Alchemical exalted are the scions of the god machine Autochthon, created by combining artificial bodies with reincarnated souls. Flavor wise the Autochthonians have been cut off from creation after their god decided to peace the fuck out and take them along for the ride. Since they never went through creation's dark age (and lived in a freaking robot) their societies developed along technological lines, albeit with a strong scavenging and survivalist bent. They suffer chronic material shortages, petty state warfare, homicidal robo-cancer that wants to KILL ALL HU-MANS, and a sleeping god that's constantly on the verge of breaking down for good. Basically they're a blender of steampunk, cyberpunk, and magitek with a side of 18th century nationalism and sprinkling of people's republic. If that sounds ridiculous to you... well welcome to Exalted, you've got a lot of catching up to do.
Mechanically Alchemicals are the extreme generalists of Exalted. They have different castes that mirror the other classes and more importantly their charms are modular. This means any Alchemical with access to a vat within Autochthon can swap out their abilities, turning at will from a suave diplomat to a gremlin smashing hate machine and back again. There are limits on this ability but in general Alchemical exalted face far fewer restrictions on their actions than their creation born counterparts, and none of their curses. Alchemicals may get less bang for their buck than other Exalts, but they can spend more money.
The flip side of this is the clarity trait. As Alchemicals grow more powerful they grow increasingly detached, until they can barely relate to the people they are serving. Players can make choices to slow this process down (forging relationships) or speed it up (becoming a giant mecha) but as their essence goes up clarity becomes an inevitability. Finally Alchemicals get the choice to install bits from the rogue AIs plaguing Autochthon called voidtech. You can gain some pretty bitching abilities with this and even greater versatility, but the results are always the same in the end.
After the gods rebelled, Autochthon decided it was a really good idea to get the hell out of creation as the asshats running the place were giving him funny looks of the "Maybe we should stick him in hell too," sort of way since he wouldn't piss off into the wild searching for a nonexistent metaphysical answer like Gaia did. So he got all his worshipers together on the quiet, dragged a fuckton of unborn souls from the well of souls, kidnapped a whooooole bunch more people, and then fled into Elsewhere and shut the door behind him.
Since all the people living inside of him now had to live in a machine based hellscape, he decided it's probably be pretty dick to just leave them like that, so he turned the 8 leaders into the prototype exalted he made and showed off to each of the Incarnae back when the rebellion was getting underway. Those guys eventually turned into giant mechs, and then later still, into cities for folks to live inside. These guys taught the mortals how to make more exalted.
A sufficiently heroic soul is picked out because everybody's souls are stuck inside of gems grafted into their foreheads, this is then put into a magitek mech body, which entire nations somewhere between the size of the Realm and the other smaller powers back on creation spend between decades and centuries saving up the spare resources to build, and a crazy doctor yells "IGOR! THROW THE SVITCH!" and a new champion of the state is born.
You'll almost never end up playing in a mixed party unless wacky shenanigans happen, and the game quickly turns into a giant mish-mash of jack-of-all trades, each of whom can swap out their charms at any moment to get shit done. You don't actually own or run anything, you're in the one part of the Exalted setting that Mortals actually give commands to the divine rather than the other way around. Don't get your hopes up about eventually playing as a giant team of demi-god mecha, or even becoming your own city and playing some weird table top grand strategy game though, they'll never release those splats even if they get to Alchemicals in 3e. Plenty of homebrew on this stuff though. You also more or less are the bitch boy of, if not the nation that built you, then which ever nation you swore allegience too because you're a glorified wind up toy that requires constant maintenance known only to a set of crazy secretive guilds that are comprised entirely of mortals.
- Alchemicals are the definition of jack of all trades. Your caste gives you a broad area to work inside of, exploit the fuck out of that. You run into something you can't handle? Fall back and retool into something that can.
- Alchemicals don't have to worry about resources, rank, or any of that crap. Instead you got it all rolled into a single merit which says how big of blank cheque your home nation hands you in terms of both status and income and artifacts. Never leave home without a point or five in Class.
- Alchemicals are ridiculously tough even by Exalted standards. If you do manage to find yourself on creation, just grab the charm that makes you immune to literally all natural forms of damage.
- Don't piss off the guys bankrolling you, even though they're squishy, fleshy mortals that combust below 10,000 C. Other Exalted can get away without a support network, but Alchemicals are utterly dependent on their home nation to spend experience points, get resources, and generally not run out of fuel. That said, try to draw the line when your PR Manager tries to insist that you install a Thousandfold Courtesan Circuit just because they feel you need to up the sex appeal of the national propaganda
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