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Lunar Shapeshifting December 8, 2013

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , add a comment

In Exalted, Lunars are meant to be shapeshifters, but it always seems like the system doesn’t quite figure out what to do with that. The Tell kept it from being a perfect disguise, without Charms, but it still feels like a giant collection of Charms thrown onto the character for free, right off the bat. Just for being a starting character Lunar, one can fly, breathe water, generate any number of poisons, see in the dark, use sonar, disguise themselves from most targets, gain immense strength, fit into small places, resist heat or cold or lack of water, gain fangs or claws or horns, etc. And that is just the mundane animal kingdom. No, really, Etc!

Possibly an interesting system to investigate might be one where Lunars cannot shapechange into things which give them superhuman powers or disguise who they are without related Charms/knacks/whatever. Thus, a Lunar might not take on the form of a bird that can fly until she has a power that lets her fly – the learning of that power unlocks the flying capability of shapeshifting.

This could be done in a couple of different ways. You could let Lunars gain shapes of birds, etc, but be unable to actually fly without the required Charm. This would let them gather forms when the opportunity presented itself, and let them use them immediately, without giving the character the superhuman powers of every shape in and out of Creation. In a sense, it would also mimic the Tell situation a bit more. You can take these forms, but you cannot use them to their full ability. However, it might lend itself to some weirdness. Why is that fish drowning? Oh, it must be a Lunar who doesn’t actually have the water-breathing Charm.

Alternately, a Lunar might simple be unable to gain a new form at all if the form has abilities which they have not unlocked via some Charm/knack/whatever. A Lunar who does not have the flying power unlocked might be unable to gain the form of any bird that can fly. This isn’t as simple as it appears, however. Many animals, for example, can do multiple things that are beyond human ability. The Storyteller and players may not even know about some of these at the time when a form is initially approved.

My favorite aspect of the 2nd edition Exalted “knack” system was just that it eliminated the need to repeat the phrase “this Charm cannot be learned by Eclipse or Moonshadow” Caste Exalts. That could just as easily be accomplished by a Keyword, though. A keyword such as “Lunar-Only” or “Natural” or whatever could mean “you cannot get this Charm unless you are a Lunar” and that would eliminate much of what I think was gained by Knacks.

There is one other side effect of Knacks, though, and that is the fact you can give Lunars a number of them separately from their Charm count. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your view of it. If you want the possibility of Lunars who are just not as good at shapechanging as other Lunars, and can spend their time learning other Charms, then Knacks somewhat limit this. Sure you can stop learning more of them in the future if you want, but you are stuck spending some of your “starting” powers on them. If you want the possibility of Lunars who intentionally focus on other things Lunars can do, then you maximize this by merging Knacks and Charms into the same power list. If you want Lunars to always have some baseline of shapeshifting that they are required to take, then you possibly maximize this by having a category of shapeshifting powers set aside, such as Knacks does.

From a viewpoint of trying to examine the total Lunar package, though, it might be easier to merge Knacks into Charms. If you can readily see where Lunars get access to flight, while you are writing up other Charms, then you might have an easier time painting the quicksilver image of their power trees. It would also potentially let certain shapeshifting powers be tied to other abilities. For example, possibly before being able to shift into the form of a god, you might need the ability to sense spirits in their dematerialized form. To fully use the form of a god, you might need the ability to dematerialize. Alternately, being able to dematerialize at all might be a Charm which had a god/elemental form Charm as a prerequisite.

Darklord of Rookhausen August 19, 2012

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 2 comments

Did you ever play in the Rookhausen chat, hosted by Sword & Sorcery, using 3rd edition d20 rules and the Ravenloft setting version published by Arthaus? I designed the original idea of that chat, although it was of course expanded by volunteer DMs and many players. I was kicking around some of the old web pages on my site, trying to give some of them the cleanup they desperately need, when I ran across these old hidden pages, which I had only shared with a select few back then.

Darklord of Rookhausen pages:
Janisar 3.5
Janisar 3.0
Curse of Janisar

This stuff was never official or canon. It was merely material designed for an online setting we hosted at Sword & Sorcery. Nonetheless, I thought some players out there who are Ravenloft fans might be interested.

War Manses February 17, 2011

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , add a comment

I added a short article detailing an idea I had for how the War Manses might work in Exalted. The idea is meant to give the Manses a lot of power which does not derive from the N/A power attributed to the Imperial Manse.

Exalted Ideas June 3, 2010

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , add a comment

I haven’t finished them yet, but I posted some stuff about a couple of ideas for Exalted. One is an idea for the Convention on Oversight. Another is a god called Echeneis.

Kingdoms of the Sun August 26, 2009

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 2 comments

I posted some material tonight about the setting where my current Exalted game takes place. The so-called Kingdoms of the Sun lie on the largest isle of the once-lost Indigo Chain. They were claimed from the clutches of Fair Folk lords by the Aurelian Minister nearly two centuries ago. The inner circle of the priesthood hides a lie of desperation – they proclaimed the golden automaton a Chosen of the Unconquered Sun. Now that true Solars have returned, what will happen?

X-alt: Artifact Armor Revamp March 24, 2009

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I posted it in my wiki, but I figured I would just make a note about that fact. If you are an Exalted fan, then check out this in-progress series of alternate ideas for Exalted.

Artifact Armor Revamp

I am posting these to my wiki, rather than my blog, because I see them as in-progress items. Also one of my readers suggested that I take this tact, so I am trying it out.

Game Material: Blog vs Wiki November 21, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 1 comment so far

I originally set up my Wiki to allow my roleplaying game group to share details of our weekly game sessions in a format that was easily searchable and interlinked. When I added the WordPress blog code to my site, I was initially just experimenting with the code because I was also working with it through my day job on the White Wolf website. Over time I have been conflicted over how to best present game material that is not specific to my group. Part of me wants to post it on my blog. Part of me wants to post it to my wiki. It seems like posting game related articles on my blog gives them greater overall exposure at the time of posting, as they are temporarily given top of page position. However, the searchable and interlinked nature of the wiki seems to suggest that a game fan might have better longterm luck searching through its contents. If there was some way to post material to both places without coming off as repetitive and “repost” oriented, that would be preferable. Anyway, my reason for posting this is to see if folks that read my pages out there in internetland have any thoughts as to which approach is better.

The Element of War June 18, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 2 comments

(No, this isn’t a political article! It is a discussion of elements of the Exalted role-playing game published by White Wolf.)

The second edition of Exalted merged Brawl and Martial Arts and filled out the combat skills by introducing War to the game’s list of Abilities. For Solar Exalts, the new skill clearly belonged to the Dawn Caste, and this worked neatly as they had lost one favored “Caste Ability” in the process. For Dragon-Blooded character, the decision was less clear, and authors discussed a number of different options. In the end, the War Ability was given to the Earth Aspects. I argued for a different choice (well two different choices, but this article is about my favorite one), and I have decided to present it here for those who like to dabble in home-brewed changes to the system.

Given the hypothetical chance to assign Dragon-Blooded Abilities, I would give War to Fire and Melee to Earth. Each of the five Aspects takes one of the primary combat skills from Exalted, but War naturally underscores the Presence and Socialize skills of the Fire Aspect. From a purely mechanical perspective, having War as your free favored combat ability might seem like drawing the short straw to players who want a more personal fighting skill, but Fire Aspects also have the “secret” sixth combat skill of Dodge. As Athletics also has some combat applications, Fire can best afford to favor the least direct of the combat skills.

Since the very first Exalted book, the Dynasts of the signature Fire-Aspected Houses Sesus and Cathak have been lauded as great generals and military leaders. Indeed, the two Houses boast one third of the total legions of the Realm. Only the Tepet have ever come close to getting the same recognition, but they have become more mercantile since their defeat at the hands of the Bull of the North, and the other Air-Aspected House is stereotypically composed of scholarly types. Finally, the Second Edition signature NPC Dragon-Blooded is a Fire Aspect, and he is best known as a legion officer.

Giving Earth Aspects the Melee Ability instead of War ties their combat skill more closely to their other existing talents. Earth Aspects favor Craft, so one can readily imagine them crafting their own weapons. The imagery of the Earth Aspect includes the mighty hammer or tetsubo. The signature Earth Houses, Mnemon and Ragara, are rich and powerful, but they are not known as legendary tactical leaders. The Ragara are merchants and bankers, while Mnemon seems determined to weld her House into an unstoppable political force bent to her iron will. Signature characters of Earth Aspect are rarely presented as being especially skilled in the arts of military strategy when compared to their fellow Dragon-Blooded.

Check out my Wiki for more RPG discussions.

Glorious Divinities played by You October 1, 2007

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 1 comment so far

I can’t reveal too much about this, because the book isn’t out yet. Nonetheless, I just recently let the volunteer Storytellers that help run the Exalted moderated RPG chat at White Wolf know that the release of The Books of Sorcery, vol. IV—The Roll of Glorious Divinity 1 would introduce rules sufficient for players to actually play gods in Exalted. One of the venues from that chat focuses upon the city of Great Forks, and is designed as a “chronicle venue” (that is, it is meant to have a climactic end at some point). The reason I previewed this particular hint about the upcoming book was that I want to experiment with letting players actually play gods in the Great Forks venue there. Of course the venue’s standard rule that each player may only play one Essence-using character in the Great Forks venue still stands. The rules from Glorious Divinity 1 are scalable, and I plan to scale starting spirit characters to the starting Exalt level, with Essence 2 plus whatever they can buy with bonus points.

So, if you want to play a god in the world of Exalted, stay tuned for the release of Roll of Glorious Divinity 1, and check out the moderated Exalted RPG chat at White Wolf’s website. The Roll of Glorious Divinity 1 is currently scheduled to release in late October 2007, and may be ordered through the White Wolf online store.

The False Monarch September 23, 2007

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , add a comment

The old man entered the massive new temple, shuffling along with the rest of the crowd of petitioners who had come to see the Scarlet Empress. It was Empire Day, the first of Ascending Wood, and the Empress was to bless Mela’s temple, the Commencement of the Purifying Storm, in celebration of the Realm’s presumably victorious war against the deathlords of the Underworld. On his back, the old man carried a bundle, and one of the black helmed Guardians of the Realm watching the crowd moved as though to stop him. For a moment the old man lifted his head, and ordered the guardian away with a single word, filled with the presence of a man who has led thousands on the battlefield. The confused man obeyed, even as he tried to recall where he had seen the old man before.

The old man took his place in the crowd and waited. A handful of young allied Exalts were hidden in the crowd as well, and he hoped that they would be enough. Soon, three sleek First Age vessels streaked across the sky, and two of them broke away to land in the courtyard of the temple. Their long manta-like shapes pointed opposite directions, as much to fit within the space as to ensure that their gleaming firelances covered different targets. The gangplanks of the Mantas smoothly lowered to the ground, and the Scarlet Empress descended to the earth, clad in red silk edged with gold. As the old man peeked up at her a little, his heart was moved again by her beauty, just as he remembered it. The sigil-marked eunuchs of the Silent Legion moved with her, on guard, as did two Dragon-Blooded soldiers. The Dragon-Blooded wore the mons of no House, and surely were lost eggs brought up with loyalty only to the Empress. The old man took in the scene quickly.

Resignedly, the old man shuffled forward, as though to petition the Empress. He raised his head and looked her directly in the face, feeling his breath catch for a moment. “Your Royal Highness, I am Arada. Do you remember the years of service I have given to you?” His conspirators had proven to him that she was not real – merely a Fair Folk interloper posing as the Empress. He had seen the evidence with his own eyes, even watched her recoil from the iron weapon of the fallen assassin Desan. Yet, he needed to know for sure. If this was some trick. If the other conspirators were merely trying to use him to kill the Empress, he knew he could still turn back now. He would kill all of them in front of her and lay their bodies at her feet.

The Scarlet Empress regarded him without the faintest hint of recognition, however. The woman who had personally presided over his promotion over the Tepet legions looked upon him as though he were unknown to her. The old man felt the anger release inside of him, like a terrible storm. The wind whipped up around him, as that storm flooded out of him in a surge of Essence. He cast off the burlap over his bundle and drew forth the blade of House Tepet in a lightning quick movement. Memories of the blood of his family on the fields of the East, and their cries of agony as they were destroyed by the spells of the Anathema, crowded his senses for a moment. He had walked away from it all, and drank to make the pain go away. It hadn’t worked. Things just got worse. It was true. This creature was not the Scarlet Empress, and it was trying to lead his people to their deaths.

Exalted is copyright White Wolf Publishing, a division of CCP. This little piece of fan fiction is merely an event which occurred in the Far Shores chronicle I run on the weekends for my friends.