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Exalted 3rd Edition $24.99
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jens T. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2021 07:34:11

Let me start by saying I love the Exalted setting, and the setting work done in this version is outstanding. However, after having played two campaigns as the storyteller I've finally given up on third edition. The system is overwhelming. Not only does it have a very steep learning curve, but the sheer number of charm (comparable to spells or feats from other systems) and their complexity forced the storyteller into a constant state of information overload. They introduced a "quick" npc system, but the system failed to streamline npc charms in any useful way.

Secondly, the system introduced the concept of fluid initiative. Initiative not only serves to determine your turn order, but it is also both a sort of hit point and your damage dice pool... and it is very swingy. It is extremely hard to turn the tables on someone, once you are behind. Further more action economy hits very hard in this edition. While "realistic" the core mechanics favor superior numbers. This means that in order to challenge five players you need at least five NPCs of roughly the same power-level. Here the complexity of the game strikes again for running five NPCs of such power-level is extremely time-consuming. As such a battle can easily take around 5-10 hours in real time...

Thirdly, the quality of the charms vary wildly. Some of them seem very polished and integrate into the base system in fun ways, a lot of them are simply dice adders adding little to the actual story, and some seems to be wierdly out of sync with the base game. An example of the latter is the number of charms using what the game calls "defining intimacies". Defining intimacies are core values that your character would be willing to kill or die for, and realisticly a character should rarely have more than one or two of those. However, some charms seem to assume that you have a handful or more (integrity charm tree I'm looking at you), while other are capable of giving people a defining intimacy towards you with no resisted roll... We had one player in the group giving everyone else a defining intimacy of lust towards his character. That turned out quite anticlimatic because people had a hard time actually playing out the intimacy on a defining level. The charm in question would have been much more reasonable if it only gave a major intimacy. Also... the Craft rules... just don't go there. It is a dark place.

Speaking of intimacies they are at their core a very good idea, but the whole social conflict system can feel a bit artificial. Sure the gm can assign bonus and penalty dice based on the roleplaying performance (stunts) and the way PCs frame their requests, but for solars focused on social conflict it rarely matters. The excellency alone can give you such a big load of dice, that you can pretty much start building any intimacy you want in another character... if your suggestion isn't vetoed with a willpower point. So depending on your perspective it is either overpowered or completely useless.

In the end I would like to offer a piece of advice. If you want to play Exalted 3rd Edition I really recommend a small group. 1 to 3 players would probably work fine. Smaller numbers speed up combat, and make it way easier on the storyteller to construct challenging and credible encounters. Personally I will probably be using the Fate Core system the next time I want to run something in the Exalted universe... alternatively I will be waiting for the Exalted Essence edition, which Onyx Path has announce. It might be the Exalted Light that I've been wanting all along.



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Exalted 3rd Edition
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