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  • Tomb of Dreams & One Shots

    I'm looking to possibly run an introductory session of Exalted for a local club, for people new to Exalted but not roleplaying in general. Having dispensed with my original thought of martial artists finding their lost sifu (too many similar characters, too much combat), I've been looking around for ideas.

    The Exalted Quickstart Tomb of Dreams feels like a solid start, but is it short enough for a one-shot? It feels like the it would be asking a lot to get in two to three combat sessions into a three hour gaming session for people new to the setting and the system. What's the experience of people who have played it?

    Failing that, I'm curious for ideas. I've seen a "Seven Samurai" setup suggested for Solars - defend a village against encroaching foes in a variety of ways. Possibly a way of showcasing the various different styles of play, depending on what characters get chosen.

    Possibly also running as Dragon-Blooded, hunting down a renegade Hundred Gods Heresy cult.

    Any and all ideas would be helpful, as well as Tomb of Dreams specifically.


    A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
    Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

  • #2
    I'm prepping a couple of one-shots to teach get to grips with Essence and hopefully bring some new players into exalted. You've basically outlined what I'm going for.

    1) A few solars find themselves in a threshold village with a host of undead lead by a nephwrack bearing down on them. After an initial encounter with some advanced scouts, they have a chance to fortify the village, help people to safety, and maybe root out the local ancestor cult that has been corrupted to void worship. All of this can lead up to and impact the final encounter with the battlegroups of undead and the ghostly lieutenant commanding them.

    2) A wyld hunt (or whatever it's called when it's *just* a heretical cult) sent after reports of an immaculate going missing discovers a village beholden to a god growing drunk on ill-gotten worship. They might, however, discover more than they'd bargained for when it turns out a young solar is leading the town in their new faith. This has good setting potential because it can help teach players to question the various perspectives they have.

    3) My current game has a bit of the above in the intro. The players stumbled into bandits on the road before reaching a small farming town. The local guild enforcers have hired thugs to try to pressure the farmers off their land so they can turn it into opium fields. The local temple of monks, the Stone Lotus brotherhood, that used to defend them were exterminated by immaculates for their heretical beliefs a year ago (nobody in the town knows because of the remoteness of the monastery), leaving the villagers without protection. Now, a cult has sprung up within the town to the goddess of the mountains that shelter their valley, lead by a priest seemingly empowered by them. This gives them a few angles to attack the local problems and some good, small-time threats to cut their teeth with.

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    • #3
      I've also realised that the plot of the Ex2 comic in the rulebook (the one right at the start) could be a good basis for a one-shot:

      1) Exalts come across a village beset with floods, and are quickly told that, in addition to high Realm taxation and bandit rates the local god flooded their village.
      2) Exalts set off to deal with the god. Combat and/or negotiation ensues.
      3) Either through social influence or besting it in combat, they find out that the god is causing the floods by weeping because his annual song tribute didn't come, making him think the villagers didn't love him any more.
      4) Tracking will reveal the bandits to be resident in another nearby village.

      That's where the Ex2 comic ends. I'd wrap it up with the following steps:

      5) Track the bandits to a town a valley over from the village, where thy are lodging as mercenaries.
      6) Fight/wheedle that they're being employed by a dragon-blooded, who employed them to disrupt the surrounding villages. The villagers were sold as slaves.
      7) Kill/buy off/persuade off the mercenaries to stop working, find out where they sold the slaves to
      8) Rescue the slaves from a slave market, retuning them to the village

      Optional extra:

      7b) Track down the dragon-blooded that ordered the disruption, and find out that they're part of a Great House that's scheming to take over the area from its current satrap, by making it impossible to manage and then ceasing all disruptive activities.

      ---

      I don't know if that's too involved for a one-shot? I never know how much activity is too much or too little for these things.


      A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
      Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

      Comment


      • #4
        Honestly, that's a great idea. I think that mining the old comics from the 2nd edition books is a great source of inspiration for one-shots. Most of them at least implied iconic, self-contained exatled stories that could be used/expanded into a good session of gaming. I'll have a look through mine in a bit to see if any others jump out at me.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've got these from a skim-through of the Ex2 core. Only the first one feels like a full "story", though, even for a one-shot:
          • A group of Dragon-blooded in the service of House Cynis hunt down what they think are just a protectionist faction within a threshold satrapy, with the tacit blessing of the satrapy's rulers. On investigation (whether through negotiation with the satrapy's nobility or through more direct means of confronting the protectionists), they find out the group is harbouring a child Anathema (Lunar or Solar? Caste mark is silver on p.116, but the shape looks like a Zenith), who is supporting their operations, but not leading them. Play up the childish aspect in the final confrontation - are they going to kill a child, or be disloyal to their Realm and faith by letting an Anathema go free?
          • Help an island in the West stave off a pirate fleet. The biggest lever for this would be negotiating for the support of a local sharkfolk tribe who live in a reef near the island.
          • A Guild trader has been stealing the people of a Northern backwater province for slaves for years. A group of Lunars wants to put a stop to this.
          Last edited by Xerxes; 07-04-2021, 02:44 PM.


          A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
          Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think that first one actually sounds about right for a one-shot. With the length of combat, that's probably going to take 3-4 hours for the players to begin investigating the faction. An initial brawl to try to quell/disperse the rebel faction is less effective than they'd hoped. Investigating the area and talking up a few local NPCs can lead them to the core of the faction, a young child that has become anathema. Whether they're leading it or just a Joan of Arc style figurehead for the movement, the players now have to decide what to do with this. Follow their duty and eliminate the threat to the satrapy's rule or go against them and face the satrapy's own forces that come to investigate in their wake . . .

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            • #7
              That's honestly one of the things I've been grappling with. I'm not sure whether Tomb of Dreams or the intro comic one that I outlined above are too long for a one-shot game. It certainly feels like ToD would take longer than 3 hours to play through.


              A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
              Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

              Comment


              • #8
                Personal Background; I run paid d&d one-shots as a part-time job. Three hours is not a lot of time for a story that involves many decision points. D&D has relatively simple combat compared to exalted, and each encounter easily takes up 30 minutes, if not longer. Exploration takes up about as much time as you let it, but you can always "fastforward" to the interesting bits. Decision points, however, are what really chew up your time. Talking to NPCs chews up time.

                If I had to estimate, I'd say the opening comic story you outlined above would easily take two, maybe three 3-hour sessions to complete. It seems simple enough, but we're only looking at the "correct" path that we expect players to follow. They're going to spend a lot of time considering other options and just feeling out what the path might be.
                1. Get to the village and discover the problem. They'll spend 15-30 minutes talking to npcs, learning about the troubles they've faced, and then sussing out what the likely problem is . . . that is, if you don't just tell them outright, which doesn't feel good. They'll probably then spend some more time deciding how they want to proceed. If I wanted to make this section more engaging, I'd add in a bit of action for the players to get involved in, like saving some unlucky villagers from a sudden flood that can introduce the problem.
                2. Whether it's combat or negotiation, they're going to talk to the god for a bit, and then comes the mechanics. This will definitely take at least 30 minutes, but more likely an hour. Especially as they talk amongst themselves and learn about the god's situation. This is especially true when you add in colorful narration for their journey and embellish the environment.
                3. They return to the village and find a way to track down what happened to the original tributes, speaking more to the villagers about their unfortunate circumstances.
                4. On the road to discovering the bandits real location, they can encounter a forward party of them.
                That's probably a full 3 hour session right there. If you trim down the background of this problem, simplify the reason that the bandits are making their lives difficult, you could maybe fit the whole story into one session, but it'll be slightly less satisfying, and you'll have to hold the players' hands through the story more. That might be advisable for new players to this game, though. The group I'm currently running through the exalted setting with godbound as our system is definitely struggling to get out of their d&d mindset as far as considering what their characters are capable of.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the thoughts and advice!

                  Originally posted by Whiskey Jack View Post
                  The group I'm currently running through the exalted setting with godbound as our system is definitely struggling to get out of their d&d mindset as far as considering what their characters are capable of.
                  That might be enough of a reason to start with the "hunt down the protectionists" on its own, actually. I'm likely to get D&D players in this, and Dragon-blooded are probably closer to D&D power levels than Celestial Exalted.


                  A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
                  Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not only that, DBs have a presumed organization and goals they work for. I actually like the protectionist story specifically because it starts them with some assumptions about the setting. Let them just know the Scarlet Empire's narrative. "Long ago, demon kings who stole power from the gods governed the world with tyranny and fear, until our righteous ancestors rose up to oppose them. The five immaculate dragons sacrificed themselves to seal the souls of the demon anathema away. Some, however, escaped. Now, in the righteous dynasty of great Scarlet Empress, her descendants hunt those few anathema who escaped that righteous judgment . . ." It gives them a limited, easily understandable window into the setting, and then lets you challenge it in the session . . . I think I'm going to use this.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Whiskey Jack View Post
                      Honestly, that's a great idea. I think that mining the old comics from the 2nd edition books is a great source of inspiration for one-shots. Most of them at least implied iconic, self-contained exatled stories that could be used/expanded into a good session of gaming. I'll have a look through mine in a bit to see if any others jump out at me.
                      Considering the piece of the North where i set my first 3rd edition game was pretty much a compilation of them with some expansion to connect the dots and bit of homebrew mixed in, i heartily approve of mining them for one-shot ideas.

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