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[Exalted] GM advice sought on wacky schemes to win a Solar's Staff grace

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Firstly, my players stay out (there are big non-obvious plot spoilers in this post)!

The next session of my Exalted game is this Friday, and one of my players has thrown a last-minute plot request at me. He’s playing a sorcerer and for his sacrifice for Celestial Circle Sorcery he’s going to hold a series of four competitions. The winner of each competition gets one of his forged Graces (!).

The player emailed me with suggestions on how each of the competitions could play out. For three of the four competitions, I’ve worked out what to do, both from a plot and a mechanics point of view:
  • A knock-out martial arts tournament will decide who gets his Sword grace, with each round being decided by who hits the first blow,
  • A room will be filled with fake Ring graces and one real Ring grace. The first person to nab the real Ring grace gets to keep it,
  • The first person to ask for his Cup grace will be given it. If another PC is smart and thinks to ask for it, then they get it; otherwise an NPC will. If all the other graces have ended up with the party or loyal NPCs, then this’ll be an antagonistic NPC, and visa versa (the player specifically wants at least one Grace to get taken by someone who will use it to cause him problems later on)

The idea for the staff competition is quite simple – his staff grace (which looks like a battle standard) is sitting in the centre of the martial arts stadium. Whoever has it at the end of the day gets to keep it. This should lead to lots of cool shenagians involving fake staffs and misdirection. The rules are quite simple – you can’t take the staff out of the city (this includes Elsewhere) and you’re not allowed to kill or cripple anyone to secure it.

The setting for all the competitions is a city in the Wyld (in my campaign, the Lunars get the wyld-shaping charms and have built a city out in the Wyld to serve as a central meeting place). It’s heavily based on the mythical Bagdagh in Sandman in terms of look and feel. This city is home to a moderate number of Lunar Exalted and beastman and also to lots of Fair Folk (who have to swear oaths to not act against the city in order to be allowed in). The city is also connected by large silver moon-roads to places all around the edge of Creation, and so it’s possible that almost anyone could turn up. For all the city is in the Wyld, it’s in a bubble of reality, which means shaping combat can’t work and it also counts as Creation for the purposes of charms that care. However, the Deep Wyld is right outside.

So far, the PCs have managed to epically piss off Ma Ha Suchi and Amoth City Smiter, earn the eternal gratitude of the rulers of Great Forks (by saving their city from MHS and Amoth), accientally help to destroy the Guild by ending slavery in Great Forks (their price for helping Great Forks), spread the worship of the Unconquered Sun far and wide, end a plague sweeping the East and visit Raksi. She inducted this PC into Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, and plans to try and eat his heart once he's learned Solar Circle Sorcery (as part of a mad ritual to learn it herself). I think that's everyone canon they've interacted with and who could make it to the city for the competition.

However, I don’t have much time to prep this and so I’d be eternally grateful for suggestions on NPCs, or groups of NPCs, who want to nick the staff and what devious plans they’ll use. I can come up with a couple myself, but things will be much more entertaining with a some other suggestions for me to brainstorm off of. I’m not using the Exalted system any more, but my OreX game features fairly direct conversions in terms of what charms can do, how much they cost to activate and how they interact with one and other.

So, if you were an NPC who wanted to win a Solar’s forged staff grace, who would you be, and how would you do it?
 

Rathmun

Retired User
Um, he's WAY overpaying for celestial circle. A grace is roughly equivalent to a limb when it comes to sacrifices. Thus one grace might be appropriate for Solar circle.
 

Rand Brittain

Go on until you're stopped.
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"Sacrifice" is a bad way of looking at it and giving stuff away is a poor kind of sacrifice.

The trials are your way of acquiring the outlook you need to be a sorcerer. A sorcerer is someone who enforces their will upon the cosmos. So, completing the trials means deciding that you're going to be an active force in the universe and not a passive observer.

Your sacrifice, therefore, should be about getting rid of something that was holding you back. Giving away your Graces isn't that unless your Solar is saying "I've been paranoid, and that's going to stop. I'm going to give other people power over me and force myself to trust others."

Hear now the words of the writers!
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
This is entirely the player's idea, not mine, and it does make sense for his character. Until recently, he wasn't that keen on learning more sorcery, but recent events tying into his motivation have made learning it an urgent priority. He'd also refused the idea of having any Graces forged before, realising it's a somewhat silly idea. Now, the character just wants the fastest way to complete the stations, and so is making a grand and over-the-top gesture. For a previously cautious character to abandon that approach in favour of a risky strategy seems an appropriate sacrifice - it just so happens that it involves giving away his graces this way.
 

Rand Brittain

Go on until you're stopped.
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That's kind of like a sacrifice, but it's the equivalent of cutting your finger off as a sacrifice- you're tossing away the least valuable valuable thing you have and planning to forget about it afterwards.

Which is fine, if that's the next step in his character arc! It's not the wise solution, but being unwise is SOP for humans as part of their dramatic arc.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
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Validated User
That's kind of like a sacrifice, but it's the equivalent of cutting your finger off as a sacrifice- you're tossing away the least valuable valuable thing you have and planning to forget about it afterwards.

Which is fine, if that's the next step in his character arc! It's not the wise solution, but being unwise is SOP for humans as part of their dramatic arc.
Precisely :). I don't intend to screw over his character forever as a result of this, but at least one grace will end up in an antagonist NPCs hands. If nothing else, the sooner he reaches Solar Circle Sorcery, the sooner Raksi will come hunting and the less prepared they'll be for that.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Grab it and run.

Rules, schmules, I've got your staff grace.
I had independantly come to the same realisation :).

So, I'm reworking the concept somewhat, in a way which will hopefully favour a clever plan over just being the first sod to grab hold. The idea is that a staff (not the real one, just a representative that can be turned in for the real one) is now hidden somewhere in the city, and that it takes time to search for it. At the same time, people can try to make fake staffs to confuse things (people can spend a similar amount of time to identify fakes). The official staff has had a temporary enchantment placed on it, so that it will vanish to a new location if physical combat occurs, meaning that you can't use brawn to solve this problem (and also providing an interesting way of telling real from fake, albeit a mostly useless way). The characters can use social charms to try and 'pursuade' others to hand over the staff also. Time will be quite strictly rationed, with most of the above actions taking an hour - and this is happening alongside the martial arts tournament and the ring contest, each round of which will also take about an hour, meaning that there's also the tactical choice of which one to focus on.

Hopefully this should lead to a messy situation with lots of confusion and chaos, where intelligence, good plans and social charms will give you an edge... Or it might all blow up, but there's only one way to find out!
 

ADamiani

Will GM For Food
Validated User
I had independantly come to the same realisation :).

So, I'm reworking the concept somewhat, in a way which will hopefully favour a clever plan over just being the first sod to grab hold.
See, if it were me, I'd have someone get hold and high-tail it, leaving a fake one in its place. Then everybody spends half an hour dicking each-other over with their Feindishly Clever Plan (bonus points to the lunar who turns into a duplicate), when the real challenge for the players is is: how long until the PCs realize it's actually been stolen, for realz? Can they track the culprit down in time?

That gives you a nice climax to the adventure. Otherwise there's some chaos, but it's all structured and under control, with no natural finale.



The idea is that a staff (not the real one, just a representative that can be turned in for the real one) is now hidden somewhere in the city, and that it takes time to search for it. At the same time, people can try to make fake staffs to confuse things (people can spend a similar amount of time to identify fakes). The official staff has had a temporary enchantment placed on it, so that it will vanish to a new location if physical combat occurs, meaning that you can't use brawn to solve this problem (and also providing an interesting way of telling real from fake, albeit a mostly useless way).
Sure you can! Violence solves everything! Just hit whoever has it to take it away from them, until you're the first one to re-find it.

The problem comes when two people try to do this.

Which means that the real contest isn't getting the staff, it's getting the staff to the finish-line.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
See, if it were me, I'd have someone get hold and high-tail it, leaving a fake one in its place. Then everybody spends half an hour dicking each-other over with their Feindishly Clever Plan (bonus points to the lunar who turns into a duplicate), when the real challenge for the players is is: how long until the PCs realize it's actually been stolen, for realz? Can they track the culprit down in time?
Hmm, that could work as well. Something to ponder tomorrow at work...

Sure you can! Violence solves everything! Just hit whoever has it to take it away from them, until you're the first one to re-find it.

The problem comes when two people try to do this.

Which means that the real contest isn't getting the staff, it's getting the staff to the finish-line.
Yes, exactly. So if you think you've got the right staff, you want to try and get it to the finish-line *discretely*. Hopefully that would work out alright in play, but I am tempted by your previous suggestion, which would be simpler and more natural in play (as there's no weird rules going on, just 'find this guy, get this thing').

Thanks very much for the feedback - normally I have enough time to run scenarios through my own internal QC a couple of times to weed out the stupid and the dull, but it's much faster this way :).
 
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