Archive for March, 2012

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Review – Exalted 2.5 (Errata)

March 27, 2012

Recently, a couple of weeks previous, White Wolf’s Errata Team Prime released a massive, sweeping errata to the Exalted game, focusing mainly on combat (and specifically the perfect defensive paradigm) and the Sidereal Charmset. The changes included errata to many, if not most, of the combat Charms of every Exalt type, mote regeneration, Combos, stunting, soak, weapon statistics, and more. In sum, this errata has been colloquially called “Exalted 2.5” by both forumites and freelancers, in parody of D&D 2.5. However, unlike the aforementioned, Exalted 2.5 is a part of the Scroll of Errata, available for free from DriveThruRPG. Now that I’ve had a little time to chew on it, let me share my opinions.

It’s fantastic. As a concept, 2.5 has been a long time coming, and fans have been eagerly awaiting its changes for at least a year. The changes are numerous, far too numerous to list here, but the errata is free, so if you care at all, I’d recommend picking it up. Comprehensively, it breaks down the pre-existing combat paradigm, wherein so-called “paranoia combat” ran rampant. Perfect defenses were employed against almost every attack, incentivizing a low-cost, high-accuracy build that dominated the mote-attrition battles that rapidly equated clever and dynamic attacks with hemorrhaging motes.

In addition, it completely revitalizes Sidereal Exalted, which since their inception in second edition have been plagued by mechanical inconsistencies or even complete functional failure due to their copy-pasted nature from first edition. Many of their Charms did not do what they were intended to, if they worked at all, and those that did were often either trivial to resist or completely indomitable. The errata has combed through the entire Sidereal Charmset, bringing them up to speed with the other Celestial Exalted and making them not only functional, but also, by all appearances, fun to play.

The most important change, to my mind, is the abolition of both experience and Willpower costs for the Combo system. Use of multiple Charms in a single action still requires players to follow a somewhat Byzantine series of arcane rules, but it is no longer accompanied by a tax on resources that could otherwise be spent having fun; a so-called “fun tax.” Combos are produced on the fly and cost nothing, making dynamic and interesting combinations of Charm activations no longer feel like a punishment. One of my friends once commented that, whenever he played Exalted, he felt like an Olympic athlete with both arms and one leg tied behind his back: he had nearly unlimited potential, but could never actually do anything with it. Now, Orrin, you can.

There are a few problems with the new errata. Some of the clarifications about equipment bonuses stacking are… well, anything but clear. There were plenty of Charms that got missed, simply because there are so many Charms. And some of the upgrades and errata to Sidereals leave splats like Abyssals and Lunars feeling… well, a little lackluster. Nevertheless, I feel the progress and the corrections made more than outweigh the problems.

I do recommend the errata to anyone who plays consistently, not only because it is the official edit to the core rules (and most supplements), but also because it actually makes the game more fun. This is a concept that shouldn’t have taken as long as it did for game companies to figure out.

As part of the 2.5 shift, I am going to be going back through my old posts and updating them as best I can to be compatible with the 2.5 rules. I’m no freelancer, so I have no doubt that my Charms will suffer in comparison to canonical material, but I will do my best. I won’t be reposting them to the front page… simply a quiet edit behind the scenes. If you note some of your favorite Charms have changed, that’s most likely why.

This brings me to my only real complaint about 2.5… there are no plans to reprint the core rulebook to incorporate these changes. In fact, there are no plans to reprint any of the numerous sourcebooks that would so desperately benefit from an incorporation of the errata, rather than suffering from having to cross-reference yet another tome (roughly the same size as the core book) to use the rules. Yes, the irony is not lost on me. When D&D 2.5 was released I lambasted it for charging me more money for a reprint of a game I’d already bought, and now I’m bitching that Exalted didn’t do that, and doesn’t plan to. Nevertheless, I feel a reprinted Exalted system would benefit tremendously from incorporated errata, and will continue to campaign for it as best I can.

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First Circle Demon – Choronzae, the Skinriders

March 23, 2012

Choronzae, the Skinriders
Demon of the First Circle, Progeny of the Screaming Gaoler

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Malfeas is an alien and hostile place, filled with its own horrors to rival those of the Underworld. The choronzae are happy to remind incautious summoners of the consequences for frivolous and careless dabbling in the demonological arts.
Born of Guranth, the Screaming Gaoler, the choronzae are hideous things that look like men only in parody. Their limbs are long and lean, often covered with greyish skin that is pocked and scarred from exposure to the Demon City. They have mouths where there should be none, sometimes in their hands or even their stomachs. They are completely hairless, and take to carving horrific symbols of the Yozis into their own flesh.
Choronzae in the Demon City are mostly useless. They are serial killers and manipulators, and sometimes they find places of power in the courts of the Demon Princes, but more often thy are treated as animals, hunted or kept caged for sport or pleasure.
Summoning: (Obscurity: 3/4) Choronzae are, when summoned at all, used as assassins or agent provocateurs, sent into the lairs of the sorcerer’s enemies to murder and lie. However, knowledgeable summoners avoid them, for their lies are potent even when bound. Each day that passes without a choronzon telling a convincing lie earns it a point of Limit. When a male, mortal serial killer skins his sixth victim and wears his or her skin under the light of the new moon, sometimes a choronzon can claw its way from beneath that skin, usually to the detriment of the killer.
Motivation: To wear the skin of men.
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2; Charisma 1, Manipulation 5, Appearance 0; Perception 2, Intelligence 2, Wits 3
Virtues: Compassion 1, Conviction 5, Temperance 2, Valor 3
Abilities: Athletics 1, Awareness 3, Dodge 2, Integrity 3 (Lies +2), Linguistics (Native: Old Realm; Others: Any two) 2, Lore 2 (Riddles +2), Martial Arts 3, Presence 4 (Lies +2), Resistance 2, Stealth 3
Charms:
Essence Plethora: x2
Malediction: Skinriders can inflict penalties to Defense Values.
Materialize
Measure the Wind
Ox-Body Technique: x2
Possession: Skinriders can only possess mortal male humans.
Skinriding: This is a special form of the Shapechange Charm. The skinrider can only use this when he is in the presence of a male, mortal human who has been reduced to 0 Willpower or Health Levels in that scene. When activated, the mortal dies as a Shaping effect (if he was not already dead), his body sloughing off its skin leaving a (mostly) unrecognizable corpse behind. The skinrider may choose to wear that skin, taking on his shape as though the demon had scored ten successes on a disguise roll. This disguise tends to lose its effectiveness over time, as the skinrider’s demonic presence takes over. Victims usually begin to display fangs, claws, or hideous demonic tattoos or scarification, substantially reducing the disguise’s efficacy. For every month that passes, the demon gains one mutation point’s worth of positive mutations (usually starting with claws, fangs, thick skin) and the disguise loses one success.
Excellencies: Martial Arts (1st, Divine Subordination), Presence (1st, Divine Subordination)
Join Battle: 6
Attacks:
Claw: Speed 5, Accuracy 7, Damage +2L, Parry DV 4, Rate 3, Tags N
Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 6, Damage +2B, Parry DV -, Rate 1, Tags C, N, P
Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 6, Damage +5B, Parry DV 2, Rate 2, Tags N
Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 7, Damage +2B, Parry DV 4, Rate 3, Tags N
Soak: 2B/1L
Health Levels: -0/-1×8/-2×7/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 3
Willpower: 8
Essence: 2
Essence Pool: 80
Other Notes: Choronzae tend toward feral, animalistic impulses, and are inclined to use their bare hands (or claws) to drag down their prey, even when other implements might be better. However, more than physically violating their enemies, they prefer to talk them to death, making vicious insinuations and subtle jabs that eventually have the victim doubting himself so much that he becomes an easy meal for the skinrider.