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Cold Steel World (version 2.1)

         "Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than any other factor, 
                    and the contrary opinion is wishfull thinking at its worst. 
     Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."
                             -Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
              "This calls for a very special plan of psychology and extreme violence."
                            -Adrian Edmondson (Vyvyan), The Young Ones

An Extra-Special thank you to Telgar, for helping out one poor n00b's custom Martial Art.

I've long been a player who prefers to work steam-punk styled cityscapes into such worlds as Exalted, and any other fantasy setting. Having grown up in several cities, I realize they all have a unique culture to them. This style was built for people looking twoards a more urban, mercenary style than what's usually carried by the various Martial Arts trees in the game.

As for the name, it's borrowed from a Terrorfakt album. As industrial music has inspired a lot of the flavour of this style, I've borrowed a few titles from various bands for the charms.

Revision History

  • Version 1.0
    • Document completed.
  • Version 1.1
    • The (admittedly stupid) idea for opting Clarity increases instead of damage has been removed.
    • Mercenary Logic Mechanizations edited.
    • Muscle and Hate edited.
    • Just about every charm has minor editations.
  • Version 2.0
    • Re-written entirely as a Celestial level Martial art. Using charms from Exalted and Exalted: the Sidereals as a basis.
  • Version 2.1
    • Lethal Defense Systems edited.
    • Street Justice Method edited.
    • Cold Steel World Form edited.
    • Death Deal Tactics edited.
    • Gang Slaughter Method edited.
    • Geurilla Attack Strategy edited.
    • Effortless Anihilation Method edited.
    • Rain of Blood and Steel edited.


Since the First Age, cities have existed in some fashion. And in cities, one finds a strange parallel to the more natural, organic world. Indeed, cities contain a verion of everything seen outside their boundries; buildings for trees, skylines for landscape, gardens for forests - and in place of the tribal defenders and wandering martial artists, guardsmen and mercenaries find steady employ.

The Cold Steel World style is said to have roots in nearly every city. It's generally accepted as being originally from either Lookshy or Chiaroscuro, though mny have whispered that it acutally draws it's roots from inside the Great Maker, practiced by his mortal, unExalted children.


Training in the method of the Cold Steel World is grueling. Characters tend to be thrown into some of the worst situations their Guild masters or Captains can throw them into, to prove to them just how harsh life is. They are expected to react well and be calm under pressure, or they are left to die. Many also destroy things and people dear to the student, to further facilitate how cruel fate is.

Weapons and Armor

This style is compatable naturally with knives and any percussive, slug, essence, or flame throwing projectile weapon, such as firewands, flame peices, maggot casters, or their artifact versions. It may also be used unarmed. This style is compatable with light armor.


    Mercenary Logic Mechanizations         Muscle and Hate
               |                                   |
     Lethal Defense Systems             Street Justice Method
               |         \              /          |
               |      Cold Steel World Form        |
               |         /              \          |
      Death Deal Tactics                Gang Slaughter Style
               |                                   |
    Team Hunting Meditation           Vigilante Execution Shot
               |                                   |
    Guerrilla Attack Strategy      Effortless Annihilation Technique   
                       \                /
                    Rain of Blood and Steel

Mercenary Logic Mechanizations

Cost: 1 mote/die 
Duration:One Turn 
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts: 1 
Min Essence: 1
Prereqs: None 

The first lesson that anyone remotely serious about learning the path of the Cold Steel World (and for that matter, making it in any city) has to learn is that certain emotions serve no purpose the urban habitat, other than making you an easier target. Therefore, you must steel yourself, especially when your opponents would play at these emotions.

The character may add up to their Permenant Essence in dice to resist any rolls involving resisting social charms, or playing on their sympathies. Furthermore, for virtue checks, their Compassion is considered 1 lower.

Muscle and Hate

Cost: 3 motes, 1 willpower 
Duration: Instant
Type: Simple 
Min. Martial Arts: 2 
Min Essence: 1 
Prereqs: None 

Fear is truely the mind killer. Even the lowest of urban filth learns that a threat of power is just as effective as hitting the person involved. For many walking the steps of the Steel World, this trick proves itself useful in not having to show their relative inexperience, or avoiding fights they don't need to take part in.

The Martial Artist rolls Strength + Martial Arts, minus the opposing character's Valor. If successeful, the character suffers a -2 to any attack pool against the Martial Artist the next turn.

Lethal Defense Systems

Cost: 3 motes 
Duration: One scene 
Type: Simple
Min. Martial Arts: 2 
Min Essence: 2 
Prereqs: Mercenary Logic Mechanizations

In the city, you fast learn that you have to give some to get some back. This charm capitalizes on that, taking something and returning it as hard as they can. In this case, the shared commodity is damage.

Whenever a character with this charm takes at least (6 - Permanent Essence, minimum one) in damage, they may immediately make a reflexive attack with their full attack pool against the first enemy target within range. This Charm ends after granting one such attack. Note that this only works during attacks, not counter-attacks.

Street Justice Method

Cost: 3 motes 
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplimental
Min. Martial Arts: 3  
Min Essence:  2
Prereqs:  Muscle and Hate

While the style teaches you to fight with your guns and knives, sometimes we're not with the weapons that we prefer to have. And sometimes, we still have to beat someone's skull in. This is where this bit of training comes in. Something that most of us learned when we were young; sometimes, your hands are just the best tools for the job.

The character deals lethal damage for the rest of the turn.

Cold Steel World Form

Cost: 5 motes 
Duration: 1 Scene
Type: Form
Min. Martial Arts:  3 
Min Essence:  3
Prereqs:  Lethal Defense Systems, Street Justice Method

With the basic lessons behind him, the mercenary is now an accomplished fighter and recognized warrior. Truely, he might not have the refined elemental methods of the Immaculate Order, but he's just as dangerous. Anything is weapon, and his experience with this concept has made him even more deadly with his chosen tools.

This charm has several benefits. Foremost, the character no longer suffers penalties with any weapon attack, other than those inflicted by range, damage, multiple actions, and charm effects. This includes improvised weapons, and broken or damaged weapons that are still serviceable (though such do less than their standard brethern). This means that a sword broken down even to it's handle could be used without penalty, but a broken bow will only really amount to a stick when used. Warstrider weapons are still far too massive, but the penalty can be negated if someone is able to come up with a highly inventive stunt while using this form. In addition, projectiles can be reloaded as a non-turn action for the cost of 1 essence. Finally, the character now recieves a +1 to accuracy when using either a knife or a non-bow projectile weapon, and a +2 to accuracy when using both.

Death Deal Tactics

Cost: 2 motes, 1 willpower
Duration: 1 Scene
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts: 3 
Min Essence: 3
Prereqs: Cold Steel World Form, Lethal Defense Systems 

After awhile on the Job, mercenaries start learn when a deal's about to go south. You have to learn to watch for the cons, and be ready to roll with them when they do catch you. A cool head has saved my ass more than once, kid, and it'll do the same to help you, too.

The character automatically has (Permenant Essence) successes on the Wits + Awareness to react to any form of suprise.

Gang Slaughter Method

Cost: 3 motes/attack
Duration: Instant
Type: Extra Action
Min. Martial Arts: 4 
Min Essence:  3
Prereqs:  Cold Steel World Form, Street Justice Method 

You ever run into that one bastard who, no matter how many times you two exchanged blows, he just never seemed to fall over? The best way to handle such people are to keep hitting them until they have no choice but to go down and stay down.

The character makes up to their (Permenant Essence) number of attacks against one target.

Team Hunting Meditation

Cost: 2 motes/attacker
Duration: 1 Scene
Type: Reflexive
Min. Martial Arts:  4
Min Essence:  4
Prereqs:  Death Deal Tactics

If you're taking the big jobs, you're going to run into a team all by your lonesome, eventually. It's some dangerous work, if you do that. But they have weaknesses you can exploit. If you can think fast enough, and move with some speed, you can at least evade them, if not take them down.

During the beginning of combat, the character may choose to "pre-empt" iniatives rolls, forcing all combatants to subtract the martial artist's permenent essence from their final initiative scores. Note that this does not trump any kind of effect like Thunderclap Rush, or any other iniative winning effects.

Vigilante Execution Shot

Cost: 4 motes, 1 willpower
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplimental
Min. Martial Arts:  5 
Min Essence:  4
Prereqs: Gang Slaughter Method 

While letting your temper go and blasting the everliving fuck out of a target is a nice way to release tension, sometimes actually lining up your shots helps a bit more. While it's not a garunteed kill, such attacks are usually pretty fatal.

Any post-soak damage is automatically doubled, when this power is activated. The attack is exceptionally powerful - reguardless of the weapon used to deliever it, the character must make a dexterity + endurance roll for knock-down, unless somehow already immune to it.

Guerilla Attack Strategy

Cost: 5 motes, 1 willpower.
Duration: 1 Scene
Type: Reflexitive
Min. Martial Arts:  5 
Min Essence:  5
Prereqs:  Team Hunting Meditation 

The best way to handle a group is to just realize that you're the quickest one of them around. People act in groups. It's a law of the city and a law of nature. If you can get the drop on the fastest of them, though, the group is unable to react nearly as effectively.

When iniative is calculated, the character does not roll any dice. Instead, their Dexterity + Wits total is switched with the highest initiative score. Generally, this results in the Martial Artist going first, and the affected character going last.

Effortless Annihilation Technique

Cost: 6 motes, 1 Health Level
Duration: Instant
Type: Supplimental
Min. Martial Arts:  5 
Min Essence:  5
Prereqs:  Vigilante Execution Method

Remember how I mentioned give and get? Well, this is this the furthest-most example of that. By pushing yourself, you unlock a killing potential far greater than anything most anyone is capable of. Just don't come to rely on it. It will kill you.

By burning away part of their body to act with the power of the Great Machine, the character strikes with the power of the great Autocthon himself. The damage done by this attack is considered aggravated and the target is automaticalled knocked down.

Rain of Blood and Steel

Cost: 4 motes/attack, 1 willpower
Duration: Instant
Type: Extra Actions
Min. Martial Arts:  5 
Min Essence:  5
Prereqs:  Guerilla Attack Strategy, Effortless Annihilation Technique

Sometimes, the only way to handle your problems is to go in, guns blazing, and hope for the best. Or sometimes, you just know you're not going to make it out, and collateral damage is the best you can hope for. Reguardless, this attack is powerful, painful, and somehow beautiful. Use it wisely.

The character makes up to their (Permenant Essence x 2) number of attacks against one target. In addition, the attacks ignore hardness.

Comments, Questions, and Complaints

(All previous comments have been moved here.)

I've made changes to your mechanics and left some parenthetical comments. I left your pinnacle alone because I can't just change it, it needs to be replaced. - Telgar

Thank you. I've redone a few of the charm costs. Namely, Gang Slaughter Method now has the same cost as Metal Storm from VBoS, and Rain of Blood and Steel is slightly more expensive, with better results.-Bassist159
Let me begin by saying: Much inproved. Now then:
  1. Mercenary Logic and Muscle and hate are nice. But as written, they can't intereact with each other. Is this intentional? Yes. They were intentionally built to be mutually exclusive to eachother.
  2. Lethal Defense is nicely done, though I might clarify that it can't counter a counterattack, and that minimum damage is 1, so people aren't making free reflexive attacks (I took 0 damage when I walked in the door!) Fixed.
  3. Street justice method is fine, though I think you could probably discount down to 2, as it's not comboable. Or else include a note that despite the duration, it can be comboed. Oops. Though I'd already handled that. Fixed.
  4. Cold Steel World form is utterly broken. I /think/ I know what you want it to mean. But as written it removes: wound penalties, multiple action penalties, abyssal charm subtractor penalties, snake form's penalties, range penalties, etc. Fixed.
  5. Death death tactics is pretty powerful. In fact, probably too powerful. Why not make it ess autosux on the wits+awarness roll to /react/ to the ambush? This will have I think the effect you want, without just saying "And doesn't like, get surprised penalties. Even if an ess 10 charm tries to surprise him, he takes no penalties." Because while that's how it's currently written I don't think that's the sort of scenelong effect you want to be going for here, at this power level. Changed.
  6. Metal storm has neither a willpower cost, nor a single target restriction, nor denying you a dodge. Granted you /do/ have the (significant) advantage of using a ranged weapon with Gang Slaughter. But I'd remove the WP and axe the dodge restriction. I'd originally given it the cost and penalty because the first version of GSM was MA 3/Ess 3, but the prereqs are about the same now, so...fixed.
  7. Team Hunting Meditation is nice, and a good effect. Vigilante Execution Shot is also nice enough.
  8. Guerilla Attack Strategy is /really/ powerful. Especially if it's /scenelong/. I would really rather see it as a one turn effect. But if you're determined on scenelong length, it probably needs a Wp, at the least. Good point. Fixed.
  9. Effortless Annihilation Technique /seems/ alright. Spendy and hard to get to.Agreed, and changed a little.
  10. Rain of Blood and Steel should be extra action type, most likely. Unless you /want/ it to be legal to combo with Gang Slaughter for 50 attacks against a single target in a round. If it /is/ extra action, it's probably overpriced. I thought it was...
  11. Also, you've never adressed ammo. Given that a firewand takes 2 rounds to reload. None of these extra action charms will do you any good with a gun at all, unless you specify: The form allows for some kind of reflexive reloading, or the charm fires blasts of pure energy/hate laser, whatever, and hence, doesn't need ammo. Well, there's several things here. For one, I assumed it was already thematic that ammunition wouldn't be too important. It's Exalted, sometimes, the rules get bent. I assume, for the extra attacks, that you're just blasting around pure essence, or, if you want to be a particularly mean ST, you're using your knife for these other attacks. Actually, you know...I'm going to make that part of the form charm...

Is Gang Slaughter Method meant to be Duration : 1 Turn? Most EA charms are instant. Including Metal Storm. Not being able to combo your EA charms is a big penalty, IMO. - Huw Jones, who really needs to get round to setting up his own wiki page/identity/etc.