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Exalted: the Dragon-Blooded

$29.95. Published on April Fool's Day, 2002; 294 pages. Hardcover.

Writers: Bryan Armor, Richard Dansky, Heather Grove, Ellen P. Kiley, James Kiley, James Malizewski, and Hal Mangold.

Review total: 1

Review by MidKnight

(This is the review I did for WhiteWolf when they ran the contest to promote Dragon-Blooded on release. Scored me a pair of limited ed. Vampire guides for it, too. -MidKnight)

To review Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded in itself would seem a daunting task, the scope of the book itself is vast, but once you read it you know no matter how vast, you yet crave more when the last page is read to the end. This is, though, only praise when such is not the only facet of any review, there are similarly bad points to, not distract from, but complement the good. As paradoxical as that may seem. To begin one simply needs to open the book and read the fiction that heads each chapter, from these snippets you find that life as a Terrestrial Exalted is as large, or as small, as a clever Story Teller wishes it to be.

The book begins by telling the story of one Tepet Ejava, the Roseblack, weary of battle, yet surrounded by all sides by such, either physical, spiritual or political. The fiction flows to show more depth of the plans within plans that the various Houses use in contention to gain the power of the Scarlet Throne, to rule all of Creation as the Empress once had. The first chapter begins with just this, the history of the Throne, the beginnings of the would-be Empress and limited telling of the history before. As time has shown, though, the winner will always write the history as they see fit and it is refreshing to see that it too rings true with the Terrestrial Exalts. From the history of, to the creation of numerous branches under the Empress, to Prefectures of land the very first chapter spans, once you have finished the 81 pages of solid information you find yourself with all you need to understand the Dragon-Blooded. At least one perspective of it, each player will see it differently.

The second of seven chapters begins with a familiar showcase, the Houses of the Dragon-Blooded themselves, but in a different form, not simple descriptions of the Houses as the core had given, but each has a life of it's own in Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded. From the lines that spring from the families, to how each conducts business, to such airy things as each Houses goals you begin to have yet a stronger pull towards the Dragon-Blooded themselves. Seeing them not as the faceless, murderous slayers of the Solar Exalted, but as a sort of anti-hero, fighting battles within the Realm, within their Houses and lastly within themselves. With this knowledge you feel empowered, like there is no more you could learn about them, but it continues, to speak of their stages of life, schooling, their places in society and how the simple act of living becomes something greater than just being an Exalted of the Elemental Dragons.

The third and fourth chapters being with the creation process of a Terrestrial, a very clean and precise step-by-step walkthrough, it also expands upon such as the inflated connections many Terrestrial have and how these Backgrounds would different from that of a Solar. The final part of the fourth chapter is as you would see in any book that represents a faction, the descriptions of the five Elemental Aspects, detailing the powers of the animas of each along with information on how each differs in outlook depending upon each Elemental Dragon the Terrestrial idealizes. The fifth chapter is the section for the Charms of the Dragon-Blooded, along with expanded and altered rules for such things as Combos the Terrestrial might have and the usage of Charms, all while conveying a primal sense about them.

Chapter Six begins with the story of Peleps Deled and shows how, yes, the Dragon-Blooded could be the thoughtless murderers of the Solar Exalted the Exalted Core would have them seen. To begin the chapter detailing the five Elemental Martial Art Styles this spot of fiction, in conjunction with the rest, shows how a Dragon-Blooded concept can be as empowered or heartless as one wishes. It was wide enough to cover anything a fruitful mind could create. The styles themselves, each the product of years upon years of training, are very well thought out, clean, and ultimately very powerful, you see just why the Terrestrial are not a force to be put aside when compared to a Solar's flame. Reading through them you cannot help but have an 'over the top' feeling about them, as they should be, the Dragon-Blooded tapping into the Essence of the Dragon's themselves and channeling it into spectacular effects that become simply awe-inspiring.

The final chapter, the chapter that helps a would-be Story Teller, expands upon ideas that found themselves presented earlier in the book. It explains how they, described as frail, are not as weak as they would seem to be. How they can band together, how they have decades upon decades of training to draw upon when the fledging Solar may have months or years. It helps explain the appearance they must make in the Realm, how they would present themselves in 'polite company' and what they possess more than any other Exalt, the power of the world around them. People see them, and have for many lifetimes, as the saviors of Creation, driving back the Wyld and protecting them from the Anathema. By the end of the chapter you are presented with so many options if you are deciding to run a chronicle of your own, from a school-yard adventure to a story that would shatter the beliefs of the Immaculate's and present the truth for everyone's eyes.

In all, Dragon-Blooded would have to be one of the best books White Wolf has published, it is clean and clear, there is little confusion when it comes to any of the technical and the story flows as easily as the history. This isn't to say there are no complaints, though, the major point that many may dislike is the size of the book, while the price ($29.95) is reasonable the almost 300 pages of material that yet requires the Exalted Core to play becomes a problem. While any that fell in love with Exalted would see this as a trifle thing, those that wish to begin, perhaps even begin with Dragon-Blooded, may see the amounts of material simply too much. While having no place to call anyone wordy, this reviewer saw many parts that could've been slated for a different book or left out to save some space as eye-strain on the reader. It is hard to say a book is 'good' or 'bad', but to anyone that has read or even flipped through Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded and become enamored it is one that makes saying 'This book is good' so easy.

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