Here's where I get to rant about what's inspired my "Exalted" the most. I'm sure I'll add to this page randomly as I remember more.
I read a lot, and the written word is my natural art form (by which I mean the one instinctively express myself with). It would take me forever to list all the books I love, so I'm going to limit myself here to books that have reminded me explicitly of "Exalted" or directly inspired my games. If it weren't for the excellent WikiSpam-fighting tool that the fabulous Xyphoid implemented recently, I'd try to give links for these works, but I haven't the patience to add them singly. If you're having trouble finding a book and haven't tried your local library and its interlibrary loan system, then I most highly recommend Half.com as a source.
- Tanith Lee is my favourite author. She's a genius. The "Exalted" line does list some of her work as worth reading, but if you limit yourself to what White Wolf recommends, you'll be missing out. There are, however, three warnings you should keep in mind: (1) Most of her work is out of print. Even I haven't read all of it, and I've read more of it than anyone I've ever known. Finding some of it requires real dedication. (2) One of her strengths is that her style is incredibly flexible. This also means that there is a wide variance in the quality and style of her work. I particularly enjoy her earlier work and advise avoidance of much of her later stuff, but that's just me. (3) The only real complaint I have about her writing is that she enjoys addressing twisted sexual issues -- all the time. The majority of her books contain rape scenes, incest, or other (sometimes stranger) sexual taboo-breakers.
- Cyrion should have been listed in "CasteBook Night". It's a spectacular set of stories about a mysterious, brilliant, and heroic-in-kind-of-a-sideways way man whose story we never fully learn; we merely hear bits and pieces of it, seeing him through the eyes of a variety of storytellers. Don't miss it; it's an absolute masterpiece. (Also, it totally lacks sexual bizarritude.)
- The Birthgrave was Lee's first book (its two sequels were Vazkor, son of Vazkor and Quest for the White Witch, both of which were listed in "CasteBook Dawn" with no reference to their predecessor). It's not perfect, but if you have extra time it's worth reading. In "Exalted" terms, it's particularly interesting because it thoroughly demonstrates some of the ways in which a truly powerful (one might say unbeatable) person can be brought low, used and enslaved.
- Mortal Suns is a comparatively recent work, and I didn't like it that much, but it is set in a sun-worshipping kingdom and has some great potential examples of Solar omens, symbolism and worship.
- Illusion, by Paula Volsky, was one of my favourite books growing up. It's a kind of magical French Revolution-esque story (in which, coincidentally, the ruling class is called the Exalted), and helps epitomize an insensitive, out-of-touch ruling class a bit like the Dynasty. (To be honest, this book has very little to do with "Exalted" even as a stretch, but it did inspire my favourite character's backhistory a little bit, so there.)
- The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, by Tad Williams, is only tangentially related (in the same fashion as Illusion), but it's a great example of some relatively stereotypical, Tolkienesque genre fantasy that nevertheless is a powerful, well-realized and moving tale in its own right. (In order: The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower Parts I & II.)
I don't really watch TV and I suspect that any movies I think of will be things you've already seen. Still:
- "Jesus Christ Superstar" is not a musical you're going to like if you don't like musicals already, but if you do, you should check it out. People snap-judge it without having heard it or seen it; don't be one of them. One of the best parts about it is that everyone in the whole movie is trying to do the right thing; the only one we end up doubting is God, and that makes a great model for the "Exalted" universe, in which most antagonists are just trying to do what they think is right and the Unconquered Sun is busy indulging in celestial crack. Obviously, Jesus makes a great Zenith Caste; the priests are good Sidereals; etc, etc, etc.
- "La Femme Nikita" was first a movie, then was remade into another movie ("Point of No Return"), and then was made into a TV series ("La Femme Nikita" again) with the gorgeous Peta Wilson (who apparently has an underground following for her portrayal of a lesbian vampire; who knew? -- and yes, I've heard the bad lesbian vampire joke). The movies are pretty good, but I have a special place in my heart for the series, which makes me hate Sidereals more every time I watch it. It resembles nothing so much as a whole bunch of Sidereals heartlessly manipulating both the entire world and Nikita, who's sort of like that stereotypical naïve, idealistic Gold Faction Solar who always thinks she knows what's going on.