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Storytelling Merits : a Method

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  • Storytelling Merits : a Method

    Merits are an important part of a character, both for the power they give to the character, and as a rich part of his backstory for Story Merits.

    In my next campaign, I plan to use a specific method to keep tract of the way Story Merits have a massive impact on Dragon-Blooded characters, but this could also be used for any type of campaign, or simply as a way to get inspiration for quick character-building scenes centered on one or two characters.

    At least once per session, one character needs to have a scene tied in some way to her Story Merits, not simply centered on using them to gain an advantage in the plot (for exemple, a Merchant-Prince using her considerable Ressources to bribe a guard, or a Dynast wielding her grandfather Artefact spear to fight a rogue god wouldn't count*.)

    The idea for such a scene can be discussed beforehand with the player "I really thing it would be cool to spend a while roleplaying Ketone's interaction with [her Mentor], perhaps a quiet playing Gateway in the old man's study and talking about the last gala?", can come in the middle of the session from character's actions or wishes "Since we're in town until the new moon, I'd like to spend a few days working on my new book in the temple's library : publishing it this season would do wonder to [my Influence].", or might be decided by the storyteller according to the narative importance of the scene, or simply to portray the way a Story Merit could take some place in the character's life that doesn't involve her profiting from it directly. "The Ozimati tribes [Allies] have asked for our help to defend their border fort against the Roseblack. Pack your daiklaive, we're heading there tomorow."

    This can go from a comedic aside in the midst of another adventure "In order to keep in the good grace of your family [Backing], you agree to spend a few days caring for your young cousins, and spend the week building elaborate forest forts for the biggest snowball battle your estate has ever seen, leading them in a mock war against the neighbours' patrician kids!" or "Your monkey [Familiar] is currently wreacking havoc in the brothel next door... Could you kindly stop this before someone starts asking you (or worst, me!) to repay the damages? And please... don't let this be a repeat of last Marsday." to an integral part of the plot "I'm going to spend the night studying the [Artefact] blade we stole from She Of The Black Wind... maybe if we find more about the symbols on it, it'll give us a way to parse up who she was before her death."

    The idea is that to make it so that all players interact with one of her Merit this way at least once or twice per story. It would help cement the character's interactions with the world in a way that feels relevant to everyone, and with a simple tracking mechanism for the Storyteller.

    Here are a few other ideas for this type of scene. Feel free to post your own merit plots here!

    "If the battle is finished, I'm going to spend a few hours with the troups under my [Command]. The wounded need to see their leader walking amongst them."

    "I think it would be cool to spend a scene with Leoti's [Retainer]... Perhaps a late night tea as she works on her shipping company's ledgers [Ressources], full of sarcastic quips?"

    "Your guards [Followers] have insulted the Thri-Khan's nephew yesterday. You'll need to find a way to smooth out that mistake before our baquet with him tomorow..."

    "I need to forget that. If anybody needs me, I'll be getting drunk as a Blood Ape at Lightning Flower's [Contact] tea house."

    "You suddently realise where the wolfmen are headed : directly towards your [Manse/Desmene]. It looks like somebody ratted you out to the Silver Pact after all."

    "As you walk towards the bronze doors, a young man grabs the hem of your robe, tears in his eyes. He looks at you with awe, clearly short on breath... "Please, Shining One [Cult], help me. My family has lost all hope..." How do you react?"

    What do you guys think of this method?

    *Unless the characters make interacting with the Merit an important part of the scene, like narrating the way the bond they formed with the storied Direlance impacts the way they view and react to the fight.

    Ultimate Jade-Screened Exalted Scholar, Savant of the Immaculate Texts, No Moon Scholar
    THDR : Future Dragon-Blooded campaign, and other links.
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  • #2
    Good general advice. If your OCs put a merit on their sheet, it's a way of telling you that they want that merit to be a part of their story.

    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
    -Roger Zelazny


    • #3
      I think it's a good idea too. I might try to implement it more in my game as well, at least during the downtime sessions.



      • #4
        I'm in favor of most any sort of idea that brings depth to the characters.

        Check out Momentum Exalted!