Archive for June, 2011

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Exalted: Modern – Krav Maga Style

June 29, 2011

So, in an effort to make modern martial arts more approachable from a system perspective (and because one of my players may well be playing a Mossad agent), I decided to turn one of the most brutal and effective martial arts styles of real-world Earth into a Terrestrial Martial Art.  Enjoy! 

Krav Maga Style
Krav Maga style is an eclectic hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel and later adapted to Essence use by the Exalted. It focuses on quick strikes and disarming grapples, but it is mostly known for its efficient and brutal counterattacks. Mundane Krav Maga is regularly taught to police and special forces in Israel, but in recent months, Enlightened military forces have begun to unlock the mystical power of their Essence.

This Terrestrial Martial Art considers tonfas, knives, improvised weapons, and weapons taken from an enemy in that scene as form weapons. It cannot be practiced in armor.

Vicious Palm Strike
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: None

The martial artist lashes out, channeling a tempest of vicious Essence along his arm and culminating in a potent and debilitating strike. This Charm enhances an unarmed attack other than a clinch attempt. If the attack roll succeeds, extra successes count twice toward calculating raw damage.

Any-Angle Defense Technique
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Vicious Palm Strike

Practitioners of Krav Maga are taught to expect attacks from all angles, from any quarter. When activated, this Charm allows the martial artist to apply half his Parry DV (rounded up) against an unexpected attack.

Krav Maga Form
Cost: 5m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2; Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-Basic, Counterattack, Form-type
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Any-Angle Defense Technique

Krav Maga focuses on counterstrikes, returning an enemy’s attack with the speed of a snake, disabling them before they can attack again. While active, this Charm permits the martial artist to make reflexive counterattacks for its duration. In Step 9 of any attack successfully prevented by the martial artist’s Parry DV, he may spend 3 motes as an innate ability to make an unarmed counterattack against the attacker at a -2 internal penalty. Furthermore, for the Charm’s duration, the martial artist can parry Lethal and ranged attacks unarmed without a stunt.

Paralyzing Wrist Entrapment
Cost: 2m per action; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Until released
Prerequisite Charms: Krav Maga Form

Attacking a master of Krav Maga is a dangerous proposition at best and a fatal one at worst. If the attacker is fortunate, the master will simply pin him. If he is unfortunate, he could lose a limb. This Charm supplements a counterattack clinch attempt. The contested roll to control the clinch plays out as normal, but the raw damage of his clinch increases by one for each subsequent action the character maintains control of the clinch, to a maximum bonus of the character’s Martial Arts rating. This Charm ends if the martial artist ceases paying for this Charm or if he loses control of the clinch.

Joint-Shattering Torque
Cost: 5m, 1W; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3; Type: Reflexive (Step 10)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Paralyzing Wrist Entrapment

With the proper application of leverage, the martial artist can render an opponent’s limb utterly useless. If the character inflicts two or more levels of damage with an unarmed counterattack, he may reflexively activate this Charm to reduce the attack’s damage to only a single level of Lethal damage, but inflict one amputation disability (see Exalted, p. 152). Because the target organ or limb is mangled beyond use rather than actually severed, the Crippling effect of this Charm heals itself at the end of the scene.

Block-and-Strike Technique
Cost: 4m, 1W; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Krav Maga Form

Masters of Krav Maga learn to anticipate their foes’ attacks, launching a retributive strike at (or even before) the moment of impact. This Charm may be activated in response to any close-combat attack, forcing the martial artist to use his Parry DV against that attack. The attacker suffers an internal penalty to the attack equal to the martial artist’s Essence, and, should the martial artist have Krav Maga Form active, the cost to make a counterattack drops to one mote for one attack.

Scornful Armament Disdain
Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Counterattack, Crippling, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Block-and-Strike Technique

Krav Maga teaches that an unarmed opponent is a less dangerous opponent. This Charm enhances an unarmed counterattack disarm attempt. It removes the external penalty to the attempt. If the martial artist has Krav Maga Form active, he may immediately and reflexively ready any weapon so disarmed.

Soft Target Strike
Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Krav Maga Form

The martial artist seeks out his victim’s eyes with a vicious finger jab or the tip of a form weapon as particularly brutal retribution. This Charm supplements an unarmed counterattack. If the attack would inflict two or more levels of damage, Soft Target Strike reduces that damage to a single level of Lethal damage but inflicts a Crippling effect that blinds one eye (see Exalted, p. 152). Repeated use of this Charm causes full blindness.  The Crippling effect takes place as long as the attack hits, but the strike inflicts no damage.  The Crippling effect of this Charm heals itself at the end of the scene.

Merciless Chakra Attack
Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Soft Target Strike

Whether using a roundhouse groin slap or a vicious nose scoop, the martial artist strikes one of his opponent’s chakras, disrupting the flow of Essence and inflicting agonizing pain. This Charm enhances an unarmed counterattack. If the attack inflicts even a single level of damage, the victim immediately drops prone. This state lasts for only five ticks, during which time the victim cannot activate effects or take actions to rise from prone, but the lingering pain from the Charm results in a non-cumulative -1 wound penalty that remains for the rest of the scene.

Alacritous Brutality Response
Cost: Varies; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4; Type: Reflexive (Step 9)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Joint-Shattering Torque, Merciless Chakra Attack, Scornful Armament Disdain

The best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is an overwhelming flurry of retributive violence. Whenever the martial artist could make a counterattack using Krav Maga Form, he may choose to activate this Charm to make a flurry of counterattacks. Each counterattack costs three motes and one Willpower, and he cannot make more counterattacks than his Essence score. All counterattacks must be directed at the same target. This is in treated as a normal flurry, inflicting onslaught penalties and penalizing the attacker’s DV as normal but ignoring Rate.

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Exalted: Modern – Electronic Media

June 22, 2011

So, in a discussion with one of my players today, the topic of UMI transmitted through electronic media came up, quite naturally.  Initially, I had dismissed that.  Of course UMI can be transmitted through electronic media.  Why wouldn’t it be?  It’s entirely too awesome to just discard: an Exalted presidential candidate brainwashing entire nations through their television sets confirms entirely too many conspiracy theories to be scoffed off.  The mere thought made me giddy.

And yet, with further consideration, I have come to wonder if that might not be too powerful to be readily available to any jackass with an unnatural mental influence effect.  That seems to me that it might actually benefit from a speedbump, much as I normally hate them.  While I don’t have a final decision made, yet, my current plan is to prohibit UMI from functioning through electronic media.  Fortunately, I also have a way around said prohibition:

Words-as-Wavelength Meditation
Cost: None; Mins: Essence 3, Performance 5; Type: Permanent
Keywords: Mirror (Inescapable Haunting Frequency)
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisites: Respect-Commanding Attitude
 
When the Solar speaks, his words reverberate not merely through the air, but through the very fabric of reality, carrying their power to anyone who can hear them, regardless of medium.  This Charm allows all the Solar’s UMI effects to function normally through electronic media.  The Abyssal mirror functions identically, save that it has Morbid Fascination Style as a prerequisite.  Lunar Exalted have a similar Charm called Harmonious Digital Cacophony, which has either a Charisma or Manipulation Excellency as a prerequisite.  Alchemicals have a similar Charm called the Immaculate Broadcast Synthesizer, which requires either a Charisma or Manipulation Augmentation.  Infernals have not yet produced an equivalent version of this Charm, though that is merely because the Yozis have not seen fit to do so.
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Ebon Dragon Charm

June 21, 2011

It’s been too long since I posted some good, old-fashioned dickery.  Behold, a new Charm for the Ebon Dragon!

Shadowed Hallucination Prank
Cost: None (+2m or +5m, 1W)
Mins: Essence 3
Type: Permanent
Keywords: Illusion
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Bloodless Murk Evasion, Loom-Snarling Deception

It behooves the Ebon Dragon to keep his lies hidden behind yet more lies, building his shadow from prevarication and treachery. When the Infernal activates Bloodless Murk Evasion, he may add a two mote surcharge to remove the Obvious Keyword. This Charm replaces that Keyword as an Illusion effect. Observers feel befuddled, thinking that the Infernal was never where he appeared to be, that they are confused and their perceptions are incorrect. Effects that cannot have been achieved without magic are passed off as misconceptions or errors on the part of the observer, a disconcerting effect that leaves the victim feeling subtly betrayed, perhaps by their own senses or perhaps by the universe at large. This Illusion effect costs two Willpower to ignore for the remainder of the scene. At Essence 4, this Charm automatically upgrades to become applicable any time the Infernal uses an Ebon Dragon Charm with the Obvious Keyword.

A repurchase, also at Essence 4, expands the use of the Charm as it applies to Bloodless Murk Evasion. When the Infernal activates that Charm, he can add a 5 mote, 1 Willpower surcharge to make a reflexive (Manipulation + Dodge) roll. If the successes rolled exceed a target’s MDV, the Infernal is considered to have re-established surprise against that target. This unnatural mental influence is an Illusion effect that costs three Willpower to ignore. This cost drops to one Willpower if someone draws the target’s attention to the Infernal.

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Exalted: Modern – For My Players

June 20, 2011

Circumstances seem to have afforded me the probable opportunity to run a game of Exalted: Modern for a pair of my long-time gamer friends.  I am so excited about this, and I find I am having difficulty hiding it.  My control is wavering, but I don’t mind.  In fact, I think I like it.  I always enjoy running Exalted games, but this one is personal.  It’s a setting I’ve worked hard to customize, and one I am eager to see stress-tested (and these two will stress test it, believe you me). 

Rather than let an opportunity go to waste, I felt like sharing the start of this game with those who care about such things.  In addition to utilizing my ‘blog as a personal message board for these two, it will give me a chance to share the themes of Exalted as I see them, as I want to stress them. 

We’re going to begin with each player making a trio of Heroic mortals (un-Enlightened).  We will explore the prelude with each of these six characters, walking them through the kinds of trials and travails that threaten the mortals of the Exalted: Modern world.  Ideally, these will end up with the characters Exalting, but my players need to know, this is not a guarantee.  Exaltations are notoriously choosy about whom they Exalt.  A proper vessel must be suitably heroic and must be willing to use power.  Exaltation is going to be dependent upon the choices you make during your prelude.  I don’t plan to be a douchebag about it… Exaltation is the likely outcome.  But, it bears repeating, it will be dependent on the choices YOU make.  Your characters will need to convince the Exaltations that they are worthy of being Exalts, without ever knowing they’re convincing anyone of anything.  Form your characters’ personalities accordingly.

Once you Exalt, the world will change dramatically.  Things that were once all-consuming tasks will become trivial.  Things that were once life-threatening challenges will become nothing more than simple amusements.  Things that once demanded virtue and moral fortitude will become petty discussions and theoretical exercises.  Once the characters have advanced past their nascent stages, I will be posting fake news articles from the setting, showcasing how the world views the actions of the characters (and the other Exalted in the world… after all, you won’t be alone). 

This is at the heart of my view of Exalted.  In the World of Darkness, success is a precious commodity, something to be achieved by scrimping and clawing, fighting tooth and nail, and coming through bloodied and bowed, if at all.  Victory is Pyrrhic more often than not, when it even exists.  In Exalted, success is trivial.  It is almost a foregone conclusion.  Challenge comes not from overcoming obstacles, for obstacles that can tax the mighty Exalted are few and far between.  Challenge comes from having success handed to you on a silver platter.  It comes from facing inevitable superiority.  It comes from breaking down barrier after barrier, growing past the limits you thought you could ever surpass, and then turning your eye ever to the next threshold.  It comes from facing the consequences of your success and learning that success is not always what you thought.

The game, like the prelude, will be dependent upon the choices you make. 

Lytek’s footsteps echoed as he strode down the massive, empty hallway.  His robes, once forged of shimmering light, were now merely silk, and threadbare at that.  His boots were worn nearly through.  His face, once filled with a youthful vigor, now sagged with age and worry, two things not customarily seen in gods, and certainly not in gods of the rank of the Right Hand of Power.  The millennia had not been kind to him.

Nor had they been kind to the Bureau of Heaven.  The only spiders in Yu-Shan were the Pattern Spiders, so there were no cobwebs, but the tapestries and busts lining the walls showed signs of neglect, where they had not been outright looted during numerous riots that had taken place over the last thousand years.  The floors, once polished until they gleamed, were dull and worn.  What had once been the bustling heart of the Celestial Bureaucracy was now little more than an abandoned warehouse, a storage facility for the relics of Heaven, to keep them from the hands of the deiphages and scoundrels that seemed to entirely populate Yu-Shan’s streets. 

As he rounded the corner and saw the quintet of guards around the door at the end of the final hallway, he amended his internal critique.  Not a warehouse: a prison.  The five gods, four Celestial Lions and a bruiser of the fourth rank, straightened at his approach, lifting polished weapons and baring their bright fangs.  Here, at least, there was no laxity.  Nor at any of the four other checkpoints he had passed.  The appearance of the Bureau of Heaven may have been allowed to fade, but the importance of this prisoner demanded nothing less than total dedication.

“Lytek, Right Hand of Power to see the prisoner.”  He lifted a hand and spent precious Essence to produce a glimmering sigil that imparted his rank and authority to the guardians.  They hesitated, triple checking his credentials, before moving to disable the numerous wards and traps on the doors. 

“Make it short, sir.”  The Lion looked irritable.  “He’s due to be… interrogated… at 0900 hours.”

Interrogated.  The Celestial Censors had long ago wrung all they could out of this poor man.  Whatever his crimes… and they were numerous… he did not deserve this unending torment.  Once, they had even been friends.  Lytek sighed and nodded.  As the guards opened the doors, he stepped once again into a prison only slightly better than Hell.

The cell was a single, massive room.  Once, it had been the most opulent office in a city of opulent offices, wasteful in its space if nothing else.  Now, it contained nothing but an occupant, his elaborate shackles, and row upon row of “interrogation” devices, some more fiendish than Lytek liked to believe.  In the center of the room knelt an old man.  Five chains, one of each of the Magical Materials, locked him down, his arms bound at the small of his back.  A series of glyphs were carved variously into the floor around him, the chains that bound him, and his skin, holding him sorcerously as well as physically.  His beard and hair had grown so long that his face was nearly entirely hidden, save for the burning fury that never seemed to entirely leave his eyes.

“Lytek.”  His voice was thin as ancient parchment.  “To what do I owe the honor?”

“I have news for you, old friend.  It’s happened.”

The old man’s head snapped up as best it could.  “They’ve returned?”

Lytek nodded solemnly.  “The Solar Exalted have left my cabinet.”

Chejop Kejak smiled slowly.  “At last.”

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Exalted: Modern – Linguistics

June 16, 2011

This is going to be a short post, mostly to keep me from breaking into a Tentacled Vitriol rant about Linguistics bloat and how it can die in a goddamned fire, right next to Craft bloat. In Creation, there are at most ten or twelve languages, maybe as many as twenty if you start getting into obscure dialects, or if your Game Master is enough of a douchebag to make you care about tribal languages.  On Earth, however, there are somewhere between three and six thousand.  The current Linguistics system is completely incapable of handling that kind of variety.  Moreover, the Exalt who wants to learn every language in existence should not be told his goals and themes are impossible to achieve simply because the system herps and derps.

Therefore, for Exalted: Modern, I propose an alternative system, or rather, an addition.  As with Exalted, characters know their native language at no cost.  They still gain one additional language for every dot of Linguistics.  However, since this caps even the most enlightened Exalts at eleven languages, additional languages may be learned by a simple expedient: Intelligence + Linguistics.

Each language has a difficulty assigned by the GM, ranging from 1-5 (or higher, for exceptionally difficult, rare, or new languages).  Learning a new language has a base training time equivalent to a specialty (i.e. three weeks).  For every five successes above the difficulty, the training time is reduced by one week, to a minimum of instantaneous (yes, if you can score fifteen successes above the language’s difficulty, you can learn it instantly.  What?).  Lacking a tutor increases the training time as normal, though for exceptional Exalts (with a proper stunt), a “tutor” can be nothing more than someone speaking nearby.  Learning new languages in this manner costs no XP and there is no limit to the number of languages an Exalt can learn.  Mortals cannot learn more languages than their Intelligence + Linguistics, ever.  Because fuck mortals, no one likes them, and they never had a dog.

A similar effect is likely to be put into effect for Craft.  Because I hate it, and I want to watch it suffer.