Tag: Exalted RPG

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 5 – Anima Banner, Limit Break, etc.

HUZZAH!  With this compilation, we’re officially at the halfway point of this Challenge!  As promised, here’s the next compilation shared a month ahead of time for my wonderful Patrons.

It’s been an interesting journey thus far building on each topic that came before and explore facets of the characters I hadn’t thought about till now.  Kalara has especially come together after this random style experiment inspired by Blood of Zeus! (Not part of my official Challenge, but something that’s really blown my mind, regardless. I have FINALLY captured her face correctly after all these years!)

I’m also getting a lot of cool concepts for future TTRPG portfolio purposes and that’s also pretty exciting for me!

Anima Banner

When a Solar expresses the peak of their divine powers, their aura flares in a show of their ‘anima banner’ or ‘totemic aura’.  Kalara expresses her banner with a phoenix that rises from behind her, signifying her own rise from the ashes of her would-be execution on the cross, which is alluded to in the golden spikes through her palms.  Chains of energy appear on her arms and legs, the links falling off one by one as she ‘unchains’ herself from a mortal fate that would have kept her a slave.

The phoenix wasn’t in her original anima banner design, but I’m so happy I’ve added it for this new design.  I can’t imagine her without it, now!

Limit Break

For all the discussion of how epic and amazing the Solar Exalted are, a fatal flaw resides in them –  a Great Curse laid upon them without their knowledge by the old gods they threw down.  Each Solar will fall to this flaw at some point or another.  As a game mechanic, a player rolls ‘limit’ when they meet a certain condition that triggers their ‘flaw’.  Once they lose control, they ‘limit break’.

Kalara’s Great Curse manifests as a paranoia that her enemies are out to get her.  She has nightmares of the night her father was poisoned, fearing that she, too, will meet the same fate he did in his battle against the Guild.  She even starts to doubt her friends, who are the only people she’s let close enough to assassinate her.  In our campaign, I never saw her in this state, but I  was always dreading it (and also relishing the roleplay opportunity). Perhaps it will happen in her story, The Uncrucified, sometime?

Reasons to Have Ox Body

When you start playing Exalted, the book suggests taking a level of Ox Body so your freshly made character is just a bit more tanky in a world where people can punch gods in the face.

Take Ox Body, they said!  Not me.  I started our game with Kalara having maybe one level of it, if any.  I learned the hard way when a spoopy tree creature nearly one-shot my gal towards the beginning of our game.

This is what happens when you ignite your bag of firedust on the spoopy tree creature’s face and get its undivided attention!  It critical rolled and punched a hole right through my squishy Eclipse Caste.  Our Night Caste, Night Locust, wasn’t near this amused in-game, but I’ve dramatized the moment for comedic effect. 

And to add insult on top of injury, she still had to translate for the rest of the scene with a gaping hole in her torso.

(If you’re wondering why Kalara looks different, she was in disguise as Koh, a rebel bandit leader, early on in our game.)

Reaction When No One Takes Sail

Or in our case, when only one character in the party takes Sail and knows how to maneuver a ship!  When you take a point in Sail, that gives your character access to a fancier pirate hat than everyone else.  It is known!

(Click to view the larger version here)

The next few topics are going to deal with subjects that I’m not particularly skilled at drawing (beast people, materials, etc.) which should be an extra-fun challenge!

I’ve also been dabbling on and off with NaNoWriMo, so if seeing writing from this world and Kalara’s story might intrigue you, be sure to drop in on my Twitter thread dedicated to my NaNo adventures! 

Proud of myself for being so productive with this!  We’re almost there!

♥ Ang

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 4 – Abyssal, Deathlords, Etc.

My next spoopy topics for the Exalted Art Challenge arrive just in time for Halloween weekend!  I’m pleased to introduce you to some of the most fearsome and terrifying villains within the world of Exalted!

Abyssal – Golden Lies Spewn Forth From Avarice

No that title isn’t a sentence, it’s this character’s name.  Abyssals are the dark reflection of Solars like Kalara.  Their once-divine Sun essence has been corrupted by beings empowered by the ancient fallen gods.  This character once had a name, but it was taken from him and stricken from the books in Heaven when he was transformed into an Abyssal.

In life, Golden Lies obsessed over material wealth and pursued it to his end.  In death (or undeath), he cloaks himself in the finery of a king’s funeral adorned with bejeweled bones.  I played with a couple of different color schemes for him and am favoring the white-haired look at the moment!  This isn’t the last we’ll see of this fellow, as he might appear in The Uncrucified down the line, if the story goes where I think it’s going.

On the bottom-right, I also decided to draw fan art of another Abyssal who I liked the design of, the Saint of Promised Silence, who belongs to HamSandLich.

Deathlord – Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears

Masters of the Abyssals, the Deathlords terrorize Creation, the whispers of dark gods in their ears driving them forth.  Each Deathlord is a powerful ghost who rules over an array of weapons and armies poised to bring about the destruction of Creation for the Neverborn, the remnants of the Primordial gods imprisoned in the Underworld in ages past.  

Not so for the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears.  She has no armies, nor does she make war like the others.  Her insidious claws seep into every corner of her enemies’ territories in the form of spies and hidden knives.  She once seduced an entire monastery of celibate monks before transforming their holy land into a Shadowland and building her own fortress atop its ruins.  I do enjoy a clever villainous lady and couldn’t resist drawing this particular Deathlord!

I wove the ‘tears’ of the Lover’s name into her design, her dangling jewels mimicking falling streams of tears and the makeup on her face flowing like tear streaks punctuated by a drip of ‘blood’ from her lips.  The tear shape even echoes in the cleavage cutout in her dress.  For a seductress as high caliber as the Lover, I wanted a sense of high class, of ornamentation.  She has bare shoulders to show a tantalizing bit of skin and smokes an opium pipe, which to me embodies her motif of ‘luxurious destruction’.

She really seems to agree with the muse!  I am definitely planning to choose one of her thumbnails to turn into a full painting.

Monstrance – The Arms of the Lover

The divine essence of a Solar is no easy thing to corrupt and thus the Neverborn created the most cruel of implements for their Deathlords to use- the Monstrances of Celestial Portion.  These sarcophagi are uniquely forged to corrupt and bind the Exaltation of a particular servant and keep it under the thrall of the Deathlord.   A Solar thrust into this insidious coffin eventually succumbs to corruption until they give themselves over and accept their new existence as Abyssals…or perish.

As each monstrance suits the Deathlord’s intentions (the way I interpret the lore), I’ve chosen to portray this monstrance controlled by the Lover as being much like its owner.  The silk satin pillowing inside makes it seem like a luxurious bed, the soulsteel and jade construct gilded with gold.  A prismatic crystalline lid allows one to gaze on the poor soul inside, whose body is trapped in an arc that mimics ecstasy by gold caressing arms that come alive and clasp the victim within.  Inserted along the crystal lid, jewel encrusted needles stab into each of the victim’s chakra points, plying the Solar within for corruption.  Like the Lover, this monstrance combines a beautiful and terrible aesthetic.

This one’s somewhat NSFW for artistic nudity, suggestive themes, and non-graphic body horror, so click HERE to see the full version:

Despite all my flowy whimsical goddesses, I really enjoy these darker topics and have been looking forward to them since I began this challenge!  

Have a fun and safe Halloween weekend, everyone!

♥ Ang

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 3 – Fave God, First Age Incarnation, etc.

I’m changing up my format a bit as it seems I’m not going to be able to share many of the final paintings from this challenge in these compilations!  I’m going to stick to sharing sketches and then once all of my final paintings are done based on my favorite picks from the sketches, I’ll share those in their own collection along with their story snippets.

For now, enjoy my explorations with a bit of commentary for Exalted newbies!

Favorite God – The Plentimon of Dice

Exalted has many gods, all which represent various abstract concepts in Creation who gain power from how many worshippers acknowledge and make offerings to them.  Creation is full of offerings a-plenty for the Plentimon of the Dice!  He is the God of Gambling and one of the most present and active gods in Creation.  This god gets a thrill from watching games of chance unfold and the excitement of high stakes.  He’s always circulating Creation, visiting every casino either in his full splendor or a mortal disguise.  Those who gamble to him and lose without repaying their debts meet mysterious unexplained deaths.

The Plentimon shows up often in The Uncrucified, as Kalara’s hometown of Gem hosts one of the most magnificent subterranean gambling parlors built with such finery as to please the gods themselves.  Games of chance are part of the culture of Gem.  One day, a pauper might be a prince.  Fortunes are always turning, something Kalara has experienced firsthand as her contract was lost several times in a game of chance, usually during Plentimon’s festival day.

I’ve chosen to depict the Plentimon with a half-mask representing Good and Bad fortune with jewelry and adornments made from various game pieces and jade obols.  Perhaps they are the good luck charms from those who have lost to him?

First Age Incarnation

In centuries past, there was such an age of splendor where the chosen of the Gods, the Exalted, ruled with a firm and magnificent hand.  These demigods among men stood above Creation stabilizing it during a time when mortals and gods alike had finally freed the world from the tyranny of the ancient Primordial gods who once ruled Creation, much like the Titans of Greek mythology.  However, their hubris and their extreme virtues turned against them with the Great Curse hidden in their souls by the vengeful defeated Primordials would be the downfall of the Solars of the First Age.

Each spark of Exaltation resides in a Shard which is passed down from one worthy vessel to another. This gent here is Calym Lang, the Solar and Righteous Devil practitioner whose shard Kalara would eventually inherit.  Calym was a shrewd and paranoid master of trade whose cold pragmatism would be his downfall.  Kalara is more like him than she would like to admit at times and the two maintain a begrudging respect towards one another.  She often communicates with his greater soul in the underworld, the two poking fun at each other’s flaws in a good-natured competition to see who will achieve their goals through more effective ends.

He’s also ghostwritten a series of erotica novels that Kalara is a fan of, but will never tell him.

Calym’s mural venerates his status as one who united the four corners of Creation, all trade routes leading to the compass in his hand.  I imagine this to be the centerpiece of a wider mural, each region of the mural depicting the exports of the area they represent (an image our Storyteller described once that never left my mind).

Age of Sorrows Incarnation

When the Exalted of the First Age fell, the Age of Sorrows began, but a glimmer of hope stands on the horizon.  The Shards of the Exalted have begun to appear again, imbuing heroes like Kalara with the power to change the face of Creation.

Like Calym, I’ve depicted her in a mural style with some key differences.  While Calym’s focuses on veneration from his worshippers, Kalara stands among people who rise up in revolution carrying tools of their trade, as she spends much of her power in Creation empowering escaped slaves like herself with trade skills, creating fair economy through her organization, the Pristine Guild.  She struggles between the Gun and the Quill, violence and diplomacy.  By the end of her time in Creation, she will have learned to balance both.

She and Calym share the phoenix as a personal symbol, though they oppose each other in gold and silver.

Incarnations Back to Back

While Calym’s time is over, the two remain inextricably bound.  The Shard granted to Kalara has also passed on some of his memories and knowledge.  She strives to learn from the mistakes Calym made and the emotionless spirit construct of himself he has left behind to tutor her.  Should she ever prove unworthy, Calym has made his intentions known that he will destroy her so that a more worthy successor might come along more quickly.

This week’s collection was packed with a lot of fun ideas!  While I won’t be able to paint a finished polished piece for every idea here, I want to pick a few out of the bunch to bring to final!  I’d like to finish up the Back to Back thumbnail with Kalara and Calym with their weapons drawn and the smarmy Plentimon of Dice with his dice cup and floating cards.  The temple mural pieces are also calling to my muse!

Which ones would you guys want to see finished up?  Always curious to know what calls to you!

More soon! 

♥ Ang

Exalted Art Challenge – Collection 2 – Fave Spell, Fave House, etc.

Continuing directly from last week’s collection, I finished my concept for Favorite Charm I teased last entry!  The goal for me with this challenge was to generate ideas and maybe get a few TTRPG portfolio pieces out of them.  I’m excited to say this piece has done that for me!  It may mean I won’t finish this challenge in a month, but it’s been worth it to take some time to explore my other inspirations as an artist and get a taste of what kind of art I want to be making in the future.

I’m so happy to see the game setting’s company also Retweeted this painting on Twitter, which makes me hopeful I’m on the right track! 

(Painted entirely in Procreate!  This Challenge been a learning experience for new tools as well.)

Favorite Dragonblooded House

No, the Dragonblooded are nothing like the Dragonborn of Dungeons & Dragons.  These noble houses descended of ancient mystic bloodlines imbued with the power of dragons do not have draconic attributes, but rather convey the aura and characteristics of their elements – wood, water, fire, earth, and air.  The individuals who started these bloodlines became the founders of the first dynastic houses, all ruled under the Scarlet Empress.

I chose House Cynis, a wood-aspected house known for their luxurious lifestyles, finery, and debauchery.  They feature heavily in the story of The Uncrucified and I wanted to spend some time conceptualizing Varia and Sana Cynis, two nobles from House Cynis who have fallen on hard times, though they do their best to portray themselves as the rich nobles they once were.  This pair would be trouble for Kalara in her younger days, but also give her a very unexpected “gift”!

With their wood theme, I chose to explore bonsai-inspired framing and Hanfu inspired fashions, as their their home country in the Blessed Isle always struck me as more Chinese-inspired in the setting.

Favorite Spell

There was no contest in choosing a fave spell. How could I resist the motif of razor sharp obsidian butterflies that fly out of the caster’s hands, butterflies being a personal symbol fo mine?  If a sorcerer chooses this spell as their specialty, they can also grow slashing claws of obsidian. 

I made this character up on the fly as a sorcerer-assassin, of sorts.  Instead of the more proper elegant mages, I imagine this nameless mage to be much more world-weary and cold.  She would fit in well with the Guild assassins that Kalara will no doubt clash with later on in her story!

Favorite Incarnae

The Incarnae are the holiest of holy among the gods of Exalted.  Their machinations and existence helped form the fabric of Creation.  Again, choosing Luna, goddess of the moon, was an easy pick for me!  She resonates so strongly with narrative themes I enjoy as a goddess of not only the night, but of tricksters, fertility, and chaos (not to mention her visual themes of tattoos and silver, which I am also partial to in my work).  Luna balances the rigid order and burning presence of the Unconquered Sun, giving Creation a respite from his burning rays.

For her visual themes, I wanted to portray what might be a mural in one of her temples. I imagine this would be ever-changing, showing her in any of her countless forms as a Hunter, Maiden, Crone, Beast, etc. depending on the time of month you look at it.  The masks around her symbolize the many guises she takes, with the rabbits worked in as symbols of fertility referenced as being connected with her in the setting.

I took strong inspiration from the beautiful murals of Steven Universe, particularly for the last sketch.

I’m currently favoring the asymmetrical take on Luna, as the symmetrical ones feel too defined by rules of order, which doesn’t fit Luna’s personality.

I don’t have any finished art from all of this sketching this week, as I’m exploring at my own pace.  I may pick a few that speak to the muse more strongly to bring to final, then only create sketches for the rest.  We shall see!  The journey continues and it’s felt GREAT to indulge in this geeky art love!

 ♥ Ang

Introducing My October Exalted Art Challenge!

The time is neigh, my October Art Challenge approaches!  So far, this year has been about allowing myself to rest and recuperate while also letting my muse off the chain to wander different paths for awhile.  The next excursion is going to be with the Exalted Art Challenge that I created with the Exalted RPG Discord community!

For those who don’t know Exalted, it’s a tabletop roleplaying game much like Dungeons & Dragons where you get to become a character with epic-level powers!  It features a world full of mystical places, vengeful gods, and faerie creatures with a rich tapestry of lore to explore.  Its roots in non-Western mythology have made it one of my favorite worlds to play in on my days off!

I’ve even drawn illustrations and written many words for a story set in this universe entitled The Uncrucified.  I’ve been sorely missing the characters from this story and wanted to get back into the mood of creating in this universe by challenging myself to a list of 31 art topics inspired by this fantastic setting!  I expect many characters from my storyworld to show up for this art challenge.

I know many of these topics don’t make sense to non-players, but I hope to introduce you to them with a bit of explanation and art to go along with each one!  In fact, enjoy a little sneak peek of thumbnail sketches for a few of the topics for a taste:

Patreon-Only Sneak Peeks!

Because my Patrons are the coolest, I wanted you guys to feel special during this event!  You’ll be getting Patreon-Exclusive Early Access to my collection of exploratory sketches with my thoughts and notes on the topics each week , while the finished paintings and prose will be shared at The Uncrucified’s project blog.  A compilation of the finished art will be posted here on Patreon once I’ve completed all topics! 

For those keeping up on my Patreon Discord Server, I’ll be sharing the sketches as they happen in my Ang’s Sketchbook channel as well!  (Read here for instructions on how to join my Discord Server dedicated to my Patrons and fans)

The Goal

I’m hoping by doing this event I can create more art in the TTRPG vein which is work I’d like to do more of in the future to channel my long-time passion for gaming!  I also plan to experiment with an expressive painterly digital style, since I have been so married to detailed tight line work for a long time now!  

With luck, I can finish all the topics in a month, though I won’t be too hard on myself if I can’t finish one a day.  The big goal is to remember how to play with art again and enjoy the process more than perfectionism!

I hope you all are ready for the ride!  I’m excited to see what happens during this hugely experimental time.  Are there any Exalted players here?  Sound off in the comments!  If you’re an artist who loves the game, I invite you to do this challenge with me and share in my Patreon Discord in the dedicated Art Challenges channel!  I’d love to see what you all might do for this list!

More soon.  I can’t wait to begin!

♥ Ang

Art Collection: Exalted Art Challenge 2020

After much contemplation, I’ve decided to go ahead and mark the Exalted Art Challenge as ‘complete’!  I’ve been working on it since October of 2020, so it was time to end this not-so-short break from the Birthstone Goddesses, despite the fact I didn’t quite get to finish the final two topics of the Challenge due to life throwing some major challenges our way.  

My husband is thankfully home and healing very well from COVID!  We’ve both been resting after the sleepless nights and it seemed a good time to put this challenge to bed.  It’s time to recuperate my energy levels and embark on the next part of my artistic journey!

It’s been a really great ride with this Art Challenge and I’ve enjoyed the creative challenge of strange and new topics for a while.  Did you all also enjoy the diversion?  I’m curious to know how this crowd likes my TTRPG-inspired art!

I do eventually want to finish the comic for the “Favorite Stunt” topic during my free time.  When I do, you can catch the finished pages on my Exalted project’s social media accounts instead:

For now, enjoy a compilation of all the topics!  Be sure to click the links to the individual collections for more on each topic and its creative notes.

The Master Challenge List


View Collection 1 

  • Favorite Caste
  • Regional Fashion
  • Favorite Charm (Sketch)


View Collection 2 

  • Favorite Charm (Final)
  • Favorite Incarnae
  • Favorite House
  • Favorite Spell


View Collection 3

  • Favorite God
  • First Age Incarnation
  • Age of Sorrows Incarnation
  • Incarnations Back to Back


View Collection 4 

  • Deathlord
  • Abyssal
  • Monstrance


View Collection 5 

  • Limit Break
  • Anima Banner
  • Reasons to Have Ox Body
  • When No One Takes Sail


View Collection 6 

  • Weapon
  • Artifact
  • Magic Material
  • Warstrider


View Collection 7 

  • Familiar
  • Mutation
  • Animal
  • Beastmen


View Collection 8 

  • Demon
  • Manse
  • Locale
  • Signature Character


View Collection 9 

  • Favorite Stunt

Exalted Mini Comic WiPs

It’s been an anxiety-filled month with everything happening in the US this month and other personal challenges I’ll post about later once I have all the details.  For now, I wanted to at least share some progress shots of the mini comic I’ve been working on for the Exalted Art Challenge.

This has been a fun challenge to try in Clip Studio Paint for the first time.  I knew this program was created for manga artists, but everything about it is so much more efficient for this purpose than photoshop, especially the panel tools.  I really love its touch gestures for making my life easier as well!

This mini comic was created for the Exalted Art Challenge‘s topic “Favorite Stunt”, or in RPG terms, favorite cool moment of roleplaying!  For this particular campaign, my favorite moment happened when our band of weary Solar warriors went up against the Walker in Darkness, an extremely powerful Deathlord who had invaded our town.  My gal Kalara decided to initiate combat in a pretty badass way I had fun with!

Storyboard Sketches

My comics begin as loose sketches that give an idea of where the dialogue and main figures will be.

Ink and Screentone Style Tests

Next came figuring out how to ink and style the pages.  I opted for a style inspired by the energetic line work of one of my favorite manga, Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura.  I enjoy the graceful energy of the lines and the way the screentone portrays the local color of the elements (darker skin vs lighter clothing, etc).

Here’s a peek at our entire party of Kalara’s Solar band!  From left to right we have:

Cathak Demiato, Dawn Caste, who rose through the Dynast ranks as a decorated warrior, only to Exalt after discovering the war crimes her family was committing.  

Night Locust, Night Caste, a child slave turned assassin who Exalted when they tried to ‘test’ him by having him kill his young best friend.  He’s the prankster-sage of the group.  

Kalara Vadras (my character), Eclipse Caste, whom most of you know, but if you don’t, she’s an emancipated slave turned Guild reformer who has Major Beef with the Guild after they murdered her surrogate dad and framed her for it. 

Chaos Divide, Zenith Caste, raised by a wandering Air Aspect and Immaculate monk after his family was killed by fairfolk.  He bakes really good cookies!  He’s also the one who gave Kalara the most headaches because he never hesitates.  

Xesa, Twilight Caste, a wandering fortune teller who told the fortune of the wrong person and ended up Exalting when they hunted her down.

This comic has come along slowly, but surely.  It’s been a fun experiment to get to know Clip Studio Paint and to stretch my legs, creatively, before I return to the final phase of my Birthstone Goddesses project.

Are you enjoying the Exalted material thus far?  I’m curious to gauge interest here!

Next, I hope to have the finalized pages to show to wrap up this ‘finale’ for the Exalted Art Challenge.