Apparently for all of my whining about not having ideas for my journal it takes only a single question on twitter to get me roaring.
Because the universe just likes to point at me and scream “WRONG!”
Now as some of you may know I do tend to go on a variety of subjects. However, if there were a topic that I could go on at length for an infinite period of time, with the capability to both inform and enrage with my vast swaths if knowledge so diverse and thorough that it would be pervasive and perverse at the same time that topic… would be Transformers.
But a close second would be Exalted.
Daddy misses you.
Ah Exalted RPG. I love you so much that even two years of playing with a person who I wanted to beat to death with both the sharp and dull sides of a hatchet could not abate my infatuation. I can still tell you how the caste system works, the core mythos, the true nature of the broken winged crane and where the Empress is.
And even then I know I don’t know everything. I can’t even call myself an expert because I know there’s things still a mystery to me despite being readily available in the corebook.
Still I’m going to do my darndest to give you a look into Exalted.
Exalted is an RPG that uses the ST (or storyteller system) created and used by White Wolf. In it a player will get certain ranks in an attribute (strength, dex, etc) and an ability (climbing, painting, sex and so on). The player then rolls dice (ten sided ones) equal to the total attribute plus ability that he has. Anything better than 7 counts 10’s are rolled again and 1’s take away. Thusly it’s a system designed to escalate and reward higher and higher stakes as you go along as the better you get, the more you can do rather than the more you can simply beat.
Exalted was created by borrowing from every kind of mythos imaginable EXCEPT medieval fantasy. There are elements of Japanese mythos, Hindu, African, Native American, all kinds really.
You live in a world where all of society is ruled by an upper class of people known as Exalted. Blessed with a mighty bloodline each exalted has control over one of five elements of the five dragons, Fire, Air, Water, Wood and Earth. They all bow to the mighty Empress who sits on her throne and controls the noble houses and keeps the realm at peace. Some people live outside it but the dominant government is that of the Empress as her and the Dragon Blooded rule and banish all forces of evil. Which would be any kind of supernatural force that isn’t a Dragon Blooded.
The truth is that they aren’t the only kind of Exalted.
There are actually several different groups running around, and they are all stronger than the Dragon Blooded. They are so powerful that they cannot pass on their power through children but rather upon their death, that power or Exaltation is passed onto another who is worthy.
In normal Exalted you play as a Solar Exalted. As a normal human you’ve lived an interesting life and acquired skills when one day you were pushed to your limit. On that day you took a new breath of life and you were coated in golden light that radiated from within you and you realized that you were capable of so many great things.
With this article I’m going to mostly talk about the vanilla Exalted experience and how to ensure that when you play you have a good time. In part two I’m just going to go nuts and talk about all seven of the Exalted types.
Now some tips to help you start your game.
Talk to your fellow players before you begin
This should be a fact for every RPG game played ever. Players should always discuss among one another what kind of character’s they want to make and how to facilitate that need. Especially in Exalted. In Exalted despite the fact that you have five classes known as Castes, you don’t level up in that caste. Instead (as is typical of the ST system) you buy stats and magical abilities known as Charms. Certain castes buy certain charms at a cheaper rate but that doesn’t prevent you as a player from getting other worthwhile skills. Because of that players will want to experiment and may start buying the same charms as another player. This brings me to my second point.
Stick to your key charm trees.
In Exalted there are things called Charm Trees. These are series of charms that a player can buy in succession, meaning that to get the really powerful stuff at the end they must usually buy several preceding charms. Now early on decide what you what your character to be good at and funnel the points into developing that. In Exalted you get a set amount of experience per session (unless it’s at the end of a major arc) and that number doesn’t often go up. Conversely, the cost of advancing an ability, attribute or earning a higher level charm does. Because of that it’s often tempting to spend the small amount you do get on cheap introductory charms or new skills rather than wait to develop the ones you have. The problem is at a certain point you’ll find that all of your friends are doing the same things you are but with much greater success.
Now I’m not saying minimize yourself to only a couple of skills. Far from it. If you’re playing an Exalted game with Game of Thrones like politics then every character should have some political manipulation ability. If you are all going to be out in the wild for days on end then everyone should have some survival skill. Just don’t try to be good at everything. With any point buy system it’s really tempting to not specialize but it’s often a mistake.
GO BIG! (At least with your history)
Ordinary people who work 9-5 jobs aren’t chosen as Solar Exalted. Regretfully. They are all people who’ve lived remarkable lives in some way and were pushed to a physical, mental or emotional extreme. You can be a shopkeep but you might have run secrets for a local lord, or constantly fought off street toughs or were one a high level general or aristocrat. Or all of the above. Exalted has a system that somewhat limits how much your history benefits you but if it’s mostly for fluff and backstory then go nuts. You were chosen for a reason.
Be a good guy
Despite the fact that once a long time ago the Solars became decadent and despondent doesn’t mean you should rush to that. Solars, despite everything are still heroes trying to do good. The GM can put them through the ringer on what that really means but in the end you are here to save people. This is probably the only place where the corebook fails. It sets up the sample Exalted as jerks most of the time.
Combos are your friend
In Exalted you can combine charms to make things called Combos. This allows you to take a simple set of abilities and create something totally unique to your character. A lot of the small charm purchases you’ll make will be to create combos later on in game. Combos are also, regretfully, the most expensive thing in the game so be careful of what you make, especially if you can see a way to upgrade it later on.
No two characters in Exalted are the same. Dawn casts can be gladiators, archers, horsemanship experts, martial artists, generals. It really doesn’t matter. I can’t go into specifics until next week’s entry on how diverse some castes can get but when one caste can have characters that are diplomats, actors, and spies then there is really no limit to what you can create.
And that’s it for general tips. There’s way more of course coming in the 100th post so stick around as I take you into the much deeper aspects of Exalted.
Oh… and just play 2nd Edition. Avoid 3rd for now. There’s way more to work with in 2nd.
So too does this work exist.