The Terrestrial Exalted, usually called the Dragon-Blooded and also called the Princes of the Earth, are the champions of the Five Elemental Dragons. For the last millennium and a half, they were the unquestioned rulers of Creation itself. Rules for creating and playing as Dragon-Blooded characters were presented in Exalted: The Dragon-Blooded for Exalted First Edition and in Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded for Exalted Second Edition, and will be presented in Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought for Exalted Third Edition.
Despite being the weakest Exalted in terms of raw power, the Terrestrials are the most numerous Exalts by far. Once the soldiers of the Exalted armies that fought the Primordials, the Terrestrials murdered the Solar Exalted at the behest of the Sidereals and took over the reins of Creation.
The Dragon-Blooded are easily the most numerous of the Exalt types. Unlike the Celestial Exalted of whom set numbers exist, the Dragon-Blooded may breed among each other or the masses, with the children of such unions having a chance of Exalting at some point during puberty. The purer the blood is, the more likely a child will Exalt. While approximately 700 of all the other Celestial Exalted types exist in total, there are easily more than 10,000 of the Princes of the Earth, and there is no absolute force preventing them from growing more numerous.
While they are the champions of the Elemental Dragons, the Dragon-Blooded are not truthfully the "Chosen" as the Celestial Exalted are. The Dragon-Blooded are not imbued with the Dragons' power, but rather born with it through descent from their Dragon-Blooded parents and ancestors. The Terrestrials are thus the only Exalted who can pass power on to their descendants.
The name Terrestrial is also somewhat of a misnomer: unlike other Exalted, who are imbued by (for example) the Unconquered Sun, Luna, the Five Maidens or Autochthon, the Terrestrials are not Exalted by Gaia, but rather via the Elemental Dragons who were themselves created by Gaia.
The Dragon Blooded were created by the Gods as foot-soldiers in the war against the Primordials; since that time, they have served primarily as soldiers and servants, aiding the more powerful Celestial Exalted by forming the bulk of the armies of the First Age.
The Terrestrials' raw numbers, and their ability to increase them, aided much in the Usurpation. At the end of the First Age, the majority of the Sidereal Exalted determined that the Solar Exalted were beyond repair, and fanned pre-existing flames of discontent among the Dragon-Blooded to the point that they rose up during Calibration and overwhelmed the Solars. The Sidereals felt that as the Dragon-Blooded lived shorter lives, and were weaker individually, their rule would be peaceful, if less wondrous than the First Age that the Usurpation put an end to. Creatures of duty, the Dragon Blooded did this deed primarily to save Creation. With the fall of the Solars, the Dragon Blooded established the Shogunate, the last civilization born of the First Age.
Some information on the Shogunate is available in the various Dragon Blooded splatbooks, which indicate that the Terrestrials of the first age were organized in a society strongly reminiscent of Tokugawa-era Japan. Arguments about duty appear commonplace, and in many cases, high-ranking officers committed suicide over matters of honor. The technological level was only slightly behind that of the Solar Deliberative, although even then the Shoguns were aware of how far they had fallen.
The Shogunate fell during the Great Contagion and the subsequent invasion of Creation by the Fair Folk. During this time, the Scarlet Empress activated the first age defenses of the Imperial Manse and founded the Realm. With her accession to the throne, the Dragon Blooded can be divided into roughly three groups: the Terrestrial Exalted of the Scarlet Dynasty, the remainder of the Seventh Legion quartered in Lookshy and the remaining Outcastes scattered throughout the Threshold. It should be noted that from the perspective of the Realm, Lookshy is also filled with outcastes.
In the modern era, Dynastic Dragon Blooded are the absolute masters of the Realm, at the pinnacle of both the political structure of the realm and the theology of the Immaculate Philosophy. In the modern Realm, the Dragon Blooded are all ideally raised in one of the Great Houses, although given their passions and position, Lost Eggs regularly appear and are inducted into imperial society through other well-defined channels. While Dynastic Dragon-Blooded may initially appear decadent and lazy to an outsider (and a good number are decadent), they are still creatures of duty dedicated to the advancement of the Realm and their own personal goals.
With the return of the Solar Exalted and the rise of the Abyssal Exalted, the Dragon Blooded are coming to terms with the appearance of Anathema in a number unseen since the introduction of the Wyld Hunt. The realm is on the brink of civil war, and Lookshy is on the cusp of greatness. The future of the Dragon-Blooded promises to be eventful.
The Dragon-Blooded have five elemental Aspects, which are functionally identical to the system of castes which the other Exalted share. Each correspond to one of the five elements of Creation, and each is attributed to certain personality and skill tendencies:
- Air: Logical thinkers and intellectuals.
- Earth: Bastions of stability and tradition.
- Fire: Passionate and flashy.
- Water: Determined and patient.
- Wood: Nurturing and sensual cultivators.
The Dragon-Blooded Shogunate that formed in the ruins of the Usurpation lasted over 700 years, nearly as long as the Scarlet Dynasty has now, in Realm Year 768. However, the Shogunate crumbled with the arrival of the Great Contagion, and although the Scarlet Empress rose to power and asserted order on the Blessed Isle, she could not establish a firm grasp on the Threshold, especially the Scavenger Lands. Many of the city-states in the Threshold now act as Realm tributaries, with varying amounts of influence coming from the Imperial City.
The Eleven Great Houses of the Empire claim descent from the Scarlet Empress, with the exception of House Nellens, and share her breeding. These houses field armies, manage commerce, support the Immaculate Order which preaches both the divinity of the Dragon-Blooded and the evil of the Anathema. They are also, by and large, quite decadent—marriages are a political alliance, and it is not uncommon for both partners in a Dynastic marriage to be having an affair. In fact, many Outcastes are born on the Isle (and the Threshold) because of dalliances between a Dynast and a peasant or Patrician, though often an elaborate ruse follows the pregnancy along to pretend that the child is born to a legitimate marriage, if the dynastic parent is part of such a thing. Thus such a child grows up with noble education and upbringing, and if he or she experiences her Second Breath, then she does so not as an Outcaste, but as a Dynast. Other Outcastes are born apparently spontaneously. These Lost Eggs are feted, and then given an option: serve in the Legions, or join the Immaculate Order. While those who chose the former may perhaps one day mingle their bloodline with the dynasty's, those who choose the latter take the vow of celibacy that all Immaculate Monks do.
While the Dragon-Blooded are most firmly associated with the Scarlet Dynasty, many more exist that are not born into a noble house, or even the Blessed Isle where the Realm makes its home. Lookshy, to the east, is a fortress-city that stands between the Realm and the Scavenger Lands. Further east, the Forest Witches exist in a half-dream world in which they are invincible gods. Throughout Creation, in fact, people occasionally spontaneously Exalt in their teenage years, though this is rare. Such Outcastes are usually better at whatever they turn their hand to than the mortal equivalent, and are thus easily capable of making a name for themselves, and often do.
With the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, the Realm is thrown into upheaval as the Great Houses try to jockey for position to make a grab at the throne—and claim enough deniability so that if the Empress were to return, they would not suffer the fate of House Iselsi or House Manosque. Currently, Regent Tepet Fokuf supposedly has the power of the throne. He lacks ambition, political experience, or competence in any arena, along with any blessing of the Dragons, making him an excellent pawn: none will weep for him, even his own house, if and when he dies to some power-play.
- While the Dragon-Blooded are more numerous by far, they have the least raw power of any Exalted, with a firm cap on their maximum Essence and higher ability requirements to use Charms. However, while their Charms are individually weaker, many of them have have a feature most other Exalts lack, in boosting the abilities of their comrades or otherwise benefiting an entire circle or combat group at once. Also, as a result of the backing of the Scarlet Dynasty, they are often much better equipped: the Artifact Background grants much more to them than it does to an equivalent Solar.
- The Dragon-Blooded are weaker in both sorcery and martial arts than their Celestial brethren. While they may (and in the Immaculate Order, usually do) discipline themselves to the point of learning Celestial Martial Arts, they still must spend significantly more experience per charm. Without the aid of very rare, unique artifacts, it is unheard of for any Terrestrial Exalt to practice any Celestial Circle Sorcery at all.
- In the war against the Primordials, the Dragon-Blooded's raw numbers made them foot-soldiers, and this design for combat shows in their skill grouping: Unlike the Celestial Exalted, each Aspect has exactly one combat skill; no more, no less.
- While Lunar, Solar, and Abyssal Exalted all have a countdown for their Limit Breaks, and Sidereals have no set system for theirs (not counting Paradox, which is incidental and almost unrelated to the Great Curse, the Virtue Flaws of Dragon-Blooded are not only occasionally more subtle, they are more easily avoided—as long as a Terrestrial Exalted has at least one temporary point of Willpower, or their anima banner has not overly manifested, no such Exalt need fear falling prey to the Great Curse.