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 Types of Exalts

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Brave Tales

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PostSubject: Types of Exalts   Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:30 am

At the core of the setting, there are several different types of Exaltation, which largely determine both background and point of view for the various protagonists and antagonists of the game. Each different type of Exalted will often have certain predispositions toward or against other Exalt types, and may be viewed differently by the various mortals of Creation; for instance, either as monsters or demigods. The Exalted of Creation can be divided into two categories: Terrestrial Exalted and Celestial Exalted. Celestial Exalted, being the chosen of the Celestial Incarnae, are significantly more powerful than Terrestrial Exalted, and can live for millennia, but their numbers are limited by a fixed number of Exaltations passing from mortal life to mortal life at any given time. Terrestrial Exalted are the chosen of the Elemental Dragons, aspects of the primordial Gaia, who govern the elemental underpinnings of Creation. While less powerful, Terrestrial Exalted, or Dragon-Blooded, can pass on their Exaltation to their children, much like one would pass on other genetic features. The Abyssal and Alchemical Exalted technically fall outside of the two categories, as do the Green Sun Princes, though their power level is comparable to that of Celestial Exalted. A brief synopsis of each type is given here, organized by relative power and significance within the game.

Solar Exalted (Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, Lawgivers)

The default protagonists of Exalted and the champions of the chief of the gods, a being known as the Unconquered Sun.[2] There are five castes (similar in nature to the Portuguese "caste") of Solar Exalted: Dawn (the warriors and generals), Zenith (the priest-kings of the Unconquered Sun), Twilight (the scholars and sorcerers), Night (the spies and assassins) and Eclipse (the ambassadors, diplomats, and negotiators).

In the era that the game is set, known as the Second Age of Man, the Solar Exalted are returning to the world in numbers for the first time in thousands of years, and their actions and choices have the potential to shape the fate of nations due to the nature and potency of their birthright. The Solar Exalted are the most powerful of the Exalted and during the First Age of Man, they were the rulers of the world. Their achievements were a beacon to humanity, yet as their accomplishments grew so did their hubris and detachment from the mortals they ruled over. This was furthered by the insanity of the Great Curse, leading the Solars to commit countless atrocities of an unspecified nature. Because of these actions, the Terrestrial Exalted who served them were convinced by the Sidereal Exalted to murder the Solars at the close of the First Age. In order to prevent mass reincarnations, nearly all Solar essences were systematically captured and imprisoned with the assistance of the Sidereal Exalted. However, those that were not imprisoned continued to reincarnate again and again through the ages. Each time a Solar re-emerged into the world by reincarnating in a mortal, they were hunted down and killed by the armies of the Terrestrial Exalted, who used their greater numbers and experience to overcome the newly-Exalted person in a crusade known as the Wyld Hunt.

Considered to be anathema by the mortal world of the Second Age, the Solars are regarded as monstrous demons and few remember their former greatness. This is due to a prolonged and widespread campaign of propaganda orchestrated by the Terrestrials, via a now firmly established religion known as the Immaculate Order.

Various sourcebooks for Exalted state that Solars lack the specialized abilities of the other Exalted: the shapeshifting magic of the Lunars, the raw entropic and destructive force of the Abyssals, the elemental manipulation of the Terrestrial Exalted, or the Fate-manipulation of the Sidereals. The nature of their charms tends to express itself instead through human excellence taken to superhuman extremes, and as such their raw prowess in most skills easily exceeds any of the others. Their three greatest advantages are their large Essence pools that give them more raw power to work with, their powerful, efficient, straightforward charms, and their ability to use the highest of all forms of sorcery, the Adamant Circle – also called the Solar Circle due to the Solars alone being able to access that circle of sorcery.

Abyssal Exalted (Chosen of the Void, Deathknights)

Twisted souls that are loyal servants of the Deathlords, powerful spirits of long-dead Exalts, who in turn serve the Neverborn, the dead husks of what were once the ancient Primordials slain by the Exalted before the First Age.[3] The Abyssal castes are a dark reflection of their Solar counterparts; Dusk (soldiers, generals, and martial champions), Midnight (priests and leaders), Daybreak (scholars and artisans), Day (assassins and spies), and Moonshadow (bureaucrats, diplomats, and couriers).

The source materials, primarily the second-edition sourcebook The Manual of Exalted Power: Abyssals, present the Deathlords as the largely insane ghosts of First Age Solars slaughtered in the Usurpation, who are easily among the most powerful beings in the Underworld of Exalted. The Deathlords have varied goals, but most strive not to conquer or corrupt Creation but rather to wipe it and everything else out of existence, although conquest and corruption are among their strategies in this regard.

In the present of Exalted, the Neverborn sow their revenge from beyond the grave through their Deathlord servants. The named agents of the Deathlords in the world of the living are the Abyssal Exalted, also known as Deathknights; these antagonists are dark reflections of the Solar Exalted and are presented as being their equal in power. They were created by the Deathlords through powerful sorcery taught them by the Neverborn, using Solar Exaltations stolen from the Jade Prison. Deathknights are described as finding themselves bound to their dark fate; holding onto the trappings of life inevitably spells disaster for those who rebel. Within the last five years of the game's fictional history, they and their Deathlord masters have begun to corrupt Creation with the power of the Underworld. They field vast undead armies, bolstered by ancient knowledge long since lost in the world of the living but still readily available in the long memoried dead, and a powerful form of magic known as necromancy. Several sourcebooks present the Abyssals and the Deathlords as having a tentative foothold in Creation, likely representing its gravest threat

Abyssals cannot draw Essence from Creation as other Exalts do and can only replenish their Essence in the Underworld or with powerful artifacts. The easiest way for an Abyssal to restore Essence away from the Underworld is by feeding on the living. Willing Solar Exalted can be converted to Abyssal Exalted with a powerful necromantic spell. Abyssal Exalted are exceptionally powerful in the necromantic school of sorcery, which represents the arcane knowledge of death and the Void, knowledge which was originally brought into Creation by a coterie of First Age Exalted who stole it by plundering the crypt-worlds of the Neverborn beneath the Underworld.

Lunar Exalted (Chosen of Luna, Stewards)

Presented as most anarchistic and chaotic of the Exalted. In the sourcebooks, they are often referred to as cunning shapeshifters, skilled fighters, and capable generals.[4] Their history and characteristics are described in the first-edition book Exalted: The Lunars and the second-edition book The Manual of Exalted Power: Lunars.

Within the game's history, they were very tightly bound to the First Age Solars; each Lunar Exaltation is bound to a singular corresponding Solar one in such a way that that Lunar instantly feels a connection to the Lawgiver, though how they act upon this bond depends on the inclinations of the Exalts involved. While many stood and died beside their Solar mates in the Usurpation, those that were not killed along with their companions fled to the edges of Creation.

At the borders of the order of Creation and the chaotic turbulence of the Wyld, their natures were changed over a great many years. Lunars follow at best a loose tribal hierarchy and ritually tattoo each other to protect themselves from the warping effects of the Wyld. This further serves to mark them as different from the rest of humanity, as the tattoos are often visible over much of the Lunar's body. In addition to their self-inflicted distinguishing marks, each Lunar has a "Tell" that manifests as an animal-like characteristic that is visible to some degree or another in their human forms, further setting them apart from mortals. Lunar castes are not predetermined and inflexible, but rather are associations with phases of the moon chosen by individuals before their ritual tattooing brings them fully into Lunar society under these associations.

Lunars often shun civilization, or rather, they shun forms of civilization characterised by Dragon-Blooded oppression and exploitation, preferring society with humans and spirits far beyond the borders of the satrapies; some of these Stewards lead or guide and sometimes breed tribes of anthropomorphic animals known as Beastmen and teach them self-sufficiency. Others go into deep seclusion in their territories to absorb themselves in primitive, hand-to-mouth freedoms and commune with the small, simple gods of the natural environment. Finally, some even revel in the unaccountable warping effects of the Wyld and, forgoing the characteristic silvered tattoos, become increasingly unstable until ending up as inhuman beings known as "chimera" with no unifying form, akin to both Fair Folk and Creation-born.

Second edition materials detailed the Lunar Exalted's subversive influence on Creation's societies and revealed the Thousand Streams River Project, a complicated system of social engineering designed to create self-sufficient human societies that do not require Exalted leadership to function. Several major societies within the game were declared the results of centuries of subtle, behind-the-scenes guidance, with varying degrees of success.

With the return of the Solar Exalted, the uncertainty of the imperial rule of the Dragon-Blooded, the encroaching influence of the Wyld and its Fair Folk manifestations, and the new threat of the Deathlords, the Lunar Exalted face a Creation that has changed as much as they have – though this is entirely at the discretion of the Storyteller (see Storytelling System).

Sidereal Exalted (Chosen of the Five Maidens, Viziers)

These Celestial Exalted are the least numerous of all the Exalted types (with the exception of the newly created Infernals), yet are described as major players in the fate of Creation. Sidereals, in addition to their unparalleled mastery of martial arts, evidenced by their access to the highest forms of martial-arts magical abilities (known as Sidereal martial arts), excel at foreseeing and manipulating fate.[5] Within the Exalted universe, they are often presented as celestial bureaucrats who often work in the Bureau of Fate of the Celestial City of Yu-Shan, the home of the gods, directing events in the mortal world from behind the scenes.

They were the viziers, prophets and cunning advisers of the First Age. Toward the end of the First Age, a prophecy came to them that seemed to offer three options: attempt an uncertain reform of their maddening kings, sit back and watch Creation be destroyed, or destroy the Solar Exalted. The arrogant and prideful Sidereals, possibly under the effects of the Great Curse laid upon them by the Neverborn, elected the path that offered a guaranteed future for Creation, if one less marvelous than the current age. As such, they orchestrated the end of the First Age, known as the Great Usurpation. It was with their behind-the-scenes guidance that the Dragon-Blooded were able to completely wipe out the Solar Exalted and effectively direct the Wyld Hunt to the predicted Exaltation of new Solars. Since their prophecy, the Sidereal Exalted have split into two factions: The Bronze Faction of the Sidereal Exalted supported and orchestrated the purge of the Solar Exalted from Creation, and continues to do so with the Wyld Hunt of the Realm; and the Gold Faction, which supported the Solars and has had little in the way of power and influence at the end of the First Age.

Because of a partially botched attempt at some astrological subterfuge involving the constellation of the Mask, Sidereals slip from the minds of those who meet them, mortal and Exalt alike, which can be beneficial to Sidereal characters or harmful, depending on their intended goals as player characters and non-player characters. Some events prior to the "present" setting of Exalted, such as a devastating plague known as the Great Contagion which eluded their predictions, have jarred their faith in their precognitive abilities. Meanwhile, the loss of the Scarlet Empress, their secret ally at the top of the Scarlet Dynasty, has greatly weakened their influence.

With the emergence of the Deathlords (who, as the authors describe them, are inscrutable to their power of prediction), the return of the Solars, and a growing rift between the Bronze Faction and the Gold Faction, who are now gathering their power and directing it into an organization known as the Cult of the Illuminated, the Sidereal Exalted are uncertain of their future.

Terrestrial Exalted (Chosen of the Elemental Dragons, Dragon-Blooded)

[6] In the history of Exalted, they were the elite infantry and servants to the rest of the Exalted in the First Age. They are less powerful than other types of Exalted, but most of their strength lies in their inheritance – rather than being chosen by a god, the Dragon-Blooded have the potential to pass their Exaltation on to their children; although most Dragon-Blooded are easily able to trace their heritage back through generations, some Dragon-Blooded—called the "Lost Eggs"--Exalt into families that have no Dragon-Blooded in their recent genealogy. The Dragon-Blooded are not limited by a set amount of "Exalted essences" like Celestial Exalted. Due to their overwhelming numbers in comparison with the Celestial Exalted (Terrestrial Exalted numbering in the millions as compared to the hundreds of Celestial Exalted), they were able to usurp the Solar Exalted at the height of their power with the help and guidance of the Sidereal Exalted, thus ending the First Age.

The majority of the Dragon-Blooded in Creation make up the ruling class of the Realm, currently the most powerful empire in Creation, although the Old Realm ruled over by the Solars was far more advanced and successful than the current Realm ruled over by the Dragon-Blooded. The state-sanctioned faith known as the Immaculate Order paints the Solar and Lunar Exalted as dangerous anathema who will bring ruin to the world if allowed to exist, thus encompassing the propaganda against Celestial Exalts. Because of this, the Realm organizes the Wyld Hunt, which actively seeks out newly Exalted Celestials (Solars and Lunars, although they also hunt Abyssals and fair folk as well) and overwhelms them before they can master their new powers. This practice, which had effectively kept the Solars from rising to power again since the end of the First Age, has faltered in the Exalted timeline because of the recent disappearance of the Scarlet Empress – the absolute monarch of the Realm – and the stability and leadership that she was able to bring to the Dragon-Blooded. The power struggle by the great Dragon-Blooded houses to fill the resulting power vacuum has destabilized the Scarlet Empire and allowed the Solar Exalted to escape the purges of the Wyld Hunt and rise in Creation once more.

The greatest advantages of the Dragon-Blooded are the considerable resources granted to them by their noble status and their ability to work cooperatively with each other to create greater effects with their Essence. There are five elemental aspects to the Dragon-Blooded: Air (the Azure Children of Mela), Earth (the Ivory Children of Pasiap), Fire (the Scarlet Offspring of Hesiesh), Water (the Ebon Offspring of Daana'd) and Wood (the Verdant Children of Sextes Jylis). The ruling Dragon-Blooded of the Realm are made up of the eleven Great Houses. Most houses were founded by and named after one of the Scarlet Empress's Exalted offspring, though at least two are descended from the Empress' late husbands, and three unspecified houses are descended from adopted children of the Empress. Of the 13 former Great Houses, only two, Jerah and Manosque, have been named. The prominent Dragon-Blooded families of the rival city-state of Lookshy, across the Inner Sea, are known as Gentes. There are five major or great Gentes: Amilar (Air), Karal (Fire), Maheka (Earth), Teresu (Water) and Yushoto (Wood), as well as approximately a dozen minor Gentes.

Alchemical Exalted (Chosen of Autochthon, Champions)

[7] Android creations made from clay and the Five Magical Materials, built in the world of Autochthonia. They were introduced in the supplement "Time of Tumult".[8] They are the only type of playable characters besides the Dragon Kings that were designed after the first-edition core rulebook was released, and are occasionally referenced in subsequent materials, though they play a much more prominent and integrated role in the stories and setting of the second edition. Alchemicals serve the Great Maker Autochthon, one of only two primordials that was not imprisoned or killed in the Primordial War, and are infused with the souls of dead Autochthonian heroes. Within the context of the game, they serve as protectors of the inhabitants of a parallel world made up of the body of Autochthon himself, and enforce the will of the Tripartite, the theocratic government of this world. They divide themselves into castes according to which material was mainly used in their construction: there are five canon castes, one for each of the Five Magical Materials, as well as the optional Adamant caste. Autochthon designed them before the other four original types of Exalted, but they were not constructed until after the Primordials were overthrown and Autochthon retreated from Creation. Instead of wielding Essence directly and using their Charms in a "magical" fashion like other Exalted do, the Alchemicals have Charms "installed" like peripheral parts and fuel these machine implants with Essence from their own bodies. Unlike the Celestial Exalted, there is no hard cap on the number of Alchemicals, the main limiting factor on their numbers being the immense resource investment required for their construction. As Alchemical Exalted raise their Permanent Essence, they increase in size, eventually joining with Autochthon and growing into cities. The Alchemicals are not subject to the Great Curse, as they did not fight in the Primordial War. In gameplay, in place of curse driven insanity, they have a Clarity track which measures their distance from humanity. Those Alchemicals who have been infected with Autocthon's illness have a Dissonance track in place of a Clarity track, with Dissonance measuring their madness, corruption, and drive to violate boundaries. Willing non-Alchemical Exalted can become "Akuma" of Autochthon, gaining the ability to have Alchemical charms installed and gaining a Clarity track. A brief tour of the world of Autochthonia can be found on the game's website.[9]

Infernal Exalted (Chosen of the Yozis, Akuma and the Green Sun Princes)

They currently have less published material covering their nature, back-story and abilities than other Exalts. There are two types of Infernal Exalted, the Akuma and the Green Sun Princes. Akuma are Exalted of another type who have given themselves over to the cause of the Yozis and have been remade according to their masters' desires. They retain access to their native charm set and gain the ability to learn and use their patron Yozi's Infernal charms. The Green Sun Princes are made with the fifty Essences of Solar Exalts which the Yozis took in payment from the Neverborn and altered to emulate themselves in exchange for teaching the Neverborn to corrupt Solar Essences to create the Abyssals. The Green Sun Princes were created by a cadre of five of the Yozis; Malfeas, She Who Lives In Her Name, Cecylene, Adorjan, and the Ebon Dragon. Each of these Yozis is responsible for the creation of one caste of Green Sun Princes and the charms associated with that caste, Malfeas created the Slayers, Cecylene created the Malefactors, She Who Lives in Her Name created the Defilers, Adorjan created the Scourges and the Ebon Dragon created the Fiends. Green Sun Princes of any caste can learn the charms of all five castes, as well as the charms of any other Yozis who have opened up access to their charms to the Green Sun Princes; in the default setting, Kimbery is the only other Yozi who has done so. The Yozis have tasked the Green Sun Princes with transforming Creation into a mirror of Malfeas, which they believe will break their bonds and reverse their disfiguring imprisonment. They call this effort the Reclamation.

The Green Sun Princes' disadvantage is they are few in number; only 50 infernal essences are controlled by the Yozis, and they do not, as of yet, have the ability to corrupt further Solar Essences as the Deathlords can. On the other hand, the Infernals have the full resources of the demon realm at their disposal, along with numerous Yozi cults which already exist in creation. The Infernals are closely tied to their Yozi masters, and experience Urge, psychological motivations towards missions set by their patrons. Unlike Abyssals, Infernals rarely regret their state, and instead revel in their mission to overthrow the upstart gods and return creation to its original rulers. It is implied, however, that due to the inherently poor treatment by the Yozis (being unable to fully comprehend things outside of their domain and thus with little respect for anything else) and obvious insanity, the vast majority will grow dissatisfied and go rogue, using their link to Primordial power to mutate into new Titans themselves, not bound by the same shortness of vision they possess.

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