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Should I run 1st or 3rd edition?

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  • Should I run 1st or 3rd edition?

    I’m preparing to run an Exalted game. The first part of my plan is to run a small game with a short 3 story arc to familiarize myself with the system so I can apply any hacks I think are needed for the main game. But 3rd is damn near impenetrable, and it requires generating a tremendous amount of player buy in, possibly too much. It then occurred to me that I do have the option of two other editions.

    For me 2nd is immediately out.
    This is the one my players know well, but that also means that they know all its flaws well. I’m not interested in relitigating this system, it wasn’t especially good then and now unsupported there is really no reason to revisit it.
    That leaves Exalted 1st verse Exalted 3rd.
    The Exalted 1st setting is in my opinion by a very far cry the best iteration of the Exalted setting overall, though there are a few nice refinements/additions in 2nd and 3rd. Ultimately however setting is mostly window dressing and can be mostly ported between editions freely with little loss.
    So, this brings me to my primary question. For those that can remember, how well does 1st edition hold up and how does it compare against 3rd?
    1. I have run 3rd for a few one-shots and despite itself the system SEEMED to play fairly well. But that was with static low tiered pre-generated characters. Does the system become unwieldy later?
    2. Given that charms have an absurd number of triggers for effects, does that become overwhelming in play? Example: effect triggers on 3s, 8s,2s and doubles on pink elephants? or power recharges on x.
    3. How much trouble do players have creating and maintaining characters? I find it unlikely that a player is going to be able to parse the sheer number of charms.
    4. Follow up. How likely is a player to mess up or miss important charm choices that later cripple their character? Example: Whatever is going on in crafting. Important defense charms.
    5. Additional follow up. How likely am *I* to miss broken charm combos, or pitfalls? For example, charms that are unfair vs a player (2nd was rife with these) or players combos of doom.
    6. I know 1st stayed playable up to very high levels of play, 2nd did not, does third?
    7. Do you think it is more work to:
      1. Hack 1st ed up to a smoothly functional state with later edition functionality
      2. Hack 3rd to add useful and interesting adversaries such Abyssals or Sidereals. AND keep track of the antagonistically relevant charms out of a potential 2000+ charms.
    I want to like 3rd edition and I want to run it but I feel like it is really fighting me hard. Despite being a rabid advocate of 1st and 2nd I can only seem to muster a lukewarm attitude for 3rd. Two of my most grievous problems buying into 3rd edition are:
    1. The baffling charm design left an almost impenetrable mass of charms with tediously fiddly mechanics.
    2. The publishing speed/decisions that leaves Abyssals (The primary antagonists of the setting) till 6 years after the published core. The creative equivalent of publishing rules for Dragons in D&D 6 years after release. Additionally, the Underworld is full third of the setting and it won’t see publication till 2023. WTF?

  • #2
    The publishing speed/decisions that leaves Abyssals (The primary antagonists of the setting)
    Ohhh... don't say that. You'll make all the people who just want the game to be about grand mythic champions fighting to defend some small podunk part of Creation sad.

    (My snark aside, 3E really disagrees with that point. There's a conscious effort to downplay threats to Creation, and the focus has resolutely been on Solars vs the Realm from a setting PoV. That's a different argument though.)

    Actually engaging with your points

    1: Scaling up isn't too bad for the PCs at later points, the issue I've generally found with higher power games is more one of encounter design. It can be hard to challenge a full party of Exalts until you've got a handle on the system
    2: No, honestly, that's easier in play: at least mostly. It's gonna be rare for players to throw down a whole bunch of charms with different triggers like that: usually there'll just be a couple, and the player will know what they do. If you've got a Dawn I'd kinda reccomend having a glance over their sheet and the charms first, but it's usually not too hard to follow.
    3: This is gonna vary a ton based on your players. I'm alright with it, and consider myself a bit 'crunch allergic' normally, but I'm very familiar with the ruleset. If you're worried about this there are a few ways to make the load a bit simpler: Dragon Blooded and Lunars only have access to lower essence charms at CharGen so their options aren't as overwhelming as they might look. As for Solars, I'd strongly advocate getting players to pick their Supernal ability before looking through the charm chapter: that way they'll only have to read one ability's charms all the way through, and can pick up E1 stuff for everything else.
    4: Honestly not that likely? Perfect Attacks and Defenses are somewhat gone. People still swear by Ox Bodies but with the way combat generally goes players taking wounds is a bit rare this edition. Coupled with lots of Free Excellencies and most characters will be good at a thing if they put dots and charms there
    5: Not very likely as a happenstance thing. There are some broken upper level combos, mostly involving Martial Arts combinations I believe, but there's very few that're truly insane. The only concern I'd raise is throwing a Legendary Sized creature against the party: they tend to be a bit hard to get right as part of an encounter.
    6: You can sling E5 charms from CharGen as a Solar in 3rd. I personally feel encounter design gets haaaard at upper levels but nothing breaks AFAIK
    7: I can't speak for 1st, the main reason I know it is looking back to laugh at setting aspects 3E fans defend. (Like Ragara Bhagwei!) I will say that 3E is absolutely playable though, and hacking Abyssals in is usually quite easy if you're willing to go down the Mirror direction with them.

    So yeah... I've got my own mechanical issues with Ex3 but I think you're fairly safe. It's not as hard as it looks.


    • #3
      I ran a game that reached essence 5, and I would say...
      For players, it depends how mechanically savvy they are. Some have no big issue. Others struggle to understand/remember 40+ charms.
      For STs, the main issue is challenge. When I was running it, all I had was the Core, which essentially meant building all antagonists by myself... and most of them had to be Solars.

      I think it's probably easier now, there's Dragonblood, Lunars, and some big monsters. But essence 4-5 Solars are still ridiculously powerful. I'm running starting Lunars now, and it's much easier to run.
      Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 06-14-2019, 10:50 AM.

      I play...
      Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
      Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.


      • #4
        1: The System works so long as you mostly follow the normal Charm acquisition rate. If you start throwing free Charms at the players, then things can get unweildy.

        2: non-combat Charms rarely get too confusing outside of Craft. For combat Charms, Martial Arts are designed to be simpler, so less crunchy players usually do fine if they pick up a MA as their main combat ability and you help them understand the MA's "rotation".

        3: The hardest part is right out of chargen when players need to learn 15 Charms at once, afterwards it works fine. What our group did was start with only 3 Charms and then the ST would hand out a Free Charm every game in addition to our normal exp until we had our 15 starting Charms, that worked quite well for us.

        4: Players will need at least some Ox-Bodies eventually, but otherwise they should do fine. There are combos which dramatically multiply combat potential but they are not required to do well, so your main concern is Exalts getting too strong for current content, rather than too weak.

        4b : Solar Craft specifically is broken, you don't need to go deeper than Holistic Miracle Understanding to generate enough successes to craft literally anything, so most of the Charm line leading to Horizon-Unveiling Insight is dead weight. Also you rarely need additional Craft Slots, so all the Charms that give Craft slots have limited value.

        5: Watch out for the area of effect Charms of QCs and also be wary of well supported battle groups, those 2 things are the most swingy and most likely to end with a PC dead.

        6: definitely playable at higher levels. Charms either scale on their own or combo with later or earlier Charms to increase their potency. Also there is a huge power increase when PCs hit Essence 3 Charms. The main issue with higher level play is that there are no high level QCs. Ahlat and Octavian, the 2 strongest Core Book characters, can be reliably taken down at Essence 3 (or earlier with a min-maxed Dawn).

        7: I haven't played 1E so I don't know how hard it would be to put 3E stuff in it, but in my experience 3E is homebrew friendly so putting 1E content in it shouldn't be too hard.
        Last edited by Epitome; 06-14-2019, 09:55 AM.


        • #5
          Re; Abyssals, they have pretty much lost "heat"* continuously since 1e tbh. In 2e because Infernals sort of gazzumped them a bit by being more compelling to many fans than "gothic" Solars, and in 3e because "cancelling the apocalypse" in setting sort of de-emphasizes the expansion of shadowlands, enormous hosts of the deathlords etc, in favour of the imperialism of the Realm and so on.

          I think you can probably argue the toss that an imperfect balance has been achieved and that 1e struck a finer or better balance of scale.

          But I think it's hard to argue that 3e's focus is not a vast improvement upon some of the mid-late 2e the versions of the setting through fanon and implied through published wordcount were were degenerating into... "Only 'Solaroids' matter, huge fights against Primordials matter, remaking society on a huge scale using mind control matters. Grand heroic tragedy and flawed hero themes don't matter, pre-existing mortal politics and cultures don't matter (they'll be remade by 'Solaroids' on their whims and ideals). 'Solaroids' race to Essence 5 and higher to try and get Primordial-level powers".

          *well, losing heat... they're entropic after all


          • #6
            What splats do people want to play?

            Onyx Path Forum Moderator
            Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.


            • #7
              That's probably the most important point; if you want to play Lunars, I'd suggest 3rd, if you want Sidereals, I'd suggest 1st.

              I'd also say, for antagonists, that Abyssals are the easiest splat to homebrew, since you can start with Solar charms.

              Personally, I didn't (I just ran straight Solars as the antagonists), because after 2nd ed where they and the Deathlords were the main antagonists (the PCs killed about 10 Abyssals and 1 Deathlord, and lost 4 members to them), the players just really were not interested in seeing Abyssals again.

              I play...
              Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
              Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.


              • #8
                Sorry to interrupt the convo but am I the only one for which this page is broken with the last response of Synapse ? All other pages work fine but this one seems to be distorted.

                My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters


                • #9
                  I always hated previous editions for having to make comboes being such a huge xp and limiting yourself . Comboes was always a huge turn off towards new players as extra tax or restriction from being awesome . 3rd ed crafting system though was written by people who either didn’t understand or hated crafting with a passion so probably want to avoid it if players are interested in it.


                  • #10
                    Oh for fucks sake.

                    Originally posted by Chausse View Post
                    Sorry to interrupt the convo but am I the only one for which this page is broken with the last response of Synapse ? All other pages work fine but this one seems to be distorted.
                    I reported the issue but we may need a new thread.
                    Last edited by Lioness; 06-14-2019, 01:13 PM.

                    Onyx Path Forum Moderator
                    Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.


                    • #11
                      For 1st:

                      I recommend pinching the Lawgivers house-rule of just giving all the PCs Dex 5 for free. I also would axe XP and award players (an equal amount of) BP instead.

                      I'd also work out what the characters Evasion/DDV and Parry/PDV would be, and to give all important characters (PCs, Exalts, mortals/other with plot armour) one "free" defence against the first attack against them each round. (I'd also consider using those static values to cut down on rolling.)

                      I would not use the Power Combat rules. (They're fun, but game-able.)

                      With these changes, I've had fantastic games of 1E. I have yet to actually play 3E.

                      Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.


                      • #12
                        Err... sorry?


                        • #13
                          The list function, when quoted, causes forum pages to distort and bend just as you see.


                          • #14
                            When quoted piecemeal, i guess. I remember quoting lists before without issue


                            • #15
                              And it's officially fixed, although my post is lost ;_;

                              Banjo !

                              TL;DR: play 3e.

                              The core reasons are, for me:

                              1) The system is simply that much better. The social system actually works, the combat has an action dynamic that dwarves most games out there (including previous Exalted games), and literally will only get better, as is normal for any rpg.

                              2) Your concerns about "creating the splats that aren't out yet" is mostly already resolved in 3e because there's plenty fanmade conversions that are good.

                              Additionally, I find your concerns about abyssals "being major antagonists left out" a bit off, because that's not the dynamic in place. Dragonbloods / Anathema is the big one, with abyssals being the new kids on the block. If anything they foil the solars in their narrative place of "The game is changing". Most are under the wings of the death lords, whose modern influence is very much limited. The Realm is pervasive. The Guild is pervasive. Heaven is divided, but even in division they cast their gaze at the whole of Creation.

                              So it makes sense those threats would have their splats out before abyssals. We all would love to see two splats a year, but that's simply not feasible.