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The Commonality of Workings, New and Old

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  • The Commonality of Workings, New and Old

    I have 2 points of discussion today. All revolving around workings.

    The first point of discussion is the commonality of workings. My GM struggled with the aspect of Sorcerer's Sight that allows the exalt to see workings. In his mind, they're everywhere. At some point in history most pieces of land were worked to provide harvest, volcanos were worked to not erupt too often, weather was worked to hold some stability, buildings were worked to not fall down, etc. Not quite to the extent of "every blade of grass has a god" but certainly that almost every time I turn on my sight that I'm not going to pick out a relevant working to an ancient mundane one.

    Given the breadth of history and how many sorcerers there have been since EVER who could do workings to the world around them, there is some logic to his conclusions. There's no set duration to workings, they just last forever until a condition occurs that negates them. So my question: How common would you presume workings to be?

    This points somewhat towards my second point of discussion, which is the longevity and durability of workings. The book itself says that many of the workings of the Solars of the First Age fell when they did during the Usurpation. The idea I presume is that everything was worked great once and now it sucks, so the workings must have gone away.

    Are we to assume that a working is tied to the life of the sorcerer? Or merely that most of the exalts of the First Age were so self-centered that they chose to tie their workings to their own life, to fail if they pass away? If neither of these are true, why would there not be tons of First Age workings still lingering about? Maybe there are?

    What do you think?


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  • #2
    - I could see workings being that common depending on the history of the current location. A wilderness that has always been a wilderness, likely none. A current place with people or a place that once had a city, I could see them as being fairly common.

    - I think the vastness of time is sometimes hard to grasp when we look at our history and changes are huge in just hundreds of years, whereas creation is bonze-ageish for thousands of years. So each location in creations no matter how deserted it is now, likely had at least a village there sometime in the past so workings probably exist.

    - As far as the longevity, "they just last forever until a condition occurs that negates them" if I recall, the previous working still exists, there just exists one or more workings to counteract the first one. So you now have two or more working combining effects to give what you have now. So as far as I know working do last forever.

    - With respect to the Usurpation, I thing the exaltations being trapped in the Jade Prison disrupted the foundation of creation, the recycling of exaltations is not a single isolated system that can be interfered with and there be no consequences. At least in my head cannon, I would say that the actual destruction of workings in the First Age is just one visible consequence to the Usurpation. I would expect many to survive but be altered, many more to continue with no apparent effect, and may to be destroyed (as destroyed as a permanent working can be). Basically a First Age working survived based upon "plot"/


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    • #3
      I decided to refresh myself on exactly what the book said about the workings of the world failing with the death of the Solars. It's vague:

      Originally posted by "page 20-21, Ex3 Core
      The fall of the Solars left their Realm a smoking ruin. The curse that had eaten away at them had also eaten away at their works. Without the Solars to steady the sorcerous mechanisms that ran their world, the Realm began to disintegrate. This was no slow winding down, but the agonal throes of a beast mortally wounded. Cities collapsed. Manses rained brimstone on farmlands. Mountains buried themselves, dragging down nations with them. Whole islands were blasted from the seas as the sorceries that birthed them unwound themselves. The Sidereals, allies to the Dragon-Blooded, helped to steady the world against the First Age’s dying. In the end, the world survived, yet it was vastly reduced.


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      • #4
        Granted I've not had the chance to actually use the system as it is not yet my turn to run a game in my group again; however, I have read the sorcerous workings system up and down in an effort prevent edge-case abuses by my one problem player. It seems to me that with the exception of workings that do things like turn large swaths of the Southern deserts into arable tropical land most "quality of life" workings that mortals would care about actually fall into the Terrestrial Circle with one or two I would argue have enough scope to be bumped into low Ambition Celestial.

        I can understand having the overwhelming majority of workings made by Solars simply collapsing once that particular shard was locked away from Creation's metaphysics (or nudged apart by competent Sidereals once the threat was safely contained). Yet because so many of them are not Solar circle in Ambition I can also see such workings becoming more commonplace in the Threshold again after the Scarlet Empress ascends the throne as an enticement for lands under Realm control. Exceed your tithe so many years in a row without any major rebellion or uprising and we'll protect your crops from locusts. That sort of thing.

        In the end it's up to GM discretion, but I would say that workings are more common the closer you are to the Realm or any other enclave that teaches sorcery, and less common in the wilderness beyond towns and roads since the Solar workings making such empty wasteland habitable has long since fallen or been dismantled.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
          I have 2 points of discussion today. All revolving around workings.

          The first point of discussion is the commonality of workings. My GM struggled with the aspect of Sorcerer's Sight that allows the exalt to see workings. In his mind, they're everywhere. At some point in history most pieces of land were worked to provide harvest, volcanos were worked to not erupt too often, weather was worked to hold some stability, buildings were worked to not fall down, etc. Not quite to the extent of "every blade of grass has a god" but certainly that almost every time I turn on my sight that I'm not going to pick out a relevant working to an ancient mundane one.

          Given the breadth of history and how many sorcerers there have been since EVER who could do workings to the world around them, there is some logic to his conclusions. There's no set duration to workings, they just last forever until a condition occurs that negates them. So my question: How common would you presume workings to be?
          I hope I don't come across dismissive or patronizing, but IMHO the best answer to that is to not overthink stuff. Just because many things may have been shaped or altered by sorcerous workings in the ages past doesn't mean they have to be, and bringing up such workings in play is wasting everyone's time unless they are directly relevant to the events of the story.

          This points somewhat towards my second point of discussion, which is the longevity and durability of workings. The book itself says that many of the workings of the Solars of the First Age fell when they did during the Usurpation. The idea I presume is that everything was worked great once and now it sucks, so the workings must have gone away.

          Are we to assume that a working is tied to the life of the sorcerer? Or merely that most of the exalts of the First Age were so self-centered that they chose to tie their workings to their own life, to fail if they pass away? If neither of these are true, why would there not be tons of First Age workings still lingering about? Maybe there are?

          What do you think?
          I think that while some particularly paranoid/spiteful/egotistic/all of the above sorcerers of the First Age may have tied their Workings to their lives, but I don't think it was ever considered standard practice. Rather, I'd presume some of the First Age workings required some sort of periodic maintenance and the DBs lacked either the know-how or the tools to perform it (or both). Other workings have simply been rendered moot by the large-scale destruction of the Usurpation and/or the social changes that ensued.

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          • #6
            The rules are sufficiently (and, I think, deliberately) ambiguous in this matter that I don't think there's much to be said from an official perspective.

            Personally, I feel that Exalted's "no backsies" principle is best supported here by permanently terminating workings anchored to things that die. Put a working on the land where a city is built, and it will linger even if the city is destroyed, but if the city grows the working will not spread with it; put the working on the city itself and it will grow with the city, but if the city is razed and its people put to the sword, the working is permanently ended, no matter if a new city is raised amid the ruins.

            Also, I think it's hard to argue that there have been so many sorcerous workings that you literally can't pick out the active ones from the layers upon layers of old ones. AESS explicitly lets you analyze the functions of workings you see. Even if having a lot of them piled up makes them more difficult to study — which is not inherent to the concept — your character has Occult 5 and can figure these things out. And your Storyteller's ruling pretty much means that putting up worldwide Solar 3 workings would render AESS useless to everyone, which seems counterproductive.

            (If you have access to Roger Zelazny's The Changing Land, it has some very good examples of how All-Encompassing Sorcerer's Sight might function on an in-fiction level.)

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            • #7
              Also note that while it's theoretically possible in your game that each Direction might still have a handful of high-end Solar workings on it — though as Morangias said, some workings might require maintenance whose absence has caused them to lapse, or be tied to subtle factors rendered invalid by the turning of the Age — it's ridiculous to think that every field has a working on it. There have never been that many sorcerers, and even thousands of city-sized workings would be effectively invisible on the Creation map due to differences in scale.

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              • #8
                For duration, I would ascribe plot to the idea that on a long enough time line, a working can kind of decay a bit, and sufficient changes in local conditions can invalidate some of its premises.

                ​Especially for a comparatively mundane, meat-and-potatoes kind of working such as improving the productivity of land. It never fully goes away but can ultimately kind of fade into being the default.

                ​I wouldn't assume that everywhere gets a working. I assume a lot of places never warranted the effort or the expense, even if they were inhabited.


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                • #9
                  I like the idea that Workings are generally present, but quiescent; they were tied to the proper performance of rituals, and geomantic energies and such, which are lacking or misaligned. That said, also OK with them being tied to points of reference which they cannot survive beyond. Some may have been deliberately limited in their temporal scope, to diminish their scale (as their architects would've have planned to renew them in future).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                    I like the idea that Workings are generally present, but quiescent; they were tied to the proper performance of rituals, and geomantic energies and such, which are lacking or misaligned. That said, also OK with them being tied to points of reference which they cannot survive beyond. Some may have been deliberately limited in their temporal scope, to diminish their scale (as their architects would've have planned to renew them in future).
                    While such things might be deliberate, they may also be the result of the same sorts of fundamental limitations faced by real-world engineers. Mechanically, these would typically manifest in low-Finesse Workings or as a result of botches. As such, they are likely to be common.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      For duration, I would ascribe plot to the idea that on a long enough time line, a working can kind of decay a bit, and sufficient changes in local conditions can invalidate some of its premises.

                      ​Especially for a comparatively mundane, meat-and-potatoes kind of working such as improving the productivity of land. It never fully goes away but can ultimately kind of fade into being the default.

                      ​I wouldn't assume that everywhere gets a working. I assume a lot of places never warranted the effort or the expense, even if they were inhabited.
                      Most places can get confortable enough with just a bit of good old planning, logistics and public works - it's for stuff in very improbable places (floating or flyng castles & citadels, gigantic trees amidst the desert, etc) or that goes beyond nice and comfortable that one might want workings and anything sorcerous.
                      Last edited by Baaldam; 02-16-2017, 02:50 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I like the idea that, in the High First Age, the aggressive progressionism and unrelenting enthusiasm of the Exalted (as a host, and not limited to just the Solars, though surely they were the most visible and egregious offenders) resulted in vast networks of Sorcerous workings (and other wonders) that shaped huge swaths of Creation into veritable paradises, resulting in a soft coup of the portfolios of the seasonal gods and produce gods that would have ordinarily taken care of such things, which in turn helped trigger divine assistance in the Usurpation and a deliberate sabotage of established systems and dominions such that the gods could regain control over and restablish worth for their portfolios.

                        Just a thought.


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                        • #13
                          Remember that (barring certain edge-case shenanigans) Terrestrial workings can affect a region no larger than a village, and Celestial workings can affect a region no larger than a town.

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                          • #14
                            I've spoken on the subject before, but I'll rehash some of it here:

                            I don't believe that the book's statement that workings are supposed to last forever was intended to be taken 100% literally, because nothing persists across eternity, static and unchanged by the weight of ages pressing on it. Doubly so given that there has to be some way by which the working works, and if that way stops being accessible, the working is effectively over, even if nobody has messily nullified it with a counter-working.

                            As such, I don't expect that the crushing weight of the world changing around them would leave the majority of workings intact after thousands of years; bloodlines will have petered out, idols and temples smashed and sacked, spirits and creatures killed or relocated.

                            I also don't expect workings to be that particularly common across the span of Creation, because sorcerers have never been particularly common across the span of Creation. While I don't think it was intended to be an exact metric, the devs have nonetheless stated in the past that the sort of factors that line up to give a mortal the potential to learn sorcery are "one in a million." Again, I'm not trying to extrapolate hard numbers out of this, but it's a decent enough estimation to say that Creation has probably never had more than a few thousand sorcerers in it at once, even at the height of the First Age.

                            Sorcerers also aren't spherical cows who ceaselessly carry out the functions of churning out routine acts of occult magnanimity as they move along the grid until old age takes them.
                            Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 02-16-2017, 06:35 PM.

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                            • #15
                              So, on the permanency of workings. The corebook makes some pretty strong statements about their durability. Here's a couple big exceptions

                              1. The working is, by its nature, temporary. If you brew a potion that turns someone into a cat-headed ogre for three days, it's only going to last for three days.

                              2. Sorcerous weirdness says so. When the player and the Storyteller work out the mechanics of the working based on Finesse, "when is this going to end?" and "is it gonna break down and get weird down the road?" are valid considerations to discuss. Botches can also add complications that take on this form.

                              3. The sorcerer builds an end-condition into the working. This can potentially overlap with both of the above categories. Why would you do this? Because once the working expires it becomes narratively irrelevant, and you get the XP you invested in it back. Frugal!


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