Welcome to the Second Age
Exalted is different from any other fantasy setting out there. While almost every fantasy game can directly trace itself back to that monolith of 20th-century fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Exalted draws its inspiration from Western and Eastern sources both older and more recent. The first major influence is the ancient epics of the West and East: The Ramayana, The Iliad, Journey to the West, and so on. All feature larger-than-life heroes capable of laying waste to nations and challenging the might of the gods themselves. The second source is pulp fiction, a genre that includes the pre-Tolkien fantasy produced by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and Fritz Leiber. The final sources for inspiration for Exalted are Asia’s over-the-top manga, anime, video games, and wuxia films. More than the rest, it is this last source that differentiates Exalted from its fellows.
The scope of Exalted is also significantly different from most other role-playing games. In most games, a player’s “heroic” character usually starts out very weak. He’s lucky if he owns a rusty dagger and a loincloth, and he’s lucky if he possesses the fighting prowess of an asthmatic schoolboy. Exalted characters, on the other hand, begin the game as world-shaking badasses—reborn heroes of old wielding powerful magic and weapons so massive that mere mortals can’t even lift them. These heroes are easily capable of challenging armies in combat and prevailing.
Finally, what truly sets Exalted apart is the strength of its setting. Creation is a fantastic place, a flat plane larger than the whole of our Earth formed by the confluence of elemental forces and the will of ancient primordial beings. Once an even larger and more fabulous place, all of Creation was nearly destroyed by powerful forces arrayed against it and has yet to truly recover. The world teeters on the brink of apocalypse, and the Chosen of the Gods—the Exalted—are Creation’s only hope.
Those Exalted are your characters. What legends will you tell of their deeds?