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  • Momentum Exalted

    Momentum Exalted

    Momentum Exalted is a replacement for the combat turn rules found in the Exalted, Third Edition core rulebook ("Core Exalted") . This is version 1.00 of this document.

    Momentum Exalted removes the recalculation and reordering of the Initiative track, and replaces it entirely with Momentum. Extraneous resource counts and nonessential numbers are removed where possible. Those resources that need to be tracked are handled with beads or dice, and reckoned on a quick-reference sheet.

    This reinforces the best, most fun aspects of Exalted combat, while keeping resolution fast.

    Please note: This is a fan work. None of this challenges any intellectual property owned by anyone, anywhere. This is created to improve on the already-great fun of Exalted, and offered to the community of eager players and hard-working Storytellers. Please use and reuse as you see fit. Feedback is enthusiastically welcomed.

    What's changed?

    There are three fundamental changes in Momentum Exalted.
    The Momentum Pool

    Momentum replaces Initiative entirely. Momentum dice go into a bowl or mug as a visual cue of a character's Momentum.
    The Battlewheel

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

    A character's Charm Stack is the group of Charms they most expect to use during combat. This is not a limitation - any Charm known by the Character is always valid to use. Laying out the Charm Stack ahead of time on a Stack Sheet, the player can have their Charms grouped, dice pools and Excellency maximums calculated and ready to go. During play, the Stack organizes beads and dice to quickly reckon a player's next turn.


    The Momentum System

    Core Exalted rules are unchanged, save where Momentum Exalted modifies them.

    Exalted Combat is a fast-paced Scene of rising tension and climactic, dramatic attacks. The rising tension of the Scene is represented by each combatant's Momentum. Momentum forms a Momentum Pool, which is a satisfyingly heavy pile of dice in a bowl or mug. Momentum replaces Initiative from Core Exalted.

    Momentum Pool may be emptied by an enemy's Withering attacks, causing a Crash. Momentum Pool may not fall into negatives.

    Just like Initiative, Momentum is used in Gambits and Decisive attacks. Gambits have a Momentum cost equal to their Difficulty. Decisive attacks are all-out, consuming all Momentum and resetting Momentum Pool to 3 dice.

    The order of combat is tracked on a Battlewheel. A Battlewheel is a circle divided into 8 Ticks, and large enough for combatants' tokens. As turns progress, the current Tick advances and tokens are moved forward.

    With few exceptions, all attacks and actions are Speed 5. Speed is the number of Ticks to advance after that action.

    Exalted and other supernatural combatants regain one Essence per tick. In most cases this equates to five Essence recovered by each combatant per turn.

    Players may reckon their upcoming turn while off-turn. Their character's Charm Stack is a collection of Charms and dice pools, laid out conveniently on a Stack Sheet and ready to go. While off-turn, the player can count out Essence and dice on the Stack Sheet quickly and generally without reference to the rulebooks.

    Before Battle

    Before battle, each player will need a good supply of dice, including enough spare dice to use for a Momentum Pool. They will also need a bowl or mug for Momentum Pool. Plenty of beads, chips, or coins to count Essence is also helpful.

    Each combatant will need a Charm Stack. This is laid out on a Stack Sheet, and arranged conveniently. For instance, boxes of several related Melee charms might all be in a box together, and boxes of defensive Charms might be on the other side of the sheet. Some of each type of Charm may have unusual activation rules or triggers, which may be highlighted or in a differently shaped box. A Charm Stack need not be exhaustive. It is always allowable to use any known Charm - the Charm Stack is simply a shorthand reference to speed dice pool and Essence reckoning.

    The thought behind a Charm Stack is rather like a Combo from Exalted, Second Edition, except that it is a free-form player aid instead of an experience-bound in-game concept.

    Join Battle

    At the beginning of battle, each combatant rolls Join Battle. Place a marker for the highest-rolling combatant on the first Tick of the Battlewheel. Work down the list, each slower combatant taking the next Tick. Ties are placed together. The initial layout of the Battlewheel does not need open spaces. If there are more than 8 combatants, any who would overflow the Battlewheel are placed on the eighth Tick.

    Each combatant gains an initial Momentum Pool of three dice, plus their Join Battle results.

    To begin combat, begin with the first Tick, resolve each combatant in that Tick, and work around the Battlewheel.

    Sometimes a combatant Joins Battle late for some reason. In this case, their first Tick is 8 Ticks ahead, minus the results of their normal Join Battle roll, with a minimum of the current Tick when they enter the Scene. They gain 3 Momentum plus their Join Battle result, as usual.

    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 this equates to five motes per combatant's turn.

    Two or more allied combatants in the same Tick may decide which to resolve first. Two enemy combatants which attack each other Clash.

    If one combatant wishes to Clash and his target does not, for example preferring to attack another target, roll the attacks of each of them. If the combatant with the intended Clash wins, then the Clash continues to be resolved. Otherwise, the Clash is avoided and the other combatant's action continues to be resolved.

    Crash

    A combatant is Crashed when their Momentum Pool is empty. They become vulnerable to Decisive Attacks as usual. When a combatant is Crashed, she is immediately delayed by three Ticks.

    Momentum Pool cannot go into negative values, and there is no three-turn countdown to recover from Crash - there is no need to track these numbers. If a Crashed combatant survives to reach their next turn, their Momentum Pool resets to three dice.

    A combatant who Crashes an enemy gains five Momentum, and has a Speed of 4 instead of 5 for the present action.

    A combatant cannot have a Speed slower than 8 Ticks, even in Crash. If this happens for some reason, that combatant drops off the Battlewheel and Joins Battle again as a new combatant at what would have been their Speed 8 Tick.

    Withering Attacks

    Withering Attacks work very similarly to Core Exalted.

    Withering Attacks earn one Momentum per dot of Stunt. This replaces the fixed one point of Initiative, and is in addition to whatever Momentum is taken from the target. Withering Attacks may not take more Momentum from their target than is present in their Momentum Pool.

    A Withering Attack which Crashes its target earns five additional Momentum.

    Decisive attacks

    Decisive Attacks earn one Momentum per dot of Stunt, as with Withering Attacks. These are applied after the attack is complete and Momentum Pool resets.

    Decisive Attacks always benefit from double-10, just like any normal roll. Charms or other effects which modify this should be read as "+1 Double" and increment the double range.

    Clashes

    Clashes are resolved normally according to the Core Exalted rules, except that the victor of a Clash has Speed 4 for the current action.

    Defending Stunts

    Stunts made in defense against any sort of attack earn one Momentum per dot of Stunt. Crashed combatants do not gain this bonus.

    Gambits

    Gambits have a Momentum cost of their Difficulty, rather than their Difficulty+1.

    Other Actions

    Guard or Guard Other is Speed 3 and may be aborted on any Tick, for instance to provoke a Clash. Each Guard or Guard Other action costs 3 Momentum but may not reduce Momentum Pool below 3.

    Aim is Speed 3 with no Momentum cost. It may be aborted but loses the aiming bonus. Aim actions may be extended to keep the full bonus, and subsequently aborted, such as to attack, on any Tick.

    Special Case Charms

    Some Charms require unusual trigger conditions. These will be explored in detail as we come across them.

    In general, though, a Charm which is triggered when a combatant's Initiative rises above an enemy's may use that Charm when their target delays (Guard, Aim, delay from Crash) and moves past them on the Battlewheel. Charms that require a higher Initiative may be triggered when the target is not in the same Tick and is not delaying.



    Momentum Plugins

    Momentum Exalted has many opportunities for extension. These "plugins" are entirely optional additional rules, supporting a variety of story and gameplay elements.

    Advantage

    Not every battle is fair. In some stories, the villains have already spread their evils across the lands and seas. The story nemesis looms over the setting, unstoppable and unassailable. In other stories, the heroes go to great length to eke out a momentary advantage - just enough to pull off a victory.

    Sometimes a combatant is on a roll, and her narrative momentum grants an Advantage over her foe. Advantage supports story, creating Scene and Session ideas and rewarding player initiative.

    Advantage is a non-Charm positive modifier, usually applied to a combatant's Momentum Pool. In other circumstances, it may instead modify other values, such as Soak.

    A major story antagonist, such as a Boss or Nemesis, may benefit from an Advantage Tilt. Tilt is a persistent Advantage, which the Circle may counteract and defeat.

    The player characters' Circle, on the other hand, may gain an Advantage Shift. Shift is a momentary Advantage, created by the Circle before a battle.

    In keeping with the transparency intended in Momentum Exalted, Advantage should usually be readily apparent on the table. A mug of dice for the Circle's Advantage Shift would be good. A villain's various Advantage Tilts might be chess pieces arranged beside the Battlewheel.

    Storytellers may certainly skip the examples below and assign Advantage dice to suit their story needs, but the following may have some helpful ideas to explain the concept.

    Boss Tilt

    A Boss is an individual enemy or group that can be serious challenge to the Circle. A Boss may benefit from Advantage Tilt, representing his success as a story antagonist.

    Normally, this Tilt adds Advantage as non-Charm dice to all of the Boss' rolls to Join Battle. It also adds directly to Momentum Pool upon Crash recovery or reset after a Decisive Attack.

    Tilt may benefit a Boss in other ways. Instead of Momentum, they may gain Soak, Defense, Essence recovery, or Ability bonuses. In the case that derived Defense stats are Advantaged, the benefit is halved, as normal.

    Advantage Tilt is story-driven. An Advantaged Boss has one or more sources of this Advantage, and these sources may be destroyed or countered. This could give the players in-battle objectives needing their attention. Before battle, removing the Tilt can create several Scenes of story.

    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 Tilt

    A Nemesis is much like a Boss, but disproportionately dangerous. An Advantaged Nemesis adds Advantage to all rolls during battle, as well as half Advantage to Defense stats.

    Where the destruction of a Boss' Advantages may take place in Scenes, attacking those of a Nemesis may generate several sessions or entire stories. A Nemesis is terrifying, overwhelming, and impossible to directly confront before the heroes halt its advance and turn the tide.

    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.

    Advantage Shift

    Sometimes the players make a great effort to gain the Circle some Advantage over a foe. Advantage Shift is a way to reward that initiative.

    Advantage Shift is a momentary Advantage, consumed as it is used in battle. It forms a pool, shared by all members of the Circle.

    A member of the Circle may Reflexively draw dice from the Advantage into their own Momentum Pool during their own turn or along with any Join Battle roll.

    Creation and use of Shift is player-driven, and as a shared resource is collaborative - the players must cooperate to get the best use of their Advantage.

    Example: The Circle wishes to prepare for battle against a Chimera that has been terrorizing certain trade routes. The players suggest a Survival roll to track the monster's direction, and a Lore roll to assert that it always goes after certain smells which could be used as bait.

    The Storyteller allows one Survival and one Lore roll. Each Ability may only be rolled once to keep the game from bogging down, and also that the first effort will be the best. The Circle gains an Advantage Shift from the successes rolled.

    Example: The Circle discovers that the terrible Chimera once had a handsome lover, who spurned her when she lost control of her shapeshifting. They play several Scenes to find him. The Storyteller decides that his insight grants the Circle a certain amount of Advantage. This might be an amount equal to the total (Charisma + Presence) of the Circle member who led the discussion with him, or it might be some fixed amount.

    Example: The Circle plans to ambush and assassinate the Dire Shogun of 7 Misfortunes. The Storyteller informs them that they may try as many rolls or Scenes as they wish, but the Shogun's agents will be more and more likely to discover their efforts.

    The Circle elects to play out a few Scenes, to maximize their Advantage - creating story should always be rewarded.

    The Twilight sage wants to gather a map of the area and find the most auspicious places for the battle. Her Intelligence + Lore is 8. This creates a Scene of the Circle finding a black market astrologer and negotiating for information. They gain a Shift of 8.

    The Night assassin wants to place trip wires and greased staircases in the area where the ambush will take place. He suggests Dexterity + Larceny of 7. This creates a Scene of the Circle creating a distraction and blocking traffic flows while the Night does the work. Since this is the second Scene, they gain 6 Shift for a total of 14.

    The Circle plans to take the Shogun by surprise, catching him with an immediate Decisive Attack. They decide that 3 Momentum plus Join Battle plus 14 Shift would be enough to do the job. By this point the players have been at it for several hours of game time, and their story creating efforts are probably rewarded by their plan coming together perfectly.

    Example: The Circle are the Lords and Masters of a nation at war. The players enjoy moving units around on hex maps, and the Storyteller has let them put out flags, miniatures, and castles to represent Scenes of story to implement national improvements and battlefield defenses.

    While the war rages in the background, some battles are crucial to play out in detail. Preparing for one such pivotal battle, the players describe the freshness and eagerness of their troops, the difficult terrain they've laid out for the enemy, and the caches of extra supplies their troops are unearthing. The Storyteller lets them claim Advantage Shift from every reinforcement within 3 hexes, and declares that unused Advantage would return to their strategic map.

    Commentary

    or "What the heck are you thinking?"

    Why Momentum Exalted?
    Momentum Exalted is a replacement combat ruleset found in the Exalted Third Edition Core rulebook ("Core Exalted").

    My gaming group has found that our best, most fun combats also had the quickest cycle around the table. They also had the least frequency of book/online rules references.

    We also find that we like having visual, tactile cues, more than we like mathy numerical references.

    When we have those elements all in play together, we find ourselves joking, stunting, and collaborating more. With more turns per player before it feels like a battle is bogging down, we have more chances for dramatic reversals and amazing twists.

    We tried Core Exalted several times, and find ourselves with two opinions. On the one hand, the cinematic style of combat is extremely refreshing. It is an entirely different take than the hit-point-attrition based combat in most systems.

    On the other hand, moving Initiative up and down for all of the combatants is mathy, sorty, and prone to errors - most especially missed turns. It seems like it would be great for a computer game, but a lot to handle manually, while also juggling the rest of the encounter.

    We also find that there are a great number of exceptions and special values to remember. We get caught at least once a session on whether to count double-10 on Decisive or Gambit actions. There are Charms with nonstandard rounding, or rounding that works differently Charm to Charm. Being Crashed requires counting or remembering turns-crashed, which is only the most common example of a special count to track. Again, great crunch for a computer, but a lot for people to handle manually.

    Finally, we find that having a multitude of special-case rules makes it difficult to get out of the books and PDFs and play. Digging in the book takes the player out of the action, missing the cool stunts that their friends are describing. Asking the Storyteller for clarification draws out each turn and slows the pace around the table. We never attempted to specifically measure, but it feels like we spend over half our time in the book, or reckoning a dice pool, or picking through arithmetic and sorting and choosing who goes next. A Core Exalted battle could be two or three full turns in half to 3/4 hour.

    So, Momentum Exalted reinforces the best, most fun aspects of combat, while simplifying or removing special counters. The things that really need to be counted are visibly, physically present on the tabletop. The crunch that we need to calculate is summarized right at hand, with spaces provided for counting resources during off-turn time.

    Again, without specifically measuring, it feels like we have easily doubled or tripled our speed of resolution, without losing any interesting game crunch. A Momentum Exalted battle could well be four or five trips around the Battlewheel (equating to six to eight turns per player) in about a half hour.

    We hope you'll give Momentum Exalted a try, and especially hope you'll send some feedback! Suggestions, complaints, stories, and victories are all things that we'd like to read!


    What are the principles and assumptions of Momentum Exalted?
    Being in the game is more fun than being in the book.

    More turns are better than fewer turns, up to a point. Each turn should be detailed enough to shine, but nobody playing should have an awkwardly long wait.

    Opportunity (but not demands) to prepare for turns while off-turn is a good thing.

    Opportunity for players to collaborate and build on each other's Stunting, Gambitry, and so on is a magnificent thing. This opportunity shows up more often with players in the game and with more turns for strategy to evolve.

    Physical, visual tokens are better for human players than abundant numbers or dots, when those values change a lot.

    Humans can generally remember 7+-2 things at once. Charms, resources (Essence, Willpower, etc), Initiative or Momentum, and so on all need to be under that limit, or we have to stop and re-think. Tokens help with that, because once you've figured them you don't need to remember and re-think your way back through.

    Two to five - or more - players have a lot more mental bandwidth than one Storyteller. Putting things in front of the screen helps everybody. Streamlining NPC actions is a good thing, and giving PCs a chance to adapt and shine is fundamental.

    Our very best tabletop battles have been the ones with quick turns. Without long waits, people don't disengage from the action. With plenty of turns, players are more eager to collaborate and risk audacious coordinated actions.

    Our very worst tabletop battles have been the ones with slow turns. When battle bogs down to a miserable slog of rules and steps and book references and recalculations, people disengage. Our Exalted, Second Edition Chronicle essentially died the night it took 45 minutes to finish everybody's turn and get back around the table.


    Why the Battlewheel?
    We have fond memories of the Battlewheel from Exalted, Second Edition. That was the initial inspiration for retrying it in Third Edition.

    With an 8-Tick Battlewheel, there is never any question when someone's turn is coming. This improves on the Core Exalted Initiative list, in which Initiative scores fluctuate and de-sort themselves. It also means there is nearly no chance of missing a player's turn because of juggling Initiative up and down.

    8 Ticks is a deliberate choice. It looks nice and symmetrical, for one thing. A base Speed of 5 Ticks matches the Essence respiration rate of 5 per turn, so we can extrapolate to one mote per Tick if (and only if) it becomes relevant. Crash delay is 3 ticks, which means that nobody will ever be delayed more than one full wheel. Also, with 3 Ticks' penalty on a Crash and a special Speed 4, nobody will automatically miss a chance to attack a Crashed opponent before they recover.


    Why the Momentum Pool?
    We changed the term Initiative to Momentum for several reasons.

    Momentum behaves somewhat differently than Initiative. "Initiative" is a loaded term for gamers, implying primarily reaction speed. "Momentum" conveys the idea of being on a roll, of kismet or flow. When you've got a lot of momentum you're hard to stop, but when you do stop you stop with a crash. That's the feeling we want.

    After the first round of turns, Momentum doesn't determine who's next to act. That's all handled by the Battlewheel.

    I really liked an early, pre-release description of Core Exalted combat as building momentum, matching the rising tension of the battle. Then, at a critical moment, wager that momentum on a dramatic and decisive conclusion. I can't even find where that description came from, but it stuck with me, and that is what I want Exalted combat to be.

    It's also visually appealing to watch a big heap of dice start to fill up a container. Picking up that full container is tactile reinforcement of a climactic moment in a battle. Few things feel more Exalted than hoisting a heavy mug of dice, ready to bet it all on a chance for victory. When anybody at the table picks up a mug of dice, it draws everybody's attention. Try it at your table and tell me!


    Why the Stack?
    The Stack, and Stack Sheet, is meant to be a fast quick reference that players can use off-turn to prepare for their turn. Without reference to the books or PDFs, they have a reminder what Charms they have available and what their cost.

    Since the Stack is a sheet of paper, or a layout of cards, players can go ahead and reckon their dice and motes by counting them out right onto the paper. When they're ready to take their turn, they need only pick up and roll the dice, and dump the motes into their spent-motes mug.

    Another option is preparing for defense. A player may certainly set aside motes in reserve for defensive maneuvers. The motes are not spent until they're spent, but by having them already counted onto the Stack, the player will have them ready to go when needed.

    A less-obvious option that players can explore is taking advantage of dice-tricks style Charms. Charms with special activation conditions or tricky dice modifiers can be highlighted and not forgotten.

    With a little clever layout work, a player can arrange a signature "combo" of Charms, ready to go, highlighted in a box, already summed up.

    Any Charm that a character has but isn't in the Stack is still perfectly fine to use. The Stack Sheet is nothing more than a quick reference and counting aid.

    One other benefit we find in the Stack is that character sheets are great for listing things, but not well organized for summarizing relevant things. A few dice pools might be already calculated, but Charms will tend to appear in whatever order they were learned, with no sense of grouping or purpose built into the layout.

    I picked "Stack" because I needed a term and "Hand" or "Deck" implied randomness that isn't present.


    Why the changes to stunting, withering, decisive, gambits, etc?
    In playtest, we found that Momentum values stayed consistently smaller than the upper-end of Initiative. That made it relatively difficult to ultimately defeat an enemy - you would need ((10/4) * health levels) Momentum to have an expectation of victory.

    Part of this was that you can't "steal" more Momentum than what your target has. Core Exalted adds Initiative to the resource economy primarily by theft, and much of that is theft below-zero.

    We didn't want to go below zero, because that means keeping track of another special value for how many turns somebody has been Crashed. Rather, hitting zero Momentum and being bumped back by 3 Ticks is much more streamlined.

    So, we replaced the below-zero Momentum theft with more ways to naturally generate Momentum.

    Stunting is the essence of drama in a Scene, which is exactly what Momentum aims to capture. This became a natural fit for Momentum gain, and also helped offset slightly smaller Momentum pools.

    Momentum pools are still a bit smaller than what we found with Core Exalted Initiative, but this became a great opportunity. We took that chance to remove the inconsistent dice rules for Decisive and Gambit actions, making them all double-10. Inconsistent rules were a source of delay and annoyance every time we played.

    Finally, Core Exalted's Gambits have a "+1" cost attached to them, which is easier to forget than to remember. We removed the extra cost, offsetting the somewhat smaller Momentum pool sizes.


    Can you talk nerdy to me?
    Can I ever!

    I won't even blame you if you skip down to the next section.

    Reducing the critical path of combat turns is one of the main motivations behind Momentum Exalted. Critical path is the shortest path of unavoidable, non-simultaneous, non-deferable steps to finish a task.

    In Core Exalted, the critical path of one turn looks like this:
    For each combatant's turn {
    Choose who goes next
    Stunt, declare action, reckon dice pools
    Resolve the attack results & calculate the changes to Initiative
    Sort the Initiative track again, moving all involved combatants up and down.
    } and return to the top to start over, until all players have gone, to complete one full turn.

    I broke down the steps as ones that need things to be thought or remembered, and that generally can only happen one at a time.

    During those steps, there are occasional-to-frequent additional steps, as players get lost who's going next, or when they're coming up. There are also recalculations because of doing the sort and choose steps wrong, then backing up to check and redo.

    That adds up to ((n players) * (4 mental steps) + (frequent book references) + (moderate frequency mistakes))

    In Momentum Exalted, the critical path is down to:
    For each tick {
    Stunt, declare action, resolve
    Tick the attacker around the Battlewheel
    } until all combatants on that tick are done, then tick forward.

    The steps that are off the critical path are still happening, but they're pipelined.

    Because of the Battlewheel, players can very easily see when their tick is coming up next. We also very rarely have order miscalculations. Ticking the attacker around rarely involves much thought, but it is a bit of coordination so I listed it.

    Because of the Momentum pool, changes to initiative calculate themselves - you're dropping dice in your mug or pulling them out, rather than stopping to do math. If you want a count, you can do so off the critical path.

    Because of the Charm Stack sheet, reckoning dice pools can be done tactilely instead of arithmetically. They're also less likely to need Storyteller review or book references.

    That has us down to ((n players) * (1 mental step) + (1 tick-up step)) + (infrequent references) + (infrequent mistakes)). We're easily doubling and possibly tripling our speed of play, which has enormous benefits in player engagement and sense of fun.


    Why the Advantage plugin?
    This is one of the intended themes in the change from Initiative to Momentum.

    When you have Momentum, you are on a roll, and it's difficult to stop you. People in Creation might say that you are ascendant or resplendent - you are rising or at a peak of power.

    When the antagonists are ascendant, it should feel like they are unstoppable - they have the advantage. The cinematic feeling of unstoppable bad guys is what Advantage Tilt is meant to capture:

    Star Wars: A New Hope, right in the first scene when the Star Destroyer seems never to end, expresses the feeling of the ascendant Empire. The Lord of the Rings trilogy begins with Sauron only a few objectives from ensuring total victory, while the kingdoms of Middle Earth are feckless and disunited. In either story, had the heroes and their early allies confronted the evil antagonists directly, they would have had no chance at all.

    The Empire's advantage decreases when the plans for the Death Star reach the Rebel Alliance, and it decreases again with the destruction of the Death Star - but there is still enough evil in the Empire to underpin a multimedia franchise. In the terms of what I want to capture, Grand Moff Tarkin entered the Battle of Yavin assuming that the Death Star's Nemesis Advantage Tilt was still so overwhelming that the Alliance could do nothing. He was almost correct, but the Alliance found a way to nullify that Advantage just enough to win - at great cost.

    Sauron loses some of his Advantage when the Council of Elrond declares a clear and uniting purpose, to smuggle the One Ring back to Mount Doom while avoiding his evil armies. He gains Advantage when the Fellowship breaks, but loses again when his ally, Sarumon, is defeated. His Advantage decreases considerably when Gondor calls for aid - the once-allied nations start to set aside parochial concerns and band together.

    In each of those moments, we feel a change from overwhelming, unavoidable doom, to a glimmer of hope. I stand small in the shadow of better writers, and try to capture a few emotions in piles of dice.

    Advantage Shift is meant to be the other side of the coin. Sometimes the heroes are the ones on the roll.

    Protagonist advantages tend to be short-lived, and often show up as tension relief in a story otherwise overshadowed by evil at every turn.

    Are you doing more plugins?
    Absolutely. I just don't know what yet!

    Changelog

    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!

    Changes in 0.03

    I added a Speed benefit to attacking an enemy that you've just crashed. It becomes Speed 4 instead of 5, to attack that enemy. This resolves a particular case where you (on tick N) crash them (on tick N+1) and miss the chance to attack them in crash before they recover. It would provoke a Clash instead, which is resolved before the crashed combatant recovers.

    Changes in 0.04

    Added the Advantage plugin.

    Changes in 0.05

    changes to Momentum gain (defensive stunting)

    changes to decisive rolls (double 10s)

    Rewrite some hoary prose.
    Changes in 0.10

    Re-groomed the doc from top to bottom.

    Rewrote the commentary. I want the ruleset to be lightweight for comprehension and reference during a play session. The commentary is explanation and discussion that can be considered (or ignored, or ridiculed ;p ) when not in a play session.

    Changes in 1.00

    Rewrote from the top, all the way down. I tried to be consistent with language and clean things up that need attention.

    I'm rather wary of the Grapple rules right now. Looking forward to testing some ideas and then maybe return to it.

    This version will be the first I'd consider asking strangers to playtest.




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  • #2
    Hi all!

    Apologies for creating a brand new topic. I can't change the title on the first one, and it's a loooooong way from version 0.01!

    In fact, this is what I'm calling version 1.00 - playable, somewhat presentable, typos and illogical assumptions cleverly hidden.

    I have to say I'm over the moon with this rules hack. We've easily doubled our play speed, and my players have been really getting into it.

    Probably my next tasks will be updating the Stack Sheet template quite a bit, and also hosting it and this document somewhere a bit more permanent.

    Please do take a look, and playtest if you're able.

    Thanks!


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