed. Definitely something to consider!

      Misc actions would be speed 5. They were 6 in Second Edition. I kept them at 5 for two reasons: One, because misc actions overlap with Gambits or are rolled as Gambits depending on what's going on. And two, to keep to the basic 5 ticks = 5 motes turn cadence.

      Thanks for the questions!

      Check out Momentum Exalted!


      • #4
        I have a pair of questions, sort of.

        Don't you regain more motes when you're crashed or otherwise slowed down? it adds an extra 3 motes to your regain, then you continue regaining 5 motes per turn. or am I misreading that?

        Second, aren't Clashes more common now since there's only 8 spots, meaning people are more likely to overlap? While you have lowered the ability for Guard to force clashes, and made it so that clashes don't constantly happen, it seems like clashes will just be more common overall due to the lower spot rate. I'm not crazy enough to suggest that you're going to often have more then 8 people in a combat, but if you ever do it seems like you've just setup that you're having multiple clashes immediately, and I'm more curious about the clashes that result just from characters modifying their turns easily and people's places on the battle wheel being modified.

        Kind of third and it may just be a playstyle thing; I'm not sure how often I personally would be planning out my full turn before I go. The idea of the stack mechanic doesn't really change the idea of how you play, I figure; sure you can plan out your turn, but factors can still change it. I do theoretically plan out stuff before, but it can always be modified and changed, since the circumstances can change. How does the stack make it easier for people to plan out their turns in advance and not worry so much about the circumstances changing?


        • #5
          Double woo! Feedback!

          1 - Yes, the mote flux is one per tick, so if you're crashed (or delayed by some other means) you do gain those motes. If you're defending on a tick that isn't your turn, you would have access to those motes from intervening ticks, but so far in play nobody's cut their mote pool that close.

          For example, if you go on tick 1, and crash the villain.... Say he was on tick 2 and bumped back to tick 5. He would gain those extra three motes, and if he survived being crashed would have access to them. If your ally attacks him on tick 4 - before his turn - he would have gained two of those motes with which to defend himself.

          In actual play, I've been rounding it for NPCs and stacking a nickel for them every time they get a turn (to reckon their motes), but encouraging the players to manage their own motes to best advantage. (This is a playstyle thing, as you mention farther down - in systems with hit points I make circles on a scratch sheet, representing 5 or 10 hit points and scratch them off every similar number of damage they get )

          2 - Clashes are potentially more common, yes.

          I did add the speed bonus for winning a clash (4 ticks instead of 5) to relieve repeating clashes.

          I'm also tentatively OK with more clashes as they're dramatic and a staple of a lot of the inspirational material I'd pull from. Hero & villain blade-locking feels like a thing that should happen relatively often.

          In actual play so far, we've averaged one clash per battle in Momentum - two battles with no clashes and two with two each. The latter was a clash with a battlegroup, in fact.

          3 - That's a great point and something I need to elaborate upon. The modified sheet is something for the players to use if they like. I wouldn't be bothered if they preferred not to.

          My line of thinking is - each turn, the player has to figure out what they want to do. To reckon the rolls for it, he'll have to look up (or remember) two stats. Then the effects and costs of charms. Then compare that to the limit of charm dice. To the extent that those steps are only done in the player's own turn, they slow things down for everybody, and they put attention back into the books or PDFs. In other words, taking steps that are not part of the story or drama.

          If I can marginally improve those steps by (3a) laying out a quick reference that has many items pre-figured and the rest of them clearly marked with counting areas, and (3b) providing a way to take some of those steps between turns, then I think it's worth trying.

          For example, you've been withering the villain for several turns. In case things get out of hand, you've got three dice pulled out of your Momentum pool and sitting on the rectangle (or card) for Foe-Vaulting Method. You've set aside a half dozen motes (beads or coins) on a Dodge excellency too. Neither of them are spent, but if you need them reflexively, they're ready to go; if you don't, you can spend them elsewhere... It's just a visual reference.

          On one of your turns, you figure that your cup of dice in your Momentum pool is sufficiently impressive, so while the next player is describing their stunt, you toss your three momentum dice back in the cup, and start counting out the motes and willpower and dice for a momentous Thunderbolt Attack Prana decisive attack.

          Maybe you'll have plenty of time to count it out. Maybe not. Even if you don't before your turn is back around, it should (hopefully!) be faster and much less reference-digging to put together your decisive attack. (I note here, that players seem to get pretty good at their bread-and-butter withering attacks by rote repetition, but the less frequent decisive attacks tend to need looking up)

          Flare , what do you think? Thank you for the feedback!!!

          Check out Momentum Exalted!


          • #6
            Interesting. I'll want to see more as you go further with this before commenting one way or the other. There's definitely interesting ideas here at the least.


            • #7

              We're still doing an extended playtest for now - one-off adventures with a variety of characters. About half my players are going through big life changes right now (moving, changing careers, etc). My goal is to have something ready in a couple of months that will grab all of my returning friends and get them into the action right away.

              Thanks for the feedback!

              Check out Momentum Exalted!


              • #8
                Updated to v.0.02 . It turns out I can't edit the title, though.
                Changes in 0.02

                In Core Exalted, the amount of Initiative generated is somewhat greater, because Initiative can be "stolen" down into the negatives.

                Momentum Exalted doesn't allow negatives. This simplifies the count-and-sort tasks but does slow the generation of Momentum into characters' pools.

                Defeating a base-Health opponent would require about 12 Momentum dice in order to have an even chance of getting 7 levels of Health damage. Plus about 5 dice per Ox-Body. (These are extremely rough calculations, of course.)

                Assuming a combatty character Joins Battle with 8 dice (two 4-dot stats), they would begin with about 3 + 4 = 7 Momentum. If they then Crash an opponent they would gain 1 (for the attack) + 5 (for the Crash) Momentum dice, for about 13 Momentum, which is enough for a probable win.

                This gets a lot tougher with just one Ox-Body though. 13 Momentum up to 17 Momentum is either 5 further Withering Attacks, or re-Crashing them.

                Of course, the mathymagic gets a lot more complicated when we add more defenses and ways to increase Decisive attacks, and ways to get double-X dice rolls.

                So, to gradually increase the Momentum economy, I put in the change to Withering Attacks - instead of gaining one Momentum per attack, gain Stunt dots in dice per attack. Most of the time that will still be one, but it gives a mechanism for rewarding excellent Stunting.

                Also, I decreased the cost of a Gambit, to be equal to the Gambit's Difficulty.

                Not yet reflected in the changes, but I believe there's a gap if Momentum is used for one-on-one dueling - there's no way to Crash and then attack the same opponent, if the opponent is smart enough to go on Guard for a Tick. I think for just a Duel we'd skip the Battle Wheel and just go back-and-forth, with a Crash being a forfeited action. This will need some consideration and play testing though!

                Check out Momentum Exalted!


                • #9
                  Hey all!

                  I've got a (very drafty) draft of the first half of my first Momentum Exalted Plugin: Advantage

                  This half covers Advantage Tilts for bosses and nemeses (big bosses).

                  Please do let me know what you think!

                  Advantage Plugin

                  The Advantage Plugin adds a system for "unfair" encounters, such as boss or nemesis fights, ambushes, or battles within greater strategic maneuvers.

                  Advantage appears in two general forms: Advantage Tilt and Advantage Shift.

                  Advantage Tilt is a persistent non-Charm bonus, usually enjoyed by antagonist bosses or party nemeses. It is built up as those antagonists accomplish their goals and expand upon their evils. It is reduced by the protagonists countering those goals and vanquishing their evils.

                  Advantage Shift is a single-use non-Charm bonus, usually to the benefit of the player Circle. It is built up by planning, adventuring, or maneuver. It is opposed by enemies' awareness and effort, represented as a difficulty.

                  Advantage generally applies to combatants' Momentum pools, but in some circumstances may apply to other things. The intent of Advantage is to open opportunities for adventure and roleplaying, as well as mechanics-style boss battles. The intent isn't to load up with more game mechanics, so Advantage is purely optional, and most likely a story can be well told with no more than one variation of Advantage at a time.

                  Boss Fights

                  A Boss - a single individual or small group that can be a peer challenge to the Circle - may benefit from an Advantage Tilt. This Advantage Tilt adds to all rolls to Join Battle, or to the Momentum pool upon recovering from a Crash. This makes them dangerous opponents, which the Circle will have to work hard to defeat.

                  This Advantage comes from some sort of source, and this source can (usually!) be reduced or removed. Working against the boss' Advantage is intended to be a source of Scene ideas before the battle, or inspire crunch-mechanics and Gambits during the battle.

                  Some bosses may adjust the benefit of their Advantage Tilt. Instead of Momentum, they may gain soak, or skill, or Essence, depending on the source of their Advantage. Advantage benefiting Defenses is halved, just like other dice pools.

                  Example: Ninety-Nine Facets is a crystalline god who has been harassing the residents of Gem. When the Circle goes to face it, they find that it has an Advantage of 4, making it a rather dangerous foe. During the course of the battle, the Circle discovers that Facets has hidden four large, resonant gemstones in its domain. Smashing each of them reduces its Advantage by 1.

                  Example: Unheard Footfall is a Day Caste assassin with a talent for traps and hidden passageways. Her hideout is riddled with traps, secret doors, tunnels, and smoke bombs. Her Advantage 3 doesn't help her Momentum pool directly; instead, it aids her to disengage and regain surprise. She fights with hit and run attacks, making every nook and cranny potentially deadly. The Circle could reduce her Advantage by disarming her traps or by finding an informant with a partial map of her tunnels.

                  Nemesis Fights

                  A Nemesis - much like a Boss but out-of-scale dangerous - may also gain Advantage Tilt. In this case, the Advantage acts as a bonus to everything the Nemesis does. As with Bosses, Nemesis Defenses are improved by half of the Advantage.

                  Nemeses gain advantage by accomplishing their wicked goals and preparing their defenses. This could include building fortifications, or sorcerous workings, or peculiar effects of their cults. It also includes the idea that the bad guys are on an unstoppable roll until the good guys stop them and slowly turn the tide - whenever the Nemesis wins a battle or major objective, their Advantage may increase.

                  This Advantage should generally not include followers, allies, or armies. Those are each their own thing and have their own presence in the story.

                  The intent of Nemeses' Advantage is that they are terrifying and impossible to confront, until the Circle, in their adventures, defeats enough of its schemes. All of a Nemesis' Advantage are potential story- or session-starting ideas.

                  Example: Dreadful Forgotten Promise is a terrifying ghostly warlord. He has two mortal cults, each undertaking strange rituals on his behalf. He has completed an inauspicious geomantic working. He has gained a twisted boon as a Raksha's ransom. He has a fragment of his Essence hidden in a phylactery in his Underworld Fortress-Manse.

                  The Storyteller counts these up - The Boon counts as Advantage 3, because of the Raksha's power. The phylactery counts as Advantage 2 because of its concealing and occult nature. The rest count as one each, for a total of Advantage 8. Promise goes into battle with +4 to all Defenses, +8 to Join Battle and Crash-recovery Momentum, and +8 to all other rolls. Yikes!

                  The Circle undertakes many adventures and battles against him. They smash down one of his cults, reducing his Advantage to 7. They convince the Raksha to cheat out of his boon, reducing his Advantage to 4. Promise wins a battle against them and claims a major city, enveloping it in Shadowland, increasing his Advantage to 6 (because of the large number of captives), but the Circle routs his other cult and smashes his geomancy, reducing his Advantage to 4. Nearly a whole Chronicle has focused on halting the foul ghost.

                  When the Circle sieges Promise's Fortress-Manse, they have several Scenes of infiltration, and finally confront their Nemesis. At Advantage 4, he is still a deadly foe that will quickly beat down the Circle, but they can just barely keep up by burning Essence turn after turn. While they match blade to claw, they struggle to break away enough to smash his phylactery, dropping his Advantage to 2.

                  The table starts to turn, and the Circle can match him - their Essence reserves barely holding on; escaping certain death by audacious stunt and Willpower. With the ghost's attention focused on its own battle, the Circle's allies launch a strike against the captured city, gaining a tenuous and momentary control of the city's geomantic center.

                  Dreadful Forgotten Promise's Advantage drops to zero, and the circle defeats him at the climax of the Chronicle.

                  Check out Momentum Exalted!


                  • #10
                    I'm intrigued by the Advantage system, but I'm curious how it's represented clearly in play. Is it completely transparent? "This boss has Advantage 3, you gotta figure out what it is. (Psst, It's the traps)" Or is it invisible where the GM just adjusts the numbers if the players HAPPEN to decide to undo the traps?

                    I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                    I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
                      I'm intrigued by the Advantage system, but I'm curious how it's represented clearly in play. Is it completely transparent? "This boss has Advantage 3, you gotta figure out what it is. (Psst, It's the traps)" Or is it invisible where the GM just adjusts the numbers if the players HAPPEN to decide to undo the traps?
                      Glorious Forum Feedback Prana (1m) Reflexive, Authoring, Obvious. - Regain 1 Willpower from forum feedback while working on a Storytelling project. This Charm may be invoked when a forum member asks a good question or makes a good comment in your thread. The Willpower point must be used during the next iteration of your project or be lost.

                      Excellent question!

                      There's naturally a lot of leeway in how to present Advantage. I personally like making things the characters would know quickly obvious. Advantage is another iteration on that after the Charm sheet and return of the Battle Wheel.

                      For a Boss, if my Circle did some scouting on him before the encounter, they'd certainly be able to guess his Advantage Tilt. In-character they would know in non-numeric terms, just like any other stat. If they jump right in to the encounter, they'd quickly be able to figure it out as well - not unlike seeing a Boss in a video game who appears with three health bars to your one.

                      When they figure it out, I'd put out several chess pawns or beads or cards or cups, or make several ticks on the whiteboard or whatever. This is just a matter of personal style - I'd also make a big deal out of them figuring out the source of the Advantage and turning over, striking out, discarding the item representing that Advantage when they destroy the first one.

                      That's entirely up to how the Storyteller wants to set the stage, and may even be situational. As much as I like putting tokens in front of the screen, if my Circle was fighting Nara-o or the Green Lady, they might never be able to tell for sure.

                      For a Nemesis, I would probably section off a corner of the whiteboard and let the players make a list of everything they know about it. I'd explain in general how the Nemesis Advantage works, and help them fill in the numbers as they learn more.

                      If the Nemesis is a Chronicle-defining enemy, there's no reason not to pin a map full of little flags to count Advantage, for instance.

                      Let me put this in my notes and elaborate on it a bit more! TYTYTYTYTYTY!

                      Check out Momentum Exalted!


                      • #12
                        Well, I got to writing on Advantage Shift, but prose kept on getting way more complicated than intent. So that won't be ready today.

                        The basic idea is that Shift is a temporary pool of Momentum dice that anyone in the Circle can pull from. It's built up before battle, as a way to recognize research, maneuver, or preparation that doesn't otherwise create a bonus or remove a hostile Tilt.

                        It's shared and single-use, with the intent that the players engage together to decide how to use it.

                        There's no reason you can't use Tilt for your Circle and Shift for your enemies. I just wrote them with the intent to frame up the player characters in the center of the action: Tilt is for enemy objectives the Circle can attack and destroy in the story; Shift as a way to reward the players' initiative in creating story ideas leading up to battle. That, and I don't want to keep track of varying pools for NPCs, but do want to give my players something needing collaboration to use.

                        I'll just have to whack away at the prose until it makes sense without being a word salad.

                        Check out Momentum Exalted!


                        • #13
                          Couple more playtest fixes coming along, not to mention the writing on Shift.

                          At some point soonish I'll be about ready to compose a final v.1.00 document. Google Docs seems popular for that here, but I'd be open to suggestions!

                          If anybody's interested in the project who knows how to do pretty typesetting, I'm all ears too!

                          Check out Momentum Exalted!