Tropes relating to entire races, mortal nations and organizations, and hosts of the Exalted themselves. Subjectives are here
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The Exalted in generalThe Exalted
were originally created by the Gods
to overthrow their Primordial
masters, the tyrannical cosmic superentities who created the world. They won, with the help of two traitor Primordials, Gaia and Autochthon, slaying some of the creators, and forcing the rest to surrender. The dead Primordials became the Neverborn, the nightmarish quiescent remains of entities for whom there is no beginning or end, and bound to sleep in the Underworld. Those who surrendered became the Yozis, crippled titans imprisoned within the hell called Malfeas, the world-body of their king. But the dying Neverborn cast a final curse on the Exalted, dooming them all to succumb to their own hubris and madness.
The Solar Exalted were made rulers of the world, but slowly fell to the Great Curse, becoming depraved and heartless monsters, mad with their own power. The Sidereal Exalted, blinded by the hubris of their own curse, conspired against the Solars. They incited the Dragon-Blooded to overthrow their masters in the bloody conflict of the Usurpation, and imprisoned the Exaltations of the Solars, so that they could never again bless mortals with their power. The Dragon-Blooded reigned over Creation, but could not defend it from the infinite hordes of raksha, soul-eating faeries from beyond Creation, and the plots of the Deathlords, the ghosts of dead Solars in service of the Neverborn. Half of Creation was destroyed, swallowed up into chaos as the raksha invaded and the Great Contagion engineered by the Deathlords wiped out nearly all life.
The chaos ended when one Dragon-Blood activated an ancient superweapon of the Solar Exalted, saving Creation and uniting it behind her. She would become the Scarlet Empress, founding a Realm that would span most of Creation. But now, the peace she claimed is falling apart. The Scarlet Empress has vanished. The raksha still creep across the borders of undefended Creation. And the Yozis and Neverborn have cooperated to free the imprisoned Solar Exaltations, stealing half of them to twist into their own dark champions. Harbingers of slaughter and entropy now stalk the land, while the champions of Hell work behind the scenes to free their masters. Into the midst of all this, the Solar Exalted have returned.
- Badass: Every last damn one of them.
- Beyond the Impossible: They killed the Primordials. This was so damn impossible that it created the Neverborn and The Underworld as a result.
- The Beautiful Elite: The vast majority of the Exalted ascribe to this.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu:
- Mostly played straight. The Terrestrial Exalted, who are the most numerous of the Exalted and the only ones that can pass their Exaltation on to their children, are the weakest Exalted. They can easily kick mundane ass though.
- That said, due to how the Terrestrial abilities work, and their focus on teamwork, a group of Dragon Blooded can easily become exponentially more dangerous than they would be on their own. Some of their abilities can be applied to other team-mates (or, at higher levels, to entire units and armies), and some are specifically only useful for enhancing your companions.
- The Celestial Exalted on the other hand are a bit more tricky. There used to be 300 Solars, 300 Lunars, and 100 Sidereals. The Solars were the main raw powerhouse of the 3 though, with the Sidereals and Lunars being (slightly) weaker and about equal to each other. Though if it was just about Martial Art skill the Sidereal would win hands down with their Cosmic Kung-Fu easily besting all other Exalted Martial Arts.
- In the current setting, things have been getting even more confusing. At the top Power Levels sit the currently 150 Solar Exalted, and their derivatives; the 100 Abyssal Exalted and 50 Infernal Exalted. Then come the Sidereals and Lunars, and at the bottom sit the Terrestrials. So 150 Solars = 100 Abyssals = 50 Infernals > 300 Lunars = 100 Sidereals > a whole lot of Dragon-Bloods.
- The Alchemicals are counted as Celestial Exalted, but are entirely modular in their design. A given Alchemical Exalt can go from every bit as powerful as a Solar, to being only more powerful than a Dragon Blooded, all based on her loadout at the time. The primary mitigating factor in this is breadth vs depth. They're very powerful when their charms are set up to be focused on something, but can be quite weak when geared for general situations. They are also not fixed in number like Celestial Exalted, although still much rarer than Dragon-Bloods. The number given is around a thousand of them.
- Fatal Flaw: All Exalted have one, with some variance...
- The Solars, Lunars, Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals all get various versions of the Great Curse, a psychological affliction thrown at them by the Primordials for besting them in war. The Solars and Lunars enter a brief psychotic period called a Limit Break (ranging from berserker rage to uncontrolled crying at the suffering of the world to becoming cold and uncaring about the suffering of others), while the Sidereals can't seem to make any of their big plans work right.
- The exception are Terrestrials — being fairly weaker than Celestials, they also got a fairly weaker Great Curse — it only really starts affecting their behavior when they run out of Willpower, and even then, it just seems like a Heroic BSOD — they snap out of it relatively quickly.
- The Abyssals get Resonance. If, for some reason, they decide they don't want to go along with their masters' goals of feeding all Creation into the mouth of Oblivion and resume something approaching a mortal life, their Resonance will build until it erupts and risks destroying any emotional connections they've managed to make with the world of the living.
- The Infernals get a similar variant, known as Torment. If they defy the will of their Yozi patrons for too long, then said patron will assume control and cause shit to go haywire. This can range from spreading a Hate Plague (Malfeas) to targeting the Infernal and any loved ones the Yozis disapprove of with a mini-sandstorm (Cecylene).
- The Alchemicals get Clarity, which is something of a mixed blessing. As they get more detached from humanity and closer to the machine, they become less emotional and more logical, and social interactions become progressively more difficult. However, high Clarity allows an Alchemical access to some powerful spells. Unlike the other Exalted's flaws, Clarity doesn't 'erupt', but Alchemicals can reduce it by bringing themselves closer to humanity.
- Even without supernatural curses or compulsions, each of the four Virtues has drawbacks if you have three or more dots (and exalts have to have at least one virtue of 3+) - compassionate characters have trouble making harsh decisions, temperate characters have trouble lying, cheating or going back on their word, no matter how dishonest the opponent, valorous characters don't know how to back down from confrontation, and as for conviction, well... And it's perfectly possible for a character to have 3+ in two or more Virtues. If they conflict, tough luck.
- Gender Bender: Can happen with previous incarnations. (Examples: Cearr, Thousand Faceted Nelumbo, Harmonious Jade.)
- Lightning Bruiser: All of them.
- Long Lived: Again, to varying extents, although some are outright immortal.
- Person of Mass Destruction: What they eventually become if they live long enough. Even Dragon-Blooded.
- Physical God: They're often better examples than the actual gods of the setting, particularly the Solars and their derivatives.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: It tends to be a problem for them.
- Semi-Divine: They're one part mortal, one part god/primordial/dead primordial, all parts Badass.
- Solar and Lunar: The Solar and Lunar Exalted were bonded at their creation, mirroring the relationship between the UCS and Luna. This usually manifests as a Reincarnation Romance, but in other cases they simply remain very close friends. Or very close enemies.
- Squishy Wizard: Both the setting and system mostly avert it, as anyone can learn Sorcery under the right circumstances (i.e. having Essence 3), and there's nothing preventing a sorcerer from learning Resistance Charms or wearing the heaviest armors available. The Twilight Caste—those to whom knowledge and Sorcery come most easily among the Lawgivers—were able to harden their animas to resist damage. Mid-way through second edition, this was retconned since it could be a Game Breaker.
- Supernatural Elite: Exalted rule. It's what they do, and no mere mortal can even challenge their right to do so.
- Superpower Lottery: Exaltation is basically this in an epically empowered cosmic nutshell full of awesomesauce.
- Transhuman: They usually start out as Puny Earthlings, then they get enhanced to Physical God levels through their Exaltations. And then they surpass them.
The Solar ExaltedThe Solar Exalted
are the (currently) 150 Chosen imbued with the strength of the Unconquered Sun, the Badass
heroes of Creation.
They were originally made from the Unconquered Sun to take out the Primordials with help from their Lunar mates and generals, Sidereal spies, and Dragon-Blooded army. They did.
After they killed or imprisoned all but 2 of them (who had joined their side), they ruled Creation under the Mandate of Heaven from the Incarnae in the GLORIOUS SOLAR
First Age in peace and prosperity.
But there was a problem. The slain Primordials, called the Neverborn, had laid a Great Curse on them that would inevitably drive them insane. Fearing that they would destroy Creation, the Sidereals killed almost all the mad God-Kings with the aid of the numerous Dragon-Blooded who would be the new rulers of Creation. The Solar Exaltation shards were sealed
inside the Jade Prison, with the few Solars that escaped and their reincarnations being killed by the Wyld hunt.
But this was not their end. Shortly after the Scarlet Empress's disappearance, the Yozi and the Neverborn cooperated to rip open the Jade Prison and corrupt the shards within to make their Infernals and Abyssals respectively. But they underestimated the Awesomeness of Solar Might and were only able to take half, 50 going to the Yozi, 100 to the Neverborn, and 150 making up the new Solars of the Second Age.
Now the Solars are back, ready to kick ass, take names, and possibly save (or destroy) Creation while doing so.
The Sidereal ExaltedThe Sidereal Exalted
are the 100 Chosen of the Maidens of Destiny. They're basically Ninja-Jedi-Evil Chancellor-Fatalist-Supernatural Cosmic Kung-Fu Masters
. Meets Dilbert
They were originally advisers to the Solar Exalted from the Primordial War up until the end of the First Age. When the Solar Exalted were becoming insane due to the Great Curse, they had 3 options. Let the Solars' insanity continue and doom Creation in the process, reason with them in the slight chance they'd reform, or kill them with the Dragon-Blooded to leave Creation in a diminished but still existing state. They chose option 3
They removed themselves from Creation (having made themselves literally unable to be remembered by mortals), set up the Shogunate of the Dragon-Bloods as a puppet government to control, and created the Wyld Hunt and Immaculate Philosophy to kill the few reincarnating Solars. When the Shogunate ended after the Great Contagion and Fair Folk
invasion, they used the Scarlet Empress to make the Realm
and have influenced it since then.Then the Scarlet Empress disappeared
, leaving the Realm they've manipulated and controlled in shambles as the Great Houses try to take the Scarlet Throne.Then they found out the Chosen of the Sun have returned
. This hasn't helped with the growing divide between Bronze Faction Dragon-Blood supporters who wish to keep things the way they are, and Gold Faction Solar supporters who want the Solars to return as the rightful rulers of Creation (with the Sidereals in charge behind the scenes, of course).
It went From Bad to Worse
, as they also have to deal with Oblivion seeking Deathknights and their Deathlord
masters, not to mention the nascent Primordial Infernals that may or may not
release their masters in the Reclamation and let the world literally turn to hell.
Don't worry though, Fate
is on their side (usually
). They've filed the paperwork
- A Simple Plan: Their particular strain of the Great Curse is a strange form of hubris. Whenever they come up with a plan, said plan has a greater chance of going off the rails depending on how many Sidereals are involved. Keep in mind the Great Prophecy was the collaborative effort of all 100 Sidereals, and take a look at what happened afterwards...
- Because Destiny Says So: They're the ones who say so. Although that doesn't help as much as you think it would. Especially in some cases.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: These guys file the forms, collect the taxes, and sometimes enforce eminent domain by moving entire cities across Creation.
- Ethical Hedonism: The Chosen of Serenity. Their office, the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, was built on the model of the first whorehouse in Creation. And it still serves as one, as well as an art gallery, a library, an opium den, and an office building.
- Karma Houdini: Everyone in Yu-Shan knows that the Sidereals had something to do with the Usurpation. The reason the Unconquered Sun and Luna haven't had a very long talk with Chejop Kejak, however, is that they worked fate so that no evidence of the collaboration could ever be found. (That, and they're also addicted to the Games Of Divinity.)
- Supernatural Martial Arts: There's a reason the top-tier, reality-breaking styles are known as Sidereal Martial Arts.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Most of their powers are centered around manipulating fate and weaving destinies. They can even use the arts of Astrology to weave new identities and gain mechanical bonuses based on the constellation in question.
The Lunar ExaltedThe Lunar Exalted
, the 300 Chosen of Luna, are survivors and protectors, gifted with the moon god(dess
)'s capacity for adaptation and resilience. They're masters of Voluntary Shapeshifting
, with the potential to turn themselves into virtually anything
When the Solars were overthrown, the Lunars escaped to the Wyld
, which slowly... mutated their Exaltations
, gradually twisting the Lunars into monsters. In response, the Lunars devised their trademark moonsilver tattoos, which protect them from any physical transformations apart from their own.
During the Lunars' centuries in exile, they've been operating as covert social engineers, manipulating societies throughout Creation with the aim of eventually creating one that won't need the Exalted to maintain it. They know full well it'll probably never happen; what's important is what they can take from the process.
Now the Solars have returned, the Abyssals and Infernals with them. It's time for the Lunars to adapt once again. Which way they'll go, though...
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The Lunars are capable of making Beastmen, but to do so (without high-level Charms, that is) requires an act of bestiality. Either the Lunar screws the animal in human form, or the Lunar screws a human in animal form.
- Broken Bird: Most of the details about the Usurpation and following thirteen or so centuries have made it clear that it was not easy on the Lunars in any way at all. They even broke literally, re: their Castes.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The only non-Abyssals who can make zombies with their own Charms, without the need of initiation into necromancy. The zombies are creatures of darkness; the Lunars that make them are generally not.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Certain Knacks allow them to ritualistically hunt humans and take on their forms after killing them. There's also a less lethal solution that involves just borrowing a bit of their blood, but this doesn't last quite as long.
- Forever War: Word of God has revealed that they view their conflicts with the Dragon-Bloods as one long guerilla war, and much of the Thousand Streams River has been about (a) putting more and more thorns in the Realm's side, and (b) making sure there's a civilization left over after they're gone. A guerilla war, it should be noted, they're winning — have you seen the size of the Threshold?
- Gender Bender: Quite a few of them; the Twin-Faced Hero Style knack allows them to change this on a whim, and is extremely accessible. The best example may be Silver Python, who changes gender every twenty years as a tribute to Luna and neither remembers nor cares which one zie started off as.
- Glamour Failure: Every Lunar has a Tell, a part of their body that reflects their totem and remains the same in all forms. It could range from striped chest hair to golden eyes to a patch of scales running along the spine.
- God Guise: The Lunars are keen to take any route necessary to influence a society, and in many cases, that means posing as gods or messianic figures.
- High Priests: The long-lost Waxing Moon caste were this for Luna. Following the breaking of the Lunar castes caused by the Wyld, the No Moons inherited the role. (Which some Lunars find a little odd, since the Changing Moons were the inheritors of the three lost castes.)
- The Madness Place: A Lunar using the charm Inevitable Genius Insight gains great bonuses to their mental abilities toward a single project and the ability to completely ignore fatigue for its duration, at the cost of a monomaniacal focus until the charm ends.
- Reincarnation Romance: Each Lunar shard is "bonded" with a Solar shard, designating the two as mates. Of course, this bond continues even if the Solar exaltation's been corrupted by the Yozis or the Deathlords. Note that the bond is not necessarily sexual or romantic in nature; platonic friendships and rivalries are just as possible, potentially leading to Luke/Vader and Cecil/Golbez situations in the case of Abyssals.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: When a Lunar spends enough Peripheral Essence, it's limited to shape-shifting to any of its totemic forms (that is, its mortal shape, its spirit shape, or—if it has one—its war form).
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: If they ritualistically stalk something, kill it, and drink its heart's blood, they can become it at any time. Some more esoteric capabilities also permit just knocking the target out, or even sexual activity to gain shapes.
The Terrestrial ExaltedThe Terrestrial Exalted
, or Dragon-Blooded
, are the only Exalts who can pass their Exaltation on to their children, while also being the weakest and most numerous Exalted.
This ties in with their creation as a Super Soldier army
for the Solar Exalted. The 5 Elemental Dragon souls of Gaia (a Primordial who had joined the Incarnae against the other Primordials) gifted 100 men and 9,900 women with their powers over Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Wood
. While they served as soldiers in the Primordial War, their main purpose was to have orgies of epic proportions
so they could make a large enough army to be effective against the Primordials and their servants. Apparently, the average woman had 30 kids.
After the war they served the Celestial Exalted in family military units called Gentes, each Gens being assigned to 1 solar and their reincarnations. It was also during the First Age that the Dragon-Blooded started to mate with mortals, which up until then got you, your kid, and whoever you slept with dead. This reduced the 'purity' of the Dragon-Bloods, so from then on the children of Dragon-Bloods didn't have a 100% guarantee of Exalting.
Near the end of the First Age, after being subjugated to the tyranny and madness of the Solars and being manipulated by the Sidereals, the Terrestrials usurped their Solar masters. After the Usurpation the Dragon-Bloods ruled all of Creation in the Shogunate era, which was noted to have their rulers die constantly by the next rulers.
Things went mostly well enough though, until the Deathlords (Powerful ghosts of the Solars they slew, specifically the First and Forsaken Lion
) released the Great Contagion that killed 90% of the population. Then the Fair Folk
attacked in an alliance with the Deathlords, destroying half of Creation.
When all seemed lost, several Dragon-Bloods journeyed to the Imperial Manse to use the Realm Defense Grid
(also called the Sword of Creation) to save Creation. Only one managed to get through its defenses, save Creation and come out alive. Her name seems to have disappeared from the texts of history, along with everyone who ever knew her (pretty normal occurrence in Creation, in other words), but people call her the Scarlet Empress.
She built the Scarlet Dynasty from the ground up, and unlike the Shogunate it only directly ruled the Blessed Isle. Nevertheless, the Realm
became the foremost superpower in Creation, being the pinnacle of civilization and military might. There were rivals though, most notably the other Terrestrial ruled state of Lookshy, so the Realm only indirectly ruled several territories in the Threshold outside of the Blessed Isle through puppet governments.
The Empress took on multiple lovers over the years, and, via her consorts and children, founded the 11 Great Houses who bickered for power, as well as other organizations that didn't exactly get along.
It didn't really matter though, since as long as she was in charge the Realm would operate smoothly.Then she disappeared. And the Solar Exalted have come back.
Now the Realm is in disarray as the Great Houses try to get who they want on the throne in a political system that wasn't made to handle a missing Empress, their secret Sidereal manipulators are bickering over letting the Dragon-Bloods continue to be the rulers of Creation or have the Solars return as the rightful rulers, and the forces of hell, the underworld and the Wyld are ready to take a bite into this half-dead but still powerful Empire.
Since the Terrestrials are the most numerous of the Exalted, we'll also list all of their organizations since they're pretty... ''colorful''
in their own right.
Tropes associated with all Terrestrials
The Scarlet Dynasty
The Scarlet Empress had taken the Realm, but even with control of the Sword of Creation and the backing of the Bronze Faction, she was in a precarious position. The Shogunate had been a long succession of one military coup or assassination after another, and there was no guarantee it wouldn't continue. Her solution was to create a government that was highly effective as long as she was heading it...but was pretty much guaranteed to fall apart the instant she wasn't there.
The Realm's aristocracy currently consists of eleven Great Houses
, each named for a consort or child of the Empress from whom the extended family
descends. The blood of the Dragons runs strong in the Empress' children, and social and religious teachings about the inherent superiority of the Dragon-Blooded
and their divine right to rule Creation help prevent rebellion by the commoners against their Exalted lords. To ensure that her own descendants couldn't threaten her position, the Empress followed a Divide and Conquer
strategy: the Houses were encouraged to compete against each other for status, and the Empress alternately favored first one and then another, carefully working to prevent any single faction from gaining too much power.
While she was around, the Scarlet Empress kept a close eye on things, harnessing her descendants' ambitions for the good of the Realm. Since her disappearance, though, there's been nothing to keep the Great Houses' Deadly Decadent Court
tendencies in check, and they almost immediately grew out of control. Each family wastes its attention on petty political squabbles, ignoring the serious threats looming over all Creation
. At this point, Civil War
...Unless, of course, the player characters take it upon themselves to head it off.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Dynasty as a whole and each Great House individually.
- The Clan: The Great Houses.
- Culture Chop Suey: The deliberate kind. The Realm's culture is mostly a mix of Imperial Rome and various Chinese dynasties, but it's also got elements of Achaemenid Persia, the Tokugawa Shogunate, and pretty much any other premodern Old World empire you could name.
- Cultured Badass: Every Dynast is expected to be a competent scholar, dancer, musician and so on...as well as a powerful warrior, no matter what their profession.
- Deadly Decadent Court
- Divided We Fall: The Dragon-Blooded were designed to be at their best when working as a team, which is why the Dynasty's complete failure to stop bickering and work together is really unfortunate.
- The Empire: They rule the world, and if you're a Celestial, they're out for your guts.
- Everyone Is Bi: The Realm's culture doesn't have much of a concept of sexual orientation; preferring one sex over the other is seen as a not-very-notable personal quirk (as long as you breed more Dynasts, of course).
- Feuding Families: By the Empress' design.
- Manly Gay: Being gay is perfectly socially acceptable, as long as you're willing to do your duty by marrying a member of the opposite sex and procreating. Effeminate behavior, on the other hand, is emphatically not okay regardless of your gender.
- Matriarchy: A very mild example; the Realm is at least as gender-egalitarian as any modern first world country, and whether you're Exalted or not counts for far more than a little thing like your sex. To the extent that there is sexism, though, it tends to favor women.
- Proud Warrior Race: Even the bureaucrats of the Dynasty are expected to be at least as competent in battle as a decent mortal fighter.
- Training from Hell: Pretty much your whole childhood, if you're a Dynast.
- Vestigial Empire: While the Realm is far more stable than the Shogunate ever was, it's drastically reduced in the amount of territory it controls.
- The writers of third edition seem inclined to repaint the Realm as the Big Bad of the new edition; it may be weaker than the Shogunate, it was intended to control much of the map.
- We Are Struggling Together: As it turns out, the Scarlet Empress was the only thing holding them together. Now that she's gone...
The Realm's ruling council, the Deliberative, is a bicameral legislature. The upper house, the Greater Chamber, consists entirely of Exalted Dynasts who are appointed by their Great Houses and approved by the Empress (or, today, the Regent); they have the ability to propose legislation. The patricians and nobles from tributary states who make up the Lesser Chamber are appointed by senators from the Greater Chamber, and can veto proposals with a two-thirds majority vote. Proposals that pass both chambers become law unless vetoed by the Empress or Regent. (In theory, the Deliberative can overturn the Empress' veto...with an almost unanimous vote in both chambers. Yeah, right, it happened once: there were no survivors
The Deliberative was designed with a few specific goals in mind — to handle issues the Empress didn't care about enough to bother with, to give the government an air of legitimacy and rule of law by rubber stamping the laws she did want passed, and to allow the aristocracy of the Realm to feel as if they had a voice in government without giving them any power that actually mattered. The one thing it was absolutely never designed to be, in other words, is a powerful and effective governing body. Which probably stopped seeming like a great idea right around the time people realized the Empress wasn't coming back for a while.
- The Artifact: In-Universe. The original Deliberative actually was Creation's ruling body, being essentially the Solar Parliament. In the Age of Sorrows, it exists simply to create the appearance that the Realm isn't an autocracy, which it very much is. (It's kind of like the Roman Senate that way...)
- Blood on the Debate Floor: Duels and plain old fistfights are a fairly regular occurrence.
- One time, the Empress became so fed up with the Deliberative vetoing her decrees that she just blocked off the exits and sent the army in to kill everyone.
- Kicked Upstairs: Appointment to the Deliberative is a traditional way to get annoying reformers out of the way — they'll get distracted with the futile task of trying to fix things from within the system.
- The Mole: Manosque Cyan, who seems to be working to convince the Lesser Chamber that in this time of crisis, they should be spending more time on thoughtful discussion and less on, you know, actually doing anything.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
- Sleazy Politician: Lots of them, all trying to advance their personal ambitions or those of their Great Houses rather than addressing any of the Realm's real problems.
The Thousand Scales
The Dragon-Blooded of the Scarlet Dynasty like to think of themselves as warrior-aristocrats, proving their right to rule through the strength of their arms and sheer military might. The truth is a little more prosaic. In reality, the Realm is a highly centralized and urbanized empire, and while it does need protectors, it needs bureaucrats a lot more. All Dynasts train as warriors, but for every one actually serving as a soldier in the legions, another can be found playing an equally vital role as a clerk, accountant, postal courier, satrap, prefect, administrator, or dozens of other civil service positions. If the legions are the empire's fangs and talons, the ministers of the Imperial Service are the scales of the dragon.
The All-Seeing Eye
The All-Seeing Eye started as a loose, informal collection of informants, but as the Scarlet Empress consolidated her rule, it expanded into one of the most efficient and powerful espionage networks in Creation. Unlike the other ministries, you don't apply to join the Eye; if they decide they want your talents, they'll come to you, whether you're a Dragon-Blood, a patrician, a Sidereal, a beggar or a slave. The intrepid secret agents of the All-Seeing Eye can be found in every imaginable profession throughout the Blessed Isle, the Threshold and beyond, ferreting out threats to the Realm from tax evasion to high treason to incursions by the Anathema.
- Calling Card: Employed by the Eye as a weapon of terror: if you find their insignia — a single open eye — somewhere in your belongings, put your affairs in order, because you're already dead. Actually, no, that's just what they want you to think; it really means you're being considered as a recruit. If you're dumb enough to tell anyone what you found, then you're not the kind of person they're looking for, and you'll be killed to keep the story going. Keep your mouth shut and don't do anything stupid for a week or so, though, and you'll be approached with an invitation.
- Cloak & Dagger
- Cosmopolitan Council: The Eye is probably the most egalitarian organization in the Realm. If you've got the skills and the dedication, you're in.
- Government Agency of Fiction
- Secret Police
The Imperial Legions
Creation's a scary place, and the Realm has always kept a standing army. For the Dragon-Blooded of the Scarlet Dynasty, who see themselves as something of a Proud Warrior Race
, a history of honorable service in the legions is a major bonus to your social status. For Lost Eggs, military service is the only way to integrate yourself into the Realm's high society unless you want to take vows as an Immaculate monk. For commoners, it's one of the few legitimate and accepted ways to improve your social status.
At one time, the Imperial Legions were indisputably the most powerful military force in Creation. Like so much else, that's changed with the Scarlet Empress' disappearance. She wasn't gone long before the Deliberative seized the opportunity to drastically cut centralized funding for the military and assign individual legions to individual Great Houses instead. Once proud defenders of the Realm, they're increasingly finding themselves to be mere pawns in the political squabbles of Feuding Families
, and there's a good chance legion will be fighting legion in the Realm Civil War
while Creation falls to pieces around them.
Nearly any of the Military and Warfare Tropes
can apply here, but in particular:
- Badass Army
- Boot Camp Episode: Most Dragon-Blooded legionnaires attended the House of Bells, the most badass of military academies.
- Gender Is No Object: Would you want to try and tell the Scarlet Empress women don't belong on the battlefield?
- Mounted Combat: Averted, mostly; it takes special Charms for a Dragon-Blood to channel Essence on horseback without their anima banner harming the mount, so the Realm usually doesn't bother. If necessary, they hire mercenaries or use other local forces for their cavalry units.
- The Squad: As the Dragon-Blooded excel at teamwork, the Realm's military doctrine is based around squad tactics. You're assigned to a five-man team as soon as you arrive at the House of Bells, and graded as a group.
- The Thirty-Six Stratagems: The Realm's cultural equivalents are recorded in The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier, Creation's answer to The Art of War.
The Imperial Navy
The Wyld Hunt
After the Usurpation, the Terrestrials and Sidereals realized that while MOST Anathema had seemingly vanished (Solar Exaltations were trapped in the Sidereal Jade Prison and the Lunars got the hell out of Dodge), occasionally, a few would start making a mess out of things, and the Sidereals needed a way to make damn sure they didn't ruin the plans of the nascent Shogunate. The answer to this was the Wyld Hunt, brotherhoods of Dragon Blooded trained in Celestial Martial Arts, and sent to fight the Celestial Exalted while they were still young, to ensure that they died before they could reach higher levels of power. This had...varying levels of success.
The Shogunate Era saw the Hunt being quite effective, forcing the Lunars to stay in the Wyld, and ensuring the twenty-some Solar Exaltations didn't stay in one host for very long. Things went down the toilet during the Balorian Crusade and the Contagion, but scaled up when the Scarlet Empress took over...and finally petered out to near nothing after she vanished, becoming a shadow of its former self due to the resources funding it going to support Dynastic Families hoping to claim power in the inevitable Civil War.
Today, it's basically used to keep troublemakers (such as the murderous Peleps Deled) off the Island, while providing a show of force in the Threshold.
- Church Militant: They're the roving, militant wing of the Immaculate Order; even mortal members of the Hunt know Terrestrial Martial Arts, and the Dragon Blooded members usually know one of the Five Elemental Dragon styles designed SPECIFICALLY (by a Sidereal, of course) to kick the shit out of Spirits and neophyte Celestials.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: A common method of getting rid of troublesome Dynasts is to stick them out in a satrap, or just tag them into the Wyld Hunt, and hope eventually some Anathema or another kills them. This has varying degrees of success, and at least one troublemaker, the aforementioned Deled, saw it as a promotion...when it was really an attempt to get him off the Isle due to his unfortunate habit of killing anyone who disagreed with his interpretations of the Immaculate Texts.
The Immaculate Order
In the aftermath of the Usurpation, it's not surprising that some folk religions sprang up that cast the Celestial Exalted as mad demons and looked up to the Terrestrial Exalted as holy saviors. The Immaculate Faith got its start as one of these Shogunate belief systems. It held that every Dragon-Blood was a kind of living Buddha who had purified his or her soul over many lifetimes and achieved union with the Essence of Creation. All living things were walking the same road toward enlightenment, hopefully drawing closer to Terrestrial Exaltation with each rebirth. The pinnacle of spiritual achievement was represented by the Immaculate Dragons — five legendary Dragon-Blooded heroes
who had supposedly led the war against the Solar Anathema, each representing mastery of a different type of elemental Essence.
When the Sidereal Bronze Faction began working with the Empress to design the society of the Realm, they realized this was just what they were looking for. They carefully redesigned the Immaculate Faith into a Path of Inspiration
designed to enforce social control. The Bronze Faction's version of the faith, known as the Immaculate Philosophy, emphasizes respect for hierarchy above all else. The highest duty of all mortals is absolute obedience to the Dragon-Blooded, their divinely appointed rulers
. Beyond that, know your place, work to benefit the community, and respect your superiors –- the way to improve your lot in life is to work toward a better reincarnation. Don't pray to any gods; the Immaculates will tell you when each one has their allotted feast day, and worrying about them beyond that will just distract you from spiritual advancement. Above all else, resist the Anathema in any way you can — they aren't true Exalted at all, but ancient sorcerers who stole the power of the sun, moon and stars through foul demonic pacts, and their lies will only lead you to ruin.
These rules are enforced in the Realm by the monks of the Immaculate Order. Aside from meditation, studying theology and all your other usual monkly duties, all of them train in martial arts
— and the Dragon-Blooded among them are initiated into Celestial martial arts, allowing them to face down demons, rogue gods, and even the Anathema as formidable opponents. These heroic figures wander the countryside teaching the young, fighting sin, heresy, and injustice, and protecting the faithful from all manner of supernatural threats.
And, of course, the whole thing is still masterminded by the Bronze Faction, who have the entire Order quite firmly under their thumbs. Don't get too cynical — about 90% of the Immaculate Order's teachings really are objectively true, making it probably one of the most accurate religions in Creation when it comes to its picture of how the world works. (The prohibition on unauthorized prayer, for instance, really is quite sensible as a way to prevent bribery and corruption
in the Celestial Bureaucracy
.) The problem is that the other 10% includes stuff like “Kill all Solars on sight” and “Your Terrestrial lord and master has a sacred duty to treat you like crap, so you'd better take it and like it.”
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Being that they're inspired by Chinese Monks, it makes sense.
- Church Militant: Hello Celestial. Meet the Wyld Hunt. You are going to hate them very quickly.
- Corrupt Church: Immaculate doctrine is based on pre-Empress beliefs, most of which were actually pretty much true, before it was reworked to suit the Bronze Faction's purposes.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Sidereal Bronze Faction. There's a reason "Mouth of Peace" sounds so much like "mouthpiece."
- Path of Inspiration: The Immaculate Philosophy counts as one of these from one perspective — it's definitely designed as a tool for social control, several of its core tenets are completely bogus fabrications, and its Dragon-Blooded leaders are sincere believers. Depending on how you look at it, it could also be seen as a few other related but distinct tropes.
- Religious Bruiser: Every single Immaculate.
- Scam Religion: While the Order's ostensible leaders are largely sincere, the Bronze Faction Sidereals who actually run the whole thing take a considerably more cynical point of view.
- Warrior Monk: See the Wyld Hunt entry above.
The Imperial HousesHouse Mnemon
The largest and most powerful of the Great Houses, House Mnemon has strong ties to the Heptagram and the Immaculate Order, producing many — perhaps even most — of the Realm's sorcerers and monks. More than any other Great House, House Mnemon cannot be understood without understanding its leader, Mnemon
herself. She takes, shall we say, an unusually hands-on approach to running the family, and has forged her descendants into a finely-honed tool for advancing her own ambitions.
- Magical Society: House Mnemon produces so many sorcerers, it might as well be.
Aspected toward Fire, Cathak is another large and powerful House, though not quite as big as House Mnemon. A family with a strong military tradition, they're probably the strongest of the Great Houses in terms of their legions. House Cathak is respected throughout the Realm for its devotion to tradition and discipline.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Cathak soldiers are known for their valor... and not for their smarts, though nobody says it to their faces.
- Black Magic: The Dynasty in general tends to view sorcerers as creepy nerds, but House Cathak really does not like sorcery. Even the few sorcerers who are in House Cathak don't get invited to Cathak parties.
- Comes Great Responsibility: They're very big on instilling a sense of duty and discipline in every Cathak scion. You would be too, if you were raising children who might suddenly develop the ability to burst into flame at any point in their adolescence.
- Proud Warrior Race: Even more than the rest of the Dynasty.
The other Houses just don't know what to do with House Cynis. In a society that values the ideal of strict military discipline above nearly all else, the Wood-Aspected House Cynis has cultivated a reputation as a bunch of utterly debauched hedonists.
This reputation is somewhat
exaggerated. Sure, the Cynis social scene revolves around regular orgies. And, sure, they control the Realm's prostitution...and drug trade...and slave trade. That doesn't mean they're the lazy, useless socialites the other Houses would sometimes like to think, though. House Cynis is a wealthy and powerful family...and one with access to a lot
of information about the secret vices of nearly every prominent figure in the Dynasty.House Sesus
Aspected toward Fire, House Sesus has a powerful military...and not a lot else going for it. They're traditionally close allies of House Mnemon — something the House elders are coming to regret, as Mnemon treats them more and more like the Mnemon Legions rather than respected independent allies. Having realized what a dangerous ally Mnemon is, they'd rather see absolutely anyone else on the Scarlet Throne — if they could just find another viable candidate...House Tepet
Only a few years ago, the Air-Aspected House Tepet was a powerful family, known for producing many of the Realm's finest soldiers and sorcerers. Today, it's a pitiful and decaying shell of what it used to be.
In one of the Realm's greatest military disasters in recent memory, the bulk of the Tepet forces were slaughtered
by the armies of the Bull of the North at the Battle of Futile Blood
. In a single stroke, the House lost its military strength and much of its population. Now crippled and impoverished, House Tepet is desperately trying to rebuild its power base through adoptions and marriage alliances, but they simply don't have the resources left to do much more than stave off the inevitable for a while. No one's saying it yet, but as the other Houses gather like hungry vultures, deep down every Tepet knows the truth: their House is doomed.
Doomed, that is, unless the last remaining Tepet general — a promising young officer nicknamed "the Roseblack" — has anything to say about it...
- Impoverished Patrician: Their fortunes have not been particularly good of late.
- Riches To Rags: Previously would have been a kingmaker house, if it wouldn't have seized the throne itself with the disappearance of the Empress. In more than one place the ravaging of their house is stated to have been deliberate, to cripple a house growing too large and too powerful for the Empire's good.
All the Empress' children were highly intelligent, but Ledaal was something special. The Empress made sure to supply the young prodigy with the kind of education it took to challenge her growing intellect — including the very best in Sidereal tutors.
Today, the Air-Aspected House Ledaal follows the traditions set by its founder as a House of accomplished intellectuals and sorcerers... and their Sidereal consultants. This gives the Ledaal a rather different perspective on some issues than the other Great Houses. For instance, having made a close study of historical records of Anathema sightings, Ledaal scholars have realized that the Deathknights are a new phenomenon — and one that has the potential to be far more dangerous than the Solar and Lunar Anathema ever were.
Unfortunately, not only have they had no luck convincing the other Great Houses of this, the other Houses are so caught up in their Deadly Decadent Court
intrigues that they refuse to believe Ledaal has different priorities. Every time House Ledaal suggests something like refocusing the Wyld Hunt's priorities on the Abyssals, the rest of the Dynasty assumes it's part of some cunning and subtle political scheme. It's gotten to the point that Ledaal has put forward one of its own as a candidate for the Scarlet Throne — albeit a candidate with no real chance of succeeding — just so the other Houses will stop assuming Ledaal's lack
of a candidate is some sort of ruse.
- Ignored Expert: They happen to have a pretty good idea of what's wrong with the Realm. The Realm does not listen.
- Magical Society: The Ledaal Catala household.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: If you want to run a game about getting the Scarlet Dynasty to unite and focus on the real problems facing Creation, House Ledaal is among your likeliest allies.
The other Great Houses see the Water-Aspected House Peleps as a pack of scheming, treacherous liars and cheats who'd sell their own grandmothers for the slightest political advantage. This is pretty much true — even within the House itself, scions of House Peleps are raised in an environment of intense political intrigue
and no-holds-barred competition
. In their defense, though, their motivations are not entirely selfish; House Peleps is unshakably loyal to the Realm and its interests.
Traditionally, the basis of Peleps' power in the Realm has been their control of the Imperial Navy. Unfortunately, shortly before her disappearance, the Empress decided to remind them who was boss by reassigning the Merchant Fleet to House V'neef — something that still rankles in the hearts of most Peleps.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: These are true of all the Great Houses, but Peleps raises them to an art form.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Peleps Kaizoku line is a household of privateers. Kaizoku is Japanese for "pirate."
- Black Magic: They dislike sorcery almost as much as House Cathak.
This Water-Aspected House was a favorite of the Scarlet Empress... up until a few centuries ago, when a group of unusually reckless and stupid
young Iselsi staged an ill-conceived attempt to assassinate her. While the perpetrators were all caught and tortured to death, the Empress had no choice but to make an example of the entire House
for not putting a stop to the plot in the first place. Nearly all the House's possessions were seized, the House elders were arrested on trumped-up charges, and the Empress continued making sure to have a few Iselsi exiled or executed every few years thereafter. Though a tattered and disgraced remnant still exists, it's clear to everyone that the Empress intended to dismantle House Iselsi as slowly and painfully as possible.
Or at least, that's what she wanted everyone to think. Fond as she was of the Iselsi, the Empress saw their punishment as an opportunity. Many of the Iselsi who were reported killed or exiled were actually placed in high-ranking positions within the magistracy, the All-Seeing Eye and the Immaculate Order under assumed names. This gave the Empress a powerful network of spies and secret police whose loyalty she could be certain of, as the family had no official position to speak of and were solely dependent on her covert backing. Eventually, the plan was to stage some dramatic act of heroism on the part of the remaining known Iselsi that would allow her to restore the House to its former glory.
Unfortunately for House Iselsi, the Empress' disappearance has put a bit of a kink in that plan...House Ragara
Once, it was a popular joke to call House Ragara "the Imperial Bank." Today, it's long since ceased to be a joke. A long series of shrewd investments and strategic marriage alliances has made the Earth-Aspected House Ragara by far the wealthiest of the Realm's Great Houses. They're entirely willing to share their good fortune with others...at reasonable rates of interest
, of course. But don't worry — if you can't pay them back in jade, favors or valuable information will do just as well.House V'neef
By far the youngest and smallest of the Great Houses, House V'neef is off to an excellent start. A House of very strong breeding, nearly all V'neef's scions so far have Exalted as Wood Aspects, and wise investments in vineyards and firedust have given the family a strong financial base. Prior to her disappearance, the Empress showed the House a great deal of favor as well, even granting them control of the Realm's Merchant Fleet. This favoritism did not endear House V'neef to the rest of the Scarlet Dynasty, but thanks to her extraordinary charisma and a hefty dose of cunning, V'neef has been able to keep the other Great Houses from ganging up on her family in the Empress' absence... at least, so far.
- Blue Blood: The bluest in the Dynasty.
- The Gunslinger: V'neef has quietly made sure all her children are trained in the use of firewands.
- Parental Favoritism: The other Houses view House V'neef collectively as the Empress' pets.
- Wine Is Classy: Made much of their money in vineyards, and the House mon is a stylized bunch of grapes.
Nellens was one of the Empress' mortal consorts, and one she must have cared for a great deal, for after his death she took the unprecedented step of granting his children the status of a Great House. The only Great House founded by the un-Exalted, House Nellens has still not managed to achieve anything like the Exaltation rates enjoyed by the other families of the Scarlet Dynasty, and is generally thought of as the mortal House. This makes them a bit of a joke to the Dragon-Bloods of the other Houses, who generally treat even the few Nellens who do Exalt with mild contempt. On the other hand, though, seeing a mortal family holding the same status as the major Dragon-Blooded lines does a great deal to endear House Nellens to patricians and un-Exalted Dynasts, an advantage the other Great Houses are rather foolish to ignore.
- Badass Normal: Collectively, for holding their own in a political environment dominated by — and designed to favor — the Terrestrial Exalted.
The Seventh Legion
- Asskicking Equals Authority: De facto leader of the Confederation Of Rivers because they have the best soldiers and the scariest weapons. To be fair they're usually fairly nice about it.
- Deadly Decadent Court: Averted and pretty much the only Dragon-Blooded society to do so. The Lookshy General Staff is exactly that; a General Staff, a military hierarchy. While there's some scheming here and there most of Lookshy's leaders are far too dedicated to their duty.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A combination of Feudal Japan and Sparta.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Compared to the Realm at least. They are also a big Dragon-Blooded power and have a huge, highly effective army but they don't treat mortals like cattle, they rarely if ever use slavery and they've not once tried to subjugate other nations. In fact they constantly bust their balls to keep the other Scavenger Lands nations free of outside forces. They even have a much more relaxed version of the Immaculate Order and don't immediately try to kill all Celestials...
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: ...that said they also detonated a Soulbreaker Orb, essentially a soul nuke, on a Realm army besieging Lookshy. They weren't even losing.
- That was more to do with the fact that it was NOT the first time the Realm had tried to take them over (Blockades, Pirates, and at least two full scale invasions had harried them from the beginning), but it was INDEED the last time the Scarlet Empress attempted to conquer the Seventh Legion (Nothing quite says 'Don't fuck with us ever again' like shredding the souls of half an Imperial Legion).
Gens KaralGens TeresuGens MahekaGens AmilarGens Yushoto
- Private Military Contractors: Are hired out as this or trainers to the rest of the Scavenger Lands to 1: Make sure other nations can defend themselves and 2: Remind everyone how much better at fighting Lookshy is and how foolish it would be to fight them.
- Too Awesome to Use: A real problem. They have so many lovely First Age weapons and artefacts but are incapable of fixing most of them. Once they get broken, they're gone.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Stockpiled a huge pile of First Age weapons, more than any other group including the Realm. It is no coincidence that they've not lost a war since the Contagion.
The Abyssal ExaltedThe Abyssal Exalted
are servants of the Deathlords and Neverborn
and the champions of death. The Abyssal Exalts gain their power from the Neverborn's share of the captured Solar Exaltations, which they inverted and captured inside Monstrances
. Each Abyssal is chosen from someone close to death, usually literally, and suffers from a curse
that affects them should they act like the living. This encourages them to become monsters, but as often as not, most Abyssals end up only obeying the Deathlords because they don't feel like they have a choice.
- Cursed with Awesome: Resonance tends to do bad things when it goes off... but sometimes the Exalt wants those bad things to happen, and deliberately cultivates Resonance to weaponize it. (Word of God says that this part is going away.) He's Blessed with Suck at all other times.
- Evil Makes You Ugly or Evil Is Sexy: As Abyssals rise in Essence, they have one of two options - either start investing points into Appearance and become the death that men crave, or let their Appearance naturally rot away and become the death that men fear.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Abyssals can't recover Essence naturally outside of the Underworld. They can, however, sprout fangs and drain Essence out of some poor blighter's throat.
- Redemption Equals Death: Inverted; most Abyssals become Exalted as they die, thus corrupting them rather than redeeming them. That said, it can be played straight - Abyssals can redeem their Exaltations back to Solar nature, but may well die in the attempt.
- Trauma Conga Line: Dying is often the least bad thing that happens to an Abyssal in his Exalted existence.
The Infernal ExaltedThe Infernal Exalted
, Champions of the Yozi, come in two varieties: Akuma
, who are individuals invested with Yozi power in exchange for their souls and free will; and the Green Sun Princes,
who Exalted with corrupted Solar sparks and are nascent Primordials. Most people refer to the latter when saying Infernal, despite the rarity of the Warlocks.
Tropes associated with all Green Sun Princes
- Abstract Apotheosis: Averting this is what makes Devil Tiger Infernals so impressive. A Devil Tiger has most of the capabilities of their Cosmic Principle progenitors, while remaining human enough to avoid the flaw of being near-incapable to comprehend anything outside said principle.
- Anti Anti Christ: If they choose to be.
- Contractual Genre Blindness: How they reduce Limit.
- Cursed with Awesome: More so than the Abyssals, who tend to be Blessed with Suck.
- Enemy Within: Subverted and played straight. The Unwoven Coadjutor, the Essence of the demon that bore their exaltation, remains a separate part of the Infernal's soul. It can do absolutely nothing other than offer advice. On the other hand, their memories of the First Age are so complete that it's not uncommon for one to have his Solar self be recreated in his mind... which may not be a good thing.
- Evil Sorcerer: The Primordials invented sorcery as a sort of "programming code" of Creation, Infernals draw power from the imprisoned Primordials... Making them even better examples is that the Sorcerous Enlightenment Charms specifically enhance spells in line with their respective patron's themes, meaning that a Slayer has an easier time casting destructive spells and a Fiend has aptitude with shadow and the destruction of boundaries.
- God Emperor: While "Devil-Tigers" is the most commonly used term for Infernals who go truly renegade, the original term used by the writers was "Green Sun Kings".
- Horrifying Hero: By the frakking Yozis, they're not someone you would want to face. Of course, the same could be applied to other Exalted.
- Humanoid Abomination: Even before they go down the Heretic path, they're drawing power from the Yozis. If they become Devil-Tigers, they develop into full-fledged Titan-human hybrids, potentially with a soul hierarchy... except their core being is, instead of a world-body or a Third Circle demon, their human self.
- Mad Scientist: Any Defiler worth his salt probably has the inclination, even more than Twilights (which actually annoys their patron, She Who Lives In Her Name. She wanted viceroys, not visionaries!).
- Noble Demon: As a function of Contractual Genre Blindness, heroic Infernals who don't want to go into Torment act like this.
- Rape as Backstory: Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals implies that each new Infernal is gang-raped by the Third Circle demons of his or her Yozi patron, followed by the Third Circle demons of the Yozi who created his or her urge. This is one of the many reasons why the vast majority of the fluff in that book is Canon Discontinuity.
- Transhuman: They merge body and soul with a demon as part of their Exaltation, and are slowly mutating, body mind and soul, to resemble Primordials.
Tropes associated with all Akuma
- The Dark Arts: Akumahood is a good way to get more power, at the cost of your personality being utterly rewritten into a human-scale version of your patron Yozi...
- Deal with the Devil: Really, making arrangements with the Demon Princes and their souls just isn't a good idea. Of course most people don't know that you have to give up your precious Free Will for all that power...
- Fake Memories: Occasionally, the Third Circle needs to shuffle skills around a bit. This is how.
- Loss of Identity: Because the Yozi ripped out your old identity and replaced it with a more useful one.
- Not Himself: An Akuma is a fundamentally different person than before the Demonic Investiture.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil
The Alchemical ExaltedThe Alchemical Exalted
were the prototypes for the initial Exalts (Solar, Lunar, Sidereal and Terrestrial), but were never fielded during the Primordial War. They are human souls in artificial bodies, their special powers taking the appearance of magitek
. To have a shot at Alchemical Exaltation, a soul must demonstrate heroism across multiple lifetimes. If the soul is deemed worthy, and if the resources are available, a body is crafted, the soul implanted, and the new Exalt brought to life by the animating power of the Primordial Autochthon. Every Alchemical is, to all intents and purposes, a whole new person, though they have memories of their past lives (unless a previous life was an Alchemical themselves, in which case it takes exceptional circumstances to recall anything).
When Autochthon first noted the Solars' growing insanity, he decided to hide out in Elsewhere, taking several thousand humans along with him. To help them survive in Autochthonia, his world-body, Autochthon taught them the secrets of Alchemical Exaltation, enabling them to create champions who would protect them from the dangers of Autochthonia's internal environments.
That was several thousand years ago, and Autochthon's starting to run down. Resources are low, more and more babies are being stillborn, and blight zones and gremlins, the manifestations of Autochthon's illness, are steadily increasing. Nevertheless, the Champions stand ready to defend their people.
- Artificial Human: They can do pretty much anything normal humans can do. One major exception is their inability to reproduce (though not to say they can't be damn good at doing it for fun - see Thousandfold Courtesan Calculations and their body shaping charms). If they are able to reproduce, that means something is very, very wrong, because the only way to do so is with Void charms.
- Chainsaw Good: It's not enough that they have a weapon known as the Gyroscopic Chakram. Oh, no. They have an entire Martial Arts style (Thousand-Wounds Gear) based around it.
- Cyborg: Their core body is primarily fleshy clay, but their Charms are metal.
- Genius Loci: At essence 8, they grow into living cities.
- Humongous Mecha: At essence 6, they grow into these.
- Killer Robot / Robotic Psychopath: Once the Alchemical gets Dissonance they become this. The latter trope can also apply to high-Clarity Alchemicals, who abandon any concept of morality except for sheer, utilitarian efficiency.
- Magitek: Gee, where would you get that idea?
- The Spock: Certain Charms and spells require that they acquire Clarity, which brings them more in line with the thought process of Autochthon. This also makes them more robotic and emotionless, causing them to base most of their decisions on logic and protocol. Some Alchemicals endeavor to avoid such a thing by spending lots of time with human friends and loved ones.
It's made fairly explicit, however, that a high-Clarity Alchemical does not turn into a preachy Vulcan who talks incessantly about the "logical course of action"; their Clarity simply drives them towards the most efficient course of action.
The Liminal Exalted
Like the Abyssals, the Liminal Exalted
, or Chernozem, are associated with the Underworld. They are ghost hunters and exorcists, and can fight a Lunar to a draw in one-on-one combat in the right circumstances. Their name links them to rebirth, and they're somewhat similar to Prometheans
Created through the holy necromancy of the mysterious entity called the Dark Mother when her attention is drawn to those truly determined to bring back the dead, Liminals are dead bodies given new life — sometimes patchwork, sometimes not. The "no backsies" rule applies, however: Liminals are not the people whose corpses made them, nor ghosts dredged from The Underworld
— they are entirely new souls who are effectively "born Exalted," having only trace memories of said corpse donors. If need be, they can even hack off the parts of the recently dead to replace any unsatisfactory organs they already have. Standing between death and life themselves, their mission is to keep the dead and the living balanced, champions of Lethe — though they are not bound to that purpose, and can set out to find their own place in Creation.
First introduced in Masters of Jade
- Back from the Dead: Since they are not 'alive' in a conventional sense, they can get around the No-Resurrection rule... to a point.
- Came Back Wrong: The likely belief of the people trying to resurrect their old bodies. There is no resurrection involved, though.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Their core mission is essentially creative and nonviolent, and the Dark Mother is very much an example of Good Parents.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The conundrum of a Liminal's existence leaves him wondering just for what purpose he exists.
- Expy: One criticism that has been made about their Kickstarter preview for third edition is that it's too focused on their Promethean inspiration and doesn't build up enough of their own distinct identity.
- Foil: To Abyssals — while Abyssals are the living brought into death, the Liminals are the dead remade into new life.
- Frankenstein's Monster: What they are. Like the Monster, they are possessed of incredible strength and wonder about their place in the world.
- The Hunter: The Liminals have an inclination towards dealing with those who trespass the boundary of life and death, such as ghosts and other undead.
- Kill It with Fire / Kill It with Water: Burning and drowning can interfere with Liminal resurrection.
- Mix-and-Match Man: Some Liminals start out this way, and it's quite likely most of them will end up like this eventually.
- Power Copying: Why they swap body parts — certain memories of skills and abilities are contained in certain body parts, and sometimes the Chernozem wants it.
- Pulling Themselves Together: Can survive dismemberment as long as the pieces are later brought close together. Even then, a few missing parts can be dealt with as long as they can find or make a handy corpse.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Well, destroying the brain works. Removing the head might, so long as you keep the pieces well separated.
The Getimian ExaltedThe Getimian Exalted
are another brand new Exalted type, revealed in the Third Edition spoilers. Counterparts to the Sidereals, Getimians have colonies of Pattern Spiders
living in their spines, their bones replaced by webbing. This means, of course, that each is effectively a living Loom of Fate, and their powers reflect that: Whereas the Sidereals draw themes and powers from enlightened teachers of Shinto, Getimians are themed after Taoist alchemists
, to the point where instead of Personal and Peripheral Essence Pools, they have Yin and Yang
ones, with effects on their personalities and powers depending on how balanced (or...not) they are.
And, for reasons as yet unknown, they are engaged as agents in a war on Heaven. No, not the Sidereals. Heaven
- Anti-Villain: Loathing of the gods, in any other setting, would mark one as the embodiment of hubris. Here, it comes off as a perfectly reasonable reaction, if a little lacking in nuance.
- It should also be noted that while all Getimians have a bone to pick with the gods, they're quite capable of understanding the difference between the corrupt and the honest-at least one spoiler character works in Yu-Shan as a consultant of the Sidereals, helping maintain Creation from the divine side.
- Foil: To Sidereals.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Read that again: They have spiders living in their spines. Spiders.
- Rage Against the Heavens: And a rogue Sidereal, Rakan Thulio, is leading their war.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: They can draft their own Fates using their pattern spiders and internal Loom, disrupting the pattern of the true Loom.
Strictly speaking, the Exigents
Exalted type so much as a collection
of Exalted types. What links them all, however, is their common source: in times of need, a god can pray to the Unconquered Sun to be allowed to create a unique Exalt of their own, and should he approve, the god in question can call upon the Exigence — the divine flame — in order to empower their new Exalt. Said Exalt will gain powers based upon their divine patron's domain - for example, a Chosen of Gambling will have gambling-themed powers, while a Chosen of Harvests will have harvest-themed powers. The cost to the god can be high, though — in the case of the weaker ones, calling upon the Exigence can cost them their lives. Still, there are gods who would pay even that
price to see their domain protected. Revealed, like the Getimians, in the Third Edition spoilers.
The "Black Market" Exalted
No, they're not Chosen of the 'black market'. Where other Exigents' divine patrons received the Exigence as a gift, the patrons of the 'black market' Exalts... acquired it through less-than-legal methods (that some of them happen to be Forbidden Gods probably plays a part). Like their legal "cousins," the 'black market' Exigents are a collection of Exalt types, each with their own unique set of powers. Despite the name, however, being
a 'black market' Exalt need not put one at odds with Heaven.
Then there are the 'dirty bomb' Exalted, who have had a number of spirits modify the Exigence as it passed from hand to hand. The result is an aberration of incredible power — and when dealing with the Exalted, that's saying something.
were born long ago, in the infinite Wyld
where chaos ruled supreme. They grew tired of battling their Unshaped cousins, so they decided to make a place where they could have some peace. And so Creation was born, which was attended to by their slave race of Gods as they played the Games of Divinity
in heaven. In time, the Gods grew tired of the constant abuse their creators laid on them, so the greatest of the Gods (the Incarnae) decided it was time to revolt.
There was just one problem. The Primordials anticipated that Gods might betray them, and geased them at their creation to never directly
harm their masters. To get around this, the Incarnae (with help from two relatively good Primordials who had joined their side, Gaia and Autochthon) imbued mortals
with their epic cosmic strength to become the titular Exalted, for the Primordials thought Humanity could never pose a threat to them personally. That...didn't work out too well for them
The Primordials were cut down from heaven as the Gods ascended to take their place, leaving them undead (the Neverborn) or imprisoned inside their own king (the Yozi). The only ones left unscathed are Gaia and Autochthon.
Tropes associated with all Primordials
- Crippling Overspecialization: Deconstructed — each Primordial embodies a different concept so completely that they have a hard time understanding anything outside of their paradigm. This is at least one reason why they were overthrown.
- Eldritch Abomination: They're Genius Loci with multiple, self-aware souls that have their own multiple, self-aware souls. What they aren't alien in, however, is their emotions — it's perhaps more accurate to say we have theirs, and each one has a personality that can be understood from a human perspective.
- Genius Loci: Their jouten (bodies) include vast worlds that can be much, much larger than Creation, with their Third Circle Souls often making up various landscapes and other massive features.
- Hive Mind: Soul hierarchies kinda-sorta work this way.
- Hive Queen / Soul Jar: The Fetich Soul — the one that contains the Primordial's self-image — works like this. Kill it, and you've basically reset the Primordial's identity.
- Idiot Savant: Fans and writers alike favour this term as a description for them. In 2E their Charms make them transcendentally brilliant in areas related to their themes. In anything else... they're rather less capable.note
Except for Autochthon. He's spent so much time around humans, that he has an easier time understanding things outside of his purview due to their influence on him. Problem? He still SUCKS at compared to humans' flexibility of thought.
- Mad God:
- Come off as this — the Primordials literally think differently from everyone else, including other Primordials. As a result, they can perform the most horrific of acts not out of any actual malevolence, but because they don't see why it's wrong. Autochthon and Gaia are the only ones capable of social empathy due to their purview (or rather, Gaia is, while Autochthon made himself capable of it), but even they can perform Kick the Dog acts while being completely baffled as to why the dog in question is mad at them.
- However, their imprisonment has since made the Yozis a different kind of mad. Where they were once happy to just ignore mortal suffering, being cast into Hell by a bunch of puny hairless apes has made that kind of detachment impossible, and now they've grown so bitter and vengeful that most of them are actively malicious toward humanity. (And, of course, the Ebon Dragon was always fairly malevolent as a simple function of what he is.)
- The Old Gods: Both older and more powerful than (most) of the gods.
- Our Titans Are Different: They're referred to as titans, and their overthrow is inspired by the Greek myth of the Titanomachia. But on the other hand they're not remotely humanoid, nor strictly divine.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Urges and torment are intrinsic to the Primordial condition.
The YozisThe Yozis
are the Primordials who were defeated in the War and imprisoned in the body of their fallen King, with many being mutilated in some way by the Exalts and Gods. They lie in Hell, hating their treacherous creations, and working towards the day when they'll be able to escape. Or, at least, some of them are. They're also insane, backstabbing, and self-loathing monsters, who can often get in each other's way as they make their escape attempts.Tropes associated with all Yozis (With the exception of the Ebon Dragon where it applies)
- Abusive Parents: To demons.
- Being Evil Sucks: Save Adorjan, none of the Yozis find fulfillment and comfort in their spite, not even the Ebon Dragon (there's always something more).
- Dysfunction Junction: Word of God has stated that the personality of each Yozi is modeled on a different real-life psychiatric disorder. That, and all of them possess some amount of ennui and general depression.
- Obliviously Evil: Back when they were free, though they've picked up more than a little bitterness over the years.
You remember that bit about Fetich Souls? Kill it, and the Primordial has its identity completely and irrevocably altered?
With the Neverborn
, the Solars went one step beyond. Several, in fact.
Unlike the Yozis, who were merely lessened and bound by a Geas
, the Primordials who would become the Neverborn were killed completely — every
Third Circle soul, every
scrap of dirt from their Genius Loci
bit that connected them to Creation. This did not
go well. You see, Lethe, the mysterious mechanism by which souls have their memories scrubbed and put in newborn bodies, was never meant to handle a Primordial soul, since they never realized they could be truly killed. However, since Creation was of Primordial design, neither could the Wyld reabsorb them or Oblivion
wipe them from reality. So, the metaphysical Essence of creation...broke
— and by extension, the Underworld
— was born.
This would be bad enough — how would you
feel if the god-monster you killed came back with the ability to phase through walls and massively pissed off? — except, for some reason, the Neverborn could not
become ghosts, instead becoming massive, oddly-built
cathedral-tombs of soulsteel and obsidian. In them, their minds lived on in an endless nightmare, between being and unbeing
, knowing nothing but pain...
...At least, until the Black Nadir Concordant
had the bright
idea to wake five of them up
to learn necromancy
Now aware, their dark will infests the Labyrinth in the form of the Whispers
, bending ghosts to their nihilistic will
and transforming them into malevolent spectres. What's more, they're practically all-knowing
; everything a ghost has known or a person who rose as one, filters down to them. While they aren't as much help as they could be
, a being with the Whispers can attune their dreams to theirs
and learn much of the world...and how to destroy it.
For that is what the Neverborn, mad to incomprehensibility they may be, desire — not out of true malice, but to end their pain by any means
- And I Must Scream: Their entire existence. Imagine what it would be like to have gangrene eat your body... forever. That's not even close to what the Neverborn experience. *shudder*
- Bigger Bad: Behind the Deathlords. Since the latter happen to be more interesting villains — i.e., individual personalities — they mostly stay on the sidelines in favor of their servants.
- Cessation of Existence: What they want for everything in Creation.
- The Corruption: The Whispers — have them, and you can basically read the mind of the most knowledgeable beings in existence. Unfortunately, they come part and parcel with the Whispers of Oblivion, the Neverborn's psychic will. This entices a person to become a raving lunatic, and in ghosts eventually leads to...
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Spectres, the ghosts who succumbed to the Whispers and now worship the Neverborn as part of a mad pseudo-faith. Thankfully, they have absolutely no organization, and Heroic Willpower can throw off the Whispers of Oblivion. Unwanted Whisper (har har), one of the Councilors of Stygia, has a Whispers rating, but has long since broken free of their influence.
- Eldritch Abomination: Let's make this clear — they aren't supposed to exist.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Boy howdy. See And I Must Scream
- Omnicidal Maniac: Destroying all of Creation is, as far as they can tell, the only way to end their eternal torment. Plus they don't feel like owing Creation any favors for putting them in this situation.
- Non-Human Undead: They are the undead remains of Primordials, though apparently not including what used to be their souls.
- The Power of the Void: Oblivion, which they often utilize.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: As evil as they are, they're motivated by the fact that they've been tortured for thousands of years more horrifically than anything else in the setting. Probably more than everything else in the setting, including the Yozis, combined. And destroying Creation is their only way out.
were once the slaves of the Primordials
, created to take care of Creation while they played the Games of Divinity. In time, the gods grew discontent at their slavery. They could raise no hand against their creators, however, so they empowered mere mortals to be both their weapons and their champions. These chosen mortals, these Exalted, then rose up and made war against the Primordials on the gods’ behalf. After years of battle, the Primordials were defeated, and the gods became the new masters of heaven, leaving Creation to be ruled by their Exalted champions.
Tropes associated with all Gods
The Celestial Incarnae
The most powerful gods in Yu-Shan, the ones who created the first Celestial Exalted and helped lead the offensive against the Primordials. They were first created by the Primordials to maintain the structure of Creation while the Primordials played the Games of Divinity. After having it up to here with the fickle and somewhat selfish whims of the Primordials, they empowered the Exalted to fight against the Primordials. Once they were defeated, the Incarnae handed the reins of Creation to their Exalted while they took over the Games of Divinity.
- Celestial Paragons and Archangels: They're the most powerful gods in Exalted. Whether or not they're good guys depends on whether or not you're trying to get along with Creation, or self-absorbedly using it for your own goals.
- Solar and Lunar: The Unconquered Sun and Luna, obviously.
The creations of Authochthon, the Pattern Spiders maintain the Loom of Fate, ensuring that the threads remain running along the appropriate lines and that causality remains in effect. This being something of a full-time job, the Pattern Spiders haven't had a break in a long
time. Because of this, if they're subjected to an increased work load due to Essence expenditure or Astrology, they can get... tetchy. That said, watching through the Loom as the Exalted perform incredible and awesome feats is the closest thing they get to good entertainment, so they tend to give the more awesome feats a bit of a leg up (thus explaining the Stunting rules).
- Butt Monkeys: Between Sidereal Astrology, Verdant Emptiness Endowment, beings Outside Fate, and all the other things that screw up the Loom, one gets the idea the spiders can't get a break.
- Clock Roaches: They can detect your fate strand in the Loom, and they will bite it if you sufficiently piss them off.
- Fantastic Racism: Towards Sidereals, since Astrology forces yet more work on them.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: They're made out of all of the Magical Materials put together.
- Stalker Without A Crush: Rarely, one will become obsessed with a specific fate strand, leading to this.
Dogs of the Unbroken Earth
Tropes associated with all Elementals
Elementals of Air
Elemental Dragons of Air
Elementals of Fire
Golden Fire Keepers
Elemental Dragons of Fire
Elementals of Water
Elemental Dragons of Water
Elementals of Wood
Kings of the Wood
Elemental Dragons of Wood
Elementals of Earth
Black Tar Vortices
Elemental Dragons of Earth
The Primordials aren't just physically immense; they're spiritually immense as well, such that they have multiple souls which take on an existence separate from their parent Primordial.
These souls are the devas of the Third Circle, and they
are of sufficient spiritual magnitude that they typically have seven souls of their own, which themselves have independent existence. These are known as the devas of the Second Circle.
Second Circle devas are small enough, spiritually, that they possess only one soul within themselves. Their offspring, the devas of the First Circle, are not part of a Primordial's soul hierarchy.
The Yozis' devas became demons with their progenitors' defeat in the Primordial War. Most of the Neverborn's devas died with their parent Primordial. Only Gaia and Autochthon have had their devas remain as such, although Autochthon has... tinkered with his soul structure.
See: Devas. For the most part, the difference between deva and demon is a political one — there is still a Third Circle, who gives birth to a series of Second Circles, who create First Circle servants.
The other difference? Their personalities
You see, all demons, besides being descended from beings who now qualify as insane, self-loathing, and emotionally abusive (physical abuse tends to get the demons dead), all of them spend the vast majority of their (theoretically immortal) lives in Malfeas, who is usually planning to commit small-scale genocide at any moment as an extension of his self-loathing. While trying to keep all their limbs attached to their bodies, they have to deal with the screwed-up social system put in place by Cecelyne, which rewards cruelty and callousness
and punishes charity. This, combined with a Byzantine and draconian set of taboos — for example, Cecelyne bans demons looking at her sacred color, azure... which is the color of the ink used in her written laws — means that at any practical time, a priest of Cecelyne (who are not demons themselves, but possibly loyalist gods) may choose a demon at random to torment and bully. This, combined with the deliberately anarchic yet corrupt and bloated government...You get the idea
That said, few demons, not even Third Circles, are inherently evil. Many are bitter and selfish; most are simply alien thanks to the bizarre Motivations encoded into then. When push comes to shove, the average demon is not altogether different from a god; it's quite possible to ally with them. A Sidereal Charm — albeit currently a Sealed Technique
— is specifically made for converting willing demons into gods so that the Yozis cannot use their connection to take them over
Just don't expect that to be easy, and for the romance
fans, keep in mind — demons think Love Hurts
First Circle Demons
Erymanthoi, the Blood-ApesProgeny of She-Who-Stands-In-Doorways
Most Exalted demons, while not peaceful, are rather alien to popular ideas. They aren't ravening monsters, they aren't elemental beings of fury, and they don't kill for the hell of it.
Erymanthoi are the exception that proves the rule.
Carnivorous gorillas with bone spikes
sticking out of their joints and reddish fur, Erymanthoi are the cheap muscle of the Yozis, with their fast reproduction process (utilizing painful acupuncture to make a blood-ape scream just so
that the sound gathers flesh and becomes a new Erymanthus) making them cheap and effective soldiers to throw at a problem needing to be dead or harried, and great for heavy lifting. Blood Knights
to the core, an Erymanthus that is allowed to hunt for his own food
is a happy Erymanthus, leading them to be the minion of choice
for infenalists everywhere.
Neomah, the Weavers of FleshProgeny of the Weaver of Voices
Attractive, shapeshifting demons that live to fulfill a business arrangement: negotiable affections in exchange for pieces of flesh from their clients. From these pieces, they create new life, and then move on.
- Designer Babies: They can be summoned to make them.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Sort of. They're not particularly good at it.
- Hermaphrodite: Comes from being able to change gender at will. That being said, the default form of a neomah is a slightly-androgynous female, so neomah traditionally get feminine pronouns.
- Horny Devils: The poster "girls."
- Mundane Utility: That a neomah can produce a child from any donors, and that one of the ways a neomah can be called to Creation is via the mixing of parents' tears and afterbirth of a stillborn child, cannot possibly be coincidence.
- Purple-Hided Demon Lady: A neomah's true form.
Noresores, the Passion MoraysProgeny of the Weaver of Voices
Decanthropes, the Body SnatchersProgeny of the Grieving Lord
Metody, the Malfean ElementalsProgeny of the Grieving Lord
Metody are the "elementals" of Vitriol, a liquid that catalyzes growth and transformation. The hate of Malfeas has turned it into an incredibly caustic acid, but Metody can be instructed to cleanse it into its more useful form.
- Elemental Powers: Of a sort. They're demons, not actual Elementals.
- Hollywood Acid: Even in its purified state, Vitriol is still a "transcedent acid," a fact metody use to their advantage. Still, if properly used, purified Vitriol can burn away only the weakness of items immersed in it, given, say, silk the resistance of steel while remaining its flexibility and softness.
Gilmyne, the Dancers at the Saigoth GatesProgeny of the Guardian of Sleep
Perronele, the Living ArmorProgeny of the Guardian of Sleep
Tinsiana, the Scorpion DemonsProgeny of the Guardian of Sleep
Agatae, the Beauteous WaspsProgeny of the Whim-of-the-Wind
As their title implies, agatae are wasps so impossibly beautiful that even their cruelest summoners can rarely bring themselves to harm one unless their lives depend on it. Big enough to carry two armored men, their purpose is to serve as steeds.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: ...But beautiful crystalline ones, and quite likeable overall as demons go.
- Horse of a Different Color: Yes, their purpose is to be ridden on, and they like it that way.
- Giant Flyer: It's a giant wasp that acts as a riding mount. Check.
- Mood-Swinger: The strange philosophical thoughts they're usually thinking can sometimes trigger bizarre and unpredictable mood swings.
- Starfish Aliens: Agatae are highly intelligent, but in an inhuman way that's very difficult to comprehend.
Naneke, the Readers of Forbidden TextsProgeny of the Masterful Scholar
Gethin, the Harvesters of RaritiesProgeny of the Living Tower
Luminata, the Deer That Hunt MenProgeny of the Living Tower
From a distance, a luminata looks like a beautiful white deer. Up close, you can see it's actually a deer-shaped mass of writhing white tentacles. It'll generally run from humans... until the hunters stumble or tire. Then, the hunt turns around
Tomescu, the Clamorous Cloud ArsenalsProgeny of the Living Tower
Many species of demon fight, but there are a few who are exclusively meant for the battlefield, and most of these are motivated by loot, glory, or bloodlust. Not the tomescu. The clamorous cloud arsenals are brave in battle not because of their attitude towards it, but because each and every one of them knows that it will die, and has a general idea of how
It's impossible to tell what a tomescu looks like
, because as the title suggests, they're surrounded by a thick cloud at all times
(though anecdotal writing suggests they look like a cross between a crab and a praying mantis). What is
visible, though, are the dozens of weapons
they're holding at any given time — and they're very good at wielding them, to the point where they can counter or parry against all attackers in a given combat. The other part of their name refers to an interesting quirk of theirs — every day, at dawn and dusk, the vast majority of clamorous cloud arsenals scream in dismay
at the anticipation of their inevitable doom (and indeed, this is how demons can tell what time it is
— thanks to Ligier never setting
, the screams of the tomescu are the only way to tell when it hits night or day in Creation). Only one in 10,000 tomescu don't do this, and 99 times out of a hundred, that's because the individual tomescu is mute or insensate, or they've simply come to terms with their death.
The hundredth? He doesn't scream, on the basis that his death is too glorious for him to worry about
. Fear these tomescu
- The Fatalist: Every Tomescu knows how they will die.
- Screw Destiny: They don't actually try this, but thwarting a destiny in Creation occasionally lets one out. Most of the escapees get ganked by Sidereals drawn to the glitches this causes, but there's always going to be a few stragglers...
- Seers: Due to their interesting relationship with Fate, a tomescu often understands how fairly minor actions can advance the cause of the Yozis. As a result, stopping a tomescu is often a lot easier then ensuring her schemes don't come to fruition.
Gallmau, the Hooded LanternsProgeny of the Answer to the Earth
Despite their mother having changed in nature and title, the gallmau are still very much an extant race of demons, still cleaving to the purpose of guiding people through spelunking the Demon City's and Creation's deep places. Serpentine, flexible demons, a gallmau's face is little more than a mouth with a pale blue-white glow shining from it
...right up until they peel their lips back like a hood
, which reveals the source of the light is a rather large tongue, and the inside of their mouth looks something like an ivory flower
Guiding people around is not the general Goal in Life
of the hooded lanterns, though — no, that would be making more hooded lanterns
. And it's pretty easy for them, too — in a place lit only by its own tongue, a gallmau plucks out a dying person's (human or demon — they aren't picky) teeth and tongue, and impregnates itself with them. One hour later, it spits out a larval gallmau
, which grows to maturity in a year.
Oh, and if a gallmau is born in Creation, it stays
in Creation, free of any sorcerous bindings on its parent. Yeah, they can get to be a problem
- A Light in the Distance: Gallmau will resort to this tactic if they can — and their Charms make their tongue-light seem even more appealing.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Inverted. They're Aliens Full of Other Species' Wing Wong, with the caveat it's not exactly Wing Wong.
- Hermaphrodite: It's arguable whether they even have genders, and in any case, all gallmau can give birth.
- Kill It with Fire: Why explorers of dark places are advised to carry torches — open flame inflicts aggravated damage on hem.
- Typhoid Mary: Their saliva carries rabies. They could not care less.
Angyalkae, the HarpistsProgeny of the Kite Flute
Teodozjia, the Lions Sent Into The WorldProgeny of the Kite Flute
Teodozjia look like big jade lions
. Their purpose is to recite and spread their scripture, which teaches the folly of loving mortal things when it is the will of the Yozis that humanity should wither and die.
- Anti Christ: The teodozjia attack priests of the gods on sight.
- Cross-Melting Aura: Their presence taints and destroys holy symbols.
- Hive Mind: Every teodozjia shares the same mind and memories.
Amphelisiae, the Teakettle CourtiersProgeny of the Jewelled Auditor
Demjen, the Quickeners of OresProgeny of the Jewelled AuditorMermaid
(and merman)-like demons with the ability to swim in the air
, demjen are one of the Adorjani demon races whose music their progenitor cannot stand, but unlike their anglykae cousins, music is not their end goal as well — rather, it's the magic
by which they get their name: by singing at metals, a demjen can cause it to animate and assemble itself into a crustacean-shaped Robot Buddy
called a chalcothete, which serve as both minion and occasional food source
(though the demjen honestly hate it when they have to do that). While not mean by any stretch (they have a Compassion of 3 and their general Goal in Life
is simply to create more chalcothetes from unworked metal), they can be a real pain in the hands of a clever master — any
metal is game for their abilities, up to and including that used in weapons. Thus, a demjen able to get within voiceshot of a heavily armed warrior can walk away with a dozen more chalcothetes, and the warrior either naked and/or dead, depending on the quickener's mood.
- Fearless Fool: Not them, but chalcothetes simply don't care if they die, only about the pain. They are also rather stupid.
- Sirens Are Mermaids: They look like merpeople, and they universally posses a nice set of pipes.
Marottes, the Hopping PuppeteersProgeny of the Jewelled Auditor
An inactive marotte looks like a fist-sized knot of rope covered in disgusting slime. When it's active, several gangly legs extend from the central mass. Naturally driven to alter their environment, they're very handy for construction jobs.
Hopping puppeteers are particularly notable for being very fond of human infants... in more or less the same way humans are fond of flowers: while they really genuinely like the infants, it's in a way that doesn't involve empathizing with them
or knowing anything about how to take care of them. Given the opportunity, a marotte will carry around as many babies as it can manage until it notices they've died of thirst, at which point it drops the corpses and wanders off to look for fresh ones.
- Babies Make Everything Better: In the most disturbingly literal way!
- Black Comedy: There's a lot of potential for it in the whole infant obsession.
- Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: They love to carry around babies. They just have no idea how to take care of them, nor interest in learning how.
- Poisonous Person: Their slime is not exactly literally poisonous, but it is addictive, and once the addiction has progressed far enough it generally leads to attempts to ingest an entire inactive marotte, which will kill you.
Chrysogonae, the Crying WomenProgeny of the Sigil's Dreamer
Ever wonder what the Exalted
version of a "demonic tempter" is? Well, this is them.
A chrysogona resembles what would happen if you took a tree and carved it to resemble an impossibly old woman with a Tragedy mask for a face, who walks on her long branch-fingers (but not
by moving them — rather, when they want to go somewhere they grow new finger-branches while burning the excess ones). Master manipulators
, chrysogonae feed on ambition
, to the point where an ambitious subordinate overthrowing his rightful (by cultural standards) leader can allow one to escape Malfeas without summoning. They set about this by encouraging people to act on their desires instead of their needs, so a smart summoner sets them to advise their enemies and watches from a safe distance as they self-destruct.
That being said, their common appellation arises from something that actually disgusts them
— the crying women despise beauty being destroyed or true love betrayed, and that's what causes them to turn on the Water Works
. But don't be fooled — they won't hesitate if their summoner orders them, and even when they're gone, a piece of themselves remains in those they manipulate — and their crying can be heard in the rain...
- Beware the Nice Ones: They're fairly civil, for demons. But they're still some of the most dangerous off the battefield.
- Emotion Eater: Ambition is the only sustenance they find palatable.
- Obviously Evil: Lampshaded — the text of their Subtle Whisper ability points out it's the only thing that allows a chrysogona to be trusted.
- The Virus: A chrysogonae's bite causes their victims to transfigure into wood. Thanks to their Healing Factor, Exalts can recover, but a mortal killed by this has their wooden corpse quickly turn itself into a new chrysogona. Thankfully, they can't use this to create a Crying Women Apocalypse — they're rather frail.
Bisclavarets, the Shadow EatersProgeny of the Shadow-Lover
Firmin, the Makers of NeedlesProgeny of the Keeper of the Forge of Night
Sesseljae, the Stomach Bottle BugsProgeny of the Keeper of the Forge of Night
Aalu, the Cannibal BureaucratsProgeny of the Minister of the Ivory Tassel
Baidak, the Empty PawnsProgeny of the Player of Games
Radeken, the Madling HellstormsProgeny of the Vitriolic Dragon
Eristrufa, the Mist-DemonsProgeny of the Dam of the Eristrufa
Heranhal, the Fervid SmithsProgeny of the Blood of the Forge
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: They're damn good smiths, but very obsessed with sex.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Pretty much — they're womanizers, and they're excellent blacksmiths. They just happen to have a wider range of crafts then most dwarves in fiction.
Anuhles, the Demon SpidersProgeny of everyone and their mother
If you look hard enough, you can find at least one form of giant spider demon descended from each Yozi, often with abilities distinct from those descended from each other Yozi. Rather than dividing them up individually, savants just lump them all under the heading 'anuhle' and call it good.
Tropes associated with all Ghosts
The Dual Monarchy
The Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin
Where the Guild (see the Exalted Other page, Mortals folder) are living Creation's premier trade organisation, the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin serve as the Underworld's. The wealth of mortals, however, is a commonplace in the realms of the dead; what truly matters are souls. And the Timeless Order has had many centuries to become adept in trading — and enslaving — them.
The Timeless Order is far older than the Guild, tracing its origins to the First Age. When the Guild rose to power after the Great Contagion, however, it caught the Order's attention, returning their focus to Creation after centuries concerned with the dead. The Order looked upon the Guild, and decided that it was theirs
, now — their anchor and their obsession.
In the Order, the Guild have found something even more predatory than themselves, something that sees the Guild as their special
Or in other words, excellent employment opportunities after they die.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: They are undying, and they are perfectly fine with that.
- Mega Corp.: Undead Version!
- N.G.O. Superpower: If they wanted, they could take on the Deathlords. Unfortunately, most of their leaders are solidly neutral about this (the most prominent advocate of anti-Deathlord policies is the founder of the Guild, and he's the youngest so they don't listen to him).
- Shadow Archetype: To the Guild. Which is saying something.
The Fair Folk
RakshaThe Fair Folk
— or raksha, as they call themselves — are, to put it simply, sentient aspects of the Wyld
In their native, Unshaped forms, the raksha appear as a combination Genius Loci
— a setting, and the major characters within it. (The similarities to the Primordials have been noted.)
To survive in Creation, they must take on a shaped form, and subsist off the emotions of mortals. They don't have
to damage the mortals they feed on... but it's often more nourishing for them.
Being effectively Eldritch Abominations
in the guise of living stories, the raksha don't think like mortals do. They think in terms of narratives and stories — what is most dramatically appropriate. They put on roles and cast them off as they see fit. That the Creation-born don't think this way can be a source of resentment or fascination for the raksha, depending.
One thing that may help to understand something of raksha psychology: in their native realms, normal actions don't matter
, since they can just shrug them off. The only real way for raksha to have an impact on one another is through shaping combat, their reality-warping games where internal realities are pitted against each other. Creation, and the Creation-born, ignore this, enforcing their reality on the raksha. When something of Creation acts on the raksha, that action has lasting results, and cannot be shrugged off. As with so much else about Creation, this leaves the raksha... conflicted.
Tropes associated with Raksha in general
- Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Raksha can turn gossamer (a substance they harvest from the Wyld or the dreams of mortals) into anything, including money. A Raksha with a Gossamer 3 Background has the equivalent of Resources 5 in Creation. At Gossamer 4, they can make three Resources 5 level purchases (i.e., palaces or private armies) per game session. And at Gossamer 5, they can make infinite Resources 5 purchases until the Wyld Hunt or the Sidereals get curious enough to investigate. And then it is time to run.
- Barehanded Blade Block: Your basic Raksha defensive Charms provide this in Creation.
- The Beastmaster: "World-Angering Beast Mastery" and "Thousand Gnawing Fangs" provide this power.
- The Beautiful Elite: Raksha nobles are fabled for their superhuman Appearance ratings. And there are Raksha Charms that make the user so beautiful that people will do whatever they want or even become physically addicted to their presence.
- Blue and Orange Morality: They honestly don't understand why their actions have permanent consequences in Creation, and that frightens them to no end.
- Changeling Tale: Quite often, Raksha in Creation will satiate their hungers by abducting a mortal to Mind Rape. This practice, probably more than any other, is what makes them so feared. On the other hand, many just buy slaves from the Guild instead.
- Church Militant: The Church of Balor draws its thematic from that trope — even though most raksha know it's just another story to keep themselves alive and entertained.
- Creative Sterility: Paradoxically, since they can't create anything lasting, raksha have a hard time drawing new ideas from themselves without giving themselves partially over to Creation — in which case they aren't truly raksha anymore.
- Deadly Decadent Court: All Raksha courts are these.
- The Dreaded: Nothing scares the Muggles more than the Fair Folk. Even many Dragon-Blooded see them as bigger threats than the Solar Exalts.
- Eldritch Abomination: Unshaped Raksha.
- Elemental Embodiment: "Assumption of (Element) Shape" will turn a Raksha into this.
- Elemental Powers: The Elemental Influence Charm tree.
- Emotion Bomb: The Emotional Influence Charm tree.
- Emotion Eater: In their case, the Virtues. If they chew on down long enough, the victim is left a mindless husk.
- The Fair Folk: No. Really? We never would have guessed.
- Fate Worse Than Death: A mortal who falls in with the Raksha will be repeatedly Mind Raped until he/she becomes a soulless, near-mindless drone. And then he/she will probably be sold to the Guild as a slave.
- Glamour: All Raksha Charms that affect the world around them are called "glamours," but certain Charms are what this trope describes. Most Raksha use them to recruit victims for feeding.
- Humanoid Abomination: Shaped Raksha.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Sort of. They understand humans perfectly well, and admire our imaginations. Creation itself freaks them out.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The hannya, the generation of Unshaped that arose after the Balorian Crusade. They are endlessly hungry, predatory stories, and what they prey on is other raksha.
- It Amused Me: If a shaped Raksha is not an Omnicidal Maniac, this will probably be its motivation.
- Lack of Empathy: Most Raksha, specifically those with a Compassion Grace below a certain level. They don't understand that other creatures are not merely an extension of their will.
- Little Bit Beastly: Depending on how many Mutations a Raksha with "Assumption of Bestial Visage" takes, they will appear to be one or the other.
- Magically-Binding Contract: A Raksha who swears an oath is compelled to fulfill it or suffer severe consequences. Some Creation-born think they can trick Raksha into making such an oath and thereby control them, but any Raksha worth its salt is a master of Loophole Abuse and Exact Words for precisely that reason.
- Master of Illusion: In the Wyld, Raksha are Reality Warpers. In Creation, they have to make do with spreading a little gossamer into the surrounding reality and creating illusions of what they want. These illusions last a season (or until the Raksha leaves reality and heads back to the Wyld), but Your Mind Makes It Real until that happens.
- Mind Rape: In theory, a Raksha requires consent to use its Emotion Eater powers on you. In practice, "consent" obtained through Mind Manipulation counts. This creates something of a disincentive for a Raksha to take the time to talk to you into it.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: A Raksha with "Bastion of the Self (Heart)" is totally immune to all forms of damage except those delivered by magic or weapons forged of Cold Iron.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Many Raksha want to destroy all of Creation and return all to the Wyld. On the other hand, many, if not most, have gone native and want to keep Creation around, if only For the Evulz.
- Our Elves Are Better: Enforced by game mechanics. A Raksha noble is at least better than average in all Attributes, the peak of human achievement in most, and superhuman in at least a couple. And then there's the Charm that grants them automatic successes on a chosen skill.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Most of them. They just don't "get" how reality works. Specific areas they have trouble grasping include the sentience of other creatures and the permanence of death.
- Reality Warper: In the Wyld, a Raksha noble can summon up and dismiss whatever it wants: objects, buildings, mythical beasts, whole countries full of people, whatever. They need to use a Charm to make it permanent, but those are easy enough for a noble to learn.
- Speak of the Devil: Saying their name won't actually summon them, but most mortals believe it will. Hence, "the Fair Folk."
- Theory of Narrative Causality: The closest thing the Wyld has to a law of physics. Raksha glamours work by bringing a little of that into Creation and spreading it around.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: In the Wyld, a shaped Raksha can look like whatever it wants. In Creation, they have to make do with Charms (which have to fit the theme of their Assumption).
- Weaksauce Weakness: Cold Iron.
- The Wild Hunt: Both inverted and played straight. The Wyld Hunt is actually an organization of Dragon-Blooded originally tasked with hunting down Raksha that stray into Creation (but having since undergone mission creep to the point that their primary targets are now Solar and Lunar Exalted). The Raksha themselves do often play out this trope, though, especially in the South.
The ishvara are the ultimate stage of raksha development, their effective apotheosis; so rare are they that only a handful have ever been recorded in all of existence. An ishvara's personal legend has become so strong, so powerful, that everyone — not just other raksha, everyone
— goes along with it, and in the process the raksha in question is transfigured into a myth incarnate, a being of terrible power. They can even stand in combat against one of the Celestial Incarnae, wielding their own unique and potent Charms. None have won, so far, but it's been a close-run thing...
Tropes associated with the Ishvara
- Black Hole Sue: The defining feature of the Ishvara that separates them from all other Raksha is that their story is so strong it drags everyone into it.
Automata, Crafted Races, and other Created Lifeforms
-powered take on robots and AIs, Automata are living machines built for any number of tasks. They were often used in the First Age (and beyond) as menial workers, soldiers and police, deadly assassins, research assistants, and even as companions (of all sorts
). Some, (like the Thousand-Forged Dragons
), were even used as super weapons that could threaten whole cities. Most automata were rounded up and destroyed during the Usurpation, although many can still be found across Creation.
The Solar Deliberative didn't just dabble in creating mechanical life, though. They began a series of experiments on human volunteers with the aim of creating specialized subspecies of humanity. With the aid of magic and selective breeding they succeeded in creating several new mortal races with unique talents and abilities. In order to ensure complicity, these Crafted Races were given special mental conditioning to ensure absolute loyalty to the Solars and their Realm. Many of the crafted races were classified as blessed races and given special status and privileges, however some of the other crafted races, known informally as the slave races, had low status and limited rights. The Usurpation and the Great Contagion decimated their numbers and now they survive in small isolated pockets.
In addition to altered humans, the Solars of the First Age also created other biological entities whole cloth. These beings could be anything, from pets and guardians for their Half-Caste Golden Children that resembled playful monkeys, to phenomenally powerful and nigh immortal entities on par with a Behemoth.
The Half-Human Hybrids
of the setting, God-Bloods are the children of mortals and the various supernatural beings in Exalted
. They're stronger than the average mortal
but are usually weaker than an Exalted
in power. In spite of being called God-Bloods in general, they're divided by their supernatural parentage. These include God-Blooded
, the Half Caste children of powerful Exalted, and Beastmen
(spawned with animals, often but not exclusively by Lunars).
Tropes associated with all God-Blooded
- Half-Human Hybrid: All God-Bloods are technically human, in the sense that they have human souls and can Exalt. But those who have a Demon, Elemental, or God for a parent are not entirely human. Beastmen aren't really entirely human either, given that they're created via bestiality. And Ghost-Blooded are arguably half-human as well, depending on how human you consider ghosts to be.
- Semi-Divine: All of them, essentially.
The Ancient Lintha (in the Time of Glory)
The Lintha Family
Demon-Blooded descendants of the Yozi Kimbery, the Lintha are a thousands-strong extended family of thieves and killers who dwell on Bluehaven, a living island that is part demon and part lashed-together shipwrecks. They control a vast pirate fleet, extensive slavery operations, and, through a network of witting and unwitting fronts, a growing land-based criminal empire in the Southwest of Creation.
- Body Horror: Lots and lots of Lintha have Wyld mutations. Furthermore, many Lintha ritualistically castrate themselves for religious reasons, and any non-pureblood who hopes to visit Bluehaven is required to be castrated.
- Card-Carrying Villain: As close as you can get in Exalted — they openly worship Kimbery, they are gleeful slavers, and they want to Take Over the World.
- Completely Missing the Point: The incest-and-castration bit was cribbed from an Ancient Lintha's writings that was actually filtering their glories through a Nostalgia Filter. He himself was actually documenting how sure he was the Lintha would go extinct, not laying down a guide book for how to return to glory.
- The Don: The senior grandmother of a sept (the individual clans within the Family) fills this role. Dukantha (Kimbery's favorite akuma) is often one for the Family as a whole.
- Fantastic Racism: Against all non-Lintha.
- I Have Your Wife: Initiates into the Family are required to turn over a child or close family member as a hostage to ensure their loyalty. The hostages live in supreme luxury... unless the initiate ever betrays the Family, at which point they are tortured in prolonged and inventive ways.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Lintha often consume the flesh of other Lintha as a sign of respect.
- Irony: Where do we start...?
- See Completely Missing the Point above — and keep in mind that it's canon that interbreeding with normal humans wouldn't dilute the blood, and may actually start reviving its potency.
- They claim to honor the Ancient Lintha, an ancient elf-like race created by Kimbery. Their ghosts are still around, and they are disgusted by the Family.
- And last, but not least — their living island, Lintha Ng Oroo, is constantly being drained of Life Energy to preserve the Family. The constant sucking of it is killing her, and she has begun to sink.
- Matriarchy: Kind of. The senior grandmother of each sept is its absolute ruler on Bluehaven itself, and sets the budget for the sept's operations throughout Creation. Grandfathers, however, directly manage the sept's piracy, slavery, and other criminal operations off of Bluehaven, as well as being the sept's diplomats, so a particularly wily and ruthless grandfather can remain independent of a senior grandmother in practice.
- Pirate: Very definitely Type 1.
- Pirate Girl: Sometimes, although it is looked down upon. The Lintha have fairly rigid ideas about gender roles and pirating is thought to be the man's job, while the women stay home and run things.
- Polyamory: Pureblooded Lintha are expected to take dozens of spouses during their lives, to increase the possibility of breeding more purebloods.
- Religion of Evil: The official Lintha religion, the Cult of Dukantha.
- Super Breeding Program: They try, but with all the aforementioned polyamory going on, it's impossible to prove beyond a doubt which male Lintha sired which offspring.
Mortal Organizations of Creation
The only organization that goes beyond claiming to have control over the entirety of Creation, and actually does so. The Guild is a worldwide organization of tradesmen, craftsmen, bureaucrats, gangsters, and drug dealers. They are the Mafia, the Yakuza, the Freemasons, drug based gangs, and all Fortune 500 companies
shoved in a blender. With dinosaurs that eat opium poppies and piss heroin
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The Guild imposes trade embargoes on territories that don't accept their drugs. They have also weaponized the drug market and will manipulate it to destroy governments if necessary.
- Badass Normals: They're the only real organization in Creation with the express purpose of creating a place for mortals to succeed without supernatural help... and they've succeeded. For centuries. With Solar opposition.
- The Chessmaster / Manipulative Bastards: How they pull ahead of Celestial Exalts (Solar won't let you into his city? Fine, establish a trade embargo and sell weapons to his nemesis' forces at a discount. Sidereal after your guts? Point out that your agents have been instructed to blow up a dam if they don't hear from you in the next thirty minutes. Lunar wants you to back off? Funny, his mate didn't seem to agree with that decision...).
- Due to the Dead: While proper funeral rites are valued across Creation, members of the Guild often take it Up to Eleven; the Guild is the most widely hated organisation in the world, and many who die with their lives ruined by it eagerly await Guildsmen whose greed keeps them from moving on to reincarnate. Most savvy merchant princes and factors make arrangements for lavish funerals and endeavor to have associates loyal enough to carry them out so that they can go into the Underworld properly armed (or at least wealthy enough to buy their way into the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin).
- Fiction500: The investments and personal treasury of a Guild hierarch is comparable to the wealth of mighty trade-nations and the operating budget of the most powerful military in the world.
- Magnificent Bastard: It's practically a requirement of becoming a hierarch—you literally have to be the smartest, least scrupulous, most perceptive, and above all, stylish candidate for becoming the new merchant prince before the rest of the Guild considers voting for you. It's part of the reason they've succeeded for so long.
- Properly Paranoid: One of the most secretive and suspicious organizations in Creation. It's also why Sidereals find infiltrating them is so damn hard.
The Cult of the Illuminated
The White Veil SocietyPlease disregard this entry. The White Veil Society does not actually exist.
Its nonexistent membership is not cleverly concealed amongst the highborn socialites, partygoers, and debutantes of the Realm, Lookshy, and the Threshold, nor does it use these nonexistent connections to gather vast amounts of money, favors, and blackmail to further the far-reaching political agenda it doesn't have.
It is, furthermore, patently absurd to suggest that an organization that does not exist could have the resources or talent pool to invent its own unique martial arts style. White Veil Style does not allow its nonexistent practitioners to kill the enemies they don't have in plain sight, without anyone, including the victim, noticing there was ever a fight. (Which, of course, there wasn't. Obviously.) Poison and disease are not potent tools of this nonexistent style, and obstacles to the White Veil Society's nonexistent agenda do not die, sometimes silently and sometimes screaming, days or weeks after not being on the receiving end.
Mortal Nations of Creation
Sijan is the city of the dead. Not in the sense of being a necropolis — well, okay, it's something
of a necropolis. Wait. Let's start this over.
Sijan is a city built entirely around being the final resting place for thousands. It is a neutral party in most conflicts, and serves clients from all over the Shadowlands. Being a city of the dead, the Deathlords have great influence in the city, but even then, they're not the paramount power. Sijan's also not a city of the dead entire — there are plenty of mortals who live in the city, but remain below ground, as the surface is the province of the dead and buried. And their ghosts, who are often recognized as equal citizens.
- Grave Robbing: Very, very, very discouraged. If the Morticians don't get you, the hungry ghosts will. And there are a lot of hungry ghosts.
- The Necrocracy: The city is ruled over by the Mortician's Order, who oversee the preparation and burial of the dead, as well as the preservation of their grave goods. And of course, the Deathlords are all too willing to throw their muscle about to get some corpses and souls.
- Urban Segregation: Dead people up above, living people down below.
If you've read about Lunars on the page for Exalted characters, you know they're fond of running long-term social engineering projects, in an attempt to find a stable alternative to the oppressive, centralized Exalt-ruled empires that have screwed up so much of Creation. Halta is one of their great success stories.
Located in the vast redwood forests of the East, Halta was designed by its Lunar patrons as an experiment in tolerance and democracy. Sapient animals
hold full civil rights and live harmoniously among Halta's human citizens, and beastmen
are almost as accepted. And although Halta started out as a hereditary monarchy, it has since evolved into a republic and is now one of the most democratic societies of the Second Age.
Oh, we should probably mention that they're one of the few societies in Creation willing to negotiate and even ally with the soul-sucking Eldritch Abominations
known as The Fair Folk
, and even feed prisoners to them on a regular basis. Other than that it's a great place, though, really.
- Elective Monarchy: The people elect a legislative council, and the council elects the queen.
- Forever War: The Halta-Linowan war has been going for centuries and will probably never end, because both sides are completely fanatical nutjobs about it and don't consider peace an option.
- Hereditary Republic: ...However, the council is limited to choosing the queen from among the previous queen's close female relatives.
- Talking Animal: In Halta, they're full citizens.
- Tree Top Town: The Haltans live in the redwoods, while the Fair Folk roam freely on the ground beneath them.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A bit less obvious than most, but according to Word of God, the Linowan are based on the American Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
- Forever War: As noted above, the Halta-Linowan war. The mere idea of peace with Halta is foreign to these folks.
You're sure to enjoy your stay in beautiful Chaya, one of the most stable and pleasant societies of Creation's Second Age. Located in the East, Chaya is blessed with fertile plains and mild weather. The land is divided into about a dozen villages, each kept at a reasonable size and based on the same logical grid pattern. Each village elects representatives to send to the capitol, Larjyn, where they rule over Chaya as a democratic republic. Culturally, the Chayans are known for being a friendly and easygoing people with a strong sense of community, united by their reverence for the sacred fire trees that grow only in their homeland. Crime is rare, and war almost unknown. All in all, what's not to like?
Oh, if you stick around for a while you might notice a few oddities. Like the curious lack of pets and livestock in the villages. Or the fact that if you mention Chaya to anyone in any of the neighboring societies, they'll invariably look nervous, mutter something about how you'd best be sure to move on before summer, and refuse to say any more about it.
You'd better listen to them. Around midsummer, those fire trees start blooming. To visitors, the pollen is mildly intoxicating, about as potent as a glass of wine. For native Chayans, the effects are rather more dramatic: the pollen intensifies emotions and removes all inhibitions. The entire country becomes a crazed bacchanalia of sex and violence
for weeks as the mild-mannered Chayans become an uncontrollable horde
of hedonistic Mood Swingers
with Hair-Trigger Tempers
. If you're lucky enough to escape the country without being torn limb from limb by an Ax-Crazy
mob, and brave enough to come back later, you'll find the Chayans have returned to their normal placid selves, retaining only vague memories of having been in some kind of state of religious ecstasy.
Chaya doesn't get a lot of repeat visitors.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The Chayans really are unusually calm, friendly people... most of the time.
- Hidden Elf Village: Chaya's foreign policy is isolationist, and the rest of the East is only too glad to stay the hell away, as they understandably consider Chaya fucking creepy.
- Hive Mind: Chayans in the grip of fire tree madness develop a kind of subtle, low-level collective telepathy, allowing them to act against outsiders with terrifying coordination and precision despite their frenzied state.
- Nanomachines: That "pollen" is actually a cloud of parasitic Magitek nanites called radiolari, developed by a First Age Twilight who was researching the phenomenon of Limit Break and thought the symbiotes might be able to grant the Exalted better emotional control. Unfortunately, he was killed before completing the project, and in the chaos of the Usurpation, the unfinished prototypes were released into the environment...
- Torches and Pitchforks: Chayans in fire tree season react to anyone who isn't affected by the pollen with xenophobic paranoia. Under the right circumstances, they swiftly transform into a homicidal mob.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Chaya's "gods" are in fact sapient colonies of radiolari that control every aspect of Chayan society for their own benefit, and regard the Chayans themselves as mere expendable hosts.
- Uncanny Village: With a side of Stepford Suburbia. The fire tree madness serves as a kind of catharsis that bleeds off passionate emotions, leaving the Chayans almost inhumanly tranquil and easygoing during the rest of the year.
A mountain in the North which was partially hollowed out back in the First Age and hosts a moderately well-to-do city-state in the Second. There's a steady supply of filling if somewhat bland mushroom-based food, the Realm doesn't bother them much since they don't have much to offer, and in the event that something big and nasty comes rolling along they can just close the massive First Age doors and wait for it to leave. Most of the lights still work, lots of traders stop by regularly, and folks generally get along well enough.
Well... there's the crazy cult of farmers who figure that blood sacrifice is needed to keep the mushroom trays working. They're wrong, but try telling them that. And it really wouldn't be right to gloss over the giant centipedes that break through the floor regularly. And, well, they appear due to the fact the whole city is kind of built on top of the corpse of a dead Primordial, whose mad and wrathful spirit threatens the boundary between Creation and the Underworld with its very presence.
Nice place, aside from that. Bring the kids.
- Blob Monster: The aforementioned mad and wrathful spirit is represented by Vodak, a shoggoth Expy made from the Neverborn's heart's blood. Oh yeah, and another thing about Gethamane? There are no ghosts, because Vodak ate them.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The whole thing, top to bottom to even lower bottom. Originally built as a back-up Pole of Earth in the event that the midden really hit the windmill. This comes in handy in the Return of the Scarlet Empress, when the Ebon Dragon manages to blow up the Elemental Pole of Earth.
- Tunnel Network: Most of the lower levels are unmapped tunnels which lead to other tunnels, which themselves lead to even more tunnels, and then you've gone much, much too far down.
The Haslanti League
One of the rare locations in Exalted
that doesn't have its origins in the First Age. Gem got its start as a mining Boom Town
— as the name implies, it's located near valuable deposits of precious stones. The city is far enough south to have escaped domination by the Realm, and is built on the side of a volcano, which provides enough shade to keep the summer heat bearable.
...What's that? Sounds dangerous, you say? You're concerned that the volcano might erupt? Oh, don't worry about that — the Paragonese, the Alchemicals, the Fair Folk, or the First and Forsaken Lion will probably get there first.
- Boom Town: Both in the literal sense, and in the sense that it will probably explode.
- Chekhov's Volcano: This trope explains a lot about why writers and Storytellers alike are so eager to destroy Gem.
- Doomed Hometown: The general consensus is that if destructive things happen in Creation, Gem is the first city to go. Exalted, by its very nature, has destructive things happen in the course of any chronicle. (This actually started with several First Edition sourcebooks, published around the same time, that quite coincidentally all mentioned possible scenarios involving the destruction of Gem. It has since become a Running Gag.)
- Made of Explodium: It's in a trade war with Paragon that could turn hot at any time, it's located between a Deathlord's base of operations and some major Fair Folk tribes, it's an ideal first target for the Autocthonian invasion of Creation, and it's on a volcano.
- Privately Owned Society: Gem's political and economic system manages to combine all the worst aspects of hereditary feudal aristocracy and unrestrained robber baron capitalism — each noble family has a legally enforced monopoly on a particular industry.
The Coral Archipelago
A military dictatorship bent on dominating its neighbors, Coral respects exactly two things: money
. There's no hereditary aristocracy
or Fantastic Caste System
in Coral; if you want to make yourself somebody important, your options are getting rich or joining the military. The ruler, the Sea Lord, is popularly elected...but he's traditionally chosen on the basis of his promise to fund public works through conquest and plunder, and the only checks on his power are the military bureaucracy and wealthy plutocrats who serve as his advisors. The poor (unless they serve in the military) are regarded as lazy, shiftless and spiritually unworthy, despised by the very gods; while they're not left to starve, those who accept state welfare are publicly shamed for it. Women, if anything, have it even worse: they're legally under the authority of male relatives throughout their lives, they're barred from military service, and while they can technically own property and go into business for themselves, it won't earn them any respect even if they're successful — businesswomen are widely regarded as jokes who are probably only pursuing careers they're obviously unsuited for because they're too ugly to land a decent husband.
It's not a Mordor-style Dystopia
, it's just a rather nasty place all around, in a depressingly realistic way.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A bit less obvious than most, but by Word of God Coral's economy, politics and social mores are all based on Victorian Britain.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Invoked — successful businesswomen are not unknown in Coral, but popular opinion invariably attributes their accomplishments to their obviously more competent male relatives or lovers.
- No Woman's Land: The West in general is not the greatest place to be female, but Coral is probably the worst.
- Privateer: Pirates who swear to only prey on Coral's enemies can receive a letter of marque from the government, in exchange for a significant fee.
- Privately Owned Society: The legislature? Chosen from among only the wealthiest citizens. The head of state? Picked for his ability to throw lavish public spectacles without raising taxes to fund them. Crimes? Always punished with fines, or indentured servitude if you can't pay. If it's serious business, it's all about money in Coral.
- Proud Warrior Race: The only thing Coral respects more than military prowess is wealth.
The Wavecrest Archipelago
Unlike most of its neighbors, Wavecrest isn't totally dependent on the sea; the islands boast fertile volcanic soil, making Wavecrest a central agricultural supplier for the entire West. Men and women are largely restricted to separate tasks — fishing, sailing and other jobs that require sea travel for men, farming and land-based crafts for women — but actual sexism against either gender is relatively mild, at least compared to the rest of the West
. The archipelago is ruled by a democratically elected president called the Feathered One (because he wears a feathered cape
as his symbol of office), and while the nation retains a small but capable defense force, it is generally fairly peaceful. All in all, Wavecrest is a pretty nice place, unusually low on oppression and dark secrets
as locations in Exalted
Well, okay, there's the whole volcano god issue
, but that really is a relatively minor quirk by Creation's standards
- Appease the Volcano God: They use criminals. If the jails are empty, the Feathered One is expected to offer himself to the hungry spirits in the lava, which provides him with a healthy incentive to enforce the law with great vigor.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: It's not a case of All Crimes Are Equal — minor crimes will get you just a week or so in the local correctional facility, and Wavecraft's prisons really are relatively pleasant. But if the volcanoes start acting up, anyone unlucky enough to be in jail is a candidate for Human Sacrifice, starting with the most serious offenders and working all the way down.
- Proud Merchant Race: Other Western nations like to make fun of Wavecrest for being a nation of farmers and merchants rather than warriors or pirates. They're probably just jealous.
The Skullstone Archipelago
- The Necrocracy: Like many Shadowlands, Skullstone's dead population possesses higher status than its living.
Mortal Nations of Autochthonia
- Didn't See That Coming: They introduced a form of currency as a way to keep the Populat happy during a period of high-profile scandals... what they didn't expect was that this would send everything to hell and lead to the rise of semi-criminal "glot bosses," who are so good at using money to make more money that they've managed to go a long time without actually taking a lever-pulling shift.
- The Necrocracy: Not at present, but this is the long-term goal of a conspiracy within its upper echelons. Their fundamental problem is that they have no clue what they're actually doing.
Dragon KingsMayan/Aztecan-styled dinosaurs who are effectively immortal, and realize their previous lives' memories and abilities as they grow older, starting out as feral creatures when they're hatched.
Tropes associated with all Dragon Kings
- Benevolent Precursors: They just barely manage to nudge into this regarding humans (who were intially a slave race under Dragon King control) by virtue of not being cruel enough (by Exalted standards) to be Abusive Precursors or lazy enough to be Neglectful Precursors; it's noted that 'they were never particularily cruel overlords' in Scroll of Fallen Races and human/Dragon King relations remained amiable and, in the case of numerous Exalted and inhabitants of the mortal areas of Rathess, even friendly.
- Brains and Brawn: While certainly no slouches in the wisdom department, being the first great civilization in the history of Creation and the mightiest power in it until their near-extinction in the Primordial War, creater material has stated them to be the Brawn while the Mountain Folk (pre-Geas) were the Brains; the Dragon Kings were epically savage heroes taming the prehistoric world with magical might and sheer heroic will while the Mountain Folk constructed magical device after another without much interest for what they could be used for. As a result, when the Primordial War came around, the two races were one of the larger arsenals on the Exalted's side.
- The Dark Side: The Dark Paths, that tap into the elements of the Underworld. Too much of it can turn a DK into a Creature of Darkness. And it's very easy to gain power in it.
And as befitting Exalted, they implore you to no particularly destructive behavior, although much of their abilities are Lovecraftian Superpower in nature. Really, the trouble comes from the fact that to push to a higher level Charm of a Dark Path then usual, a Dragon King has to fail a Virtue roll, and that ceases to be an issue if he does the hard work of actually learning the Charm for real in the first place.
- Deader than Dead: The vast majority of the Dragon Kings are gone forever, permanently destroyed and unable to reincarnate following the Primordial War.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Their signature Charm paths, the Ten Prehuman Paths of Enlightenment, are possibly the most straight example of this trope in the setting; based on a combination of religious magic and raw elemental power, they're based on the four Virtues and the Dragon Kings primarily practiced them for growing wiser, and generally functioned as increasingly more sophisticated ways of interacting with the world.
- Curiously, the Dragon Kings are pretty unique in the setting as being one of the few beings who actually have enlightenment as a specific trait of their powers; the Charms of spirits are basic expressions of what they are, while Exalted Charms are outgrowths of their abilities, and so on.
- Expy: Of several different people. Mayincatec, Lovecraft's evil snake people of Leng (minus the evil part, mostly), and the Aboleths.
- Fling a Light into the Future: See Human Popsicle below. It's less successful than intended, but there is a fair chance for the Dragon Kings to rebuild themselves — not to their former glory, owing to the near-genocide they've suffered and their fixed numbers, but at least to sapience and civilization. The books strongly imply that this is literally the very most they can hope for.
- Hot-Blooded: While not quite a Hat of theirs, Dragon Kings automatically start with an additional point of Valor (instead of the one other sentient people have), encourging this trope. The fluff indicates that this temperment is extremely common among Dragon Kings, particularily the Anklok.
- Human Popsicle: The Great Contagion and Fair Folk invasion devastated the Dragon Kings, and many of them tried to Fling a Light into the Future by putting the wiser among them in cryogenic stasis, waiting until the disasters passed, hoping to rebuild their races in a more stable future. Unfortunately, the chaotic situation of the world means that a lot of those cryogenic chambers are disturbed into malfunctioning or just plain destroyed. The few Dragon Kings sleeping today can't wake up on their own due to the deterioration of their chamber. It doesn't help that the humans who find them are deeply unnerved upon chancing upon them — that experience amounts to a scene from Alien movies — and may try to destroy those chambers.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Talking, Kung-fu-fighting, spell-slinging dinos with very ancient memories.
- Planet of Hats: Ankloks are warrior-priests, Mosoks are assassin-sailors, Pteroks are sorceror-scribes, and Raptoks are diplomat-scientists.
- The Remnant: The Dragon Kings, as a species, once ruled the world in the time before the Primordial War; due to the genocide of their people during that war, there are a miniscule fraction of them left, and very few of those are even sentient. This trope is heavily employed in their sourcebook and suggested to be used as character motivation. On the other side of that scale, a few Dragon Kings survive in the heaven-city of Yu-Shan, working as glorified menial workers to gods that find them an idle curiosity at best, where it's said they're treated with that particular kind of pity reserved for the once-great who've fallen on hard times.
- Time Abyss: A Dragon King doesn't start as one, though s/he can awaken to ancient past-life memories, possibly dating as far back as the age of Primordials.
- Undying Loyalty: As a whole, the Dragon Kings were, and largely remain, this to The Unconquered Sun. Due to their habit of picking up their previous lives once they've regained enough old memories, they tended to be this to past friends (such as Solars, reincarnated or just old), and it's strongly implied in Scroll of Fallen Races that they are this among their own groups largely due to the fact that the other Dragon Kings they're friends or allies with are likely to be the only Dragon Kings they will ever meet.
- Vestigial Empire: In the First Age they were this, having lost 80% of their people during the Primordial War, and yet more in the fall of the Mosok's island-kingdom Okeanos. Their souls are in finite supply and new ones can't be created, so their glorious world-spanning empire was broken permanently, and their entire culture collapsed. Nowadays, after the Usurpation, the Great Contagion, and the Balorian Crusade, they're even less than this.
- Willing Channeler: They have always been a religious race, and in the past, were able to invoke this upon themselves by a special ritual. The ones lucky enough to host the gods are called olchiliké, or Chosen. Unfortunately, no Dragon King remember how to do this anymore, and the few gods who do are barred from doing so by the High Heavens.
Mountain FolkOur Dwarves Are Different
. The Mountain Folk are a race of people born out of rocks found deep underground in Creation
. Except that only some castes are short, surly, bearded fellows. Some of them are tall, lithe, pretty, and have pointed ears
. They're all more-or-less Raksha
who were caught
in the formation of Creation. This of course drastically changed their natures, and they went from being creatures of story to creatures of work. They were awakened by Autochthon, whom they worship and revere... and also despise for abandoning them. They live in vast and technologically advanced cities beneath the surface of Creation
Much like intra-Artisan relationships
, it's a complicated thing.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Only a bare handful of Exalts can exceed Artisans at craftsmanship.
- Lonely at the Top: Given how much Artisan culture is based on paranoia and bitterness, they often come to this conclusion.
Being both creations of Autochthon, you would think the Pattern Spiders and Mountain Folk would have a working relationship.
Well, certain Enlightened (fully intelligent and empowered) individuals have learned Charms that let them do just that. It is also a very bad idea
You see, something about the channels to the Loom of Fate does... weird
things to a Chaos Seer's mind. Over time, they begin to lose their Compassion Virtue
, until they hit Zero
, at which point they go utterly and completely bonkers
, following bizarre and garbled directives from the Loom, distorted by their madness.They are also freed from the Great Geas altogether, allowing them to act completely freely in this regard.
Oh, and did we mention that they can teach others the Charms
through a Hannibal Lecture
- Screwed by the Network: Later fixed in errata but they are both mentioned in the original Scroll of the Fallen Races book... and don't show hair nor hide of their Charms or actual writeup.
The Mountain Folk have neighbors in their caves, and most of them aren't friendly. At all
: "Darkbrood" is a fairly generic term for the various races cursed to be Hurt By The Sun
, usually for very good reasons, by the Primordials or the Unconquered Sun. Whether they be Eldritch Abomination
, Always Chaotic Evil
, or simply xenophobic, the Warrior Caste is in no danger of ever being without an enemy...
...No matter how incompetent their enemy is.
- Forever War: Subverted. The repeated skirmishes with them is called the "Endless War", but given how disorganized and self-destructive most Darkbrood are, with the human Underfolk being peaceful isolationists, it's really more of an Endless Annoyance. Used to be straighter in the First Age.
- Screwed by the Network: Again-overview, no writeup whatsoever.
A race of flightless bird-people who did almost nothing but sing praise hymns to the Primordials. The Exalted utterly genocided them in the Primordial War, and the ghosts that remain hate all humans.
Usually just called "the forgotten ones" or "the nameless race" as their name is all but forgotten. They were a fragile, weak-bodied race in the early ages before the Primordial War, favorites of the Primordial Machine-God Autochthon because of their dependence on techonology. Then they decided to use that tech to try enslaving him, which is why you don't see them around anymore.
- The Greys: Physical descriptions imply they looked like grey aliens, and their technology was very impressive, at least by human standards.
- Too Dumb to Live: In retrospect humanity did succeed in defeating several Primordials, so it isn't impossible — but these guys tried to do it without any divinely-powered super-magic at all. Autochthon killed them all.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Specifically, he killed them all and then made them into soulsteel. The process leaves the victim in eternal agony, and is completely irreversible.
- They tried to use technology against Autochthon. The Cosmic Principle of Technology, the guy who suffers from No OSHA Compliance because technology cannot hurt him and he doesn't realize it can hurt anyone else. First rule of fighting a Primordial, never place the fight on their terms. The Ereta'een broke it.
The Hidden Judges of the Secret Flame
The Priests of Cecelyne