Motivation, Intimacy, and Influence.

With he revision of the Feats system, I have hooked several new mechanics that I have not fully explained. These have all been sourced from the Exalted rules with the intention that our game will handle them a little differently.


In Exalted, each character has a driving goal or motivation. For the heroes of the Unconquered Sun these goals are suitably legendary and lofty. Since our game deals with, mostly, heroic mortals we can assume somewhat less epic motivations if we wish. Giving your character a motivation provides three main benefits:

  • Any stunt that directly supports a character’s motivation is increased by 1 level.
  • It protects a character against certain forms of mental influence, as we see below.
  • A character who spends an entire role-played scene directly supporting his motivation may regain a point of Willpower.

Conversely, there are a couple of downsides to having a motivation, especially if it becomes known:

  • A character cannot act directly against his motivation without a successful Virtue check and even then gains a point of limit for that virtue.
  • A character’s motivation can be exploited by savvy individuals.

A motivation that is epic in scope is a good hook for a Storyteller to base a story on and fulfilling it would be an excellent reason for the Storyteller to allow a Destiny increase.


Intimacies are another Exalted concept and relate to the people, places or ideals that a character feels personally invested in. They are friends, family and lovers, codes of honor or a favorite weapon. Generally speaking, a character can hold as many intimacies as they have Willpower + Conviction. Some Feats or story-driven events may increase that limit.

Why have them:

  • Stunts that directly defend a character’s intimacy benefit from a 1 level increase.
  • Again, the character is protected against certain types of influence.


  • A character may not act in a manner that harms an intimacy without spending a point of Willpower.
  • Intimacies are especially ripe targets for socially adept characters to exploit.

A player is not required to select any intimacies for their character.


In the previous incarnation of this setting I did not properly allow for social and mental influence, except for some brute force Feats that didn’t really take full advantage of the mechanics available to me. So allow me to lay down a few definitions and how I expect social combat and mental influence to work under the new paradigm.

Natural mental influence is defined as mundane attempts to sway a subject to a course of action. This could be by persuasion, leadership, interrogation, seduction or any number of methods that, generally, do not involve magic or Feats. Under natural influence a character cannot be compelled to act directly against their motivation or harm their intimacies. Such influence would be regarded as an unacceptable command and does not cost Willpower to resist. Depending on the nature of the attempt, such resistance may not end the influence. Influence that affects  a motivation or intimacy may allow the defender a bonus or penalty to their applicable defense. Resisting natural influence for an action or scene (depending on what the influence entails) costs 1 Willpower. Once a character has done this twice, they are no longer under the effects and are immune to all attempts at natural influence for the rest of the scene.

Example: Argasta and his squad are patrolling a crowd that has gathered to hear a preacher. The preacher exhorts the crowd to storm a local house and lynch a young girl accused of witch-craft. The preacher is using his Performance ability as a form of natural influence and scores enough successes to convince the villagers to do as he asks, including Argasta and his soldiers. Argasta’s motivation is to protect the innocent. Storming the house does not directly oppose his motivation so would have to spend a point of Willpower to resist the preacher’s command. However, lynching a girl without proof is definitely an unacceptable command.

Unnatural mental influence is the domain of magic and spirits, where a subject is compelled to a course of action. For the most part, this will be accomplished through the use of certain Feats such as Forceful Command. Feats that exert unnatural influence will generally specify the cost of resisting. If it does not then it requires 1 Willpower to resist for a single action, and three such expenditures will remove the effect completely. Do so renders the subject immune to that particular effect for the rest of the scene. Character’s can be forced to act against their motivations and intimacies by unnatural influence but doing so will often confer a bonus to the applicable defense value, just as commands that enforce or benefit the same may impose a penalty.

Example: The preacher, realising that Argasta may be a foil to his plans to burn the young witch, uses Forceful Command against the spear-sergeant, compelling him to tie the girl to the pyre. Even though this is against Argasta’s motivation, this is unnatural influence and he must do as commanded. Argasta opts to spend 1 Willpower to resist for an action. He uses that action to cast Mantle of Authority, convincing the crowd that he holds a position of leadership over them.

On the next action, the priest uses Presence to have the villagers seize Argasta and his men. The spear-sergeant, still under the effects of Forceful Command, spends another point of Willpower to resist and uses his own Presence ability to have the crowd arrest the preacher instead. Since the villagers are under the unnatural effect of Argasta’s Mantle of Authority, he gains a bonus to his influence attempt and the crowd restrains the preacher. On the third action Argasta spends another point of Willpower to resist the Forceful Command and is now free from its effect.

Please see this example from the Exalted Wiki for an in-depth breakdown of how social combat works in Exalted.


~ by occam99 on September 3, 2013.

2 Responses to “Motivation, Intimacy, and Influence.”

  1. Sorry only had time for a quick read. I think this will work well. It addes a whole new dynamic to the game and make non-combat focused characters more effective.


  2. That’s the plan 🙂

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