Trigger Warning: This is a (mostly PG13, occassionally light R for language) summary of an X-rated play which deals with mature themes that some may find distressing. Violence, sex, and discrimination are central themes: if you think you might be distressed by this story then I urge you to read no further.

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Some time ago, I started a write up of my first 3E game Dynasty of Dovak.

That game has now finished.

The story continues in this game: my first Exalted Essence game.

If anyone was following Dynasty of Dovak, it started as a one-on-one game with my partner, with us alternating the ST role, following our characters Ganan and Reya, and grew into a party of three as we suckered our siblings into playing Exalted with us. Ganan and Reya have now been semi-retired for actual gameplay (as we basically made them as eRPG characters rather than "play a tabletop game with people we're related to" characters), but I still want to write about their story. As such, there will be awful ReyGan fanfic chapters mixed in with the actual play report chapters. Reya's player has a new character, the Alchemical known as Champion 314. Gracious Pealing Melody's player and Cynis Falen Jinabar's players reprise their old characters from Dynasty of Dovak.

If you haven't read Dynasty of Dovak, fear not...

The Story Thus Far

The Realm of the Dragon-Blooded has endured for 770 years. The first Empress, the Scarlet Empress, also known as the Old Empress, seized control of the Sword of Creation – an ancient weapon of a bygone age – and with it she saved the world from the brink of annihilation, and carved her empire into the world. The Scarlet Empress and her kin are Dragon-Blooded: mortals who have been Exalted with the power of the Five Elemental Dragons. For centuries, the Dragon-Blooded have ruled Creation as the Princes of the Earth: great champions who protect the world from the nightmarish, cannibalistic shapeshifters known as the Lunar Anathema, and other horrors, such as the soul-sucking Raksha, the shambling undead, and the vicious demons of Malfeas.

And then, seven years ago, she vanished.

In the ensuing civil war, her grand Dynasty tore itself apart, before her eldest surviving daughter, Mnemon, took the throne. Seven Great Houses make up the pillars of the Realm’s nobility, each presided over by a mighty Great House Matriarch. The Great Houses rule over their own kingdoms, in the Empress’s name, and send their “advisors” to the kingdoms of the Threshold – the barbarian lands that lay beyond the shores of the Realm’s Blessed Isle. Wise Threshold rulers accept these Satraps, and willingly turn over tribute to the Realm. But increasingly bold barbarians reject the Realm’s overtures and declare war. Mnemon’s Realm is surrounded, and slowly realizing that it is outnumbered.

Worse, it may be outgunned.

Five years ago, the Solar Anathema returned. These dread lords, god-kings driven mad with power, once presided over Creation. Their reign of terror was ended only at a great cost, and only by the intercession of the Five Immaculate Dragons, or so the stories go. The Five locked the Solars away, imprisoning their foulness in the very depths of the Underworld, far beneath the deepest depths of the Western Ocean – for if a Solar is slain, the essence of their power may pass anew to a mortal foolish enough to try to rise above their station and usurp the righteous rule of the Dragon-Blooded. But now the Solars are free. Some of them seem to be twisted by the powers of the Underworld: these Deathknights seemingly stand against life itself.

And stranger beings exist.

In defiance of the natural order, little gods Exalt their own champions. These mockeries of the Dragon-Blooded’s power are not always evil and are rarely to blame for their new condition – often they can be made into allies – but their numbers are growing, despite the terrible toll Exaltation takes upon its divine benefactor. The Demon Princes of Malfeas have somehow anointed their own champions and sent them force to do mischief in the world. The Exalted of Heaven, the secretive Sidereal Exalted, increasingly meddle in Creations affairs. And these are perhaps the least strange of those “stranger beings” that wander Creation.

Our story follows three champions of Mnemon’s Realm: Alinos Gracious Pealing Melody, an admiral in the Realm’s Merchant Navy, responsible for collecting the tribute gathered from the Threshold kingdoms on behalf of the Great Houses, and ferrying that wealth across the water to the Blessed Isle; Cynis Falen Jinabar, once a Magistrate, handpicked by the Old Empress to dispense the Realm’s justice, now a fugitive from the Realm’s law, exiled from the home she loves; and 314, a being out of time, one of the Alchemical Exalted, a prototype for the Dragon-Blooded, created to fight in a war that ended thousands of years ago.

The Great Houses

As of Realm Year 770, there are seven Great Houses of The Realm, ranked in approximate order of power, they are as follows:

Rulinsei – Earth that Forms the Bedrock of Empire
Matriarch Rulinsei, the Empress’s sister, presides over the Great House that claims the most direct descendants of Empress Mnemon. House Rulinsei has a strong association with the element of Earth – the majority of its scions holding the same Elemental Aspect as the Empress herself. It is a House of builders and architects, that cleaves firmly to tradition and propriety. This nigh on fanatical adherence to the tried and true methods of the past helps to maintain the purity of the Rulinsei bloodline – it is here that perhaps the Blood of the Dragons flows the strongest.

Berit – Water that Drowns the Dragon’s Foes
Matriarch Berit is also sister to the Empress. Further she holds the title of Sei-i Taishōgun, or Shogun, meaning she commands the Imperial Legions – the Realm’s principle fighting force. House Berit is a new House, which lacks the storied legacy of some of the older Houses. A significant minority belong to the Aspect of Water, that of the House’s Matriarch, but the majority of those who bear the Berit name are adoptees from the Patrician classes.

V’neef – Wood that Parts the Spray
V’neef is the third sister of the Empress who commands her own Great House. House V’neef was founded toward the end of the Old Empress’s reign and once commanded the Merchant Fleet. The House now controls the Imperial Navy: the Realm’s fighting force upon the seas. Whilst House V’neef possesses great military power, the soft-power it wields by leading the Realm in culture and fashion is the true focus of the House. Only a decade ago, V’neef was principally a House of adoptees – but V’neef had her pick from the cream of the Realm’s Patricians, carefully cultivated, and this combined with her own potent bloodline, and no small amount of politicking, has seen a great many children born with the V’neef name. V’neef herself (a consummate explorer in her youth) is a Wood Aspect, as are many of her direct descendants, but Water Aspects are also particularly valued by the Realm’s naval House.

Nellens – Fire that Stokes the Engine of Commerce
Under the Old Empress, House Nellens was not a House of prestige. Named for a long departed mortal consort of the Scarlet Empress, and oft overshadowed by their rivals House Sesus, House Nellens managed to acquire a great deal of influence amongst the Realm’s patrician class, and with the wealthier of the Realm’s merchants. When House Ragara – the so-called “Imperial Bank” – set itself against Mnemon in the Realm Civil War, it was only natural that House Nellens step in to fill the void in the new order once Mnemon was seated upon the throne. This caused a small rise in House Nellens fortunes – though, thanks to debt forgiveness mandated by the new Empress for her allies, coupled with her enemies defaulting on their loans, this rise was not as large as some might have hoped. What caused a meteoric rise in House Nellens fortunes, however, was the absorption of House Sesus. Long had Sesus agents worked in the shadows to decrease the fortunes of House Nellens, now not only was the House’s biggest obstacle removed, but it was actively working in favor of the House. Traditionally, House Nellens is ruled by the Most August Conclave: an assembly of mortals and Dragon-Blooded. In recent years, House Matriarch Nellens Gazal, and her husband Oban (brother to the Empress), has assumed more direct control. Until the wedding of House Sesus to House Nellens, the Great House possessed no elemental aspect – now the great preponderance of Sesus blood in their ranks has shifted the House firmly to a majority of Fire Aspects.

Ledaal – Air that Raised the Bones of Giants
House Ledaal is another legacy House, founded under the reign of the Old Empress. Ledaal, Empress Mnemon’s niece, earned her House by exposing a treacherous plot hatched by the shapeshifting Lunar Anathema, and the House has stood as a shield against the darkness ever since. Though Ledaal died centuries ago, her House follows her example in courage, curiosity, and integrity. Ledaal Yasmet leads the House with the aid of her Flashing Tempest Council. Though foreign trade and unearthing mysteries are important to the House, nothing comes before their Shadow Crusade: an unending war against the Anathema. The Air Aspect is the most common in House Ledaal.

Tepet – Wood that Grows into a New Age
The origins of House Tepet predate not only Empress Mnemon, but the Realm itself – the House draws on traditions dating back to the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate. It is a martial house, named for a warrior who opposed the Scarlet Empress in the earliest days of her reign, who would fail to overthrow her and come to be her lover. It is a House built on exacting traditions of excellence, seeking enlightenment by walking the warrior’s path. It is a House that nearly fell from greatness. Once Aspected toward Air, and commanding the mightiest army of all the Great Houses under the Scarlet Empress, House Tepet was broken by one of the Solar Anathema – the Bull of the North. Its power shattered, the House was saved by its current Matriarch, Tepet Ejava, who committed the House’s troops to the support of Mnemon during the civil war and later marched the House Legions upon the Deathlord known as the Mask of Winters in the war’s aftermath. Members of the Fallen House Cynis were given the option of exile or joining Ejava’s House. Ejava declined renaming the House after herself, but welcomed the infusion of new blood. The House is now Aspected toward Wood (though Mela, the Elemental Dragon of Air, remains an important figure in the House’s traditions).

Alinos – Air that Rises to Rarified Heights
Matriarch Alinos is the Empress’s granddaughter, and House Alinos consists of her own daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters, as well as her mother’s daughters and their descendants, and all those who were once members of Great House Mnemon but who did not wish to join Great House Rulinsei. Alinos is Aspected toward Air, as is the majority of the House: where House Rulinsei are great builders of tradition, Alinos is a House of innovation which builds to reach greater heights. It is the smallest, and youngest, of the Great Houses. House Alinos commands the Merchant Navy, collecting the tribute gathered by the other Houses and ferrying that vast wealth into the coffers of the empire.

Important Events of the Past Two Years

Our heroes discover the existence of the Infernal Exalted
Our heroes banish the demon Sondok to Malfeas
Destruction of Lookshy by Thorns
Our heroes discover the existence of the Sidereal Exalted and their Anathema counterparts – “the Gold Faction”
Sondok cultists rise across the South, taking Chiaroscuro and making trade a dangerous proposition
Empress Mnemon takes the Throne
Exile of House Peleps to the Western Imperial Protectorate
Exile of House Cynis to Greyfalls
Destruction of Thorns by House Tepet
Our heroes defeat the Mask of Winters at Dovak
Our heroes learn about that the Southern city of Gem has been conquered by an army of “Locusts” and suspect the involvement of the Infernal Exalted
Our heroes uncover the lost First Age City of Dari
Our heroes are betrayed by the akuma, Dragonsgift Saber Edge, who steals a Warstrider on the behalf of her demonic masters
The Bull of the North’s armies march South

Dramatis Personae

The Heroes

Alinos Gracious Pealing Melody
Concept Fleet Admiral
Type Dragon-Blooded
Caste/Aspect Wood Aspect

Attributes
Force 4
Finesse 5
Fortitude 5

Abilities
Athletics 5
Awareness
Close Combat
Craft
Embassy 3
Integrity 3
Navigate 5
Performance 4
Physique 4
Presence
Ranged Combat 4
Sagacity 4
Stealth
War 5

Merits
Artifact 4 (Summer Thunder)
Artifact 1 (Jade Collar)
Artifact 2 (Silk Armor)
Contacts 4 (Imperial Legion)
Familiar 3 (Clapper, the Shieldback Lizard)
Influence 5 (Merchant Fleet Admiral)

Charms
Essence 1 Ox-Body Technique
Essence 2 Navigate Excellency
Essence 3 Performance Excellency
Essence 4 Ranged Combat Excellency
Essence 5 War Excellency
1 Athletics: Flickering Shadow Evasion
2 Athletics: Mongoose-and-Cobra Escape
3 Athletics: Eagle-Wing Style
4 Athletics: Graceful Crane Stance
5 Athletics: Lightning Speed
6 Integrity: Oath of the Ten Thousand Dragons
7 Navigate: Rider-and-Mount Unity
8 Navigate: As the Crow Flies
9 Navigate: Beast Uplifting Harmony
10 Navigate: Calling the Rider's Companion
11 Navigate: Trackless Region Navigation
12 Navigate: Benediction of the Living Ship
13 Navigate: Great Heart Companion
14 Ranged Combat: Arrow Storm Attack
15 Ranged Combat: Phantom Arrow
16 Ranged Combat: Sharpshooter's Clever Tricks
17 Sagacity: Master Physician's Technique
18 Sagacity: Flawless Diagnosis Technique
19 War: League of Iron Preparation
20 War: With One Mind

Virtues
Major: Compassion
Minor: Justice

Intimacies

Major Clapper (Motherly Love) (Compassion)
Minor I am an abolitionist (Justice)
Minor My family (Love) (Compassion)
Ganan (Compassion)
Reya (Compassion)
Jin (Compassion)
Udi (Compassion)

Essence 5
Essence Pool 15 motes
Health Levels
0 [ ] [ ]
-1 [ ] [ ] [ ]
-2 [ ] [ ] [ ]
Incap [ ]

Parry 3
Evasion 5
Soak 3
Hardness 7
Resolve 4

Milestones Earned/Spent
Major
Minor
Personal
Exalt

Cynis Falen Jinabar
Concept Criminal Mastermind
Type Dragon-Blooded
Caste/Aspect Fire Aspect

Attributes
Force 5
Finesse 5
Fortitude 4

Abilities

Athletics 4
Awareness 4
Close Combat 5
Craft
Embassy 4
Integrity 5
Navigate 3
Performance
Physique
Presence 4
Ranged Combat
Sagacity 3
Stealth 5
War

Merits
Artifact 5 (Yoroi Pattern Power Armor)
Artifact 5 (Lady Magnificent’s Visage)
Artifact 4 (Calumny)
Followers 2 (Archons)
Influence 4 (Former Magistrate)

Charms
Essence 1 Stealth Excellency
Essence 2 Integrity Excellency
Essence 3 Close Combat Excellency
Essence 4 Presence Excellency
Essence 5 Embassy Excellency
1 Athletics: Monkey Leap Technique
2 Awareness: Crafty Observation Method
3 Awareness: Jade Leaves a Trail
4 Close Combat: Excellent Strike
5 Close Combat: Many Attacks Technique
6 Embassy: The Perfect Bargain
7 Embassy: Second Chance Approach
8 Embassy: Strange Tongue Understanding
9 Integrity: Guarded Mind Meditation
10 Integrity: Motive-Discerning Technique
11 Integrity: Oath of the Ten Thousand Dragons
12 Sagacity: Archive Mind Mentality
13 Sagacity: Glorious Exalted Bolt
14 Stealth: Distracting Patter Technique
15 Stealth: Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise
16 Stealth: Illimitable Master Fence
17 Stealth: Perfect Shadow Stillness
18 Stealth: Suspicion-Allaying Gesture
19 Stealth: Seasoned Criminal Method
20 Stealth: Flowing God-Dragon Stance

Virtues
Major: Wonder
Minor: Ambition (Pull off the Ultimate Heist)

Intimacies
Major The Dragon-Blooded are born to rule. (Ambition)
Minor My Archons (Wonder)
Minor I live for the thrill of the heist. (Wonder)
Ganan (Wonder)
Reya (Ambition)
Melody (Wonder)
Udi (Wonder)

Essence 5
Essence Pool 15 motes
Health Levels
0 [ ] [ ]
-1 [ ] [ ]
-2 [ ] [ ]
Incap [ ]

Parry 5
Evasion 5
Soak 6
Hardness 8
Resolve 4

Milestones Earned/Spent
Major
Minor
Personal
Exalt


314
Concept Hero-out-of-Time
Type Alchemical
Caste/Aspect Jade Caste

Attributes
Force 5
Finesse 4
Fortitude 5

Abilities
Athletics
Awareness
Close Combat 5
Craft 4
Embassy 3
Integrity 3
Navigate
Performance
Physique 5
Presence 4
Ranged Combat 4
Sagacity 4
Stealth
War 5

Merits
Artifact 5 (Justice Blade)
Artifact 4 (Freedom Bow)
Artifact 4 (Myrmidon Carapace)
Artifact 2 (Translation Crystal)
Familiar 2 (Clockwork Bird)
Hearthstone 3 (Gem of Swift Strike)

Charms
Essence 1 Ox-Body Technique
Essence 2 Close Combat Excellency (Force Mode)
Essence 3 Physique Excellency (Force Mode)
Essence 4 Ranged Combat Excellency (Force Mode)
Essence 5 War Excellency (Force Mode)
1 Augmented Force
2 Portable Utility Compartment
3 Force: Celestial Overseer Concordat
4 Close Combat: Arsenal-Summoning Gesture
5 Close Combat: Arsenal-Summoning Gesture x2
6 Close Combat: Guard Breaking Technique
7 Close Combat: Bulwark Stance
8 Close Combat: Loyal Guardian Approach
9 Integrity: Guarded Mind Meditation
10 Integrity: Spirit-Maintaining Maneuver
11 Physique: Armored Scout’s Invigoration
12 Physique: Ten Ox Meditation
13 Physique: Iron Skin Concentration
14 Physique: Iron Skin Concentration
15 Ranged Combat: Sharpshooter's Clever Tricks
16 Ranged Combat: Revolving Bow Discipline
17 Sagacity: Spirit-Cutting Glance
18 Sagacity: All Encompassing Sorcerer's Sight
19 War: League of Iron Preparation
20 War: Worshipful Lackey Acquisition

Virtues
Major Justice
Minor Discipline

Intimacies
Major I am a champion against the injustice of the titans (Justice)
Minor My found family (Protective) (Discipline)
Minor Autochthon (Reverence)(Justice)

Essence 5
Essence Pool 15 motes
Health Levels
0 [ ] [ ]
-1 [ ] [ ] [ ]
-2 [ ] [ ]
Incap [ ]

Parry 5
Evasion 3
Soak 8
Hardness 8
Resolve 4

Milestones Earned/Spent
Major
Minor
Personal
Exalt

House Rules

The Exalted can just spend a point of Essence to raise their Anima by 1 if using a Charm to do so would not make sense.

The Soulsteel Anima power is not cap-breaking.

Anima flux doesn’t hit other Dragon-Blooded.

Chimera Soul Expression doesn't let you Double Down.

As the characters in Dynasty of Dovak are five sessions away from Essence 5, we’re jumping right in and starting at Essence 5.

I do not know the rules for Exalted Essence. Game text is likely to include errors.