Originally posted by Kyman201
As much as I like Perfect Soul's writeup (and GOD do I like it), there was one early passage that stood out.
... Okay, I'm going to be charitable and assume that you were going for something more akin to "There IS no objective righteousness, but rather righteousness is subjective", but it's very easy to parse that as a blanket "In Exalted, might makes right, period".
Again, I don't want to interpret it that way, but some of my players and I noted that it is very easy to do so.
Pointing out that some people in Creation believe in "might makes right" is not an endorsement of that attitude, either in Exalted
or by me. Even so, righteousness in Exalted
is blatantly a "might makes right" attitude, because no depiction of righteousness has ever existed that was not propped up by martial authority or martial action. A religion that has no such power, has no presence anywhere. Without presence, no one cares what they say is righteous. The only difference is that there is a question in the real world about whether there is some moral arbiter secretly behind the scenes, giving us a sense of whether our actions are just or virtuous, aka righteous. The Exalted universe is amoral so there can be no righteousness.
But characters living in Creation don't necessarily know that. The Unconquered Sun believes in righteous action, and he tells the Zeniths that their will creates a righteous world. This is clearly a "might makes right" endorsement, because a Solar who takes no strong actions, takes no righteous actions. Some Zeniths are aware of the dangers of this sort of attitude. Others believe in it unironically. Still others will try to raise a code of laws of moral and right action that reflect something like what we would consider good or moral. These are the dramas that make characters complex and worthy of our attention and interesting enough to draw our judgment or criticism. These kinds of complex discussions are what makes Exalted
stand out from other games.
In other words, if the Unconquered Sun is the ultimate being, and King of Heaven, then when he says something is righteous, no one can gainsay him. That is in fact the case; he says the Zeniths get to decide what is righteous, and none can gainsay him. He confers this tremendous power of decision upon the Solar Exalted, but no code to follow. The Exalted are the ultimate deciders. It is their free will to do things we would consider good or evil, and to call those things righteous, to build holy crusades around their causes and tie themselves up with the will of Heaven backed by the power to say what's right and to vilify anyone who disagrees.