We started playing Exalted last night. I think it went really well. The group is highly motivated, they are doing their thing, and it’s nothing I expected them to do.
My group generally goes off into the wild and starts doing their thing. They turn to me after I introduce them to the city I expect them to spend a few sessions in and ask “Where is something really exciting? We want to conquer some old ruins and start our own nation,” or something along those lines. This is Exalted. I can’t really stop them. So off they go into the wild into an adventure I had no way to plan for because it was entirely random that they went off that way. This time I was ready.
I created multiple acts. The first act will take around 4-5 sessions (or so I planned). In the first scene, they are given five rumors and they can chase one. In the second scene, five more are revealed and they can chase one of the remaining nine. Then the third scene they get to pick one more quest. Depending on what quests they do or don’t do will influence the world and quests and allies available. It’s a little cookie cutter, but for an Exalted game it’ll never go the way you expect. You just pray it stays close enough. And to not plan at all is to invite utter disaster.
So I release them and my monk goes to converting the first city they’re in, swearing an oath of protection, upsetting the Empire which isn’t that far away, and generally doing what Exalted do, which is nothing the storyteller planned or intended. We’re off to a great start. Now they are still going off and looking into these rumors, but they’ve already really found the nation they’ll be aiding and building up.
Ultimately, the poor were accidentally converted to the Unconquered Sun as the priest casually preached in the poor quarters. He entirely didn’t intend for this. It started an underground and people began whispering change was coming. Then he went to the king and gave an even more rousing sermon, causing the king to denounce the Imperial religion and throw it down.
Next time they go to Sijan in order to investigate some Death Knights who are interested in scrolls and artifacts. A shame. If they hadn’t investigated, in about ten more years great undead behemoths would burst forth through the ground and try consuming all of Creation. But they could still fail. Good times ahead.