The Sidereal Charm Generalized Ammunition Technique lets them transform any object the size of their forearm and no heavier than their fist into arrows of any type. These objects need not be physical. Some examples given include shooting people with sand, fish, or even using the charm to shoot words near people as a way of sending a message.
There's also another Sidereal archery charm ("Many Missiles Bow Technique") that does the reverse, turning your arrows into various objects and concepts. Suggestions given in the book include boulders, wheat, love, rain, and health.
The majority of firearms in the setting shoot jets of fire, instead of bullets. Instead of man-made gunpowder, they use firedust — explosive sand blown in from the Wyld in the southern deserts.
Only in later books for 2nd Edition were guns shooting actual bullets introduced. And even the 'actual bullet' gun is actually a miniature handheld gun-shaped temple to the Unconquered Sun that shoots magic gold bullets propelled by prayers.
Later still, it finally gets to normal firearms in the Modern setting in Shards of the Exalted Dream for 2nd Edition. Even then, Sidereals have a Charm that allows them to shoot nothing. As in, they can literally point their fingers at someone, say "bang", and kill them.
In 3rd Edition, one application of Phantom Arrow Technique allows a Solar archer to embody an Intimacy as an arrow, and quite literally shoot you in the heart with his hate, or his love of justice, or whatever else applies.
Action Girl: Any female Exalt, really. Well, except for Brigid, who was known to be frail and unreliable... until she single-handedly invented Sorcery and changed the face of the world forever.
Achilles in His Tent: an actual game mechanic. Solars gain "Limit" as they deal with stress, and when it maxes out, they snap. The Trope Namer is one of the listed inspirations.
Actually a Doombot: Dual Magnus Prana is a charm deep into the Crafting tree in 3rd Edition, which lets the Solar retroactively declare that they were a doombot after being killed.
Adventure Archaeologist: The Second Age is littered with the ruins, and sometimes the incalculably valuable/dangerous artifacts/superweapons/Lost Technology, of the First Age, so of course people are always trying to dig them up. In the Scavenger Lands, being a "Scavenger Lord" (as such folks are called) is a dangerous but well-respected career. Of course, said ruins may be inhabited by ghosts, Fair Folk, bound demon guardians, Wyld-mutated monsters, mindless non-sentient Dragon King children, and/or cannibalistic ape-men — not to mention the dangers of traps, broken manses, uncapped demesnes, Wyld zones, and the artifacts and superweapons themselves — so a Scavenger Lord needs to be badass. Digging up, using, and/or selling the ancient artifacts of insane god-kings that nobody alive today knows how to use safely may not exactly be ethical, but it can bring big bucks on the market.
Exalted features three of these. The first one was the aftermath of the Primordial War, when one of the Primordials destroyed almost all of reality itself in a final act of spite. This was followed by the Usurpation, in which the Dragon-Blooded massacred the Solars, consequentially dooming all the wonders that required Solar magic to maintain into an eventual breakdown and reducing Creation from a time of wonders and sorcerous technology to a medieval dark age. The end of the Shogunate was the third, in which the Deathlords released a super-plague that killed nine people out of ten which lead to and coincided with the Fair Folk attacking and perverting and unmaking great chunks of Creation in the aftermath.
This is what happens after the events of the optional-canon module Return of the Scarlet Empress for 2nd Edition in any case where the Ebon Dragon is defeated. He's been beaten, but all the people killed have caused more shadowlands to appear, and massively increased the number of ghosts the Deathlords can use (plus the Ebon Dragon is a Neverborn too now), and the unshaped Raksha can attack Creation more freely now that so many heroes have died.
Age of Reptiles: Downplayed. The prehistoric times when the Primordials ruled the world were home to a large number of species, including humans, but the setting's lore still presents a fairly clear transition in the world's dominant civilizations between the ancient, reptilian Dragon Kings and, once these began to die out and decline, the human civilization that they nurtured and taught.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In 2nd Edition, whenever She Who Lives In Her Name or Infernals with her Charms give it a roll they decide how the dice land.
On the positive side, I AM (the First Age's sentient Internet-equivalent) was generally pretty benign (even going out of its way to befriend the socially awkward and lonely), at least in its 2nd Edition representation.
In Autochthonia, AIs are widespread and generally benign... Unless Gremlin Syndrome gets them, and then it gets messy with murders.
Alien Geometries: The Wyld, Malfeas, the blight zones of Autochthon, and the Labyrinth.
All There in the Manual: The 3rd Edition core book tells you that with 2 dots in the Familiar trait, you can have a simhata, or an omen dog. What does that mean? It means hopefully you've played one of the previous editions that tell you what those are. The book does tell you how fast a simhata is as a mount (which also helps you to infer it is some kind of creature that can serve as one), but literally nothing else. Its statistics were in the leaked pre-release version of the book but got cut down due to size constraints along with other things.
All Your Powers Combined: The Solar Eclipse caste (and their Abyssal and Infernal counterparts, the Moonshadows and the Fiend castes) are capable of learning Charms from other types of Exalted, spirits and Fair Folk in 1st and 2nd edition. 3rd Edition removes their capacity to learn the Charms of other Exalted and restricts the Charms that can be taken from spirits to those that possess the "Eclipse" keyword. 3rd edition also gives non-Eclipse caste Solars and Lunars the ability to learn these charms via charms of their own.
Dreams of the First Age for 2nd Edition also gave Lunars the Charm Defeated Technique Mastery, which allows the Lunar to challenge a target, and if the Lunar wins, learn one of the target's Charms. Neither of them can rig the contest so the Lunar can learn a Charm she wouldn't normally be able to learn, and if the Lunar loses the contest, she owes the target a favour. And as well as the ability to learn any charm an Eclipse could, the Lunar with this Charm still has access to their Knacks, meaning the Lunar could become obscenely powerful if they were able to learn enough charms.
3rd Edition has Divine Mantle, a Solar Integrity Charm, which allows its user to learn the Charms of spirits that represent their Defining Principles, regardless of whether they possess the Eclipse keyword or not. It also has Lessons in the Blood, an expansion to the Lunar Intelligence Charm Memory-Drinking Consumption, which allows the user to not just learn a human target's memories when they claim their form, but also a spell, Martial Arts Charm, or a number of thaumaturgical rituals the target knows, and God-Body Consumption, a Lunar Perception Charm, which allows its user to access a slain spirit's Eclipse Charms by committing motes for each Charm, and learn them permanently by spending experience points. If the Lunar knows both God-Body Consumption and Divinity-Stealing Whisper, they can also gain a spirit's Eclipse Charms by interceding in their stead with their cult.
3rd edition modifies this: the plan for Abyssals is that they serve the Deathlords, and through them the Neverborn - at least to the extent a given Deathlord is on board with the Neverborn's plans, anyway. The plan for 3rd Edition Infernals is that the Yozis are allied with them, supporting the Infernals in whatever they do in Creation. In the knowledge that while they will never escape, the Infernals will serve as their eternal revenge against those who overthrew them.
Alternative Calendar: A 420 day year divided into five elemental seasons, each of which is divided into three 28 day months, each of which is divided into four seven-day weeks with days named after the Incarna and arranged like the days of the seven day Julian Calendar week. Then there is Calibration, 5 days which aren't part of any week, month, season, or year, and is considered unlucky (and rightly so, among other things, it's the time of the year when it's easiest for demons to escape Malfeas). In 2nd Edition, a day in Creation is 25 hours long instead of 24, while 3rd Edition explicitly notes in the corebook that days in Creation are 24 hours long now instead.
Also, people live proportionally longer in Creation. The assumption of the setting is "a year is a year" with regard to age; that is to say, a 16-year-old in Creation is not physically 20, but actually 16. Yes, the additional 55 days don't have any more effect; they're just there to make the calendar look nice and pretty.
Always Chaotic Evil: Usually averted, and justified where it's played straight — Demons, for example, are not really that different from gods psychologically (which can still make them pretty alien), but literally live in a reality that's either actively or passively attempting to kill them at all times, and have it repeatedly ground into them that disobedience means worse than that. They live under a set of absolutely inviolable laws, imposed unilaterally by reality itself directly upon them, which structure their lives such that they understand that they are nothing but the possessions of their betters, and that they can and will definitely very soon be discarded and killed by the same. They are culturally afraid of love, since long and painful experience has taught them that love of anything but the self is unnecessary torture, and fealty to anything but the world they live in is death. Those who do build up the confidence to defy the Yozis (vanishingly rare) and survive (somewhere in the vicinity of one-ish) may have had the pleasure to have been remade into gods so that their ex-masters can't use them as People Puppets. Finally, they are made to know that if they are not discarded and killed by their betters, they will either be killed in a meaningless cataclysm that they could not possibly have escaped, or they will die by their own incompetence while trying to benefit themselves at the expense of their cohorts, which turns out to be the only reasonable chance that any of them have of ever suffering less.
Amazing Technicolor Population: The influence of the Wyld and the Elemental Poles can often lead people to develop unusual skin colors; green is especially common in the forests of the East, while Western islanders sometimes sport blue-tinged skin. There are also the Djala, a Human Subspecies marked by bone-white skin with large black spots, and Alchemicals who largely have grayish skin, with perhaps splotches of the colour of the Magical Material used in their construction — the five colours of Jade - white, black, green, red, and blue - the gold of Orichalcum, black of Soulsteel, silver of Moonsilver, rainbow-hued steel of Starmetal, and the crystalline Adamant.
The Brides of Ahlat, the God of War and Cattle. As the name suggests, he doesn't tolerate hetero relationships until they've retired (homosexual relations are fair game, though).
The Tya, sailors who have undergone a ritual that protects them from the spite of the StormMothers so long as they act like and take on the role and duties of men. Hetero relationships are tolerated, although the process mystically sterilizes them.
Human souls are divided into the Hun, or higher soul, and Po, or lower soul. The Hun is the seat of willpower, intelligence, memory, creativity, and reasonable emotions, while the Po is the seat of impulses, instincts, passions, and is the connection between the Hun and the body. note Think of the Hun as the conscious mind, and the Po as the unconscious.
In 2nd Edition Exalts of all stripes explicitly have a third part to their souls, the Exaltation itself. The nature of the Exaltation itself is more unknown in 1st and 3rd Editions.
Things get more complicated and abstract when you realise some beings have more than one complete soul. The Primordial-deities that created the world, for instance, have hundreds of souls each (called Devas or Demons) arranged in a descending hierarchy, with a handful of higher (Third Circle) souls, all of which are both part of the larger person and their own separate individual and each have seven lower (Second Circle) souls, all of which are simultaneously part of the Third Circle soul, part of the whole Primordial, and their own person. They're all components of the extended personality and psyche of the single Primordial.
Furthermore, some beings don't even have a soul — the Fair Folk, for instance, have no soul, but cobble together a passable imitation of one so they can mess with humans' heads.
And I Must Scream: Why the Neverborn want to (in 1st and 2nd Editions, and quite possibly in 3rd Edition) end existence. The Solars killed the Primordials, but reality wasn't built to handle that, so the reincarnation system broke and the Underworld came into being; where the Neverborn suffer in constant agony they can't wake up from. (Interestingly, they *can* wake up from it because dead Primordials are still Primordials, but they are in so much pain that never occurs to them)
And Now You Must Marry Me: Exquisite Bride Obsession (the name of one of the Acts of Villainy which Infernal Exalts can use to reduce their Limit in 2nd Edition) was originally suggested as the title for this trope.
Animal-Themed Superbeing: Lunars, of course, have Animal Abilities (they can use All Animal Abilities via shapeshifting, but each have one animal they're particularly focused on.) Many other Exalted, especially some Solars, have an Animal Alias and an Animal Battle Aura, like Panther, Swan, or the Bull of the North.
Animated Armor: War ghosts generally manifest in Creation by invisibly strapping on suits of armor, leading to this as an overall effect.
Anti Anti Christ: In 2nd Edition Green Sun Princes were created to take the world back for the broken titans who made it, and Abyssals were brought into being to take everything else out of it. Both are completely and—albeit more via Word of God in the case of the former—explicitly capable of deciding to take arms against their former patrons and defend the world from those who would defile or destroy it, which is likely to be an option in 3rd Edition as well.
Anti-Villain: In a world where everyone is a bad guy to someone, everyone's an Anti-Villain... Except the Ebon Dragon, who in 2nd Edition is the concept of treachery and dickery. The Ebon Dragon even betrays himself by not betraying people occasionally, and just as often betrays himself by betraying his allies (or his own component souls, or gets betrayed by them...) when it would be better for him to honor his end of the deal.
It is hard to imagine a Deathlord finding grace, but the end of days is an opportunity for startling occurrences.
Apocalypse How: All over the place. Some of the lower levels have already happened, and the world has recovered, although a little worse for wear.
For example, in 2nd Edition the Three Spheres Cataclysm was an apocalyptic event of unknown extent that made about 90% of the world Ret-Gone, to the point that even witnesses have no clue what was erased, although it is known that what was destroyed was not merely physical geography (most of which was destroyed as well), but also concepts and aspects of reality. Species extinctions and civilization collapses have happened repeatedly both before and since.
On the other hand, the 2nd Edition Abyssal Exaltedwere created to bring about a Class Z, permanently ending everything that has ever existed. The Fair Folk who want Creation re-absorbed into the Wyld are "only" trying to bring about something somewhere between Class X4 and Class X5, depending on whether the Wyld itself counts as a separate universe.
Arc Number: The number five pops up every so often.
Art Shift: The quality of the illustrations in the 1st Edition Core book varies wildly. Some of them are decent, some not so much, while still others may have you asking yourself whether the artist was actually paid to make it.
3rd Edition is an even more extreme example of this. With art ranging from 'damn good' to 'Poser art'
Artistic License Chemistry: The magical material of the Dragon-Blooded is Jade (known in the real world as a form of nephrite). It displays several different colors: 5 normal forms, one being for each element; and in 2nd Edition a rare form that allows creation of artifacts without Essence attunement. However, the Jade of Exalted is not the jade of the real world, judging from the descriptions of how and where it forms: not to mention the fact that it can be alloyed with steel. It just happens to share the same name, presumably as a reference to Chinese mythology and folklore, in which jade has various magical properties. All six different Jade colors exist in real life jade, though only green, white, and red jade are common.
Ascended to Carnivorism: The Dragon Kings, creatures resembling sapient Mesozoic reptiles, are all carnivorous regardless of species. What's particularly odd is that the one species noted to be partially omnivorous and willing to eat plants are the Raptok, who are based of the actually predatory dromaeosaurs — the Anklok, the only breed based on strictly herbivorous animals, are pure meat-eaters.
Lion dogs are lesser gods who serve Heaven as guardians, watching over certain temples and tombs and things that the gods want protected for later use. However, many have turned Dirty Cop out of resentment and boredom, having realized how thankless their job is in the corrupt bureaucracy of Heaven.
Celestial lions are more powerful deities in the form of immense lions made of pure orichalcum. They serve a similar role as the lion dogs but with higher status, watching over the gates of Yu-Shan and of the gardens of the peaches of immortality and acting as Heaven's police force. When they need backup or numbers for a task, they often command squads of lion dogs as well. They're much more dedicated to their honor and do not generally fall into corruption, but have also been greatly disillusioned by Heaven's tarnished state and have for the most part become deeply cynical beings.
Atlantis: Pretty much the entirety of the First Age, including both a literal sunken city and two entire sunken sub-continents in 2nd Edition.
The Atoner: The Redemption route for Abyssals in 2nd Edition pretty much requires this. And between fighting off Resonance, rebelling against your Deathlord, and coming around to accept that perhaps you should have accepted death rather than power, it won't be easy.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Lunars can do this with the Emperor Ox Expansion charm in 2nd Edition, or with Towering Beast Form or Mountainous Spirit Expression in 3rd Edition. In the latter case, "whatever" is quite literal, as they can use it to give any form Legendary Size.
Asskicking Equals Authority: All the Exalted can qualify to an extent: even when they have laws and mandates declaring their power, it ultimately comes down to their having had the brute force to overthrow the Yozis.
Death combos and secret techniques in 2nd Edition can be amazingly powerful, flashy, and over-the-top, but they still fail against basic Exalted perfect defenses in.
The 3rd Edition Linguistic charm, Cup Boils Over can instantly kill anyone who reads it. Except that they must either have either unintelligibly abstruse or no Intimacies at all, including Minor ones which are the equivalent of 'I prefer Shang's noodle shop'
Form charms, which form the centerpiece of supernatural martial arts, give hefty benefits for a whole scene, but in 2nd Edition add an extra surcharge if comboed with the setting's most powerful defense charms, meaning they leave the user vulnerable for the ticks they take to activate. And, if you're thinking to activate them BEFORE combat and just leave them activated for the scene, a lot of them are Obvious (a keyword that means everyone knows you're doing something supernatural and roughly what it does): so people will immediately know you're spoiling for a fight.
Fortunately in 3rd Edition, Form charms are much better with all of them having a way to activate them reflexively that works into the style's strategy. And some of them, like Single Point Shining Into The Void, are just ridiculously good.
The Titan-Class Aerial Citadel is possibly the ultimate example of this in 2nd Edition, four superweapons created in the First Age by the brilliance (and the ego) of the Solars. A Titan is a five-mile wide, one mile tall floating pentagonal floating fortress made out of living stone armed with 500 Essence cannons. It can expand out into an eight-mile wide superweapon capable of firing a mile wide beam capable of destroying anything that it hits. And as a back up function, it contains a factory-cathedral-equivalent workshop with templates for every artifact deemed important enough in the event that Creation needs to be abandoned, as well as biotemplates for every creature deemed important.
However, it also took over 500 years to construct the first one (although the fourth one took only 246 years). The construction costs has a significant effect on the Old Realm's economy, and several object to their continued upkeep, arguing that the money can be better used elsewhere, and that the Solars defeated the Primordials without the Titans.
Awesome Mc Coolname / Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Universal. From the First and Forsaken Lion to Excessively Righteous Blossom to Perfected Principle of Consumption to The Bodhisattva Anointed by Dark Waters, cool names are an absolute must in this setting.
The Sea That Marched Against The Flame, The Shadow Of All Things, Abhorrence of Life, and, of course, The Unconquered Sun...
Background Magic Field: Essence. Absolutely everything supernatural in the setting either is Essence, has something to do with it, or can manipulate it. Metaphysically speaking everything in Exalted is made up of patterns of Essence, and supernatural power is known as Essence use, referring simply to the ability to gather and manipulate more Essence than is required for your pattern to perpetuate itself. In 2nd Edition having an Awakened Essence comes when you suddenly realise, consciously, that you can do this (as opposed to just doing it unconsciously or automatically, which sometimes happens).
Badass Longcoat: Justified for those who want one. There is a type of light armor called a buff jacket, which basically looks like a thick leather trenchcoat.
Heroic Mortals without awakened Essence or freaky mutations are this, though they can't become as Badass as Exalts. The 2nd Edition supplement Masters of Jade details how an organization composed primarily of non-enhanced mortals copes — and even thrives! — in its dealings not just with the Exalted, but with gods, the Raksha, the demons of Malfeas, and even their opposite number in the land of the dead.
The Brides of Ahlat and Legion of Silence are especially impressive as some of the most hardass mortal fighters in the setting. One recent 3rd Edition mass combat playtest apparently had a single Legionnaire trounce a hundred bandits at once.
The same goes for the Tiger Warriors, trained through mid-level solar War charms. They are natural soldiers trained to perfection through supernatural means.
Bad Powers, Bad People: Some Yozi and Abyssal charms have this as a drawback in 2nd Edition, especially Ebon Dragon charms.
Bad Powers, Good People: 2nd Edition Infernal charms tend to have extremely nasty trappings, but while the fluff frequently provides villainous examples of their use, relatively few of the powers are actually inherently malignant—at least, compared to the rest of the Exalted—and can often be used however theInfernalsees fit. Combined with the fact that nothing forces an Infernal to be a world-killing monstrosity, this trope is inevitable.
Basilisk and Cockatrice: Desert basiliscs — that being the official spelling — are Wyld-twisted creatures found in the deep deserts of the South. They resemble serpents with the heads, wings and legs of peacocks (although the official art gives them the legs and wings of insects instead) and produce coronas of flame from a gem set in their foreheads. They hate all other creatures and try to kill anything they meet; this including other basiliscs, and these creatures always fight to the death when they meet — how they breed is something of a mystery.
Thanks to the Yozis' incompetence when it comes to long-term planning, every Green Sun Prince in 2nd Edition is actually a nascent Primordial 2.0. One wonders how priceless the look on the Ebon Dragon's face will be.
The Abyssals are this to the Deathlords, the corrupted ghosts of thirteen dead Exalts (Purely Solars in 2nd Edition) who rule the Underworld on behalf of the Neverborn. The Abyssals have the potential to become even more powerful than their Deathlord patrons and can forge a bond directly with the Neverborn, pretty much making the Deathlords obsolete.
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.
Battle Aura: The anima banner, a battle aura possessed by all Exalts.
The Beastmaster: 3rd Edition's Survival skill is about three quarters this and one quarter actual survivalism.
Beast of Battle: Subverted with the siege lizards. People have tried to train them for war, hence the name, but the foul-tempered and stubbornly independent reptiles almost inevitably end up killing their handlers.
Begin with a Finisher: The combat system introduced in 3rd Edition makes this viable but risky. A Dawn Caste Solar who does well on their Join Battle roll could open with Thunderbolt Attack Prana (a Charm that closes the gap to your opponent and then doubles the damage on a decisive attack) and a bunch of combat Charms and either kill their target outright or leave them so badly injured that their wound penalties will leave them on the defensive for the rest of the fight. Or they'll miss with the attack, waste the Essence they used to fuel it, and lose a chunk of initiative because they missed a decisive attack.
Extensive systems of caverns, tunnels and abysses extend beneath much of the Flat World of Creation, and have been used for most of its history as a dumping ground for creatures that its various rulers didn't want to deal with — among other things, failed Primordial experiments, the Primordials' own surviving servants following the Exalted's rebellion, and various monsters during the ages of Exalted rule all wound up down there, and are known collectively as Darkbrood. The MountainFolk also live in city-states within the caverns, locked in a Forever War against the Darkbroods. In 2nd Edition this was caused by the Solar Exalted who grew jealous of them, and forced Autochthon (their maker) to geas them into staying underground unless an Exalted said they could come up. The cavern systems take on elemental aspects when approaching the Elemental Poles much like the surface world does — the Western caves beneath the Great Ocean, for instance, contain a large underground sea, while as one approaches the Pole of Wood the caves become filled with forests of giant mushrooms.
The Labyrinth is a particularly nightmarish version of stretching beneath the Underworld. Its appearance can vary significantly from place to place and traveler to traveler, but it consistently manifests as a mazelike warren of tunnels and caverns dotted with bizarre cavern-cities, haunted by spectres and hekatonkhires, and growing steadily more hostile and outlandish the deeper one heads until you eventually find the Neverborn's tomb-bodies.
Berserk Button: The gods working under Venus don't like the Fair Folk, and they display their hatred in the most un-serene way. A rare case of gods actually uniting to fight a common enemy.
The Sidereals do this by cheating reality. To elaborate, a Solar might be able to jump five miles, while a Sidereal might pickpocket the dreams out of your head.
Killing the Primordials was so damn impossible that it broke the system of reincarnation and created the Neverborn and the Underworld as a result.
Merela finished a large battle with one by strangling it to death with her bare hands. Primordials don't need to breathe.
Thousand Faceted Nelumbo wants to master Sidereal martial arts. She knows this is supposed to be impossible, canon says it's impossible, and the default assumption is that she will fail. On the other hand, Exalted are known for doing the impossible.
It is a recurrent theme of the setting. The Exalted were created to achieve something impossible (slaying the Primordials). They keep pushing back the limits of what is possible. To even become a Solar Exalted in 2nd Edition you have to attempt something impossible and succeed.
The Orb and the Scepter are two mighty artefacts that can be (and one of them is) used to control the population of a great city-state by making them perfectly obedient to the laws and orders of the ruler. Those who disobey get punished (based on the severity of their crime) by pain, agony or horrifying death, and all of this is inescapable. The population even has a magical eye-shaped mark on their left hand, and there are proclamations of "His eye is always upon you" everywhere in the city. There are also laws on dress code, with bright colors being forbidden for anyone who is not a member of the aristocracy. Veeeery creepy...
During the First Age in 2nd Edition, the Solar scientist-queen Bright Shattered Ice created a flying city named Tzatli as essentially a gigantic art project, and kept an extremely close watch over her citizens to ensure that they did not deviate from her vision of a perfect, thriving city. A secret police and the city's built-in AI kept close tabs over everything the citizens said and did, and any break in their duties — from being unproductive at work to being late for family time or arguing too loudly over dinner — could get them disappeared at literally a moment's notice.
Big Damn Heroes: The Exalted exist for this precise purpose — Creation was going down the pan, and the Exalted were created to save them in the nick of time.
Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Yeti are white-furred apes native to the mountains and snow-covered forests of the Northeast, and are entirely immune to cold.
Bilingual Bonus: One of the Dynastic Houses, Peleps, has a household of privateers named Kaizoku, which is Japanese for "Pirate". Fits in a bit of Fridge Logic in that while the whole Scarlet Empire is Asian-themed, that's the only example of this.
Hawkmen are common beastmen throughout the East. Numerous distinct breeds exist, generally as the result of independent Lunar uplift 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, also exist.
The alaun were flightless, crane-like avians that and one of the many mortal species crafted by the Primodials in ancient times. They did little besides worship and sing praises to the Primordials, and were killed to the last when the Exalted rebelled. A few of their ghosts still linger in the Underworld, and bitterly hate all humans.
Unju are peculiar creatures resembling entirely featherless humanoid birds with batlike wings. They're native to Malfeas, where they roost in tall spires and sometimes agree to fly demons from place to place.
Bishōnen: Captain Moray Darktide and Swan are just two of many, many canonical examples.
Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Demons tend to reproduce in very bizarre ways, when they're able to do so on their own at all. In fact, actual sex is one of the few things that cannot create a new demon, and they tend to find sexual reproduction to be just as bizarre as humans find the demons' own methods of procreation.
Gilmyne reproduce through a particular dance where four such demons circle closer and closer until they merge. A moment later, five demons part and go their separate ways.
A chrysogona's bite causes its target to turn into wood like that which makes up the demon itself. Mortals eventually die from this, after which a new chrysogona burts from their shell.
Erymanthoi reproduce through pain. When an erymanthus is seared with vitriol and its skin is pierced with iron spikes at very specific points, it emits a howl of agony that transforms into a new blood-ape.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: Sidereal Firearms of 2nd Edition, thy name is this trope. It has one that allows you to shoot bullets through multiple targets, and another that allows you to guarantee hitting someone so long as you're not overly concerned about who.
Black-and-Gray Morality: Where individual heroes do exist (and are the point of the game), when taken as factions and power players, the setting definitely veers into this.
Yu Shan represents the forces of Heaven itself. They rebelled against their Primordial Creators using human proxies. Net result? 90% of all Creation is gone during the Three Spheres Cataclysm. The gods used their new found liberty to... basically become a lazy, ineffectual and corrupt bureaucracy. Instead of, you know, doing their jobs.
The Solar Deliberative, responsible for the glories of the First Age, was comprised of a bunch of reckless demigods who were slowly but surely going insane. There were deliberations on whether they should just destroy all of Creation and just start over.
The Five Score Fellowship are the Sidereal Exalted meant to advise and guide the Solars. The Great Prophecy leads to them murdering most of the Solars. Net result? A distinct lessening of Creation's defenses which leads to the Great Plague killing 90% of all living things in Creation (sensing a trend here?) and the Balorian Crusade kicking Creation in the teeth. It was only defeated through the use of First Age, Solar devised, weaponry.
The Scarlet Dynasty was founded by the heroine of the Balorian Crusade and united the Terrestrial Exalted in a stable government. One that was as dysfunctional as possible by design. Turns into a tyrannical state that cannot really defend Creation without using the Solars' toys. Also, completely dedicated to murdering any Solar they come across.
The Lunars went a little crazy for a while, some went very crazy for a long time and then they collectively decided to play social engineer with human civilizations to make something capable of functioning without Exalts. Since nothing but an Exalt can face down many of the nasties of Creation, this is a pipe dream.
The Neverborn are dead Primordials who exist in extreme agony because they cannot fully die. Their Deathlord and Abyssal servants work to plunge all of Creation into the nothingness of Oblivion. Then and only then will they be released from their agony.
The Yozis are living, imprisoned Primordials who seek a means to free themselves from being incarcerated in Hell. They have collectively gone cuckoo bananas due to the betrayal of their creations. Their great crime apparently was to not give the gods enough holiday leave which merited them being mutilated, castrated, lobotomized and then thrown into a pit (that is the inside-out body of their King) to rot. They are rather upset at this turn of events.
Heroic Abyssals and Infernals in 2nd Edition, the latter significantly less so than the former.
Sidereals, while not having it even half as bad as Abyssals, also have a certain component of this in 2nd Edition. You have been blessed with the power of the gods, and the best paid job in the universe! Also, you have lost all your previous life because everyone forgets you even as you're in the room (including your own family), most people you work with except your fellow Exalts hate your guts and will do their damnedest to make you feel like Dilbert, the paperwork is hard enough that your inbox counts as a behemoth, and the job is 24/7 forever, with no retirement plan other than a messy death. And you can't ever fail or deviate from the plan or the world starts glitching. Good luck! And that's not even half as raw a deal as Abyssals get.
Thankfully the office woes should be much more reasonable in 3rd Edition.
After the end of the Primordial War of 2nd Edition, a Solar general despaired at the thought of peace because of strongly he had defined himself in the war he had been created to fight. After the minor wars of consolidation that followed the victory failed to satisfy him, he went directly to the Primordials' prison-world, deliberately forgoing any protection, to look for a fight. He got precisely what he wanted, and spent most of the High First Age happily rampaging his way through Hell.
Slayers among Green Sun Princes are well-known for this in 2nd Edition. Their patron defines the smoldering rage that burns the world with overwhelming power.
The Abyssal Exalted are able to extrude chains of their own blood to use as weapons or just tentacles. On a side note, one of their martial arts specializes in whips, chains and bondage. Yes, they're compatible. 2nd Edition was wild.
One set of 2nd Edition Green Sun Prince charms allow them to control liquid. This include spilled blood, and there are tons of it on the battlefield. A Blob Monster made of blood is one of the nastier things they can sic at their enemies.
Dragon Kings who walk the 2nd Edition 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, and 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.
Blow You Away: Air is one of the five basic elements of creation, and beings associated with it — such as air elementals, gods of weather and the sky, and Air Aspect Dragon-Blooded — can manipulate it to a fairly extensive degree.
Most of the Yozis fit this to some degree. In 2nd Edition they operate off the same four virtues as most other sentient life, but they interpret these on a radically different level. Adorjan almost certainly has high Compassion. She just expresses her love for you by enlightening you, via your own torture and murder. The Principle of Hierarchy, on the other hand, is completely incapable of applying Compassion to help a single person if it conflicts with The Needs of the Many.
Except for the Ebon Dragon. His charms don't change his perspective on the nature of virtues, just permanently weaken them to free him from petty morality. At least, he might tell you that; in reality he's just kind of a dick.
The Fair Folk are a textbook example. They hate to be bound by conventional existence, and feel that being forced to retain a shape is tyranny. As they have no real soul, or even a stable personality of their own, they substitute other magic to make it seem to humans as if they have both. In addition to that, most Fair Folk living in creation only say that they hate existing in a body, and being bound by time. Their more pure chaotic cousins are alien in their thinking even to them.
Blue Blood: The Dragon-Blooded pass down their power by inheritance, and established an aristocratic dynasty that rules the world after overthrowing the Solars.
Wyld mutations, the decanthropes, and particular species of parasitic flowers.
There're also the "Casteless" Lunars, who in 2nd Edition are more susceptible to the Wyld energies than mortals and can turn into insane monstrosities called Chimera.
However, the crown must go to Voidtech: it's so messed up it even freaks out the Yozi, and they're the ones who came up with the phylactery-womb. To clarify: Voidtech is a kind of uber-powerful charm set you can give to your Alchemical Exalted (or even to normal humans). However, "installing" voidtech modifications will eventually cause you to develop Dissonance, which turns you into a sadistic psychopath that destroys everything around you. Even if that weren't bad enough, Voidtech modifications look disturbing: hell, one of them causes you to grow a giant mechanical tumor inside of your body.
Body to Jewel: The artifact named the Eye of Autochthon is this, maybe.
Excellencies. Yes, they do nothing more than add dice, and may be the most flair-lacking thing in the whole book: you just shine a little and do things better. They are also the ones you'll most likely be using the most and tend to be very efficient, Essence-wise.
In 3rd Edition, Solars and Lunars simply get excellencies for free for any caste or favoured ability/attribute they have a dot in, or for any non- caste or favoured ability/attribute in which they have a charm, making them less charms in their own right and more a thing they can just do. This proved a little too unbalancing for Dragon-Blooded, however, so instead their "excellencies" gain additional effects to make it worth actually paying for them.
Perfect defenses, to the point of breaking the game prior to the latest Errata in 2nd Edition; if you did not have and regularly use a perfect defense, you died horribly, but doing so was cheap and easy. They've grown a bit more expensive to use and less necessary due to reductions in the game's level of lethality, but they're still a fundamental power for plenty of players.
The Essence 1 charms of all the combat abilities in 3rd Edition are like this; they may not be flashy but they're the workhorses entire charm trees rely upon.
Breakout Character: The Alchemicals. They started out as a single adventure seed, and the fanbase promptly fell in love with them, culminating in them becoming a full-fledged playable splat.
The Broken-Winged Crane, notably, is a demonological grimoire of infernal sorcery and metaphysical prophecy that tends to drive both readers and scribes who copy it insane; those who aren't driven insane, and who have the background to understand it at all, find that its most promising incantations instruct the scholar in how to successfully enslave themselves to the will of the Yozis. It's also a Sourcebook for Infernals in 2nd Edition.
Flawless Brush Discipline makes a Solar's handwriting so beautiful that those who read it will fall in love with the writer.
Brutish Bulls: One of the most feared barbarian warlords in the setting, an Exalted chieftain who has led his horde on a long path of conquest through the North and crushed every city, nation and army in his way, is known to most as the Bull of the North.
If a Primordial's Fetich Soul is killed, it implodes and can't do anything until it redefines itself by spawning a new Fetich. This process changes the Primordial's identity, theme and powers. Certain among the Yozis (notably Malfeas, Sacheverell, Adorjan, and Elloge), are defined by having already been through this.
The Liminals subvert this. The Chernozem come to be when someone attempts to raise the dead. Although nothing can truly accomplish this, something responds, and the body rises. They definitely are not the person who died, and they possess strange powers, but they are not in any way inherently wicked.
Cannibalism Superpower: The 2nd Edition Lunar Knack Golden Widow Method, which by having their Solar mate as a target of a sacred hunt, increases the Lunar's permanent Essence by one for a year and a day, at the cost of having an immediate Limit Break. However the extra Essence is not gained as a training effect (meaning it doesn't cost experience points), and can exceed the Lunar's age cap. After a year and a day passes, the Essence fades, but all traits that require the increased Essence don't disappear, but can't be used until the Lunar's Essence increases again. And since Solars reincarnate, the Lunar can do this as many times as she likes.
It becomes more risky if the Lunar's Solar mate is an Abyssal, an Infernal, or an Akuma, as the Lunar also gains a permanent point of Limit, which takes five years to fade, and if the Lunar gains five points of Limit by this method, then the Limit becomes truly permanent.
According to the Dev Diaries, the Locust War chapter of Autochthonians has been fed into a wood chipper for being toxic to the setting. (Although it was never canonical metaplot, but rather an adventure option.) This includes both events occurring in the adventure (which had the Autochthonian invaders juggling the Idiot and Villain Balls only to be shuffled off so the forces of a nearby Deathlord could take over the role of Big Bad) and certain hated setting elements introduced in the chapter (such as blacktog).
The writers of the first three chapters of Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals were under the impression that they were supposed to be the "pure supervillain" splat. The current batch of writers have gone on to say that they ignore that bit completely, and in particular the part about mortal Akuma (Word of God says that only an Exalt can become one, with the mortals becoming Yozi-Kin Demon-Bloods instead).
Car Fu: Drive Charms from the 2nd Edition Shards of the Exalted Dream. Crashing Star Charge and its Abyssal equivalent Murder on Wheels are the most obvious, since they permit you to enhance a ramming attack with your supplemental attack-enhancing Charms. It's not cheap, but you don't want to be on the receiving end. The Abyssal Road-Clearing Sideswipe is also something you don't want to come up against.
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.
The herd guardians, a servitor race created in 2nd Edition 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.
Celestial Bureaucracy: Yu-Shan (Heaven) is run by this. And it's filled to the brim with the divine equivalent of Corrupt Corporate Executives. Unlike many versions of the trope, this one doesn't involve the afterlife, though it does handle reincarnation.
Chainsaw Good: Chainklaves are, as the name suggests, chainsaw daiklaves. The Alchemicals have the Gyroscopic Chakram, which is for all intents and purposes a chainsaw frisbee. And then a canonical version of the chainklave was implemented in Shards of the Exalted Dream under the name "autoklave".
Charles Atlas Superpower: Mortals are capable of seeking enlightenment, allowing them to cast sorcery, learn necromancy, or wield supernatural martial arts.
In 3rd Edition paradigm, a mortal that gains supernatural powers (Essence, Sorcery, Necromancy) isn't considered a mortal anymore. They're still human, just not a vanilla mortal. Gaining Essence without an Exaltation either requires a supernatural (Exalt, god, elemental, demon, etc.) parent, but the chance of it is extremely rare, or somehow breaking the person. It's far more likely that they would gain a Merit of some kind to represent their parentage. And a published example of the other source of Essence is a character whose psyche was so broken that they have a permanent Defining Intimacy of Hatred towards something or someone which if somehow negated or removed would just have it replaced with another target.
The Chessmaster: Most of the present-day Sidereals see being one as their job. They are pretty good at it, but not as good as they often think.
The Art of Relentless Persuasion ("Conviction Style") and The Art of Forceful Declaration ("Valor Style") in 2nd Edition are pretty much entirely composed of this, at least in their flavor text. Of note: Ceaseless Arguments and Driving the Point Home (repeating a point over and over), Ignoring Denials of Truth and Raging Repartee (not giving opponents a chance to talk), and Wielding One's Tongue (being accused of loving or hating X and having semantics and nitpicks about the debate, all in one charm!). For those who don't play Exalted, these are supernatural martial arts styles being discussed here, not social combat techniques. And now you have an idea of just how weird this setting is.
A more traditional example is the Sidereal charm Well-Schooled Pedant Defense, which allows you to ignore social influence from anyone who isn't as learned as you.
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.
Chrome Champion: The Alchemical Exalted can shrug off attacks by doing this.
City of the Damned: Malfeas, the Demon City, sometimes simply called Hell, is the prison in which the defeated Primordials and their servants were trapped in by the gods and the Exalted after the latter's successful rebellion. The Primordials were places and living concepts as much as they were individual entities, and in order to contain them the Exalted took their king, turned him inside out and trapped him and his servants in his own tortured insides and this twisted world-body is the Demon City itself. As it's the physical self of a living creature debased by shame and pain rather than something built by people to live in, it's rambling, chaotic and without purpose or structure streets widen and narrow without pattern before terminating in sudden dead ends, for instance, while towering blocks of masonry extend skywards with nothing inside them. The city also exists in several stacked layers, which Malfeas sometimes collides as a form of self-harm, and teems with hordes of demons.
Clamshell Currency: The marine settlements of the West use cowry shells as currency, though, for portability's sake, they place them on strings.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Sometimes reflected in the 1st and 2nd Editions in the use of extras (foes who have fewer health levels than normal and are damaged automatically if hit, without a damage roll). Enforced in the 3rd Edition by the introduction of battle groups, which abstract groups of more than two similar enemies into a single character. The larger a group is, the more losses are represented by any damage it takes, and a battle group gains nothing from additional members unless they're sufficiently numerous to bump up its magnitude category. Not only does this mean a battle group's individual members are weaker than they would be alone, but the battle group itself, being only a single character, may be less dangerous than two normal opponents.
Give a Battle Group a commander however...
Contagious A.I.: "Hollow Mind Possession" in 2nd Edition allows Infernals to do this with the "material intelligences" that control certain manses. "Noumena-Seizing Assimilation" allows them to do it to any MI connected to the manse by dragon lines, as well as any devices hooked up to them... like, say, warstriders.
Contemptible Cover: The 1st Edition supplement Savant and Sorcerer, often referred to as the "Camel Toe Book" or "Sex and the Sorceress."
Continuity Reboot: Certain places and events remain much the same, but most anything else is up for grabs. 2nd Edition offers a monolithic magitech depiction of the First Age, and 3rd Edition Creation looks rather different from 1st and 2nd Editions in geography and history, not least in that it's bigger, there are more types of Exalted around, and the First Age was more varied.
The Dirigible Engine Daystar is a battleship powerful and awesome and pimped-out beyond all comparison. It's also the sun.
In Shards of the Exalted Dream, you have the Gunstar Autochthonia, a world-ship built out of the body of a Primordial, big enough to host entire nations inside it, who upgrades by eating worlds, and is so huge it has never been entirely explored in the four-thousand-year-old exile of the Exalted host. Oh, and it's defended by squadrons of Voidfighters and transforming mechas, since it's still being improved upon, waiting for the time it can go back to turn the tables on the Primordials AND the Daystar at once. Yeah.
Corpse Land: The Shadowlands, which are created whenever there's a massive act of slaughter in a concentrated area. They're half-open gates to the Underworld that open all the way when night falls, and are often populated by hungry ghosts and zombies.
The Corps Is Mother: The Cult of the Illuminated, set up to aid the returning Solars in reclaiming their old place in the world by the Sidereals of the Gold Faction, with full intent to ensure that they remain the powers behind the Solars' ridiculously shiny thrones.
The Corruption: The Yozis can transform Exalts into Akuma, granting them even greater cosmic power but turning them into meat-puppets without free will. Autochthon is infected with a bio-organic cancer that can corrupt Alchemicals or even other Exalts, allowing them to use powerful magic that drives them mad. And the 2nd Edition Lunar Exalted can become Chimera, gaining great power and potentially immortality at the cost of their sanity.
Cosmic Horror Story: Subverted. Yes, it looks bleak. The ghosts of dead titans are trying to drag all of Creation into Oblivion, the demonic creators of the universe want to reclaim rule of it, and the infinite armies of shapeless chaos want to dissolve all existence back into chaos. But, of course, you're Exalted. You can solve all these problems by punching them in the face.
Cosmic Motifs: The Celestial Incarnae, seven powerful gods, are personifications of the five closer planets, the sun, and the moon. The five planetary personifications have duties related to their respective Classical Mythology god.
Cumulonemesis: The Yozi known as Hegra, the Typhoon of Nightmares, takes the form of an immense living storm that stalks through Malfeas on legs of lightning. She brings with her rain made from the condensed dreams of Creation's sleepers and is one of the few things that can block out the green sun that burns eternally in the Demon City's sky. Her thunder is the loudest sound in Malfeas, and one of the very few things that reliably keeps Adorjan the Silent Wind away. As Adorjan kills everything she touches, demons are very fond of Hegra and rejoice at her passage.
Crapsaccharine World: The First Age was a Crystal Spires and Togas paradise in 2nd Edition, filled to the brim with life-improving Magitek and ruled over by three hundred divinely empowered god-kings singled out for just how awesome and special they are. Only said god kings are hard-wired to become more unstable as they become older and more incredibly powerful. After a thousand years, they're willing to do anything for amusement and to prove their excellence, from starting wars for fun to creating life to capricious and random murder. And although they don't admit it, most of them don't consider ordinary mortals to be real people and are more than willing to expend them in country-sized art projects, personal wars or horrific experiments. The flying city of Tzatli is a particularly clear example. On the surface, it's a wonder of technology even by First Age standards and its citizens lead luxurious lives envied by mortals everywhere else. In practice, however, its Exalted god-queen and her secret police strictly regulate every aspect of life to keep up the appearance of a perfect, ideal city. Slack off during your work shift, arrive too late for family time or argue too loudly over dinner, and you'll be hauled away to an unknown fate while a new set of citizens is sat down to your still-warm meal.
Create Your Own Villain: The Primordials made the Gods who made the Exalted. The Exalted made the Neverborn and the Yozi out of the Primordials. This is bad for everyone everywhere.
Crisis Crossover: The original 3rd Edition dev team revealed in an exclusive video for Kickstarter backers that they'd like to finally make it official: Exalted vs. The World of Darkness. On the other hand, this has barely if ever been mentioned since.
Critical Existence Failure: Infernals with the proper Malfeas charms can continue fighting with no penalties regardless of how badly wounded they are in 2nd Edition. The drawback being that, once the charm duration runs out, all the penalties come back in full force.
Cybernetic Mythical Beast: Cogwheel dragons resemble gigantic robotic dragons made entirely out of brass, with crystals for eyes. They're a type of metal elemental, created to regulate "natural" processes within the world-body of the mechanical Primordial Autochthon.
Cyborg: The Alchemicals are this. Eclipse, Moonshadow and Fiend Caste Exalted can become this in 2nd Edition to allow them to equip Alchemical Charms.
Damage Typing: Bashing damage for nonlethal wounds, Lethal damage for life-threatening wounds, and Aggravated damage for supernaturally deadly wounds.
Some magic requires that you sacrifice your life outright; others carry horrible penalties or costs. One of the most impressive has to be Untamed Apocalypse Shintai from Infernal Monster in 2nd Edition, which gives you considerable benefits at the expense of becoming a viciously sadistic and cunning murderous psychopath that exists at all times in a barely restrained state of berserk fury. (With some players, who'd know the difference?)
For the Sidereals in 2nd Edition, the Greater Arts of Astrology. The most powerful of the arts, they give several benefits. Firstly, Sidereals who perform the Greater Signs of the Maidens regain the permanent dot of Essence and Willpower invested in the Greater Sign in a month, at a cost of five Paradox points. Secondly, the most powerful astrological Charms are made available to the Sidereals, which are so powerful they reach Reality Warper levels instead of just tweaking fate, but this means that each one comes with Paradox points as part of the cost. Thirdly, the experience point cost of certain Charms is reduced, and the Sidereal is immediately reimbursed the experience point difference for already purchased Charms, allowing the Sidereal to purchase the newly unlocked Charms straight away. Finally, Sidereals are capable of creating new Charms for the Greater Arts. While these Charms are immensely powerful, they also incur significant Paradox cost due to the overtime the Pattern Spiders have to work. Each use of a Greater Arts Charm reduces dice pools for Craft (Fate) rolls for all characters in existence for a week.
Dark Fantasy: Creation has pretty much been on a declining spiral since it was created, with one or two temporary exceptions. The gods are corrupt, lazy, and/or addicted to games which are worse than crack, heroin, nicotine, and bacon combined. The world is threatened by no less than three sets of Eldritch Abominations, any of which would be happy to corrupt, unravel, or utterly destroy existence. The greatest beings with the capability to fend off these enemies are humans stuffed with way more power than humanity was built to handle, suffering from a curse that causes them periodic psychotic breaks. The average mortal can expect either a long life of drudgery and toil or a short life of terror and pain. Oh, and those beings? Two of the three sets of Abominations have their own versions working for them. Pretty much the only thing keeping the setting from being a Cosmic Horror Story is that the PC Exalted are fully able, if they act with wisdom, to actually confront and, potentially, solve the problems that face Creation.
Thankfully 3rd Edition dials down the Imminent Danger dial, with the Yozi not being able to break free of their prisons and the Deathlords being much more grounded instead of being pure Omnicidal Maniacs.
There are heroic and villainous examples of every splat type in the game, as well as every shade of gray in between. Though most Abyssal Exalted are likely to seem rather evil to anyone who doesn't see death and oblivion as a desirable state. That said, the fate of an Abyssal is to destroy, at least in 2nd Edition. They can not do anything else. However, they could 'destroy' things like corruption and slavery. All Exalted (excluding Akuma, who are essentially other Exalted that sold their souls) retain free will, though they sometimes face penalties for using it:
The Green Sun Princes, effectively "Exalted" of the Yozi, build up the ire of their patron Yozi if they defy their demonic Urges in 2nd Edition. If it gets too high, they undergo demonic torment, though they can appease their patron by acting like a sufficiently convincing B-movie supervillain.
The Abyssals are tainted with death and view things like graveyards and blood as comforting, but still have free will. If they act too human or do anything that creates life, though, they accumulate Resonance that in 2nd Edition eventually explodes outwards, causing things they like to die.
A more specific example is Five Days Darkness, the self-proclaimed god of Calibration (not that anyone else even wants the job), a time each year when the sun does not shine for five days straight (quite possibly the only universal holiday in creation). He's considered a Creature of Darkness (usually reserved for enemies of Creation) because of his nature and the fact he is The Unconquered Sun's shadow, and can grant others power while making them Creatures of Darkness themselves... but despite all these evil-seeming powers and traits, he's probably the nicest god you could meet.
The Liminals are reanimated corpses with heavy Promethean influence, harvest corpses for spare parts, and are spawned from the mad experiments of desperate sorcerers... but serve as wardens on the line between life and death, and frequently work as warrior-exorcists and banes of potent necromantic monsters.
For Light Is Not Good: The 2nd Edition First Age Solars managed a truly spectacular display. Bypassing the obvious (Desus), one semi-minor one was Admiral Arkadi... who was in the habit of raping his Dragon-Blooded subordinates and then using his Eclipse Caste powers to force them to keep it secret.
In more modern times, the Light side of the equation is played straight by Solar Akuma.
The Empyreal Chaos, in the 2nd Edition Shards of the Exalted Dream, is described as a being of white fire, basically a living supernova, and was also a colossal tyrannical douche.
We'll leave it up to you to guess which type of Exalted can be a dark mirror of the traditional Messianic archetype. Handy hint: the Abyssals' signature martial arts style is called Dark Messiah Style...
Just about any Exalt can be this, of course. Saving Creation is by definition going to involve a ridiculously high body count.
Deliberately invoked in the case of the Yozi Cecelyne's Charms in 2nd Edition. As the supreme lawmaker and judge of demons, her powers are all based around building societies, which given her philosophy, are usually dystopic. Doesn't stop the redeemed Malefactor from happily using them to create something close to paradise (close, as being the Endless Desert, Cecelyne's charms tend to make, well, deserts).
The Dark Side: The Great Curse tends to cause this after a while, especially when using some of the Sidereal charms that rely on virtues or just Game-Breaker charms like Zeal.
Decon-Recon Switch: Originally, in 1st Edition, Exalted was written as a deconstruction of many fantasy tropes; the 2nd Edition alternated primarily between playing them straight and Darker and Edgier.
Decadent Court: Oh so many. Most notably the Realm, since each Great House is a Decadent Court in itself and the Scarlet Dynasty is therefore a Decadent Court of Decadent Courts.
Deadly Dodging: One of the nastier tricks Lunar, Sidereal, and Dragon-Blooded Exalted can fall back on. In the short-lived Exaltedcomic book, it's how a Dragon-Blooded Exalt got Demetheus, a Dawn Caste Solar, to kill his own circlemate, Kidale.
As of 3rd Edition, Solars can pull off this trick too with the charm Drifting Shadow Focus.
There are charms specifically intended to help with this. Eye and Seven Despairs does this as part of his Reunion Revenge plot, too.
The whole system Lunars use via Heart's Blood grants this, and they can even assume the person's strands of fate. Of course, they can also do this without actually killing the person but tends to be the primary method of acquiring new shapes.
Actually, for quite a few slain First Age Solars in 2nd Edition. Their ghosts found a war raging in the Underworld, with Oblivion on the verge of overrunning it entirely. So, they did what Solars do best... kick ass and take names, this time with their heads cleared of the Great Curse and a driving need to atone. The vast majority of them passed through Lethe apologizing for their misdeeds. Few of the ones who didn't stuck around and became (some of, in 3rd Edition) the Deathlords.
There is at least one Solar ghost who stuck around: an Eclipse Solar's ghost saw the Underworld needing... some considerable unity. He founded the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin to address this. It's the Underworld answer to the Guild, but at least it keeps the stream of ghosts being enslaved and soulforged to tolerable levels.
Depending on the ending for your Return of the Scarlet Empress game, there are still some hanging around... waiting for a force of good to inspire them to their former level of heroism, which will lead in turn to the UCS returning his gaze unto them and giving his blessing to kick ass and chew bubblegum in the Underworld. Death may equal redemption, but as Return says, "it's not the end of ambition."
Death Ray: The appropriately-named 3rd Edition Celestial-circle spell, Death Ray. It fires a massive red laser that you can hold for several turns which can melt landscape, decimate armies, cut through ships, and write messages into mountains.
Deadly Gas: Smoke, one of the elements of Autochthon, consists of horrifically toxic and corrosive fumes and is defined by its ability to destroy matter and kill living things. In its natural state, the Elemental Pole of Smoke serves as Autochthon's stomach, where scrap, waste and broken machinery are disposed of and broken down for reuse. It also serves as a powerful way of scouring corrupted areas of his body from taint and gremlin infestations. The primary Lesser Elemental Dragon of Smoke, known as the Shogun of Genocide, is wholly dedicated to his role as an eradicator of life and can kill entire cities with the fumes of his passing.
The Solars of the First Age were killed off in the Usurpation because many of them had become mad, monstrously inhuman tyrants, the rest weren't far behind, and they were getting worse. The ghosts of thirteen Exalts are now the Deathlords, one of the most dire threats contemporary Creation has ever known.
Demon-blooded, if they raise their Essence high enough, can metamorphose into first circle demons in 2nd Edition.
In the 2nd Edition book Shards of the Exalted Dream's setting Burn Legend, Yamajin come about when an Akuma is killed and proves him or herself worthy to the Yomi Kings in the Thousand Hells. They get spiffy new moves, including the option to go One-Winged Angel, at the trivial expense of having their presence in an area gradually taint it with Hellish energies. But hey, who cares about that when you can hit like a tank?
Shows up as a possible option in the 2nd Edition module Return of the Scarlet Empress for the Scarlet Empress herself. In this option, the Empress dies, but the Neverborn were so impressed with her that they decided to turn her into a Deathlord when she became a ghost. This isn't the only option, however.
Depending on the Writer: The game's books are written by freelancers, who vary wildly both in quality and in their vision of the setting. Since writers are assigned work by chapter, this can even result in contradictions within the same book: something that's most obvious in 2nd Edition's Infernals, where the first two chapters portray a rather different vision of the Yozis and the Green SunPrinces compared to the rest of the book.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Alternatives abound for the ranged-combat monkey who disdains bows. Firewands, concussive Essence cannons, alchemical-fire weapons (available in revolver and bazooka flavors!), prayer pieces...
Diabolus ex Machina: The Abyssal Resonance mechanic exists to make sure your Anti-Hero gets dicked over in a beautifully angsty way in 2nd Edition.
This is also one of the reasons they were created. As mentioned under the Big Damn Heroes entry, Creation was going down the toilet; however, no one who had the power to harm the Titans could act against them. In fact, the only sentient beings who weren't bound not to attack the Primordials were humans, who couldn't harm them anyway. So the gods gave them the power to break the Titans in half. Cthulhu. Punched.
Didn't Think This Through: Chejop Kejak and the Bronze Faction Sidereals. The entire premise as to why their vision was better than that favored by the Gold Faction was that it was certain. Except, the entire reason that the Sidereals get to live in Heaven and collect a godly paycheck is because there is no such thing as an absolute future in Creation. The Loom of Fate cannot predict, nor control, events that originate outside of Creation. So when the Great Contagion was released from the Underworld, and the Balorian Crusade came pouring in from the Wyld, the Loom did not indicate that anything bad was coming until the calamities actually hit Creation.
The Dragon Kings. Despite their name, they're actually roughly human-sized sapient dinosaurs who wield Essence, wear armor, can learn to breathe magical fire, and occasionally wield flaming claw weapons and enormous crystal warclubs that project laser blades.
There is a kind of wild animal called an ox-dragon that is very clearly meant to be a ceraptosid, while pelagic dragons are huge plesiosaurs and sea dragons are mosasaurs.
Disaster Dominoes: Exploited by the mice of the sun, whose actions are always minute — generally as much as a regular mouse would manage — but are always timed just so as to cause immense aftereffects. They may chew through a warrior's shield strap to make it break in the middle of battle and dramatically alter his fate or the entire war's, for instance, or bring a few plague-carrying insects into a city ruled by wickedness, and thus alter the course of history while passing beneath everybody's noses.
Discontinuity Nod: Originally Exalted was intended to be the prehistory of of the Old World of Darkness. Despite them going away from this interpretation, the back cover still states that "science is a lie," implying that is written from the viewpoint of a Traditions Mage. There are still plenty of references to oWoD as well, the most obvious being Autochthon, the Ebon Dragon, and Scarlet Empress/Queen (to Mage and Kindred of the East respectively). From late 2e on, they've also been sneaking in references to nWoD games such as Promethean (mortals who are capable of crafting Alchemical Exalted are known as demiurges) and Geist (Abyssals' "old laws" charms).
Earth Aspect Dragon-Blooded are capable of this, as is anyone who uses the Earth Dragon or the Jade Mountain style of Supernatural Martial Arts.
Earth elementals and gods of caves, minerals and the earth can likewise make use of these powers. The Kukla, the Greater Elemental Dragon of Earth (one of the most powerful elementals and beings in general in Creation), has powers such as "convert everything within 50 miles into freshly tilled soil" and is incredibly dangerous (simply waking it up causes earthquakes powerful enough to send tsunamis three miles inland on every coast in Creation).
Divine Parentage: The God-Blooded. It doesn't get them as far as you'd think, compared to the Exalted. (Mind you, actually being a full-scale god usually doesn't get you as far as the Exalted, so this was perhaps inevitable.)
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Whether or not Exalted is still the old WoD's prehistory, the Lunars' "Thousand Streams River" project in 2nd Edition — grand-scale social engineering, aimed at creating societies that can survive and thrive without the need for Exalted leadership/control — can easily be interpreted, when viewed at a remove of hundreds of millennia, as the Impergium.
The Eye of Autochthon (a vague, insanely powerful/destructive macguffin)
Double Entendre: Luna's stat block in 2nd Edition includes a ride specialty for Gaia. The Unconquered Sun has ride specialties for Greater Elemental Dragons, Jouten (Primordial bodies) and Luna, each of which could be Accidental Innuendo or Ship Tease.
Double Jump: One Alchemical charm lets an Exalt jump at any time — including while in midair.
The Dragon: Each Deathknight is effectively this to their Deathlord (a Circle of Deathknights can easily be a Quirky Miniboss Squad). But the Deathlords themselves fill the role for their Neverborn masters.
Dream Weaver: Dream flies, a type of minor god, are strictly speaking only charged with observing and recording mortal dreams. Most eventually grow tired of their passive roles, and use their experience with dreams to brew their own, which they keep in glass bottles and give to sleeping minds. Their dispositions and preferred dreams affect to whom they give their creations — dream flies associated with romantic or erotic dreams favor passionate lovers, ones tied to dreams of glory and action give visions of victory and battle to the passionate, and ones who weave nightmares spread their works at random or to anyone they find distasteful.
Drunken Master: Despite its name, Orgiastic Fugitive Style martial arts doesn't just cover sex. It also gives you bonuses for being drunk, stoned, or tripping on some heroin that was pissed out by a First Age dinosaur (preferably all three at once, with possibly a blowjob thrown in for good measure).
The Yozis are each directly associated with a particular form of mental illness, too (e.g. Word of God says that Kimbery is Borderline Personality Disorder, while Malfeas is a fairly obvious Maniac-Depressive, SWLiHN is Obsessive-Compulsive, the Ebon Dragon is a textbook sociopath, etc.)
Dystopia: Subverted with the Autocthonians. While Word of God admits that their general culture was based on 1984, with their caste system and unquestioning obedience to the state, they actually have less social problems than the Realm. Within a caste, an Autocthonian has the most prospect for upward mobility and personal freedom, and their worship of the state comes from the fact that their primary enemy is Voidtech. As a result, all rebellions could in fact, be inspired by Gremlin Syndrome, and thus really bad for reality at large.
Eat Dirt, Cheap: Furnace rhinos were created by the Primordial Autochthon to be living refineries for useful metals, and fulfill their purpose by consuming ores and scrap metal, purifying them internally and depositing the resulting materials in their bodies — regular metals make up their hide, while the magical materials form their horns.
Either/Or Prophecy: When the Sidereals got together to try to figure out what to do about the out-of-control Solars. The two favored prophetic outputs were the Vision of Gold and the Vision of Bronze. The Vision of Gold was a straight-up example of this trope. In it the Sidereals tried to talk the Solars into recognizing the problem. This could result in either the Solars using their incredible abilities to find a cure to the Great Curse and produce an even more glorious future for Creation... or they might freak out, treat it as an attempt to undermine their authority and trash Creation in their rage. The Vision of Bronze seemed more straightforward. Get rid of the Solars and Creation, though greatly-diminished, would definitely survive. Unfortunately, it became an unintentional Either/Or Prophecy because Eldritch Abominations that dwelt outside of Creation do not register on the Sidereal's prophetic radar and could thus totally derail the otherwise "certain" future.
The Primordials and their composite souls (each Primordial is composed of multiple souls, which are semi-independent beings embodying their attributes) were truly bizarre and abstract even before being killed or imprisoned. Their true, whole forms are more akin to architecture or geological features than beings. Among the most noteworthy physical descriptions of them are the Ebon Dragon (composed on the shadows of all things that have and will exist), and He Who Bleeds The Unknown Word, who "assumed the shape of a dragon of living calligraphy. He flew on wings of poetry; his fangs dripped with satire; he wore armor of endlessly folded layers of impenetrable legalese."
Oh yeah, and the 2nd Edition Infernals are turning into them. Or worse.
Less obvious, as revealed in the 2nd Edition Glories of the Most High, are the Celestial Incarnae themselves.
The Unconquered Sun was created by passing the green fire of the Primordial King through the Primordial equivalent of the Big Bang until it was so pure that it embodied absolute purity and perfection.
Luna was created when Oramus, the Primordial that defines what is and is not real, took a bunch of his nightmares and forced them into a cannibalistic cage match until only one was left, and then released the winner — the ultimate seductress and predator and shapeshifter that could be conceived of between himself and the Primordial power of evolution — into reality to make sure Gaia didn't wander away.
And the Maidens of Fate... well, no one is quite sure where they came from. They just showed up while the Primordials were making Creation and started weaving Fate. Every Primordial assumes someone else will end up responsible for their creation (they recognize the Maidens as the result of something the Primordials have yet to do); it's more comfortable than thinking they just came from nowhere.
Unshaped Raksha. They are most simply described as living quantum fluctuations, but replace physics with narrativium. When they attempt to enter creation their most comprehensible form is a storm of malevolent chaotic madness, and it just gets worse from there.
Elemental Embodiment: Elementals of the five in-universe elements — water, fire, wood, air and earth — have a prominent presence in Creation; a few are mindless, but they're generally spirits in the same vein as the gods, using a lot of the same Charms and abilities. In 2nd Edition they originated from the essence of the five immense, primordial elementals shattered during the between the gods and the Primordials, and can embody an element's qualities as much as its nature — a water elemental may be formed from or control water, or it may instead embody water's tendency to be formless and take the shapes given to it by the world, while a fire elemental may embody fire's power to purify and transform.
Because they're naturally material in Creation, and come from the raw elements in the normal world, elementals are considered bumpkins by the actual gods. The exception to this are the ones who develop enough enlightenment to become lesser elemental dragons, essentially classical Chinese dragons, who are considered to be equals to the gods. Greater elemental dragons, the next step up, are unspeakably powerful but effectively mindless entities who blur the line between "creature" and "natural disaster", and need to kept in permanent hibernation to preserve Creation's stability.
Creatures fundamentally similar to elementals, but not actually part of their number, exist as well. Metodies are demons created to be regulators and elementals of vitriol, a hideously corrosive acid that was originally rejected as a base element of Creation, and resemble humanoid masses of acidic liquid. Autochthon, when he fled Creation, likewise fashioned elementals to oversee the workings of his world-body, but these were spirits of his own internal elements of crystal, metal, smoke, steam, oil and lightning. Unlike metodies, these are true elementals in their own right, and can mature into elemental dragons.
Elemental Plane: The Flat World of Creation is "pinned" in place by the Elemental Poles of Fire in the south, Water in the west, Air in the north, Wood in the east and Earth in the center. The closer you get to the pole, the more prominent the element becomes:
The South is a vast desert leading to volcanoes, before reaching fields of magma and crystal forests leading to the ceaseless inferno of the Elemental Pole of Fire.
The West opens to a vast ocean, leading to an Elemental Pole that is a sea without shore, surface or bottom where the waters are endlessly flowing, pooling and shifting to and fro.
The North is frozen and windblown tundras, leading eventually to fields of howling snow and Floating Continents until the Pole is a constantly howling gale amidst which elementals hold court.
The East is thicker and thicker forests, until the roots crowd out the ground, leaves block out the sky and only endless leaves, wood and unchecked growth remain.
The Elemental Pole of Earth, unlike the others, lies in the dead center of Creation in the form of a colossal mountain.
Elite Agents Above the Law: The All-Seeing Eye are the Realm's secret police, intelligence service and, at need, assassins, tasked by the Scarlet Empress with overseeing the dealings of the Great Houses, the Realm's bureaucrats, merchant conglomerates and other powerful factions and ensuring that they do not threaten the stability of the Realm. They ultimately answer only to the Empress and to the Sidereals secretly manipulating the Realm, and exist entirely outside of its normal system of laws, politics and regulations. The Empress' disappearance, however, has been a serious problem for them, as they now lack any overarching direction in their mission and no longer possess a sponsor to protect them against the retribution of the Houses.
The Perfect of Paragon is the ultimate example of this in the world of Exalted. He was once simply a scavenger lord thaumaturge who could channel essence, he came across the Scepter of Peace and Order, giving him the power to force people to obey him via Blood Oath, and becoming immortal, and used these powers to help maintain order by forcing criminals and bandits of a city to swear loyalty to it's king, and took control of the city after the king died.
In the 2nd Edition module Return of the Scarlet Empress, the player characters have the chance to forge a number of such unlikely alliances to resist the forces of the Empress and Hell, although most are tenuous at the very best.
The Western front can see an alliance — a fragile, tense, and inevitably bound to go down in treachery one, but still an alliance — between the mortal fleets of Coral, the undead navy of the Skullstone Archipelago, the ancient Lunar Leviathan and his army of marine beastmen, and the fey raiders of the Opal Court to combat the fleets of the Lintha and Infernal Exalted.
The final endgame against the Ebon Dragon can see members of almost any force arrayed against him — nobody wants the Ebon Dragon to win, and the defenders of Creation may find aid among the forces of the Deathlords, Fair Folk desperate to stop the endless story of tragedy the Dragon would write, and even forces of Hell furious at the Dragon's sudden but inevitable betrayal of the other Yozi.
In the Gunstar Autocthonia Shard, the Viator of Nullspace — an extremely dangerous, robotic entity obsessed with protecting Autocthon no matter the cost to the people living inside him, and a maybe-villain in the default setting — is noted to be a possible, if very risky, ally for the Exalted in their fight against the Tyrant Sun and the forces of the Primordials.
Energy Economy: Quintessence and Ambrosia, the currencies of Yu-Shan (Heaven), are formed from congealed prayer. Quintessence is made of prayers made to Yu-Shan in general, while Ambrosia comes from prayers directed to specific gods in particular. All gods are required to tithe 10% of their Ambrosia to the Unconquered Sun, which then redistributes it to small gods as part of a divine welfare program (no, seriously).
An implicit aspect of Supernatural Martial Arts in 2nd Edition. On a more significant note, this is how the entirety of the Dragon King's Charm sets work in 2nd Edition. Their Splat book spells it out: while the Exalted and similar types learn their powers through training and experimenting, this does not generally include a growth of wisdom. The Dragon Kings, on the other hand, explicitly involve growing intellectually and often morally; their Charms are set into the Paths of Prehuman Mastery and arranged around elemental-themed philosophies. As a Dragon King learns these Charms (called Steps, as in 'steps on a Path'), they interalize that Path's lessons and grows wiser with them. Compounding this nature is the fact that each Path has an associated Virtue, and can channel them to briefly use a Step just above the one of their current mastery, and it's noted that studying the appropiate paths tend to make thatVirtuemoreintense.
Part of 3e's Sorcery mechanic: New Sorcerers are typically blessed with a vision that grants an increased understanding of the cosmos.
Enthralling Siren: Tree-singers are monkey-like animals from the jungles of the East that produce song so beautiful and melodious that creatures that hear a group of tree-singers singing can only stand there in amazement. When their audience is so stupefied, the singers lower themselves from the branches, strangle them with their prehensile tails, and eat.
The Epic: Can be played this way, either personal for a Solar hero, national for the Lunars, or generational for the Dragon-Blooded.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: In the Age of Sorrows, Creation seems to be culturally stuck in the Middle Ages (either European or Asian, depending on the nation), but homosexuality and bisexuality are more or less accepted everywhere. The only culture in which they seem to present any kind of problem is the Scarlet Dynasty, in which they're considered perfectly acceptable (and sometimes even encouraged) as long as a Dynast's "dalliances" don't get in the way of the Super Breeding Program or the politically-motivated Arranged Marriages.
At least among the larger cultures. Many smaller countries have very drastically different opinions, and some have strict sexual mores. Chayan society rejects homosexuality and suspected homosexuals suffer pain and turmoil under their culture, since they normally don't desire anything and only reproduce as a side effect of the yearly frenzy.
Other locales have different taboos that appear nonsensical to outsiders or the modern world: Luthe's sharkmen are forbidden to interbreed with its octopusmen, but both are allowed to have children with its gilled humans, and none of the above would consider having children with a baseline human.
Even Evil Has Standards: The Yozi are the (still-living) former creators of the world, trapped inside their own bodies, filled with resentment at the world they created, and have done things like making an organ that makes beautiful music out of the screams of babies and virgin women. The Neverborn are the dead versions of the Yozi, who want to see nothing more than all of Creation thrown into Oblivion so that they can go along with the ride. Got that image in your head? Okay. Now understand that Voidtech and Gremlin Syndrome even scares them and you'll begin to understand how fucked up things are in Autochthonia.
Both averted. From what we see in the profiles of NPCs and signature characters, the world of Exalted seems to be a roughly even mix of straight, gay, and bi.
Everyone Is Bi is very common fanon, though. Although a decent number of canon characters are clearly not bisexual (interestingly, more are clearly gay than clearly straight), "everyone is bi in Exalted" is a commonly held belief.
Once Charms get involved, sexual orientation can be changed or ignored by the determined.
Beasts Of Resplendent Liquid in 2nd Edition. Created in the First Age to browse on plants and mix pharmaceuticals in their kidneys, the few survivors are owned by the Guild who feed them on opium. In short, dinosaurs that piss heroin.
Evil Chancellor: There are many specific examples, but (while not specifically evil) the Sidereals' role in the Usurpation and the fact that they were originally supposed to be viziers to the Exalted Host makes them, in effect, an entire "race" of Evil Chancellors.
Evil Overlord: Most of the Deathlords are pretty classic examples of this, and in some cases you can tell that just by looking at their black armor and Spikes of Villainy. The Scarlet Empress and some of the Lunar elders may also qualify, depending on your viewpoint.
The Evils of Free Will: Most Yozis have become firm believers in this trope. She Who Lives In Her Name believed in it from the start, loathing free will as part of her basic nature.
The Ebon Dragon is one exception. He loves free will. He finds it... amusing.
Subverted with Isidoros, the Yozi of Strength: as the very embodiment of domination, he understands the concept of self-interest as it relates to other people. As a result, he throws his support behind all forms of rebellion and self-determination, seeing as how one must be free to rule over others.
Expanded Universe: There are several novels based on the setting- one in particular is titled Chosen of the Sun. There is a Let's Read of it here. Other novels include A Day Dark as Night, and In Northern Twilight.
From "The Modern Age" in the same book, Lionel Kes is James Bond... but Dragon-Blooded and gay.
The Faceless: Nara-O, God of Secrets Only One Person Knows manifests as somebody wrapped in cloth completely. Theories abound from him having nothing underneath his robes to him ceasing to exist if anybody but himself knew what's under them.
The Fair Folk: The Fair Folk (but of course). Alien beings from pure chaos beyond the rim of creation, wishing to either dissolve it all or to just have fun eating dreams and souls. Have a weakness against cold iron and cannot break their promises (getting a real binding oath is a separate problem, of course). They also used to need an invitation to enter Creation, but they later got it and destroyed the barriers necessitating it.
Fan Disservice: Everyone really wanted to see Sulumor topless while undergoing the end stage of self-induced skin cancer... except that also happens to be her peeling off said cancers, revealing her normal body underneath.
Fanservice: There's usually at least one illustration of a bare-chested girl per book in 2nd Edition.
Fantastic Fragility: In 2nd Edition, the Exalted have perfect defensive charms that can make them invulnerable, but which always come with some sort of situational or tactical flaw. For example, a Solar invulnerability might only work in the presence of someone they care about, or might force them to advance on their most powerful opponent. For Abyssals, their invulnerability might fail in the presence of someone they care about, or force them to flee their strongest foe. For the Infernals, their perfect defenses possess a flaw based on the Yozi patron that grants it. Thus, invulnerability charms granted by Malfeas the Demon City only function in a developed area, while charms from the Ebon Dragon, made from the shadows of everything in existence, don't work in sunlight. These flaws can be somewhat worked-around by purchasing multiple perfect defenses. However, characters can never have more than two different flaws among their perfect defense charms.
The Realm combines the Roman Empire with various periods in Imperial Chinese history.
Lookshy is based on Sparta.
The Linowan are based on Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest coast.
The Coral Archipelago is partly based on Victorian Britain.
In the Modern Era chapter of Shards of the Exalted Dream, pretty much all the modernized nations are clear knockoffs and/or amalgamations of real-world countries (i.e., Meruvia = USA/Commonwealth of Nations, Union of Eastern States = USSR/EU, and so forth).
3rd Edition's Prasad and the Southeast in general have a very strong Indian/Mughal influence.
One of the most common elements retained from the former Ages is the use of Essence-based lighting.
Many types of Exalted also have the ability to light up their Battle Aura to illuminate their surroundings. Some, like Solars and Lunars, have it easier than the others.
There's a five-dot hearthstone that illuminates quite a large area with natural sunlight, even if it's pitch dark. This is of course really, really bad for any hungry ghosts in the area.
Glowstones are shining rocks that emit light with brightness varying from a torch's to an overcast day's. They emit no heat and shine for years without fuel, and are prized as light sources in areas already subject to intense heat or where fire would be dangerous (such as ships, libraries, or mines where explosive gases may be present). Most glow red or orange; yellow or white ones are uncommon and ones of other colors extremely rare. This, combined with the fact that they can only be mined in very remote areas of the South, leads wealthy people throughout Creation to light their homes with colorful glowstones as a display of their wealth.
Gethamane's tunnels are kept lit by glowing crystals set into its walls, which glow brightly during the day and dim when night falls on the outside world.
Fantastic Underclass: In 2nd Edition's version of the Underwater City of Sunken Luthe, society is divided between the aquatic beastmen and the relic population of surface-normal humans, the descendants of the Dragon-Blooded crew that worked on Luthe when it was still a floating fortress. As the people of Luthe worship Leviathan, an ancient Lunar, who is old enough to remember the Usurpation and how the Dragon-Blooded rose against the Solars and the Lunars, the Luthian humans are openly despised by the rest of the city, who refer to them as the Traitorkin and force them to live in a segregated ghetto and to work as menial laborers.
Fantasy Gun Control: There are guns that shoot fireballs, but not regular guns that shoot bullets. In light of all of the magitek and just plain ol' technology (at least in 2nd Edition), it was rather conspicuous. (Word of God is that the devs want to avoid pointless, endless fan arguments about why gun availability should/shouldn't immediately let whoever has them take over Creation.) But with the addition of prayer pieces in 2nd Edition Glories of the Most High, it is possible to shoot bullets. They are made of gold. And propelled by the power of tiny, tiny shrines along the barrel in place of rifling, containing tiny, tiny gods.
2nd Edition Wonders of the First Age introduces Plasma Repeaters, which are five-shot high-caliber revolvers that use gel propellants and require absolutely no Essence to operate. They are, however, very expensive to keep loaded...
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Creation is probably the ultimate fantasy kitchen sink. Highly-advanced technology (at least in 2nd Edition), powerful sorcery, more empires and kingdoms of various stripes than can be counted, gods of everything, a magical martial arts style based around duel-wielding fire-spewing pistols, dinosaurs that pee heroin (don't ask) or life extension drugs, and of course, assorted gods of everything.
Fatal Flaw: This is a major part of the setting and the game mechanics; due to a Great Curse placed on them when they beat the Primordials, every Exalt is required to have one.
Alchemicals managed to bypass this through not existing at the time, and instead have Clarity: in which their Fatal Flaw is that after a while they become Straw Vulcans.
2nd Edition Abyssals have had the Great Curse revoked, and instead have to deal with Resonance, which forces them to be world-killing abominations by punishing them with death and destruction even if they try not to.
2nd Edition Infernals have Torment, but have in essence already had their bout with the old Fatal Flaw: the idea of Infernals is that they could have been a Solar but decided not to go do the epic thing that would have given them the decent Exaltation. (Another take on Infernals is that some of them tried to be epic, but failed due to the lack of an available, untainted Solar Exaltation.)
In 2nd Edition Solars who become Abyssals and then redeem themselves (becoming Solars again) are also freed of the Great Curse: they may only gain Limit through specific Charms that inflict Limit upon the victim or user. If their Limit reaches 10, they lose one dot of Permanent Willpower that regenerates after a month, assuming they do not reach 10 Limit again within that period. Charms that require the Great Curse to function no longer work, however.
Even without the Great Curse, having a virtue rated three dots or more (which all Exalts have to) turns into a fatalflawofsome kind. This applies less in 3rd Edition, where Virtues no longer exist.
Fate Worse than Death: Malfeas and the Yozis, though especially Malfeas. To get an idea, consider being an infinite, disembodied superbeing, whose every thought, whim, and emotion defines reality as you will it. Existence is your oyster, and it has always been so for unto ages of ages. Then, imagine that, for one moment, you are overwhelmed with existential terror, and in that instant of weakness, you're swarmed by ants whose venomous bites paralyse you and petrify you into a material form. The ants then lobotomise you to keep you docile, split your carcass down the middle, rip you inside out, mutilate your organs, and then stuff both your mutilated organs about a dozen of your mutilated, lobotomised siblings into the sack made from your inside-out flesh. You're then sewn back up, inside-out, with all this stuff inside you, and left to bleed and scab over and wriggle in disgusted self-loathing forever, except that the ants periodically tear holes in your outer layers and hernia your organs out to milk them for bile before pushing them back in. (This largely explains why, when mortals enter into Malfeas, they always die horribly.)
Faustian Rebellion: A possible outcome for Infernals and Abyssals who decide they like Creation the way it is and realize that their bosses are chumps who got their asses kicked.
Abyssals do it by destroying the coffins that bind their Exaltation and walking away.
The way Infernals do it in 2nd Edition? They become Titans in their own right and eventually obtain all of the powers of the Yozis, minus almost all of their weaknesses. They retain the Urge because it's tied to their Exaltation — but it becomes permanently identical to their Motivation, so they're probably going to want to fulfil it anyway...
And after the Broken-Winged Crane came out, that path is actually covered by a Charm tree. The Heresy keyword may well be best be described as "Fuck you, Yozis" as a mechanical effect.
Feathered Fiend: Death moas are towering, flightless birds native to the Western islands. Their primary weapon is an axelike beak capable of shattering bone, which they regularly employ in their crude but effective hunting tactic — gore and maul whatever's in front of them until it's carrion fit to eat.
Sidereal Exalted receive their Salary from the Celestial Bureaucracy in the form of Quintessence and Ambrosia, which can be converted into any mundane material, including money. In Yu-Shan (Heaven), this isn't really a problem, since money of all sorts is basically Worthless Yellow Rocks. In Creation, however, a Sidereal Exalted's starting pay would be enough to set them up as a millionaire several times over. Higher levels of Salary could allow a Sidereal to buy and sell nations, or bring the Realm's economy to its knees in a matter of days. Luckily, the Celestial Bureaucracy has already figured this out, and makes actually using Salary to its fullest extent in Creation a crime UNLESS you're doing it for a specific, work related reason and are given express permission to use more than is normally permitted. (You can still use enough to set yourself up with a rather nice home in Creation and keep yourself supplied)
In the First Age of 2nd Edition, the Celestial Exalted were so fabulously rich that it couldn't be adequately measured by the Resources Background; they got Wealth instead, which at its upper levels dwarfed even the Sidereals' Salary, at least partly because they had no restrictions on actually spending it. The two highest levels of Wealth are defined by how large a financial crisis you'd cause by maliciously dumping your holdings. (Answer: Wealth 5 = destabilize any single nation save the very largest. Legendary Wealth = crash most of Creation's economy.)
In the modern setting, each of the Guild's hierarchs possesses a personal net worth that would allow them, if they so chose, to outbid the entire GDPs of some of Creation's largest nation-states. This is all the more impressive since, unlike the other examples named here, they accumulate this great wealth as Puny Humans, not beings of greater-than-godlike power (there is no official rule that says an Exalt can't be a hierarch, but the Guild was founded by and for mortals, and no Exalt ever has risen so high in its organization).
The Guild basically buys what it wants, and this includes their fleet, which contains 51 First Age warships, incredibly rare artifacts that are almost impossible to build in the modern setting, and the Guild spent a Fiction 500 amount for each one of their First Age warships.
Fictional Constellations: The Sidereal Exalted are organized along the lines of the planets and stars. Their domains, one for of each of the Five Maidens, are composed of five constellations each, for a total of twenty-five different constellations in the Exalted night sky.
Field Power Effect: Some Exalted charms, and Manses with the Well-Flavoured Aspect feature.
Fiendish Fish: The armored terror (that's the actual in-universe name) is a thirty-foot-long carnivorous fish covered in armor-like scales and provided with a beaklike pair of fangs easily capable of severing limbs. It normally hunts fish in shallow water, but it's perfectly happy to go after boats and people. Physically, it sounds a lot like an oversized Dunkleosteus.
Vanilla 2nd Edition has Combos, which allow an Exalt to combine the power of multiple charms in one distinctive attack. Abyssal Exalted take this one step further: They can have a Charm that literally terrorizes anyone who watches them murder someone in a particularly sadistic way. Yes, it's the "Fatality" Charm! And it's part of Dark Messiah Style martial arts, so any Celestial Exalt and even enlightened Terrestrials can learn it...
A lot of 3rd Edition martial arts have this if they don't give you a Super Mode. And then there's Solar Brawl's Heart-Eating Fist and Burning Sky Apocalypse Strike...
Fire Keeps It Dead: The Zenith Caste of the Solar Exalted have an innate ability to burn dead bodies with Holy Solar Flames, specifically to prevent them from rising as the undead.note Since the Zenith were created before the Underworld or undeath existed, one might wonder why they got this ability in the first place...
Fish-based beastmen, resembling any mix of human and piscine body parts, are not uncommon in the oceans.
Wyld mutants in the West often sports traits such as fishlike scales, webbed hands and feet, sharp teeth and fish belly-white skin.
Flanderization: The first real introduction we got to the Unconquered Sun in Games of Divinity narrated how in between his turns at the Games of Divinity, he frequently provided his Chosen with prophetic dreams and visions from time to time in the First Age. And then someone just had to go and take his name in vain. Until Glories of the Most High in 2nd Edition, most fans would probably have envisioned his entire existence from ascension to Yu-Shan to the present day to be one long turn at the Games. This is downplayed in 3rd Edition, where one of the corebook chapter fictions has the Unconquered Sun himself inform Perfect Soul that he's turning his face back to Creation; to manage this in 1st or 2nd Edition would likely be the result of an entire campaign.
Mount Metagalapa tore itself loose from the earth and began floating around at the same time as the foundation of the Realm. Savants theorize that the combination of Wyld Essence from a Fair Folk invasion and the aftereffects of activation the Realm Defence Grid- screw it they have no sodding idea why it floats. This is because they don't realize the heart of the mountain is a Titan-class citadel from the First Age. Basically, we're talking an Ominous Floating Castle fitted with a city-destroying mile-wide Wave-Motion Gun, forgotten for thousands of years, and encased in stone.
When it rose into the air, the mountain trapped several people in the sky with no way back down. The Metagalapans eventually took to breeding the giant hawks that came to roost on the island, which in recent times have become big enough to ride and serve as their primary way to contact the surface. There is also a population of hawkmen living there, whose innate flight allows them to come and go as they please.
Due to it already having been firmly alpine before it rose, and now lying high up and above most rain-bearing clouds, Mount Metagalapa is very cold and arid. It has no aquifers to speak of, and thin and rocky soil; water comes only from infrequent fogs. The Metagalapans thus rely on extensive cisterns to gather what rain falls, and on herding goats, sheep and alpacas, growing mushrooms and trading with and raiding surrounding lands for food and resources.
Deep in the Northern Wyld, the mingled influences of chaos and elemental air can lead to large clusters of land to rise into the sky. These grow larger and more numerous the further one heads from Creation, sometimes bearing rivers that either cascade off their sides or flow off into the air to connect distant islands. Some areas go as far as being a full-on World in the Sky as the ground breaks up into a swarm of islands floating through bottomless air.
Foreshadowing: The Wedding Band of the Scarlet Bride from the 2nd Edition Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals practically slaps a neon sign on the identity of the Ebon Dragon's bride. If you don't want to use the Return of the Scarlet Empress module you can always claim that the naming of the Ring and references to the Scarlet Bride are actually part of an elaborate plot of the Ebon Dragon to distract from the TRUE identity of his bride (Or even that there is NOT a Bride, and it's part of an even larger plot)... And it's completely in character for the Shadow of All Things to boot.
Floating Water: In some areas of the Northern Wyld, where Reality Is Out to Lunch and the element of Air's inherent tendency to be above other things permeates everything, the rivers that run on top of the local Floating Continents don't always cascade off their sides as would be expected but instead continue flowing through the sky. The resulting streams wind high in the air, stretching for considerable distances and often connecting distant flying islands.
Noresores and demjen are demons resembling, respectively, ethereal, translucent moray eels and merpeople, and both swim through the air.
Khomfai are Malfean animals resembling immense jellyfish, some the size of whales, floating through the air.
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.
From a Single Cell: 2nd Edition Chimeras (Lunars turned into insane monsters by the Wyld) can get this power.
From Bad to Worse: Creation has basically been going through a continual cycle of things-getting-worse since the First Age (or before, depending on who you ask), but one of the major Oh, Crap! events ones was The Great Contagion. During the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate (when Creation was ruled by Sidereals and Dragon-Blooded, and a bit worse-off than the First Age, but still better than contemporary Creation), one of the Deathlords (finally) unleashed by far the most deadly disease to have ever existed in Creation, which wiped out about 90% of the all life. ThenRaksha invaded in a massive swarm known as the Balorian Crusade, killing many of the survivors and literally dissolving much of reality into pure chaos. And now, the reincarnated heroes of the First Age are being called "Anathema" and being hunted down. But at least the resentful, Creation-creating Primordials are still imprisoned, right? It's a good thing they don't have agents out in the world that have the potential to become even more powerful than themselves. So things can't possibly get worse.
In the 2nd Edition module Return of the Scarlet Empress things go from worse to terrible, to the point of ending the Second Age and starting the Third Age, as the Scarlet Empress returns from Malfeas where the Ebon Dragon has spent the last five years Mind Raping her and rebuilds the Realm, then declares war on the rest of creation, slowly corrupting the Realm with her Infernal powers and allies as the war wages on, and ends up summoning the Ebon Dragon up into Creation, who proceeds to kill the Elemental Dragon of Earth and the Unconquered Sun, and attempts to infuse all of Creation with his essence.
Hellboars are a breed of wild pig so ferocious that they can prove more than a match for even a Terrestrial Exalted. They are also known to turn actively predatory, and can crack human bones between their teeth. The illustration in the corebook depicting one shows it as uncannily similar to an entelodontnote A group of prehistoric ungulates once thought to be related to pigs, although this is now considered false., and standing over the bloody carcass of an elephant while facing off a pack of claw striders.
The primary manifestation of the primordial Isidoros, the Black Boar that Twists the Sky, takes the form of a massive boar with the mass of a universe bound within him. He spends his days rampaging across Malfeas, crushing everything that gets in his way.
The Deathlord known as the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible has a "war form" that actually exaggerates this — not only is it naked, it sprouts multiple sets of genitals. Not many people like the form (once described by a snarky freelancer as a "monster made of dicks"), but it's there.
Canon Alchemical Thousand-Faceted Nelumbo runs around in nothing but a half-cape — and when she fights she takes off the cape.
Functional Magic: Pretty much all kinds under the sun, though Exalted usually make use of Inherent Gifts (Charms) and Rule Magic (Sorcery).
In story, the Exalted were former mere mortals so greatly empowered that they killed or imprisoned the entire host of the Primordials, the Titans who created the world and all its current gods. However, the grandiose power achieved by their forbears is out of reach to player characters in most versions of the game. Accidental game-breakers aside: In the 1st Edition, this was played straight. There were simply no writeups for any Charms or other abilities at "throwing down the most powerful beings in the cosmos" tier. Any player characters who wanted to attain such heights would need to write the rules themselves. In the 2nd Edition, this was eventually changed with Dreams of the First Age, which provided mechanics for high-Essence characters. Word of God on the 3rd Edition is that this segregation will be restored and enforced. There are no plans for the foreseeable future to write high-Essence abilities, and aside from a few bonuses/discounts on existing Charms, the core rulebook is mute on what happens to characters who exceed Essence 5 (or even how/when this happens), aside from gaining more motes.
Gem Tissue: The Alchemical Exalted of the Adamant Caste are described as being made of quartz crystals, and have "hair" made of branching crystal/gem growth, along with ''scales" at their joints.
Luna and Lunar Exalted can have the power to change sex at will. One Lunar elder has been doing this at fixed intervals for so long it no longer remembers its original sex.
The Fair Folk have no fixed gender, and are male or female or both or neither depending on how they want to be imagined by others. Alternatively, they may have a preferred gender which they default to if it flatters what passes for their self-perception to do so (although this default gender may vary depending on the gender-rules of local human cultures, with a given Fair Folk taking on default gender forms which local humans most associate with traits the Fair Folk likes to perceive itself as having).
The primary forms of most of the Yozi are entire environments; Malfeas is a literal demon city with the others trapped inside himself, while Cecelyne is an endless desert around him; others include an ocean of acid and a silver forest. They can make smaller human-form avatar bodies, though. The Unshaped Raksha beyond the edge of Creation generally follow this trope too.
Autochthon, as a relatively intact Primordial (for given values of 'relatively') also has an environment-form; in his case, it's the machine-world of Autochthonia.
Ancient and powerful Alchemical Exalted can transform into cities known as Metropoli or Patropoli.
Gaia has a world-body of her own, which is off exploring the Wyld. Creation isn't one of her bodies: she's linked to it, notably through the Five Elemental Dragons, but it's not her.
Giant Flyer: Strix are giant owls, while hybrocs and Metagalpan hawks and ros are even bigger birds with 50-75 ft wingspans. The Wyld spits out hadhayosh, giant ice-bats, gryphons, and flaming gryphons. Then of course there are the Pterok, the flying Dragon Kings of the North, and various flying demons such as the Agata or Beautious Wasps.
Giant Spider: Creation has 'em, ranging from intelligent, head-sized wood elementals to 5 ft long mortal spiders.
Glamour: The Raksha's power over perception and seduction.
Glass Cannon: The Sidereal Exalted, but really, all Exalted are capable of dealing far more damage than they can take if not for perfect defenses. Special mention goes to Solar Brawl in 3rd Edition rewarding you making decisive attacks all the time, forcing you to have low initiative, which means you can be crashed really easily. It's also the one with the least effective defense Charms compared to most martial arts and Melee.
A number of rocks found in the South are notable for glowing naturally, in addition to other properties. Firegems only give off a dim light, but also produce intense heat. Glowstones are otherwise regular rocks that shine with red or orange light (white and yellow variants also exist, but are rarer) for up to twenty years after extraction; small ones shine as bright as a torch, while large ones can make a room as brightly lit as if it was exposed to an overcast sun.
The underground city of Gethamane is lit by purple crystals that emit a strong white light. They dim and brighten in time with the day/night cycle, and their light is permanently extinguished if they're taken from their bases.
A God Am I: Definitely the major reason why the Solars got bumped off in the First Age.
God Guise: Being worshipped by mortals grants the Exalted more power.
A God Is You: Almost all player characters are Exalts, possessed of epic strength and phenomenal cosmic power. While you can play mortals, life in Creation is not very happy for them and the systems were designed to be played with Exalt powers in mind.
God's Hands Are Tied: The Incarnae created the Exalted because they were unable to attack the Primordials themselves. Nowadays, this trope's purpose is filled by their addiction to gaming instead.
The Gods Must Be Lazy: The Incarnae, at first blush, though the 2nd Edition Glories of the Most High expands on this: they're not so much lazy as caught in a Lotus-Eater Machine, the Games of Divinity. It's strongly implied that the Primordials deliberately let this happen as posthumous revenge vs. their usurpers. Then again, it could just be that the Primordials' gaming machine had No OSHA Compliance.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Any being in Creation that is worshipped by someone or something else receives Essence; this is the natural way for gods to sustain themselves. Furthermore, in Yu-Shan (Heaven), you can eat and drink prayer. One interpretation of the background material suggests that this trope is why the human race was created in the first place: they breed a lot, are superstitious, and are deliberately designed to be far too weak to survive comfortably without divine help, so that equals lots of delicious prayer for the gods.
Gold-Colored Superiority: The color, and material, of gold is heavily associated with the top-dog Solar Exalted. Their trademark magical material, Orichalcum, not only resembles gold, but can be refined from it with considerable effort.
The Green Sun Princes are all but stated to be the Yozis' ultimate mistake in 2nd Edition. As it turns out they've done such a good job with turning Infernal Exaltation into a clone of themselves that each Green Sun Prince is actually an embryonic Primordial, with the potential to assimilate all of the Yozis' positive qualities and almost none of their faults. Oh yeah, and said new Primordials are likely to realize that the Yozis are bugfuck nuts.
Good Hurts Evil: An interesting subversion: Celestial Exalted of all stripes (but especially Solar Exalted) have access to powers that specifically add extra hurt to "creatures of darkness," which include demons, ghosts, and Fae. However, the Celestial Exalted are not, intrinsically, Good, and the Creatures of Darkness are not, inherently, Evil.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Solar Hero Style in 2nd Edition, Solar Brawl ability tree in 3rd Edition. Fisticuffs taken up so far you can punch people into Hell.
Good Thing You Can Heal: The Exalted heal at an extraordinary rate (though perhaps not at the level of a Healing Factor), and given some time can even grow back amputated limbs. However, given the sheer number, variety and power of attacks that the Exalted have to absorb, being able to heal this quickly is greatly appreciated.
Green Thumb: Wood is one of the five basic elements of creation, and beings associated with it — such as wood elementals, gods of forests and plant life, Raptok Dragon Kings, and Wood Aspect Dragon-Blooded — can wield powers allowing them to shape and alter plants and speed or direct their growth. Besides plants, the element is thematically associated with growth, the drive for living things to spread and survive, and poison, and these things often factor into powers associated with it. Wood Aspect Dragon-Blooded are completely immune to all natural poisons, for instance, and weapons aligned with elemental wood can do thing like release clouds of potent toxins.
Grey-and-Gray Morality: Where it isn't Black and Grey, it's this. The game just comes this close of stating that most factions have at least some real points, and each has their own flaws as well.
Hammerspace: Justified: "Elsewhere" is a specific space which characters can use charms to reach, stock with stuff, and then take back various weapons and items from. In one of the 2nd Edition book comics one person got stuck in Elsewhere, floating around in an infinite void utterly unable to move. How did he get stuck? He cooked up a portal to it in an attempt to rob nearly every Exalted in existence by stealing their Elsewhere-stashed items. It's generally agreed he got off lightly.
Hand Cannon: The long-awaited canon artifact gun in 2nd Edition, the Shellcaster, is a massive automatic pistol (the smallest is larger than a Desert Eagle, the largest is the size of a man's thigh). (The artifact equivalents of assault rifles, Grand Shellcasters, are decidedly outsized as well.
Happy Rain: Hegra, a Yozi resembling a vast living storm, causes thunder louder than anything in Malfeas. This is one of the very few things that reliably keeps Adorjan the Silent Wind away. As Adorjan kills everything she touches and is the most feared thing in Malfeas, demons are very fond of Hegra, and her passage is marked by crowds of demons pouring from their homes, lairs and hiding places and dancing joyously in the rain.
Hard Work Hardly Works: The sole mark of capability in the game is the Exaltation; without it, a character could train all his life and work his guts off, and won't ever be anything other than a footnote on some Exalt's backstory. To boot, the Exaltations are distributed pretty randomly, so you can't even count on hard work and effort "earning" you a Exaltation, while Exalts learn what you have taken decades to master in weeks.
Future Chosen tend to be those who are already obviously gifted and Heroic. But being the most awesome among mortals does not mean you'd make the best Exalt, and the Exaltations are granted on an Omniscient Morality License which means that although the Perfect has probably one of the most stable governments in the area and endeavors to avoid falling into Evil Overlord territory, he's still found wanting by the unknown criteria of the Exaltation. He's a wee bit miffed about this.
In 2nd Edition much of it depends on if Lytek has an appropriate spark sitting in his cabinet right when you do something appropriate, such as stepping up to be the hero at a time it should be impossible to win (Solar) or persevering through a situation that shouldn't be survivable (Lunar). Or it's just the right time for you to be fated to exalt (Sidereal). Or die before your awesome destiny came (Abyssal). Or REALLY fuck up what you were trying to do (Infernal).
Finally, becoming a Dragon-Blooded is based on your ancestry. In 2nd Edition you can bribe a member of the Bureau of Destiny to make sure you reincarnate as a future Dragon-Blooded, but 1) good luck getting enough wealth as a mortal, and 2) you have to die first.
Among the Exalted, however, this trope is averted. You can't just spend your experience points to directly increase your traits; you also need to put in the requisite training time. Improving your attributes can take months of training even for Exalts, and that's assuming a training regimen of eight hours per day, six days per week. Unless you're a Solar training your Caste or Favored abilities, at which point you are exempt from training time requirements.
Zigzagged in 3rd Edition with the introduction of Exigents, the individual Exalted of single, specific gods. For a god to receive the Exigence from the Unconquered Sun requires a combination of dire need and virtue, and the god's power doesn't correlate with the power of the Exigent they create (so a humble field god might create an Exigent who could stand on par with the Celestial Exalted). However, it's the god's decision who qualifies for their Exigence, and mortals without other Exaltations can indeed vie for their favour and win Exaltation as their prize. There is even one town just past the edges of the Realm and outside the Immaculate Order that attracts a massive population of hopefuls for explicitly that purpose.
Hate Plague: What happens in 2nd Edition when an Infernal fills up his Torment, though the precise flavour depends on the Infernal's patron Yozi.
Hell Hound: Helgrifnir, the Fen-Hound, is a massive immortal hound with a gaping mouth filled with three rows of teeth and a hide covered in peat and moss, who stalks the shadowland of the Black Chase. It used to be the pet of a Solar, who granted it its intelligence, size and immortality, but was left on its own after the Solars were overthrown slaughtered. Its loneliness and the corrupting influence of the Shadowland have turned it into a monstrous, vicious beast, who stalks and hunts anything that passes through his territory. Millennia of life have turned him into an extremely skilled and cunning hunter, and even the mightiest undead fear to pass through Helgrifnir's hunting grounds.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Exalts run around in magical Jade armor, glowing golden armor, shapeshifting Moonsilver armor, Starmetal armor forged from meteorites, evil Soulsteel armor Powered by a Forsaken Child, super MagitekPower Armor, and super dense diamond armor, but they almost never wear helmets. Rules-wise, helms do precisely nothing — they can't even hide a caste mark — and Storytellers are specifically told to discourage called head-shots unless they want a "gritty" game. Mortal Mooks do wear helmets sometimes, but they're almost universally "extras" Made of Plasticine, so it doesn't matter.
Heroic BSoD: There's a rule for that, and it's called a Limit Break. At best, you become the embodiment of eccentricity as your Virtue overloads. At worst, you develop the attitude of A God Am I or go Ax-Crazy.
Limit Break Berserk Anger: You want to kill everything. Everything.
The Green Sun Princes have an interesting version, called Torment, effectively them becoming possessed by their Yozi patron's will: While it isn't that bad for them (despite what "will of the Yozis" would imply, it's just a particularly noticable personality change that still allows them to think rationally), it's also contagious, which can be bad for them, especially if your patron was Malfeas.
There's even an allusion to the Unconquered Sun undergoing one of these just before the Usurpation in the Daystar material: which is a helluva trick since gods do not suffer from Limit Break.
Hive Queen: The Elemental Dragon of Earth known as the Quicksilver Queen serves as this to mercury ants. She's their creator and progenitor, and the legions of their kind serve her adoringly and unquestioningly — going against or even analyzing her orders is literally unthinkable for them.
Hollywood Healing: The game has fairly detailed rules for dealing with bleeding from injuries, infections, and disease... which are mostly for use by/on mortals. Exalted get to ignore most of these rules, and are usually exempt from being permanently crippled or disfigured by injuries (unless they want to, of course). They also heal faster than mortals.
Claw striders — giant raptor dinosaurs, basically — can be domesticated thanks to their social nature, and are used by some southern tribes as mounts. They make deadly mounts in battle, but have foul tempers.
The humans of Mount Metagalapa ride giant hawks in order to be able to leave their floating island home. Particularly skilled hawkriders can coax the island's great rocs to bear them aloft.
Agatae, demons resembling immense wasps, exist to serve as flying steeds for other creatures.
Before the Primordial War, the sun god accepted human hearts sacrificed atop sun pyramids. The Dragon Kings had offered their own hearts time out of mind, and didn't mind dying because they can always reincarnate with full memories. They probably didn't really get that humans tend to view death differently...
Most gods actually gain little more tangible benefit from such sacrifice than if animals were used instead, they just find it gratifying (nothing shows who's boss like being able to make people kill each other).
Human ghosts actually do benefit far more from such sacrifice; any human who is sacrificed in the name of the dead (often as part of funeral rites) will find their ghost bound in servitude to the recipient for eternity (barring deliberate release or the destruction of their master).
A cult exists among the mushroom farmers of Gethamane that believes that regular human sacrifice is necessary to keep the city's food production stable. They're entirely wrong — their sacrifices have no effect on anything and produce nothing more than a needless waste of lives. The belief exists chiefly due to damage to the manse that powers the mushrooms' growth, which tends to manifest by driving people who spend too much time close to it mad.
Some magic requires human sacrifice, especially certain Necromancy spells and some types of demon summoning.
It is indicated in 2nd Edition "Graceful Wicked Masques" that human dreams are much more vivid and compelling than those of other species. This seems to imply that humans are blessed with much greater creativity and imagination than anyone else in the setting (so we can make the most delicious prayers?). On the other hand, such traits tend to attract the attention of The Fair Folk while providing very little defense against them, making it very much a case of Blessed with Suck.
The Sorcery spell "Incomparable Body Arsenal" turns the caster into one.
Alchemical Exalted turn into these if they get powerful enough; they're known as Colossi.
2nd Edition Hellstriders, which Infernals can access, are just like Warstriders, only made from still-living demons fused into a kind of Eva-esque machine that's independently sentient and extends organic components when the pilot loses control.
Hurricane Kick: Honestly this trope is one of the least of the crazy physics-defying things you're encouraged to describe your characters doing to earn those stunt dice.
Hyperspace Lanes: In the Heaven's Reach shard, interstellar travel is achieved through the Grand Canals, a network of routes where the laws of physics were weakened in the ancient past to allow ships to traverse hundreds of light years in days or weeks at the cost of risking dangerous physical and mental breakdowns.