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I'm currently running an Exalted (2.5e) game (set in the West around Wavecrest, if it's relevant). The Dawn caste Solar in the party is carving through things incredibly fast - using Iron Whirlwind (6 blows per DV refresh) and a Grand Daiklave to drop an incredible amount of pain.

I'm looking to introduce an interesting physical challenge for my party, but everything I've ventured against them so far has been dropped within an action or two. I'm aware that that is what a Dawn is SUPPOSED to do, and I'm glad that the character is shining, but I'm hoping for something that will require more than 10 motes to be spent over an entire combat. Can anyone recommend a few nice NPCs and/or scenes associated with those NPCs that would not be ridiculously overpowered against a Dawn (Kukla) and not be a complete walk-over?

I'm trying to stay away from Abyssals and Infernals at the moment, but if that's the direction I need to take, I'm okay with that.

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Hi Johenius, good first question, and welcome to the site! Please take a look around and glance at the FAQ. –  C. Ross Jun 15 '12 at 12:40
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Set up a situation where your Dawn character has goals for the scene other than "kill the other guy".

Maybe an important NPC is possessed by a ghost and goes on a rampage, but the NPC is the Dragon-Blooded Satrap of Plotopia and must survive. Your Dawn has to fight her, but can't just splat her.

Divide the character's attention, so that your Dawn can't devote all his skill to the fight. He's too busy holding the timbers of the ship together to keep it from sinking, or the fight takes place a ship's powder magazine among the casks of fire dust. Cutting loose with full combos will blow the place up and the opponent is a Fire Aspect with nothing to lose.

Or set up a situation where the character has to throw the fight (convincingly!) against a needed political ally's champion.

Set the fight in the lair of an assassin's guild. The place is bristling with traps and those damned ninjas know where all of them are.

And, of course, being the lone bulwark against a legion of angry sharkmen while protecting an important village. Sure, he can mow them down, but there are so many and he can't be everywhere at once...

The key thing is that as the Dawn's reputation grows, the last thing his foes will do is fight fair.

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On the "not fighting fair" front, the D-B Investigation charms are some if the most powerful in the game. There's a pair of them that say, "I know where you call home" and "I know who all your friends are." Good opportunity to call for some Virtue checks, I say. –  Colin Fredericks Jun 16 '12 at 3:42
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+1 for the above. The two best ways to challenge someone who doesn't lose fights is to have them show up after the fight happened (Someone has already killed/kidnapped their parent/lover/child) and to have them show up before the fight happened. (Someone credibly threatens their parent/lover/child, and they need to stay and defend them. Then either wait and see how long the PC will stay in one place, or have the bad guy get sneaky.) –  IgneusJotunn Jun 16 '12 at 5:25
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It sounds like your Dawn is an up-close-and-personal fighter. Consider bringing in someone that the Dawn has trouble closing with, who can eat up his essence or willpower (especially willpower).

Edit: Sorry, just noticed the "no abyssals" part. In the part below, replace Abyssal with Lunar, walking dead with beastmen, and undead war machines with behemoths from the depths. :)

As an example, consider a Midnight-caste Abyssal working with the Silver Prince. Have him specialize in Archery, and give him an unblockable attack charm. The Midnight caste ability provides an excuse to bring in dozens (if not hundreds) of walking dead, slowing down the Dawn and preventing him from advancing on the Midnight. Pick up one or two Athletics or Dodge charms; if I remember right there's one in the book that lets you jump out of range of an attack, disrupting flurries in the process.

Your Dawn will need to combo every turn to use both Iron Whirlwind on the goons and Heavenly Guardian defense to keep the Abyssal from whittling him down.

Bringing in a few other Abyssals can keep the rest of the party busy, or you can just use some undead war machines - spine chains, animated bonestriders, thousand-corpse frames, etc. - if the other PCs aren't combat-heavy.

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Great idea! I'm using raksha as the primary bad guys in the campaign, so it'll probably be a few fey with a horde of hobgoblins, but the idea of using a range character with a "speed bump" in front is great, thanks! :) –  Johenius Jun 15 '12 at 16:11
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You could also try a group of Terrestrial Exalted, if you have the handbook for them. A couple melee-range types specialized in defense could act as speed bumps for archer specialists. –  Oblivious Sage Jun 15 '12 at 16:20
    
Great point @ObliviousSage - and I've been itching to give them a Hunt. Next session! :) –  Johenius Jun 15 '12 at 17:10
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If you're bringing in Terrestrials, you can also have the Dawn accidentally brutalize other party members. Give a Wyld Hunt a member Unassailable Body of (Element) and Safety Among Enemies in a combo. Perfect dodge and redirect the attack. –  Colin Fredericks Jun 15 '12 at 18:04
    
@ColinFredericks Brilliant! Takes notes Any other neat combinations I should take note of? –  Johenius Jun 15 '12 at 19:22
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