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Tropes relating to the stars of the game: the eponymous Exalted. (Subjectives.)
The Exalted in general
The Exalted were originally created by the Gods to overthrow their Primordial masters, the tyrannical cosmic superentities who created the world. They won, with the help of two traitor Primordials, Gaia and Autochthon, slaying some of the creators, and forcing the rest to surrender. The dead Primordials became the Neverborn, the nightmarish quiescent remains of entities for whom there is no beginning or end, and bound to sleep in the Underworld. Those who surrendered became the Yozis, crippled titans imprisoned within the hell called Malfeas, the world-body of their king. But the dying Neverborn cast a final curse on the Exalted, dooming them all to succumb to their own hubris and madness.
The Solar Exalted were made rulers of the world, but slowly fell to the Great Curse, becoming depraved and heartless monsters, mad with their own power. The Sidereal Exalted, blinded by the hubris of their own curse, conspired against the Solars. They incited the Dragon-Blooded to overthrow their masters in the bloody conflict of the Usurpation, and imprisoned the Exaltations of the Solars, so that they could never again bless mortals with their power. The Dragon-Blooded reigned over Creation, but could not defend it from the infinite hordes of raksha, soul-eating faeries from beyond Creation, and the plots of the Deathlords, the ghosts of dead Solars in service of the Neverborn. Half of Creation was destroyed, swallowed up into chaos as the raksha invaded and the Great Contagion engineered by the Deathlords wiped out nearly all life.
The chaos ended when one Dragon-Blood activated an ancient superweapon of the Solar Exalted, saving Creation and uniting it behind her. She would become the Scarlet Empress, founding a Realm that would span most of Creation. But now, the peace she claimed is falling apart. The Scarlet Empress has vanished. The raksha still creep across the borders of undefended Creation. And the Yozis and Neverborn have cooperated to free the imprisoned Solar Exaltations, stealing half of them to twist into their own dark champions. Harbingers of slaughter and entropy now stalk the land, while the champions of Hell work behind the scenes to free their masters. Into the midst of all this, the Solar Exalted have returned.
Tropes associated with all the Exalted
- Badass: Every last damn one of them.
- Beyond the Impossible: They killed the Primordials. This was so damn impossible that it created the Neverborn and The Underworld as a result.
- The Beautiful Elite: The vast majority of the Exalted ascribe to this.
- Conservation of Ninjitsu:
- Mostly played straight. The Terrestrial Exalted, who are the most numerous of the Exalted and the only ones that can pass their Exaltation on to their children, are the weakest Exalted. They can easily kick mundane ass though.
- The Celestial Exalted on the other hand are a bit more tricky. There used to be 300 Solars, 300 Lunars, and 100 Sidereals. The Solars were the main raw powerhouse of the 3 though, with the Sidereals and Lunars being weaker and about equal to each other. Though if it was just about Martial Art skill the Sidereal would win hands down with their Cosmic Kung-Fu easily besting all other Exalted Martial Arts.
- In the current setting, things have been getting even more confusing. At the top Power Levels sit the currently 150 Solar Exalted, and their derivatives; the 100 Abyssal Deathknights and 50 Green Sun Princes. Then come the Sidereals and Lunars, and at the bottom sit the Dragon-Bloods. So 150 Solars = 100 Abyssals = 50 Green Sun Princes > 300 Lunars = 100 Sidereals > a shit load of Dragon-Bloods.
- The Alchemicals are counted as Celestial Exalted, but are entirely modular in their design. A given Alchemical Exalt can go from every bit as powerful as a Solar, to being only more powerful than a Dragon Blooded, all based on her loadout at the time. The primary mitigating factor in this is breadth vs depth. They're very powerful when their charms are set up to be focused on something, but can be quite weak when geared for general situations.
- Fatal Flaw: All Exalted have one, with some variance...
- The Solars, Lunars, Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals all get various versions of the Great Curse, a psychological affliction thrown at them by the Primordials for besting them in war. The Solars and Lunars enter a brief psychotic period called a Limit Break (ranging from berserker rage to uncontrolled crying at the suffering of the world to becoming cold and uncaring about the suffering of others), while the Sidereals can't seem to make any of their big plans work right.
- The exception are Terrestrials-being fairly weaker than Celestials, they also got a fairly weaker Great Curse-it only really starts affecting their behavior when they run out of Willpower, and even then, it just seems like a Heroic BSOD-they snap out of it relatively quickly.
- The Abyssals, on the other hand, get Resonance. If, for some reason, they decide they don't want to go along with their masters' goals of feeding all Creation into the mouth of Oblivion and resume something approaching a mortal life, their Resonance will build until it erupts and risks destroying any emotional connections they've managed to make with the world of the living.
- The Infernals get a similar variant, known as Torment. If they defy the will of their Yozi patrons for too long, then said patron will assume control and cause shit to go haywire. This can range from spreading a Hate Plague (Malfeas) to targeting the Infernal and any loved ones the Yozis disapprove of with a mini-sandstorm (Cecylene).
- The Alchemicals get Clarity, which is something of a mixed blessing. As they get more detached from humanity and closer to the machine, they become less emotional and more logical, and social interactions become progressively more difficult. However, high Clarity allows an Alchemical access to some powerful spells. Unlike the other Exalted's flaws, Clarity doesn't 'erupt', but Alchemicals can reduce it by bringing themselves closer to humanity.
- Even without supernatural curses or compulsions, each of the four virtues has drawbacks if you have three or more dots (and exalts have to have at least one virtue of 3+) - compassionate characters have trouble making harsh decisions, temperate characters have trouble lying, cheating or going back on their word, no matter how dishonest the opponent, valorous characters don't know how to back down from confrontation, and as for conviction, well...
- And it's perfectly possible for a character to have 3+ in two or more virtues. If they conflict, tough luck.
- Lightning Bruiser: What they start out as.
- Long Lived: To varying extents.
- Person of Mass Destruction: What they eventually become if they live long enough. Even Dragon-Blooded.
- Physical God
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers: It tends to be a problem for them.
- Semi-Divine: They're one part mortal, one part god/primordial/dead primordial, all parts Badass.
- Solar and Lunar: The Solar and Lunar Exalted were bonded at their creation, mirroring the relationship between the UCS and Luna. This usually manifests as a Reincarnation Romance, but in other cases they simply remain very close friends. Or very close enemies.
- Squishy Wizard: Both the setting and system mostly avert it, as anyone can learn Sorcery under the right circumstances (I.E. having Essence 3), and there's nothing preventing a sorcerer from learning Resistance Charms. The Twilight Caste of the Solars are all about averting this, as when their Anima Banner flares, they can reflexively "harden" it to avoid taking damage.
- Supernatural Elite: Exalted rule. It's what they do, and no mere mortal can even challenge their right.
- Transhuman: They usually start out as Puny Earthlings, then they get enhanced to Physical God levels through their Exaltations. And then they surpass them.
The Solar Exalted are the (Currently) 150 Chosen imbued with the strength of the Unconquered Sun, the Badass heroes of Creation.
They were originally made from the Unconquered Sun to take out the Primordials with help from their Lunar mates and generals, Sidereal spies and Dragon-Blooded army. They did. After they killed or imprisoned all but 2 of them (who had joined their side), they ruled Creation under the Mandate of Heaven from the Incarnae in the GLORIOUS SOLAR First Age in peace and prosperity.
But there was a problem. The slain Primordials, called the Neverborn, had laid a Great Curse on them that would inevitably drive them insane. Fearing that they would destroy Creation, the Sidereals killed almost all the mad God-Kings with the aid of the numerous Dragon-Blooded who would be the new rulers of Creation. The Solar Exaltation shards were sealed inside the Jade Prison, with the few Solars that escaped and their reincarnations being killed by the Wyld hunt.
But this was not their end. Shortly after the Scarlet Empress's disappearance, the Yozi and the Neverborn cooperated to rip open the Jade Prison and corrupt the shards within to make their Infernals and Abyssals respectively. But they underestimated the Awesomeness of Solar might and were only able to take half, 50 going to the Yozi, 100 to the Neverborn, and 150 making up the new Solars of the Second Age.
Now the Solars are back, ready to kick ass, take names, and possibly save (or destroy) Creation while doing it.
Tropes associated with Solars
- A God Am I: Definitely the major reason why the Solars got bumped off in the First Age.
- The Ace: Solars primarily function this way, picking up many mundane human skills and taking them all Up to Eleven in hilariously awesome ways.
- Drunk with Power: It's implied that though the Great Curse catalyzed it, many Solars would have gone evil anyway.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Solar Hero Style is a bit like this.
- High Priests: What the Zenith caste are for the UCS, essentially.
- Light Is Good: It varies.
- Light Is Not Good: And when they go bad, they go really bad.
- Reincarnation Romance: As with everything about the Solars, they take it up to three hundred with the Lunars.
The iconic Night Caste member and one time face of the game (her picture was by far the largest on the First Edition Core rulebook). Raised from child to be an assassin for a demon cult in the South, her Exaltation led the cult leader to turn on her, driving her away from her home. Now, she belongs to the main circle of Solars.
- Blue and Orange Morality: She was trained from birth to be a political assassin. As a result, she doesn't really get why killing people for practical reasons is bad.
- Dating Catwoman: In a past life, she and Disciple of Seven Forbidden Wisdoms' predecessor were lovers; they seem to be getting it back on in the present, at least in the art and the chapter-opening comic storyline.
- Glass Cannon: Jade excels at Archery, and as a Solar rocks with it, but lacks any Resistance charms.
- The Lancer: Aside from being something of a loner in a Five-Man Band where they all have their own adventures, Jade tends to be the most "practical" member of her Circle.
- Raised by Orcs: Cultists working with the Second Circle Demon Sondok, to be exact.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Jade plays a role in this, according to the Infernal sourcebook's section on the Spider Prophet. According to a prophecy, his death would be due to a Solar Exalt; when one pops up in his midst, he orders her killed, only to have her survive (being a Night Caste lets you do that). As a result, even if he never meets her again, the damage to his reputation could end up killing him.
The iconic Eclipse Caste Exalt and a skilled diplomat, Swan is also a skilled martial artist and generally seems to be a nice guy - so long as you don't piss him off. Whether this has anything to do with his past life is up for debate.
- Ambadassador: As an Eclipse Caste, he is this.
- The Chick: Badass edition.
- Dogged Nice Guy: He's quite infatuated with Arianna, who is pretty much the biggest Tsundere ever. He keeps trying though.
- Hatedom: There are a number of people who despise Swan, for both real and imagined slights.
- Love Triangle: Swan's infatuated with Arianna. Arianna is Tsundere for him. Lilith, his bonded mate, both loves and hates him. He would like Lilith to not project her feelings for Desus onto him.
- Nice Guy: He's one of the most pleasant and polite of the iconic Solars, and one of the few in the setting who didn't immediately begin using his newfound powers to fix all the problems in his life or advance his position.
- Redeeming Replacement: His Exaltation used to belong to Desus, a bastard of a man in the First Age and a one-man reason for the Usurpation. However, Swan tends to be the nicest guy in the stories, unless innocents or his allies are in danger.
- Reincarnation Romance: He was in another love triangle with the same people in the First Age. That one was even messier, since he hurt both of them and made them love him for it.
The iconic Dawn Caste Solar. Dace is a mercenary captain from Nexus who Exalted after being nearly killed in a battle gone bad for his company. He left with a small amount of the company he belonged to, and started up his own mercenary group, the Bronze Tigers.
- Badass Grandpa: In one of the novels Dace went head-to-head with the Emissary of Nexus, an incredibly powerful being in the setting capable of blasting apart a mighty Third Circle Demon with little visible effort, did so for a good two minutes, and even managed to survive the experience.
- Bald of Awesome: Has a forehead that would put Picard to shame.
- Cool Old Guy: He's the oldest of the iconic Solar characters, but is also the most dangerous in terms of physical combat.
- Defeat Means Friendship: His second-in-command is a Dragon-Blooded who came to kill him with a poorly equipped Wyld Hunt. Instead of killing her, he challenged her to a duel, and convinced her to join his company when he defeated her.
- Good Looking Privates: Said lieutenant, V'neef Risa, is also quite the looker.
- The Hero: Of the iconic Circle.
- Mistaken Identity: At first Lilith thought he was the reincarnation of her husband. Fortunately for Dace, he is not.
The iconic Zenith, a former gladiator given purpose by the Unconquered Sun. In his life before the Exaltation, he was killing for fun and profit. Despite all the money, women, drugs and fame he realized he had no purpose. Then the Sun spoke to him and told him to make the world righteous. Ever since then, he travels the land righting wrongs and giving purpose to people without one.
- Angry Black Man: his limit break is Red Rage of Compassion, you do the math.
- The Atoner: Panther is driven by the sins he committed previous to his exaltation. He also seeks to prevent others from making the mistakes he did.
- Badass Preacher: You don't want to get in a fight with him. He's not yet at the point when he can start swaying the masses, but give him time...
- The Big Guy: He uses a martial art that lets him shatter buildings with his fists.
- Blood Knight: Previous to his exaltation.
- Contract on the Prizefighter: Is targeted by people because of his previous deeds.
- Scary Black Man: when he gets mad, people start crapping their pants.
- Slave Liberation: it's not his driving goal, but that doesn't stop him doing it if he has to.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: With a massive tattoo of the sun on his chest.
The iconic Twilight. She was basically a librarian in the North, unable to study the lore she kept for the male savants who thought she wasn't worthy of their secrets. When she Exalted, she instantly outstripped them all -- only to barely escape the Wyld Hunt. After barely escaping (with some help from Swan), she's dedicated herself to recovering the lost wonders of the First Age...and restore the Solar Exalted to their rightful place as rulers of the universe.
- Badass Bookworm: Comes with being a sorceress in Creation.
- Badass in Distress: She probably wouldn't have evaded the Wyld Hunt without Swan's help. In her spare time, she hunts down copies of the setting's version of the Necronomicon.
- Butt Monkey: A lot of writers dislike her, and it shows.
- That, and her Limit Break is Deliberate Cruelty...
- Reincarnation Romance: This was a problem between their First Age incarnations too. Bright Shattered Ice loved Desus, and he screwed her on occasion before going back to Lilith, driving Bright Shattered Ice into her Deliberate Cruelty Limit Break...
- She Cleans Up Nicely: As the comic at the back of Manual of Exalted Power - Abyssals shows. Even with her scar, this troper only just realised who it was - not having read that comic since before learning the iconic Solars' names.
- The Smart Guy: Contractually required by her Caste.
- Tsundere: Tsuntsun variety. See Swan, above. She doesn't trust him, given her past, but she's attracted to him.
Yurgen Kaneko, The Bull Of The North
One of the few Solars who Exalted before the breaking of the Jade Prison, Yurgen is not the iconic Dawn Caste, though many people often mistake him for it. An old icewalker warrior who passed the point where he could fight -- ie, enough to see his grandchildren grow up -- he took up the tradition of meeting his death on the ice, as is traditional for his culture. While out there, he was attacked by an ice elemental in the form of his dead wife. However, he Exalted at that very moment, melting the elemental in the process. After wandering about feeling rather confused that he no longer felt old, he realized he was chosen for greatness and found his way to a different tribe. There, he became The Strategist, eventually hoping to unite the icewalkers.
Of course, one doesn't do this without attracting the Wyld Hunt, and ten years before the game began, a cadre of them were sent after him.
Now, the Bull of the North -- as most people know him -- is becoming a legitimate threat to the Realm, particularly given how the Scarlet Empress has vanished. What's more, he's realized that a pure army only gets one so far, and he's beginning to organize it into an actual empire. True, he's still learning the ropes of statesmanship -- it's why he hasn't conquered more than he has -- but he's picking up the skills quickly, and it's only a matter of time before he starts to make inroads...
- Badass Grandpa: Even before he Exalted.
- Barbarian Hero: He is one, and he leads them.
- Berserk Button: Killing civilians to get to him, as a Sidereal discovered the hard -- and fatal -- way.
- Cool Old Guy: To the Solars, and to the icewalkers.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: The reason the Wyld Hunt against him failed was that he realized he would be their target sooner or later. That, and he's aware that tooting his own horn is liable to get him killed, which is why most people don't know his name.
- Evil Old Folks: To the Realm, and people he's conquered.
- Expy: Yurgen is very much like Genghis Khan, just getting his start a little late in life.
- Genius Bruiser: He's a Dawn Caste, and all that implies. He's also a very competent tactician, and he's Dangerously Genre Savvy.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: His culture is based on the Mongols, what did you expect? That said, he's quickly turning the icewalkers under his reign into even better examples, to the point where he's begun to worry if they're too militaristic.
Once an orphaned trainee shaman from the Blackwater Mammoth tribe of icewalkers, Samea's fierce love for her people attracted a Zenith Caste Exaltation when she was only 17. She spent a year Walking the Earth and seeking out all the ancient lore she could find, eventually becoming one of the first Solar Circle sorcerers of the Second Age. After returning to the North, she swiftly realized that the Bull's ambitions for the icewalkers matched her own, and became the first Solar to ally with him. She now rivals Yurgen himself as the most dangerous foe in the Bull's circle.
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: She truly loves all her followers and sees them as family, and she doesn't deploy her Mind Manipulation powers casually, but she has no scruples about using them when she feels circumstances warrant.
- Lady of Black Magic: Her supernatural charisma can make her seem mature, elegant and wise, but at other times she seems like the teenaged girl she was when she Exalted.
Born to a Dynast family on the Blessed Isle, Lyta disappointingly failed to Exalt as a Terrestrial and was shipped off to the Cloister of Wisdom to train as a mortal Immaculate monk. She had run afoul of a Dragon-Blooded student when the Second Breath came on her. Exaltation as a Solar unleashed all her long-repressed rage over how mortals (more specifically, a single mortal, i.e. Lyta herself) are treated in the Realm, and she is now fanatically devoted to the destruction of the Realm and all it stands for. A Dawn Caste martial artist and warlord, she is currently building up her forces on an island in the West.
...which would be all well and good, except Lyta is everything the Immaculate Order says is true about Dawn Castes. Or more specifically, she's a bloodthirsty, arrogant, and ruthless megalomaniac with a psychotic streak a mile wide. Ultimately the only thing she might do is prove exactly why the return of the Solars is a bad thing.
- Foil: She's a lot like Peleps Deled, except for the part where they're both utterly devoted to the complete destruction of everything the other stands for.
- Ironic Echo: Lyta embodies every horrible stereotype of Dawn Caste Solars that the Immaculate Philosophy perpetuates.
- Knight Templar: Her basic thought process runs along the lines that, since she's a Solar, she's a Hero. Thus, anything she does is Right.
- Meet the New Boss: If she succeeded in taking over the Realm, her new order would probably end up pretty similar to the old one, only with the positions of Solars and the Dragon-Blooded reversed.
- Moral Myopia: In her justifiable anger over how she was treated by the Dragon-Blooded, she's oblivious to the fact that she was always kind of a jerkass herself and spent much of her childhood tormenting the household slaves for fun.
- Self-Made Orphan: She's working on it.
- She Who Fights Monsters: Having rejected the Immaculate lies that say the Dragon-Blooded are the rightful rulers of Creation and Solars are inherently evil and must be killed, she's decided Solars are the rightful rulers of Creation and the Dragon-Blooded are inherently evil and must be killed.
- Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Castebook: Dawn has her fantasizing about using one of these to kill captured Dragonblooded.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Is Realm society profoundly unjust? Definitely. Do the corrupt oppressors in the Scarlet Dynasty deserve a reckoning? Sure. Does that mean committing genocide against the Dragon-Blooded so you can offer it up to the Unconquered Sun as a mass Human Sacrifice is a justifiable Goal in Life? Hell no, you utter lunatic.
Havesh the Vanisher
One-man proof that Solar Exaltation doesn't mean you won't waste your power on petty and irresponsible goals.
Before learning about Havesh, one should understand where he grew up--the Varang city-states are based on Dragon King astrological principles, right down to their caste system. The children of the province have a horoscope cast that determines what they will have most aptitude at as well as an idea of their general destiny.
The problem is that on occasion, the horoscopes will glitch or someone will forget the time a baby was born, resulting in an outcaste, who is literally not a legal citizen of Varang -- such as Havesh, whose mother was drunk when the priests came to horoscope him. For all her faults, she tried to raise him the best she could, but that didn't stop Varang's social system from teaching him he was scum in their eyes, nobody worth mentioning at all except as a random beggar. He pulled himself out of the gutter though, becoming an expert thief, to the point where someone offered him a high-paying assassination contract. Unfortunately, he screwed it up, but he refused to back down until the job was done, drawing a Night Exaltation. After handily finishing the job, a thought struck him-if he couldn't be a rich and happy man himself, why not steal the life of someone who was?
Now a deadly assassin who has killed twelve men so far and lived their lives until he needed to split, Havesh has earned the title of "the Vanisher" due to his tendency to pack up and leave when those close to his current life begin to catch onto the ruse. And all of Varang will know his vengeance...
- Dead Person Impersonation: His modus operandi--he disguises himself as one of his victims and lives his life for a time, up until people get suspicious and he has to bail.
- Freudian Excuse: Varang is not a nice place to live if you don't have a caste.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Began as a random outcaste street rat. Became Paranoia Fuel for the entire Varang region. And if he starts getting ambitious...well, who knows?
- Genius Bruiser: While he can't keep the act going very long, he's still a master actor in his current stolen life, and he's an expert planner. He is also huge.
- Serial Killer: Again-twelve men to steal their lives.
The city of Sijan is known for its funerals, and rightly so. What more can be said of a place that boats its own Mortician's Order? Jiunan was one of their number, and quite content with his lot in life--until one day. To summarize, he fell in love with a young woman who'd been euthanized and reanimated by the city's mortwrights prior to being sent off to the deathlord Walker in Darkness for some purpose probably best left undefined. When she said she'd rather not go with the scary men, Jiunan jumped the nemisarries sent to collect her, kicked their Abyssal boss in the teeth, took his axe, tackled him off a bridge, and woke up on a riverbank miles downstream the next day.
He's still looking for that woman.
- An Axe to Grind: Wields a soulsteel grimcleaver.
- I Love the Dead: Currently in search of a woman who was, for lack of a better word, zombified. She's apparently a very lovely zombie, but still.
Faka Kun was pretty lucky as Djala go -- sure, she was a slave, but her owner found it most profitable to force her to perform as a circus acrobat and cat burglar, rather than using her as a Sex Slave or laborer. He even let her save up some of her profits toward eventually buying her freedom, which drove her to ever-more-daring heists. When she tripped an alarm while trying to steal an artifact weapon from an imperial satrap's mansion, her sheer stubborn refusal to give up earned her Exaltation as a Night Caste.
When she made it back to the slave quarters and told her friends the news, they were less than overjoyed: sure, she was Exalted, but that just meant she'd go off and leave them while they remained slaves, right? At that moment, Faka Kun's Goal in Life became clear. Instead of turning in the loot and buying her freedom, she left the circus that night with her friends, the artifact, and the circus' cash box. She brought her friends to a free Djala enclave, and since then she's returned periodically, always with a group of Djala ex-slaves in tow. When she's not busy freeing slaves, she splits her time between running her own all-Djala circus and adventuring with Demetheus' circle.
- Born Into Slavery: On the basis of being a Djala. Which is weird, since they all have Awakened Essence, and should by all rights be the rulers of Varang by way of Asskicking Equals Authority.
- Heroic Albino: Not quite, since Djala are naturally white with panda spots, but close enough.
- Slave Liberation: Her Goal in Life is to free the Djala and help her people build their own nation.
- Waif Fu: Even un-Exalted Djala are deceptively small and slender.
Two-fisted wanderer of the south, who grew up moving crates around before moving on to boxing. Prior to the UDON Comic, he was a solo do-gooder solving problems in his region of Creation. During the run of said comic, however, he formed a circle with several characters mentioned offhand in his background, only to end up accidentally killing one of his new companions due to a Dragon-Blooded trick.
- Big Brother Instinct: Finely honed during his time in a child gang, and the reason why he was so broken after the final events of the UDON Comic.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Before the unfortunate incident with Kidale, he was a brawler who wandered Creation, willing to lend a helping hand to the common folk. He's still like that... when he's sober.
- Dead Rookie Circlemate: He has not weathered Kidale's death well.
- The Drifter: In competition with the Nameless Solar (q.v.) in the setting's "Who's more like a Clint Eastwood character" contest.
- Drowning My Sorrows: To the point that the Goddess of Intoxicants decided to sober him up.
- Retcon: In a bizarre twist of out of character mechanics, errata to various Dragon-Blooded Charms cut down Safety Among Enemies, the Charm used to make him punch Kidale, down to the point where it's either unbelievable that Kidale bit it in this fashion, or speaks volumes about the caliber of the opponent.
- Walk Creation: And, in the comics, some places that aren't Creation at all.
Daughter of a Guildsman and his mistress. Curious beyond curiosity, when she explored the ruins of her native Chiaroscuro, she managed to find a Manse instead of the typical result (horrible death at the hands of a hungry ghost). Was part of Demetheus's circle in the UDON comic.
- Canon Immigrant: Was first mentioned off-hand as a rather boyish example of another Solar whom Demetheus met in his wanderings, all the way back in Castebook: Dawn.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: By "boyish" we mean she was considering becoming a Dereth (someone who's treated as an honorary member of the opposite sex in Chiaroscuro's culture) at certain points in her life. When Demetheus met her, she was dressed as a he.
A mortal Immaculate monk whose ambition was once to gain enough enlightenment in his life to earn reincarnation as a Dragon-Blooded in his next life. Instead, he ended up facing down one of the many Eldritch Abominations seeping from under Gethamane when it threatened one of his Nakama, earning himself a talk from the Unconquered Sun. Later went on to join the Gold Faction-sponsored Cult of the Illuminated.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Never again, shikari." Spoken to Peleps Deled in a chapter comic from Scroll of Exalts, as Deled was in the process of brutalizing and killing an Immaculate who didn't share his "correct interpretation" of scripture.
The young protagonist of the UDON comic. Kidale grew up on an olive farm, but left for Chiaroscuro to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Like so many others before him, he quickly ended up a homeless beggar trying to scrape together enough money to make it back home, and would have died a nameless victim of police brutality if he hadn't Exalted as a Solar and been rescued by Demetheus, who then introduced him to Wind, Jasara, and Faka Kun. An Eclipse Caste, he rounded out their perfect circle.
- Sacrificial Lion: A textbook example of why starting-level Solars shouldn't underestimate the Dragon-Blooded.
?, aka The Righteous Devil
For generations throughout the South, they have told tales of a man; a righteous, merciless hero who traveled the land dispensing justice and righting wrongs before leaving on his way to parts unknown.
It was a bit of a surprise when he began showing up.
Modern South-dwellers are split as to whether this new red-headed bloke with the sun on his forehead is the same as the one they've been talking about for ages, but he hasn't bothered to comment on it--or, for that matter, tell anyone his name.
- Dark-Skinned Redhead
- The Drifter
- Expy: For The Man With No Name, naturally.
- Folk Hero
- The Gunslinger: Favors a pair of plasma tongue repeaters as part of his "Righteous Devil" martial arts style. Those who recognize said style have started calling him by that for lack of anything better.
- No Name Given
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: He appears in one of the core book's chapter-break comics, confronting a group of Autochthonian invaders in a dark tunnel. They try for a chat at first, but he's not having any of it. "Farewell, diplomacy."
- Shrouded in Myth: What is his name? Where is he from? Where is he going? Why does his stat block list his Motivation as a question mark?
Karal Fire Orchid
Former kazei in the Seventh Legion of Lookshy and member of the Karal Gens. Fair Folk chose her villa's location as a place to invade, and then were rudely reminded of the reemergence of the Solars when she emerged from her burning house after they left her for dead. Her mother, a taimyo in the Seventh Legion, faces scandal due to her daughter Fire Orchid being one of the Blasphemous, but hopes to clear her name in secret. Assuming she finds it necessary to clear it, rather than avenge it.
- Badass Grandma: She had retired prior to her Exaltation. Due to having Dragon-Blooded relatives, looks older than her mother and two brothers by a few decades.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: Her primary modus operandi.
An actor beyond compare, Mirror Flag sees the world in terms of the drama she loves. Unfortunately, Creation does not work on the Theory of Narrative Causality...so, like a true Solar, she's decided to fix that. A Master of Disguise, she takes on a new identity wherever she goes. Using powerful social charms, she manipulates people and events, weaving them into a satisfying and properly dramatic narrative in which virtue triumphs and the wicked are punished.
So far, so good. Where it gets disturbing, though, is that Mirror Flag has rewritten her own identity and Backstory so well and so often that even she isn't sure who she really is anymore. And given her questionable sanity, it's not at all clear how many of the "villains" she casts down are genuinely guilty and how many just seemed like the kind of person she thinks should be holding the Villain Ball. Ultimately, Mirror Flag is a prime example of why the Immaculate Faith isn't entirely wrong when it refers to Eclipse Caste Solars as Deceivers. Oh, it's not that she's a bad person, exactly...or, more precisely, it's that you really can't tell. And neither can she.
- Cool Mask: Crafted for her personally by the goddess of faces.
- Guile Hero: She's an Eclipse.
- Master of Disguise: Actor, too.
- Multiple Choice Past: The woman has no friggin clue who she is and couldn't care less.
- Unreliable Narrator: Even to herself.
Deep in the South, in the shadow of a cliff, there is a village too small to have a name, and too poor to attract robbers. One day, at the peak of a terrible drought, the village smith, Sayn, stepped out of his smithy. He was alight with golden fire as he wandered over to the cliff and swung his hammer with all his might. A sparkling stream of clear water sprang forth, saving the village. Sayn has taken this instance to heart, and views his power as a tool to repair that which is broken; first, by teaching people to live morally and uprightly. 
First Age Solars
Solar Queen Merela
That's "Her Most Luminous Excellency and Savior of Creation, Her Exalted Highness Queen M-R-L-, Queen of Creation, Bearer of the Crown of Thunders and Possessor of the Creation-Ruling Mandate" to you.
A native of the Southeast, Merela was a mere gladiator until she received one of the very first Solar Exaltations. Her exploits in the Primordial War managed to impress even the Unconquered Sun, who gave her the Creation-Ruling Mandate, designating her as the greatest of the Solars and The High Queen of all Creation.
Unfortunately for her, Merela quickly discovered that ruling Exalts is about as tough as herding cats. Within a century, several Solars had already rebelled against her rule and formed a legislative council called the Solar Deliberative, reducing her to a mere figurehead. Although stripped of most actual political power, she officially maintained the position of Queen of Creation until the Usurpation, when she was killed at the Calibration banquet.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: She's a Dawn Caste warrior, while Zeniths are the ones designed to be leaders. Nevertheless, she was granted the Creation-Ruling Mandate on the strength of her reputation as a war hero.
- Badass in Charge: Although she wasn't actually in charge for long.
- Beyond the Impossible: Merela once strangled a Primordial to death with her bare hands. Primordials don't need to breathe.
- Cool Crown: The Crown of Thunders.
- The Scottish Trope: During the First Age, her name is written M-R-L-. This is never actually explained, but Word of God says it's probably a gesture of respect; the Solar Queen's name is simply too holy to be used by anyone except perhaps her fellow Primordial War veterans.
Once, Brigid was known as "the Ungifted" and "the Burden of the Sun," for she had the dubious distinction of being the most incompetent Solar Exalt known to the First Age. Although she was a pretty skilled crafter, she proved incapable of learning any but the most basic Charms and was useless in combat. When her Lunar mate was killed in the Primordial War, Brigid was consumed with guilt, certain she could have saved him had she been strong enough to stand beside him on the battlefield. She fled into the wilderness in her grief -- where she was surprised to meet a beautiful spirit who bowed to her and told her a great destiny lay before her.
Brigid journeyed to the four corners of the world, solving riddles, meeting strange beings, and collecting artifacts, all in accordance with the spirit's prophecy. At the end of her quest, atop the Imperial Mountain, the Unconquered Sun himself appeared and told her that the last step before her was to make a sacrifice. Brigid sacrificed her own regrets and insecurities, emerging as the Mother of Sorcery and Root of All Spells.
...Okay, it's totally possible none of that is true. But that's the story Solars tell, anyway.
- The Archmage: Mother of Sorcery.
- The Chosen One: To reveal sorcery to the world.
- Deal with the Devil: A few details in the story hint that the "lovely spirit" was in fact the demon Mara. As with many tropes in Exalted, this one isn't played straight--the Unconquered Sun was aware of this, and decided Sorcery's benefits outweighed it's faults.
- Reality Warper: As a function of knowing Sorcery.
- Shrouded in Myth: There are several alternate tales about the origin of sorcery. While several locations and objects from the myth have been found and Brigid herself was undeniably a real person (the dates of her Exaltation, discovery of Sorcery, and death are all listed in the timeline in Dreams of the First Age), it is uncertain whether things really played out as the myth says they did.
- Took a Level In Badass: Got to this...
- Unlikely Hero: ...from this.
Rose Petal Tea
Dace's First Age incarnation, who is himself the newest incarnation of Aofe "the Golden Blade," the Solars' greatest commander during the Primordial War. (Other incarnations of Aofe used her title as well, since they seem to die a lot.) Contentious Sword is young for an Exalt, and is constantly frustrated by his circlemates' lack of respect and by always finding himself compared to previous Blades.
- Achilles in His Tent: This is his Limit Break. It's implied to be part of the reason he can't get over his inferiority complex, since it serves to constantly reinforce it, and the aforementioned complex makes him prone to such behavior on a smaller scale anyway.
- Big Brother Instinct: Inverted -- he's on the receiving end of his circle's concern/indulgence, and hates it.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: He's a First Age Solar, with all the power and resources that denotes, but the legend of his Exaltation's first incarnation and his circle's own prodigious accomplishments are hard to live up to.
- Reincarnation Romance: Aofe had a relationship with a Fair Folk named Dreaming Steel, and several of her subsequent incarnations have shown some level of interest in him. Contentious Sword went looking for Aofe's ghost in the Underworld to ask about him, among other things, and the Golden Blade before Contentious Sword died in the Wyld looking for evidence that Fair Folk reincarnate (Steel died a ways back, y'see).
- Sword and Gun: Well, technically "Daiklave and Magitech Hand Cannon that shoots miniature suns." This is Exalted; the dial starts at Eleven.
The previous incarnation of Panther; along with his Second Age Circlemates' previous incarnations, the Hierophant utilized incredibly powerful social charms to basically dominate the Deliberative. With the exception of Contentious Sword, the entire circle survived several major conflicts, all the way back to the Primordial War; none of them survived the Usurpation.
- Dirty Coward: Locked himself away from the world in order to avoid his Heart of Tears limit break...and in the process, nixing any good he could do because of his ostrich-like ability to be in denial about how much suffering the First Age was in.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- In Yu-Shan, it's strongly implied that something the Hierophant did, and specifically a mortal he brought to the Carnival of Meeting, was the straw that broke the camel's back with the Unconquered Sun; this incident is cited as the final act that led to the Sun withdrawing into the Games of Divinity and not paying any attention to his Chosen.
- Castebook Zenith 1e states that the exact moment the Unconquered Sun turned his face away from Creation was when the then-leader of the Deliberative made a speech falsely claiming that the UCS backed one of his petty political corruption games, taking the name of his god in vain just to score more bribe money. "We have spoken with the Unconquered Sun, and he agrees." The opening chapter art of chapter 2 of Dreams of the First Age: Lands of Creation depicts that moment; it was the Hierophant, speaking about the 'Independent Celestial Exalt Subsidy Plan'.
- In Yu-Shan, it's strongly implied that something the Hierophant did, and specifically a mortal he brought to the Carnival of Meeting, was the straw that broke the camel's back with the Unconquered Sun; this incident is cited as the final act that led to the Sun withdrawing into the Games of Divinity and not paying any attention to his Chosen.
Bright Shattered Ice
The previous incarnation of Arianna and one of the first Solars. Her name comes from a Primordial she killed during the war. Already quite brilliant, even by Exalt standards, over time she grew obsessed with acquiring ever greater knowledge by means fair and foul. Had a long-standing interest in Desus, who was happy to reciprocate, er, physically, but not enough to leave Lilith.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Regularly spied on other researchers (or asked Gold-Shadowed Arrow to burglarize them), and her city of Tzatli was described as "one of the loveliest, most well-regulated dominions in Creation."
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Her Lunar husband left her after she kept using him as fall-back guy for her repeated trysts with Desus.
- Egopolis: We repeat: giant floating city shaped like her anima banner. It's also explicitly stated that she saw it more as her personal playground than as a city-state she was responsible for.
- Floating Continent: Her personal domain, Tzatli, was a floating city of glass and sapphire. Shaped like her anima banner, even.
- Even more so than her modern incarnation, if that's possible.
- Let's not forget the fact that she's also a greedy little thief--most of her "innovations" are cribbed from her apprentices to keep up appearances.
- The Smart Gal: In addition to chairing three-fifths of the technological research groups of the First Age, she was one of the first Solars to learn sorcery after Brigid, and learned artifact creation from Autochthon himself. Helluva resume.
- Stripperiffic: Her standard outfit in the official artwork is a pair of artifact wings and a harness made of black dental floss.
Harmonious Jade's previous incarnation, and one of the eldest Night Caste of the First Age. The two have a lot in common, not surprisingly; both come from the South, were trained as assassins from a young age, and tend toward the more lethally pragmatic methods of conflict resolution. Combined with his harsh stance on corruption, other Exalts worry about catching his official attention .
- The Archer: Had Archery as a favored skill. He has trained his skills to their full potential. Do the math.
- Knight Templar: One of the incidents that led to the Great Prophecy (and thus, the Usurpation) was Gold-Shadowed Arrow's whole-sale slaughter of dozens of Celestials, hundreds of Terrestrials, and thousands of mortals, on the suspicion that they might have been Akuma. Not hard evidence. Suspicion.
- Stealth Expert: Comes with the territory of being a Night Caste, but it bears mention that no-one (living) claims to have seen Gold-Shadowed Arrow outside of his estate, the Deliberative, or the city of Tzatli for the past one-thousand years.
- The Stoic: He gains limit when he sees others indulge themselves, and his limit break forces him to avoid "self-centered indulgences." This includes things like stopping for medical attention.
- The Syndicate: Started his own to keep track of other criminal groups. It spans very nearly all of the South.
The previous incarnation of Swan. As far as anyone in the First Age -- including, and perhaps especially, Desus himself -- is concerned, he's a well-meaning Loveable Rogue. In reality, he's a physically, sexually and emotionally abusive Manipulative Bastard with extensive mind-whammying powers.
- Abuse Mistake: His powers force everyone around him to rationalize away all evidence of the abuse he inflicts.
- Believing Their Own Lies: He's as brainwashed by his own powers as everyone else is.
- The Charmer: Eclipse caste with a focus on Socialize.
- Depraved Bisexual: He forces his Lunar wife Lilith to use her Gender Bender powers to spice up their sex life, something she takes absolutely no pleasure in. Then there's what happens to some of his other partners... not to mention that he also made Lilith learn that lunar power to transfer shifting to others, plus the Gender Bender thing .... I feel bad for anyone who antagonized Desus.
- Domestic Abuser: He indulged in plenty of physical abuse, but the emotional mindfuckery was actually the worst part -- Lilith, for instance, could have easily defended herself against him physically if he hadn't bound her to his will so thoroughly that lifting a hand to oppose him was literally unthinkable for her. And considering that even Lilith, one of the toughest beings in Creation, got punched around hard enough to induce a miscarriage, what might have happened to his other partners really doesn't bear thinking about.
- Flanderization: As a matter of metatext. He sure was a Jerkass, but a bit much got piled on his feet other than the conditions of Lilith and Oliphem.
- Jerkass: He was already one of the more slimy characters in the First Age before the Flanderization set in, though.
- Meaningful Name: His name is Desus and he's famous for tricking and blinding a giant one-eyed lighthouse behemoth named Oliphem.
- Obliviously Evil: He genuinely doesn't realize that just because you can mind control someone into not being angry that you raped and tortured them, that doesn't make it okay.
- Villain with Good Publicity: He has a custom charm which makes everyone interpret even his worst jerkassery as for their own good, or at worst, a misguided but totally forgivable mistake.
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: One of the nastiest things about him is that his social charms retain their full effect even against his victims. Since you know Desus is a great guy, your mind is forced to find a way to rationalize whatever he does to you as being your own fault.
Dancer In Light
Devil-may-care Eclipse during the Era of Dreams who began actually courting the help of devils, as he wished to save his I AM node, which had developed its own individual personality, from being erased. Cares little about anything but dancing, which puts him in good company when touring hell.
- Moral Myopia: Primarily interacts with demons and their creators through song and dance, which is the only thing that Yozis and demons don't seek to make a horrible torment as a matter of course. This may have skewed his viewpoint as to what he would be in store for, if he decided to defect.
A sorcerous prodigy and anti-authoritarian supreme, which is not an expected quality in a goddess-queen of Creation. Her first incarnation died fighting She Who Lives In Her Name, the Principle of Hierarchy, and had a vision of how Creation might be better off without said principle. Engineered the sorcerous working which allows anyone in Creation to learn Sorcery as long as they're willing to work at it. Peculiar lack of grimdark for an elder First Age Exalt.
- Guile Hero: Aforementioned Creation-changing sorcerous working was achieved by sneaking it in as a rider on a more popular Deliberative topic. Also convinced Devon, founder of one of the most widespread philosophical schools of sorcery, that his approach was flawed. He followed up on this by incinerating every last copy of his school's teachings.
- Hands-Off Parenting: She enjoys having children but leaves them to their own devices or tells them to, "do some good, like fight an invading raksha or something."
- Hot Skitty-On-Wailord Action: Salina has a semi-regular "thing" with Joyous Youth Juritsu, who is a dragon. They have several children (see above), and she made him promise not to possess them.
- Reluctant Ruler: She does not like hierarchy. She is also a Zenith Caste Solar, chosen by the Unconquered Sun to reign over Creation. Somehow, she reconciles the two.
- Rousseau Was Right: Strongly believes that all people are basically good.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: As it turns out, sorcery is literally a "do anything" button, which means her plan to give it to the random man on the street would be...prone to backfiring. The potential for this was part of what spurred Chejop Kejak to turn on the Solars.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: He disdains Siakal as a bloodthirsty brute... but always takes direct command of fleets that are engaged with the enemy as a matter of visceral thrill.
The Sidereal Exalted are the 100 Chosen of the Maidens of Destiny. They're basically Ninja-Jedi-Evil Chancellor-Fatalist-Supernatural Cosmic Kung-Fu Masters. Meets Dilbert.
They were originally advisers to the Solar Exalted from the Primordial War up until the end of the First Age. When the Solar Exalted were becoming insane due to the Great Curse, they had 3 options. Let the Solars' insanity continue and doom Creation in the process, reason with them in the slight chance they'd reform, or kill them with the Dragon-Blooded to leave Creation in a diminished but still existing state. They chose option 3.
They removed themselves from Creation (having made themselves literally unable to be remembered by mortals), set up the Shogunate of the Dragon-Bloods as a puppet government to control, and created the Wyld Hunt and Immaculate Philosophy to kill the few reincarnating Solars. When the Shogunate ended after the Great Contagion and Fair Folk invasion, they used the Scarlet Empress to make the Realm and have influenced it since then.
Then the Scarlet Empress disappeared, leaving the Realm they've manipulated and controlled in shambles as the Great Houses try to take the Scarlet Throne.
Then they found out the Chosen of the Sun have returned. This hasn't helped with the growing divide between Bronze Faction Dragon-Blood supporters who wish to keep things the way they are, and Gold Faction Solar supporters who want the Solars to return as the rightful rulers of Creation (with the Sidereals in charge behind the scenes, of course).
And they also have to deal with Oblivion seeking Deathknights and their Deathlord masters, not to mention the nascent Primordial Infernals that may or may not release their masters in the Reclamation and let the world literally turn to hell.
Tropes associated with Sidereals
- A Simple Plan: Their particular strain of the Great Curse is a strange form of hubris. Whenever they come up with a plan, said plan has a greater chance of going off the rails depending on how many Sidereals are involved. Keep in mind the Great Prophecy was the collaborative effort of all 100 Sidereals, and take a look at what happened afterwards...
- Because Destiny Says So: They're the ones who say so. Although that doesn't help as much as you think it would. Especially in some cases.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: These guys file the forms, collect the taxes, and sometimes enforce eminent domain by moving entire cities across Creation.
- Ethical Hedonism: The Chosen of Serenity. Their office, the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, was built on the model of the first whorehouse in Creation. And it still serves as one, as well as an art gallery, a library, an opium den, and an office building.
- Karma Houdini:
- Everyone in Yu-Shan knows that the Sidereals had something to do with the Usurpation. The reason the Unconquered Sun and Luna haven't had a very long talk with Chejop Kejak, however, is that they worked fate so that no evidence of the collaboration could ever be found.
- And the fact they're also addicted to the Games Of Divinity.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: There's a reason the top-tier, reality-breaking styles are known as Sidereal Martial Arts.
- Winds of Destiny Change: Most of their powers are centered around manipulating fate and weaving destinies. They can even use the arts of Astrology to weave new identities and gain mechanical bonuses based on the constellation in question.
A very old Chosen of Secrets, Chejop Kejak is the sole surviving founder of the Bronze Faction, the Sidereals who masterminded the Usurpation. A bitter and lonely old man, he has long since passed his prime and lost any real impulse to change the world for the better, to the point where he literally has the Motivation of "Prove that the Usurpation was justified". He is generally held up as an example of a "failed" Exalt, a person whose Fatal Flaw has left him a shell of a man only going through the motions of life. Don't think he can't kick your ass, though.
- Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain: Which trope he falls under depends on whether or not you think he was wrong to pursue the Vision of Bronze, but you can't deny he has valid points and ended up destroying his own life.
- Badass Grandpa: To memetic levels.
- The Chessmaster: All elder Sidereals are as a matter of survival, but Chejop is still the guy who helped build an Usurpation plot against the rulers of the world, and then made a Path of Inspiration to form a framework for the new society.
- Kung Fu Wizard: Chejop is this trope!
- Time Abyss: Subverted. He Exalted in the First Age, and was alive longer than that, but all Sidereals have a cutoff date of 5,000 years thanks to Saturn's influence. His age? 4,999 (plus or minus a few months).
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: The only visible sign he's older than middle age.
- Martial Arts and Crafts: Invented the five Elemental Dragon styles used by the Immaculate Order.
- Meaningful Name: Averted. Her name is an intentional shout-out to Anais Nin, but she bears no other similarities.
- Boisterous Bruiser: She's such a warrior that a lot of people seem surprised to find out she's a Chosen of Serenity. It's just that she finds serenity in beating the seven shades of shit out of creatures of darkness.
- Butch Lesbian: She's a major league asskicker, and she's got a real taste for the ladies.
The Green Lady
Some time ago, the Sidereals got together and decided to create a Convention on Deathlords, in order to deal with the necrotic ghosts threatening to lay waste to all Creation. The Green Lady is the Convention on Deathlords. Only... she's really into her work. She has found a way to worm herself into the courts of the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible, the Silver Prince, Walker in Darkness, and Mask of Winters. Each one seems to think she serves them and only them, no matter who else she strings along.
In truth, she is serving Heaven and Heaven alone. She realizes that, thanks to the Charms and abilities of the Deathlords, knowingly entering their service with a hidden agenda would be suicide. Hence why she is unknowingly reporting to Heaven while being completely, utterly loyal to all the Deathlords. It's just a matter of if she can deliver pay dirt to her superiors before one of her other bosses turns out the lights on Creation...
- Gender Bender: The Bishop thinks she's a man. He's the only one who does.
- Memory Gambit: The undisputed master, except perhaps for Meticulous Owl.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: She honestly thinks the solution to the problems of the Second Age is "Solars, who listen to their Sidereal advisers more." For reasons why this is naive, see Lyta.
Crimson Banner Executioner
- Legacy Immortality: There have been a lot of Crimson Banner Executioners. The name and the costume (which is technically First Age Powered Armor) pass down from incarnation to incarnation.
A former Dynast who ended up receiving a Celestal Exaltation instead of a Terrestrial one. Is a Chosen of Secrets and member of the Gold Faction. Currently in a circle with Iron Siaka, CBE, Black Ice Shadow and Shepherd of the North Star.
- Blithe Spirit: Aspires to be this for the whole Realm.
- Horse Master: Often needs to procure mounts of any description (including dragons) for her circle.
Black Ice Shadow
An Endings caste raised in a shadowland. Currently takes orders from Wayang to gather intelligence on the Deathlords.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Endings caste, who's been painstakingly trained in Necromancy and the lore of the Underworld.
- Punny Name: Say it fast, and think 'Goth'.
Closest thing the independents have to a leader.
Shepherd of the North Star
A perpetually late Chosen of Journeys.
The Lunar Exalted, the 300 Chosen of Luna, are survivors and protectors, gifted with the moon god(dess)'s capacity for adaptation and resilience. They're masters of Voluntary Shapeshifting, with the potential to turn themselves into virtually anything imaginable.
When the Solars were overthrown, the Lunars escaped to the Wyld, which slowly... mutated their Exaltations, gradually twisting the Lunars into monsters. In response, the Lunars devised their trademark moonsilver tattoos, which protect them from any physical transformations apart from their own.
During the Lunars' centuries in exile, they've been operating as covert social engineers, manipulating societies throughout Creation with the aim of eventually creating one that won't need the Exalted to maintain it. They know full well it'll probably never happen; what's important is what they can take from the process.
Now the Solars have returned, the Abyssals and Infernals with them. It's time for the Lunars to adapt once again. Which way they'll go, though...
Tropes associated with Lunars
- Broken Beasts: Most of the details about the Usurpation and following thirteen or so centuries have made it clear that it was not easy on the Lunars in any way at all. They even broke literally, re: their Castes.
- But You Screw One Goat!: The Lunars are capable of making Beastmen, but to do so (without high-level Charms, that is) requires an act of bestiality. Either the Lunar screws the animal in human form, or the Lunar screws a human in animal form.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The only non-Abyssals who can make zombies with their own Charms, without the need of initiation into necromancy. The zombies are creatures of darkness; the Lunars that make them are generally not.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Certain Knacks allow them to ritualistically hunt humans and take on their forms after killing them. There's also a less lethal solution that involves just borrowing a bit of their blood, but this doesn't last quite as long.
- Forever War: Word of God has revealed that they view their conflicts with the Dragon-Bloods as one long guerilla war, and much of the Thousand Streams River has been about (a) putting more and more thorns in the Realm's side, and (b) making sure there's a civillization left over after they're gone. A guerilla war, it should be noted, they're winning-have you seen the size of the Threshold?
- Gender Bender: Quite a few of them. The best example may be Silver Python, who changes gender every twenty years as a tribute to Luna and neither remembers nor cares which one zie started off as.
- Glamour Failure: Every Lunar has a Tell, a part of their body that reflects their totem and remains the same in all forms. It could range from striped chest hair to golden eyes to a patch of scales running along the spine.
- God Guise: The Lunars are keen to take any route necessary to influence a society, and in many cases, that means posing as gods or messianic figures.
- High Priests: The long-lost Waxing Moon caste were this for Luna. Following the breaking of the Lunar castes caused by the Wyld, the No Moons inherited the role. (Which some Lunars find a little odd, since the Changing Moons were the inheritors of the three lost castes.)
- Reincarnation Relationship: Each Lunar shard is "bonded" with a Solar shard, designating the two as mates. This doesn't have to be a romance (it can be a friendship, or a rivalry) but it often takes that form. Of course, this bond continues whether or not the Solar shard's been corrupted by the Yozis or the Deathlords. Note that the bond is not necessarily sexual in nature; platonic relationships are just as possible, potentially leading to Luke/Vader and Cecil/Golbez situations in the case of Abyssals.
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: When a Lunar spends enough Peripheral Essence, it's limited to shape-shifting to any of its totemic forms (that is, its mortal shape, its spirit shape, or--if it has one--its war form).
- The Madness Place: A Lunar using the charm Inevitable Genius Insight gains great bonuses to their mental abilities toward a single project and the ability to completely ignore fatigue for its duration, at the cost of a monomaniacal focus until the charm ends.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: If they ritualistically stalk something, kill it, and drink its heart's blood, they can become it at any time. Some more esoteric capabilities also permit just knocking the target out, or even sexual activity to gain shapes.
A survivor of the First Age -- which makes his bare minimum age around one thousand years old -- Tamuz is one of the elders of the Silver Pact, the main governing body of Lunars. Unlike many of them, after the Usurpation he was happy to be finally free of his abusive and possessive Solar mate, and didn't find it difficult at all to adapt to the new, Terrestrial-ruled world. After the Thousand Streams River project began, he attached himself to the Delzhan tribes, and the ruins of the First Age city of Chiaroscuro they lived near, unifying them into a growing empire without any really crippling social problems...right under the Sidereals' noses, without any of his proxies being killed, and in such a way it made it politically unfeasible for the Realm to conquer them. True, there are some blatant societal ills (one of which, the Delzhan's misogyny, grows directly from his own gynophobia), but he's managed them splendidly (said misogyny was worked around with the Dereth, who have very little stigma attached to them).
Today, Tamuz is seriously considering transforming Chiaroscuro into the new predominant power; seeing as how the Realm was built to serve the Empress and now she's gone, it's ripe for the taking. For his personal life, Tamuz was the most stable and healthy among the canonical Lunar elders in first edition, but in second is shown to have a side with a god complex. He also has a problem with his teacher's/lover's Exaltation going to a female successor, which seriously Squicks him out.
In the Lunar lineup in DotFA's chargen section, he is the Half Moon.
- A God Am I: Set in motion a manufactured prophecy within Delzahn culture that allows him to swoop in under the auspices of the identity "Tamas Khan" and act as their God King. It's all part of his social engineering addict god complex.
- Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: No, it is not. About the only reason he's less screwed up than Lilith is because he wasn't Mind Raped as well. It's a miracle he's managed to only come away with deep-seated misogyny.
- The Chessmaster: He outwitted Sidereals. Sidereals.
- Does Not Like Women: See above. It isn't his Fatal Flaw, though -- he's aware his knee-jerk reaction to the female gender is unfair, and he's capable of swallowing his distaste.
- Guile Hero: He's generally viewed as everything right with the Changing Moon caste, so of course he's this.
- Only Sane Man: In the prior edition. In second, see A God Am I.
- Which is still sane compared to his fellows.
Once upon a time, Ma-Ha-Suchi was one of the most handsome, debonair individuals in all of Creation, a sterling example of the Waxing Moon Caste. When the Usurpation came, he fled with the other Lunars into the Wyld. Before he could be tattooed, however, the Wyld ravaged his body, leaving him with a permanent case of horns and hooves that carried into all of his forms. This caused something to snap in the Lunar; he began to view the civilization that he had once moved through and guided as a corrupting and decadent influence, the true reason for the fall of the Solars and their defeat. He assembled a horde of barbarians and Beastmen, and seeks to burn down all civilization in Creation in the name of a true way for humanity.
In DotFA's chargen chapter Lunars group picture, Ma-Ha-Suchi is on the far right, representing the Waxing Moon Caste. Oh how far the mighty have fallen.
- Bishonen: Before the Wyld? Definitely. After the Wyld? ...Actually, he's still incredibly pretty, just not superhumanly so.
- Evil Luddite:
- Ma-Ha-Suchi just wants to see civilization dismantled, believing it to be a weakening and corrupting influence that causes humanity to stray. If people can't survive without civilization... well, tough noogies.
- The Ink Monkeys have stated that this is really a flimsy excuse he uses to justify his actions to himself. Deep down, what he really wants is to destroy everything beautiful out of spite.
- People Farms: Ma-Ha-Suchi often takes captives from his raids and sticks them in the Rutting Pens, a series of bunkers deep in a Wyld Zone (though insulated from the mutagenic effects) where he and his Beastmen ensure the production of further soldiers. It's somewhat of a secret even among his men, and it's stated that if the rest of the Silver Pact found out about it, they'd have him killed immediately (well, save for Raksi, but that's because she's Raksi).
- Rape, Pillage and Burn: Ma-Ha-Suchi's preferred tactic for keeping his Beastman army stocked and supplied.
- Really Gets Around: His Motivation in the First Age was to sleep with every Celestial Exalted in Creation. He almost got there, too.
- Vain Lunar Barbarian Warlord: Going by his character sheet, he's still the most handsome man most people will ever see, but the idea that he's no longer transcendently, inhumanly beautiful bothers him so much that he refuses to ever take human form again. And that degradation in his appearance is the main reason why he wants to smash everything.
Before the Usurpation, Raksi was well-known amongst the Lunars for being the youngest person ever graced with Luna's gift, Exalting at age 13. She still looked like a child when the Usurpation went down and she had to flee into the Wyld. She came out...changed. Sure, she doesn't look half the wreck that Ma-Ha-Suchi does (or at least, thinks he does), but most of what the Wyld did to her was internal. Raksi's current "attempt" at the Thousand Streams River is the same one she took right after leaving the Wyld - sacking a First Age city, setting herself up as a cannibal queen with a personal army of Beastmen, and harrowing the locals while trying to plumb the sorcerous secrets of the city. Secrets she can never hope to learn herself.
- Ax Crazy: The Wyld did a nasty job to her mind.
- But You Screw One Goat!: A common trait for Lunars, but Raksi made most of her ape-man army herself.
- Glamour Failure: The most obvious sign of Raksi's time in the Wyld is that her fingers tend to bend backwards by reflex.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Raksi adopted the guise of a cannibal queen, then decided to cement it. She goes after babies because she prefers the taste of veal.
- Older Than They Look: She Exalted right before the Usurpation. Even today, millennia later, she still looks like a sixteen-year old.
- People's Republic of Tyranny:
- Raksi sacked the city of Sperimin and renamed it "Mahalanka, City of a Thousand Golden Delights." Those delights are hers alone, however, and any independent authority would question just how "delightful" they're supposed to be.
- And those apemen mooks she's spawned? They only obey her because they're bugfuck terrified of her.
- Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: Raksi has her hands on a copy of The Book of Three Circles, and has spent centuries trying to unlock the secrets of Solar Circle Sorcery. Lunars are, by their very nature, only able to learn up to Celestial Circle. That hasn't stopped her from taking on several unsuccessful experiments in an attempt to unlock her "true potential."
In the First Age, Lilith was renowned as one of the greatest infiltrators and hand-to-hand combatants among the Exalted, but even better known was the epic love story of her romance with the beloved hero Desus. What no one knew at the time, however, was that Desus was...well, Desus. A sadist armed with extensive social Charms, he had Lilith bound to his will, forcing her to love him desperately no matter what abuses he inflicted on her. When he died at the Usurpation, she both rejoiced and felt her heart break, and the sheer cognitive dissonance drove her into the depths of the Wyld. Her fellow Lunars managed to tattoo her before she was too lost, and it seems to have done the job. No one can say for sure; they meet her rarely as she moves in and out of Creation at will. And with the return of the Solars, no one can say for sure what path she'll take...
In the lineup of Lunars in DotFA's chargen section, she is the Waning Moon.
- Abuse Mistake: Spent the entire First Age having everyone around her do this on account of Desus' mind-manipulating powers. Oh, the heroes of Creation all noticed Lilith was sporting an awful lot of bruises when she hadn't been in combat lately, they just figured she and Desus must get up to some kinky stuff in the bedroom.
- Insanity Immunity: Lilith has made the Wyld a second home for centuries, an unwise proposition for even a veteran tattooed Lunar. But because of the sheer mindfuckery Desus put her through, she not only didn't get worse, she got better by comparison.
- My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: During the First Age, she was perhaps the greatest unarmed combatant in Creation.
- Owl Be Damned: Her totem.
- Stealth Expert: Lilith comes and goes out of Creation so easily that no one can track her effectively. In all her time as an elder Lunar, she has not once run afoul of or triggered a Wyld Hunt.
- Submissive Badass: Ironically, she really is a phenomenally skilled combatant even by the standards of Celestial Exalts, and could have easily punched her socialite husband into a fine red mist if he hadn't brainwashed her into wanting to please him by submitting to his every sadistic whim.
- Lilith was made this way. She loves Desus. She hates Desus. He beat her brutally, but lay down a compulsion so that she'd do anything to remain in denial, up to killing whoever pointed it out. For years, her Motivation was simply "Please Desus."
- And now she's tracked down Desus' reincarnation, reuniting with him at the scene of their first age wedding, and then promptly directing him to meet with an ancient Behemoth that is almost certain to kill him.
Leviathan was once second-in-command of the Navy of the Solar Deliberative, one of the highest ranks attained by a Lunar during the First Age. He was the mate and boon companion of Kendik Arkadi- - their relationship was extremely close, if entirely non-romantic. Which made it all the more awkward when Leviathan fell hard for Queen Amyana, Kendik's wife and empress of the floating city of Luthe. Their relationship carried on in secret for decades until the Usurpation came. Torn between his mate and his lover, Leviathan tried to save Amyana -- only to arrive too late, and having traveled too far to save Kendik. In vengeance, he sunk the entire Navy in one blow, allowed the city of Luthe to fall beneath the waves, and took off. He's remained in his spirit shape of an orca ever since, and rules over/terrifies the still-inhabited city of Luthe.
- God Guise: After returning to the sunken Luthe, Leviathan set himself up as god to the Beastmen and descendants of the First Age inhabitants.
- Kraken and Leviathan: It's right there in the name. But he lives up to it, seeing as he has custom shapeshifting Knacks that allow him to count as his own army in mass combat.
- Love Triangle: One of the longest-running and most tragic ones of the First Age.
- Moral Myopia: He simply refuses to consider the Traitorspawn, the descendants of the Dragon-Blooded who live in Luthe, are anything resembling people beyond a vent for his anger. But boss around his beastmen? Your death will be slow and agonizing.
- My Greatest Failure: Leviathan is still pretty much defined by his failure to save either his mate or his lover. The reincarnation of either, however, might just be enough to snap him out of his funk.
- Revenge Before Reason: His prejudice comes from his belief that the Traitorspawn are reincarnations of the cadre that killed Amayana. The book itself states that he has no rational reason to believe this.
Rain Deathflyer and Silver Python
Of all the elders of the Silver Pact, Rain Deathflyer and Silver Python might be in the running with Tamuz for greatest success story. Rain was one of the freshest Lunars to enter the Wyld post-Usurpation, having inherited the Exaltation of one of the Lunars who died protecting their mate during the initial betrayal. Silver took a hand in instructing him in the ways of Lunar-kind, and it turned into a steady relationship. When the idea of the Thousand Streams River was floated, they decided to create the Republic of Halta, an experiment in seeing if humans and Beastmen could get along.
Silver Python presumably makes an appearance in DotFA's chargen Lunars picture, representing the No Moon Caste. In female form, for whatever that matters.
- The Extremist Was Right: The goal? Create a nation protected from the Raksha, living mostly in the treetops, where humans, Beastmen and sapient animals all had equal rights. Did it succeed? So far, yes.
- Gender Bender: Lots of Lunars do it, but Silver Python does it regularly, switching genders for alternating twenty year periods as a form of devotion to Luna. Zhe doesn't know which gender zhe started as, and zhe doesn't care.
- If It's You It's Okay: Averted. Silver Python may regularly switch genders, and Rain may love hir, but he's never made love to hir while zhe's got a man's body. Zhe finds it funny, especially since Rain had no problem siring Beastmen.
- Mentor Ship: Between him and Tamuz.
- Social Darwinist: As Lunars, they know perfectly well that at some point, they're going to need to remove an active hand from Halta and see if it will thrive on its own. What happens after that point, however, might doom their relationship.
Eastern warlord who spent most of the Shogunate and Second Age asleep. Seems to have been in charge of dealing with Fair Folk during the Era of Dreams. In the lineup of Lunars in the chargen section of Dreams of the First Age, he represents the Full Moons.
- Panthera Awesome: Jaguar-totemed, obviously.
- Petting Zoo People: Usually appears in his war form, as an anthropomorphic black jaguar.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: Hibernated for 700 years until he was accidentally awakened by a Wyld Hunt. This did not go well for them.
A veteran of the Usurpation and one of the oldest Lunars to survive into the First Age, as well as the longtime lover of Tamuz. On his deathbed, he gasped out an ominous prophecy before finally succumbing to old age. Anja Silverclaws now bears his Exaltation.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Right before he died, his old Caste Mark -- one of the ones destroyed by the time in the Wyld -- flared and he related a vision from Luna to the rest of the Silver Pact. Right around the time the Scarlet Empress vanished and Thorns got conquered, they really started paying attention to what he'd said.
- High Priest: A former Waxing Moon.
- Time Abyss: Ingosh finally kicked off from Creation at the ripe age of 3,162.
An aristocratic girl from Thorns who had the misfortune to be at home when the Mask of Winters invaded. The iconic No Moon for the game.
- Catgirl: Her totem is a housecat, and she's an outrageous flirt. Hell, her illustration in Scroll of Exalts is her in feline mutations and some tight leather. The mutations cover more of her body.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Inheritor of the Exaltation of Ingosh Silverclaws.
- Girl Endures Ghoul: One of the methods she used to escape from Thorns.
- I Did What I Had to Do: In order to escape from her native Thorns, she had to perform sexual favors, which occasionally led to Girl Endures Ghoul.
- Trauma Conga Line: After her brothers were killed at the Battle of Mishaka, had to contend with the rest of her family's fate under the dead. No wonder she has Compassion 1...
Heysha Black Asp
A recurring character in the comics. Speaks in an odd lisp (all her "j's" become "y's") and omits certain words, hinting at a French-esque accent.
- Most Common Superpower: Especially in her appearance in Return of the Scarlet Empress.
Shark-totemed Lunar who attempted to create an egalitarian society out in the West. This ran into a few problems.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Ten Stripes was aiming for a society where men could farm and women could sail, taking in all comers. What she ended up with was a cultural hodgepodge united almost entirely in their hate of her. That they tried to kill her merely made her proud as she respected their drive. Oh, and those Lintha kids she adopted in are teaching everyone who would listen about their parents' masters...
- Too Dumb to Live: How the hell did she not catch this!?
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: It's suggested that Ten Stripes has finally realized how badly she screwed up, and is planning to just swim away from Simenare in the middle of the night. Given that thirty percent of the island secretly worships the Yozis, the island's patron god is starved and desperate, and only Ten Stripes knows the terms of the deal that keeps the raksha away from the island's inhabitants, things are going to get interesting when that happens.
- Ted Baxter: She, along with Excessively Righteous Blossom, are explicitly stated to be the failures of the Exalted world. She refuses to consider this.
Seven Devils Clever
Nexus street urchin who wouldn't give up on her street. Continues not giving up on it as time goes on, but now has the capacity to tear apart Terrestrials.
- Fantastic Foxes: Her spirit shape.
Northern hunter who had the ultimate bad day - every bit of gear broke, every shelter was occupied with wildlife, and it began to snow heavily by the time he had tried these measures. He then proceeded to dig a hole in the snow, which got him Luna's attention. He's the lupine guy with a beard you've undoubtedly seen somewhere in Exalted art, as the iconic Changing Moon.
- Badass Grandpa: Was an old man prior to his Second Breath.
- Big Badass Wolf: His spirit shape.
- The Stoic: Defends settlements in the North, but never seeks their attention or any accolades at all.
Kajeha Lef was once a Bride of Ahlat, one of the warrior-priestesses of the Southern God of War and Cattle. But Ahlat never came to consummate their union, and she found herself unsatisfied...which is why, when Luna showed up with a better offer, she was willing to leave him behind. Now the former Bride of Ahlat considers herself the Bride of Luna, and she roams Creation on Luna's business, taking her orders directly from the Silver Lady.
- The Champion: For Luna.
- Divine Date: Her special relationship with Luna isn't just metaphorical.
- Happily Married: Well, she considers herself happily married to Luna, anyway.
- Panthera Awesome: Her spirit shape is a leopard.
- Warrior Monk: Her Goal in Life is to destroy the enemies of Luna.
A former slave from Chiaroscuro who now crusades against slavery. Has a bull's legs in every shape he takes; the iconic Full Moon of the game.
- A Load of Bull: His spirit shape and Tell.
- An Axe to Grind: His choice of weapon.
- The Chessmaster: Trying to work his way up to this.
- Foe Yay: is shown snogging Sulumor (see Infernal Exalted) in offical art.
- Mistaken Identity: Because his spirit shape is a bull, he tends to end up mistaken as Ahlat, God of Cattle and Warfare in the South, who gets some of the prayer that would otherwise go to Strength of Many.
- Slave Liberation: Strives to make himself a legend for complete... global... emancipation.
The iconic Casteless, former wife of a thaumaturge who dared too much in his attempts to gain recognition from the Salinan Society. "Former" there courtesy of when he summoned a demon. Spends her time protecting her home city and crusading for her cause as a Casteless.
- Hot Librarian: Works as a scribe and keeps up a repository of magical lore.
- Meaningful Name: Possibly. Vert means green.
- Shrinking Violet: In human form, wearing a widow's shawl and going about letting Salinan Society members use her dead husband's library.
- Stripperific: When in her beastman shape, dressing in gauzy bits of next to nothing.
Sole survivor of a bandit attack on the caravan her family stayed with. She wandered the desert looking for survivors, and then gained the notice of Luna... though she didn't realize it, being rather cooked in the head from all the sun, and believes the Solar who found her to be the individual who was talking with her in the sandy expanse of the South. Product of the militaristic Illuminated training camp, Kether Rock.
- Catgirl: Even cuter than Anja (she has a specialty in it), and with far more clothing to boot.
- Good Looking Privates: Though she fits in a very nebulous kind of specialist role, Kether Rock is run like a boot camp, and she is assigned a post in it.
- Lunacy: Written around the rules that see Lunars gain Limit toward their Fatal Flaw when they observe the full moon.
- Rape as Backstory: Has both rape and dead parents in her background as a result of the bandit attack.
- Stepford Smiler: She secretly believes herself to be a monster, which is why she tries so very hard to seem as cute and cheerful and harmless as possible -- because she desperately wants it to be true.
The Dragon-Blooded, or Terrestrial Exalted, are the oddest Exalt type since they're the only ones who can pass their Exaltation on to their children, while also being the weakest and most numerous Exalted.
This ties in with their creation as a Super Soldier army for the Solar Exalted. The 5 core Elemental Dragon souls of Gaia (a Primordial who had joined the Incarnae against the other Primordials) gifted 100 men and 9,900 women with their power. While they served as soldiers in the Primordial War, their main purpose was to have orgies of epic proportions so they could make a large enough army to be effective against the Primordials and their servants. Apparently the average woman had 30 kids.
After the war they served the Celestial Exalted in family military units called Gentes, each Gens being assigned to 1 solar and his reincarnations. It was also during the First Age that the Dragon-Blooded started to mate with mortals, which up until then got you, your kid, and whoever you slept with dead. This reduced the 'purity' of the Dragon-Bloods, so from then on Dragon-Bloods didn't have 100% guarantee of Exalting.
Near the end of the First Age, after being subjugated to the tyranny and madness of the Solars and being manipulated by the Sidereals, the Dragon-Bloods usurped their Solar masters. After the Usurpation the Dragon-Bloods ruled all of Creation in the Shogunate era, which was noted to have their rulers die constantly by the next rulers.
Things went mostly well enough though, until the Deathlords (Powerful ghosts of the Solars they slew, specifically the First and Forsaken Lion) released the Great Contagion that killed 90% of the population. Then the Fair Folk attacked in an alliance with the Deathlords, destroying half of Creation.
When all seemed lost, several Dragon-Bloods journeyed to the Imperial Manse to use the Realm Defense Grid (Also called the Sword of Creation) to save Creation. Only one managed to get through its defenses, save Creation and come out alive. Her name seems to have disappeared from the texts of history, along with everyone who ever knew her (Pretty normal occurrence in Creation, in other words), but people call her the Scarlet Empress.
She built the Scarlet Dynasty from the ground up, and unlike the Shogunate it only directly ruled the Blessed Isle. Nevertheless, the Realm became the foremost superpower in Creation, being the pinnacle of civilization and military might. There were rivals though, most notably the other Dragon-Blooded ruled state of Lookshy, so the Realm only indirectly ruled several territories in the threshold outside of the Blessed Isle through puppet governments.
The Empress took on multiple lovers over the years, and, via her consorts and children, founded the 11 Great Houses who bickered for power, as well as other organizations that didn't exactly get along. It didn't really matter though, since as long as she was in charge the Realm would operate smoothly.
Now the Realm is in disarray as the Great Houses try to get who they want on the throne in a political system that wasn't made to handle a missing Empress, their secret Sidereal manipulators are bickering over letting the Dragon-Bloods continue to be the rulers of Creation or have the Solars return as the rightful rulers, and the forces of hell, the underworld and the Wyld are ready to take a bite into this half-dead but still powerful Empire.
Since the Dragon-Bloods are the most numerous of the Exalted, we'll also list all of their organizations since they're pretty... colorful in their own right.
Tropes associated with Dragon-Bloods
- All Your Colors Combined: Certain Dragon-Blooded Charms, such as Elemental Bolt, produce much more explosive results if multiple Dragon-Blooded contribute to them.
- Elemental Powers
- Super Breeding Program
The Scarlet Empress
During the invasion of the Fair Folk, just after the Contagion, one young Earth Aspected junior officer in the Shogunate military, along with her Sworn Brotherhood, entered the Imperial Manse to try to activate the Defense Grid. She alone survived, and with her newfound power became the Scarlet Empress, leader of the Scarlet Dynasty, which covered the Blessed Isle and several coastal satrapies. For about five hundred years, she's led the Realm relatively well, using the Immaculate Order granted to her by Chejop Kejak (very unwillingly).
Five years ago, she vanished. No one (who's telling) knows where to.
According to Return of the Scarlet Empress, though, she was abducted by the Ebon Dragon to be his bride; an unknown time after the return of the Solars, she will return to Creation, reunite the fractured Realm, and be the messiah for the people therein. Except for the fact that she'll be brainwashed, Mind Raped, and have a ring on her finger that makes her love, honor and obey the cosmic embodiment of being a douchebag.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: About as fearsome in a one-on-one fight as a Dragon-Blood can possibly be -- and combat's not even her main area of focus.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Crowned herself Empress by taking control of a superpowered weapon of mass destruction.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: More subtly then most in Return of the Scarlet Empress, but the Ebon Dragon did something nasty to her mind.
- The Chessmaster: In her position, there's no other choice.
- Death Equals Redemption:
- If you go with portraying her as a Well-Intentioned Extremist turned Mind Raped Tragic Monster in Return Of The Scarlet Empress, a suggestion is that her ghost starts a highly-effective La Résistance against the Deathlords. Another has her survive long enough for Gaia herself to kill her, then have her reincarnated as the new Elemental Dragon of Earth.
- Like a Badass Out of Hell: On the other hand, if the Ebon Dragon just made her worse, it's suggested that the Neverborn were so impressed by her that they transfer Princess Magnificent's seat on said Deathlords to her.
- God Save Us From the Queen: Her characterization is deliberately ambiguous, to the point where you can play her as anything from a tragic, heroic figure who had no choice but to do some awful things to save all Creation to an out-and-out supervillain -- but in any interpretation, she's not someone you want to cross.
- I Did What I Had to Do: We don't really know much about the Empress as a person, but this is pretty much the cornerstone of her characterization -- it's not that she lacks a conscience, but if she has to do something horrible to achieve her goals, she'll do it without hesitation and cry about it later. (In private.)
- King in the Mountain: The missing Empress is rapidly on her way to becoming this sort of figure in the Realm's folklore.
- King Incognito: Popular folklore has it that during her periodic unexplained absences, she was traveling the Realm undercover as an ordinary peasant. This is completely untrue...probably.
- Lady of Black Magic: One of the most accomplished sorcerers the Dragon-Blooded Host ever produced.
- Lady of War: Also one of their greatest generals -- and remember, she started as a common soldier.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Scarlet Empress' original name has long since been forgotten. At your discretion, there may be a plot hook there.
- Rags to Royalty: We know very, very little about her background before becoming Empress, but pretty much the one thing that's clear is that she was no one important. The higher-ups in Lookshy had never even heard of her.
- Rightful King Returns: Rescuing the Empress is a common potential goal for Dragon-Blooded games. (Rather brutally subverted if you go with the storyline in Return of the Scarlet Empress.)
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: One of her lovers noticed her crying in her sleep.
- Vetinari Job Security: The Empress designed the entire Imperial system so that it would collapse without her - and when she vanished, that's exactly what started happening.
The Scarlet Dynasty
The Scarlet Empress had taken the Realm, but even with control of the Sword of Creation and the backing of the Bronze Faction, she was in a precarious position. The Shogunate had been a long succession of one military coup or assassination after another, and there was no guarantee it wouldn't continue. Her solution was to create a government that was highly effective as long as she was heading it...but was pretty much guaranteed to fall apart the instant she wasn't there.
The Realm's aristocracy currently consists of eleven Great Houses, each named for a consort or child of the Empress from whom the extended family descends. The blood of the Dragons runs strong in the Empress' children, and social and religious teachings about the inherent superiority of the Dragon-Blooded and their divine right to rule Creation help prevent rebellion by the commoners against their Exalted lords. To ensure that her own descendants couldn't threaten her position, the Empress followed a Divide and Conquer strategy: the Houses were encouraged to compete against each other for status, and the Empress alternately favored first one and then another, carefully working to prevent any single faction from gaining too much power.
While she was around, the Scarlet Empress kept a close eye on things, harnessing her descendants' ambitions for the good of the Realm. Since her disappearance, though, there's been nothing to keep the Great Houses' Deadly Decadent Court tendencies in check, and they almost immediately grew out of control. Each family wastes its attention on petty political squabbles, ignoring the serious threats looming over all Creation. At this point, Civil War seems inevitable...
...Unless, of course, the player characters take it upon themselves to head it off.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Dynasty as a whole and each Great House individually.
- The Clan: The Great Houses.
- Culture Chop Suey: The deliberate kind. The Realm's culture is mostly a mix of Imperial Rome and various Chinese dynasties, but it's also got elements of Achaemenid Persia, the Tokugawa Shogunate, and pretty much any other premodern Old World empire you could name.
- Cultured Badass: Every Dynast is expected to be a competent scholar, dancer, musician and so on...as well as a powerful warrior, no matter what their profession.
- Deadly Decadent Court
- Divided We Fall: The Dragon-Blooded were designed to be at their best when working as a team, which is why the Dynasty's complete failure to stop bickering and work together is really unfortunate.
- The Empire: They rule the world, and if you're a Celestial, they're out for your guts.
- Everyone Is Bi: The Realm's culture doesn't have much of a concept of sexual orientation; preferring one sex over the other is seen as a not-very-notable personal quirk.
- Feuding Families: By the Empress' design.
- Manly Gay: Being gay is perfectly socially acceptable, as long as you're willing to do your duty by marrying a member of the opposite sex and procreating. Effeminate behavior, on the other hand, is emphatically not okay regardless of your gender.
- Matriarchy: A very mild example, bordering on Matriarchy in Name Only; the Realm is at least as gender-egalitarian as any modern first world country, and whether you're Exalted or not counts for far more than a little thing like your sex. To the extent that there is sexism, though, it tends to favor women.
- Proud Warrior Race: Even the bureaucrats of the Dynasty are expected to be at least as competent in battle as a decent mortal fighter.
- Training From Hell: Pretty much your whole childhood, if you're a Dynast.
- Vestigial Empire: While the Realm is far more stable than the Shogunate ever was, it's drastically reduced in the amount of territory it controls.
- We ARE Struggling Together!: As it turns out, the Scarlet Empress was the only thing holding them together. Now that she's gone...
The Realm's ruling council, the Deliberative, is a bicameral legislature. The upper house, the Greater Chamber, consists entirely of Exalted Dynasts who are appointed by their Great Houses and approved by the Empress (or, today, the Regent); they have the ability to propose legislation. The patricians and nobles from tributary states who make up the Lesser Chamber are appointed by senators from the Greater Chamber, and can veto proposals with a two-thirds majority vote. Proposals that pass both chambers become law unless vetoed by the Empress or Regent. (In theory, the Deliberative can overturn the Empress' veto...with an almost unanimous vote in both chambers. Yeah, right.)
The Deliberative was designed with a few specific goals in mind -- to handle issues the Empress didn't care about enough to bother with, to give the government an air of legitimacy and rule of law by rubber stamping the laws she did want passed, and to allow the aristocracy of the Realm to feel as if they had a voice in government without giving them any power that actually mattered. The one thing it was absolutely never designed to be, in other words, is a powerful and effective governing body. Which probably stopped seeming like a great idea right around the time people realized the Empress wasn't coming back for a while.
- Blood on the Debate Floor: Duels and plain old fistfights are a fairly regular occurrence.
- Kicked Upstairs: Appointment to the Deliberative is a traditional way to get annoying reformers out of the way -- they'll get distracted with the futile task of trying to fix things from within the system.
- The Mole: Manosque Cyan, who seems to be working to convince the Lesser Chamber that in this time of crisis, they should be spending more time on thoughtful discussion and less on, you know, actually doing anything.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
- Sleazy Politician: Lots of them, all trying to advance their personal ambitions or those of their Great Houses rather than addressing any of the Realm's real problems.
It wasn't unheard-of for the Scarlet Empress to take an unannounced leave of absence, so it took a while for the Great Houses to figure out what exactly to do about the fact that she didn't seem to be coming back this time. No one was prepared to actually take the throne, since it was hard to imagine the Empress looking kindly on anyone she found sitting there if she returned. The obvious answer was a regency -- but in the Deadly Decadent Court that is the Scarlet Dynasty, how could any of the Great Houses trust one of its rivals with that kind of power?
The compromise candidate they eventually found was Tepet Fokuf. An un-Exalted Dynast from what was now the weakest of the Great Houses, Fokuf was known primarily for his complete lack of ambition and general fecklessness, so it seemed likely that he wouldn't be able to take real advantage of the power associated with his position. This...worked rather too well. To all appearances, the poor man's mind simply snapped under the pressure. He now spends as much time as possible locked in his private chambers, masturbating furiously over the racier passages in the Immaculate Texts (which he insists is an important spiritual practice endorsed by the Mouth of Peace) and desperately trying to avoid having to make a decision.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: His relation to the Immaculate Texts is...interesting.
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: It's even possible that he could secretly be a Celestial Exalt...in which case he might well be quite actively ruling the entire Realm from behind the scenes.
- The Fool: So it appears.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Exactly what's going on with Fokuf is deliberately left ambiguous, but one obvious interpretation is that he's smart enough to realize that actually doing anything anyone could interpret as a threat would immediately get him assassinated, and is manipulating the situation as best he can to stay alive.
The Thousand Scales
The Dragon-Blooded of the Scarlet Dynasty like to think of themselves as warrior-aristocrats, proving their right to rule through the strength of their arms and sheer military might. The truth is a little more prosaic. In reality, the Realm is a highly centralized and urbanized empire, and while it does need protectors, it needs bureaucrats a lot more. All Dynasts train as warriors, but for every one actually serving as a soldier in the legions, another can be found playing an equally vital role as a clerk, accountant, postal courier, satrap, prefect, administrator, or dozens of other civil service positions. If the legions are the empire's fangs and talons, the ministers of the Imperial Service are the scales of the dragon.
- Badass Bureaucrat: As Exalted who are bureaucrats, they are this.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: They are also this, given their workload.
- Desk Jockey
- Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Sure, there are lots of these all over the world of Exalted, but only in the Thousand Scales can you get a job as one of the Infallible Conveyers of Official Messages and Heartfelt Expressions (also known as the postal service).
- Vast Bureaucracy: They're called the Thousand Scales for a reason.
The All-Seeing Eye
The All-Seeing Eye started as a loose, informal collection of informants, but as the Scarlet Empress consolidated her rule, it expanded into one of the most efficient and powerful espionage networks in Creation. Unlike the other ministries, you don't apply to join the Eye; if they decide they want your talents, they'll come to you, whether you're a Dragon-Blood, a patrician, a Sidereal, a beggar or a slave. The intrepid secret agents of the All-Seeing Eye can be found in every imaginable profession throughout the Blessed Isle, the Threshold and beyond, ferreting out threats to the Realm from tax evasion to high treason to incursions by the Anathema.
- Calling Card: Employed by the Eye as a weapon of terror: if you find their insignia -- a single open eye -- somewhere in your belongings, put your affairs in order, because you're already dead. Actually, no, that's just what they want you to think; it really means you're being considered as a recruit. If you're dumb enough to tell anyone what you found, then you're not the kind of person they're looking for, and you'll be killed to keep the story going. Keep your mouth shut and don't do anything stupid for a week or so, though, and you'll be approached with an invitation.
- Cloak and Dagger
- Cosmopolitan Council: The Eye is probably the most egalitarian organization in the Realm. If you've got the skills and the dedication, you're in.
- Government Agency of Fiction
- Secret Police
The Imperial Legions
Creation's a scary place, and the Realm has always kept a standing army. For the Dragon-Blooded of the Scarlet Dynasty, who see themselves as something of a Proud Warrior Race, a history of honorable service in the legions is a major bonus to your social status. For Lost Eggs, military service is the only way to integrate yourself into the Realm's high society unless you want to take vows as an Immaculate monk. For commoners, it's one of the few legitimate and accepted ways to improve your social status.
At one time, the Imperial Legions were indisputably the most powerful military force in Creation. Like so much else, that's changed with the Scarlet Empress' disappearance. She wasn't gone long before the Deliberative seized the opportunity to drastically cut centralized funding for the military and assign individual legions to individual Great Houses instead. Once proud defenders of the Realm, they're increasingly finding themselves to be mere pawns in the political squabbles of Feuding Families, and there's a good chance legion will be fighting legion in the Realm Civil War while Creation falls to pieces around them.
Nearly any of the Military and Warfare Tropes can apply here, but in particular:
- Badass Army
- Boot Camp Episode: Most Dragon-Blooded legionnaires attended the House of Bells, the most badass of military academies.
- Gender Is No Object: Would you want to try and tell the Scarlet Empress women don't belong on the battlefield?
- Mounted Combat: Averted, mostly; it takes special Charms for a Dragon-Blood to channel Essence on horseback without their anima banner harming the mount, so the Realm usually doesn't bother. If necessary, they hire mercenaries or use other local forces for their cavalry units.
- The Squad: As the Dragon-Blooded excel at teamwork, the Realm's military doctrine is based around squad tactics. You're assigned to a five-man team as soon as you arrive at the House of Bells, and graded as a group.
- The Thirty-Six Stratagems: The Realm's cultural equivalents are recorded in The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier, Creation's answer to The Art of War.
The Wyld Hunt
The Immaculate Order
In the aftermath of the Usurpation, it's not surprising that some folk religions sprang up that cast the Celestial Exalted as mad demons and looked up to the Dragon-Blooded as holy saviors. The Immaculate Faith got its start as one of these Shogunate belief systems. It held that every Dragon-Blood was a kind of living Buddha who had purified his or her soul over many lifetimes and achieved union with the Essence of Creation. All living things were walking the same road toward enlightenment, hopefully drawing closer to Terrestrial Exaltation with each rebirth. The pinnacle of spiritual achievement was represented by the Immaculate Dragons -- five legendary Dragon-Blooded heroes who had supposedly led the war against the Solar Anathema, each representing mastery of a different type of elemental Essence.
When the Sidereal Bronze Faction began working with the Empress to design the society of the Realm, they realized this was just what they were looking for. They carefully redesigned the Immaculate Faith into a Path of Inspiration designed to enforce social control. The Bronze Faction's version of the faith, known as the Immaculate Philosophy, emphasizes respect for hierarchy above all else. The highest duty of all mortals is absolute obedience to the Dragon-Blooded, their divinely appointed rulers. Beyond that, know your place, work to benefit the community, and respect your superiors –- the way to improve your lot in life is to work toward a better reincarnation. Don't pray to any gods; the Immaculates will tell you when each one has their allotted feast day, and worrying about them beyond that will just distract you from spiritual advancement. Above all else, resist the Anathema in any way you can -- they aren't true Exalted at all, but ancient sorcerers who stole the power of the sun, moon and stars through foul demonic pacts, and their lies will only lead you to ruin.
These rules are enforced in the Realm by the monks of the Immaculate Order. Aside from meditation, studying theology and all your other usual monkly duties, all of them train in martial arts -- and the Dragon-Blooded among them are initiated into Celestial martial arts, allowing them to face down demons, rogue gods, and even the Anathema as formidable opponents. These heroic figures wander the countryside teaching the young, fighting sin, heresy, and injustice, and protecting the faithful from all manner of supernatural threats.
And, of course, the whole thing is still masterminded by the Bronze Faction, who have the entire Order quite firmly under their thumbs. Don't get too cynical -- about 90% of the Immaculate Order's teachings really are objectively true, making it probably one of the most accurate religions in Creation when it comes to its picture of how the world works. (The prohibition on unauthorized prayer, for instance, really is quite sensible as a way to prevent bribery and corruption in the Celestial Bureaucracy.) The problem is that the other 10% includes stuff like “Kill all Solars on sight” and “Your Dragon-Blooded lord and master has a sacred duty to treat you like crap, so you'd better take it and like it.”
- All Monks Know Kung Fu: Being that they're inspired by Chinese Monks, it makes sense.
- Church Militant: Hello Celestial. Meet the Wyld Hunt. You are going to hate them very quickly.
- Corrupt Church: Immaculate doctrine is based on pre-Empress beliefs, most of which were actually pretty much true, before it was reworked to suit the Bronze Faction's purposes.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Sidereal Bronze Faction. There's a reason "Mouth of Peace" sounds so much like "mouthpiece."
- Path of Inspiration: The Immaculate Philosophy counts as one of these from one perspective -- it's definitely designed as a tool for social control, and its Dragon-Blooded leaders are sincere believers. Depending on how you look at it, it could also be seen as a few other related but distinct tropes:
- Religious Bruiser: Every single Immaculate.
- Scam Religion: While the Order's ostensible leaders are largely sincere, the Bronze Faction Sidereals who actually run the whole thing take a considerably more cynical point of view.
- Warrior Monk: See the Wyld Hunt entry above.
The Mouth of Peace
The largest and most powerful of the Great Houses, House Mnemon has strong ties to the Heptagram and the Immaculate Order, producing many -- perhaps even most -- of the Realm's sorcerers and monks. More than any other Great House, House Mnemon cannot be understood without understanding its leader, Mnemon herself. She takes, shall we say, an unusually hands-on approach to running the family, and has forged her descendants into a finely-honed tool for advancing her own ambitions.
- Evil Matriarch: Mnemon herself.
- Magical Society: The House produces so many sorcerers, it might as well be.
The iconic Earth Aspect. The eldest living daughter of the Scarlet Empress, which carries its own associations by the boatload. Mnemon is considered by many to be the prime candidate for the throne now that the Empress has vanished -- and if it wasn't for the fact that she's also considered by many to be an utterly ruthless, power-hungry jerkass, she might have claimed it by now. She's a skilled architect, an accomplished sorceress, head of her own noble house...and one of the few Dragon-Blooded who are fully aware of the existence of Sidereals.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: She's the daughter of the Scarlet Empress. It comes with the territory. The day she Exalted, her older brother tried to have her killed via a poisoned suit of armor.
- Evil Matriarch: How she runs House Mnemon.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Up till her Exaltation, she was a quiet girl with no outstanding talents who lived in terror of her mother and her big brothers Sesus and Ragara.
- God Save Us From the Queen: She's got quite the temper on her, and the other Houses know it -- if they could find the right compromise candidate, they'd throw all their support behind them rather than let Mnemon take the throne. Mnemon's fully aware of this, too -- the only reason she hasn't taken the throne is because she knows she can't keep it at this time.
- La Resistance: Ends up running an underground movement in Return of the Scarlet Empress once she realizes just who her mother's new husband is.
- Lady of Black Magic: Probably the most powerful sorcerer in the Dynasty now that her mother's gone.
- Magic Misfire: When she was studying at the Versino, she chose the wrong moment to try to peek in on the summoning of a Second Circle Demon. As a result, the school got utterly destroyed, she only survived by casting Invulnerable Skin of Bronze, and the site had to be salted and warded afterwards, with the Heptagram being set up in its place.
- Older Than They Look: Mnemon is 399 years old, which is something of an accomplishment in and of itself for a Dragon-Blood, but doesn't look like she's aged at all since the day the Versino went kaboom.
- Summon Magic: Not only is Mnemon a highly skilled summoner in her own right, she also possesses an artifact that makes her one of the few Terrestrial sorcerers able to summon Second Circle Demons.
- "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: One of the relatively rare cases where the issues revolve around living up to her mother's legacy.
Aspected toward Fire, Cathak is another large and powerful House, though not quite as big as House Mnemon. A family with a strong military tradition, they're probably the strongest of the Great Houses in terms of their legions. House Cathak is respected throughout the Realm for its devotion to tradition and discipline.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Cathak soldiers are known for their valor...and not for their smarts, though nobody says it to their faces.
- Black Magic: The Dynasty in general tends to view sorcerers as creepy nerds, but House Cathak really does not like sorcery. Even the few sorcerers who are in House Cathak don't get invited to Cathak parties.
- Comes Great Responsibility: They're very big on instilling a sense of duty and discipline in every Cathak scion. You would be too, if you were raising children who might suddenly develop the ability to burst into flame at any point in their adolescence.
- Proud Warrior Race: Even more than the rest of the Dynasty.
A powerful elder Fire Aspect and the current head of House Cathak, Cainan exemplifies all that the Scarlet Dynasty says a Dragon-Blood ought to be: a mighty warrior, a grandfather many times over, a devout practitioner of the Immaculate Faith, passionately devoted to serving the Realm and upholding its traditions above all else. He's perhaps the most respected political leader in the entire Realm, and in some ways it's a wonder that he hasn't been urged into taking the Scarlet Throne.
Except that, well, the problem with elder statesmen is the "elder" part. Cainan's health isn't declining yet, but with a few centuries already under his belt, it's clear to everyone that he hasn't got long left -- and the Sidereals of the Bronze Faction have foreseen that the thread of his life will run out in perhaps a decade or so. Putting Cainan on the throne wouldn't actually resolve the succession crisis so much as delay it for a few years, so those looking to avert civil war sigh regretfully over What Could Have Been and turn their attention to other candidates. On the other hand, though, Cainan's endorsement could mean a great deal to some of those others...
- Badass Grandpa: About the only thing that will kill him is time now.
- Fiery Redhead: Very literally.
- Mr. Fanservice: Well, the way Melissa Uran drew him, anyway. Cainan's sexiness became something of a meme on the Freedom Stone forums in particular.
- Warrior Monk: Trained at the Cloister of Wisdom, but went on to a career in the Legions rather than taking vows as an actual monk.
Drogath managed to be such a nasty little snob and bully from a young age that his own family was more resigned than proud to hear he'd Exalted as a Fire Aspect. His attitude failed to improve thereafter, and once he'd graduated from the House of Bells at the bottom of his class, he was shipped off to “oversee House Cathak's assets” in Chiaroscuro, a transparent excuse to get him as far out of the way as possible. He's still there, scheming for a way back into his family's good graces and generally being the same evil little git he always was.
- Blood Knight: He really does have the temperament to make a fine soldier. It's too bad delight in hurting people is his only real qualification for the job.
- Lack of Empathy: Exalted while beating a patrician teacher for trying to explain to him that it's not always hilarious when unpleasant things happen to other people.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Chiaroscuro is an important city, it's just that they only need to pay lip service to the Realm.
- Redheaded Bully
- Royal Brat: "Do you know who my parents are?!" was a favorite phrase of Drogath's in his schoolyard bully days.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up
- The Unfavorite: His father's graduation present to him was a fire pearl. This is the equivalent of giving a cigarette lighter...to someone who can already start fires at will anyway.
The other Houses just don't know what to do with House Cynis. In a society that values the ideal of strict military discipline above nearly all else, the Wood-Aspected House Cynis has cultivated a reputation as a bunch of utterly debauched hedonists.
This reputation is somewhat exaggerated. Sure, the Cynis social scene revolves around regular orgies. And, sure, they control the Realm's prostitution...and drug trade...and slave trade. That doesn't mean they're the lazy, useless socialites the other Houses would sometimes like to think, though. House Cynis is a wealthy and powerful family...and one with access to a lot of information about the secret vices of nearly every prominent figure in the Dynasty.
- But You Screw One Goat!: Happens a bit when a group of particularly decadent Cynis get together. Along with demons, though neomah don't mind.
- Casual Kink: If there is a fetish, odds are there's a Cynis out there with it.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: To them, "orgy" and "party" are synonyms. And like all Dynasts, they love to party.
- The Hedonist: Read their entry again, why don't you?
- Hookers and Blow: Their favorite pastimes.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Nicer members of the House. The others are just depraved.
- Opium Den: Anything in the holdings of Cynis, ever.
- Really Gets Around
- Sexual Extortion: How they've avoided becoming a joke.
Cynis Denovah Avaku
Second Edition's iconic Fire Aspect. Born to a disgraced and impoverished household within the most decadent of the Realm's Great Houses, Avaku has lived his whole life with one goal: to make the Denovah family respectable once more. So far, he's doing better than anyone could have expected -- he Exalted as a Fire Aspect despite his unimpressive breeding, managed to earn admission to the Realm's most prestigious Military Academy, and is currently serving an exemplary career in the Legions.
Aside from his military accomplishments, Avaku is notable for being about as good a guy as you could possibly expect from a loyal son of a corrupt and decadent slave society; when the game's developers need a generic heroic Dynast to appear in a chapter comic or illustration, he's often the one they pick.
- Defector From Decadence: His appearance in the second edition core book implies that he could pretty easily become one of these, with just a small push from the player characters...
- Eyepatch of Power: He's a badass, and he has a big black one.
- Happily Married: His Arranged Marriage to the un-Exalted Mnemon Caras Minata is one of the most loving and healthy relationships we see in canon.
- Heroic Second Wind: “I'm a student of Hesiesh. Let me show you what that means.”
- My Country, Right or Wrong: He disapproves of a lot of things the Realm does. And a lot of things the Legions do. And a lot of things House Cynis does. But he's an absolute patriot with respect to all three.
Aspected toward Fire, House Sesus has a powerful military...and not a lot else going for it. They're traditionally close allies of House Mnemon -- something the House elders are coming to regret, as Mnemon treats them more and more like the Mnemon Legions rather than respected independent allies. Having realized what a dangerous ally Mnemon is, they'd rather see absolutely anyone else on the Scarlet Throne -- if they could just find another viable candidate...
- Gang of Bullies: The Sesus Chenow household, known for being a pack of nasty Blood Knights and general jerkasses.
Sesus Nagezzer, aka The Slug
First Edition's iconic Wood Aspect, an ex-general and consummate manipulator. He's very much a self-made man; born into a family of warriors, the naturally bookish and quiet Nagezzer was made the focus of his elder brothers' bullying, his Exaltation coming after a prank nearly knocked him unconscious...underwater. Unfortunately for his standing with his already domineering mother, he nearly killed his brother in a rage, and was shipped off to the House of Bells. His luck with bullies didn't improve, which is how he was first introduced to the providing of legally-questionable products -- there's a lot of misery one can avert if you can score your classmates some drugs and hookers.
He quickly proved himself a master tactician, but one day, he had the misfortune of trying to subdue a rather wily god who'd figured out that it didn't need to fight Nagezzer's men -- just evade and outlast them. After six days of trying to track the evasive spirit, his demoralized and exhausted men began to believe he was letting it get away, so to provide an example, he decided to draw out the spirit...alone. He was found several days later with the general appearance of Swiss cheese, and with permanent loss of function in his right leg.
Unable to teach himself the Martial Arts style needed to help restore the use of his leg, he was honorably discharged and inherited his family estate. In honor of his mother's parenting skills, he proceeded to transform it into a regular Den of Iniquity, his growing weight problem eventually earning him the moniker of "the Slug".
And this is why people underestimate him.
While he did go through a rather bad patch after his injury, Nagezzer was soon able to pick himself up and decided to pursue a different way of serving the Realm; being a vice merchant, as it turns out, allows one to stick one's nose in other people's Dirty Business, and given how the Scarlet Dynasty is a Deadly Decadent Court by design, this means the Slug is also one of the best powerbrokers around. This, combined with his nigh-unparalleled loyalty to the Realm, has quietly turned him into a lynchpin of its social cohesion.
And he needs all that power, because with the disappearance of the Empress, he's about the only thing holding it together.
- Adipose Rex: He isn't a king, but he is a noble and very important to the Realm. He is also very fat.
- Creepy Twins: He has a pair of them as his personal assistants/concubines/bodyguards.
- Fat Bastard: This is pretty much how the Scarlet Dynasty views him. He's happy to live down to their expectations -- it provides an excellent cover.
- Handicapped Badass: Don't let the fact that he's obese and crippled fool you -- get within range of his cane and you should probably budget the medical cost for concussions in advance, as Manosque Cyan finds out in a comic.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: He wrestles with self-loathing, largely as a result of being loyal to a militaristic society that despises anyone who's incapable of military service.
- Kavorka Man: Despite being about as physically attractive as, well, a Slug, he seems to have won the hearts of his personal assistants. Somewhat justified in that they're two of the few people Nagezzer has let get close to him emotionally, and thus they can see that there's a good man underneath that flab.
- Large and In Charge: As a function of being a chubby Dynast.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Gluttony has always been something of a passion for him, and part of the reason he's so wide is that he lapsed into compulsive eating during his post-crippling depression. He's also the very ideal of a patriot, and despite what you may think about the Realm, he's still very selfless in his defense of it.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Everything he does -- even the vice trade -- is for the good of the Realm.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Over the years, he's cultivated an image as a peerless hedonist, all the while arranging backroom deals, hiring mercenaries, sabotaging idiots, and doing whatever else he feels necessary to protect the Realm.
- The Stoner: Subverted. He's a habitual druggie, but he's also a paragon of self-control; none of his vices have blunted his mind much.
First Edition's iconic Fire Aspect.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was probably the happiest little girl in the kingdom. She didn't see her parents much, but she didn't mind that, because she had two nursemaids who were the best caretakers any child could ask for. They told her stories and braided her hair and were never, ever mean to her, and she loved them very much.
This idyllic life came to an end one day when the girl's mother noticed how her daughter was being “coddled” and had the two nursemaids fed alive to sharks while the girl watched, screaming. Fortunately for the little girl, just before her mother could murder her too, she Exalted as an Aspect of Fire.
After perhaps the most traumatic Exaltation on record, Sesus Rafara wasn't sent to any of the normal secondary schools. Instead, she was drafted into a special program. Kept isolated from society, she was educated to view the culture of the Realm from an outsider's perspective. To teach her to avoid emotional vulnerability, she was repeatedly betrayed in both large and small ways by anyone she came to trust. The project was a smashing success, and today Rafara is one of the Realm's most accomplished spies, infiltrators and assassins.
She is still waiting for the chance to kill her mother.
- Abusive Parents: Um, wow.
- Break the Cutie: Pretty much the overriding theme of her whole life.
- Career Killers: Or Apprenticed Killers, as the case may be.
- Consummate Liar
- Contract on the Hitman: She believes it's only a matter of time.
- The Cynic: Can you blame her?
- Hitman with a Heart: Mostly subverted. House Sesus took an innocent child and did their very best to turn her into a remorseless sociopath, and they almost entirely succeeded...but there's a few hints here and there that she hasn't been rendered quite so heartless as her handlers would like to believe.
- Humans Are Bastards: That's what her whole life has taught her to think, anyway.
- In Love with the Mark: It's not clear whether “love” is the right word, but assigning her to spy on Tepet Ejava...may have been a mistake.
- Jade-Colored Glasses
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: House Sesus is heading for a big one. It turns out some people don't appreciate being used as a tool their whole lives to further their corrupt family's petty political goals.
- Tyke Bomb: Um, yeah...
Sesus Chenow Lahor
A real piece of work. First appeared in the venerable adventure book Time of Tumult as the distillation of the Realm's jackassery towards everyone in Creation who is not a Dynast. Revealed in Aspect Book: Fire to actually be even worse than that.
- Disproportionate Retribution: People who talk back to him don't tend to live very long.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Type 2; he's got a sense of humor, but it's the really nasty kind. And he doesn't realize the other Dynasts aren't laughing with him...
- Never My Fault: The disproportionately high casualty rate in units commanded by Lahor are completely the fault of his terrifying enemies and have nothing at all to do with his Lack of Empathy toward his own troops.
- Raping Your Social Equals Is A Special Kind of Evil: Was assigned to Wangler's Knob (the ass end of nowhere, as far as the Realm is concerned) because he raped a young woman...which wouldn't have been a big deal if she hadn't Exalted as a Dragon-Blood during the attack.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: As a result of the rape, although so far he's too thick to realize it and is still treating the whole thing like a vacation.
- We Have Reserves: Always his preferred tactic as a military commander.
Only a few years ago, the Air-Aspected House Tepet was a powerful family, known for producing many of the Realm's finest soldiers and sorcerers. Today, it's a pitiful and decaying shell of what it used to be.
In one of the Realm's greatest military disasters in recent memory, the bulk of the Tepet forces were slaughtered by the armies of the Bull of the North at the Battle of Futile Blood. In a single stroke, the House lost its military strength and much of its population. Now crippled and impoverished, House Tepet is desperately trying to rebuild its power base through adoptions and marriage alliances, but they simply don't have the resources left to do much more than stave off the inevitable for a while. No one's saying it yet, but as the other Houses gather like hungry vultures, deep down every Tepet knows the truth: their House is doomed.
Doomed, that is, unless the last remaining Tepet general -- a promising young officer nicknamed "the Roseblack" -- has anything to say about it...
Second Edition's iconic Wood Aspect. The woman who would become known as the Roseblack was literally born on the battlefield, to a family with a long history of distinguished military service. Exalting at a young age, she was already certain of what she wanted to do with her life: she applied to the House of Bells as soon as she could and enrolled in the Legions immediately upon graduating. Her rise through the ranks was swift and steady.
Then came the Battle of Futile Blood, where the bulk of House Tepet's forces were decimated. Now the beggared general of a ruined House, Ejava was assigned to lead the Vermillion Legion -- more commonly known as "the Red-Piss Legion", the beggars and strays of the army.
But those who thought her career was over were very wrong. To everyone's shock, under Ejava's leadership the Red-Piss Legion was swiftly transformed into a disciplined and effective fighting force that won a series of stunning victories. Today, the Roseblack is one of the Realm's most beloved and popular war heroes, as well as the leader of a highly skilled army that bears her astonishing loyalty...and that kind of thing makes a Deadly Decadent Court in the middle of a succession crisis very, very nervous. Several of House Tepet's enemies in the Deliberative have been quietly making plans to have her killed before she can march on the Blessed Isle and declare herself Empress. Ironically, there's a good chance those very efforts will end up goading her into doing exactly what they're afraid of.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: The Red-Piss Legion is a textbook example.
- Expy: Of one Gaius Julius Caesar.
- Fatal Attractor: Three great loves in her life (two men and one woman), all dead after a fairly brief time with her.
- Jack of All Stats: When it comes to the skills of a military commander. Arada -- himself one of the Realm's greatest generals -- says he's a slightly better tactician than she is when it comes to his particular area of expertise...but she completely outstrips him in absolutely everything else.
- Lady of War: Oh, yes.
- Magnetic Hero: There are people Ejava's never even heard of who are currently putting their lives on the line to protect her from her enemies.
- Mother To Her Troops: Her main asset in the coming civil war is the Undying Loyalty she inspires in the soldiers serving under her.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: After the crushing defeat of her forces, she was assigned command of the Vermillion, more colloquially known as "the Red-Piss Legion."
- Reassignment Backfire: She's actually managed to turn the Red-Piss Legion into a crack fighting force that's intensely loyal...to her personally, not the Deliberative.
- Reluctant Ruler: Ejava would sincerely like nothing better than to be serving a commander-in-chief who was truly worthy of her loyalty. Unfortunately, she's reluctantly coming to the conclusion that there's no better candidate for the job than her.
- Unfriendly Fire: The main reason she hasn't announced her candidacy for regent is that she's wholly aware this could happen if she does so while she's in the field.
- Will They or Won't They?: Has a long-term flirtation going on with Ragara Nova, the prefect of Chanos.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: As any general has to be.
The iconic Air Aspect, Arada overcame a troubled childhood that saw him packed off to reform school to become one of the Realm's greatest heroes. He once slew one of the Solar Anathema just to make a point, and his military accomplishments are nearly unparalleled. Since the height of his career, though, he's fallen almost as far as he once rose.
Sent against the armies of a powerful Solar warlord without clear intel on what he was getting into, Arada's forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Futile Blood. House Tepet was left broken and impoverished, and Arada retired in utter disgrace. Since then, he's withdrawn from Dynastic society and is ostensibly living as an Immaculate hermit, although he actually spends most of his time looking for comfort at the bottom of a sake bottle. Considering the mess his favorite granddaughter Ejava is likely to find herself in soon, though, it remains to be seen whether he'll be forced out of retirement...
- Achilles in His Tent: What he's been doing since the Battle of Futile Blood.
- Badass Grandpa: A literal grandpa many times over, and it certainly doesn't get any more badass.
- Cool Old Guy
- Genius Bruiser: A casual summary of his life story could easily give you the impression that he's not much more than a soldier and a bit of a thug. Pay close attention to his sections in Aspect Book: Air, though, and you'll realize he is a ferociously intelligent man.
- Nice to the Waiter: He'll accept quite a lot of backtalk from mortals if he thinks they've got a point -- something that's very unusual for a Dynast.
- Old Soldier
- Properly Paranoid: His belief that the Tepet Legions were set up by the other Great Houses, who feared House Tepet's military might, is largely based on his own bitterness and paranoia. It is also probably true.
- Retired Badass
Something of a Foil for her cousin Ejava, the Fire-Aspected Lisara is generally regarded by House Tepet's elders as a disappointment. Both her parents are noted generals and she graduated with honors from the Realm's most exclusive military academy, so expectations for her career were very high. However, so far she's accomplished absolutely nothing of note, and currently holds the unenviable position of second-in-command of a minor garrison near Chiaroscuro.
Fortunately for Lisara, no one has yet realized just how big of a failure she actually is. In reality, she only managed to get as far as she has in life through a combination of nepotism, seduction, and blackmail. Constantly overshadowed by her more hardworking and talented cousin, it was Lisara who got the Roseblack removed from the field at a crucial moment out of sheer petty jealousy, and it was Lisara who suggested the ill-conceived strategy against the Bull of the North that led House Tepet to ruin.
- Does Not Like Men: For absolutely no apparent reason. Currently she spends most of her time amusing herself by assigning male officers under her command to menial chores or pointless suicide missions.
- Never My Fault: Lisara is just as oblivious to her own incompetence as everyone around her is.
- Paper Tiger: As an NPC, she makes a deliciously hateable antagonist who'll go down like a punk as soon as the player characters turn their attention to her.
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Unknown Rival: She wants to bring down the Bull of the North...not to atone for her mistakes or avenge her fallen kin, but because she views him as her own personal nemesis, despite the fact that he's thousands of miles away and has almost certainly never heard of her.
- The Vamp: How she got everything she has in Dynastic society.
Elana's easy to recognize when she appears in illustrations or chapter comics -- a short woman with close-cropped blond hair, carrying a huge-ass sword. Rather spoiled by her mortal older brothers, young Elana began acting out in her grief and rage after they were killed in battle, and was eventually shipped off to reform school. There, she was unlucky enough for one of the combat instructors to take a special interest in her, beating her savagely. She devoted herself to training for revenge, and her first act after Exalting as an Air Aspect was to kill him in a duel. Afterward, she found that he had left behind a letter of recommendation for her, to be sent to the Realm's finest military schools in the event of his death at her hands.
Still dogged by her unsavory past, Elana was unable to find a better position than as a junior officer in the Red-Piss Legion, where she served for nearly a century. Her moment of glory came at the Battle of Five Fangs, when the legion was ordered to retreat, leaving the wounded to be devoured by the cannibal horde they'd been fighting. Elana defied orders to stay behind with her troops, defending the wounded for over 48 hours until reinforcements arrived. The accomplishment was celebrated in story and song as the Two Day Fast (because the cannibals didn't get their meal, get it?), and Elana retired a hero. The public acclaim was rather startling to Elana, who'd expected to be court martialed for disobedience...but not as startling as being summoned to an audience with the Scarlet Empress.
It, uh, didn't go the way she expected. After spending about a month in the Imperial Palace as the Empress' lover, Elana left to continue serving the Empress -- now as one of the Realm's wandering magistrates.
- Arranged Marriage: House Tepet is getting really impatient with her efforts to put it off. So is House Peleps, the family of her betrothed.
- Mayfly-December Romance: With her mortal assistant, Beren.
- Small Woman, Big Sword: In many illustrations, it bears a distinct resemblance to Cloud Strife's buster sword.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Not Elana herself -- she got just a glimpse of the human being behind the Scarlet Empress' imperial facade, and became quite fond of her.
- You Shall Not Pass: The Two Day Fast.
All the Empress' children were highly intelligent, but Ledaal was something special. The Empress made sure to supply the young prodigy with the kind of education it took to challenge her growing intellect -- including the very best in Sidereal tutors.
Today, the Air-Aspected House Ledaal follows the traditions set by its founder as a House of accomplished intellectuals and sorcerers...and their Sidereal consultants. This gives the Ledaal a rather different perspective on some issues than the other Great Houses. For instance, having made a close study of historical records of Anathema sightings, Ledaal scholars have realized that the deathknights are a new phenomenon -- and one that has the potential to be far more dangerous than the Solar and Lunar Anathema ever were.
Unfortunately, not only have they had no luck convincing the other Great Houses of this, the other Houses are so caught up in their Deadly Decadent Court intrigues that refuse to believe Ledaal has different priorities. Every time House Ledaal suggests something like refocusing the Wyld Hunt's priorities on the Abyssals, the rest of the Dynasty assumes it's part of some cunning and subtle political scheme. It's gotten to the point that Ledaal has put forward one of its own as a candidate for the Scarlet Throne -- albeit a candidate with no real chance of succeeding -- just so the other Houses will stop assuming Ledaal's lack of a candidate is some sort of ruse.
- Ignored Expert: They happen to have a pretty good idea of what's wrong with the Realm. The Realm does not listen.
- Magical Society: The Ledaal Catala household.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: If you want to run a game about getting the Scarlet Dynasty to unite and focus on the real problems facing Creation, House Ledaal is among your likeliest allies.
An Air Aspect and House Ledaal's dark horse candidate for the throne, Kes is a genius, an accomplished sorcerer, a successful member of the Thousand Scales and an agent of the All-Seeing Eye -- but he's best known for his mastery of the game of Gateway. He is also dogged by rumors about his association with the unsavory Sesus Nagezzer and the, ahem, proclivities of Kes and his wife Ragara Szaya, but this is rather minor compared to, say, what House Cynis considers a better-than-average party. Really, the critical flaw in his possible candidacy is that, while he's well-liked and politically viable, Kes himself is not among his supporters.
Still, if Mnemon and Ejava come down with a case of death, he may not have much of a choice...
- Chess with Death: A chapter comic in Compass of Celestial Directions: Malfeas has him challenging Sigereth (a Second Circle demon whose entire being revolves around the playing of games of skill) to a Gateway match in order to rescue Szaya, with Kes' own soul at stake if he loses.
- Childhood Friend Romance: He and Szaya met back when they were the two youngest players on the competitive Gateway circuit.
- Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: Does this pose in a comic when he counters an attempt by Mnemon to psych him out using an angyalka demon (their Magic Music causes people to be reminded of the events of their lives, thus setting those with a Dark and Troubled Past off balance -- except he doesn't have one, while Mnemon herself has an inferiority complex and mommy issues).
- David Versus Goliath: Statistically, he has no chance of beating Sigereth. Nevertheless, fans and writers alike agree that somehow he's going to find a way to pull it off.
- Deadpan Snarker: He was actually the first to refer to the Scarlet Empress as "Her Redness." It has since become a Fan Nickname.
- Expy: Lionel Kes is apparently the Straight Gay James Bond of the Exalted Modern Elseworld.
- Happily Married: Kes enjoys a very happy relationship with Ragara Szaya, despite the two being among the very few people in Creation to canonically score a 6 on the Kinsey scale.
- If It's You It's Okay: Averted. Sure, Kes and Szaya have managed to produce the requisite number of heirs, but the only way they're able to enjoy sex with each other is through shapeshifting magics or the summoning of neomah.
- Incompatible Orientation: With Szaya, on both sides. They worked it out, though.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Kes is a bureaucrat and about as uninterested in combat as a Dynast can get away with; Szaya is a career military officer.
- Non-Action Guy: Part of the reason he's not a serious candidate for the throne -- the Realm wouldn't follow a leader who can't fight well.
- Platonic Life Partners: With Szaya. Okay, the "platonic" part is rather complicated, since they're married and they do enjoy having orgies together and occasionally using magic to switch to each other's preferred gender. But in their natural forms, they're not the least bit attracted to each other, they're just BFFs.
- Smart People Play Gateway: Oh so much. Played a game against the Scarlet Empress herself at the age of eight, and often uses the game to tweak his opponents in ways that go beyond the board.
- Straight Gay: Well, by real-world modern-day Western standards, although he's almost femmy for a Dynast.
The other Great Houses see the Water-Aspected House Peleps as a pack of scheming, treacherous liars and cheats who'd sell their own grandmothers for the slightest political advantage. This is pretty much true -- even within the House itself, scions of House Peleps are raised in an environment of intense political intrigue and no-holds-barred competition. In their defense, though, their motivations are not entirely selfish; House Peleps is unshakably loyal to the Realm and its interests.
Traditionally, the basis of Peleps' power in the Realm has been their control of the Imperial Navy. Unfortunately, shortly before her disappearance, the Empress decided to remind them who was boss by reassigning the Merchant Fleet to House V'neef -- something that still rankles in the hearts of most Peleps.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: These are true of all the Great Houses, but Peleps raises them to an art form.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Peleps Kaizoku line is a household of privateers. Kaizoku is Japanese for "pirate."
- Black Magic: Dislikes sorcery almost as much as House Cathak.
- The Captain
- Naval Gazing
- Reliable Traitor
Even as a young boy, Peleps Deled knew he was different from other children. They didn't understand his deep yearning for spiritual fulfillment. They didn't understand the all-consuming importance of the Immaculate Faith's holy mission to bring righteousness to the world. Most of all, they didn't understand that all his opinions were absolute objective truth and anyone who disagreed with him was obviously wrong.
He thought he might find some peers at the Cloister of Wisdom, but tragically, his fellow students there proved to be just as misguided. Most frustrating of all, even after he patiently explained their errors, they'd simply cling to their false beliefs. When debate failed, there was only one thing to do: challenge whoever disagreed with him to a martial arts duel and beat the heresy out of them. If they failed to survive the process, well, they must not have been enlightened enough.
Possessed of truly impenetrable self-righteousness, Deled's stymied all his teachers' attempts to encourage him to develop some scrap of humility. Unfortunately, his nearly unmatched prowess in martial arts is too valuable to waste, so instead of giving up and having him assassinated, his superiors have traditionally settled for making him someone else's problem. His uncle sent him to the Immaculate Order so he'd stop beating up family members, and the Immaculates sent him to the Wyld Hunt so he'd stop beating up fellow monks. After his boss retired for political reasons, this made him the master of his own branch of the Hunt. Oops.
The game's iconic Water Aspect and a notorious total nutjob, Deled has amassed a remarkable amount of disgust on both sides of the fourth wall: fans love to hate him, and the other Dynasts are fervently hoping he'll get himself killed chasing Anathema.
- Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Little Deled's uncle, thinking to teach the boy some humility, showed him a kata that could only be performed correctly by an Exalt. Deled Exalted while trying to practice it.
- Bad Boss: Those under his command frequently suffer "accidents" if he finds their piety lacking. Considering his standards, it's amazing he has any subordinates left.
- Blade on a Stick: Wields a jade dire lance.
- Circular Reasoning: Deled knows his beliefs are correct, because martial prowess comes from spiritual enlightenment, and he's never lost a duel. How does he know that martial prowess comes from spiritual enlightenment? Because he's extremely spiritually enlightened and he's never lost a duel.
- The Fundamentalist: The only thing he's more serious about than martial arts is his faith in the Immaculate Order. In the incident inspiring his assignment to the Hunt, he killed a fellow initiate for disagreeing with a single preposition in a statement about an abstract theological issue.
- Knight Templar: When it comes to the Anathema...or heretics...or people who fail to acknowledge the obvious rightness of his position once he's explained something.
- Right Makes Might: According to Deled, this is the source of his talent for martial arts.
This Water-Aspected House was a favorite of the Scarlet Empress...up until a few centuries ago, when a group of unusually reckless and stupid young Iselsi staged an ill-conceived attempt to assassinate her. While the perpetrators were all caught and tortured to death, the Empress had no choice but to make an example of the entire House for not putting a stop to the plot in the first place. Nearly all the House's possessions were seized, the House elders were arrested on trumped-up charges, and the Empress continued making sure to have a few Iselsi exiled or executed every few years thereafter. Though a tattered and disgraced remnant still exists, it's clear to everyone that the Empress intended to dismantle House Iselsi as slowly and painfully as possible.
Or at least, that's what she wanted everyone to think. Fond as she was of the Iselsi, the Empress saw their punishment as an opportunity. Many of the Iselsi who were reported killed or exiled were actually placed in high-ranking positions within the magistracy, the All-Seeing Eye and the Immaculate Order under assumed names. This gave the Empress a powerful network of spies and secret police whose loyalty she could be certain of, as the family had no official position to speak of and were solely dependent on her covert backing. Eventually, the plan was to stage some dramatic act of heroism on the part of the remaining known Iselsi that would allow her to restore the House to its former glory.
Unfortunately for House Iselsi, the Empress' disappearance has put a bit of a kink in that plan...
Once, it was a popular joke to call House Ragara "the Imperial Bank." Today, it's long since ceased to be a joke. A long series of shrewd investments and strategic marriage alliances has made the Earth-Aspected House Ragara by far the wealthiest of the Realm's Great Houses. They're entirely willing to share their good fortune with others...at reasonable rates of interest, of course. But don't worry -- if you can't pay them back in jade, favors or valuable information will do just as well.
Mastery of supernatural martial arts generally takes a degree of spiritual focus that other Charms don't usually require. That goes double for Dragon-Blooded learning Celestial Martial Arts, which don't come naturally to them; it takes special initiation Charms as well as intense meditation and plain hard work for a Terrestrial Exalt to achieve the necessary purification of soul and body. As for Sidereal Martial Arts, they've always remained entirely out of reach.
Until now. Bronze Faction Sidereal Anys Syn, the inventor of the Five Dragon styles and Creation's premier martial artist, thinks she may have finally found a suitable candidate in Ragara Myrrun. An elder Earth Aspect and one of only a few living Immaculate grandmasters, Myrrun's mastery of Essence and expertise in the martial arts is second to none. He currently spends almost all his time in the Palace Sublime, writing martial arts treatises that are used throughout the Realm...and secretly training with Anys Syn in his spare time. He's already mastered numerous Celestial styles, and his sifu feels that with the proper rituals of purification and preparation, he'll be ready for initiation into the final level of martial arts mastery soon. If she's right, and the process turns out to be repeatable, this could be the secret weapon the Bronze Faction has been waiting for -- a way to produce large numbers of warriors who could be near-equals to the Solar Exalted in combat, able to push back the Fair Folk hordes and maintain Creation's infrastructure without turning to the Solars or Lunars for help.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique
- Deadly Upgrade: Myrrun's fate is left open as a plot hook for Storytellers, but Word of God says the default result is a spectacular case of Explosive Overclocking.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: So many ways this could go.
- Heroic RROD: What will likely happen.
- Just Think of the Potential
- Super Mode: On the off-chance that it works, a whole new realm of badass has opened up for Dragon-Blooded games!
- Superpower Meltdown
By far the youngest and smallest of the Great Houses, House V'neef is off to an excellent start. A House of very strong breeding, nearly all V'neef's scions so far have Exalted as Wood Aspects, and wise investments in vineyards and firedust have given the family a strong financial base. Prior to her disappearance, the Empress showed the House a great deal of favor as well, even granting them control of the Realm's Merchant Fleet. This favoritism did not endear House V'neef to the rest of the Scarlet Dynasty, but thanks to her extraordinary charisma and a hefty dose of cunning, V'neef has been able to keep the other Great Houses from ganging up on her family in the Empress' absence...at least, so far.
- Blue Blood: The bluest in the Dynasty.
- The Gunslinger: V'neef has quietly made sure all her children are trained in the use of firewands.
- Parental Favoritism: The other Houses view House V'neef collectively as the Empress' pets.
- Wine Is Classy: Made much of their money in vineyards, and the House mon is a stylized bunch of grapes.
The youngest living child of the Scarlet Empress, V'neef was conceived as something of an experiment in the genetics of Terrestrial Exaltation. Her father had the purest Dragon-Blooded heritage of any of the Empress' consorts, and as expected, V'neef Exalted at a young age and grew into a powerful Wood Aspect. The Empress granted her the right to found her own Great House at an unprecedentedly young age, and though the House remains small, it boasts a very high rate of Exaltation as well as a strong financial base.
The Empress seemed quite pleased with her youngest daughter, and there's speculation that had she designated a successor, V'neef might very well have been it. V'neef, however, believes that as nice as it might be to take the Scarlet Throne herself or through one of her children, she just doesn't have the necessary power base yet, and she's willing to settle for a candidate with whom she can build a strong alliance. A quiet, pleasant woman, V'neef's ambition is quite a bit subtler than that of most of her siblings...but ultimately no less powerful.
- Blue Blood: Not only a child of the Empress, but the one with the purest Dragon-Blooded pedigree of them all.
- Cain and Abel: Mnemon respects and even kind of likes her sister, but she will not hesitate to kill her rather than let her take the throne.
- The Charmer: In The Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded, there's an illustration of Mnemon, Tepet Ejava, Cathak Cainan, Cynis Denovah Avaku, and Ledaal Kes at one of V'neef's parties, all laughing and having a good time together as they listen to V'neef tell a story. Now scroll up and read the bios for those people, and you'll see that V'neef's social abilities have got to be terrifying.
- Parental Favoritism: The Empress' support for House V'neef might have just been her standard policy of playing the Great Houses against one another, but Mnemon, at least, believes that the Empress genuinely liked V'neef best.
- Silk Hiding Steel: V'neef doesn't overtly rule her House with an iron fist the way some others (*cough* Mnemon) do. Because of this, many people make the mistake of thinking she's not a politically powerful figure. They are very, very wrong, and she likes it that way.
Ask anyone in the Realm about the major dark horse candidates for the Scarlet Throne, and they might bring up Ledaal Kes, or Sesus Nagezzer, or V'neef herself. But V'neef Bijar just might have a better chance than any of them...and nobody knows it but her.
Sure, she's got no political experience and no base of supporters. But did the Scarlet Empress have those things when she took the throne? No – what she had was the Sword of Creation, which made all those other factors irrelevant. And that's what Bijar intends to have.
For the last three years, the Fire-Aspected Bijar has been using her position as House V'neef's head security expert to research the defenses around the Realm Defense Grid, ostensibly in order to try to reverse-engineer them. What no one knows is that she's very quietly been working on breaking them, and has already made her way past the outer layer of defenses. If she makes it all the way inside, the struggle for the Scarlet Throne is likely to come to a very abrupt end -- one that absolutely no one is expecting.
- Cutting the Knot: Bijar's realized that if someone can take control of the Realm Defense Grid, none of the military maneuvering and political scheming the other candidates are spending all their effort on is going to matter one bit.
- No Social Skills: Well, not quite none, but she's notably lacking in tact and social graces for a Dynast, and especially for a child of V'neef. Her default mode of social interaction comes across as intensely abrasive and condescending, something she's entirely unaware of.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Not really -- she just has unrealistically high expectations of everyone around her.
- The Unfavorite: Bijar is the least favorite child of V'neef, who finds her untrustworthy and rather obsessive (both of which are absolutely true).
Nellens was one of the Empress' mortal consorts, and one she must have cared for a great deal, for after his death she took the unprecedented step of granting his children the status of a Great House. The only Great House founded by the un-Exalted, House Nellens has still not managed to achieve anything like the Exaltation rates enjoyed by the other families of the Scarlet Dynasty, and is generally thought of as the mortal House. This makes them a bit of a joke to the Dragon-Bloods of the other Houses, who generally treat even the few Nellens who do Exalt with mild contempt. On the other hand, though, seeing a mortal family holding the same status as the major Dragon-Blooded lines does a great deal to endear House Nellens to patricians and un-Exalted Dynasts, an advantage the other Great Houses are rather foolish to ignore.
- Badass Normal: Collectively, for holding their own in a political environment dominated by -- and designed to favor -- the Terrestrial Exalted.
The Seventh Legion
The oldest Terrestrial ever recorded, Gauto was born some point in the Time of Glory and fought in the Primordial War...and he's managed to outlive Solars simply by living a simple life in harmony with the elements, enduring at least into the Era of Dreams (roughly thirty-five centuries after the end of the Primordial War). His longevity still produces a demand for tissue samples from the Solar Deliberative, however, and the years have taken a major toll on his mind and physique. As a result of his infirmities, the Deliberative has a Dragon King nurse looking after him.
The Abyssal Exalted are servants of the Deathlords and Neverborn and the champions of death. The Abyssal Exalts gain their power from the Neverborn's share of the captured Solar Exaltations, which they inverted and captured inside Monstrances. Each Abyssal is chosen from someone close to death, usually literally, and suffers from a curse that affects them should they act like the living. This encourages them to become Complete Monsters, but as often as not, most Abyssals end up only obeying the Deathlords because they don't feel like they have a choice.
Tropes associated with Abyssals
- Cursed with Awesome: Resonance tends to do bad things when it goes off... but sometimes the Exalt wants those bad things to happen, and deliberately cultivates Resonance to weaponize it. (Word of God says that this part is going away.) He's Blessed with Suck at all other times.
- Evil Makes You Ugly or Evil Is Sexy: As Abyssals rise in Essence, they have one of two options - either start investing points into Appearance and become the death that men crave, or let their Appearance naturally rot away and become the death that men fear.
- Redemption Equals Death: Inverted; most Abyssals become Exalted as they die, thus corrupting them rather than redeeming them. That said, it can be played straight - Abyssals can redeem their Exaltations back to Solar nature, but may well die in the attempt.
- Trauma Conga Line: Dying is often the least bad thing that happens to an Abyssal in his Exalted existence.
The Maiden of the Mirthless Smile
The iconic Dusk caste. Some Abyssals only took up the offer of the Black Exaltation because it was that or death, or because they didn't understand what it meant. The Maiden is not one of those. She was always off as a child (to put it freaking mildly), and she was very good at keeping her dirty deeds hidden from her parents. Like torturing and dissecting animals. And her governess. And her siblings. Until finally, she ended up killing them and burning her house to the ground. Is it any wonder she ended up in the employ of the Mask of Winters?
- BFS: Her soulsteel daiklave, Ironic Jest.
- Creepy Child: You read the above, right?
- Omnicidal Maniac: All Abyssals are bent towards it, but she excels at it. Her Motivation is "Spit on the ashes of Creation."
- Parental Obliviousness: The Maiden's parents never suspected her: not when her older brother disappeared, not when her nanny disappeared, and not when she started going after other 'prey'. They didn't truly get it until they got stabbed by their own daughter, and even then they were confused. She just laughed in their faces.
- Skunk Stripe: Inverted: she has black streaks in white hair.
- The Sociopath: Complete with torturing of small animals!
- Token Evil Teammate: Yes, you read that correctly. All the other members of the iconic circle are Punch Clock Villains or believe destroying Creation is a kindness. Not Maiden, though-she just wants to inflict pain before killing whomever.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl
The Lady of Darkness in Bloodstained Robes
The iconic Midnight caste. In life, she was a street whore and sometime concubine, who fell prey to the numerous sexual diseases she acquired from her patrons. Then the Mask of Winters made her an offer, and she joined up with the main Abyssal circle.
- The Load: As far as her circle's concerned, she's not pulling her weight. It really doesn't help she's seduced most of them. Repeatedly.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Her trademark attack, screaming people dead.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Punch Clock Villain: She would have jumped ship by now, except Mask of Winters has terrified her into service.
- Really Gets Around: She's a prostitute. It comes with the job.
- The Resenter: Has a grudge against the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile for being more attractive than her.
- Take That: According to Neall Raemon Price, her character writeup in Scroll of Exalts is partially based on his ex-girlfriend, but the similarities were unintentional.
- The Vamp: Literally!
The Seven-Degreed Physician of Black Maladies
A scion of House Ragara, the Physician's life took a downturn when he failed to show a properly strong draconic heritage. Eventually, he moved to the Threshold and got involved with unsavory recreational medical practices involving unwilling volunteers; this may or may not have been the reason that someone stabbed him in the face, thus triggering the chance for the Last Breath. He serves as the iconic Daybreak.
- Deadly Doctor
- Mad Scientist: Makes undead human centipedes rather casually.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Looks like an evil version of Ragara Bhagwei.
The Disciple of the Seven Forbidden Wisdoms
The iconic Day Caste
Falling Tears Poet
The iconic Moonshadow Caste
Typhon, the Wink of the Storm's Eye
The Shoat of the Mire
First, go check out the Dowager's entry (Spirits page, Ghosts folder, Deathlords category). Done? Okay. The Shoat is whatever poor, terrified girl (and it's always a girl she chooses) is left over from the Dowager's latest round of perpetual child abuse. Said girl is always Exalted as a Dusk, which means the end result is a young girl with the potential to slaughter armies. The Dowager's used up several, but apparently likes the title enough to re-use it.
- Break the Cutie: The end result of this. Hell, it's implied in a comic that the current Shoat was forced to kill her own mother.
- Creepy Child: Abyssal child. Again, comes with the territory.
- Enfant Terrible: The Dowager does a nasty job to their minds.
- Legacy Character: Every Shoat holds the same title and Exaltation.
- Little Miss Badass: Exalted child. Perk of the job.
- Tyke Bomb: ...Dude.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Already was the case for sympathetic Abyssals, but it's even harder to quantify whether a truly irredeemable Shoat of the Mire is truly evil or so broken that all she has the capacity to do now is lash out in pain at everything.
The Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea
Not all Abyssals come about because of dark bargains with their Deathlords. Some of them start off worse. Before he was the Fallen Wolf, he was actually a Solar, chosen as a Zenith Caste. Then the Silver Prince found out there was a Solar in arms' reach, abducted him, and thrust him into a Monstrance of Celestial Portion. The new Solar had two options - death, or service to his master. He chose the latter, and ended up converted to the cause of the Neverborn. Kind of. Most of the time, he refuses to do what his undead master commanded, to the point that the Prince exiled him from Skullstone. Now he fights behind the scenes in the West, desperately trying to both overthrow the Prince and find a way back into the light of the Unconquered Sun.
- The Atoner: Desperately wants not to be what he was forced to become.
- Being Good Sucks: It's not enough that he has to worry about Resonance or having the Prince decide to just waste him, he's got the Whispers of the Neverborn in his head.
- Sailing the West: The Fallen Wolf spends most of his time at sea, travelling between islands. It helps to cut down on the risk of a Resonance eruption.
The Prince of Shadows
A poor boy who had the misfortune to be unwanted by both his family and the Sijanese Mortician's Order, which his family handed him over to. You'd hardly know it looking at the present him, and he would rather like to keep it that way. Not so poor now, he looks forward to the day when the only thing around is the yawning maw of Oblivion and its sweet music.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: His favorite pastime. In a comic, he threatens Arianna with sharing his enjoyment.
The Melkin Fool in Red
Ringmaster of the Circus Moribund. What is the Circus Moribund, you ask? Nothing more than the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears's take on those internet shock sites that ask whether or not a kind and loving god would make cyclops kittens that die shortly after birth, and a wide array of other congenital issues across many different species. The aim is to get the living to see their state as being ultimately horrible and pointless.
The Harbinger of the Ghost-Cold Wind
"Advocate of the dead" who has no patience or sympathy for the living. Formerly a Haslanti shaman, now goes around killing people who don't revere their ancestors, to show them what it's like to live as a ghost without anyone to provide nourishing worship. Also makes sure that ghosts return on their end of the bargain if they're just fleecing their descendants, however.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Didn't celebrate your ghostly father's departure date because you were trying to find your lost children, whom you didn't know were dead? He'll reanimate the children and set the resulting zombies on you.
- Jerkass: He'll be smiling on the way out when he does it, too.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Well, he does make the ghosts act as proper ancestors who deserve to be revered, but you wouldn't know it if you happened to be on the receiving end of his vigilantism.
The Visitor in the Hall of Obsidian Mirrors
Formerly one of Panther's team-mates, and also formerly known as White Bone Sinner. Panther killed him to impress a patron, and he is understandably eager to gain vengeance. Also fouled up the affair with getting an undead concubine, courtesy of Jiunan Nightwarden, whom he also hates. Wears a conical hat made of woven bones.
The Weeping Raiton Cast Aside
Throwing her past behind her, she opted to be her own representative to the Neverborn. Now, she travels the Underworld as an example of what Abyssals can become, and acts as a counselor between different factions serving the dead gods trapped in the Labyrinth.
Meticulous Owl (Endless-Faced Spite)
The Ebon Dragon's patsy amongst the Abyssals... maybe. Has a background that's even harder to make sense of than the Mirror Flag's - you can at least read that one backwards and make a semblance of a hidden story thread out of it.
- Multiple Choice Past: To the point where you fully expect him to say "Do you know how I got this Exaltation?" at every proper dramatic opportunity.
The Infernal Exalted, Champions of the Yozi, come in two varieties: Akuma, who are individuals invested with Yozi power in exchange for their souls; and the Green Sun Princes, who Exalted with corrupted Solar sparks and are nascent Primordials. Most people refer to the latter when saying Infernal, despite the relative rarity of the Warlocks.
Tropes associated with Infernals
- Abstract Apotheosis: Averting this is what makes Devil Tiger Infernals so powerful. A Devil Tiger has all the capabilities of their Cosmic Principle progenitors, while remaining human enough to avoid the flaw of being incapable to comprehend anything outside said principle.
- Anti-Anti-Christ: If they choose to be.
- Contractual Genre Blindness: How they reduce Limit.
- Cursed with Awesome: More so than the Abyssals, who tend to be Blessed with Suck.
- Enemy Within: Subverted and played straight. The Unwoven Coadjutor, the Essence of the demon that bore their Exaltation, remains a separate part of the Infernal's soul. It can do absolutely nothing other than offer advice. On the other hand, their memories of the First Age are so complete that it's not uncommon for one to have his Solar self be recreated in his mind...which may not be a good thing.
- Evil Sorcerer: The Primordials invented sorcery as a sort of "programming code" of Creation, Infernals draw power from the imprisoned Primordials...Making them even better examples is that the Sorcerous Enlightenment Charms specifically enhance spells in line with their respective patron's themes, meaning that a Slayer has an easier time casting destructive spells and a Fiend has aptitude with shadow and the destruction of boundaries.
- God-Emperor: While "Devil-Tigers" is the most commonly used term for Infernals who go truly renegade, the original term used by the writers was "Green Sun Kings".
- Horrifying Hero: By the frakking Yozis, they're not someone you would want to face. Of course, the same could be applied to other Exalted.
- Humanoid Abomination: Even before they go down the Heretic path, they're drawing power from the Yozis. Once they become Devil-Tigers, they develop into full-fledged titans themselves, complete with soul hierarchy...except their core being is, instead of a world-body or a Third Circle demon, their human self.
- Mad Scientist: Any Defiler worth his salt probably has the inclination, even more than Twilights (which actually annoys their patron, She Who Lives In Her Name. She wanted viceroys, not visionaries!).
- Transhuman: They merge body and soul with a demon as part of their Exaltation, and are slowly mutating into new Primordials.
The iconic Slayer. He was once the eldest son of the high chief of the Talinin, with all the qualities of a warrior. When the Bull of the North started to assault their territory. Cearr was conscripted into the Tepet Legions, where he experienced combat among the lords of creation for the first time. He was about to charge a demon when it locked eyes with him... and Cearr broke and ran from the battle, effectively lost. As he screamed from shame, a voice told him that if he was Exalted the battle would have turned out differently. With nothing left to lose, he accepted. Now he is terrorizing the northeast, destroying everything in his path.
- An Axe to Grind: His Weapon of Choice.
- Barbarian Antihero
- The Brute
- Evil Redhead: Big ol' spiky mop of brick.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: If the art in Return of the Scarlet Empress page 203 is anything to go by.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: More or less is Cearr's Urge and Motivation.
The iconic Malefactor. A Dune Person, she was an apprentice to the tribal shaman. But the spirits rejected her, dumping her unceremoniously in the deep desert to die there. She refused to seek mercy from the Unconquered Sun, cursing him instead, and received an offer from Cecylene she didn't refuse. Now she seeks to unite the Dune People under her banner (and, by extension, that of her patron).
- Affably Evil: For a Crazy Survivalist who wants to conquer the South in the name of an Eldritch Abomination in order to achieve vengeance against the very gods, she's really not that bad a person.
- The Big Bad
- Cute Monster Girl: Sort of. The Dune People are human, it's just that they're mostly albino, since the Solars engineered them to be allergic to sunlight so that they couldn't flee from slavery.
- Fan Nickname: Hellnun or Bondagenun.
- Femme Fatale: She's more morally ambiguous then the Lady of Darkness in Bloodstained Robes, but she's still very sexy and very dangerous.
- Love Redeems: If the art in Return of the Scarlet Empress is anything to go by, she jumps ship after meeting her Lunar mate.
- Naughty Nun: Oh so very much.
- Stripperiffic: See above. Wears a skimpy red number that's mostly Cleavage Window and Thigh-High Boots. Includes a wimple.
- The Vamp: A comic in Celestial Directions: Malfeas shows her attempting to convert Dementhus.
The iconic Defiler Caste. Bitter Copal grew up in An-Teng, where worship of Yozis such as She Who Lives In Her Name was quietly accepted. He was trained in the medical arts, and eventually ended up serving on a ship crewed by Dragon-Blooded. When the captain was grievously wounded, he did what he could to save the man, but that required amputating his arm. Unfortunately, the captain's underlings strongly disagreed with this course of action, and ended up deciding that Bitter Copal needed to pay in full for what he did. After having his arm chopped off and getting thrown in the brig, Bitter Copal prayed to the Yozis...and they answered, as a demonic swarm tore through the ship, killing the others, while he entered his chrysalis. Now fully emerged and versed in the ways of helltech, he aims to bring order back to An-Teng -- the order of She Who Lives In Her Name.
- An Arm and a Leg: The inciting incident for his Exaltation.
- Artificial Limbs: His right arm is a big crab-claw thing. And yes, it's a demon.
- Deadly Doctor: He's a surgeon.
- The Evil Genius / Mad Scientist: His Motivation is to construct a wonder more terrible than any seen in the First Age. When you consider some of the things they did in the First Age, that's pretty fucking horrifying.
- Punch Clock Villain: His backstory doesn't make him seem all that malevolent -- the "failure" that lead to his Infernal Exaltation was refusing to help a Jerkass surgeon whose language he didn't speak, and the main indicator of his general evilness level is that he's a cultist of She Who Lives In Her Name...in An-Teng, where it's quietly accepted and encouraged since they don't fully comprehend the depths of her Control Freak tendencies (they think she just wants things to run in an orderly fashion, which is very appealing to a people who have basically had all independence stripped from their government).
- Telekinesis: thanks to She Who Lives In Her Name's charms.
The iconic Scourge. Once, he was Ernst Gyrkin, a lowly airboat crewman from the Haslanti League whose ambitions exceeded his capabilities. Always daring too much, he responded to denial of a command by taking an airship by force, only to end up surrendering rather than escaping. Following his imprisonment, a huge glass spider approached him with an offer; now, as Captain Gyrfalcon, he's set out to terrorise the Haslanti skies (as well as randomly obliterating agronomy and stealing excavated weaponry). It's pretty much safe to say the Haslanti forces wouldn't want to have him back, whether mortal or Exalted.
- Black Eyes of Evil: A byproduct of his dipping into the Ebon Dragon's Charms.
- The Dragon
- Hot-Blooded: Unfortunately, not in a good way.
- Jerkass: Once nearly got three of his childhood friends killed by baiting a bear. He even gets on Adorjan's nerves (which, given that her love is... lethal, is a good strategy).
- Pretty Boy
- Sky Pirate: He has an airboat, and he wants your money.
- Sword and Gun: And the gun belches forth literally hellish flames.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Again, thanks to the Exaltation.
Once upon a time, one of House Manosque's scions, Viridian, attempted to seize the throne from the Scarlet Empress with the Eye of Autochthon. That ended badly, as most things involving the Eye tend to. Afterwards, the entire house was put to the sword - save for one. The heirs of House Manosque are made aware of their heritage, and forbidden from serving the Realm in any way that would grant them power, as a way of paying for the sins of their forebearers. It's also a very good way to breed long-standing resentment. So when the Ebon Dragon approached Manosque Cyan with an offer to drive the Realm to ruin, she gladly accepted. She's the iconic Fiend.
- The Corrupter: Cyan passes herself off as another member of the Deliberative while using her powers to try and ruin it. Her Motivation and Urge both rely on utterly corrupting or destroying the Realm.
- The Dark Chick
- Genocide Backfire: Hopes to be this.
- Hime Cut: Demure and proper, even when giving nosy folk the "Yet you made one mistake..." business.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Meaningful Name: Like her rebellious ancestor Manosque Viridian, Cyan's name is a color between green and blue.
- The Mole: In the Deliberative.
- Punch Clock Villain: The deal the Ebon Dragon made her was offered in an "accept or die now" situation. She's pretty much only in it to screw over the Scarlet Empire from the inside out.
The Orchid-Consuming Guardian
- You Are Worth Hell: Subverted, then played straight. The Orchid-Consuming Guardian followed his daughter into Malfeas to rescue her from the demon that had abducted her. He was all set to receive a Solar Exaltation for having braved Hell to rescue a loved one... but then he decided that Hell was just too scary, and turned his back on his pursuit. The Yozis presented him with an Infernal Exaltation soon after, no doubt after laughing their asses off. However, as his Motivation is to retrieve his daughter from whatever quarter of Malfeas she's wedged into, he hasn't entirely abandoned his quest.
Tropes associated with Akuma
- The Dark Arts
- Deal with the Devil
- Fake Memories
- Loss of Identity
- Not Himself: An Akuma is a fundementally different person than before the Demonic Investiture.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil
Burning Eyes Maiden
- Eye Scream: Guess how she cemented her infernal bargain!
- Full-Frontal Assault: Traipses about Creation and so on without a stitch. Except for the fire.
- Hime Cut: Not that it actually reflects anything, unless you want to make a case for being a Yozi sockpuppet.
- No Name Given: Her epithet's a Fan Nickname. Her actual identity, we don't know.
Fehim grew up in the Varang City-States, the bastard child of a forbidden liaison between the Varang castes. He was abandoned onto the streets at a young age, where the criminal Three Devils Gang adopted him. His high intelligence and quick wits enabled him to be the gang's security chief, until a raid by a Dynast destroyed the gang. After being Exalted as a Solar, he went to the greatest asset of the Three Devils Gang, a demon long-trapped in a vault. The demon wanted a price for its aid -- a sacrifice of a Dragon-Blood's heart. In time, the demon converted him into an Akuma.
- Retcon: As of Return of the Scarlet Empress he is now an akuma.
- with an Orichalcum eye
- Utopia Justifies the Means:
Lintha Ng Hut Dukantha
The Blood Queen
The Harborhead Royal Guard executes any Brides of Ahlat who lie with anyone other than their husband as a matter of course. Unfortunately for brides who have been forced into the act physically, this includes their number. The Blood Queen found herself in this position at the hands of several Dragon-Blooded, and escaped to let her "husband" know what she thought about that setup with the aid of the Yozis.
- Faustian Bargain: to get back at the Dynasts who raped her and the divine order who abandoned her.
- Rape as Drama: The drama being that her religious vows mandated execution even though she wasn't willing.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: He's the reason that the Infernal Monster Style exists in the first place.
- Unperson: The very fact that a Solar could align himself with the Yozis and become their willing servant did not go over well with anyone. Solar Queen Merela did everything she could to erase the evidence of Gorol's infernal bargain, and even when it inevitably came out, she'd managed to purge enough info that no one knows the whole story.
The Alchemical Exalted were the prototypes for the initial Exalts (Solar, Lunar, Sidereal and Terrestrial), but were never fielded during the Primordial War. They are human souls in artificial bodies, their special powers taking the appearance of Magitek. To have a shot at Alchemical Exaltation, a soul must demonstrate heroism across multiple lifetimes. If the soul is deemed worthy, and if the resources are available, a body is crafted, the soul implanted, and the new Exalt brought to life by the animating power of the Primordial Autochthon. Every Alchemical is, to all intents and purposes, a whole new person, though they have memories of their past lives (unless a previous life was an Alchemical themselves, in which case it takes exceptional circumstances to recall anything).
When Autochthon first noted the Solars' growing insanity, he decided to hide out in Elsewhere, taking several thousand humans along with him. To help them survive in Autochthonia, his world-body, Autochthon taught them the secrets of Alchemical Exaltation, enabling them to create champions who would protect them from the dangers of Autochthonia's environment.
That was several thousand years ago, and Autochthon's starting to run down. Resources are low, more and more babies are being stillborn, and blight zones and gremlins, the manifestations of Autochthon's illness, are steadily increasing. Nevertheless, the Champions stand ready to defend their people.
Tropes associated with Alchemicals
- Artificial Human: They can do pretty much anything normal humans can do. One major exception is their inability to reproduce.
- Chainsaw Good: It's not enough that they have a weapon known as the Gyroscopic Chakram. Oh, no. They have an entire Martial Arts style (Thousand-Wounds Gear) based around it.
- Genius Loci: At essence 8, they grow into cities.
- Humongous Mecha: At essence 6, they grow into these.
- Magitek: Gee, where would you get that idea?
- The Spock: Certain Charms and spells require that they acquire Clarity, which brings them more in line with the thought process of Autochthon. This also makes them more robotic and emotionless, causing them to base most of their decisions on logic and protocol. Some Alchemicals endeavor to avoid such a thing by spending lots of time with human friends and loved ones.
- It's made fairly explicit, however, that a high-Clarity Alchemical does not turn into a preachy Vulcan who talks incessantly about the "logical course of action"; their Clarity simply drives them towards the most efficient course of action.
The iconic Orichalcum caste. Early on in his existence, Rishi was a brilliant Yugashite general who racked up the wins in war until a conversation with a holy man made him reexamine his motives for doing so. He transitioned into politics, becoming a respected legal analyst, diplomat, and wartime negotiator. He's still called on occasionally to install his old war charms.
Rishi's particular field of study is the nature of ideal law and its enforcement, and his writings on the subject have led some to suspect him of pacifism or anti-Yugash sentiments. He doesn't directly criticize the government of the day, instead presenting scenarios in deliberate, but nonspecific, contrast with current events.
- The Atoner: A rather mild case, since he has been driving forward on that path for centuries.
- The Stoic: Due to Clarity.
Excessively Righteous Blossom
The iconic Moonsilver caste. What the Tripartite Assembly of Yugash wanted when they had him made was a flexible and innovative hero. What they got was an ultra-orthodox idealist. While he's good at most things he turns his hand to, what he is not, noticeably, is a people person, and there are a lot of pissed-off Yugashites who can testify to that (and several who can't, as attested by his ill-fated stint as a battalion commander).
- Modern Major-General: He's charismatic and a great warrior, but he's awful at tactics.
- The Neidermeyer: He made it very clear that his many spectacular failures as a commanding officer were due to the incompetence of his troops, and not a result of his command skills being on par with a punch-drunk fix beetle, why would you think that?
- The Scrappy: In-universe. People hate him so much that a Sovan poster has the Jade Caste Stern Whip of Industry using his face as a rock to pose on.
- Ted Baxter: He thinks he's the paragon of Yugash. Yugash does not share his opinion.
Lissome Avid Engineer
The iconic Starmetal caste, who dreams of creating the greatest works of architecture ever seen. She's still quite young, but her social skills have made her far more popular than most new Champions. If her home nation of Yugash makes contact with Creation, she'll probably be responsible for the construction of their forward bases.
- Ms. Fanservice: She's the cover girl for CoCD: Autochthonia. This is also an Invoked Trope; in the comic detailing her creation, her maker lusted after her inactive clay form, and installed a sex Charm in her despite the fact that she was made to be an engineer.
Stern Whip of Industry
The iconic Jade caste. He's practically a national institution in Sova: there are posters of his face in nurseries. He lives up to this acclaim by working extremely hard for the betterment of his country and by teaching others to do the same.
Despite his vast strength, he's very nice and rather gentle. This is causing problems for him at present, since most of his country is just itching for a fight. His desire to avoid war has made him into a divisive figure, which isn't at all what he wants to be.
- The Big Guy: Class 2. The huge guy towering over the others on the cover of Manual of Exalted Power: Alchemicals? That's him.
- Gentle Giant: Generally speaking. He is a skilled combatant, though, and will fight if necessary or most efficient.
- The Paragon
- Patriotic Fervor: Portrayed in a generally positive light. He's loyal to Sova, and is an icon of the nation. Trouble is, the aggressives in Sovan society are questioning why he's reluctant to fight.
Dreadful Adjudicator of Law
The iconic Soulsteel caste, a regulator (law enforcer) in the nation of Gulak, who is typically to be found patrolling the streets in his all-concealing body armor.
- Bishonen: He's pretty attractive under the armor.
- Expy: He is the law! We need not say anything else.
- The Fettered: Adjudicator was created to uphold Gulak's laws, and he does, without mercy or leniency. If he were to betray the law, he would be unable to live with himself.
- In Love with the Mark: Adjudicator's current problem. He's infiltrated a dissident movement, becoming the lover of the woman who leads it. He's got all the evidence he needs to bring the movement's members in, but what's stopping him is that he's actually fallen for the leader - and for the life his alternate identity lives. He's not about to renounce Gulak, but equally, he can't destroy the life he's created for himself, so he's trying to bring his lover into accordance with the law.
- The Quiet One: Doesn't pipe up a lot outside of his duties.
- Secret Identity
- The Stoic: The most emotion he shows in public is impatience with attempts to resist arrest.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: What he's said to look like under his helmet.
Thousand Faceted Nelumbo
The iconic Adamant caste, a specialist in martial arts. Her previous incarnation was a loyal servant of Debok Moom, one of Autochthon's Divine Ministers. When he was killed, Debok Moom immediately had the soul reincarnated as Thousand Faceted Nelumbo. She watches over the outcast colonies near Autochthon's Pole of Crystal, and drives off expeditions from the Eight Nations.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: Here's the thing: because Debok Moom didn't allow Nelumbo's soul to have a few more goes as a mortal Autochthonian, there's a 762-year gap in her memories (because of her previous Alchemical incarnation), and she's somewhat overwhelmed by modern Autochthonia.
- Gender Bender: Her previous incarnation was a dude.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Subverted. She's mostly as pure as the driven snow, but she knows perfectly well that her getup would attract stares. She just doesn't think she needs clothes most of the time, and for the most part, she doesn't.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Typically, the only clothing she wears is a cloak. Sometimes it just barely covers her chest, sometimes it doesn't.
- Justified-besides the fact she can't actually get cold (she's a robot, remember?), she doesn't really deal with humans most of the time, so she doesn't see the need. When she actually needs to talk with someone who would care, the cloak reshapes into normal clothing.
- The developers' own nickname for her? Maiden of the Missing Pants.
- Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: She wants to master Sidereal martial arts. She knows this is supposed to be impossible, canon says it's impossible and the default assumption is that she will fail. On the other hand, Exalted are known for going Beyond the Impossible.
- The Stoic: Not one to let her feelings show, and she has high Clarity much of the time.
Voice of Authority
One doesn't always get what one was expecting when one makes an Alchemical of a specific Caste, but it isn't always a bad thing; Voice is a Soulsteel Caste, and thus meant to serve the nation of Gulak as a pragmatic and ruthless enforcer of Autochthonian law, a scourge of the Voidbringers. What came out of the vats was a bombastic, friendly, and proud Action Hero and serial seducer. After destroying a deep-seated and large Void cult, he found he was much more suited to the "destruction of the Great Maker's enemies" then the "ferreting them out" bit, and he quickly became a scourge of the Reaches, searching out and destroying the largest nests of The Corruption he could find. Unlike Blossom, he also happens to have a good estimation of his own skills, meaning his ego comes off as charming rather than irritating to the populace of his nation. This does not sit well with the Gulaki Tripartite; he was meant to be an enforcer, not an icon, and they are rapidly growing annoyed at his combination of not doing what they want and being too competent to be censured for it. For his part, Voice doesn't care-he loves being a Champion, and the people love him.
- Bishonen: Unlike Dreadful Adjudicator of Law, he doesn't wear a helmet, being a fairly trusting person. And what a face it would conceal!
- Cowboy Cop
- Glory Hound: A rare example in that it's a secondary motive for him-he honestly loves Gulak and Autochthon, he just thinks he deserves recognition for his deeds.
- Hope Bringer: See above.
- Insufferable Genius: Subverted. He's hot shit, knows he's hot shit, but doesn't rub it in the face of other people. It's why he's featured prominently on Gulaki propaganda posters.
Like the Abyssals, the Liminal Exalted, or Chernozem, are associated with the Underworld. They are known to be ghost hunters and exorcists, and can fight a Lunar to a draw in one-on-one combat. At least one of them answers to a 'dark mother' who resides in the Underworld, while another works as the bodyguard of a Guild merchant prince.
From what is known, their name links them to rebirth, and they're somewhat similar to Prometheans. An interesting scar on the picture of the aforementioned bodyguard (she's on the cover of Masters of Jade, by the way) suggests she's a Mix-And-Match Girl; according to the writers, she was stitched together from half a dozen priestesses, which is apparently unusual for the Chernozem.
Beyond that... your guess is as good as ours at the moment.
First introduced in Masters of Jade.