Chambers of Love: Valentine's Day 2--Electric Boogaloo Edition


Hey, gang. I’m back from vacation, all bright tailed and bushy eyed, with another installment of Chambers of Love. Has it already been a year I’ve been doing these columns? Appropriately enough given the title of my column and that it’s the anniversary of my original Valentine’s Day entry, this week we’re going to talk about love and romance in gaming, both within the roleplaying games themselves and around the table between the players.

 

I know a lot of people who are perfectly fine roleplaying romantic encounters and even full-on NC-17 sexual situations, but I’ve got to say, it’s always made me uncomfortable. Then again, I’m not exactly an extrovert, nor am I demonstrably affectionate in public, raised as I was by robots. Still, it impresses me when done well (well, the romance does anyway—scenes of getting it on always seem to come off creepy), since when you think about it, love is one of the prime motivators (if not the prime motivator) of storytelling. From Homer through Shakespeare and right up to modern storytellers such as Joss Whedon, love has been used to drive tales forward and to heighten drama. If you can pull off a moving love scene around a gaming table in someone’s living room or basement, it can be just as powerful as it can be in the theater or at the movies. Again, as something I’m not good at myself, it just serves to impress me that much more.

 

Now, when it comes to love that blossoms around the gaming table itself, I’m a bit more in my element. My wife and I met at a friend’s Mage: The Ascension game, and we first fell for each other around that same gaming table. I’ve known a number of people who’ve had similar experiences, and it’s no wonder. If you meet someone in that sort of situation, you’ve already got something in common (assuming the person wasn’t just pressured to play by another), and with hardcore gamers, who are often quite passionate about their hobby, finding someone else who “gets it” can be tremendously gratifying. In addition, gamers are oftimes forged by the same sorts of other interests and backgrounds as well, so gaming is seldom the only thing two will have in common.

 

But enough about me and my experiences. How about you folk? Do you have either a powerful in-game romantic scene that you’ll never forget or someone you met through the hobby who has come to play an important part of your life? It’s Valentine’s Day, people. Time to share the love.

Behind the Lines: Changes A'Comin' (#39)

Some people say that gamers are inherently conservative. Others say that people are inherently conservative, and gamers are just a subset thereof. Now, this isn't talk about politics, mind: it's a discussion of that big mess of psychology that deals with how we approach things we ran into at a formative stage and stuff that changes the material of our formative stage. Consider, for example, any 200X adaptation of any 198X cartoon, comic book or toyline. You'll find some people who absolutely love every single change, some who say "YOU'RE RUINING EVERYTHING," and pretty much a great slew of reactions in between. Anyone who was a kid and owned a Transformer in the '80s probably has an opinion on the latest movie, for instance, and can probably think of someone who has the exact opposite opinion.

Me, I think that people have two particular classifications for things that give us pleasure: the comforting and familiar, and the exciting and new. There's a reason sometimes you want to try a new restaurant that sounds great, and sometimes you want plain old comfort food from your favorite joint. Sometimes you're sick of sequels, sometimes a sequel is the most-anticipated movie of the year. And, of course, movies try to capitalize on both at once by giving us "exciting and new" adaptations of the "comforting and familiar." So do other works, of course. And heck, you could probably argue that sex is a fusion of both at once (if you're doing it right), at least after the first time or so.

I bring this up because last week I went down and got a look at some of the changes that are in store for the site. You may have noticed the sticky about the changeover to the web forums, for instance. That's part of it. They're good changes, and some of them are very exciting. Stuff that I probably can't talk about, but suffice to say there's the desire to have people want to hang out at our site more, and have more cool stuff to see and do there. And it's a strong enough argument for the implementation coming that us employees are starting to feel the same way: looking forward to the new site, and how to muck around with it ourselves. Good stuff a'coming.

And, of course, there's the whole business of game design. I could probably go on for some time about the shift between Worlds of Darkness, and the desire to fuse comfortable and familiar with new and exciting. In fact, I think everyone has their own opinion about that, but honestly, let's draw back out a bit. Because it goes deeper than that.

I'm a strong proponent of the school of thought that novelty is not in and of itself a virtue. If you have something completely new, completely unlike anything seen before, you have no real frame of reference for a viewer. Vampire: The Masquerade was chock-full of new and exciting twists on an old, familiar theme: honest-to-goodness Halloween vampires. If you had tried to do a game of Personal Horror that went dramatically away from the familiar, it would be harder to make the horror personal, as there'd be fewer points of connection with the audience. It would be a neat read — though perhaps reliant on a reader's hunger for "new and exciting' — but really hard to play. And I think every Storyteller out there is well aware of how tricky it is to be able to surprise your players and give them new things they haven't seen before while still maintaining their connection to the setting. You want them to have a sense of the world before something new about it surprises them.

Why, yes. This line of thought is informing Geist: The [edit: Not yet, sorry! — Kelley]. New and exciting? Well, there's a reason it's got a name we've never used before. And there's a pretty critical rule we're bending (breaking, even) that we haven't done yet in any game, I think. But is there comforting and familiar stuff there? Yes. I daresay you'll run across things that you've had in the back of your mind for years and years. That's the foundation we lay, and the rest of the crazy messed-up stuff we build can sprout out from there.

As long as I'm here, I'll selfishly ask for feedback. What are your favorite examples of stuff that changed that you liked best? Where did you find your expectations strangely subverted, only to find that the aspect of change also threw a familiar kernel of an idea into relief? I mean, this can be about anything if you like (even, yes, "His truck form is different but it's still Peter Cullen!"), but obviously the World of Darkness examples help me out the absolute most. And stories about revelation and what you find exciting tend to be good ones. We like good stories, right?

Behind the Lines: Let Me Tell You About My Character (#37)

Late late, like a white rabbit holding a watch. Things happen, don't they? Quite a lot of that around here of late... but eh, that's hardly newsworthy.

So let's talk about something else. Let's talk about characters.

The roleplaying game is an interesting beast. It produces war stories, and to some extent war heroes. To some extent those stories are universal; to some extent they are absolutely context-related, the Platonic ideal of "you had to be there." The more complicated the context, the more you have to explain to your listener to get across why this particular dice roll, or this one witty quip, utterly electrified the group around you. Now to some extent, that's one of the advantages of not just a shared system, but also a shared world setting. People already understand the context. It's one thing to tell your fantastic Vampire: The Requiem war story to people who also play the game — it's a little trickier to get the gist of it succinctly to gamers who don't know the World of Darkness. And explaining the whole of it to people who don't play at all? Yeah. It can be tricky. It's only complicated by the fact that really great characters don't exist in a vacuum. I mentioned Romeo and Juliet last time. You can sum up Romeo rather easily, but try getting what makes his story great without explaining his father, his best friend, his hated rival. Good characters come with a lot of ties to other characters, and that makes establishing context even more tricky.

But I'm not here to talk about swapping stories at conventions or bookstores, exactly, though the example is instructive. You see, there's an authorial and developmental aspect to this, too. After all, one of our primary goals is to relate to you the story of a character in such a fashion that you can find it interesting and useful. We need to provide sufficient context that a character make sense, but not so much that the reader's eyes glaze over. And — here is the tricky part — good character design on our end means creating characters that make sense in a different context, specifically whatever situation and environment you folks may choose to throw them into. They should be able to drop into a chronicle, bringing whatever makes them interesting in the first place with them without overwriting the Storyteller and players' own creations.

This is a tall order. It requires some measure of passion on our part, writing about the kind of characters we find particularly interesting, but not buying into our own hype. Get too enamored of how strong and clever you want a vampiric prince to appear, and you essentially eliminate reasons or opportunities for readers to use him. Consider the trap that some novice authors (and Storytellers) fall into — the trap of "would never." Think of a Hierarch who "would never" fall for the wiles of a seductive character — in the attempt to try and portray her as resolute and full of integrity, you both are outright saying "there is no point trying" to the player of a seductive character, and you are giving her no reason to participate in a certain sub-classification of storyline. How much more interesting is it to say that the Hierarch is incredibly resistant to such an approach, and then to consider what sort of character might indeed have success in seducing her? Absolutes close doors. I'll admit I wrote some absolutes myself in my day, but I honestly think that leaving some wiggle room without being wishy-washy makes characters more real.

Good characters make people want to use them. Really good characters encourage people to use them well. You can see how we erred on the side of the absolute and the "overwrite your chronicle" in the previous incarnation of the World of Darkness, and you can probably also see how we were more sensitive to characters inhabiting your context and less inclined to have them bring context of their own for a while. But of course, really strong characters do have to bring some context with them. What good is a feared serial killer if he doesn't bring a legend, or a vendetta that might cry out to target a character in your chronicle? 

With the absence of metaplot, creating characters has been a matter of taking snapshots and profiles, and prettying them up for self-insertion. It's not about creating characters that will change the world no matter what your players do. It's about creating characters that will tempt you to invite them into your games, and that will spark actions by their very presence. Now, metaplot was a great way of establishing just how frightening or resourceful one of our little guys could be, but without that we have to rely all the more on just plain good writing. The Night Horrors semi-series is a big example of us giving that a shot: trying to lead by example, to create icons and archetypes with fully realized forms. Giving you people you want to interact with, that you can drop into a chronicle and watch the sparks fly.

It's always going to be a tricky bit of business; after all, "interesting" and "provocative" are not exactly objective descriptors. But it's our job; characters we create are a utility (asuming they're usable at all), and with any luck they'll be fun to read about to boot. And as challenges go, it's always a rewarding one.

Chambers of Love: Prison Penpal Errata and Such


The following is reproduced verbatim from a letter I received yesterday, with my answers to my prison penpal's questions interspersed throughout in different color text. I didn’t know Exalted was popular in prison! That’s oddly exciting.

 

To White Wolf,

 

I am a federal prisoner and have ordered and received Exalted 2nd Edition and The Manual of Exalted Power—The Dragon-blooded. After Reading them and speaking to the gaming group there are three things that I am asking if you could expand on or what books the are present in.

 

Sure thing.

 

First, the demon realms and all things malfean are there any supplements released that have a more exhaustive detail? What are Infernal Exalted?

 

There hasn’t been a supplement released yet that expands on the realm of Malfeas, but The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. V—Malfeas is in editing right now. It will be out soon. As for Infernal Exalt, the term encompasses both the Green Sun Princes and the Exalted akuma. Basically, any Exalt who serves the Yozis and is reshaped body and soul to better do so. A Green Sun Prince is host to a Solar Exaltation twisted by the Yozis for their own dark purposes. Each such Infernal Exalt has access to powers beyond even the Exalted akuma and retains her freewill. Exalted akuma, on the other hand, are Exalts transformed into slaves of the Yozis in exchange for enormous power.

 

Second, the fair folk. Is there a second edition supplement that allows fair folk to be played? That greater details their powers and to use them as flushed out adversaries?

 

There is indeed. It’s Graceful Wicked Masques—The Fair Folk.

 

Third, spells and warstriders! Where can I find them? Is there a second edition supplement that details nothing but spells and warstriders?

 

These two things are split between two release. Warstrider rules and examples are to be found in The Books of Sorcery, Vol. I—Wonders of the Lost Age, while both sorcery and necromancy spells are in The Books of Sorcery, Vol. II—The White and Black Treatises.

 

I am also curious as to what dragon kings are?

 

The Dragon Kings are an ancient race of enlightened reptiles that ruled Creation and mankind before the events of the Primordial War. Degenerate remnants of the four breeds of Dragon Kings survive to the present day, most notably in the ruins of Rathess, their ancient capital.

 

Hey, while I am at it… in the [struck through "anatoginsti" here] antagonists section the God-Blooded have a “Inheritance” background. What is that?

 

It’s a Background that indicates the relative power of a God-Blood, based on the amount of supernatural power inherited from her divine parent. The Background is detailed in the upcoming Scroll of Heroes for all God-Bloods and more specifically for Demon-Blooded in The Manual of Exalted Power—The Infernals.

 

A game set in lost glory, where excess has led to destruction and loss, and returning … stigmatized into a world that so desperately hates and needs the solars … is a great game to play in prison.

 

I can see where that would be true.

 

What new releases are scheduled for Exalted? What is the entire available line up?

 

Upcoming new release include Graceful Wicked Masques—The Fair Folk, The Art of Exalted, The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. IV—The South, The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. V—The North, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Infernals, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Alchemicals, The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. V—Malfeas, Scroll of Exalts and a surprise or two that have yet to be announced.

 

As far as what’s already been released, there’s a great deal available: Exalted Second Edition, Exalted Storytellers Companion, Exalted Storytellers Screen, Exalted Character Sheet Pad, Exalted Dice Set, Return to the Tomb of 5 Corners, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Dragon-Blooded, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Lunars, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Sidereals, The Manual of Exalted Power—The Abyssals, The Books of Sorcery, Vol. I—Wonders of the Lost Age,  The Books of Sorcery, Vol. II—The White and Black Treatises, The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III—Oadenol’s Codex, The Books of Sorcery, Vol. IV—The Roll of Glorious Divinity I, The Books of Sorcery, Vol. V—The Roll of Glorious Divinity II, The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. I—The Blessed Isle, The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II—The Wyld, The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. III—Yu-Shan, The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. IV—The Underworld, The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. I—The Scavenger Lands, The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II—The West, The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. III—The East, Scroll of the Monk, Scroll of the Monk—The Imperfect Lotus, Scroll of Kings, The Mandate of Heaven, Lost Arts of the Dead, Daughter of Nexus, Exalted Battlewheel (free download), Exalted Charm Cards (free download) and Dreams of the First Age.

 

Not having internet access, and family and friends who aren’t that savvy with the internet makes it really hard to find out what is going on and what is up and coming. If there is any catalog that would be greatly appreciated.

 

There isn’t a printed catalog, but I’ll see what I can do.

 

Thank you very much for your time and patience. I so very much appreciate the help.

 

Not a problem.

 

Sincerely,

[NAME WITHHELD]

 

PS. Is Graceful Wicked Masques The Fair Folk released yet? If not when is it do? thx J

 

Interestingly, I was talking to my co-worker Jason just yesterday, and he informs me that the release date has now been moved again, this time to February 4th. trust me, I’m pissed and want my copy as well.

 

Well, that’s it for this week’s post. I’ll talk to you guys and gals in a couple of weeks. Till then, stay on the right side of the law so you can continue reading this LJ.

 

Behind the Lines: Mythbusting… and Mythbuilding (#36)

"There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt."
— Audre Lorde

One of the things that fascinates me most about building and playing RPGs is the aspect of myth. We talk quite a lot, justifiably so I believe, about Storytelling — that a game is telling a story, and one that grows organically as the characters react to things rather than follow a script. We've said before that this is a very basic human activity we indulge in. Yes, it started as soon as language started, and it influences so much of our lives. We ask flickering screens to tell us stories, and we share those stories in very abbreviated form the next day. History is a collection of stories that carries an insane amount of learning with it. Religion is stories, powerfull ones. So, for that matter, is science — the learning part, the moment of revelation, the explanation of what happened and how you saw a rule of the universe spin into crystalline clarity. We want to tell one another stories, and we want to hear good ones. Even if you've maybe heard part of the story before, in another form.

Now, the thing is that truly original stories are probably non-existent. Go reductive enough, and you can break down all stories into just a few categories. The most reductive (though probably least useful) is "Man vs. Man" and "Man vs. Nature." Another oft-cited grouping is "Boy Meets Girl," "The Little Tailor," and "A Man Learns a Lesson." Everything else is just tweaks on those story concepts: Boy Meets Girl, There Are Complications, It Ends Poorly. But it's those tweaks to the story concept that make it that particular story: two houses divided in fair Verona, the death of a beloved friend and a revenge exacted in blood, exile, poison, a tragic misunderstanding, and the somewhat ironic ending that both houses will now be unified without it doing their star-crossed scions any good. So while it isn't an original story, it is a fantasic one, one that inspires other people to take their own tweaks on that more elaborate story as a base. Like changing everything to the only street gangs in the world that do choreographed dance-offs and musical numbers before they knife each other in the streets. Or something.

Which brings us to what we do. And what we do is muck around with some of the oldest and most resonant stories we have, the ones that by their nature engender millions of offspring: myth.

The core of the World of Darkness (and Exalted and Scion but this column is technically about the WoD, so bug John for his take on this) is the concept that certain myths are true… to some extent. Yes, there are vampires and people that turn into animals and other people who can cast curses and blessings and the ghosts and spirits of the dead or of animals, all kinds of things. And all of these things are somewhat different than they might appear in any given mythological work. The World of Darkness is rooted in the familiar core of those myths, but what makes it the World of Darkness is also where we tweak the stories. The biggest tweak is the most obvious, the selling point: "The monsters are the protagonists." (Or perhaps more techincally, "Some of the monsters are the protagonists. Others are things that frighten even monsters." ) What makes things ours, from that point on, is the variety and detail of tweaks.

This is, truth be told, where I love my job. I love myth. I enjoy old stories. And like many other people, I like fooling around with them. Not in a deconstructionist way, but in a devoted tinkerer sort of way. It's like playing Monster Garage with actual monsters. Now, the thing is some myths can get kind of... unrecognizable if you cut out the heart. You don't want to go too far. Or rather, since "too far" is an entirely subjective metric, you have to be aware of the risks. For some, the Uratha (and the Garou before them) go "too far" from ordinary werewolf myth — but on the other hand, let's face it, they become eminently playable. They're a refinement of several aspects of werewolf myth, from European fear of the wolf to psychological "beast mind" musings to tribal animistic myths about animal-shifters. By not focusing on any one to the exclusion of others, you get more options. The same's true of Vampire, of all our things.

But as I said, it's subjective. We all have our favorite myths, and sometimes we want to treat them fairly literally, and sometimes we want to make them more gameable. You can probably tell a lot about an individual developer's personality by what they cram into a book. The original Followers of Set derived more from Robert E. Howard than actual Sutekh/Seth/Set myths. Werewolf: The Forsaken drew more heavily on the bite as an aspect of werewolf myth. At the same time, though, it retained the idea of being born a werewolf and having a First Change rather than the bite as actual transmission — in no small part because that was something that distinguished our werewolves, not just from most myths, but also from our other games. After all, a werewolf-as-transmitted-by-bite game could wind up being more like Vampire than was necessary, particularly if you could do bestial pseudo-lupine vampires in Vampire. And you can — because that's another great mythical archetype that we wanted to make gameable.

If anything, sometimes it's a bit tricky to actually break apart or reforge one of your favorite myths. Sure, it's easy to retell one you don't like. I'm guilty of that, having once redone the story of Scheherazade to reflect my own personal bias on the tale. (Short version: The ruler who marries a young woman every day and puts her to death after her wedding night deserves a happy ending no more than Bluebeard does.) But if you really like a myth, sometimes you just have to change something even though you like it as is. I've often said that I don't want to see WoD critters or characters that are 100% accurate to their sources. Why? Because then they don't belong in the WoD. They aren't an example of how things are different from our world, they're just walking Wikipedia entries that you can talk to. You need those changes, because then the work becomes… well, if not "more original," which is a fairly worthless metric, more ours.

And I don't mean ours just in the sense of "all intellectual properties are property of White Wolf, etc." I mean ours, as in yours and mine. Because in the act of telling a story, you make it your own. Every time. Just as a mother reading "Cinderella" to her children might distinctly make it her version by giving the evil stepsisters distinctly squeaky voices, every player and Storyteller (though we are all storytellers together) takes the story and elaborates on it further. The Mekhet gain a new spin in a chronicle with each new scene. An SAS goes from outline to story when the characters make it their own. Each new character, each new bloodline or fetish or kith or whatever rewrites a myth and makes it more relevant to the people telling the story anew. All the power of the myth, imbued with the potency of personal connection.

That's what's important. Somewhere in between being "original" and being "faithful," something becomes "relevant." And that's when stories start to mean something. As a developer, it's probably one of the best processes that goes on during the job. And if we, in some small way, help our customers to take those beautiful old stories and make them even more personally poignant and relevant to themselves and to their friends — well, then it's worth far more than just the fun we had doing it in the first place.

Chambers of Love: Holiday Presents Edition


So, the holidays are upon us, and with them comes the holiday crunch. There’s a lot of stuff to be wrapped up before the Exalted team can head out to spend time with their families this year, so I decided to give you folk a holiday gift that’s more visual than textual this week. In other words, because you’ve all been good boys and girls, you get to see some awesome Exalted preview artwork from some upcoming releases.

 

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Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the preview, and I hope you all have a happy holiday season.


Behind the Lines: Artifact Hunters (#35)

I have probably talked before about how opinions tend to be pretty split on things like in-character narration or fiction being treated as part of the actual "supplement" material of a supplement, rather than just flavor. Back in the days of the oWoD, many a book was written largely from an in-character perspective. The idea was that you would get a sense for the personality of whoever is discussing the topic, and that because it was in-character, Storytellers had some room to say "Well, on this point the narrator is wrong." All the information you need, just with a potentially biased or unreliable narrator, you were told, in-character even, that you didn't have to adhere to material if you had a better idea.

The trouble with unreliable narrators, though, is that they're unreliable. It was a controversial approach because people often felt cheated if they found out that, say, the Malkavian who was narrating the book could be lying to you, or just plain wrong. We tried to minimize the "unreliable" aspect here and there — in fact, I consider Dr. Douglas Netchurch, Malkavian though he was, one of the most reliable in-character narrators we ever created. Even so, when we went to the nWoD, we dropped the idea of having the IC narration take up most of a book. We wanted to present absolutely reliable information, even if that information was sometimes stating that certain things were outright mysteries.

But of course, there's still room for that in-character voice. And recently we've been toying with it more, often in the form of "artifact text." For those of you who haven't heard us use the term before, artifact text is a section of text that's presented to be some sort of excerpt or transcription from a document that's assumed to exist in the game world. Usually it's laid out a little differently; in some cases, it could be photocopied and handed to the players as a handout, assuming their characters found the documents in question. You see some of it here and there, but obviously the new Clanbooks are almost entirely artifact text. They represent bundles of information that a vampire could actually find in-game.

Now, the question I was asked recently (on these comments! You too can suggest topics for me to cover!) was whether or not artifact text is harder work for the development or production staff. From a development side, I'd say it's kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, you don't have to correct for potential bias. An OOC bit of description might require fine-tuning because an author is just a bit more biased than you would like to see, but in a text artifact, you only have to correct for bias if it's egregiously misleading, and not obviously so. Artifact text is an example, not quite a rule; it doesn't set policy, so to speak. On the other hand, you want to make it look right. I've talked about authorial tells before, and if an artifact text makes you think "Chuck Wendig is alive and well in the WoD and writing under a pseudonym!", well, maybe it's time to massage out the clearly visible Chuckisms so they don't distract. This is rarely a huge problem, but again, it goes back to the necessity of recognizing and accounting for writer tells.

And to some extent it's easier because it's fiction, in a way. Developing fiction is usually easier than developing rules, or at least lower-stakes; a not particularly inspiring fiction piece is not as critical to fix as a not particularly clear rules system. On the other hand, text artifacts are harder to account for in word count. A book may be the "proper" word count for its page count, only wind up running long because the artifact text takes up so much space per word by compare. That's something a developer should account for.

On the layout side: well, yes, artifact text is distinctly more problematic. It often involves a lot more font-chasing, scanning of textures, all kinds of things. Now our production team is one of the strongest in gaming, if not the strongest, so they're up to the challenge. Still, it can make them cranky, so we generally don't want to pull out lots of artifact text just for the sake of doing it. Of course, that's one of the general rules of development: if you're going to do something unusual, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Artifact text is fun to write. Seriously. But you can't just throw it in just to make the writing task more fun: you have to consider the audience, and whether it's the best thing for getting across the information that they are presumably paying for. 

So far, it seems that our forays into artifact text have been generally well-received. I sort of miss the days when we could expect the kind of numbers on pure artifact books like The Book of Nod or (my personal favorite) Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth. We can't just throw one out for every line these days, but I miss them; I have to admit a certain wrong-headed pleasure in the occasional letter we got from someone who mistook them for "the real thing," asking about the Truth behind the gospel of Caine or the secret language of Malfeas. But we're playing around with it more all the same, and the Clanbooks are certainly a fine piece of work. It can be troublesome work: but is it worth it? Does it work for you? I'm interested, as always, in seeing what you have to say about all this. Striking the balance between the fun of in-character texts and the raw utility of out-of-character text is always a tricky thing, and I'm curious as to where you think your ideal balance is. Let us know. The experiment is ongoing.

Chambers of Love: State of Creation (and the World)


Howdy, guys and gals. It’s been a while since the last State of Creation column, so I thought it was time to give you all an update on what’s happening and a preview of what’s coming down the pike for Exalted, and for Scion as well.

 

First off, Scroll of Fallen Races is in the warehouse, so that should be in stores for the holidays for all your Mountain Folk and Dragon King roleplaying needs. Similarly, Lost Arts of the Dead is up now for sale as a pdf, with a few new Arcanoi translated to second edition. Graceful Wicked Masques—The Fair Folk is not going to make it here for the holiday season, unfortunately, but it’ll be here in January. I hope that doesn’t screw up anyone’s “raksha at the Pole of Air and their jolly Twilight Caste master” Christmas games.

 

The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. IV—The South, meanwhile, is at the printer, while The Art of Exalted is wrapping up proofing and will be off to the printer by the end of the week. Then, it’ll be time for the long-awaited The Manual of Exalted Power—The Infernals to go into layout. Final art is coming in for that as I type these words. Meanwhile, I’m currently in the middle of redlining drafts for the Scroll of Heroes, a supplement devoted to playing mortals in the world of Exalted, and once that’s done, I’ll be finishing up the last bit of development on The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. V—Malfeas before sending that book into editing.

 

Beyond that, in the earlier stages of development, Dean Shomshak’s running the show on The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. V—The North for me, so I can concentrate on the development of The Manual of Exalted Power—The Alchemicals. Cool stuff coming there. Also coming up after that are the Scroll of Exalts, which is a big roster of movers and shakers from the setting (including all the sig characters), and a super-secret project that involves the return to the setting of a character we haven’t heard from in a while.

 

In addition to all that Exalted news, we’ve also got the Scion Companion going off to press this week. Eddy Webb has some great stuff in there, and Jessica Mullins has done a kickass job putting the final product together. I’m loving the way the World War II material has turned out, and I think you’ll dig it, too.

 

Well, that’s it for this biannual update, folks. I’ll be back to talk with you in a couple of weeks. Right now, I’m off to jump on some Exalted errata. Take care, everyone.