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Problem: Exalted combats don't emulate the Anime and Wuxia style of fights very well, where people take lengthy and flashy power-up actions and draw new strength from their feelings. Many charms also rely on being activated before the combat starts, because they are not comboable and thus a savy opponent will use the opening to strike down the character with impunity.
This change helps to give Exalted a better wuxia feeling, allow non-comboable Charms to be activated during combat (although at a cost) and should generally make combat a bit more dynamic and quick to resolve. Langeweile 07:13, 21 February 2008 (PST)

Rule Changes

Essence Pool

Every character starts a combat with only his personal pool of motes. All motes not commited are flushed from his peripheral pool.
The peripheral pool can still be used to commit motes for artifacts and charms. You can use Charms, Stunts and special actions to regenerate motes to fill both your personal and your peripheral pool during combat.
If a character is in possesion of measures to regenerate Essence he gains his hourly regeneration as bonus motes to his peripheral pool, but only take the highest single source from each kind (Manse / Hearthstone, Artifact, Cult, ...)

Power-Up Actions

During your Power-Up Action you may activate a single Charm that has a longer duration than one action and a maximum duration of one scene. Its mote costs are automatically paid and commited into your peripheral Essence pool (personal pool as usual if the peripheral is already full), while all other costs are paid normally. During that time you're immune to all attacks and similar effetcs.
This action has a drawback, though, as all opponents in the fight will regenerate one mote per tick you're invulnareable. Furthermore you must name one major antagonist (Storyteller decides) who will either regain a number of additional motes for free equal to your Charm cost or may take Power-Up Action himself without suffering any of the aformented drawbacks.
You can still choose to activate such a charm before the combat or normally or by using a Combo, but than you'll recieve no protection and you need to pay the motes as usual. You may not activate the same Charm twice during the scene using a Power-Up Action. Performing the Power-Up Action in a cool way counts as appropriate stunt that automatically succeeds.

Dramatic Declaration Actions

You may take a speed 7 action to make a dramatic declaration that has relevance to the actual scene and resonates with one of your Intimiacies, Virtues at 3+ or your Motivation. You regain 6 motes if it resonates with an Intimiacy, (5 + Virtue) motes if it resonates with a Virtue at 3+ and 12 motes if it resonates with you Motivation. You may use each trait only once per scene. During that time you're immune to all attacks and similar effetcs.
Any opponent in the fight may take a similar speed 7 action to formulate a refute to your declaration, during which he is equally is considered immune to all attacks. Count his refute as social attack that has other effect aside from allowing him to regain Motes or Willpower as if he succeeded at an apropriate stunt.

Minor Changes

  • No character may declare two Power-Up and/or Dramatic Declaration Actions in a row, though he still may profit from actions declared by others.
  • The aim action does not count as action for Charms that measure their duration in actions.
  • Lunars recieve changed Essence pools: Personal = 2x [Essence] + 4x [highest Virtue]; Peripheral = 3x [Essence] + 4x [Willpower] (Original: Personal = [Essence] + 2x [Willpower]; Peripheral = 4x [Essence] + 2x [Willpower] + 4x [highest Virtue])

Example Combat

Relentless Xavier, a young No-Moon Lunar with Shark Totem, patrolled the waters in the fat north-eastern ocean as he always used to. He loved the silence, the long days and nights just spent hunting and the thrill of the slight danger that always hung over these waters controlled by the Silver Prince.
His senses tingled the whole day and he felt that today he would have a chance to hunt for bigger game - and in the setting Sun he should be rewarded. In a small, lonely bay he overheared a conversation between a ghost and a tall, robed figure. He spent some time silently in the water, listening to them, but his anger rose and as he finally remembered who that figure was - Auspicious Finder of Passages, a Chosen of Endings notorious in this area for her two-faced politics.
Too much taken by his anger he simply stormed out the water, opening his assault on the Sidereal with shouts of anger of her cooperating with Deathlord forces and totally forgetting his advantage of surprise. The ghost dematerialised quickly and Auspicious Finder of Passages turned around with a wry smile on her iovery face: "You - again..."

The battle starts, but things don't go as well as Relentless Xavier hoped as Auspicious Finder of Passages is a practitioner of Violet Bier of Sorrows and thus wins the join battle roll, if even by only a slight margin of one.
She knows that she will have to get up some defenses fast because she faces a Lunar - on the other hand she doesn't have to bother about Anima flare so far off. Accordingly she performs some dancing steps and activates Defense of Shining Joy declaring a Power-Up action, costing her 1 WP and automatically commiting 5 motes into her empty peripheral Essence pool. As Essence begins shining autowards from her body, Relentless Xavier takes a step back because he realises he won't win the battle that quickly. He forfeits his plan to unleash his fury instantly on Auspicious Finder of Passages and instead shifts his perception to make sure no curious ghost is around anymore. He takes a guard action and reflexively activates All-Encompassing Sorceror's Sight, automatically commiting 6 motes into his peripheral pool. He also gains another 5 motes for free use over the next few ticks because Auspicious Finder of Passages declared the Power-Up action and used it with a speed 5 Charm.
Now Relentless Xavier is first and he chooses to activate Relentless Lunar Fury, but uses it as Power-Up action to not be left open in front of Auspicious Finder of Passages. He commits seven motes of his peripheral pool (1m for the Charm itself and 3x 2m for Fury-OK Charms with it) and also pays the 1 WP cost. His actual action is to shift into his Hybrid Form, which he shortens to speed 3 by Quicksilver Second Face to not grant Auspicious Finder of Passages more motes than necessary. This costs him the formerly aquired 5 motes from his peripheral pool to shift and 1 mote from his personal pool to incease the speed to three. Seeing the Lunar grow by almost one meter in size, snarling with many rows of teeth at the same time and with glowing moonsilver tattoos all over him, Auspicious Finder of Passages uses the extra time and activates the slow and expensive Conclusion-Pursuing Approach. The 10m for it are automatically commited, but the 1wp and 1 hl have to paid by her normally. She also gains three motes from Relentless Xavier's speed 3 Power-Up action.
Relentless Xavier already stalks Auspicious Finder of Passages, ready to jump on her opening up again - but he has made a critical error. Her Anima fully flaring, Auspicious Finder of Passages now takes a step back, performing the kata of the Violet Bier while drawing her sword and shouting "You foolish, intemperate Lunar - behold the might of the Violet Bier of Sorrow form. And sorrow it may bring you, as it will be the last thing for you to see."[1] As she didn't perform the last Power-Up action herself, she has now a go again and uses of it. She automatically commits another 6 peripheral motes, but also grants Relentless Xavier 12 motes - 6 from the Charm cost and another 6 due the speed of the form.[2] But she also regains 4 motes for her stunt-equivalent description on the form activation. While she performs her form Relentless Xavier scans her from tip to toe, looking for an opening and keeping his concentration. He takes an aim action to not waste time of his Fury[3] and waits to finally be able to attack.

Let's have a short look at their Essence pools here.
Relentless Xavier has all his personal pool, plus 17 motes in his peripheral he gained from her last Power-Up action. (1m went to his personal pool, that he previously spent on Quicksilver Second Face.) 6 of these motes are from a level 3 Hearthstone. Thus he has plenty of motes to burn.
Auspicious Finder of Passages has her full personal pool. Per peripheral pool looks a bit worse - she gained 7 motes free motes (3 from his Power-Up action and 4 from her stunt), but seeing that she has commited 21 in combat charm, 5 in her Daiklave that makes 33 total of her 42. Also being a Sidereal, she has commited some motes in other long running Charms - I'll assume 10 - so she only has 6 peripheral mote free, making the last mote gained from her stunt already wasted.

A little later in the fight Relentless Xavier indeed managed to exploit some of his advantage and Auspicious Finder of Passages is running dangerously low on motes. She takes a step back and points her Daiklave at Relentless Xavier, exclaiming "You savage Lunars, you think everything can only be solved with violence ! Sometimes you have to cut deals to account for greater dangers first, don't you see that ?" The takes a Declaration action, using her Conviction of 4 to regain 9 motes.
Relentless Xavier shortly thinks about taking the chance to reactivate his Fury, but dismisses it as he still has three actions left and rather needs some motes to press the advantage to finish her off. So he snarls "You Sidereals always use that claim as your excuse for your atrocities." Sadly he only manages a one-die stunt on his refute and thus only regains two motes.

Three actions later Auspicious Finder of Passages is already badly injured, but Relentless Xavier makes a dive for the ocean to take get some protection to reactive his Fury. He can't use another Power-Up Action for that, as he activated Relentless Lunar Fury already earlier in the fight with one.
As he sprouts out of the waves some seconds later he sees Auspicious Finder of Passages trailing away to the horizon. She used her last, meticouliosly saved up motes to activate Invisble Motion. She couldn't do that with a power-up action as the duration of Invisble Motion is one day. Cursing he jumps back into the water, sour about this rather hollow victory.

[1] We may well ignore that Violet Bier of Sorrow sucks pretty much if you already have Essence 4 - but thinly vailed incompetence is a kind of Sidereal schtick, so we'll let that slide here.
[2] She probably would instead cast Invulnarable Skin of Bronze if she could - but Sorcery was left out of the bill on purpose. It can be exploited too much and there should still be a good bonus if you manage to prepare early for a fight.
[3] We explicitly don't count the aim action (and only it) as non-action to not allow other characters to exploit the Power-Up / Declaration Action to let shorter Charms to run out. If you want to guard, attack anybody else or something it's of course perfectly your problem to scope with the wasted time - the aim action represents you waiting eagerly for your go again.