Designing Locales for Fights in Exalted

I think a good way of handling fight scene locales is to ditch the idea of locales and set pieces and instead come up with a list of set dressings. Instead of thinking about a windmill or a factory, instead think of “a giant rotating wheel upon which people can duel”, once you think of that you can then reskin a specific piece of set dressing to apply in multiple locations with ease. If you want a giant rotating wheel upon which the players can engage in kung fu duels you can include that in a windmill, or a water mill, or inside a factory, or in a clocktower, or a first age ruin, or as part of a kludged together cargo lift on the side of a tower or up a large hill and so on and so forth.

Come up with ideas for interesting modular setting details; a chandelier, hanging tapestries, a swaying rope bridge, an open furnace. Then its easy to reskin those to fit all sorts of places you wouldn’t imagine them. Instead of a chandelier, you have a canopy of hanging vines in a forest. Instead of hanging tapestries, you have laundry sheets hanging on lines in a Nexus alleyway. Instead of a swaying rope bridge, you have a gangplank between two ships and instead of an open furnace you have alchemical reagents in fragile glass containers.

Once you understand that the skin doesn’t matter, it makes encounter design much easier in Exalted. Come up with a set of cool ideas for your conflicts and then be prepared to reskin them on the fly for later. “The PCs will attempt to capture the Dragonblooded before he can report them to the Temple, he will attempt to delay them by burning down the bridge he flees across” can easily have that changed. No matter where you encounter the NPC Dragonblooded, all you need is an obstacle that requires a specific bypass and the ability of the Dragonbloooded to block that with fire. You’ll find your mind fills in all sort of flammable obstacles based on the area the PCs finally encounter the antagonist in.

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