Posted on January 12, 2005 by Flames
White Wolf Game Studio
WW08800 ISBN: 1-56504-623-4
The cover is beautiful, the main figure is of a night caste called Harmonious Jade, in the background you might be able to see the faces or other exalted, each one of them as a life and a personality of it’s own.
White wolf’s favorite theme is transformation, and here is not the exception, but the world of exalted is much more than that.
There was a time where the chosen of the sun ruled and protected humanity, it is said that the world knew prosperity and peace, the magic and the technology where used to grant comfort and security, but that came to an end, the Exalted, the chosen of the sun became corrupted, and they became monsters, legends of that survive till this day, how the thirst of blood took over them, how they experimented with human beings and how they consorted with the infernal demons. Such was the atrocities they committed that their consorts, the Lunar exalted abandoned them, and their servants, the Dragon Blooded betrayed them.
The Dragon Blooded poisoned, ambushed and massacred them, their numbers where high and they had the help of the Sidereal exalted, the foretellers of the future. So, that way, the Solar died, alone, abandoned and betrayed. The Dragon Blooded rose as the kings, as the princes of the earth, they created a fragile Shogunate who would crumble at the invasions of the Wyld and the ravages of the Contagion which killed 9 out of ten.
The world survived, a young officer managed to activate the defenses of the realm and ended the contagion and the invasion, she became the Empress and she established a reign of forced peace and enforced the immaculate Faith, which says that the Dragon Blooded are enlightened beings and the Solar were Anathema which must be killed, and thus, the wild hunt was created, it’s mission to destroy any exalted.
But the contagion was terrible, the science, the technology, and the highest magic were lost, the world rebuilt itself upon the ruins of the first age, thereby the age of sorrows began. With the centuries, the Dragon Blooded have become lax, corrupted with their power, immersed in their intrigues and depravity, the Dragon blooded live several centuries, but soon everyone noticed that the empress had a highest lifespan, some say she makes some dark ritual onto her prisoners, there is a lot that it is said about her.
The world of exalted is dangerous, huge monsters, Wyld tainted places where the fair folk live, Shadowlands where the dead rule, and 5 fateful days every year, where the ill fortune rules, the dreaded days of calibration. But now the world has become more dangerous: the empress has disappeared, and now their descendants are contesting; darker, powerful beings have risen, they are called the Deathknights and they are commanders of the dead, exalted from the abbyss…the fair folk stirs, awaiting for the moment to invade again…and the Solar Exalted have returned.
By word of mouth stories are being told, of how some slaves, warriors, savants, peasants etc. have acquired supernatural powers, and that the bright symbols in their foreheads have appeared, the old kings have returned, and everyone fears them.
This is the premise of Exalted, the player will live in a dangerous world, where simple humans are pawns of the Dragon Blooded whims, the player will have to choose what kind of exalted he will be:
Dawn Caste: the Warriors, the Generals, the Leaders
Zenith Caste: the Priests, the spiritual leaders
Twilight Caste: the savants, the crafters, the sorcerers
Night Caste: the assassins in the shadows, the spies
Eclipse Caste. The diplomats, the negotiators
The players will have to face a change, not only themselves, but the way the others will act, if they have a family, they might be rejected, even hunted, they will have to deal with strange powers, powers which they don’t remember how to use, their mind will struggle with their old memories, fragmentary as they are, they will remember little more that their death and the betrayal, they will have to face that now they are demigods. But they will be like children, with thirst to learn, but a very few will be willing to taught them, and some of them will do it… for a price.
To the humans, they are monsters, they are anathema, for the Abbysals they will be toys to corrupt, for the Fae, they will be precious prey, for the Sidereals they will be a nuisance that will be took care of.
The game is way more complicated than those of the World of Darkness, the Exalted use charms that must be learned in a tree of techniques, the player might choose one beginning of the tree and might prefer techniques that grant him power, but will be weak if he doesn’t choose some techniques of endurance. There are charms for each ability; Archery, Melee, Ride, Medicine, Survival etc. and abilities for each caste, to choose is difficult, and it takes about 1 full day of study for the player to choose the charms to begin with. The charms are powerful at the end of the tree of techniques, so it’s a bad idea just to scratch at the beginning of the trees. The Exalted are powerful, they can live by thousands of years, but a sword can kill them, if they are weak. Learning new techniques is difficult, the character might remember them (and is a very interesting roll) or must find someone to teach her the new charm.
Even the clothing or the armor have a value, from what the character can afford to buy or if she can carry it. The player must choose a virtue flaw that will have a direct effect on his behavior, for example if a character has a low compassion, it will affect her social rolls and she might become cruel if the limit break is reached. Getting the appropriate weapons is another issue, weapons like those in the first age are no longer made and the character will have to scavenge her own tomb to get a decent weapon, needless to mention that those tombs are filled with traps and are not easy to locate.
The enemies are too many: the Dragon Blooded, the Wild Hunt, the Sidereals, the Deathknights, the Demons, the Fair Folk and even the humans, in the darkness are the Deathlords and the Malfeans, the fallen gods who will delight into seeing the Exalted fall, hidden in the wild are the Lunar exalted, who have become powerful and solitaire, but they have bad memories of their former consorts.
Exalted is a game that offers a lot of adventure, intrigue, danger and discovery, there is much for the storyteller to think and plan.
The core book is very good, grants a lot of insight, background and stories which set the reader into the Exalted world very well; the character creation process is quite complicated, and it’s advised to get a caste book to see a finished Character Sheet, it will made the process easier.
The book provides sample characters that will provide adversaries or even allies, the reading of the booklet “the tomb of five corners” is advised to have the general feel of how is an exalted adventure.
As a Storyteller I recommend this game it can be dark, it can be bright, it can be sad it can be cheerful, it can have hope, it can have none, there is a new, strange world to explore.
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