White Wolf’s Exalted RPG takes place in a world shaped by the gods. In fact, the player characters are infused with divine power themselves. But what if you wanted to take on the role of a mere mortal (albeit a pretty powerful one) in a world wracked by cosmic forces? Scroll of Heroes lets you do just that.
I have to admit that I don’t totally “get” Exalted. It seems to be part pulp fantasy, part kung-fu anime action thriller, but everyone is a god. Those parts don’t really add up for me, but it is one of White Wolf’s most popular lines. Feel free to chime in on the comment thread about why I’m totally wrong and why you love Exalted.
Scroll of Heroes takes the interesting angle of dispensing with the setting’s central conceit (that all the characters are “Exalted” beings with divine powers) and allowing players to create mortals. Not just any mortals, though — you’ll be creating heroes who have their own complex powers and connections to the weird cosmic beings who play such a large role in the world.
The first few sections of the book are fairly basic RPG character creation material. Mortal characters get traits, merits and flaws, and basic attributes are purchased via a point system, although they have downgraded abilities when compared to other Exalted characters. There’s plenty of fluff material useful for crafting campaign hooks, character backgrounds and story ideas.
From there, things start to get a little weird. There’s a section of crafted races, engineered semi-magical beings created by the gods to serve a variety of purposes. There’s a whole other character creation section, this time for deity-human hybrids known as the God-Blooded. Mixed in with all the character options is information about Exalted’s world. It ends up feeling a bit disjointed.
Art throughout the book is black and white, and features a mix of more traditional fantasy type art and art with a very overt anime style. There’s also a fair amount of T&A (including some nudity) in the art, which as usual I state as neither commendation nor condemnation. Be aware that it’s there if you game with children or dislike that sort of thing.
This is one of those game reviews where it’s impossible to be totally objective. Of course it is not a bad book – it is well-written, contains a variety of material and a healthy blend of crunch and fluff. I personally find little in it of interest to me, but if you are someone who plays and loves Exalted, or you’re looking for an atypical fantasy setting, then you could certainly find much to love in Scroll of Heroes. I’m almost certainly in the wrong on this one, since the pdf is a top seller over at DriveThruRPG.