Exalted – Your CharacterMay 18, 2010
In the game, you (generally) play an Exalt, one of the chosen of the Incarnae (or one of the other options… I’ll explore those later). Generally speaking, you are a human granted awesome power as a result of your deeds or will.
This is one of the important parts of Exalted. You don’t Exalt randomly. Your character EARNED his Exaltation, and while each type of Exalt earns theirs differently, the fact remains that your character stood out in some way, went above and beyond even as a mortal, and somehow attracted the attention of the Exaltation itself.
Another important facet of Exaltation is that the Exaltation chooses the host. There is a god of Exaltation (Lytek, he’s awesome), and both he and the relevant Incarna can guide and influence the Exaltation as it shoots invisibly through Creation seeking a host, but in the end, the Exaltation makes the choice. The Exalted are not beholden to their creators or controlled by them in any way.
Exalted revolves heavily around what has been dubbed “protagonism,” the idea that your characters are, in fact, the protagonists of the story and their choices are important. While there are things that can limit or even remove that choice, they are rare, and your character usually has ways, whether through magic or narration, to avoid those circumstances. In the end, like the Exaltation, nothing shackles your character mentally.
Nothing, that is, except the Great Curse. Like all White Wolf games, there is a type of morality mechanic, though Exalted’s is less heavy-handed. Every character has what is known as a Virtue Flaw: a condition that puts mental stress on the character and pushes the Great Curse ever closer to expressing its unique madness. When the character encounters this condition, he gains Limit, which, when it reaches 10, explodes in a torrent of cathartic madness in an event known as Limit Break.
There are other things that inflict Limit, but mostly it’s just gained through the Virtue Flaw. And this is the only thing that cannot be resisted by Charms. In fact, it’s usually inflicted by the player onto the character when it’s fun. It’s a heroic flaw, like Hercules’ temper, that leads to interesting situations.
Characters in Exalted are all “heroic” in the Greek sense. They are larger-than-life, capable of truly amazing actions, and always, always the focus of the stories around them. However, they don’t have to be what we would call “good.” Some of them are serial killers, some are noble warriors, thieves, assassins, whores, paladins, priests, sorcerers… anything and everything, so long as the character is impressive and willing to use the power they have been granted. The one thing Exalted characters prohibit is a passive nature.