Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition Kickstarter: An Interview with the Team

Exalted Third Edition (The Onyx Path)

Exalted Third Edition (The Onyx Path)

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition. For this high fantasy roleplaying game by The Onyx Path the crowdfunding goal of 60,000 $ was funded within 18 minutes. Currently, they have raised over 800% of that project goal from over 3200 backers and the Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition Kickstarter is now #2 of the highest backed tabletop RPG KS’s so far.
The final countdown for the most successful Kickstarter of the company is running right now – less than 10 days to go. Will they be #1 at the end of this tour de force?

Anyway, Richard Thomas and the team took some time for this „epic“ interview about the game and the Kickstarter project. Please give us an elevator pitch of the Exalted RPG?
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: You are the reincarnation of a mighty hero murdered a thousand years ago. Your kind were the champions of the Sun, the greatest of the gods, who carried the light through the pitch and cast the enemies of the gods into darkness. You were the Solar Exalted. Now you have returned to a world that hates and fears you and is ruled by an Empire of Dragon-Blooded Exalts, Chosen of the Elemental Dragons, who are raised and bred to hunt and slay you before you can become too powerful. The world of Exalted is beset on all sides by terrible threats, and the gods are petty, wicked and corrupt. Your Solar is Creation’s last, greatest hope. He may save Creation, but in time, eaten by the Great Curse, he may also come to destroy it.
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: Exalted is a fantasy roleplaying game set in a decadent, forgotten age of legend, where players take on the role of mighty heroes blessed with the power of the gods. These heroes, the Exalted, have the strength to single-handedly fight armies, leap across raging rivers, wield sorcery on par with Biblical miracles, and unravel complex schemes from only the most meager of evidence. You start at the top of the power ladder in this game, and must try to exercise wisdom to match your great power, while contending with the schemes and passions of your fellow Exalted.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: High powered fantasy based on epics and hundred chapter novels, with a „dying world“ pulp fantasy setting most heavily inspired by Tanith Lee and Clark Ashton Smith. Storytelling style is kinetic and visual, but the material’s focus has typically always been on the logistical and political realities of the setting. The characters are godlike, but they live in a very gritty world.

Exalted First and Second Editions (The Onyx Path, White Wolf)

Exalted First and Second Editions (The Onyx Path, White Wolf) What are the major changes or additions to the system and background?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: We’ve streamlined the system considerably compared to former versions of the game, eliminating a lot of extraneous dice rolls and focusing on fast, meaningful results when you engage the system. The combat engine is now is a cinematic tug-of-war for control of the momentum of the battle and opportunities to defeat your foes, rather than a straight slugging match to deplete the enemy’s Health and Essence before yours runs out.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: The system has been intensely simplified. Over time, the power was taken away from the Storyteller to eyeball situations and then tweak the mechanics using his own judgment. Instead there were exhaustive rules, edge cases upon edge cases, clauses upon clauses. We’ve done away with all of the mechanical bloat, and focused on fast, intuitive rules that generate intoxicating gameplay, and a writing style that encourages and aids Storytellers in modding the rules for their purposes. Beyond that, we have innovated combat: enhancing the Storyteller system to support cinematic combat. Plus our fans can expect all of their classic 1e Solar Charms plus a whole host of new ones, and an explanation of the design methodology that went into them.
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: The setting is largely the same, but significantly expanded—we’ve pulled out the borders of the world, presented new vistas to explore (or fill with your own creations), and diversified the roster of playable heroes in the setting. Why should a new or an old fan consider the current Kickstarter? What makes this version of the Exalted RPG unique?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer:The current Kickstarter is an opportunity to really enhance what we’ll be able to do with the game, both right here at the corebook and going forward with supplements—a strong Kickstarter is a signal that Exalted is a solid investment for the future, which makes it more likely we can go through with our many cool ideas.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: The Kickstarter offers the first chance most fans will see the new elements we’ve added. New Exalts, and the introduction of the Exigents are two of the major new features of this edition. We’ve expanded the world map by something like 200%, pulling the borders out to make room for more outer empires, kingdoms and dynasties outside the direct grasp of the Scarlet Empire–and the territories and palatial Iron City strongholds of the Lunar Exalted.
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: In more immediate terms, the Kickstarter offers great PDF deals on some of the best Exalted setting supplements of the past, and the limited-edition book itself is gorgeous, and will not be offered again in the future. For new fans, the Kickstarter is a great time to jump aboard Exalted and give it a shot—we’ve put a lot of work into getting rid of the entry barriers that made the game hard to get into in previous editions, and are starting from a clean slate now.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: John and Holden already covered most of how I would answer, but I’d like to add that one of the great aspects of Kickstarters as they’ve evolved is that for a project like this we can add in Stretch goals that are additional projects that we didn’t have the resources to do, or which were so specific that we couldn’t devote time to. So far, we’ve added in both an Exalted Fiction Anthology, an Exalted Novel by Matt Forbeck, and an Exalted Retrospective Essay book- none of which we had scheduled, but all of which I think bring Exalted to our fans in a literary way that adds to the game experience. You might not have time this week to gather together and play, but you personally can still enjoy Creation with one of these books. Please tell us more about major inspirations and influences? Is there any -one- thing that every enthusiast should read, watch or listen to before playing Exalted?
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Today, I would say Tanith Lee’s book _Night’s Master_. It didn’t really directly inspire Exalted in any specific way, but I don’t think there’s any other book that really sums up the pulp fantasy feel as well as this one does.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: If an Exalted fan reads Night’s Master by Tanith Lee, they will see exactly what Geoff is talking about when he talks about how strongly it influenced the feel of Exalted. I would add to that list, tales of Elric of Melnibone, and Conan the Cimmerian. Our gods and demons were heavily influenced by Lord Dunsany’s Pegana, and more recently the works of Clive Barker, including Imajica.

Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)

Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path) Exalted is the most successful Kickstarter for The Onyx Path so far. I always thought Vampire: The Masquerade is the biggest game in the portfolio. Anyway, congrats! Do you have any explanation for what is happening right now?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: Exalted players really, really love this game. The Kickstarter is their big moment in the sun, a chance to celebrate the game they love and re-launch it in style. Additionally, we’ve held back quite a bit of information about Third Edition until now, and tried to make the Kickstarter itself into a sort of Exalted extravaganza, where something exciting happens or is revealed every day or so. It’s exciting, and people like having something to get excited about.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Exalted has experienced a resurgence since Holden and I started to reshape and revitalize the line beginning with the publication of Glories of the Most High, and continuing during the Ink Monkeys blog, in which we kept the game alive and fresh through its leanest period. Because we listened to the customers‘ feedback, I was able to hone in on what the players needed more effectively, and I was able to see what they absolutely hated and learn from my mistakes. Overall, I was/am a huge fan of Exalted and I brought my complaints about the game to the table from day one and wrote what I felt Exalted most desperately needed in order to survive—and I was right. In other words, we revitalized Exalted when it was failing, admitted to our mistakes, looked back at the problems of Second Edition with honesty, and said „we can do better“ and we did, and every book we have put out has gone platinum on DriveThruRPG because of it.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: So what we saw with our crazy “18 minutes to funding” response was the fans leaping forward to express both how much they love Exalted, and how much they appreciate the direction John, Holden, and Geoff have brought to the game. I think a lot of people underestimated that audience, and just how devoted they are. Even we were stunned at the sheer velocity of the pledging- we always knew the fans would step up and turn the KS into a really fun and crazy experience, but we had planned for a couple of hours until the funding goal was met. To address what I sense is the bigger point: this isn’t about whose fans or game-line is bigger or better. It’s incredible that any tabletop RPG can garner the interest that we’re seeing on Kickstarter. And I’m thrilled for Monte and Numenera, and the Fate guys at Evil Hat, and anybody who gets their game published via KS. I don’t think EX3 would have exploded like it did without those earlier Kickstarters’ success (as well as Onyx Path’s earlier KSs) and I expect a lot of lucky Kickstarters after us will also benefit from our expanding the market. Exalted is in my opinion a very special game. White Wolf tried „forcefully“ to establish it as an alternative to Dungeon & Dragons, but it is only in a few aspects comparable to the „originator“ of the hobby. Did you have corresponding design goals for the first edition? Can you tell us more about the creative process behind your game?
Geoffrey C. Grabowski
Geoff Grabowski: I mostly knew if I defined myself in terms of D&D3 I’d die.

Richard ThomasRich Thomas: I think this is in reference to a specific marketing push after your tenure as Developer, Geoff.

Exalted Third Edition: The East (The Onyx Path)

Exalted Third Edition: The East (The Onyx Path)

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I am not a big D&D3 fan at all, so to a certain extent it wasn’t hard. I thought it felt like Rolemaster, which I intensely dislike, so it was very easy to not emulate it. A few things I did absolutely to position me directly against them. Like, we found out that they had put in a white male fighter signature character, whose name escapes me, because there had been pressure within the design process that the audience needed one to identify with. So that is how we got a black female for the primary signature character. But, that wasn’t a piece of cynical positioning, so much as, „what, are you kidding me, f– that, we’re not gonna be like that.“ I didn’t think the audience was going to reject me because Squarejaw McWhiteguy wasn’t in clear control, and I wanted to demonstrate that.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: At the time, we were specifically trying to swing wide of the relaunch of D&D and the frenzy around D20 and the OGL. But other than the sort of gut-checking of what we already wanted to do, and our general desire to put out a fantasy game that was new both textually and visually, we didn’t specifically set out to take on D&D.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I also wanted to make the setting more adult and more realistic than what you normally saw in a fantasy game. I wanted to do something comparable to the Empire of the Petal Throne. I felt like D&D3 was really normative of what I’d call „generic stock fantasy“ and I didn’t want to do stock fantasy. I never let it be knights and castles and white horsies and dragons. If that seems like a condemnation of D&D3 then that’s a statement about the way D&D3 sold itself.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: And obviously, a lot has changed since D&D3 was even an issue. D&D as an entity is more what we look at now, and if you look at D&D4 and Pathfinder, you can see influences or reactions to what Exalted had done before them.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Obviously this means stock WotC D&D3. OGL went everywhere and did everything and I can’t comment on Exalted’s relationship with SOLID!: The Blaxsploitation RPG.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Though I wasn’t a developer on first edition, I can say that I didn’t perceive Exalted as having been designed to be an alternative to Dungeons and Dragons any more than Vampire: the Masquerade. Das Schwarz Auge, reportedly reflects the kind of axioms that are prohibitive to Exalted’s expansion in Germany, and I think that the chief reason for that is because people perceive Exalted as competing for idea-space with D&D and its popular German contemporary. For all of us to benefit from Exalted’s publication, we need to show that Exalted chiefly sits in the realm of myth. It is Sumerian and Greek. It is Gilgamesh and Hercules. It has many Biblical elements, including the ancient world, so far predating the more medieval elements of Tolkien fantasy that form the backbone of D&D. You will not find a single elf in Exalted. What we have instead, are soul-devouring raksha, Hindu-demonic fae who feed on emotion and who live in the chaos surrounding the world.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: And, of course, there are the elements drawn from Asian mythology and media as well. And I say “drawn from” rather than us suggesting that Exalted is trying to be a video-game emulation.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Exalted does not have a solid, established metaplot that the gamers must follow. While Exalts are of a much higher power level than has been established by D&D style games, powergaming is not actually possible in Exalted because of the scope of threats and challenges that an Exalt must face, and because no matter how strong your Solar is, on a bad day, he can get brought down by innately mortal threats. Exalted reaches for something that D&D cannot find and indeed is not looking for. It is a game of politics, religion, and economics, supported by extreme martial arts action and high octane combat and extremely expressive, textured sorcery. It’s just very, very different, and not meant to threaten or replace the traditional German values and standards for gaming in masterpieces like Das Schwarz Auge. According to the included Anime/Manga elements the Exalted RPG might be „big in Japan“. How is the feedback by the international fan community?
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Personally, I keep in touch with a lot of our international contacts. I have a German correspondent to thank for my knowledge of Exalted’s reception in Germany and the existence of Das Schwarz Auge. A friend of mine, Matías Nicolás Caruso lives in Buenos Aires and runs a blog for Hispanic Exalted fans called Mundo Exalted, and I have been able to reach out to Spanish speaking friends through his help.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I think it is one of those things where, I at least never paid any attention to where you were from? I guess most of the fans were American but that was not really a major issue for me at any point. I certainly wouldn’t try to inject manga for a Japanese audience. There’s no way I would think to sell in that marketplace on its own terms, I would at best be some kind of weird novelty import act like Cibo Matto.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: As far as manga elements go, they play a part in getting across the kinetic atmosphere of the game, but we are not an anime game. We simply recognize the watershed achievements of works like Ninja Scroll and Samurai Champloo in dictating what is possible within an art form. Ours is both Wuxia (for the more realist-minded fantasy players) and Conan for the gritty realist. But sources like Ninja Scroll and Claymore provide fantasy elements, particular when describing physics and martial arts, that allow us to be a little more outrageous than fantasy games grounded firmly in Western aesthetics.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Exactly.

Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: If the Kickstarter backers and posters on various forums are anything to go by, the game has a thriving international community, including South America, England, Canada, Israel, Australia, and we seem to have quite a few Exalted players in Germany! Wherever you go, there seem to be people who are eager for a new edition of Exalted.

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Visual Target Mock-Up, Not Real Book

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Visual Target Mock-Up, Not Real Book Some German blogger complain the „high price“ for the Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition? To get the book a German customer has to pay 130 $. Can you explain the pricing and do you plan a standard print on demand version of the game when the Kickstarter project has been delivered?
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: I base the amount to pledge for a physical copy on one thing: what is the cost to create and ship the book? But I hear folks when they say these Deluxes are expensive- that’s why we try and add cool extra books and files to the Rewards with the Stretch Goals. You’re getting extras that we never would have delivered to you if you just walked into a store and picked up a book.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Because this needs to be worth doing to make it happen. Maybe that sounds like a very American answer, but if this doesn’t provide a good income to the people involved, it won’t keep happening. This consumed a lot of my time — I have other interests. That was my up-front demand with Rich — that it not get out of control in terms of time commitment for the amount of money that it was paying.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: And this is after all, a Deluxe version of a book we are publishing anyway. We need to put those pledge amounts as we have them, and nobody at Onyx wants a fan to feel bad for having pledged. So if you’re personal situation doesn’t let you pledge, because you can’t afford it or don’t think the pledge amount is bringing you the rewards you want, that’s understandable. Hope you’ll pick up the PDF or the PoD from DriveThruRPG.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Anyway, people need to take money out of it — be honest with yourself you are buying a stake in making sure the project continues forward, and your certificate comes in the shape of a book.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Nice metaphor. You should be a writer.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I am sure the book will be released in every format it can profitably be released in, come on, how much pain and toil has this thing cost us? What an effort! Trust us, we wanna get our blood, sweat and tears back out.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: There will be a standard print on demand version of the game later. The 130$ price is to create and ship the deluxe edition, which is a fairly hefty cost.

Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: After the Kickstarter ends, there will be a standard print-on-demand version of the game available in unlimited supply, just like all our other Onyx Path / White Wolf titles. The PDF version of the game will also be on sale to everyone at the same time. The high cost of the Deluxe Edition is unfortunately due to the high price international shipping, and the cost of making the book itself—Deluxe Exalted Third Edition features full color illustrations, a leatherette cover, gilt edgings, and multiple cloth bookmarks. Please introduce the team behind the game a bit. How many people are working on the project and how do they collaborate?
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: We have our three man Dev team, and Maria Cabardo as art director, and I work with her and the Devs to determine the overall look and feel of the project. From that core group we have an extended Kickstarter team that includes Ian Watson and some consulting marketing folks, and then the Devs work with the writers and Maria and I work with the artists. Email, Skype, whatever we can use for communication.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Of course you know Geoff Grabowski. (If you don’t, look him up. He’s awesome.) Holden Shearer is my co-developer. My writing team consists of seven talented writers who ask questions, who participate in e-mail discussions and who respond well to deadlines and redlines. I also organize Skype sessions to get my writers all on the same page with where we’re going and what we’re doing.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I’m me. I answer questions and prepare documents and review things. I also go to college to be an accountant, clean up my neighbourhood, and work on my own projects.
Exalted 1st Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)Maria Cabardo: Here’s a snippet that describes what I do: Maria Cabardo has been doing graphic design for RPG books since she started her career as an Art Director.  She has also worked with established and less experienced but talented illustrators and painters in the field. Normally she starts a book project by talking to the writers and developers about their goals and vision for their game. The look and feel of the art and the book is very much dependent on the development team’s information and Maria ensures that the overall presentation of the RPG book is consistent with the product branding and the team’s objectives. She also makes sure that the production schedules and quality are maintained in accordance to the Creative director’s requirements and works with him on commissioning art and getting approval for the book lay-out. What do you plan next for Exalted and do you have any information about the upcoming Mage Kickstarter and other projects?
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: I have no idea about Mage, though I challenge the fans of Mage to rise up and kick Exalted from the top of the Kickstarter mountain when its time comes. As for what’s next with Exalted: working on the Realm and the Dragon-Blooded, our next major books.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Yes, Mage20 is going to be great. Phil Brucato is writing and developing the text even as we speak, and is working with Bill Bridges and Jesse Heinig on that. We’re talking to artists and we think this might be one of most beautiful anniversary editions yet. And also this summer we’ll be unveiling Demon for the nWoD- developed by Matt McFarland and Rose Bailey and a very exciting new spin on demons that draws on a lot of the setting material from the God Machine Chronicles. I’ll just say that if you mix Faust and John LeCarre, you’d be nearing the mood and themes of Demon. As always – finally, some fun and quick questions. We start with: Role playing is …
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: …a great way to hang out with old friends, and meet new ones.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: …fun!

Richard ThomasRich Thomas: …my life!

Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: …for absolutely everyone.
Favorite type of Exalted or caste?
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: I love them all. Dawn castes will always have a special place in my heart.

Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: Favorite Exalts: Sidereals. I’ve always loved their emphasis on clever, puzzle-solving style gameplay. Favorite Caste: Eclipse.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Today? Dragon-Blooded. I love the cloistered social psychodrama. They’re so horrible, it’s like The Sopranos meets Daughter of the Empire. So many little awesome micro-environments to roleplay in. Different answer next time you ask, maybe.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Lunars. Can’t help it.
Do you think roleplaying is an art form?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: I think it can be, absolutely. I think that emerges best when it happens naturally, though, when you’re having fun with it as a game and really getting into your story and your character, and at the end of the night somehow you go home with something to think about.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Yes. Roleplaying can at worst be “just entertainment” but it’s never passive, never just consumption. Players are always activating their imaginations just to step forward and interact with the game world as another person. When that becomes a cathartic or enlightening experience outside the basic following of the game rules, then it becomes art. And from a purely visual level, I’ve always treated WW, and now Onyx Path, books as more than mere utilitarian textbooks but as something beautiful in and of themselves.
Exalted 1st Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)Maria Cabardo: Definitely and it is one of the hardest types of books to design and layout due to all the graphic elements involved.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Sure, why not. But not just an art form, I wouldn’t confine it like that. That’s people trying to put it into a golden cage of terminology and practice so they can own it. It’s also there just for people who want to drink beer and kick the can around, with a moderately imprecise understanding of the rules. You need to be able to have fun as a casual hobbyist.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: It can be an art form, especially LARP. Those players put a lot of hard work into their costumes and acting. But roleplaying should also exist in the realm of a board game, a social activity that promotes an appreciation of art and not necessarily that the players be artists. If the hobby is „art“: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” (Oscar Wilde) or “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music” (Walter Pater)
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: I’ve got to side with Mr. Wilde—art puts forth lofty visions for us to strive toward.

Richard ThomasRich Thomas: “Our reach must exceed our grasp”- I agree. Oscar for the win.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Way outside my pay grade.

Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: I’m going to have to defer to Mr. Wilde, as I believe there have been blind and deaf artists. A design tip for established or upcoming game designer?
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: I will tell you the rules I follow: Read and write. Non negotiable. Give yourself permission to be horrible, and to write loads and loads of horrible writing. That is the only way you get better. Hold yourself to the highest standard possible and be your own worst critic. Be vicious. Challenge every idea you get, be ruthless. Assassinate your best ideas as if you were your worst enemy. Do not accept your own brilliance until you have tried your best to destroy what you have created. When you find that your idea is unassailable, then you have something special on your hands.
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: Write constantly. Read constantly. Be aware of what other people are doing in the field. Find good ideas, make them your own. Then write even more. Give yourself permission to produce a lot of crap on the way to producing something good—the only way to improve in this field is practice. And if you’re already established—remember where you came from, and how much it would have helped (or did help) for someone with more experience to give you a hand up and some pointers, back when you were getting started.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski:

„You start to think and wonder bout how it’s done
„An emcee? Maybe I could be one“
Drop the thought, get a job, change your mind
To be a dope MC takes time
Eight years of mine, no time for draggin
You wanna be an MC? „Get off the bandwagon!“
But if it’s in your heart, get a pen
Don’t stop writin til the inkflow ends
Work and work and don’t halfstep
Dog the mic every chance you get
Motivation must be kept
Stay down and build your rep“
– Ice-T, „Hit The Deck“ What is your favorite role playing game of all time and in recent years?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: Of all time—Exalted! A close runner-up would be Vampire: the Masquerade, which really changed the way I thought about and approached RPGs. My favorite thing in recent years has been Fantasy Flight’s Warhammer 40,000 line of RPGs (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, etc). They’ve done a lot to demonstrate that even in 2013, you can go a long way with a solid setting, a good play idea, and a sturdy, straightforward system.
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: All time? B/X D&D. Recently? Goblinoid Games‘ Labyrinth Lord, which is an OGL design very similar to B/X D&D. I remembered really liking D&D as a wee kid, and then hated AD&D1 as a teen (awful rules) and AD&D2 (intolerably vanilla, gaming was much less racy back then, and I don’t just mean „less boobs“).
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: I had forgotten just how improv-based those early games were until I was playing in Justin Achilli’s basic D&D game (it might have been Labyrinth Lord actually) and wow was that a reminder of why I fell in love with roleplaying. Fewer rules means more make believe. So I’m going with some form of early D&D, then Vampire, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Exalted, and Adventure!
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: I got back into OSR D&D through the Rules Cyclopedia of the BECMI edition, and realized that Gary’s version of the rules had some fundamental problems like bad timing rules, and that B/X D&D really had been as good as I remembered. I think Labyrinth Lord completes the design well, ending the game at 20th level and topping item bonuses out at +3, so that is what I have been playing when I gamed lately.  I’ve also been playing a little bit of Mongoose Traveller, but mostly I’ve been playing OSR D&D. What is your favorite board and/or video game of all time and in recent years?
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: The first Borderlands is definitely my favorite game of recent years. I was a little disappointed with the second one. Of all time? Taken in the context in which it occurred, either Angband or Dandy Dungeon.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: My favorite video game is Final Fantasy VII. In recent years, I quite enjoyed Borderlands. My favorite character was Lilith, whose red hair and silver tats bear a remarkable resemblance to the Exalted character of the same name.
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: My favorite game of all time is probably Final Fantasy VII. Of the modern generation of games, I think the two I had the most fun with were Batman: Arkham Asylum (because it absolutely nailed the feeling of playing the Dark Knight), and Dissidia: Final Fantasy, which had the single most uniquely interesting fighting game system I’ve ever seen, and hundreds of hours of replayability.

EX3 Map of Creation In Progress- Stage 2- (Jared Blando, The Onyx Path)

EX3 Map of Creation In Progress- Stage 2- (Jared Blando, The Onyx Path) Favorite game designer and/or artist?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: My favorite game designer is probably Jenna Moran, the creator of Nobilis and the soon-to-be-Kickstarted Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, who formerly wrote for Exalted under the name of Rebecca Borgstrom. In an industry crowded with amazing talent, her work manages to stand out and doesn’t look like anything else in the field. My favorite artist in the field, hands down, is Melissa Uran—she’s got a great look to her work and is the visual soul of Exalted for me.
Richard ThomasRich Thomas: Totally unfair- it’s like picking your favorite child. Whoever I say, somebody else will feel slighted.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: This one is easy. I love-love-love Puppygames (the creators of Revenge of the Titans, Ultratron and Droid Assault) and Radiangames (creators of Inferno, JoyJoy, Crossfire). I think the sweetest uber-amazing-fantasy game ever would be a co-op dungeon crawler these two companies made, that had procedurally generated content. I get the best ideas for my games when … or I am most creative when … ?
Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: Someone is petting my head. True fact.

Richard ThomasRich Thomas: I’m in the shower.
Thank you. Anything else you want to share with the fans?
Exalted (Mel Uran, The Onyx Path)Holden Shearer: This is a great time to check out Exalted if you’ve never seen it before, or to come back and check it out again if you’re an old fan who left.

Geoffrey C. GrabowskiGeoff Grabowski: They gave me an award in my city this year because I did so much work cleaning up my neighborhood. I got a party with petty bureaucrats, cheese rings and soda pop. We even got 2 drink tickets each.  I think that’s way more notable than the work I’m doing on this book. If there’s shit in the world around you that you don’t like or that you think is wrong, then I have to tell you, the only way your ideals will ever get into the real world is by you using your hands to make that happen. I said that in the Afterword to the first edition, and I’ll repeat it here. You can pretend to be the king of the Realm, and it’s great entertainment, but if you want real change, then you need to do real deeds to make it happen. Don’t dream of making the world a better place, pick up the next Frito’s bag you see on the ground and make it happen on the spot.
Exalted 2nd Edition (White Wolf, The Onyx Path)John Morke: Just my appreciation for the opportunity to be heard and my joy that Exalted is played in so many wonderful places.

I really hope you enjoyed this detailed interview and maybe you back the Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition like I did.

PS: No, this is not a paid promotion. With the return of Vampire: The Masquerade and the excellent product quality so far, I am thinking that supporting The Onyx Path projects is a good thing. I just like what they are doing right now and in my opinion Exalted is far more creative than the Pathfinder RPG. Roleplaying is about creativity, or?

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