Friday, April 5, 2013

Exciting Exalted

Welcome to day five of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! Today's post is about the role playing game Exalted. This is both a system and a setting for a fantasy role playing game, not real fact or life. This is totally White Wolf's creation, I just like talking about it and playing in the world!
Exalted by White Wolf Studios
 From White Wolf's Exalted website: Exalted is a game of epic fantasy set during the Second Age of Man, a time before our own. It is an age of magic and adventure, when heroes of legend are reborn into a time of woe.

The idea behind Exalted sprouts somewhat from the legend of Atlantis, and also a little from Greek myth. In writings about Atlantis, the Atlanteans had very advanced technology for the ancient world, and it was all lost in a great flood. Exalted is set in what they call 'The Second Age of Man', before the great flood, or deluge. There was a First Age of Exalted as well, which had more advanced technology than the second age, techniques lost after a great cataclysm, much like the myth of Atlantis. Some artifacts from the First Age still exist in the Second Age, but they are rare and treasured.

Greek myth steps in with the ruling gods of the world. In Greek myth, the Titans ruled the world, but Zeus and the other gods didn't like how the Titans were running things. So they turned on their parents, taking over Mount Olympus for themselves after killing, maiming, imprisoning the Titans. In Exalted, once great Primordials ruled over all of Creation, in name. But truly, they were up in heaven playing the Games of Divinity, making their children, the gods, rule Creation in their stead. The god wanted to rule in their place, but because of programmed loyalty, they could not act directly against the Primordials.

So instead, the gods gave part of their divine essence, a shard of power, to chosen mortals, humans, to be heroes of the gods. These mortals became Exalted, and fought in what came to be known as the Primordial War. The ruling Primordials defined the laws of existence - so the Exalted were created to beat these down. Exalted can do wondrous feats of strength and dexterity, talk circles around great dictators and use magic that frightens whole populations. The Exalted won the war for the gods, and the gods then headed up to heaven, Yu-Shan, to play the Games of Divinity themselves, leaving Exalted to rule Creation for them, in turn.

Exalted themselves are in two distinct categories, the Celestial Exalted, of which there are a fixed amount, and the Terrestrial Exalted, who can breed more through careful planning and luck. Within the Celestial Exalted are three types: Solar Exalted, the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun; Lunar Exalted, Chosen of Luna the moon; and the Sidereal Exalted, Chosen of the Maidens - Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn and Venus. The Terrestrial Exalted are Chosen of the Elemental Dragons, Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Wood. Each of these types have their own strengths and weaknesses, but Solar are the highest of all.

As the chosen of the highest god, the Solars ruled Creation with the Lunars by their side. But with power often comes corruption, and many Solar Exalted did corrupt, until their hubris grew so large, the Sidereals and the Terrestrial Exalted, also known as Dragonbloods, worked together to destroy the Solar Exalted and the Lunars. They hunted, stalked, murdered the once-great heroes, and trapped the Solar shards in a giant magical prison under the ocean, driving Lunars to the edges of the world. This was called the Usurpation, for Dragonblood Exalted were made to be servants to the Solars, and in overthrowing them, usurped the rightful rulers of the world.

Without Solars to rule the world, Terrestrial Exalted had a lot more work than they could handle. A Great Contagion broke out across the world, killing nine of every ten people in every population. The Solar's doctors could have cured the Contagion, but they were lost, murdered, locked away. Fair Folk, spirits from beyond the realms of man, invaded weakened Creation, decimating the world under their feet. The Contagion had already run its course, but the Wyld armies of the Fair Folk were still battling the men of creation, and something had to be done. A group of Terrestrial Exalted entered the Solar's Realm Defense Grid, a weapon of the First Age that only Solar Exalted could operate. One of those Dragonbloods somehow got control of the mighty weapon and used it to decimate the enemies of creation, send the Fair Folk back to their realms of the Wyld.

This Terrestrial named herself the Scarlet Empress, and built up a new Realm from the ruins of the Solar Exalted's realm. The world is not as large as it once was, but it is still a world worth fighting for. Dragonbloods rule the land, but Solar Exalted are showing up after centuries of imprisonment. Lunar Exalted are also coming back from the edges of the world, in this, the Second Age of Man.

The world Exalted live in is called Creation, a wondrous world of warring elements, with Air's frigid cold to the north opposing Fire's blistering heat to the south; Wood's deep forests to the east in contrast to Water's unending oceans to the west; and in the center, Earth, and Mount Meru, the mountain that holds up the sky. In flavor, Creation draws a lot from Eastern mythology, and much of the art style of Exalted is Anime and Manga themed.

When you play Exalted, usually you will play one of the above Exalted types, a mortal gifted with a shard of Exalted power from the gods, the same shard a hero of the First Age possessed, now yours to do with what you will - as long as it is something great. Character creation involves filling out a character sheet with different traits, abilities, and attributes, coming up with a character that fits the world, to change the world (for better or worse? your choice!). You can be a warrior or a poet (even both!), a sea captain, a king, a spy who disappears in a puff of smoke, an assassin with gravity-defying balance, a gladiator turned priest, a crafter of wondrous items, the possibilities are endless, as big as your imagination. I have played Exalted at the table top with my husband and a gaming group as three different characters, first a child prodigy martial artist and diplomat, then a female priest of the Sun with a really big hammer, and finally a power crazy teenage sorceress. All were Solars because, well, Solars rule! Also the first two games our Circle (what a group is called in Exalted) was only Solar, where the last game we each chose varied types of Exalted.

Exalted is a very fun game, and you can get a lot of great stories out of it! There is a LOT more to the setting and history than what I wrote here, perhaps I can share that another day. Remember, my costume of the Scarlet Empress came from this setting! She was a Terrestrial Exalted, but the most powerful of her type ever to grace Creation. Currently there are two editions to the Exalted game, with a third edition in development. Check out the game at Drive-Thru RPG!

Oh and shameless plug, my husband wrote two great Storytelling Adventure System games for the setting, Daughter of Nexus and In Hunting A Monster, you should look at those too =) They're the highest rated of Exalted SAS!

I hope you enjoyed this post about something starting with E! Tomorrow's post will have more photos, please come again to see that!

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