Exalted modern / exalted cyberpunk
This is my take on a modernized version of the exalted setting. Basically, I take the setting as is and give it cyberpunk style technology, enhanced by magitechnological weirdness.
Also, things tend to be more populated and bigger, eg. I upped Nexus to easily 30 million inhabitants from some 1 million in the original setting.
So, people got jets, guns are a thing, wars see massive use of tanks and artillery and so on. But there is also modern computers, smartphones. And then there is cutting edge technology, from supercruise stealth jetfighters to cybernetic augmentation (in a ghost in the shell like vein). Also warstriders are far more common and can be build with mundane methods. Mechas if you will. The normal versions aren't the kings of the battlefield though - they are swifter than tanks, but tanks got bigger guns and can take more damage. Warstriders are generally prefered for urban combat though and are also a favourite for the Exalted, since they can use most of their special abilities just as if they were on foot.
And then there is magitech. It hasn't only got a wallop, but its also quite rare and can do things mundane technology can't. So, for example, you can have energy weapons with magitech, possibly a pistol sized weapon that can kill armored verhicles with huge essence blasts. Also, most magitech requires essence to use (either for attunement or fed into the item with each use). And most people can't use essence, so this stuff is not only rare but has few possible users to boot.
Also, I tend to use some decidedly anime aesthetics, so that melee still occurs, especially with exalted characters. A mortal might be best advised to keep in cover during a firefight and will not be able to continue fighting after several hits, but exalted characters can dodge or parry bullets, attain great speed and nimbleness and some even are so tough that they can shrug off some bullets. Some can also hit so hard that they can kill a tank with a solid kick.
I will try to expand this information in due time.
Currency and Economy
The Jade Standard is still widespread, even though it's not really based on jade anymore and especially the bigger denominations are mostly traded electronically or on paper. A talent of jade is worth about 50 million euros and can be subdivided into 1000 obol.
An obol is worth about 50 thousand euros and can be subdivided into 1000 yen.
1 yen is worth around 50 euros and can be subdivided into 1000 sen.
1 sen is worth around 5 eurocent and is the smallest denomination.
Most people only ever handle yen and sen and they also commonly exist as physical currency. Paper bills are used almost exclusively, coins are relatively rare.
The silver standard also exists but isn't based on the noble metal anymore, instead being backed by the economic might of the guild (where the jade standard is backed by the realm and its satrapies and allies).
1 talent of silver = 1000 denar = 10 million euros
1 denar = 1000 lira = 10.000 euros
1 lira = 1000 slips = 10 euro
1 slip = 1 eurocent
Silver standard money uses much more coins and these are often made of precious metals. Little bars and the like are also used. The material worth is usually much lower than the denomination however.
General Technological Notes
Back in the days of the primordials and then in the first age, technology was weird but also positively utopian. Cars flew without wings or rotors, entire landscapes could be rearranged at a whim, the great flying ships were protected by nigh impenetrable force screens etc. With the ursurpation, then the great contagion and the balorian crusade, things took a sharp decline. When the empress utilized the sword of creation, creation had suffered so much that they were back to ww2 era technology. Combustion engines, mechanical typewriters and primitive chemical slugthrowers. Scraps of the past remain however and technology has also regained its footing somewhat, becoming more sophisticated again with each passing century. Great flying ships are once again built, although they pale in comparision to the few first age juggernauts that still exist. Computers have been reinvented some two centuries ago and now allow for instant communication around much of creation. However, technology did not advance at the same pace everywhere. Supersonic passenger jets may be a common sight on the blessed isle, but there are still areas were people use animals for locomotion. Much of creation is settled between these extremes, a bit like developing countries in the real world. They mostly use the previous generation of technology, although some more advanced devices might be available for those with enough money. Cities are often gleaming, with huge facades of mirrored glass, but they are surrounded by slums and some ways off, in rural areas you see tech thought outdated a century ago in the realm. There are several big differences. First of, creation does not currently possess nuclear technology, neither for power generation nor for mass destruction. There are some few devices left over from previous times that can wreak enormous havoc, destroy cities in the blink of an eye etc but they are probably not atomic in nature and also cannot be constructed currently. Secondly, there are no satellites. Creation is build fundamentally different from real world earth so you cannot reach orbit, no matter how far you go up. You will just end up in the wyld beyond the sky. This means reconnaissance has to rely more on stealth planes and spotter drones and telecommunications uses lots of cable networks, with fibreoptic backbones for longer distances. Broadcast towers are also used sometimes. This also means it can be pretty hard to establish communications if you are in a seriously desolate place. No sat phones. Like the real world, artificial intelligence has not yet been developed. There are some first age automatons left that can be quite clever sometimes and the creators of wondrous things are always working on it, but for mundane, affordable technology, AI is out of reach. There are more possibilities to connect to electronic devices and computers however. For example it is possible to cybernetically connect a human brain to computers. This allows for much faster and smoother operation than, say, keyboard and mouse. It is even possible to put a human brain in special container with some organs and life-sustaining apparatuses and link this up to a fully cybernetic body, the famed full-body-prosthetic. Many spiritual being can also interact with machines quite directly or have interfaces made that allow such things. So sometimes bound demons, elementals or ghosts are used in places where a more conventional cyberpunk setting might have AI.
Some select magitech gizmos
There are several noteworthy new gizmos. The optical distortion device allows an essence user to blur his image so he can't be seen clearly. While this is useless for stealth (the blur with its constantly changing images is pretty obvious) it is useful to hinder ranged attacks as the exact position of the user is hard to fathom. The user's vision also blurs beyond a certain distance (10m maybe) but the device is most useful to get into melee range or to prevent an enemy sniper from taking the shot. Then there are shield girdles. These create a force field that protects the user. It can be increased in strength by channeling more essence into it. Non-artifact versions are hard pressed to stop an assault rifle for more than a burst or two even at full charge but as even one burst of automatic fire might kill or severly injure an exalt, they are a favoured piece of equipment, especially for essence users who usually go about without heavy armor. Deflector gauntlets or bracers are another novel piece of equipment. They project a force field that can alter the direction of shots and can also be used to defend in melee, armored as they are. It is necessary to continually adjust the angle of the field, so they occupy a hand, and a skilled shooter can adjust for the deflection, so the protection is limited. But they are a bit like carrying some cover around with you, just without having to lug around a heavy shield, and a physical shield would indeed have to be solidly constructed to withstand modern firearms. All of this is magitech tough and too expensive for general issue.
Military and Warfare
In many respects warfare is as real world warfare in the beginning of the 21st century. Some differences occur naturally because of exalted and their great power, which they naturally use in warfare. Some other differences arise from differences in technology.
Ground troops are still very important. Automatic weapons as well rocket and missile launchers are staples of infantry warfare. Modern militaries also have access to powered armor. This is much more expensive than normal infantry, but PA can withstand more punishment and bring more or bigger weapons to the fight. Imagine for example a 2 man rocket launcher team used versus enemy vehicles. Usually they could carry maybe 5 missiles between the two of them, as well as light defensive weapons. Even a near miss from most vehicular weapons might take them out of the action. The same team in powerarmor would probably each have an autoloading launcher with 6 missiles, have better options to deal with enemy infantry and be much more resistant to small arms and near misses. Elite units also receive cybernetic augmentation quite frequently. Some new technologies are slowly emerging in the top of the line militaries, like railguns for antitank duty, gyrojet weapons to deal with power armor and some applications of energy weapons. Augmentation is less desireable for essence users, however, because cutting off body parts and messing with the brain reduces the essence capacity, limiting the use they get out of their supernatural power. Infantry is also very important in assymetrical warfare. Oftentimes a strong military invades somewhere just to face long years of attrition from insurgents, hitting them surprisingly, laying ambushes, planting bombs and the like. These insurgents favour light infantry that can be equipped cheaply and can hide among the local population.
Lots of people use helicopters and fighter jets. Well funded militaries also have advanced craft like stealth planes, tiltrotor planes or vectored thrust jump jets. A big difference from the real world are flying ships. These can be as big as seafaring vessels, but usually are not much faster. So they are extremely slow in relation to airplanes. But they can carry much more cargo and even serve as a mobile, airborn base. The most renowed flying ships are probably stratocarriers, a kind of flying aircraft carrier. Other flying ships are also used as artillery support, troop transport or for logistics. Even though some of these flying behemoths look pretty intimidating, one or two fighter craft with antiship missiles can potentially down one of them, so they are fitted with point defense guns and oftentimes have their own fighter escort. They are also pretty expensive, easily two or three times the price of an equivalent seagoing vessel, so even the realm, which is the most powerful nation and has the biggest military, has maybe like 10 or 12 stratocarriers. Another type of aircraft that is noteworthy is the dropship. These are rather lumbering craft, slow and sluggish at nor more than maybe 700 km/h. They are pretty tough and have jets on swivels that allow them to hover and to land in really small spaces (VTOL). They are also armed quite heavily, usually in the vein of helicopter gunships for close air support. Their main job however is to insert troops. They can reach all kinds of places and even survive quite some hostile shooting. The bigger types of dropship can carry some 50 tons or maybe 100 infantry, 50 powered infantry or several warstriders or light tanks. There are also smaller, cheaper and nimbler variants that carry only one team of infantry, often for special operations.
Seagoing vessels are still very important. Although they pale somewhat in comparison to flying ships, they are much cheaper to build and run. Among other things, they are the most economic transport from the Blessed Isle to the Threshold and most ships can even navigate the great rivers of the east. Consequently, they are pretty important as troop transports and for logistics. Warships are a different matter. They exist of course and have the chief benefit of being capable of relatively long deployments, serving as force projection and whatnot. The prime naval weapon is the missile. Antiship missiles can reach much further than any cannon, surface to air missiles can keep fighter jets at bay etc. Ships tend to mount some few guns for artillery support (a shell is much cheaper than a missile and often sufficient) and close-in defense. Most naval ships also have some anti-submarine capabilities and can launch several helicopters for a variety of roles. Beneath the waves there exists a new breed of submarine, the supercavitating fighter. Small and extremely fast (300 km/h or more) they are not stealthy, but duke it out more like ww2 fighter planes. Because of their speed, they are very good at avoiding traditional submarine threats like torpedoes or depth charges. They have limited range and endurance however and usually have to be launched from a parent vessel. Aircraft carriers also exist, of course, but are not the most prestigious ships anymore - a role taken over by the flying stratocarrier. As such, they are often somewhat smaller than we are used to from the real world American behemoths and often equipped with somewhat outdated but more affordable jets.
Artillery is an important element of ground warfare. Shells are commonly guided munitions and use rocket assist. So a usual field howitzer can reach up to 50km, albeit with reduced payload. Missiles are also used, as well as area-saturation rockets. Cruise missiles are vicious weapons that can hit with pinpoint accuracy over several hundred km of distance. They are rather expensive though. Rocket artillery has less range, but can deploy very much firepower in a short timespan, with one battery capable of devastating several football fields of area in less than a minute. Depending on the target, airburst cluster munitions may be used for infantry and other soft target, or guided, armor piercing warheads for tanks and hardened targets.
There are a lot more mortals around in this exalted cyberpunk setting. Cities are huge and the entire creation has billions of mortals in it. What's more, with all the tech around, the playing field is a little more even. Mortals can get cybernetic enhancements and gain abilties unheard of in previous times. Powerarmor adds even more to that. But thaumaturgy is also expanded, entire universities researching new ways for mortals to utilise essence and do amazing things. Besides rather traditional methods of thaumaturgy that usually require a dear bit of time and ritual more and more possibilities crop up that can be used on short notice. While these tricks are relatively pedestrian in comparision to real sorcery or the charms of the exalted or the powers of the gods, they can nonetheless produce interesting results. Mortal combat magics can do little an automatic weapon or a grenade couldn't match, and a mortal might need a whole week to summon a demon and still take an awful risk while doing it. There are also more mortal essence users and all kinds of minor tricks they can learn. Some use spiritual means to access their essence, others train tirelessly and excel at discipline and some have special ancestry or are born gifted through a quirk of fate. A novel way is the chakra activation method where special implants including magical material are inserted in stratetgic points, amplyfing natural essence flows. The implants are extremely pricey, but many feel the results are worth it. The immaculates dislike them though, as they go beyond the normal borders of what people can do in their current incarnation.
Quaint/modernartifacts Some modernized artifact ideas