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Character Creation 54: Exalted

The Game: Exalted, 2nd edition
The Publisher: White Wolf Game Studios
Degree of Familiarity: Not played 2nd ed, but I've learned a lot from mechanical discussions.
Books Required: Sticking with just the corebook. If it were me, I'd use Jon Chung's hacks for reducing XP sinks. Given that I'm supposed to be demonstrating the system as written, I'd better not.

Exalted's one of those games, yanno? Built on a basic framework of "Whatever D&D does is wrong and we can do it better", Ex is one of the defining games in the fantasy genre.

Oh, fuck it. If you've not heard of Exalted and consider yourself a gamer, I'm not going to get through to you. You probably don't have an Internet connection; you're only reading this because someone's printed it off and copied it onto an illuminated manuscript for you. Fuck the review phase. I will say that Ex2's system is the basis for the one used in Scion. Unlike Scion, Ex2's system isn't fundamentally broken.

Speaking of system, one thing does come to mind: Charms. Exalted's system of individual power effects (charms) is set up like a CCG. Some people play the game using whatever cards look cool and match a concept without throught for mechanical viability. Some play tourney-quality decks, finding interesting interplays between individual Charms for stupendous effects. Both styles are fine, but a group tends to be one or another not both.

I'll say it up front: I want a character who can at least survive against someone with tourney-grade Charms. Whatever I end up making, I'll bear that in mind.

Step One: Character Concept
I like the idea that anyone can be a Solar Exalted, all it takes is one crowning moment of awesome. Unlike the Dragon-Blooded who run the Realm, carefully cultivating family members in the hope that one will become Exalted.

Dervan Arat never had that in his mind. Conscripted into the Realm's army as just another bowman, his unit was attached to the Wyld Hunt. Not yet twenty summers old, he saw first-hand the devastation that one of the Dawn Caste could wreak. He didn't stick around, instead putting everthing into his feet. As he ran and hid from the surviving commanders, Dervan came to a strange realization: he wasn't running because he was scared, but because he would not strike one of the Anathema.

Cathak Sanyus, the Fire That Severs Night From Day, survived the encounted with the fledgling Dawn. Unwilling to return to the Realm, Sanyus has set himself up as the lord of a city in the Threshold, close to Thorns. The few surviving members of his unit are his new noble caste, and the people who used to live in the town now must support their lord. He sent scouts looking for deserters. One party of scouts caught up with Dervan Arat in the dark of night, and raised their blades to slay him. With but half a second to spare, he rolled away from their blades. He lead them into the forest nearby and vanished among the trees. With the light of the Unconquered Sun shining from his body, Dervan slew all of them. None of the scouts knew what hit them. Now he's looking for that Dawn—and for a chance to bring Cathak Sanyus to the Unconquered Sun's justice.

So Dervan's going to be a Night Caste bow-sniper. Which can be a bit of a bugger, given that the signature Night is a bow-sniper. But she's a trained assassin, and he's used to being just another face in the crowd.

Name Dervan Arat
Caste Night
Motivation Bring The Fire That Severs Night From Day to justice and free the city from his grasp

Step Two: Attributes
Priorities. Physical primary, I think. He was and is a soldier, and for all that he's a Night he's both nimble and strong. Strength 3, Dexterity 5, Stamina 3. Mental Attributes come secondary. It's the old split, with Perception as an actual Attribute. Three dots into that, I think; his senses are better than ever. Two dots in Wits as well, he can react well to changing circumstances. Finally, four dots to spend in Social. I figure Charisma gets the spare point after raising all to average, he's reasonable and even a bit charming even when he has an arrow nocked or a knife at someone's throat.

Step Three: Abilities
Night Caste abilities include Athletics, Awareness, Dodge, Larceny, and Stealth. I also have 5 to go on free ones: Archery, War, Integrity, Resistance, and Ride. 10 points to go between the Caste and Favoured, 15 free points, and a cap of 3.

I plonk three dots into Archery. That's a no-brainer. One into War, as he used to be a soldier. One in Integrity, just in case. Two in Resistance and three into Survival, as he's used to living on the road with the army. Two in Medicine, because he's used to patching up wounds. Three fots each in Athletics, Awareness, and Dodge, with another two in Stealth. He's got the Night Caste role down. Finally, two dots in Ride; he didn't flee on foot alone.

Step Four: Advantages
Backgrounds first. Three dots of Artifact, because Artifacts are really kinda useful; we're going for an Orichalcum short Powerbow and Orichalcum Breastplate. Two dots of Resources; he's been doing a little of the Robin Hood thing to build the funds he needs to take down the rogue city-state. Two in Contacts, otherwise known as "two dots of GIMME A FUCKING STORY HOOK!"

I'm going to cheat and dish out bonus points now. Seven to raise Essence to 3, two on Archery 5, one on Dodge 4, two on Awareness 5, one to bump Stealth to 3, and two on specialties: Archery gets Powerbow x3, and Dodge gets Multiple Opponents.

Now, on to Virtues. Compassion 2, Conviction 4 (he's on a mission and bollocks to anyone who gets in his way), Temperance 1 (he's always had problems with self-control), Valor 2. I whak the Heart of Flint Conviction Flaw on.

Now, Charms. Woo! Now, first thing's first. I want someone who isn't going to die when hit with an ubercombo. In the Dodge tree, we go for Shadow Over Water (buyback Dodge DV and prerequisite for), Seven Shadow Evasion (perfect dodge) and Reflex Sidestep Technique (no such thing as unexpected attacks).

ObTangent: If you don't want to die, you need a perfect defense. No substitutes. Lots of people will say "But I have a high DV!" That's crap. Look at Archery Without Distance in the core. You could have a DV in the Cantorean transfinites and it wouldn't fucking matter. AWD hits you. You need a perfect to say "No. Just no." Hence, we have a Perfect, and something that can enable it against surprise.

Speaking of AWD, I'm moving on to Archery. First Archery Excellency is a no-brainer. From there, we go to There Is No Wind, which isn't just a speed-bump, it's a range-extender which we can use with later Awareness Charms to fire the bow at targets several miles away. If that's not an unexpected attack, I don't know what is. Finally, Accuracy Without Distance. As mentioned, it's a perfect. Many DBs don't have easy access to perfects, and Solars who haven't bothered to buy a perfect are fucked. Which is as it should be. Into Athletics, we hit up Graceful Crane Stance so he can stand anywhere to get a nice look at anywhere. It's fun to balance on a spiderweb. Finally, into Awareness. First Awareness Excellency gets us into Keen Sight Technique and Unsurpassed Sight Discipline as powers to vastly enhanced sight range and detail. Run each of those then use the higher cost version of There Is No Wind to hit anyone at that range. Add in AWD with a combo and you can perfect anyone several miles away. Funky, no?

Note that I'm being sucky by not defining combos right now; I don't have the bonus points left. Ideally, I'd have one including 1ArX, AWD, 7SE, RST, and another with TINW, AWD, 7SE, RST. Always include defenses, because when you don't, someone will leap out of nowhere and pwn you with a perfect while wielding a Grand Goremaul.

Bigger Tangent: Where to go, Charm-wise
Apart from combos, obviously.

Leaping Dodge Method is a nice flurrybreaker to add in to the Defensive Combo of Doom. Pick up a Dodge Excellency to boost DVs, and then on to Flow Like Blood to ensure that she applies her Dodge DV scene-long.

Archery, it's a choice between Trance of Unhesitating Speed into Arrow Storm Technique to have a one-shot "No More Extras" button, or Phantom Arrow Technique into Rain of Feathered Death; combo the latter with AWD and defensive charms to really fuck over anyone who doesn't Perfect it away, including the majority of starter DBs.

Awareness is pretty cool as-is.

Athletics needs to go into Feather-Foot Style and Spider-Foot Style, then Eagle-Wing Style at Essence 4. Because that gives ultimate freedom of movement, that's why.

Step Five: Finising Touches
Essence is 3. Willpower is 6. That means a personal Essence pool of 15, and a peripheral of 36. 7 Health Levels. Two Intimacies: The Dawn who caused his rout, and the group of contacts he's gathered. At this point I work out move rates, jump rates, soak, DVs, Join Battle, Knockdown and Stunning, attack stats, social combat stuff, but frankly that's just a few basic sums. If you're using a good character sheet rather than the awful default one, these are all spelled out and you just fill in the boxes.

Name Dervan Arat
Caste Night
Motivation Bring The Fire That Severs Night From Day to justice and free the city from his grasp
Attributes Strength 3, Dexterity 5, Stamina 3, Charisma 3, Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Perception 4, Intelligence 2, Wits 3
Abilities Archery (Powerbow x3) 5 War 1 Integity 1 Resistance 2 Survival 3 Medicine 2 Athletics 3 Awareness 5 Dodge (Multiple Opponents) 4 Stealth 3 Ride 2
Backgrounds Artifact 3, Contacts 2, Resources 2
Virtues Compassion 2, Conviction 4 (Heart of Flint), Temperance 1, Valor 2
Essence 3
Essence Pool 15/36
Charms Shadow Over Water, Seven Shadow Evasion, Reflex Sidestep Technique, First Archery Excellency, There Is No Wind, Accuracy Without Distance, Graceful Crane Stance, First Awareness Excellency, Keen Sight Technique, Unsurpassed Sight Discipline
Health 0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -4, Incap.


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