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  • Irked Reads Ex3

    Along with probably half the other people on this forum, but!

    LET’S READ EXALTED 3

    The book stands at 659 pages; there are no bookmarks, etc. yet, which is as expected.

    The cover is, as was foretold, a placeholder. It’s definitely not the finished cover in general – it has a big, flat “EX3” to one side and no other text. Hopefully this applies to the art as well, because, ugh – giant closed-eyed generic wuxia lady is, uh, not really setting the tone or giving me any idea what to expect. There’s also an ugly seam running down her arm where it overlaps the “EX3 thing,” so, yeah, hoping this is very temporary - it's an ugly piece.

    First inside page is exactly one sentence. Well, all right.

    We launch into an old-school WW fiction intro. True confessions: I never liked those. They were almost always long-winded and borderline incomprehensible if you didn’t already know the universe – or were to me, anyway; I know a lot of people have great affection for them. This one is a bit of Borgstromantic fiction, from what’s been said. There’s some weird kerning and seemingly missing spaces right out of the gate – like, literally first paragraph – which is a bit odd. Things seem to smooth out after that, and it’s a pretty serviceable fic…

    … leading right into the two page spread of Wu Jian. Which is, all misgivings about two page spreads aside, absolutely gorgeous. Well done.

    The rest of the fic is a mixed bag: it does this grand, sweeping legendary-sounding text, and then switches to almost Whedonesque banter. I don’t picture Exalted characters saying, “… OK?” and yet here we are. But it does convey the grandeur and possibility of the Solar Exalted, without making the Dragon-Blooded look lesser for it, and that’s an accomplishment. It’s also absolutely chock full of supernatural things happening as commonplace, probably-in-the-house-next-door events, and that’s an interesting tonal shift, as well.

    Next page has some anime-ish page featuring a mix of signature characters old and new. Hello, old friends. I've missed you.

    Table of contents! Chapter 6 entry is, uh, bad: it’s missing a bunch of Abilities (Archery, say) and including a bunch of things that aren’t Abilities (unless “Sex” has been added to the sheet this edition). Several page numbers are also obviously wrong. Ch. 7 is missing a space in “Snake Style” and has an extra 4 in “Sorcerous Workings.” Most of the rest seems workable.

    Next up: Introduction!


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  • #2
    Opening quotes are from Tanith Lee, on demon-queens, and Abraham Lincoln, on power. Good quotes, interesting choices.

    Another fic! Which is cool, but I’m 18 pages in now, and it would be nice to get to the actual text. This is one of those short chapter-opener fics: Novia Claro, Solar (and presumably Night) stealths her way onto a Realm ship, steals their plans, and vanishes. It’s perfectly serviceable, if not really a stand-out.

    Page 20: “Introduction: The First and Final Days.” All right, text!

    “It has been said that Creation is doomed,” says the book, “But it was not always that way.” And the text isn’t confirming that what’s said is true, either – it’ll be interesting to see how much of 1e’s “canonical ending” is going to appear.

    Good summary of the Exalted history – no mention of the Primordials by name, which feels like a deliberate choice. The First Age is explicitly called out as five thousand years long – interesting. The Usurpation is blamed on “the other Exalted,” which raises interesting questions.

    That previewed Aztek-looking art piece makes a reappearance, and it’s much better this time: better color, the Solar is obviously fighting some titanic abomination and not just a big dude, and the armies at the bottom are still on their feet. Really good changes all around.

    The history seems relatively unchanged – rebellion, First Age, Usurpation, shogunate, Contagion, Fari Folk invasion - which I’m cool with. P. 22 gives us another typo – the armies of Creation “crumbed.” Some of the verbiage seems to be getting away from the author; on failing to conquer the Lunar dominions, “the Empress threaded the boundaries of her empire with legions and set about draining conquered lands of their resources so that her Realm could grow mighty and wroth for a return.” Er, how did looting the lands make her nation “wroth?”

    The Empress’s disappearance is left very ambiguous, to the delight of all, I imagine. Warstriders are mentioned by name, which may reassure some folks who were afraid magitech was just gone.

    Also, it’s probably worth mentioning at this point: page numbers are in the middle of the page, as they were in the preview. Why would you do this? Why would anyone do this? Page numbers go in the corners so that you can flip through the darned book to the page you’re looking for; putting them smack in the middle makes that impossible.

    I haven’t mentioned the background yet, basically because it isn’t registering on me. It’s… a background, I guess? This chapter is a full sun on a grey-blue sky, with cranes silhouetted across it. It’s not by any means bad, and it generally avoids being distracting, but I’d have been fine with a mostly white background, too.

    P. 23 abruptly switches tense from past to present tense – “The Empress’s disappearance presages” – and then immediately returns to past tense.

    The end of the intro states that it’s now impossible to save Creation – but then, it was impossible for Solars to kill “the enemies of the gods,” too, and look how that turned out. The clear implication is that it could – maybe – turn out different.

    Now we’re in the mandatory “What is an RPG?” section. The Storyteller is explicitly defined as a player, which I imagine will matter to combat transparency in a bit.

    Glosssary time! Apparently all living beings have an anima; the Exalted are unusual in that theirs is visible. Huh. Daiklave gets a pronunciation guide, which, heh, is probably wise. (Demesne and Sidereal do, too, thankfully.) The Deathlords are mentioned as “[maybe] the most powerful beings to walk the world in this age,” but are not called out as Solar ghosts. The Exigents and Liminals get name-checked; the Alchemicals and Infernals do not. (Neither, for that mention, do Primordials, though Yozis do. Malfeas is mentioned as a place, but not an entity.)

    Fiction resources! Tanith Lee and Lord Dunsany, of course; Howard, Moorcock, and GRRM are present as well. (R. Scott Bakker is not, alas.) FF7, Claymore, and the Book of Judges also make the cut, among others. It’s a good list!

    Here endeth the Introduction.

    The Good: Really great art; solid introduction to the setting as a whole.
    The Bad: There’s a lot more typos so far than I would have expected, given the length of time in development.
    The Ugly: Those page numbers, dude. The heck.

    Up next: “Chapter One: The Exalted.”


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    • #3
      Chapter One: The Exalted

      Perfect Soul, our new sig Zenith, gets a fiction. And it’s a pretty great intro; she Exalts while cursing the Unconquered Sun as a distant, uncaring god and smashing one of his shrines, which is cool all the way around. On the downside, the fic highlights two problems with the formatting: first, that there’s no italics to indicate when we’re reading someone’s thoughts, and second, that it takes a second or so of squinty scrutiny to distinguish a comma from a period in this font.

      We get a great full-page picture of PS kneeling before the statue of the Sun. It’s a cool, striking image; the Sun looks a little like Julius Caesar with four arms, which is a good look. (Er, how’s she supposed to reach his head to smash it, though? And didn’t the fic say the statue was painted?)

      Sidebar – the lifespans of the Exalted. Sounds about like it was in 2e: a few hundred for Dragon-Blooded, a few thousand for Celestials, longer for Sidereals, maybe forever for Abyssals. The rest get a who-knows-what’s-up-with-them shrug.

      We get a discussion of Solar Exaltation that will be familiar to those who have read old editions: tend to be exceptional already, Exalt during moments of stress, overcome impossible odds, etc. Child Solars are explicitly called out as possible; the Zenith message-from-the-Sun is also mentioned as a unique feature of that caste.

      Dragon-Blooded Exaltation is mentioned as a matter of blood; there’s no reappearance of 2e’s “must be heroes” sidebar. Liminals and Exigents again get a big shrug.

      Here’s a new feature: Essence fever, a drive that compels new Solars to go forth and change the world. It’s a nice bit of explanation for why your character is out adventuring. It also includes what feels like a bit of tut-tutting at people who say, “I spend some Essence to...,” but the section as a whole is good.

      Summary of the world continues, hitting what seem like good major points: caste marks, demesnes, and so on. The Dragon-Blooded book gets a plug. Then we come to THE EXALTED! It’s a two page spread that’s…

      … that’s the same thing we saw back at the end of the opening fic, with all the signature characters. The heck? It’s a lot bigger now, but these figures are pretty low-detail anime faces; I don’t think they benefit from being enlarged.

      First up are THE SOLAR EXALTED. Who have a blurb that is… hard-to-read italic-cursive stuff. Eh, okay. We get caste summaries, and descriptions of the Solar schtick: mastery, of martial arts, of sorcery, of the world in general. We also get a “Play one of these Exalted if you want…” which is a nice touch, though “… to actually be able to play the game in the next six months” is not listed among them.

      Cool full-page picture of five Solars. They’re a martial-looking bunch; I think these are not our sig five. Two of them are white-haired pretty boys, which is a bit odd, but it’s a nice piece. The art in general is a lot more paints and soft lines so far than it was in 2e, which works well.

      THE ABYSSAL EXALTED are not called out explicitly as tainted Solars – interesting. They are described as servants of the Deathlords, and as romantic, chivalrous necromancers – which seems to mean they kill people to make a point, and not just ‘cuz.

      Maybe it’s just me, but the language here feels a little overwrought. “PLAY ONE OF THE ABYSSAL EXALTED if you want to be a warrior-poet of macabre passions and dark romance” forces me unavoidably to picture this, which may not be the desired outcome.

      Cool picture of… are all of these Abyssals wearing clothes? Like, actual clothes that conceal the flesh beneath? They look dangerous and imposing, anyway, which I imagine is the intended effect. Colors are nicely muted.

      THE DRAGON-BLOODED are the first Exalts whose picture seems to show them doing something: five brightly colored warriors (you do you, white-jade-dude-with-bull-horns) are standing over what looks like the corpse of a massive elemental dragon. Their description is, in contrast to the rest, very focused on externals: their family, their stockpile of weapons, their inherited evocations, and so on.

      THE LUNAR EXALTED get a dose of oWoD Werewolf RAAAAEG; apparently, they’re compelled to break stuff (where “stuff” is “modern civilizations” and “ancient technology”). Their image is fine – tattoos, check; beastman form, check – but I don’t really have a strong sense of how most of these images so far are different from the others.

      THE SIDEREAL EXALTED – masters of astrology, fate, and martial arts – have probably my favorite image so far: one of these subtle, super-secret ninja bureaucrats is about eight feet tall and carrying an axe as big as he is. Awesome.

      THE LIMINAL EXALTED – “made in madness and born from death” – are described as basically Frankenstein’s monsters: replacing old limbs with fresh ones, bound to their creators, and doomed to degenerate into savage horrors without some kind of tie to humanity. Cool.

      THE EXIGENTS ARE pretty vague – some of the description boils down to “You can be all sorts of things.” Apparently the Exigent Exaltations can be stolen and corrupted, before bonding with a human, which is a neat idea. Their image is a mixed bag, but Strawmaiden Janest continues to look awesome.

      AND THE TALE OF THE EXALTED CONTINUES shows us Lissome Avid Engineer, what’s probably an Infernal, and… some guy with a black cloud over his head. No idea what’s up with him. The LAE art looks familiar, though – is this a trace of existing art, or is she just very distinctive?

      Oh, it’s a two page spread! Yeah, no idea who the rest of you guys are. This two page spread is less awesome than the one of Wu Jian, which puts me back in kind of a, “Ugh, two page spreads,” frame of mind, but it’s otherwise very serviceable.

      The Good: This is a strong introduction to lots of different types of Exalts; it’s a bit long, but it feels like I could have my players read it and have a strong sense of what they want to play. It’s a good opener, and I love the opening picture with the UncSun statue.
      The Bad: The art here is nice – again, I like the line-free paintings – but nothing really stands out. The pieces mostly feel muted, which works for, say, the Abyssals, but doesn’t really inspire me to play a Solar. There are only a couple of characters – Axe Sidereal, primarily – who make me say, “Heck yeah, I want to be that guy.”
      The Ugly: Nope, I got nothing this time. Chapter was pretty good.


      Up next: "Chapter Two: The Age of Sorrows."


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      • #4
        Chapter Two: “The Age of Sorrows.”

        Opening fic – hey, it’s a previous signature character! Hi, Seven Devils Clever! This is a bit of fiction of… mixed quality, and darn those commas are starting to drive me crazy. Last paragraph has two speakers, with no break between. Art piece shows us our two characters and a couple of gorilla henchmen – which, yay gorilla henchmen, but I’m a little disappointed not to see a bit of Faxai after how much the fic built it up.

        We get a brief description of the world – short, evocative, to the point. Nice. There’s also a cool picture of Not-Zeus towering over some mortal worshipper. The book breaks down some of the major spirit types: gods (who rule portfolios of concepts and are some mix of distant and corrupt), including the Incarnae in specific; elementals (born of the interplay of Creation’s natural elements), with a picture of a surprisingly cute three-story-tall otter-thing; and demons (the “slaves and children” of the enslaved Yozis). The write-ups here suggest broadly what you’d do with these things, which is helpful.

        Huh, Yu-Shan is now an island in a quicksilver ocean. Okay. We get a nice little picture of the result, with zeppelins and sky-boats and some kind of flying thing; it has a very technological feel to it, which contrasts nicely with most of what we’ve seen of Creation.

        And a map! A tiny, tiny map. Like, I’m at 129% magnification, and I can’t read most of this text. This… is not usable.

        Our section on the Realm is written in present tense, and includes a description of the ruthless power of the Wyld Hunt. This is a little odd; back in the Intro, we were told that the Hunt had “lapsed.” Which is it?

        Ooh, Rakan Thulio sidebar. Thulio is a rebel against heaven, a rogue Sidereal whose love went for someone else. Well, that’s… a little petty, dude; losing in love hurts, but we don’t all try to burn down Creation over it. Not in Scamander’s river. Thulio and his minions, a group of rogue Sidereals (yikes, that has to hurt) and the fate-defying Getimian Exalted, are apparently at war with Heaven now. There’s a picture of shadowy, hooded figures; it also includes Thulio, who is… very purple, and not especially like his comic appearance, I don’t think?

        We get a letter to a Sidereal (probably?) discussing the Empress, her history, and some theories on her disappearance. It’s a nice set of Storyteller options.

        Hey, it’s that infamous Empress-flashing-some-thigh picture. And… ah ha ha, they drew a robe over that leg. Fabulous. That… really looks kind of bad, actually; the modesty-robe is fuzzy in ways that don’t match the rest of the art.

        Oh, Regent Fokuf. You’re back. Hooray.

        Ooh, we get both a summary of the Great Houses and a house mons for each of them. That’s immediately useful flavor – nice.

        Speaking of neat story hooks, apparently a Realm legion has gone rogue somewhere in the Threshold. That’s got lots of potential; I sort of hope it never gets any more detail than that.

        Mnemon, are you still permanently 15? That was not the best feature of 2e. The Realm parade image you’re part of is still excellent, though, even if I do have to scroll across two pages to see it.

        The names of the Immaculate Dragons are just hilarious. “Sextes Jyllis, He Who Hath Thrown Much Grass” probably has the worst of it.

        All of this stuff is useful, though – it’s good stuff that you’d want to know if you were involving the Realm in a game.

        Days are back to 24 hours, which is… probably for the best.

        Exigents are not generally Wyld Hunt targets, which is interesting; why, if they’re especially good, the Immaculate Faith teaches they might even reincarnate as Dragon-Blooded!

        We get treatments of the Guild and currency, which are welcome – I have tried and failed to break new players of saying “I pull out some gold pieces.” Weird kerning again, on p. 77- looks like “Si lver.”

        I swear this is word-for-word the sidebar on jade currency from 2e. Am I wrong?

        Man, the north looks sweet. Ravening wolfmen, a mammoth, some kind of crazy elk-horned fair folk thing – I immediately want to fight these guys. The east gets a nice overgrown ziggurat thing, which fits well with the feel of most games I’ve played in that direction. The south is the first directional art that doesn’t grab me – it just feels kind of generically “Yep, this is the desert.” The next page, though, has a dude jousting at a tyrant lizard, and hecks to the yeah. The south is kind of… pirate-y, which is okay; hey, Moray Darktide, how ya doing?

        Each direction gets several cool new locations: the inmates-running-the-asylum prison-city of Fortitude, say, or the Realm city of Gloam, which is haunted by something vampirish. (That’s… a little too cute for my tastes, honestly, but whatevs.) Palanquin gets an image: it’s a city in a basin, literally held maybe a half-mile above the ground by four statues. It’s worth noting that virtually every place described seems to be dramatically supernatural in some way; again, that’s an interesting feel – pure-human settlements seem to be the exception rather than the rule, with most places having sorcerer-kings or god-blooded champions or ancient pre-human races or something.

        The Lover and Bagrash Kol get name-dropped, though without explanation.

        … That is a picture of an Aztec man with a raiton head, and for him I will forgive a multitude of sins.

        The Lunar dominions get described briefly, and… man, they are not sympathetic. The Lunar plan is, broadly:
        1. Find a tribe.
        2. Promise them the world.
        3. Throw them at the Realm to die bravely on legionnaire swords. Wave goodbye.
        4. Go to step 1.
        This is all good stuff, but man, this chapter is long – I’m starting to get weary of the detail reading through it.

        Apparently the Dragon-Blooded seek to use the five shrines of the Caul to open the path to “Feng-Yi” to revive their fading blood, whatever that means.

        We finally get a description of the Wyld and the Underworld, which rounds them out in general terms – enough to fake it for a while. And, hey, there’s Masky! You, uh, you been working out, there, dude? You look a lot scarier than the last time I saw you. The deathlords in general are discussed, but left very vague; even how many there are is left as a question, and there’s still no mention of “BTW crazy Solar ghosts,” which may suggest that that’s not necessarily true anymore.

        Phew! And that’s the chapter.

        The Good: Useful descriptions of almost every part of Creation; you could run a game out of this detail, and the direction sections are crawling with story hooks. Very solid work throughout, with some really lovely art (T-rex jouster! Raiton Aztec man!).
        The Bad: That tiny, useless map. The empress’s knees. This chapter being loooooooooong – like, I’m on page 117 or so now, and most of that is this chapter.
        The Ugly: “She thought he might want to bang her like a fine drum, but she didn’t want to raise her tail to such a gruesome old buck.” What even, guys. No.


        Up next: Chapter 3, "Character Creation." But, uh, probably not tonight.


        Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

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        • #5
          Chapter 3: Character Creation

          Ooh, Liminalfic! We meet Echoing Breath, who is hunting down a long-dead Solar po-soul and the five Dragon-Blooded he killed. This is probably the first thing to give me any real interest in Liminals; Echoing Breath can catch glimpses of the world as it was, which is a neat idea to build a character around.

          Chargen does a pretty typical “Find out what your game is about/write a blurb” dance, which is absolutely standard and is not how I have created any character ever. (“Read the entire Charm chapter and look for a place where you go OH MAN OH MAN” might have been time consuming advice, though.)

          Not to beat a dead horse, but man these fonts are bad. It really stands out in the sub-heading “Attributes” – the first letter could plausibly be mistaken for a lowercase “d.” It’s a small thing, but the difficulty in just reading the book is a persistent disruption.

          We have a standard WW-style 8/6/4 distribution, with all of the usual problems that come with that (distributing four dots as 5/1/1 gets you about twice as much bang for your buck as 3/3/1, for instance). Each caste now gets five out of eight possibilities as their Cate abilities, which I think is a great change, though – that’s a lot more flexibility in caste creation, and it’s also a nice solution to the Dawn problem.

          We get a big angry Solar dude with a golden halo around his head – possibly Exalting in the ruins of his home? He’s cool looking, but again, the picture is very washed out – lots of browns and bronzes, and it just doesn’t pop like some of the colorful 2e art.

          The choice of Caste Abilities is especially important because you’re going to pick one of them as your Supernal Ability – an Ability where you can buy Charms all the way up to Essence 5, right out of the gate. That’s very cool – it gives a better sense of, “Yes, we’re both Twilights, but this is the thing that defines my legend.” Seems like it stops mattering the closer you get to E5, though – and do note that, if you want to be any sort of supernal violence-person, you need to be a Dawn. (Supernal is only from caste, not favored.)

          Brawl is in the Ability list, and Martial Arts is… vague. Let’s come back to that.

          28 Ability dots later, we’re adding Specialties! That’s a nice distinguishing feature out of the gate. Specialties are also capped at +1 bonus die per roll now, which is good – no more “gotta be +3 or you’re a chump.” We do get a little tip on buying Abilities efficiently, but, like… just make it all the same cost, guys. Don’t make this a puzzle to be solved.

          Backgrounds are fused into Merits now – I think that was spoiled? You start with fifteen Charms – hoo boy – aaaaaand that’s a picture of a lady tearing a bear in half. It’s a big, mean looking bear, but, heh, one of the other bears watching this happen looks kind of traumatized. Nice.

          Paraphrasing, the next section says, “Pick some Intimacies, in ways we are not going to explain now!” All righty. Finally, pick a Limit Trigger – not a break, just a trigger – and spend some bonus points.

          Hi, bonus points. No, didn’t miss you. *starts houserule list*

          We get final calculations: motes, Willpower, health, etc. An earlier section clarified that “dots” are permanent ratings, while “points” are expended over time… but that verbiage doesn’t seem to show up in the rest of the chapter. We don’t see Willpower points mentioned, and I can’t image motes are now called “mote points.”

          Speaking of motes, the Essence pool calculations are… kind of arbitrary looking. Like, (Essence x 7) + 26 – where does that number come from? (Well, from 2e, but at least there it was sort of justified – why that exact calculation?

          We get alternate chargen for mortals and experienced Solars, which, cool. You are not able to buy Essence up with bonus points this time around – that’s a big change. One more piece of art, and…

          … is there a lot more European-looking art this time? Like, the Abyssals have a guy in full plate armor; this picture has two dudes who look very much like standard knights defending a castle. It just feels a little more… traditional fantasy trappings, I guess, and less of Exalted’s usual flavorings.

          Also, there are a lot of pictures where the Exalted are just kind of standing around. Bear-shredding lady is one of the first big counterexamples to that.

          We get an example of chargen, which is nice, and which takes three pages to get through. This, uh, this is not going to be any quicker than it was in past editions, is it? Might want to plan 3-4 hours for when you go to run chargen.

          And that’s the chapter! Notably absent, relative to last edition: Motivations.

          The Good: Cool Liminal fiction. Clear, straightforward character creation, backed by examples, even if most of the things we’re messing with aren’t really explained yet. Bear-shredding lady.
          The Bad: Some of the art and font choices continue to not impress – too much brown, too many ambiguous characters. Give me some color, guys!
          The Ugly: The chargen minigame looks better – that is, absent some of its most egregious offenders – but I’d bet you can still rack up 50-100 XP of discrepancy without even trying. Hard to say for sure yet, though – there’s no sign of an XP table to help guide you through that decision.

          Next up: "Chapter 4: Traits!"
          Last edited by Irked; 10-23-2015, 09:03 AM.


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          • #6
            CHAPTER 4: TRAITS

            Prince Diamond is up! And negotiating with a river god, via some pretty straightforward, “Well, have fun dealing with the Immaculates!” trickery. Which feels like the kind of thing a player might do in game, but also… I dunno. I’m not super-impressed with Diamond’s uber-negotiation skills, but that's pretty petty - it's a very serviceable fiction.

            Although, do Exalts deal with normal mortals at all? The first fiction had a Solar interact with two Dragon-Blooded, a Sidereal, and a god. Novio Claro doesn’t really interact with anyone, but she clarifies that the guy she slips past is a Dragon-Blooded, I think. Seven Devil Clever talks to a Lunar named Mangler, accompanied by some ape-men. Echoing Breath fought with ghosts, and the ghosts of Exalts at that. Now we have Prince Diamond, whose companions are a wolf-man and a god.

            If I’m reading Exalted for the first time, this is the point where I start to think, “Oh, okay, so mortals don’t matter. Gotcha.” And I’m pretty sure that’s not what the authors have said they were going for.

            Anyway, actual chapter. We open with a summary of what the chapter will be… and two more typos.

            The rules on the Great Curse summarize that you gain Limit for acting against Intimacies. Great, guys, but I still don’t know what a “Major Intimacy” is – maybe that should come first? The rules also reference “gaining one point of Limit for each success,” but we don’t have any idea how die rolls work yet. The Curse explicitly only erupts during dramatically appropriate moments, at ST’s discretion. Actually, for that matter, the form the Break takes is also ST’s discretion. This feels a little bit like the game is saying, “Do the thing that messes your player up in a baaaaad way,” which seems kind of… group-tension-inducing? At least when the Break is predetermined, you get the poison for which you signed up. On the other hand, this should produce more narratively-appropriate breaks… it’s a mixed bag. Edit: And a few pages later, we get a sidebar that says, roughly “Okay, but Storytellers, don’t be a jerk about this; don’t try to invalidate the character.” Which is good… but we’re also told to choose moments and breaks that are, basically, maximally disruptive. This feels like a hard line to walk.

            There’s a lot more unexplained verbiage here – Defining Intimacies, points of Willpower, unacceptable influence, Resolve. This section really feels like it needs to come later.

            I’m at about seven typos so far this chapter, and we’re about three pages in; about five of those are words broken across lines without hyphens. This is the winner so far.

            Limit breaks can end prematurely if something story-critical happens (i.e., your allies get attacked while you’re sulking in your tent). That’s a good thing to note explicitly.

            Full-page spread: Volfer! And his… shadowy cloud-sword-thing. Volfer looks kind of… squnched. Like, he’s bent over, crouching, reaching back for his sword – I dunno, doesn’t do anything for me. He’s still not doing anything, which is beginning to become a theme in the art.

            The Dawns led the Exalted against “the might of the Undersea,” among other things. Hm. There’s a section here on “Anima effects”… which is just a pointer to p. 175. I'd vote for just cutting the section if it isn’t going to say anything.

            Perfect Soul (and the Zeniths, natch): better picture, but, like, why is she a Zenith? What about this image conveys that to me?

            Shen! Shen? We haven’t seen much of him yet – the Sig Twilight is… well, okay, he’s Doctor Strange. He’s got the beard, he’s got the face, the robes, the popped collar, and an extra glowing eye hovering in front of him. He’s very clearly a Twilight, which is great, but the homage is a little too spot-on.

            Novia! Also has black smoke behind her. Which makes better sense for a Night, but when she and Volfer both have that, it sort of gives a weird association. Novia’s pretty ripped, here.

            Prince Diamond! Again, could be any caste; the associations are just not strongly conveyed for any of the sigs except Shen and maybe Volfer. The actual text descriptions are good, but I think those may also be lifted from 2e in places – not sure.

            New section –“dttributes.” No, hang on, “Attributes” – the font continues to vex. Manipulation is “lying + trying to coax out a specific response different from your own feelings,” which seems like a broad enough distinction; it also handles staying composed, via whatever “Guile” is.

            Picture of a lady punching a chariot! The chariot itself looks good – it’s exploded into bits and flinders – but the lady doesn’t have any real sense of action – she just looks sort of posed in front of it. She’s also glowing purple – which, maybe it’s good to have some more diversity in anima banners, but it’d be nice to see more people actually glowing gold.

            “Yes, you can take a 5,” says the sidebar. Well, thanks? I plan to take as many of them as I can, because that’s the XP-efficient thing to do in the system you’ve provided, but this is better than some WoD-style tsk-tsking.

            Most soldiers have two dots of a relevant fighty Ability. Well.

            Ability descriptions call out which ones are important in combat – good! – but don’t have example Specialties. What the heck? We’ve gotten one sidebar on the subject; given that everyone’s supposed to start with four, some examples would be nice.

            Crafting! Crafting is now… infinite subskills.

            Why.

            So, like, apparently “Weapon forging” and “Armoring” are sufficiently distinct that you need to buy two completely independent Abilities to cover them. Because, man, if there was one thing I loved in 2e, it was needing to buy a bunch of different elemental subskills, and now I can buy fifty of them. But hey, for totally mundane stuff, I might be able to hack a cross-skill applicability at +1 difficulty. Well.

            P. 153 and ahahahahaha, I take it all back, all the art up until now has been fine. This is bad art – Chompy hiding under the cake table. Or, well, a mannequin of Chompy hiding under the cake table.

            Lore has sub-fields of expertise, which I guess makes sense, but stops short of Craft’s… thing.

            Martial Arts! Okay, finally some details. MA is an Ability, but you have to have a Merit before you can take it. Each MA has its own Ability, raised independently. That’s… going to be a lot of XP.

            Socialize is an influence-generating Ability now, which is kind of different; it still has its “Read the room” features from 2e, though.

            Up next: Merits!
            Last edited by Irked; 10-23-2015, 04:04 PM.


            Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

            Solar Charm Rewrite (Complete) (Now with Charm cards!)

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            • #7
              So merits are a mix of Backgrounds and… well, merits, now. In contrast to some of my “Solars who don’t do anything” critiques, the next page has a lady god-king who is pretty clearly lording it up – possibly Perfected Soul? Good on you, lady – rock your giant dragon-lion throne thing.

              Merits are divided into chargen-only, purchasable post-chargen, and only earned through story progression. That makes sense – Gills probably shouldn’t be a spontaneous 6 XP purchase.

              Merit dots have a scaling cost, which is a little funny; if you buy a merit that’s two dots only, it’s 6 XP, but to buy a merit that has 1- and 2-dot ratings is 9 (3 for the first dot, 6 for the second). This causes some odd outcomes; Mighty Thew is a 1, 2, and 3-dot merit, while Pain Tolerance is a 4-dot-only merit. To get Mighty Thews to 3 costs 3 BP or 18 XP; to get Pain Tolerance costs 4 BP or 12 XP. I’m curious on the logic in not just making it a flat 3XP/dot.

              This is a big group of merits! Which is cool, though I wish it was a little easier to pick the important ones – Artifact, Resources, etc. – out from, like, “Chameleon.” That was one advantage of putting Merits in a separate category, I guess.

              Daiklaves and the like are automatically three dots or more; higher level artifacts get Evocations. Gotta say, Evocations are one of the coolest ideas to come out of this edition so far, and this seems like a natural way to structure their access.

              Command allows you to adjust slider bars on your troops’ numbers vs. skill, but nothing on their magicalness – which makes complete sense, but I have a player who really wants a unit of ghost soldiers, and I’m not sure how to ballpark that.

              Cult gives free Willpower instead of free motes now, which is cool. Willpower is supposed to be a lot scarcer this edition, so that’s probably a much bigger bonus than it would have been in 2e.

              Demesnes are simplified – there are only two settings, rather than a gradation of five. You have a big demesne or a little one, basically; big ones are better for use as a “sorcerous means.” Edit: Actually having a hearthstone is a separate merit, though apparently some demesnes can generate hearthstones. Edit Edit: Or you can take the Manse background, which gives you the benefit of both. Bweh?

              Familiar caps out at 3, and Familiar 3 gets you a t-rex. Half the fanbase immediately declares “THERE’S MY NEXT CHARACTER.”

              A lot of these merits feel like additional specialties – “+1 die in [narrow circumstances].” That feels kind of… bloat-y, to me, though I don’t know as it actually hurts anything.

              Language is a merit! That’s a really good change. And ha, Mnemon has developed a super-poetic lyrical language that’s also a 1984 NuSpeak-style “There is no way to say THE DRAGON BLOODED ARE JERKS in this language.” That’s a fabulous touch.

              Just being able to buy a martial art costs a 4-dot merit. Then you have to buy the ability. That’s a heck of a barrier to entry – to what end, I wonder?

              I do not understand the conversion rates under Resources. The conversion rate seems to be 1 talent = 8000 koku, except in four dots, where 4-6 talents is 16k-50k koku.

              We get a range of flaws, which do not generate bonus points (good!) but can be used to earn “solar experience,” which is currently undefined, if they cause you problems. That sounds like a reasonable way to go.

              You can spend Willpower points to raise your Defense by 1! That was a point of confusion in 2e – it’s nice to have it spelled out. Sleep gets you a flat point of Willpower – no more Conviction min-maxing, hooray!

              Okay, finally some explanation of Intimacies. Intimacies are either Ties, links to people or places or ideas, or Principles, which are more like statements of belief. “My wife (affection)” is a Tie; “Nobody calls me chicken” is a principle. Intimacies also have a strength: Minor, Major, or Defining. Some Charms apparently power up with a supporting Intimacy. These are cool ideas, and look like the foundation of a good system.

              … The next page has a sidebar tut-tutting at people who try to game the Intimacy system, which rankles me a bit. “Your Intimacies are too powerful,” just seems like an ugly position to argue over.

              Bottom of the page has an example health track. Not sure whether I like it – it’s flexible, but with all the health levels on the same line, I’ll have to completely rewrite the thing whenever I gain a new -0. The example is welcome, anyway.

              Characters recover motes at 5/round in combat, or 5/hour out of combat. That creates some odd incentives. The anima banner goes up one level per five motes of Peripheral spent “in an instant,” which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay simpler than 2e.

              Good use of bold in this section – in all sincerity; it calls attention to some of the more critical points well.

              New anima powers! Dawns can scare zombies, heh, recover more “Initiative,” and can reset what’s described as something like D&D4’s encounter powers. That’s cool. Zeniths feel the emotions of the deceased, burn creatures of darkness (which are currently undefined), and command spirits. Twilights gain “five Hardness,” play Pokemon with spirits, and gain a “peace out” power. Nights can auto-dampen Essence expenditures so they don’t add to the anima – nice – make good Stealth rolls, and can conceal their identities perfectly. The Eclipse… huh. The Eclipse Oath causes a “terrible curse,” of undefined effect; Eclipse charmshare is restricted to “spirits, Fair Folk, and similar supernatural beings.”

              Experience points are, um, really terribly formatted right now – the column breaks are completely wrong. “Solar experience,” which is capitalized more-or-less at random, is awarded for developing an Intimacy or acting in a caste-appropriate way; you spend it on anything that’s not Solar Charms. I’m hardly the first to observe this, but that’s kind of a backwards naming convention, there. I’m pretty sure this is another houserule, for me: I’d rather all my players keep the same XP totals, so I’ll track a group bonus, rather than a player-by-player one.

              Essence 4+ is noted as extremely rare among centuries-old Celestials, which is a little offputting; I understand the idea that “Ichigo’s growth curve is not normal for a Soul Reaper,” but I’d rather not have my hero triumph over the Dragon-Blooded by virtue of his mountains of superior XP. It’s nice to have an explicit statement, even if I disagree with the one made, though.

              Essence raises go Legends of the Wulin style – that is, you can’t spend XP to get them, but they come automatically as you spend XP – which is great. That’s a really excellent improvement.

              The Good: All components of chargen covered; several new, cool ideas. Some more dynamic art as the chapter went on, which was nice.
              The Bad: Definitely the worst-edited of the chapters so far – many, many words broken across lines; a fair number of typos or extra spaces; and at least one table that’s badly misformatted.
              The Ugly: Chompy.


              Oof. Finished. Quick question: is this at all useful to anyone?

              Up next(?): “Chapter 5: Systems and Conflict.”


              Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

              Solar Charm Rewrite (Complete) (Now with Charm cards!)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Irked View Post
                Oof. Finished. Quick question: is this at all useful to anyone?
                Despite the fact that I own the book, I find it very useful.

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                • #9
                  Yeah! It's fun to read and cool to see different story perspectives on the whole book.

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                  • #10
                    I'm curious what people think of the overall contents of the new Resources merit, since I (arguably over)wrote it this time. The currency numbers per dot are, I believe, the same as they ever were, but I spent a lot of time working out what they (were always apparently meant to) mean.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
                      I'm curious what people think of the overall contents of the new Resources merit, since I (arguably over)wrote it this time. The currency numbers per dot are, I believe, the same as they ever were, but I spent a lot of time working out what they (were always apparently meant to) mean.
                      Frankly, my favorite part about Resources now is actually that you don't NEED it for your character to start with whatever mundane equipment he needs for his concept. XD

                      EDIT: In all seriousness though, they seem good to me. About the only thing that kind of threw me at first when it comes to economy is getting used to the idea that a dirham was MORE than a dinar, not less (as it was both historically and in 2e).
                      Last edited by CycloneJoker; 10-23-2015, 06:52 PM.


                      "Won't you believe in him? Even if there is no God, or Buddha...there is still Kamen Rider." —Taki Kazuya, Kamen Rider SPIRITS

                      Now...count up all your sins.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CycloneJoker View Post
                        Frankly, my favorite part about Resources now is actually that you don't NEED it for your character to start with whatever mundane equipment he needs for his concept. XD
                        You mean that even if you don't have dots left over to put into Resources, you aren't automatically destitute, homeless, and dressed in rags?
                        Excellent.


                        I am extremely literal-minded and always write very literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to joke.
                        Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
                          I'm curious what people think of the overall contents of the new Resources merit, since I (arguably over)wrote it this time. The currency numbers per dot are, I believe, the same as they ever were, but I spent a lot of time working out what they (were always apparently meant to) mean.
                          Cool! Can you clarify what the ratio of talents to koku is supposed to be? Resources 3 and 5 both seem okay, assuming it's 1:8000, but 4 seems... off.

                          It does kind of feel like a little more detail than most games are going to need, honestly - like, I don't think I've ever gone into more specific detail than "You throw down a handful of jade" - but I don't think it's bad to have a clearly developed currency system.


                          Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

                          Solar Charm Rewrite (Complete) (Now with Charm cards!)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Erinys View Post
                            You mean that even if you don't have dots left over to put into Resources, you aren't automatically destitute, homeless, and dressed in rags?
                            Excellent.
                            Correct. Within reason, you can have appropriate gear to your concept. Your former soldier probably doesn't have a wagon full of looted swag and fine horses, but he can still have his weapon, his armor, a few personal effects, and a horse if he was--for example--a Medoan rider or something.

                            EDIT: Though it should be noted that you're still flat friggin' broke if you have Resources 0, it's just that you're not completely bereft of any worldy possessions anymore. Unless that's what you want, of course.
                            Last edited by CycloneJoker; 10-23-2015, 06:59 PM.


                            "Won't you believe in him? Even if there is no God, or Buddha...there is still Kamen Rider." —Taki Kazuya, Kamen Rider SPIRITS

                            Now...count up all your sins.

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                            • #15
                              Resources 0 isn't necessarily flat broke (although it does encompass that), it just means that you don't have spare money lying around the place. Having a resources rating at all means you're unusually wealthy.
                              Last edited by Lanaya; 10-23-2015, 07:03 PM.


                              My homebrew: Abyssals, Infernals, Dragon Kings, martial arts.

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