The Sidereal Charm Generalized Ammunition Technique lets them transform any object the size of their forearm and no heavier than their fist into arrows of any type. These objects need not be physical. Some examples given include shooting people with sand, fish, or even using the charm to shoot words near people as a way of sending a message.
There's also another Sidereal archery charm ("Many Missiles Bow Technique") that does the reverse, turning your arrows into various objects and concepts. Suggestions given in the book include boulders, wheat, love, rain, and health.
The majority of firearms in the setting shoot jets of fire, instead of bullets. Instead of man made gunpowder, they use firedust - explosive sand blown in from the Wyld in the southern deserts.
Only in later books were guns shooting actual bullets introduced. And even the 'actual bullet' gun is actually a miniature handheld gun-shaped temple to the Unconquered Sun that shoots magic gold bullets propelled by prayers.
Later still, it finally gets to normal firearms in the Modern setting in Shards of the Exalted Dream. Even then, Sidereals have a Charm that allows them to shoot nothing. As in, they can literally point their fingers at someone, say "bang", and kill them.
Action Girl: Any female Exalt, really. Well, except for Brigid, who was known to be frail and unreliable... until she single-handedly invented Sorcery and changed the face of the world forever.
Adventure Archaeologist: The Second Age is littered with the ruins, and sometimes the incalculably valuable/dangerous artifacts/superweapons/Lost Technology, of the First Age, so of course people are always trying to dig them up. In the Scavenger Lands, being a "Scavenger Lord" (as such folks are called) is a dangerous but well-respected career. Of course, said ruins may be inhabited by ghosts, Fair Folk, bound demon guardians, Wyld-mutated monsters, mindless non-sentient Dragon King children, and/or cannibalistic ape-men — not to mention the dangers of traps, broken manses, uncapped demesnes, Wyld zones, and the artifacts and superweapons themselves — so a Scavenger Lord needs to be Badass. Digging up, using, and/or selling the ancient artifacts of insane god-kings that nobody alive today knows how to use safely may not exactly be ethical, but it can bring big bucks on the market.
Alternative Calendar: A 420 day year divided into five elemental seasons, each of which is divided into three 28 day months, each of which is divided into four seven day weeks with days named after the Incarna and arranged like the days of the seven day Julian Calendar week. Then there is Calibration, 5 days which aren't part of any week, month, season or year, and is considered unlucky (and rightly so, among other things, it's the time of the year when it's easiest for demons to escape Malfeas). A day in Creation is 25 hours long instead of 24.
Also, people live proportionally longer in Creation. The assumption of the setting is "a year is a year" with regard to age; that is to say, a 16-year-old in Creation is not physically 20, but actually 16. Yes, the additional 55 days don't have any more effect; they're just there to make the calendar look nice and pretty.
After the End: Exalted features three of these. In the aftermath of the Primordial War, one of the titans destroyed almost all of reality itself in a final act of spite. This was followed by the Usurpation, in which the Dragon-Blooded massacred the Solars, consequentially destroying all the wonders that required Solar magic to maintain and reducing Creation from a modern utopia to a medieval dark age. And even worse was the end of the Shogunate, in which the Deathlords released a super-plague that killed nine people out of ten and the Fair Folk unmade most (i.e., estimates range from three-quarters to nine tenths) of Creation in the aftermath.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Whenever She Who Lives In Her Name or Infernals with her Charms give it a roll, they decide how the dice land.
On the positive side, I AM (the First Age's sentient Internet-equivalent) was generally pretty benign (even going out of its way to befriend the socially awkward and lonely).
In Autochthonia, AIs are widespread and generally benign... Unless Gremlin Syndrome gets them, and then it gets messy with murders.
Alien Geometries: The Wyld, Malfeas, the blight zones of Autochthon, and the Labyrinth.
Always Chaotic Evil: Usually averted, and justified where it's played straight — Demons, for example, are not really that different from gods psychologically (which can still make them pretty alien), but literally live in a reality that's either actively or passively attempting to kill them at all times, and have it repeatedly ground into them that disobedience means worse than that. They live under a set of absolutely inviolable laws, imposed unilaterally by reality itself directly upon them, which structure their lives such that they understand that they are nothing but the possessions of their betters, and that they can and will definitely very soon be discarded and killed by the same. They are culturally afraid of love, since long and painful experience has taught them that love of anything but the self is unnecessary torture, and fealty to anything but the world they live in is death. Those who do build up the confidence to defy the Yozis (vanishingly rare) and survive (somewhere in the vicinity of one-ish) have occasionally been remade into gods so that their ex-masters can't use them as People Puppets. Finally, they are made to know that if they are not discarded and killed by their betters, they will either be killed in a meaningless catalcysm that they could not possibly have escaped, or they will die by their own incompetence while trying to benefit themselves at the expense of their cohorts, which turns out to be the only reasonable chance that any of them have of ever suffering less.
The Brides of Ahlat, the God of War and Cattle. As the name suggests, he doesn't tolerate hetero relationships until they've retired (homosexual relations are fair game, though).
The Tya, sailors who have undergone a ritual that protects them from the spite of the stormmothers so long as they act like men. Hetero relationships are tolerated, although the process mystically sterilizes them.
Human souls are divided into the hun, or higher soul, and po, or lower soul. The hun is the seat of willpower, intelligence, memory, creativity, and reasonable emotions, while the po is the seat of impulses, instincts, passions, and is the connection between the hun and the body. note Think of the hun as the conscious mind, and the po as the unconscious.
Exalts of all stripes have a third part to their souls, the Exaltation itself.
Things get more complicated and abstract when you realise some beings have more than one complete soul. The Primordial-deities that created the world, for instance, have hundreds of souls each (called Devas or Demons) arranged in a descending hierarchy, with a handful of higher (Third Circle) souls, all of which are both part of the larger person and their own separate individual and each have seven lower (Second Circle) souls, all of which are simultaneously part of the Third Circle soul, part of the whole Primordial, and their own person. They're all components of the extended personality and psyche of the single Primordial.
Furthermore, some beings don't even have a soul — the Fair Folk, for instance, have no soul, but cobble together a passable imitation of one so they can mess with humans' heads.
And I Must Scream: Why the Neverborn want to end existence. The Solars killed the Primordials, but reality wasn't built to handle that, so the reincarnation system broke, and the Underworld came into being, where the Neverborn suffer in constant agony they can't wake up from.
And Now You Must Marry Me: Exquisite Bride Obsession (the name of one of the Acts of Villainy which Infernal exalts can use to reduce their Limit) was originally suggested as the title for this trope.
Animal-Themed Superbeing: Lunars, of course, have Animal Abilities (they can use All Animal Abilities via shapeshifting, but each have one animal they're particularly focused on.) Many other Exalted, especially some Solars, have an Animal Alias and an Animal Battle Aura, like Panther, Swan, or the Bull of the North.
Anti Anti Christ: Green Sun Princes were created to take the world back for the broken titans who made it. Abyssals were brought into being to take everything else out of it. Both are completely and—albeit more via Word of God in the case of the former—explicitly capable of deciding to take arms against their former patrons and defend the world from those who would defile or destroy it.
Anti-Villain: In a world where everyone is a bad guy to someone, everyone's an Anti-Villain... Except the Ebon Dragon, who is the concept of treachery and dickery. The Ebon Dragon even betrays himself by not betraying people occasionally, and just as often betrays himself by betraying his allies (or his own component souls, or gets betrayed by them...) when it would be better for him to honor his end of the deal.
Apocalypse How: All over the place. Some of the lower levels have already happened, and the world has recovered, although a little worse for wear.
For example, the Three Spheres Cataclysm was an apocalyptic event of unknown extent that made about 90% of the world Ret Gone, to the point that even witnesses have no clue what was erased, although it is known that what was destroyed was not merely physical geography (most of which was destroyed as well), but also concepts and aspects of reality. Species extinctions and civilization collapses have happened repeatedly both before and since.
On the other hand, the Abyssal Exaltedwere created to bring about a Class Z, permanently ending everything that has ever existed; The Fair Folk who want Creation re-absorbed into the Wyld are "only" trying to bring about something somewhere between Class X4 and Class X5, depending on whether the Wyld itself counts as a separate universe.
Arc Number: The number five pops up every so often.
Art Shift: The quality of the illustrations in the 1st Edition Core book varies wildly. Some of them are decent, some not so much, while still others may have you asking yourself whether the artist was actually paid to make it.
Artistic License - Chemistry: The magical material of the Dragon-Blooded is Jade (known in the real world as a form of nephrite). It displays several different colors: 5 normal forms, one being for each element; and a rare form that allows creation of artifacts without Essence attunement. However, the jade of Exalted is not the jade of the real world, judging from the descriptions of how and where it forms: not to mention the fact that it can be alloyed with steel. It just happens to share the same name, presumably as a reference to Chinese mythology and folklore, in which jade has various magical properties. All six different jade colors exist in real life jade, though only green, white, and red jade are common.
Ass Pull: invoked An Infernal charm that Cecelyne teaches allows its user to make up a new law on the spot. That law is used to supernaturally defend against mental attacks by making those attacks illegal according to the authority of Hell. The law can be total bullshit, though the user can't make a law that would put the weak above the strong.
Atlantis: Pretty much the entirety of the First Age, including both a literal sunken city and two entire sunken sub-continents.
The Atoner: The Redemption route for Abyssals pretty much requires this. And between fighting off Resonance, rebelling against your Deathlord, and coming around to accept that perhaps you should have accepted death rather than power, it won't be easy.
Asskicking Equals Authority: All the Exalted can qualify to an extent: even when they have laws and mandates declaring their power, it ultimately comes down to their having had the brute force to overthrow the Yozis.
Death combos and secret techniques can be amazingly powerful, flashy, and over-the-top, but they still fail against basic Exalted perfect defenses.
Form charms, which form the centerpiece of supernatural martial arts, give hefty benefits for a whole scene, but add an extra surcharge if comboed with the setting's most powerful defense charms, meaning they leave the user vulnerable for the ticks they take to activate. And, if you're thinking to activate them BEFORE combat and just leave them activated for the scene, a lot of them are Obvious (a keyword that means everyone knows you're doing something supernatural and roughly what it does): so people will immediately know you're spoiling for a fight.
Background Magic Field / Mana / Minovsky Physics: Essence. Absolutely everything supernatural in the setting either is Essence, has something to do with it, or can manipulate it. Metaphysically speaking, everything in Exalted is made up of patterns of Essence, and supernatural power is known as Essence use, referring simply to the ability to gather and manipulate more Essence than is required for your pattern to perpetuate itself. Having an Awakened Essence comes when you suddenly realise, consciously, that you can do this (as opposed to just doing it unconsciously or automatically, which sometimes happens).
Badass: The world of Creation is practically brimming with them.
Badass Longcoat: Justified for those who want one. There is a type of light armor called a buff jacket, which basically looks like a thick leather trenchcoat.
Badass Normal: Heroic Mortals without awakened Essence or freaky mutations are this, though they can't become as Badass as Exalts. The supplement Masters of Jade details how an organization composed primarily of non-enhanced mortals copes — and even thrives! — in its dealings not just with the Exalted, but with gods, the Raksha, the demons of Malfeas, and even their opposite number in the land of the dead.
The Brides of Ahlat and Legion of Silence are especially impressive as some of the most hardass mortal fighters in the setting. One recent 3rd edition mass combat playtest apparently had a single Legionnaire trounce a hundred bandits at once.
The same goes for the Tiger Warriors, trained through mid-level solar War charms. They are natural soldiers trained to perfection through supernatural means.
Some Yozi and Abyssal charms have this as a drawback, especially Ebon Dragon charms.
Bad Powers, Good People: Infernal charms tend to have extremely nasty trappings, but while the fluff frequently provides villainous examples of their use, relatively few of the powers are actually inherently malignant—at least, compared to the rest of the Exalted—and can often be used however theInfernalsees fit. Combined with the fact that nothing forces an Infernal to be a world-killing monstrosity, this trope is inevitable.
Thanks to the Yozis' incompetence when it comes to long-term planning, every Green Sun Prince is actually a nascent Primordial 2.0. One wonders how priceless the look on the Ebon Dragon's face will be.
The Abyssals are this to the Deathlords, the corrupted ghosts of thirteen dead Solars who rule the Underworld on behalf of the Neverborn. The Abyssals have the potential to become even more powerful than their Deathlord patrons and can forge a bond directly with the Neverborn, pretty much making the Deathlords obsolete.
Battle Aura: The anima banner, a battle aura possessed by all Exalts.
The Sidereals do this by cheating reality. To elaborate, a Solar might be able to jump five miles, while a Sidereal might pickpocket the dreams out of your head.
Killing the Primordials was so damn impossible that it created the Neverborn and The Underworld as a result.
Merela strangled one of them to death with her bare hands. Primordials don't need to breathe.
Thousand Faceted Nelumbo wants to master Sidereal martial arts. She knows this is supposed to be impossible, canon says it's impossible and the default assumption is that she will fail. On the other hand, Exalted are known for doing the impossible.
It is a recurrent theme of the setting. The Exalted were created to achieve something impossible (slaying the Primordials). They keep pushing back the limits of what is possible. To even become a Solar Exalted, you have to attempt something impossible and succeed.
Big Damn Heroes: The Exalted exist for this precise purpose - Creation was going down the pan, and the Exalted were created to save them in the nick of time.
Bigger Bad: The Neverborn take this role to the Deathlords; they're the dead Eldritch Abominations whose very existence empowers the Underworld, but they don't actually do anything except whisper insanely in the dreams of those who've touched the Labyrinth (though their whispers will fuck you up). At the dawn of the First Age, the armies of the Exalted, who had just finished killing them, had to travel to the Underworld to use sorcery to sedate them and render them into comas because their mindless, insensate "rage" was causing existence-sundering, world-cataclysmicannihilationnote of the class Z-3 variety. That, and they're still basically holding open the Mouth of the Void as a result.
Bilingual Bonus / Meaningful Name: One of the Dynastic Houses, Peleps, has a household of privateers named Kaizoku, which is Japanese for "Pirate". Fits in a bit of Fridge Logic in that while the whole Scarlet Empire is Asian-themed, that's the only example of this.
Bishōnen: Captain Moray Darktide and Swan are just two of many, many canonical examples.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: Sidereal Firearms, thy name is this trope. It has one that allows you to shoot bullets through multiple targets, and another that allows you to guarantee hitting someone so long as you're not overly concerned about who.
Heroic Abyssals and Infernals, the latter significantly less so than the former.
Sidereals, while not having it even half as bad as Abyssals, also have a certain component of this. You have been blessed with the power of the gods, and the best paid job in the universe! Also, you have lost all your previous life because everyone forgets you even as you're in the room (including your own family), most people you work with except your fellow Exalts hate your guts and will do their damnedest to make you feel like Dilbert, the paperwork is hard enough that your inbox counts as a behemoth, and the job is 25/7 forever, with no retirement plan other than a messy death. And you can't ever fail or deviate from the plan or the world starts glitching. Good luck! And that's not even half as raw a deal as Abyssals get.
Bloody Murder: The Abyssal Exalted can do this with their own magic, and certain spells or martial arts styles do so as well.
Blue and Orange Morality: Most of the Yozis fit this to some degree. They operate off the same four virtues as most other sentient life, but they interpret these on a radically different level. Adorjan almost certainly has high Compassion. She just expresses her love for you by enlightening you, via your own torture and murder. The Principle of Hierarchy, on the other hand, is completely incapable of applying Compassion to help a single person if it conflicts with The Needs of the Many.
Except for the Ebon Dragon. His charms don't change his perspective on the nature of virtues, just permanently weaken them to free him from petty morality. At least, he might tell you that; in reality he's just kind of a dick.
There're also the "Casteless" Lunars, who are more suceptible to the Wyld energies than mortals and can turn into insane monstrosities called Chimera.
However, the crown must go to Voidtech: it's so messed up it even freaks out the Yozi, and they're the ones who came up with the phylactery-womb. To clarify: Voidtech is a kind of uber-powerful charm set you can give to your Alchemical Exalted (or even to normal humans). However, "installing" voidtech modifications will eventually cause you to develop Dissonance, which turns you into a sadistic psychopath that destroys everything around you. Even if that weren't bad enough, Voidtech modifications look disturbing: hell, one of them causes you to grow a giant mechanical tumor inside of your body.
Body to Jewel: The artifact named the Eye of Autochthon is this, maybe.
Excellencies. Yes, they do nothing more than add dice, and may be the most flair-lacking thing in the whole book: you just shine a little and do things better. They are also the ones you'll most likely be using the most and tend to be very efficient, Essence-wise.
Perfect defenses, to the point of breaking the game prior to the latest Errata; if you did not have and regularly use a perfect defense, you died horribly, but doing so was cheap and easy. They've grown a bit more expensive to use and less necessary due to reductions in the game's level of lethality, but they're still a fundamental power for plenty of players.
Breakout Character: The Alchemicals. They started out as a single adventure seed, and the fanbase promptly fell in love with them, culminating in them becoming a full-fledged playable splat.
The Broken-Winged Crane, notably, is a demonological grimoire of infernal sorcery and metaphysical prophecy that tends to drive both readers and scribes who copy it insane; those who aren't driven insane, and who have the background to understand it at all, find that its most promising incantations instruct the scholar in how to successfully enslave themselves to the will of the Yozis. It's also a Sourcebook for Infernals.
Flawless Brush Discipline makes a Solar's handwriting so beautiful that those who read it will fall in love with the writer.
Renegade Abyssals tend to do the same thing, although it's less "because I'm badass" and more "because if I don't EVERYONE HERE DIES".
Calling Your Attacks: The characters in the short comics between the chapters of each book do this with Charms and spells.
Came Back Wrong: If a Primordial's Fetich Soul is killed, it implodes and can't do anything until it redefines itself by spawning a new Fetich. This process changes the Primordial's identity, theme and powers. Certain among the Yozis (Notably Malfeas, Sacheverell, Adorjan, and Elloge), are defined by having already been through this.
What we hear of the Liminals subverts this: The Chernozem come to be when someone attempts to raise the dead. Although nothing can truly accomplish this, something responds, and the body rises. They definitely are not the person who died, and they possess strange powers, but they are not in any way inherently wicked.
According to the Dev Diaries, the Locust War chapter of Autochthonians has been fed into a wood chipper for being toxic to the setting. (Although it was never canonical metaplot, but rather an adventure option.) This includes both events occurring in the adventure (Which had the Autochthonian invaders juggling the Idiot and Villain Balls only to be shuffled off so the forces of a nearby Deathlord could take over the role of Big Bad) and certain hated setting elements introduced in the chapter (such as blacktog).
The writers of the first three chapters of Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals were under the impression that they were supposed to be the "pure supervillain" splat. The current batch of writers have gone on to say that they ignore that bit completely, and in particular the part about mortal Akuma (Word of God says that only an Exalt can become one, with the mortals becoming Yozi-Kin Demon-Bloods instead).
His Divine Lunar Presence, from the Heaven's Reach Shard, looks to be making the leap to canon Creation with 3e.
Car Fu: Drive Charms from Shards of the Exalted Dream. Crashing Star Charge and its Abyssal equivalent Murder on Wheels are the most obvious, since they permit you to enhance a ramming attack with your supplemental attack-enhancing Charms. It's not cheap, but you don't want to be on the receiving end. The Abyssal Road-Clearing Sideswipe is also something you don't want to come up against.
Celestial Bureaucracy: Yu-Shan (Heaven) is run by this. And it's filled to the brim with the divine equivalent of Corrupt Corporate Executives. Unlike many versions of the trope, this one doesn't involve the afterlife, though it does handle reincarnation.
Chainsaw Good: Chainklaves are, as the name suggests, chainsaw daiklaves. The Alchemicals have the Gyroscopic Chakram, which is for all intents and purposes a chainsaw frisbee. And then a canonical version of the chainklave was implemented in Shards of the Exalted Dream under the name "autoklave".
Charles Atlas Superpower:Mortals are capable of seeking enlightenment, allowing them to cast sorcery, learn necromancy, or wield supernatural martial arts.
The Chessmaster: Most of the present-day Sidereals see being one as their job. They are pretty good at it, but not as good as they often think.
Chewbacca Defense: The Art of Relentless Persuasion ("Conviction Style") and The Art of Forceful Declaration ("Valor Style") are pretty much entirely composed of this, at least in their flavor text. Of note: Ceaseless Arguments and Driving the Point Home (repeating a point over and over), Ignoring Denials of Truth and Raging Repartee (not giving opponents a chance to talk), and Wielding One's Tongue (being accused of loving or hating X and having semantics and nitpicks about the debate, all in one charm!). For those who don't play Exalted, these are supernatural martial arts styles being discussed here, not social combat techniques. And now you have an idea of just how weird this setting is.
A more traditional example is the Sidereal charm Well-Schooled Pedant Defense, which allows you to ignore social influence from anyone who isn't as learned as you.
Constellations: The Sidereal Exalted are organized along the lines of the planets and stars. Their domains, one for of each of the Five Maidens, are composed of five constellations each, for a total of twenty-five different constellations in the Exalted night sky.
Contagious A.I.: "Hollow Mind Possession" allows Infernals to do this with the "material intelligences" that control certain manses. "Noumena-Seizing Assimilation" allows them to do it to any MI connected to the manse by dragon lines, as well as any devices hooked up to them...like, say, warstriders.
Contemptible Cover: The 1st Edition supplement Savant and Sorcerer, often referred to as the "Camel Toe Book" or "Sex and the Sorceress."
Continuity Reboot: 3e's Creation looks pretty different from 1e and 2e in geography and history, not least in that it's rather bigger and there are more types of Exalted around. Certain places and events remain much the same, but most anything else is up for grabs.
The Dirigible Engine Daystar is a battleship powerful and awesome and pimped-out beyond all comparison. It's also the sun.
In Shards of the Exalted Dream, you have the Gunstar Autochthonia, a world-ship built out of the body of a Primordial, big enough to host entire nations inside it, who upgrades by eating worlds, and is so huge it has never been entirely explored in the four-thousand-year-old exile of the Exalted host. Oh, and it's defended by squadrons of Voidfighters and transforming mechas, since it's still being improved upon, waiting for the time it can go back to turn the tables on the Primordials AND the Daystar at once. Yeah.
Corpse Land: The shadowlands, which are created whenever there's a massive act of slaughter in a concentrated area. They're half-open gates to the Underworld that open all the way when night falls, and are often populated by hungry ghosts and zombies.
The Corps Is Mother: The Cult of the Illuminated, set up to aid the returning Solars in reclaiming their old place in the world by the Sidereals of the Gold Faction, with full intent to ensure that they remain the powers behind the Solars' ridiculously shiny thrones.
The Corruption: The Yozis can transform Exalts into Akuma, granting them even greater cosmic power but turning them into meat-puppets without free will. Autochthon is infected with a bio-organic cancer that can corrupt Alchemicals or even other Exalts, allowing them to use powerful magic that drives them mad. And the Lunar Exalted can become Chimera, gaining great power and potentially immortality at the cost of their sanity.
Cosmic Horror Story: It looks bleak. The ghosts of dead titans are trying to drag all of Creation into Oblivion, the demonic creators of the universe want to reclaim rule of it, and the infinite armies of shapeless chaos want to dissolve all existence back into chaos. Of course, you're Exalted. You can solve all these problems by punching them in the face.
Create Your Own Villain: The Primordials made the Gods who made the Exalted. The Exalted made the Neverborn and the Yozi out of the Primordials. This is bad for everyone everywhere.
Critical Existence Failure: Infernals with the proper Malfeas charms can continue fighting with no penalties regardless of how badly wounded they are. The drawback being that, once the charm duration runs out, all the penalties come back in full force.
Damage Typing: Bashing damage for nonlethal wounds, Lethal damage for life-threatening wounds, and Aggravated damage for supernaturally deadly wounds.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Some magic requires that you sacrifice your life outright; others carry horrible penalties or costs. One of the most impressive has to be Untamed Apocalypse Shintai from Infernal Monster, which gives you considerable benefits at the expense of becoming a viciously sadistic and cunning murderous psychopath that exists at all times in a barely restrained state of berserk fury. (With some players, who'd know the difference?)
Dark Fantasy: Creation has pretty much been on a declining spiral since it was created, with one or two temporary exceptions. The Gods are corrupt, lazy, and/or addicted to games which are worse than crack, heroin, nicotine, and bacon combined. The world is threatened by no less than three sets of Eldritch Abominations, any of which would be happy to corrupt, unravel, or utterly destroy existence. The greatest weapons with the capability to fend off these enemies are humans stuffed with way more power than humanity was built to handle, suffering from a curse that causes them periodic psychotic breaks. The average mortal can expect either a long life of drudgery and toil or a short life of terror and pain. Oh, and those weapons? Two of the three sets of Abominations have their own versions working for them. Pretty much the only thing keeping the setting from being a Cosmic Horror Story is that the PC Exalted are fully able, if they act with wisdom, to actually confront and, potentially, solve the problems that face Creation.
There are heroic and villainous examples of every splat type in the game, as well as every shade of gray in between. Though most Abyssal Exalted are likely to seem rather evil to anyone who doesn't see death and oblivion as a desirable state. That said, the fate of an Abyssal is to destroy. They can not do anything else. However, they could 'destroy' things like corruption and slavery. All Exalted (excluding Akuma, who are essentially other Exalted that sold their souls) retain free will, though they sometimes face penalties for using it:
The Green Sun Princes, effectively "Exalted" of the Yozi, build up the ire of their patron Yozi if they defy their demonic Urges. If it gets too high, they undergo demonic torment, though they can appease their patron by acting like a sufficiently convincing B-movie supervillain.
The Abyssals are tainted with death and view things like graveyards and blood as comforting, but still have free will. If they act too human or do anything that creates life, though, they accumulate Resonance that eventually explodes outwards, causing things they like to die.
A more specific example is Five Days Darkness, the god of Calibration, a time each year when the sun does not shine for five days straight (quite possibly the only universal holiday in creation). He's considered a Creature of Darkness (usually reserved for enemies of Creation) because of his nature and the fact he is The Unconquered Sun's shadow, and can grant others power while making them creatures of darkness themselves... but despite all these evil-seeming powers and traits, he's probably the nicest god you could meet.
The Liminals are reanimated corpses with heavy Promethean influence, harvest corpses for spare parts, and are spawned from the mad experiments of desperate sorcerers...but serve as wardens on the line between life and death, and frequently work as warrior-exorcists and banes of potent necromantic monsters.
For Light Is Not Good: The First Age Solars managed a truly spectacular display. Bypassing the obvious (Desus), one semi-minor one was Admiral Arkadi... who was in the habit of raping his Dragon-Blooded subordinates and then using his Eclipse Caste powers to force them to keep it secret. (Really, the fact that Desus managed to be even worse than that is all you need to know about him.)
In more modern times, the Light side of the equation is played straight by Solar Akuma.
The Empyreal Chaos, in Shards, is described as a being of white fire, basically a living supernova, and was also a colossal tyrannical douche.
We'll leave it up to you to guess which type of Exalted can be a dark mirror of the traditional Messianic archetype. Handy hint: the Abyssals' signature martial arts style is called Dark Messiah Style...
Just about any Exalt can be this, of course. Saving Creation is by definition going to involve a ridiculously high body count.
Deliberately invoked in the case of the Yozi Cecelyne's Charms. As the supreme lawmaker and judge of demons, her powers are all based around building societies, which given her philosophy, are usually dystopic. Doesn't stop the redeemed Malefactor from happily using them to create something close to paradise (close, as being the Endless Desert, Cecelyne's charms tend to make, well, deserts).
The Dark Side: The Great Curse tends to cause this after a while, especially when using some of the Sidereal charms that rely on virtues or just Game Breaker charms like Zeal.
Decon-Recon Switch: Originally, in 1st Edition, Exalted was written as a deconstruction of many fantasy tropes; the Second Edition alternated primarily between playing them straight and Darker and Edgier.
Deadly Dodging: One of the nastier tricks Lunar, Sidereal, and Terrestrial Exalted can fall back on. In the short-lived '"Exalted'' comic book, it's how a Terrestrial Exalt got Demetheus, a Dawn Caste Solar, to kill his own circlemate, Kidale.
There are charms specifically intended to help with this. Eye and Seven Despairs does this as part of his Reunion Revenge plot, too.
The whole system Lunars use via Heart's Blood grants this, and they can even assume the person's strands of fate. Of course, later they can eventually do this without actually killing the person, but is still the primary method of acquiring new shapes.
Actually, for quite a few slain First Age Solars. Their ghosts found a war raging in the Underworld, with Oblivion on the verge of overrunning it entirely. So, they did what Solars do best.... kick ass and take names, this time with their heads cleared of the Great Curse and a driving need to atone. The vast majority of them passed through Lethe apologizing for their misdeeds. Some of the ones who didn't stuck around and became Deathlords.
There is at least one Solar ghost who stuck around: An Eclipse Solar's ghost saw the Underworld needing... some considerable unity. He founded the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin to address this. It's the Underworld answer to the Guild, but at least it keeps the stream of ghosts being enslaved and soulforged to tolerable levels.
Depending on the ending for your Return of the Scarlet Empress game, there are still some hanging around... waiting for a force of good to inspire them to their former level of heroism, which will lead in turn to the UCS returning his gaze unto them and giving his blessing to kick ass and chew bubblegum in the Underworld. Death may equal redemption, but as Return says, "it's not the end of ambition."
Depending on the Writer: The game's books are written by freelancers, who vary wildly both in quality and in their vision of the setting. Since writers are assigned work by chapter, this can even result in contradictions within the same book: something that's most obvious in Infernals, where the first two chapters portray a rather different vision of the Yozis and the Green SunPrinces compared to the rest of the book. This, combined with Unpleasable Fanbase, results in Broken Base.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Alternatives abound for the ranged-combat monkey who disdains bows. Firewands, concussive Essence cannons, alchemical-fire weapons (available in revolver and bazooka flavors!), prayer pieces...
This is also one of the reasons they were created. As mentioned under the Big Damn Heroes entry, Creation was going down the toilet; however, no one who had the power to harm the primordials could act against them. In fact, the only sentient beings who weren't bound not to attack the Primordials were humans, who couldn't harm them anyway. So the gods gave them the power to break the primodials in half. Cthulhu. Punched.
Dinosaurs Are Dragons: The Dragon Kings. Despite their name they actually are roughly human-sized sentient dinosaurs who wield Essence, wear armor, can learn to breathe magical fire, and occasionally wield flaming claw weapons and enormous crystal warclubs that project laser blades.
Dis Continuity Nod: Originally Exalted was intended to be the prehistory of of the Old World of Darkness. Despite them going away from this interpretation, the back cover still states that "science is a lie," implying that is written from the viewpoint of a Traditions Mage. There are still plenty of references to oWoD as well, the most obvious being Autochthon, the Ebon Dragon, and Scarlet Empress/Queen (to Mage and Kindred of the East respectively). Recently, they've also been sneaking in references to nWoD games such as Promethean (mortals who are capable of crafting Alchemical Exalted are known as demiurges) and Geist (Abyssals' "old laws" charms).
Divine Parentage: The God-Blooded. It doesn't get them as far as you'd think, compared to the Exalted. (Mind you, actually being a full-scale god usually doesn't get you as far as the Exalted, so this was perhaps inevitable.)
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Whether or not Exalted is still Old WoD's prehistory, the Lunars' "Thousand Streams River" project: grand-scale social engineering, aimed at creating societies that can survive and thrive without the need for Exalted leadership/control: can easily be interpreted, when viewed at a remove of hundreds of millennia, as the Impergium.
Double Entendre: Luna's stat block includes a ride specialty for Gaia. The Unconquered Sun has ride specialties for Greater Elemental Dragons, Jouten (Primordial bodies) and Luna, each of which could be Accidental Innuendo or Ship Tease.
Double Jump: One Alchemical charm lets an Exalt jump at any time — including while in midair.
The Dragon: Each Deathknight is effectively this to their Deathlord (a Circle of Deathknights can easily be a Quirky Miniboss Squad). But the Deathlords themselves fill the role for their Neverborn masters.
Drunken Master: Despite its name, Orgiastic Fugitive Style martial arts doesn't just cover sex. It also gives you bonuses for being drunk, stoned, or tripping on some heroin that was pissed out by a First Age dinosaur (preferably all three at once, with possibly a Blowjob thrown in for good measure).
The Yozis are each directly associated with a particular form of mental illness, too (e.g. Word of God says that Cecelyne is Borderline Personality Disorder, while Malfeas is a fairly obvious Maniac-Depressive, SWLiHN is Obsessive-Compulsive, the Ebon Dragon is a textbook sociopath, etc.)
Dystopia: Subverted with the Autocthonians. While Word of God admits that their general culture was based on 1984, with their caste system and unquestioning obediance to the state, they actually have less social problems than the Realm. Within a caste, an Autocthonian has the most prospect for upward mobility and personal freedom, and their worship of the state comes from the fact that their primary enemy is Voidtech. As a result, all rebellions could in fact, be inspired by Gremlin Syndrome, and thus really bad for reality at large.
The Primordials and their composite souls (each Primordial is composed of multiple souls, which are semi-independent beings embodying their attributes) were truly bizarre and abstract even before being killed or imprisoned. Their true, whole forms are more akin to architecture or geological features than beings. Among the most noteworthy physical descriptions of them are the Ebon Dragon (composed on the shadows of all things that have and will exist), and He Who Bleeds The Unknown Word, who rode into battle "Clad in armored scales composed of impenetrably thick prose, armed with fangs and claws dripping with satire upon wings of elegant poetry" (i.e. as a big dragon made of writing).
Oh yeah, and the Infernals are turning into them. Or worse.
Less obvious, as revealed in Glories of the Most High, are the Celestial Incarnae themselves.
The Unconquered Sun was created by passing the green fire of the Primordial King through the Primordial equivalent of the Big Bang until it was so pure that it embodied absolute purity and perfection.
Luna was created when Oramus, the Primordial that defines what is and is not real, took a bunch of his nightmares and forced them into a cannibalistic cage match until only one was left, and then released the winner — the ultimate seductress and predator and shapeshifter that could be conceived of between himself and the Primordial power of evolution — into reality to make sure Gaia didn't wander away.
And the Maidens of Fate... well, no one is quite sure where they came from. They just showed up while the Primordials were making Creation and started weaving Fate. Every Primordial assumes someone else will end up responsible for their creation (they recognize the Maidens as the result of something the Primordials have yet to do); it's more comfortable than thinking they just came from nowhere.
Energy Economy: Quintessence and Ambrosia, the currencies of Yu-Shan (Heaven), are formed from congealed prayer. Quintessence is made of prayers made to Yu-Shan in general, while Ambrosia comes from prayers directed to specific gods in particular. All gods are required to tithe 10% of their Ambrosia to the Unconquered Sun, which then redistributes it to small gods as part of a divine welfare program (no, seriously).
Enlightenment Superpower: An implicit aspect of Supernatural Martial Arts. On a more significant note, this is how the entirety of the Dragon King's Charm sets work. Their Splat book spells it out: while the Exalted and similar types learn their powers through training and experimenting, this does not generally include a growth of wisdom. The Dragon Kings, on the other hand, explicitly involve growing intellectually and often morally; their Charms are set into the Paths of Prehuman Mastery and arranged around elemental-themed philosophies. As a Dragon King learns these Charms (called Steps, as in 'steps on a Path), they interalize that Path's lessons and grows wiser with them. Compounding this nature is the fact that each Path has an associated Virtue, and can channel them to briefly use a Step just above the one of their current mastery, and it's noted that studying the appropiate paths tend to make thatVirtuemoreintense.
The Epic: Can be played this way, either personal for a Solar hero, national for the Lunars, or generational for the Dragon-Blooded.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: In the Age of Sorrows, Creation seems to be culturally stuck in the Middle Ages (either European or Asian, depending on the nation), but homosexuality and bisexuality are more or less accepted everywhere. The only culture in which they seem to present any kind of problem is the Scarlet Dynasty, in which they're considered perfectly acceptable (and sometimes even encouraged) as long as a Dynast's "dalliances" don't get in the way of the Super Breeding Program or the politically-motivated Arranged Marriages.
At least among the larger cultures. Many smaller countries have very drastically different opinions, and some have strict sexual mores. Chayan society rejects homosexuality and suspected homosexuals suffer pain and turmoil under their culture, since they normally don't desire anything and only reproduce as a side effect of the yearly frenzy.
Other locales have different taboos that appear nonsensical to outsiders or the modern world: Luthe's sharkmen are forbidden to interbreed with its octopusmen, but both are allowed to have children with its gilled humans, and none of the above would consider having children with a baseline human.
Even Evil Has Standards: The Yozi are the (still-living) former creators of the world, trapped inside their own bodies, filled with resentment at the world they created, and have done things like making an organ that makes beautiful music out of the screams of babies and virgin women. The Neverborn are the dead versions of the Yozi, who want to see nothing more than all of Creation thrown into Oblivion so that they can go along with the ride. Got that image in your head? Okay. Now understand that Voidtech and Gremlin Syndrome even scares them and you'll begin to understand how fucked up things are in Autochthonia.
Both averted. From what we see in the profiles of NPCs and signature characters, the world of Exalted seems to be a roughly even mix of straight, gay, and bi.
Everyone Is Bi is very common fanon, though. Although a decent number of canon characters are clearly not bisexual (interestingly, more are clearly gay than clearly straight), "everyone is bi in Exalted" is a commonly held belief.
Once Charms get involved, sexual orientation can be changed or ignored by the determined.
Beasts Of Resplendent Liquid. Created in the First Age to browse on plants and mix pharmaceuticals in their kidneys, the few survivors are owned by the Guild who feed them on opium. In short, dinosaurs that piss heroin.
Evil Albino: The Dune People are not simply evil, they're murderous cannibals who regard the entire rest of the human race as their enemies. They live in the deep desert, hide from the sun by day, hunt by night, and cannot be reasoned or bargained with. The only thing they want from any other group is for the other group to be dead. The roots of this, as usual, lies in First Age Solar dickery: they've been created as a slave race and society treated them as animals - and so they now respond in kind.
Evil Chancellor: There are many specific examples, but (while not specifically evil) the Sidereals' role in the Usurpation and the fact that they were originally supposed to be viziers to the Solars makes them, in effect, an entire "race" of Evil Chancellors.
Evil Overlord: Most of the Deathlords are pretty classic examples of this: and in some cases you can tell that just by looking at their black armor and Spikes of Villainy. The Scarlet Empress and some of the Lunar elders may also qualify, depending on your viewpoint.
The Evils of Free Will: Most Yozis have become firm believers in this trope. She Who Lives In Her Name believed in it from the start, loathing free will as part of her basic nature.
The Ebon Dragon is one exception. He loves free will. He finds it... amusing.
Subverted with Isidoros, the Yozi of Strength: as the very embodiment of domination, he understands the concept of self-interest as it relates to other people. As a result, he throws his support behind all forms of rebellion and self-determination, seeing as how one must be free to rule over others.
Expanded Universe: There are several novels based on the setting- one in particular is titled Chosen of the Sun. There is a Let's Read of it here. Other novels include A Day Dark as Night, and In Northern Twilight.
From "The Modern Age" in the same book, Lionel Kes is James Bond...but Dragon-Blooded and gay.
The Faceless: Nara-O, God of Secrets Only One Person Knows manifests as somebody wrapped in cloth completely. Theories abound from him having nothing underneath his robes to him ceasing to exist if anybody but himself knew what's under them.
The Fair Folk: The Fair Folk (but of course). Alien beings from pure chaos beyond the rim of creation, wishing to either dissolve it all or to just have fun eating dreams and souls. Have a weakness against cold iron and cannot break their promises (getting a real binding oath is a separate problem, of course). They also used to need an invitation to enter Creation, but they later got it and destroyed the barriers necessitating it.
Fan Disservice: Everyone really wanted to see Sulumor topless while undergoing the end stage of self-induced skin cancer...except that also happens to be her peeling off said cancers, revealing her normal body underneath.
The First and Forsaken Lion is more commonly referred to as the FaFL.
The Primordial She Who Lives in Her Name is almost universally referred to by her acronym, SWLiHN; one of the authors even bemoaned having to use her full name when writing Infernals, since it wasted so much wordcount. And of course, many just call her Swillin'
Gazellecarp: The capstone charm of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style transforms your character into a serpentine chimera whose features include a head like a gazelle foal and multiple carp fins down the sides.
DEMETHEMANIA: Demetheus, a big, burly Dawn Caste fighter. In his back story, he wrestled giant lions with his bare hands and won; thus a Badass was born. He was also visibly inspired by The Rock.
"Her Redness" and "Big Red" for the Scarlet Empress.
The Primordial Ramethus, who attacked in the Aftershock War (having optimized itself for combat), is frequently referred to (even by the game's freelance writers on the White Wolf forums) as Chungira: named after Jon Chung, who posts a lot about Exalted optimization.
Even after receiving both a pre-ascension name (Sol Incarnate) and title of address (Ignis Divine, his equivalent of 'your majesty'), a large portion of the fan-base still prefers to call the Unconquered Sun "Sol Invictus." Even John Mørke has admitted to wanting to use the term, in spite of being forbidden from canonizing it (in Glories of the Most High: the Unconquered Sun). Some who favor it do so because a Latin name would help Sol fit in better with all the other Incarnae... others cite that as an excellent reason not to use it. The Sun does, after all, stand apart from the Moon and stars.
The Unconquered Sun is also occasionally called "Conky."
The complete loser of a Primordial known as The Ebon Dragon sometimes has his name shortened to TED.
Fanservice: There's usually at least one illustration of a bare-chested girl per book.
Fantastic Fragility: The Exalted have perfect defensive charms that can make them invulnerable, but which always come with some sort of situational or tactical flaw. For example, a Solar invulnerability might only work in the presence of someone they care about, or might force them to advance on their most powerful opponent. For Abyssals, their invulnerability might fail in the presence of someone they care about, or force them to flee their strongest foe. For the Infernals, their perfect defenses possess a flaw based on the Yozi patron that grants it. Thus, invulnerability charms granted by Malfeas the Demon City only function in a developed area, while charms from the Ebon Dragon, made from the shadows of everything in existence, don't work in sunlight. These flaws can be somewhat worked-around by purchasing multiple perfect defenses. However, characters can never have more than two different flaws among their perfect defense charms.
The Realm combines the Roman Empire with various periods in Imperial Chinese history.
Lookshy is based on Sparta.
The Linowan are based on Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest coast.
The Coral Archipelago is partly based on Victorian Britain.
In the Modern Era chapter of Shards of the Exalted Dream, pretty much all the modernized nations are clear knockoffs and/or amalgamations of real-world countries (i.e., Meruvia = USA/Commonwealth of Nations, Union of Eastern States = USSR/EU, and so forth).
Fantasy Gun Control: There are guns that shoot fireballs, but not regular guns that shoot bullets. In light of all of the magitek and just plain ol' technology, it's rather conspicuous. (Word of God is that the devs want to avoid pointless, endless fan arguments about why gun availability should/shouldn't immediately let whoever has them take over Creation.) But with the addition of prayer pieces in Glories of the Most High, it is possible to shoot bullets. They are made of gold. And propelled by the power of tiny, tiny shrines along the barrel in place of rifling, containing tiny, tiny gods.
Wonders of the First Age introduces Plasma Repeaters, which are five-shot high-caliber revolvers that use gel propellants and require absolutely no Essence to operate. They are, however, very expensive to keep loaded...
Shards of the Exalted Dream's alternate settings, however, have regular guns. And Charms to make good use of those guns, with names like Holistic Bullet Methodology and Nova Shell Ordnance.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Creation is probably the ultimate fantasy kitchen sink. Highly-advanced technology, powerful sorcery, more empires and kingdoms of various stripes than can be counted, gods of everything, a magical martial arts style based around duel-wielding fire-spewing pistols, dinosaurs that pee heroin (don't ask) or life extension drugs, and of course, assorted gods of everything.
Fatal Flaw: This is a major part of the setting and the game mechanics; due to a Great Curse placed on them when they beat the Primordials, every Exalt is required to have one.
Alchemicals managed to bypass this through not existing at the time, and instead have Clarity: in which their Fatal Flaw is that after a while they become Straw Vulcans.
Abyssals have had the Great Curse revoked, and instead have to deal with Resonance, which forces them to be world-killing abominations by punishing them with death and destruction even if they try not to.
Infernals have Torment, but have in essence already had their bout with the old Fatal Flaw: the idea of Infernals is that they could have been a Solar but decided not to go do the epic thing that would have given them the decent Exaltation. (Another take on Infernals is that some of them tried to be epic, but failed due to the lack of an available, untainted Solar Exaltation.)
Solars who become Abyssals and then redeem themselves (becoming Solars again) are also freed of the Great Curse: they may only gain Limit through specific Charms that inflict Limit upon the victim or user. If their Limit reaches 10, they lose one dot of Permanent Willpower that regenerates after a month, assuming they do not reach 10 Limit again within that period. Charms that require the Great Curse to function no longer work, however.
Even without the Great Curse, having a virtue rated three dots or more (which all Exalts have to) turns into a fatalflawofsome kind.
Fate Worse than Death: Malfeas and the Yozis, though especially Malfeas. To get an idea, consider being an infinite, disembodied superbeing, whose every thought, whim, and emotion defines reality as you will it. Existence is your oyster, and it has always been so for unto ages of ages. Then, imagine that, for one moment, you are overwhelmed with existential terror, and in that instant of weakness, you're swarmed by ants whose venomous bites paralyse you and petrify you into a material form. The ants then lobotomise you to keep you docile, split your carcass down the middle, rip you inside out, mutilate your organs, and then stuff both your mutilated organs about a dozen of your mutilated, lobotomised siblings into the sack made from your inside-out flesh. You're then sewn back up, inside-out, with all this stuff inside you, and left to bleed and scab over and wriggle in disgusted self-loathing forever, except that the ants periodically tear holes in your outer layers and hernia your organs out to milk them for bile before pushing them back in. (This largely explains why, when mortals enter into Malfeas, they always die horribly.)
Faustian Rebellion: A possible outcome for Infernals and Abyssals who decide they like Creation the way it is and realize that their bosses are chumps who got their asses kicked.
Abyssals do it by destroying the coffins that bind their Exaltation and walking away.
The way Infernals do it? They become Titans in their own right and eventually obtain all of the powers of the Yozis, minus almost all of their weaknesses. They retain the Urge because it's tied to their Exaltation- but it becomes permanently identical to their Motivation, so they're probably going to want to fulfil it anyway...
And after the Broken-Winged Crane came out, that path is actually covered by a Charm tree. The Heresy keyword may well be best be described as "Fuck you, Yozis" as a mechanical effect.
Sidereal Exalted receive their Salary from the Celestial Bureaucracy in the form of Quintessence and Ambrosia, which can be converted into any mundane material, including money. In Yu-Shan (Heaven), this isn't really a problem, since money of all sorts is basically Worthless Yellow Rocks. In Creation, however, a Sidereal Exalted's starting pay would be enough to set them up as a millionaire several times over. Higher levels of Salary could allow a Sidereal to buy and sell nations, or bring the Realm's economy to its knees in a matter of days. Luckily, the Celestial Bureaucracy has already figured this out, and makes actually using Salary to its fullest extent in Creation a crime UNLESS you're doing it for a specific, work related reason and are given express permission to use more then is normally permitted. (You can still use enough to set yourself up with a rather nice home in Creation and keep yourself supplied)
In the First Age, the Celestial Exalted were so fabulously rich that it couldn't be adequately measured by the Resources Background; they got Wealth instead, which at its upper levels dwarfed even the Sidereals' Salary, at least partly because they had no restrictions on actually spending it. The two highest levels of Wealth are defined by how large a financial crisis you'd cause by maliciously dumping your holdings. (Answer: Wealth 5 = destabilize any single nation save the very largest. Legendary Wealth = crash most of Creation's economy.)
In the modern setting, each of the Guild's hierarchs possesses a personal net worth that would allow them, if they so chose, to outbid the entire GDPs of some of Creation's largest nation-states. This is all the more impressive since, unlike the other examples named here, they accumulate this great wealth as Puny Humans, not beings of greater-than-godlike power (there is no official rule that says an Exalt can't be a hierarch, but the Guild was founded by and for mortals, and no Exalt ever has risen so high in its organization).
Combos, which allow an Exalt to combine the power of multiple charms in one distinctive attack. Abyssal Exalted take this one step further: They can have a Charm that literally terrorizes anyone who watches them murder someone in a particularly sadistic way. Yes, it's the "Fatality" Charm! And it's part of Dark Messiah Style martial arts, so any Celestial Exalt and even enlightened Terrestrials can learn it...
Fire Keeps It Dead: The Zenith Caste of the Solar Exalted have an innate ability to burn dead bodies with Holy Solar Flames, specifically to prevent them from rising as the undead.note Since the Zenith were created before the Underworld or undeath existed, one might wonder why they got this ability in the first place...
Each kind of Exalt also usually comes in five different Castes. White Wolf is pretty sweet on this trope. Lampshaded in the section about the Philosophy of the Abyss the Deathlords teach to all their Abyssals. The five Understandings are each linked to one of the five Elements to make them easier to remember
and because people who love systems and theories put everything into sets of five and devise correspondences between them.
The only exceptions to the five Castes rule are the Lunars, (who only have three, but used to have a full five), and the Alchemicals (there's a secret sixth Caste, but no one knows about them).
Foreshadowing: The Wedding Band of the Scarlet Bride from Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals practically slaps a neon sign on the identity of the Ebon Dragon's bride.
Of course, if you don't want to use Return of the Scarlet Empress you can always claim that the naming of the Ring and references to the Scarlet Bride are actually part of an elaborate plot of the Ebon Dragon to distract from the TRUE identity of his bride (Or even that there is NOT a Bride, and it's part of an even larger plot)...And it's completely in character for the Shadow of All Things to boot.
From a Single Cell: Chimeras (Lunars turned into insane monsters by the Wyld) can get this power. Strangely enough, so can mortals.
From Bad to Worse: Creation has basically been going through a continual cycle of things-getting-worse since the High First Age (or before, depending on who you ask), but one of the major Oh Crap events ones was The Great Contagion. During the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate (when Creation was ruled by Sidereals and Terrestrials, and a bit worse-off than the First Age, but still better than contemporary Creation), one of the Deathlords (finally) unleashed by far the most deadly disease to have ever existed in Creation, which wiped out about 90% of the human population. ThenRaksha invaded in a massive swarm known as the Balorian Crusade, killing many of the survivors and literally dissolving much of reality into pure chaos. And now, the reincarnated heroes of the First Age are being called "Anathema" and being hunted down.
The Deathlord known as the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible has a "war form" that actually exaggerates this — not only is it naked, it sprouts multiple sets of genitals. Not many people like the form (once described by a snarky freelancer as a "monster made of dicks"), but it's there.
Canon Alchemical Thousand-Faceted Nelumbo runs around in nothing but a half-cape — and when she fights she takes off the cape.
Functional Magic: Pretty much all kinds under the sun, though Exalted usually make use of Inherent Gifts (Charms) and Rule Magic (Sorcery).
Luna and Lunar Exalted can have the power to change sex at will via the Twin Faced Hero Knack. One Lunar elder has been doing this at fixed intervals for so long it no longer remembers its original sex.
The Fair Folk have no fixed gender, and are male or female or both or neither depending on how they want to be imagined by others. Alternatively, they may have a preferred gender which they default to if it flatters what passes for their self-perception to do so (although this default gender may vary depending on the gender-rules of local human cultures, with a given Fair Folk taking on default gender forms which local humans most associate with traits the Fair Folk likes to perceive itself as having).
The primary forms of most of the Yozi are entire environments; Malfeas is a literal demon city with the others trapped inside himself, while Cecelyne is an endless desert around him; others include an ocean of acid and a silver forest. They can make smaller human-form avatar bodies, though. The Unshaped Raksha beyond the edge of Creation generally follow this trope too.
Autochthon, as a relatively intact Primordial (for given values of 'relatively') also has an environment-form; in his case, it's the machine-world of Autochthonia.
Ancient and powerful Alchemical Exalted can transform into cities known as Metropoli or Patropoli.
Gaia has a world-body of her own, which is off exploring the Wyld. Creation isn't one of her bodies: she's linked to it, notably through the Five Elemental Dragons, but it's not her.
Giant Flyer: Strix are giant owls, while hybrocs and Metagalpan hawks and ros are even bigger birds with 50-75 ft wingspans. The Wyld spits out hadhayosh, giant ice-bats, gryphons, and flaming gryphons. Then of course there are the Pterok, the flying Dragon Kings of the North, and various flying demons such as the Agata or Beautious Wasps.
Giant Spider: Creation has 'em, ranging from intelligent, head-sized wood elementals to 5 ft long mortal spiders.
Glamour: The Raksha's power over perception and seduction.
Glass Cannon: The Sidereal Exalted, but really, all Exalted are capable of dealing far more damage than they can take if not for perfect defenses.
A God Am I: Definitely the major reason why the Solars got bumped off in the First Age.
God Guise: Being worshipped by mortals grants the Exalted more power.
A God Is You: Almost all player characters are Exalts, possessed of epic strength and phenomenal cosmic power. While you can play mortals, life in Creation is not very happy for them.
God's Hands Are Tied: The Incarnae created the Exalted because they were unable to attack the Primordials themselves. Nowadays, this trope's purpose is filled by their addiction to gaming instead.
The Gods Must Be Lazy: The Incarnae, at first blush, though Glories of the Most High expands on this: they're not so much lazy as caught in a Lotus-Eater Machine, the Games of Divinity. It's strongly implied that the Primordials deliberately let this happen as posthumous revenge vs. their usurpers. Then again, it could just be that the Primordials' gaming machine had No OSHA Compliance.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Any being in Creation that is worshipped by someone or something else receives Essence; this is the natural way for gods to sustain themselves. Furthermore, in Yu-Shan (Heaven), you can eat and drink prayer. One interpretation of the background material suggests that this trope is why the human race was created in the first place: they breed a lot, are superstitious, and are deliberately designed to be far too weak to survive comfortably without divine help, so that equals lots of delicious prayer for the gods.
The Green Sun Princes are all but stated to be the Yozis' ultimate mistake. As it turns out they've done such a good job with turning Infernal Exaltation into a clone of themselves that each Green Sun Prince is actually an embryonic Primordial, with the potential to assimilate all of the Yozis' positive qualities and almost none of their faults. Oh yeah, and said new Primordials are likely to realize that the Yozis are bugfuck nuts.
Good Hurts Evil: An interesting subversion: Celestial Exalted of all stripes (but especially Solar Exalted) have access to powers that specifically add extra hurt to "creatures of darkness," which include demons, ghosts, and Fae. However, the Celestial Exalted are not, intrinsically, Good, and the Creatures of Darkness are not, inherently, Evil.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Solar Hero Style. Fisticuffs taken up so far you can punch people into Hell.
Good Thing You Can Heal: The Exalted heal at an extraordinary rate (though perhaps not at the level of a Healing Factor), and given some time can even grow back amputated limbs. However, given the sheer number, variety and power of attacks that the Exalted have to absorb, being able to heal this quickly is greatly appreciated.
Hammerspace: Justified : the "Elsewhere" is a specific space which characters can use charms to reach, stock then take back various weapons and items.
At least one person is stuck in Elsewhere, floating around in an infinite void utterly unable to move. How did he get stuck? He cooked up a portal to it in an attempt to rob nearly every Exalted in existence by stealing their Elsewhere-stashed items. It's generally agreed he got off lightly.
Hand Cannon: The long-awaited canon artifact gun, the shellcaster, is a massive automatic pistol (the smallest is larger than a Desert Eagle, the largest is the size of a man's thigh). (The artifact equivalents of assault rifles, grand shellcasters, are decidedly outsized as well.
Hard Work Hardly Works: The sole mark of capability in the game is the Exaltation; without it, a character could train all his life and work his guts off, and won't ever be anything other than a footnote on some Exalt's backstory. To boot, the Exaltations are distributed pretty randomly, so you can't even count on hard work and effort "earning" you a shard, while Exalts learn what you have taken decades to master in weeks.
Future Chosen are usually already obviously gifted and always Heroic. But being the most awesome among mortals does not mean you'd make the best Exalt, and the Exaltations supposedly operate on an Omniscient Morality License which means that although the Perfect has probably one of the most stable governments in the area and endeavors to avoid falling into Evil Overlord territory, he's still found wanting by the unknown criteria of the Exaltation. He's a wee bit miffed about this.
Much of it depends on if Lytek has an appropriate spark sitting in his cabinet right when you do something appropriate, such as stepping up to be the hero at a time it should be impossible to win (Solar) or persevering through a situation that shouldn't be survivable (Lunar). Or it's just the right time for you to be fated to exalt (Sidereal). Or die before your awesome destiny came (Abyssal). Or REALLY fuck up what you were trying to do (Infernal).
Finally, becoming a Dragon-Blooded is based on your ancestry. You can bribe a member of the Bureau of Destiny to make sure you reincarnate as a future Terrestrial, but 1) good luck getting enough wealth as a mortal, and 2) you have to die first.
Among the Exalted, however, this trope is averted. You can't just spend your experience points to directly increase your traits; you also need to put in the requisite training time. Improving your attributes can take months of training even for exalts, and that's assuming a training regimen of eight hours per day, six days per week. Unless you're a Solar training your in-Caste or Favored abilities, at which point you are exempt from training time requirements.
Hate Plague: What happens when an Infernal fills up his Torment, though the precise flavour depends on the Infernal's patron Yozi.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Exalts run around in magical jade armor, glowing golden armor, shapeshifting moonsilver armor, super MagitechPower Armor, and evil soulsteel armor Powered by a Forsaken Child, but they almost never wear helmets. Rules-wise, helms do precisely nothing — they can't even hide a caste mark — and Storytellers are specifically told to discourage called head-shots unless they want a "gritty" game. Mortal Mooks do wear helmets sometimes, but they're almost universally "extras" Made of Plasticine, so it doesn't matter.
Heroic BSOD: There's a rule for that, and it's called a Limit Break. At best, you become the embodiment of eccentricity as your Virtue overloads. At worst, you develop the attitude of A God Am I or go Ax-Crazy.
Limit Break Berserk Anger: You want to kill everything. Everything.
The Green Sun Princes have an interesting version, called Torment, effectively them becoming possessed by their Yozi patron's will: While it isn't that bad for them (despite what "will of the Yozis" would imply, it's just a particularly noticable personality change that still allows them to think rationally), it's also contagious, which can be bad for them, especially if your patron was Malfeas.
There's even an allusion to the Unconquered Sun undergoing one of these just before the Usurpation in the Daystar material: which is a helluva trick since gods do not suffer from Limit Break.
Hollywood Healing: The game has fairly detailed rules for dealing with bleeding from injuries, infections, and disease... which are mostly for use by/on mortals. Exalted get to ignore most of these rules, and are usually exempt from being permanently crippled or disfigured by injuries. They also heal faster than mortals.
Before the Primordial War, the sun god accepted human hearts sacrificed atop sun pyramids. The Dragon Kings had offered their own hearts time out of mind, and didn't mind dying because they can always reincarnate with full memories. They probably didn't really get that humans tend to view death differently...
Some magic requires human sacrifice, especially certain Necromancy spells and some types of demon summoning.
It is indicated in "Graceful Wicked Masques" that human dreams are much more vivid and compelling than those of other species. This seems to imply that humans are blessed with much greater creativity and imagination than anyone else in the setting (so we can make the most delicious prayers?). On the other hand, such traits tend to attract the attention of The Fair Folk while providing very little defense against them, making it very much a case of Blessed with Suck.
The Sorcery spell "Incomparable Body Arsenal" turns the caster into one.
Alchemical Exalted turn into these if they get powerful enough; they're known as Colossi.
Hellstriders, which Infernals can access, are just like warstriders, only made from still-living demons fused into a kind of Eva-esque machine that's independently sentient and extends organic components when the pilot loses control.
Hurricane Kick: Honestly this trope is one of the least of the crazy physics-defying things you're encouraged to describe your characters doing to earn those stunt dice.