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Exalted is a campaign setting.

I'll finish up a Setting Summary shortly. Character Creation:

Quick Version:
-We'll be starting with Superb Characters, p17.
-That means 5 phases, 10 Refresh, up to 5 Refresh, up to 10 Aspects and 35 Skill Points.
-Powers will likely be prohibited.
-You won't need the Restricted Weapon Training Stunt.
-You won't need an Occupation or Race.
-You will need a character concept.
-Skills and stunts should be thought over and even chosen before the Character Creation Session.
-Your character concept, Aspects and first two phases should be thought over before coming the Creation Session.
-Your concept should be known ahead of time to the group
-Concepts and powers are restricted to maintain the flavour of Exalted and structure to a degree.
-There will be an additional skill added:

This is a Knowledge Skill, also called Mysteries.. It reflects your understanding of supernatural creatures and places, Essence use like Charms and Sorcery, mortal Thaumaturgy and the building of Manses.

Occult – Essence Sight
Requires Exaltation.
Allows the user to see the flow of essence around them at will. They may use Occult instead of Alertness or Investigation to spot immaterial supernatural creatures and other Essence based phenomena.

Occult – Mortal Thaumaturgy
Requires Occult +1.
Provides access to the feeble mortal rituals of geomancy, astrology, demonology and enchanting objects.

Occult – Terrestrial Circle Sorcery
Requires Exaltation, Occult +2, an Aspect and One Occult Stunt.
Character can reproduce a number of sorcery spells of this circle based on Storyteller approval.

Occult – Celestial Circle Sorcery
Requires Exaltation, Occult +4 an Aspect and Terrestrial Sorcery.
Character can reproduce a number of sorcery spells of this circle based on Storyteller approval.

Occult – Solar Circle Sorcery
Requires Exaltation, Occult +6 an Aspect and Celestial Sorcery
Character can reproduce a number of sorcery spells of this circle based on Storyteller approval.

The Long Version Follows

Character Creation

Each character sheet is composed of Aspects, Stunts, Skills and Refresh.
Skills - - appear in a pyramid and provide a baseline for rolling dice.
Aspects - - are phrases that relate to narrative of that character, played using Fate Points.
Refresh - - is the number of Fate Points you have at the start of each session. Stunts - - are a series of exceptions to the normal rules like bonuses on rolls, elaborations on skills and so on.

There are other features to the sheet, but they are less important.

For our purposes, Player Characters will be starting with 10 Refresh, 35 Skill Points, up to 5 Stunts and up to 10 Aspects. In LoA terms, these are highly influential characters that can have world-shaking impact in typical fantasy settings.

This is not a typical fantasy setting, but it definitely is about world shaking characters. The Solar Exalted are demi-gods that are reborn into a broken world. Their capacities, their passions and their goals are those of myth and legend.

They are also Insane.

But that’s another story.

Each character should begin as a concept. Some starting point to sketch out who they are and what they do. This typically involves something simple like an occupation, elaborated to reflect the scale and slightly mad reality of the game.

In DFRPG this is a High Concept, but for us it’s just a jumping off point.

(These examples aren’t Exalted related)

Demonic Rock and Roll Roadie
Biker Mouse from Mars
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
Imaginary Friend Fused With A Hobo
Lazy, Whiny Hobbit Burglar
Super Hero Artist Zapped Into Comic Book World
Paranoid, Schizoid Detective That Knows The Truth
Mad Scientist With Mad Rhymes
Bag Lady of the Post Apocalypse
Robin Hood of the Sherwood Accountancy Firm

You may want to poke through the Exalted Second Edition books for material. Starting from a Solar Caste.

Dawn: Warriors and Generals.
Zenith: Priests and Presidents
Twilight: Scientists and Sorcerers
Night: Assassins and Police
Eclipse: Teachers and Negotiators

Adding consideration from where they’re from and what they did (small set of examples)

Daring Sky Ship Pilot of the Exciting East
Imperial Spy on the Blessed Isle
Merry Merchant from the Dusty South
Constable of the Cold North
Sea Bottom Explorer of the West

Adding a mythological or maybe pop-cultural element.

Tragic Greek Hero
Post-Apocalyptic Gunslinger
Epic Metal Guitarist
Mad Modernist Architect
Deadly School Girl

The result can inform you about their Skills and Adventures and Aspects without having to know ‘Who’ they are yet. Vampire Slaying Cheerleaders, Revolutionary Roadies and Assassin Bimbos from Renaissance Italy are generally vague and iconic enough to inspire you for the next two steps.

Choosing Skills.
Simple Enough. Make a Pyramid of Skills. These include Powers, which are just Skills that can’t be performed by anyone without them on their list.

(Note, Exalted is not about people shooting lasers from their eyes, it’s about kicking people so hard they explode. Most powers are either inapplicable or restricted to specific groups like Lunar Exalts for shape changing.)

The regular skill list has one addition, Occult (or Mysteries,) a knowledge skill representing things like the nature of supernatural beings, the use of Essence, Thaumaturgy and other topics.

The Skill Pyramid for 35 skill points is typically five boxes high and five boxes wide at the base. The base slots are +1 skills, the next level +2 until +5.

You can create a Pyramid of ten +1 skills, six +2 skills and one +3 skill, but not one +1 skill, one +2 skill and one +3 skill. The big skills always need more little skills underneath them to form a pyramid.

For these characters, +5 and +4 skills are probably going to be your defining skills. The ones your character is really about, whether it’s swinging swords or sailing ships.

At the bottom, your +1 skills, are things you do as well as the average mortal that has to do them as a job. Skills that don’t appear on your pyramid you roll at +0, regular mortals roll them at –2. The Exalted are just good at doing things, even things they’ve never done before.

Choosing Stunts
Stunts elaborate your skills and abilities. You can choose up to five, each one reduces your Refresh by 1, to a minimum of 5 Refresh at character creation.

Many general stunts are found through the book. Some are linked to Races or Occupations. Exalted lacks these things so restrictions may be ignored. Some stunts like Restricted Weapons Training can be ignored as well, as Exalts are naturally insightful, talented and badass.

Stunts presented in the books are examples. Custom stunts should follow these examples and produce similar effects. Allowing dramatic use of a skill for a Fate Point, adding a +1 to a specific trapping (use) of a skill or under certain conditions (like fighting while mounted) or an Alternate Use of that skill (the stealth skill used to attack or defend)

Stunts are also used to acquire magical or highly advanced mundane items that are stuck to you. All objects and wealth can be lost, but like Batman’s Utility Belt or He-Man’s Sword of Homoeroticism, these will be recovered or preserved in the end. (You will need an aspect relating to it.)

Phases and Aspects Each character has three basic phases, their Background, a Legend, (your adventure story) and a Co-Starring (in someone else’s Legend.) The additional two phases can be new Legends or Co-Starring roles.

You should have ideas for these, but they’re typically generated at table with input from the group.

Background is less of a story and more a description of your upbringing, culture, employment and shaping experiences. It’s the foundation of your Heroic Mortal status, which is the foundation of your Solar Exalted Status.

Your Legend, at least the first one, is effectively you demonstrating your mortal heroism and achievements. It likely concludes with your Exaltation, but not necessarily.

Your Co-Starring phase involves you playing a part in someone else’s Legend. It shouldn’t dramatically alter the Legend but should add some detail.

These phases combined inspire aspects, up to ten.

Aspects are phrases that describe your character, what they do, what they’ve done and what they’re about. You should have some ideas for these before character creation, especially about things like:

One referring to your Character Concept or Role
One referring to your Caste or Exalted Status
One referring to your Virtue or Flaw
One referring to your Motivations or Goals
(Any of these might overlap)

Other aspects might refer to your relationship to organizations, magic equipment, reputation or role in the group. Charms make good material too.

Examples Include:
Invincible Sword Princess
Flawless Captain of All That Flies
Berserker Lord that Leaps Mountains
Architect of Perfected Societies

The Glorious Berserker that Slays Hope
The Solar Judge of Corrupt Gods
The Eclipse Servant of The People
The Anathema Assassin of Unworthy Kings

Never Refuses a Challenge
Always Helps Those in Need
Righteous Beyond Measure
Discipline and Control

All Slaves Must Be Free
The Dynasts Must Pay
I Will Return The Wonders of the First Age
I Will Prevent Civil War Among The Dynasts

The Sword of True Justice
My Magic Golden Lance
The Sky Ship Ecstasy of Gold
The Sublime Barge of Terrestrial Delights

The Undaunted Defender
The Laughing Conscience
The Regal Strategist
The Humble Negotiator

Future Aspects
Some Aspects are Future Aspects, something that changes with the plot and advances to a final stage. Besting martial arts masters until you’re the greatest fighter in the land or taking over a department in the bureaucracy of heaven or reconstructing a first age Warstrider make good future aspects.

Completing a future aspect is a way to individually advance your character for rewards beyond those of the group.

Aspects might have Plot Stress. If you’re the owner of a trading fleet, mayor of derpville or maintain some false identity you’ll need to maintain that. Failing to do so will give your Storyteller leeway to throw plothooks at you when your position is endangered when its stress track fills up.