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Reflections on Power Combat


Power Combat is the revised combat system found in the Exalted Players Guide. Below are my thoughts on the matter, revised weapon stats, strategy suggestions, a summary of the changes, and a FAQ.

Overview of Changes

This is not an exhaustive list of the changes in Power Combat, but rather an overview of the most significant ones. See PowerCombat101 for an example of how these changes affect play.

  • Weapons now have Rate, which applies to the sum of Attacks and Parries.
  • Permanent Essence is added in dice to dodge rolls for creatures with Essence 2+.
  • Soak cannot reduce an attack's damage below the attacker's Essence (instead of 1).
  • A "full parry" maneuver has been added.
  • There is now a penalty for attacks held past your initiative.
  • Weapons have been re-statted. Speed is now generally solely determined by weapon length.
  • An Essence-user's dice pool cannot be reduced below his Essence by penalties, with the exception of wound penalties and effects that reduce his dice pool to a set number.
  • Clinches and Holds have been consolidated into a single combat maneuver.
  • Form Charms may only be used unarmed.
  • Lunars may never learn Sidereal Martial Arts.
  • Lunars are never considered to favor Martial Arts Charms for the purpose of experience cost or learning time.
  • Lunars may not combo Martial Arts charms with Attribute-based charms.
  • New rules for fly-by attacks.
  • New rules for moving after attacking or defending.
  • Double Essence points regained for stunting.
  • Exalts (only) no longer suffer -2 unskilled penalties.
  • Added idea of "hardness" (i.e. oversoak) for armor.
  • Added idea of non-ranged weapons that inflict piercing damage (as per broadhead arrows).
  • Added idea of "clinch enhancers."
  • Combat movement rates have been increased.

In addition, Power Combat includes many Charm revisions, not all combat related, most of which are recommended even if you aren't using Power Combat. Many of the changes

Updated Weapons

All weapons are done, thanks to Kicker's help.

Updated Creatures

Power Combat stats for the special attacks of various creatures found in the books, plus any other necessary rules modifications.

Creatures that don't require conversion:

Celestial Lions; Children of Siakal; Lesser Elemental Dragons; Lucien

Artifact and Weapon Creation

PowerCombat/ArtifactCreation - rules for creating artifact weapons in Power Combat

PowerCombat/WeaponCreation - rules for creating mundane weapons in Power Combat

FAQ and Rulings


I really like the new optional combat system, though it has fewer changes to existing Charms than I expected. I was hoping they would prune some of the speed bumps in the Solar Exalted trees. However, a lot of the suggested optional rules are very cool. They speed up combat a lot, make dodge better, and really serve to weaken Grand Daiklaive wielding tanks in superheavy plate. These are positive changes because in the past, it was most efficient for characters to go for melee and a persistent defense. Now, its definitely a good idea for melee characters to stock up on dodge, or even choose dodge over defensive melee charms.

Also, Essence becomes even more important, since soak cannot reduce damage below that of the attacker's Essence, and the defender gets to add their Essence to all dodge pools. This guarantee of minimum damage is good news for knife fighters, martial artists, and thrown weapon users, who previously had to settle for the obligatory 1 die of damage in most combat situations. The Essence bonus to dodge makes dodge much more comparable to parrying with high defense weapons.

All weapons now also have a Rate, which is the total number of actions that weapon can be used in each round (parries and attacks, basically). Rate is distinct from Speed, which still affects initiative and refers to the weapon's reach. The new weapon attribute better distinguishes big slow weapons which have good reach. Rate also makes die-pool splitting a lot easier by giving you a hard, set limit.

Several other changes are suggested. Now, if you delay past your intiative, you suffer penalties to all your actions. The rationale behind this change is a good one. Basically, people tend to delay to see what others are doing. In addition, clinches are simplified, and some armors, Charms, and spells now give you a Hardness, or immunity to damage like Lunars with lots of natural soak. Of course, few mortals, let alone Exalts, do less than the 4 dice of raw damage that Superheavy Plate and Dragon Armors can automatically soak.

All this change does leave one with a few issues. I'm not clear on whether persistent parries are limited by Rate. My feeling is that they aren't, but I wish it said something in the revisions.

Rate does not apply to any actions (attack or defense) created by magic. Extra Action Charms, persistent defenses, counterattacks, etc. are above and beyond Rate. This is the same as for missile weapons. --MF

The definitions of terms are a bit messed. For example, as noted I above, Speed now no longer means speed, it means reach (except in the case of kicks). However, Jade still affects Speed, which I guess means they build 'em bigger from Jade. Also, most Piercing weapons are really blunt weapons like maces and warhammers. And Goremauls, which under the optional rules kick the ass of Daiklaives and strew their bloody remains over the battlefield. But then, I'm not sure anybody ever took a Daiklaive over a Reaver Daiklaive.

The weapon rebalancing is also interesting. Most weapons now do more damage, but defense has been downgraded except for specialist weapons like hook swords and wind-fire wheels. On the whole, persistent parries are now weaker than persistent dodges, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It rewards characters who take the time to buy up another combat skill line, and besides, you can now Dodge AND Parry. On the other hand before anyone thinks melee got gimped, extra attack charms now all cost a flat rate for each extra attack, up to a limit of your permanent Essence.

I'm wondering about the rationale for the weapons they included. Old, out of print material like Wavecleaver Daiklaives are included, but the book fails to list revised stats for many classic artifacts from the Castebooks. No lightning chain, no hooked daiklaives, no artifact warfans. Sitll, I'm sure before too long, either WW or the fans will produce updates for every artifact weapon ever created.

Overall, I really like these changes to the rules. I'll definitely adopt them in any future Exalted games I run. I'm hoping to use this discussion as a launching point for revisions to all the items in the splatbooks. -- Ascendance

It seems to me that Hardness is, in most cases, completely useless. Consider: Superheavy magical plate has hardness 4. A peasant has a strength of 2. All but a few weapons now have damage ratings of at least 3, giving an attack of at least 5L, thus negating the hardness. Iron Kettle Body grants Hardness 8 against one attack for 3 motes. But you can't afford to blow that much essence against a single attack from an extra, and an Exalt is hardly ever going to do less than 9L raw damage. So...what good is hardness? -- Toram

Plate is even more useless with the Hardness 3. Good point about the Iron Kettle Body, Toram. -- Ascendance

Perhaps you could write up a concrete proposal, and post it at FixThePowerCombatRules/Hardness ? --MF

One thing a low hardness will do is protect you from environmental damage. That one die ping from a dragonbloods anima is stopped with heavy armor. -- BogMod

Okay. I apologize if I'm doing this wrong. First time entering anything into here. Anyoo, yeah I agree. The Hardness granted by IKB, unless it stacks with armor, is generally useless. You have to be getting hit be some pretty wimpy guys for it to take effect.

With its higher prereqs, being lower in the tree, and not leading to any charms, why not dump it and take the lower prereq, lower in tree, and leading to another charm Iron Skin Concentration? ISC'll take any attack right down to it's minimum, while IKB can only hope to beat this on the weakest of weak attacks Anything less and it's less useful; but, harder to get. Seems like a waste of a charm to get IKB when its really only gonna be good against trully weakling opponents.

Make ISC incompatible with armor, like it used to be (and I believe still it; but, was typoed in the PG) and IKB makes sense again. -- Walknuki

Compare a Grimcleaver to a Reaver Daiklave. They have the same requirements, and the same artifact rating. However, the Reaver Daiklave is superior in every stat. Why would anyone ever use a Grimcleaver? - Toram

       Grimcleavers and regular Daiklaives can be used one handed.  Reaver Daiklaives can't.  Now, Grimcleavers are 
       almost entirely worse than regular Daiklaives, but the do more damage, and comparing a Grand Daiklaive to a  
       Dire Lance shows that Power Combat stats value damage very highly (3 points of damage gained in exchange for  
       2 pts. speed, 3 pts. defense, and an extra dot of artifact.)  - Reyemile

Grimcleavers were always worse off than Daiklaives in every way. So were Goremauls. At least now Goremauls do piercing damage. I suppose its a flavor thing, like how katanas are the best weapon in L5R. - Ascendance

I don't much like that, because it means that someone whose character conception calls for using an Axe/Grimcleaver has to accept inferiority compared to someone using a Daiklave, just because the designer thought Daiklaves were "cooler". It also begs the question of why any smith in Creation would bother making a Grimcleaver. - Toram

I agree. One of things that has always bothered me about Exalted is the weapon power imbalance. It's almost more annoying that they had a chnace to fix it and didn't. - Voidstate

If Speed is supposed to represent weapon reach, why are Fists +0 when Fighting Gauntlets are -6? - Toram

It occurs to me that perhaps these items were not listed in the Player's Guide because we will see them reprinted and revised in Savant & Sorceror. - Kicker

Its a weird thought, but perhaps some weapons should get more of a Strength bonus than others (e.g. the Grimcleaver). That would perhaps allow the Grimcleaver to be in some ways better than a Daiklave, but only if you have really high strength. ^_^ -- BrokenShade

The thing that REALLY gets to me about the new weapon stats is the speed things like the grand daiklave possess now. Okay I agree that your grand daiklave is BIGGER, but it's not faster, and in combat that's what initiative comes down to. If someone with a knife can't stab a grand daiklave wielder with his less damaging weapon before being completely pulverised by it, then what's the point? Sure a grand daiklave may be longer, but does that make it faster to heft above your head and bring down on your enemy? It just makes weapons that used to be fast but less powerful obsolete compared to weapons which are now fast AND powerful. Sure your knife gets 5 attacks, but what use is that if he's dead from the 3 grand daiklave attacks he's just been hit with? Kajata

A grand daiklaive wielder with wits 5 and dexterity 5 has an advantage over a knife wielder with wits 5 and dexterity 5. This is a pretty basic assumption. If you disagree, I will happily allow you to defend yourself with a knife while I chop at you from six feet away with an impossibly light magical sword.
However, a knife can be used in a clinch while a grand daiklaive may not; whether or not this is the official ruling, it is easily permissable. And of course, one may reasonably object to a character drawing and wielding a grand daiklaive against an opponent in, say, a four-foot wide alleyway. &Arafelis

How does Thunderbolt Attack Prana (former Leaping Tiger Attack) work with Essence-ping? It says it doubles damage dice after soak but before damage is rolled. Earlier, with just 1 ping die, this was not a big deal should the opponents soak reduce it to two dice. Now.. you can get away with doing 4 to possibly 8 dice of damage without even breaking through their armor? Do people rule this as "doesn't work with ping" or just shrug it off, "phew. Solars, huh?"? -tld

The latter. - willows

Revision Notes

I revised this slightly when pondering the effects of Rate. Now that each attack has a minimum damage, it can be just as effective to have more attacks doing fewer damage, at least, until you run up against the persistent defense, or even worse, the dual persistent defense. Hmm, I might be underrating regular ol' Daiklaives.

I also revised it when realising that parries weren't nerfed as much as I thought they were. That was the result from a poor first reading of the rules.

-- Ascendance


Exalted Power Combat is presented in the Exalted Players' Guide (released 29 March 2004). --MF

Glorious Solar Saber, as listed in the Player's Guide, has no limit on a particular trait of the weapon. Thus, it seems likely that accuracy would be favored exclusively over damage, as always happens in such cases. I propose the maximum value a trait can have is equal to the user's Melee. Unless this has already been said somewhere, by wiser tongues than mine? - DigitalSentience

Hmm. As far as Axes go.. The Dusk caste in my Abyssals game is an Axeman. Soulsteel Grimcleaver, lightning torment hatchets. his 'theme' is axes: He's a big, massively muscled hulk of a warrior. He doesn't fight with speed and grace: he fights with strength, momentum, and raw cutting power. We've been discussing certain manuevers/charms that would /only/ work with an Axe. I know, I know, it doesn't really answer the balance question: I suspect the 'official' answer would be, 'They're both on the same range on the artifact scale: one is near the top end of he range, the other nearer the bottom'. But.. Well. The Dusk caste we have wouldn't /work/ Without an Axe: a great big sword.. Just looks wrong. Thus, he gets spiffy stunt bonuses a swordsman couldn't get. It's just the way you think about it, no? - Molikai

Regarding the Hardness point. It wouldn't help much, but I recall at one point the text says that Artifact heavy and Superheavy armor don't have a fixed hardness value based on category. They have a hardness equal to half their lethal soak. - Malikai

Well this is my first post to a 'real' page, so hopefully I'm doing it right. Having just started an Abyssals game, using PC rules, a few defense oriented issues are popping up in my mind, and I'm hoping someone might be able to help me out.

questition the one: do parries obtained by using a Charm (i.e. Dipping Swallow Defense or Fluttering Moth Defense) have the weapon's defense bonus added to the pool? The PC charm revisions specifically say that Golden Essence Block and Elegant Flowing Deflection do not add the weapons defense bonus... but no mention is made of DSD or FMD, though original Charm rules simply say you get a Dexterity + Melee dice pool... still... I wondered...
question the two: do dodges obtained by using a Charm (i.e. Shadow Over Water) have the Exalt's permanent Essence rating and Hearthstone bonus added to the pool? The PC rules state that all dodge attempts will have these added... but something inside my black Storyteller's heart rebels against this if parry charms don't allow the addition of the weapon's defense bonus...

Anyway, these things (among others) have been bothering me, and I'd be very appreciative if anyone could give me their thoughts. -Krendal
Both DSD and SoW add on all relavent bonii (Weapon defence for parries, Essence+Heathstone Bracers for dodge) to their pools, and subtract penalties (such as wounds, darkness etc.) Or at least they do in any game I run (and in all the games I play in too) - Kraken

A couple notes; I have created some houserules to deal with certain wrinkles in the Exalted Power Combat system.

  • First and Forakenmost, dice pool penalties are applied after other penalties and may reduce a pool to 0, regardless of the user's Essence. As I read the standard rules, a character may take an infinite number of actions if they have Essence above 1, and while a bunch of two-die attacks aren't that terribly spectacular, simple laws of probability state that enough of them will eventually kill anything that they can hurt. And of course, there are those with Essence 6...
  • Secondly, the minimum damage rule becomes, "The minimum damage dice that are rolled for a successful attack is equal to 1 + the difference in Essence between the attacker and defender (or 1, if that would be a negative number)." $.02 &Arafelis

So I realize there are people who have problems with any system ever put out ever. I'm generally one to defend a system before I go in thinkin' I can make better modifications. However, I don't have much of a head for simulating new systems in my brain, and I've been out of the actual gameplay loop before Player's Guide came out. I'm aware many probs and issues exist with the original corebook rules. Now I've got the PG, and I've also got the Sol Invictus supplement, so I wanna ask a real straight-up question, and I hope to receive real straight-up, concensus-style statements about what combat system to use (that is, I'd rather not get a person's single opinion, but a general idea of what the Wikizens think is the best, most solidly constructed set of combat rules). Should I just stick to 1.reg'lar corebook combat (with the appropriate fixes from the PG), 2.canon Power Combat, 3.Sol Invictus intense modification, 4.Rag-tag Wiki modifications, or lastly, 5. Hold off for 2nd Ed. info? Please help a bruvvah out! --UncleChu

    • In our campain we use the cannon power combat rules with very minor exceptions which can be found in my house rules section. We prefere them to the original rules. As for 2nd ed.... from what I have heared I am dreading it and will probably ignore most of it. Might be usefull clarifications and new charms for the solars but thats about it. Eldmar

Old rules are too slow, PC rules are too fast, Ex2nd look to be completely different. Take your pick ^_^
-- Darloth is only stating his personal opinions remember.

Agreeing with Darloth - though, most of the 'fast'ness of PC comes from the min-ping damage. Perhaps the simplest fix would be to go halvsies on that, with a min-ping of Ess/2, or some such? Otherwise, PC is great for the charm updates, which are key. -- GregLink

How in tarnation can combat be too fast? I guess I'm more concerned about balance and fairness and non-brokenness than gamespeed, as much of my Series will be taking place online. I was really pumped about 2nd Ed at first, but I didnt think they'd revise ALL the fatsplats, just Solar and perhaps Lunar. But I guess with a shift in core abilities there are going to be hardcore ramifications to all the fatsplats. Plus, 2nd Ed is still a month away. Anyway, do you guys have any idea on what general gamer thoughts are on all the options? Power Combat seems like the way to go, and Sol Invictus seems really smart as well on top of that. --UncleChu