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Final Fantasy: Exalted

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I was sitting around one evening, and I asked Darlena what sort of game she wanted to play.  My last two tries were Traveller and Star Wars, and each fell apart for various reasons.  (Lack of time to prepare was a big one, especially for Traveller -- it's not really a DM-friendly game.)  Since I've been playing Final Fantasy VII (trying to actually finish it this time!) and we just saw FF VII: Advent Children, she decided on FF.

Now, I've seen some online rules sets; none of them are to my liking.  I thought briefly about moding d20 but, despite the fact that FF came from D&D rules originally, I don't think it would be the best choice.  So, since I'm playing Exalted, I decided to try it.  (I'm also stealing from the new World of Darkness in some parts.)  They both have a similar epic feel -- Exalts can wade through masses of extras and mooks and that's what FF characters spend most of their time doing.

So, the basic engine I'm using is Exalted, with some subsystems from WoD that I think would work a little better, and powers from the FF series.  Since I always buy the strategy guides, that part is easier than it might be.  :)

My first step was to look at the ability scores.  I could have just used the Exalted scores, but I like the schtick of the new WoD ability scores.  They have three categories of abilities: physical, social, and mental.  In each category, there are three abilities: one for power (brute force in the physical, social, or mental arena), one for finesse (subtler actions), and one for resistance (opposing outside influence).  So I took those and changed a couple of the names to fit the stats in the FF games better.

So here are the ability scores, in power/finesse/resistance order:

Physical: Strength, Dexterity, Vitality.
Social: Presence, Manipulation, Spirit.
Mental: Intelligence, Wits, Resolve.

In Exalted, each type of Exalt is broken up into 5 different castes.  There are 25 skills in the game, and each of the castes has five skills they specialize in.  You can also choose 3-5 other skills as Favored abilities; they're not the skills of your caste, but you're just as good at those skills.  So you could be a Battles caste Sidereal and choose Occult as a Favored skill so you can be a warrior-sorcerer.  Or you could pick awareness, stealth, and survival to make yourself a ranger-type character.  I find it makes customizing a character really, really easy.  :)

(Granted, you don't have *total* freedom -- if you're a Sidereal, for example, you HAVE to have martial arts as a favored ability.  But it's much less restrictive than a class system.)

So, since I'm using the Exalted engine, I wanted to keep things similar and keep it simple.  After kicking it around for a while, and running things by Mad Hatter and Carrot (both of whom have more Exalted experience than me), I came up with five roles: Fighter, Thief, Expert, White Mage, and Black Mage.  I think most FF characters will fit into these roles pretty easily and, with favored skills, they could add any needed abilities to their repertoire.

(As an aside, I'm not sure what to *call* the "roles".  Caste obviously won't work for the setting.  I thought about using the word class, but I'm not sure about that.)

Here are the skills availabe to each role:

Fighter: Awareness, Fortitude, Melee, Survival, and War.
Thief: Athletics, Larceny, Martial Arts, Stealth, and Streetwise.
Expert: Animal Empathy, Craft, Marksmanship, Pilot, and Profession.
White Mage: Lore, Performance, Socialize, Summoning, and White Magic.
Black Mage: Black Magic, Communication, Protocol, Red Magic, and Science.

I'm using the die mechanics from Exalted, straight up.  The abilities have a rating from 1-5, while the skills have a rating from 0-5.  When you do something, you add the relevent ability and skill together and roll that number of ten sided dice.  For example, if you shoot someone, you add your Dexterity and your Marksmanship together and roll that number of d10s.

If you roll a 7, 8, or 9, you get one success.  If you roll a 10, you get two successes.  The more successes the better, obviously.  A task that needs one success is easy; a task that needs 5 is usually impossible for mere mortals.

One thing I'm thinking of adding, from the discussion in Dr. Avalanche's thread in this forum, is having each 1 rolled be a "complication" -- it doesn't take away from your successes, but it does mean that your plans don't work the way you intended.  I'm still thinking about whether I want to try that out or not.  The whole thing will be an experiment, so I don't want to overwhelm my players.

The problem I see with making 1s complications is that it means that the more skilled you are, the more unintended consequences you get.


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