This is a first-untested-draft of the Zenith Caste playbook to go with my upcoming Exalted hack. There’s a lot of renamed and new moves mentioned in the playbook, but the one thing you’ll definitely need to know is that the game will use 2D12 rather than 2D6.

Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.



13 thoughts on “ZENITH CASTE”

  1. I have no idea what Exalted is but the following observation: You give a character mana (motes) but also a way to increase the mana anytime on the fly. That seems to defeat the purpose of mana which is to limit the power for game balance purposes.

  2. I’m doubtfull of introducing MOTES additional pool, of having damage rolls not related to CASTE but to weapons, and having advanced move nor really inspired from fiction point of view. i understand that you want to represent the Zenith Caste and their charms etc. but I do not think it is the right approach to DW. I would prefer someing like:

    When you fight and follow your drive, you have +1 armor.

    In general i’d like to have the moves to be linked to the general concept of zenith (king, stubborn bastard,e tc.) rather than to Original game charms.

  3. Yeesh, just lost a huge reply… annoyed. I’ll try to replicate.

    Thanks for your insightful responses! I appreciate it, it helps with the process.

    Wynand Louw Not knowing Exalted is actually fantastic, an outsider’s opinion is great!

    You can increase your ‘mana’ at any time, but only a limited amount, and at a cost (you start to glow). I guess I need to re-write the move to have it make more sense. Ultimately, the goal is here is a cost/benefit tradeoff: do you need motes, or secrecy? That’s a core part of Exalted gameplay that I’d like to emulate.

    Samuel Hinz The DW community here cringed at the thought of using D12s, I expect some blowback on this, but I’m thinking outside the box. D12s give me the flexibility to add more modifiers to rolls without making the base system collapse. In RAW DW +1 is pretty huge. In this system, it’s significant, but not all-powerful. So D12 = flexibility.

    One of the main reasons I like this flexibility is because I like “stunts” from Exalted. A stunt is when you give a player a bonus for a cool description. This is something I use in ALL RPGs, except for DW, which doesn’t have many levers for such a reward. Well, now I can give a +1 to a roll (or give a mote) if the player is creative and entertaining.

    Luca Colombini The main reason I wanted to include MOTES is because I love games that have resource management. Exalted is an obvious example, but so is Burning Wheel, Legends of the 5 Rings, FATE, Savage Worlds. This point was nailed home when I introduced some players to DW the other day, we got to a climactic moment, and they said “can we spend something to improve this roll?” Granted, that’s not what DW is going for, but this isn’t supposed to be DW.

    Are motes really any different than Hold, Preparation, or even Ammunition? The thing that makes them different (in my mind) isn’t that you have a pool of resources to keep track of, but rather that those resources are required to use some of your abilities. That’s a mechanic explored in a lot of custom classes I see.

    I wanted to tie damage to caste, I really do prefer it, but I couldn’t figure out why one caste would do more damage than another (with a few exceptions). I don’t want everybody doing the same damage, so the only solution I could come up with was making it weapon-centric. This also harkens back to Apocalypse World. As does the use of an advanced move to improve stats.

    I used the names of charms, but if you look closely you’ll see that not many of the charms are actually related to the effect of the move in anything but a superfluous way. I actually designed charm effects first, then spread them between the castes and tacked on names that were relatively appropriate. I used the names for thematic tie-in (I think charm name/description is one of the biggest theme-inducing elements of Exalted). However, I tried to make the actual effects of the charms stick to the theme of the caste itself. If you think the actual charm effects don’t induce the feel of the caste, then I’d need to go back to the drawing board.

    One of the tricky parts of the design has been to give a diverse palate of abilities to the character, since Exalted characters do a lot more than murder creatures in their underground homes (murder hobos). It’s tough to fit it all on 2 pages!

    Again, thanks for all the feedback.

  4. Mmmhhh, don’t know. It seems to me that your path leads to overcomplication. Do you really need d12 and more flexibility? And if instead of power that give +n your invent powers that give you fiction? When i played the ranger the most interesting moves – those that defined my char – were “speak with animals” and “be invisible in the forest”. My DM build another one to share senses with my wolf (Stark and dire-wolf as inspiration).

    Our group decided to follow a medium-high fantasy game (e.g. my char was able to pulldown an oak with his class feature move during a fight) and still we lowered the damage dice of additional moves (e.g. merciless is 1d2 instead of 1d4, scent of blood is +1d4 instead of 1d6 and only after being drenched in enemy blood, armor is still +1 but only when under 50% of px). The reasoning was to focus on fiction rather than on bonuses. We arrived at this approach after our first campaing: the gm was striving to increase increase enemy powerjust to oeep pace with us…the result is the same without working).

    That’s why i’m not convinced of d12, huge +4 stats, great amount of PF and other. +n-based power. It seems that goes against the core idea of DW. The text make examples to magic item (like a daiklave): is more intersting a +2 greatdaiklave or a daiklave that let you roll+CHAR making your enemies drool while looking at your gorgeous fighting style or bringing some of them on your side?

  5. PS: if you like stuntsyou could include a specific move instead like: when you do something incredible to the eyes of bystander, you roll+essence

    10+ you bla bla bla

    7-9 bla bla bla

    maybe you can relate the effect to the Caste-field: let’s say that Solar exalted caste can be seen as:


    Each Caste starts with its own Stunt-Move

    Example for Dawncaste

    If you do something incredible in the eyes of bystander, you roll+essence

    10+ Choose 2 / 7-9 Chose 1

    1) the enemies are impressed: they get -1d4 on next damage roll against you

    2) you are a god of sword: you deal (2b10)

    3) your anima roars: one of your enemy esitates

  6. Luca Colombini I definitely agree that fiction should come first, and powers are more interesting when they modify the fiction rather than give bonuses on rolls. So I agree with you about that. And I also think there’s a lot of room to increase the fictional impetus of various elements on the sheet. I’m not sold that a magic sword should do +1 damage. Your perspective is definitely something I’ll take away from this chat, thanks.

    BUT, there is a point where too many fictional elements added to the game can become overwhelming. Getting a +1 or +x to damage or whatever is easy. Simple to apply, easy to understand, and neigh impossible to mis-interpret or forget. The same cannot be said for fictional elements. If every single thing on your sheet makes the story different, you’ll start to lose the texture of any individual fictional element. This is something I’ve seen time and again in busy games like Exalted and Burning Wheel. Hell, even in classic DND nobody would remember the Wizard’s familiar.

    Also, stacking bonuses is fun. At least for me and mine. It is NOT what DW is all about, you’re right. I’m trying something a little different. Maybe it won’t work, I dunno.

  7. What sort of effect were you going for with The Blasphemous? Delcare ana enemy of The Sun? Suss out Things Which Offend Thy Sight?  What way was this ability supposed to go?

  8. Well, the Exalted are all cursed creatures. The “Blasphemous” move was a placeholder I put in there to make me think about this aspect of the Exalted. But the more I think about it the less I think I want to include it on the sheet.

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