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After some discussions in the Exalted Forum, I think it'd be educational to put up some example "Good" starting characters. Either characters that are very powerful at start OR characters that, with 25-50exp, will be very powerful. Making a character correclty at the outset can be the difference between a powerful character and a weak one, especially in the long run.

FallenAngel's Character

As taken from the Exalted Forums Let's make a nice little close-combat Dawn, I won't create a flashy backgroundstory etc. since he's only meant as an example. So there.


Strength: 3
Dexterity: 4
Stamina: 4
Charisma: 3
Manipulation: 2
Appearance: 3
Perception: 3
Intelligence: 3
Wits: 3

Abilities(only the close-combat relevant ones):

  • Melee:5(3 point speciality)
  • Dodge:5(3 point speciality)


  • Golden Essence Block
  • Dipping Swallow Defense
  • Bulwark Stance
  • 5FBulwark Stance
  • Heavenly Guardian Defense
  • Reed in the Wind
  • Shadow over Water
  • Reflex Sidestep Technique,
  • Seven Shadow Evasion
  • Flow like Blood

Get him a decent Daiklaive, say a Grand Daiklaive and his stats will look like this in combat after two lousy turns of build-up: He hits with a 14 dice pool and 14L damage(not using any charms). He has a 12 die autoparry AND a 12 die autododge against EVERY attack( making a grand total of a 24 dice defence against anything)+ He has a perfect defense in tight situations.

After a few sessions you can easily buff him up with some soak and major damage-dealing charms. The only way for joe-blow DB to defeat him is to slit his throat when he's sleeping...and thats a STARTING character...Combat Solar's KICK ASS(quite literally)

  • To all Brawl,Archery and Martial Arts lovers: I recognize these abilities also kick ass but I used a melee guy for the example cause most players start with a melee character since it's most often the easiest type to build.

-- FallenAngel

EDIT: Sooo, I nicked the attack charms to correct the cost thingy. Furthermore to explain why i went and did the char like I did, it was with the goal in mind to create a char who was "good" from scratch(ready to rumble), not one with great potential ^^(Although we can do that too, there are a lot of min-maxing methods with those freebie points :P). I also tried not to make him too dependent on Artifacts(a lot starting chars are and it can be a bad thing in some situations). Whee, long update, bear with me ^^

Powerful, indeed, but also very boring, no ? So little flavour, so little originality. - Etrangere

I have no problem with this. Flavor and originality come from the background and description, not from the numbers on a character sheet. The goal of the thread is to design powerful starting characters, and as you pointed out, this one seems fine. I'd contribute my own here, but I really don't have a good handle on twinkery. As a storyteller, I actually appreciate the idea of having a list of combat heavy characters to pit my players against. - Shoggoth

I do not think that FallenAngel's point had anything to do with flavor or originality.

I also think the character is illegal unless you nix the attack Charms. Fifteen bonus points is not enough to buy Essence 3, 4 points of Ability, 6 specialties, and two Charms beyond the basic 10.

What I'd do is drop the specialties, and use the bp that frees up to buy more Artifact. Ideally doing something like a daiklave/ thunderbolt shield combo.\\ _Ikselam

Sorry for thinking more is better. I don't mean to criticize FallenAngel's idea, just that it would be better if the characters have a more interresting bit to it. You can twink with any other system, but with Exalted you've got a game system where making good fighters can actually be fun. Weapons can be cool, specialities can be imaginative, charms taken can bring complex strategies and give, even when it's a mere opponant, some colour to the character that at once brings colour to the world and to the fight. That's only what I meant. And no, that doesn't mean I think I could do better ^_^ - Etrangere

I'd have to agree with both Ikselam and Shoggoth on the originality point. Mechanically many characters are quite similar. Stylistically, thematically and psychologically, they can be radically different. I think that FallenAngel had the right idea, but a few mistakes. But I think that his character, while potentially starting out very strong, actually will have a hard time advancing compared to some other characters. Mathematically speaking, there are ways to spend your bonus points to get a lot "more" out of a starting character. For instance, getting high virtues, especially making 2 virtues 4, is an outstandingly good use of bonus points, since it gets you more willpower and more essence. Favored specialties are also a very efficient use of bonus points, according to the math. Buying essence 3 is usually not a good call unless you absolutely have to have it for the charms you want (like a starting sorcerer). Some backgrounds, depending on how the GM plays it, also have good cost/benefit ratios. Well spent artifact points can be some of the best you can spend!

It's very easy to make a character that, after about 35 experience, is stronger than this one, and on a better "track" in the long run. Later on, when I have some more free time, I'll try and make an example Twilight using those principles.

-- DaveFayram

Just a few more little tweaks ... change the attributes to

Strength: 5 Charisma: 2 Perception: 2 Dexterity: 5 Manipulation: 2 Intelligence: 2 Stamina: 1 Appearance: 3 Wits: 5

Its much better in the long run. The 5 in Strength and Dexterity are very costly to get to with XP, while a 2 or even 3 stamina isn't (and it provides only a little extra soak). Similarly with Wits; a high initiative bonus is (incredibly) useful.

- BrokenShade

I'm not sure I quite understand the reasoning behind not buying Essence 3 at character creation. 7 freebie points gets you 10 more motes, right (Personal is x3, Peripheral is x7)? Assuming balanced Virtues (one at 3 others at 2), it costs 9 freebies to raise 2 Virtues to 4, which gives you 3 motes and I think 3 Willpower?

Is your criteria that Virtues and Willpower outrank Essence pools?

I'm just trying to understand. I am the ST for my group and have had no experience actually running an Exalted character in a game.

- Ajb47

Willpower is very important to fuel persistent charms and the like, and it quite expensive after character creation. Likewise, Virtues after creation are not particularly cheap, and do not contribute to willpower. Essence 3 only costs 16XP - about 3 session's worth of play, not usually a big deal.

However, I find when I'm not buying Essence 3 at character creation, it is usually because of my undying hunger for ratings of 4 and 5 in a wide range of abilities ^_^


Buying Essence 3 costs 7 freebie points for a Solar. It provides a grand total of +10 motes, and access to more powerful charms (that you might not yet need). Outside of character creation, this is 16 xp, and no training time.

Buying 2 virtues (you can start with 2 at 3) costs 6 freebies. This provides you with +2 willpower and +6 motes, and additional channeling dice. This would cost you 18 xp outside of character creation, and to get the full willpower bonus as well would cost another 26 xp, and none of this has training time.

However, in my experience, it is far and away better to buy things that have prohibitive training times or are, in other ways, difficult to improve. Specialties take THREE weeks to acquire, when you can just spend 1 to 1/2 freebies to get them at start. Attributes are cheap at 4 freebies, but almost impossible to raise outside of character creation. Backgrounds are very cheap, but again, almost impossible to raise outside of character creation.

Unless you're going for something REALLY specific, I advise focusing on Backgrounds, then attributes, then specialties/abilities until you are satisfied with your character, then worrying about the no training time stuff. ~Mailanka

Ajb47, the reason you don't want to buy Essence 3 at creation (unless you HAVE to) is that it's inefficient. What we're trying to do at character creation is make the character with the best starting "position" and in general that means maximizing your freebie/exp ratio. Getting two virtues to 3 and 4, then having the rest at 2 means you get a 7 willpower, but only a few motes less essence. It'd cost you way more in terms of experience to get that much, and when you do spend the 16 exp for essence 3 (which requires no training time!) then suddenly you have more essence than you would have had before, more virtue dice, AND more willpower. A very good idea since essence 3 is so cheap.

Another good place to use bonus points is in favored specialties. It's like raising a skill by +2 for 1 freebie. Likewise, getting skills to 5 is a good idea, since doing it later is a pain. Mailanka is right that backgrounds, especially Manse and Artifact, are also very valuable, but they're expensive to get maxed. In general I keep them at 4, if I move them that high.

One trick to speed char growth and diversion at the start is to get one charm less than where you really want to go, on all trees. If you want fivefold bulwark, only get bulwark stance. This lets you spread out more at the start, often means you don't need essence 3, and allows you to get to full power more quickly. It may reduce your ability for the first few sessions but... How much you should do this depends strongly on how much exp your GM gives per session. In my groups we give out more than is recommended, usually 6-8 points (8 if we did especially well). So my outlook is that it will take less time to get the exp than some games that are more stingy :)

-- DaveFayram

Buying favored specialties, or high ratings in abilities, is probably the most "efficient" use of bonus points; you get a very favorable rate compared to the xp cost.

Buying specialties in non-favored abilities, on the other hand, is usually a complete waste in purely mechanical terms. In most cases, you can finagle things so that you could get an actual dot in that ability for the same cost (unless most of your ability points are in non-favored abilities for some bizarre reason).

As various people above have noted, getting Essence 3 at chargen is usually a waste unless your backstory demands an Essence 3 Charm (like Sorcery or Ghost-Eating Technique). You will be powerful out of the box, but that advantage will vanish in two or three sessions. With those 7 bp, you could have bought a whole slew of abilities, Virtues, Attributes, or whatever, all of which would probably be much more expensive to buy with xp than that third Essence dot was.


OK, now I see why. By adding to Virtues, you are actually getting three abilities raised for the price of one (Virtues, Willpower, and Essence Pool). It's not a matter of which is more important, it's a matter of the most bang for your buck.

The book was saying to me that once Exalted, 75% of Creation was going to be against you and the Wyld Hunt was going to be knocking at your door two days later so you better be ready. To me that meant being able to channel a lot of Essence from the start. I haven't been able yet to see what happens as characters gain experience as the time I spent running my game was cut short (some of my players work at jobs that can have strange hours and they go through periods where they can't always make it to the game). It was fine when the characters were apart, but of course it happened as they were all brought together in the same place.

- AJ Ajb47

Hello, all. Just thought I'd say something about building starting characters and efficiency after my experiences with same. Big problem for us?Training time. When you are being chased by everyone under the sun, or so it seemed, finding the time to train up was really, really tough. We usually wandered around with 30-50 XP saved up at any given time, simply because we couldn't find the breathing space to train up in it. Essence was the nastiest of this, of course, given it's time requirements. So, when looking at your character's future, stat-wise and depending on how your GM likes to run it, it's really worth paying attention to training times.


Yeah, it's most efficient point-wise to have your character start with Str 5, Dex 5, Sta 1, but that will take some negotiating. As an ST, if my players were doing that just for the extra power, I would be very displeased. And I'm not even an anti-combat nazi. My old Exalted ST, the guy who only allowed starting Solars to go 3 charms up one tree, and two charms up the rest, now he was a anti-combat nazi. What's the point of playing if the Dawn Caste, Full Moons, Maiden of Battles, what have you can't whoop some serious ass in style?



On the subject of raising virtues, if you don't need the freebies too badly, two virtues at 5 (from 3-3-2-1 base) costs 12 freebies but will assure you a Willpower of 10 and an Essence Pool of 16:37 or so, about as high as an Essence 3 character. The whole package represents about 60 experience points and is so far the most cost-effective use of Freebies I've found in strict XP terms. The only better deals I can see are things like Backgrounds, which you just might never get otherwise.\\ [edit]I've done some math on other stuff just to see how much experience costs can be tweaked... The single most effective use of Freebie points is getting 30 specialties, that's three in each favored ability, which is the equivalent of 90 experience points, or 72 compared to the Virtues suggestion. I'm not too sure this is a good investment though.\\ Raising Favored Abilities from 3 to 5 would be worth on average 6xp per Freebie, total 89xp altogether. So you have a character with seven Abilities at five, one at four and two at one, and only the last two may be unfavored. I'm not too attracted to this either.\\ Raising attributes is not that great, it won't allow you to reach levels previously unreachable. The best deal I believe is S*****D*****S* to S*****D*****S**** for twelve Freebies, which is equivalent to 24XP. And starting from S****D****S*** instead is NOT better!!)\\ Charms are easy. Three out-of-favor Charms cost 12 Freebies, the equivalent of 30xp. Bad deal.\\ Essence is 40xp for Essence 4, fourteen Freebies. Marginally better. So I guess my position holds up mostly.\\ As for solutions, convert every starting point into experience points and make the players buy everything, limiting spendings in any particular area. Suddenly everyone will have oodles of abilities at 2 or 3. Is that really any better? - ArchonShiva

I object to your math again. Because raising your Virtues raises your Willpower, it should cost 102 experience points to get two Virtues to 10 and Willpower to 10, starting from a 3-3-2-1 base package. That's about 8.5 xp per freebie. See Discussions/PurchasingSpecialties for details.

Essence 4 for a Solar costs 24 xp (current rating times 8) not 40. You are right about the Freebie point cost (7 per dot) though. - Malikai

16 for Essence 3 + 24 for Essence 4 = 40 XP total to go from 2 (starting rating) to 4. -- MF

I see, the way it looked when I read it was that the 40xp was just for the 4th dot. That's why I was confused. - Malikai

The efficiency argument for me is less than perfect. It really depends on what your idea of your character is. Sorcerers need Essence 3. A lot of folks who are planning to go deep into one tree (MA for example) are going to get better bang for their buck going for Ess. 3. So many non-corebook Charms use Essence as the add that I would rather have a dot of Essence than more motes, more Will, or more Virtues.

The other issue is one of Virtue confinement. High levels of Virtues are not necessarily a blessing, as most of us have encountered in one game or another. So Virtue vs. Ess. is not clear cut, not at all. -JPCardier

I'm curious as to what everyone think about starting with combos. Is it better to wait a develope them in-game or to start with them? -apeman

At most, one combo can work. Especially if you want to be a combat monkey. It's not too hard to combo a reflexive parry and perhaps hungry tiger strike, giving you the ability to parry and attack in the same round with high effectiveness. The key there is to keep it cheap and general. As a Solar, one of your biggest limitations is that nasty one-charm-per-turn rule that terrestrials get to ignore so freely. The other thing to watch is that combos are 1WP, and so is virtue channeling. That means unless you're getting 3-4 or more dice from your combo, it's just as effective to virtue channel to cover up any lost ground. Hence, things like reflexives can be quite nice. So yeah. One combo, at most, doing combat-y things, usually either def+def or def+off, but always at least one reflexive defense. Going for offensive comboes is just too tough, as you don't have any real good EA charms, nor do you have the opportunity to put together the real combo-masters like perfect attacks. Perhaps Excellent Strike+Hungry Tiger, but that's really the only one I can think of. -- GregLink, with his thoughts
Examples of Combos that you could start the game with easily, and which will probably last you well into the Essence 5 level -
  • Heavenly Guardian Defense + Hungry Tiger Technique: all purpose, melee only. Non-combat-focused characters can switch out HGD for DSD, at least at first, though that version usually has less mileage.
  • Adamant Skin Technique + Essence-Gathering Temper: Turn any attack into nummy Essence for your pool. Requires a large Resistance focus, but only a little Endurance. Alternately, this could be pulled off with only Resistance 3 and 2 charms from its tree using Iron Skin Concentration. Again, slightly less mileage. Works best with higher Stamina.
  • Iron Skin Concentration + Willpower-Enhancing Spirit + Essence-Gathering Temper: Like the previous Combo, but you probably take a little damage. That's okay, though, because that restores the all-important and much rarer resource of Willpower. And you still get Essence just the same. Requires 3 in both Endurance and Resistance, and 2 charms from each.
  • Hungry Tiger Technique + Fire and Stones Strike: Recommended for Meleeists who also have Fifefold Bulwark Stance. Or to finish off single enemies.
  • Falling Icicle Strike + Thunderbolt Attack Prana: Great stealth attack, since you'll have some range, and can probably arrange to get away before the enemies reach you if the one person you kill isn't the only one there was.
You'll note these are mostly two-charm Combos, playing off of synergistic effects. The exception is HGD + HTT, which is a "bread and butter" Combo - it covers both of the combat essentials, in situations when nothing else will do. The difference in performance between a Solar with no Combos and a Solar with any one of these Combos is phenomenal. There are other effective ones too. Just don't try to do too much, especially at start, but even later the basic utility of these Combos often wins out. - IanPrice
  • Thanks for the responses. The examples were a great help. Would a starting combo of Leapong Tiger Attack, Hungry Tiger Technique and DSD be worth the bp?
Well, let's look at it. You double raw damage, which is good for bypassing soak, and since the bonus goes up as your base damage does, it stays good. HTT adds to the raw damage that will be doubled, which is good synergy. DSD gives you a defensive element, important if you don't have a persistent reflexive.
On the other hand, LTA costs willpower, so you're spending 2 willpower for this combo. That's hefty, and remains so. DSD also ceases to be nearly as useful if you get Fivefold Bulwark Stance later.
  • Actual recommendation: Ditch DSD from the Combo. Since LTA lets you sprint and attack, use that to control your range and cover so that the movement acts as a defense. This Combo gives you a damage value of (base damage * 2) + (attack successes * 4). Whoever you target is going to be in a world of hurt. - IanPrice
As a small note of correction, the actual damage dice is ( Base Damage + (attack successes * 2) - Targets Soak ) * 2 - which isn't quite as nice as IanPrice suggested it was, though they're still likely to be in a world of hurt.
I would suugest keeping DSD. You can't gaurantee you'll be able to reach nessesary cover, or that your target won't have counterattacks or just be able to attack at range. While it does become mostly useless when you have fivefold, it is a lot safer til you do get fivefold. And it's only 1bp or 2xp. - Kraken
Soak is subtracted after Leaping Tiger Attack doubles damage. The charm specifically states "before soak." You may be thinking of Thunderbolt Attack Prana, which doubles damage successes after it's rolled (which is necessarily after soak). My philosophy remains the same. It may only be 1 bp or 2 xp, but it's more importantly 2 motes that will become a waste if you ever get fivefold. If you want them not to be wasted, you should probably include Surprise Anticipation Method in the Combo, so that it becomes an instant response to danger before you can get persistents up. That would remain useful forever. - IanPrice
You are allowed, not required to use any reflexive charms in the combo, so not 2 wasted motes after fivefold, but rather still possible to block if you don't have it up and you are attacking. - Blackedout
That is why I suggest it, yes. It is 2xp lost, but security gained. I would agree that Surprise Anticipation makes a valued additon to combos, though I'm less sure it does to this specific combo. You could find yourself with an offence combo all primed and no-where to take it. In addition: "The character makes the attack as normal, but the amount of damage he does is doubled after soak but before damage is rolled." (Leaping Tiger rules text, Exalted corebook, pg 194). - Kraken
And hell, throw Excellent Strike in the combo too. Then with a Dex 5, Melee 5 combat monkey you can roll 20 + (specialties and weapon bonus) dice, double successes after the targets dodge/parry, and double the damage dice after soak. Sure it's expensive, but if what you're attacking survives it, you should have run away in the first place (Or rolled better. "COME ON! 4 successes with 26 dice, What's your problem!?"). And I agree, keep DSD in there, 2xp/1bp for a chance to defend against whatever badass survives this is definitely worth it. Also, I see this combo as being the attack in anime where the hero flashes past an enemy and appears behind them kneeling while holding the blade out at the end of its arc and after 5 seconds the bad guy splits in half. - Supes (who has never posted before)
Welcome Supes. I've taken the liberty of making your name link to your UserPage, both as an example, and as a bit of kindness. I hope you enjoy the Wiki as much as the rest of us! -- GregLink
All charms in a Combo must be activated at least once. It's right in the beginning of the Combo rules, not in the section on any of the charm types. My bad on LTA. - IanPrice
I don't see that. All I can see is that if you want to use Reflexives and a Combo, you have to activate the Combo with the first Reflexive, and the stressing of the word 'may' on all the Reflexive cases. - FrivYeti
I'm with Friv on this one. If you've got a combo with a Simple, and 20 reflexives, you don't need to activate the reflexives. That's why eventually, Combos get cumbersome, as there's no reason (other than XP cost and training time) to not include SAM, HGD, SSE, ... - GregLink

Actually, Ian stumbled upon one of the great combos of all time - Surprise Anticipation Method, and a reflexive defense. I'm a fan of HGD, if it's available, but Iron Skin Concentration, DSD, and others are all great. And you will need SAM in a combo at one point in your life. -- GregLink

Probably in more than one combo. It goes great with Thunderclap Rush Attack and an attack charm of some kind, too. - IanPrice
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