Review – Return of the Scarlet EmpressAugust 6, 2010
Exalted has released a new book, and it makes me giddy. Return of the Scarlet Empress is still listed as “available for pre-order” on Amazon, but my Favorite Local Gaming Store (or FLGS) managed a single copy yesterday. I’ve been reading it pretty much non-stop since, and brother let me tell you, it is worth the read.
Return of the Scarlet Empress deals, as the name suggests, with the Scarlet Empress’ return to Creation, reclaiming the Realm and spreading her influence out to the Threshold nations. The twist here isn’t that she’s returned… you knew that from the title. It’s where she’s been all this time, and why.
Those of us following this particular subplot since First Edition weren’t even a little shocked to discover that the Empress is destined to be the herald of the Yozi Reclamation, signalling the return of the Infernals to Creation in a subtle yet sweeping plot to suborn the entirety of the world into an annex of Hell. This book dispels even the scraps of mystery surrounding her circumstances, and finally gives us concrete information regarding her disappearance, plan, and re-emergence.
The book is a spectacular and pretty thorough description of how the Reclamation would proceed, from events leading up to the Empress’ return all the way through the eventual release of the Ebon Dragon. It details each direction, with three Acts worth of events and plot hooks for nearly every major nation in every direction. At the same time, it leaves enough vague that Storytellers can alter, edit, or even ignore entire sections to customize them for their games. It also provides stats for a fully-fleshed out Scarlet Empress and Ebon Dragon, as well as additional related crunch, including new spells and Charms.
It must be stressed: this book is not a canonical advancement of Exalted’s plot. Exalted has no metaplot, for good or ill. It is wholly a snapshot of a time five years after the disappearance of the Empress. This is merely a possible event, a way to run the Reclamation if you desire. The crunch material is useful even outside the Reclamation, and the events are completely optional plot hooks Storytellers can use or ignore at their whims.
That said, I recommend this book to anyone, even if you’re not planning to run a Reclamation scenario. It has a great deal of useful material, insights into events happening in the background of Creation, and a glimpse at the mindset of every nation in Creation, seeing how they are likely to respond to any crisis, Yozi-originated or otherwise. It is a fine piece of work, and my compliments go out to anyone involved. Thank you, all.