Vessel Combat


Vehicle: Speed

This is the craft’s top sustainable speed, with the number before the slash given in yards per tick and the second number in miles per hour. During mass combat or other situations in which ticks pass at a rate of one per minute rather than one per second, multiply the first speed value by 60 to obtain the vehicle’s mass combat speed. Note that, except where noted, vehicles cannot generally dash, or rather, the speed given is the maximum speed possible, and the usual penalties for dashing are compensated for by the need for the pilot’s attention.

Vehicle: Manuverability

This trait gauges the overall responsiveness of a vehicle to its pilot. In most cases, this value is given as a positive number, indicating the number of dice added to all rolls made to control the craft. Half this value (rounded up) is its Dodge DV against attacks while piloted (vehicles lack a Parry DV). Note that some ungainly devices actually impose a penalty on piloting rolls, as represented by a negative Maneuverability. The letter following a craft’s maneuverability (R or S) indicates whether the craft is piloted using a pool of (Dexterity + Ride) or (Wits + Sail).

For some vehicles, characters must have a minimum rating in certain Abilities in order to pilot them at all. These minimums are provided after Maneuverability in parentheses. Most commonly, the Ability in question is Sail or Ride, though some sophisticated devices require minimum Lore to understand the complex controls. For every dot by which a character fails to meet the minimum Abilities required for piloting, subtract two from the vehicle’s Maneuverability. Pertinent specialties add to Ability scores to meet these minimum requirements.

Vehicle: Endurance

Some vehicles have limitations on their operation, whether due to limited power cells or fuel, hearthstone requirements or perhaps components that must be maintained to avoid degrading performance or even total systems failure. Any such limits are explained after the Endurance header.

Vehicle: Crew

This trait has two values separated by a slash. The first is the crew complement necessary for standard operation. For each crewmember the vessel is short of this number, its Maneuverability drops by one. The second number is the minimum crew. If a vessel has fewer than this number of crew members aboard, it cannot operate at all. Some sophisticated vehicles have minimum traits in parenthesis after crew, exactly as with Maneuverability. Crewmembers must meet these requirements in order to count as crew, reflecting the need for specialized training to operate extremely sensitive and elaborate controls.

Vehicle: Cargo

If a vehicle can accommodate passengers beyond its crew complement, such will be listed here. If a vehicle is operating on a skeleton crew, add the unused portion of the crew complement to the maximum passengers it can accommodate. Vehicles that can carry a specific weight or size or cargo also have this information in the Cargo heading. Storytellers should remember that these values aren’t ironclad. Squeezing a couple of extra bodies into a passenger liner capable of holding 100 people is not a big deal, though some of the bunks will be more crowded than usual. In contrast, doubling the passenger manifest might not be physically possible, but even if it is, the conditions will be extremely cramped and uncomfortable and quite possibly unsanitary and conducive to disease. Logic and reason should guide Storyteller adjudication of overload effects, whether penalizing Maneuverability or Speed or both.

Vehicle: Armor

A vehicle’s Armor is given as standard soak values separated by a slash. Note that vehicles do not have a natural soak, and as such, effects that depend upon armored soak apply in full to a vehicle’s Armor (such as piercing attacks halving the protection value). Like all inanimate objects, artifact vehicles have a Hardness equal to their soak, allowing them to ignore most lesser attacks. Unlike with inanimate objects, however, damage in excess of soak is rolled rather than automatically applied. In addition, magical effects that do not damage objects made of the five magical materials have no affect on artifact hulls.

Vehicle: Health Levels

Health Levels: Since most vehicles are not alive, they do not have health levels in the strictest sense of the word. Their structural integrity is analogous, however, so the name remains constant. A vehicle’s health levels are not differentiated by wound penalties, but instead use the following table:

Health Level (Abbreviation) Effects
Undamaged (U) None; operates normally.
Minor Damage (M) Half Speed and Maneuverability(rounded up); -1 external penalty to piloting rolls.
Critical Damage (C) Speed drops to one quarter normal rate (rounded up); Maneuverability 0 (if normally positive); -3 external penalty to piloting rolls; consecutively unbroken successful piloting actions required to avoid automatically crashing.
Inoperative (I) Ceases functioning. See Inoperative effects by craft type.
Destroyed (D) The vehicle immediately explodes, crashes, falls apart or otherwise suffers violent destruction.

Vehicles must be repaired to regain lost health levels (see Exalted - 2E - Books of Sorcery, The Vol. 1 - Wonders of the Lost Age, p. 6).

Vehicle: Weapons

The integrated armament of a particular vehicle type (if any) is listed in standard attack formats. Artifact weapons explained elsewhere in this book are simply listed with an appropriate page number.


Inoperative Vehicles

Airborne vehicles reduced to an “I” health level plummet to the earth. Unless a vehicle is flying extremely low to the ground (Storyteller’s discretion), this crash should happen only after every passenger takes at least one action, providing the opportunity for heroic last-ditch piloting or bailing out and jumping to safety, etc. Turning an impending crash into a rough landing requires a difficulty 5 piloting roll with the pilot’s final remaining action. Passengers still suffer 10B from a rough landing, while the vehicle suffers an additional 30B, but this is usually much less damage than an actual crash would inflict.

Ground vehicles reduced to Inoperative grind to a halt. In an environment with minimal obstacles (an empty plain or dune), this carries no further risks. In a forest or urban area, however, the pilot must use her next action after the vehicle becomes Inoperative to avoid crashing (difficulty 4). Success averts all ill effects.

Aquatic vehicles on open water rarely face immediate obstacles that could prompt a crash, but the danger still presents itself in shallow water, near reefs, in the midst of a packed naval battle, traveling down winding rivers and so forth. Treat aquatic vehicles as ground-borne, with the added danger of taking on water (see “Sinking”).


Vehicles that crash or suffer sufficient damage to reduce them to their “D” level are destroyed. All passengers suffer dice of lethal damage equal to the vehicle’s total maximum health levels, as does anything (or anyone) into which the vehicle crashes. Particularly large vehicles powered by Essence reactors might explode, inflicting significantly greater damage over a larger area. The capacity for explosion is listed in the Other Notes section as appropriate.


In order to ram a target, a vehicle must be capable of reaching the target during its pilot’s action. Ramming is an attack itself, using the appropriate piloting pool modified by Maneuverability as normal with Speed 6 and Rate 1. The attack can be dodged, but it cannot be parried without an extraordinary stunt. If successful, the attack inflicts damage to the target and ramming vehicle as if from a crash. Some vessels are built with reinforced ramming prows, providing a greater soak for the ramming vehicle than usual.


While vehicles do not bleed and suffer further injury from damage the way living beings do, aquatic vessels do the reverse. Once a ship reaches its Minor damage health levels, it suffers one die of unsoakable lethal damage per minute until the hole is plugged and made watertight. At Critical damage or worse, water pours in more quickly, applying levels instead of dice. Once Destroyed, a ship’s hull is so riddled with holes that it breaks apart, sinking within a minute.

Emergency repairs require the appropriate raw materials on hand and a successful (Wits + Craft [Wood]) roll at difficulty 3 (while suffering Minor damage) or difficulty 5 (while suffering Critical damage or worse). Such repairs take one miscellaneous action in long ticks or five minutes out of combat. A separate repair roll must be applied for each attack that inflicted damage, though multiple breaches do not generally increase the rate at which water pours in.

Compartmentalized First Age hulls suffer only a single level of damage per damage incident from taking on water. Therefore, a compartmentalized vessel that suffers damage to bring it to a Minor damage level has one die of lethal damage rolled after a minute, and then no further water damage. If reduced again to another Minor damage level, the ship takes another level of lethal damage after a minute, then nothing, et cetera.

Attacking Aerial Vehicles

Ground-based opponents cannot generally attack airborne vehicles in close combat unless the vehicles swoop very low (such as to allow a pilot or passenger to strike with a close combat attack of her own). Use the rules for aerial targets on page 154 of Exalted for such circumstances.

Piloting Rolls

Characters do not need to make piloting rolls to operate a vehicle through smooth terrain (or while motionlessly hovering/floating) provided they maintain a smooth trajectory and travel at half maximum speed or less. Turning or otherwise maneuvering requires a piloting roll, most often at standard difficulty, though higher for hairpin turns, barrel rolls with aerial vehicles and so forth. In rough conditions or while traveling faster than half maximum speed, Storytellers may require successive piloting rolls at regular (or irregular) intervals with a variable difficulty appropriate to the situation. For example, handling a boat or skyship in heavy winds is difficulty 3, while an actual storm is difficulty 5, and a hurricane can reach 7+. Landing a skyship, docking a boat or parking a ground-based vehicle in a specific spot also requires a piloting roll. In an effort to move stories along, Storytellers may reduce the success or failure of long-distance travel to a single roll at a higher difficulty than normal, reflecting the cumulative success or failure of many rolls. Storytellers should do so only when there is no real danger or hardship to the travel, though.

Failing a piloting roll means that the vehicle is out of control or else cannot succeed in the maneuver. A failed landing of a skyship is a rough landing (see p. 32), while a failed docking might mean the ship accidentally rams the dock. By contrast, characters can usually attempt a failed action again in short order, though retry penalties accumulate for consecutive failures normally (see Exalted, p. 121).

During combat, a pilot must make piloting rolls with each action (or must at least make piloting rolls as part of a flurry). Failure to do so means the pilot has lost control of the craft and it travels in a random (but appropriate) direction at its current speed. If the pilot does not regain control with her next action (+1 to whatever the piloting difficulty would normally be), the vehicle crashes (if possible) or else continues veering off course. Storytellers should liberally interpret crashing to situations. For example, a boat on open water has nothing to crash into, but it can capsize or suffer some other mishap like miring in seaweed and whatnot. If the pilot regains control, maneuvers resume normal difficulty.

Botching a piloting roll is always very bad. Crashing is almost a given, though if the situation does not permit a reasonable crash, some other appropriate misfortune could happen. For example, a ship might careen off a wave at a sharp angle that hurls everyone on deck overboard unless their players make successful (Dexterity + Athletics) rolls for the characters to keep their balance. Storytellers should remember that it’s bad form to kill off all the protagonists because of one bad dice roll. Such an ignoble demise is not in keeping with the epic heroism of Exalted. Fiery explosions and high action devastation are definitely in genre to the game, which is why losing control of vehicles is so bad, but characters should almost always have a chance to do something to save themselves from certain death. This nebulous something might mean steering a plummeting warbird into rough skidding landing that carves a mile-long furrow across the earth or leaping overboard before the thunderclap of a lightning ballista shatters a ship’s hull to flinders.

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