Thanks From The Ringmaster

I mess with you guys a lot—teasers, rallying cries, other ridiculousness—in the name of drumming up interest and driving up sales. And usually I feel like a circus ringmaster, playing to the crowd.

This book meant a lot to me—Autochthonia and the Alchemicals grabbed my imagination way back in 2002 when I first read Time of Tumult, in a way nothing else has before or since. When I sat there, years ago, with my scuffed-up copy of Exalted: the Autochthonians, listening to Tsuki no Mayu and thinking… when I put together First Contact… I never, I honestly never, thought anything would come of it.

CoCD6 is a child with many parents. Zach Bush was the first; in Crusaders of the Machine God I found and fell in love with this place, this weird place, which was all oil and iron and lightning and yet so completely Exalted. The idea of Charms as physical objects you could equip and un-equip was the coolest thing I'd ever seen, and it felt like it ripped the top of my skull off—Exalted could be so much bigger, could be so many more things, than I'd ever realized or considered. The Locust Crusade was well-realized, well-executed, it was a great story that worked on so many levels. Something about it spoke to me, but I didn't yet understand what it was saying.

That came years later. The book's second father was a man I've never met and who I am sure has never heard of me. Yoshiyuki Tomino invented the Gundam franchise (of which I'm a fan), which is about the second most popular thing in Japan after naughty tentacles. Something clicked into place with me, hard, as I sat through the end of the first episode of Turn A Gundam, with Loran laughing up at the moon—that was the angle Autochthonia spoke to me from. Not a war of conquest, although there's that. Not a giant engine-planet, although there's that. People, human beings, coming back home after countless generations in exile. That was the story I wanted to tell.

And so Autochthonia lived in my head for many years as a very curious thing, a mix of industrial percussion and hymnal solemnity, a place of darkness and wonder, of brutal oppression and the simple uncluttered un-fucked-with beauty of people. A bleak place, full of hope and promise. It's a bloody strange mix.

And I never thought I'd be able to make anyone else see it the way I did. I saw people turning their noses up at Autochthonia. I saw them saying they didn't want tech in their fantasy setting. I saw them dismissing the Alchemicals as robots, to be mass-produced as mindless Solar lackeys. I saw them say they couldn't imagine a world like that producing heroes, never mind Exalts— how could a place so dead and soulless and boring ever have heroes? I saw the Autochthonians hardback, which I'd wanted for so very long, come out (severely chopped down to make room for a rendition of the Locust War that was 180 degrees opposite of the things about it that originally spoke to me) and make next to no impact—Alchemicals remained the least popular kind of Exalt, nobody played them, nobody much talked about them, nobody cared.

Last year I gave you the Alchemicals of my understanding—heroes, Champions of the state, Exalted to protect and serve—and people embraced that.

Now I'm finally able to give you the Autochthonia of my understanding. I can do this because five other writers were able to see and then articulate the contradictory, conflicted, and wonderful place that I saw. My dream is alive in their words, into which they've folded visions and inspirations of their own.

And again, people—you—have embraced that. People are buying copies of CoCD6 for themselves, for their friends, for total strangers so that the entire Exalted community can bask in this release. I've never seen that before. I've never heard of anything remotely like it. Thank you, thank every last one of you, for making this release something wonderful. I have never been prouder of this community than I am now, or happier to see something I worked on go to press. Not even the Manual. Not even Glories.

Thank you for reading about the strange world full of strange people that I found tucked away between hope and despair. My funny little dream is now yours—I can't wait to see what you do with it.

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