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Exalted 2nd ed


Two weeks ago, I bought Exalted 2nd ed. I figured I'd share some of my thoughts on it. This isn't a full-fledged review by any means, just some stuff that's popped into my mind.

Good stuff:[*]Some skill rearrangement. Brawl has been folded into Martial Arts, and Endurance into Resistance. This has left room for War (used for mass combat, where it acts as a cap on other skills used) and Integrity (resistance to mental influence).
[*]The Craft skill has been more codified. All mundane crafts are divided into five categories: Air (delicate stuff), Earth (creating big stone stuff), Fire (forging large things, doing things that deal with fire), Water (stuff that requires cooking or chemicals), and Wood (natural materials). There are also references to more obscure Crafts, like Magitech, Necrosurgery, and the like.
[*]Artifact can be taken multiple times to get multiple artifacts, instead of splitting your existing Artifact background. This makes it possible to start out with more than five dots worth of artifacts.
[*]The difference between a penalty that reduces your dice pool and one that reduces your actual successes is clarified. The former is stuff that reduces your ability to act, with the latter is stuff that makes things harder. They have also included the rule from the Player's Guide that says that barring wound and multiple action penalties, Exalts never roll less than their Essence in dice.
[*]Abbreviated rules for mortal thaumaturgy are included.
[*]You don't roll defense anymore or use actions on it. Instead, you have a static defense value (well, two actually: Dodge and Parry) which are both equal to half what the pools would be in the old rules. Performing various actions reduce your defense, as does getting attacked multiple times, but no longer will you declare three parries only to have your opponent declare four attacks, leaving you defenseless against the last one.
[*]Hardness (ignore attacks that do less than X damage before soak) is now part of the core rules.
[*]Mass combat rules are included in the core rules rather than being relegated to a late supplemental book. I haven't read through the rules, but they seem to be pretty much the same as in the Player's Guide. That means that the armies pretty much function as extensions of their commanders - as someone put it, "two generals beating each other up with armies instead of swords." But that fits pretty well with the individual-centric world-view of Exalted.
[*]All skills now have three "do stuff better" charms, called Excellencies. There's a dice-adder, a success-adder, and a reroll enabler (called First, Second, and Third excellency). Stuff has also been cleaned up, and many charms have various keywords added to clarify what they can and can't do. Finally, the charm trees have gotten an additional bit of layout: dots showing prerequisites (both regarding skill and essence). Some charms have moved around a bit, especially those related to the two new skills (for example, War stole the "troop-training" charms from Performance, and Integrity got the "Wyld-resisting" charms from Lore).
[*]There are two martial arts presented: Solar Hero, and Snake. Solar Hero basically consists of the old Brawl charms, with a Form charm added. It is denoted as being "natural" to Solars, meaning that they don't need any more training for it than they need for other charms, unlike most martial arts where you need instruction.
[*]Combos have been cleaned up. Instead of arcane rules on what can and can't go into a combo, the rule is simply that charms with the keywords "Combo-OK" and "Combo-Basic" can be included (the latter only with Reflexive charms).
[*]The storytelling chapter is expanded, and includes some guidelines for more experienced Exalts (like how much experience you get per year), and for including new characters.
[*]The Antagonists chapter again benefits from having the previous edition to pick from, in addition to having things more defined. There's a lot more detail on gods, elementals, and demons. The ones that benefit the most from this added detail are, of course, the other types of Exalts.
[*]The Panoply (equipment) chapter includes detail on what sort of money is around, in addition to comparing things to Resources values. Weapons, armor, and artifacts are illustrated, making it easier to understand the differences between the various swords, and figuring out what the heck a "buff jacket" is.[/LIST]Bad stuff:[*]I'm not very fond of the new combat system. Instead of having rounds where everyone gets their action/actions, you now have a system of "ticks", where each action takes a number of these ticks. So you perform your action, wait a couple of ticks, and then take your next action. You can perform multiple actions in one if you want: this is called a flurry, uses the same multiaction penalty as in the old rules, and takes as much time as the longest of the included actions. To me, this smacks of micromanagement of a sort that does not belong in Exalted - the old, more flexible, rounds fit better with the kind of action I expect, especially stunts and the like.
[*]A related issue is that weapons have two stats that are redundant. Speed measures how many ticks attacking with the weapon takes, and Rate determines how many times you can use the weapon in a flurry. In other words, one determines how often you attack, and the other determines how often you attack. I prefer the division from the Player's Guide, where Speed is an initiative modifier and Rate limits the number of attacks per round. Of course, the initiative modifier thing doesn't really work with the new ticks system.
[*]They have included a system for Social combat, which is pretty similar to the system for normal combat. However, the system lacks the tactical depth of physical combat, since all you have to do is "hit" the opponent to get him to either do what you want, or spend a Willpower. Once two Willpower points have been spent on ignoring persuasion in a scene, you are immune to further attacks. In physical combat, there are multiple ways of attacking (different weapons, etc), but social combat has no such options. Furthermore, there's no difference between a social attack with 15 successes, and one with 2. In all, a nice idea but not carried through very well. In fairness, it should be noted that it seems many charms use the framework of social combat, which might make it more worthwhile.[/LIST]That's pretty much my thoughts so far. I think the good points outweigh the bad points. There are certainly more of them, but the bad points are pretty important things (especially the combat stuff).

Well, I haven't played 2nd edition yet (we have a VERY high experience Sidereals game that is approaching its last chapter, so there is no chance we're converting -- though my character would *love* to have access to War), but Carrot and Mad Hatter have.  Carrot is running a basic Solar game and they have said that combat actually moves quicker and more smoothly with the ticks.  I'll have to drag him over here to tell you more.  :)


--- Quote from: Cyberzombie ---  I'll have to drag him over here to tell you more.  :)
--- End quote ---

Yeah, what is this all about? Get 'em here right now!

I'm curious about how the system is in play. I think ticks is an idea that could work well, but I can also see how the combination of ticks and multiple actions (flurries) could become cumbersome. A guy I talked to (who promised to run a demo game at some point...) said they used glass beads to represent ticks - everytime you took an action that had a time requirement, you took that number of beads out of the jar on the table, then as the GM counted down ticks, the players returned bead for bead to the jar, until someone was out of them, and then it was their turn to act. Worked like a charm, according to him.

I have heard people describe social combat in a way that made it seem quite flexible. The two willpower limit says something along the line "unless you take the discussion in another direction using a stunt", which would allow quite a bit of maneuvering. There was a thread on That big successful forum that people come to here from when they are kicked from there about this... oh yeah, here it is. Beware that only a fraction of the thread is really about the social mechanics. Anyway, that's a secondary source that I don't know from before, so take it for what it's worth. I haven't had a chance to play the game yet, so I'll just go by what people say about the game.

Personally, I wish they would have simplified the game to make it run faster, but I can live with crunch too, as long as it works.

The thing I would have expected from a social combat system would be ways to wear down the opponent (while at the same time likely being worn down oneself), different ways of "attacking" (quick retorts, long drawn-out arguments, etc.), and so on. Instead, it's just "hit, and get an effect or force willpower expenditure." The whole combat framework seems like it would mostly get in the way, since the results are so simple.


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