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The Weapons of Social Combat

Battles are sometimes joined unarmed and without armor, but more often both are used. Similarly, skilled socialites amass arsenals of authority and bastions of reliable testimony. In this page, some effort will be made to describe the offensive and defensive tools available in wars of wits. These "weapons" may be items, or they may be tactics, but each has different properties.

The Basics of Attack

These weapons are the "unarmed" attacks of Social Combat, taken from Exalted: Second Edition page 172. All Manipulation-based attacks have an effect not shared by Charisma-based attacks: if the target(s) ever discover the duplicity of the attacker, they will become angry, and may automatically resist natural mental influence from her for the rest of the Scene. Bringing up the topic later will grant such characters +1 MDV, unless they are convinced to forgive the offender for the manipulative slight.

Investigation Attacks

  • Investigation attacks have Rate: 2, Speed: 5
  • They target Individuals or Societies, so long as the target is a group cohesive enough to have a single magnitude (including the magnitude X for an individual)

Direct Inquiry.

  • Dice Pool: Charisma
  • Effect: Elicit an honest answer to a question.

Pointed Inquiry.

  • Dice Pool: Manipulation
  • Effect: Convince target to give, and/or believe, answer implied by a question.

Performance Attacks

  • Performance attacks have Rate: 1, Speed: 6
  • They target all who witness the performance

Noble Speech.

  • Dice Pool: Charisma
  • Effect: Convince targets to follow you into a stated course of action.

Sophisticated Oration.

  • Dice Pool: Manipulation
  • Effect: Cause audience to believe they want a course of action, despite anything to the contrary.

Heartfelt Solo.

  • Dice Pool: Charisma
  • Effect: Invoke your current emotion in others.

Artful Centerpiece.

  • Dice Pool: Manipulation + Performance
  • Effect: Create any desired emotion in the audience.

Presence Attacks

  • Presence attacks have Rate: 2, Speed: 4
  • They target individuals or groups just as Investigation does.


  • Dice Pool: Charisma
  • Effect: Match your target's emotion to your own.


  • Dice Pool: Manipulation
  • Effect: Create any emotion of choice in the target.


  • Dice Pool: Charisma
  • Effect: Implore your target to emulate you in a course of action.


  • Dice Pool: Manipulation
  • Effect: Convince the target to follow a course of action, regardless of alternatives.


Possession of other traits besides the "attack" attributes and abilities can arm a person well or poorly for certain tactics of debate.


Int •

  • Status: "Dumb as Rocks." All attacks suffer a -2 internal penalty, and -1 to Parry MDV, because you sound as dumb as you are. +1 to Dodge MDV because it's hard to convince you to know any better.

Int ••

  • No bonus or penalty.
  • Tactic: "Talk Big." May attempt to sound smarter than you really are as part of an attack, adding +1 Speed and rolling Manipulation + Socialize, difficulty of the target's Perception. If successful, add +2 Accuracy.

Int •••

  • Status: "Cool Head." Add an additional +1 Accuracy after taking the Study action for any number of ticks. Does not apply to the Monologue option.
  • Tactic: "Act dumb." May accept all bonuses and penalties of "Dumb as Rocks" at the beginning of any DV refresh.
  • Tactic: "Logic." Once begun, this tactic cannot be ended until two full Guard actions are taken in a row to allow a new course of conversation. This tactic adds +2 to all Manipulation attacks but sacrifices -2 from all Charisma attacks.




Athletics, Melee, Martial Arts, Archery, Thrown, Ride, Sail, Craft, Resistance, Survival, Larceny

Trait X

  • Status: "Nobody." If this trait comes up in a discussion, suffer an internal penalty to all attacks and defenses equal to the highest trait rating present in the discussion, which lasts until the subject changes.

Trait •

  • Status: "Beginner." You do not suffer the above penalty, but may not take advantage of it if someone more skilled than you is present.

Trait ••

  • Status: "Initiated." You may take advantage of "Nobodies" in this skill even if someone more skilled than you is present.
  • Tactic: "Display of Prowess." By taking twice the time (Speed 12) to deliver a Performance attack, you may add this Trait in bonus dice to the attack roll. The purpose of the attack must be related to this trait - such as convincing a potential employer to hire you as ship captain, intimidate others with your sword-work, etc.

Trait •••

  • Tactic: "Intimate Knowledge." When speaking about this subject, you may use this Trait rating in place of Investigation, Performance, or Presence. You may not do this for a Display of Prowess.

Trait ••••

  • Status: "Master." You are one of the best, and that intimidates others. You may consider anyone less skilled in this Trait than you are a "nobody," subtracting their dots from yours to determine the penalty they suffer.
  • Tactic: "Masterful Display." You may use Intimate Knowledge as part of a Display of Prowess, effectively using double this Trait in place of Performance.
  • Tactic: "Words From the Master's Lips." You may double the speed of a Presence or Investigation attack related to this trait to add a bonus similar to Display of Prowess. This may not benefit from Intimate Knowledge.

Trait •••••

  • Status: "Grand Master." Add half this Trait to your MDV whenever the subject comes up in conversation, so assured are you of your own mastery.
  • Tactic: "Supreme Prowess." You may make a Display of Prowess, or pronounce Words From the Master's Lips, without taking extra time.

Trait ••••••+

  • Tactic: "Transcendent Knowledge." You may apply the Intimate Knowledge tactic to Words From the Master's Lips. Any time you speak about this Ability, you may use it as your attack or parry ability, and add it again in bonus dice.















So, this is very preliminary, but since it's part of a CommunalProject it's open for thoughts and critiques - also changes, additions, or whatever. - IanPrice

Great concept! I'm particularly fond of the clarified attack types, although I do perhaps fear that Charisma is somewhat underpowered in this breakdown - Manipulation can be used as effectively in Charisma's splat, and for much more besides. I'm not terribly sure how I'd go about fixing that, though...DeathBySurfeit
Yeah, if you don't mind pissing people off if they find out they've been manipulated. I've actually nerfed manipulation from the book by putting a specific consequence on the down-side of it. Charisma can do everything Manipulation can and perfectly safely, so long as you stick to the truth and your own convictions. As long as you're not a sneaky manipulative jerk, who wants others to do things he doesn't himself believe in, Charisma has it all over Manipulation! Mind you, some characters have to be sneaky manipulative jerks to do their jobs right, so they tend to be more manipulative than charismatic. Truly scary individuals often have all three social stats at high values, and can pick safety or risk at leisure, depending on what the situation calls for. - IanPrice
Great concept agreed. I'd wonder and suggest that perhaps Presence be more generally applicable, personally. To me, the kind of thing the American government is using right now (Terror!) is very Presence-based, as it is conveyed through strength of conviction, and requires a charismatic and driven leader. It seems to work on crowds fairly well. In addition, seduction attempts (canonically presence based) can also be used against crowds fairly easily, albeit with a difficulty increase due to the mixed nature of the crowd. For example, many actresses routinely flurry a group-targeted seduction action with other actions, allowing them to at least gain a modicum of success, even if the primary action fails. To me, performance relies much more on prepared speeches, song writing, and other, less traditional forms of communication. Again, as examples, I might consider things such as "We are the world, we are the children" to be a performance-based attack, as would "Over there". Similarly, clergy might use Presence-based attacks during the homily, but performance-based attacks during ceremony itself - after all, a well executed and impressive ceremony lends itself well to an impressed congregation. Finally, I think performance might also be used with "alternative" attacks, such as displaying your skill with a weapon to prove your worth to a mercenary captain. The mechanics might resemble ride, whereby your performance pool is limited by your melee pool, for example. Anyway, just wanted to give you fuel for the fire - take it or leave it as you like! -- GreenLantern
I just re-read and re-thought the rules, and realized that I was wrong about Presence - the book says quite clearly that it has the "same targeting restrictions as Investigation."
I have to disagree on your narrow view of performance, and point out that giving speeches is a far more common form of communication than you may think. Personally, given that I have discovered the difference between Presence and Performance, I would say that they are fairly interchangeable - but the more people you talk to, the more you want to use Performance, because Performance suffers no penalty for affecting anybody who sees and/or hears your communication. Conversely, when only one person (or a small group) is your target, you lower your voice, use more intimate body language, and generally want to use Presence so that you don't accidentally bring unrelated bystanders into your discussion. Besides, Presence attacks have a better Speed, allowing you to change topics more easily, or better take advantage of onslaught penalties you create for your target.
The idea for alternative attacks with performance is brilliant - I was already thinking of other abilities as ways to modify your social attacks, and you bring up a good point. - IanPrice