Now that we’ve gotten Character Creation out of the way, let’s go and have a look the mechanics behind Exalted.
The Systems and Conflict chapter opens up with a short note on the three most important rules… about the rules of Exalted:
Rule 1: If any of the rules in the book are getting in the way of having fun, throw it out.
Rule 2: If ever following the letter of the rules gives a result that doesn’t make sense in the course of the story, then the rules are wrong, and the story is right.
Rule 3: As a Storyteller, if a player is using the letter of the rules to screw with the spirit of the game and kill the fun of the game then that rules loophole doesn’t work. You are explicitly empowered to call shenanigans whenever it seems necessary.
In some groups, these might not really need calling out, but I do appreciate that they’re here. Having had some experience in different Exalted games, there are times when certain behaviors really do take the fun out of it all.
The basic resolution system for Exalted is pretty much the same as it always has. A Player gathers a dice pool consisting of a number of 10-sided dice equal to their character’s relevant Attribute + Ability.
They then roll these dice and attempt to roll more successes than the difficulty of the task, which is rated from 1 (Ordinary fare for heroes) to 5 (Near-impossible feats.)
Dice that have rolled a result of 7, 8, 9 are 1 success, while 10’s count as two successes. In order to pass a test, the character must roll a number of successes equal to or greater than the difficulty of the roll.
A character fails if they are unable to roll enough successes to meet the dificulty. However, if a roll has no successes and has one or more dice come up with a result of 1, then it is considered a botch. Botches are spectacular failures that introduce further complications to the story.
One of the most iconic parts of the Exalted rules is the Stunt mechanics. In order to facilitate the kind of high-flying, over-the-top action of the setting, players are encouraged to embellish their actions with cinematic detail to earn a bonus. In fact, the more impressive the action taken, the bigger the Stunt bonus.
Stunts are rated from One to Three Points categories, and confer the following benefits:
One-Point Stunt: +2 dice to the action, or a +1 bonus to a static value such as Defense.
Two-Point Stunt: +2 dice to the action, or a +2 bonus to a static value. The character also gains a point of Willpower.
Three-Point Stunt: +2 dice to the action, or a +3 bonus to a static value. The character also gains 2 points of Willpower that can take the character above their maximum permanent Willpower rating.
Old hands at the system will recognize that these stunt bonuses are actually rather generous. I was surprised when I saw them too, but I do like the idea of having more than just additional dice to roll for each of these. Hopefully the rewards will encourage people to stunt than they already do.
Stunts have always been a fun and essential part of the Exalted experience and I’m glad that they didn’t do away with it. In the next article we’ll be tackling a sample of the combat rules, featuring our sample character, Twelve-Merit Scholar!