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[Exalted] Sell/Unsell on Exalted 3e

Hunter 21

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So, I'm thinking of getting into Exalted 3e and have been reading up on it. Just to show where I'm coming from, I was a fan in the abstract during 2e (lurking on discussions here and elsewhere, reading wikis, listening to actual plays etc.), I never actually purchased any books. Over time I kinda fell in love with the science-fantasy angle it seemed to have going, explainable and exploitable magic leading to a arcano-industrial revolution and widespread application of magic, both technical and esoteric, in all aspects of life is kinda my jam,Factory Cathedrals are so cool (This seems to be one of the more non reconciliable things from what I've read). I also really enjoyed the animism of the setting, everything having a god/spirit meshed really well with the "explained magic" thing when I thought about it, and seemed to allow cool adventures and ways for PCs to solve problems.

I don't know much about the gritty details of the setting beyond names and general place concepts (and trawling wikis) but they all seemed solid (Though Realm using triremes stuck with me after finding out about it for its sheer absurdity. You don't sail the ocean with triremes!).

The Exalted were pretty neat and I like Charms. (Question, why did they make Charms an abstraction? I don't know why but that's really bugging me.)

Any response would be appreciated.

So, sell/unsell Exalted 3e, I guess.

Edit:
Sorry about the rambling.
 

Victim

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IIRC, 3e de-emphasizes the technology/industrial aspect of magic, which was pushed heavily in 2e specifically.
 

Poisson Resistance

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So, I'm thinking of getting into Exalted 3e and have been reading up on it. Just to show where I'm coming from, I was a fan in the abstract during 2e (lurking on discussions here and elsewhere, reading wikis, listening to actual plays etc.), I never actually purchased any books. Over time I kinda fell in love with the science-fantasy angle it seemed to have going, explainable and exploitable magic leading to a arcano-industrial revolution and widespread application of magic, both technical and esoteric, in all aspects of life is kinda my jam,Factory Cathedrals are so cool (This seems to be one of the more non reconciliable things from what I've read). I also really enjoyed the animism of the setting, everything having a god/spirit meshed really well with the "explained magic" thing when I thought about it, and seemed to allow cool adventures and ways for PCs to solve problems.
Small gods clashed with the nature of gods, though, as the god isn't the river, and having an exception at the lowest level was weird. Also, it's not so much animism as a (usually easily corrupted and dissuaded) celestial bureaucracy. There aren't really embodiments of natural phenomena in Exalted, just functionaries with amazing powers that can get reassigned to different assignments if the need arises. To this end, a lot of 2e could be rickety and tenuous at best, since it's riding on framework never meant to support some of its assumptions.

I don't know much about the gritty details of the setting beyond names and general place concepts (and trawling wikis) but they all seemed solid (Though Realm using triremes stuck with me after finding out about it for its sheer absurdity. You don't sail the ocean with triremes!).

The Exalted were pretty neat and I like Charms. (Question, why did they make Charms an abstraction? I don't know why but that's really bugging me.)
To frame them as closer to enhanced capabilities internal to characters, like super strength, absurdly capable fencing technique, or a true eye for judging character, for example. As they were, Charms were beginning to feel discrete and separated from the characters using them. This also, one imagines, contrasts them more strongly with Martial Arts Charms, which are learned externally and universally between Exalted (and without the prior distinction of Terrestrial vs Celestial; Sidereal Martial Arts are still a thing, though).
 

Hunter 21

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To frame them as closer to enhanced capabilities internal to characters, like super strength, absurdly capable fencing technique, or a true eye for judging character, for example. As they were, Charms were beginning to feel discrete and separated from the characters using them. This also, one imagines, contrasts them more strongly with Martial Arts Charms, which are learned externally and universally between Exalted (and without the prior distinction of Terrestrial vs Celestial; Sidereal Martial Arts are still a thing, though).
So, why call them charms, and keep giving them flowery names and descriptions and stuff? I mean, it makes sense in Werewolf or Demon the Descent, to keep it in WW/OPP, 'cause to the Uratha or Unchained their Charm equivalents are discrete, in-universe things. If they're supposed to be relatively generic in this edition, any Exalted could do them if they tried or put their mind to it, why not make them generic and remove ambiguity?

Apologies if this has been talked about before, this got caught in my neurosis and keeps digging into my brain. It's genuinely one of the major things that's affecting my decision. My mentality abhors ambiguity, it makes me start overthinking and get twitchy. I realize that this annoying non-diegesis is just something that I'll have to just deal with in this instance, just kind of annoying to have to keep thinking "No, this thing with a seemingly diegetic name, diegetic outcome and diegetic description isn't real, what's really happening is my character's just swinging a sword/punching/running/talking but, like, ambiguously "better" than other people.".

Also when it comes to it, how "De-emphasized" is de-emphasized related to industrialized magic?

(But seriously, very sorry if I'm being overbearing or annoying, I don't get to talk to other people about this kind of stuff very often. and I really want to like this, it looks soo cool! Especially Fangs At the Gate.)
 

enoto

E, not O.
Validated User
So, why call them charms, and keep giving them flowery names and descriptions and stuff? I mean, it makes sense in Werewolf or Demon the Descent, to keep it in WW/OPP, 'cause to the Uratha or Unchained their Charm equivalents are discrete, in-universe things. If they're supposed to be relatively generic in this edition, any Exalted could do them if they tried or put their mind to it, why not make them generic and remove ambiguity?

Apologies if this has been talked about before, this got caught in my neurosis and keeps digging into my brain. It's genuinely one of the major things that's affecting my decision. My mentality abhors ambiguity, it makes me start overthinking and get twitchy. I realize that this annoying non-diegesis is just something that I'll have to just deal with in this instance, just kind of annoying to have to keep thinking "No, this thing with a seemingly diegetic name, diegetic outcome and diegetic description isn't real, what's really happening is my character's just swinging a sword/punching/running/talking but, like, ambiguously "better" than other people.".

Also when it comes to it, how "De-emphasized" is de-emphasized related to industrialized magic?

(But seriously, very sorry if I'm being overbearing or annoying, I don't get to talk to other people about this kind of stuff very often. and I really want to like this, it looks soo cool! Especially Fangs At the Gate.)
I agree with you that the "Charms aren't real" thing is silly and weirdly immersion breaking.

I don't particularly recommend 3e. I am a bit like you, in that I avidly followed Exalted starting in 1st edition but never played or ran it. I did have a lot of books, though. I backed 3rd ed, took a couple looks through the gorgeous but absurdly unwieldy tome that resulted, felt sad that they'd somehow made an even longer and more complicated version of the game, felt sadder that despite the insane page count they STILL were not providing much by way of GM advice for running this sucker, decided I was off the train and eBayed it.

I love Creation but If I ever run Exalted, I'll just run 1st ed, which is busted but for my group, it won't matter too much. But I will likely just use Creation as the setting and run Godbound.
 

LCDR Seamonkey

Urban Monkey Warfare
RPGnet Member
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I love 3rd ed, but the two issues that are being highlighted here are pretty much the two decisions made that I take exception to. Charms being in-game things, especially, I feel they kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater on. Luckily, since charms all still HAVE names, you can pretty easily run things such that people know common techniques and apply names to them if you want and it doesn't really hurt the setting.

Likewise, if you LIKE magitech, You can still have factory-cathedrals, they're just more rare (in the default setting) and fewer people know how to make them work. I don't think that the setting loses too much if you let your super-genius PC start exploring quantum essence manipulation, it's just now there's not a whole bunch of other people already doing it and stealing their thunder.

R,
Me.
 

AliasiSudonomo

Trying to be a bird
Validated User
The point of 'charms aren't real', to my mind, wasn't so much to make it so you can't scream THUNDERBOLT RUSH! at the top of your lungs while attacking, but to make clear that the names are not an in-fiction thing, although this can vary. It's more reasonable to say that martial artists actually do teach the specific techniques under that name than to try and complain I'm doing it wrong when I call my Solar's attack when using Heaven Thunder Hammer a Solar Flare Throw.

Anyway. The unselling point of Exalted 3 is it is an extremely rules-intense system of high complexity, which is a thing not at all uncommon in the olden days of RPGs but tends to be snubbed in favor of light-and-fast stuff now.

The selling point is this is a rules-intense system that works extremely well at the thing it is intending to convey, which was not a thing so true of earlier iterations. The only real weak point is the crafting rules, and I suggest the fan-patch done by our own Blaque as a less drastic step. (Also, the base crafting rules are actually not so bad; it's more the Solar charmset on top of them. The later Exalted books we have so far for Dragon-blooded and Lunars are a much cleaner design.)

3e pulls back on some of the science-fantasy elements, but they aren't gone, just "the stuff of the lost and forgotten age is mostly lost and forgotten". There is no 'magitech' skill, but things that would have fallen under 'magitech' still exist. There isn't a bunch of fluff about 'motonic physics', but a lot of that is because the rules are not declaring themselves a simulationist physics engine, but a genre-appropriate conflict resolution engine.

Another selling point is much of the setting has been restored to a sort of canonical vagueness; if you really, really liked the stuff I mentioned, the 1e and 2e books are still out there, you can add them in like seasoning. The bits they've detailed spend a lot more time on making the place coherent. For example, the Realm book takes an old fact about the Realm - that it is matriarchal to an extent not unlike the modern world is patriarchal, in that men have no formal barriers to advancement but tend to face a glass ceiling - and actually thinks about what that means for Dynastic culture.
 

wirecrossing

illegal jokes
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To unsell you, allow me to point out that unless you get the very premium printing, your book *will* fall apart.
 

Gaius of Xor

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So, why call them charms, and keep giving them flowery names and descriptions and stuff? I mean, it makes sense in Werewolf or Demon the Descent, to keep it in WW/OPP, 'cause to the Uratha or Unchained their Charm equivalents are discrete, in-universe things. If they're supposed to be relatively generic in this edition, any Exalted could do them if they tried or put their mind to it, why not make them generic and remove ambiguity?
Mostly for player-facing reasons: flowery evocative names and descriptions of those sorts can be fun, flavorful, and are part of Exalted's general identity and feel. (not everyone will agree; to each their own). The descriptions vary in their value (some could stand to get out of their own way), but the answer's about the same as for the names. The initial leading descriptions[1] are generally meant to serve as example manifestations. Within the scope of the Exalt type's broader thematics and character, a player has latitude to reflect it differently for their character.

[1] Where they exist, mind you. Some just note that a Charm builds on a prerequisite and/or otherwise goes straight into the effect.

Apologies if this has been talked about before, this got caught in my neurosis and keeps digging into my brain. It's genuinely one of the major things that's affecting my decision. My mentality abhors ambiguity, it makes me start overthinking and get twitchy. I realize that this annoying non-diegesis is just something that I'll have to just deal with in this instance, just kind of annoying to have to keep thinking "No, this thing with a seemingly diegetic name, diegetic outcome and diegetic description isn't real, what's really happening is my character's just swinging a sword/punching/running/talking but, like, ambiguously "better" than other people.".
Per the above, one way to consider framing it is more that what the book gives you is a flavorful name with a short example before going into the mechanics expressing the character-building widget that the Charm is. It's not really meant to be ambiguous: aside the mechanical effect and keeping to the relevant Exalt type's thematics, etc., it is pretty much whatever you want it to be for your character.

I don't know if it'll help, but here's a quote from then-developer John Mørke on the topic (from, oh, somewhere in this). It feels illustrative of what he was going for (not to say one must agree with it, but hey) :
John Mørke said:
Look, I can preform Iron Whirlwind Attack overhand, backhand, side striking, back striking. I can do it with an axe, I can do it with a sword. That already eliminates it from being any sort of a martial arts technique as literature understands them, because I just demonstrated four different techniques it enables.

Essentially, you can play it as any number of techniques, because it in itself is not a technique, it is "Multi Attacks" the power to strike lightning fast multiple times. Your character provides the entire context. You roleplay it as him being Kenshin. Great! Awesome! But I roleplay it as Cloud's Omnislash. Also fine. This other guy over here makes it Alucard's Crissaegrim. Cool! They have no technique in common. They have the lego brick called IWA that lets them express their themes variously.
Granted, it's still also beside the point: as other posters have noted, there's not really anything in the setting that breaks if one goes back to a 2e read on things, it's just not the assumption.

Also when it comes to it, how "De-emphasized" is de-emphasized related to industrialized magic?
That may depend on what exactly that means to you. Warstriders are still around, Heirs to the Shogunate (the DB-companion book jam-packed full of KS stretch goals and prestige pledge tiers) will detail Lookshy's Gunzosha Armor, you can totally have a steampunk/clockwork/industrial/iPhone-esque-glowy-smoothness/whatever aesthetic to artifacts if you wish,[2] etc. That said, EX3 definitely emphasizes the idea of each artifact as a unique wonder.[3] i.e. Mass production of generic daiklaves or warstriders is off the table: there's just no longer such a thing as a generic daiklave or generic warstrider.

[2] Mind you, sword-and-sorcery-looking stuff is still substantially more common. But unless it's important to you that any stuff what looks like 2e magitech be intrinsically more powerful than anything that doesn't, you can still have that stuff.
[3] With certain exceptions, like Brass Legionnaires or Winterbreath Jars.
 

Damian May

Apex Predator
Validated User
I'm not sure if this is a sell or unsell but for myself 3rd is much better than 2nd but still not as good as 1st.
 
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