Hello and welcome to the first installment of a new Let’s Study Series. This time we’re taking a look at the latest edition of an old favorite of mine: Exalted.
Exalted was an odd duck when it was first launched. Considered to be an attempt to be an alternative to D&D, Exalted promised Mythic Scale heroes with great power and epic tragedy. It was also the time when the anime aesthetic was coming to popularity, and White Wolf embraced that, incorporating it into the core identity of the game.
It was weird. It was wild. It had starting characters overthrowing cities or battling gods as a perfectly feasible starter arc.
I loved every minute of it.
However, the release schedule of the game meant that there was just too much information to keep track of, and so I dropped Exalted.
When the second edition rolled around, it got even more complicated in my head, and so I sold my corebook within a week of my buying it.
I’ve had a chance to play under other GMs since then, but second edition was just too difficult for me, and I never got comfortable with it.
When I heard that the third edition was coming out, I decided to back it on Kickstarter because I was hoping that it would be the reboot I needed, with simpler (or at least more elegant) systems, and a throwback to my happier times of playing epic heroes without all the added complexity of second edition.
And here we are now.
THE FIRST AND FINAL DAYS
The book opens with a chapter that lays out a brief history of Creation, the world of Exalted. It’s well written, and covers (in broad strokes) all that you need to know about what happened before the game begins, from the creation of the Exalted, to the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress.
I found myself admiring how this opening section was written, as it did a great job painting the epic scope of the setting, and cementing the one fact that the Exalted are capable of doing the impossible.
In particular, the last portion, talking about the return of the Solar Exalted, struck me the most. To quote:
“It has been said that Creation is doomed.
The world will end in fire and flames. Darkness will descend. The seas will dry up and the land will crumble into the maw of chaos. Nothing can stop this.
Nor could the Solar Exalted slay the enemies of the gods.
Nor could they master the sorceries which wrought the world.
Nor could they ever return from their endless death amongst the stars.
This is the world into which the Solar Exalted have returned — but will they save the world, or will they destroy it?”
It’s the very essence of a Solar campaign distilled. You were built to do the impossible, and it’s up to you to prove your naysayers wrong. The Great Curse that haunted you before laid you (and the rest of Creation) low, but overcoming it is just another impossible task worthy of the Solars.
The next section of this chapter is a quick summary of the various chapters, which will be roughly the same order of business of the various parts of the Let’s Study series.
They also spend some time talking about what an RPG is, and how it’s played, before going into the Lexicon. As with White Wolf games, there’s a ton of terms to keep an eye on, but there’s no need to stress about it yet. At least you can look it up here.
Finally the last part is a short list of suggested media from fiction, movies, classics, anime, film and video games. The list is rather nice, though I’m certain everyone has their idea of what else would make a great inspiration for the game.
In our next installment, we move on to the first chapter: “The Exalted” and take a peek at the various demi-gods that are (and will be) playable for this edition.