Exalted Modern – ComputersDecember 2, 2010
The two most problematic elements of moving Exalted into modern technology are firearms as we know them and computers. While The Demented One tackles firearms (and a huge thanks to him for doing so!) I’ve been working on computers a bit. In Exalted, computers should permit actions otherwise inaccessible without magic, but functionally, they’re tools. I do not want to make computers overshadow other tools, and I want dedicated Exalts to be able to function without them, no matter how little an expense they might be. What follows is a set of rules that will permit Exalted to mimic computers without finding themselves playing second fiddle to a machine.
Computer (Resources 1)
A basic computer permits feats that the average person in the First Age would have considered impossible without magic. It allows communication over vast distances nearly instantaneously. It permits the acquisition and storage of data, which can be recalled nearly instantly. It aids in the production and distribution of media of all types. All computers allow these actions, but they are the only such benefit for a basic computer.
A Fine computer can be even more helpful, allowing research and processing at even greater speeds. It grants a +1 bonus to a single (primarily Mental) task, at the Storyteller’s discretion, which must be specified at the time of the computer’s creation. This functions with the same limitations as a specialty, though it does not count against the maximum number of specialties that can be applied to a single roll. Unlike most Fine equipment, a Fine computer has its Resources cost increased by one dot.
An Exceptional computer is even broader, and is usually utilized only by professionals within a given field. It grants a +1 bonus to rolls made with a single (primarily Mental) Ability, most commonly Lore. However, C.S.I. computers could aid in Investigation, while word processors could aid in Linguistics, and some industrial computers can be calibrated to aid Crafts. Unlike most Exceptional equipment, an Exceptional computer has its Resources cost increased by two dots.
A Perfect computer is the pinnacle of its type, a supercomputer, normally utilized only by massive corporations or governments. Perfect computers grant a two-die bonus to rolls made while using them, though, like Exceptional computers, these bonus dice are usually limited to a single Ability. Unlike most Perfect equipment, a Perfect computer has its Resources cost increased by three dots.
As yet, no Artifact computers have been produced. This is certain to change as the returning Chosen explore the limits of their powers and find mortal computers, even supercomputers, can no longer keep up with their needs. When such things are produced, they are initially likely to reproduce Resplendent Personal Assistants, data crystals, sentient AIs (such as Icemind), or other, similar Artifacts (many of which can be found in The Books of Sorcery, Volume I – Wonders of the Lost Age).
Sidebar – Computers as Tools
No matter how amazing a computer is, in the end, it is no more than a tool. There are numerous Charms in Exalted which interact with tools, either by improving them or removing the need for them entirely. Computers are no different. Dedicated Crafters who find themselves needing a computer in order to produce items in a factory, for example, may gain the usual benefit from Craftsman Needs No Tools.
However, removing the need for those tools merely permits the action in question. There is no ability roll for the basic performances of a computer, such as accessing the Internet, sending e-mails, or storing data. As yet, the returning Chosen have not produced Charms to circumvent these restrictions, but it is only a matter of time before an enterprising Twilight learns to access the Web with her brain, or a clever No Moon finds ways to IM his circle through his anima.
Sidebar – Programming Languages and Building Your Own Machine
Lore governs the use of computers. While it is somewhat unrealistic to allow computer programming without requiring proficiency in PEARL or some similar language, for ease and simplicity, no Linguistics score is necessary to make, repair, reprogram, or utilize computers. Modern Exalted will have enough difficulty with the myriad languages spoken on Earth.
When crafting a computer, use the lower of the target’s Craft or Lore ratings. While technically, computers are themselves made of a plethora of tiny devices all assembled together into a larger whole, no special Craft is required to build a computer. Players may use the higher of their Craft (Air) (representing the articulation needed to assemble a thousand tiny components) or Craft (Fire) (representing the actual creation of the metallic components). At the Storyteller’s discretion, other Crafts may be substituted.