Monday, January 17, 2011

Exalted and Bending

I've been watching Avatar the Last Airbender of late and rather enjoying their use of the elements in combat. Sometimes it can be rather staid and straightforward on how they use them but other times the uses are rather unique and thoughtful ways to exploit the elements at hand. The odd thing for me is that when I see them bending elements that is how I originally perceived Dragonblooded from Exalted. To a certain extent Dragonblooded have never felt quite like they met their potential for representing the elements with just their charms. Which led to the thought, why not replace their charms with bending? They would naturally be able to bend the element of their given caste, the more they bent the more their anima banner would flare. The higher the essence the more capacity they could bend is the very basic explanation of how it would work.

Here's a more detailed breakdown for Dragonblooded: inherently they would bend the element of their caste so an Earth aspect would bend earth, Wood would bend wood, etc. (I realize that the first thing any gamer who sees this will says is they want to be the earth bender who bends fire just so they can be a unique and special snowflake, I'm going to ignore that for now.) The base control for how much you can bend period is your Essence. However replacing charms I think would be dots in a given element (Air, Water, Fire, Earth, Wood) that represent the control over a given element you have. As you buy up dots of an element your capabilities in manipulating it expand. Essence would also act as a cap to the max dots in any given element you could have. The dice pool for rolling what you can do it Element + Essence. At 5 dots in an element you can buy a specialty that allows for the unique variations of bending (eg, metal-bending from Earth, blood-bending from water). Every dot above 5 allows for another specialty to be bought. Dragonblooded can learn other elements then their own but their would be an Essence surcharge to use those powers (until they mastered (eg 5 dots) them) and they could never have more dots in an element then their natural element.

For Solars they have it easier. For one they are not limited to learning any one element at a time. Also they can learn any of the natural elements up to 5 even if their Essence is lower then 5. However learning beyond 5 requires their Essence to be equal or greater then the amount they want to increase it to. Beyond ease of ability to learn the bending of any of the 5 natural elements Solars can learn to bend ANY* element that is bendable (see Abyssals and Inferals below) making them incredibly versatile. (*With a view caveats)

The magical materials provide an interesting side note: they can be bent too but they require a certain degree of alignment to them so each Exalted type can naturally only bend the magical material related to them (using the standard relations set out in the Exalted core). Alchemicals by their nature can bend the magical material their caste is related too. Since they are limited too their own magical material that means even Solars who wanted to make great works of magitech were limited to doing things by hand or getting the assistance of other Exalt types when making their great works in the first age.

Abyssals act similar to Solars but their "natural" elements are: pyre-flame, jade, bone, blood, and prayer
Infernals are somewhat different as the only "natural" element to Hell is vitriol. The other common associated elements are brass, sand, glass, basalt, and obsidian. (As an aside I am unsure as to whether they should just use those as the elements or handle this differently...)

Sidereals and Lunars are somewhat less powerful then their Solar (and Solar analogue) kin. While they can learn other elements more easily then the Dragonblooded they cannot raise anything other then their unique bending ability above their essence. So a Sidereal could have Air and Earth bending but if her Essence was three these bending abilities could not be above three.

Sidereals unique bending ability is that of Fate and Lunars unique ability is to bend themselves into new forms.

Alchemicals are somewhat unique in that they have 6 specific elements (oil, smoke, metal, steam, lightning, and crystal) These element they can learn akin to Solars not being limited by their Essence unless they want to take an element above 5. However they are limited to elements outside of those 6 by their Essence and they cannot have more then 5 x Essence total dots of bending active at one time. This represents their modularity. Alchemicals also can bend their magical material.

For Fair Folk, they have an inherent Wyld bending ability (which can be learned by other Exalt types) but outside of the Wyld to have the bending cause an actual affect rather then being limited by Bend: Wyld + Essence it's limited by Bend: Wyld + Glamour.

One thing that this new system lacks is as much affect on mental/social combat, leadership, etc. A possible work around is a bonus related to how many dots you have in an element that is associated with the ability you are using.

More to come on this possibly...

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