Most of the traits used in this guide are identical to the ones used in Exalted. For rules governing these Traits, see the Traits chapter, beginning on page 112 of Exalted.
Games focusing on mortal heroes tend to be a little darker and grittier than those dealing with the Exalted. As a result, a hero may not take the same Specialty more than once. In addition, a character's Strength + Athletics pool is divided by 2 (rounding up) for purposes of determining feats of strength. Stunts are still allowed, however.
Allies: This Background is identical to the Solar Background of the same name except a 1-dot Ally is generally a hero of the same power. For 2 dots, the Ally is a God-Blooded, powerful mortal hero, or minor Dragon-Blooded. For 3 dots, the Ally is a powerful Dragon-Blooded or minor Anathema. For 5 dots, the Ally is a powerful Anathema.
Artifact: Possession of this Background does not grant the hero the ability to attune with items of the Five Magical Materials. Artifacts mortals are more likely to possess include Talismans listed in Exalted, plus items made with certain spells (such as Clay Jar). See Chapter Nine: Wonders and Equipment for the Background costs of various artifacts.
Backing: While this Background might represent standing in an organization the same as the Solar Background of the same name, it should be taken into account that a mortal's prospects are often quite limited in certain organizations, such as the Realm, where Exaltation is practically a prerequisite for powerful posts. This Background may also represent standing in a sorcerous society or heroic network to which the mortal belongs. High rank in such organizations often translates into access to organization resources (such as libraries, a sanctuary, and mentors) the average member might not have, but it also entails a responsibility to the organization's operation and well-being (finding and teaching apprentices, dangerous missions, political considerations, etc...).
Contacts: This Background is very similar to the Solar Background of the same name, but mortals do not travel nearly as extensively as the Exalted do. The hero may only roll to find minor contacts in areas where she has a major contact and may only roll a number of dice in a given area equal to the number of major contacts she has there. An area, for the purposes of this Background, is a specific large city (Nexus, Lookshy, Sijan, Gem, Paragon, and others visible on the world map of the Corebook), region (Eagle Prefecture, Marukan Alliance, Calin, and other similar regions noted on maps in Dragon-Blooded and Scavenger Sons), specific general group (Icewalkers, sea merchants trading in the South, river traders of the Scavenger Lands, and similar wide-ranging folk), or small, secretive organization (Heptagram, Lintha Family, Guild, a sorcerous society, etc...).
Familiar: Familiars of mortals do not store Essence the way those bonded to Exalted do. They do, however, possess a Heroics Pool of their own equal to the Background rating which they may spend each day to fuel Heroics for which they meet the minimum Ability requirements and the hero meets the minimum Heroism requirements. Once a day, a magician in skin-to-skin contact with her Familiar may regain a number of motes of Essence equal to the Familiar rating.
Followers: Your character has attracted one or more followers who are loyal first to her. These mortals are extras. By default, these followers have no skills more useful than cooking, cleaning, delivering messages, keeping a lookout, and so forth (use the statistics for a Typical Citizen). At the cost of 1 dot, they have some combat training (treat as Militia). At the cost of 2 dots, they are trained warriors (treat as Infantry). At the cost of 3 dots, they are hardened veterans (treat as Elite Troops). Their numbers depend on the hero's Background rating (3 followers at 1 dot; 7 at 2 dots; 15 at 3 dots; 32 at 4 dots; 70 at 5 dots). So, for 5 dots in Followers, the hero may have 70 assorted citizens, 32 militiamen, 15 infantry, or 7 elite soldiers.
Henchmen: Much like the Dragon-Blooded Background of the same name, the hero has attracted one or more followers with special abilities who are loyal first to him. For 1 dot, this is an ordinary mortal (not an Extra, but not a heroic mortal, either) with useful skills (librarian, accountant, soldier, jeweler, merchant, etc...). For 2 dots, this can be an apprentice hero or hedge magician (Heroism 2, 1 Edge, Attributes of 5/3/3, 16 dots of Abilities, 5 dots of Backgrounds, 22 bonus points). The number of Henchmen is equal to the hero's rating in the Henchmen Background. A hero with 4 dots in Henchmen may have 4 ordinary mortals or 2 apprentices or hedge magicians.
Influence: This Backgound is similar in most ways to the Solar Background of the same name, but operates on a scale more akin to that of the Contacts Background (large city, less populous district, or broad group). At 1 dot, your neighbors will be cold to your rivals and offer the support of a small mob in times of great need and hardship. At 2 dots, your power stretches for several blocks of a large city, holds a village in its sway, or is widely recognized by your business associates. At 3 dots, you can organize riots in an entire neighborhood of a major city, command the majority of the population of a small town, or significantly influence the actions of a significant group. At 4 dots, you can spark a public outcry in a large city, convince a large town to raise a militia, or completely control the feelings of a large group toward an idea or entity. At 5 dots, you hold considerable power in a major city (enough to be considered a threat by its rulers), rule a large town or collection of villages, or can shut down an entire industry (such as mining, shipping, or farming) in your area of influence. Note that this influence is widespread but fickle and indirect, about as much power as any popular leader has over these people. Individuals under the hero's influence act in accordance with their natures, using those resources they are willing to risk for a beloved celebrity. It will not make cowards stand their ground when facing the city watch, provide beggars with weapons and combat skills, or convince peaceful and well-treated citizens to rebel against and kill their existing rulers. Most of the aid such believers in the hero's cause give is passive and does not place its members in any danger of injury, imprisonment, or loss of face, though a hero with this Background might be able to provoke already angry citizens to riot, rebel, or perform other such mob-rule services for him.
Manse: This Background is slightly different from the Solar Background of the same name. At 1 dot, the hero controls a level 1 Demesne. At 2 dots, she controls either a level 2 Demesne or a level 1 Manse. At 3 dots, she controls a level 3 Demesne or a level 2 Manse. At 4 dots, she controls either a level 4 Demesne or a level 3 Manse. At 5 dots, she controls either a level 5 Demesne or a level 4 Manse. Control of a Manse does not grant the mage the power to use its Hearthstone. It should also be noted that mortals and even mortal magicians make poor competition for such places of power if one of the Exalted learns of it. For this reason, heroes are often better served purchasing a Demesne, instead, since it is less valuable a prize to the Exalted than a Manse.
Mentor: This Background is almost identical to the Solar Background of the same name, but most mortals' mentors do not possess nearly the clout an Exalted's teacher might. This individual is especially important to a magician, and any character beginning play with spells and without at least 1 dot in this Background should provide some explanation of how he learned his magic or what happened to his teacher. A Mentor provides the student with training of all kinds. If the mortal belongs to a heroic society, his Mentor is probably a higher-ranking member of the same organization. The Storyteller should determine the abilities, Edges, and resources the Mentor has at her disposal, as well as the teacher's personality and current whereabouts. A 1-dot Mentor is distant, demanding, unfriendly, possesses little more knowledge and power than the hero, or all of these in varying degrees. A higher rating in this Background indicates a Mentor who is closer, less demanding, friendlier, more knowledgeable, and/or more powerful.
Reputation: In its function, this Background is identical to the Dragon-Blooded Background of the same name, albeit on a smaller scale. At 1 dot, your reputation is known by everyone in a small town, large neighborhood, or a local profession. At 2 dots, your reputation is known by everyone in a large city or broad group operating in the region. At 3 dots, your reputation is known by everyone in a city and the surrounding province or the majority of a broad group throughout the a large region (the West, East, South, North, Scavenger Lands, or Realm). At 4 dots, an entire large region (the West, East, Scavenger Lands, South, North, or Realm) knows you by your reputation. At 5 dots, three large regions know you by your reputation.
Resources: This Background is identical to the Solar Background of the same name.
Library: The hero has a personal library at her disposal, possibly including several volumes of sorcerous lore. Whenever she must make a knowledge-based roll and has plenty of time (hours to weeks, depending on the difficulty of the task) and access to her Library, she adds er Library rating in dice to the knowledge roll. If the hero must find information more quickly, she makes a Wits + Investigation check, and each success adds one die to the knowledge roll, to a maximum number of dice equal to the Library rating. Anyone may make use of a Library provided by its owner. Note that this Background is useless to heroes who lack Lore 1, and no one may reap the benefit of a Library written in a language she does not speak. If two or more characters pool their Libraries, the effective rating of their combined Libraries is equal to the highest Library rating + 1 per additional Library contributed to the pool.
At the player's option, the Library might contain specialized information (Fair Folk lore, the First Age, history, law, etc...) at the expense of general knowledge. In this case, the Library rating related to that topic is increased by 2, but the effective Library rating is reduced by 1 for all other subjects, to a minimum effective rating of 0. It is possible to purchase multiple specializations of this kind, either providing the bonus to multiple specialties or further increasing the bonus to a single specialization, but the Libraries effective general rating cannot be reduced to less than 0 dots.
It is possible for a player's Library to contain one or more volumes of sorcerous lore. By reducing the Library rating for general research by 1 (to a minimum of 0), the hero may pick 4 First Circle, 2 Second Circle, or 1 Third Circle spell. These spells are mortal magicks, not Exalted Sorcery. Anyone using the Library may learn these spells without the benefit of an instructor (the Library counts as an instructor) or, by means of the appropriate Heroic, attempt to cast these spells by the book.
|X||The hero has no personal library.|
|@||The hero has a handful of useful texts. In a small village, his collection might be all the written works in the area. If this rating represents a collection of sorcerous texts, it marks him as a dabbler in the mystic arts.|
|@@||The hero has a respectable collection of written works at her disposal - perhaps a few hundred books, most of them practical works. If the library is specialized at this rating, the hero's collection marks her as an afficionado of her chosen topic. If this rating represents a collection of sorcerous texts, it is on par with that of most experienced hedge magicians.|
|@@@||The hero's library is the envy of his more educated neighbors. In a fairly large town, it might be the primary centre for scholarship. If the library is specialized at this rating, the collection is respectable for a scholar on the chosen topic. If this rating represents a collection of sorcerous texts, it is the library of a professional magician of no small skill.|
|@@@@||Few Dynasts can boast so extensive a general collection as the one the hero possesses. Even in a large city, the number of libraries as vast and useful as the hero's can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. If the library is specialized at this rating, the hero's collection is impressive even for a scholar on the chosen topic. If this rating represents a collection of sorcerous tomes, it is one of the prizes of the region among mortal magicians.|
|@@@@@||One of the largest libraries in the whole of Creation. Only group-controlled collections gathered over several centuries - such as the one at the Heptagram - surpass the hero's library in size and wealth of material. If the library is specialized at this rating, it contains all the latest scholarly works on the chosen topic. If this rating represents a collection of sorcerous tomes, even the most powerful magicians in Creation are likely to be able to learn something new from the hero's library.|
|Additional ratings for specialized libraries|
|6-7||The hero's library includes a few rare tomes of forgotten or obscure lore on the subject.|
|8-9||The hero's special collection is the envy of any scholar even remotely interested in the topic at hand.|
|10-11||The hero's collection includes works on the subject that date all the way back to the First Age, representing virtually all the knowledge possessed by the greatest scholars of the subject put together.|
|12-13||The hero's collection includes more information on the topic than any other single library in Creation. Many works are so rare that those copies that once existed have since been lost and might never be recovered from their secret burial places.|
|14-15||If any fact is known about the chosen subject, it is recorded somewhere in the hero's specialized library, and if something were to happen to her collection, some knowledge would be forever lost. Hundreds of works are the only known copies, and many were never even copied once during the First Age and contain secrets too dangerous to share and too incredible to believe.|
|Chapter 2||Chapter Four: Heroic Traits|