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Masters of Jade $10.99
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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Masters of Jade
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Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adam E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2012 21:50:27
Ok, so after waiting quite a while to purchase this product, I finally did and gave it a thorough read before writing this review. So I'm going to go over a few different factors that influenced my rating:

1) THE BOOK

The physical book is of rather shoddy quality. The paper is light weight, especially compared to other Exalted softcovers, including Glories. The size is slightly off from both Glories and the other softcovers (irksome). The printing does not actually go to the edge of the page, which is confusing since Glories did, so it's not a DriveThruRPG thing, as far as I can tell.

The font is smaller and the white space larger, which leads to a somewhat different personal reading experience than what you're used to when reading other Exalted books.

It's also half the size of a normal Exalted softcover, but since it was several dollars cheaper, I do not hold that against it.

Physically: 1 star.

2) CHAPTER 1

The opening story was pretty bad. The attempt seems to be to try and mythology the origin of the Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin, but... as it's told like a myth, but in the standard Exalted 3rd person omniscient, it comes off as complete truth. Complete and very unbelievable... it makes the Maiden of Endings far more of a bludgeon than the finesse lady that she has been presented as before.

From Birth of the Guild on, however, the story gets better. Not fantastic, but better. The description of its structure is shallow and a caricature of a modern corporate entity.

The Birth of the Guild does, however, retcon Brem Marst's backstory in an attempt to make it more vague. However, this is both unnecessary and goes against the amount of paperwork we know the Guild keeps, so it comes off as rather jarring and breaks my willing suspension of disbelief. Other than that, the rest of the story is a shorter version of Manacle and Coin's story.

Most of this chapter is a condensing of Manacle & Coin, and that's OK but seems odd, as it leaves out certain things like Guild leadership - that is, they talk about Hierarchs, but they leave out the details of the Hierarchs already named in canon. (See my notes on Chapter 4.)

Overall, it was decent with only a few flub ups, and not nearly enough detail on how the guild actually processes. For a better version of this chapter, see Manacle and Coin.

Chapter 1: 2 stars.

3) CHAPTER 2

The Guild in every direction.

This is a much better chapter and was sorely lacking in Manacle and Coin. It's a much better treatment of how the guild operates. Very solid, but nothing stellar.

You can mine this chapter for plot details over and over.

Chapter 2: 3 stars.

3) CHAPTER 3

A fantastic treatise on the supernatural powers and trade the Guild goes into. I'm really not sure what else to say on this chapter other than that it was worth the read (if you divide up the cost of the book by chapter, then... yes, it was very much worth the read).

Except for one... glaring hitch: the Liminal Exalted. They're called the Chernozem, which we don't know if that's a caste or a description of their type of Exalted (such as Lawgiver). It means black earth.

Now, while the Infernals had been in the game as early as Games of Divinity, and thus made a natural addition to the game in 2nd Edition, and Alchemicals were also an early addition to the game, the Liminals have come out of the proverbial left field.

To say I have apprehensions about the writer's ability to fit this into the setting smoothly would be the understatement of the Second Age. Unless they are an incredibly new development, I do not see a way to do so. If they are an incredibly new development... well then that puts in a lot more questions, which may be interesting to answer, but will also be very difficult to answer with grace and poise. So while I admit that good writing could make this an Author Saving Throw, it seems to be quite a horrible blunder so far.

Chapter 3: would be 4 stars, but Liminals brings it down to 3. (I reserve the right to change this later.)

5) CHAPTER 4

Uh... what can I say about this?

By that, I mean the information is solid, but they changed the Hierarchs for reasons I cannot comprehend. It's not like the old Hierarchs were boring or in some way interfered with the goals of making Exalted awesome. They were the best example of what Mortals could do (in 1st Edition, anyway).

Manacle & Coin's statement that there are nine Hierarchs got changed to, "At least nine..." Uh... ok.

Much of the chapter kind of reads like a bad indictment of Corporate America from a person who does not understanding how capital and markets work (as opposed to a thoughtful indictment by those who do and write it into their fiction).

However, this is not to say the entire chapter reads that way. Much of it is decent. It does help make sense of how the Guild has survived amidst so many supernatural factions.

Would merit a 3 for being decent, but not earth shattering, if not for the unneeded retcons.

Chapter 4: 2 stars.

6) APPENDIX

A much needed system for Exalted's bureaucracy. However, like Mandate of Heaven, it does not smoothly integrate into the Bureaucracy charms which exist. The theory is great, but it creates a need to errata almost all Bureaucracy charms, with some noted powerful (perhaps too powerful) exceptions.

Appendix: 3 stars.

7) OVERALL

2 and 1/3 stars. Rounded down to 2.

Honestly, I would not buy again. However, if the physical component of the book were brought up to par, I would buy it on sale (but not at the price I paid).

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Heidi S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2012 22:52:04
During a time period in which playing Exalted was becoming more like a habit and less like an adventure, Masters of Jade broke through the monotony and built a whole new world within a world that even the most unenthusiastic player can sink into.

I can say with certainty that Masters of Jade is a game changer. The writers have done a miraculous job of making the mortal population formidable even against the power of the Exalted. This addition to the world of Exalted will change everything. The Underworld has a brand new sandbox, and the possibilities are limitless. Overall, an excellent read and addition to the world of your imagination.

If you do t have a copy yet, GET ONE!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/24/2012 12:35:50
This book is one of the most egregious cases of misrepresentation of the product that I have ever witnessed. We're told it's a book about the Guild, the Creation-spanning trade empire that until now has been untouched in second edition except to explain that they sell drugs and slaves, but the Guild only gets a few, almost desultory paragraphs about their business practices per chapter, usually in the forms of lists of the things they sell, and the rest is barely related to the topic. This book is not about the Guild.

This book is about inspiration. The Guild is the framing device the writers uses to help us mainline concentrated IDEAS.

This is easily the most exciting Exalted supplement I have ever read. I am not being hyperbolic at all when I say that almost every paragraph has some new piece of information about Creation that makes me want to incorporate it into my games. Here, let me just riffle to completely random pages:

Page 8: Everything about Brem Marst, the founder of the Guild, is fascinating. He is a mortal who successfully defied the Empress and her entire empire of Terrestrial Exalted. This is the kind of cool I only wish I could write for one of my characters. If anyone deserves Solar Exaltation, it's Brem Marst, and it's only his bad luck he was alive when there weren't any Exaltations to spare.

Page 20: Oooooh, I hate Uncle Sugar so much, but in that really good way that makes it fun to plot his downfall! A former slave whose children are all the sons of his slaves, he sells his own children because he figures if they can't work their way to freedom like he did, then they deserve to be slaves.

Page 31: Caravans crossing the icy expanses of the North summon krakens to swim under the ice and hold it afloat until the caravans are safely across. Come on, that's just awesome.

Page 36: There is too much here for me to pick out any one thing. All I'm saying is, this single page did more to illustrate the madness of the fae for me than did the entire hardback devoted to them.

...Look, do I need to go on? This book is made of awesome, and every sentence is calculated to get your mind spinning with ideas. Just buy it. Why haven't you bought it already?

PS: Oh, and there's something in the back, mechanics that actually make merchant characters playable. These mechanics fix an endemic problem with the game that has been there since it was first published, and it is the least interesting thing in the book to me, which is a bit like saying Mercury is the least of the planets orbiting our sun: Mercury is still an utterly enormous land mass.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Richard J. S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2012 16:18:32
I really like the vinettes about, and the emphasis on "ground level" stuff in Creation, while still having cool supernatural things about to chew on and spur some ideas. I also think there was some great story hook stuff, especially in the West and South parts of the directions, and the stuff on the Guild's interaction with mortals. I also really liked the stuff on the Underworld, raksha, and the Sidereals in all of it.

I think there are a couple criticisms. I still don't quite understand the discussion on why the Guild doesn't do long-term stuff instead of breaking a region's back wiht swing-monopolies (the paragraph seems almost to cut-off, but I might be misreading it). The secretary who used to be dream-eaten has to of risen really fast in just five years to get to her job if it was a Defiler that gave her a soul back. And I was sort of surprised to see Bren Marst downgraded from hierarch. I also am a bit confused as to whether hierarchs are actually replaced or not. The section on elections and their validity implied to e that sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't.

Still, very solid book, and something to get me amped to run Exalted again, which is always something that I think a good book needs to do. Creation-Ruling Mandate is also very useful seeming and I have to do some playtesting and organization-sketching with it one of these days, I think.

And stuff.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Libor D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 10:19:25
In this books you will get many possible story hooks and vivid scenes of trade in the Second Age. You will also get new excelent system mechanic for handling big organizations, be it army, city state, merchant empire or your secret cult of ninja assassins.
And also Liminal Exalted ...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jacob B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/18/2012 08:04:10
After having read this book and especially the appendix I can only conclude that this book saved Exalted as a system and setting for me. I hope that all future books in this series will have the standard of Masters of Jade.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Daniel F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2012 13:17:59
Great fun to read, food for the imagination, story hooks aplenty, and a system loose enough and rigorous enough to handle the shifting world of business and statecraft through which demigods and billionaires walk like titans.

Oh, and the artwork is great. Some of the best (and funniest) pictures in the line so far.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Niels v. T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/13/2012 09:11:43
An excellent new product to the Exalted line. The Guild has always been one of the more vague elements of the Exalted setting, and this supplement finally touches upon it. And it does so in an excellent manner. In four chapters the book touches on the history and organisation of the Guild, its operations in all the four cardinal directions, it's interaction with supernatural beings and finally the Guild's inner politics. In each of these chapters you will find a good combination of overarching structure and smaller examples and plot-hooks you can use in your own campaigns.

And while the book is aimed towards the Guild, there are many new insights in other aspects of the setting as well in the sections about the Guild and said aspect. Examples include the Underworld, the Lunar Exalted and the Fair Folk. Even though there is a lot on them in the other books already, Masters of Jade still gives them more, richer and sometimes slightly new and different backstories.

That being said, this product could have been a lot better still. At only 86 pages this is a rather short supplement, and it shows. There is a showing lack of crunch to go alongside the fluff. You will not find character blocks in this book; only their references and descriptions within the rest of the narrative. Similarly there are no artifacts in this book. The book sometimes refers to creatures and artifacts in other books, but any new element to the game introduced in this book will have to do with the little description it gets and no stats. This book could easily have been a full-fledged 160-page book if you ask me. Aside from one or two chapters with more crunch, there are some aspects that could have done with more words, and some aspects that have hardly been touched upon at all.

The Appendix of the book gives us a bureaucracy system for our characters to interact with. While highly anticipated, I find it somewhat disappointing. Organisations in this system are nothing more than a tool for characters to use. In fact, organisations do not seem to move without a character using it in the first place. The Appendix is also severely lacking in good examples; yet another thing that is painfully absent (while the entire book is full of opportunities that could have been used as vivid examples).

This book had the potential of a 5, but unfortunately did not make it higher than a 4. Still very good, especially considering how small it is, but it could have been better.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Richard G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/12/2012 07:43:14
Another excellent book from the current Exalted development team.

The description of the Guild and its operations in different areas of business and geography is very well done, with a mix of high-level overview and beautifully put together anecdotes to give examples of how things play out on the ground. The writing here showcases some great examples of how everyday mortals can live and have an impact in an animistic world. It also gives varied and flavourful descriptions of how the Guild operates in the different Directions of Creation, giving more insight into their cultures and plenty of tempting new plot-hooks for games there.

The Creation-Ruling Mandate appendix, for abstracting the activities of large organisations in Exalted is long-overdue but very well executed. Now, when characters fulfil the promise of Exalted and begin to rise as God-Kings and Heroic rulers of their lands, the system keeps up with the story. The mechanics are simple and flexible, and look well suited for usefully modelling large-scale and long-term activities, while still setting up opportunities to drop into individual in-game scenes to exploit or ensure the outcomes of their grand plans.

Also, spoilers Sweetie! Liminal Exalted coming up, anyone?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Cameron W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 21:09:06
Masters of Jade has elements that will attract those new to the game as well as 1st edition veterans.

If you've ever wondered how powerful mortals with unimaginable wealth and an Motivation for profit worthy of the Chosen stay free from the influences of the Exalted then this book is exactly what you need.

Few books in the game line will give you a better look into the lives of mortals in an animistic game world of petty gods, rapacious Fair Folk, and the might of the Chosen. There are no bland charts detailing exchange rates among Creation's kingdoms or the like. Masters of Jade shows players and Storytellers just how cool being a ruthless merchant king can be.

But the book doesn't stop there. Once you've had an evocative story hook laden look at the origins of the Guild, it's organizational structures across Creation and a look at it's elections and nominal leaders. You get a flexible, mechanically sound system to handle large scale Bureaucracy. Everything from your merchant empire's investments to simply reap profit to wielding organizational might in military campaigns.

The first in what should be a long list of books that will renew excitement for Exalted. This book will quickly become a must have in your electronic or traditional book shelf.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Richard E H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 19:28:48
Finally, bureaucracy rules!

If this product can't get you pumped up about the power of commerce in Creation, there's no hope for that topic for you.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charlie R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 12:46:33
Given the previously hit-and-miss nature of Exalted books (and my, there have been a lot of misses), you might be forgiven for expecting spotty quality in Masters of Jade, or a simple retread of the First Edition book, Manacle and Coin. You'd be wrong, however.

You see, Masters of Jade is (alongside Celestial Compass: Autochthonia) one of a new breed of books in the Exalted line, penned by a consistent team of writers, sometimes referred to on the official forums as the Ink Monkeys. Quite aside from their own exceptional individual skills in description, invention and mechanical clarity, this team goes to the trouble of actually communicating with each other over the direction of the line, such that their work avoids the contradictions (thematic or factual) of previous eras. This book might be considered the first real published foray of this team into Creation, and my, but it doesn't disappoint.

From the opening tale of greed and divine desolation to the closing depiction of a dawning Third Age, Masters of Jade carries the reader through Creation as it has rarely been seen before. The gorgeous cover art from Melissa Uran is a sign of things to come; atmospheric, beautiful, horrifying, simultaneously personal in detail and epic in scope. Chapter One covers the history and structure of the Guild in a manner both plausible and interesting, while Chapter Two explores each corner of Creation with a deftness and texture that outclasses the Terrestrial Compasses for those areas. Chapter Three details the Guild's interactions with inhuman clients and otherworldly markets so well as to leave players chafing at the bit to start racking up a tab in a Malfean bar or seeking out manors of raksha trade, and Chapter Four removes any remaining doubt as to the Guild's ability to hold its own in a world of gods and monsters, including some fascinating characters and useful thaumaturgy. Plot hooks, story ideas, characters and places drip from each page, set into rich descriptions of the general setting that will benefit Storytellers even if they never use a single one of the specific areas or characters described in Masters of Jade. This book was a labour of love for those who worked on it, and it shows.

Oh, and did I not mention? It also has the Creation-Ruling Mandate, a whole new system of rules for running nations, companies, and societies, which is both simple, customizable, and requires no reference to other books or errata.

If you are going to buy one book for Exalted after the Core, buy Masters of Jade. I guarantee you'll not regret it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Brent N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 10:41:21
Chapter 1 focuses on the history of the Guild, starting with the heroism of Brem Marst, whose victorious Cold War against the Scarlet Empress cemented the Guild's future. Next is the structure of the guild, its administrators, merchants, craftsman and labor contractors and the way they're distributed in a hierarchy that spans four directions. This is followed by short descriptions of the slave and drug trades. This is followed by a description of the Guild's membership requirements and of the process through which a Guildsman can become hierarch. Roughly half a page is dedicated to addressing Exalts and other supernatural beings who would attempt to join the Guild's ruling council. The chapter ends by demonstrating how the Guild manages to deal with Exalts on its own terms.

Chapter 2 describes how the Guild operates in the Threshold, starting with the East and looping back through the South, West and North. Each section describes the caravans used by the Guild in that particular direction, from the normal caravans of the East to the mammoth-drive caravans of the North, as well as goods and merchant lords unique to each direction. The second chapter also introduces the voyageurs, intrepid adventures who brave dangerous areas to bring back rare and expensive items for the Guild. The only thing missing from this section is the Guild's trade with the Blessed Isle.

Chapter 3 describes the interactions between the Guild and the supernatural. Trade with Raksha and Demons is incredibly dangerous, but also incredibly profitable for those who are careful, smart and diplomatic enough to pull it off. When these deals go right, they can make a merchant's career, but when they go wrong, the consequences can be horrific. The Sidereals monitor the Guild to make sure their deals with the Fair Folk don't threaten the fabric of Creation, but they mostly leave it alone. All of the Maidens have taken an interest in the Guild's operations... except Saturn. The Lunars respect the Guild because it opposes the Realm and they hate it because of its parasitic nature. They solved this balance by mostly ignoring it until it gets in their way. Merchants use lavish funerals to bring their wealth into the Underworld, but the Guild does not easily deal with the dead. The Timeless Order of Manacle and Coin governs the trade of the dead and they are an unsettling force. It was originally formed by the ghost of an Eclipse Caste Solar, but its leadership now includes many other undead horrors, including the lingering soul of Brem Marst himself.

Chapter 4 deals with the Guild's handling of turnover and promotions. It describes some of the Guild's hierarchs, merchants, craftsmen and administrators. It talks about the Guild's philosophy of economics and the requirements for Factorhood. It describes how the Guild fights back when impeded by gods or the Fair Folk. It describes the artifacts, spells and thaumaturgical rituals - including new rituals provided in the book - used by the most wealthy, paranoid and prudent merchants to protect themselves from magical influence and spying. The chapter ends with short blurbs describing the Guild's end at the hands of the Solar Exalted (it doesn't go well for them), the Abyssals (it goes much worse) or how the Guild can acquire Exalted allies to protect itself and survive the coming chaos.

These chapters are filled with evocative descriptions of characters and locales, engaging anecdotes and plot hooks that should prove themselves to all storytellers, even those whose campaigns don't focus on the Guild. The Guild is spread throughout the threshold and beyond and its actions have even farther-reaching consequences.

The book's crowning achievement, however, is the Creation-Ruling Mandate provided in the Appendix. These rules allow for the management of any type of organization a player or ST can think of. Highly flexible and context-sensitive, they provide hard rules for any action an organization might take while leaving the ST enough leeway to apply his judgment as necessary. Although it was designed to play out bureaucratic management and the course of an entire war, the system can easily be adapted to other areas. With a few tweaks to the roll intervals, small adjustments to a few Charms and a little creativity, it can be used to express tactical warfare. With certain modifications, it can also be used to replace the current Craft rules, or it can be used with Investigation to conduct large-scale experiments. The Creation-Ruling Mandate makes it possible to write a Realm Legion up as a single organization, or it can be used to break the legion down into all its fangs, scales, talons, wings, dragons and field forces divided between its main, support and auxiliary forces and describe how all of these units interact with each other and with the legion as a whole, all depending on the Storyteller's needs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Thomas B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2012 13:38:53
Masters of Jade scarcely contains a single page without at least one excellent hook for a session (or even an entire campaign), to say nothing of the mechanics in the appendix. Whether you're new to Exalted or a veteran Storyteller, this book is absolutely worth your money.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masters of Jade
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jonathon H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2012 13:35:27
As usual, the current writing crew has knocked the ball out of the park with this one.

Unfortunately, however, it's "merely" a home run rather than the grand slam that was CoCD:Autochthonia. Why is that? Simple - the short section on Lunars was, unfortunately, rather poorly written. Regardless of what the writer INTENDED to convey, it carries the implication that the current plans for Lunars are... to take them right back to 1E's brainless barbarians. While this may or may not be true, it was a poor decision to write the section the way it was presented without providing further context, or at least some qualifiers on the statement "as [the Lunars] flense the world of progress and fight to drive it back into the darkness of the Fallen Age".

Regardless of that glaring flaw, though, this is on the whole an excellent book. Every Exalted Storyteller should have this book, if not for the thoughtful and in-depth look at the Guild's workings (including the better part an entire chapter devoted to how the Guild avoids being bent to the whims of the setting's various supernatural powers), then for a functioning system for running organizations. At last, Bureaucracy is useful! Even if you don't play Exalted, you may well find this book to be a handy reference for the more enterprising (or at least more ruthless) mercantile empires in your own settings.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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