Thousand Blades Style: A Many-Faced Strangers Sneak Peek

Lunars illustration by Gunship

Hey folks. We’ve got a preview from Many-Faced Strangers — the long-awaited Thousand Blades style.

Thousand Blades Style

Thousand Blades is an ancient battle-art of the First Age, an esoteric style that can only be practiced with artifact weapons. Its signature technique lets a stylist wield these weapons with Essence alone, letting them float at her side until she wills them to strike. It can be practiced with only a single daiklave, but unlocking the style’s true potential requires mastering many weapons.

Students hone their mastery of Essence through meditation and breathing exercises. They perform the style’s ancient rites and undergo tests of will and endurance to heighten their rapport with the weapons in their arsenal. 

Few in the Second Age still practice this style, but it’s not been forgotten. Prominent modern-day masters include Sublime Danger, elder of the Silver Pact; Shadow of Night Winds, a Dawn Caste folk hero; and the Silver Prince, the Deathlord who rules the Skullstone Archipelago.

Special: Learning this style doesn’t require the Martial Artist Merit, as it has no foundation of mundane techniques.

Thousand Blades Style Weapons: Unlike other styles, Thousand Blades doesn’t have style weapons. Instead, upon learning this style, the martial artist chooses a single close-range artifact weapon as their signature weapon. Daiklaves and other bladed weapons are the most common signature weapons, but some stylists employ the likes of goremauls, direlances, or razor parasols.

Armor: Thousand Blades Style is compatible with medium armor.


Many of this style’s Charms make use of the martial artist’s Arsenal — the number of signature weapons they wield with Thousand Blades Unsheathed. Arsenal can’t exceed 5, even if the stylist has more weapons.

Thousand Blades Unsheathed

Cost: —; Mins: Martial Arts 1, Essence 1
Type: Permanent
Keywords: None
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: None

Bound to her weapons by will and Essence, the stylist need not grasp their hilt to wield them.

The stylist may wield her signature weapons with will alone, causing them to float at her side and move as she directs. This has the following benefits:

  • Fighting with multiple signature weapons uses the rules for dual wielding (Exalted, p. 586).
  • Crippling effects that target her limbs, off-hand penalties, and the like don’t apply while wielding weapons this way.
  • She can still be disarmed, which knocks her weapons from the air, but the disarm gambit suffer +1 difficulty. She can retrieve fallen weapons with a ready weapon action.
  • When the stylist attunes multiple of her signature weapon, weapons past the first reduce their cost to one mote. Once she’s attuned five weapons, further attunements are free.

Special activation rules: Charms that create a signature weapon, like Glorious Solar Saber, also receive this Charm’s attunement discount. As long as the stylist has attuned another signature weapon, such Charms also waive their Willpower cost and can be used reflexively.

Wings-of-Steel Bulwark

Cost: 3m, 1i; Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence 1
Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Mastery, Perilous, Uniform
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Thousand Blades Unsheathed

The stylist’s weapons whirl into formation, forming a bladed aegis to fend off attack.

The stylist gains +1 Parry. On a successful block, if her Arsenal equals or exceeds her current onslaught, that attack doesn’t inflict onslaught. 

With Arsenal 3+ the Parry bonus is replaced by a +1 Defense bonus from light cover (Cover bonuses are non-Charm). This becomes a +2 bonus from heavy cover with Arsenal 5+.

Mastery: If the stylist’s Arsenal equals or exceeds her current onslaught penalty, she can use this Charm after the attack roll.

Flying Sword Technique

Cost: 5m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 1
Type: Simple
Keywords: Mastery, Terrestrial, Uniform
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Thousand Blades Unsheathed

The stylist unleashes one of her flying weapons to strike a distant foe. 

The stylist makes a withering or decisive attack against an enemy at short range, adding (Arsenal) dice on the attack roll. This increases to medium range at Arsenal 3+ and long range at Arsenal 5+. Her weapon returns to her side after the attack.

Mastery: The stylist increases the attack’s range by an additional band. This doesn’t let her attack at extreme range until she reaches Essence 3.

Terrestrial: The stylist can’t attack beyond medium range.

Thousand Blades Form

Cost: 10m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 1
Type: Simple
Keywords: Dual, Form
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Flying Sword Technique, Wings-of-Steel Bulwark

Countless phantasmal copies of the stylist’s signature weapons fill the air around her as her Essence becomes one with that of her chosen weapon.

To use this Charm, the stylist must have Arsenal 1+. She gains the following benefits:

  • +1 Arsenal, which can raise it to 6.
  • Her withering attacks add +(Arsenal) Overwhelming.
  • She doubles up to (Arsenal) 10s on decisive damage rolls.
  • She can combine Evocations from multiple signature weapons on a single attack or defense.

Special activation rules: Upon dealing (5 – Arsenal, minimum 1) levels of damage to a nontrivial enemy with a decisive attack, the stylist may reflexively enter this Form. Damage dealt by Sword-Shrike’s Garden can also trigger this.

Thousand Blades Strike as One

Cost: 3m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 2
Type: Simple
Keywords: Mastery, Terrestrial, Uniform
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Thousand Blades Form

Blade after blades flies at the stylist’s foe, pinning him down beneath a deadly barrage.

The stylist makes a withering or decisive attack, adding (Arsenal) dice on both the attack and damage rolls. She adds (Arsenal/2, rounded up) to the attack’s onslaught penalty.

Mastery: This Charm is Supplemental, enhancing attacks rather than creating them.

Terrestrial: A withering attack adds (Arsenal) raw damage rather than damage dice, while a decisive attack instead adds up to (Arsenal) extra successes as damage dice.

Sword-Shrike’s Garden

Cost: 5m, 4i, 1wp, Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 2
Type: Simple
Keywords: Mastery, Perilous, Terrestrial
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Thousand Blades Strike as One

The stylist’s panoply whirls rapidly around her in a deadly ring of god-metal, cutting down foes who dare approach her.

The stylist’s whirling weapons extend out to close range. They’re an environmental hazard with difficulty (Arsenal), Damage (Arsenal)/round. (The hazard deals the same type of damage as the weapon.) With Arsenal 3+, they also count as difficult terrain (Exalted, p. 199). They don’t affect the stylist or her allies — her blades gracefully swerve to avoid them.

While using this Charm, the stylist waives Wings-of-Steel Bulwark’s Initiative cost. 

This Charm ends if the stylist is crashed.

Mastery: With Arsenal 5+, the stylist’s whirling blades extend out to short range.

Terrestrial: The stylist must pay four Initiative on each of her subsequent turns to maintain this Charm.

Storm of Flying Swords

Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3
Type: Simple
Keywords: Dual, Terrestrial
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Sword-Shrike’s Garden

Wind and steel, then only blood: this is the Storm of Flying Swords.

The stylist makes an undodgeable withering or decisive attack against all enemies within close range. This increases to short at Arsenal 3+ and medium at Arsenal 5+. A withering attack awards Initiative only for the highest damage roll. A decisive attack divides the stylist’s Initiative evenly among enemies, rounding up, for damage. Battle groups and trivial enemies suffer her full Initiative in damage instead.

Special activation rules: The stylist can use this Charm reflexively when she uses Sword-Shrike’s Garden or Thousand Daiklave Wings, waiving its Willpower cost.

Terrestrial: This Charm’s special activation rules can’t be used.

Thousand Daiklave Wings

Cost: 5m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3
Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Terrestrial
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Dancing Steel Whirlwind

Her Essence as one with that of her weapons, the stylist takes on their weightless grace, rising to join them in their air.

To use this Charm, the stylist must be using Thousand Blades Form or Dancing Steel Whirlwind. She can fly using her signature weapons, either riding atop one as it moves through the air or rising up as if her signature weapons were wings. She adds (Arsenal) dice on aerial movement rolls. She can’t rise higher than medium range from the ground unless moving toward an aerial enemy.

Terrestrial: This Charm is Perilous and ends if the stylist is crashed. She must pay 4 Initiative on each subsequent turn to maintain it.  

Infinite Arsenal Apotheosis

Cost: —(+10m, 1wp); Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Permanent
Keywords: Counterattack, Clash, Dual, Mastery, Terrestrial
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Thousand Daiklave Wings

Calling upon her bond to each weapon in her arsenal, the Thousand Blades master wreathes them in their own iconic displays of power.

The stylist may pay a ten-mote, one-Willpower surcharge when she uses Thousand Blades Form to gain the following benefits:

  • She adds (Arsenal/2, rounded up) to her base Initiative and to the Initiative she receives for crashing enemies.
  • With Arsenal 3+, she may pay three Initiative to make a decisive counterattack once per round. With Arsenal 5+, she may reflexively clash instead of counterattacking.
  • She can defend against environmental hazards with Parry instead of an opposed roll.
  • Weapons wielded with Thousand Blades Unsheathed can’t be disarmed or damaged.

While using this Charm, the stylist’s weapons radiate light as a bonfire anima (Exalted, p. 175)

Special activation rules: If the stylist uses Thousand Daiklave Wings together with this Charm, she waives that Charm’s Willpower cost.

Mastery: Weapons wielded with Thousand Blades Unsheathed are immune to Shaping effects. With Arsenal 5+, the stylist can block unblockable attacks.

Terrestrial: The stylist adds only +1 to her base Initiative and Initiative Breaks. Counterattacking or clashing counts as her attack for the round. 






8 responses to “Thousand Blades Style: A Many-Faced Strangers Sneak Peek”

  1. Kunoichi Avatar

    I love it. Beautiful style.

  2. Diamond9124 Avatar

    I have been waiting for SO LONG for this Martial Art. I am so very ready for it.

  3. Olorin Avatar

    I really like the ideas outlined in the style and am very excited to see this book. One question, Thousand Daiklave Wings has a prerequisite of Dancing Steel Whirlwind and also references it in the text, but there is no writeup for Dancing Steel Whirlwind; is this a deliberate omission(if so that’s fine it’s your call what to put in a “sneak peak”), or is there an error?

  4. Corey Reynolds Avatar
    Corey Reynolds

    Now this is awesome! Can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Many-Faced Strangers!

  5. Crithik Avatar

    This is the kind of pure style and cool factor that I want from Exalted.

  6. Sethfcm Avatar

    As a backer of Exalted 3e since it began, having backed every project, I can say this is exactly the sort of thing I love to see.

  7. Apromor Avatar

    The terrestrial version of Thousand Blades Strike as One seems to be better than the standard version, adding successes rather than dice.

    1. Apromor Avatar

      scratch that. I see why the dice are better.