Posted by: markfender | July 15, 2015

More Exalted Influences

It’s time to talk more about Exalted stuff.

anglo-saxon-warriorsI prefer First edition Exalted, where things were a little more undefined. The original game felt like a mix of Eastern and Western influences. Tanith Lee and Michael Moorcock were just as influential as anime and Eastern philosophy were. That seems to have disappeared in second edition, with the influence on magitech. I’m fine with anime and eastern stuff. I’ve actually ran Exalted before where I concentrated on that aspect of the setting. But, in recent years, I find myself more interested in exploring Western ideas…ideas that don’t show up in fantasy settings anymore. Hence, the Anglo-Saxon influenced North that I’m going to be using for my upcoming game.

I took a course on Anglo-Saxon literature in college. I didn’t want to. I needed the credits. I didn’t really enjoy it. But, there are aspects of their culture that I think get short shrift in fantasy stuff and I’m interested in exploring it. For instance, one of the oddest things to me is that we don’t really know much about their previous religious beliefs before Christianity showed up. Because all the literature we have that survived the years is from after monasteries had already influenced the countryside. (Monasteries are also responsible for what has survived, since they were kind of into writing things down – something the native culture hadn’t bothered with before their arrival).

Since I’ve always preferred Exalted where the Epic of Gilgamesh acts as source material, the Anglo-Saxon understanding I have naturally feels more “Exalted” to me than some of the anime stuff, or at least, truer to my experience of what fantasy can be. Of course, there’s a big influence I need to steer away from – Tolkien. As the major influencer behind all Western fantasy, his shadow looms large. I don’t want to just do a typical fantasy game with a setting that deliberately sets itself apart from your more traditional D&D understanding. And yet, all of Tolkien’s influences are Anglo-Saxon. The riddle game that Bilbo and Gollum engage in? Yeah, that’s all Anglo-Saxon (We have many of their riddles preserved. Apparently, that was their source of entertainment). So, many of the touchstones that we think of as fantasy actually originate with them. So, it’s a weird line to walk, eschewing the culturally adopted traits that we associate with fantasy, while still making a larger-than-life setting based on those same traits. I’m not sure I’m going to pull it off.

 

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