This is the tale of a forgotten age before the oceans were bent, when the world was flat and floated atop a sea of chaos. This is the tale of a decadent empire raised up on the bones of the fallen Golden Age, whose splendor it faintly echoed but could not match. This is a tale of primal frontiers, of the restless dead, of jeweled cities ruled openly by spirits in defiance of Heaven’s law. This is a tale of glorious heroes blessed by the gods, and of their passions and the wars they waged in the final era of legends.
This is your tale.This is Exalted. What legends will they tell of your deeds?
Exalted is a fantasy roleplaying game intended for 2-8 players. It is set in the mythic prehistory of the world, a time when gods still walked openly among men, the world was flat, and the restless dead roamed on moonless nights. Players take the role on the Exalted, heroic men and women granted blessings of power by the mightiest of the gods. The Exalted can slay gods with their blades and arrows, leap across vast canyons, master ancient and miraculous sorcery, endure the burning heat of the desert or the killing cold of the tundra with only their natural resilience, and outwit demons using their razor wit.
Using the Exalted core rulebook, players are able to take on the role of the Solar Exalted, mightiest among the ranks of the Chosen. The Solars were once rulers of the world, but were betrayed and banished for many centuries. Now their power has come back into the world, imbuing men and women with divine might. They are stalked by the Wyld Hunt and feared by gods and men for their incomparable power, which will only grow in the fullness of time. Will your characters attempt to rebuild the glories of ages past, or remake the world according to a new vision? Will your power save the world—or destroy it?
Exalted draws inspiration from three primary sources. Pulp fantasy such as the works of Robert E. Howard, Lord Dunsany, Michael Moorcock, and Tanith Lee provide the underpinnings of the game’s style, while classical epics such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are sources of inspiration for the game’s scope and sophistication. Finally, Exalted draws stylistic touches from modern anime and manga to lend an active, high-power, high-energy feel to the Exalted and their supernatural allies and enemies.
To learn more about the Exalted and their world, read on!
The World of Exalted
Exalted is set during the Age of Sorrows, also known as the Second Age of Man—a time long before recorded history. Once, long ago, in a time almost forgotten by the inhabitants of the Age of Sorrows, there was a great and glorious First Age, vast and splendid beyond reckoning. In that time the mightiest of the Exalted, those blessed by the Unconquered Sun, ruled over a world-spanning empire and a host of their fellow Chosen. The world belonged to the Solar Exalted by right of conquest, for they had used their divine might to rise up against those wicked Ancients who made the gods and forged Creation, and deposed them and bound them away forever.
However, it came about that the Solar Exalted were in turn betrayed and deposed themselves, bound away into the darkness of death by their Exalted advisors and soldiers. Rule of Creation passed into the hands of a vast dynasty of elementally-powered Exalted known as the Dragon-Blooded. After many wars and a great plague wiped away most of what the Solars had built, one Dragon-Blooded officer stepped forward, tamed the age of strife into which she had been born, and claimed rulership over the world. That woman is known as the Scarlet Empress, and the Realm she raised up stands astride Creation as an unstoppable colossus.
However, the unassailable edifice of the Realm is beginning to fracture. Five years ago, the Scarlet Empress mysteriously vanished, leaving her dynasty to turn upon itself in bloody contest for her empty throne. Meanwhile, the Solar Exalted have reappeared in a world that has either forgotten them, or been taught to fear their return.
The Scope of Creation
Creation is the world and everything in it. It is bordered on its edges by elemental Poles which stabilize reality and suffuse Creation with their all-powerful energy.
The East, influenced by the Pole of Wood, is the breadbasket of Creation, a land of fertile hills, mighty rivers, and a dizzying array of powerful city-states united only by their opposition to the Realm; as one moves toward the world’s edge, thousands of miles of unbroken forests become mighty cathedrals of impossibly high trees in whose branches savage tribes live, never glimpsing the ground.
The South, influenced by the Pole of Fire, is a land of long summers and scorching winds. Mighty, wealthy trade cities decorate its coasts, while the Southern interior is dominated by a massive furnace desert, braced by arcs of volcanoes. Beyond the desert it becomes too hot for any but spirits and Exalts to venture, and the world eventually dissolves into the purity of flame.
The West, influenced by the Pole of Water, is a vast ocean dotted by distant island nations. The great nations of the West are so remote as to be legendary in the eyes of much of the rest of Creation, who know the West as a land of exotic customs and incredible wealth, of savage pirates and sacrifice-hungry volcano gods. In the utmost West the isles become fewer and stranger, until sea and sky become one.
The North, influenced by the Pole of Air, is a frigid and unwelcoming land of chill mountain winds and long, dark winters. Its people are proud and clannish, raising high stone walls to keep the dead and the Winter Folk at bay, or moving with the migrations of vast herds of elk, caribou, or mammoths. Farther North lie the lands where winter never ends and the land is forever clasped by snow and ice, hiding lost and frozen First Age cities and the gleaming palaces of soul-hungry faeries.
At the center of the world is the Blessed Isle, an enormous continent surrounding the unimaginably huge Imperial Mountain, also known as the Pole of Earth. The Blessed Isle is the heartland of the Realm, a vast Dragon-Blooded empire which subjugates the other Directions and grows fat off their tribute. The Blessed Isle was once the safest and most stable of all the lands of Creation, but is now riven with strife. In the cities the scions of the Great Houses accelerate their intrigues and assassinations, and in the hinterlands there are rumors that troops have already begun to mobilize. Civil war looms over the homeland of the Realm.
The greatest men and women of Creation are those divinely blessed heroes known as the Exalted. Most of the Exalted are inheritors of the power of ancient, deceased heroes, passed on from incarnation to incarnation in an unbroken chain dating back to the First Age of Man. The mightiest among these are known as the Solar Exalted, Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, Lord of Heaven and first among the gods. The Solar Exalted are playable with the main Exalted rule book.
Solars are individuals of unbound excellence and holy might, capable of impossible deeds. Players may create characters of one of five Solar Castes:
• The Dawn Caste are warriors and generals without peer, the greatest fighters Creation has ever known.
• The Zenith Caste are priests and holy men, living exemplars of righteousness and strength.
• The Twilight Caste are savants and sorcerers, bringing the light of discovery into a benighted age.
• The Night Caste are the hidden hand of justice, spies and assassins wise in the ways of the wicked.
• The Eclipse Caste are ambassadors and conciliators, able to walk through the courts of kings and the halls of the dead to forge harmonious accords.
Creation also hosts a number of other prominent Exalted who may be allies or enemies to the Solar Exalted. These other Chosen will become playable in future supplements:
• The Dragon-Blooded have the power of the five elements running in their veins. They pass the power of Exaltation to their children rather than through reincarnation, and rule the world in a vast dynasty. They are the weakest but by far the most numerous of the Exalted.
• The Lunar Exalted are the Chosen of Luna, goddess of the moon. Talented warriors, mystics, and shapeshifters, the Lunar Exalted were once the guardians of the First Age. Since its fall, they have been locked in bitter warfare with the Realm of the Dragon-Blooded.
• The Sidereal Exalted are the Chosen of the five Maidens of Destiny. They are star-gazing seers and prophets, and masters of the martial arts. It was due to the omens and plans of the Sidereals that the Solars were originally betrayed and the First Age cast down; some among their ranks have come to regret that betrayal, and now attempt to assist the return of the Solars.
• The Abyssal Exalted are a new and terrible force unleashed upon Creation. Pale and beautiful and deadly, these deathknights ride forth from the Underworld bearing ornate armor and relic blades. Some reap a great slaughter among the living, while others only speak of the hallowed joys of death. These unearthly warrior-poets bear blackened markings identical to those associated with the Solar Exalted.
• 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.
And rumors say that there are still stranger or more reclusive Chosen yet abroad in the world in addition to these…
Still want to know more? For a vibrant example of the world of Creation, read on! The story below originally appeared in the first edition of the Exalted core rulebook: