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Dave ST

Exalted: The World of The Modern Age

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I will use this thread to discuss a lot of the world of Creation for the Modern Age of Exalted.  CTRL+F is recommended if there is something specific you're looking for.

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THE BIG PICTURE

Creation has entered the digital age. The world’s great powers - Meruvia, the Union of Eastern States (UES), An-Teng, and other developed nations - are largely republican and capitalist. Their information-driven, automation-heavy economies churn out industrial goods and mass media which flow out through trade networks across the world. Even their numerous poor enjoy a higher standard of living than their counterparts in economically undeveloped states beyond the Threshold. There, citizens face corrupt or failed governments, vigilantism, famine, plague and war.

It’s a sign of progress that most wars are between mortal forces. Supernatural beings from the Elemental Poles and the Wyld have preyed on humanity for thousands of years. Only in the past millennium - with the appearance of the Lunar Exalted, the development of firearms, aircraft, rockets and other sophisticated armaments, and the advent of the Dragon Blooded - has humanity driven these spirits from Creation’s civilized center to the world’s edge. This is a war that most in the developed world never see, though those interested in current events follow it through blogs, radio programs and articles buried at the back of the newspaper.

The Threshold’s relative peace is purchased with constant diplomacy and incalculable risk. The effects of nuclear war between the three great powers are too terrible to contemplate. To diffuse the prospects of a direct clash, the powers restrain their struggle to political maneuvers: economic warfare, espionage, and proxy wars between client states out beyond the Threshold. Historically, Calin, Cherak and Fellara controlled mighty colonial empires. Then capitalist Meruvia and the totalitarian Guild Coalition - precursor to the modern UES - divided the world between their spheres of influence, conducting proxy wars in the Threshold to postpone a world-shattering conflict. Power continues to move south; the Tengese juggernaut has advanced into the digital age, while populous southern states such as Delzahn, Varangia and Nyunda expand and modernize with surprising haste.

The International League claims most nations as members and coordinates military actions against spirit-led forces. Other intergovernmental organizations and alliances include the League of Many Rivers, the Linowan Union and the Western Trade Alliance. Some facilitate collective defense; others support economic and social progress, provide humanitarian aid or offer forums for political and legal negotiation. The more economically and militarily powerful members of such unions dominate their lesser partners.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Modern scientific principles largely hold true in Creation, except when overridden by the supernatural. This permits manufacturing infrastructure for familiar modern goods. Homes and businesses in developed societies have running water, central heating, cable TV, and electricity all on grids generated by essence reactors. Most 'batteries' contain a single mote or more of essence that powers a device until it needs to be recharged. Vehicles don't run on fossil fuels, they run off of essence and 'refilling the tank' is nothing more than sliding out the empty essence core and inserting a fresh one, at any recharging station. Airplanes, railroads and automobiles facilitate long-distance travel, while well-heeled travelers carry cellular phones, digital cameras and tablet computers. Weaponry ranges from firearms to long-range ballistic missiles.

The cutting edge of Creation’s technology hovers just a bit beyond our own. The most elite military forces have limited access to railguns, autonomous weapons systems, powered armor, adaptive camouflage and directed-energy weapons. Multinational conglomerates and research institutes struggle toward affordable implementations of human cloning, genetic engineering, bionic implants, wireless power, nanomachines, artificial intelligence and more.

MAGIC

Simple thaumaturgies—feng shui, homeopathy, Reiki, ouija boards, astrology, palmistry, Tarot cards, the I Ching, etc.—are common. While genuinely effective when practiced by a skilled thaumaturge, most in developed nations regard these techniques with disdain. Many ostensible practitioners are charlatans, and modern science yields more accessible and consistent results. Why consult a weather-witch about tomorrow’s forecast when you can watch a meteorologist’s report on television?

A handful of philosophic societies practice more sophisticated thaumaturgical procedures—alchemy, enchantment, the summoning of demons—but prospective students are hard put to distinguish genuine societies from fraudulent organizations or cults. A few reputable universities offer thaumaturgy programs, but many procedures are illegal or highly regulated, and the field as a whole is less profitable than, say, accounting or engineering.

Where occult practices leave off, science and technology take up the slack. The newly-established field of motics—the study of Essence, a force more primal than gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces—has potentially vast applications. Reactors tapping Creation’s dragon lines provide power to several developed nations, while infusing elemental Essence into human tissue underlies the treatments empowering the Dragon-Blooded.

PLACES OF POWER

The intersections of Essence flows—known for weird dreams, poltergeist activity and the like—serve as sites for Essence reactors. Psychic effluent from these reactors occasionally leaks into the Essence flows. This taint accumulates at other intersections, producing weirder and more dangerous phenomena: glowing trees, oily waters, hypnotic lights, singing winds, ectoplasmic monsters, nightmares and psychosis.

At the Poles themselves, powerful elemental Essence wreaks havoc with technology. Combustion flares uncontrollably near the Pole of Fire but fails outright as one approaches the Pole of Water. Electrical devices go haywire near the Pole of Air; vegetation attacks mechanisms at the Pole of Wood. And in proximity to the Pole of Earth, all overt energies—electricity, combustion, even nuclear reactions—are damped down.

The Wyld writhes endlessly beyond the Elemental Poles. Its extent is unmapped and unknowable, as technology functions erratically even in the Bordermarches. Governments restrict travel here because of raksha, Wyld mutants and the like. Strike forces from developed nations respond to major incursions but cannot meaningfully secure a border tens of thousands of miles long.

Lastly, shadowlands are the return of an old phenomenon not seen in Creation for centuries. They’re most prevalent in the Northeast, a region wracked by bloody wars and murderous ethnic cleansing, but they crop up elsewhere as well—on battlegrounds, in hospitals and slums, on the sites of mass murders and in lethal injection chambers.

SPIRITS

Historians and theologians say the world was once rife with spirits. Guardian angels watched over cities and peoples; thunderbirds ruled the skies while dragons guarded the oceanic deepths. But most of these entities turned against humanity. Aided by the Exalted, Creation’s armed forces drove these malicious beings to the edges of the world.

Some spirits linger. The least of them—guardian angels of ordinary things, from cars and phones to raindrops and grains of sand—exist everywhere. But like subatomic particles, these invisible, immanent entities never manifest to mortal eyes, being perceptible only through sophisticated Essence-perceiving instruments.

A few greater powers also remain: angels of cities and corporations, divine mandarins of ideas and principles, elemental overseers of groves and ore veins. These too are rarely seen, for they find it salubrious to keep their heads down in public. Spirits are assumed hostile unless proven otherwise, so even those maintaining a place in society prefer to avoid notice lest they meet with violence.

Spirits in the developed world must register with national governments. This requires patronage. Some attach themselves to religious institutions, driving up attendance with appearances as angels in Immaculate churches or as possessors in Guivré ceremonies. Others affiliate themselves with corporations, using magic to benefit the business. A few assume government roles, where they find themselves hunting down their unregistered peers.

Spoiler

Taken from the book, for the most part, I did make a change to the Science and Technology section.  Most things work off Essence, even your vehicle.  It's nothing new to you, it's how you were brought up.  Fossil fuels really don't exist in any large scale quantities (in major cities anyway).  Think of it like Fall Out (cars were fueled by mini reactors and you slid in a new core when it depleted, no gas was required).  Outside major cities and in less advanced countries, however, combustion engines are more common, as those nations still rely on fossil fuels.

 

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Deleshen, The Nexus of the East

Deleshen Downtown

Population: 1.5 million

At A Glance:
Deleshen is the equivalent to our modern day Manhattan or any other large, sprawling metropolis (Chicago, Seattle, etc). Except this is Exalted and everything is cranked to eleven. It is a maze of filthy alleyways, crowded streets, pollution, smog, organized crime and just about every other sort of thing you can imagine. It is a testament to hives of scum and villainy Creation-over.

The entire city is protected by a massive wall on its eastern side, keeping those within safe from the myriad of strange beasts and behemoths that roam the wastes of Creation. Like some post-apocalyptic fairy tale, the wall stands nearly a mile high, a quarter of a mile thick and its shadow within the city is nearly ever-present. The poor and poverty stricken districts tend to be closer to the wall and the closer to the center of the city you get and along the northern shores of the Yanaze/Yellow Rivers is where the wealthy one percent enjoy their riverfront properties.

Along the southern 'wedge' is the city's waterfront where a majority of the import/export shipping takes place as well as plenty of shady deals among the organized crime of the city. The western tip of the wedge contains a majority of the city's business district where some of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city are.

This is Exalted so the buildings are not just tall 100+ story rectangular spires of boredom. In Deleshen, much like anywhere in the major cities of Creation the architecture looks like an architectural bazaar straight out of Dubai. Buildings appear to be double helixes twisted about each other or plates stacked unevenly one atop the other. Bridges span the walkways between the massive skyscrapers dozens of stories in the air interconnection like glass tubes for the corporate vermin to exercise in.

The entire city is powered by a series of Essence Generators scattered throughout the districts. This provides power for the entire city. Even those living below the poverty level are provided electricity and even WiFi in some places, despite practically living squalor. For this reason almost all of Deleshen has the constant pulse of essence running through it with streams of dim, colored light flowing through power lines from building to building or across buildings, giving nearly every corner of Deleshen a creepy cyberpunk atmosphere.

Government:
Deleshen is ruled by a group known as 'The Council of Entities' comprised of seven members all responsible for a separate part of the cities well being. To the knowledge of the people, these representatives are not voted in, and to date only one of the seven members, Evan Brueghel, speaks to the public, keeping them apprised of the goings on within the city.

Technology:
Technology is not one hundred percent as modern as the Shards book details, for the sake of this shard the technology is similar to our world, but a little more on the Exalted side. Everything runs on essence, while most vehicles can work off of both essence and fossil fuels (like our modern Hybrids), within the walls of the city there is no need for fossil fuels, as essence provides seemingly unlimited energy. Ground vehicles tend to look like our modern vehicles with some sort of Exlated twist that might peg it as low scifi or cheap First Age manufacture (looking more artsy than functional with no loss of functionality). Artifact versions obviously are far more flamboyant (Abyssal motorcycles made from soulsteel bones with necrotic flames spouting from the exhausts). Air vehicles (planes, choppers) tend to look like modern versions with the tell-tale pulse of essence coursing through them, while artifact versions of choppers usually look like some form of winged insect, with the flapping of the wings making the tell-tale rotor turning sound we know today. Two man copters might look like dragonflies or hornets, while massive transport choppers look like huge beetles whose thorax opens up in the back to allow tanks or other vehicles to drive in. Jets will look like giant robotic eagles that actually stand tall like perched metallic gargoyles when not in use, spreading their wings and taking flight with its pilot sitting in the canopy within the 'head' of the creature.

The Surrounding Lands:
Outside the walls of Deleshen is what people effectively call The Threshold. For the first several miles outside the city the land is lined shanty towns and squalid living conditions in the various small outer districts where, for whatever reason, the citizens refuse to live within the cities rules (that doesn't stop Deleshen from taxing them though). It's from these small shanty districts that people go missing all the time, usually taken as slave labor for crime families or made a part of the lucrative sex trafficking market Deleshen's waterfront is know for. The Coalition comes and goes through these districts often, sometimes recruiting cheap labor for their caravans on the move to other cities.

The Hunters:
The Hunters are a unique, mortal group of warriors and, well, hunters, who take on various missions for pay and respect. People go missing all the time in The Threshold and all kinds of treasures, critters, and wild folk lie beyond the safety of the cities walls. Hunters are the Indiana Jones's and the Nathan Drake's of the world. They go out there and they find things, people or even just hunt critters.

Hunters number less than a thousand in the Deleshen Guild, mostly because for every three that sign up, four die. This is not a job for the feint of heart, but many mercenary groups are born from this line of work.

Deleshen SlumsDeleshen Business District

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