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Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

12 Feb 2012, 21:24

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 for examples.
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.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 06:10

...and it just makes these 'liminal' exalted sound like abyssals even more
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 06:48

*shrugs* Honestly? I don't care one bit about the Liminal Exalted from what I've seen. I just wanted it to not sound like they were totally equal to Lunars >_> Sounded too much like Lunars jobbing for a totally random newbie. That's the paragraph I paid the least attention to because they sound freaking boring to me, Abyssals 2.0, and because we don't have any solid information on them. I'm more interested in replies in regards to the other parts. Thanks for playing.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 07:47

Other than the tragic loss of Lunar cake-eating, it does seem to clarify a lot of what the writers were intending to get across with that section.
 
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 08:24

Ratix wrote:
Other than the tragic loss of Lunar cake-eating, it does seem to clarify a lot of what the writers were intending to get across with that section.


Lunar cake eating?

Now I'm curious
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 09:18

webkilla wrote:
Ratix wrote:
Other than the tragic loss of Lunar cake-eating, it does seem to clarify a lot of what the writers were intending to get across with that section.


Lunar cake eating?

Now I'm curious


A Lunar ate 54 cakes to make sure a Solar baker didn't end up working closely with the guild.

Fifty-four cakes. That's as many as six nines, and that's terrible. (terribly hilarious!)
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 10:23

Dinosaur wrote:
webkilla wrote:
Ratix wrote:
Other than the tragic loss of Lunar cake-eating, it does seem to clarify a lot of what the writers were intending to get across with that section.


Lunar cake eating?

Now I'm curious


A Lunar ate 54 cakes to make sure a Solar baker didn't end up working closely with the guild.

Fifty-four cakes. That's as many as six nines, and that's terrible. (terribly hilarious!)


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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 10:42

Dinosaur wrote:
Fifty-four cakes. That's as many as six nines, and that's terrible. (terribly hilarious!)


What? Is this supposed to be a joke? If so, I don't get it. The only six nines I can think of is 99.9999% availability for a system - is it a reference to it? I just want to know so I can know if I'm stupid or it's just not funny.

As for the Lunar write-up, I've not read the original so I can't comment with authority, but this version seems good. It's kind of generic, though, stating that different Lunars do different things to the Guild for different reasons and they think different things about it and they have different plans for it. The only concrete statement is that they view it as disposable as the rest of man's creations, which is the most interesting part of the rewrite.

Maybe you could give a little more direction and coherency to the Lunars' plans? I can understand if you want to avoid that, since the Lunars aren't monolithic, but that leaves you in a gray, boring place.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 10:51

I am making this comment with a big fat caveat that I have not read the book and have only heard about it from other people with snippets of the text.

I saw cake!Lunar as a little bit of levity to break up the text and keep it interesting. I mean, I definitely thought it was silly. But I have a character who accidentally baked her entire salary into cookies for her faction and I don't mind if people laugh at her (and Sidereals by proxy), because it's clearly not meant to be serious in any way.

Lunars' treatment in the setting isn't without its problems, I agree. However, when there are forty pages of complaints (not here, elsewhere) over a single line about an Exalt type we know nothing about yet, or anything about the Lunar she fought in any kind of context, it seems... well, a bit overblown. Yeah, I can see where the idea that Lunars are just being used as a stepping stool could arise, but hell, welcome to my world, I'm a Sidereal fan and it happens all the time to my favorites in the writing. It isn't just Lunars, it's non-Solar splats in general. I suspect that the issue is the fact that there is this fluff and mechanical hierarchy that exists, and it lends itself to passages like "Splat du jour is so awesome they can beat [Type X Exalted] in singlehanded combat." In the case of the Liminal and Lunar, I think it was more a case of "hey these dudes exist and they're stronger than they have any right to be, have a plot hook!"

I kind of wonder if it'd be possible to get away from that a little bit, though I know sometimes it's just necessary.

Now all of that said, I can see where that passage on pages 42-43 could have been taken in a different (and negative) direction. So I do find the revisions you list here interesting and would like to see you do something with it. :) You have a knack for coming up with good ideas so I trust you.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 12:06

Henry: It has something to do with Lex Luthor.

Kailan: Yeah, the WW Forums had a 900 post stream of BAWWWWW about the Lunars and the Guild based on the section that was rewritten in this thread. I left long before it reached that point, only stopping by to observe that the Lunars became like BattleTech's ComStar and its Operation Holy Shroud business (keep the tech level down for everyone else so that we can come in and be everyone's saviors). Makes me glad I have bad drawings to get out of my system.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 12:25

Cakes reference: Image

Picture of Cakelunar: Image

Cakelunar original quote: Where a Solar baker was hired to supply cakes for the Summer of Weddings in Ashur, which a Guildsman was catering, a Lunar ate all 54 cakes in a misguided attempt to keep the Solar pure.

And my primary issue is less of "Oh noes a Lunar was beaten this cannot ever stand" so much as, to me, that read as "A combat-oriented Lunar was fought to a standstill while defending the territory he claimed. This is like standing your ground, unprepared, against a DB of higher essence with his entire sworn brotherhood, or an Alchemical who just swapped out his Thinky McThinkerton array for 30 charms of asswhupping, or a Sidereal whose trap-laden encounter you blithely walked into and allowed him to slap you with five different negative destinies. This is where he's supposed to be most awesome and you just went "welp, that was a fair fight with my RANDOMLY WALKING IN HERE :D"."

That's why it looks like jobbing to me.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 12:47

oh lol that pic

glorious!
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 14:03

I think they Worf'd an Exalt for the new kid on the block and Lunars tend to get the punching bag role, in large part because they were the only publicly active Exalts that weren't Dragon-Blooded for a huge portion of the backstory (Mnemon's history is an example) and partly because the Solar and Sidereal shticks (omgwtfhax awesome and fate ninja, respectively) are resistant to the role.

I'm not a fan of this traditional role, but at the same time it has been blown out of proportion a bit. Avaku killed a Solar, Panther and Celt!Infernal smacked around spirits, Desus punched a lighthouse, etc. There are examples of other critters getting smacked around to show up a character or bit of setting fluff. Lunar fans just have a sore spot, so any jabs tend to get a bigger reaction.

Honestly, Sidereals probably get their faces punched off a LOT, but ubiquitous use of Avoidance Kata cuts down on actual occurances.
 
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

13 Feb 2012, 15:23

In the absence of reason to believe there is a vast EXP discrepancy, I tend to presume two characters are roughly equal in EXP rather than go "well it's okay that a random first circle demon apparently killed a Sidereal and claimed his smashfist, because that Sid obviously rushed to Essence 3 so he could have TCS and DotFC, and the demon clearly had like 5,000xp under his belt [even though he obviously doesn't now]", creating wild assumptions of capability to justify the fluff.

Barring statements of one side being a novice or expert, it reads to me as: "Roughly equal Liminal faces Lunar in a situation that seems like it should be advantageous to the Lunar, but they are equal". Implication: "Liminals appear to be more capable than Lunars".

And it's mainly a little frustrating because hatewheel apparently felt that he had to write something to start off the New Direction for the Lunar Exalted in the guild book...
...and he writes them seemingly jobbing/Worfing to a Liminal to play up the new splat as someone who can face a Lunar in one on one combat when they're on the defensive, as the Stewards, the Defenders, and force it to a draw. :/

In consideration, I suppose my main issue is that while fans of the other exalt types may not have a problem with it, seeing a Lunar who seemed like he should have been in basically the best position he could be in, instead jobbing to this totally new Exalt type noone's heard of, very much did not excite me to hear about the Liminal Exalted. Reading about how they both drew on their advantages, whatever the hell the Liminal advantage may be, and thus were forced to a draw would appeal far more than "s'cool bro, Lunar in claimed territory with all the bolstering the previous paragraph implied, no sweat, won't wear me out at all". I'd rather have seen both of them exhausted from fighting the other, and then the Liminal realizes his mistake and withdraws. Instead I get a Liminal coming out of nowhere with no reference to what makes him so capable, fighting an entrenched Lunar to a stalemate, and then going "tee-hee my bad" and leaving.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

14 Feb 2012, 01:51

I agree with the above.

Bottom line: Someone needed to be a punching bag for the new guys. Worfing a Lunar is bad juju for a fairly sizable chunk of the playerbase. Someone else should have taken the fall.
 
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

14 Feb 2012, 03:18

Daerim wrote:
Bottom line: Someone needed to be a punching bag for the new guys. Worfing a Lunar is bad juju for a fairly sizable chunk of the playerbase. Someone else should have taken the fall.


I posit that people would have screamed no matter who it was, really. This was a no-win situation for the writers, as far as the fandom is concerned.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

14 Feb 2012, 09:44

I don't think anyone needed to be a punching bag. I think that the two of them kicking the crap out of each other and neither coming out on top until the bloodied, bruised Liminal realized "...shit, I'm not even SUPPOSED to be fighting this battle" and fled, and the bloodied, bruised Lunar said "HA!.. I'm gonna go lie down now.".

Both give a good accounting of themselves and both can sort of claim victory while still being defeated as well. Neither has to Worf when both kick each others' butts. *shrugs* At least that's how I see it.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

15 Feb 2012, 16:15

I wouldn't get worked up over the Liminals - we don't even know what they are. They could be a new kind of Exalt, they could be the Lunar version of Abyssals, they could be an Exaltation trying to be a ghost and hanging around after its host is dead. So it's hard to say what they should be capable of, and the fact that one of them had the advantage over a random Lunar doesn't mean much.

Heck, Amilar Kraik (Lookshyan Dragon-blood, chief engineer) beat a Lunar - does that somehow demean Lunars in general? I can understand not liking the Lunars' lack of involvement in the Threshold and I agree that it should be changed to be more positive and more substantial. I don't agree that one Lunar getting shown up by one Liminal is somehow an insult or a credit to either Exalt type.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

15 Feb 2012, 16:28

Henry wrote:
I wouldn't get worked up over the Liminals - we don't even know what they are. They could be a new kind of Exalt,


Implied by the fact that they are Liminal Exalted and not Liminal Fruit Loops.

they could be the Lunar version of Abyssals,


Unlikely, given a long thread with developers teasing. They're the Chosen of the Black Earth, and draw from Promethean what inspiration Alchemicals didn't (in a very, very short number of words).

they could be an Exaltation trying to be a ghost and hanging around after its host is dead. So it's hard to say what they should be capable of,


nope.avi

and the fact that one of them had the advantage over a random Lunar doesn't mean much.


yeah.avi

Heck, Amilar Kraik (Lookshyan Dragon-blood, chief engineer) beat a Lunar - does that somehow demean Lunars in general? I can understand not liking the Lunars' lack of involvement in the Threshold and I agree that it should be changed to be more positive and more substantial. I don't agree that one Lunar getting shown up by one Liminal is somehow an insult or a credit to either Exalt type.


It wasn't even being shown up. The text didn't seem to imply victory on either side.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

16 Feb 2012, 18:41

Like I said, its not that they used a Lunar for their introduction fiction... there are reasons Lunars are common challenges in character backgrounds. The problem is that the community is sensitive about Lunars being treated poorly, so using a Lunar for such a demonstration is unwise. The story would have been just as effective if it was a Sidereal setting up some kind of plot, a Solar trying to oppose the Guild, an uppity local god, etc etc.

But Lunars are a sensitve topic and one best avoided when you're demonstrating the power of another group. Add to this the impression that the Lunar should have been at his best and things get downright sticky. Thus the backlash.
 
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

16 Feb 2012, 23:57

I expect it to wash away quickly after the release of the errata. Finally, Charms that aren't narrowly focused with a minimum of 3, or more likely even more dots in an Attribute to gain a minor benefit! At least, that's what I'm hoping for.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

17 Feb 2012, 04:24

Dinosaur wrote:
I expect it to wash away quickly after the release of the errata. Finally, Charms that aren't narrowly focused with a minimum of 3, or more likely even more dots in an Attribute to gain a minor benefit! At least, that's what I'm hoping for.

Just to be clear, the imminent errata will not include extensive Lunar changes. They will receive the standard tweaks everyone is getting to be compliant with the refurbished combat engine, but any other problems they may have will remain. The larger Sidereal errata is getting pushed out along with this so that all of the Exalted are at least functional.
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

17 Feb 2012, 08:56

Still, that does technically net one thing that wasn't available before (functional version of Wound-Mastering Body Evolution).
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

17 Feb 2012, 18:58

I think the biggest challenge to Lunars in the rules is that their core mechanic (Attribute-based, as opposed to Abilities) is fundamentally more powerful than Solars, so cost is one of the few methods of checking the disparity.

An Attribute Excellency is just stronger than an Ability Excellency, so it either has to be costlier in some kind of resource, come later on the power development scale or be sharply limited in application or magnitude of effect. It isn't quite the same past such a stark, one-to-one comparison but the issue is still there and you see the same solutions across the Lunar Charm set.
 
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Re: Masters of Jade, p42-43 rewrite

17 Feb 2012, 19:38

>attribute excellencies are better than ability excellencies

I'm not sure I agree with that

A lunar can only add 5 dice or 2 successes to something with 5 in an attribute

A solar with the same attribute and just one dot in an ability can add more in that


ok sure its the generalist VS specialization argument over again - but that's how lunars are just plain different compared to solars

I honestly don't mind lunar excellencies being a bit more powerful (in theory) that way - because their regular charms aren't... in the sense that their charms are best geared towards generalization again, while solar charms for a given ability are informed by their thematic idea of specialization and perfection in a specific area

or TL:DR - a lunar might be able to pop off 2 successes at most for all int+ability rolls, but thats about it too. a solar focusing on a certain specific skill can far more easily pop off ten successes on a similar skill-check. I think that's a fair trade-off
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