[Let’s Study Exalted 3rd Edition] Part 6: Charms

Posted: April 1, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Exalted, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
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Today we take on Charms.

To those unfamiliar with the setting, the Exalted are able to harness Essence to do incredible feats of skill and magical tricks. These are called Charms (which is different from Sorcery, which we’ll get to eventually.)

One of the first things that the game tells you about Charms in Exalted 3rd Edition is that their names as presented in the book aren’t present in the Fiction of the game. Exalts don’t know they’re using “Charms” at all, instead they’re simply doing things that they can do.

In some ways, the “Charm” system is a mechanical function similar to the Withering and Decisive attacks discussed in the sample combat. The names are cool and evocative, but serve the player rather than the character.


One of the interesting things about Charms in this edition is that they sometimes cost more than just motes of Essence and points of Willpower. In fact, there’s a surprisingly large list of costs including: motes, willpower, health levels (bashing, lethal and aggravated), anima levels, initiative points, experience and crafting experience points (silver, gold and white).


Old hands in Exalted will recognize these, but Charms are also sorted by type, which dictate when and how they can be used.

Simple charms count as a combat action and can only be used on the character’s turn. It can’t be used in a flurry and you can only use one simple charm per round.

Supplemental charms are used to enhance another non-magical action. Multiple supplemental charms can be used as long as the character is taking appropriate actions. You can’t however apply multiple applications of the same Charm on the same action.

Reflexive Charms are charms that act like interrupts, kicking in as their activation conditions become valid as long as the player spends for their costs. Reflexing Charms can’t be stacked in the same way that Supplemental Charms are.

Permanent Charms are ones that take effect permanently upon purchase.


With regards to combos, those are gone.


Good riddance. Combos used to be a big experience sink, and it just felt like a weird way to resolve something. I’m glad they’re gone as it opens up a lot of flexibility for the Exalts to trigger whatever combination of charms makes sense (and they can afford.)


Excellencies are now a fundamental power of all Exalts. Solars funnel pure Essence into a task, granting them extra dice. The limit for solars is their Attribute + Ability pool for the task.

Excellencies count as Charms, and are automatically gained for each Caste and Favored Ability that the character has, as well as for any other ability that has at least one Charm. These excellencies cost NO experience at all to obtain.


The Charm chapter of Exalted is a MONSTER, starting in page 250 and ending in page 423. With regards to how they are, written and designed, I get the impression that to truly appreciate them you really do need to play them through.

There’s a certain amount of stacking that takes place, and while it seems kind of weird to have charms that only give, say a +1 bonus to Defense for the time being, it’s important to note that many of those were designed to scale. As the Exalt gets stronger, the charm does too.

I’m very happy with the Socialize and Linguistics charms, as I’ve always been partial to the Eclipse, but I think the Crafts Charms is perhaps the biggest tree in the game. There’s a lot, and one comment I’ve seen is that it all feels very mechanical.

Overall, Exalted’s Charms are a splendid work. It’s a monster to read through, but certainly rewarding if you already have a concept in mind.

An important thing to remember is that unless an Ability is tagged as a Supernal Ability of a character, they’re limited to just Essence 1 charms. This cuts down on the reading by a lot, as you only need to go through about seven charms per ability as opposed to all of them.

Some people miss the charm cascade diagrams, but I’ve learned to get around that need in my head. Besides, you can find them on the internet these days.

Next up, Martial Arts and Sorcery!

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!


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