I’m a Backer: Exalted 3rd Edition
This is a bit of a departure from our traditional “Im a Backer” format, but I wanted to talk a project that has me all a flutter. A while back I mentioned that a number of new editions of great role playing games were going to roll out this year. My most hotly anticipated of those titles was third edition of White Wolf’/Onyx Path Publishing’s amazing “Exalted” game line. Well, late last week the Kickstarter project to fund a deluxe hardcover edition went live, and it’s tearing it up.
Look below the fold to learn more.
Exalted is a game that defies most fantasy tropes. The game is truly epic in scope: players assume the roles of Exalted–men and women elevated to semi-divinity to serve as champions of the gods in the war against the Titan-like Primordials. That war is now millennia in the past, and the glorious society forged by these demigods during peace time has faded into memory in the intervening epoch. However, after centuries of quietude, the chosen of the gods have begun to reappear, and as in the past, reshape the world in their wake. All in all, a pretty cool premise that I have seriously truncated for the sake of space.
Two key elements help Exalted stand apart from the pack of fantasy games. First is the setting. Called Creation, Exalted’s flat earth is teeming with strangeness and adventure that is inspired largely by non-Western European (e.g. Anglo-Saxon, Norman, or Germanic) sources. Hellenic myths, the Vedas and the Mahabharata, and the epic tales of Japan, China, and Korea all exert far greater influence on the world of Exalted than the tried (and tired) tropes of Western fantasy. And this version of Creation is not the quite the same one we’ve seen in editions past: it’s bigger and stranger than ever before.
The second element that helps Exalted stand apart from the herd is epicness of the characters. As one of the Chosen, you begin play on the far right of the power curve and only grow more epic overtime. This is not a game of killing kobolds until you’re strong enough to slay orcs. Nope, this time you start as Achilles, Gilgamesh, or Hercules, and progress from there. As a veteran kobold slayer, this hit me like a revelation when I picked up that first edition book ten years ago now.
Onyx Path Publishing, licensor of CCP/White Wolf’s classic and contemporary game lines, is comprised of veteran White Wolfers and proven free lancers who have demonstrated real passion for Exalted. The core team behind this new edition are the same folks who managed to save the game’s second edition from collapsing on itself from rules bloat and thematic creep. In this new version, they’re promising streamlined mechanics and a renewed focus on the epic themes that made 1st edition strike so many gamers like a bolt of lightning (and based on some of the spoilers that are surfacing in the project updates and other channels, I feel it’s safe to say that they’re not just paying lip service to their promises). All in all, I think Exalted 3rd edition will be the definitive edition that it needs to be.
The folks at Onyx Path are also no strangers to crowd funding. They’ve launched (and funded) several high profile projects (well, from a table top gaming perspective…), all with similar intent to this one–to publish a deluxe edition of a core rule book. Since OPP has moved away from traditional print runs, towards a focus on PDF and POD products, these projects have enabled them to produce printed books of an exceptional quality without the gamble that typical dead tree runs entail (distribution, warehousing, etc.). In the case of Exalted, these deluxe editions come with a beautiful gold leatherette cover, or for the ultra deluxe connoisseur a cover featuring a sheet of golden metal engraved with glyphs, meant to evoke Creations most precious resource, orichalcum. I’ve opted for the leather myself, but I will live in jealousy of all the backers at the “orichalcum level” (though I do have the distinction of being one of the lucky few who can add a prehistoric creature of their choosing to the book’s bestiary–go-go pledge rewards!)
The project is doing extremely well–it funded in under 20 minutes, and has continued to climb, knocking down stretch goal after stretch goal. Well publicized (among fans of Exalted, anyway), the project benefitted from a strong initial showing, but the numbers continue to impress nearly a full week in. I would not be entirely surprised if Exalted 3rd edition claims the top spot for revenue generated on Kickstarter among RPG’s.
For those new to the game, I can’t stress enough how profoundly excellent the concepts behind Exalted are. The team working on this project are unparalleled in their passion for the line. If you’re new to the game, I recommend buying in at the PDF level–it’s totally worth it. But I promise that if you do, in retrospect you’ll probably regret not picking up one of the beautiful limited edition hardcovers. It’s just that good.