Have you heard of Exalted? It’s a game that was created by White Wolf. Ostensibly the First Edition was a prequel to the World of Darkness. There were some basic similarities to the World of Darkness and the meta-plot that was created to explain that world’s origins. However, the world of Exalted was slowly separated from the World of Darkness over its 3 editions. The reasons for this are multi-faceted. For one, the world of Exalted is High Fantasy, not of the D&D style, but of the Anime and Manga style. If you are interested, check out Exalted 3rd edition, it’s only been out a few months, and the core book is HUGE, providing you a ton of tools to run games in the Second Age of Man.
1) War Rules:
There are at least 100 things I’d like to start this article with, but this is something slightly odd for an RPG. I know of only a few games that have detailed rules for running army size battles. One is Birthright, one of my favorite settings for Dungeons and Dragons. The other, is Exalted. The army rules for Exalted are detailed, allowing heroes to take on Dynasty Warrior style combat or allowing players to become great general themselves.
2) Solars, Dragon-Blooded, Lunars, Oh My:
There are multiple types of Exalted. Exalted is the general term for the various super powered beings in the game. The core rules give you the tools to play Solars, the previous lords of Creation who are starting to be reincarnated. The Dragon-Blooded are the default Exalted that support the government of Creation, the Scarlet Empire. Lunars are shape-changers who are touched by the Wyld from having lived on the edges of Creation. Oh, also, the Fair-Folk or Rakshas are Wyld beings that are doing their best to destroy Creation itself, to drag everything back into the proto-beginnings of the world. The core rules focus on the Solar Exalted, but with 3 editions there are rules that allow you to play any of the various Exalted, including the Abyssals, Sidereals, and the Autochtonians/Alchemical Exalted.
Creation is a world that is at least twice the size of our world and it exists on a flat plane. There is no globe to travel upon, if you go too far toward one of the poles of Creation you’ll face only the ever encroaching Wyld. That being said, Creation has everything. Do you want to run high-seas adventures that remind you of Legend of Zelda: Windwaker? You can do that. Do you want to play a game set in the great freezing north? Done. How about a high-powered social dynamic game in the heart of an imperial court? Yep. Creation has at least a dozen major locations detailed in the books, but the best thing is that there is so much space that you can create your own empires, kingdoms, or even small towns with ease.
4) Charms, Charms, and Charming Charms:
Charms are the power system for Exalted. Solars have a series of over-the-top Charms that allow them to take cinematic martial arts to the next level. All the various Exalted have Charms that reflect their powers. They also have cool anime style names, like: Trance of Unhesitating Speed, Mist on Water Attack, or Friendship with Animals Approach. Now, you don’t have to scream these out at the top of your lungs like some anime characters do… but why wouldn’t you? Charms have changed from edition to edition, but the rules provided allow you to create your own, or edit older charms to fit the newer editions.
So, if you are thinking about running your next fantasy campaign, think about using Exalted. The game is exciting, action orientated, and flexible. The combat system is deep and immersive, and though it can look daunting at first, it is a straight-forward system. Also, if you are ever planning on running a game that allows you to command an army, to rule a country, or to have the opportunity to conquer Creation you should look at Exalted.
With 17 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre’s and One World By Nights Vampire LARPs and is running both a Mage game and a Dark Ages: Vampire game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a recent graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.