[RPG] Exalted Limit Breaks – How to get them to occur more often


So one of the biggest problems I have had with GMing an Exalted game is getting the players to actually limit break. Flavor wise, it is one of the biggest flaws of an Exalt, Solars in particular, but I cannot seem to in practice get the players to break even once.

Mechanically, there are a few ways to gain limit (and I'm limiting this to Solars and Lunars, for the time being, playing a good Abyssal gets your resonance building quite nicely), and they are:

  1. Spending a point of Willpower to Suppress a virtue. (If Lunar, I believe it is only your highest virtue).
  2. Spending a point of Willpower to shrug off mental influence (up to a maximum of 1 point of limit per scene). Edit: Another problem with this is perfect social defenses do not add to limit.
  3. Lunars only: Seeing the moon during the couple of nights it is full.
  4. Various charms and effects which cause limit.

I have the biggest problem with the first one. Compassion is the easiest virtue to challenge in the course of game play, by putting them in situations where the players need to be heroic. The child will die if you don't do something, or the enemy you just defeated is now begging for his life and saying that he was forced into it. My main problem with this is that most players will not put more than 2 dots in Compassion, and thus do not have to roll it.

Valor is a lot harder, because typically I find the players spoiling for a fight anyway, and only rarely are outclassed to the point that they will run away (I've even had a player die so he wouldn't need to suppress valor, go him!).

Conviction is also hard, as it typically goes along with Character motivation, and I find it hard to put the players in situations where they are having to go against their primary motivation. I have a recurring Abyssal who is genuinely trying to help them out, but they're way more interested in pummeling her than hearing her out (primarily because she's really good at mind control, and secondarily because they are just vicious. Perfect Soak is nice.)

Temperance is the hardest. You're in a bar! "I don't drink.". Problem avoided.

So, I can see two ways out of this, one is making it so that I continually put them in situations to challenge virtues that are in my mind harder to challenge (ala, The Ebon Dragon shows up and eats you. Roll valor if you want to run!), or increase the frequency in which they have to shrug off mental influence.

What can I do to make this a more defined feature of the game experience? From the lore, First Age Solars would limit break all the time, but I just can't seem to get the players to break even once (and part of that is because they tend to die, but nevermind that.)

Best Answer

I've run into this problem personally, and it can be quite difficult to cause limit breaks with any frequency. Challenging PCs to act against their virtues is definitely one way to build up limit, but there is one core source of limit you've skipped in your list:

Each virtue flaw has specific limit condition that, when met, forces the character to roll that virtue and gain limit equal to that amount

For example, if a character has the Deliberate Cruelty conviction flaw, they will be forced to roll conviction and gain successes when they are in particularly dire circumstances. Because this often results in several points of limit I find this to be the most effective way of causing a character to limit break.

Each PC is likely going to have a different flaw, so you'll need to make a list of them and watch out for those circumstances. Try to write stories that cause them to occur and don't be shy about making players roll. You'll have them breaking in no time.

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