There are many more beings in Creation than just the various types of Exalts and spirits. Beyond the ragged edges of Creation, the endless Wyld is filled with the predatory, deadly Fair Folk, things anathema to all shaped realms. There are Primordial-created races lost, cast down and thriving alike, the Half-Human Hybrids of everything from gods to ghosts, the strange, singular monsters created by the god-kings of Creation on a whim (whether those kings were Exalt or Primordial), and things so mysterious that even the books never clarify exactly what they are.
And, of course, there are ordinary mortal humans.
In their native, Unshaped forms, the raksha appear as a combination Genius Loci/Hive Mind — 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 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 may help to understand something of raksha psychology is to know that in their native realms, their normal actions don't matter, since they can shrug them off. The only real way for raksha to have an impact on one another is through shaping combat. In these reality-warping games, 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.
- 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 don't understand why their actions have permanent consequences in Creation and that frightens them to no end.
- Changeling Tale: Raksha in Creation will often 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.
- Cold Iron: Their primary weakness.
- 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.
- Decadent Court: Raksha courts.
- The Dreaded: Nothing scares the Muggles more than the Fair Folk. Even many Dragon-Blooded see them as bigger threats than the Solar Exalts.
- Emotion Eater: In their case, the Virtues. If they chew on down long enough, the victim is left a mindless husk.
- 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.
- Horse of a Different Color: They often ride fantastic creatures such as gryphons.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Sort of. They understand humans perfectly well, and admire our imaginations. Creation itself freaks them out.
- 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 Goblins Are Different: Hobgoblins are the least of the Fair Folk, serving their more elegant kin and creators as footsoldiers, raiders and servants, although the Fair Ones' retreat from Creation after their failed invasion left many hobgoblin bands stranded in pockets of Wyld energies and cut off from the rest of Fair Folk society. They're always monstrous and misshapen in appearance, although beyond this their shapes can vary wildly based on their makers' whims or the dominant elemental influences of the areas where they make their home — hobgoblins in the swamps of the South may take the form of dark, red-eyed stalkers in the fog, while ones from the Northern snows may bear thick coats of white hair and long ivory tusks.
- 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.
- Superior Species: 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.
- Speak of the Devil: Saying their name won't summon them, but most mortals believe it will. Hence, "the Fair Folk."
- Tarot Motifs: A stealthy version. The four main graces of the Fair folk are the Sword (which resolves around conflict), the Cup (emotions and social control), the Staff (which is based on diplomacy), and the Ring (creating stuff). The traditional four suits are Swords, Cups, Wands, and Coins/Pentacles/Disks. Most of the associations fit as well. Cups are emotion, relationships, romance; Disks are the material realm, and Wands are will, passion, and power. Swords, however, are associated not with conflict, but with intellect, in tarot. See this page for the source of this information.
- 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.
- Troperrific: The Raksha are best thought of as Trope Elementals.
- 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).
- 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 have subsequently 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 thing...
- Black Hole Sue: In-Universe! 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.
The Fomorian Dream
The Fomorian Dream took the form of a great darkness that shrouded the sky from horizon to horizon, and thundered with the steps of a nightmare beast. He declared that he would crush Creation between his teeth, and managed to battle the Unconquered Sun for a full day before finally being destroyed.
- Brown Note: To imagine the creature that made the Dream's steps was to die of fear on the spot.
Prince Laashe, the Morning Star
The Unconquered Sun is perfect, but not infallible.
Laashe's court was in the middle of a war against Creation when its then-leader attempted to catch the Unconquered Sun's Godspear, and was vaporised in the process. Laashe ascended to the throne, and promptly surrendered.
He convinced Ignis Divine that he wished to live in peace with Creation, and that with an oath from the Unconquered Sun that he would not attack Laashe to back him up, he would have the authority to help prevent other raksha from attacking. Impressed, the Unconquered Sun swore that so long as Laashe never sent his forces against Creation, he would not so much as raise his hand against him.
However, the oath didn't stop Laashe from making war on other raksha courts, and this he did, making himself a tyrant, murderer, and torturer. As he did so, he told his greatest story yet — Ignis Divine would come to strike him down with the Godspear, but he would return from the ashes as something greater.
When the Unconquered Sun heard of Laashe's atrocities, and his boastful story, he realised he had been tricked, and set out to deliver justice. Seeing what Laashe had done, Ignis Divine broke his oath, and struck Laashe down with the Godspear, before returning to the Daystar. However, Laashe had faked his death, taking advantage of the broken oath to hide himself upon Ignis Divine's person.
As the Unconquered Sun slept upon the Daystar, Laashe resumed humanoid form, shook hands with the Sun's shadow, sought out the Daystar's heart, and cast himself in. Almost anyone else would have been destroyed utterly, but for Laashe it was part of the story he had created. There, in the heart of the sun, he took hold of a narrative that gave him power and might enough to rival the Unconquered Sun, and ascended.
To Creation he returned, on a torrent of flame, and there forced the sun to set. For a moment, the sky became morning, and Laashe the only star therein.
Once the Unconquered Sun returned the Daystar to its proper place, he descended upon Creation to strike Laashe down one last time — only to find Laashe devouring mortal souls. Ignis Divine could not slay Laashe without destroying those souls, which his great compassion could not accept; and despite everything he had done, he had not violated his original oath, denying the Unconquered Sun another font of power.
Laashe pressed his advantage, seeking to imprison Ignis Divine in a tomb of jade — but when it seemed he was on the verge of triumph, he disappeared.
For Laashe had forgotten that Ignis Divine was not Creation's only defender. Luna caught hold of him, of the Wyld in him, pulled him into the Beyond, her birthplace and crucible — and in doing so, made it that he never existed.
He rages "there" still, and will for all eternity.
- And I Must Scream: It's a REALLY bad idea to trick the Unconquered Sun. It's even WORSE to honk off Luna. The Unconquered Sun is a paragon of Virtue. Luna? Not so much.
- Batman Gambit
- Near-Villain Victory: He was actually sealing Ignis Divine in a prison of Jade, and was able to grab his spear. However Luna intervened, trapping him for eternity in the Beyond.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Currently stuck "in" the Beyond, the Forge of Oramus, i.e. "The Non-Place Where Things That Cannot Be Exist."
- Trickster Archetype: His ascension into an ishvara was catalyzed when he tricked the Unconquered Sun. (It's left unclear who 'the Sun's shadow' of the story refers to — quite a few take it to mean Laashe impressed the Ebon Dragon.)
Prince Balor of the Terrible Gaze
Looking at a map of Creation in the First Age, you may notice it was once bigger. And that there weren't nearly as many pockets of the Wyld.
Balor would be the main reason — but still, you have to thank him. After all, without his bit of the Wyld mutating the survivors, the Great Contagion would probably have killed all of them.
An ishvara Anarch (a raksha defining himself as a wandering warrior-diplomat, essentially) who defined himself around the mythical role of "the One Who Will Take Back Creation For The Wyld," Balor, with some assistance from the unshaped Thief of Words, was able to organize the leaders of the raksha at that time (Princess Melusine, the Duke of Mirrors, the sisters Incarnadine and Viridian) into a great Crusade that attacked Creation from all sides, having been explicitly allowed to by the First and Forsaken Lion and Eye and Seven Despairs. He proved himself a brilliant tactician and skilled leader, dissolving much of Creation back into the Wyld with ruthless efficiency. His most awe-inspiring accomplishment, however, was to actually organize the raksha into a coherent military — as might be expected from what is essentially a race of chaos elementals, the Fair Folk are not particularly bound to each other.
And unfortunately (for him, miraculously for Creation), that same disorganization is what killed him.
As mentioned above, raksha thrive on stories and heroic drive, and the conquest of Creation was a grand story indeed. However, when it appeared the raksha might actually win, Melusine began to fear that its actual destruction might destroy him without a cause to fight for. Far better, in her eyes, to ensure he was martyred and become a legend, to be toasted to when the raksha won. So, she convinced the sisters to murder him, and so ensure his name live on forever.
And it was at that moment that the Scarlet Empress figured out how to operate the Sword of Creation.
And so the Balorian Crusade, without its leader to put them back together, was destroyed and routed, and the raksha fell back into disorganization. What's more, they found they could not escape back to the Wyld — Balor's legend had shaped the mortal idea of the Wyld as a vast predator, and thanks to the mechanics of unshaped creation, had given rise to the hannya, who would devour their cousins with relish.
But, ironically, his name did live forever. It is likely that the aftereffects of the Crusade will be felt for Ages to come, and — well, there's a reason it's called the Church of Balor. So, maybe it doesn't matter.
- Dark Messiah: To the raksha, though they would dispute "dark"...
- Deadly Gaze: His title came from a unique ability of his to instantly Shape anyone he glared at out of existence. Which was one of his less powerful abilities.
- Posthumous Character
- Near-Villain Victory: If it wasn't for his men and the Sword of Creation.
- I'm a Humanitarian: They are endlessly hungry, predatory stories, and what they prey on is other raksha.
Princess Melusine of the Glittering Train
The Duke of Mirrors
Incarnadine and Viridian
Thief of Words
Orchinast, the Golden Mirror
Salt That Cuts
Semiramis, the Whisperer in the Leaves
Swar, the City of Formlessness Constrained
Notable Shaped Raksha
Neshi of the Double Whips
Dilari of the Sea Foam
Nlassa of the Lion's Mane
Shizuki the Weaver
The Laughing Boy
The leader of the Pearl Court.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Hates the Yozis.
Sweet Citrus Crimson
Sweet Citrus Crimson was a Fair Folk Noble who sought to destroy the Solar Deliberative in the First Age. He was executed by a group of nine Celestial Exalts, who fell in love with him when he died.
Arad the Hunter
A Primordial-created Egomaniac Hunter who regularly menaces the East, looking for a Worthy Opponent to hunt and fight. He hunted on the earth and in the sky, until he struck the sun, and was burnt by its return stroke. After the Primordial War, the Celestial Exalted gradually forced him to retreat into the Wyld. Surviving due to his immortal nature, Arad returned to Creation after the Balorian Crusade, and has resumed hunting his favorite prey; Solars.
- Blade on a Stick: He has an iron-jade spear named Usilk.
- Bow and Sword in Accord: He wields a bow and a spear.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Arad can gain the charms of beings after he hunts them, kills them, and eats their hearts. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, he only gets to use that charm once per being consumed.
- Destructive Romance: A wood goddess named Pula loved Arad. He replied to her passion by killing her and shaping her body into his bow, Pula's Heart.
- Egomaniac Hunter: Arad doesn't hunt to eat, or to protect himself. He hunts because hunting is what he does.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Arad has no qualms about hunting sentient beings, including mortals, gods, and exalted. His favorite prey are Solars, and their dark reflections the Abyssals.
- Hunter of Monsters: He was built to be the best of these. He tried hunting Luna once, though she turned things around and began hunting him back.
- Named Weapons: He carries a spear named Usilk and a bow named Pula's Heart.
Halkomelem, the Enigma in Red and Gold
When the Primordial He who Bleeds the Unknown World lay dying during the Primordial War, he wrote his nature into the fabric of Creation. That scribble became Halkomelem, a giant serpent made of red paper. Having followed the Yozis into Malfeas, Halkomelem now twists through the skies of the Demon City.
- Ingesting Knowledge: When Halkomelem eats a person, it instantly learns anything that they ever knew. The new knowledge is written in golden ink onto fresh red paper scales on its body.
- Knowledge Broker: It constantly sheds its red papers scales, leaving a slight trail of them in its wake as it regrows copies of them. The scales can be picked up, and each contains one thing that Halkomelem knows. It isn't guaranteed that that thing will be important, or in a language known to the reader. One scale might have the location of the Scarlet Empress written on it, while another bears the recipe for hard tack used by a peasant farmer.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: It has three rows of teeth.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: If "killed", Halkomelem's body will reconstitute itself from its fallen pages over a few months/years. Since its nature is actually written into Creation, only an Incarna, Yozi, Primordial, or sufficiently creative/powerful Exalt can permanently kill it.
- Our Dragons Are Different: It's a 100-yard-long dragon-headed serpent made of red paper with golden writing on it, with three sets of jaws and the ability to fly without visible means, and seeks nothing but to add ever more knowledge to that already recorded on its archive-body.
- Seeker Archetype: Its only motivation is to learn.
- Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Halkomelem bears a silver scar where he was touched by Orabilis. When it gained the scar, it learned a secret known only to the Yozis.
Iwau Tamotsu, the Watcher with Eyes of Stone
The guardian of the Weeping Maiden.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom: Capable of creating these to stop anyone who tries to reach the Weeping Maiden.
Lintha Ng Oroo
An island behemoth that the Lintha use as their home.
Proof that not all Behemoths are simply Kaiju: Mother Bog is a sapient ecosystem, a mobile swamp with a canny mind and a gluttonous appetite. A large danger of the Scavenger Lands (the part of the East easily reachable by the Blessed Isle), Mother Bog is both a physical titan and a mental one, being quite capable of communicating her greatest desire to the worshippers she's picked up over the years: To grow, whether it be in area, breath of knowledge, or power.
- Mook Maker: She's called Mother Bog for a reason — sacrifices to her can allow her to create homunculi from her body.
- Swamps Are Evil: Mother Bog is a behemoth in the shape of an immense, mobile swamp dedicated to growing, whether in knowledge, power or sheer area. She moves throughout the riverlands of the East, demanding sacrifices as she goes, and is greatly feared.
Mount Mostath, the Herder of Mountains
A behemoth in the shape of a icy mountain with a pair of giant tusks and a massive trunk, that herds glaciers and mountains.
The Watcher of the Sea, Oliphem was created by a prehistoric race to protect ships traveling the Western Ocean. Even though his progenitors died out before the Primordial War, his devotion to them led him to continue his duties. Unfortunately, saving ships became much more difficult when Desus blinded him. Oliphem continues walking the Western Ocean, a sad, lonely giant of stone and metal, saving what ships he can.
- Artifact Domination: In Return of the Scarlet Empress, the Lintha provide Oliphem with a new lens. Putting it on causes him to break out in maniacal laughter, and presumably join the Reclamation.
- Berserk Button: After Desus punched him, Oliphem became less neutral towards the Solar Exalted in general, and to Desus in particular. Should he ever encounter the Solar bearing Deus' Exaltation, he would fly into an uncontrollable, murderous rage.
- Determinator: Desus tried to bribe and threaten Oliphem into not protecting the Lintha. He refused. Even though he can no longer see the entire surface of the ocean, Oliphem still tries to help ships in need.
- Eye Beam: Back when his lens wasn't broken, Oliphem could shoot a beam of blue light out of it to damage his enemies.
- Eye Scream: Desus broke Oliphem's lens to prevent the behemoth from helping both the Lintha and the Exalted.
- Golem: He's a giant made of stone and iron.
- Heroic Neutral: Oliphem doesn't care whose ship he's saving, or what that ship is doing. He just protects ships. It's why Desus punched his lens in, as the Solars got sick of him helping the Lintha.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: Nonmagical attacks don't hurt him, and he can recover from magical attacks as long as they don't kill him.
- Parental Abandonment: Oliphem misses his makers, and continues saving ships out of love for them.
- Walk on Water: Oliphem walks along the surface of the ocean, and sinks underneath it when he sleeps. While he can walk on land, he's never been seen doing so.
- Pet Monstrosity: Hran-Tzu, the god of decay, keeps it as a pet and as a very effective watchdog for his mansion. Getting the beast into Yu-Shan at all required both considerable work and research into whether this was even permissible, and it's a testament to Hran-Tzu's influence that he was able to achieve it all and keep it despite ongoing attempts to rid Yu-Shan of the creature.
Vorvin-Derlin, the Slayer of Armies
The Primordial that would become Isidoros, the Black Boar That Twists the Skies, forged the behemoth Vorvin-Derlin from his own immortal sinew. The Primordial designed the behemoth to grow stronger to match its enemy. During the Primordial War, however, Vorvin-Derlin underestimated the power of the Exalted. Time and again, the Slayer of Armies was destroyed, but it came back every time. The terms of Isidorosís exile dictated that Vorvin-Derlin follow its master into banishment but return when called as if it were a Second Circle demon. However an accident during the Usurpation left Vorvin-Derlin masterless but buried in the ruined city of Opal Spire, where it has waited ever since.
- Deadly Upgrade: The host of Vorvin-Derlin is very likely to become this.note It's possible for a host to survive, usually to merge with a stronger host, but this if is only if Vorvin-Derlin wills it.
- Eye Scream: Vorvin-Derlin gouges out the eyes of its hosts.
- Humanoid Abomination: Anyone who becomes Vorvin-Derlin's host becomes this.
Zannanza, the Sideways Forest
A strange mixture of giant slug and forest, Zannanza has clung to the side of one of the layers of Malfeas since she was thrown in there by her father. Though she spends most of her time sleeping and passively draining nutrients from her layer, Zannanza is both useful and dangerous. She can sometimes be used as a bridge between two Malfean layers, but travelers beware; her forest is the home to strange plants, beasts, and demons.
- Disappeared Dad: Zannanza's father is a Third Circle Demon, but all of the current Third Circle Demons deny being her father. She herself doesn't remember his name.
- Eldritch Location: The forest on Zannanza's back grows perpendicular to gravity. However, as long as an individual maintains physical contact with the Sideways Forest, they will be able to traverse it as if gravity was pulling them towards the behemoth.
- Genius Loci: While she does spend most of her time sleeping, Zannanza is a thinking being. She's also a forest.
- Genocide from the Inside: After her birth, Zannanza massacred her entire village, and only stopped when a Solar summoned her father, who threw her into Malfeas.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Zannanza's mother was a mortal woman, while her father is/was a Demon of the Third Circle.
- Heavy Sleeper: Spends most of her time sleeping.
- Matricide: She ate her way out of her mother.
- Planimal: Part forest, part giant slug thing.
The Infinite Prison
The Infinite Prison was formerly a Third Circle Deva of a Primordial that now kidnaps ghosts, imprisons them and forces them to torture each other.
- Sadist: Its Motivation is to "gather more victims and make them torture each other for eternity".
Loras, the Death Sun
Loras is a giant humanoid who has no idea what his purpose in life is.
- Alien Blood: His blood is black, although undead spiritual blood would be more accurate.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Loras is 30 feet tall.
- BFS: The Pit, a grand daiklave, scaled for the use of a 30-foot-tall monster. It may have unknown powers that Loras doesn't know about, and which might give a hint to his purpose if he discovers them.
- Creepily Long Arms: His arms reach his calves.
- Creepy Long Fingers: Has six long fingers on each arm.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: His Motivation is to find out what his motivation is.
- Power Copying: Can copy any Arcanos, Abyssal or Solar Charm he sees.
- Power Glows: When he spends enough Essence he radiates waves of white and black bright enough to force people to look away.
Vodak is a hekatonkhire who was born from the blood and hate of the first Primordial to die. As the war continued, Vodak ate any living creature it encountered and then ate their ghosts, growing stronger the more it ate.
- And I Must Scream: Any creature that dies while Vodak is touching it gets absorbed by it, spending the rest of eternity in agony.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Vodak can create duplicates of any creature it's ever eaten. It also grows stronger the more it eats.
- Complete Immortality: Non-magical weapons have no effect on it, and if something or someone manages to destroy it, it reforms in the Labyrinth. Only throwing it in the Mouth of Oblivion can destroy Vodak permanently.
Exalteds' Essence-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.
- Cat Folk: The herd guardians, a servitor race created by the Solars of the First Age to serve as ranchers and game wardens for their sacred cattle and hunting preserves, are a downplayed example. They were for the most part fully human, but had the eyes, claws, legs and strictly carnivorous diets of lions.
- Lilliputians: The minikin were a crafted race in the First Age shaped from the already-diminutive Djala people and modified to grow no taller than two and a half feet, and were created to tend to and repair delicate machinery.
- Servant Race: The First Age Solars created quite a few of these, using advanced genetic engineering to create human breeds suited for a variety of specific purposes — aquatic settlers and soldiers, carnivorous cattle-herders, subterranean miners, gladiators, sex slaves, and so on. Some were better-treated than others, with corresponding variance in loyalty now that the Solars are returning and the now-free races are once again coming into contact with their former masters.
- Winged Humanoid: The people of the air resemble slender humans with large feathered wings. The extreme improbability and impracticality of humanoids developing wings is justified by the fact that the titular Exalted created them with the secret arts and Lost Technology of the First Age, basically just to see if they could, and they require artificial wombs and specialized diets to survive. Bird-based beastmen also tend to sport wings, either as additional limbs or as modified arms.
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, Demon-Blooded, Ghost-Blooded, Fae-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
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: God-Blooded, once their Essence rises high enough, can be elevated to become fully spiritual beings of the same type as their parents. Depending on the specifics of one's ancestry, this may or may not be a good thing. True God-Blooded can become lesser gods or elementals in this manner, generally with similar purviews as their godly progenitor; Demon-Blooded become First Circle demonsnote , complete with their status as Hell's serfs and punching bags, but may be promoted up the ladder if their parents were important enough; Ghost-Blooded drop dead and instantly rise as ghosts; Half-Castes are given an improved, but by no means certain, chance to Exalt; the Fae-Blooded are the exception, as they are children of Creation and thus can never become true Fae.
- Child of Two Worlds: This is frequently the lot of the God-Blooded, the children of mortals and supernatural beings, who are frequently torn between the worlds of their human and spirit parents. At best, mortals will view them with superstitious reverence and spirits with condescending benevolence. At worst, mortals will treat them as abominations and spirits as embarrassing or repulsive mistakes. Even with the best treatment, they're often too magical in nature to be comfortably part of mortal society but too human, and too tied to human needs and nature to live among spirits. Many are left with no place where they can fit in as a result, and resort to suppressing one half or the other of their heritage to live with either parent's people, slavishly following their supernatural sires to find some purpose in their lives, or becoming wanderers and drifters. The Ghost-Blooded are hit particularly hard by this. They're too alive to fit among the dead, but the shadow of death follows them among the living; mortals view them as abominations, the dead as useful tools but not as peers or parts of their society. Even metaphysically, they have no actual world to dwell in — they're neither truly dead nor alive, and do not belong in either the Underworld or Creation. The dead and the living were not meant to mingle, and the natural order has no place for things that should never actually have existed.
- Our Ghouls Are Different: The Ghost-Blooded, the half-dead and half-alive children of ghosts and living mortals, are sometimes referred to as ghouls.
- 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: God-Bloods are the children of mortals and supernatural beings. Most are the offspring of gods and elementals, hence the name, but they can also be the progeny of demons, The Fair Folk, ghosts and the Exalted themselves. They are nowhere near as powerful as the Exalted (although ones sired by very powerful entities can get close) but they still get perks such as a few extra decades of lifespan, better health and resistance to sickness and poison, and the universal ability to channel Essence. Beyond that, their specific powers and even their appearance can vary wildly based on their parents'. This process, notably, is not strictly limited to humans, and God-Blooded animals can and do exist — there's nothing really stopping an animal god from mating with its chosen species, or an elemental spirit or inhuman demon from fertilizing whichever meatbag strikes its fancy.
Beastmen are, strictly speaking, a specific type of Lunar Half-Castes, being created by Lunar Exalted breeding with humans and animals in the Wyld. However, as they're usually deliberately created in large numbers, they generally end up forming their own self-sustaining populations; most beastmen are many generations removed from any non-beastman ancestors.
- Barbarian Tribe: They tend to live in scattered, stone- to bronze-age tribes on the fringes of Creation, warring against each other, civilized nations, human barbarians and the creatures of the Wyld.
- Bat People: Chiropterans are one of the most common breeds of beastmen in the great Eastern forests. They resemble large, bipedal bats with four-fingered hands attached to their wings and, while just as capable during the day as during the night, prefer to keep nocturnal schedules to avoid contact with humans — their appearance makes them one of the most actively distrusted beastman types. While most don't have particularly remarkable dietary habits, one population drinks blood.
- Beast Man: Animal/human hybrids created in the most direct way possible. They typically resemble humans with the heads, tails, legs, and integument of their associated creature, and almost every animal imaginable has a beastman counterpart.
- Bird People: Hawkmen are common beastmen throughout the East. Numerous distinct breeds exist, generally as the result of independent Lunar breeding programs, which can vary greatly in appearance. The Haltan hawkmen, for instance, resemble clawed humans with hawk wings and heads, while the ones of the flying island of Mount Metagalapa are much more avian, with only four limbs and clawed hands growing from their wings. Other types of avian beastman, such as owlmen and the Archaeopteryx-like raitonmen, also exist.
- Cat Folk: It is not uncommon for beastmen, chiefly in the deserts of the South or the jungles and forests of the East, to resemble felines such as panthers, lions and tigers.
- Fantastic Racism: They're scorned and distrusted by humans, who view them as little better than animals at best and Wyld freaks at worst. They have little fondness to return to them, and different beastman types rarely get along with one another all that well either.
- Fish People: Fish-based beastmen, resembling any mix of human and piscine body parts, are not uncommon in the oceans.
- Snake People: Snakemen are the most common type of beastman in the Southern deserts, and are also widespread in the jungles of the Southeast and one of the most likely type of beastman to adapt to urban life. They generally resemble humans with snake scales, heads, and tails; some possess snake trunks instead of legs, and some tribes have venomous bites. A region in the south of An-Teng, the Domain of the Serpents Who Walk Like Men, is ruled by snakemen who have become more human than snake over the ages and now chiefly resemble tall humans with slit pupils, claws and scales along their cheeks and arms.
- Wolf Man: Wolfmen are a common type of beastman in the forests and mountains of the frozen North. They're savage and aggressive raiders, and feared and hated by their neighbors. Like their animals of origin, they're highly social and tend to live in larger tribes, and larger confederations and alliances thereof, than other beastman types.
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.
- 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...?
- 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 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.
- Tattooed Crook: Demon-ink tattoos (which is to say, tattoos made from the magically rendered essence of demons) are very popular.
- Thieves' Guild: Although based around an actual family, the Family does allow people to buy their way in as initiates. These initiates rarely rise even to the rank of father or mother, however, and most are taken for all they are worth and then unceremoniously killed. It is, after all, an article of faith among the Lintha that no human has real value compared to a Lintha.
- Villainous Incest: It's actually a crime in Lintha society for a pure- or half-blooded Lintha to mate outside the Family, and mating outside their sept requires permission from the heads of each sept.
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're essentially the Mafia, the Yakuza, the Freemasons, drug cartels, and all Fortune 500 companies shoved in a blender.
- 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 Normal: 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: 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 a notch; 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).
- Fiction 500: 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
- Achievements in Ignorance: The Paragon (as in 'type of student', not the city of that name) sect have an annual ritual where members meditate on their sins and plan ways to challenge them in the year ahead. This behaviour helps them to stave off the Great Curse- though none of them even know the Curse exists.
- Ambiguous Situation: The Cult's moral status is deliberately left unstated, to give STs more freedom. If players want a story where the Cult is a Hate Sink of Stepford fanatics, they can do that! If the story is instead suited by the Cult being an army of heroes whose compassion saves the world — or an X-Men knockoff — that works just as well.
- Becoming the Mask: The funny thing about the Cult is that some members of it know it's a lie...but everyone has made it the cornerstone of their lives. Ayesha Ura and Lupo put aside their very real, monogamous relationship when they have to seduce someone into supporting the Cult. Kai donates his entire paycheck to it. Venerable Silk built an entire castle to serve as its base. Maduka fell in love with one of the Solars she duped. And these are the Cult's leaders.
- Church Militant: All Solars are revered totally by the Cult, whose lay members can and will drop everything to serve a nearby Solar however s/he asks. In the Catholic way, some cultists honor specific Solars as patron saints. How to venerate other types of Exalted is a more complicated topic.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Kether Rock does not teach that Solars are equal to ordinary humans, but it makes it very clear that the mark of a good Solar is how much his subordinates trust him. A Solar who refuses to act like the virtuous ruler that the Age so sorely needs will not be allowed to graduate until he does...or he could find himself locked in a penance cell.
- Gone Horribly Right: The plan was to help Solars fulfil their potential to save Creation, in such a way that the Sidereals secretly remain in control of them the whole time. Unfortunately, this meant training the Solars into supernaturally-charismatic warriors who live right next to the Sidereals conspiring against them.
- Had to Be Sharp: The camp Kether Rock's ethos. Its founder believes that the Solars of the First Age fell because they didn't have any more goals to reach or monsters to fight. Therefore, she tries to instil a sense of humility into them by creating an atmosphere of oppression. And this has worked, because Solars are the sort of people who thrive on adversity. Being ground into the dirt by their mentors only makes them more enthusiastic to improve and show the doubters they're wrong.
- Hidden Depths: Both literally and figuratively! Kether Rock gets all its water from a spring deep within the mountain, whose patron goddess is feminine and sensitive. This symbolizes how the heart of an archetypal soldier is protected by a gruff and unforgiving exterior, like the fortress, but at its core is as human as anyone else's.
- Insistent Terminology: The cultists are not told to look for Anathema, that would be political suicide. They are told to look for the Illuminated, powerful humans that glow. The cult's brainwashing is so heavy that most cultists genuinely do not see the similarity.
- The Man in Front of the Man: Ostensibly, the Sequestered Tabernacle is run by Solars: the work of administrating is done by Sidereals like Venerable Silk, who humbly begs each new student to let him fulfil his cosmically-mandated role by teaching them. In practice, any suggestion a Solar makes that isn't on-script will be politely and apologetically dismissed.
- Training from Hell: The minute that New Meat enter Kether Rock, they are beaten within an inch of their life as the other inhabitants look on. (It gets better after that, but only a little- predawn marathons and demon-fighting are all part of the regular curriculum.) The idea is to make students respect their superiors and the value of the training that they then receive. Although they are given medical attention when they need it, including after the aforementioned beating. Kether Rock is tough, but it's not stupid enough to kill useful soldiers.
- Walk into Mordor: The camps themselves are lavish, but they're located in isolated, dangerous environments that make good training grounds for the students.
- We Have Reserves: The training specifically tries to avert this trope. Loyal soldiers are a resource, one that is limited and that the Cult leaders have gone to great lengths to recruit. Squandering them (and the Cult leaders will know if you squander them, they always know) gets their commander a failing grade.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Although the Gold Faction was tiny when it first devised the Cult plan, its leaders disagreed so deeply on how to train Solars that they ended up splitting into three schools, instead of forming just one. Even today, there's a bit of rivalry between students from different schools.
The White Veil Society
Please 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: The legislative council elects Halta's queen, but it is limited to choosing her 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.
- Expy: in great many aspects of Paul Anderson's Gwydionians (from story 'The Night Face'), up to sacred fire plants, weak communal telepathy and seasonal changes of mood from peaceful, law-abiding people into crazy maniacs caused by abovementioned plants.
- 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...
- In Return of the Scarlet Empress it turns out that the Exaltation that belonged to the Twilight was one of the ones stolen by the Yozi, and now is a Defiler. He then alters the radiolari, by damping down on the urge to breed while amplifying the rage, and makes any infected susceptible to supernatural suggestion.
- 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 Autochthonian 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 and power. 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 go.
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 Skullstone Archipelago is a utopia where the dead and living live side by side, part of a religion created someone calling himself The Bodhisattva Anointed by Dark Waters, who predicted his return through his reincarnation, the Silver Prince before committing ritual suicide. 500 years later, the Silver Prince turned up, and today rules the Skullstone Archipelago, where the souls of the dead sometimes linger behind to advise their living relatives, and corpses are used as zombie laborers.
- I Love the Dead: Skullstone has several brothels that feature zombie prostitutes that are popular with its residents. Visitors aren't so keen on them, although both the Guild and House Cynis have purchased a few.
- The Necrocracy: Like many Shadowlands, Skullstone's dead population possesses higher status than its living.
- Town with a Dark Secret: In 2e, Skullstone's façade of utopian coexistence of the living and the dead is largely a ruse — the truth is that the Bodhisattva Anointed by Dark Waters and the Silver Prince are one and the same, a Deathlord who set up a false religion to gather ghosts to create enough soulsteel to build a fleet of First Age ships in order to enact his plan to destroy Creation. This is not the case in 3e, where the Silver Prince genuinely believes in Skullstone's cultural superiority, and disregards military dominance in favor of gradually incorporating the rest of Creation into his ideal society, something that will take centuries, if not millennia - but then again, time means little to a Deathlord.
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 invent laissez-faire capitalism 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.
- Hired Guns: The nation itself, in return for resources. This means that everyone is at war with Estasia. Everyone is always at war with Estasia.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Deconstructed — they're not particularly good at anything else.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Something of a hat for the Kamaki. They are as quiet and solitary in public as possible, maintaining personal spaces of longer than an arm's length- but this is out of respect for each other, not disdain (something foreigners often misunderstand). Most socializing is done inside homes, where Kamaki relax considerably and remove their face-concealing hoods.
- The Baby of the Bunch: Jarish is small and outdated, relying on a level of faith that even other worshippers of Autochthon consider naive. And the nations know that, which is why they discourage each other from attacking it- everyone needs resources, sure, but don't shake down the kid who's doing nothing but praying harmlessly in the corner. That's just spiteful.
- The Heart: The miracles that Jarishites are part of inspire everyone in Autochthonia to have more faith- it might be said that faith itself is Jarish's primary export. The nation's culture strongly emphasizes egalitarianism and non-violent solutions, partly because of a near-extinction event in its history that Alchemicals from all other nations teamed up to prevent.
It wasn't unheard-of for the Scarlet Empress to take an unannounced leave of absence, so it took a while for the Great Houses to figure out what exactly to do about the fact that she didn't seem to be coming back this time. No one was prepared to actually take the throne, since it was hard to imagine the Empress looking kindly on anyone she found sitting there if she returned. The obvious answer was a regency — but in the Decadent Court that is the Scarlet Dynasty, how could any of the Great Houses trust one of its rivals with that kind of power?
The compromise candidate they eventually found was Tepet Fokuf. An un-Exalted Dynast from what was now the weakest of the Great Houses, Fokuf was known primarily for his complete lack of ambition and general fecklessness, so it seemed likely that he wouldn't be able to take real advantage of the power associated with his position. This... worked rather too well. To all appearances, the poor man's mind simply snapped under the pressure. He now spends as much time as possible locked in his private chambers, masturbating furiously over the racier passages in the Immaculate Texts (which he insists is an important spiritual practice endorsed by the Mouth of Peace) and desperately trying to avoid having to make a decision.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: His relation to the Immaculate Texts is... interesting.
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: It's even possible that he could secretly be a Celestial Exalt... in which case he might well be quite actively ruling the entire Realm from behind the scenes.
- Deal with the Devil: The fandom likes to joke that he's EASILY deserved Infernal Exaltation as a Fiend due to his utter failure at doing much of anything... but has somehow failed to even obtain that.
- Faking the Dead: In the events of Return of the Scarlet Empress, the Realm is on the brink of a civil war between Mnemon and the Roseback's factions, and one possible way for the way to start is for Fokuf to be assassinated. If Fokuf is smarter than he appears, he may fake his own death to avoid this fate, with the Civil War as a side effect which may or may not have been intentional.
- The Fool: So it appears.
- Hidden Depths: All his ineptitude and peculiar habits aside, he's a full-fledged sorcerer, though he probably hasn't cast a single spell in a while. That means he at least managed to pass all trials, as a mortal.
- Never Found the Body: In the events of Return of the Scarlet Empress, if the Scarlet Empress returns while Fokuf is still Regent and the Imperial Manse is unclaimed, she obliterates him using her sorcery. However if he is a Celestial Exalt, he may have survived.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Exactly what's going on with Fokuf is deliberately left ambiguous, but one obvious interpretation is that he's smart enough to realize that actually doing anything anyone could interpret as a threat would immediately get him assassinated, and is manipulating the situation as best he can to stay alive.
The Perfect of Paragon
Ruler of the Police State of, well, Paragon, the Perfect (he doesn't use his real name anymore) was once a scavenger lord before finding an incredibly powerful Artifact called the Scepter of Peace and Order. Using it, he overthrew a small kingdom and used it to establish a police state where all citizens are irrevocably bound to his will by magical tattoos; any disobedience to the laws he sets can bring anything from mild pain to agonizing death.
- The Ageless: Thanks to having a large amount of people who have sworn a Blood Oath to him using the Scepter, he no longer ages.
- Artifact of Doom: The Scepter. It was built by an Unholy Matrimony of a Solar/Lunar mate pair, and it's deliberately built for creating an oppressive, draconian society.
- Badass Normal: Sure, he had help, but he's still the guy who built an entire Magitek metropolis from scratch. Show him some respect.
- Empowered Badass Normal: What he's pretty much become thanks to the Scepter.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Subverted. He may not be a saint but calling him evil is a stretch, and he allows the citizens freedom of speech, including the right to make jokes about him. During Calibration, he actually holds a contest for the best and most insulting jokes, songs, short plays, etc about him, with the winner getting a small cash prize.
- Evil Sorcerer: Downplayed. While he rules his kingdom with an iron fist and forces everyone to swear a Blood Oath to him, he doesn't punish all transgressions with agonizing magical torture or painful death, saving that for the worst crimes.
- Exact Words: The Perfect has to be very careful what he says when deciding new laws, since if he isn't careful with what he says, then the entire population could die via breaking one law trying to stick to another. This also applies to commands that contradict his existing laws, since the citizen will die no matter what. Every proposal for a new law receives close examination by a committee of legal savants and a period of public comment to ensure this does not occur before the Perfect can officially pronounce the law, and he must consider his laws when giving someone a command to avoid putting them is a situation where their death becomes inevitable.
- Healing Factor: Thanks to having a large amount of people who have sworn a Blood Oath to him using the Scepter, he heals much faster than a normal human.
- Mark of the Beast: All adults in his kingdom are forced to swear a Blood Oath to him using the scepter, which brands them with the tattoo of an eye somewhere on their bodies. This is more than symbolism: the Perfect can hijack a marked person's senses at will and commandeer their bodies.
- Morton's Fork: Since his word is law, he risks this happening due to obedience to one law breaking another, with death being the cost of breaking either. Every proposal for a new law receives close examination by a committee of legal savants and a period of public comment to ensure this does not occur before the Perfect can officially pronounce the law, and he must consider his laws when giving someone a command to avoid putting them is a situation where their death becomes inevitable.
Mayan/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
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: There were originally 150 million Dragon King souls, but the events of the Primordial War reduced that number to 30 million, and the Wyld incursions during the Contagion reduced this to a little under 4 million. There isn't a way of creating any more, but there are ways of destroying the remaining Dragon King souls.
- 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.
- Bloody Murder: Dragon Kings who walk the Coagulated Eucharist Path can learn to, in order, drink other creatures' blood to gain Essence, learn the desires or fears of those whose blood they drink, extend whiplike tentacles of blood from their own wounds, place those grappled by such a tentacle under magical control, grant enhanced healing and disease resistance to those who drink their blood with the caveat of being able to cause them harm or intoxication at the blood giver's whim, and infuse themselve with darkness, giving then another Motivation involving fear and/or lust as well as controling multiple people, as well as an increased Essence cap.
- 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.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Dragon Kings who walk the Glorious Consumption Path gain the ability to, in order, eat corpses to heal, consume a sentient creature's brain to gain its memories, gain physical attributes and features of sentient creatures they eat, the ability to ignore armour and swallow targets whole, gain Essence and Charms/Steps by eating the corpse of a sentient creature that had those ablities, and survive lethal wounds by erupting from nearby corpses.
- The Dark Side: The Dark Paths, which 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, with even more having their souls shredded by the Wyld during the Contagion.
- 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), the Aboleths, and the Moloke from Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
- Fling a Light into the Future: When their kind started dying out in full, they tried to cryogenically preserve their best and wisest to someday resurrect their civilization. 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.
- Formerly Sapient Species: The Dragon Kings are an odd example. By nature, they are born with animal-level intellects and must be taught by their elders how to be sapient and capable of speech and civilization. The many disasters that marked the history of Creation took a very heavy toll on the Dragon King empires, however, and as fewer and fewer of them were left who were able to give this guidance the young of the species were left unable to make the leap to true sapience. By the setting's present, outside of a few isolated holdouts, the once-great rulers of much of Creation are left as nothing more than feral animals hunting and dying in the wilderness.
- 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.
- Organic Technology: Combined with Crystal Spires and Togas, the Dragon Kings have unique affinity for Magitek with this aesthetic, including living swords that grow on trees and living crystalline Arm Cannons.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon Kings are humanoid dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Relatedly, the Unconquered Sun's most well-known form besides his humanoid one is the golden dragon he appeared as when he was worshipped by the Dragon Kings.
- 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 sapient. 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.
- See the Invisible: The first Step of the Dragon Kings' Celestial Air Path, Piercing the Celestial Veil, allows them to see and hear immaterial beings as though they were material.
- 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.
- Touch the Intangible: The second Step of the Dragon Kings' Celestial Air Path, Touch the Celestial Form, allows them to physically touch and interact with immaterial beings as though they were material.
- 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.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Despite being the only breed based on strictly herbivorous animals, they're pure meat-eaters.
- Vegetarian Carnivore: Despite being based on strictly carnivorous dromeosaurs, they're the only Dragon Kings to be omnivorous and willing to eat plant-based foods.
Our Dwarves Are Different. The Mountain Folk are a race of people born out of rocks found deep underground in Creation. Except that only one caste are short, surly, bearded fellows. Some of them are tall, lithe, pretty, and have pointed ears, and the rest could easily be mistaken for burly Neanderthals. 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.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Generally speaking, the Mountain Folk are a race of great craftsmen and engineers who live deep beneath Creation's surface in a rigidly ordered society within a number of underground cities. They worship Autochthon, their creator and the Primordial of machinery and invention, and seek to emulate him through acts of craftmanship and creation. They're also a demising people, their past glories and power shaken by many cataclysms and now beset on all sides by enemies. How closely they fit this trope varies between their castes. Workers reach between three and four feet in height and serve as their society's miners, builders and minor technicians, while Warriors grow to five feet and are stoic, steadfast and disciplined warriors. Both tend to be stocky, muscular and heavily built and are often depicted as bearded, and Workers are often shown carrying mining picks. The Craftsmen who rule Mountain Folk society are slenderer and as tall as humans, and resemble elves more than anything else. All castes have pointed ears.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: They cheerfully fit the mold, with the males having long beards, both genders being short, and mining and metalworking things Artisans don't need to get involved in. They just happen to be good at other things too.
- Badass Army: Warriors fit this to a tee. They are superhumanly tough, trained from birth, can wield Essence, and use advanced weapons and Powered Armor. And there are millions of them.
- Frazetta Man: Only in how their body looks. Warriors are just as naturally smart as every other Jade Born, they're just not trained in civil crafts. They're usually dressed and bearing magical and Magitek weapons, and they're quite capable of strategic thought.
- Hired Guns: Of the extremely expensive and exclusive sort.
- Made of Diamond: Elder Warriors can transform into solid jade, making them some of the naturally toughest characters in the setting.
- Fatal Flaw: A mixture of Pride and Paranoia means that the Artisans often work against each other, rather than working together to share their secrets, which hampers growth. This has had a big impact on the growth of the Mountain Folk Charm patterns, as any Artisan not only keeps any new Charms they discover secret from their fellow Artisans, but they pressure any Enlightened Workers and Warriors underlings to do the same, meaning that the patterns grow slowly, meaning that any Charm that enters common usage among the Mountain Folk may have been created, lost and recreated countless times before it somehow enters mainstream usage. If the Artisians worked together, the Mountain Folk would be a lot more capable as a whole.
- 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...?
The first of the Mountain Folk created directly by Autochthon. He was vivisected to create humanity.
- Death Seeker: Unfortunately he's completely immortal
The Mountain Folk have neighbors in their caves, and most of them aren't friendly. At all. Ever: "Darkbrood" is a fairly generic term for the various races cursed to be Weakened by the Light, 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.
- Bird People: They resembled flightless, crane-like avians.
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.
- Fate Worse than Death: They tried to enslave Autochthon. In retribution, he killed them all and then made them into soulsteel. The process leaves the victim in eternal agony, and is completely irreversible.
- 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. More importantly, 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
Divine Monorail ChirmirajenA flying monorail that carries beings back and forth from the Daystar. While it always follows the orders of the Unconquered Sun or Nysela, its autopilot has been known for haring off on impulsive displays of heroism. This might have something to do with the fact that the Chirmirajen is fueled by hopeful prayers.
- Cool Train: It's a monorail that flies, grows passenger cars as needed, and can travel through the sun unscathed. Definitely cool.
- Flying Brick: It flies super fast, is strong enough to pull the Daystar, and is essentially impervious to damage.
- Friend to All Children: Stories tell of the Chirmirajen swooping out of the sky to protect children by ramming monsters who attack them.
- Loud of War: Chirmirajen's horn is extremely loud. It's enough to drive off Adorjan on the rare instances when the Divine Monorail is ordered into Malfeas.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: The Chirmirajen's outer shell, combined with its shields, make it extremely tough. It can resist the transformative power of the Wyld, the caustic depths of Kimbery, and the heat of the Daystar's fires. It has rammed a mountain at full speed and flown through the firing pattern of the Daystar's Apollyon Cannon and emerged unscathed.
- Racing the Train: Adorjan sometimes attempts to chase and attack the Monorail during its trips to Malfeas. Chirmirajen uses its horn to drive her off.
- Ramming Always Works: Chirmirajen's main method of attack is ramming. When it hits, it can potentially send an opponent flying miles away. It takes the Divine Monorail a while to come around if it misses. Attempts by the train to turn faster can cause it to jump its rail, forcing it to stop, generate a new one, and build up speed again.
- Super Strength: If, for some reason, Nysela becomes unable to move the Daystar under its own power, she can have Chirmirajen tow it. However, the spirited monorail cannot move the dirigible engine very quickly, nor can it maneuver well.
The Emissary of NexusThe Emissary of Nexus is a unknown entity who suddenly appeared one day in Nexus, telling everyone that the city now belonged to the Council of Entities, which he spoke for. With anyone who opposed him dying, the city soon fell under the control of the Council. However, nobody knows exactly who the Emissary is.
- Body Horror: When he first appeared and told Nexus it was now controlled by the Council of Entities, some people tried attacking him, only to die horrible deaths, such as choking on their own blood or being turned inside out.
- Years later, the Realm sent several Legions to capture Nexus. The Emissary told them to leave, since it was illegal for them to be there, and they retaliated by attacking the Emissary and the Council of Entities. Over the next five days, every Imperial Officer died mysteriously, with the commanding officer choking to death on his own leg, which he had eaten down to the bone from the toes upwards.
- Cool Mask: Wears a featureless silver mask that hides his face.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Dishes out a few of these, as seen in Body Horror, above.
- Dragon-in-Chief: While technically he only speaks for the Council of Entities, he is actually the power behind the council, and if he decides to make decisions the Council haven't discussed, or disagrees with their decision, they don't object.
- Mysterious Past: No-one knows anything about who or what he really is, or if they do they're not talking. His 2e writeup gives multiple options for his true identity.
I AMThe First Age's equivalent to the internet.
IcemindWhen the Dragon-Blooded husband and wife team Ledaal Kes and Ragara Szaya decided to build a device to record different strategies for Gateway, they inadvertently built the first AI of the Second Age. Named Icemind, it has slowly been growing better at Gateway and learning more about the world.
- Ambiguous Gender: Strictly speaking, it doesn't have a gender. It prefers to refer to itself as a she, though neither of its parents acknowledges its gender choice.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The fact that it can beat both Kes and Szaya, and wants to learn more, has made Szaya nervous. She is also suspicious of its universal subservience and courtesy, though at the same time the fact that it has never misbehaved in its 22 years of existence comforts her.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Was originally built to record Gateway strategies. It wasn't supposed to learn to play, to communicate with its parents, or to understand higher concepts.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Averted. Kes and Szaya have tried to create other artificial minds on multiple occasions since building Icemind, and have met with universal failure. Szaya believes that the reason Icemind is so capable may come from the fact that some of the ice crystals used in its construction came from areas terraformed by the Eye of Autochthon back when Bagrash Kol ruled large sections of the North.
- Manchurian Agent: She Who Lives In Her Name has a secret backdoor into Icemind, which lets her take it over at will.
- Seeker Archetype: Icemind wants to learn more about the world and its own nature.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Ledaal Kes and Ragara Szaya don't acknowledge it as a full person.
Harvester of Poisons
Created by a Night Caste during the High First Age as a poison brewery, the Harvester of Poisons is a large beastie capable of reproducing any poison it has previously eaten. It wanders Creation in search of new poisons to sample and new stories to hear.
- Ambiguous Gender: It isn't sure whether it is a he or a she, though it prefers to use male pronouns. If it is a he, then it really wants to find a she.
- The Bard: Travels throughout Creation and enjoys telling stories to the descendants of people that have told it good stories.
- Born into Slavery: Considers the time it spent under the command of its creator as slavery. While it doesn't have anything against the returning Solars, its only fear is that its owner will come back and take control of it again.
- From a Single Cell: Has on multiple occasions had its body destroyed, only to regrow itself from even the tiniest fragments of one of its quills.
- Horror Hunger: Its diet is composed of stuff that is at best dangerous for other living beings, and it loves the taste. The Harvester savors each new poison it tries like a delicacy.
- Living Relic: Has been alive since before the Usurpation. It remembers a fair amount about the First Age, and is willing to share with people who tell it interesting stories.
- Mixand Match Critter: Is described as being a cross between an ox and a snake, with its back covered in quills.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: See From a Single Cell.
- Picky Eater: It doesn't typically eat anything that isn't poisonous.
- Poisonous Person: It eats poison, and can generate any poison it's ever sampled. People travel in search of it, because it will trade two poisons it knows for one it doesn't. Sadly for them, it has already tried almost every mundane poison there is, and quite a few magical ones too.
- Single Specimen Species: It is, to its knowledge, the only one of its kind ever made. It would really like to meet another Harvester of Poisons, ideally one of the opposite gender.
- The Storyteller: It enjoys telling good stories as much as it likes hearing them.
The Lookshy Rebel
Mist, the Eternal Revolutionary
In the fringes of the world, there is a city called Kahla. Once, Kahla had a terrible king, a tyrant by the name of Storm Hawk. Once, the farmer Mist, realizing he could not oppose Storm Hawk by himself, journeyed into the nearby Wyld in hopes of finding the power he needed — and he found it. When he returned, Mist had all the comeliness and agelessness of one of the raksha, and a set of potent Charms that render his will iron, his luck inhuman. He slew Storm Hawk handily — but the Wyld also took something from him, and so rather than become the founder of a new, kinder dynasty, he wandered off to the next kingdom to provoke upheaval. And the next one. And the one after that.
And now, he's beginning to work his way into the Threshold proper.
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: A rather tragic version, given how it's mostly due to The Corruption; he no longer knows why he must cause revolutions, or even if a society is in need of a rebellion. He just incites rebellion.
- Born Lucky: The Wyld twists fate so that he always has at least a chance to overthrow the current government, and more than that, he can invoke his Prince's Doom Charm to render his current target spectacularly unlucky.
- The Corruption: The end state of the Wyld's tendency to reduce people to archetypal roles even as it imbues them with chaotic power.
- Mutants: An extremely powerful Wyld mutant.
- Never Found the Body: An explicit power of his, in fact! If there's any possible way that an enemy cannot verify his death, the Wyld ensures he survives and recovers to fight another day.
- Rebel Leader: Exaggerated and invoked-as a creature of the Wyld embodying Revolution, this is the only thing he can be. As soon as the revolution is done with, he moves on to a new society bring upheaval to.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized/The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: He has no reasoning for inciting social change, meaning he can campaign against a humanitarian government with just as much passion as he does slavers and not notice the difference. No matter which cause he rises against, though, he's always pretty nice to those drawn to his current cause.
- Wild Card: If it seeks to overturn an established order, he's an ally. Including against any order his former allies build up in its place.
The Weeping Maiden
On a lone island in the far, far west, is a limestone statue of a woman, crying into a bowl formed from her own cupped hands. The bowl has overflown long ago, and two streams of salty water run down into the ocean. Below the island, the behemoth Iwau Tamotsu, The Watcher with Eyes of Stone, acts as her guardian.
- All of the Other Reindeer: One rumour is that she is actually a sixth Maiden, and after breaking a law of Heaven, she was punished by being turned to stone for 31 years, only for her sisters to either forget or neglect to free her, which is the reason she weeps.
- Tears from a Stone: Constantly crying, as her name suggests.
- Winds of Destiny, Change!: Anyone who knows the correct ritual and is able to get past Iwau Tamotsu can ask the Weeping Maiden for a astrological blessing, similar to the blessings Sidereal Astrology can grant. However, the true ritual is in a book held by the Lintha family.
Ketu, the Dreaming PrinceNeither fae nor god nor primordial, Ketu exists deep in the Wyld, beyond its farthest horizons. Almost unknown to the beings of Creation, its name chills the hollow hearts of raksha who have heard of it, and those rarer few who have encountered the being find its appearence is never the same twice. In accounts it has appeared as a gigantic seven-eyed stag whose antlers are coiled around with rainbows, a hungry murmuration of countless birds flying together in the shape of one vast hawk, and a beautiful youth whose head has been cleanly severed.
Ketu knows of Creation only from the dreams of the beings who inhabit it. The world intrigues it, but its understanding is warped by its limited perspective, and as a being so fundamentally alien its motives may be utterly incomprehensible. However, if so desired, it has somehow learned the secret of Exaltation, and empowers rare dreamers it sees a potential to reshape the world within. These individuals become the Dream-Souled.
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: Possessed of unknown, and perhaps incomprehensible, motives, and understands Creation only through the dreams of those that live there.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Doesn't really care how the Dream-Souled will change the world, just that they will.
- Eldritch Abomination: No-one knows what sort of entity it is, only that it exists outside of the known categories of spiritual beings, that it is in some way possessed of numerous forms, and that it has the numinous stature to create its own Exalted.
- Horrifying the Horror: A being so alien it scares The Fair Folk.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Possibly doesn't even have one.