Monday, November 3, 2014

Professional Looters: The Scavenger Lords of Exalted

Today let's talk about one of the more interesting elements of playing in Exalted. It's a career spelled out in 1st Edition that caught my eye and it ties in nicely with the quasi-title from D&D that we call Adventurer. It's better than "Murderhobo" to be sure. That is the role of: Scavenger Lord.

For those that don't know the job title...Scavenger Lords are, usually, wealthy educated, clever individuals who make a living raiding 1st Age cities, vaults, and tombs looking for useful artifacts, valuable art, or just interesting oddments. Depending on where you are in Creation they are either local heroes, hated tomb robbers, or powerful business folks.

In the free east of the Scavenger Lands the Lords hold a mix of position of local folk heroes, powerful artifact brokers, and spiritual go-betweens. You see to be a successful Scavenger Lord in Exalted you need to have a vital mix of skills. You need Lore to know about potential sites, Occult to deal with the magical defenses, Athletics to handle the difficult terrain and local hazards, Survival to get to the remote sites, Persuasion to deal with merchants, and sometimes Craft to repair and kitbash broken gear into some form of useful/sale-able shape. That's the classical definition of adventurer archaeologist. It's one of the interesting things about Exalted is this entire sub-culture of Indian Jones out competing with each other for the next big find.

Elsewhere in creation they play rolls but can run afoul of Immaculate Monks and local governments who want a cut of the take, and wish to control the flow of artifacts and lore from 'heretical' sites. After all anything that predates the Dragon Blood rule of Creation and doesn't proclaim them as the undisputed rulers of all...well, that's just asking for trouble in Realm controlled territories. Let alone powerful Dragon Blooded Exalts on the look out for useful artifacts they can use. And they may not be in the mood to negotiate a sale if they want it bad enough. It's a risky business but careful Scavenger Lords can make a living outside of the East if they play their cards right.

This type of looter/scavenger character can be played in any classic D&D world. In fact the default adventurer is basically this. But rarely have I run across a setting where this role is looked upon as a valid career choice and not a side effect of player character kleptomania and raiding behavior. Kill monster get treasure may make sense in the weirdly gamey setting of D&D but most Onyx Path/White Wolf settings don't embrace this. Hell, most non- Dungeon themed games focus on other things. It's a nice touch in Exalted to tip the hat at this style of play and offers a cool way to embrace it.

Now, if you are playing Exalted and want access to Artifacts later in play, having a social contact with a Scavenger Lord is like having a link to a Fixer in Shadowrun. The same goes if you are trying to secure lost lore about a powerful manse, sorcery spell, or monster you are facing down. They are information brokers as well and tend to know just the right Savant to go speak too. (It's needed in their career field.)

It's that right blend of talent that making playing a Scavenger Lord one of the easier 'starting' roles I can think of as a new player. It allows them to taste the setting social system, combat, and magical. They can be any type of Exalted (not even just Solars) and fit. Even Realm born Dynasts turned Scavenger Lord would fit. That's how useful this career is in the setting.

And frankly I think it's a great idea to port his over to other D&D, Pathfinder, DungeonWorld, etc settings. I'm sure 13th Age would embrace it as a sweet OUT. (One Unique Thing)