The delay on this post wasn't due to anything book related. The hotel was simply obscenely busy for the last couple of days. I actually had to work! At my job! Can you believe it?
But, having finally finished this monster of a book (more than 600 pages!), I've decided I'm going to say nothing critical of the final three chapters.
Oh, there are things I could quibble with. Editorial choices I don't agree with. Mechanics that don't work quite as well as they ought. That sort of thing. However, that would be excessive. The back third of Exalted 3rd Edition is pretty much as good as it gets for the mechanical side of the game. There are some missteps, but overall, it's inventive, flavorful, and diverse. You can learn a martial art that weaponizes your prettiness. You can fight a dinosaur. You can wield a sword that shoots volcanoes. It's high-powered, high-fantasy weirdness and it's exactly what I come to Exalted to experience.
So let's talk about the book as a whole. How does it function as an introduction to the game?
It's a question that's been heavily on my mind lately. When I first started playing Exalted 3rd Edition, it was with a group that was already heavily invested in playing Exalted. They'd played Exalted 1st Edition. They'd played a lot of Exalted 2nd Edition. They even humored me by playing my homebrew rewrite of Exalted 2nd Edition. This was not a group that was going to be daunted (much) by picking a Brawl Supernal and having to search through 40 charms.
I think for a group like that, the Exalted 3rd Edition core offers a lot of longevity. Even if you play for years, there's always going to be a new build to try out, a new martial art you've never really explored, or a new canon part of Creation to explore. It's very well-thought-out that way.
But my old group fell apart, and while it's my fondest wish to find some new local people to play Exalted with, the idea of having to teach someone new to the game using the 3rd Edition core scares the hell out of me. "Let's make standard-issue starting characters . . . step 5 is sorting through this 300 page block of mechanics for the next 3-4 hours. Oh, you have no context for what's good and what's not? Don't worry, the character creation process itself is so busted you can easily make wildly unbalanced characters by accident!"
It's probably a bit of a wash, really.
I can say with confidence, however, that this really is my favorite (official) version of the game. It's frustrating at times, and part of the delay in finishing it was due to me scribbling furious notes about things I could houserule, excise, or rewrite in their entirety, but I think any sufficiently complex game is going to have similar issues. For all its faults, Exalted 3rd Edition breathed new life into a franchise that was starting to get more than a little stale, and no matter what happens, I'll be grateful for that.
UKSS: The Yennin. They use alchemy to create children with ten fathers. Those children become mighty champions, capable of standing against mighty sorcerers and the potent elemental magics of the Dragon-Blooded.