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How do you introduce Exalted before the game starts?

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  • How do you introduce Exalted before the game starts?

    Like the title says, how do you introduce the enormity of the setting to your players so they have a basic understanding?

    Do you have a favourite online introduction that you always use? Have you written something you feel sums up Creation pretty well?

    3e Scavenger Lands map
    3e Combat tracker card
    2e Nexus map

  • #2
    I've done a three hour introduction explanation, whittled it down to less than two hours over the years. It includes things like how the basic stats works, rolls ect. But with my last game I went with a more minimalistic approach. I gave them a brief overview of the attributes and skills, and then I only told them the bare minimum of the setting they would know as mortal scrubs. In this case it was somewhat abstracted as they were in a weird corner of Creation that didn't work like the normal one. It worked out well as this allowed the Players to discover the setting along with their characters. But with the caveat of them starting as mortals.


    • #3
      Step 1) Ask someone if they want to play Exalted. When they say "What's that?" proceed to Step 2.

      Step 2) Tell them that it's a game where you play a demigod, that you're super powerful, and try to explain why that's fun. If you have convinced them that it could be fun, proceed to Step 3.

      Step 3) Start explaining the setting to them by saying "This is difficult to explain," and "You can't even imagine ..." Once they are bored of you trying to find the right words, proceed to Step 4. Keep rambling about this throughout all of the next steps too. Also tell them about the stunting rules, and why they are cool.

      Step 4) Show them the corebook. Tell them! Don't worry, most of it are Charms ... and try to convince them that it's a good thing that there are many Charms. Compare the game to DnD and say that DnD has very limited customization options, and here you can play what you want. If they still seem into it, proceed to Step 5.

      Step 5) Tell them that pretty much anything can exist in the setting, because it's so huge, and tell them the fundamentals behind the splat they are going to run. Tell them that one cool anecdote about how your character once blew up a zombie tyrant lizard with barrels of firedust. If they are still into the game, proceed to Step 6.

      Step 6) Guide them through character creation. Once they get to Charms, convince them to focus on three major Abilities to avoid headaches, and then help them out with some meat and potatoes from other Abilities.

      Step 7) Plan a session that ensures scenes where they get to feel like they are being badass. Once they get that first good impression, you can knock them down a notch. Also, tell them to not worry too much about rules. Instead print out cheat sheets for yourself so that you're not unsure about certain rules. Your player took a bunch of grappling stuff, print out a grappling cheat sheet. Your player has crafting, print out a crafting cheat sheet and don't overexplain the crafting system.

      This seven step plan always work. The only time it hasn't is when I got that one player whose default position on everything is cynical. But he's wrong, so screw him.

      Freelancer | Content Creator |


      • #4
        Setting-wise, I try to limit things to the most basic: Solar, returned god-kings, marked as terrible demons lords by official religions. Pre-industrial world, ranging from Antiquity's city-states to feudal systems, going to shit because Realm, Demons, Undead and Fae (oh my). Story is more about "classical" heroes: people with such insane power the world warps to their will, for good, but also for ill. The rest can usually wait until you've got people hooked.

        System-wise, I couldn't use existing resources for my non-english speaking group, so I used the first Lance/Archer fight in Unlimited Blade Works and described it as an Ex3 battle (Charge, withering and decisive attacks, basic Charms)


        • #5
          have them all meet in a tavern


          • #6
            I generally keep setting info fairly sparse in favour of learning what the player's fantasy background is and highlighting where Creation and playing an Exalt may subvert their expectations (this is normally correcting D&Disms) and have them work up an elevator pitch of an origin story.

            I’ve moved to Sword of Creation, thank you to everyone who helped made the Exalted community these past few years.


            • #7
              Originally posted by vampire hunter D View Post
              have them all meet in a tavern
              Teahouse, VHD. Set it in a teahouse.


              • #8
                I like to share the 1e Intro Fiction.

                The origin story of Strawmaiden Janest from the end of the 3e book is a good one too.

                That said, the elevator pitch for the game I would use is "In an ancient world out of Greek and Chinese myth, you have been chosen by the Sun to be a demi-god with nearly unmatched power ...and thus marked for death by the greatest empire of Creation, run by the Element Benders from Avatar. But! the empire is currently in disarray (think Game of Thrones meets Romance of the Three Kingdoms), so you have some breathing room so you can do whatever the hell you want!"



                • #9
                  I use the 1d4chan description - if the players aren't interested after that, then they wont like the game anyway

                  Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction


                  • #10
                    I have a "Reader's Digest Version of Exalted" I have been perfecting and revising since 1st Edition. One day I am going to record it. Maybe I could convince Lukkychukky and the guys at the Deliberative Podcast to post it one day if its not *too* long.

                    May you live in interesting times...

                    Storyteller of Sun Forged Oath


                    • #11
                      These days, especially with players new to the setting, I run things as mortals for a few sessions first. Get a feel for a local setting like a peasant village in the Realm or a Northern whaling town or a Guild Caravan or something. Three Falls Village, from God Kicking Boot, started out this way for some of my PCs.

                      This gives them roots, something to care about. Then I introduce some supernatural complications to life: Dynasts come through on holiday, or a Fair Folk wants to make a deal with the caravan, or a sorcerer has kidnapped somebody. Maybe introduce a terrifying Lunar or Solar Anathema some distance away-everyone is nervous about it.

                      I let them deal with problems as mortals and exalt when they do something cool.

                      So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                      The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                      -Roger Zelazny


                      • #12
                        I have the full plagueofhats post saved and memorized. So this is my standard opener:

                        First, there was Chaos. Literally, the everything-and-nothing kind of chaos.

                        Then some titans showed up. They were made out of people and places, and the Chaos was pretty annoying. So they created the World, better known as Creation.

                        Creation is at the top of an infinitely tall mountain, and the Poles of Air, Fire, Water and Wood mark its outer boundaries. The Pole of Earth is the mountain it's on top of. Each of the cardinal directions are more strongly associated with the nearby element: North is Air, South is Fire, West is Water, East is Wood.

                        Creation was cool and all, but the Primordials—as these world-building titans were known—decided Heaven would be cooler, so they built that. Then, they built the Games of Divinity, which is so cool it will kill you. Not because it's dangerous, but because it's so awesome you just die from it.

                        The Primordials also created the gods, because Creation can't manage itself. The gods of Creation are bureaucrats and overseers. They monitor goings-on and make sure the Chaos doesn't mess things up. They enforce Fate, which is what Destiny says is supposed to happen. If something Outside Fate has too much influence, Destiny's predictions get messed up and things get all tangled and disorganized and eventually everything would theoretically snowball into complete causal meltdown.

                        At the head of the divine bureaucracy they placed the Unconquered Sun. When asked to build a theme deck for a Magic tournament, he put together a bunch of cards that had nothing to do with each other story- or color-wise. It stomped every other deck's ass, and when asked why he didn't make a theme deck he responded: "Winning is a theme."

                        It was the Unconquered Sun's job to make sure the Chaos didn't encroach on Creation. At the edges, where Chaos and Creation mingled, there was a sort of causality bog known as the Wyld, a place of Chaotic Shape. It was small back then. Fair Folk, evil, beautiful, soul-eating LARPers from beyond time and space, came out of the Chaos and took Shape to play in the Wyld and try to invade Creation. The Unconquered Sun stopped them, because he's better than that.

                        The Unconquered Sun was helped by Luna, who is sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, and sometimes a man and a woman. Or sometimes animals. Or whatever. He's a shapeshifter. When the Sun takes a rest, Luna is there to pick up the slack, getting more powerful as the Wyld gets more powerful, thus associating the tides of the Wyld with the waxing and waning of the Moon.

                        Luna and the Sun are what are known as Incarnae. An Incarna is a special kind of god that is better than other gods for some indefinable reason. Apart from the Sun and Luna, there are the five Maidens: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the Maidens of Journeys, Serenity, Battles, Secrets and Endings respectively. They oversee Fate and know things and see things differently.

                        The gods saw that the Games of Divinity looked quite awesome, and decided they wanted some. This, of course, is where the Primordial's design flaws really begin to show. They had given the gods free will and passion, the better to carry out their drudgery, which is never a good idea. But they had forced the gods to swear an oath not to harm the Primordials. The gods got around this by creating powerful companions to battle the Primordials for them.

                        Autochthon was a Primordial rather different from the others. He was the usual, stunted Hephaestus-type craft-genius. He was willing to betray the other Primordials because they picked on him and broke the awesome shit he built. He showed the Incarnae how to Exalt human beings. Humans were one of the weakest, most uninteresting and unenviable races yet devised by the Primordials, which made them very afraid and prone to prayer. Prayer is money in Heaven, so humans were a pretty good deal for the Primordials, until the whole rebellion thing.

                        The Sun created 300 Solar Exalted, who are each "Winning is a theme" god-kings. The Moon created 300 Lunar Exalted to match, who are "Surviving and adapting is a theme" god-kings. Each of the Five Maidens created 20 Sidereal Exalted, who have themes based on the Maiden who made them. Some might say that for Sidereals, "Cheating is a theme." These are the Celestial Exalted. They can live thousands of years, but once they die that power passes on to an essentially random but worthy host. These Celestial Exaltations are impervious to real harm and ever-lasting and powered by free will; the Incarnae or Primordials couldn't stop them once they were sent out. Since the Incarnae gave up control of them, the Primordials couldn't order them to bring them back or disempower them. Smooth.

                        Another Primordial willing to betray her fellows was Gaia, one of the original authors of Creation. She wasn't going to do any fighting, or really anything herself, but she loved Luna so there you go. She did have her sub-souls, the Five Elemental Dragons, create the weakest but most numerous type of Exalted: Dragon-Blooded. These Terrestrial Exalted are more mundane heroes of elemental aspect, and unlike the Celestial Exalted their children become Dragon-Blooded too. At first there were only 10,000 of them, but they solved that problem very quickly. They were the soldiers for the Celestial leaders.

                        The Exalted rose up and made war on the Primordial slave-masters, and they won. They might've killed all of the titans, but Gaia made them be nicer: They mutilated their souls, turned their greatest leader inside out and imprisoned them all inside him. They are now the Yozis, the demons of Hell. The Yozis swore oaths and are destined to always want to escape and never be able to. Their oaths also bind them into service to the Exalted and gods, so that their lesser souls, your relatively common demon, can be summoned back to Creation for service. Sometimes their lesser souls can also slip through the cracks in the prison, which is generally considered bad. One of the Yozis, She Who Lives In Her Name, cracked open a part of herself before being imprisoned and burned away nine-tenths of the world in retribution; no one knows quite what was lost because it ceased to exist so entirely.

                        Some of the Primordials were killed in the war. Because reality wasn't built for that kind of thing, they couldn't actually die, so instead they became the Neverborn. Their bodies painful tombs filled with crypts for their souls and the whispering dreams of hate they have for the living. They fell towards Oblivion, which is literally what it sounds like, but they got stuck on the way because the universe was broken. The Labyrinth and the Underworld sprung up around them, either from their dreams or as a buffer against Oblivion for the rest of the universe. The Labyrinth is a wormy, endless series of caverns filled with the horrors of fitful dead gods and their dreams; the Underworld that sits atop it is a dark mirror of Creation. Where the Elemental Pole of Earth is a six hundred mile tall mountain in the center of the world, in the Underworld is an enormous pit that leads to Oblivion and the Tombs of the Neverborn. Without the Underworld, ghosts didn't exist, because souls just reincarnated. Now, the world is broken.

                        With their dying breaths, the Neverborn (or the Neverborn and Yozis...Second Edition has been inconsistent about this part) laid the Great Curse on the Exalted. This Curse doomed them to doom themselves, indulging their character flaws to the point of madness. The Solars got it worst, then the Lunars and Sidereals, and least of all the Dragon-Bloods. No one knew this happened though, except maybe the Maiden of Secrets, but she can't tell anyone because then it wouldn't be a secret.

                        Before the war, the gods had created the Five Elementals to better regulate Creation. At the beginning of the war, the paranoid Primordials shattered these great beings because they were not bound by the gods' oaths. This only scattered their elemental power, though, and now little elementals pop up all over Creation.

                        The Unconquered Sun and the other gods whooped it up and took over Heaven and the Games of Divinity. In return, they "gifted" the Exalted with broke-ass Creation. They handed the Solars the Mandate of Heaven, the Creation-Ruling Mandate, and told them to get to work. The Solars did, and over the course of three and a half millennia built a society of idyllic comforts and terrible Solar whimsy. As the Great Curse encouraged worse and worse behavior, the Solars became a more destructive influence. Eventually, their highest priest blasphemed and the Sun turned his face from them. They didn't really care.

                        The Sidereals were very concerned about this, and cast prophecies. They saw three potentials: 1) try to save the Solars from their madness, succeed, and Win It All; 2) try to save the Solars or do nothing, watching Creation slide into golden, terrible madness; or 3) try to kill the Solars, lessening Creation but keeping it safe in perpetuity. It should be mentioned, at this point, that the Curse of the Sidereal Exalted is one of hubris and poor planning, which is pretty harsh when your job is to be a planner and adviser. They chose option 3, which didn't account for things Outside Fate that could muck up prophecies. Go heroes!

                        Because it had been 3,000 years, all the Exalted had been fairly steadily growing in power. Of course, they live pretty exciting lives, so few of them actually lived that whole time. In any case, it was quite a job killing 300 of the most powerful beings in existence. To do so, the Sidereals teamed up with the Dragon-Blooded. In a daring move at a yearly banquet, many of the Solars were killed and their Exaltations trapped in the Jade Prison so that they could not reincarnate. The surviving Solars caused much havoc, the capital city of Creation was decimated, and lots of things blew up or were killed or both. The Lunar Exalted were generally loyal to the Solars, or at least viewed as not too trustworthy by the Sidereals, so the Lunars were driven out into the Wyld.

                        This was all extremely illegal, and Heaven would've pressed charges and fixed things if not for what the Sidereals did to cover up their actions. They occluded their criminal acts by casting Destinies for them with the Constellation of the Mask. They did so with such vigor and so heavily, that the Mask strained under the pressure and broke. They broke part of Fate and Creation and the world to cover up their crime. Now, no one in Creation can remember them properly, they can never form lasting relationships and a lot of gods are kind of miffed at them.

                        For a few hundred years the Dragon-Blooded bickered amongst themselves, ruling Creation and fighting over it. The gods were kind of uncooperative, because the Terrestrials didn't have the Mandate that the Solars had. Things were still okay, though. The Sidereals went back to doing their job in Heaven, but were even more underappreciated. The Lunars, trapped in the Wyld, were infected by Chaos and had to go through a whole "thing" to try and get that under control. Now Lunars can become chimera, which are insane, ever-mutating beasts. Fun.

                        Then the Contagion came, a disease that wiped out 90% of all living things in the entire world, and could even make Sidereals sick when they read the Fate of the diseased. This disease came from outside of Fate, and it really would've helped it the Solars had been around. Then, another threat outside Fate came along: Fair Folk. Without the Solars, the Fair Folk stood a chance of destroying Creation and returning everything back to Chaos. They invaded in numberless hordes, and Creation's borders shrank; there were no living things to keep reality whole, dead as they were from disease or war.

                        Then a heroic young Dragon-Blooded officer and some of her friends broke into the Shrine of the Anathema (which is what the non-Terrestrial Exalted were called to make everyone feel better about themselves). There, this young officer sacrificed her friends or they sacrificed themselves to activate the Sword of Creation. Giant elemental warriors materialized, cold iron needles flew thousands of miles through the sky and decimated the Fair Folk, driving them back and saving Creation. This young officer emerged and named herself the Scarlet Empress, rightful ruler of the world. Some people disagreed, so now there's the Scarlet Empire (better known as the Realm) in the center of the world, it's outlying tributary-states, and a bunch of independent states scattered across the outskirts of Creation.

                        Just a few years before "present" in the game line, the Scarlet Empress disappeared. No one knows where, and now the Empire she created that relied entirely on her is collapsing. Worse/better, the Jade Prison was found and broken, and the Solars have returned. Definitely worse (or better if you're the Neverborn), the Solars are lesser in number and instead some new Exalted are showing up, calling themselves "Abyssals." There are also rumblings of some wicked new Exalted coming from Hell, as well.

                        By default, with just the corebook, your players will be making Solar Exalted, come back to save or damn the world with laser kung-fu. You can buy other books to play all the other Exalted, or even gods, demons, ghosts, elementals and more. Primarily, once you get your hands on Creation, your mandate is to go forth and do awesome.

                        The bit about the Solar's version of a MTG theme deck is just to use a bunch of OP cards with no relation and say "Winning is a Theme" is hands down one of the best ways to get someone into the "Solar Mindset".
                        Last edited by Sorcerous Overlord; 06-19-2018, 09:45 PM.

                        Please be warned: this is not champagne, this is most likely a duck.

                        Message me for Japanese translations.


                        • #13
                          ...That gigantic spiel there? Avoiding it is one of the reasons I start the way I do.

                          I usually start with, "The Empress, who has ruled for centuries, is missing and presumed dead. She never declared an heir and shit's about to hit the fan" if I need history, and even then only in Realm games.

                          So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                          The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                          -Roger Zelazny


                          • #14
                            In explaining Exalted to new players, I think we need to be mindful of some things. At least that's what I discovered when I've been appealing Exalted to Korean players, for which I never could use official promo material without extreme labor.

                            One thing is that Exalted we know, play, love, and have done so for years may be different from both Exalted that might intrigue new players and Exalted that has reached more than a decade of evolution. When we think of Exalted, we tend to focus on our biggest play moments and most memorable bits of the setting and the system. But, in my opinion, they are only big and remarkable due to their context. If the entire game was nothing but big moments and awesome setting bits, then it would be too stimulating to be worth anything.

                            Not only that, explaining Exalted based on its extreme peaks makes the game sound too over the top. This particular bit resonates with my experience since only most hyperbolic intros and explanations of Exalted ever reached Korean gamers who read up on RPG news and talk. Surely Exalted is about grand and epic (in the Greek sense) stories, but it's also about other things, too. Disregarding them because they aren't as interesting as the game's best moments destroys the context which is what makes the interesting parts interesting.

                            Furthermore, while I shouldn't assume, I have this feeling that many of us have stuck to Exalted since 1e or 2e. Exalted 3e is taking a different approach to how to think and feel about itself (which is pretty damn evident in writing so far) but it could be that our first impression of Exalted hasn't updated to keep up. I imagine many of us feel the temptation to talk about how there are heroin-pissing dinosaurs and how PCs used to punch God to death and how kung fu masters fight giant robots. Which makes sense -- those bits are hella memorable. But those interesting and intriguing bits may need to adjust themselves to current direction of Exalted.

                            There are other practical bits, like how new players' attention span is usually one or two sentences and how Exalted needs to fit the cultural/pop-cultural context of the people the game is being appealed to, but that is so individualistic.


                            • #15
                              Yeah. Honestly, most people don't really need the whole Primordial War, First Age, Shogunate, Fae Invasion/Great Contagion history lesson. At least not to start with. If they ask, you can say that "long ago, the Solars used to be God-Kings, but they fucked up and the DBs overthrew them, and that's why the DBs are in charge now." but I wouldn't go into more detail. At least not in the opening pitch.