I’m not really sure what to say about Exalted, other than it seemed an intriguing niche market for White Wolf at the time of its creation and that is has launched a successful licensed Kickstarter recently. The game itself, at least in the incarnation I played, was certainly the most contrived system since Earthdawn hit gaming store shelves in the early 90s.
Still, the concept of the game drew me to it, as did the anime-style artwork that broke away from standard ‘Big Eyes, Small Mouths’ in that the story was original to the setting and not ripped from various Japanese video imports.
That being said, today I’ll look at another randomly chosen book that came down from my collection, that being Exalted: Caste Book Eclipse. Eclipse was one of my favorite castes, probably because it defined the type of character my gaming buddy Mark played in almost 50% of the campaigns we ever ran together [and I’d say there were close to 100 of them]. It is the ‘dark’ side of the game, if there were a dark side, and the cover is a rather stunning black with gold symbol set directly behind a sketch-like character done by artist Melissa Uran and colored by Matt Milberger.
It is a very interesting concept from art director Brian Glass, and probably one that would be highly frowned on in today’s marketplace, but back in 2003, at the very top of the D20 wave, it was a choice that could have worked, although I’m not sure it did considering the games run thereafter.
Interior artwork, all in black and white, was handled by Brandon Page, Chris Stevens, and the UDON studio. UDON is an interesting monster, considering the changing landscape of art. By 2003 Wizards of the Coast was finally putting the old TSR artist ‘pit’ to pasture and going completely freelance, and here was UDON forming an artist studio that could facilitate gaming company needs by farming out books to their resident stable of artists. Certainly this might have worked in 2003, when again the ‘wave’ was high, but I have to wonder if such a concept would work today, although I am of the mind to try it.
In all, the art in the book is solid, assuming you enjoy the anime-style, but then again you shouldn’t buy the game unless you do because it is built around a character’s ability to do things best seen with digital ‘ink’ and subtitles than in a more ‘real world’ RPG.
Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]