A recurrent problem I found in Exalted was the ease and power of Legendary actions. Not that they were possible- but Legendary formed an effectively unlimited upper ceiling. A ceiling further complicated by the books given definitions intermingling Legendary Difficulty with Legendary Success in the examples. Frankly, Legendary success negated the point of several Charms- not a Good Thing, IMO. Further, it highlighted the difference between combat and non-combat by way of the differences- a 5 success attack in combat is middling, while a 5 success roll at anything else was mind-blowing successful.
Then, as later books emerged, Legendary was recognized as not being all that... well, legendary. Tasks often required more than 5 successes at a whack.
To that end, I've created an alternate scale. Tasks remain broken into Standard, Significant and Master, but different things are Signficant and Masterful to different people. Mastery is roughly Attribute+Ability+Speciality+Virtue+Dice Adder, divided in half. Mastery is also the very best they can do- Excepting the Solar and Abyssal Exalted, as well as certain Gods and Demons, who have theoretically unlimited successes; thus the big jump between God Blooded Mastery and Terrestrial Mastery. Someone who witnesses success beyond that point knows that they are seeing someone superhuman- or even super Terrestrial. Anyone can restrict their successes to the threshold, but highly consistent mastery draws just as much notice.
Additionally, to those familiar with Nobilis, I included Aspect guidelines. They are just that- guidelines -and not meant to be an absolute limit or scale.
This also crunches together the Degree of Success and Difficulty from the core book. Although excess successes still form a Degree of Success, it's typically just enfolded into the Difficulty.
New Difficulty Scale for Exalted
Mortal Standard: 1 success\\ Joe Average can probably do this. Why is an Exalt even bothering to roll? (Aspect 0)
- Climbing a tree.
- Long jumping a few feet.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a minor favor from a friend.
- Maintain the interest of an already interested crowd.
- Row a rowboat.
- Paint a picture.
- Recognize a daiklaive.
- Convince a child to keep a secret.
- Ride a gentle horse.
- Have no hangover the morning after a few beers.
- Pick the pocket of an oblivious man.
- Lose only a small amount of money gambling at a fair house.
- Track fresh footprints through open ground.
- Speak an accent of your native speech.
- Sneak through a dark hallway without making too much noise.
- Run a successful, if small shop.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance in a dojo with a helpful instructor aiding you.
- Swim in calm waters.
Mortal Significant, Exalted Standard: 3 successes\\ Joe Average will do this well once or twice in their life. A mortal reasonably learned in the task in question, or an Exalt with passing familiarity will achieve this level about half the time. (Aspect 1)
- Climbing a tall wall with few handholds.
- Long jumping a dozen yards.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a major favor from a friend, or a minor favor from a total stranger.
- Capture the attention of a disinterested crowd.
- Sail a merchantman through stormy weather.
- Paint a picture that earns some comment.
- Recognize a First Age daiklaive from a modern one.
- Convince an adult to keep a relatively harmless secret from anyone.
- Ride a warhorse to battle.
- Have no hangover the morning after a ten-plus shots whiskey-drinking contest.
- Pick a pocket on a crowded street.
- Win money at a fair house, lose only a moderate amount of money at a crooked house.
- Track old footprints over open ground, or new trails through bad terrain.
- Speak one or two other languages well enough to be easily understood.
- Sneak through a darkened hallway with attentive guards without drawing notice.
- Run a relatively successful series of trading houses.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance at a tournament against a fellow practitioner trying to hit you with the proper blows.
- Swim in rough waters.
Mortal Mastery, Godblooded Significant: 6 successes\\ This is the very best a normal mortal can achieve. Successes above this point for mortals are discarded, and someone who sees a character or the results of an action with more than six successes knows they aren't dealing with a human. (Aspect 2)
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity.
- Long jumping several dozen yards.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a life-changing boon from a friend, or a major favor from a total stranger.
- Captivate the attention of a large crowd, polarizing them between those who agree and disagree with you.
- Sail a battleship through bad weather without damage or losing time.
- Paint a picture of quality and depth akin to the Mona Lisa.
- Recognize the original designer of the daiklaive, knowing a variety of stories around it.
- Convince an adult to keep a potentially deadly secret- even from their loved ones.
- Ride a warhorse to battle amidst a raging firestorm.
- Have no hangover the morning after an Imperial Party.
- Pick the pocket of someone actively watching for the attempt.
- Win a small amount of money at a crooked house.
- Track old trails through unfavorable terrain, such as a badly overgrown forest.
- Speak a half-dozen languages fluently.
- Sneak past a dozen alert and active guardsmen through a well-lit passageway.
- Earn your keep as a Merchant Prince, buying and selling across the Realm.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance in a sudden bar fight, improvising well within the spirit of the style.
- Swim when the sea rages with a mighty storm.
Godblooded Mastery, Exalted Significant: 8 successes\\ A Godblood is spirit kin, and not fully bound by the rules of the world. There's gifts can let them push past the lesser ranks of humanity, achieving works of greater power and majesty than those around them. However, their human blood pulses in their veins, denying them the greater vistas of power the Exalted and true Gods enjoy. (Aspect 3)
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity... in a raging storm.
- Long jumping several hundred yards.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a life-changing boon from a total stranger, or a minor favor from a sworn enemy.
- Capture and hold the attention of a huge crowd (such as an entire town), turning a neutral feeling to a friendly one.
- Sail a battleship through bad weather, using the storm itself to gain time.
- Paint a picture that can hold the viewers enraptured for hours, unless physically attacked, or that inspires some more than mundane sentiment.
- Know the virtually uninterrupted history of the daiklaive, from its creation to modern days.
- Convince someone to act against their own best interests without good cause.
- Ride a wild horse to battle.
- Have no hangover the morning after a three-day revel of wine, women and song.
- Pick the pocket of someone with their hand on the wallet.
- Clean out a crooked house.
- Track new trails through virtually impossible terrain, such as a shifting desert or a snowfield after a blizzard.
- Speak dead languages well enough to have been understood by the living speakers.
- Slip by over fifty guards when they have only one entrance to watch.
- See the trends and flows of money days before Creation feels them, always poised to best advantage.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance in a raging battle, incorporating the attacks of a half-dozen foes at once into your flowing motions.
- Swim to the depths of the ocean floor with the speed, grace and lung capacity of a dolphin.
Terrestrial Mastery: 12 successes\\ The Dragonblooded's outer extremes are well known and charted in their own society. The speakers of the Terrestrial Chosen can bring virtually anyone to heel, while their craftsmen create marvels that capture the breath of the unwary and leave their victims without the ability to see beauty elsewhere in the world. (Aspect 4)
- Climbing the sheer, slick side of an ice floe without tools.
- Long jumping a half-mile.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a major favor from a sworn enemy.
- Capture and hold the attention and delight of a huge crowd that was actively hostile, making them more neutral.
- Sail a battleship through the worst weather imaginable without appreciable damage.
- Paint a picture that can hold the viewers enraptured for hours, even if physically attacked, or that inspires unnaturally strong feelings.
- Understand the basic principles of daiklaive construction.
- Convince someone to act in a fashion that is wholly detrimental to themselves without any cause.
- Ride a wild horse to battle, without the benefit of saddle or bridle.
- Have no hangover the morning after a marathon-drinking contest that drains a small town of it's booze supplies.
- Pluck the gems of a noble's rings without his noticing.
- Clean out a crooked house, without cheating.
- Track trails over a week old after virtually impossible conditions.
- Speak virtually every language ever spoken in Creation.
- Be unseen and unheard as you glide across nightingale hallways and sorcerous guards.
- Set the trends of goods and services across the Realm in motion, manipulating the economies of satrapies like ledger numbers.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance, successful using only the rote training moves to disarm and disable mortal masters of the same style.
- Out swim a shark.
Celestial Mastery: 14 successes\\ Only a small number of Celestial Exalts exists. And only a small barrier exists between the greatness of the Celestials and Terrestrials. But that small step defines them. Whereas the Dragonblooded must speak to rebuke a crowd, a Sidereal quirks an eyebrow. Where the Terrestrial's art is beautiful, the Lunar's inspires such jealousy and envy that viewers may be moved to murder. (Aspect 5)
- Hanging or climbing along the ceiling of a cave made of ice... with no tools.
- Long jumping over a mile.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a life-changing boon from a sworn enemy.
- Capture and hold the attention of a huge crowd that was actively hostile, making them actively helpful.
- Sail a battleship through the worst weather imaginable, actively using the bad weather to make better time.
- Paint a picture that can hold the viewers enraptured for days, forgoing food, water or sleep, or that inspires murderously intense feelings.
- Recognize subtle flaws and strengths in virtually any daiklaive.
- Convince someone to act in a suicidal fashion for the most spurious of reasons.
- Ride a wild horse to battle against fiery demons, coaxing it and guiding it until it dies from exhaustion.
- Have no hangover the morning after draining a major city of every source of liquid impairment it has, ingesting every drug available, and indulging in the worst excesses imaginable for weeks at a time.
- Pluck the rings and jewelry off a noble, without his noticing, in mere seconds.
- Win the gambling house itself over a game of cards.
- Deduce the ultimate destination of any relatively new trail without needing to follow it further.
- Speak several languages used only outside creation.
- Be unseen and unheard for hours while in the middle of an open field as the Wild Hunt actively searches every square inch for you.
- Set the trends of goods and services across Creation in motion, manipulating the economies of nations like pocket change.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance and, while blindfolded, defend yourself from an onrushing army with only the rote training moves.
- Out swim the grasp of a powerful whirlpool.
Solar Mastery: 16+ Successes\\ Of the Exalted, only the Solars, their corrupt cousins, and select divinities are capable of reaching this vista. If it is conceivable, they can achieve it. There is no theoretical upper limit. (Aspect 6+)
- Climbing up a waterfall.
- Long jumping a mile... without a running start.
- Successfully requesting and receiving a life-changing boon from a sworn enemy- while actively attacking him.
- Capture the attention of an onrushing army, causing them to change sides, turn on their former comrades and commanders, and sally forth as your own Ever Victorious Troops.
- Sail a battleship through a sea rocked with waves moving at greater than the speed of sound and taller than the highest peaks without appreciable damage- by yourself.
- Paint a picture that can hold the viewers enraptured forever, or that inspires suicide or complete self-destruction.
- Recognize subtle flaws and strengths in virtually any daiklaive at only a moment's glance, by touch, or even by scent.
- Convince someone to act in a suicidal fashion for no reason at all, through four levels of intermediaries.
- Ride a wild horse to battle against fiery demons, coaxing it and guiding it until it should die from exhaustion- but doesn't.
- Hangover? What's that?
- Pick a noble's pocket- and taking the rest of his clothes and personal effects while your at it, without his noticing for some hours, half a breath after meeting him.
- Deduce the destination of any trail, no matter how old it was or who made it, within minutes of starting to look.
- Speak any languages used, inside or outside Creation, fluently and without accent.
- Remain unfound as you fall asleep in the same field, still waiting for the Wyld Hunt to finish this round of Hide and Go Seek.
- Collapse the economy of the Realm within a week by making certain select purchases in a few in the market of a powerful trading partner.
- Assume the Five Dragons Stance and hold only the opening posture with no need to defend yourself- anyone that comes within a hundred yards maybe crushed before they pose a threat if their intentions are impure.
- Swim up a waterfall.
I love these, consider them nabbed - CorlanDashiva
Hmm... what difficulty would you assign the example from the core book, of someone pulling a stunt to run over a crowd by stepping on peoples' heads? I ask because I'm planning on using your expanded Difficulty rules for a game I'm starting next week, and I want to make sure I have a good handle on things so it doesn't slow me down. And just out of curiousity, why can Solars have theoretically unlimited successes? Hypothetical High-Essence Charms? (Also, under Celestial Mastery I made it explicit that climbing the ceiling of ice was sans tools, because I assumed it was still implied from the Terrestrial Mastery example.) - DigitalSentience
- Hm. Probally 3 or 4. That's not something impossible to do, and I could even imagine a real person doing it- with some practice and training, most of the time.
- Solars can have an unlimited upper cap, cause I'm a Solar fanboy. :) Also, because it's fairly difficult to start going over 16 successes- although if you find those levels too narrow, by all means, jump them up a notch, or simply remove the cap.
- And thankye :) I often need an editor. DS
These seem ever so slightly high to me... I agree that the standard 1,3,5 is too low (celestials of all types get 5 successes with ease) but terrestrials often have trouble getting up to 12!... I'm not sure, just seems a little high. Perhaps I'll drop them by 1 to 3 successes for my game. It's nice to see someone trying to improve the system in more fundamental ways than just fiddling the charms though.
I don't really like the examples about crushing the Realm's economy, or about hiding from the Wyld Hunt. For instacne, trying to destabilize the realm (16 successes) is guaranteed, even in the time of tumult, to attract attention from at least one master bureaucrat Dragon-blood (12). So how does 4 successes after opposition, (6 if you gave the dragon blood a penalty for being caught off guard) destabilize the realm?
Or did you intend it to be that you need 16 successes after opposition (almost certainly a total of 28 successes)?
That being said, I'm looking for an excuse now to have a character try to climb a waterfall. :)
- Mm. This difficulty scale has an implicit assumption of exponential growth in relative number of successes. That is, 16 successes is enough to crush the Realm's economy WITH those 12 success Dragonblooded around trying to maintain everything- they're a part of the background details. Likewise, hiding from the Wyld Hunt- once you've gotten more successes on a Stealth roll than the Hunt can get, they simply can't find you.
- I should probally revise the scale to let groups achieve greater results than would be possible for individuals... DS
- What I do in my games is insert a mechanic that allows people to aid others in tasks where such is possible. each success on the roll obtained by someone trying to help another gives the one being helped another die to roll. With such a system a group of master bureaucrats would have 12 base and an average of 6 more per helper. However, working like a group like this is like a coordinated attack using the ability in question instead of war(and only 1 person per sux instead of 2 per.), so getting too many more people involved is impossible. Rathmun