Exalted – Solars (Dawn Caste)May 18, 2010
In Exalted, the default assumption is that you will play one of the Exalted, and probably one of the Solar Exalted, though there are plenty of other options. Each type of Exalted has a number of Castes, thematic variations on the overall style of that Exalt. Solars have five Castes: Dawn, Zenith, Twilight, Night, and Eclipse. I’m going to start with the Solars, and I’m going to start with the Dawn Caste.
The Dawn Caste are the warriors, generals, archers, soldiers, and otherwise martially inclined members of the Solar host. This is not to say that other Solars can’t fight (that’s patently untrue, and would make the game boring), but none of them are so naturally inclined toward it as the Dawns. Every Solar Caste has five Caste Abilities, skills that they are inherently likely to know and improve easily. For the Dawn, those Abilities are Archery, Martial Arts, Melee, Thrown, and War.
In the First Age, while every Solar was expected to know the basic tactics of war, none mastered it as easily and thoroughly as the Dawns. Their lives were defined by conflict. While all the Exalted were designed as weapons against the Primordials, the Dawns were the best and brightest, and it was they who led the assaults on the Primordials. One, Queen Merela, single-handedly slew a Primordial with nothing more than her fists.
In the Second Age, the Time of Tumult, the re-emerging Dawns are finding their place, and it is in conquest. They are barbarian warlords gathering savages into an unstoppable army like the Bull of the North, the sly generals who undermine local authority even as they claim to support it with their mercenaries, or just the wandering soldiers for hire who leave trails of grateful worshippers in their wake.
The Dawn Caste lack a lot of love from the player base because so much of their natural ability is tuned toward fighting. Now, everyone wants to play a badass, but not everyone wants to play a character who can ONLY fight, especially when, mechanically, making a badass of any other Caste is just as easy. However, the Dawns do have their niche. They are the characters who understand conflict, and just as often try to circumvent it as embrace it. They know what fighting and killing truly mean, both personally and tactically, and there are stories that can be told around that. If your goal is to play a character who can kill a man with anything he picks up, who can lead troops into the mouth of Hell, who can stand alone before a rampaging behemoth and know that, in the end, the behemoth will be dead, then you may want to look at the Dawn Caste.