ST✫RPUNCHER: Metaphysical Antagony 

an Exalted hack, kinda, by James Mendez Hodes

Once, there was a maiden …

… who never got to play Exalted long enough to afford Sidereal Martial Arts.

To play S:MA, you need:

  • two to six players, some of whom have heard of Exalted

  • some Exalted 1st or 2nd Edition sourcebooks

  • some time to play

  • some safety mechanisms, explained thoroughly to everyone

They won’t really get in the way, but you don’t particularly need:

  • dice,

  • writing implements,

  • paper, or

  • a table.

One player is the Storyteller; appoint whoever knows the least about Exalted. The rest of the players portray a circle of Sidereal Exalted, or any other kind of Exalt you want who can learn Sidereal Martial Arts. At the end of second edition I think that was Sidereals, Solars, Abyssals, Infernals, Lunar akuma, one Dragon-Blooded NPC, and one Alchemical NPC, but your ST knows less about Exalted than you and probably won’t check. Each player character has mastered one, and only one, Sidereal Martial Art in its entirety. No two of you may know the same style. You also have some other Exalt powers but they don’t really matter, so describe what you like for æsthetic purposes.

Make up a character. Describe them a bit. Wax lyrical if you want, but really, only a little is required: “I look like this and I know this style” quite suffices. Then tell a story together. The Storyteller asks questions of the players to flesh out the world around them, then improvises supporting characters, antagonists, and setting based on the answers. They may have no idea what the Exalted setting or metaphysics are like, so help them out if they want but keep it brief.

When something happens that a player doesn’t like, either because it doesn’t match their out-of-character vision of Exalted lore or because their character doesn’t like it in the fiction, they have only one way to solve that problem: Sidereal Martial Arts. To use your martial expertise, open an Exalted sourcebook to the description of a Sidereal Martial Arts Charm from your style and read the relevant flavor text aloud in a smug and/or dramatic voice (or some equivalent if playing in a non-verbal medium).

Generally speaking, your overpowered maneuver just plain works, irreparably changing the nature of reality around you. Any other player may elaborate on the description of your Charm’s effects, adding on how it reshapes reality in collateral and unexpected ways.

When two characters use Sidereal Martial Arts against one another, both Charms work every single time. Each martial artist reads out the description of the single Charm they are using. Then it’s up to the other players in the game, the ones not personally involved in the clash, to interpret what happens. However, final authority over their outcome goes to no one. Words are written in wind and flowing water. There are no assurances here.

By the way, the Storyteller’s supporting characters technically may use Charms and Sorcery and so forth from sources other than Sidereal Martial Arts, deploying them the same way the PCs deploy Martial Arts, but they probably won’t.

Play continues until you have altered reality so far beyond recognition that no one knows how to talk about it anymore. Afterwards, spend at least ten minutes discussing a mundane, straightforward topic like sports or the weather before you start to postgame whatever it is you did.

Dedicated to Degen, whose fault this is. You know what you did.