Let’s say you want to be the fastest spell-slinger out there. You really think of your character as a combat caster, throwing around deadly spells in the midst of combat. Is this doable? Is “combat sorcerer” in the D&D sense a valid character concept in Exalted?
Well, you need to gather essence using shaping actions in order to cast spells. You can’t dump your own essence into the spell to make it happen faster. How can you make it happen faster?
Occult Excellencies are the most obvious one. If you have a 10-dice pool for shaping, you’ll get about 5 Sorcery Essence per action, which means it takes 3 rounds to cast Obsidian Butterflies. Fortunately, you can use Excellent Solar Occult to buy more dice, so if you pour in 10 motes in the first round and 5 motes in the second, you’ll probably be able to cast Obsidian Butterflies on round 2, just like it used to be in previous editions. Interestingly (perhaps intentionally?), this makes the cost from your own pool the same as the Sorcerous Mote cost.
Shaping Rituals almost seem intended for this purpose, but they’re fairly weak. How weak? An starting sorcerer with the Ifrit pact casting from next to a burning building will end up with just one extra sorcerous mote per turn. At most these rituals store up 10 motes, and those tend to recharge once per story. They won’t save you more than one turn of casting, and they’ll only do that that once in a particular combat. The best use of these long-term-storage rituals is probably to make up the difference when you’re just one or two motes short.
- As usual, specialties can give you an extra die, and willpower can give you an extra success.
- Spirit-Drawing Oculus (an Occult charm) can draw in up to ten Sorcerous Motes for you once per day.
- Breach-Healing Method (a Medicine charm) can give an ally a non-charm bonus to Occult, as long as the person using it is trying to repair an object or treat an injury. It’s small early on, but it could be a big deal later in the game.
And that’s about it! Sorcery is not well-supported by other charms, especially in terms of casting faster. Here are a few other charms that will help reduce costs or improve power:
- Heaven-Turning Calculations (a Lore charm) adds non-charm dice to spell effect rolls, but not shaping actions. It’s still incredibly useful, but it helps you cast better rather than faster.
- Ancient Tongue Understanding (an Occult charm) will give you auto-successes (probably just one) on sorcery actions at the cost of alienating every spirit around you. In addition, these are regular charm successes, which means this is just reducing the cost of your Excellency, not actually increasing the average number of motes you get per turn.
- Likewise, Supernal Control Method (an Occult charm) will let you use a full Occult excellency for free once per scene, so you can get things done more cheaply.
- Spirit-Draining Mudra will let you draw some of your Sorcerous Motes from a bound spirit, but it won’t help you get any extra motes.
- All the charms that deal with Wyld-Shaping technique seem to give a bonus to rolls with that charm in particular, but not to shaping actions in general.
So, in short, it’s really hard to cast faster. If you want to throw around blasts of power, sorcery is actually a really slow way to do it, and you’re probably better off reskinning the Thrown or Archery trees.
Next time: How to get the most out of Wyld-Shaping Technique.