shamelessly stolen from the WW website and Exalted wiki.
is a game of epic fantasy. In Exalted, your stories involve people who were heroic in their mortal lives, and were chosen by the one of the Celestial Incarna to channel Essence, rising above the greatest of men. This is a story-game of over-the-top action, world-shaping intrigue, and vast landscapes populated by exotic cultures. In this world, Exalts tower over mortals as larger-than-life heroes. Exalts may decimate armies, overthrow governments, create wonders surpassing anything Creation has ever seen…but darkness lives alongside this brilliance. The Great Curse of the Primordials eats at their reason, twisting their virtues and passions into excess and insanity. They struggle on to shape their world, either to save it from itself or one of the many horrors that lie beyond, or to bring Creation to a final cataclysm.
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.
At the dawn of the First Age, the gods gave power to men that they might slay the gods' Primordial enemies. Anointed by the gods, these beings were thereafter known as the Exalted.
The greatest of the Exalted were the Solars, the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, the mightiest of the gods. So great was their power that, when a Solar died, his power was quickly made manifest in a new individual - a reincarnation of sorts, but into a mature adult rather than a newborn.
The Exalted triumphed over the enemies of the gods, and in reward, the gods gave the Exalted dominion over the Earth. For a timeless age, the Exalted ruled justly over Creation, and their kingdom was invincible.
But the enemies of the gods had pronounced a terrible curse against the Exalted. This dark magic ate away at the hearts of the Chosen. The benevolence of the Solars turned to tyranny, and peace turned to civil war. It was prophesied that the madness of the Solars would bring about the destruction of the world. Seeing no other alternative, the lowliest of Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded, murdered the decadent Solar Exalted and locked their souls away.
And so, a Second Age descended upon Creation.
The greatest of the gods' servants no longer walked the earth, and the Realm of the Dragon-Blooded was but a shadow of the lost old Realm. Solar Exalted whose power escaped to be reborn were slain by Dragon-Blooded inquisitors known as the Wyld Hunt, and the Realm claimed dominion over Creation. For more than a thousand years the Solar Exalted remained imprisoned and defeated - until now.
The Scarlet Empress, the Dragon-Blooded ruler of the Realm and controller of the Wyld Hunt, vanished five years ago. Without her might to enforce order in the Realm, the Great Houses of her Scarlet Dynasty have fallen to squabbling over the reins of power. And in this time of crisis, the Solar Exalted have returned. It is as if a gate was opened and the heroes of old rushed through it and returned to the world.
Your character is among those individuals who have become Solar Exalted. You are a being of legend, as mighty as a demigod and as cunning as an asp. Will you be the savior of Creation or one of the terrible menaces that beset your world?
Can you say that again in english?
Alight, so you've got the fluff perspective of everything. But here's the deal. Many other games pretty much base character advancement around the fact that you start out as a low-level punk who can barely tell his ass from a hole in the ground. In Exalted, you pretty much start off at the upper end of this scale, depending on the type of exalted. But, in any given case, a person who recieves an exaltation was by all accounts a badass to begin with.
At the start, you have the ability to be an absolutely badass swordsman who's unmatched in single combat, or the ability to move nations and armies by the force of your personality. You are, in essence, a demigod, you are the Hercules, the Gilgamesh, the Cu Chulain of this world.
TYPES OF EXALTED
Each of the Exalted types has one area that stands out as their own speciality. The Solars is perfection. They are the best at everything, specialist generalists, if you will. Solars have the highest cap for charms which add dice to their pools. They also have the largest number of Perfect effects and unlike the other Exalted, Solars have easy access to them. They can also create custom charms with Perfect effects, if they wish to spend the time and experience to develop them. They have access to the most powerful Sorcery too, the spells of the Solar Circle, magic on a truly epic scale, from destroying an entire city, to a single phrase so powerful and spiteful; it damages the very soul of the individual it is directed at.
Why wouldn't you want to play a Solar Exalted
game? Why wouldn't you want to play in a game where you are the reborn god-king of a lost age of wonder, chosen by the greatest of Gods to be his champion? Why wouldn't you want to play a game where the main group of player characters could be Wayland Smith, Achilles, Jubei, Moses and Wong Fei Hung, except with more Kung Fu? Why wouldn't you want to play a game where you can play a hero of classical myth viewed through a Wuxia lens? A game where you can shake the foundations of the world or the pillars of heaven, where you can make a difference, a game where the Eldritch powers shrink back in fear of you for a change, because you are the champions of the Gods.
Every Solar was a mortal hero, now they are near immortal prodigies who may be the last chance for the world. They are the Golden Heroes upon whose shoulders the fate of the world lies. They fight the dark things which man fears to name, and they look good doing it.
The only catch is, the world fears their power, and the most powerful empire in creation thinks they are demons.
A small price to pay for the glory of the Unconquered Sun.
"Gothic Dance! Gothic Dance! Every-body gothic dance!"
The Abyssal Exalted, commonly referred to as Deathknights, are Exalted champions of the Deathlords and their Neverborn masters. They have only recently appeared, but they seem to be dark reflections of the returned Solar Exalted, with dark mockeries of the Solars' Caste Marks, Animas and even Charms.
The Abyssal exaltations are created from Solar Shards stolen by the Deathlords and tainted with the essence of the void, and fused with dying mortals.Continuing an existence frozen on the brink of death, the Abyssals must feed on blood or raw flesh to recover their strength in the land of the living. As part of the transformation from dying mortal to Chosen of the Neverborn, each Abyssal must cast their names into the void, deep within the heart of the Labyrinth, and give up all names except obvious aliases. Instead, Abyssal Exalts use baroque titles to identify themselves.
Most servants of the Neverborn strive for the eradication of all life, whether out of a twisted sense of mercy ("Oblivion will ease the pain of living") or hatred ("Damn them all") or simple nihilism ("I never had this much fun when I was still amongst the living"). Others become ambassadors from the world of the dead to the lands of the living. Only a few rebel and become Rogue Abyssals, horrified by what they've become.
The Abyssal Great Curse is a palpable aura of the malice of the slain primordials, called Resonance. When an Abyssal Exalt acts in ways that displease the Neverborn or that individual Abyssal's Deathlord, or forsakes the path of the dead for that of the living, she accrues a trait, also called resonance. Resonance scourges the world with the dark miracles the Abyssal exalt is chosen to deliver but refuses, and their unseemly and dangerous nature typically serves to alienate the Exalt from the creation they are called to destroy. The more an Abyssal disobeys the will of the Neverborn, the stronger the aura of menace becomes, and the black miracles can climb to extraordinary levels of power and consequence.
"In the name of the moon, I punish you!"
These mighty savages are the champions of Luna. The Lunars were once the mates of the Solar Exalted, as well as their bodyguards and commanders of their armies. The Lunar Exalts either fled to the hinterlands of the Threshold after the Usurpation or died alongside their mates in futile battle. Today, most of these shapeshifting warriors live as barbarians, blaming the downfall of the Solars (and even their inability to save them) on civilization's softening effects.
The Lunar Exalted are the Chosen of Luna and are the most chaotic and savage of the Exalted. In the First Age the cunning shapeshifters were skilled fighters and capable generals who were commonly bonded in wedlock to the Solar Exalted. Those that did not die with their Solar mates fled to the edges of Creation.
At the borders of Creation, and in the chaos of the Wyld, over the intervening centuries they have been changed - sometimes physically even, but mostly socially and psychologically. Shunning civilization they live a number of lives. Some have birthed whole tribes of animal-human hybrid barbarians while others live in deep seclusion in their hard to reach wilderness territories and others have abandoned their humanity to live as wild animals though the use of their shapeshifting powers.
Now Solar Exalted are returning, the Dragon-blooded's Scarlet Dynasty is teetering and possibly on the verge of collapse, the Wyld is encroaching further into Creation carrying with it manifestations of the Fair Folk and there is a new (and deadly) threat found in the Deathlords, the lunars may return to a world that has changed as much as they have.
Culturally, the lunars have developed a tribal hierarchy and ritualistically protect themselves from the warping effects of the Wyld with various charms and tattoos that serve as additional marks of their difference from the rest of humanity. Additionally, beyond 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.
"Just according to Keikaku*."
*Keikaku means "plan"
The Sidereals are the champions of the Five Maidens and the keepers of Fate. The Chosen of the Maidens are the savants and astrologers of the Exalted, as well as matchless martial artists. It was the Great Prophecy of the Sidereals that led to the murder and usurpation of the Solar Exalted, and the Sidereals have lurked in the shadows since then, manipulating the course of not only the Realm, but Creation as a whole.
The entirety of the Sidereals is often called the Five Score Fellowship in reference to their numbers, with 20 Exalted for each Maiden.
The Sidereal Exalted are the secret masters of Creation; while considered Anathema by the Dragon-Blooded, Sidereals maintain many tentacles throughout the Realm, particularly through the Immaculate Order which they created and still directly control. Some Dynasts, particularly Mnemon, some higher ups in the order and the Thousand Scales and Imperial Eye, as well as members of house Iselsi are aware of the Sidereals and their control, but are not able to do anything because destroying the Sidereals would involve exposing their control of the Order and tear the Realm apart. This is not to say that the Sidereals are universally hated by those who know about them; many senior Dynasts recognize that Sidereal control has helped support the Realm, leading to something of a Mexican Standoff between both sides.
Sidereals are the most highly managed of all the Exalted; where the Dragon-Blooded have some control and use the Dynastic system to ensure that the majority of Terrestrials Exalt within a well-established web of obligations, they still have failures, Outcastes and dropouts. Conversely, the Sidereals know who will Exalt the moment they are born, and watch the prospect from their birth until the moment of Exaltation. These young Exalted are then trained for their bureaucratic position, given a job and work from there. Sidereals are sufficiently rare that they generally all at least vaguely aware of where each other are and what they are doing. It is almost impossible for a Sidereal to escape his destiny, and the rules strongly discourage Storytellers from allowing Sidereals to go rogue.
The emphasis on their duty and responsibilities also means that Sidereals view many conflicts from a different perspective than other Exalted. Most notably, while the Sidereals do have two factions - The Bronze Faction, which endorses the Dynasty and the Great Prophecy, and the Gold Faction, which supports the return of the Solars, the Sidereals treat this conflict in a much more low key fashion than outsiders would suppose. Neither faction is particularly benevolent towards their charges, but is instead seeking the best group to manipulate in order to keep Creation running smoothly, and Bronze and Gold Sidereals regularly work together. The Bronze faction, however, controls most of the major levers in Heaven, however, and has instituted an unofficial glass ceiling which impacts Gold paychecks and promotions.
"By your powers combined, I AM CAPTAIN PLANET!"
The original Terrestrial Exalted were chosen by one of the Five Elemental Dragons. In terms of raw power, the Dragon-Blooded are clearly the weakest of the five types of Exalted, but they compensate for their individual shortcomings with coordinated teamwork and sheer numbers (the Dragon-Blooded are the only Exalted type who are able to increase their numbers by breeding, and Dragon-Blooded nobility are expected to breed like rabbits; consequently, there are something like 10,000 Dragon-Blooded scattered across Creation, as opposed to approximately 150 Solars, 100 Abyssals, and 100 Sidereals).
During the First Age, the Exalted ruled an empire of unparalleled beauty. The three types of Celestial Exalted - the Solar Exalted, the Lunar Exalted and Sidereal Exalted - formed the upper ranks, while the Terrestrial Exalted were their loyal servants. But the Solars grew arrogant, and the Sidereal and Terrestrial Exalted schemed to overthrow them. After the Solars were slain, the myriad enemies of Creation attacked, and the world would have been destroyed had not a Dragon-Blooded officer not managed to puzzle out the secrets of the Imperial Manse and repel the invasion.
This woman would become known as the Scarlet Empress, and would rule the world from the Blessed Isle, a 4,400 mile-long continent, for seven centuries. Toward the end of the Second Age, she inexplicably vanished. Now, with her children fighting for her throne, the enemies of Creation have returned, along with the Solars.
Despite their relative weakness, the dragon-blooded have the easiest access to artifacts save possibly for the Sidereals. A given sworn brotherhood of terrestrials may have suits of first-age powered armor or other powerful weapons.