Exalted Hack

  • 18 Replies
Exalted Hack
« on: September 08, 2011, 12:56:05 PM »
So, I've been running Exalted for a while now and love the game, but am acutely aware of the system getting in the way of people's fun.  I have also recently gotten into playing Apocalypse World and been enthralled by the system and mechanisms of the game, and how they enhance the play experience.  So, I'm working on a hack to run Exalted under an AW-system.  There are some big, big differences between the setting of Creation and Apocalypse World, but I think the actual ideals of play are actually closer than I realised at first.  To make thinds easier for myself I'm going to work it out for the Solars first, and then think about adding in playbooks for all the other Exalt types.

In Exalted, the characters are special, Heroic (although not necessarily nice), mighty and likely to shape the world around them.  They are able to swat aside many threats with casual ease and are unlikely to ever end up hungry, sick or destitute.  However, they are getting caught up in charged situations and having to deal with the consequences of their choices and power.  There are no sacred cows in setting (well, actually there are, but only literally) and even the King of the Gods can end up in the crosshairs, in theory.  One Apocalypse (or Usurpation) has come and gone, and another one may well be on the way if the PCs or someone like them don't do something about it.  They haye have more trappings of wealth and power than the average Chopper or Hardholder but their world is just as precarious.

I want to see the fiction be more like that of the Epic Heroes of myth, like Odysseus, Gligamesh and the like.  In an animistic world like Creation the local scenery can easily be a Front, as rain gods Unionise and go on strike or a forest is warped by the energies at the edge of Creation into a single predatory organism.  Rather than apocalyptica, Creation is a world of wonders and horrors.  There is the mundane, brutal or beautiful as it may be, but also the works of ancient god-kings alongside day to day Gods and being from before or outside the world.  All of these forces have a face, an agenda and possibly an axe to grind.  With enough dedication almost anything is possible in this world, for better or for worse.

So, that's my initial thoughts and motivations.  I'll add some more detail on what I expect to change or keep the same in subsequent posts, and what new stuff I've come up with.  Hopefully I'll get to playtest it some time soon too :)

DISCLAIMER: Exalted is the property of White Wolf and CCP Games, as is all the intellectual property relating to it.  This work is purely intended to build on and make use of their existing material in a new light and is not intended to infringe on anything of theirs.  Should any complaints or concerns about this arise on their part I will be more than happy to remove any offending material.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 01:13:50 PM »
The Stats:

Actually, the five existing stats in Apocalypse World map pretty well onto the five Castes of the Solar Exalted.  The existing Basic Moves with them cover a lot of what would be needed for the game, if not quite everything.

Here's how my translation of them goes:

Dawn -> Hard: This is the caste of generals and warriors without equal.  They dominate through martial prowess, the threat of force and direct power.

Zenith -> Cool: This is caste of priests and monks without hesitation.  They are unswerving in the face of any challenge or threat and overawe those who see them with their dedication and depth of feeling.

Twilight -> Weird: This is the caste of scholars and mystics.  They plumb the deepest mysteries of the universe and and transform the world with their vision.

Night -> Sharp: This is the caste of scouts and assassins.  They move through the world unseen but watch it from the shadows, striking where they are least expected to get what they want

Eclipse -> Hot: This is the caste of diplomats and merchants.  They travel the world to wrap it in promises and sworn oaths, and rule through honeyed words and mutual benefits.

These neatly cover a lot of things, with Cool being expanded a little to cover Battlebabe-esque impressing people by default, Sharp taking on doing things sneakily, Weird becoming about knowledge of the magical world rather than the psychic maelstrom and Hot taking on am organisation/manipulative bent beyond the personal.  I've got a few new Basic Moves to cover this.

There's still the four Virtues (Compassion, Conviction, Temperance, Valor) to deal with though, and I'm less sure how I'm going to handle them.  I know I want them to be important though, as they are begging to help make character's lives more interesting.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 04:02:40 PM »
I kind of feel like the virtues could be highlighted, maybe; you highlight one for your character (always), and another one gets highlighted by the GM/other players each session.

Maybe each virtue could be opposed by a stat (so that if you're more hard, you're less likely to give in to compassion)? You could have it be that if you follow a highlighted virtue you mark XP, but if you oppose it, you need to roll?

I dunno! I'm curious to see where it goes.

- Alex

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2011, 07:48:03 AM »
I like the idea of being able to roll your Virtue to help yourself, as if it were another character assissting you, giving you the +1 if it succeeds.  That lets players invoke it when they feel they need to, and with the 'cost' of doing so being the exposure to fire, danger, retribution or cost that you get on a 7-9 hit for a help roll.  Similarly, the MC could rool the Virtue to interfere with actions that would grossly conflict with a Virtue.

So, if Scarlet Wing Dancer wants to Read a Sitch to get past some callous slavers to rescue captives trapped in their pens as they burn down, she can roll +(Compassion) to help herself do so, as her empathy for their suffering renders her sensitive to the slightest clue.  If she later captures the leader of the slavers and wants to Go Aggro on him to torture him for information about his employers, she gets her own +(Compassion) rolled against her as intereference, as her conscience shies away from the brutal act.

The question is how to handle the cost for the virtue on 7-9 hit.  In the case of the Virtue helping it should give some cost to the PC, but in the case of the Virtue interfering, that doesn't make so much sense.

One idea is that on a helping 7-9 hit the MC gets to hold one against the PC for the Virtue, and spend it later in the session to have the PC act in some Virtuous way and either mark experience if they agree (carrot) or act under fire if they refuse (stick) at the MC's discretion.

On an interfering 7-9 hit the PC could either choose to take the -2, or only take -1 but give the Virtue another 1 hold over them.  This wouldn't be an option for a 10+ hit on the interfering Virtue.  You might even be able to implement a Limit mechanic of sorts around this, where the MC gets the option to spend 3 hold, if the Virtue ever accumulates that much, to pull a Limit Break Move on the PC

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2011, 01:09:52 PM »
Okay, so my new Basic Moves go:

Seek through Guile

Roll +Night to sneak somewhere, or to acquire something through underhanded means.  On a 10+ all 3 on a 7-9, pick 1
You get exactly what you want
You get it without leaving a trace
You get it quickly and without loss or harm

On a miss, you fail and are exposed in some way doing so.

 - This is to cover things that Stealth and Larceny would do in core Exalted.  It could arguable be done with Acting Under Fire, but I feel this handles it with a little more detail/customisation.

Inspire Awe

Roll +Zenith to impress people with the importance of what you have to say.  Prayers to the Gods and artistic performances come under this roll.  For PCs on a 7-9 pick 1, on a 10+, both:
They gain +1Hx with you
They take +1 forward if they act on your message.

For NPCs on a miss no-one pays much attention to you, on a 7-9 pick 2, on a 10+ pick 3
People are impressed by you personally
People understand your message clearly and without bias
People are moved to act on your message
No-one is antagonised or offended by your efforts

 - This is taking the Battlebabe aspect of Cool, to an extent.  It extends it a little into Hot territory, but this is more generally creating an impression than getting a specific result, and I think a Cool-type stat works for that.

Draw Upon Knowledge

Roll +Twilight to draw upon the ancient, arcane or obscure knowledge that details the vastness of Creation and the entities that interact with it.  When you act on one of the MC's  answers, take +1 forward.  On a 10+ ask 3, on a 7-9 ask 1:
What power is this thing beholden too?
What is the most important event in this thing's history?
What is best known about this thing?
What is the greatest obstacle to this thing?
What is least known about this thing?
What is most to my advantage about this thing?

 - This is intended to replace Open Your Brain entirely, and to make providing detail about the existing setting more interesting for the PCs.  The MC can either use it to add new, undefined Wonder and Horror, or to let the PCs have some control and some more fun with just asking 'What do I know about X?'  My hope is that this will make playing a high +Twilight character fun for someone who knows nothing about the setting, since they can still have some control over what they know/reveal.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2013, 06:26:15 PM »

I'm a part of a Finnish 4 person group that is also trying to create an Exalted AW hack. It was nice to read about your hack.

My group has played 14 sessions of AW so far, and we've very much enjoyed it. We've been playing Exalted for over five years. Our motivation for hacking Exalted is pretty much the same as yours: Exalted's setting is great, but most of the system sucks. We're also trying to create a hack for Solars only, and first and foremost a hack that our group will enjoy.

Since we're playing in Finnish, we decided to write the hack fully in Finnish, to fluently use mechanics in our speech. If reading Finnish is no problem to you, here's the link: http://xcalibur.cc.tut.fi/wiki/AWE:Liikkeet

We're still quite early in the hacking though. We aim to hold our first gameplay session within a month, and most likely many of the mechanics listed below will be changed after that. We've hacked for 3 months now. Our aim is to actively play sessions and change mechanics and iterate this as long as we're having fun.

I liked your points and mechanics in the post above, and would like to hear how things have progressed.

Inspire Awe has nice options for hits, and we'll probably integrate some of them. The miss could be better though. "No-one pays much attention to you" sounds frankly quite boring, and doesn't move the story in interesting direction. Something better might be that you pull unnecessary attention to you (thus getting a powerful enemy) or cause some side effect, like creating a possibly missguided cult.

I've written below some moves or partial moves we've come up with. They will most likely change quite a lot in playtesting and most of them will not end up in the final hack. They might not be of use for your hack, but I hope they at least offer some food for thought.

Hold a Speech
When you hold a speech for a crowd, roll +Social. On a 10+, you implant the desired feeling and/or idea. On a 7-9,
  • GM could offer you a hard bargain or an ugly choice
  • you might get an enemy or draw unnecessary attention to yourself
  • someone could ask you to promise something.
  • the effect might work, but not last very long.

On a miss you make a powerful enemy, without realizing it.

I think Exalted should have different moves for violence than AW. So far my best idea is to simply use mechanic similar to Act Under Fire.

When you power-up, describe the source of your new(-found) power. This can be for example a memory from your past or a description of the reasons for the powerful feeling. Roll ??. On a success, the challenge that was earlier owerwhelming (even for you!) is now possible. 10+, all your Harm heals. 6-9, up to 3 Harm heals. On a miss, the foe responds with even bigger power-up of his own.

Reveal an Existing Preparation
Basically the move declare retroactively you've set something up (p. 276). This move might help playing characters that have great foresight and/or wisdom.

Recall from Your Past Life
When you recall your past live, roll +Sharp. On a 10+, you resolve a problem with your earlier incarnation's skill or knowledge. On a 7-9, you also cause problems for yourself. Miss is like Throwback, meaning you actively cause problems to yourself or your Circle and/or cause problems in your own projects. In each case, you must bring up your past lives character in action and demeanor.

When you build artefacts, social networks, military unit, organizations, friendships or other relations, you might first have to get something or make sacrifices (like in workshop). GM might ask you to describe something, e.g. a character in this social unit. After this, roll ??. 10+ hold 2. 7-9 hold 1. On a miss the act of creating carries you away (think Great Curse). Your construction might get ready or not, and it also might have some new interesting features.
Both your and GM can use the hold for:
  • When using the construct for something, the effect is especially effective or durable
  • Some part in the organization shows deep respect, love, affection or devotion towards the Lawgiver or tries to emulate her

Move the Scene
When you move the scene, roll ??. On a 10+, the changed circumstances are beneficial to you. On a 7-9, it's challenging for both parties. On a miss, it's beneficial to your foe.

This is mostly here to act as reminder that this should happen (like most moves are). If you and your players already do this enough, then this move is useless.

When you pray, you chant your message. Roll ??. On a 10+, the right god appears and is gracious to you or your cause. On a 7-9, god might manifest irritated, send a representative or demand a significant promise before cooperation. On a miss nothing might appear, or the god might manifest angry, treacherous or useless.

Partial ideas: move to Raise the Stakes (for both parties).

Make an Impression works like Skinner's Hypnotic, except that the feeling from them to you is love, deep respect or deeply impressed and from you to them (on a miss) need to help, protect or save.

We'd also like to include Combos as they are described in the fluff. I'm thinking along the lines of special attacks by Servants in the Fate Zero. One mechanics might be a track that fills up when you stunt well, and when filled gives you permission to use the Combo.

We haven't also decided if we want Harm as something that PCs have in the game.

Character creation should also be different than in AW. People should choose at least Motivation and a cool fighting style, possibly backed by a move. It might also be good to list "things that I protect in Creation" and "something I aim to be very best at".

Go Aggro and Seize by Force don't work that well in Exalted. Our current version is like Act Under Fire, except with +Hard.

Also, we're giving characters Abilities. They're passive things that enable the character to do something unnatural. For example, one Ability might be being able to use Build extremely fast or for extremely large things for one specific subset from the list. Abilities can also give new options to existing moves.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2013, 11:08:04 AM »
Okay, finally getting back to this after a long hiatus (although still without the chance to have playtested it yet, sadly).  Finally have my initial set of playbooks drafted, and I'm now going through special moves, general Exalted moves and other surrounding system stuff.

I've more or less settled on how I want to use Virtues and Limit for now, and have starting Virtue options written up for the playbooks, a la the Hx entries for AW.


When you help or hinder another's action, roll +Virtue if you are acting in accordance with a Virtue, or -Virtue of you are acting against the Virtue.

At the start of the session, pass your character to the player whose character most exemplifies your highest Virtue.  They highlight one of your stats, and then pass it to the ST to highlight your other stat.

At the end of the session, pick the player who you feel has act most in accordance with or against one of the Virtues and tell them to mark + or - Virtue accordingly.  If this takes you to +4 or -4, reset the Virtue to +1 or -1, mark XP and the ST holds one Limit against you, max of 3.
The ST can spend Limit to make you act wildly for or against one of your Virtues.  If you do so, take +1 forward on those actions, if you refuse you are Acting Under Fire, where the fire is the madness of the Great Curse gripping you.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 12:08:51 PM »
I wanted to do something to represent the 'tiers' of Exalted too, since everyone is very much not created equal in Creation.  I have an idea for how to represent this, that should extend to the other Exalts types too, but is initially intended to deal with Solars dealing with each other and with mortals/spirits/demons/etc.

The move for it goes something like this:

Reveal your power

When you reveal your power and bring your full supernatural competence to bear on a problem, compare your Circle in that area with your opponent's

Might: in combat and physical conflict
1 Circle higher: +1 harm, +1 armor
2 Circles higher: +2 harm, +2 armor
3 Circles higher: +3 harm, +3 armor

Majesty: in negotiation and social conflict
1 Circle higher: you can treat your power as a source of leverage
2 Circles higher: you can treat your power as barter to sway them with
3 Circles higher: you don't even need to promise them something

Mysteries: in matters of essence and artifice (where the opponent is the difficulty of performing supernatural feats, effectively 0)
1st Circle: attune to Essence
 - perform Thaumaturgy without a Source of Essence or Place of Power
 - attune to Artifacts
 - attune to a Manse/Hearthstone
2nd Circle: create labors  of Essence
 - forge Artifacts
 - build Manses
 - enlighten mortals
3rd Circle: transform Essence
 - create Places of Power, or change their nature
 - create Legendary Wonders
 - create new races or sources of power

The Exalts would have:

Solar: All at 1st Circle, +1 at 2nd Circle
Lunar: All at 1st Circle
Sidereal: 1 at 1st Circle, 1 at 2nd Circle, must include Mysteries
Dragon-Blooded: Mysteries at 1st Circle, 1 of Might or Majesty at 1st Circle

Other types would be something along the lines of:

0 Circle: mortals, mundane animals, least Gods
1st Circle: -demons, common Elementals, minor Gods and supernatural beasts, Fair Folk Commoners
2nd Circle: -demons, lesser elemental Dragons, Terrestrial/Celestial bureaucrats, Behemoths, Raksha Nobles
3rd Circle: -demons, heads of Celestial Bureaus, Unshaped Raksha

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 10:18:47 PM »
Loving where this is going!

« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2013, 04:36:20 PM »
I did some work on my own hack. If anyone's still interested, I'd love some feedback and advice.



Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2013, 11:04:25 PM »
I am new to the Apocalypse in general and this forum in specific. I didn't have a lot of luck with Apocalypse World, but I've had quite a bit of fun with Dungeon World (DW). So I'll be referencing DW as my core mechanic... if that's ok.

Any time I ever play any game, I ponder how to use it for Exalted (X). X is my favorite game of all time. Naturally, I have pondered how to use DW to run X, and I thought I'd throw some thoughts and questions out there for the psychic maelstrom to review and consider.

I think that virtues would work well as the "alignments" of X. Act according to your virtue and get an XP. I don't really like the idea of rolling virtues as a way of affecting relationships, or boosting rolls. That causes too much rolling.

Making moves into charms seems natural, and comforting. In other X hacks I've tried and seen, the setting loses flavor because of a lack of colorful and melodramatic charm descriptions. So I think this is good.

I also think that using Motes as a form of "hold" is good, but I could be talked out of this. It is very easy to design charms that require you to spend a mote of essence rather than requiring a roll. What I don't want is to slip into a trap where I try to paste the X charm list into DW. That'd be bad.

I think combat needs to be jazzed up, though I'm not sure how. I was reading some kung fu hacks on this forum, but haven't found one that clicked with me... yet. Any suggestions on how to get some Anime fighting fun out of DW? I like the idea of Anima Prime, if you're familiar with that game, but I don't see any way to make it work.

Stats can be fundamentally similar to the stats in DW. Though I don't feel the need to cling to the stat/modifier split, that's a DND trope that has no place in X. I also think that I'd like to change the dice to 2D12, which will allow for a broader range of modifiers. I don't like being capped at +3.

For playbooks, I'm on the fence. Right now I'm thinking of making a playbook for each of the 5 castes, and giving a lot of options therein, for variety. However, this doesn't guide players as much as DW does, for better or worse. It's also a bit overwhelming. So I thought about making archetypes: the Priest, the King, the Warlord, the ARchitect, and tying those to their respective Caste. This gives a lot of expansion potential, but could also be a bit limiting. Which way do you think this should go?

Backgrounds are a fine replacement for race, and can offer specific moves.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd put some questions out there and see if there's any interested in reviving the X talk?

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2013, 09:31:20 PM »
I too am hacking Exalted, but mostly mixing and matching with Dungeon World, Monster of the week and a few other sources. It also shamelessly takes Moves from one place, adjusts the wording slightly and then fits it into the Exalted framework.

I've finished the first playbook, the Dawn Caste, and will be working on the others and the updated Basic and Special Moves and gear from Dungeon World.

Feedback is always appreciated!


Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2013, 10:04:18 AM »
The sheet looks GREAT!  Unfortunately I cannot read everything on the right side due to the way it appears on my phone. But I get the gist.

You have some great ideas in here also. I particularly like:
-Always Where I'm Needed
-your choice of stats. Cunning is a provocative stat idea.

I'm not a big fan of how essence and anima works. It's not very powerful and it's of very limited utility. I can see players dumping their -1 in there and never using it. Popping anima is thematically an important choice: harness great power and reveal my anathema heritage or fight like a mortal and remain secret.

That said, I'm on the fence about what to do with anima. Right now I'm writing my rules assuming the use of a more pool just like X. It makes new and interesting options available and gives a flexible expendable resource, which I enjoy in games.

In any event, well done!

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 10:33:30 AM »
Okay, I finally have my Solar Playbooks all written up and I feel like I have the player side of things more or less ready to go.  I still want to do more on how to establish fronts for Myth World, but I'd like to get some feedback on what I have.

My new version of 'Reveal your Power' is intended to be a bit more general and simplified and to lift some of the acting at an advantage/disadvantage system from Monsterhearts, since I like the look of that.

++ Solars

Solar Exalted begin with Manifest Essence and are considered 1st Circle of power by default.

++ Manifest Essence

When you engage in a conflict with and individual or confront and obstacle of a lesser Circle of power than yourself, you put an NPC at a Disadvantage for each Circle you exceed them by and PCs must Act Under Fire where the Fire is your greater potency.  These apply even if you miss on move, as even in failure you are more potent than your opponent.  You must also choose one of the following consequences for exercising your full strength:
* Take +1 to Anima and Flare Anima
* You tire yourself in your exertions and take -1 forward
* The scope of your power comes with consequences beyond what you intended
* The MC gains 1 Limit on you, if they are not already holding the maximum amount

NPCs with sufficient supernatural power can use this move too, acting at an Advantage for each Circle they exceed the power of the Exalt by.  If the character wishes to mitigate the effects they can Manifest Essence themselves and take the relevant consequences to reduce the disparity in Circle of power.

Re: Exalted Hack
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2013, 10:36:04 AM »
Oh, and the Solar Playbooks currently stand at:


the Talonlord
the Ronin


the Monk
the Theosopher


the Scavenger Lord
the Sorceror


the Shinobi
the Swashbuckler


the Merchant
the Courtesan

Now I just need to get the opportunity to actually playtest some of this ...