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Combos are a major stumbling block in Exalted. Due to the need to place one's best defensive charm in a combo, and due to the fact that combos are set once purchased (and cannot be incrementally improved nor modified after purchase), players will often hold off on purchasing combos until they develop their defenses. Players are often left with 'worthless' combos after they have purchased a better one. Also, the expense and immutability encourage players to make 'kitchen-sink' combos with every possible reflexive charm they can think of, just in case they happen to need it. This leads to boring and repetitive tactics, and discourages players from trying out different combinations of Charms.

Possible Fixes

Combo Upgrades

Allow all characters to replace one combo with another by paying the difference in cost, the new combo must be a direct superset of the old one, except that (at the GM's option) certain charms may be used to replace charms for which they act like upgraded versions, in this case the cost of the new combo is discounted by the cost of the overlap of the two combos.

Rule used by: Bazzalisk, Democritus, Ialdabaoth

Upgrade (Ability) Essence Flow

Allow (Ability) Essence Flow to apply to all Reflexive Charms based on that Ability, not merely the Excellencies. This allows Solars, through the purchase of 25 Charms, to reach the same level of flexibility as the Dragon-Blooded. Lowering the Essence requirement for this Charm to 3 might also be appropriate.

Rule used by: Ialdabaoth

Limited but Free Combos

Under this house rule, Combos may no longer be bought with experience points. Instead, each (non-Lunar) character automatically gets a free First Combo of up to 3 Charms in each Ability known at 3 dots, and a free Second Combo of up to 5 Charms in each Ability known at 5 dots. A character is limited to only these Combos - no character will ever have more than 2 Combos total for any Ability. These Combos may be altered during downtime.

Lunars instead get a 3-Charm combo at Attribute 3, a 4-Charm Combo at Attribute 4, and a 5-Charm Combo at Attribute 5. No Lunar will ever have more than 3 Combos in any Attribute (in addition to the 2 'pseudo-Combos' of Relentless Lunar Fury and Deadly Beastman Transformation, if the Lunar takes those Charms).

Details at Limited but Free Combos by Strangelooper 22:34, 17 October 2007 (PDT)

Rule used by: Strangelooper

Unlimited Combos

Using this rule, combos are not bought with experience points. Instead a character can use any combo, containing any number of charms, at any time. All other rules concerning combo-use still apply. Thus a Willpower point must be spent, the combo cannot contain Simple charms, and the whole combo must be announced as the character takes their action (including any defensive charms the character intends to use).

In addition, at the beginning of the character's next action, they must pay for a single use of any reflexive charms that they included in the combo but did not use any instances of between the two actions. This is to prevent characters automactically including all of their reflexive charms in a combo for free, just in case.

This ruling preserves the dragon-blooded advantage. Some sort of bonus for Lunars is probably desirable.

One variant, preferable if you prefer combat to be a bit slower, is to charge a character one willpower point for every charm used in a combo beyond the first. Thus, a 3-charm combo costs 2 Willpower. This strongly discourages the use of large numbers of charms together, while still making any combination of charms possible if required.

Instant Combos

Add the following rules:

  • You can create an instant combo, following the usual combo rules, at any time, as long as you have a maximum of (Essence) Charms in it. Raise this limit by 2 for each additional Willpower spend.
  • For a cost of 1 extra Willpower you can use a reflexive, instant Charm at any time, ignoring any other rules regarding Charm use.
  • For a cost of 1 extra Willpower a simple charm with non-instant duration becomes Combo-Basic for a single use.
  • When buying a Combo with XP, the first Essence Charms are for free. Should Essence be raised, the the proper part from Combos will be awarded back retroactivly, to be used for raising Essence.
  • Combos can be expanded with new Charms, as long as the theme is kept. Alternately, a higher Charm can be swapped in for a lower Charm as long as it goes be considered an upgrade (e.g.: Swap Iron Whirlwind Technique for Peony Blossom Attack in a melee Combo).

by Langeweile 02:51, 5 February 2008 (PST)

Problem: Scene-length Charms

There are many great scene-length Charms available to Exalts, and almost all are Simple Charms. It is disadvantageous to spend a long time powering-up at the beginning of a fight, as either the Exalt will be caught with his defensive Charms unavailable and/or the fight will be over by the time he gets multiple scene-length Charms going. Eg Martial Arts Form charm, Infinite Martial Arts Mastery, Iron Kettle Body and second Martial Arts Style scenelength (Perfection of Earth Body / Essence Fangs and Scales / Celestial Tiger Hide etc.). Effectively, buying all of those cool Charms becomes a waste as they tend to not get used; it's more effective to use only one of them, flurry your opponent and rely on Perfect Defenses. The only way to achieve a good power-up is by setting up ambushes, and/or starting to power-up before Join Battle is rolled. This is very undramatic and does not encourage heroic epic behaviour.

Possible Fixes

The 'Power-Up Combo'

Strangelooper 10:47, 18 October 2007 (PDT)

Allow players to buy a special "Power-Up Combo" which can include multiple scenelength Charms, even if they are Simple (in contrast to the normal Combo construction rules). A surcharge should be charged for using the combo - perhaps make it cost 2 WP (or even 3WP) to activate? Also, only scenelength charms (and possibly Reflexive Charms for defense) should be allowed in the Combo. This would make players less worried about getting caught with their Charms down, and make for more dramatic fight scenes where everyone gets to use more of their cool Charms.

The Power-Up Combo houserule would work best in conjunction with either of the above fixes for Combos, so that newly purchased Charms could be easily added in to the Power-Up Combo.

When combined with the Combo Upgrades houserule (see above), a Power-Up Combo would be purchased normally. New Charms could be added in by paying the difference as for any other Combo.
When combined with the Limited but Free Combo rule (see above), the Power-Up Combo would be a special Combo available to all Exalts, and not assigned to any Ability (or Attribute). It could contain a maximum number of Simple charms equal to the the Permanent Essence of the Exalt. If any of the Reflexive Charm Fixes from General Charm Rules are in use, then that is sufficient. Otherwise, a number of Reflexive Charms equal to the Permanent Essence of the Exalt may also be included in the Power-Up Combo.

Wuxia Emulation

This problem has also been addressed in the wuxia emulation fix, which was written to exactly allow dramatic power-up scenes.