Archive for February, 2012

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Exalted: Modern – Ride vs. Sail

February 27, 2012

There’s always been some controversy in Exalted about when to apply the Ride Ability vs. when to apply the Sail Ability.  Obviously, Sail applies to boats and Ride applies to horses.  But what about First Age flying vehicles?  What about living boats?  It’s not a land-based vs. water-based controversy either, because sand-boats and ice-boats exist.  In a modern setting, this becomes even more confusing and, problematically, much more relevant.  What Ability do you use to drive a car?  A tank?  A helicarrier?

For that reason, I have split the Abilities along the following lines: any vehicle or mount that requires a crew of more than one person uses the Sail Ability.  Any vehicle or mount that requires only one person to pilot it uses the Ride Ability.  This works especially well when considering the Solar Charms of both Abilities: Salty Dog Method seems unusual in a car, but could easily apply to a tank or helicarrier.  Horse Skids Trick is just silly when applied to a submarine, but is amazing in a Ferrari.  I hope the differences split nicely through the other splats as well, though I haven’t compared them yet.  Additional input is welcome.

Additional Charms are still required to apply Ride Charms to sentient, consenting mounts, though as a House Rule, I feel that should not apply to either the Familiar Background or the Solar’s Lunar Mate.  Yes, this makes Solar/Lunar pairs exceptionally powerful.  No, I don’t have a problem with that, especially when they have to content with some jackass driving a Mad Max tankcar.  However, this does come with a caveat.  Any existing Ride or Sail Charms that allow inanimate objects (such as cars or motorcycles) to act without a driver present (such as one of the uses of Master Horseman’s Techniques) gains the Obvious Keyword while it is doing so.  Thus, using that Charm to call a horse to your side would not be Obvious, but using it to make your unpiloted car drive to you would be.  This occurs even if you use tinted windows or some other bullshit to try to sneak around it.  It’s magic, and everyone can tell.

Personally, I hope this lends itself to making the Eclipse Caste more like international superspies and less like a useless appendage with an awesome Anima power.  Imagine the guy leaning out the door of his car, skidding it into a four-wheel drift using his foot to steer, while he fires both pistols at an oncoming semi’s wheels/driver, the pavement screeching past just millimeters from his head.  Imagine the admiral aboard his naval carrier, guiding it supernaturally unseen through waves of enemy sensors and patrol boats.  Imagine the spy dashing from the cocktail party on the heels of an international war criminal, jumping into a speedboat and rocketing after his quarry with his vessel responding like a living thing beneath his touch.  Imagine the tank commander, grimly leading his men as his vehicle is pounded by enemy fire that never quite seems to penetrate its armor, no matter how horrific the bombardment.

What stunts will you perform?

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First Circle Demon – Chernobaal, the Hounds of Hell

February 15, 2012

Apropos of nothing, enjoy!

Chernobaal

Chernobaal, the Hounds of Hell
Demons of the First Circle,
Progeny of the Keeper of the Forge of Night

When Alveua strikes her hammer against the Forge of Night, it does not shed cascades of sparks, but torrents of shadowy motes, darkness bleeding in clouds and eddies from her domain. And yet, sometimes, when the material she works cannot help but shed light or fire, the sparks that issue from the unholy meeting of light and darkness grow into a chernobaal, one of the Hounds of Hell.
These massive, canine demons are born with a powerful urge to hunt and destroy, but are equally drawn to creation. Born of their mother’s creative impulse and the violence of her Forge, born of the dichotomy of light and dark, they roam the demon realm, serving as trackers, executioners, gladiators, or sometimes artisans. Many of the chernobaalim are held captive by Oskoreia, the Houndmaster, who uses them on her demon hunts.
A chernobaal is a hulking beast, standing roughly six feet tall at the shoulder, with the general build of a scent hound. Their fur often flickers with green fire, and when they breathe out, their mouths fill with sparks of unholy green flame and the same motes of blackened shadow that spew from the Forge of Night. When summoned, most chernobaalim will bear signs of slavery: massive brass collars and chains, ritual scars or tattoos, or the like.
Summoning: (Obscurity 1 /4): Sorcerers most often call upon the chernobaalim to serve as trackers or guards, as they can be fiercely loyal. Only the most learned scholars know they are also craftsmen, and will call on them to produce wonders of fire and ash that can outlast all but the Magical Materials. If a masterpiece of craftsmanship is lost for one full season and found while the new moon is in the sky, a chernobaal may find its way free of Malfeas. If a chernobaal sees one of its creations destroyed, it gains a point of Limit.
Motivation: To create and destroy.
Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 4, Stamina 5; Charisma 3, Manipulation 1, Appearance 3; Perception 6, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
Virtues: Compassion 1, Conviction 4, Temperance 2, Valor 5
Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 4 (Scent +3), Craft 5, Dodge 3, Integrity 4, Investigation 3, Linguistics (Native: Old Realm; Others: Any two) 2, Lore 1, Martial Arts 4, Presence 1 (Intimidation +2), Resistance 3, Stealth 3, Survival 5 (Tracking +3)
Backgrounds: Backing 1
Charms:
Bane Weapon: Chernobaalim can deal aggravated damage to any creature they have spent at least three consecutive days hunting.
Essence Plethora (x3)
Malediction – Chernobaalim can inflict a -1 penalty to Stealth or Survival rolls made to avoid a tracker.
Materialize ¬– 55 motes
Measure the Wind
Ox-Body Technique (x3)
Principle of Motion – A chernobaal can store up to eight actions.
Spirit-Cutting – Chernobaalim can materially affect dematerialized entities.
Tracking
Excellencies: Craft (Second, Third), Survival (Second, Divine Subordination)
Ash from the Forge of Night: For a cost of 30 motes and two Willpower, a chernobaal can consume an object and vomit forth a cloud of smoke and green fire that will coalesce into a different object of the same Resources value. This new object is obviously made of ash and flame, and is as recognizably Malfean as the Infernal Exalted themselves. It is, however, effectively imperishable, and will never need repair or maintenance unless deliberately harmed. Even in this case, its Hardness is three points higher than a normal object of its type. This ability can neither consume nor reproduce Artifacts.
Join Battle: 7
Attacks:
Bite: Speed 5, Accuracy 10, Damage +8L, Parry DV 3, Rate 2, Tags N
Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 8, Damage +5B, Parry DV -, Rate 1, Tags C,N,P
Soak: 10L/15B (Thick Hide, natural)
Health Levels: -0x1/-1×9/-2×8/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 5 Willpower: 8
Essence: 3 Essence Pool: 110
Other Notes: Chernobaalim are likely to form Intimacies to their summoners or handlers, requiring one fewer scene spent building such Intimacies and one additional scene eroding them than their Conviction would indicate. It is not unheard of for a summoner who has utilized a particular chernobaal previously to be able to summon the beast again without binding it.

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Review – Masters of Jade

February 7, 2012

For a very long time, since First Edition, Exalted has lacked a comprehensive, cohesive financial system, abstracting the mechanics of purchases through the Resources background and leaving large portions of the resultant bargaining to GM discretion.  This has been frustrating to some players, especially since Bureaucracy is one of the Abilities on the character sheet.  Without a functional Bureaucracy system, many players found the acquisition of wealth or the domination of mercantile empires to be an unsatisfying endeavor fraught with handwavium.  Moreover, one of the major economic organizations in Creation, the Guild, has had little to no description, leaving it a toothless spectre of a threat, a faceless antagonist without much real punch.

All that has changed with the release of Masters of Jade, the latest release in the Exalted line.  Ostensibly (and functionally) a sourcebook detailing the Guild from the lowest slave to the highest hierarch, it additionally provides a new system for representing organizational interactions.  Produced by the Ink Monkeys we fans have come to know and love, the book is a full and imaginative look at the world of Exalted through the lens of a Creation-spanning organization dedicated to financial domination.

From a personal standpoint, this book is a masterpiece, a shining victory.  Fans have long been clamoring for a system for Bureaucracy that makes the Eclipse caste a useful entity outside their anima power.  Not only does this book deliver in spades, with a new system that interacts well with the existing Solar Bureaucracy Charms, it also uses that system to model large-scale military actions (using War), social actions (finally giving Socialize something to do), and criminal organizations (making Larceny useful outside the immediate, personal arena).  It gives a system for detailing the specifics of a world-spanning organization from top to bottom, including subsidiary organizations, as well as starting businesses and an economic model for competition and assimilation.

All this is in addition to the frankly breathtaking detail given to the Guild and its policies, activities, mindset, and allies.  Long have fans wondered how a mortal organization (and make no mistake, the Guild is predominantly run by mortals who remain free of supernatural influence) can exist in the face of the existence of the Exalted, and Masters of Jade delivers with broad strokes and pinpoint accuracy in equal measure.  It gives an amazing toolbox to the GM to offer competition and challenge to players who wish to compete with the Guild, as well as detailing out the articulate and imposingly Byzantine structure that prevents supernatural beings from simply waltzing in and taking over.  If that weren’t enough, the plot hooks fall like fruit from this book, with nearly every paragraph suggesting some amazing new bit of the world never seen before.  And all of that is in addition to the hints of things to come, including a new type of Exalt.

All in all, this book is a must have for anyone who wishes to utilize some of the more decrepit Abilities on the character sheet.  It is a fantastic read, pleasant from cover to cover, and it fleshes out the mechanics and setting in ways I would never have imagined possible.  Five stars, two thumbs up.