In First and Second Edition, this was either canon or heavily-implied-to-be-canon for everyone but the Lunars. I'm not sure what the devs think, but I'm personally not a fan.
Originally posted by Kashi
To be brutally honest, why change this?
Keeping in mind that I am not someone who could make that call, and thus my opinions matter very little—
1) On a notional level, I dislike the idea that a person could do something awesome and heroic, but miss out on earning their Exaltation because there aren't any of the appropriate Caste available (I'm okay with a "whiff" if all the Exaltations are currently incarnated). Making Exaltations take on the caste that best fits their inheritor is one (of multiple) ways to fix that.
2) Opens up more room for players when they're coming up with their past incarnations, which is something my groups have had fun with. There's nothing wrong with the Dawn Caste who draws on the memories and skill of a bunch of her past Dawn incarnations, but concepts like a Solar with multiple past lives of different castes advising her or the first Eclipse in a long line of Dawns fire up my imagination.
Originally posted by Gallus
That does not redress the notional issue of "running out" of a particular caste. It's still a thing that could happen. Of course this is not a thing that would likely ever come up in actual play, but that's why it was a notional concern.
Yeah. It's a complete non-issue in actual play, and so doesn't ever need to be redressed in the text. But deep down, in the part of my brain that's just constantly thinking Exalted, it haunts, like a nightmare.
SOLARS, ABYSSALS, INFERNALS:
Originally posted by zylosan
Like it says in the title
Caste is a fixed quality across incarnations. If the Exaltation was a Dawn Caste last time it came around, it will be this time too, and the time after.
DRAGON-BLOODED, LIMINALS, AND ALCHEMICALS:
Do not have reincarnating Exaltations.
Caste is determined after Exaltation, and can differ from incarnation to incarnation.
Like Solars, Caste is fixed from incarnation to incarnation.
Originally posted by BjornTheFellhanded
Semi related question, do lunar exaltations keep to a theme of spirit animal forms?
On the one hand, I like to think that exaltations have a preference in host archetypes, e.g. an ambitious solar general might become an ambitious gang leader in a future live. I admit this is kind of head canon though (my first character ended up that way when our GM asked for past live details).
On the other hand, Luna is all for change, so I'd expect very little is set from incarnation to incarnation?
In Second Edition, Anja Silverclaws had a cat for her spirit shape, despite being the reincarnation of Ingosh Silverclaws, whose spirit shape was a polar bear.