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By DeathBySurfeit

Whilst idly tweaking the distribution of attribute and bonus points in order to give another NPC a fighting chance against the sleek and deadly character sheets of the players, I paused to reflect upon the sad necessity of such an act, and comment to Darloth upon it. He rationalised it (quite adeptly) as the bonus points being representative of the sudden onrush of 'cool' upon Exaltation, whereafter the more gritty world of experience points takes over; the munchkinning that results was inevitable.

Or is it? With a few careful changes to the mechanics, experience could be represented with bonus points instead. The imbalance between the two systems would recede considerably, and the players would be left with a simpler, focus-friendly, more anime form of progression. The results of my tinkering are below for all to see.


At the end of a session, each player receives a single bonus point instead of their usual amount of experience. Where people have played exceptionally, the Storyteller may deem to give out bonus point fragments ((working title 'scooby snacks')), five of which may be exchanged for a bonus point proper. These are spent in accordance with the bonus point tables found in the Character Creation Summaries of the appropriate books, subject to the following changes:

  • The costs for Charms are changed in line with the values given below:
Solar 2/3, Abyssal 2/3, Sidereal 2/3, Lunar 3/4, Dragon-Blooded 3/4, Alchemical 3/4, God-Blooded 4/5
The first value gives the cost in bonus points for caste or favoured Charms, whilst the second gives the cost for Charms that aren't either. Sidereals always consider Martial Arts Charms to be favoured, whilst Lunars and Alchemicals never do.
Celestial level Martial Arts Charms cost an extra point for Terrestrials, and Sidereal level Martial Arts Charms cost an extra point for Celestials.
  • Combos cost 1 bonus point per Charm that is caste or favoured, plus 2 points per Charm that isn't, subject to normal restrictions.
  • A person's permanent Willpower is calculated as the sum of their two highest Virtues, plus however many dots of Willpower were purchased separately. Increasing one of a person's highest Virtues at any point will cause their Willpower to increase accordingly, up to the normal limit of 10.
  • Training times are unaffected. Alternative rule: the Power Training Times rules are used. Another Alternative rule: training times are ignored entirely, though Essence must be increased with the aid of a spiritual quest, or else the usual length of monastic seclusion is necessary.


Under this system, increasing scores at the high end costs the same amount as getting them to begin with, and Combo development is priced in accordance to the number rather than complexity of the Charms that constitute it. It consequently encourages specialisation in each character (up to Essence limits), and so places an emphasis on teamwork within a Circle to accomplish tasks.

Diversification is no longer easier done within play; for characters to be fairly self-sufficient, a broader spread of dots is likely to be seen initially, with many of the higher scores developed over time. This encourages people to progress from being quite human to very Exalted, and is thus a Good Thing from my narrow standpoint.


Eureka! Comments, criticisms, conjectures et al are all entirely welcome...DeathBySurfeit

Nifty, I've considered doing something like for a while. (I too disliked the way the old system encouraged specialization at chargen and diversfication later. Not to mention weird build efficiency problem.) Thoughts as follows:

You lose the progression between "types" but that really only matters in a mixed game, and I don't think is that big a deal. I was worried about this, but agree that it isn't a big deal.
I like the way this make generalizing more viable as initial spread.
I like the virtue thing. It makes increasing virtues a little more attractive for Solars(where it isn't very much, normally)
It also makes increasing Essence take longer at the low end, and slightly faster at the high end. This seems about right, as people would probably broaden out before saving for 7 sessions.
I initially worried about people increasing Essence to quickly, but further thought indicates it's not likely to be a big deal. And one can use the training time as a brake if needed.
Other point. Honestly, in Exalted, there isn't much difference between a score of 3 vs 5(yeah, 2 dices), so it does seem strange that the 5 cost so much more.
Anyway, very cool. -FlowsLikeBits

Neat idea, though I think training times tend to "make generalizing more viable as initial spread". My games tend to have more xp to spend than training time to spend it in. - Wordman

Wow, I do like this idea. I might have to bring this up before I start my next session to my fellow players as an alternative to the XP system. Not to mention, this might help balance of epic style games. -- Savare

Thanks for the warm reception! My thoughts, as ever, aim to be yoinked. I've added some alternative training mechanics for those who, like myself, find the conventional training system equally unappealing...DeathBySurfeit

yoinked. - trithne, who does, however, think that combos are a little cheap.
Ah but that adds further to the OTT-anime feel of a game run with this. Everyone... and their dog... (and, if the dog is large enough, the dog's fleas) have combos.
-- Darloth

Having used this system for an intensive three-month campaign, I feel I'm pretty much geared to share some notes on its application. Firstmost, I hadn't foreseen quite how much it encourages growing specialisation; with the considerable proportional difference between favoured and nonfavoured ability dots, specialities and Charms relative to the XP system, the players were strongly encouraged to build upon their characters' respective schticks. Several times a player wanted access to a certain trick, but decided to persuade a different player to get it instead, and use it for them. Consequently, group teamwork and ties were actively encouraged.

It's also much more intuitive for new players, and makes aspiring goals more concrete in a player's mind ("I need 8 BP, that's eight sessions!" is more readily grasped than "I need 27XP"). As Wordman predicted, raising Essence becomes a very significant step, and characters tended to be built out before being built up. However, I recommend some system of giving out rewards of less than a full bonus point - I personally used 'zing' points (named after the circumstances of their introduction) for particularly entertaining or immersive IC play, any +3 stunts or work done outside of the session itself.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how the system worked out, and highly recommend it to any Storyteller. Hell, I recommend it be adopted for Second Edition...DeathBySurfeit

I'm a little concerned by the step-size between certain things. In this situation, some things are easily 50% or 33% worse (or better) than others, which is pretty steep, especially over the long run. While some consider it good, in that it promotes specialization, it also heavily changes things based on your limited set of favoreds, which is a pretty big deal. Might I suggest a change then, insomuch as you simply double all costs on this page, and the amount of XP given? Then, instead of 4 and 6 for favored and unfavored charm costs, you could do 4 and 5, lessening the big break a bit? Similarly, other things can have that (2*n-1) applied to them? I'm just worried that because of this acknowledged change in game balance, some things won't work as well, or make as much sense. For example, in the 'normal' system, Eclipses aren't as screwed, as while they have no relevant combat-like abilities anywhere to help them (same with Twilights, really), it's not as big of a crutch, as they can still pick up some Dawn or Night caste things without paying too much of a surcharge. Same with Dawn Castes trying not to learn only combat charms. It's tough to be a non one-dimensional character with the 50% XP efficiency this system puts on you, changing the flavor of the game. In some cases, yes, it's good, in others, you're preventing characters from moving outside of their assigned box. -- GregLink

You do get just as many 'free' choices under favored, as you do under caste. And if you don't favor .any/ combat abiliies, well ... ten you really shouldn't be very good at combat. Just my two koku. - Scrollreader

Question for anyone who's been using this system: apart from favoring specialization, how has the linear growth nature of this system affected the characters? That is, spending standard XP uses triangular sums (where the cost of the next level is the current level times some constant), making the change from 4 to 5 cost more than 1 to 2. In this system, this doesn't happen, as cost is calculated (in most cases) irrespective of current level. In other words, I guess I'm wondering if a system that converts bonus points to experience at character generation is a bit more balanced than this one, which converts experience to bonus points after generation. - Wordman

Actually, I think that is a good thing. I find it annoying the way the system gives different relative costs vs when things are bought. This makes it all much more equal, and makes generalists work better. The system Wordman describes would tend to discourage specialization. I consider this a bad thing, but I consider descouraging being well rounded a bad thing also. -FlowsLikeBits
the BeCKS, which was basically Wordman's idea only for shadowrun (instead of buildpoints, 425 karma, 3rd edition, if anyone is familiar with it) worked extremely well, and although it discouraged specialization a little bit, this ended up more with rounded characters with a couple of levels in everything appropriate for their character, and only specialized in things they thought they'd really be very good in. I'm not sure what it would do for exalted though, because of the set (and fairly small) number of abilities, the blatant over the top feel, and in general the different setting. It might have the same effect, but I agree that FLBs concerns are probably more valid in reference to Exalted... That said, I'd be interested to see it if anyone ever did the maths.
-- Darloth
My inclination is that encouraging diversification is a great idea in a hard realism system such as Shadowrun; I certainly use the BeCKS every time I play that game. In Exalted, I find it better to encourage specialisation and discourage character homology, to create more 'clear' characters and promote cooperation within the Circle. Consider also that there is a degree of declining value that is preserved - assuming a Dex of 5, buying your first point of martial arts increases your performance by 20%. Buying your fifth dot increases it by 11%...DeathBySurfeit