Winning Isn't Everything

The question is simply how long you can pull [the tricks that mortals can do] on an Exalt before he dedicates himself to hunting you down and exacting superpowered vengeance upon you. If he puts his mind to it, he can develop the capabilities needed to find you and destroy you. It could take time, depending on his capabilities before obsessing on you, but the grim and cold truth is that there really isn't a way for mortals to counter this.

Sometimes, I greatly regret making the "Mortals don't get to win" statement, not because it isn't true, but because it is so often misinterpreted to mean something else. Exalted is set up so that mortals are dangerous, because everything is dangerous. Battle Charms will always tip the fight in favor of the Exalt in a mano a mano duel, but the default mode is for the Chosen to fear acts of ninja, gang beatdowns, archer firing squads, getting clinched and pounded, poisoned weapons and a host of other nasty tricks that are intended to be exceedingly lethal modes of attack. With the right Charms, Exalted can mitigate these hazards and arrive at a point where mortals cease to offer any threat by means at their disposal. It's an investment of competence and the magnitude of that investment varies based on the "tier" of Exaltation, with Dragon-Blooded never really quite managing total immunity (but exceedingly close).

As for weaponry, you can give mortals artifact weapons like gunzosha and make them hardcore competent, but never so much so that they pass the capabilities of Exalted to prepare superior defenses. Since modern weapons will not operate at a level of power exceeding artifact weapons, this means you can't depend on technology to save you in that fight. In the original outline for Autochthonians in X1, Geoff Grabowski actually gave me Exalted stats for an assault rifle (no, you can't have it) as part of a discussion where he pointed out that "An Exalt who can dodge a war god's spear doesn't fear a bit of metal flung from a tube." Guns wouldn't actually break the setting or change the overall power of mortals within the world. The reason they don't exist in a mass-produced way is because it would change the feel and "look" of Exalted away from its intended aesthetics. Thus, you can have flamethrowers and magic revolvers and blaster spears, but no assault rifles.

It's very pithy to say "Mortals don't get to win!" as a sound-bite. There's enough truth to it that many agree on the spot, and others pass it along because it has an inflammatory challenge aspect to it, as though I'm daring some Batman to emerge from the shadows and prove his mettle. However, the greater truth is that Exalted have to work up to lolmortal status; they have to want it. If they do, well, they win. It's simple. If they don't, a mortal who finds the right chink might get lucky. Mortals can matter. They can do things that affect the setting, and can - with good tactics - threaten younger and less martially inclined Exalted. There's also the fact that most of the people in the setting are mortals, so you can't help but interact with them on a constant basis as friends and foes. If that doesn't generate some plot, Adorjan is no doubt very proud of your freakish sense of detachment. A game where mortals don't matter is not Exalted, though it shares much in common with the game. Establishing yourself as a hero (or monster, or both) among your own kind is pretty part and parcel of the Exalted play experience for all types of Chosen. Yet there is a difference between mattering and triumphing in any king of the hill conflict with a sufficiently trained Exalt.

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