Exalted: Any opinions?

Nexus

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Its been almost 2 decades and three editions since Exalted's original release. It arguably has retained some popularity but, naturally, the bloom is at least withered off the rose from its heyday (when it often dominated -several- threads on rpg.net (not unlikely due to several of the moderators at the time working for its producers or at least cutting checks from them but that's another thread...).

I was and am a fan and I am still running a slow PBEM (using a Frankenstein's monster of house rules mot easily summed up by “avoid rolling dice if at all possible” philosophy) Despite a ton of issues with it, its mechanics and staff, the game still holds a place in my heart.

I wanted to ask how others on this site felt about it, if they feel anything at all. It seems like the remaining Exalted fandom on rpg.net is as touchy, short tempered and, frankly, elitist as Hell in their interactions (IMO) the game mechanics, art, 'fluff' etc are all perfect for everyone and if you have a problem with anything, well, that on you and your poor taste.

The Pub seems more measured in general response and attitude. Posters are passionate about what the like and don't but get their undies in a bunch over it and can actually discuss things about gaming will maintaining some maturity and perspective.

So, how do folks on the rpgpub.com feel about Exalted after all these years? Any played it, still playing it? Wouldn't play it if someone offered them a 1000 bucks and free bacon cheeseburgers every game?
 

Skywalker

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Exalted is my favourite RPG of all time. Nothing has come close to providing what it achieves in the last 20 years with its mix of wuxia, anime, sword & sorcery and classic myth.

I love 1st edition and would happily play or GM it at the drop of a hat. I would play 2nd edition at a push but probably not GM it. I won't play 3rd edition however as I found it went over the deep end in terms of complexity.

I tend to use Godbound these days as it replicates much of the feeling for us for a lot less of the effort.
 

FeralToaster

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Love Exalted to bits, the fluff is rich and flavorful regardless of edition and the rules can be house ruled to suit the group playing (I use Gurps mostly). Would love to see more discussion of the books at the Pub, I'd love to know how other groups used the setting and the different exalts. Not currently playing Exalted but have in the past.
 

Skywalker

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I have run Solars, Dragon Blooded, and Alchemicals, and played a Lunar.

With Godbound, I have also run a number of mixed Exalted types.
 

Jetstream

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Exalted is one of the best fantasy settings in existence. The system, however, is kinda obnoxious in my experience. The base system is fine but when you add charms it’s just infuriating to run. Never played it so I dunno if it’s better from that side of the table.

Godbound can kinda work to replace it, but it’s not EXALTED, per se. so far I’ve not yet found a really adequate replacement system. They’re all either too complicated, too simple, or too D&D.

... don’t get me wrong, I love Godbound. But it’s Godbound, not Exalted.
 

Baeraad

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It keeps pulling me back in. I've lost count of how many times I've declared that I'm done with this stupid game, and then I'll have some reason to open one of the books, and suddenly I'm having the exact same "oooooh - SHINY!" reaction I had the very first time. There's always another angle I realise I'd like to explore. There's always some other place on the map that I realise I could do something with. It's at once very strange and unique setting and one that can be stretched to contain just about anything you want.

I've stayed away from the third edition, though. I took one look at the Frankenstein's monster of a system it had and decided that it was the last thing I needed. For that matter, I'd prefer to use my own Frankenstein's monster of a system that I've cooked up, but for obvious reasons it's a little hard to convince prospective players to try it. :tongue:
 

TJS

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My gaming group was into it for several years.

To be honest I'm glad their enthusiasm waned as I never really liked a lot of its assumptions or the 'specialness' of the characters.

I did really like the 1e setting material before it all got too over the top and wahoo. If there was a Sword and Sorcery game with that setting but without the actual Exalted - just mortal heroes - I would have much preferred it.

I guess that's my main take - an interesting setting somewhat ruined by throwing anime super heroes into it.

I remember sort of liking the idea of playing mythic heroes when it first came out - but to my mind PCs didn't feel particularly mythic - it all seemed too systematised.
 

TristramEvans

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Exalted is one of the best fantasy settings in existence. The system, however, is kinda obnoxious in my experience. The base system is fine but when you add charms it’s just infuriating to run. Never played it so I dunno if it’s better from that side of the table.

Godbound can kinda work to replace it, but it’s not EXALTED, per se. so far I’ve not yet found a really adequate replacement system. They’re all either too complicated, too simple, or too D&D.

... don’t get me wrong, I love Godbound. But it’s Godbound, not Exalted.
What do you see as the essential parameters for a good not-Exalted system to capture what you enjoy about the setting?
 

Voros

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Not a fan myself because of the anime artwork and excessive crunch. A lot of the artwork I've seen in the later editions strike me as straight up terrible. It also seems to suffer from the Loreoverkill that turns me off other WW game settings. The Asian elements seem pretty half-assed. I was on a RPG hiatus when it was released and completely missed it. I checked it out a bit but nothing in it grabbed me. I do like Godbound though which I know a lot of people compare to Exalted. I may go back and check out 1e at least for the setting if not the system, to see what the original idea was all about.
 
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Chris Brady

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I have never met a system that somehow, actively hates the GM, the amount of work required for the GM to actually play the game as written is beyond amazing. But I've all said this before. The concept is cool, the execution is muddled and the writers have no idea what the concept of 'epic' is. Motivations that are grand or 'epic' is simply megalomania.
 

AsenRG

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Exalted lists in the top 3 of my favourite settings, exact spot to be determined by my mood. It's possibly in the top 5 if we include historical Earth as a single competitor:smile:.
Then again, almost half my games were run with adaptations of the system. Haven't yet found one that works for me as well as I'd like, though:wink:.

I'd gladly play it or run it...well, I'd gladly run it for the right group, or play with a decent Referee (I'm getting pickier who I run games for). In fact, I like the setting enough that I happen to think at times the Exalted themselves should be purged, and the Neverborn and Third Circle demons should be chained to Malfeas as well:evil:!

I agree with @Voros that the latest edition has a lot of art that sucks, but that in itself has never turned me off a game!
 

spittingimage

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I played in a two-year Exalted 2.5 game that was a lot of fun because it had a GM willing to do most of the heavy lifting. I love the fluff from the corebook and several of the supplements. The demon book was terrific. I think the system suffers from some unnecessary crunch, a problem that got much worse in 3E. The same GM attempted a quarterly 3E game and the complexity plus the big gaps meant he was pretty much the only person in the room who knew what the characters were capable of. I can't see myself ever wanting to run it RAW. In fact, I wrote my own rules-minimal port to the Cthulhu Dark system so I could run Exalted without using its native system. (I haven't yet.)
 

Lundgren

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Exalted is on my "games I want to GM or play the most" list. However, I'm quite picky on how I want to play or run it.

It is also a game I'm happy to talk about, including with those wanting to play it in other ways than I do. I tend to piss off people when talking about it on other sites though; generally by some making claims on how Exalted "always have been" and I mention I can't find any support of that, gives some quotes with page number to where it says otherwise, and ask where it supports their stance. As I almost never play neither mechanics or setting as written, its mainly their "my way is right, and that's bad-wrong-fun" that tend to clash. Well, pointing out that some problem they have with earlier versions is from Fanon, and not the actual books, apparently also isn't helpful :tongue:

I would say that my own interpretation of the setting is 25% 1st edition, 40% 2nd edition, 15% 3d edition, and 20% my own interpretations and alterations. Mechanical-wise, it is 2.5-ish.

When it comes to 3rd edition, I have it, but only to mine for ideas. In my latest game, that's been on hiatus for over a year and probably should been announced dead for quite a while now, I used the map and the intimacy system from Ex3.
 

Nexus

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My gaming group was into it for several years.

To be honest I'm glad their enthusiasm waned as I never really liked a lot of its assumptions or the 'specialness' of the characters.
I admit that is one of the draws of the setting pseudo 'genre' of the game for me. Its similar Supers which is probably my fave when it comes to rpgs. But I can sympathize with finding many of the game's assumptions annoying.

I did really like the 1e setting material before it all got too over the top and wahoo. If there was a Sword and Sorcery game with that setting but without the actual Exalted - just mortal heroes - I would have much preferred it.

I guess that's my main take - an interesting setting somewhat ruined by throwing anime super heroes into it.

I remember sort of liking the idea of playing mythic heroes when it first came out - but to my mind PCs didn't feel particularly mythic - it all seemed too systematised.
Agreed in large part. Honestly in some ways it feels like Exalted talks a good game in this respect* but the in play and narrative feels much like more 'conventional' fantasy which lead many of the groups I played with and ran it with experiencing some cognitive dissonance. And effect the (pseudo) system I cobbled/am cobbling together for it. Frankly, Godbound did a better job at the "Play a Mythic Mover and Shaker" aspect IMO. I just don't care for its base mechanics.

*Aberrant was similar in this issue, IMO.
 

Nexus

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Exalted is on my "games I want to GM or play the most" list. However, I'm quite picky on how I want to play or run it.

It is also a game I'm happy to talk about, including with those wanting to play it in other ways than I do. I tend to piss off people when talking about it on other sites though; generally by some making claims on how Exalted "always have been" and I mention I can't find any support of that, gives some quotes with page number to where it says otherwise, and ask where it supports their stance. As I almost never play neither mechanics or setting as written, its mainly their "my way is right, and that's bad-wrong-fun" that tend to clash. Well, pointing out that some problem they have with earlier versions is from Fanon, and not the actual books, apparently also isn't helpful :tongue:
You've somehow read my diary. :smile:

I would say that my own interpretation of the setting is 25% 1st edition, 40% 2nd edition, 15% 3d edition, and 20% my own interpretations and alterations. Mechanical-wise, it is 2.5-ish.

When it comes to 3rd edition, I have it, but only to mine for ideas. In my latest game, that's been on hiatus for over a year and probably should been announced dead for quite a while now, I used the map and the intimacy system from Ex3.
That's how I few 3rd. It went in the exact opposite direction I wanted to see the game move in, doubling down on the complexity and "systemization" of everything. Part of it feel like someone wanted to emulate a CRPG mechanics wise in a paper rpg. I will mention being impressed with Social Interaction mechanics with some reservations.
 

Baulderstone

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I bought the Exalted books during first edition, and found it rather intriguing. I liked the idea of playing flawed mythic heroes returning to the world and shaking things up. It was like WoD doing the opposite of WoD, where you had all these cool powers but had to keep them a secret and could never really change anything.

I was bogged down running D&D 3E at the time, so I never did anything with it, and by the time I had moved on for that, I wasn't really in the mood for a game with long combats and lots of charms. I ended up passing all my books onto a friend when culling my bookshelf before a move.

I can't see myself ever running it. Would I play it? Probably not as written. I've become aware that in general, I just don't have a lot of patience for slow combat resolution in games. I'd be open to playing it with someone who successfully hacked it to make it faster or just used a lighter system.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Its been almost 2 decades and three editions since Exalted's original release. It arguably has retained some popularity but, naturally, the bloom is at least withered off the rose from its heyday (when it often dominated -several- threads on rpg.net (not unlikely due to several of the moderators at the time working for its producers or at least cutting checks from them but that's another thread...).

I was and am a fan and I am still running a slow PBEM (using a Frankenstein's monster of house rules mot easily summed up by “avoid rolling dice if at all possible” philosophy) Despite a ton of issues with it, its mechanics and staff, the game still holds a place in my heart.

I wanted to ask how others on this site felt about it, if they feel anything at all. It seems like the remaining Exalted fandom on rpg.net is as touchy, short tempered and, frankly, elitist as Hell in their interactions (IMO) the game mechanics, art, 'fluff' etc are all perfect for everyone and if you have a problem with anything, well, that on you and your poor taste.

The Pub seems more measured in general response and attitude. Posters are passionate about what the like and don't but get their undies in a bunch over it and can actually discuss things about gaming will maintaining some maturity and perspective.

So, how do folks on the rpgpub.com feel about Exalted after all these years? Any played it, still playing it? Wouldn't play it if someone offered them a 1000 bucks and free bacon cheeseburgers every game?
First edition corebook (+ maybe the first sourcebook which expands the setting a bit) is great. Can't speak to gameplay as i Nver got that far.

Everything since about Games of Divinity onwards is a shit show of complexity in every respect.

The basic idea is great. But it got super bloated
 

Jetstream

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What do you see as the essential parameters for a good not-Exalted system to capture what you enjoy about the setting?
I'm not sure if any of them can. The thing is that from what I've been able to figure, it actually needs the Exalted system, with its charms and assumptions, to handle it.

I honestly think what I really want is Exalted, probably built in Storypath, with about 1/3 as many charms.

And with no John M0rke. None at all. None. He is a terrible writer.
 

Trippy

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It was a big fillup for White Wolf at the time of it's original release, as they managed to find another game setting that would sell when their WoD lines were beginning fade a bit. I think it remains their second biggest hit after Vampire: The Masquerade.

For me though, it wasn't that appealing - just not the type of fantasy I'm interested in - so I let it pass.
 

Jetstream

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What about his writing turns you off?
He uses ten words where two would be sufficient. All of his prose is purple... and most of what he writes shouldn’t be prose at all.

After seeing what Holden whipped out without M0rke there, I have determined that the overly complicated charms in 3rd ed are mostly M0rke’s fault.
 

KrakaJak

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One of my best campaigns ever was an Exalted 2e Campaign. We began playing shortly after the Lunars book came out. We had 7-8 players and I was one of 2 GMs. The setting was really fun to play in, and our very CharOp style group had a lot of levers to play with on the character sheet. The campaign is remembered very fondly and we still talk about the stories and characters from that campaign often. It was easily one of our best times playing RPGs ever. It was a very stressful and time consuming game to GM, but we had the time and inclination, so we killed it.

I had high hopes for Exalted 3e. I backed the kickstarter. I had really hoped for more simplification and streamlining had gone much farther than they actually did. I don't see any at all, but I'm assured by one from my players that the Charm Trees are definitely simpler than they were. Exalted 3e is different enough that I feel I would have to relearn everything from the ground up, and complex enough that it will take more time to learn it than I will give.

I once tried to put together an Exalted/Fate Core thing, doing my own conversion. Thinking about the effort 2e took to run gives me stress and anxiety. Add on some extra anxiety of wanting to run a campaign as good as the one we had. Talking with a player to get some feedback on my Fate rules, I realized that for our group, Exalted's system was central to the feel and enjoyment of the game. Trying to play it with Fate felt like playing the game with a condom on it, so I abandoned the project. I don't think I will ever get around to running Exalted again.
 

Luca

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I loved the concept of the first edition corebook. I already started hating the changes they introduced in the first edition gods' book (can't remember the title but it basically was the one to reveal the Unconquered Sun is a crack addict). The further devolving into the usual WW splatbook threadmill with super-NPCs who make your players redundant didn't do it any favors, either.
Mechanically, it's essentially unplayable. At least the first two editions. Don't own the third but from what I've read of it, it's even worse.

Nowadays, Godbound is all that Exalted was meant to be, in 1/20 of the page count, and full of tools to actually HELP the GM instead of making his life miserable. And written by a single man instead of multiple committees.
Kevin Crawford puts many in the RPG world to shame.
 

Lundgren

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One of the benefits of getting into the game after both the first and second edition was completed. No risk of later books clashing with my expectations. :smile:

Now, second edition really is an internal mess with contradicting ideas. Which suits me fine, as I look at it more like a toolbox.
 

Ladybird

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Kevin Crawford puts many in the RPG world to shame.
Kevin is slowly re-implementing the entire RPG canon in his own house system. He's single-handedly proven that actually you can convert every game to a D&D sandbox.

I think the only major things he's missing is "play the monster" urban fantasy and superheroes, and you could certainly get there from Silent Legions and Godbound respectively.
 

silva

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Never played Exalted but it always felt the same case as Shadowrun from what I hear - awesome setting marred to awful rules that somehow grabbed players like a Stockholm Syndrome and now they feel obliged to use even if down there they know it's shit.

But it actually seems worse here, because Shadowrun is actually played while it seems Exalted is more talked about than played.

Makes sense?
 

Ghost Whistler

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It was a game that craved simplicity and was destroyed in lieu of it. The idea of Creation was really cool. But if took any aspect of the setting and looked closer it all fell apart. Plus when everything becomes an exalt and even humans can have cool powers you've just made everything mundane.
 

Skywalker

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I'm not sure if any of them can. The thing is that from what I've been able to figure, it actually needs the Exalted system, with its charms and assumptions, to handle it.

I honestly think what I really want is Exalted, probably built in Storypath, with about 1/3 as many charms.
This does sound like you are setting yourself up to fail. I totally agree that true Exalted is inherently connected to its system. However, attempts to simplify that system beyond what is in 1e don’t really work without moving away from some of the elements that make it Exalted. Even Holden’s recent Exalted v WoD, which is about as close as you can get to a lite Exalted like you propose here still doesn’t measure up.

You can’t have it both ways if you want to play Exalted. You either accept the system approach or get as close as you can with as little loss as possible.
 

Nexus

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I loved the concept of the first edition corebook. I already started hating the changes they introduced in the first edition gods' book (can't remember the title but it basically was the one to reveal the Unconquered Sun is a crack addict).
You may be thinking of "The Games of Divinity"?
 

Lundgren

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My GM-ing style is that I mainly approximate mechanics, which combined with I don't have a problem with complex systems, Exalted 2nd edition is pretty much within my sweet-spot. By also looking at it as Greek/Norse/whatever type of god-like powers, not sword and sandals, it pretty much match my interpretation of the setting.

Also, I think some have ran into problems with it, because they expected they could make "interesting and balanced combat encounters" with it ,which is a gaming style I don't think the system would support at all.

Now, having writers throwing things left and right, just because it sounded cool, makes it in need of some cleanup. Still, in my opinion, it isn't that much. Just that it might not just take one whisper to change the opinion in a city; but spending a few days dropping the idea here and there, is another thing. ...and not adding every little charm they added down the line.
 

Nexus

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This does sound like you are setting yourself up to fail. I totally agree that true Exalted is inherently connected to its system. However, attempts to simplify that system beyond what is in 1e don’t really work without moving away from some of the elements that make it Exalted. Even Holden’s recent Exalted v WoD, which is about as close as you can get to a lite Exalted like you propose here still doesn’t measure up.

You can’t have it both ways if you want to play Exalted. You either accept the system approach or get as close as you can with as little loss as possible.
I think that is really a matter of taste, of what you feel is "playing Exalted". I've talked to several people running fine games of Exalted using Godbound. There isn't something magical about the system that 'makes" the game, not for everyone. At least to my way of thinking. The core system facilitates the feel for some, but they can also stem, at least in part, from familiarity.

I've heard similar statements made about Vampire and Werewolf though I've personally converted them to other systems and it went fine. I don't follow the notion that there is "true" as in Platonic correct version on Rpg. There is canon and RAW, for those the original system is required but beyond that I think its a matter of taste.

Heck, for things there are things about all the canon editions of the Exalted mechanics that wonky, for that matter. Its totally valid to say the flaws are part of the appeal, but it seems odd to me to effectively make the claim they require being put up with to play the "true" game. Its Let's Pretend, not a religion.
 

Nexus

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Just that it might not just take one whisper to change the opinion in a city; but spending a few days dropping the idea here and there, is another thing. ...and not adding every little charm they added down the line.
I don't think I quite get what you're saying here?
 

Skywalker

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Heck, for things there are things about all the canon editions of the Exalted mechanics that wonky, for that matter. Its totally valid to say the flaws are part of the appeal, but it seems odd to me to effectively make the claim they require being put up with to play the "true" game. Its Let's Pretend, not a religion.
I agree with you. I have found that you can achieve an effective Exalted game without using the canon editions. It’s just a matter of working out what is important to achieve that as a group and having a system framework that gets you within stone’s throw. Sure it won’t be 100% Exalted but it’s close enough, and having fun playing in the setting has proved more important to me than achieving that last few %.
 

Skywalker

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Personally I am hoping that’s an Exalted 20th Anniversary is still a possibility. Take 1e rules and clean them up and add in the best of artwork over the entire line. :smile:
 

Lundgren

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I don't think I quite get what you're saying here?
Not recalling which charms at the moment, but some it is more the description and potential RP involvement than the mote/wp cost vs effect I feel needs an update.
 

Silverlion

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The system is too complex with its charm trees and initiative system for me. I don't mind anime elements, or even genre tropes--except giant weapons for people trope. That one drives me NUTS. I want simple, elegant, sane-looking armor and weapons. (Note: I love Record of the Lodoss War OVA, but still am annoyed.) So its labeled "Not my thing," usually.
 

AsenRG

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Kevin is slowly re-implementing the entire RPG canon in his own house system. He's single-handedly proven that actually you can convert every game to a D&D sandbox.
But, conversely, his game also proved to me that some games shouldn't be converted to D&D. The sandbox part is fine, though - which is why I keep buying or backing his work:smile:.

This does sound like you are setting yourself up to fail. I totally agree that true Exalted is inherently connected to its system. However, attempts to simplify that system beyond what is in 1e don’t really work without moving away from some of the elements that make it Exalted.
For the record, I totally disagree:wink:.

You can’t have it both ways if you want to play Exalted. You either accept the system approach or get as close as you can with as little loss as possible.
That would be true if any of the 5 official systems so far (the one in the 1e Quickstart, 1e wwithout Power Combat, 1e with Power Combat, 2e, and 3e) was 100% true to the spirit of the setting. Alas, none of them is, IMO...and you could argue the system in the quickstart actually comes closest (though I'd disagree with that, as well).
But IMO, you could get much closer with other systems. Like, you know, StarORE/Wild Talents. Or a mix of the Amber and Stalker RPG (as I did).

Of course, the question is also: which version of the setting? The one where a mortal can survive a desert basilisk (but a desert basilisk can kill a Dragon-Blooded, as evidenced in another part of the same book), or one where the Exalt would look at it, and the basilisk would die (which I'd argue is how things would work in 2e and 3e:tongue:)?
Because you'd have to pick the right system for it:shade:.

Fun fact: I'm coming to appreciate more and more the setting without Exalts. Maybe I should run a game with heroic mortals only, possibly using the 1e Storyteller's companion?
 

AsenRG

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The system is too complex with its charm trees and initiative system for me. I don't mind anime elements, or even genre tropes--except giant weapons for people trope. That one drives me NUTS. I want simple, elegant, sane-looking armor and weapons. (Note: I love Record of the Lodoss War OVA, but still am annoyed.) So its labeled "Not my thing," usually.
You do realize that they're no heavier to the user than a normal weapon would be to you and me, right:tongue:?
 
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