These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Accidental Innuendo: Anys Syn is named after real-world author Anais Nin; her name is not intended to be a joke about sex or headache medicine.
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.
And then, are the deliberately ambiguous bits. Vision of Bronze, anyone?
Too many things to list! The Daystar, The Shining Answer, Samsara, Legends of the Titans, Lumina, Shrikes, Halta & Linowan, etc.
Michael Goodwin leaving caused more than a few fans to rage (and fueled speculation as to why).
Lunars are perhaps the ultimate case of this. Not because people don't like them, but because no two fans can agree why they like them, and get into huge Internet knife fights over which traits should be emphasised. On any given day, if you go to the Exalted forum on the White Wolf site, you will most likely find at least one Lunar-related Flame War, possibly several.
Infernals, if the White Wolf forums are anything to go by, are either the best or the worst thing to happen to Exalted. The dislike probably isn't helped by the fact that Infernals were released fairly late into the line and as such proceeded to have a stranglehold on the game books after release (To the point that Abyssals, the other "antagonist" splat present since 1st Edition, were subject to Out of Focus).
And recently, it was confirmed that third edition would have new Exalt types. Plural. The fanbase immediately split into "hell yeah more Exalts" and "no this is a bad idea" factions.
And whether or not the 3E Abyssals Charm preview endorsed/railroaded the player into rape. Opinions varied from "The devs are misogynistic bastards ruining our game!" to, "These are Charms from the Deathlords, what did you expect?" to, "Who the hell cares?" to, "Why is Solar brainwashing and canon sex slavery acceptable, but not this?" to, "The Charmset is perfectly fine," to, "The Abyssals are supposed to be evil (itself the cause of a Broken Base)" to, "No one is being forced to use it, what's the problem?" to, "My God, people, shut up. The whining about this is poisoning the forums," to... you get the idea.
Interestingly, the devs seemed to anticipate this. They said later that they deliberately released the most objectionable parts of the draft material to gauge audience reaction and see if they needed to change it. Turns out they did.
Cargo Ship: The Scroll of Swallowed Darkness mentions an artifact invented to allow a Solar to seduce a mountain. Not the spirit of the mountain, the actual mountain. Thousands died in the eruption at the, er... climax.
And, in a specific character, Adorjan. Yes, she's an Axe CrazyYandere, but she loves running so much that she does it instead of sleeping. And the Infernals she powers can do so too. Really, the Infernals in general can become this, since most of their charms involve doing fairly mundane things in insane and alien ways. For example, what does an Infernal of the Ebon Dragon do when he wants to hurt someone? He warps the core of his being in such a way that his entire life becomes devoted to hurting that person, until such time as that person is dead. At higher Essence, he can become the target's Evil Twin, as well.
The (former) Ink Monkeys have a lot of enthusiasm for the game. And all the Ink Monkey material was written up for free. Although it has been discontinued as the writers are now the line developers—and now have a production schedule of paying work for the line—it did a good job of keeping interest and enthusiasm, both positive and negative, up.
Many of the authors for "Masters of Jade," went well over the wordcount limit, without being paid for the additional words, just to make the product as awesome as possible. The general—albeit not universal—consensus is that they succeeded.
However, some 2nd Edition publications worked hard to drive home alternative perspectives: the Incarnae are interesting and not just distant divine losers, Infernals sure are capable of a rebellion, and Autochthonia presents a fascinating world in which the mortals clearly matter as more than just scenery. The newer vision has set off more than one debate, and writers with strong opinions on exactly where Exalted belong on the scale have nicknamed the darker trends "shitdark".
Many of the later 2nd Edition publications, in an attempt to diversify opinion on the Incarnae and other topics, accidentally created one true way of interpreting these facts. For many people, this was the trigger of Eight Deadly Words. One especially glaring example is the Daystar: while many loved it, many others hated it so much they swore off Exalted.
And the writers have revealed that the Daystar will not be appearing in third edition, out of a general move to shift the cosmic stuff back and refocus attention on Creation itself.
Evil Is Sexy / Evil Makes You Ugly: Both in one package: while they can start out looking normal, as the Abyssal Exalted grow in power they must choose whether to spend experience to raise their Appearance to as high as it can go, or allow their bodies to decay hideously.
Void Avatar Prana and some of the Solar Charms in Dreams of the First Age. Mention them on the White Wolf forum and people will claim they were never written. Errata either fixed them or nuked them outright (sometimes in fashion of replacing them with an entirely different Charm under the same name.)
Lunars were always social engineers and manipulators trying to create an alternate system of government after the fall of the Solar Deliberative. They were never rampaging barbarian anarchists that were ported wholesale over from Werewolf: The Apocalypse. No sir.
No, no, no; the Lunars have always been scorched earth opposition to the Sidereal/Terrestrial hegemony that followed the Usurpation, chiselling away at the Shogunate and then the Scarlet Dynasty as quickly and quietly as they could given their circumstances. Some of them hang out with barbarians, some of them make societies, but neither of them are really more than means to the end of wearing down a civilization that can't make more of its limited supply of superweapons.
Scroll of Heroes was not ported to 2E purely at the behest of one particular freelancer who is completely ignorant of how Exaltation is implied to work in previous books, and the Merits and Flaws are not completely broken.
Scroll of the Monk for 2E is an example of what happens when a writer isn't experienced with the rules. There's some disagreement as to what extent, though; some regard the entire book as Fanon Dis Continuity, while others find that the Terrestrial Martial Arts and some of the Celestial Martial Arts are perfectly playable. It is all but universally agreed that the Sidereal Martial Arts cannot be used as written, however.
Some fans treat the Ink Monkeys Articles as non-canon, despite numerous affirmations that they are.
Dreams of the First Age triggered an explosion so bad that several people were calling for the line developer and his Number Two to be lynched. The damage was eventually contained, but this was one of the main reasons Errata Team Prime was formed.
The setting and storytelling chapters of Infernals has this in spades. People hated certain passages and felt they tainted the entire chapter. The setting chapters in particular— while the storytelling chapter isn't usually viewed too badly, chapters 1 through 4 contained such things as mandatory Primordial sex sessions and open statements that all Infernals were inhuman monsters who saw nothing wrong with solving disputes through sex sessions with Lilun, which really didn't go down very well.
Errata Team Prime gets this treatment every now and again, especially with more sweeping changes like the Fair Folk Charms.
Fan Wank: Since the Exalted developers specifically avoid any sort of metaplot, any discussion of setting on Message Boards at least toes this line, if not devolving into circle jerks, often with opposing sides.
The Scarlet Empress and Ebon Dragon are responsible for giving the Wan Xian/Wan Kuei a second chance and for imbuing the Hunters in the Old World of Darkness. It's implied that they are, effectively, the "good guys" in a Black and Gray MoralityCrapsack World. That's right; going on the old idea that Exalted is the prehistory of the classic World of Darkness, the embodiment of vice and his bride, who has the same powers HE does, are the GOOD guys. That also makes you wonder how bad something has to be for them to undergo a Heel-Face Turn...
Chejop Kejak, leader of the Bronze Faction, can theoretically perform the Creation-Slaying Oblivion Kick combo with ease.
Game Breaker: Some authors don't seem to even try maintaining some mechanical balance when they write cool powers for Exalted. Some authors don't possess the necessary skill for it, but soldier on anyway. Some authors deliberately do not try, stating that the demigod status of the Exalted gives them carte blanche to wield unbalanced divine power. However, Exalted was created as a TCG-like roleplaying game - thus necessitating a careful and intricate balance for powers and effects — and the latter two attitudes can and have lead to a Broken Base.
There are various examples, but the most extreme and infamous is probably The Mirror Does Not Lie from the Obsidian Shards of Infinity Form. This technique, in exchange for a low one-time cost per scene, will allow a martial artist to automatically redirect any attacks against their person to any other target (and have it look like the attacker was attacking that target all along) as long as anyone (not just the martial artist, but anyone at all) can see the attack coming. On top of that, the technique (like all Sidereal martial arts) is massively secret, so the chances of anyone knowing even that extremely narrow limitation is essentially nil.
Black Mirror Shintai, an Ebon Dragon Charm in the Infernals hardback, has a Take That at Obsidian Shards of Infinity Style, calling it the closest any mortal has ever come to duplicating the Ebon Dragon's "principle of antagonistic cheating." Many have noted the irony that one of the Obsidian Shards charms is named Shattering the Balance.
Zeal from Dreams of the First Age, which was an attempt to break the game by breaking perfect defenses. It didn't succeed (and the errata clarified this for all to see) but it still caused a legendary degree of Internet Backdraft. Nearly all STs banned it before the errata came out, replacing it with a very different Charm.
Ebon Lightning Prana. Because it's a great idea to have an auto-initiative, auto-surprise, and damage multiplier in the same Charm.
Certain Charms, Martial Arts Styles, and concepts from the Ink Monkeys.
Stocked reflexive attacks (or shrikes), which can utterly demolish the balance of the combat system of the game.
Lightspeed Body Dynamics, which can make characters invincible by letting them regain resources whenever someone attacks them and misses, unless you're up against an opponent who never misses... which would be just as broken. In fact, it was so bad, the writers removed it altogether!
The Martial Keyword, whose purpose was to make multiple combat styles less of an XP-sink can easily become a game breaker and remove a layer of choice for the sake of convenience (which has its merits).
Ivory Pestle Style and Cobra Styles, which are just much stronger than Martial Arts of their levels should be. Their Charms compare favorably to Charms that are supposed to be much much stronger than them. Both of those were removed.
The Twilight Caste ability was widely noted to be far and away the best anima power around in 2nd Edition, since it granted heavy Damage Reduction—intended primarily to avoid a caste of Squishy Wizards—for free. In comparison, the caste actually meant to be warriors, Dawn, received a far weaker defense boost that only worked on relatively weak creatures. It was nerfed, and of 2.5, removed completely. Whether or not the new See-Thru Specs version is a bit too weak...
Character creation. It uses flat costs, while advancement has each dot in a trait (except backgrounds) cost more than the last. If, during chargen, Dace buys his primary attributes at 5/5/1 and the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile buys 3/5/3, it will cost Dace 40xp to get to 5/5/5 while the Maiden will pay 56. Advancement in Exalted goes at 4-6xp per session, and that this is just one set of traits where this can happen - there are still two other sets of attributes, plus abilities, plus Charms, where careful investment can leave one player as Goku whileanother is left to beKrillin.
Internet Backdraft: Oh My Gods!, yes. The most popular and enduring subject is the Bronze vs. Gold debate (whether Chejop Kejak was right in eliminating the Solar Exalted instead of trying to redeem them), but any book, mechanics tweak, bit of errata, or bit of Fan Wank will set off another wildfire.
Started up again during the 3e kickstarter, during which one of the authors admitted they were deliberately leaking the most risky things in most of the previews to test out which parts would need to be changed heavily now rather than making it into the books. Even then, some Abyssal preview Charms that through poor phrasing ended up with rather heavier rape overtones than were intended, combined with some rather tasteless commentary on Something Awful from one of the developers (who later ended up apologizing profusely, and which led to an official apology as a Kickstarter update), managed to kick off one beyond their wildest dreams and confirmed that the vampire/succubus tree in question would be heavily edited before the Abyssal book came out.
Jerkass Woobie: Whether serial killer in the making or undeserving victim, you can't argue with the fact that Autochthon both made some dick moves (creation of the Exalted, leading to the death or imprisonment of his siblings), and had very good reasons for making dick moves (the previous act was his response to what was essentially the vivisection and murder of his firstborn son).
Szoreny, the Yozi of Mirrors, has this as the ideal he hopes to achieve. As of Return Of The Scarlet Empress, it turns out he's not just talking the talk — he's running a game of Xanatos Speed Chess on all the other Yozis since he realized he and his Heterosexual Life Partner Isidoros are the only ones to remain halfway sane. Bonus humor points for being a glorified prison snitch.
The Ink Monkeys revealed Prince Laashe, a Raksha who, through the clever usage of Exact Words, a (not-really) Thanatos Gambit, and sheer chutzpah, managed to play the Unconquered Sun himselffor a sucker and become a pseudo-Incarna. Were it not for the timely intervention of Luna, he probably would have gone on to become the Exalted Lucifer.note Exalted already has a Lucifer (and it's not the Ebon Dragon). Technically, it's the Sun himself — he rebelled against his near-omnipotent Creator because he wanted to do what he wanted. And if you go with the Exalted-as-OWOD prehistory, this is consistent with Hunter: the Reckoning, which says the Solars are the old version of Hunters and Demon: the Fallen's statement that Lucifer created the Hunters. So the Sun is actually Lucifer in a very literal sense. It's implied that even the Ebon Dragon was impressed.
Mask of Winters can't read.note The writer of his 2nd ed stats forgot to include a Lore ability rating. Characters without at least one dot in Lore are illiterate.
Sidereals punch people so hard they turn into ducks. One of the better Sidereal charms is called Duck Fate.
Misaimed Fandom: Fans that consider the Ebon Dragon to be Evil Is Cool or a Magnificent Bastard due to the plans he can pull off to impede others miss that the whole point of his character is that's all he can do. He is, no matter what he does, in the end a loser, since all he can do is deny victories to others, and has no goals beyond that.
Money, Dear Boy: Revealed to be the reason why the Ink Monkeys stopped making new material — they got greenlit to actually be paid for things.
The villainous factions (the Yozis and Infernals, the Neverborn and Abyssals, and the Fair Folk) are positively dripping with this. It's a natural consequence of having such massively epic heroes; anything that can make them nervous is going to be terrifying beyond all reason by our standards.
The Organ of Agonies, from the Compass of Celestial Directions: Malfeas, deserves special mention. What is it, you ask? It's a musical instrument that you strap innocent victims into before playing... which it will then torture to death, making paradoxically beautiful music out of their agonized screams.
The Phylactery-Womb, the storage entity for the Infernal Exaltations. Everything about... it... will torment your mind on the threshold of your sanity. For just a few of the horrifying facts: She was a little girl named Lillun, who was raped, physically and spiritually, by the Ebon Dragon. This process warped her body into a malformed monstrosity that is mostly a semi-transparent flesh bubble with her child-like head, arms and legs dangling futilely outward. And though she is mostly mindless, alternating between staying silent or raving in mad tongues, sometimes, sometimes, she has enough sanity to try and call out to her mother and father for help. Oh yes, and there are pictures.
The fate of the author of the Broken Winged Crane, as detailed in Return of the Scarlet Empress. The Empress herself penned the original, which was actually a portal straight to the Ebon Dragon's prison. The book describes him skinning her in slow motion as a hello. It only gets worse from there.
You do not want The Timeless Order angry with you.
No Yay: Consider this: the most powerful Malfeas charms can only function within the confine of a city. Meanwhile, Alchemicals eventually turn into a city. Judging from how Primordials interact with each others, this can only mean that Malfeas is really into Autochthon. Pass the Brain Bleach please.
Ron the Death Eater: An interesting case with the Solar Exalted — while everyone agrees that what many of them did during the First Age was bad, that tends to be the only thing people see about the First Age, with the "good" Lawgivers being reckless at best. This is understandable (particularly given a line that states that if you lived on the Blessed Isle and didn't know someone who had been abused by the Solars, you were that person), except many people seem to believe that the Second Age Solars will pick up right where their previous selves left off, despite repeated emphasis this is not the case.
Running the Asylum: In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, the addition of the Ink Monkeys and Errata Team Prime has lead to a general increase in the quality of the rules and has been very well received on the White Wolf forum (seriously, saying you dislike them is Fandom Heresy there now)- but see also Broken Base. They have their detractors, some of whom get as vehement as the fans.
Lillun. No, not Lilith, this is someone else. The Yozis realized that the Sidereals had locked up Solar Exaltations in the Jade Prison, and that the Deathlords were using the Monstrances of Celestial Portion to create Abyssal Exaltations, so they needed something to run the 50 Solar shards they got through the spin cycle. So they made their own storage device. Out of a little girl, whose body has been horribly twisted and tortured to provide a living cage for the Infernal Exaltations. That's right; the Yozis took a mortal girl, stuck her in Hell, and tortured her so that they could further their plans. Although the Scarlet Empress deserves her own share of the monstrousness here: Lillun was her youngest daughter, and it was the Empress who sold her to the Yozis in the first place.
"In her calmer lucid moments, Lillun seems to appreciate these simple pleasures and the company of the innocent. To date, the feeling has not proven mutual."
There's also an artifact made of the corpses of dead children. And it sings. This one's in the 2nd Edition Abyssals book.
In fact, all of the Abyssals' necro-tech in Abyssals 2nd Edition.
In Dreams of the First Age, Volume 1, the artwork immediately before the appendix shows a (presumed) Fair Folk noble lady holding a dinner party. Only the guests are chained to the chairs. And when you look closely, you notice that the main course is a human baby served on a salad platter. The host's wearing a dress made of severed hands. HANDS.
The Yozis. Not only do they choose their Infernal servants from failures and cowards, they actually punish them for resisting the Mind Control powers of their enemies, because they want them to follow orders no matter what. And how do they make the Infernals atone for their mistakes? By putting their enemies in Death Traps, playing Criminal Mind Games, and giving Just Between You and Me speeches. No wonder the chances of the Yozis actually winning are rated as slim to none by Word of God itself. To top it off, they're on at least some level trusting the Ebon Dragon to handle the Reclamation. Yes, they're trusting a being composed entirely of treachery and vice — but, then again, the Ebon Dragon controls the Scarlet Empress and without her there is no Reclamation. Not much choice in the matter.
Autochthon's idea to trap himself in an infinite void without the resources his sickly body needs to survive is... interesting. He had plenty of non-idiotic reason to leave, but why oh why didn't he go somewhere comparatively hospitable, such as the Wyld? And what he did afterwards... Let's just say there's a reason ghosts are kept around after he eats the po soul for fuel, but the Divine Ministers quarantine them because they don't know what a ghost is.
On Autobot going to the Wyld: Wasn't he fleeing the Solar Exalted? Cause they can go through the Wyld. Don't they have a Charm that lets them impose Creation-standard physics anywhere?
Solars can — and have in book comics, albeit not in a very smart manner — reach Elsewhere and thus Autobot, too, and he left a gateway to himself in Creation that Solars poke with a stick every so often. He probably thought he'd have a better grip on solving his void-sickness issue before the soul economy wound down as far as it did, and we are talking the Patron Saint of Wonderful Design Poor Execution.
Win Back the Crowd: Part of the reason the Ink Monkeys were hired, why they browse multiple online communities—both the official White Wolf forums and elsewhere—and why some of them have become the developers and writers of the third edition. As with all things, whether or not they succeed depends on the viewer. Or even the individual book or article.
The Woobie: Been said before, on this page even, but poor Lilith... In fact, many, many, sympathetic characters could be up here in varying amounts. Most of them are Jerkass Woobies, such as Chejop Kejack or many gods, but it's implied that even the Unconquered Sun has had a nervous breakdown due to a combination of stress and betrayal, and fallen into a depression which he alleviates by submerging himself in the Games of Divinity.