Character Refinement

Mapping the Whirlwind of Options for Solar Character

The Solar Exalted have returned in the Age of Sorrows. The actions of the Lawgivers will affect all they come in contact with. Their return heralds a great change in Creation. This change could be fore the betterment of creation or could lead to its destruction. It is this action and result that looks to the concept of the individual character to see their goals, motivations and intent that moves the story and is moved by the story.

This guide is devoted to the conceptualization of a character. Building a useful character mechanically is not covered here. The storyteller is involved with each of the players and helping them flesh out the details of their character. This guide is an aid to help players of all gaming backgrounds move forward and allow tension, drama and story be evolved for their character.

As you create one of the Solar Exalted you will find that progressing through each of the steps listed below will work like basic drawing skills for characters. Start with a clean sheet of paper, Form the frame of the action that is happening, Flesh out the character and give them form, add detailing, step back and look at the unified finished product. It should be noted that in drawing we restart from the top using the previous sketch as the model for the next one.
Dawn Step: Blanking the Slate and placing the foundation

And so the Unconquered Sun guided his power from his fallen chosen to Exalt the next candidate. One of the first steps to approach in any character creation is to start with a blank piece of paper. No scribbles or other information to clutter your mind or your workspace. From here if there are any ideas that have prompted your imagination jot them down.

It is key to remember that you are chosen by the Unconquered Sun. The Unconquered Sun does not choose a keeper of a teahouse to exalt if their only ambition is to only ever be a keeper of a teahouse. However, a keeper of a teahouse by day and Ninja Master by night who is fighting the guild in an act of vengeance for killing his family? That would be someone chosen by the unconquered sun.

With this a number of key questions should be kept in mind.

  • What do you want the character to be able to do?
    o Fighting style
    o Social Interaction
    o Mystical Arts
    o Bureaucrat or Merchant
    o Art of Shadow and Death
    o A good starting point is to remember some of the strengths of the system and to reference with your Storyteller.
1. Strength of the System: Cinematic action: Exalted has great strength in visual action. Describing what your character does has effect in granting you stunt dice and reclamation of Essence and Willpower. Wu Xia fantasy and Anime are excellent sources of inspiration for charm based action descriptions. 2. Strength of the System: Character Path: Your character is not restricted in what they can choose to be able to do. The more specialized you are, the better you are at that one thing but the less able to do many other things. Someone who is broadly skilled will be able to handle many scenarios but may not have the degree of skill required to handle a certain task. Remember that it is okay if you can’t do something. You as a person can’t be an Olympic Gymnastics competitor and the foremost thinker of Physics who pushes the boundaries of understanding. Your character may not be diverse now but as your character grows you will find that they diversify with the Experience that they receive. 3. Strength of the System: Character Diversity: Your character can come from anywhere, have any background and be able to do anything supernaturally well. This includes playing an instrument to the point where you can charm all enemies into fighting for you, like the Pied Piper of Hamlin or understanding the flow of magic in the universe so well that you have learned to manipulate varied traits of it to create devastating calamities that can fell nations. In my above example of the teahouse keeper, she could be someone who hears the problems of the little guys and when the powerful have a cup of tea at the house a suggestion is made through speech and social skills that helps the local farmer or shopkeeper. In this case her goal was not just to run her shop but to work for the betterment of everyone from within the system using the skills that they know.
  • What did I do before that thrust me within the realm of notice by the Unconquered Sun?
    o This is very linked to what you would like your character to be able to do.

The Dusk Trap:Being concerned that you covered everything
The Zenith Step: Motivations and Goals

Not only are you not another faceless member of the masses in creation. You are an elite selected individual. When you took your second breath you most likely exalted under a period of intense stress that brought you to new heights of skill through desperation.
The chosen come from all walks and any physically ready age

They are the Peasant hero. They are the bureaucrat of the Thousand Scales who moves the red tape to help the underdog. They are the Rebel hero fighting against the injustice of the tyrant who holds ownership of the land. They are the Monk who wishes to show the truth to the people. They are the scholar who knows the Immaculate teachings are false.
The chosen also come from those who are villains to the people

The chosen are also taken from those who have the potential for greatness. The choice of the Unconquered Sun does not depend on moral values but on the base potential of being something great. It is at this moment that the discussion of perspective comes in.

The Peasant Hero/Villain? The Peasant Hero is an icon famous in almost all literary fantasy. The farmer’s son who, after defending their village, rises to greatness through devotion to an ideal (usually hard work). Consider the Peasant Hero facing off with the Immaculate Monk visitor. The village has kept peace with the local spirits by spending a day every month in celebration of the little god’s protection. The Immaculate Monk destroys the temple to the little god and harangues the villagers about appropriate behaviour and fealty to the Immaculate dragons. The young hero squares off with the monk. Pause. The villagers are afraid of interference with the Immaculate but understand the wrath of the god will have immediate effect. If the Monk is serious he will send an Exalted Monk to deal with the little god and then teach liturgy. Temporary victory: Peasant Hero. On the other hand the Monk looks at the Peasant Hero and sees defiance of the natural way as laid down by the elemental dragons and may decide that this will require much more than just an adjustment of the spirit who has overstepped their bounds. This will require a standing monastery to be built nearby and some other adjustments. Either way the village wins protection. Play. The monk proceeds to punish the Peasant hero. The peasant hero is a farmer and the monk is well trained and conditioned. Beyond ridiculous luck (good for the Peasant hero and bad for the Monk) the monk will always win. Yet despite the beating the Peasant hero is taking his strong stamina has helped him soak most of the bashing being caused by the monk. Keep in mind the monk is not trying to kill him but subdue him. The monk performs a clinch and begins spouting the immaculate way and pins the Peasant Hero. At this moment the Peasant hero undergoes Exaltation. Pause. This is where perspective comes in. Let’s take a look at each perspective. 1. The Monk: the monk sees a demon appear before him and for the safety of the souls in the village he must bring death to the exalt. 2. The Peasant hero: At the mercy of the monk the peasant hero screams defiance as he hears the monk say that the little god must be punished for his wrong-doing. In destroying the monk his life amongst his friends and loved ones can continue. He calls for justice and someone answers. 3. The villagers: Unfortunately for the peasant hero the villagers only know of the Immaculate teachings concerning the Solar Exalted and see one of the demons right before their eyes. In a moment they switch from cheering the peasant hero to praying for forgiveness from the monk and asking him to save them from this demon. Temporary Victory: Immaculate Monk

This Dual identity of evil and good is what drives the characters in Exalted. It is in every character along with the capacity to make a choice. The pirate captain is considered a hero by his crew but his targets consider him a monster. The rebel is a hero of the people but the well-to-do think of him as a villain as they are the targets.

You can choose what you did before but if you are on the wrong side of the other players perspective it could cause conflict that you don’t want. The Storyteller will warn you of such potential conflicts when he hears your concept.

The Checklist

  • What about your character makes them stand out from the masses?
  • How do you feel about being chosen?
  • What are you doing now?
  • What did you do before Exaltation?

The Storyteller can help you with each of these questions.

Character Refinement

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