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Exalted: Essence

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Exalted Essence BattleChosen by the gods, their power tempered only by human hearts, the Exalted are all that stand between Creation and the forces that would ruin the world. Set in a rich and intriguing setting that draws from real-world histories and fantasy archetypes, Exalted has thrilled players across three editions.

Exalted: Essence is a streamlined version of Exalted Third Edition, designed to welcome new players and reintroduce old friends to the world of Creation. It contains all the mechanics and advice players and Storytellers need to run complete games of Exalted: Essence, though setting material and character, place, and creature ideas can be supplemented by the core line’s content.

All the material in the book is compatible with Exalted Third Edition, so new and established fans can collect the core line’s books and use them with a beginner-friendly and less mechanically dense system. Inside you will find:

  • Rules for creating all 10 Exalt types: Solars, Dragon-Blooded, Lunars, Exigents, Sidereals, Abyssals, Infernals, Getimians, Liminals, and Alchemicals.
  • A brief overview of Creation, so players and Storytellers can dive right in.
  • Rules for Universal and Exalt-specific Charms, Artifacts, Martial Arts, Sorcery and Necromancy, and more!
  • Advice for running and playing Exalted with mixed parties or same-Exalt parties, in multiple interesting styles of play

Exalted: Essence is not a revision to the Exalted Third Edition system, nor is it an outright replacement. Instead, Exalted: Essence provides an alternate framework to interact with the characters, setting, and story of Exalted. Where the Exalted Third Edition game features a robust system of mechanics and rewards system mastery, Exalted: Essence streamlines the system, shifting focus to the characters and story. Exalted: Essence paints in bold, bright colors, showcasing epic tales of action, intrigue, and heroism, whereas Exalted Third Edition delves deep into the details, allowing you to examine individual brush strokes and each thread of the tapestry.

Both games are tales of the Exalted, set in the same world of Creation. Both share the same characters, have the same histories and geographies, and chronicle the same epic legends. Exalted: Essence and Exalted Third Edition simply provide different interfaces to connect with the world of Exalted. The systems are not designed to mix-and-match — they're different engines powering the same car — but all of the lore for the setting, all of the information about Creation presented in either game is consistent and equally valid.

Exalted Essence Page Spread Chapter Two

Exalted: Essence includes:

  •  Chapter One: Welcome to Creation is a brief rundown of the setting, and what it is that players’ characters do. It touches on where Creation is now, with some nods to the past. It also introduces the cosmology of Creation, brief bits of all eight directions, and some of the lands beyond, like the Wyld. The chapter also features Storyteller advice on the real-world inspirations for the cities and cultures of Creation and how to incorporate them in your characters and your game.
  •  Chapter Two: The Exalted gives a rundown of all 10 Exalt types, their innate Exalted abilities, and why you would want to play one, in addition to their anima and caste or aspect abilities.
  •  Chapter Three: Character Creation explains the process of building an Essence character. It includes how to spread your points, pick your Exalt type, pick your Caste and Aspect from within that type and apply those modifications and abilities. Additionally, it explains how to pick your Charms, Backgrounds, Merits, and any other customization you may require.
  •  Chapter Four: Systems comprehensively covers all the new mechanical systems and explains them in a clear and concise manner that’s easy for beginners to read and understand.
  •  Chapter Five: Storytelling  addresses how to run a game of Exalted: Essence. This section goes in depth to the hows and whys of playing the game. Exalted is a game that can include many different play styles; this chapter extensively covers them.
  •  Chapter Six: Charms includes Universal Charms, which all Exalts can learn, as well as their Modes when applicable, which do not have an additional cost. It also includes Exalt Charms that encapsulate the flavor and feeling of being that Exalt type. Also in this chapter are Martial Arts and Sorcery.
  •  Chapter Seven: Antagonists details enemies the Exalted might face, from Wyld-touched brigands to mighty war gods and other Exalts. It also covers animals, which double as rules for Lunar spirit shapes.
  •  Chapter Eight: Panoply covers equipment, including mundane gear, Hearthstones, Artifacts and their Evocations, and other wonders.
  •  Appendix: Character Conversion is a brief overview of how to convert a character and their Charms from Essence to Exalted Third Edition, and vice versa. It also covers custom Charm creation for Essence and Exigent Charm creation.

Also available from Onyx Path Publising:

LegendloreLegendlore Core Rulebook

“You are a healer, Marjorie. One of the gods is with you.”

— Silverfawn to Marjorie after her first healing spell

The Realm of Legendlore sits on an unstable nexus of reality and sees many visitors from other worlds. You are such a visitor.

In Legendlore, you have Crossed from Earth into East Azoth and become a changed version of yourself — a songwriter finds themself a bard, a scientist a wizard. You might find yourself in a whole new body to better match your true self, including adopting a new fantasy race.

Legendlore offers a diverse and inclusive world filled with adventure and mystery. Fight megalomaniacal dictators, explore magic and strange science, and claim your Legend as you find a way back home. 


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Reviews (16)
Discussions (8)
Customer avatar
Brandon P July 18, 2024 10:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What was changed in the update? Could we get a changelog summary?
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Customer avatar
Nanouk H July 19, 2024 8:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
Came here to ask the same thing. What's changed?
Customer avatar
Nolan-Ryan R September 24, 2023 4:10 am UTC
Hey I know previous editions had explicit nudity in them which made playing/running with certain people awkward. Is this still the case in this edition?
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Customer avatar
Mark R September 26, 2023 5:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
Third Edition in general has been steering away from this. For Essence, the closest thing I've seen to nudity is some shirtless masculine characters.
Customer avatar
James D August 10, 2023 2:19 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm enjoying this book so far...are any resources coming out for it? Like a GM Screen or Resource books?
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Customer avatar
Mark R August 10, 2023 2:56 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yes! The Kickstarter campaign funded a bunch of things:
Storyteller Screen
Pillars of Creation (Companion book)
Tomb of Memory (Jumpstart & Ready-made Characters)
Deeds Yet Undone (Adventure Scenario Trilogy)
3 Novellas
Virtual Tabletop Token Pack
Charm Cards PDF
Digital Wallpaper
Sidenote: Setting books for 3e, such as The Realm and the upcoming Across the Eight Directions, may also complement well with Essence.
Customer avatar
Dexter P July 17, 2023 6:25 pm UTC
Is this going to lead to the same issue 1st Ed had, with each new supplement now needing TWO sets of rules for every new NPC/creature/group?
Reply
Customer avatar
Mark R July 18, 2023 6:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
My understanding is that, except for a companion book which will have some sections from the Kickstarter stretch goals, Essence is complete. Beyond that, if you want future 3e material in your Essence game, then you will likely have to modify it yourself or look for help on a forum. Based on what I've read so far, the manuscripts for Sidereals and Exigents don't seem to have any specific support for Essence.
Customer avatar
Bearcat M July 07, 2023 7:56 am UTC
PURCHASER
I ran Exalted 1st and 2nd edition for about 15 years. It's been about 5 years since I've run a game. My partner has never played in an RPG, but I know they'd love the character types and world. Would it work to start in Essence, and move to 3rd ed after all the main books come out and she's comfortable? I assume it's not difficult to migrate up.
Reply
Customer avatar
Mark R July 08, 2023 4:33 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Essence includes an appendix specifically about converting between Essence and 3e. Anecdotally, I've found it fairly easy to adapt hearthstones and artifacts from the 3e core and Arms of the Chosen. I'd also consider sharing the setting-focused books with your partner, such as The Realm and Across the Eight Directions (when it comes out).
Reply
Customer avatar
Luke W July 19, 2023 4:09 am UTC
PURCHASER
Or just stick with Essence. Its a good robust system with much less of the hassle.
Customer avatar
Erik W June 28, 2023 11:06 pm UTC
How hard is it to convert material from previous editions? I have all the Second edition books I LOVED the lore, characters, and such but always found the rules too obtuse to run. Id love a streamlined system that I could use my old books with and just convert NPCs and such over but not have to reinvent the wheel.
Reply
Customer avatar
Mark R June 28, 2023 11:53 pm UTC
PURCHASER
First of all, keep in mind Essence is a streamline of Exalted 3e, so right away you'd have to adapt to some key new ideas, such as withering and decisive attacks. I think if you're trying to take a previous character concept and rebuild it, you could make an Essence character that feels good. I think trying to port them straight in dot-for-dot will be a recipe for frustration and dissatisfaction. Also, if you're trying to bring a previously played character in, you should know the developers have explained that this book focuses heavily on an awesome starting experience over having tons of support for the upper tiers of powers. There's eventually supposed to be a companion book that might have more high-tier charms, spells, etc.

That said, it's super open about how everything was designed and explicitly invites people to expand and tinker with everything. If you make a new character and try a session, you can probably start to see where you could modify things.
Customer avatar
Mark R June 15, 2023 1:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
Why are there two final versions? How are they different?
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Customer avatar
Jeffrey M June 18, 2023 8:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
One is “premium”. The other one is “standard”. Premium is better color. There is a noticeable difference.

https://support.drivethrurpg.com/hc/en-us/articles/209936943-What-is-the-difference-between-B-W-Premium-Color-and-Standard-Color-
Reply
Customer avatar
Mark R June 19, 2023 5:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
No, those are physical editions; that's not what I'm talking about. After purchase of the PDF, there are 3 files: the character sheet and 2 versions of the final PDF.
(Exalted_Essence_Character_Sheet_Interactive.pdf)
(Exalted_Essence_(Final_Download).pdf)
(Exalted_Essence_(Final_Download_v2).pdf)
I'd just like to know what the difference between Final_Download and Final_Download_v2 is. I downloaded both and they have slightly different file sizes. I was hoping the publisher could enlighten us all, so we don't have to go page by page to compare them.
Reply
Customer avatar
Brian D June 19, 2023 6:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I believe the cover art was updated to a higher resolution for v2. Apparently, the system wouldn't accept their attempt to just update v1 with the new file. As far as I know, that was the only update so far.
Customer avatar
David W June 14, 2023 6:37 pm UTC
Needs a better preview than a materials sheet if I'm going to take a chance on it.
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Customer avatar
Matt M June 14, 2023 8:56 pm UTC
DRIVETHRURPG.COM STAFF
Previews are updated.
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Customer avatar
David W June 14, 2023 9:34 pm UTC
Much better, thank you.
Reply
Customer avatar
Alexander B June 15, 2023 3:05 pm UTC
Full-size preview link is linking to the DriveThruRPG home page.
Reply
Customer avatar
David W June 15, 2023 4:11 pm UTC
It's working normally for me.
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File Last Updated:
July 18, 2024
This title was added to our catalog on June 14, 2023.