March 21, 2014
A Look At The Fluff Of Exalted
Most fantasy games take their ques from such well-known stories as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, the various works of Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Brooks, and many others. Many of them share similar elements such as elves, dwarves, magic, dragons, enchanted weapons, and so many other staples of fantasy fiction that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between them all. Not so with Exalted. Just as with another favorite fantasy tabletop role-playing game of mine, Anima: Beyond Fantasy, Exalted forges its own fantasy. That is not to say that they do not borrow heavily from other elements. Rather than borrowing from Tolkien and others, however, Exalted borrows more from the fiction of Japanese Anime, Greek Mythology, and even – to an extend – the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Exalted is a story-centric game of high-action, something that sets it apart from many of its other Storyteller system counterparts – save maybe Scion and Werewolf – in which the characters play the part of Exalted. Now, in the grand scope of the game, there are many different kinds of Exalts. There are the Lunar, which are shape-shifters, Sidereal, which are celestial beings, Terrestrial, that have the blood of the great dragons flowing within them, granting elemental powers, Alchemical, which are much akin to constructs or golems, Abyssal, which are dark reflections of the Solars, and more. However, for the purposes of this examination, let’s focus on the Solar Exalted, which the game focuses on in the Core Rulebook.
The Solar Exalted were mortals granted a spark of divinity by the gods long ago in order to fight against the corrupt Primordials, the creators of all things. They fought alongside the Celestines and, after a great and terrible war that threatened to destroy all of creation, the Primordials were banished into the Hell called Maelfas. Peace reigned for some time after, as the Celestines took their place in the Heavens and the Solar Exalted were left to rule over the world of mortals. In time, however, the Solars grew corrupt and were eventually all killed, their divine spark sealed away to prevent reincarnation. Centuries pass, and the seal on the prison that holds the divine spark of the Solar Exalts grows weak, allowing the divine sparks to pass on once more. New Solar Exalts are born to a world that hates and fears them, but needs them now more than ever as new and old threats lurk around every corner.
Like all Storyteller games, one of the main focuses found throughout Exalted is the idea of the heroes being flawed. Every Exalt, no matter the kind, suffers some great curse or weakness that they might struggle to overcome. This is a game about possessing in-human, godlike powers but, at the same time, being hunted. While any one Solar Exalted can best one of the Dragon Blooded who now rule the Realm in a manner similar to Feudal Japan, the enemies of the Exalted have their own strengths. For the Dragon Blooded, their strength is in numbers. There are still so few Solars in Creation, and the Terrestrial Exalts are many.
If you are looking for something different for your game-table or want to see how the Storyteller system holds up in a much more action-packed sort-of game, give this one a try.
As for me, I am wondering why it has been so long since I last played this marvelous game.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.
Image Credit: Onyx Path Publishing