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Any Interesting Homebrew for Mortal PC's?

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  • Any Interesting Homebrew for Mortal PC's?

    So I love the setting of Exalted; absolutely love the eastern influences, the cosmology, the geopolitics and everything. I don't, however, necessarily like the Exalted themselves; as, by intent, they are the God-Kings of the World capable of vanquishing most enemies and reshaping the land itself. I like Creation as a more low level and gritty, almost horrific, world where mortals deal with a land where the Mantle of Heaven is being warred over by beings greater than themselves and they just have to survive the occasional blood ape or tyrant lizard mutant that results.
    But the problem is, basically, Mortals are boring in 3E as presented. They have stats and... maybe a merit or two? I was thinking about importing techniques from GURPS but I know a lot about the Mechanics of GURPS and not a lot about the mechanics of 3E. I want to try giving 3E and the system a shot before just porting the setting to GUPRS. I was wondering if someone else has given Mortal homebrewing a shot?
    Also, as a maybe tangent question, if ported to GURPS let's say, what should the power level of mortals be compared to say... D&D or like...Elder Scrolls. They can't really fling spells because Magic doesn't work that way in Creation but what is a good upper limit for the little bits of power they can have?

  • #2
    The closest one I would know of would the martial arts NPC guide Rand made on the Storyteller's Vault: Thousand Sanctioned Beasts. I gave such a thing a shot in my monster guide (It's quite dated by now, but I still think the XCOM enemies I made provide some useful things). I've also made some privately for my game, though it may be obtuse to read and is for a Modern creation (TXP is another resource I'm using in my game that stands for Tech XP, it gives incentives for PC's to make plans to secure enemy hardware rather than scorched earth. I will also say that my game uses extensive homebrew so battle groups of these things don't eat everything alive).

    Outside of that no, there are no other works as far as I know. I tried to think up some things, but I got distracted by... other pursuits. When all else fails, giving mortals some animal merits helps. There's no reason that even an assassin wouldn't have something like Ambush Hunter (from the cat). If you need a good guideline, look at the non-legendary size animals.
    Last edited by Sandact6; 03-16-2021, 12:27 PM.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Teal Tara View Post
      So I love the setting of Exalted; absolutely love the eastern influences, the cosmology, the geopolitics and everything. I don't, however, necessarily like the Exalted themselves; as, by intent, they are the God-Kings of the World capable of vanquishing most enemies and reshaping the land itself. I like Creation as a more low level and gritty, almost horrific, world where mortals deal with a land where the Mantle of Heaven is being warred over by beings greater than themselves and they just have to survive the occasional blood ape or tyrant lizard mutant that results.
      Have had lots of fun messing around with that in previous editions for sure.


      Originally posted by Teal Tara View Post
      But the problem is, basically, Mortals are boring in 3E as presented. They have stats and... maybe a merit or two? I was thinking about importing techniques from GURPS but I know a lot about the Mechanics of GURPS and not a lot about the mechanics of 3E. I want to try giving 3E and the system a shot before just porting the setting to GUPRS. I was wondering if someone else has given Mortal homebrewing a shot?
      Honestly, i think you're terribly underselling how interesting mortals on themselves can be. The whole combat system, with its options and grittiness is available to them. Merits, as you said yourself, are equally available to them and a good number of those are not limited to character creation.

      Beside these, you have also thaumaturgy for making up a number of custom supernatural tricks and Sorcery and Sorcerous Workings as this big, spectacular primordial source of power accessible through a number of esoteric roads and patrons between demons, gods, fae, ghosts, mysterious objects or places of power and self-enlightnement through a variety of idiosyncratic methods (That also comes with shaping rituals, control spells and its own set of supernatural merits.)

      Yeah, an unexalted sorcerer can only learn the terrestrial/emerald circle, the least of three, but i would like to point out that:

      - No one beside Solars has been shown to access the Adamant, not even the most puisant deities, principalities of Chaos or the demon-gods & emperors of the Demon Realm. And not all solars have the desire - or will live long enough - to reach such a vaunted pinnacle of sorcerous might. Deathlords and some elusive (homebrew) individual exalts or exigents are a big "maybe" at most.

      - From this one may conclude Sapphire Circle is the practical elusive ceiling of power that (confirmed) legends of Creation in the Age of Sorrows are made of. And that is mostly in the hands or paws of experienced (Essence 3+) celestial exalted (or maybe some exigents), who number a few hundred at most across the whole breadth of Creation. And as with Solars & Adamant Sorcery, having the potential for it doesn't mean each and every one of these quite rare beings will reach for it. Ah, and some puisant spirits (and possibly more obscure supernatural beings) like Mara with the right combination of power (Essence 5+?) & interest to act as sorcerous patrons, before i forget.

      So having "just" emerald circle sorcery is far from insignificant and does go well with that grittiness and horror of getting mixed in the struggle of beings much greater than themselves.

      What doesn't mean that one couldn't strive for more, by any stretch of the imagination....


      Originally posted by Ex3, pg.485
      Terrestrial Circle Workings: Ambition 2 (Goal Number 10): Cross two different species of plant or animal to create a hybrid species with the best traits of both. Grant mutations to oneself or a willing subject. Instill a plant, animal, or object with human-level intelligence. Ward a chamber against scrying, teleportation, or intrusion by a particular type of spirit.

      Celestial Circle Workings: Ambition 3 (Goal Number 35): Create a loyal minion with supernatural powers comparable to a Second Circle demon or notable god. Enchant the architecture of an entire structure to grant it limited mobility, the capacity to rearrange its internal structure, intelligence comparable to a human, or similar powers. Open a permanent portal between two different realms of existence, such as a small shadowland or a faerie ring that leads travelers into the deep Wyld.
      If one can make a loyal minion, no reason not to remake oneself, i'd say. Makes for a quite awesome looming threat antagonist apotheosis - or crazy PC quest for forbidden/ultimate power - kind of plot to boot.

      Also, if the book already offers STs & players the access to the sub-system that is Sorcery & Sorcerous Workings through a 5 dot merit by RAW, what is to stop a ST in the mood for more oomph in their mortals of homebrewing some more to open up things like artifact evocations or supernatural martial arts? (in fact i think there might already be examples of NPCs with such talents in the Adversaries of the Righteous pdf, if memory tricks me not)

      Just some cents of thought i felt like throwing in for the moment.
      Last edited by Baaldam; 03-18-2021, 08:19 AM.

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      • #4
        I know there's been a few mortal Martial Arts ruleshacks but I don't know offhand where you'd find them or if they're any good. That aside, I think the main thing I'd do if I were making a mortals hack is just add some merits that add depth -- verbs especially -- to subsystems in the style of low-end Charms. But I'm not aware of anyone who has actually done it yet, sadly.

        I doubt I'll ever get round to it but one thing I always thought would be funny was runing Exalted X-Men where all the PCs are mortal mutants with a bunch of dots of supernatural merits who live in a boarding school somewhere and have to deal with drama and prejudice. But that's, uh, specific.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gayo View Post
          I know there's been a few mortal Martial Arts ruleshacks but I don't know offhand where you'd find them or if they're any good. That aside, I think the main thing I'd do if I were making a mortals hack is just add some merits that add depth -- verbs especially -- to subsystems in the style of low-end Charms. But I'm not aware of anyone who has actually done it yet, sadly.

          I doubt I'll ever get round to it but one thing I always thought would be funny was runing Exalted X-Men where all the PCs are mortal mutants with a bunch of dots of supernatural merits who live in a boarding school somewhere and have to deal with drama and prejudice. But that's, uh, specific.

          Well, some of the core elements of the comic series - mutation, prejudice & academies for individuals with talents or powers beyond the reach of the masses - do exist in the setting though with far different root causes and context, so i dare say it might be pretty doable.

          Replace "atom/radiation" with "wyld" and even the basics of Xavier discourse on mutants & their place in society become pretty portable i'd guess. Main issue would be defining what kind of version of the X-men - and more importantly, the world around them - a ST is going to use as basis and the ensuing differences in story style & adaptation work, i guess.

          Damn, one can even adapt the Shi'ar as an empire of air elementals related to either Cloud People, People of the Air (or both), if feeling up to messing around with the more 4-color/gonzo parts of the comic book lore.
          Last edited by Baaldam; 03-17-2021, 04:06 PM.

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          • #6
            Going back to the subject of mortal sorcerers, something specially worth mentioning imho is third current edition's take of summon elemental as an act of literal crafting/creation on the part of the summoner, bringing them into form and life through the ritual shaping, a freshly born spirit child whose first act is to either rebel/reject or accept thralldom under its maker. Those particular elementals, originated from the sorcerer's knowledge, ignorance, desires and fancy as much as the elements themselves, may become even more idiosyncratic due to both their origins and their experiences through the period of servitude to the one who molded them. Some may reflect already existing races because it's what the sorcerer needed or wanted, others unique due to combination of desires conscious & unconscious – a variety of emotions resonate with different elements, might be said – experimentation and/or a lack of attention/focus in all details or other motives and if they will stay forever that way or develop through desire or happenstance into the seed of new races, that can be a hook to many tales, i guess.

            As an aside the "elemental is born out of the Sorcerer's actions/will" angle also brings me to mind images of "matter given form and life", what in itself opens room for one to play with some elements (duh) of:

            - The faulty or mistreated creation that turns on its creator (Frankenstein, Prague's Golem)
            - Those who would make ideal partners for themselves or others (Galatea, Nephele)
            - The keeper of an enchanted garden made from the earth that begs for an end of its lonely uniqueness (Adam & Eve)
            - FMA's Homunculi i guess.

            And a bunch of other stuff to explore or mine on a number of levels. Though it could be interesting to bring up the possibilities, both in literal making of new elementals ingame and the roleplaying opportunities in the exchange between creature and creator.

            Add to that the fact those elementals are not just "designer lovers/minions/pets" but actual supernatural beings with physical capacities & charms in the Essence 1-3 range, where one may find city-gods among other beings (if memory tricks me not), and interactions between shaper, shaped and the mortal world around them can go in very curious directions, like a sorcerer playing a "provider of heroes & gods" scam through elemental &/or demon summoning and lots of chicanery or an eccentric hermit making an improptu elemental court around him or herself, among other examples equally possible for players & NPCs.
            Last edited by Baaldam; 03-18-2021, 09:16 AM.

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            • #7
              I'm not sure if you'll find this interesting but it flirts with mortal empowerment and might be a source of ideas.


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              • #8
                That is great! It's stuff like that I love exalted for. I had an idea recently for a kind of artifact encased exigent that is specifically for a mortal npc. Like a mix of gunshoa armor and demonic possession. It's a soulsteel mask that has been passed down through generations that feeds on the wearers soul (subtly draining their individuality) but grants the power (charms) of a demon trapped inside. The current owner is a family of servants that has been bound to a dynast family for two centuries.
                May or may not have certain service uniforms.

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                • #9
                  Mortal Heroes in the Age of Sorrows was written for 1e but has a whole system of Charm-like low-power techniques, including an entire low-power sorcery system you could borrow for thaumaturgy. It could at least be a source of inspiration.

                  (I didn't write it, just found it and folded it into the pseudo-2.5e hack that I run sword and sorcery games with nowadays)


                  Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: Glorious Tree-Felling Prana and All-Encompassing Liquid-Carrying Methodology.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dorchadas View Post
                    Mortal Heroes in the Age of Sorrows was written for 1e but has a whole system of Charm-like low-power techniques, including an entire low-power sorcery system you could borrow for thaumaturgy. It could at least be a source of inspiration.

                    (I didn't write it, just found it and folded it into the pseudo-2.5e hack that I run sword and sorcery games with nowadays)
                    !!!! Thank You!! This has ideas for basically all the issues i've been mulling around and the storyteller advice section is basically why i'm doing this at all.

                    I *think* the power level doesn't look too wonky?t I am not trying to like... usurp the dragon blood or anything it's just hard to set like... what the outer limits of power should be. The Magic section is really cool but i don't know if it is stepping on exalt privleges.
                    I could probably find a way to make it work tho

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                    • #11
                      Another idea is making a group of mortal Gunzhota. These are artifact armor that mortals can use, as long as they implant some control crystals in their bodies. They give some great defense and some evocations (that use willpower instead of Essence). However, the mortal users age twice as fast as normal, and they don't get sent to easy missions. Half special forces, half suicide squad, with evocations to buy and develop (if they survive!). They say that the flame that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast, well there you have it!

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                      • #12
                        One thing i have homebrewed in my games are "Lapidary", a kind of occult art certain individuals may access through the possession of Hearthstones, not unlike charms, or more precisely evocations such as those the exalted and certain spirits draw from artifacts.

                        But it's no mere attunement, as a lapidarist delves into the stone multitudinous facets to draw forth an enlightened understanding of its own essence, refining it by harmonization (while having an attuned hearthstone the lapidarist possesses an essence pool of its own spend xp to "draw forth/refine" a gem-artifact evolved from the hearthstone and with the potential to develop evocations according to its level).

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                        • #13
                          1E and 2E Thaumaturgy was great stuff, vastly superior to what 3E gave us. Has anyone converted it to 3E?

                          I don't understand 3E Martial Arts very well, but IIRC mortals can learn the non-magical techniques of any non-Sidereal art, unless it has some specific restriction.

                          If you feel confident about converting "Charms" from 1E or 2E, there are some martial arts that were specifically written for mortals. Most "Charms" require spending Willpower in place of motes (so they're hard to use, but are designed to resemble real-world martial arts that reach the limit of mortal capability. They're all supposed to be weaker than Terrestrial Martial Arts. You could convert them into 3E Techniques, I think. Not all of the authors included xp or bp costs to learn these.

                          Five Seasons Style, 1E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Martial...iveSeasonStyle
                          Five Stones Style, 2E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Five_Stones_Style
                          Sinanju, 2E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Sinanju
                          Style of Six and Twelve, 2E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/The_Sty...Six_and_Twelve

                          Varazes' styles: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/VarazesMortalMartialArts
                          Angry Thunder Style: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Varazes...ryThunderStyle
                          Tarnished Eagle Style: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Varazes...shedEagleStyle
                          Virtuous Aegis Style: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Varazes...uousAegisStyle

                          Rock Style, 1E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/MartialArts/RockStyle
                          Rock Style requires this rule hack: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Alterna...eMortalEssence

                          Virtue-using styles, may be impossible to convert:
                          The Six Kings' Style, 2E: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/The_Six_King%27s_Style
                          ​Chakra styles, 1E: Four Mountains Fist and Purity of Soul: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/MortalMartialArts

                          There are many fan-made styles meant for "enlightened mortals" but in 3E I imagine that mortals could use the techniques without respiring Essence. Along the lines of what Lioness posted, mortals can swallow this Third Circle demon's molten gold tears and open to the Root of the Perfected Lotus. I would house rule that this is very dangerous, though, and may require Thaumaturgy for the "arcane process" to "cool them while still keeping them liquid." Chalcanth is probably way, way easier to get.

                          Lastly, there is Stubborn Yak Style, which does require enlightened Essence, but I'm not sure it qualifies for even Lotus Bulb level power: http://exalted.xi.co.nz/wiki/Martial...ubbornYakStyle
                          Last edited by Erinys; 09-10-2021, 04:29 PM.


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                          • #14
                            I've run mortal martial artists with charms in a low powered Dragonblooded campaign as both NPCs and one PC.

                            I went pretty basic - Excellency limits are the lower of Attribute or Ability, Maximum Essence pool of 10 (but without a limit to committed motes), use all Terrestrial modes.

                            Instead of respiring Essence, they gained motes equal to excess successes on Martial Arts attack rolls (maximum 5), or they could take a Simple action to centre themselves and roll Current Willpower to gain that many motes (again, maximum 5) from the whipped up Essence of battle. Learning the Form Style charm unlocked the excellency, which I think I called Excellent Heroic [Style]

                            It worked pretty well for low-level threats as well as for one PC (who was also the party sorcerer). It created a pretty fun minigame, and with the addition of Artifacts and Evocations gave the characters quite a lot to do.

                            Remember you can also include Artifacts with non-standard attunement costs that mortals without Mote pools can gain

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