The Dragon-Blooded certainly tell themselves and each other that Exaltaion of the Dragons (or from the Dragons, if you prefer) is a sign of worthiness, usually in a context that links strength and moral worth i.e. "If you didn't Exalt, it's either because of a moral failing on your part or because you're weak, which is itself a moral failing." And they use this as justification for mistreating Dynasts who don't Exalt.
I think confirming this as a metaphysical truth removes value from the setting, however.
Although I don't have a problem with e.g. that Sidereal Astrology power that flags a soul for reincarnation as a Dragon-Blooded, because Sidereal judgement (and indeed divine judgement, because the existence of a mechanism by which Sidereals flag souls for Dragon-Blooded incarnations suggests a mechanism by which Heaven does the same on a larger scale) is not something the setting presents as morally sound.
Also as a general thing I'm skeptical of setting timeline elements that confirm the setting's "now" as intrinsically significant rather than coincidentally significant. If you look at the timeline, pretty much everything that makes RY 768 meaningfully distinct from the past five centuries can be traced to one event. When the Empress disappeared, the Realm's politics became insular and they started withdrawing armies from the Threshold, which lead to Threshold political instability and vulnerability that drives both an economic boom and increased vulnerability to things like Fair Folk and Silver Pact raids; this vulnerability was what lead the Deathlords to breach the Jade Prison right now, which lead to the release of the Solars. It's all because the Empress disappeared. That feels verisimilar to me -- "now" is circumstantially significant, but not metaphysically or intrinsically significant except in ways that spring from circumstance.
Adding "And there's a bunch of new and extra DB Exaltations because, uh, reasons" violates that.
Ebon Dragon must have tipped 'em off right away that he'd nabbed her.
(Yeah, it's an option, but let's not pretend it's not the one the books run with for the most part.)
Originally posted by AnubisXy
I ran quite a few Dragon Blooded games during 1st and 2nd edition, and my group ran into out-of-game issues with this idea - what makes someone Exalt as a Dragon Blooded. Is it their genetics? Or is it because they're worthy? First Edition pushed the idea that it was more due to bloodline, whereas 2nd edition made it a matter of personal worth (with the idea that all DB's needed to have a heroic motivation).
What we ended up doing was settling on a mixture of the two. Certainly ones "genetics" are paramount. In the good old days, when the Dragon Blooded bloodlines were 100% pure, every child born to them would Exalt. On the other hand, if someone has absolutely no drop of Terrestrial blood in their background, it's simply impossible for them to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded.
What my group ended up going with was the idea that when you're born, the cosmos (or Fate or what will you) essentially rolls the dice to see if you're going to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded or not. The more pure your bloodline is, the higher the chance. If it fails however, that's not necessarily the end.
When someone finds themself in an extremely stressful situation or pushes themselves beyond their usual limits (physically, mentally or however) they effectively get a "reroll" - the stress can cause their nascent Terrestrial heritage to assert itself and allow them to Exalt.
What this ended up meaning was that some Dragon Blooded were entirely unworthy of the blessings they had received. They were cowards, fools, and wastrels who had Exalted only because mummy and daddy had a good background. At the same time though, there were other Dragon Blooded who had Exalted because they had done something "heroic" in a sense and managed to earn their Exaltation. And importantly, there was absolutely no way to show whether someone had "earned" their Exaltation or been "gifted" it purely due to the vagaries of their parental lineage.
Most Dragon Blooded (in the Realm) put it all up to personal worth - "In my past life I did such a great job that I was blessed to be born into a Great House, which then had me face a second test to actually Exalted. My personal actions ensured I was Exalted so I earned it."
This allowed our group to have it both ways, with bloodline being a factor but personal worth also being a factor.
I like that!