So the plan has been to put current gaming thoughts, mainly revolving around my Dark Sun game, up here on Fridays for the purpose of amusing myself and, perhaps, one or two of the players. But since November was a month without gaming, and since December has promised to be much the same, I’m out! I’ve nothing more to give! Hopefully someday, perhaps in January, I’ll have more to say about Dark Sun, but at the moment, it’s on hold, because of the stupid holiday season.
My wife Vero is interested in running an Exalted game in the new year, so maybe I should talk a little about that. Exalted, as you may well know, is a kitchen-sink fantasy RPG published by White Wolf from 2001 to, in theory, the current day. The production schedule has scaled way back, but that’s true of all of White Wolf’s product lines, not just Exalted. The game had a second edition in 2006, which completely failed to fix the problems I had with the first edition ruleset (in fact it exacerbated them, while solving other things I hadn’t thought of as problems). But I digress.
Vero and I have had a lot of history playing Exalted together. Back in 2002 when we met we started playing a game — the Adventures of Tarla Sha — about a lone Solar Exalted struggling against the world. The game continued, with some lenghty interruptions, until early 2004 or so as I recall. Then in the summer of 2004 I tried running Exalted for a full group of players, which went very badly. From 2005 to 2008ish, I played, rather than ran, Exalted, in a game run by my friend Jake up in Boston — a very fun game! In 2007 or so, when I divested myself of roughly half of my gaming books, I called Vero over to take any of the Exalted books that she wanted, before I sold them super-cheap to Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA; at that point I figured I’d never use them again.
In 2009 Vero and I started playing Exalted again, again me running for her, but as a lone Sidereal Exalted against the world. This game puttered along for a few months, but struggled a bit. In late 2009 we started a different game — TEAS, which I am not talking more about or even saying what the letters of the abbreviation stand for — which we play fairly regularly.
Of course, by “play” I mean converse about, because we do it entirely diceless and nearly systemless. Our choices are strongly informed by the system as we choose to understand it, and we both of us adore the enormous, sprawling, self-contradictory setting. Mostly we play on car rides or in coffee shops — Vero dreams I think of playing Exalted while simultaneously petting the dogs *and* playing World of Warcraft together, but I can’t split my attention so effectively as to manage that.
I’m just going to make a list of things I like about Exalted, and things I don’t like about it. Things I like: the sprawling setting, the cosmology, the character options and the role of the PC, the antagonists the game presents (ghosts, demons, and fairies), the magic systems (charms, sorcerery, geomancy, necromancy, thaumaturgy, and astrology are all separate systems; demonology is essentially a separate sub-system within sorcery), and the setting (so nice I mention it twice). Things I don’t like: the combat system, some of the vocabulary, and some more of the rules set. In late 2007 I advocated Jake’s game swap over to the Mutants and Masterminds system, which solved all of my problems with the game while creating a set of new ones I thought much more managable (mine was the minority opinion in the group, alas).
Why do I like the things I like? Why do I dislike the things I dislike? Why did I want to change systems, and why didn’t that work for other people? READ ON TO FIND OUT!
Don’t try to read on right now, though; try again next week.