Exalted Second Edition front cover, featuring the images of the characters (from left to right) Arianna, Swan, Panther, Harmonious Jade, and Dace.
|Designer(s)||Robert Hatch, Justin Achilli, Stephan Wieck, Andrew Bates, Dana Habecker, Sheri M. Johnson, Chris McDonough and Richard Thomas
Robert Hatch and Geoffrey C. Grabowski (game direction first edition)
John Chambers (game direction second edition)
John Mørke and Holden Shearer(game direction third edition)
|Illustrator(s)||Brian Glass (art direction), UDON Comics and many others|
|Publisher(s)||White Wolf Publishing|
|Publication date||2001 (1st edition)
March 13, 2006 (2nd edition)
|System(s)||Storyteller Game System Design by Mark Rein•Hagen|
Exalted is a role-playing game published by White Wolf Publishing. The game is classified as high fantasy, but may be more accurately described as "mythic fantasy", as the developer specifically avoided drawing on J. R. R. Tolkien, but rather turned to a mixture of world mythologies, as well as manga for inspiration. The third edition of the game is currently in development. First Edition was originally created by Robert Hatch, Justin Achilli and Stephan Wieck. The original core rulebook was published in July 2001.
- 1 Influences
- 2 System
- 3 History
- 4 Promotions
- 5 Setting
- 5.1 Background
- 5.2 Types of Exalts
- 5.2.1 Solar Exalted (Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, Lawgivers)
- 5.2.2 Abyssal Exalted (Chosen of the Void, Deathknights)
- 5.2.3 Lunar Exalted (Chosen of Luna, Stewards)
- 5.2.4 Sidereal Exalted (Chosen of the Five Maidens, Viziers)
- 5.2.5 Terrestrial Exalted (Chosen of the Elemental Dragons, Dragon-Blooded)
- 5.2.6 Alchemical Exalted (Chosen of Autochthon, Champions)
- 5.2.7 Infernal Exalted (Chosen of the Yozis, Akuma and the Green Sun Princes)
- 5.2.8 Other Exalted
- 5.3 Other magical beings
- 5.4 Mortals and Beasts
- 5.5 Essence
- 5.6 Five Magical Materials
- 6 Books
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The setting is strongly influenced by Tanith Lee's Tales from the Flat Earth, Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon, Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana and Yoshiaki Kawajiri's Ninja Scroll. Other influences include Glen Cook's The Black Company; Sean Stewart's Resurrection Man, The Night Watch, and Galveston; Homer's Odyssey, the Bible, and Wu Cheng'en's Journey to the West.
The game uses ten-sided dice and a variation of the Storyteller System to arbitrate the action, and, as with many other RPGs, requires little beyond the rulebooks themselves, dice, pencil, and paper. The ten-sided die storyteller system is one where the storyteller (or game master) is the person setting up a story and creating the adventure. The players create their characters using a pre-assigned number of points (as opposed to games like Dungeons and Dragons where an element of randomness can be introduced into character creation) and begin to interact with the story that the storyteller presents them with, much like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, although the possible actions are limited only to the imagination of the players and the discretion of the storyteller. When a challenge presents itself to the characters, they roll a number of dice determined by the statistics of their character with a difficulty assigned by the storyteller. If they gain the required number of successes (7 or higher on any given die, 10's usually counting as double), they succeed in their efforts. If they do not gain the required number of successes, they fail. The storyteller describes the nature of the success or failure and the game and story continue on. Since the stories are player-created (by the storyteller, of course), there is no one way to "win" the game, except to achieve the goals set out in each individual story.
While the rules system used in Exalted uses the same attributes from the classic version of the World of Darkness system (i.e. Appearance instead of Composure and Perception instead of Resolve), it is not compatible with either form of the World of Darkness, nor other White Wolf games using other versions of the Storyteller or Storytelling systems: while Abilities function just as Talents, Skills, or Knowledges, the fantasy setting uses skills appropriate to its trappings. For instance, the standard Storytelling system uses the skills Academics, Firearms, and Politics, while the Exalted system uses the skills Lore, Archery, and Bureaucracy.
The Exalted version of the rules were derived from the trilogy of White Wolf Publishing games Aeon(Trinity), Aberrant, and Adventure where the idea of a fixed target number of 7 or higher was first introduced. The rules underwent numerous changes with the introduction of Exalted 2nd Edition. Changes include the removal of the Brawl and Endurance abilities (which were merged into Martial Arts and Resistance respectively), the addition of the Integrity and War abilities and new combat rules. In second edition, rather than being divided into rounds, combat was broken into ticks, a series of one-second intervals that continued until the end of combat. Actions were assigned Speed values, determining the number of Ticks required until the characters who performed them could act again. Other new systems (such as the previously optional mass combat system, and the new social combat engine) used the same structure, but worked in long ticks, comprising minutes of action rather than seconds.
Characters may be frequently presented with challenges that normal human beings, even within the context of the game, would find difficult, deadly, or simply impossible. However, as the chosen champions of greater powers, each Exalt possesses Charms, which may either enhance their natural capabilities or manifest as shows of great power. An Exalt with low-level archery charms might find her arrows hitting with preternatural accuracy, while greater faculty might allow her to shoot without difficulty to the edge of her vision, or turn a single arrow into a deadly rain of ammunition.
The Exalted frequently power their charms with accumulated Essence, a universal energy that flows through and comprises Creation and other worlds. While normally their Essence recovered slowly through rest, in the first two editions they could also regain it more quickly by performing stunts, actions given special description and embellishment by the players. The writers of the third edition have indicated that stunts will no longer regenerate Essence, but that combat will automatically cause Essence stores to refill quickly. However, stunts continue to exist, and their primary benefit--adding extra dice to the actions they describe, thus enhancing the possibility of success--remains.
The Storyteller System itself has been applied both to tabletop and video gaming systems, and has been a subject of note to gaming enthusiasts such as Chris Crawford, who wrote a book entitled Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling which details many elements similar to the Storytelling System in use in Exalted.
Exalted has mechanical and thematic similarities to White Wolf's previous game series, the old World of Darkness, but exists in its own product line, called the Age of Sorrows. The game has an excellent sales record, on par with the company's flagship title, Vampire: The Masquerade, the second edition core rulebook achieving a sales ranking at #23,558 on Amazon.com with a 4.5-star mean user review rating based on 13 user reviews as of January 2009.
The initial advertisements for Exalted placed the Age of Sorrows as the pre-history of the old World of Darkness. However, once the game was released such connections became uncertain: names and themes familiar to players of their previous World of Darkness line run throughout the material, but rarely in a way that suggested a direct connection between one and the other. Meanwhile, some oWoD supplements also supported this; the Hunter Apocrypha gave a vision of the past that said that Hunters gained their power from the broken shards of the souls of great heroes of a lost age. which seems to suggest that hunters carry fragments of Solar Essences. Likewise, the Kindred of the East supplement gave a structure of the Wheel of Ages (mirrored in Exalted first edition books as the Ages of Man) that seemed to accommodate the integration of Exalted and the classic World of Darkness, the former the first and second age, and the latter being the fifth age.
However, per the commentary of multiple developers, the connections are deliberately tenuous, allowing players to be free to treat it as a prehistory or as its own world as it may suit their individual game. The similarities between Exalted and the new edition of the World of Darkness are even weaker. The Second Edition seems to imply that its story is the prehistory of our own world on its back cover, but this idea is not explored in any depth past that book.
Shards of the Exalted Dream, the final 2nd edition product, was published in January 2012. Development of Exalted 3rd Edition was officially announced in October 2012. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Exalted 3rd edition ran in 2013 from May 9th to June 8th, reaching its $60,000 funding goal within 18 minutes, and raising a total of $684,755 and breaking Numenera's record for the most funded tabletop RPG Kickstarter.
In March 2008, White Wolf Publishing unveiled a promotion that would allow 2,500 Dungeons & Dragons players to exchange their copy of their Edition 3.5 Player's Handbook for a copy of the Exalted Second Edition Core Rulebook. The promotion was called "Graduate your Game" and has received mixed reviews from fans of both games. The success of this promotion has yet to be revealed.
The basic premise of the game is that the player characters are chosen by a deity and imbued with the powers of a demigod (thus, "exalted", or "raised high"). There are numerous varieties of Exalted, each chosen by a different deity or group of deities; however, the core game is based around the Solar Exalted, Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, with the Core Rulebook covering the Solars' abilities, powers, and place within the setting. While the core rulebook mentions and discusses the other Exalted to the extent necessary for them to appear as supporting characters in Solar-themed games, additional sourcebooks provide the depth of detail necessary to stage other Exalted as playable characters.
According to the core sourcebooks and the supplementary materials, the history of the setting begins with "Time Before", where there were the Primordials: vast, unfathomably multifarious eternals similar to the Greek primordial deities or the Outer Gods of H.P. Lovecraft's works, even going so far as to use similar epithets to the latter. The Primordials brought the Unshaped Chaos that was at the time, and formed it into Creation – a flat world of finite extent, dominated by five elemental forces, organised into poles in the furthest reaches of the four cardinal directions, as well as one pole in the centre of the others. The elements: Air (north), Fire (south), Water (west), Wood (east) and Earth (center). The Primordials created all life, and created the gods, numberless immortal spirits resembling the Kami of Shinto, to watch over all that they had made. Foremost amongst the gods were the Celestial Incarnae, or Celestines; seven deities representing the sun, moon, and major planets who were charged with the government of Creation as a whole while the Primordials abdicated to Yu-Shan, an abstract paradisical realm also of their devising, to play the mysterious Games of Divinity. These Celestial Incarnae are the chief deities involved in exalting mortals.
Peace reigned for millennia, but in time, the gods grew to despise the Primordials, who were callous and hazardous rulers, whose all-consuming, incorrigible egos and inability to see their Creation as other than solely a reflection of themselves wrought immense suffering across the world they had made. The breaks from the Games of Divinity that brought them into Creation left nothing but destruction and terror for the mortals and gods who toiled thanklessly to sustain the reality shaped by their makers. The Incarnae thus meant to end Primordial rule and claim the Games of Divinity for their own, but they could not. The Primordial Cecelyne, the Endless Desert, at the behest of The Dragon's Shadow and others, had writ a Great Geas, preventing their divine servitors from raising arms against their makers.
Hearing their seditious whispers, a curious and empathetic Primordial, Autochthon, the Great Maker of Brass and Shadow, sympathised with the plight of the creatures and contrived to assist them. With great knowledge of spiritual metaphysics, Autochthon devised a way to invest human souls with miraculous potency that could not be stripped away by the other Primordials, and took the gods into his confidence. In order to strike at their creators, the Celestial Incarnae selected mortal humans, who were not bound by anything but their own lack of power, to be their Chosen. The gods Exalted these mortals, giving them divine power reflective of the purview of their respective patron deity. Meanwhile, the many-faced trickster god Luna convinced her Primordial lover, Gaia, the Spirit of Creation, to compel the Elemental Dragons--either her children or her own component souls--to the effort, Exalting each their own group of humans. Armed with terrible weapons by Autochthon, the Exalted thus stood before the elemental pole of earth, in the very centre of the world, and declared war on Heaven. After a cataclysmic struggle in which Creation shook to its foundations, the Exalted finally triumphed over the Primordials, slaying many of their number and then extracting the surrender of all else who had fought against them.
Upon electing themselves rulers of all from Heaven, the Celestines retreated to the city of Yu-Shan to oversee from on high and play in the Games of Divinity, and granted the Exalted the Creation-Ruling Mandate as a boon for their service to the new order. The surrendered Primordials were tortured, subjected to spiritual mutilation, and forced to swear unimpeachable oaths on their true names. Twisted and trapped inside the now-physical body of the former Empyreal Chaos by the Exalted, they were shunted out of Creation, becoming the Hell known as Malfeas, the Demon City and its unfortunate inmates; they are half-remembered only as the Yozis – primitive, ill-understood, and impersonal cosmic deities, and their continued worship is reckoned among the highest of heresies. The slain Primordials became the Neverborn, quiescent monsters without beginning whose impossible ending forever disordered the ordained cycle of life, death, and reincarnation, resulting in the formation of the Underworld: a skyless, shrouded, shadowy effigy of the living Creation in which the souls of the dead linger and cling to their former identities rather than entering Lethe in order to be born anew.
Common to all of White Wolf Publishing's games, the primary character archetype, the Exalted, suffer from a systemic character flaw. In this case, this flaw is represented by a "Great Curse", uttered upon the dying breaths of the slain Primordials. This Great Curse manifests itself in a variety of ways and causes the "heroes" of the setting to be fatally flawed and thus more interesting than mere superpowered demigods. In the game's history, the Solars grew decadent and corrupt, eventually threatening the existence of the created world itself, and causing the Unconquered Sun to turn his face from Creation in shame and sorrow. After centuries of plotting, the Solars were slaughtered in a massive insurrection known as the Usurpation by the Terrestrial and Sidereal Exalted, their servants and advisors.
Each Exalted possesses an "Exaltation"--a bit of divine might--which leaves to exalt a new mortal when the Exalted passes from life. The Terrestrial Exalted (also known as the Dragon-Blooded) are an exception to this, as they do not possess an independent and unique Exaltation. Rather, their power is passed down through their blood to their descendants. The Exaltation is separate from the magical energy in the game, known as Essence, but it is what allows Exalted to utilize Essence to accomplish miraculous feats. After the Usurpation, the majority of the exaltations of the Solar Exalted were locked away in a Jade Prison beneath the sea, and a periodic event known as the Wyld Hunt was organized by agents of the Sidereals and Terrestrials to drive the Lunar Exalted from the civilised lands of Creation and prevent them from releasing the exaltations of their ancient companions.
During the intervening age, the Terrestrial Exalted became the rulers of the world, ruling in a system not unlike the Shogunate of feudal Japan. After the Great Contagion (a plague engineered by the Neverborn to swell the population of the underworld and weaken Creation) and the Balorian Crusade (a war with the Fair Folk, who seek to return the world to Chaos) wrought devastation across Creation, a captain of the Dragon-Blooded armies emerged, dubbing herself the Scarlet Empress, and forged the empire known today as the Realm. While young, the Empress had access to powerful weapons of the First Age, with which she first beat back the Balorian Crusade, and then asserted her rulership over much of the world. Nearly eight hundred years later--in the present day of the game--there are eleven Great Houses of the Realm, nearly all of whom claim direct descent from the Empress.
Five years prior, however, the Empress disappeared, casting the Scarlet Empire to the brink of civil war. Simultaneously, the Solar exaltations held in the Jade Prison have been released by agents of the Yozis. With the Realm wounded after a disastrous recent Wyld Hunt, and the Houses ignoring the threat of the Celestial Exalted to position themselves to take control of the Realm, the number of Solar Exalted in Creation is slowly growing. Thus, the backdrop to the setting sees the newly-arisen Solars (among various other heroes and villains) struggling to survive their enemies in this time of tumult long enough to make their mark upon the fate of Creation, for good or for ill.
The flat world of Creation is the primary setting of Exalted. Creation has two continents, the Blessed Isle and the unnamed super-continent which covers the northern, eastern and southern edges of Creation, populated by many nations and tribes, with the settled regions along the inner coast of this super-continent being known collectively as the threshold. The Blessed Isle is located in the center of Creation. The Realm rules the Blessed Isle and its proximate archipelago directly, and indirectly rules numerous tributary states known as satrapies along the threshold. The elemental poles of Creation color the directions of the map: the frigid North, near the pole of Air, is divided by the White Sea; The element of Wood influences the heavily forested East, the most densely populated region of Creation other than the Blessed Isle; the Scavenger Lands, formally named the Confederation of Rivers, is an organization of allied nations within the East; the South, drawing from the Pole of Fire, is a hot, arid region; the influence of the Pole of Water upon the West shows itself in the Great Western Ocean encompassing various major and minor island nations; finally, the Elemental Pole of Earth, the least dangerous of the five, is located at the top of the towering Imperial Mountain in the centre of the Blessed Isle.
Beyond the Elemental Poles of Creation is the multidimensional, infinite ocean of Pure Chaos known as the Wyld. The cosmology of Exalted also includes the Underworld, the celestial city of Yu-Shan, the demon realm of Malfeas, the machine world of Autochthonia, and Elsewhere.
Types of Exalts
At the core of the setting, there are several different types of Exalted, any type of which could play the role of protagonist or antagonist of the game. The Exalted of Creation can be divided into two categories: Terrestrial Exalted and Celestial Exalted. Celestial Exalted, being the chosen of the Celestial Incarnae, are significantly more powerful than Terrestrial Exalted, and can live for millennia, but their numbers are limited by a fixed number of Exaltations passing from mortal life to mortal life at any given time. Terrestrial Exalted are the chosen of the Elemental Dragons, children of the primordial Gaia, who govern the elemental underpinnings of Creation. While less powerful, Terrestrial Exalted (commonly known as the Dragon-Blooded) can pass on their Exaltation to their children, much like one would pass on other genetic features.
The Abyssal, Alchemical, and Infernal Exalted technically fall outside of the two categories, though their power level is comparable to that of Celestial Exalted. A brief synopsis of each type is given here, organized by relative power and significance within the game.
Most types of Exalted have certain collective predispositions toward or against other Exalt types, and may be viewed differently by the various mortals of Creation; while the Dragon-Blooded and their world-spanning empire are often seen as demigods and heroes, for instance, the Lunar Exalted are often seen as monstrous and dangerous; this is in part owing to their abilities to take the shapes of animals and monsters and other humans by killing them, but also due to the concerted efforts of Terrestrial propoganda.
Solar Exalted (Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, Lawgivers)
The default protagonists of Exalted and the champions of the chief of the gods, a being known as the Unconquered Sun. There are five castes) of Solar Exalted: Dawn (the warriors and generals), Zenith (the priest-kings of the Unconquered Sun), Twilight (the scholars and sorcerers), Night (the spies and assassins) and Eclipse (the ambassadors, diplomats, and negotiators).
In the era that the game is set, known as the Second Age of Man, the Solar Exalted are returning to the world in numbers for the first time in thousands of years, and their actions and choices have the potential to shape the fate of nations due to the nature and potency of their birthright. The Solar Exalted are the most powerful of the Exalted and during the First Age of Man, they were the rulers of the world. Their achievements were a beacon to humanity, yet as their accomplishments grew so did their hubris and detachment from the mortals they ruled over. This was furthered by the insanity of the Great Curse, leading the Solars to commit countless atrocities of an unspecified nature. Because of these actions, the Terrestrial Exalted who served them were convinced by the Sidereal Exalted to murder the Solars at the close of the First Age. In order to prevent mass reincarnations, nearly all Solar essences were systematically captured and imprisoned with the assistance of the Sidereal Exalted. However, those that were not imprisoned continued to reincarnate again and again through the ages. Each time a Solar Exaltation re-emerged into the world, its bearer was hunted down and killed by the armies of the Terrestrial Exalted, who used their greater numbers and experience to overcome the newly-Exalted person in a crusade known as the Wyld Hunt.
Considered to be Anathema by much of the mortal world of the Second Age, the Solars are regarded as monstrous demons and few remember their former greatness. This is due to a prolonged and widespread campaign of propaganda orchestrated by the Terrestrials, via a now firmly established religion known as the Immaculate Order.
Various sourcebooks for Exalted state that Solars lack the specialized abilities of the other Exalted: the shapeshifting magic of the Lunars, the raw entropic and destructive force of the Abyssals, the elemental manipulation of the Terrestrial Exalted, or the Fate-manipulation of the Sidereals. The nature of their charms tends to express itself instead through human excellence taken to superhuman extremes, and as such their raw prowess in most skills easily exceeds any of the others. Their three greatest advantages are their large Essence pools that give them more raw power to work with, their powerful, efficient, straightforward charms, and their ability to use the highest of all forms of sorcery, the Adamant Circle – also called the Solar Circle due to the Solars alone being able to access that circle of sorcery. With the addition in the third edition of Evocations--powers derived from legendary artifacts--the Solars have attained another area in which they are the undisputed masters.
Abyssal Exalted (Chosen of the Void, Deathknights)
Twisted souls that are loyal servants of the Deathlords, powerful spirits of long-dead Exalts, who in turn serve the Neverborn, the dead husks of what were once the ancient Primordials slain by the Exalted before the First Age. The Abyssal castes are a dark reflection of their Solar counterparts; Dusk (soldiers, generals, and martial champions), Midnight (priests and leaders), Daybreak (scholars and artisans), Day (assassins and spies), and Moonshadow (bureaucrats, diplomats, and couriers).
The source materials, primarily the second-edition sourcebook The Manual of Exalted Power: Abyssals, present the Deathlords as the largely insane ghosts of First Age Solars slaughtered in the Usurpation, who are easily among the most powerful beings in the Underworld of Exalted. The Deathlords have varied goals, but most strive not to conquer or corrupt Creation but rather to wipe it and everything else out of existence, although conquest and corruption are among their strategies in this regard.
In the present of Exalted, the Neverborn sow their revenge from beyond the grave through their Deathlord servants. The named agents of the Deathlords in the world of the living are the Abyssal Exalted, also known as Deathknights; these antagonists are dark reflections of the Solar Exalted and are presented as being their equal in power. They were created by the Deathlords through powerful sorcery taught them by the Neverborn, using Solar Exaltations stolen from the Jade Prison. Deathknights are described as finding themselves bound to their dark fate; holding onto the trappings of life inevitably spells disaster for those who rebel. Within the last five years of the game's fictional history, they and their Deathlord masters have begun to corrupt Creation with the power of the Underworld. They field vast undead armies, bolstered by ancient knowledge long since lost in the world of the living but still readily available in the long memoried dead, and a powerful form of magic known as necromancy. Several sourcebooks present the Abyssals and the Deathlords as having a tentative foothold in Creation, likely representing its gravest threat.
Abyssals cannot draw Essence from Creation as other Exalts do and can only replenish their Essence in the Underworld or with powerful artifacts. The easiest way for an Abyssal to restore Essence away from the Underworld is by feeding on the living. Willing Solar Exalted can be converted to Abyssal Exalted with a powerful necromantic spell. Abyssal Exalted are exceptionally powerful in the necromantic school of sorcery, which represents the arcane knowledge of death and the Void, knowledge which was originally brought into Creation by a coterie of First Age Exalted who stole it by plundering the crypt-worlds of the Neverborn beneath the Underworld.
Lunar Exalted (Chosen of Luna, Stewards)
Presented as most anarchistic and chaotic of the Exalted. In the sourcebooks, they are often referred to as cunning shapeshifters, skilled fighters, and capable generals. Their history and characteristics are described in the first-edition book Exalted: The Lunars and the second-edition book The Manual of Exalted Power: Lunars.
Within the game's history, they were very tightly bound to the First Age Solars; while the first edition of the game claimed that it was very common in the First Age for the Solar and Lunar Exalted to marry each other, the second edition took this a step further: each Lunar Exaltation is bound to a singular corresponding Solar one in such a way that that Lunar instantly feels a connection to the Lawgiver, though how they act upon this bond depends on the inclinations of the Exalts involved. While many stood and died beside their Solar mates in the Usurpation, those that were not killed along with their companions fled to the edges of Creation.
At the borders of the order of Creation and the chaotic turbulence of the Wyld, their natures were changed over a great many years. Lunars follow at best a loose tribal hierarchy and ritually tattoo each other to protect themselves from the warping effects of the Wyld. This further serves to mark them as different from the rest of humanity, as the tattoos are made of moonsilver, and are often visible over much of the Lunar's body. In addition to their self-inflicted distinguishing marks, each Lunar has a "Tell" that manifests as an animal-like characteristic that is visible to some degree or another in their human forms, further setting them apart from mortals. Lunar castes are not predetermined and inflexible, but rather are associations with phases of the moon chosen by individuals before their ritual tattooing brings them fully into Lunar society under these associations.
Lunars often shun civilization, or rather, they shun forms of civilization characterised by Dragon-Blooded oppression and exploitation, preferring society with humans and spirits far beyond the borders of the satrapies; some of these Stewards lead or guide and sometimes breed tribes of anthropomorphic animals known as Beastmen and teach them self-sufficiency. Others go into deep seclusion in their territories to absorb themselves in primitive, hand-to-mouth freedoms and commune with the small, simple gods of the natural environment. Finally, some even revel in the unaccountable warping effects of the Wyld and, forgoing the characteristic silvered tattoos, become increasingly unstable until ending up as inhuman beings known as "chimera" with no unifying form, akin to both Fair Folk and Creation-born.
Second edition materials detailed the Lunar Exalted's subversive influence on Creation's societies and revealed the Thousand Streams River Project, a complicated system of social engineering designed to create self-sufficient human societies that do not require Exalted leadership to function. Several major societies within the game were declared the results of centuries of subtle, behind-the-scenes guidance, with varying degrees of success.
With the return of the Solar Exalted, the uncertainty of the imperial rule of the Dragon-Blooded, the encroaching influence of the Wyld and its Fair Folk manifestations, and the new threat of the Deathlords, the Lunar Exalted face a Creation that has changed as much as they have.
Sidereal Exalted (Chosen of the Five Maidens, Viziers)
These Celestial Exalted are the least numerous of all the Exalted types (with the exception of the newly created Infernals), yet are described as major players in the fate of Creation. Sidereals, in addition to their unparalleled mastery of martial arts, evidenced by their access to the highest forms of martial-arts magical abilities (known as Sidereal martial arts), excel at foreseeing and manipulating fate. Within the Exalted universe, they are often presented as celestial bureaucrats who often work in the Bureau of Fate of the Celestial City of Yu-Shan, the home of the gods, directing events in the mortal world from behind the scenes.
They were the viziers, prophets and cunning advisers of the First Age. Toward the end of the First Age, a prophecy came to them that warned that without action, Creation would fall to darkness. Seeking to save the world, the Sidereals looked into the future and saw two options: attempt an reform of their maddening kings, or destroy the Solar Exalted and raise up the Dragon-blooded in their place. The former was an uncertain path that would ruin the world if they failed, while the latter was guaranteed to work, but would permanently make Creation lesser than it had been. The Sidereals, possibly under the effects of the Great Curse laid upon them by the Neverborn, elected the path that offered a guaranteed future for Creation. As such, they orchestrated the end of the First Age, known as the Great Usurpation. It was with their behind-the-scenes guidance that the Dragon-Blooded were able to completely wipe out the Solar Exalted and effectively direct the Wyld Hunt to the predicted Exaltation of new Solars. Since their prophecy, the Sidereal Exalted have split into two factions: The Bronze Faction of the Sidereal Exalted supported and orchestrated the purge of the Solar Exalted from Creation, and continues to do so with the Wyld Hunt of the Realm; and the Gold Faction, which supported the Solars and has had little in the way of power and influence since the end of the First Age.
Because of a partially botched attempt at some astrological subterfuge, Sidereals slip from the minds of those who meet them, mortal and Exalt alike, which can be beneficial to Sidereal characters or harmful, depending on their intended goals as player characters and non-player characters. Some unpredicted events prior to the "present" setting of Exalted, such as the Great Contagion, have jarred their faith in their precognitive abilities. Meanwhile, the loss of the Scarlet Empress, their secret ally at the top of the Scarlet Dynasty, has greatly weakened their influence.
With the emergence of the Deathlords (who, as the authors describe them, are inscrutable to their power of prediction), the return of the Solars, and a growing rift between the Bronze Faction and the Gold Faction, who are now gathering their power and directing it into an organization known as the Cult of the Illuminated, the Sidereal Exalted are uncertain of their future.
Terrestrial Exalted (Chosen of the Elemental Dragons, Dragon-Blooded)
 In the history of Exalted, they were the elite infantry and servants to the rest of the Exalted in the First Age. They are less powerful than other types of Exalted, but most of their strength lies in their inheritance – rather than being chosen by a god, the Dragon-Blooded have the potential to pass their Exaltation on to their children; although most Dragon-Blooded are easily able to trace their heritage back through generations, some Dragon-Blooded—called the "Lost Eggs"—Exalt into families that have no Dragon-Blooded in their recent genealogy. The Dragon-Blooded are not limited by a set amount of "Exalted essences" like Celestial Exalted. Due to their overwhelming numbers in comparison with the Celestial Exalted (Terrestrial Exalted numbering in the millions as compared to the hundreds of Celestial Exalted), they were able to overthrow the Solar Exalted at the height of their power with the help and guidance of the Sidereal Exalted, thus ending the First Age.
The majority of the Dragon-Blooded in Creation make up the ruling class of the Realm, currently the most powerful empire in Creation, although the Old Realm ruled over by the Solars was far more advanced and successful than the current Realm ruled over by the Dragon-Blooded. The state-sanctioned faith known as the Immaculate Order paints the Solar and Lunar Exalted as dangerous anathema who will bring ruin to the world if allowed to exist, thus encompassing the propaganda against Celestial Exalts. Because of this, the Realm organizes the Wyld Hunt, which actively seeks out newly Exalted Celestials (Solars and Lunars, although they also hunt Abyssals and fair folk as well) and overwhelms them before they can master their new powers. This practice, which had effectively kept the Solars from rising to power again since the end of the First Age, has faltered in the Exalted timeline because of the recent disappearance of the Scarlet Empress – the absolute monarch of the Realm – and the stability and leadership that she was able to bring to the Dragon-Blooded. The power struggle by the great Dragon-Blooded houses to fill the resulting power vacuum has destabilized the Scarlet Empire and allowed the Solar Exalted to escape the purges of the Wyld Hunt and rise in Creation once more.
The greatest advantages of the Dragon-Blooded are the considerable resources granted to them by their noble status and their ability to work cooperatively with each other to create greater effects with their Essence. There are five elemental aspects to the Dragon-Blooded: Air (the Azure Children of Mela), Earth (the Ivory Children of Pasiap), Fire (the Scarlet Offspring of Hesiesh), Water (the Ebon Offspring of Daana'd) and Wood (the Verdant Children of Sextes Jylis). The ruling Dragon-Blooded of the Realm are made up of the eleven Great Houses. Most houses were founded by and named after one of the Scarlet Empress's Exalted offspring, though at least two are descended from the Empress' late husbands, and three unspecified houses are descended from adopted children of the Empress. Of the 13 former Great Houses, only two, Jerah and Manosque, have been named. The prominent Dragon-Blooded families of the rival city-state of Lookshy, across the Inner Sea, are known as Gentes. There are five major or great Gentes: Amilar (Air), Karal (Fire), Maheka (Earth), Teresu (Water) and Yushoto (Wood), as well as approximately a dozen minor Gentes.
Alchemical Exalted (Chosen of Autochthon, Champions)
 Creations made from clay and the Five Magical Materials, built in the world of Autochthonia. They were introduced in the supplement "Time of Tumult". Alchemicals serve the Great Maker Autochthon, one of only two primordials that was not imprisoned or killed in the Primordial War, and are infused with the souls of dead Autochthonian heroes. Within the context of the game, they serve as protectors of the inhabitants of a parallel world made up of the body of Autochthon himself, and enforce the will of the Tripartite, the theocratic government of this world. They divide themselves into castes according to which material was mainly used in their construction: there are five canon castes, one for each of the Five Magical Materials, as well as the optional Adamant caste. Autochthon designed them before the other four original types of Exalted, but they were not constructed until after the Primordials were overthrown and Autochthon retreated from Creation. Instead of wielding Essence directly and using their Charms in a "magical" fashion like other Exalted do, the Alchemicals have Charms "installed" like peripheral parts and fuel these machine implants with Essence from their own bodies. Unlike the Celestial Exalted, there is no hard cap on the number of Alchemicals, the main limiting factor on their numbers being the immense resource investment required for their construction. As Alchemical Exalted raise their Permanent Essence, they increase in size, eventually joining with Autochthon and growing into cities. The Alchemicals are not subject to the Great Curse, as they did not fight in the Primordial War. In gameplay, in place of curse driven insanity, they have a Clarity track which measures their distance from humanity. Those Alchemicals who have been infected with Autochthon's illness have a Dissonance track in place of a Clarity track, with Dissonance measuring their madness, corruption, and drive to violate boundaries. Willing non-Alchemical Exalted can become "Akuma" of Autochthon, gaining the ability to have Alchemical charms installed and gaining a Clarity track. A brief tour of the world of Autochthonia can be found on the game's website.
Infernal Exalted (Chosen of the Yozis, Akuma and the Green Sun Princes)
They currently have less published material covering their nature, back-story and abilities than other Exalts. There are two types of Infernal Exalted, the Akuma and the Green Sun Princes. Rules for Akuma were first introduced in the 1st edition Exalted Player's Guide (April 2004). Akuma are Exalted of another type who have given themselves over to the cause of the Yozis and have been remade according to their masters' desires. They retain access to their native charm set and gain the ability to learn and use their patron Yozi's Infernal charms. While the first edition hinted at their existence, they did not get official rules until 2nd edition's Manual of Exalted Power - The Infernals (April 2009). The Green Sun Princes are made with the fifty Essences of Solar Exalts which the Yozis took in payment from the Neverborn and altered to emulate themselves in exchange for teaching the Neverborn to corrupt Solar Essences to create the Abyssals. The Green Sun Princes were created by a cadre of five of the Yozis; Malfeas, She Who Lives In Her Name, Cecylene, Adorjan, and the Ebon Dragon. Each of these Yozis is responsible for the creation of one caste of Green Sun Princes and the charms associated with that caste, Malfeas created the Slayers, Cecylene created the Malefactors, She Who Lives in Her Name created the Defilers, Adorjan created the Scourges and the Ebon Dragon created the Fiends. Green Sun Princes of any caste can learn the charms of all five castes, as well as the charms of any other Yozis who have opened up access to their charms to the Green Sun Princes; in the default setting, Kimbery is the only other Yozi who has done so. The Yozis have tasked the Green Sun Princes with transforming Creation into a mirror of Malfeas, which they believe will break their bonds and reverse their disfiguring imprisonment. They call this effort the Reclamation.
The Green Sun Princes' disadvantage is that they are few in number; only 50 infernal essences are controlled by the Yozis, and they do not yet have the ability to corrupt further Solar Essences as the Deathlords can. On the other hand, the Infernals have the full resources of the demon realm at their disposal, along with numerous Yozi cults which already exist in creation. The Infernals are closely tied to their Yozi masters, and experience Urge, psychological motivations towards missions set by their patrons. Unlike Abyssals, Infernals rarely regret their state, and instead revel in their mission to overthrow the upstart gods and return creation to its original rulers. It is implied, however, that due to the inherently poor treatment by the Yozis (being unable to fully comprehend things outside of their domain and thus with little respect for anything else) and obvious insanity, the vast majority will grow dissatisfied and go rogue, using their link to Primordial power to mutate into new Titans themselves, not bound by the same shortness of vision they possess.
Three new types of playable Exalted have been announced for 3rd edition: The Liminals, the Getimians and the Exigents.
The Liminals "stand at the border between life and death, humanity and monstrosity". They are created when someone attempts to bring another person back from death; resurrection is explicitly impossible in Exalted, but some will still try. Most of the time, it fails, but on occasion it draws the attention of some other power that raises the corpse to life again. The new Liminal possesses the memories of the body that she wears, but does not possess the same soul, and thus does not have the same personality. In their initial introduction at the end of Second Edition, it was mentioned that they possess an interest in severed limbs and body parts, but the full explanation for this has yet to be given.
The Getimian Exalted are described as "drawn from stillborn destinies to serve as agents in one man’s war against Heaven". The Getimian Exaltations predate their current use, but the rogue Sidereal Exalt Rakan Thulio has employed them. Despite this, the Getimians have their own will, and at least one works as a special consultant to Heaven rather than opposing it. The Getimian Exalted have Essence split into two pools, but unlike the other Exalted types, their charms interact with their separate pools in different ways; their personal pool is akin to Yin essence, while their peripheral pool is Yang. Some of their charms can only be powered by one or the other, or cause different effects depending on which one is used.
The Exigents are described by 3rd edition developer Holden Shearer as follows:
The Exigents are a scattered host of Chosen of many lesser divinities, from gods of mazes and masks to gods of field, hearth, and blazing volcano. Each is unique, born of desperate circumstances in which Creation needed a hero.
A god may petition the Unconquered Sun for the power to Exalt their own champion. If successful, then the God receives the Exigence, which they may use to create their own champion. The process is taxing on a god, and can destroy it in the process. Some Exigences have been sold or otherwise passed into the hands of gods who do not have the Unconquered Sun's approval, while others have been heavily modified from multiple sources; the writers have referred to the former as "black market" Exaltations, and the latter as "dirty bomb" Exaltations.
Other magical beings
Alongside the various types of Exalts found in Creation, there are also other magical creatures that use the same Essence that Exalts use to power their magical effects. The following are the most prominent types of magical beings.
- Behemoths are unique, immortal monsters. There are two broad categories of behemoths: Primordial Behemoths, created by the Primordials in the Time of Glory before the Primordial War. There are also Hekatonkheires, Primordial Behemoths killed during the war, who now serve the Neverborn in the Underworld. Wyld Behemoths, are creatures of the Fair Folk, known as Shaping Weapons. These are aspects of a Fair Folk's personality oriented towards dominance and aggression, and may appear as monsters under the control of Fair Folk, but they are not truly separate beings from their masters, and are merely the aggressive tendencies of powerful Fair Folk come to life. Wyld Behemoths are classified according to power; in ascending order, the three types are fey beasts, daikaiju and Deep Wyld horrors.
- Dragon Kings
- Like the Fair Folk, the Dragon Kings are not Exalted; they are supernatural creatures offered as a player character type. The Dragon Kings are large dinosaur-like beings of great power. Dragon Kings are sworn in allegiance to the Unconquered Sun, their creator. According to the fictional history of Exalted, before the time of the Exalted, the Dragon Kings ruled Creation and the mortals who dwelt there, but the majority of their perpetually-reincarnating souls were annihilated during the war against the Primordials, putting an end to their ascendance over Creation. The Unconquered Sun used them as powerful servants to his chosen whom they served faithfully, honoring their Exalted brethren. After the First Age ended in war and disease, what remained of their civilization collapsed, and most Dragon Kings today never outgrow the feral 'stalker' mindset they are born into. They still exist in the Second Age, though the once great Dragon Kings remain hidden in the farthest corners of Creation. The majority of the remaining Dragon Kings are in Rathess, an ancient home filled with a variety of powerful artifacts made by the Dragon Kings in the glory days of the First Age. The developers describe four types of Dragon Kings, each living in a quadrant of Creation; the graceful flying Pterok (North), the nimble and lithe Raptok (East), the powerful and loyal Anklok (South), and the clever amphibious Mosok (West). Rules for playing Dragon Kings are presented in the Exalted Player's Guide in 1st edition and the Scroll of the Fallen Races in 2nd edition.
- Fair Folk
- Like the Dragon Kings, they are an alternative player character type to the Exalted. They know themselves by their own word, Raksha; however the superstitious in Creation, rightly fearing that to name them is to invoke them, call them the Fair Folk with the hope of flattering and placating them. Unlike the Creation-born, who have a fixed, definite shape and form within the pattern of created things, Fair Folk are entities composed of Essence unadulterated with form, and thus they are without much constancy. They are natives of the Wyld, which they call Rakshastan – the place that exists between Creation and the Unshaped Chaos. Like the Wyld environment they inhabit, Fair Folk are partially and provisionally confined and defined by their proximity to the structure of Creation, temporarily taking on aspects of the created world by interacting with it. They are inhuman and beautiful beguiling monsters that subsist on elements of human subjectivity, devouring dreams, imbibing hopes and fears, and assuming narrative personalities stolen piecemeal from the Creation-born.
- In one sense, they are very similar to the Primordials: they are primeval beings whose existences precede and are not bound by the physical reality of Creation; their native Essential Chaos having been statically frozen as the Primordials formed Creation in the midst of it. They prey upon the interiority of mortals and do a brisk slave trade with The Guild, a powerful economic organization in Creation. The Raksha are divided into castes: Diplomats, who favor the Staff Grace and the virtue of Conviction; Entertainers, who favor the Cup Grace and the virtue of Compassion; Warriors, who favor the Sword Grace and the virtue of Valor; and Workers, who favor the Ring Grace and the virtue of Temperance. Noble Raksha have mastered greater internal complexity and differentiation, favoring two Graces and associated virtues. There is also a fifth Grace, the Heart Grace, which is associated with identity and the trait of Willpower. Graces are differing outlets for the use of Essence in the Wyld and Creation, allowing Fair Folk to stabilize and interact by associating with structures of Creation in the form of the Heavenly Virtues of Yu-Shan, primitive personality traits shared in some form by all Creation-born mortals and many spirits. The most powerful kin of the Fair Folk are the Unshaped. These entities were never trapped in the structural orbit of Creation, but are truly native to the pure Chaos beyond the Wyld. Unlike the Raksha, the Unshaped lack the means to stabilize themselves by assimilating the personhood of mortals and as such are incapable of existing in Creation for any great duration. Each Unshaped is actually a symbiotic complex of many Fair Folk consisting of a "guiding intelligence" and "subsidiary intelligences" with no true internal organisation, leading some mortal savants to misinformedly characterise them as "deep Wyld storms". Rules for playing Fair Folk are presented in Exalted: The Fair Folk in 1st edition, 2nd edition rules are included in Graceful Wicked Masques: The Fair Folk, released in early 2009.
- Refers to, as a collective whole, offspring of a mortal or animal and a magical being, or the mortal offspring of two magical beings, in which case they take after the more powerful of the two. The resulting offspring bears traces of its mystical parentage. According to the authors, they stand somewhere between divinity and mortality, less than Exalted, but more than human. Those with awakened Essence can purchase the same types of Charms as their supernatural parent, though their power is limited by a low Permanent Essence trait and a small Essence pool.
- There are several subtypes of God-Blooded, mostly named for their supernatural parentage: God-Blooded are the children of gods and elementals, Demon-Blooded are the offspring of demons, Ghost-Blooded are the children of ghosts using powerful Charms to help them reproduce with mortals, and Half-Caste are the children of powerful Exalts (although exceedingly rare). The Fae-Blooded are the children of a union between the Raksha and mortals. The Mountain Folk can also produce God-Blooded offspring, but there is no specific term for them. Rules for playing God-Blooded characters are presented in the Exalted Player's Guide in 1st edition, and Scroll of Heroes in 2nd edition.
- Mountain Folk
- Also known as the Jadeborn, creatures of the Great Maker, Autochthon: when Creation was initially wrought from Pure Chaos by the Primordials, all those Unshaped Raksha whose Essence was incorporated into the created world became calcified; frozen into static, unchangeing shapes, most of them fixed into the very minerality of the earth itself. Sensing that these other, native intelligences of Chaos had been snuffed out in the Creation of inanimate elements, Autochthon took posthumous pity on them, and, salvaging whatever it could discern of their prior selves, resurrected them – still formed of the earthen materials they had calcified into, but alive, and with at least a glimmering memory of the intelligent entities they had once been.
- The Mountain Folk are divided along two lines, Caste and Enlightenment. The three Jadeborn Castes are the Artisans, Warriors, and Workers. The vast majority of the Mountain Folk are Unenlightened – limited in intelligence, creativity, and supernatural power. A small minority of Workers and Warriors--as well as the entire Artisan Caste--are Enlightened, with much greater creativity as well as both mundane and supernatural potential, and all of these Enlightened are Essence-wielders. Mountain Folk society is ruled by the Artisan Caste, who make up the nobility, with Unenlightened Warriors and Workers making up the commoners and Enlightened Warriors and Workers occupying an intermediate position. Rules for playing the Mountain Folk are presented in 1st edition's Exalted: The Fair Folk and 2nd edition's Scroll of the Fallen Races.
- The shinma define major categories and significations both within and Beyond the Wyld. Strange abstractions, the shinma provide boundaries and define structuralities within both Creation and across the infinite Wyld by embodying oppositions. The shinma themselves are quite impossible for a Creation-born mortal to comprehend in their nativity, and are generally viewed by mortal savants as metaphysical axioms – though the Raksha apparently consider them to be interesting characters of some sort, and base their Graces (and thus their mimicry of mortal personalities) on transformations performed with the help of the shinma.
- Several shinma have been named and detailed, as follows:
- Advaita Iraivan, shinma of separation. Advaita Iraivan is first mentioned in 1st edition's Exalted: The Fair Folk, in which it is established as an aspect of Nirguna, and then it is established to be the shinma of separation in 2nd edition's Graceful Wicked Masques. It is posited to be the origin or structuring presence of the other shinma, or vice versa, and the Raksha refer to the location of Advaita Iraivan's presence as Time Not, admitting no distinctions.
- Nirakara, shinma of shape. Nirakara is formless, and is also the gateway all beings must pass through to cross between Creation and the Wyld. A Raksha passes through Nirakara when she assumes shape in Creation and enters it, while a mortal passes through Nirakara when he enters the Wyld and undergoes destabilizing mutations.
- Nirguna is the name of the shinma of existence. From the Sanskrit word Nirguna, meaning roughly "without form / traits". Much like how other shinma define concepts by embodying their opposites, Nirguna defines existence by not existing. Moreover, as the origin of existence, it is the only thing which does not exist, while everything does exist within the Unshaped Chaos.
- Nirupadhika, shinma of space and locations. Nirupadhika cannot be found anywhere, defining location, and exists as a singularity, defining space.
- Nirvikalpa, shinma of communication. From the Sanskrit word Nirvikalpa, meaning "not admitting an alternative". Nirvikalpa cannot communicate with others, nor with itself. It cannot even observe others nor be observed by them, preventing the most basic forms of communication, thereby defining the concept.
- Nirvishesha, shinma of identity. Nirvishesha has no identity, despite a given name. Those who remind Nirvishesha of its existence by speaking its given name, or those of the aspects it defines invite its wrath.
- Nishkriya, shinma of conflict. Nishkriya possesses many weapons with which it could fight. It is by not using these weapons and being perfectly, imperturbably at peace that Nishkriya defines the concept of conflict. The aspects of Nishkriya, however, are extremely lethal and violent. One such aspect, "Ishiika, the grass-cutter scythe", was a particularly deadly participant in the Balorian Crusade.
The influence of the shinma is relative rather than absolute, and the existences of alien shinma who define categories that have no influence on Creation have been mentioned, as have areas of the Wyld which are Beyond the influence of the various shinma salient to Creation.
- Spirits are divided into four broad categories: demons, elementals, ghosts, and gods. With the exception of elementals, spirits are naturally immaterial, generally require Charms to materialize in Creation, and will reform when killed unless some supernatural effect prevents them from doing so. Rules for playing ghosts in 1st edition are presented in Exalted: The Abyssals, and rules for 2nd edition are presented in The Books of Sorcery, Vol. V: The Roll of Glorious Divinity II: Ghosts & Demons. Rules for playing elementals and gods are presented in The Books of Sorcery, Vol. IV: The Roll of Glorious Divinity I: Gods & Elementals.
- Demons, Yozis, Primordials and Devas
- The Yozis are exiled, imprisoned and twisted Primordials, each primordial can have one or more bodies, known as Jouten. For each Yozi, there are at least a dozen Third Circle demons including the Fetich, each third circle demon rivals the most powerful gods and elementals in power and embodies and defines an aspect of the Yozi, which will change if the demon is permanently slain, with more dramatic changes including a new name and identity resulting from the death of a Fetich. First Circle demons are the descendants of greater demons rather than aspects of them, generally divided into various demonic species, with individuality and uniqueness quite rare among them. Due to the terms of the Yozis' surrender, all demons can be summoned and bound through sorcery, and the Unconquered Sun and the Maiden of Endings can summon Yozis.
- Devas are the spiritual entities spawned from Primordials; while this includes the Yozis, it also extends to unbound Primordials such as Gaia and Autochthon. Each primordial's devas has a specific name. Gaia's devas are known as kami, five of her third circle kami, the Five Elemental Dragons, have been detailed. Autochthon's devas are known as exmachina, Autochthon has nine third circle exmachina, the eight Divine Ministers and Core. In 1st edition's Exalted: The Autochthonian's, Autochthon's second circle devas are referred to as Revered Subroutines. According to 2nd edition's Manual of Exalted Power: The Alchemicals, subroutine spirits are Autochthon's manufactured counterpart to 1st and 2nd circle demons, and are divided into three tiers based on power, importance and autonomy: Alpha, Beta and Gamma in ascending order, and Autochthon has made his Divine Ministers incapable of spawning new exmachina, 2nd edition material is unclear about the fate of pre-existing 2nd circle exmachina. Unlike true demons, these beings cannot be summoned through sorcery. The terms Deva, Exmachina and Kami were established in Voice of the Magnus, published online in the Ink Monkeys blog.
- Elementals maintain Creation, and with a few exceptions, embody one of the five elements: air, earth, fire, water or wood. Elementals are naturally material, requiring charms to dematerialize, and with a few exceptions, cannot reform when slain. Unlike other spirits, their growth is largely unrestricted. The most powerful elementals are the Lesser and Greater Elemental Dragons. Elementals are generally outranked by gods of similar power. Elementals can be summoned through Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, however, unlike demons, powerful elementals often have designated proxies who can be sent to respond to the summoning in their stead.
- The elementals of Autochthonia embody one of the machine world's elements: crystal, metal, oil, lightning or steam, and cannot be summoned through sorcery.
- The most common type of ghosts, referred to as ghosts or the dead, are the hun or higher souls of mortals who have refused to pass into Lethe and reincarnation due to their attachment to their mortal lives. These ghosts are much weaker than Exalted, and they can only respire Essence in the Underworld and Shadowlands. Hungry ghosts generally come into existence due to betrayal, vengeance or a traumatic death. Initially, a hungry ghost includes both the higher soul and the po, or lower soul, but the hun soon moves on, leaving the hungry ghost largely mindless. Unlike other ghosts, hungry ghosts are naturally material in Creation at night. Nephwracks are ghosts who have been corrupted by the Neverborn. Unlike uncorrupted ghosts, they are capable of using necromancy. The Deathlords are thirteen ghosts of powerful Solar Exalted who have been empowered by the Neverborn, and although they are not technically Exalted, they have access to Abyssal Charms. Spectres, also known as plasmics, are bizarre creatures spawned by the nightmares of the Neverborn. The category of Hekatonkhire includes the ghosts of demons, devas and Primordial behemoths, as well as the manifested nightmares of the Neverborn. The Neverborn are the ghosts of slain Primordials. Immensely powerful, they are difficult to rouse from their slumber, and their power seems largely constrained to the Labyrinth. Only mundane ghosts and Hekatonkhire can be summoned through necromancy, and only mundane ghosts can be summoned through sorcery.
- Gods represent objects, locations and concepts, but they are separate from them. In order of least powerful and influential to most, there are least gods, minor gods, gods, major gods and Celestial Incarnae. Examples of least gods include gods of a single pebble, whereas major gods include gods of concepts such as wealth or war. Most gods are members of the Celestial Order, which is stratified into two divisions: the Celestial Court, composed of gods of concepts, and the Terrestrial Bureaucracy, made up of the gods of physical objects and locations.
- The Celestial Court is ruled by the seven Celestial Incarnae, and is divided into the Bureaus of Destiny, Heaven, Humanity, Nature and Seasons, with the other four bureaus reporting to the Bureau of Heaven. The Terrestrial Bureaucracy is nominally ruled by the Five Elemental Dragons, and is divided into various spirit courts. Technically, all members of the Celestial Court outrank all members of the Terrestrial Bureaucracy. In practice, Terrestrial courts are largely independent.
- Outside of the Celestial Order, there are also the machine spirits of Autochthonia, unemployed gods whose domains have been usurped or destroyed, rogue gods who have abandoned their duties, and forbidden gods who have been exiled due to madness, an abhorrent nature or because they sided with the Primordials. Gods can generally only significantly increase their power by getting promoted or expanding their purview.
Mortals and Beasts
- Crafted Races
- During the First Age, the Solar deliberative began a series of experiments on human volunteers with the aim of creating specialised subspecies of humanity. With the aid of magic and selective breeding they succeeded in creating several new mortal races with unique talents and abilities. In order to ensure complicity, these Crafted Races were given special mental conditioning to ensure absolute loyalty to the Solars and their Realm. Many of the crafted races were classified as blessed races and given special status and privileges, however some of the other crafted races, known informally as the slave races, had low status and limited rights. The Usurpation and the Great Contagion decimated their numbers and now they survive in small isolated pockets. The Crafted Folk that survived include the winged Airfolk in the North, the savage and cannibalistic Dunefolk in the south, the subterranean Earthfolk who have assimilated into Mountain Folk society, the Amphibious Seafolk in the West and the slave race of Treefolk in the far East. Among others, they also created a race of Minikin, miniature people with the ability to use Essence so that they could work on and repair the advanced Essence-machinery of the age, but they merged with their relatives, the Djala people, since the end of the First Age and are no longer distinguishable as a race. Members of the Crafted Races are mortal and are therefore capable of Exalting into one of the Celestial Exalted types. Rules for creating a Mortal or Exalted member of a Crafted Race are presented in the 2nd edition book, Scroll of Heroes.
Essence is the mystical force which the Exalted and gods manipulate to gain their supernatural powers, as well as the energy that forms all things. Within the game, the mystical force "Essence" is always capitalized to distinguish from other uses of the word.
Five Magical Materials
The Five Magical Materials are used to forge artifacts and weapons. Each material is associated with a type of Exalted, as well as one of the castes of Alchemical Exalted, who are partially constructed from that material. These materials are all easily enchanted, and each one resonates with a particular type of Exalted. This resonance makes any item that is both constructed from one of the magical materials and attuned to an Exalt's anima preternaturally deft and sure in that Exalt's hands. It also gives the Exalt access to the powers of any hearthstone mounted on the item.
- is the most common material, and is associated with the most common, least powerful of the Exalted, the Terrestrial Exalted. There are six different colors of jade, five of which correspond to one of the Elemental Dragons. Blue jade resonates with Air, white with Earth, black with Water, green with Wood, and red with Fire. The sixth, yellow jade, is something of a mystery, in that it should not exist and only comes about through alchemical mistakes. Jade weapons are unnaturally fast, and jade armor doesn't tire the wearer.
- is the rarest of the magical materials, forged from meteors, the husks of godlings cast out of Yu-Shan, the Heavenly City. Like its wielders, the Sidereal Exalted, Starmetal re-weaves fate, causing weapons to strike especially lethal blows and armor to turn aside all but the mightiest attacks.
- is considered by the Lunar Exalted to be a gift from their patron, Luna. It must be harvested by moonlight, using no crafted tools, forged at night and cooled only with water that has never seen the sun. Swords made of Moonsilver are more accurate and deflect strikes more easily, bows shoot farther and armor does not impede the wearer's mobility. Like the protean Lunars, Moonsilver can shift into new forms easily.
- is made from human souls and the substance of the Labyrinth of the Underworld. It is jet black, and agonized faces of the souls it contains can be seen moving and screaming in the metal. Unsurprisingly, this material is used almost exclusively by the Abyssal Exalted. Soulsteel weapons inflict heavy damage on living beings and frequently drain small quantities of Essence as well.
- is used primarily by the Solar Exalted. Orichalcum is rarely found in pure deposits; usually, it is created out of gold that has been heated by lava and sunlight reflected from mirrors of occult design. Orichalcum weapons excel at no one thing; instead of adding a large bonus to speed, damage or defense, they add a small bonus to all.
First Edition Exalted hints at a sixth magical material, but it is not presented in full until the Second Edition release of Dreams of the First Age.
- a super-solid crystal that is refined down to the sharpest substance known. It is largely present within the body of the Primordial Autochthon, but was also known in Creation during the First Age. This material is used primarily by the Alchemical Exalted, though the Exalted of the First Age occasionally made items out of the material.
See the list of Exalted sourcebooks for further information.
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- Chambers, John; Alan Alexander, Rebecca Borgstrom, Carl Bowen, Zach Bush, Joseph Carricker, Genevieve Cogman, Dawn Elliot, Michael Goodwin, Conrad Hubbard, Peter Schaefer, John Snead, Andrew Watt, William Wulf (2006). "Introduction". In Carl Bowen. Exalted Second Edition. White Wolf Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 1-58846-684-1.
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- Exalted Wiki, a Wiki containing fan-created material and archived quotes by the developers
- The Exalted Compendium Redux
- Conrad Hubbard (author) personal website
- A site containing fan-created character sheets and charm cards for Exalted 2e