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Breakthrough and Conquer a working concept of a competitive, professional sport in the world of Exalted, mostly to balance against the Olympic-style competitions in the Realm (archery, wrestling, equestrian, fencing) and the Gladiatorial battles elsewhere in Creation. The concept I have is loosely based around the Blitzball minigame developed for Final Fantasy X, which inadvertently resulted up from my original development of ideas from combining key elements of American Football, Soccer, and Australian Rugby.


Game Setup

  • Breakthrough and Conquer is played on an enclosed elliptical field, no less than 100 yards long by 50 yards wide. A two-yard-high wall encloses the entire field, rising to a higher, five-yard height at each goal end of the field. The goal area is a circular indentation in the wall two-yards wide, and set in the middle of the wall, such that the entire goal structure is off of the floor. The object of the game is for one team to maneuver the ball - called the Powerball, and usually made of leather - from one end of the field to the other, and deposit it in the opposing team's goal. Mechanisms vary, depending on the structure of the field, but generally the goal zone has some sort of retrieval system, both to allow the ball to be re-collected for play to begin, and to mark out that the goal was in fact scored. Each goal is worth one point. The game is played over the course of a full hour, with ten minutes of rest between two twenty-five minute periods of active play.


  • The game is played between two seven-man teams. Six of the seven players can be any combination of teammates specialized toward a certain form of play, though the common standard is: one Leader, two Blockers (high Stamina/Res), one Interceptor (defense, Dex/Athletics) and two Quicks (offense, high Dex/Athletics). The seventh player, called the Keeper, is restricted to a zone around the goal area no more than fifteen yards out. A penalty is issued if the Keeper leaves this area. In addition to the teams, no fewer than two referees are to be present on the field.

Play Style

  • The game begins with the ball thrown into play from outside the boundary wall, generally as much into the exact center as possible. One Leader from each team is responsible for gaining possession of the ball for his team. The ball is then maneuvered by hand - either carried or thrown as a pass - toward the opposing team's goal, at which point a shot may be taken on the goal by delivering a kick to the ball - either as a dropkick or kicking a standing ball. ONLY the hands may be used to legally pass, and ONLY the feet may be used to legally shoot. The defending team is allowed to use a measure of force to prevent being scored upon. Techniques such as blocking, tackling, and tripping are deemed legal, so long as no actual physical striking of an opponent's body takes place. There are two exceptions to that rule: The Keeper may use any technique to stop the offense, provided the ball carrier steps into the Keeper's zone; and the ball itself is a legal 'weapon', due to the risk that using it as such may cause a turnover.

Penalties and Substitutions

  • A penalty is called by the referees for each of the following infractions:
    • A player passes the ball via any part of the body other than throwing by hand
    • A player receives a pass by any part of the body other than catching in the hands
    • A player makes a direct shot with any part of the body other than the legs or feet
    • A defending player physically strikes an opponent with fists or feet
    • A Keeper steps beyond his zone boundary
  • Should a player accumulate enough infractions, he may be expelled from the rest of the game, at which point a substitution may replace him. Likewise, should a player become injured to a point where he cannot continue, a substitute may take his place. Substitutions may be made at any time during play, though one team may never have more than four reserve players ready at any time in the game (though teams may have more than eleven total players). If the ball is dropped out of bounds, or if a goal is scored, possession is given to the opposing team's Keeper.
  • Typical officiating staff consists of one Play Referee and one Support Referee (though in the cases of some heavily disputed games, or in most Exalted games, three to four Support Refs might be utilized). The Play Referee keeps track of the position of the ball, and notes the conduct of the defensive players. The Support Referee(s) watch the rest of the field, checking for infractions made by the players not in contact with the ball.

Exalted League

The game of Breakthrough and Conquer was devised as a game that mortals and Exalts could share, and possibly play together. The originators of the game, a Night Caste Solar and No Moon Lunar whose names are lost to the annals of history, devised the sport as a way to commemorate the Exalts' victory over the Primordials, where often a single crucial objective (regaining a gate into Yu-Shan, the destruction of one of the Primordials' souls) once attained could lead to victory. Games between the Exalted were quite flashy and intense indeed, as the use of various Charms and Essence effects was deemed legal by the very context of the sport itself (though attuning to the ball in play was considered a major infraction, enforced quite thoroughly by the divine referees chosen for their ability to view specific uses of Essence). Though, by the time the Usurpation came about, the game had descended into little more than a gladiatorial brawlfest with a ball as the Great Curse began to descend upon the Solars (who loved the game most).

By the time the Shogunate era came about, the texts of the game were unearthed and re-written by those Sidereals of the Bronze Faction who cared about the loss of such a unifying game. The code of the sport was rewritten to accommodate the new Dragon-Blooded masters of Creation, and emphasized the teamwork of the Terrestrial Exalted being the catalyst in the defeat of the single, individual, barbaric Anathema.

As the Great Contagion hit Creation, the game was lost in the flood of death, sickness and destruction wrought by the Deathlords' foul poison and the merciless armies of the Fair Folk, yet the ideals and tenets of the sport still remain in the hearts and minds of those Elder Exalts with memories of the decadent First Age, and exists still even in the simple scene of mortal children playing catch in the rural villages and city streets all over Creation.

In-Game Mechanics

Important Abilities


  • Self-explanatory, and necessary for a participant in a highly Athletic competition.


  • Ideal for making both accurate passes to open teammates, and for assessing situations of range to fend off interceptors.

Martial Arts

  • The Martial Arts skill is highly useful for defensive players, those who want to tackle and take down any opponent that comes their way.


  • Being aware of your surroundings is key when you have the ball. Locating an open teammate in time, or quickly noticing an opposing blocker can mean the difference between a goal and a turnover. Likewise for defenders, making sure you know where the other team's receivers are is crucial to winning back possession.


  • Personal grace and agility is crucial for quick offensives, or for the fleet carrier who can duck around waves of blockers.


  • Physical resilience is a must-have for anyone who needs to endure the fifty-minute contest of skill and stamina.


  • The realm of defensive superiority is not left merely to the physically strong, but also to those nimble of mind and touch, who might strip away possession of the ball before the carrier even notices, or feint and juke their way past the stalwart Keeper's eyes.


  • Very rarely does one soldier win a battle without the support of his legion. Likewise, a Ball Carrier does not often find himself taking on the entire opposing team with success. Skilled Leaders know what plays to make, what moves to pull, and how his teammates should respond.


  • In a contact sport, injury is bound to happen. The smart players know to take care of their bodies, to keep their natural mechanisms as finely tuned as possible.


Powerball (can be any sort of round inflatable object used to play the game)

Official Powerball, Cost: o - Specialized ball designed for professional play

Thrown: Speed 4, Accuracy +1, *Damage +2B, Rate 1, Range (Str)x10, Minimums: Str o
Kicked: Speed 3, Accuracy -1, *Damage +4B, Rate 1, Range (Str+Ath)x10, Minimums: Str o, Dex oo
  • Damage value if used in combat, or directly against an opponent

Exalted Powerball, Artifact: o Same statistics of the Official Powerball (Damage +1 if thrown, +3 if kicked), but deliberately designed with magical material (typically Jade woven with thread-of-Orichalcum beneath the padding of the leather) to help it withstand both the physical prowess of Exalted players, but also the effects of their Essence upon the ball (Dragon-Bloods were notorious for ruining many a game ball when their animas got out of control). If used as a weapon or as a singular training device, it requires 1 mote to attune to it.

While the core game is meant to be played with little else but the clothes on one's back, protective gear and other such amenities do exist for those players in training, or for games where personal risk to the players is too much to not care about.

Conqueror's Pads, Cost: oo. This full-body set of padding is modeled in a composite design of light military armors, and may vary in form depending on the regional make of it, yet always is composed of the same gear: chest guard, shoulder pads, forearm guards, and leg braces.

Soak: +3B/+1L, Mobility: -1, Fatigue: 0, Tags: May be concealed under clothing or cloak

Conqueror's Helm, Cost: o. Provides a +1 to soak where head injuries are a concern

The Game

(Timing is roughly similar to that of Combat time [measured in ticks]. Halftime benchmark should be around 150 ticks per half [short game])
  • First Actions
The game begins with the two team Leaders at center field. When the ball is launched into play, both Leaders make a Join Game action, which is a Wits + Athletics roll to reach the ball first. The winner of the Join Game roll, and his entire team make their actions on Tick 0, the opposing team on Tick 1.
Most actions listed below are allowable in flurries
  • Action Options (Offense)
    • Dash (3/-2) - (same as for combat) the character runs full-out, covering a distance of (Dexterity + 6 - penalties) yards-per-tick.
    • Pass (4/-1) - Applicable if another player is within the range of the thrower, requires a successful (Dex + Thrown) roll to accurately pass to a friendly player, who must make a successful (Dex + Athletics) roll at Difficulty 1 + (1 per ten yards of distance) to catch it. Failure on the roll means that the receiver has fumbled the ball. (penalties for extreme ranges apply as per pg. 148 of Exalted 2nd edition core rulebook
    • Activate CharmBStyles/Combo (VariesBStyles/Varies) - (As per the combat rules on pp. 142 of Exalted 2e Core)
    • Shoot (5/-1) - A simple shot-on-goal, accomplished by a (Dex + Thrown) roll, with an external penalty of -1 per fifteen yards of distance from the goal itself. It is opposed by the Keeper's own (Dex + Athletics) roll to intercept. A tie indicates the Keeper has knocked the ball away, success means the Keeper has caught the ball, and possession is turned over. If the Keeper is beaten, the shooter must then make a flat Essence roll at no difficulty (For Exalted, difficulty 1*), success meaning a goal has been scored.
(alternate considerations for outcome of missed shot:
1-2: shot goes wide and out of bounds
3-4: shot bounces off of the wall
5-6: shot bounces off of the goal frame)
  • One consideration has the goal difficulty for Exalts be equal to (Essence - 1), though this was largely speculative and not seriously implemented

    • Feint (3/-1) - A quick step, juke, or pump-fake intended to distract an opponent. The player rolls (Dex + Larceny) opposed by the defender's (Wits + Athletics). The degree of difference in success indicates the penalty by which the particular player's next action pool is docked (i.e., if the player making the feint nets 3 successes on the roll, and the defender only gets a single success, the defender's next action to either block or tackle the other player is now at a -2 internal penalty. Likewise, if the defender gets three successes, and the feinting player only gets one, the defender is now at +2 dice bonus to impede the player because he wasn't fooled at all). Further feint attempts will suffer a -1 penalty against a defender that has been feinted against earlier by the same ball carrier.
  • Action Options (Defense)
    • Dash (3/-2) - (same as above)
    • Block (0/0) - If the Blocker is within a Move actions distance of the Ball Carrier (or Dash action, though the -2 penalty applies to his roll) he may attempt to impede the opponent's progress by using his own body as an obstacle. This is not resolved the same way as a Tackle, since the blocker is not actively attacking, but rather using his own body as a barrier. Likewise, because it is not an attack action, DV is not used as the basis for defense. The blocker makes a (Stamina + Resistance) roll, directly opposed by either the rusher's (Dex + Dodge) roll to avoid the block, or (Str + Athletics) to try and overpower the other player. If the block succeeds, the blocked player is effectively rendered inactive. (Since this is a free action, there is no penalty for taking a second miscellaneous action after the block roll is resolved). If the block is dodged, the blocker suffers an internal penalty equal to the difference in success. If the blocker is knocked to the ground, he suffers the usual penalties for being knocked prone (pg. 144 of Exalted 2nd edition core), in addition to the opposing player's Strength in damage, soaked normally.
    • Activate CharmBStyles/Combo - (as per rules on p. 142 of Exalted 2nd edition core rulebook)
    • Tackle (6/-1) - (as per the rules listed for Clinching, p. 157 Exalted 2e core, and Knockdown, p. 153) The defender makes a (Dex + Martial Arts) roll, parried or dodged normally by the opponent's defense value. If the attack hits, both players make a reflexive ([Dexterity or Stamina] + [Athletics or Resistance]) roll, difficulty 2, to avoid knockdown. If the target fails to avoid the clinch, but succeeds the knockdown roll, they are considered stunned for the next several ticks while they regain their footing. Borne to the ground, the offensive player must then take damage equal to the defender's Stamina value, soaked normally. If the clinch attempt succeeds, the defender may choose to instead throw the other player a number of yards equal to his strength value. If the opponent is thrown into one of the walls (a legal move), they suffer damage equal to 1 hl + 1 hl per the number of yards left to travel, soaked normally.
    • Trip (6/-1) - A specific instance of a Tackle, usually as a last ditch attempt from a Blocker that has been knocked down. Tripped players make the same roll to avoid knockdown, but do not take damage upon falling (save for injury rules, listed below)
    • Intercept (3/-1) - Not all passes are as perfect as some Leaders would like, and in truth, the best drama of a game comes from those impossible receptions over the heads of two or three Blockers. When a pass is made to a receiver within the reach of a defender, the defender may make an attempt to intercept the pass and gain possession. This requires a successful (Dex + Athletics) roll at a difficulty equal to the difference in success of the receiver and passer's rolls (i.e., if the Leader of the opposing team nets three successes to pass to a receiver who nets four, the interceptor must beat the roll at Difficulty 1 to successfully intercept). On a tie, neither player successfully catches the ball.
    • Strip (3/-2) - For those incredibly dexterous players, sometimes the one thing more humiliating than bringing down an opponent is eliminating the need to bring him down. Many a player has been jeered as a butterfingers for having the ball stripped from his very grasp. This action requires a (Dex + Larceny) roll opposed by the Ball Carrier's (Wits + Dodge). Success means the ball has been taken away, and the possession is turned over. Failure indicates the Carrier was able to maneuver away from the Strip attempt. A tie means the ball is stripped away from both players, and falls to the ground.
  • Action Options (referee)
    • Spot (0/0) - This is a completely reflexive action made by the referee in response to a possible infraction, requiring a ([Perception or Wits] + Awareness) roll at Difficulty 1, with an external penalty of -1 per fifteen yards away from the incident.
  • Loose Ball
    • A loose ball may be picked up or kicked by any player within range as a reflexive action. Contested balls require a new Join Game action (though not a new tick count)
  • Scored Goals
    • When a goal is scored, possession of the ball is given to the Keeper of the team scored upon. Play resumes the first tick after the goal was scored.


In any contact sport, injuries are inevitable, and even the toughest of Exalts might not be immune to the mundane facts of sore arms, strained hamstrings and muscle pulls. The injury is determined by the Storyteller at any point in which a player botches one of the following:
  • Avoiding Knockdown from tackling/tripping
  • Being knocked down as a result of failing a block attempt
  • A feint, strip, or interception attempt
An injury inflicts a number of health levels of unsoakable bashing damage depending on the severity of the injury, severity determined at Storyteller's discretion, and the level of botch (i.e.: more 1s = VERY hurt player)


I have to say, very good job with the rules on this. I just have a few points I want to point out.

  • A) Why different rules for passing and shooting? or inventing a new rule for intercepting? Also the rules you have for intercepting mean you want to pass between the most missmatched players in the game (currently difficulty for interception is the differance between the successes of the reciver and the passing player. If one rolls 7 successes and the other rolls 8 successes, the difficulty to intercept this amazingly thrown and recived pass is only 1??
  • B) When shooting why add the additional range penilty for shooting vrs other forms of throwing, and the extra essance roll to confirm the goal, why? Now Im not simply nay-saying your work, just this section of rules seems unnessicarly complex with some random seeming difficulty additions put in it.
  • I thought up what seems to me solutions to these minor issues and they are as follows.
  • Shooting and passing are both 'attack' actions, doing no damage to the goal/reciever (not intentanly thrown to cause injury.) Any oponents between the passer/shooter and his reciever/goal are allowed to apply a special PDV to the pass (Dex + Athletics + specialty/2) Any action or charm that normaly penilises or refreshes the players Defence Values applies to this. ALL players along the line of the shot apply this PDV in order, when the pass is beaten by 5 or more successes the pass is intersepted. If the defending players to not accumilate 5 or more successes over the passing players 'attack' then the recieving player gets to make a (Dex + Athletics) roll with a difficulty of 2+ the number of sucesses defending players accumilated OVER the passing players initial roll (Pass was expertly thrown between two blockers, passing player rolled a 7 on the pass. Both defenders have a 4PDV for a total of 1 success over the pass. The reciever now needs to beat a difficulty 3 roll (2+successes over the pass) in order to complete the pass the defenders have 'tipped') Range penilitys on the ball apply to all passes and shots. Following these rules the Keeper is simply a permenant blocker at the goal. If the reason for making the extra essance roll after the shooter defeats the keeper's defences, then I propose the base difficulty of the goal be increesed from your standard 1 difficulty for an undefending target to 2 or more as seems appropiate. These rules also compleetly remove the intercept action. This also makes DV penialtys on various actions have more of an effect on the game as well as the number of ticks before DV refreshes. I would also like to apoligise at this point for orignaly posting these editions next to your orignal rules.