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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          == Garrowolf 's Exalted House Rules ==

Note: These House Rules are based on the First Edition Exalted. I may include a change or two from Second.

I was working on an alternate setting for Exalted. It is a little lower power level in various ways but characters are still playing Solar Exalted. I made some changes to some things and I was wondering what people thought about some of it.


The setting has some historical aspects increased. I made the Dragon Blooded more Japanese-esque. The Northerners are more Norse and follow the Norse Gods. There are alot of Celtic aspects to the Easterners. The South is more SumerianGarrowolf/Akkadian. The West is based on the Phoenicians.

There is a lot more focus on the Mortals in the setting. They are either training to get stronger or studying to gain power or worshipping to gain favor, etc. They have access to some religious favor from spirits. They focus on the Gods and the Spirits.

There are a decent number of powerful wizards that live in their own towers with servants protecting them. Sometimes there are many wizards to a tower. Think Ars Magica.

Then there are the Dragon Blooded which are fairly uncommon. About 1/3 are not part of the Empire. In the Empire they are more like Samauri. DB Wizards can give themselves over to their element and become a bit less human. They can eventually become altered by their element.

A major component of Terrestrial Magic is Glyphs and Foci. Glyphs are magical symbols that can be painted on to objects to turn them into low level magic items such as glow stones and purify water, etc. They can also augment weapons in minor ways. They can be used to create wards and magical circles, etc.

Foci are a magical weapons that use special stones, Jade, and blood of the wielder to create a focus for that person's abilities. They are tied to one of their Virtues and can only be used in ways that conform to that virtue to gain the benefit. Using them also makes you more passionately feel your virtue so Solars will pick up limit break points faster. Foci can store a charm or two that the owner knows. This allows them to use that charm at the same time as using another charm. You can change which charms are in a focus whenever you want to. These replace access to Artifacts at character creation.

The Solars are basically in the same situation but there are less of them. They start off as Heroic Mortals and Exalt in game. They have no access to artifacts to start with. They have less charms as well.

Lunar Idea

What if the Lunars were not one of the original Exalted? What if they were actually Wyld corrupted Solars? During the Userpation many of the Solars became depressed at the actions of the DBs and the loss of thier mates so they walked off into the Wyld. Luna saw what the Unconquered Sun had done and knew that all of them should not be lost so she changed those Solars into the Lunars. They came back centuries later - different - and bitter at what had happened. Now that their mates are returning they are starting to come out of the edges of civilization.

GMing Style

I have a fairly open GMing style. I try to set the stage and arrange things for the players to make their own stories with. I rarely start out with a story. I find out the player's backgrounds and start from there. They will usually have problems going on in their lives and I can always supply more if they avoid or solve them quickly. I am ready to generate more details depending on what they do and allow them to take things in any direction they want.

On the other hand I believe in consequences. Much of my games come from the consequences of the actions of the characters. Sometimes the bizzare results or sometimes they dig themselves into a large hole and I sit back and watch them either dig out or dig down.

I think in terms of the gritty of life and people striving to rise above it. I believe that you have to start with the ground to reach for the heavens. I believe that fortune favors the bold.

I know that Exalted is supposed to be Epic but I would prefer for the characters to build towards the Epic and earn it instead of have it decided for them. I try to be a neutral world that the players can write epic stories upon or write basic human ones if they so choose.

Maybe a way to describe my setting would be Gritty Mythology.


There are Elemental Essences. They are tied to the land. The Terrestrial Exalted as well as Mortal Thaumaturges can only use this kind. Then there is the Celestial Essence which all the others come from. Only Celestial Exalts can use it. They can use Lore to convert it into Elemental Essence and back. Celestial Exalts can use Elemental Essence to pretend to be Terrestrial Exalts. Some charms - especially MA charms - can be learned by both types but will have different effects depending on what type of essence is used. Elemental Essence can be found in high essence areas in the form of Tass which even Mortals can use in simple ways.


I am sort of reversing the Virtue System. Players describe how their character reacts to the world and I assign Virtue levels. I will modify it every once in a while depending on how their character acts. If they want Virtue 5 then they better be ready to face down one of the Elemental Dragons and take the consequences of it. If they act like they have a Virtue at 1 then they will start having serious social problems (lose followers, contacts, etc).

Players can't use their Virtues by rolling extra dice. They have to act in character in relation to their Virtues. Think of it as a form of stunt dice based on Role Playing. The GM keeps up with the Virtues and activates them for the PCs when they do something passionate and driven.

Attribute Change: Appearance replaced with Composure


Dawn Caste These are the generals and leaders. Melee, Animal Ken (mounted combat), Presence, Brawl, and Tactics

Zenith Caste More Shaolin Monk like. Martial Arts, Endurance, Resistance, Medicine.

Twilight Caste Sorcerer Sages. Lore, Occult.

Night Caste Awareness, Stealth, Subterfuge, Archery

Eclipse Caste Inquisitor Diplomats. Investigation, Socialize, Travel, Theurgy They are focused on not only dealing with people but also with spirits. They can link to a powerful spirit as a part of their anima ability and call it forth to defend them as in Final Fantasy. This replaces their pact sanctifying ability.


  • Moved Poison Lore to Medicine.
  • Get rid of Bureaucracy. Move some aspects to Socialize. Move the rest to Craft.
  • Add Subterfuge
  • Get rid of Larceny. Move some aspects to Subterfuge, some to Stealth, and maybe some to Socialize.
  • Atheltics absorbs Dodge
  • Thrown absorbed into Melee (I know most people would think of putting it into Archery and making a generalized Ranged ability but I think that the movements and skills are too related to melee then the long ranging of archery.)
  • Melee covers all Melee weapons uses - even martial arts weapons.
  • Theurgy is all the spirit based charms as well as socializing with spirits. It also covers the energy based charms from Lore. This is now the focus of Twilights.
  • Animal Ken replaces Ride and takes the Animal Training charms from Survival.
  • Travel replaces Sail and covers several aspects of traveling including navigation, finding shelter, etc. Takes the hardship type charms from survival. Travel also includes languages but most of the linguistics charms go to Lore.
  • Tactics covers managing armies.
  • Occult replaced with Sorcery.
  • Lore just covers writing, reading, and stories and information.

  • Animal Ken - This covers the training of animals and well as riding
  • Archery - no change
  • Athletics - Includes Dodge
  • Awareness - No change
  • Craft - Includes the merchant stuff from Bureaucracy
  • Endurance - includes Body Mending Meditation
  • Hard Styles - Includes Linear MA and Brawl
  • Investigation - No change
  • Lore - Legends, writing, general Knowledge (no essence control charms) use Linguistics charms
  • Medicine - No change
  • Melee - Use for all melee and thrown weapons including Martial Art Weapons
  • Performance - No Change
  • Presence - No change
  • Resistance - No change
  • Socialize - No Change
  • Soft Styles - Includes clinch, throws, etc.
  • Sorcery - replaces Occult and includes the essence control charms from Lore
  • Stealth - includes some old larceny charms
  • Subterfuge - includes some old larceny and some bureaucracy charms
  • Tactics - organizing and directing small units up to wars
  • Theurgy - summoning and controling spirits (all spirit spells go here)
  • Travel - Includes Sail, land navigation, finding shelter, survival charms.

Martial Arts

Divide Martial Arts into Hard Style and Soft Style. Maybe replace Brawl with Hard Style or maybe keep seperate. All Martial Arts weapons go back into Melee (or other applicable). Have a smaller set of more common styles. Each style has a level that anyone can learn. They don't require essence or willpower. They are really just techniques. If a Dragon Blooded uses it then it will have an enhanced effect. If a Solar uses it it will have a spectacular effect. Many martial arts will have charms that require rolling other abilities instead. Some will have a Master Level that requires essence to get even the basic technique part.


Dropped OX Body in favor of giving a free version to everyone. Solars get 5 boxes + their stamina + their Essence - 1. Body Mending now under Endurance and is a permanent charm now called Obediant Body Technique.

Using most of the Sol Invictus Charms.


Disallowing Artifacts at character creation and making them rare. Replacing them with more Talismans and Foci. Foci let you put a charm that you have into an object or weapon and use it without counting as one of your charms used for the turn. They can hold moderate amounts of essence and are bonded to that person (ie they are useless to others). Not as powerful as many of the artifact weapons but still very useful. Plus they are made of Jade so a Solar can more easily pretend to be a DB.

Instead of allowing them to get their old weapons and armor they have to go on a series of quests to get the right materials and bring them to someone who can forge them for the PCs. Then they become powerful Foci.

Splitting Dice Pool

I think that the rules for splitting dice pools are too complicated. They take away from the speed of play, they are not cinematic enough, and they call for the player to make an additional discision that the character would not consciously have to make. Either you can do something or you can’t. I would rather just let the system limit you based on traits then make you spend extra time limiting yourself.

In the standard system you have to declare the number of actions you want to take, including defensive actions that could be needed in the future, and subtract that from the first dice pool. Then continuely reduce the dice pool by one for each action. Then when you may or may not defend later you have to continue that for each defense, until you use up your actions. If you don’t hold a defense then you get to take none later.

I am simplifying it. On your first action – full dice pool. Subtract one dice for each one after that. You already have a rate for your weapons so you can’t take too many anyway. You can defend one type for each attack and you can do that as long as you have dice. If you have a charm that increases your dice pools then the extra dice only apply after figuring out if you have any left to use. The exception to this is if you are using a charm that gives extra dice for splitting.

This makes it easy to do several things. If the character is doing a few easy things then something difficult you just reduce the dice pool for each extra act and only roll the difficult skill. This would eliminate the need for complex action or move rules. Defending at the beginning of the turn does not cause you to loose your turn. If you get attacked before your action then you defend as normal. When you get around to your initiative count then you keep those penalties. This works because the splitting penalties are not carried from the pervious turn.

Keep in mind that dice adders do NOT effect the number of times you can split your actions. It is based only on Dex + Ability. Players should not split too many times because they will be without defenses.

Splliting your dice allows you to do a complex series of actions but it does not allow for a set of unconnected actions. You can't jump in a tear up your opponent and then switch over to another because this one dropped. You are also limited in your movement. You can step around a bit during your action for free but you can't go farther then your move allows. You can move into a combat and fight, you can move through a combat and hit a few times or you can hit and move out of combat but you can't move, hit, move, hit,move, hit. Attempting to move again unless it is part of the action as a whole or a stunt, after you have already moved in your action - ENDS your turn. You will start your next turn where you started moving - NOT where you were going.

Dice Minimums

I don’t use the power combat rule that Exalted get their essence in dice at minimum. Everyone should have some limits. IF you have your dice pool reduced to nothing then you can’t make the roll unless you can generate a stunt. I don’t believe in the idea that everyone has a chance however slim. If you can generate a stunt then that becomes your slim chance roll.

Health Levels

I like the way health levels work in nWOD so I adopted a version. Everyone gets a –0,-1,-2,-4, and Inc to start with. Then take your stamina as additional health levels. Start at –2, then –1, then –0, then –2. Repeat this for each dot of stamina. Now add any dots of essence past the first level the same way. This means that big Exlated are slow to go down. Good for them. Total health levels = 5 + stamina + essence -1


I don’t like rolling damage. You already rolled your attack to see how well you hit. That should be enough. All damage in this is flat damage. Weapons have lower damage codes now. Roll Dex + Melee + Accuracy. If you get past their defenses then any successes become extra damage: Str + Weapon’s Damage + Successes – appropriate soak. No damage roll needed.

There is no soak roll. If someone wants to “roll with the punch” then they are making a dodge roll to reduce successes. If they say that they want to tense up and “take it” then that is either a charm use or a technique. If they don’t have it then they don’t know how to do it in such a way as to not take as much damage with it.


Roll this once. That is your character’s place in the initiative count. There is no reason to reroll each turn.

Do not add any kind of speed trait from weapons to initiative. This is overthinking the problem and doesn’t take a lot of exceptions to their logic for it into account to I don’t use it. It also slows things down as you try and figure out your current inititative bonuses.

All splitting penalties reset at the beginning of the initiative count for everyone.

If you hold your action then you have to declare what will trigger your held action and what action you are holding. Then when it occurs you get a Dex + Wits, whoever wins gets to go. Defending yourself does not necessarily get rid of holding your action – it depends on the circumstance and GM will.


The reach of a weapon may apply as a situation modifier depending on the circumstances but it does not effect the initiative. Reach is a factor to be used in describing how your character does a stunt. It can be changed very quickly anyway by holding it farther up the length. This is a common martial art trick. One moment it is a spear at full extention, the next it is a quaterstaff. It can change quickly. Even long swords like the great swords were grasped along the blade to change range and control it better. Most longer weapons become a liability in close combat. Rather then come up with a very complicated system reflecting all this it is just a trait for better description and flair.

Alternate Initiative

Start at the worst initiative and go up instead. Everyone declares their actions as they are about to do it but anyone with a higher initiative can interupt and take their action instead. If more then one person tries to interupt an action then highest initiative goes first. Standard NPC always go on their count but major ones will interupt.

Basically this means that everyone is holding action and gets to see and react to what other people are doing.

Perception in Combat

Your attention becomes very focused in combat. You may not notice things going on around you if they don’t have to do with your health and safety. Characters can take a moment to try and notice what is going on around them more specifically. This is rolled and does count as an action for splitting pools. You can declare at the beginning of the turn that you are keeping an eye on something and you wont have to roll. This can change depending on your distraction level.

Hit Location

I use the rule that you can ignore your opponents armor by reducing your dice pool for attacks. –1 light armor, -2 medium, -3 heavy, - 5 super heavy.


I am still working on this one. Stance would replace the idea of forms. They are martial and melee ways of presenting your defenses. Basically Stances would give you a Defense Value based on your Dex + Melee (or MA) modified by the stance itself (agressive, etc.). Now I know that your thinking that this is the passive defense from EX2 but it isn't. It's NEW and IMPROVED!

Okay you have a few stances on your sheet. So what.

Well if you declare you are taking that stance (which some allow movement and some you leave the stance to move) then you get that defense bonus. Whenever anyone attacks you in a way that the stance can defend then they have to have more successes on their attack then your defense score. If they don't then you have casually defended yourself and don't need to take a defense action (ie you don't have to lose dice from splitting). If they have more successes then your defense then you have to defend against the whole attack (You don't lower the number of successes of the attack by your defense).

Basically if they don't make it through your stance then you barely had to defend against it. If it is higher then the attack is more significant and you will have to jump back and consentrate harder on this guy.

This reason for this rule is I wanted to reflect a ton of mooks that the heros wade through easily to be stopped by the boss. It also GREATLY reduces the amount of dice rolling for dealing with mooks.

It also reflects that you have to get to a certain level for a Martial Artist to have to use more then their basic skills. But two Masters would always be going beyond each others stance defense.

It also reflects the difference between ready fighters and unready ones (unready ones have not entered a stance).

You can't use even stance defenses if you are out of dice from splitting.