Exalted: What makes a sustainable, enjoyable game?

So, I’ve recently become very interested in the RPG ‘Exalted’. I got the core book and most of the supplements, and started applying for games on RPOL.net. I’ve managed to get into about six or seven of them, and, save one, each has fallen apart before any action has occurred.
Thinking that it may just be the nature of play-by-post, I tried to run a tabletop version of the game while converting much of it into a simpler rules format (Mutants and Masterminds), but it really didn’t ‘take’. This, however, could be my gaming group.
Hoping that the third (eighth) time is a charm, I’ve finally started putting together another group, and we’ll be using the actual exalted rules.
Saying I’m a bit gunshy about this is a small understatement. I really want to run an enjoyable game that works well and will continue for a while.

So, anyone out there actually have a sustained game of this running? Or can anyone advise me what -not- to do with the game? Assume a relatively new GM for the genre, but a very experienced one in general (I started GMing 30 years ago), and players who’ve likely never even looked at the game, much-less played it.

I ran my semi-successful Exalted campaign (the sessions we played were very enjoyable for all involved but we only did like five of them) pretty much like a game of D&D with a heavy dose of spy thriller/martial arts film thrown in. Exalted’s real weakness is its combat system, which is a pretty major flaw considering how big a role combat plays in the game. The game is built around playing characters that are larger than life and I suggest you really play that up. Make the Solar protagonists seem really, really epic compared to normal guards. Every mission I ran in my campaign had the PCs tearing through crowds of commoners (or epically stealthing by them or epically manipulating them or whatever the players decided to do). Epic doesn’t have to mean overpowered- keep in mind that the Terrestrials are going to be really fucking epic, too.

The awesome feeling of playing a super-powerful kung fu god is one of the game’s (few) strengths so as long as you play that aspect up you should be able to keep the players’ interest.

I suggest doing what I did and opening with a fight scene. Like have them being searched by a customs agent Dragon-blooded and his squad of guards as they try to pass through a Scarlet city and let it all go to hell. They’ll immediately get a feel for the game when they completely rape the peasant guards and then face off against the more powerful terrestrial.

But that’s just how I’d do it (and did do it). Your style and the style of your group might be a lot different.

I talked about the martial arts film aspect of the game but forgot to mention the spy thriller part. While the players should feel super powerful they should also feel hunted. Everyone hates and fears the solars and their most powerful enemies, the terrestrials, are everywhere and control everything. So you’ve got to make a balance between them feeling like badasses but still keep them constantly on the run. Think the protagonists from The Matrix. That opening fight scene I mentioned in my previous post? As soon as they kill the terrestrial who stopped them (if they manage to kill him at all) you can immediately turn it into a rooftop chase scene as they’re pursued by more dragon-blooded. Just food for thought.

Hrm. This all sounds like good advice, but it makes me ask for another piece of advice.
I have a hard time getting players to realize there are things that they should just -run- from, unless I out-and-out state it. Now, this being said, it’s possible my new group will have that level of common sense, but I’d rather have either advice or a back-up plan for if they decide that they’re just going to keep attacking whatever comes at them.
Also, you say the combat system is really poor. What, in your opinion, would make it better?

Hoo boy.

First, with Exalted, I reccomend you automatically exclude any rules lawyers and/or power gamers, and if at all possible play 1st edition with no other sourcebooks. It’s not like you really need any of it, and White Wolf actually managed to over time turn the rules into something which literally cannot be applied. The 2nd edition errata is huge and begins by throwing out several major concepts.

So, in short, don’t take the rules too seriously. Figure out what “scale” you’re comfortable with and let the players know. Other than that, let them go nuts and do insane stunts. That’s more or less what the game is about.

Yeah, I understand that this is actually a really common problem that a lot of DMs have in RPG systems of all kinds. I’ve never had this problem because I’m not afraid to kill protagonists. How you handle this is going to depend on your players. You could just tell them before the game “Listen guys, there is a serious possibility that your characters will die in this game. You’re going to have to learn to run”, or you can give them an NPC mentor for the first few missions/sessions and have him killed off early in the story (if you want). He can start off trying to Obi-Wan the guards (but fail) and when they’re all defeated he can call for a retreat. Or you can just point-blank tell the players “it would probably be smart to get the fuck out of there”. Finally, you can kill a character. But be careful with that last one because some players can’t handle losing characters and if it would make a stink it’s better avoided. I like occasionally killing a player character to get it into the players’ heads that there are real consequences but this isn’t worth doing if you think it would cause issues and keep the group from having fun.

You’re going to have to solve this problem eventually because a big part of the game has to do with being constantly on the run from the terrestrials and their brainwashed [del]slaves[/del] subjects.

Play D&D. :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, Bandit’s advice to not take the rules too seriously is good.

This is an exceptionally large problem with Exalted, because there’s almost no way for characters to know they’re in over their heads and need to retreat. Is that Dragon-Blood a threat? Umm, well, he could be a martial arts master or he could be a bureaucrat. Are you supposed to fight that Abyssal, or is he the big villain for the next plot arc and you’re supposed to flee? Well, umm… he’s wearing armor and has a big weapon. So, maybe?