Putting the Arts into Martial Arts
The rough idea is this: Martial Arts and Melee (and possibly Archery and Throwing) operate in a manner similar to how Occult does. By itself, each rank in Martial Arts lets you punch more effectively and lets you parry unarmed attacks more easily; likewise with Melee (although the latter lets you parry armed attacks as well). Beyond that, you need to learn one or more Arts. Use the rules found under Thaumaturgy (pages 137 and 138 in Exalted, Second Edition), with the exception that Procedures don't require Resources to use. The Arts for Martial Arts and Melee are Striking, Grappling, and Shoving.
Striking includes procedures representing specific kinds of strikes, including a Degree 0 procedure representing the basic punch available to everyone. Degree 1 Striking procedures include kicking, feinting, and parrying. Higher-degree Striking procedures include disarming, parrying melee weapons, and possibly even parrying thrown or archery attacks.
Grappling involves establishing and breaking holds and locks; advanced procedures include reversals and Shove-like procedures that can only be used while grappling. Shoving involves pushes, throws, and trips - both initiating them and resisting them. Basic defensive procedures (i.e., escaping holds and staying on your feet) are always Degree 1, letting anyone learn them without having to develop the associated Art.
Cast of Characters
The idea here is to define a set of signature characters, one of each major Exalted type, and to do so in such a way that each is true to his or her type while having a Motivation that is compatable with the other four.
- Solar Exalted: Eclipse Caste (Versatility)
- Lunar Exalted: Full Moon Caste (Strength)
- Sidereal Exalted: Chosen of Secrets (Wisdom)
- Dragon-Blooded Exalted: Earth Aspect (Stamina)
- Abyssal Exalted: Day Caste (Cunning)
- Fair Folk: Xia (Valor shadowing Compassion)
Several of this set of characters were inspired by the Steerswoman series of novels: the Solar is a truth-seeker patterned loosely after Rowan, the protagonist Steerswoman of the series; his Lunar companion is likewise inspired by Bel, Rowan's Outlander companion. The Sidereal is the archtypal Wizard, egotistical hoarder of secrets who stands for everything that the Steerswomen abhor.
A further refinement is the addition of non-Exalt companions for each of the above:
- the Solar has a Demon-Blood partner.
- the Lunar has a Half-Caste (Beastman) child.
- the Sidereal has a God-Blood ward.
- the Terrestrial has a Mountain Folk (Artisan) advisor.
- the Abyssal has a Ghost-Blood servant.
- the Fair Folk has a Fae-Blood child.