A monk of the Immaculate Order and a student of Air Dragon Style who sees the Anathema as the true threat. A scheming sorceress who will do anything she can to gain power and put her House’s leader on the throne. A warrior and commander, graduate of the House of Bells, who sees the Realm surrounded by enemies and seeks to bolster the legions against them. A master of Terrestrial Hero Style from a House of mortals, who sees those un-Exalted beings as the foundation the Realm must rest upon. A Dynast of unmatched breeding, a warrior and a socialite, determined to expand her small House with herself in a position of power. Each Meet the Party article gives you an entire group of ready-to-play adventurers (maybe even some heroes) for your gaming needs for a variety of systems and settings. We’re going back to Creation, this time to the Blessed Isle itself, to meet a Sworn Brotherhood of the Dragon-Blooded for Exalted Second Edition!
While the Solar Exalted are legendary heroes returning after centuries of being sealed away, someone had to keep Creation from falling apart at the seams in the meantime. More often than not, that job has fallen to the Terrestrial – more commonly called the Dragon-Blooded – Exalted. Originally foot-soldiers for the Solars in the great war that the Exalted were made for, the Dragon-Blooded are typically weaker than their former Solar masters but much more numerous, often able to become stronger when working together. Of course, there’s the little issue about them having overthrown the Solars in the first place . . .
With the ruler of their Realm, the Scarlet Empress, having vanished the Dragon-Blooded have been dumped straight into the Time of Tumult. The Realm teeters on the edge of civil war, the outer territories are falling prey to chaos and worse, and the dreaded Solar Anathema are beginning to return. Every Dragon-Blooded Exalt has their own ideas as to how to fix things, and this particular Sworn Brotherhood has come together to take their shot at digging Creation out of its own grave before it’s too late.
Motivation: Restore the Wyld Hunt to its former glory.
Essence Pool: Personal 14, Peripheral 30
Strength: OOO Dexterity: OOOOO Stamina: OO
Charisma: OOO Manipulation: OO Appearance: OO
Perception: OOO Intelligence: OOO Wits: OOO
Aspect Abilities: Linguistics OOO, Lore OOO, Stealth OOOO, Thrown OOO
Favored Abilities: Martial Arts OOOOO, Integrity OOO, Athletics OOO
Other Abilities: Archery OO, Melee OO, Performance OO, Presence OO, Ride OO, Socialize OO, War OO
Specialties: Martial Arts (Chakrams) x3, Stealth (Moving Silently)
Charms/Sorcery: Pasiap’s Humility, Moment of Daana’d, Air Dragon’s Sight, Wind Dragon Speed, Shrouding the Body and Mind
Backgrounds: Artifact OOO, Breeding OOO, Backing OOO, Manse OOOO
Virtues: Compassion OO, Conviction OO, Temperance OOO, Valor OO
Virtue Flaw: Contempt of the Virtuous
Equipment: Infinite Jade Chakram, Jade Breastplate, Jade Hearthstone Bracers, Jade Hearthstone Amulet, Seven Leaping Dragon Stone, Windhand Gemstone, Gem of Echoes
Tepet Senno is a student of the Immaculate martial art known as Air Dragon Style, and thus a living, whirling hurricane of chakrams that will cut down all who oppose him. His Martial Arts Ability, improved by the Seven Leaping Dragon Stone, would make him a dangerous combatant in any fight, but it is his Style’s chosen weapon that truly makes him shine. Students of Air Dragon Style can throw two chakrams in a single attack; by using the Infinite Jade Chakram, which has an impressive Rate of attacks that involves phantom weapons leaping from his hands, Senno can send eight attacks downrange in a single action. Add in the Speed bonus provided by Wind Dragon’s Speed, and Senno’s main concern becomes not if he can throw enough attacks, but how long his Essence can hold out. He’s difficult to attack in turn, thanks to a good Dodge Ability, the Windhand Gemstone negating defensive penalties no matter how many ranged attacks are sent against him, and Shrouding the Body and Mind protecting him in a shroud of air. This last Charm also gives him a chance to use his Stealth, which is improved by a Specialty and the Gem of Echoes. Finally, Senno is a sharp-eyed Dynast: Air Dragon’s Sight means even blindfolded he can fight without penalty, while Pasiap’s Humility and Moment of Daana’d allow him to see (and fight) spirits.
Motivation: Gather influence and use it to support Mnemon’s claim to the throne.
Essence Pool: Personal 15, Peripheral 31
Strength: OO Dexterity: OOO Stamina: OO
Charisma: OOO Manipulation: OOO Appearance: OOO
Perception: OOO Intelligence: OOOO Wits: OOO
Aspect Abilities: Awareness OOO, Craft OO, Integrity OOO, Resistance OOO, War OO
Favored Abilities: Occult OOOOO, Lore OOO, Bureaucracy OOO
Other Abilities: Archery OO, Martial Arts OO, Melee OOO, Performance OO, Presence OO, Socialize OO, Investigation OO, Linguistics O
Specialties: Occult (Summoning), Melee (Goremaul), Investigation (Library Research), Bureaucracy (Bending Rules)
Charms/Sorcery: Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, Death of Obsidian Butterflies, Emerald Circle Countermagic, Demon of the First Circle, Second Melee Excellency, Finding the Water’s Depths, Elemental Concentration Trance
Backgrounds: Breeding OOO, Manse OOO, Artifact OOO, Connections OO, Family O
Virtues: Compassion OO, Conviction OOO, Temperance OO, Valor OO
Virtue Flaw: Heart of Flint
Equipment: White Jade Goremaul, Jade Hearthstone Bracers, Jade Hearthstone Amulet, Jade Breastplate, Gem of Sorcery, Gem of Dignity, Eye of the First Goat
Mnemon Linoan follows in the footsteps of Mnemon herself: an aspiring sorceress and demon-summoner who keeps a careful eye on the power structures of the Realm. Her Terrestrial Circle Sorcery allows her to strike at her enemies, summon First Circle demons, and counter the sorcery of others. Her Gem of Sorcery can, when needed, decrease the mote cost of a sorcery spell, maybe even allowing for a free casting. Outside of sorcery she’s adept at navigating the social mazes of the Realm, and none of her comrades have a better grasp of its bureaucracy; Finding the Water’s Depths even helps her negotiate for purchases or contracts. The Gem of Dignity means that attempts to make her look foolish while engaging in social affairs are much more likely to fail. Linoan is also the smartest member of the group, with Elemental Concentration Trance speeding up her acquisition of knowledge and the learning of new Charms. Finally she is quite capable in straight up combat with her White Jade Goremaul, which is further enhanced by the Eye of the First Goat.
Motivation: Secure the Realm against its external enemies.
Essence Pool: Personal 14, Peripheral 30
Strength: OOO Dexterity: OOOO Stamina: OOO
Charisma: OOOO Manipulation: OOO Appearance: OO
Perception: OOO Intelligence: OO Wits: OO
Aspect Abilities: Athletics OOO, Dodge OO, Melee OOOOO, Presence OOOO, Socialize OOO
Favored Abilities: Awareness OOO, Stealth OOO, War OOO
Other Abilities: Archery OO, Lore OO, Martial Arts OO, Performance OO, Ride OO, Resistance OO
Specialties: Melee (Dire Lance) x2, War (Small Group Tactics) x2
Charms/Sorcery: Dragon-Graced Weapon, Second Melee Excellency, Portentious Comet Deflecting Mode, Glowing Coal Radiance, Aura of Invulnerability, Effortlessly Rising Flame, Distracting Breeze Meditation, Second Socialize Excellency
Backgrounds: Breeding OOO, Artifact OOOO, Manse OO, Connections O (House of Bells), Connections O (House Cathak), Command OO
Virtues: Compassion OO, Conviction OO, Temperance OO, Valor OOO
Virtue Flaw: Foolhardy Contempt
Equipment: Red Jade Dire Lance, Jade Articulated Plate, Jade Hearthstone Bracers, Jewel of the Flying Heart, Gemstone of Surface Thoughts, Gem of the Calm Heart
Cathak Donn is a warrior through and through, born to fight and trained to lead. He is the best Melee fighter in the group, further improved upon by the Jewel of the Flying Heart. Dragon-Graced Weapon will wreath his Red Jade Dire Lance with fire, while Portentious Comet Deflecting Mode allows him to perfectly parry many attacks. Glowing Coal Radiance and Aura of Invulnerability make him hard to even swing at and grant him extra (temporary) health levels, respectively. Interestingly, he’s also decently stealthy, and Distracting Breeze Meditation uses environmental effects to add successes to Stealth rolls. With his War Ability, specialization, and Command, he can lead a talon of 125 troops into combat as well. He’s also got some interesting connections, and doesn’t slack off when it comes to the social side of things. The Gemstone of Surface Thoughts allows him to read the same, gaining a unique advantage, while the Gem of the Calm Heart can help Donn keep the fiery passions of his Aspect under control.
Motivation: To protect mortals, particularly those of House Nellens, from the dangers of Creation – including the Dragon-Blooded.
Essence Pool: Personal 14, Peripheral 29
Strength: OOO Dexterity: OOOOO Stamina: OO
Charisma: OOOO Manipulation: OO Appearance: OOO
Perception: OO Intelligence: OO Wits: OOO
Aspect Abilities: Bureaucracy OOO, Investigation OOO, Larceny OOO, Martial Arts OOOOO, Sail OOO
Favored Abilities: Presence OOO, Athletics OOO, Dodge OOO
Other Abilities: Archery O, Lore OO, Melee O, Performance OO, Ride O, Socialize OOO, War O
Specialties: Martial Arts (Fighting Unarmed) x3, Presence (Persuasion)
Charms/Sorcery: Currents Sweep to Sea, Pounding Surf Style, Flow from the Rocks, Terrestrial Hero Form, Riptide Method, Drowning Embrace, Trireme Strikes the Rocks
Backgrounds: Manse OOOO, Artifact OO, Breeding OO, Connections OO, Family O, Mentor O, Allies O,
Virtues: Compassion OOO, Conviction OO, Temperance OO, Valor OO
Virtue Flaw: Compassionate Martyrdom
Equipment: Jade Hearthstone Bracers, Jade Hearthstone Amulet, Jade Breastplate, Seven Leaping Dragon Stone, The Freedom Stone, Jewel of the Clever Merchant
Nellens Saizo has already mastered the supernatural martial arts style known as Terrestrial Hero Style, making him a dangerous opponent: he is skilled at bypassing foes’ defenses, keeping them off balance, and grappling attacks. The final charm of Trireme Strikes the Rocks can leave opponents crippled, unable to dodge with a broken spine and useless legs. With the Seven Leaping Dragon Stone and his Specialties, opponents will regret closing the distance (while The Freedom Stone prevents foes from grappling him in turn). Since he has already completed his Style, he has more freedom of growth than his fellow martial artist, Senno; while Senno will likely feel compelled to continue learning Air Dragon Charms, Saizo is free to begin broadening his Charm set. While his Breeding is lower than the others due to being a Nellens, he compensates with more points in social Backgrounds than anyone else. Jewel of the Clever Merchant helps with this: he’s uncannily good at bargaining and negotiating, as a Nellens should be.
Motivation: To become the founder of her own major line within House V’Neef.
Essence Pool: Personal 15, Peripheral 33
Strength: OO Dexterity: OOOOO Stamina: OO
Charisma: OOOO Manipulation: OOO Appearance: OOO
Perception: OO Intelligence: OO Wits: OOO
Aspect Abilities: Archery OOOO, Medicine OOO, Performance OOO, Ride OO, Survival OO
Favored Abilities: Dodge OOO, Presence OOOO, Socialize OOO
Other Abilities: Lore OO, Martial Arts OO, Melee OO, War OO, Stealth OO, Linguistics OO, Bureaucracy O
Specialties: Archery (Powerbows) x2, Presence (Persuasion), Socialize (Discern Motivation)
Charms/Sorcery: Dragon-Graced Arrow, Dragonfly Finds Mate, Seven-Year Swarm Volley, Second Performance Excellency, Auspicious First Meeting Attitude, Infection Banishing Prana, Second Socialize Excellency
Backgrounds: Breeding OOOOO, Family OO, Connections O, Artifact OOO, Manse OOO
Virtues: Compassion OOO, Conviction OO, Temperance OO, Valor OO
Virtue Flaw: Red Rage of Compassion
Equipment: Long Green Jade Powerbow, Jade Chain Shirt, Jade Hearthstone Bracers, Gem of Grace, Stone of Passion, Stone of Healing, Gem of Injury Sense
V’neef Valeria is a Dynast of impeccable breeding, and it shows through in her Essence Pool, the largest in the group. Her Essence will continue to grow more than that of her fellows, as she has the most growth left to gain in Willpower. She puts that extra Essence to good use: she’s an amazing shot with her powerbow, the green jade of which can actually allow her to steal motes of Essence from living targets. Her Archery charms can add a poison to her arrows, but more importantly can shoot down ranged attacks targeting her or her allies; being of Essence 3, even energy attacks can be parried this way. In addition to her actual combat capabilities, she is a graceful social combatant, thanks to Performance, Presence, and Socialize. Auspicious First Meeting Attitude helps her make a good first impression every time, and the Gem of Grace and Stone of Passion further improve her social rolls (especially when talking about something she cares for, in the latter’s case). She is also unique in her knowledge of the Medicine Ability, which is in turn boosted by the Stone of Healing and Gem of Injury Sense.
In addition to the core Exalted 2E rulebook and the Scroll of Errata, making Dragon-Blooded characters requires the use of The Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded. As with the Solar Circle Meet the Party, there is a lot more Exalted 2E material that I could have used, and I did actually dip into that vast and sometimes maddening well for this one. The majority of the above characters pulled at least a little material from Oadenol’s Codex, the third of the Books of Sorcery supplements. I did this to get my hands on the different colors of jade, which would be thematically fitting for many of the characters, and to get more options for hearthstones. You may have noticed that our Dragon-Blooded have, on average, a lot more stuffthan our Solars. This is because, operating at the heart of the Realm with its wealth at their disposal, Dragon-Blooded Dynasts just get more out of their Artifact and Manse dots. There aren’t very many hearthstone options in the core book, so I decided to broaden the net a little.
Who They Are
Tepet Senno always knew he would go to the Cloister of Wisdom to study the Immaculate Philosophy and join the Immaculate Order. He foresaw a life of putting spirits and little gods in their place, maintaining the proper order of things and keeping Creation from unraveling at the seams. To him this was not just a duty, but a holy calling. However, things are not as they should be. The Solar Anathema have returned, the Lunar Anathema grow ever bolder, and darker threats have emerged to ravage such places as the city of Thorns. Despite this the Wyld Hunt tasked with hunting such threats wherever they can be found has been downsized and ignored as the Realm turns upon itself in the Empress’s absence. Senno sees the real threat; if the Hunt is not restored and these Anathema destroyed, no amount of politicking will save the Realm from its doom.
Mnemon Linoan sees the throne of the Scarlet Empress lying empty and knows that it must be filled, and done so competently. She is not foolish enough to try for it on her own of course; the leader of her own House, Mnemon herself, has her eyes on it. There is still plenty of power behind the throne however, so Linoan has put her efforts behind Mnemon’s claim to the throne. A student of the Heptagram like her leader, Linoan is like many sorcerers in the Realm, flaunting her power despite the stigma this magic has amongst the rest of the Dragon-Blooded. In Linoan’s eyes, she actually does this because of the stigma; Dynasts tend to try and ignore sorcerers unless they need something from them, and this leaves Linoan to plot and plan behind the scenes, all so that she can profit from the reign of Empress Mnemon.
Cathak Donn Exalted comparatively late in life, despite his good breeding, which caused him all sorts of trouble as a child. His parents were deliberately cruel after their stipend was reduced for not producing an Exalted child, all in an effort to get him to Exalt. It worked, eventually, but Donn was left with a need to prove and protect himself that burns as hot as the fires of his Aspect. He was soon enrolled on the House of Bells, studying to lead the troops of the Cathak legions, and found himself quite adept at it. After a tour of duty out in the Threshold, Donn returned convinced that both the path to glory and the path to saving the Realm lay beyond the Blessed Isle. The number of opponents in the Threshold that could threaten even the Realm seemed to grow every year, while the Houses bicker amongst themselves. Donn knew in his heart that if the Dragon-Blooded of the Realm couldn’t stand united, then the shores of the Blessed Isle might one day face the ultimate blasphemy: invasion.
Nellens Saizo is a rarity in his House, which is overwhelmingly made up of mortal patricians with just a smattering of Dragon-Blooded among them. Many Nellens Dragon-Blooded are resentful of the fact that mortals hold so much power within their House, relegating Dragon-Blooded to a very strange second-class-status behind closed Nellens doors. Saizo has decided to see things differently. Without the mortal patriarchs there wouldn’t be a House Nellens, and clearly even the Empress saw some value in mortals if she was willing to start a House with one. Looking at the Realm in its entirety, Saizo sees the entire thing relying on the mortals. Even if every Dragon-Blooded on the Blessed Isle was on the same side, without the support of mortal patriarchs and peasants the entire system would collapse, and not even the Realm would survive if all the mortals revolted. So, despite the Immaculate Philosophy looking askance at his priorities, Saizo sees the salvation of the Realm at large and Nellens in particular in safeguarding the mortals against all-comers, even those Dragon-Blooded who go too far.
V’Neef Valeria is blessed in every way a Dynast of the Realm could hope for. Her House and Aspect are strong, her training impeccable, and her prospects good and plentiful even in the tumultuous present day. However, her House is young, with Grandmother V’Neef not even 60 years old, and it is thus small. V’Neef herself manages to still effectively micromanage the House, and though Valeria loves her grandmother dearly she still sometimes chafes at the lack of initiative and freedom that results. Valeria has seen that other Houses branch off into major lines, effectively becoming multiple families under one House, each of which has its own strengths and independence. Valeria has decided to make this her goal: whether by powerbow, force of personality, or honeyed words she will be the first to start her own path under the banner of House V’Neef, for the betterment of herself, her House, and her Realm!
How They Interact
Senno sees the manipulations and sorcery of Linoan as endemic to the problems and distractions facing the Realm and keeping the Wyld Hunt from its good work. That being said, if the turmoil within the Realm could be brought to a swift end, that might speed up the reinforcement of the Hunt, particularly if a Hunt member helped the new Empress into power. Donn is thankfully above most of the politics, and he shares some of Senno’s views on the external threats against the Realm. Even the Hunt needs foot soldiers, after all. Saizo is quite possibly a heretic, putting far too much value in the well-being of mortals, who have their natural place beneath the Dragon-Blooded. He makes for a passable sparring partner, however, and if he could be convinced that the Anathema present the greatest threat to his precious mortals a great asset for the Hunt. Valeria is far too focused on her personal goals, which happen to mean time wasted climbing the social ladder. She’s willing to prove herself in combat, however, and even her social standing could be put to use in strengthening the Hunt.
Linoan thinks of Senno as too small-minded. Yes the Anathema are a problem, and yes the Wyld Hunt probably should be strengthened to deal with them, but if the Realm collapses into civil war because nobody claims the Throne then none of that will matter. The need to support the Hunt is another spell in her book of ways to convince others to side with Mnemon, however, and in the meantime Senno makes an excellent warrior to have on-side. Donn’s usefulness is somewhat hampered by the perspective of his House, but the time might come when Mnemon needs military allies, and if she can convince Donn to side with her his troops could be valuable. Saizo is amusing in his care for mortal humans, but the fact is that the patriarchs of the Realm have a power all their own, and that’s power Linoan will want to tap into. So long as it doesn’t clash with any other goals, she’s wiling to help him with his little hobby. Valeria is more her kind of person, with a clear goal and a willingness to pursue multiple avenues to reach it. She’s less cutthroat than Linoan would like, but helping Valeria with her goal might gain Mnemon a powerful ally in the small but wealthy V’Neef.
Donn thinks highly of Senno for his willingness to face the external threats to the Realm, although he feels the monk is too narrowly focused. The Anathema are a dire threat, the Bull of the North being a prime example, but letting the non-Anathema enemies of the Realm slip by will cause just as many problems. Senno is also a little too straight-forward; Donn has learned from personal experience that sometimes it’s better to be sneaky. Donn has more or less fully accepted the view of most of Cathak when it comes to sorcery, which is highly negative to say the least. He doesn’t care at all for Mnemon or her House, and dislikes Linoan slightly less. The chance that she might succeed in her goal, and Donn’s awareness as to what might happen if the new Empress is an enemy, keeps them in the same brotherhood. Saizo seems committed to the needs of his House above and beyond his personal desires, which is something Donn respects greatly. He doesn’t quite get the mortal thing, but he supposes it would make sense for a Nellens to think that way. Donn met Valeria at some social function or another that V’Neef was hosting and that he was forced to attend; as it turned out, spending time with the Wood Aspect was the only enjoyable part it. They’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship behind closed doors since, but Donn has yet to think of the long term, focused as he is on the military.
Saizo doesn’t think too highly of the Immaculate Philosophy’s disregard of mortals, and some of that carries over to his opinion on Senno. He’s careful never to vocalize this feeling, however, and he enjoys sparring with an Immaculate Monk. There is also no denying that the Anathema are certainly a threat no mortal could face and survive. Linoan and Mnemon are dangerous, and powerful, and altogether not the type of enemy that House Nellens can afford to make. Saizo has been given strict orders from his House to play nice with the sorceress. He doesn’t much care to, what with the demons, but the safety of his charges forces him to agree it is likely necessary. Donn is a strong sort, and while his priorities don’t match with Saizo’s there’s no denying that if the external enemies of the realm have their way it’s the mortals of the Blessed Isle will surely be the ones to suffer the most. The Cathak’s devotion to his House is also something that Saizo can sympathize with. Valeria is, in some ways, as much of a schemer as Linoan is, but there is a key difference between the two women: Valeria actually seems to have a thought for the people around her. Part of this may well be the cunning diplomacy of a V’Neef, but Saizo believes that it actually Valeria’s defining virtue; when push comes to shove, there are some things she is just not willing to do, something than many Dragon-Blooded can not claim.
Valeria sees Senno as being dangerously ignorant of the machinations of the Realm, something that could get the otherwise talented monk in serious trouble. That being said, Valeria respects his devotion; like many Wood Aspects, Valeria views her Exaltation from a strongly spiritual standpoint. It helps that slaying a Solar Anathema alongside the Tepet would be quite the feather in her cap. Valeria sees Linoan for exactly what she is: a potentially powerful ally, but a potentially dire enemy if mishandled. House V’Neef in general and V’Neef herself in particular have done a good job at staying on everyone’s friendly side so far, and Valeria seeks to keep that up with regards to Linoan. Originally that was the same motivation for approaching Cathak Donn, but Valeria will admit (only to herself) that’s it’s since become more than that. She genuinely likes and cares for the warrior, as bullheaded as he can be some times, and has made some considerations for the future. True, V’Neef would likely frown upon a marriage with a Fire Aspect, as protective she is of her House’s Wood bloodline, but the military strength of Cathak might convince her. Valeria doesn’t share Senno’s belief that the mortals are the foundation upon which the entire Realm stands, but she sympathizes with his cause thanks to her own intrinsic compassion. While she would strongly hesitate to help mortals in situations that would risk House or standing, she is otherwise willing to give the Nellens her assistance out of principle first, possible alliances second.
To be a Dragon-Blooded Dynast in this Age is to be the nobility of a great Realm that threatens to come apart at the seams with every day that the Empress remains vanished, a Realm surrounded by enemies that can overpower any single Dynast and even sunder their legions when in numbers. Can Senno, Linoan, Donn, Saizo, and Valeria overcome their differences in the face of such threats and unite to to save the Realm and creation itself? Or will they be crushed by powers greater than they, from both within and without the Realm? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!
A great thanks to the GM and Sworn Brotherhood of the ‘Daes Dae’Mar’ campaign; not only did we take down Infernals and Sidereals alike together, several character concepts and names presented here are drawn from our GM-breaking shenanigans. Mark, I apologize for nothing, but thanks again for the great game.
Originally posted 4/16/16 on the Mad Adventurers Society!