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Exalted RPG Overview
Wouldn’t it be cool to play a demigod, a being with almost limitless powers? This is the premise behind the roleplaying game known as Exalted. Exalted is a game of high fantasy published by White Wolf Publishing where layers take on the role of legendary characters that have been reborn. These characters have been chosen by the gods and each possesses enormous power. Even though it is set in a fantasy genre, don’t think this is a Dungeons & Dragons knockoff. Exalted is altogether different. From the setting to the types of characters you play to the anime-style of artwork, it has a much different feel than a “generic fantasy game”.
World Setting and History
The setting and history of Exalted is pretty extensive. Before the beginning of the universe, there were the Primordials, vast entities with unfathomable powers. They created life and numerous gods, called Celestines, to watch over the elemental worlds. The Celestines, which are basically the gods of the game, are based on the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies. All was peaceful for about a millennium until the Celestines grew to resent and despise their creators. In order to help slay the Primordials, the gods anointed mortals with a portion of their powers and these mortals became known as the Exalted.
The Exalted helped to either slay or imprison the Primordials. The Celestines then gave the Exalted dominion over the earth and the rest of creation. The Exalted forged a great Realm and ruled with a just and benevolent hand. But before the Primordials were at last locked away, they cursed the highest of the Exalted, the Solar Exalted. As the years went by the hearts of the Solar Exalted grew hardened and they became tyrants. Their kingdom erupted into civil war and the lowest of the Exalted, the Dragon-Blood, overthrew the Solar and locked their souls away forever.
The current game takes place during the Second Age of Man. The game world is very akin to ancient mythical legend. There is a definite influence of Greek, Norse, and other old world mythos. The ruler of the kingdom of the Dragon-Blood, the Scarlet Empress, has disappeared and the kingdom has fallen into squabbling factions. It is during this unrest that the Solar Exalted have returned. As players, you take on the role of one of the returned Solar. Your powers, while still far above that of normal mortals, are still new and will only grow with experience. Despite the curse that still plagues the Solar, it is up to you to decide whether you will be a champion of creation or if you will succumb to the curse and turn into a tyrant.
The game uses a system that is similar to the White Wolf’s Storytelling System. The system uses only ten-sided dice to resolve all decisions and tasks. The Game Master is known as the Storyteller and like every other game master, is responsible for setting up and running the adventures.
Similar to the other Storytelling gmaes by White Wolf, every task has a level of difficulty. T o complete a task, anything from combat to jumping over rooftops, characters roll a number of dice equal to their appropriate character attributes. The number needed on each die to get a success is a “7”. The Storyteller determines how many successes are needed to comlete a task. The more “7”s, or successes, a character rolls, the better job they do at the task. If they roll a “10” it counts as a double success. If the character does not get the number of successes needed, they fail. The number of dice that you roll is referred to as the dice pool and with a game such as Exalted, where you have godlike powers and abilities, it is not uncommon to have pools of twenty to thrirty dice.
What makes Exalted different from other games in the Storytelling System is the use of Stunts. How this works is part of the storytelling charm. When trying to complete a task, the player can describe in detail how their character is going to perform the task. Based on the player’s creativity in describing the action, the Storyteller can give a bonus of one or more dice for the player to roll.
Game flow and the storyline is emphasized more than game mechanics. This is common with all of White Wolf’s game products. Heavy rules are sacrificed in favor of roleplaying. But the rules are designed to cover just about every conceivable obstacle that may arise.
Players take on the role of one of the newly reborn Solar Exalted. These are the champions of the mightiest of the Celestines, the Unconquered Sun. There are several different castes to the Solar. They are Dawn, Zenith, Twilight, Night, and Eclipse. Members of the Dawn caste are the warriors and fighters. Zenith members are the priests. Twilight encompass the scholars and sorcerers. Night members are spies and assassins. And members of the Eclipse caste are the diplomats and ambassadors. Choosing a caste determines what kind of skills you get to choose. Each caste comes with five skills and the player gets to choose five more.
In the character creation process, players spend points on things like Attributes and Abilities. The Attributes are broken down into Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Charisma, Manipulation, Appearance, Intelligence, Wits and Perception. Abilities make up skills which are separated into five different categories.
Characters draw upon what is called Essence to power their abilities and Charms. Every character has an Essence Pool which can be used for personal and peripheral Essence. When a character uses peripheral essence, an aura of power that is unique to the character surrounds them. This particularly happens every time you use a Charm, which is one fo your character’s powers. Charms encompass special abilities, spells, and other goldy powers that are specific to the Exalted. In addition, there are enchanted artifacts that characters can weild along with their powers.
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