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Saturday 15 April 2017

Classic Rant: Exalted Vs. Superheroes

Let's compared Exalted to superheros, shall we?
On the one hand, I could go with the really easy one: Batman. Batman is uber-cool because he's just a normal person, who by the sweat and blood of his brow and determination has become one of the three most badass entities of the DC pantheon of heroes. Everyone is scared of him, even dudes who can blow up planets, but he's just a dude. You could never do that with exalted, and an Exalted, no matter how powerful, could NEVER be as cool as Batman because the Exalted is only "cool" as far as having his unearned powers are concerned, whereas Batman is cool because he does what he does WITHOUT powers.

But like I said, that's the easy one. Let's go for the hard one: Superman.
On the surface, wouldn't Superman be just like the Exalteds? I mean, Superman didn't EARN his powers, did he? No, he was born unto them, come down from heaven like the son of god, with all his mightily might given to him chalk-free from the rays of the yellow son.
So why do I like Superman but hate Exalted?
Because Superman is a God who comes down to the level of human beings. The moral of the story of Superman is "you have all these incredible powers, but in the end don't EVER forget that what makes you who you are is the fact that you were raised a Kansas farmboy, by parents who loved you, and helped you be a good MAN".
Superman isn't about escaping humanity, its about confirming it. In his identity as Clark Kent, in his love for Lois Lane, in his Smallville roots, in the fact that he's willing to die rather than let one single human life be lost if he can help it.

In Exalted, on the other hand, its loser-humans giving up their Humanity to try to pretend that they're above it all, that they're superior to the unwashed masses, and thinking of them only as fodder to be used or crushed like bugs. Human beings simply do not matter, either in the grand scheme of things or to the Exalteds themselves, because the game is made for players who hate the whole idea of "just" being a Kansas farmboy, who hate the mundanity of humanity, who want to imagine that they are, just by virtue of being themselves, superior to everyone else and deserving of special recognition for the mere fact of their existence, and who certainly don't give a fuck about regular humanity; regular humanity to them are the parents that "misunderstand" them, the bullies that picked on them in school, the girls who never wanted to date them, the teachers who didn't like their bad poetry, all of the society that they cannot find a place to belong in because they're not willing to actually work at belonging. So they loathe humanity, because deep down they loathe themselves.
Exalted is the exact opposite of superheroes as a genre.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Classic Series Rhodesian + Burlington's Lapis

(Originally Posted May 27, 2007)


  1. WW always had that adolescent "you were the kid who was picked on at school but now you're gonna show them" vibe. Very annoying imo.

  2. I was never attracted to White Wolf RPGs to begin with even in their heyday of the late 1990's. Too much angst. I had enough issues with C-PTSD and depression in adolescent and the last thing I needed was angsty RPGs. I preferred RPGs where, unlike my life, my characters had agency and a chance to make their lives, and other people's lives, better - such as D&D and Traveller.

    Plus vampires should be villains. Not angst-ridden anti-heroes. I am preparing Curse of Strahd right now and its vampires are far more appealing to me (as villains) than anything The Masquarade could ever produce. They are evil. Tragic evil, but evil nonetheless. Evil for player characters to bash with a Sunsword and a Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.

  3. Perhaps Exalted could be renamed to The Annointed , in a nod to Thomas Sowell.

  4. Never heard of Exalted. Is that a CW teen show?

    1. It's a high-fantasy RPG published by White Wolf:

    2. The CW should pick it up and cast some pretty 20-sonethings as teens. Sounds like their Audience would go for it.