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Extras Are Not People

You heard me. Extras are not people. They're scenery. They exist for the sole purpose of dying in interesting ways at the hands of characters that matter. They don't have families. They don't have jobs. Really, they don't even have lives. They're scenery, like a tree or a rock or a crumbling vine-encrusted ziggurat.

This brings to light a major problem with the rules presented in the Exalted corebook: The extras rules treat extras as if they were people! Not just that, people with their own health levels and stats! Crazy, no? That's why I'm fixing it here and now.

Disclaimer: If you disagree with the assertion that extras are no more human than a burning hut or a pile of coconuts, then these rules probably aren't for you. You've been warned.


For obvious reasons, extras are a crucial part of the cinematic feel of Exalted. Now, you could simply houserule that they are quite literally nothing more than set pieces, and that would be just fine. However, I feel that sort of cheats characters - particularly player characters - who have the Command Background, and similar effects, at their disposal. I mean, the player did spend the points on that wing of elite soldiers, didn't he? It is also my opinion that while extras are really just scenery, they should probably be hazardous scenery, rather like a vat of acid. I mean, who would bother raising an army in the Age of Sorrows if all it did was provide cool shit for the Exalted to walk on?

Attempting to take these concerns in mind, I have written up a new set of rules for handling the nameless hordes that the Chosen face on a regular basis. My goals are, specifically, to create a system that enables Storytellers to handle combat with clashing armies in a much more expedient, but still fun and interesting fashion, and to keep extras at least enough of a threat that they might be worth spending background points on.


Extras will be treated as an environmental consideration. For first edition, this means that once per turn a character being attacked by a group of extras must roll a normal dodge or parry against a difficulty prescribed by the quality of the soldiers he faces. Failing this roll means the character suffers a fixed amount of damage (again, based on the type of troops), soaked as a normal attack would be. Charms and clever tactics can improve (or hamper!) the effectiveness of soldiers, increasing or decreasing the difficulty to defend against them or the damage they inflict.

The original extras rules found in the [i]Exalted[/i] corebook can still be useful! The villager the PCs stop to question while the others are running around in a panic, one merchant out of a crowd, the one surviving soldier from a Wyld Hunt taken captive by the PCs, etc - characters of minimal importance to the story, but still important enough to treat as if they were individuals. When the need arises to interject an individual, the original extras rules (or the original mortals rules, depending on the STs feelings) should probably be used.

Rules for magnitude will be added later, allowing characters to attack extras to reduce their numbers and ultimately clear the field.


[[DavidDavid./ExtraComments | Old and Irrelevant Comments Logged Here]]

I like the logic behind these rules. It is a good way to verbalise exactly what it means for a thing to be an extra. - willows

I think I need a new word for it. "Extras" implies that it's still a group of people. - David.
Here's a few less than good ones to spur thought: "Humanoid Scenery" "Bipedal Surroundings" "Extrii" "Fleshy Setting"... - GreenLantern, embarrassed at the quality of the suggestions, but at least trying
I was thinking something more along the lines of "soldiers", or something. I'll probably stand by "Extras", though, since that's the term people will recognize as standing for human scenery. - David.
Doesn't "soldiers" still imply a group or people just like "extras" does? you don't see many soldiers by themselves. Madoka
How about some cute abbreviation of a synonym of 'extra'... superfs, redunds, irrels, nons, frills, trims, bits (bit-players), walk-ons, or something else less obnoxious? --UncleChu
I prefer all of UncleChu's suggestion to all of my earlier suggestions. (Which were really horrible.) -- GreenLantern

I don't get it. What about the word extra doesn't capture this perfectly? You can just refuse to pluralise it, if you want to avoid talking about it as though it contained humans. "There is some extra too." - willows

I think "Walk-ons" actually captures it quite well, and prevents accidental mental-crossover from the current, canonical system of Extras. Walk-ons are characters that, if swapped out with any other 'actor', you wouldn't notice the difference. Thus, for characters with names, that may or may not be seen again, or for whom their motivations, history, and details might matter, you use mortals. For just 'bodies' to fill a fight scene, or whatever, you can just use walk-on actors - as a director, you wouldn't give them any direction other than "You! Yes, you three - go over to the corner there, and be local citizens." It's up to the actor to come up with what they're doing, and details of the costume, etc. Mortals, on the other hand, are actually given direction, perhaps a character name, a motivation, etc. Just my thoughts, correlating things to the movie and theatre industries. -- GreenLantern
willows gets the cookie. - David.