Friday, January 4, 2013

System Shopped: Musou Gauge - Exalted

The Musou Meter from Dynasty Warriors
System Shopped: Exalted
by Tobie Abad

Fans of the smashfest Dynasty Warriors (and similar games such as Sengoku Basara and Samurai Warriors) will recall the presence of what is known as the Musou system. The term Musou is a Japanese word that means "The Only One" or "Prominent" or "Without Equal" and is a direct translation of the Chinese term Wushuang.  In the games, it is a bar known as the Musou Guage underneath the player's hit points that accumulates as you attack and are attacked in battle.  When full, the bar can be expended to unleash special moves that devastate opponents.  There are even variations, such as the True Musou, which can only be unleashed when health is extremely low (or with a signature weapon equipped) and Team or Double Musou, which happens when you activate your Musou attack at the same time a team mate does and is within your vicinity.

Each character has a "unique" musou attack, which can make for wild and varied looks during the game itself.   In the Exalted game, be it first or second edition, the closest thing to a Musou attack is the Combo System, given each Exalted has a set of charms to use, but can only access them within a single turn at the same time when they are placed in a Combo.  Given Exalted's crunchiness, there are already loads of existing systems that are present to represent awesome attacks.

At the most basic, the Musou effects are NEVER subtle.  Anima banners SHOULD flare when they are used, just like any other combo.

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate the Musou idea into your Exalted games:

Version 1:  The Musou Combo
The player can designate a Musou Combo, which follows the same rules as normal combo building.  This combo, however, will not be purchased with Experience points.  Instead, it can only freely be unleashed whenever the player has gathered enough in his Musou Meter.

The Musou Meter fills up one bar for each level of base damage the player character receives.   (Note that base damage is what is tracked, not the actual damage received after soak and armor.) The Musou Meter is twenty bars long, typically (so Exalts with lots of additional health levels through charms as well as defensive charms will be able to better fill up the Musou bar without the risk of getting Incapacitated before it can be used. )   Once the Meter is filled up, the player can declare that his character is using the Musou combo as his action for that turn (again, following normal combo rules).  Activating a Musou combo costs neither essence nor WP, just the Musou Meter's accumulated amount for its most basic use, with additional essence and Will power only being spent if one uses the combo's full extent.    So a combo with a variable multiple-action charm, a single base attack, and two reflexive defenses, when activated allow the single base attack to be used for free.  If during that combo, the player wished to use the additional attacks, and reflexive defenses, he can pay the essence costs for those as normal.

A Musou Combo is a singular kind of combo, which can be "modified" by adding or removing charms at the cost of 1xp per charm modified in such a manner.  A Musou Combo cannot be part of a combo.

Version 2: The Musou Meter
The player can have a Musou Meter, which accumulates bars equal to the amount of actual damage the player receives in combat.  The Meter can have a total of bars equal to double the player's health levels.  Each time the Meter is completely filled the player can consume the meter completely for a single turn where he can activate any charms or combos with "free essence" equal to his actual Peripheral Essence Pool.  This basically means that's one turn where all Essence costs are "ignored" since they do not touch his actual pool. The amount of "free essence" he can spend, however, is still limited by his actual Peripheral Essence Pool maximum, so this avoids having some player claim he can do "infinite" attacks with his infinite pool.    The Musou Meter, however, does not replace the need for Will Power to be spent for Will power costs.

Version 3: Team Musou
The Musou Meter is a meter that gains one bar as it tracks every damage you inflict, as well as every amount of base damage you receive during combat.  The Musou Meter has fifty bars to fill up.  Once filled up, the Musou Meter can be spent in two ways:

First, the Meter can be spent to supercharge one's existing charms or combos.  This simply means during that turn, the essence costs for a charm or combo used in that turn are waived, with the maximum amount waived being equal to the player character's maximum Peripheral Essence Pool.

Secondly, the Meter can be spent at the same time another player character (to a maximum of three player characters) within 4 yards does so.  This activates the Team Musou attack.  All players can then unleash a charm or a combo as above, with the essence costs being waived following the rules above.   In addition, if they are attacking the SAME target that moment, both attacking Exalted have their dice cap maximums doubled for that turn.  Solars can gain (Attribute + Ability) x  2 dice from charms for their attack, for instance.    This is the True Triple Team Musou Attack.    It is said that when someone with Essence Sight watches these Exalts, lighting chains of Essence can be seen between them, as if heralding the coming team assault.

All in all, the idea was to bring the crazy and wild Musou system from video games into the table top game.  Granted, some will feel this isn't appropriate for Exalted.  Others will even question if its additional was necessary, given Exalted is already flashy and fun.  But hey, it was a fun idea to toy with and I feel given how Exalted pushes the meter over 11, why not add something even more crazy dangerous?


  1. The Ink Monkeys (the official Errata and rules-expanding team of Exalted) have written a system quite similar to what you describe known as Overdrive. Offensive Charms generate Overdrive motes, which can be used to fuel special Overdrive Charms. It's intent was to make Exalted combat more offensive, trying to steer it away from the "paranoia combat" it was heading for. It's worth checking out, since it sounds similar to this Mosou bar idea.

    1. Hey Markus! That's awesome. I actually stopped checking on Exalted stuff sometime after they released the 2nd edition books. (Kinda felt shafted after buying a lot of the First edition stuff.)

      Nice to know they had that idea. I think I read about something similar but frankly its been so long I barely remember. Was this under the Exalted Power Battle system?


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