Welcome back! Today we tackle the setting chapter of the Exalted 3e Corebook. I strongly feel that if anything should sell you on Exalted, it should be the sheer scale and wonder of Creation.
Exalted’s setting has a special place in my heart, so coming into this Chapter was an absolute joy.
Given the size and complexity of the setting, and page count restrictions, the book covers each of the areas in just enough detail to paint a picture of the place, but sadly has to move on before it can delve deeper.
It begins with an examination of the gods and spirits of Creation, their nature and their place in the grand scheme of things. The Incarna, greatest of the gods, are also introduced here, including the patron of the Solars, the Unconquered Sun. Yu-Shan, the celestial island populated by ten million gods is mentioned as well in a sidebar, along with a line mentioning the Games of Divinity.
Elementals are tackled next, ancient beings that are the various elements made manifest. While some are iconic beings of living flame, they actually come in a myriad forms, and the book actually takes the time to explain that for many of those who livein Creation, the distinction between elemental and god is probably not something they care about.
Demons are also given a short writeup which explains what they are in relation to the Yozis, and how the summoning and binding of demons is an art practiced by sorcerers. While dangerous, the act is not entirely evil in itself.
This section talks about the greatest empire of all Creation. Starting with the Scarlet Empress and her disappearance, the section discusses the political structure of the Realm, including a short writeup of each of the Great Houses of the Dragon-Blooded.
The Immaculate Order is also discussed in detail, including the major precepts of the Immaculate Philosophy. Of course, no talk about the Immaculates is complete without mention of the wyld Hunt, and the Hundred Gods Heresy.
The biggest chunk of wordcount in this chapter is devoted to discussions about the Threshold, which are civilizations that lie between the edges of the world and the Inland Sea that surrounds the Blessed Isle. It’s further broken down into each of the 4 cardinal directions, each of which is attuned to an element: North is Air, East is Wood, South is Fire and West is Water.
Each of the directions now feature new locations that weren’t given mention in 2nd Edition. This is a great way to refresh the setting for old hands like myself, as well as to add value to newcomers to the setting. Each one is presented in a quick description but not without dropping one or two plot hooks per location. It’s brilliantly given the wordcount provided, but each place feels like a great new launchpad for a new campaign.
This section deals with the Lunar Dominions, territories carved out by the Silver Pact, I don’t remember this being corebook material before, but having it here is a great idea as it helps enrich the Lunar’s place in the world. They have their own ideas on how to improve Creation, and they’re not afraid to take things into their own claws to make it happen.
The chapter then goes on to talk about the Wyld. A proto-reality of chaos upon which Creation is an island, the Wyld is not unpopulated. It is home to the Fair Folk, creatures born from Chaos who are immortal, immoral and utterly alien. They enter Creation and feed off the souls of it’s inhabitants.
Beyond the gates of death lies the Underworld, the realm of the dead. A dour place, those souls who do not reincarnate are trapped as ghosts, and walk among the living still. While some are harmless, there are dead horrors that are a danger to the living.
Among the greatest of horrors in the Underworld however are the Deathlords. Ancient Sorcerer-Kings with ancient, unknown grudges against each other and Creation. Not much is known about them, but old hands in Exalted will know that there are more to the Deathlords than the examples provided in the corebook.
There’s a short mention of Behemoths as well, one-of-a-kind prototypes of creatures of a Creation that was, cast out into the Wyld or hidden away, but who still roam Creation to this day. Nigh unstoppable, often enormous, they are meant to be the kind of challenge that would stop all but the mightiest of champions.
Color me very impressed.
I’m likely to be very biased since I was sold on Exalted’s setting long before the 3rd Edition, but the additional locations are a welcome sight. There’s a lot going on in Creation, but without feeling like a giant crisis that was going to detonate at the same time like it did in the second edition.
I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something optimistic to this edition of Exalted that I can certainly get behind.
For our next installment, well be doing a sample of character creation.