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12 March 2014 @ 06:06 pm
Exalted Minus Exalted: Supernatural Powers  
The last entry was a couple months ago, but I'm still thinking about it. Lately, I've been considering what sources of k3wl p0w3rz I'd want the mortals to have access to.

Thaumaturgy
This is a definite yes. I've been tooling away over the last few months on a giant list of thaumaturgical rituals with the idea that basically anyone who wants one could buy them. I also split up the paths so that they don't only require occult, which doesn't really make sense. Exalted has always been really confused about what exactly Occult even means and how "a skill for dealing with supernatural things" works in an explicitly animist setting where everyone knows the gods exist and might even have talked to one. I split up Lore and Occult into, basically, liberal arts and science--Lore is history and archeology and philosophy and anthropology and mathematics and so on, and Occult is physics and biology. So the Art of Alchemy needs Craft (Water), because that's the skill for brewing and mixing liquids; and the Art of Spirit Beckoning needs Performance, because that's the skill for praying; and the Art of the Dead needs Lore, because that's the skill for knowing your ancestors' customs. That spreads things around and gives more reason to not just choose Occult as a Favored Skill because it has the most to buy.

I'm also changing it so that if the character has a Degree in an Art, level 0 rituals cost no Willpower, and if they have the Master Degree, level 1 rituals cost no Willpower either. I'm also writing up more prayers for the ARt of Spirit Beckoning so that priests have a thematic path to follow with their magic.

Martial Arts
On the one hand, if I did the same thing and split up the various Terrestrial Martial Arts schools by skill, so a sword one would require the melee skill and an unarmed one would require the Martial Arts skill, that would provide something for martial characters to buy. However, Supernatural Martial Arts change the playing field a lot if they're in. Anyone with them becomes a far more capable combatant than anyone else, and often even just the form charm can turn the tide of battle.

Plus, even if the characters are mortals, God-Blooded still exist. Mortals need to beg a god for endowment, hope for a beneficial Wyld mutation when they're more likely to end up with wings on their head or mercury for blood that will kill them the instant they leave the Wyld, or spend years meditating under a waterfall to unlock their potential before they can even start to learn Martial Arts Charms, but it's a lot easier for native Essence users. I'm currently leaning toward leaving these out.

Sorcery
I was leaning toward leaving out Sorcery too and just using thaumaturgy for everything, but then I realized they filled different conceptual spaces. Thaumaturgy is kind of what modern people think of as magic, but it's also got alchemy and making good luck charms and ceremonies for life events like naming babies and praying to the gods. The magic of everyday life, in other words. Sorcery, on the other hand, is the kind of thing that you wrest out of demons or delve into forbidden ruins to learn. The kind that can change the course of a battle, divert a river, raise up a king, or cast them down.

There's room for both to exist, especially since sorcery is going to be really rare. Mortals require enormous amounts of effort to learn it, and Essencer users will often just rely on their Charms instead of going through the trouble. But in a world without the Exalted, there's more room for sorcery spells often considered useless, like Death of Obsidian Butterflies, to have their place.

I had the idea of Runequest-style Sorcerous Brotherhoods with a small list of spells, too. Each brotherhood has a specific philosophy and probably knows 2-7 spells or so that they'll teach, they get shirty if you try to join more than one, and have weird customs and taboos they follow to keep the Essence flowing. And the maximum amount of Essence a mortal can hold means they can cast one, maybe two, spells before they're utterly dry unless they do a lot of preparation beforehand, which tends to keep sorcery in secret sanctums and hidden fortresses and less on the battlefield unless it's a mass engagement, which is exactly where I want it.

Here's some example sorcerous groups:

Servants of Caltia
This group of sorcerers actually has an official position in the Haltan government, and all of its members must also be priests of Caltia as well as schooled in sorcerous knowledge. Their main purpose is the protection of Halta's woodlands from the Linowan or anyone else that would try to defile it, and to that end their magics are devoted to becoming as close to the wood as possible as well as oriented around martial considerations.
Spells: Becoming the Wood Friend, Spoke the Wooden Face, Sprouting Shackles of Doom, Wood Dragon's Claw

The Perfected Hierarchy
A subsidiary cult of the Seven-Stranded Vine, the Perfected Hierarchy is devoted to the study of order and ways to cultivate and impose it. The focus on order means they are far less fractious than most sorcerous groups, and the breadth of their knowledge is correspondingly greater.
Spells: Commanding Presence of Fire, Corrupted Words, Curse of Slavish Humility, Demon of the First Circle, Incantation of Effective Restoration, Sorcerer's Irrestistible Puppetry, Summoning the Lesser Minions of the Eyeless Face

The Onyx and Bone Circle
Devoted to the study of death and the practice of transcending the cycle of death, ghosthood, and rebirth, and Onyn and Bone Circle was founded several centuries ago by a necromancer named Black Wind. She accumulated a group of disciples and taught them her beliefs about attaining eternal life before suddenly vanishing. Her ghost was never found in the Underworld and the group is convinced that she has cheated death and exists still, and that if any of them can duplicate her feat she will return and teach them all that she has learned since her disappearance. So far, none of them have succeeded.
Spells: Death Mask, Dusk Eyes, Mother Darkness, Shade Prison Amulet, Soul Brand

Not super original, but it gets the point across.
 
 
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