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D&D as it pertains to Exalted

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  • D&D as it pertains to Exalted

    Alright, there's the conversation prompts. Discuss!

    - I've heard Exalted described as the anti-D&D. Any backing to that? How might you think that's good or bad?
    - D&D often doesn't touch the same myth material that Exalted does, but nor does it completely shy away from it in some supplements. How does the Coastal Wizard's approach to that stuff differ, and how might it be the same, to the Wolves In White?
    - Any crossover material? How well does that work out?
    - How do you like both next to each other? Compare and contrast pros and cons.
    Last edited by God_of_Awesome; 12-22-2015, 08:41 PM.

  • #2
    It depends on what you mean by anti-D&D. Power-level wise, they have very different philosophies, but style-wise it can vary. Eberron, for example, is very pulp, to the point where converting Ex3 to run an Eberron game is on my long range project list. This is neither good nor bad. As they say, different strokes for different folks.



    Masters of the Industrial Elements
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    • #3
      The "Anti D&D" thing is kind of a thing that was pushed back in the very early days, and... I believe some of the ways they tried to push it then are now seen as a bit distasteful, now? Like one drive where they invited D&D players to upgrade their game by giving them a free Exalted book in exchange for their D&D book? I don't know the full details of it.

      Honestly, comparing the two isn't exactly easy, since the two games feel different enough that it's like comparing apples and oranges.


      Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
        I've heard Exalted described as the anti-D&D. Any backing to that? How might you think that's good or bad?
        It's an outdated and mostly pointless gimmick description. What people mean is that it's a wuxia fantasy environment that tries to avoid standard Western fantasy stereotypes. Demon-summoning is a relatively safe, more-or-less socially acceptable practice, and using demons to help you have babies isn't really a big deal and doesn't result in evil corrupt children, for example. Knights in heavy armor are exotic and foreign. People have long, flowery names that sound like poetry.

        Saying a game is "anti-the most successful game ever" isn't really a compliment. It makes it sound like it's trying too hard. Exalted doesn't try too hard. It's just doing its own thing.

        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
        D&D often doesn't touch the same myth material that Exalted does, but nor does it completely shy away from it in some supplements. How does the Coastal Wizard's approach to that stuff differ, and how might it be the same, to the Wolves In White?
        Good and evil aren't objective in Exalted, and they are in D&D. Identically in both games, many players won't let that stop them or force their hand either way.
        Hell is bad in Exalted and D&D. Demons are sometimes okay in Exalted. Demons are very rarely okay in D&D. Both settings have the 'demon doesn't want to demon any more' exception that pops up on occasion.
        Exalted is wuxia. D&D can be wuxia.
        D&D is Western fantasy adventure, with zombies, dungeon-crashing, and hostile dragons. Exalted can be those things.

        Also, we Onyx Path now. White Wolf runs the World of Darkness, formerly the Classic World of Darkness, formerly the Old World of Darkness, formerly the World of Darkness. Onyx Path runs Exalted and the Chronicles of Darkness, formerly the New World of Darkness, and some other stuff.

        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
        Any crossover material? How well does that work out?
        Exalted designer Robert Vance, prior to being an Exalted designer, wrote the immensely popular Black Rain discipline as a (standout) contribution to the thousand homebrew creations centered around D&D's kinda-wuxia-kinda-Western Tome of Battle expansion. Black Rain is very evidently Exalted in theme and naming conventions. Black Rain was a discipline (martial arts style) for gunslingers, and people with wands who wanted to wand people in the face, and included a lot of really cool ideas, like a strike (Charm) that let you line up powerful high-accuracy shots by visualizing concentric azure rings drawing down on your target. Now, look from Black Rain over to Righteous Devil Style in Third Edition.

        Xefas did a bunch of disciplines for D&D based on Exalted supernatural martial arts and the Yozis, who are re-imagined as a kind of, what's the blanket term for evil outsiders. I don't remember. Fiends? There's a ton of other crossover if you go looking for it, although more into D&D than into Exalted, in part because D&D just always had that sure-let's-kitchen-sink-this-thing homebrew culture and Exalted, by dint of leaning so heavily on the depth and vision of its setting, tends to be more insular in its fanmade stuff. Exceptions exist.

        Taking ideas from one game to the other mostly works out fine. Taking themes is harder unless you restrict it to nations in Exalted, or do the opposite and make it part of the whole game theme in D&D.

        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
        How do you like both next to each other? Compare and contrast pros and cons.
        D&D 3.5 and Exalted 2E are both terrible, but we love them anyway.
        D&D 5th Edition and Exalted 3rd Edition are both great, and have fixed many-but-not-all of the things that were wrong with the previous edition.

        D&D is simpler and cleaner, both in mechanics and in stereotypical gameplay experience. Exalted is richer and more complex. Those are both pros and cons.
        Last edited by Kingdom of One; 12-22-2015, 09:49 PM.

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        • #5
          Exalted is mature enough that it can be its own thing instead of an anti-whatever.



          Come and rock me Amadeus.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kingdom of One View Post
            D&D 3.5 and Exalted 2E are both terrible, but we love them anyway.
            D&D 5th Edition and Exalted 3rd Edition are both great, and have fixed many-but-not-all of the things that were wrong with the previous edition.

            D&D is simpler and cleaner, both in mechanics and in stereotypical gameplay experience. Exalted is richer and more complex. Those are both pros and cons.
            I'll even speak in defense of 4th Edition. It was a fun and functional system, I've played a VARIETY of classes in that system, and never once did I feel like the load.


            Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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            • #7
              D&D vs Exalted? I remember this.

              Graduate Your Game.

              But seriously, I've gotten some good use out of old D&D material in my games. There have been a few Ravenloft kingdoms I basically dropped into my Exalted campaign as shadowlands kingdoms. The Scarred Lands setting (not from WotC but published for 3rd edition D&D) also has some amazing stuff that can fit well in Exalted like Hallowfaust.

              The big difference between Exalted and D&D was that Exalted was embracing a highly cinematic, anime/wuxia vibe whereas D&D was more of a staid, tactical miniature game with a heavy focus on good versus evil. But, that was a long time ago. D&D has changed quite a bit in the last 2 editions, so the two games aren't as different as they were 15 years ago when Exalted was first released.

              I enjoy Exalted a lot, but I have a huge nostalgia factor for old D&D and settings like Spelljammer, Dragonlance or the Forgotten Realm's. I'm playing in a Pathfinder game right now with new people for whom it's their first RPG, and I'm wondering how to get them into Exalted. I find that 3rd edition is a very tight system, but can seem totally overwhelming for players new to RPGs. Adding a few points onto a d20 is a lot easier than counting successes in Exalted, especially with rerolls, exploding successes, Charm vs. non-Charm bonuses, etc.
              Last edited by AnubisXy; 12-22-2015, 09:47 PM.

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              • #8
                The last time we saw anything resembling that attitude was the "upgrade your game" promotion which happened when 4th edition came out, most people at the time agreed it was stupid and were more likely to make Dungeons and Dragons players write off White Wolf as elitist than buy Exalted.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                  The last time we saw anything resembling that attitude was the "upgrade your game" promotion which happened when 4th edition came out, most people at the time agreed it was stupid and were more likely to make Dungeons and Dragons players write off White Wolf as elitist than buy Exalted.
                  Heh, I remember being around to be pissed off at Exalted for that.


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                  • #10
                    See people I knew but half price book stores or old gaming huts and got copies of 3.5 for like 5, 10 bucks then turned them in for exalted because...it's cheaper. Admittedly the tactic was pretty tacky but it didn't really change opinions here..still love both games

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                      The "Anti D&D" thing is kind of a thing that was pushed back in the very early days, and... I believe some of the ways they tried to push it then are now seen as a bit distasteful, now? Like one drive where they invited D&D players to upgrade their game by giving them a free Exalted book in exchange for their D&D book?
                      "Graduate your game." Trade in your D&D PHB for the then-new Second Edition core book. Because, somehow, D&D is kid stuff, and Exalted is, like, the real game, man.

                      Yeah, it was super awkward and it nearly soured me to the whole game when I first saw it. Made worse by being launched like a week after Gary Gygax died.
                      Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 12-22-2015, 11:16 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
                        - I've heard Exalted described as the anti-D&D. Any backing to that? How might you think that's good or bad?
                        If I was going to pick any game to be "most unlike D&D," my first choice would be Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. The setting is thin, the system is character focused, and the mechanics are diceless.

                        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
                        - D&D often doesn't touch the same myth material that Exalted does, but nor does it completely shy away from it in some supplements. How does the Coastal Wizard's approach to that stuff differ, and how might it be the same, to the Wolves In White?
                        White Wolf has a long standing tradition of trying to subvert everything it uses. In Exalted, this is expressed through a concrete effort to look at the sociological characteristics of gods/religions/myths, moreso than the raw story material. D&D, in the meantime, generally just copy-pastes stuff and puts on enough stats for you to kill it.

                        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
                        - Any crossover material? How well does that work out?
                        You can move a surprising amount of magic items between settings with very little effort. Plus there's DarkRanger's conversion project - I'd like to see how that playtests.

                        Originally posted by God_of_Awesome View Post
                        - How do you like both next to each other? Compare and contrast pros and cons.
                        D&D is fun. I find it works best as a strategic game, where you work out how to solve puzzles, win battles (which, in the context of a tactical battle system, are another kind of puzzle), and build your character into an ever-more efficient adventuring machine. It kinda falls apart when you try to be a socially-oriented character, however, and most of the tools you have to work with are very limited by design.

                        Exalted is engaging. It works best as a narrative game, where you shape a story in a big and complex world with an extremely versatile set of tools. You're not pushed to make optimal choices - in fact, it's more fun if you don't, because it's easier to build drama that way. That said, it's not an easy game to pick up and run with. The system is about as math-heavy as D&D is, but with the added challenge of carrying a lot of lore.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kingdom of One View Post
                          Good and evil aren't objective in Exalted, and they are in D&D.
                          This is only kinda-sorta true. At the meta level, yes, D&D has always rigorously separated things into good and evil. Exalted has been much less rigid in that regard; the Incarnae are a lot less unambiguously good than, say, Pelor and Moradin are, but still portrayed as mostly the good guys, as are their Chosen.

                          In-setting it is a lot less "objective." The powers that be in most D&D settings that label themselves "good" and "evil" have a set of values they enforce and there mechanical effects within the setting that essentially "scan" you for your moral outlook on life and then react accordingly... but the universe itself really doesn't judge you for anything, only a whole bunch of beings whose ability to do so is entirely based on their ability to enforce their moral outlook through... well, through force. If you decide you don't like how Moradin and Pelor are doing things it is 100% possible to simply murder the fuck out of them and institute new rules. If you don't like that Asmodeus is squatting in the Nine Hells and making things shitty for everyone, you can do the same. The closest the setting comes to an objective enforcement of values is that when alignment-detecting spells exist, I'm not sure there's ever a way, no matter how powerful you get, to stop them giving the "objective" return on you. (There are ways to stop them from giving a return at all, but that's different.) Alignment has also never functioned as mind control; most beings in D&D have free will and can do as they like.

                          And it's worth noting that in 5E, while alignment is still important for Paladins and Clerics, it is in fact impossible in that edition to determine objective morality in-setting, as the Detect Good and Detect Evil spells no longer exist. There are spells with those names, but they don't actually function as a morality scanner anymore; you can tell if something is a devil, and you can know that most devils are generally bad, but that's as far as it goes.

                          Anyway.

                          The primary difference between D&D and Exalted for me is that D&D is a game about small-unit tactical combat in hostile environments that's heavily focused on resource management and clever battlefield thinking, whereas Exalted is a more full-bodied RPG that is designed around narrative punch and aesthetics. Exalted has a ton of systems that are meant to help you underpin a game that involves doing stuff other than wading into a hostile environment and kicking the shit out of it. D&D does include social systems and systems for running giant battles or managing empires, but they're usually less well-developed.

                          And here's the thing; there's nothing at all wrong with that. D&D delivers an experience that is, in my opinion, superior to Exalted when it comes to assembling a small team of heroes and going out into dungeons, dragon lairs, ancient ruins, the off-plane strongholds of demon lords, etc. and having dense, granular, tactical combat in them because literally the entire engine is built around doing that. Exalted's combat system at least attempts to be narrative; D&Ds really doesn't, it is 100% about resource management and positioning and careful use of spells and leveraging small advantages over the course of many die rolls into big advantages and finding synergies between powersets. It is hyper-focused on that and it does it really well, at the neglect of other aspects of the game. (Although it by no means completely ignores them. Some of the most beloved D&D modules and campaigns involve things like murder mysteries or diplomacy.)

                          Exalted is designed more holistically, because it is trying to tell different stories in a different mileau.



                          "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                            Made worse by being launched like a week after Gary Gygax died.
                            I'll bet he was rolling in his grave.


                            Currently writing for Exigents.

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                            • #15
                              Dice or barrel?


                              "From now on, instead of saying 'half-assed', I will use 'muled'. 'This is a muled job, Chris', I will say to my friend Chris. 'You need to do better, or your ass is grass. And not, like, metaphorical grass. There are weeds growing in there as we speak.'

                              "'The DEA is after you, man' I will tell him, in all seriousness."

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