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Exalted Second Edition
 
$19.99
Average Rating:4.1 / 5
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Exalted Second Edition
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Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 20:12:52
"Before the world was bent but after the Great Contagion, there was a civilization built in the image of the First Age. It sought to emulate the splendor of the bygone Golden Age, but it was in all ways less. It was a time of sorcery and heroism, of fabulous wonders and treacherous betrayals. Ruled by a decadent empire, it slipped inch by inch into barbarism and darkness, until one last cataclysm blotted it out forever. Yet, in its sunset, it was a splended thing, and glorious were the deeds of the Exalted."
-Exalted 1e Core

Exalted is one of my favorite games of all time. I ran a first edition game for five years, plus an additional year of random fiction extras and discussions about where the game might have gone, and I'd dare say that almost everything I learned about running an RPG I learned over the course of that game. I bought Exalted 2e when it came out, but after a discussion with my group we decided not to convert over and so I skimmed the book, and never really sat down to read it cover to cover until now. I'll try not to do too much comparison with 1e as I write, but with the context above it'll be hard. But, what comparison I'm going to do I'll get out of the way in the beginning here:

--I really don't like the art. 2e's art has a few great pieces--the picture of the hiker seeing Mount Mostath in the distance on page 51, for example--but generally I was lukewarm on it, and a lot of it I actively disliked. It didn't seem as thematically or stylistically unified as 1e did.
--I prefer the writing style of 1e. 2e has the benefit of a lot more setting material to draw on, but that also means it goes into much more detail and feels more like a technical manual and less like weird fiction. 1e's sense of wonder was due to most of the setting not being fleshed out yet, but it definitely got my imagination working more.
--The chapter comics do a decent job of setting the tone, especially the very first one with the river god, but I prefer the chapter fiction from 1e.
--While I think the concept is fine, I hate the word "Magitech."

That out of the way, let's dive in.

===Setting===

Exalted takes place in Creation, bordered by the swirling chaos of the Wyld on all edges and anchored by the Elemental Poles. To the west is the Elemental Pole of Water and a vast sea broken up by occasional islands until the sea and sky merge into one. To the south is the Elemental Pole of Fire and balmy coastal cities that give way to trackless sands and broken ground until in the far southern reaches the ground is too hot to walk on and the very air bursts into flame. To the east is the Elemental Pole of Wood, where fertile plains turn to dense forests whose trees grow taller and taller until the ground falls always and it's nothing but vast trunks going up and down into the misty green. To the north is the Elemental Pole of Air, from the temperate cities on the coast of the Inner Sea to the icy wastes of the north criss-crossed by tribes of nomads and haunted by the dead until it all becomes a vast sheet of ice. And in the center is the Blessed Isle, the stronghold of the Realm, the greatest empire in the world, and towering over the Realm is the Imperial Mountain, the Elemental Pole of Earth.

The assumed heroes of the game are the Exalted, empowered by the gods to fight the ancient Primordials and rule Creation. The Solars--the assumed protagonists of this book--were the greatest, until their hubris led to debauchery and chaos and they were overthrown, hunted down, and slain in incarnation after incarnation. Their enemies are the Dragon-blooded, elementally-empowered Princes of the Earth who rule the Realm and brand the Solars as Anathema. There are also the protean Lunars, the manipulative Sidereals, and the sinister Abyssals, among other, stranger beings. Like the Fair Folk who lurk in the Wyld beyond Creation and feed on human souls, or the spirits of the dead who watch over their ancestors, or the myriad of gods who govern every principle and location in Creation, from the concept of justice or the movement of the moon to the local god of an individual river or arrangement of boulders.

I am an unabashed lover of Creation. I could write pages and pages of setting description about the various areas of the setting and the people that live there, but in the interests of not turning this review into a book in its own right, I'll leave it at that.

It is a great setting, though. It's huge enough that it's possible to have wide diversity in cultures and physical geography without even accounting for the mutating effects of the Wyld, but the parts that are detailed are far-flung enough that it's easy to drop in your own kingdoms and civilizations in almost any place on the map. There are some places where the writers seem to forget this, though, like when they talk about how the Linowan, who are several thousand miles from the ocean, and would have to go several thousand more miles out of their way to get there by river, have a sea presence. I get that it's only a couple inches on the map, but each of those inches is a thousand miles. Creation is big.

There are also points where it gets a bit tedious. It's true that the Realm is the greatest power in the world and the Dragon-blooded are extremely important to the setting, but I'm not sure that we needed all that info about the inner workings of the Realm in this book. The assumed default is that the players will play Solars, and since repeated mention is made of how Solars who Exalt on the Blessed Isle almost never live very long, it probably would have been better to put that wordcount into describing the places where the characters will be spending their time.

The assumed tone of the game is Bronze Age epic crossed with high-powered wuxia film, with a greater or lesser proportion of either depending on the location chosen and the preferences of the players. I've noticed that the Bronze Age part tends to get lost in a lot of the online discussion, but the book does provide support for it through the setting. For example, the bestiary is filled with prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs or megafauna. On the wuxia side, the main staple crop of most places isn't maize, it's rice. Minor things, sure, but it does a lot to set the mood if the characters are fighting giant insects and velociraptors and getting jumped by ninjas in tea houses instead of fighting goblins and getting jumped by bandits in taverns.

Though you can do those too, if you want. Creation is large. It contains multitudes.

===System===

If you've played any of the other Storyteller games, you know the basic way the system works. A bunch of attributes, a bunch of abilities, add them together to get a dice pool, and try to beat a target number. A 7 or more is a success, and a 10 is two successes. Characters have Willpower that they can spend to increase their odds of success and Health Levels that stand between them and death. All that's the same.

There are some major differences between this and the various other Storyteller games, though, mostly relating to combat. For one, combat doesn't involve initiative and going around the table in turns. Instead, it's tick-based--each action a character can perform, including doing nothing, takes a certain number of "ticks" and reduces your ability to defend yourself by a certain amount until those ticks have gone by and you can act again. Similarly, defenses are no longer rolled out. Instead, everyone has a Defense Value that's automatically applied against incoming attacks. Damage and soak are still both rolled out, though, and damage is successes from the attack plus the weapon damage as is typical for Storytelling games. In addition, characters can move on every tick, which seems like it would help prevent the problem of people tuning out when it's not their turn, since they can block enemies, jockey for position, and so on even while they're waiting for their next action to come up. It does seem a little complicated, but I know there are fan-created accessories called Battlewheels to keep track of combatants' ticks-to-next-action, DV penalties, and so on.

Then, having created this elegant system, they created "flurries," a type of action that let people take multiple actions on the same tick, which seems like it gets rid of the whole point of having a timing-based system.

Combat is brutal, with rules for wounds becoming infected, bleeding to death, taking permanently crippling and disfiguring injuries, getting thrown to the floor or through walls, having armor and weapons smashed, and then the Exalted get to ignore almost all of those because they're just that awesome.

Each character has virtues as well: Compassion, Conviction, Temperance, and Valor. These have more of a mechanical effect in play, because a character has to fail a roll in order to go against any virtue rated 3 or higher. Failing a Valor roll to run from battle, for example, or failing a Compassion roll to execute a prisoner, or failing a Conviction roll to change their plan if ambiguous evidence of its failure comes through. It's not entirely a disadvantage, though, since characters can spend Willpower through a virtue to get bonus dice to appropriate rolls.

The main thing that makes the Exalted awesome is their Charms, and Solar Charms take up the single largest chunk of space in the book. Every ability, from Melee to Bureaucracy to Ride, has an array of special effects that can be invoked, letting Solars throw people across a football field, jump over mountains, raise a mob with a rousing speech, walk through walls, keep a ship from capsizing, survive a blow from a mammoth, or any number of other powers. There's a system of keywords for the Charms, like Obvious, meaning that it always causes some kind of physical manifestation that makes it easy to spot, or Emotion, meaning it affects the target's feelings. There's also sorcery, which lets the Exalted summon demons, teleport in the blink of an eye, part vast seas, or call down an acid rain that annihilates everything within its area of effect.

Two additional subsystems that weren't in Exalted 1e are the mass combat system and the social combat system. The mass combat system is a bit strange, because armies are modeled as essentially another piece of equipment that modifies the stats of the commander. It's a reasonable abstraction, but when mixed with the Charm and sorcery system it leads to weird effects. Some Charms have notes of how their usage change in mass combat, and some don't. Death of Obsidian Butterflies summons hundreds of razor-sharp butterflies and should carve a swath through any mortal army, but has no stats for mass combat. Adamant Skin Technique, which lets the Exalt stop all damage from an attack on them, can be used to block massed arrow fire because the army is an addition to the Exalt's stats. It does say that the GM should use their judgement, but I can see a lot of things that would get odd.

The social combat system is tick-based like physical combat, and involves making arguments and then either making a counterargument (social "parry") or stubbornly refusing to listen (social "dodge"), plus other actions. It also allows the recipient to spend a Willpower point to just say no and block the argument there, but the problems come in when supernatural persuasion is taken into account. Many supernatural powers require more than one Willpower to resist, and sometimes it has a periodic resistance cost. Furthermore, the book says: "Never forget that characters can flee the presence of individuals attempting to engage them in social combat or attack them in an attempt to cut short the conversation." Now admittedly, if someone can rewrite my beliefs then stabbing them in the face is a legitimate response for them trying to do so, but the image this conjures, of people running screaming from itinerant preachers or stabbing merchants who try to sell them goods they don't want to buy, is really odd.

The point of this is to affect the target's Intimacies and Motivation, which are a mechanical representation of their beliefs. They don't have much of a mechanical hook into the system, but they provide a basis for determining how characters are played.

There are some sloppy parts, though. The Fair Folk are supernaturally charming and can beguile the unwitting into believing in and accepting them, but there's no tie in with the social combat system. Buck-ogres have a note that they can "split their dice pools," even though that's a relic of the old Storyteller system and has been replaced by flurries. The aforementioned lack of interaction between large-scale battle sorcery and the system to handle large-scale battles. The listing of languages in NPC writeups has languages that aren't listed anywhere in the languages PCs can take, like Sijanese or River Valley.

And I won't even mention the errata. I have both the hardcopy and the PDF, and overlaid the errata as comments on the PDF, and some pages have up to a dozen comments on them. It's probably the most extensively-errataed RPG I've ever seen.

Exalted 1e has given me more fun than any RPG I own and I have a lot of love for the franchise because of that, but while this book does bring a lot of that to mind and even kindles it again in its own right, there are just too many small niggling things that bother me for me to give it five stars. A lot of that has to do with the system, though, not the setting. Creation is one of the most compelling fantasy worlds I'm familiar with, and I'd say Exalted is worth reading just for that.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Avram S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2011 13:14:00
This is an interesting fantasy game. I recognize that it has been out long enough, and has enough of a fan following, that in some ways I add nothing with my review, but many voices makes for a clearer picture.

In many ways the concept of Exalted is spectacular. It purports (and for the most part succeeds) in being a fantasy game derived from different sources than Prof. Tolkein and his imitators. It claims in particular to derive itself from ancient epics like the Illiad and from anime. This last influence is felt most clearly in the art. The introduction to the game says that it is the anime influences which differentiate the game most strongly from its competitors (pg. 14), which to me sometimes plays out that this is the strongest influence on the game. This is certainly the feeling which I get from the game. The ancient heroes vibe is there, but I feel like the anime vibe is stronger. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Anime is not my usual cup of tea, but I still enjoy this game immensely. There are some aspects which feel very much inspired by Asian fantasy, like the enormous swords. And of course, the art.

The art is excellent. It is in a very cartoon style, which is keeping with the stated influences of the authors. I feel that the nudity count was higher than I was comfortable with, but this is a discussion which White Wolf and I have been having since the first edition of Changeling (I was much younger and less mature then--I have much more of an ability to ignore nudity in a book now). Still in general, I like the art. The comics provide a quick and dirty jump into the world, which I prefer to in-world fiction. The .PDF is art intensive enough that my Kindle DX slows down a little drawing the whole page, but not so much that it is unreadable.

The world of Exalted is extremely detailed, even in the core rulebook, which is quite nice. I like being able to run a game with essentially one book, and the main Exalted rulebook gives you a lot to work with. The world is one where there are extremely powerful humans, called Exalts, who receive their powers from various divine agencies. The main rulebook has rules for playing Solar Exalts, men and women given power by the Sun. There are other books describing the other types of Exalted in much greater detail, but I do not have those books.

In accordance with White Wolf's ready custom, the Solar Exalted are divided into Castes, which provides for the usual stereotypes, interactions and benefits associated with splat based character creation. Broadly speaking they are fighters (Dawn), clerics (Zenith), magic-user (Twilight), rogue (Night), and noble/faceman (Eclipse). In many ways, such broad archetypes help a game which is derived (at least in part) from epic, because it makes sketching out a broad character quite easy.

The system in Exalted is complicated, although simple enough on the surface. It uses a modified version of the Storyteller system, which is well and good, but there are so many powers and choices in character creation that it is quite easy to become overwhelmed, and subsequent to that, the Storyteller will need a clear picture of how the various powers interact with one another. From a book-keeping stand point, Exalted's system requires a fair bit of work. Although is different from the stated putative purpose of the Storyteller system, I think that it represents an understandable move for this game. Characters are supposed to awesome from the get-go, and one way to do that is to lay on the nifty powers. The only thing is just to keep on top of things, and try to be aware of the interactions of the various charms.

In the end this is a fine game. It has justly earned its following. The first time I read this book, I turned to my brother and said, "There is a lot of awesome in this book." It is not without its shortcomings. It is not, as noted, especially rule light. But for gamers craving epic, over-the-top fantasy gaming, Exalted is definitely worth a look.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Corey R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/09/2010 10:07:19
Best game there is! Nothing else is fun once you get used to Exalted. And the book is just pure beauty.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Elizabeth R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/23/2009 16:30:15
When I saw this book could be downloaded for free, I LEAPT at the opportunity - after all Exalted is one of the few systems that can appeal to elitist and relaxed gamer alike. And I was not displeased. This book is COMPLETELY worth the fees as well. It is a fun, quick battle, and for those looking for a good, fun anime-type game (and a little more serious than Big Eyes, Small Mouth), you should pick this up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jesse C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/21/2009 08:53:04
This is an excellent book, and while it is better in actual book form, the PDF allows access to rules even while away from my library. An excellent read for an excellent system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Nathan O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2009 23:31:30
This is a great game to have Epic fun with :]so get epic

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Thomas H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/08/2009 20:15:45
Drawing their setting material from all of the world's best myths and legends, and presenting a system that allows the players to affect the game-world in any way they can imagine, Exalted is the ideal role-playing game of Epic heroes.

In some games, you are a lowly adventurer with some rusty armor and a sword. In Exalted, you are a glowing demigod, clad in golden armor and armed with the weapons that can slaughter gods.

In some games, you might be lucky enough to slay an evil wizard and save the Kingdom. In Exalted, you rally armies and make war upon the beings that created the world itself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Samuel M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/08/2009 13:18:48
This is a great book. While there may be some minor flaws in the system, the crunch and fluff are overall fantastic. They are woven together, encouraging the players to focus less on outright combat and more on actual story progression. This is an amazing product.

That said, the binding of the real book is utter trash. Both core copies I've come in contact with are losing cohesion on their binding. I know mine has been taken care of well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Aaron W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/03/2008 14:51:41
Simply lovely. The best way to mix love of anime with fantasy roleplay

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Kevin T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/05/2007 01:02:54
Better the PDF than the actual book. Great book, great art, HORRBILE binding.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/24/2007 17:36:04
An RPG Resource Review:

Epic adventures of larger-than-life heroes... if this is what inspires you, this game is worth a look. Now matured into its second edition, this fusion of many ideas drawn from heroic and pulp fiction and Japanese manga rises above all of these to create a world in which characters stand ready to defy the gods themselves if they step out of line.

The Introduction describes these influences and the development of the game, and - for those new to role-playing - provides a brief note about how one participant is the Storyteller and the rest players. The core White Wolf 'Storytelling' game mechanic is used, but in an exotic and fabulous setting rather than against the backdrop of today's Earth. It rounds out with a lexicon of terms commonly used within the setting, a handy reference guide to understand what comes next.

The first chapter describes the setting of the game in great detail. It's all rooted in Essence, the force that is the very heart of everything, both the physical material and the breath that gives some of it life. An immortal being able to wield Essence is referred to as a god, a mortal is an exalted... and these are, of course, the player characters in this game. There is a sweeping mystical early history of the creation and past times, riven through with selfish powerful beings content to rip creation itself apart in their squabbles, that serves as a backdrop for the times in which the game itself is set. And now, all again is in flux and power is there for the grabbing. As exalted, the characters have the ability to participate in the power struggle - but will it be for good or for ill?

The chapter then moves on to more practical matters, a discription of the physical world in which the characters will operate. There's plenty about the gods, too, who operate a Celestial Bureaucracy to keep everything going - their primary purpose, as they were not the creators themselves, but were made to keep the world running. Gods are powerful and immortal, but have no innate virtue or desire to care for less-powerful creatures although some, of course, do. Exalted are chosen mortals with sufficient power to take on a god whose actions they disapprove of, chosen from the best, perhaps most ambitious, mortals that can be found. Some view them as blessed and semi-divine, created by the gods (which is in fact the case); others hold that their powers are derived from evil spirits. The current rulers of the mortal world are the Dragon-Blooded or Terrestial Exalted, who are shorter-lived than other Exalted but do have the advanage of being able to pass on their powers to their offspring. However, they seem to be as conniving and self-serving as anyone else - so there is plenty of scope amongst their ranks for those who enjoy intrigue in their games! Indeed, there would be a whole game within the complexities of Blessed Isle politics alone, and just reading through this chapter spawns many ideas for adventures that characters within that arena could enjoy.

The scene set, Chapter 2 looks at character creation. Whatever sort of hero you choose, you are going to be a hero capable of epic feats from the very outset of the game. It's necessary for the whole group and especially the Storyteller to have a clear idea of what the main theme of the campaign is going to be so that suitable character concepts can be chosen. It is important to know your character's background, as the assumtion is that they have only recently been Exalted so most of the influences will stem from their ordinary mortal life beforehand. The intention, for the core rules at least, is for the characters to be solar exalted. Opportunities for those wishing to be other types of exalted can be extrapolated from the antagonists section of this book and will be developed in other works. From reading the background, this of course means that your character is unusual and quite unpopular both with the ruling terrestial exalted and with the general populace!

Once the ideas have formed, you need to start putting the numbers in. It is the standard White Wolf point-based system, where you decide which areas your character is strongest in and this determines how many points you have to spend on specific details within those areas. Remember all along, your character was Exalted because he contains the seeds of greatness - but the form that greatness will take is in your hands as you design and then play him.

You start off by distributing points to the character's Attributes, choosing whether Physical, Mental or Social Attributes are his strongest. Next come Abilities, the things he knows and can do. Here, you need to decide the character's caste - the time of day at which he was born - as this determines the character's natural affinity for certain areas of endeavour. Naturally, you might want to be good at something completely different as well, and this is accommodated by allowing the choice of up to 5 'favoured abilities' chosen from all those skills not associated with your caste. You can also add Advantages, which take the form of beneficial Backgrounds, Charms and Virtues. The chapter rounds out with other details to help you fine-tune and develop your character, including the concept - originally introduced in Vampire: The Masquerade - of playing out a prelude showing how the character came to be exalted, and develop some of his background personality before the game proper begins.

Chapter 3 looks at Traits. These detail your characters strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. An interesting discussion on character motivation (defined as your overriding ambition, the thing you really want to accomplish) brings home the genuinely epic nature of this particular game. The 5 castes are gone through in some detail, as it is core to each character, defining his role and outlook. The chapter goes on to discuss Attributes and Virtues in some detail, empowering choice and enabling a character to be fully aware of the mechanics underlying their use of these within the game. Drawing on the early history of the world, each solar exalted carries within him a curse-driven flaw, linked to one of that character's virtues. All the Abilities are gone through in similar detail, these are the 'skills' that a character has acquired through training or experience.

Next, Chapter 4: Drama and Systems examines the actual rule mechanics in detail. Put simply, to accomplish a task, the player needs to roll a number of d10s determined by the character's rating in the appropriate Attribute and Ability for what he is trying to do. For each die roll that is equal to or over a target set by the Storyteller based on the difficulty of the task being undertaken, a success is scored - and the more successes, the better you do. Naturally, all manner of modifications can come into play, and that's the gist of the rest of the chapter. While it helps if everyone knows how the system works, the Storyteller needs to understand it well. Overall, the system is both straightforward and comprehensive, with quite a lot of detail provided for common actions such as climbing or fighting, and sufficient information for the Storyteller to extrapolate when characters want to try something new. If you are unfamiliar with the system, particularly for combat, it could take a long time to resolve a fight; even with familiarity it could be a bit laborious if you choose to follow every nuance of the sequence mechanically.

While rules for doing things and fighting, and even mass battle, are to be expected; an interesting addition is a system for 'social combat' - the use of diplomacy and debate to sway the opinions of others. It's an interesting concept, although it is quite difficult to see just when it will replace role-playing as a way of one character to be convincing - perhaps when speaking to a large audience in a formal setting - and even harder to accept that there will be times when your character can be forced by the rules to change his mind against his will. But it does, on rare occasions, happen: and these are the kind of occasions when the system can be brought into play with effect.

Chapter 5 brings the mystical into play, as it deals with charms, combos and sorcery. Charms are the regular magical abilities that solar exalted can learn (other types of exalted have their own charms, but it is the rare person who can learn the charms of other exalted), while combos occur when two or more charms are strung together. Most charms require the expenditure of essence (raw magical power) to work, but may require other things as well. They are quite complex, and each player needs to understand at least the charms he selects for his character to be able to use them effectively - don't rely on looking them up only when you need them. Many of them are combat-related, improving and enhancing your performance... but I really must learn the 'Husband Seducing Demon Dance' - which renders your target helpless with starry-eyed infatuation!

Charms are relatively easy to learn and apply, and all exalted are capable of them. Sorcery is a different matter, however, it's hard and few people have the talent or are prepared to put in the effort to master it. Moreover, when casting a sorcerous spell you cannot do anything else and it is pretty obvious what you are doing (as in, spellcasting rather than the specific spell you are using). A handful of the most basic spells are included but those who wish to specialise will need to pursue this in later books.

Next, Chapter 6 concentrates on the art of Storytelling. It's full of advice and ideas: what sort of questions you need to answer when starting off a game, how to change rules if you so wish, the general types of campaign that are possible, and so on. A lot of the material here focuses on what makes Exalted unique as a role-playing game, rather than the more general 'how to run a game' that many RPG's GM chapter in the core rulebook presents. It's all about bringing the epic scope of the game to life, providing dramatic situations and conflicts, and ensuring that the players are made fully aware of just how powerful their characters are, even as they begin their careers as exalted, never mind as they develop with experience.

Chapter 7 provides Antagonists. These range from ordinary people in the street to powerful monsters than would make anyone pause in their tracks. There are also guidelines for creating your own beasts of suitable ability and style to fit in the Exalted setting. Even gods turn up here, as given the power levels of even newly exalted characters deities are fair game as opponents. Material about the other kinds of exalted, and in particular terrestrial exalted - the Dragon-blooded who rule the Blessed Isle - is also provided, as they will provide much of the opposition to many characters. After all, the Dragon-Blooded overthrew the solar exalted in the past and regard their return, their very existence, as anathema! The chapter winds up with a discussion of some of the diseases you can catch, if the monsters don't get you.

The final chapter, Panoply, looks at money and wealth and what you can acquire with it. Money is quite complex: while there is a 'jade standard' for currency, jade itself is far more valuable for magical and other purposes, so a 'jade scrip' has been devised, copper coins and paper money which are worth a certain amount of jade. In other parts of the world, silver or cowrie shells rather than jade are used - jade tends to attract the attention of demons and similar if you aren't very careful. There is a basic banking system and even stock markets. After this analysis of financial affairs, the subject of communications is examined before one gets on to the important matter of what equipment characters can buy and how much it will cost them. Rather than dealing with actual prices, items are rated by what level of resources you need to have for that item to be affordable - if you could afford it and it's available, you are deemed to have it if you so desire. It is an abstraction that reduces bookkeeping, but which may reduce the pleasure of going shopping for some players. Weapons and armour come next, complete with the necessary game statistics for you to be able to use whatever you decide to equip your character with. Then come the delightfully named 'everyday wonders' - magical items which most people will be aware of, and may even own; followed by good luck charms and more powerful items which are expensive and difficult to obtain. The book rounds off with a comprehensive index, a character sheet and a map of the world.

Overall, it is an impressive and comprehensive introduction to Exalted, both setting and rules, conveying the broad epic sweep of action and the rich, detailed history on which it is based extremely well. I think that all participants in a game would benefit from possessing and studying this book, it would be difficult for the Storyteller to paint an adequate picture for players who were not familiar with the broad background and history, or the powers granted to a solar exalted.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Erich V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/29/2006 15:26:07
Exalted. A great concept, and a great system with regards to the first edition.

The second edition just keeps on giving!

The main point to make here is that the setting is the same. Unlike the World of Darkness rebuild, this game does reset history in order to improve itself. Fans of the original Exalted product should enjoy this fact.

This also means that a lot of the original material is easy to translate to the new game, as most of the original charms and ideas are still there.

So what makes it different?

Well, the charm trees make a little more sense now. They are, in some cases, more robust, but in general they are easier to follow and understand. I am not sure I care for the use of colored gems to show relative needs for skills and essence, but it is something to get use to.

Combat has been given an interesting rework. Initiative is fluid now, based on relative character speed as well as the actions you wish to perform. In fact, as one of the Exalted, there are times when you will be able to easily complete two or three maneuvers before your opponent can move. This even applies to using combos and charms in battle, as these now have times attached to them.

The basic idea of combat initiative.
Everyone rolls their initiative. The person with the highest number of successes becomes the Zero point. Everyone subtracts the successes from the Zero points successes to establish their reaction point. They cannot attack until that particular count comes up.

Two fighter roll initiative. Fighter A gets 3 successes, fighter B gets 6 successes. Fighter B goes first, and in three counts, fighter A can perform an action.

As the combat goes on, the initiative will fluctuate, allowing an ever flowing performance of actions, charms, and combos that seem more like a real battle than your standard 'I hit, You hit' systems.

On Count 5, Fighter A takes and action that adds two to his count. He can act again at Count 7. Fighter B cannot act until Count 8, so fighter A will be able to take two actions before Fighter B can take one.

It is a very inventive and interesting look at combat.

However, as you see, it is going to take a little to get use to. And this is one of the major distractions to the new system. Combat.

The first few times you jump into combat, you and the storyteller should go slow, using a chart to help everyone see when they will be able to go again. In fact, this is one of the main ways the folks at White Wolf recommend combat be tracked, and they give examples of this in the book.

This really is the only major concern I have found in the book so far, and it is a concern that will go away once you have participated in a few combats.

Very little has changed, but enough has to make this book is worth the money. It is good for both the player and the collector.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Gilbert E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2006 07:26:31
I'm very glad that White Wolf has found it's way back again! This game is excellent, obviously having an experienced Stoyteller helps......the concepts behind this game are amazing! The COMBAT system is the best thing since sliced bread, (never thought I'd say that about a WW product!!) it encourages you perform death defying stunts and rewards you for it, the way who goes first is excellent though does take a little getting used too...

The only reason I havn't bought it yet is who would play with me? (Boo Hoo!!) So either join a Circle, or buy this book and create your own......I know I will......(eventually).

Very VERY Good.......

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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