[Let’s Study Exalted 3rd Edition] Part 5d: Crafting & Naval Combat

Posted: April 1, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Exalted, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
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Welcome back! Let’s go ahead and continue with our look at some of Exalted 3rd Edition’s subsystems shall we?


I’ve heard a lot of weird negative feedback on the Crafting system of Exalted ever since the backer PDF was released. Some people felt it had too much bean-counting, and was too slow, or otherwise inelegant.

I see where some of this is coming from, after a fashion, but so far the player in my game who is playing a Shiprwright / Carpenter is having a blast!

In any case, to craft something in the system is to embark on a project. These projects are rated by difficulty: Basic, Major, Superior and Legendary. Most projects in a Crafter’s life will be Basic and Major, as Superior and Legendary are the domain of Artifact creation.

A crafter also begins with a set of Project Slots, which represent the time and attention that a crafter has to tend to a project. There’s only so many things you can have up in the air before you start messing up.

Crafting experience on the other hand is a resource that is gained by successfully completing projects. These are sorted by type: Silver for basic projects, and spent on Major projects. Gold for Major projects and spent to finish Superior projects. White for Superior projects and spent to finish legendary projects.

It’s an interesting system, as it creates a pyramid where you HAVE to work on projects to earn the kind of experience you need for higher level projects. You can speed up the experience gain by having the crafting attempt meet objectives.

Objectives include: Finishing a project to cause another character to gain or strengthen an Intimacy towards you. Finishing a project to produce a clear in-game gain for your character such as payment or a new merit like allies or contacts. When finishing your project upholds, furthers, or protects one of your character’s Intimacies.

I like this additional bonus as it encourages more interaction among the characters and to help promote a gifting culture where Crafters find ways to use their gifts to push social agendas.

Now, I can see why some people might have issues with this. The amount of projects you need to be working on to earn the experience needed to spend on higher tier projects is a little worrisome, but I feel as long as the crafting character is working on something at any given time it will add up at a reasonable rate. Also, it’s not like your Exalt ought to be churning out Artifact Weapons and Armor every day anyway, even if you’re a Solar.


Another subsystem that merits mention would be Naval Combat. Sail tends to get the short end of the stick in some games, so seeing a somewhat more gamey system backing it up here was a great surprise for me.

Naval Combat is resolved in rounds where both captains make contested rolls to try and beat the other and execute stratagems.

These Stratagems are fueled by spending Momentum, a resource gained by executing the Positioning stratagem. Once you have enough Momentum, you can then spend them to execute more stratagems like Broadside, Ram and even Concealment.

Boarding is a slightly more complicated maneuver, as once the boarding action succeeds, Naval Combat shifts to standard combat.

It’s a simple system, to be sure, but one that is surprisingly rewarding to the sailing player. It’s paced, and there’s a sense of tension as both sides get ready to do some damage to the other while avoiding getting hit. And when the ship starts boarding, everyone gets in on the fun. Very cool stuff.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at Charms, I won’t be going over each and every one (I want to finish this Let’s Study series before Christmas, after all) but we can go over the basics and my impressions on the new mechanics.

You can now get a copy of Exalted 3rd Edition from DriveThruRPG in PDF and PoD versions starting from $29.99

Also, this Let’s Study series was made possible by the generosity of our supporters in Patreon. If you’d like to see me come up with more of these, please consider becoming a patron!

  1. Rachel Teng says:

    This is my favorite chapter, obviously, for… reasons. But the naval battle in this game really is very fun, without being crunchy (or maybe because you were the one thinking of all the math). When we tried it out it felt very natural and the narrative flowed quite well.

    Initially I had wondered if making a character whose specialties are crafting and sailing would be piling on too many mechanics I have to remember, but so far that hasn’t been the case. It helps to make a project sheet with all the crafts charms, though, because there are so many effects. O_O

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