Prefaced warning: I very much enjoyed Masters of Jade... similarly to how I enjoyed MoEP: Infernals.
Very large quantities of the book were great! Indeed, a greater percentage of it was enjoyable than the Infernal book.
Unfortunately, two pages stood out as not communicating the ideas later expounded on by the writers [extrapolated in forum posts and such], and at first reading, appeared to hold far too much of Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Exalted: The Lunars for the tastes of many; see this thread
As such, I decided to try and take a shot at rewriting it, keeping it serious and interesting, providing much the same ideas, while making the Lunars less monolithically "barbarian horde" and more varied and interesting. Also making the new Exalted seem more exciting in some ways ["able to stand up to a Lunar when things go their way"] without making the Lunar totally job for them ["stood on even ground with a combat-oriented Lunar in his own marked and claimed territory without being challenged at all"]. As such...
LUNARS AND THE GUILD
The Guild has bought, ridden, and spread itself into regions one could no longer consider part of Creation. It has slipped into recesses of chaos, drifted so far from the world that it found itself on the silver sands of Hell, slept in light and awoken in the shadowed lands of death. And of all the beings it has encountered, the Lunar Exalted perplex it the most; at once seeming both suave and barbaric, open to trade but opposing of the Guild’s practices.
This is in part because the Lunars are seemingly so disparate in behavior and attitude towards the Guild. Where one attempts to infiltrate, another establishes trade. For every silver god-king who battles the merchant men for dominance, seemingly another offers herself into their employ. Some among the Guild wonder if they are as mad as the Immaculate Faith claims, to show so varied and incoherent a response.
The truth lies deeper still. The Lunar Exalted are first and foremost the Stewards of Creation, protecting a world that fears and despises them against threats beyond imagining. But protection comes in many forms. It is in controlling and directing tools to where they are most useful. It is in encouraging stability of the fringes, through interaction and trade of goods and ideas. It is through defending diversity against homogenizing influences. And it is through advancing seemingly irrelevant agendas in pursuit of a greater plan.
In this light, the Lunar Exalted have possessed a near-unified agenda beyond the Guild’s limited vision of wealth.
The Guild is not the strongest of forces on the Gateway table the Lunars play at; over the course of the age, they have tricked the yozis back into their prisons, they have stood against unending tides of fair folk, they have battled with the forces of the Shogunate and Realm and the Bureau of Destiny itself. However, it is a force on a global scale which would be utterly foolish to ignore.
In their efforts to oppose the monolithic Realm and its’ dangerous interdependent design – for how can it protect Creation if corruption or collapse of one part can damage the whole? – the Stewards have utilized and opposed the Guild, making allowances for its’ power and opposing it when it comes at odds with them. In some ways, it is a symbol of hope; it is a wholly mortal-led institution with a decentralized leadership, which does its’ work to reinforce stability through trade. In other ways, it is a symbol of the endemic corruption of the first age, a behemoth existing only to extract material wealth from human desire, need, and suffering.
It is thus seen most of all as a dangerous tool; its’ growth must be curtailed lest it grow too strong, and will eventually be discarded after it no longer is of use. While naïve in ways, most Stewards without a vested interest hold this sort of stance. They direct it as an engineering corps directs a river, through altering the path of least resistance, and when it threatens things important to the Lunars and its’ course will not be swayed, they dam the river with their personal might. This can happen for various reasons; a tribe whose patterns offend the raksha stands in the way of a profitable venture, a valley the Guild seeks to dam is developing a demesne for a Lunar manse, and so on. In these cases, the Lunar Exalted fight; they make the area unprofitable, redirect the Guild to more tempting locations, and when needs be, they gather strength of arms and strike down the merchants until the area is marked ‘unsuitable for development’. This has failed in the past, and sometimes the Guild gets what it wants – but the Stewards do not give up.
Despite being aware of the Guild’s dealings with slavery and the raksha, most accept this as an unfortunate consequence of the times; the loss of infrastructure vital to the interdependent Realm and lingering remnants of the First Age provide a market, and if the Guild stabilizes regions at the cost of a few lives and minds, so be it. Some, of course, oppose this practice, but they are only a few in the vastness of Creation; there will always be a source and a market elsewhere for the Guild. Night Eyes’ legendary infiltration of the Guild hierarchy has fostered a great many rumors among young Stewards as to her goals; some say she is responsible for a severe loss in Cynis finances in that period, guiding the Guild to impossible profits at the expense of the Great House. Others say she was embezzling, crippling the Guild arm through both draining of assets and manpower. Still more suggest she directed them towards her own goals. When questioned, she simply smiled enigmatically and changed the topic.
The return of the Solar Exalted creates a dangerous possibility, however; the idea that the Guild may entice a Solar to turn their great power to their goals, and empower the Guild. A few among the Stewards take action to safeguard against this, not wanting to see the worldwide slave markets double or triple in efficiency from the Lawgivers’ works, and drive wedges between Guildsman and Solar. A Dawn was hired as a bodyguard for a factor; a No Moon challenged him in combat, and fought a running battle leading the Dawn away; upon forcing the Lunar to flee and returning, the Dawn found the caravan wrecked and looted by a local tribe waiting in ambush. When a Solar baker was present for the Summer of Weddings in Ashur, he received an exorbitant offer from a local merchant to cater the event; upon successful completion, the contract was proven void - secretly offered by a Changing Moon in the guise of the Guildsman - and the Solar left in anger at being lied to.
Most recently, the guild’s Southeastern Tea and Mercantile Company began the massacre of an indigenous people in the Blackwater region of the Maruto river. The people cried out to their ancestors, whose ghosts in turn pleaded with the wind, the trees, and the wild, begging for a champion. Ghost Wolf, a Full Moon, answered their prayers. He waged a campaign of terror and sabotage upon the company, shattering their dams, flooding their camps, and dragging their agents into the muck. Empowered by their prayers, he took on terrifying forms from nightmare and legend, until the Guild enlisted the aid of a Liminal Exalt, citing the power of the ghosts and their champion. The two champions did battle under the darkness of a moonless sky, the deathly essence from the massacre empowering the Chernozem, ensuring neither could gain the advantage. As dawn crept closer and both sides were exhausted, the Liminal came to realize that the return of the ghosts to the underworld would be best served by the Guild’s expulsion; the Chernozem fled the field of battle, returning to the Underworld to face the judgement of his dark mother.
Opinions, etc, welcomed. Just felt like writing up a "This is how I'd have written it to make the "Lunars oppose the Realm, not all civilization ever anywhere" and make their responses more varied.