- 1 Description
- 2 Cast
- 3 History
- 4 The Exalted
- 5 The Great Infection
- 6 Anima and Peripheral Essence
- 7 Sorcery
- 8 High Essence Pilots
- 9 New Charms
- 10 Geography and Cosmology
- 11 Technology and Culture
- 12 Making Characters
Floating within the chaotic void of Wyldspace, the shell of Creation surrounds the heavens holding the Unconquered Sun and other celestial fortresses. Here, humanity lives, shielded from the ravages of strange aliens and powers. Defending them are gifted people who are linked to massive war machines: mecha called Exalts, of many different kinds. The Terrestrials rule the sphere, centuries after usurping and locking away the Solars, then scattering the Lunars.
But all is not well. The Solar machines have escaped and are finding new partners, but half of them have been taken by powers that wish to control or destroy Creation. Hunted by their Terrestrial brethren, it is up to these rare Solar Exalts to fight off numerous enemies… including the invading forces of Wyldspace, which have broken through the poorly-maintained shell of Creation.
In the millennia before recorded history, there were the Primordials.
The Primordials were an ancient race, spawned in the depths of the etheric Wyldspace. Chaotic and fragmented, Wyldspace was a place in flux, full of strange beings that would eventually become known as the Raksha and Fair Folk. Possessed of strange powers, the Primordials used their advanced knowledge of Science to construct a massive shelter from the rest of the Wyldspace: a massive sphere, built around a fortress that shone with everlasting light.
This shining Fortress would become the Sun, and the shell around it would be known as Creation.
The Primordials took shelter here in that shell, and spent their time in amusement and play in the Unconquered Sun. To manage the details of Creation, they created the Overseers, who used humanity to do the 'dirty work' of maintaining the vast machine that was Creation.
But the Primordials were careless and complacent in their new home. The Overseers felt neglected, and even had some sympathy with one or two of the Primordials, along with some of the other Elder Races. Yet they could not act directly against the Primordials, for they had been Engineered for that to be impossible.
With the help of the Great Engineer, Autocthon, a plan was devised.
Using the advanced knowledge of Autocthon, and the unique power broadcast by the various devices inside the shell of Creation, the Overseers worked and experimented. Eventually, they perfected the Essence Core, a device that could actually alter the rules of the universe in a confined area. To do this, it needed to be bonded to an existing lifeform, but the Overseers themselves could not do so. Only the simple humans in Creation itself could synchronize with the Essence Cores, and they required complex machinery in order to channel it. Huge, man-shaped devices were constructed around these Cores, where the pilots sat above the Core and directed its energies.
300 were linked to the Unconquered Sun itself, drawing upon its power to fuel them.
300 were linked to Luna, the smaller battleship-fortress that travelled the skies inside the shell of Creation.
100 were linked to the various smaller fortresses floating in the void of the shell, sharing the burden to make up for their lower power output.
With these weapons of war, granted to humanity, the Overseers guided the humans into a devastating war against the Primordials. The Primordials had their own battleships and weapons, but the Essence Core technology was something even they were unable to compensate for, and they had become too specialized and set in their ways. In evolving themselves to their roles, they had become unable to think beyond their specialization, and their battleships one by one fell and were captured, then mothballed.
Many of the Primordials were imprisoned in Malfeas, one of their own fortresses, with the Malfeas Director sealed inside his own ship as well.
A few, the ones that had been defeated early in the war, were imprisoned in the depths of the mechanisms of Creation itself, the tunnels and labyrinthine world between the land and the protective outer shell. Christening it the Oblivion Prison, these Primordials suffered an even worse fate, for they were too close to the Wyldspace outside and were ravaged by pain constantly, now too adapted to the space inside the shell. Unable to escape, yet immortal by their own machinations, they seethed here for ages.
The Overseers took over the Heavens above, running things as they saw fit, and left the administration of Creation and its various engines to their chosen heroes. Yet all was not well. Secretly, in the last days of the Primordial War, the Primordials had discovered the frequency that carried power to the Essence Cores. They could not halt the link, which was bound to each in ways beyond the physical realm, but they did manage with their techno-sorcery to inject a corrupted 'virus' into the broadcasts. This brief infection of data damaged the synchronization routines of the Essence Cores, slowly wearing away at the sanity of the pilots who used them.
The Solars and their paired Lunars ruled with the Sidereals for millennia, and with the knowledge given to them by the Overseers, they made incredible advances for humanity, as well as maintaining the shell of Creation. But slowly, the infection grew in power and matured, and it began to drive the rulers of Creation mad. The Overseers, content with their own life in the Heavens, were unaware of the abuses and corruption eating at the Empire below… until the Sidereals, who had received a weaker virus, took things into their own hands.
Contacting the most impressive of the unbonded humans, the Sidereals used their knowledge of the Essence Cores and Creation itself to create a simpler, more inferior manner of Essence Core. They taught this to the humans, who though they could not understand the theories behind it - nor could the Sidereals - managed to create hundreds of weaker Exalts that they could then pilot into battle. Using their group-based tactics and war machines, in one grand sweeping moment they destroyed all the Solars and banished the Lunars, while the Sidereals erased all record of their existence that they could find, ruling in the shadows once the Terrestrial Exalts took over. The war machines of the Solars were destroyed, their indestructible Essence Cores sealed and buried. A few of the pilots escaped, their bonds with their war machines broken, and found their way into the tunnels beneath Creation's surface. There, they encountered the imprisoned Primordials of Oblivion, who enhanced them and granted them their own war machines, a shadow of their former power but deadly all their own. They became the Deathlords, tools of vengeance and extermination.
The ages passed, century after century. In time, thanks to a careful campaign of extermination by the Sidereals, the records of the past age were altered. The Solars were tyrants in the eyes of most, and their Death Machines to be reported whenever possible. The Wyld Hunt would track down the handful of Solar cores that reappeared every so often and seal them again, but mundane methods of sealing them away, without the techno-sorcery of the Sidereals to aid in it, proved ineffective. The Essence Cores were drawn toward suitable pilots by their nature, as a safety mechanism to inhibit capture by the Primordials.
Without the advanced knowledge of the Solars, however, many of the systems keeping the sphere of Creation intact and safe from the ravages of Wyldspace fell into disrepair. Eventually the jealous aliens of Wyldspace found a weakness, and in a massive assault, they managed to smash through the shell. Huge swaths of Creation broke and crumbled, and the terraforming engines that broke away released massive amounts of toxic chemicals, further devastating the population.
In desperation, the Terrestrial Warlords tried to fight off the waves… and for a while, they succeeded. Long enough for a plan to be drawn up, at least. The banished Lunars, who had remained hidden in the less-hospitable areas of Creation where the terraforming engines faltered, returned and aided in fighting off the Wyld forces, but refused to be beholden to the Terrestial 'Dragon Kings' as they called themselves. It was still only a matter of time before the next assault overwhelmed the defenses.
So a small group of humans, chafing under the rule of yet another kind of priviledged elite, made their move. Aided by a small faction of the Sidereals who secretly objected to the Usurpation, they broke into the vault holding the Solar Essence Cores inside, and made to free them and beg any chosen pilots to help defend Creation.
But the group had been infiltrated by two cults. The Cult of the Yozi had found a way to communicate with the Malfean Primordials, and had a plan. At the same time, the Cult of Oblivion, lead by the Deathlords in secret, was attempting their own plan. Both groups wanted the Essence Cores for themselves, but instead of one group making off with all of them, a power struggle ensued.
150 Cores vanished as soon as the fight started.
50 Cores went to the Cult of the Yozi.
100 Cores went to the Cult of Oblivion.
Now, the Solars have returned. Hunted by the Wyld Hunt, battling the invaders for their world, and now struggling against mysterious mecha of equal power to their own, the Solars must learn their new powers swiftly. Before all of Creation is destroyed.
The Exalted of Exaltech are basically 30 foot(~10 meter) giant robots, made up of three components:
A Mecha which houses the machinery and circuitry to move and execute attacks and charms. The mecha has built in weaponry and significant armor already, but its main purpose is to interface the other two components. Although some portions of the more advanced Exalted are still black boxes, for the most part mecha can be repaired and built without too much trouble in the modern age, provided the user has the resources. An Essence Core to provide both power and to alter local reality enough to perform any unusual abilities of the mecha. These usually have a max Essence of 8-10 in Exalted terms, though Terrestrial Essence Cores can sometimes be as low as 5. A pilot to provide guidance and invoke what kind of reality alteration(Charm) will be used. The pilot must build up a Synchronization with the Essence Core, which determines how much Essence they can draw upon. The Charms available depend upon the pilot's mental state, with mastered Charms innately channelled through the Essence Core itself, while newer and more experimental Charms are aided by the mecha's subsystems. In summary, Exalted Mecha go into battle with whatever mastered 'Fixed' Charms they know, and configure their mecha ahead of time with however many Charms they haven't mastered as will fit in the subsystems('Modular Slots'), which is usually less than the total number of Charms they know. The downside of this system is that Modular Slots holding unmastered Charms can actually be damaged during battle, causing the user to lose access to the Charm. Fixed Charms cannot be lost no matter how much damage is taken, provided the mecha itself is still operational. Reconfiguring a Modular Slot to hold a different Charm takes approximately one hour. Repairing a Modular Slot can take considerably longer.
Modular Slots are often called Charm Circuits ICly.
Essence Motes are naturally regained by tapping into the power system running throughout the shell of Creation, but a power Node can be used to do this faster, as can a group of sapient beings directing their energies toward the recipient in regular amounts. In other words, Demesnes, Manses, and even Cults all work as normal, though the Cult may not necessarily worship the Exalt as a god.
Solars are the baseline, and work as normal, with Charms being usable based upon the pilot's Abilities. For Essences above 5, the pilot does get the benefit of the extra dots even outside the mech, though they cannot use most Charms. The only Solar abilities available outside the cockpit are immunity to illness and resistance to mind control.
Still working on this, but one new addition is that if a Lunar finds their Solaroid partner, they can perform a combat maneuver that combines their mecha into a super-mecha.
Still to be defined.
Infernal Machines, as they are coming to be called, are the result of one of the captured Essence Cores being modified by the Cult of the Yozi. These modifications are possible by what limited communication the imprisoned Primordials have managed, and allow the Cult of the Yozi to draw upon the Primordial power sources instead… but they also allow the Primordials a fairly direct link into the pilot's psyche, resulting in a continual urge toward a mysterious goal that is usually part of a long term escape plan for the Primordials(known as Yozi now)
The Cult of the Yozi is a group of humans who are heavily in contact with the Aliens and Servants of the long-imprisoned Yozi. They function like an Illuminati-alike organization, placing their members secretly into high-influence positions of the government as covert servants of their master. Some of their highest agents are humans being inhabited by aliens, if not just disguised aliens themselves. They tend to operate as a clandestine agency with no governmental backing, using personal and private wealth.
The CG (Chrysalis Grotesque) Synchronization system for all Infernal Mech Suits is performed every time a suit receives a new pilot. It involves, for lack of a better term, locking the pilot in the cockpit of the Infernal Machine he or she is to pilot for five days. They are not fed and they receive no water during this time, making their only sustaining factor the forceful Yozi essence that powers the machine. During this time, the machine forcefully implants an 'Unwoven Coadjutor' (A Yozi-idealed AI Subsystem based off one of their Alien Servants) into the pilot. The result is visually indistinguishable, though some pilots take on a minor trait of whatever Alien their implant was based off of. The AI itself can vary heavily based off the alien that was killed to create it, ranging from greatly helpful and mentally talkative to a silent watcher of their every movement. These sorts of Aliens are known colloqially as 'Demons' due to their 'possession' of the victim.
Due to the newer nature of the Infernal Machines, many doubt they actually exist. The Infernal Pilots themselves often have no public history, their origins long-erased by the Cult. The placement of Cultists into governments allows the pilots to operate without borders or restrictions, mysteriously appearing like ghosts and vanishing just as fast. Whatever they do, they all carry a single order: Never reveal you seek to free our Masters. For the Cult believes if one thing should draw the Unification of the world against them, it would be news that the Primordials wish to be free.
Due to the limited number of them, virtually all pilots of Infernal Machines are familiar with one another. Every time a new pilot is brought into their fold, all pilots from across the world are re-gathered to welcome him. This is also a time for pilots to settle out personal differences and disputes, as in the field they are all expected to cooperate civilly. The pilots themselves are varying in personality, but tend to have private lifestyles that want for nothing, as the Cult rewards loyalty very generously.
The "Exaltation": Infernal Pilots tend to be disgraced individuals. Diplomats, soldiers, generals. They were once great, and at some point they were crushed under a heavy failure or disgrace, which makes them willing to do anything to redeem it. These are the men that the Cult of the Yozi approaches to pilot machines: Desperate individuals who will do anything to earn back their former glory, who are forever in the shadow of their failures as an individual.
Shintai System: A unique change to Infernals in Exaltech is that they only receive one active Shintai slot at the proper essence level. While they can buy and own any Shintai they qualify for, only one Shintai may be equipped to their machine at a time, and swapping between two Shintais takes a full week due to the complexity of changing the mechanics of the machine itself.
The Abyssal Machines are, like Infernals, modified Solar Essence Cores. In this case, the Deathlords can force a bonding to a mortal by jacking them into the system right on the verge of death, giving them a choice between death right then, or life in service to the Deathlords and the Oblivion Prison.
Unlike canon Exalted, Abyssals do not wish the destruction of all creation, though their masters would not mind such a result. Instead they must do enough damage to the subsystems to fracture the shell further, and blow the Oblivious Prison into Wyldspace, where those imprisoned can attempt a proper escape. This will cause massive damage to Creation, possibly a complete structural collapse, but the Primordials in Oblivion are past caring about that.
The Abyssal Cores do cause Resonance, in the manner of Abyssals in Shards of the Exalted Dream. The only difference is that Abyssals are allowed to acknowledge their living name, but ONLY when not piloting their mech.
Abyssals are unusual in that their human bodies are maintained on the edge of death much like canon Abyssals, even outside their mech. The Essence Core's link maintains this, and makes them near-dead creatures immune to poison and disease. This also places them Outside Fate(referred to as Out of Phase ICly).
Abyssals may regain Essence by draining power from powerful machinery and power sources, much like canon Abyssals 'feed' off of life force. They may also use a Power Sink, the equivalent of an Underworld Demesne in this setting. Shadowlands are also in existence, allowing Abyssals to respirate Essence normally, and are represented by areas where the terraforming engines have had their power redirected toward disconnecting the Oblivion Prison. This alteration tends to kill off the land above, but allows an Abyssal to tap into the energy flow. This is not entirely tied to the world, and in other worlds they may recover Essence by finding a place of death or, in other Exalted themes, a Shadowland. Essentially any place shielded from 'life energy' will give them some recovery.
Alchemicals have not yet been defined, but do exist.
Terrestrials do not sync totally without control of their makers, but it is still sometimes hard to tell if a pilot will link or not. Unlike the other Essence Cores, Terrestrials can be manufactured. However, they can also be destroyed. They draw their power from the massive terraforming engines within Creation.
The Great Infection
The virus introduced into the Essence Cores caused a subtle effect to hit the pilots who sync with the Cores. While piloting, every innate aspect of the pilot is enhanced to an extreme degree, resulting in intense and dedicated pilots. A subtle euphoria of 'rightness' pervades them, further enhancing their natural tendencies. Going against these tendencies builds up internal stress, which is reflected in the sync with the Essence Core, further intensifying the Infection's effects. After a long while piloting, the extra intensity is even reflected when the pilot is outside of the mech. And if the stress builds up too much, the pilot can snap into a state of altered perception where their emotions rule.
A milder form occurs in the Terrestrial Cores, as they were made by copying the flawed Cores of the Celestials.
In game terms this operates similar to the Great Curse in Exalted. Below Essence 4, Virtues are only tracked inside the mech, and Limit is only accrued inside the mech. Once the Sync Ratio is at 40% or so(Essence 4), then the Virtues begin to affect the user even outside of the vehicle, in a milder form, and it becomes possible to gain Limit as well, though it is rarer. At 80% Sync Ratio(Essence 8), the pilot's behavior inside and outside the mech is indistinguishable.
The Great Infection is NOT IC knowledge.
Anima and Peripheral Essence
Anima Banners do exist, as does the distinction between Personal and Peripheral Essence. Personal Essence represents Reserve Power, while Peripheral Essence is referred to in-universe as Core Power. This may seem backwards, but it works when considering Anima and the like.
Sorcery IS possible, but it is referred to most often as Technomancy. The various Circles of Sorcery must be purchased as Fixed Slots, but any actual spells do not require slots. Rather than a sacrifice, each rank of Sorcery purchased makes the user's Sync Ratio count as 1 Essence Higher for purposes of the Great Infection.
The IC explanation is using a specific field manipulation to unleash the power of an Essence Core.
High Essence Pilots
Once the Sync Level of a pilot exceeds 50%, a feedback begins to occur, where the link between the Core and the pilot strengthens to the point that it is a constant presence to some degree. In effect, the pilot is treated as a very minor Exalt, with an Essence level of (Essence - 5). The pilot knows all Fixed Charms and up to (Effective Essence) x 3 of other Available Charms, which may be changed out with an hour of meditation per Charm. Although this limit never changes, they have the option of paying half price for a Charm they already know to make it considered 'Fixed' for purposes of being used outside of their mech(in effect, paying full price for a Charm they previously paid half price for). Using this option does not make that Charm count as Fixed for the mech, but does count toward XP spent to boost an Available Charm to a Fixed Charm.
Obviously, the pilot can only use Charms with a limit up to their Effective Essence. This means that an Essence 10 pilot outside of their mech would be effectively an Essence 5 Exalt with all Fixed Charms of their mech, and by default 15 other Charms of their choice.
Geography and Cosmology
While this world is more like a science fiction realm than Exalted, neither does it operate on normal physics like most science fiction realms. Officially the word 'magic' does not exist, and it is all simply very advanced science. In practice, many of the effects might as well be magic.
Creation itself does not share the geography of its canon cousin. Creation is, firstly, a massive shell around the 'Sun' here, a Dyson Sphere as it is called. The inside of this shell is the ground that everyone lives upon, with the Sun and Moon high above. Normally, the moon and the various planetary battleships representing the Maidens are too close to the massive Sun to occlude it, but the moon drifts often, and at times moves outward far enough to block the light from a major portion of the surface and cause and eclipse. Otherwise, the Shadow of the Sun is what causes day-night cycles, a hemispherical 'shield' that is a vehicle all its own, rotating around the Sun fortress.
Various terraforming engines keep the surface livable, though the Cult of Oblivion has made attempts to redirect their power toward the Oblivion Prison to help it escape. When this happens, the regions often begin to die off or suffer an imbalance of some kind that makes the land very uncomfortable to live upon for most creatures. The terraforming engines correspond to the five elements in type: Earth(matter conversion), Air(atmospheric generators), Water(water creation and filtration), Fire(plasma generators) and Wood(genesis machines to seed plant and animal life). Each element has a central control node, though upon destruction of this node another node can be upgraded to take control by the automated systems beneath the surface.
Elementals, partially-solid aliens particularly adapted to maintaining these machines, keep them running with the help of qualified humans. Unfortunately these aliens are very focused on their tasks and lack creativity, which is why human input is often needed.
Far beneath the surface lay unmapped tunnels for the maintenance of the outer skin and defenses. Originally, these were controlled by an AI system and its servants, who operated by tapping into the unconscious desires of the humans above. The AI has long since shut down due to the interference of the Oblivion Prison, and the servants barely maintain their duties largely from inertia. A particularly traumatic human death can sometimes leave an imprint of that human's consciousness on these silent machines, resulting in a 'Ghost' forming.
The outer skin is maintained from the tunnels above, but has started to falter thanks to the loss of focus inside the shell. This has caused 'holes' to be torn into it from the Wyldspace outside, a realm of chaotic energies that warp things on the level of subspace, sometimes negating physical laws altogether. The alien beings that reside here are truly alien.
Technology and Culture
High technology was strictly controlled throughout Creation from the beginning, with the vast majority of people eking by with third-world levels of poverty and very little technology. The city-states possessed general knowledge of higher technology, including airships, firearms, and railways. Personal vehicles are rare, however.
Most armies are made up of infantry and cavalry soldiers, but Warstriders do exist. They are no match for an Exalt, but just about anyone can pilot them. The larger cities keep small contingents of them, but they are expensive to maintain.
Creation has no ruling, singular unifying force. The various city-states sometimes form nations, but the vast amount of space available ensures that there are thousands of these nations, all with their own laws and cultures. With the partial destruction of the shell, there has been a weak alliance formed between most of them.
The Wyld Hunt is one exception to the general disorganization. The ruling Terrestrials send their most talented pilots into the Wyld Hunt, which is a multinational organization dedicated to stamping out encroachment from Wyldspace and hunting any Solars they come across.
The so-called 'Magical materials' of Jade, Soulsteel, Orichalcum, and others do exist, but are exotic alloys that were used to create the grand fortresses in the sky and the outer skin. It is very difficult, yet possible, to replicate them, though the system is usually less abstract than in canon. There are exceptions, however, as Soulsteel does require empowerment by the life force of dying beings, for example.
Going above Essence 5 does not necessarily require a higher age, and capbusters are available. However, capbusters are represented by unique systems that must be integrated into the cockpit, and aid in increasing the sync ratio. At the moment, Essence 6 or 7 are the best anyone has. This limits PCs to roughly the PL 33-34 range, for Solaroid types, and lower for most others. This is the starting value, higher PL will be available through TPs later. Extreme situations can warrant a break in the Essence cap of 5 instead of using a capbuster.
Outside of their Exalted mech, characters will likely be in the low to mid twenties at best.
As stated before, the Essence Cores have a high maximum Essence. When a PC purchases 'Essence' they are actually raising their Sync Ratio with their chosen Core.
Given that mecha often have firearms and the like, Archery Charms can be used to supplement firearms at a 1 mote surcharge. Firearm Charms from Shards of the Exalted Dream are also available.
Exalted Mecha have three different Charm purchases:
Fixed Slots are bought like normal Charms, and are available at all times. Modular Slots are scaled to the available Essence, and extras may be bought at a high premium. Floating Charms are Charms bought at a reduced price, and are only available once 'slot' into a Modular slot. Exalted Mecha should, in general, have a notable number more Charms available than they have slots. For those who insist on actually tracking character sheets, use the following(untested) system.
Die-adder Charms(like the First Excellency) are free for Caste and Favored Abilities. These are considered Fixed Slots.
Fixed Slot Charms are bought at normal price.
Modular Slots are automatically equal to Essence x 5, so increasing Essence allows 5 more slots. 'Extra' slots may be bought at the price of (3 x (# of Slots over automatic)). So an Essence 4 has 20 Modular Slots, and may spend 18 XP to increase that to 23 Modular Slots. If they later go up to Essence 5, they will then have 28 Modular Slots.
Floating Charms are bought at half price.
Keep in mind that it is possible for Modular Slots to be disabled during battle via battle damage. Fixed Slot Charms can never be disabled.
Others have different numbers.
Lunars and Sidereals have Essence x 4 Modular Slots
Terrestrials only have Essence x3 Modular Slots, but pay only 2x Extra Slots rather than 3x.