[Let’s Study Exalted 3rd Edition] Part 7: Martial Arts and Sorcery

Posted: April 1, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Exalted, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games
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Right, chugging right along then to the next section of the book!


Martial arts holds a special place in a lot of Exalted gamers. As a special subset of charms, martial arts are different in the sense that they ARE known in the game fiction (along with their names) and are taught to students as they progress down a given path.

Martial Arts are also different in the sense that different Exalts can access them differently. Solars, Abyssals and Sidereals are the most able, and Dragon-Blooded can access somewhat less efficient versions.

Each martial arts style works with a small selection of weapons, so you can usually spot a martial artist by their gear. Armor is generally incompatible with martial arts, and most styles only have a tolerance for a certain amount of it before it becomes too constricting or limiting to be able to perform martial arts with.


For the core book, the following styles are available: Snake, Tiger, Single Point Shining Into the Void (something like a quickdraw single-sword style aking to Iaijutsu,) White Reaper, Ebon Shadow, Crane, Silver-Voiced Nightingale, Righteous Devil, Black Claw, Dreaming Pearl Courtesan, Steel Devil Styles.

It’s a big list that covers a great range of different fighting styles. From defensive ones that also play with the social system (Crane Style) to ones that are just scary (Tiger, Steel Devil.) There’s plenty here to want to try.

In summary, Martial Arts makes me want to play in a game, but I’m the ST, so I guess it sucks to be me.


Now we go on to take a peek at the Sorcery of Exalted. Like Social Influence, the Sorcery System has had a bit of an overhaul.

To gain access to Sorcery, one has to get a charm for it, usually starting off with the Terrestrial Circle and progress upwards. Some Exalts have limits to their ability to perform Sorcery, with Dragon-Blooded and Liminal Exalted being able to only initiate themselves to the Terrestrial Circle.


The act of casting a spell is handled differently in this edition. Rather than spending turns waiting for the Shape Sorcery action to happen, it now has a more active mechanic.

In each turn, a sorceror makes a Shape Sorcery roll of Intelligence + Occult. Each success in this action adds one Sorcerous Mote to the spell. These motes aren’t drawn from the sorceror but from the Essence around them.

Once the spell has enough Sorcerous Motes, the spell then happens reflexively and immediately. This means that on a good roll, it’s possible to cast a spell on the same turn you started casting it. The costs are still rather steep, however, and require about 15m for even the simplest of spells.


Another new concept is the idea of Control Spells, a type of signature spell that the sorceror has mastered to the point that casting it gives them further benefits.


To add further flavor to sorcerer characters, the third edition also introduces Shaping Rituals. These are alternate ways by which a sorcerer can gain sorcerous motes for spellcasting.

These can be gained through a myriad of ways, and the book provides a few examples that range from making deals with spirits to powerful relics.

The examples provided in the book are all very flavorful, but I do wish we had access to more. I know we’re getting a book about these, so I’m willing to wait… and hope that they’ll have ruleson how to design custom Shaping Rituals.


Outside of just the spell list in the game (which is substantial,) characters can also attempt Sorcerous Workings, which are a magical means to permanently reshape the world through their occult skill, enacting blessings, curses or transformations.

Sorcerous Workings are interesting since it gives you leeway to work on wondrous enchantments like blessing a field, levying a curse and making a floating castle.

Sorcerous Workings aren’t quick and are graded according to their Ambition which is the scope of the project, Finesse, which determines how much of the working will follow the sorcerer’s exact specifications and Means, which are resources that the Sorcerer brings to bear.

Sorcerous Working are a great source of storylines, and I can see an entire circle working together to make their sorcerer’s Working happen.

I’ll confess, in all my years of Exalted gaming, I had never taken Martial Arts Charms, nor thought of dabbling into a Sorcerer character.

That all changes in this edition. The Martial Arts charms are evocative and fun, and the way they’re structured is a great way to add solid flavor and flair to a character. Sorcery on the other hand is more wondrous, and I’m glad that while some of the iconic spells are still around, a lot has been folded into the Sorcerous Workings mechanics to make magic feel that extra bit more awe-inspiring among the Chosen.

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the Antagonists in Exalted 3rd Edition.

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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