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  • Ex3 Intro Fiction Critique and Discussion

    Kyman201’s Ex3 Intro Fiction Critique

    So, when discussing Jenna Moran’s writing in another thread, the topic of the Ex3 Intro Fiction came up. And being a writer myself, I have things to say about the opening fiction.

    So I’ll dig into this, go through the whole intro fiction, and insert my commentary and my critiques. I will acknowledge what I find works, while saying what I find doesn’t work. Post ideas for feedback and improvement.
    But before I dig into this, I feel as though I should make this clear:

    I’m not making this as anything personal against Jenna Moran. I’ve never met Jenna, I’ve never talked to her, I’m not familiar with any of her work outside of the Intro Fiction, and a few small things I’ve seen here and there.

    This is my response to the work in a vacuum, as I would look at any piece of writing. I don’t hate Jenna Moran, I don’t KNOW Jenna, I haven’t read enough of her work to get an opinion of it overall.


    Now, the intro fiction… I know people like it. I know some people love it. I personally think that it’s a mess, and happens to be the weakest piece of writing in the core. Underneath the Janest story, the segment about the bored Necromancer in Thorns, Volfer in the teahouse, and the little snippets detailing what each Ability covers in the Mechanics chapter.

    But I’ll post more in my Final Thoughts later. For now, let’s dig in.


    Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ”The Core, page 1”
    Once upon a time, two girls lived in a dark place: a place of stagnant water at the bottom of the world
    Okay, so far, decent start. Sets the tone for classic mythical storytelling, and as far as classic starts go, you can’t really do better than “Once upon a time”.


    Then we get two paragraphs describing the layout of this place (that we later find out is called Wu-Jian), how it’s built upwards, with newer buildings on older decaying ones, how the sea flows into the city and gathers stagnantly in the streets. Honestly, at this part of the fiction I’m onboard, even if I think that the single two-page picture does more to show me what Wu-Jian looks like than the prose.

    Originally posted by ”The Core, page 2”
    When Suzu, the younger of the two, was four, she went out into the sluice-streets to play; only, instead of dying to the hungry dead, or falling into the hands of some fleshtaker, scavenger, or priest, she found a white pig (that her father said was likely sacred), with an earring that was a bell. She’d led it home, she’d loved to keep it, she’d ridden on it and confided in it and drawn great swirling patterns of black ink upon its flesh. She’d tugged on Sabriye’s sleeve—that was the older girl—and told her all about it, and it was a precious pig to little Suzu, and come the winter when they cut it open they found oracles in silvered letters on its bones
    And oh hey, a magical pig, likely sacred, and it has oracles of silvered letters engraved on its bones? Neat! Do these oracles foretell of an auspicious blessing? Do they tell about how the future of Suzu or Sabriye? What impact does this magical fortune-telling pig have upon Suzu and Sabriye’s lives, or the lives of their families?


    … Seriously, I’m asking you guys. Because near as I can tell, the magic pig doesn’t show up again, nor is anything in this paragraph relevant to anything later on in the text. As narrative problems go, this isn’t the BIGGEST problem that the text has.

    It is, however, the one that irritates me the most, disproportionately to how big an actual problem it is. Okay, for those unfamiliar with it, there’s a trope called The Law of Conservation of Detail (Warning, TV Tropes link). Minutes in a TV show or movie, as well as word count in something like this, are limited. And the details you include need to have a REASON for it.


    Now, I can hear the obvious explanation. “The reason why there’s a magic pig is to show the readers that this is a mystical world”, which I have to say that some worldbuilding can be reason enough to mention it. I would have accepted that… If part of the shown magic wasn’t the fortune-telling magic bones. Prophecy isn’t something you just throw in with no details.

    If the intent was to show that “There’s bits of Little Magic everywhere”, why not have the pig, say, have black marks on its forehead that form a constellation associated with one of the Colleges of the Sidereals? ‘A white pig, whose only markings were dark dots on its side that Suzu noted formed the shape of the Mast in the night’s sky’ or something like that.


    PROPHECY is a big thing, and you can’t drop something like “Oh by the way, the pig had prophetic marks on its bones” and not have the decency to tell us what the bones foretold. Hell, even just one more line of “The bones were cast by Suzu and Sabriye’s grandmother, foretelling great things for both of them” would have been SOME kind of payoff.

    Honestly, it feels like the reason the pig is there is because it sounded like a neat idea, throw it in, which is a writing method that works to START something, but isn’t one that should endure the first round of editing.


    Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

    Comment


    • #3
      So, moving on from THAT… More basically decent paragraphs explaining that one day, Sabriye received the Blessing of the God of the Sun. So she’s a Solar now, happy day! We learn that this wasn’t expected in Heaven, and while some of them are trying to figure out what’s what, Sabriye (whom the text itself establishes can’t find words to describe her Exaltation) tries to go home to find Suzu.

      While this is happening, the text pans up to introduce us to some of the other characters for our little adventure. They are…
      • Jin, a Dragon Blood, who echos the text from earlier by saying that he has no words to describe something. In this case, a local meat bun
        • This also introduces our Running Gag for the text. Hope you find quips about Wu-Jian having horrible meat buns funny. (Not to rag on it, though, a friend of mine and I actually had some plans in mind to spin this joke. His character’s from Wu-Jian and likes their meatbuns. My character, a Twilight master chef, takes this as a sign that the poor Night’s taste buds are dead)
      • Then we have Toad Rat, who joins Ratgut from Shadow of Mordor in the club of “Our Names Are Just One Step Above ‘Bitchface’.” He seems to be the slightly more stooge-ish, compared to Jin.
      • Finally we have Eastern Star. Eastern Star has no lines in this part.

      The narration informs us that not only are Jin, Star, and Toad Rat hunting Solars (Three people, even if they are Exalts, seems low for Solar Hunters, but I suppose if they kit up and attack without warning-) and apparently Eastern Star is the one who dragged them out to this shithole part of Wu-Jian.

      So Jin asks Star “Why do we risk our lives for things like this - for cities like this, where you can’t even get a half-decent meal?”, though the next page has Toad Rat answering, on an artistic Transition Page showing the Full Moon with text over it.

      Originally posted by The Core
      ”I think we are drawn to what we want least in life,” he said.
      “... That is courage.”

      Let us speak of deeps and gutters;

      of starlight hidden in the darkness;
      of city piled upon city:
      Of Wu-Jian.
      Okay, OW, sudden scene whiplash! Seriously, we went from a scene with our three presumed antagonists discussing their job over an apparently godawful meatbun and now we’ve launched to a new narrator, new scene, and now we’re talking about the history of Wu-Jian.

      Is this necessary? Does this contribute? Does this have anything to do with anything? Let’s find out.



      Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

      Comment


      • #4
        The next two pages are a two-page spread of Wu-Jian, which actually made a lot of the previous narration click for me to visualize the city. There’s also an Assassin’s Creed-looking person performing an Aerial Assassination on someone who seems to have Zarya-pink hair. Are these Jin and Sabriye? Hell if I know, I don’t think any of our characters are described once in the text. All I know about Toad Rat is that he’s the kind of person who’d willingly let himself be called Toad Rat. So I assume that if he had a character sheet, he’d be Appearance 1.

        So! We dive into the history of Wu-Jian! And I’m not going to lie, the first time I tried reading this, this is the part that lost me. I skipped out, tabbed away from the book, then dug into the chapter about Exalts, then into the mechanics. I had to come back at a later date.
        Because honestly? NONE of this comes into play. Yes, Wu-Jian is a fun idea. But the origin of the place… It doesn’t belong here. The story doesn’t really come back in any significant way. The legend doesn’t lead Sabriye to some kind of path, it doesn’t have her evade her captors by heading down to the floor level of Wu-Jian and finding a holdout place that her aunt told her about.

        Just… NOTHING comes of this! A story where the main character is being hunted by a trio of other Exalts is not the place to suddenly launch into the history of the city they’re in unless it leads to something.

        Hell, even if it DOES lead into something, awkward exposition is still awkward exposition. When David Weber stalled before the climax of the first Honor Harrington book to go into the nitty gritty of the FTL mechanics, it led to Honor using an aspect of the FTL to turn the tide of a space battle. But it was still jarring and awkward infodumping that killed the flow of what was a very tense scene.


        But frankly, this exposition broke up the flow of the story, which had some momentum going. This wasn’t introduced by, say, Sabriye musing on how “Wu-Jian is tough and defiant, like Auntie said, and those people don’t look like locals”.

        … So, a little over three-quarters of Page 6 is dedicated to an omniscient narration about how the isle of Wu-Jian was formed, supposedly by a Solar. Is it true? Damned if I know, it’s not really relevant to anything, and in this case I don’t think it’s meant to be historical. It’s Just A Story. This might have been alright in a setting book, but this hasn’t been a story about the history of Wu-Jian until now. It was apparently a story about Sabriye and the three Exalts hunting her.


        After that, we get an actual break (in the form of three asterisks) that lead from the pre-history creation of Wu-Jian… To more of Wu-Jian’s history. What, they put a transition there but didn’t put a transition between Toad Rat’s answer and “And now let’s talk about Wu-Jian”? Why not?

        Anyway, this new section is at least a BIT more related to Sabriye… In that she’s remembering stories her aunt told her, about how Wu-Jian’s people are stubborn folks that the Realm couldn’t quite conquer, because Wu-Jianians are like a rat nest when it comes to digging in. Eventually the Dragon Bloods basically gave up. Not much wrong with this, actually, save that we don’t know WHY Sabriye is thinking about this. There wasn’t a lead-in of any sort beyond “She’s where Suzu used to live”.

        And then suddenly Jin arrives, and Sabriye snaps out of it. Well shit, I thought that just-shy-of-a-page-column length of flashback would have a point.

        Here we have a fight scene, making me think that perhaps the two in the art page WERE intended to be Jin and Sabriye… Only the hooded guy attacking Pink Hair in that art has a pair of knives, while Jin is described as using a spear. Still, I get that sometimes art notes get lost in translation, so I won’t hold that against anybody.

        So! A fight scene! We get mention of Jin being sped up by swirling wind, implying he’s an Air Aspect. He lunges, Sabriye tries to dodge, but the roof gives out under her and she falls into the building she was standing on top of. Jin follows after her… And then… Oh god, and then…
        Last edited by Kyman201; 02-19-2017, 04:25 PM.


        Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Core, page 7
          [His armor] rang with [the blow], he brought his spear around, but she was too close to him, she writhed like an escaping cat, and he reached for her, but it was never clear to him, not even afterwards, what happened, save that her forehead glittered and she arced like a fish and her belt knife was out and he reached for her and he flinched from the knife and her weight fell on his forearm and on his hand and despite all his best intentions he found himself twisting in a fashion that nature had not intended for him to twist and his bone was snapping and his hand was numb like it was struck by lightning and his spear went clattering to the bridge.

          I had to post that in its entirety. That’s one sentence. One. Sentence. There had been a few run-on sentences, most of them broken up by semicolons and the like. THIS, however, is just too much.

          If I had tried to put forward something like that to ANY of my writing professors, they would have drawn a big frowny face next to it. Run-on sentences should be avoided, and for good reason. They can be mentally taxing, they can quickly lose the interest of the reader… And I’m sorry but I’m not going to make an exception for name recognition. This is Not Good. It can easily be split into at least three sentences, probably four or five. In fact, it should be.

          So, after that… THING… We have another run-on sentence wherein Lin tries to grab his spear but finds Sabriye’s knife point in his face. Jin, at knife-point, quips that all he ever wanted in life was to NOT fight an invincible demon-goddess, and a good pork bun now-and-then.

          Sabriye asks if he at least got a pork bun, to which Jin answers “But… this is Wu-Jian”, to which Sabriye acts exasperated and says that EVERYBODY says Wu-Jian’s pork buns are terrible when they’re not THAT bad.

          And the actors pause to wait for the audience to laugh.

          There’s a small thing that’s more of a personal note… Jin responds to Sabriye’s rant with an “...OK?”, when if you’re writing it out as a word it’s spelled “okay”. When writing someone’s dialogue, it probably shouldn’t be abbreviated like that.

          This interlude is broken up by Toad Rat, who starts firing from a Jade bow. Sabriye catches the first arrow, dodges the next four, which gives Jin enough space to scramble up his spear.

          Sabriye takes the pause in the fight to say that Wu-Jian has good noodles and black pepper soups.

          Pause for laughter again.

          There’s some more banter, with Jin noting that Heroes Of The Realm don’t slurp their noodles. Sabriye gets indignant about Wu-Jian cooking getting an unfair reputation.

          I’m sure there’s an implied laugh track by this point. Time and place, Sabriye, and these guys are trying to kill you.

          Toad Rat seems to remember this as well, as he takes a shot at her. Sabriye catches the arrow and pivots to throw it back, only for Jin to take advantage of her turned back.

          What follows is a bit about how Sabriye avoids the attack, grapples Jin, and smashes him into the bridge. There’s two lines of callback to lines used in the History Of Wu-Jian sections, but do two lines being called back really justify spending what amounts to an entire two-column page spent talking about the history of an island? Couldn’t we have just had Sabriye’s aunt saying that the Dragons came but could never stand against the people of Wu-Jian, and had this as a callback?

          Anywho, Jin passes out, and hallelujah we have an actual scene break.


          Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

          Comment


          • #6
            The scene transitioned to… Seems to be talking about the history of Eastern Star. Not gonna lie, on the first time I managed to read through to this part (my second time overall) I’d forgotten who the crap Eastern Star was simply due to the fact that she didn’t even say anything or do anything to stand out in the Meat Bun Scene. At that point, all we knew is that she apparently dragged Toad Rat and Jin there.

            So, righto! According to this next section, Eastern Star lives in Heaven, and has the mark of the Stars upon her brow.

            Those of us familiar with Exalted know what that means: Hoo boy, Sabriye’s hot enough shit to warrant a Sidereal coming after her.

            We also get a scene that explains why Eastern Star hates Solars… Apparently her old mentor said that the Solars ran things smoother and Eastern Star felt contrary. I don’t know. Eastern Star’s motivation for killing Solars seems to boil down to “I hate Solars”, with the mention of her having to kill the Anathema before she can grow into a hero and burn the world with her greatness, but from the framing this feels like an afterthought. Like Eastern Star views this as a framing of justification for hating Solars, which she does, by the way. She HATES them.

            As she muses on this, we get some small enough worldbuilding details that make the world seem a bit richer WITHOUT leading me into the “WHY DID YOU INTRODUCE THAT AND NOT FOLLOW THROUGH?!” mood that the sacred pig put me through. We see an Alchemist beating his apprentice (discipline was tough back then, it seems), we see an old man playing chess with his long-dead wife (and the narration implies that something big will happen if/when the man loses), and Eastern Star mentions evading the fangs of a Wood Elemental called a laundry spider.

            And then we have another transition back to Jin, who is amazed to still be alive after the flip and smash. And Sabriye’s there, and she mentions that her uncle used to make good meat buns.

            I’m sure if you keep saying that it’ll get amusing again, Sabriye.

            Look, I get what Jenna was going for here… A kind of Wheton-ish Witty Banter thing going on. But to me it just doesn’t work as well as it could. Maybe I was spoiled by Jim Butcher being able to make mid-battle banter fit much better, I don’t know.

            Anywho, it turns out that Sabriye left Jin alive because she doesn’t like to kill people. Fair.

            Why she STAYED near Jin to tell him this rather than flipping him and running is never answered. I guess it’s because we couldn’t have this exchange unless she stuck around.

            Anyway, during a bit of a back and forth, Jin mentions that he and Toad Rat have helped kill a single new Solar who hadn’t even really figured out how his powers worked yet. But Eastern Star’s killed three Solars. She’s a pro.

            RIGHT as Star manages to hit Sabriye with a presumably poisoned needle. Sabriye goes over the bridge, into drainage water of the sluice-street. Eastern Star tries to finish the job, Sabriye defends herself, the two end up on the lowest level…

            And then PIG GOD OUT OF NOWHERE. Apparently it’s a local god born from the standing water… Which, looks like a pig for… Reasons. I don’t know. I wouldn’t expect a pig-shaped God to arise from something water-related but what do I know?

            This is my fourth time having read through this, and only NOW did I actually notice that this boar god was apparently a God of Standing Water. The previous times I just thought it was a Random God Out Of Nowhere.

            Hell, the first time I got to this part I thought the pig god was connected to the magical pig from the start of the story, just to have the magic pig lead to ANYTHING. This latest readthrough I noted that the magic pig only lasted until winter before it was slaughtered, and this is apparently a Standing Water God.

            So, ah, this pig god and the magic pig from the start? NO connection at all. Guess the magic pig from the start really did lead to nothing.

            The pig is tall, standing seven of the cramped ‘stories’ that make up Wu-Jian’s stacks… And it speaks. WITHOUT quotation marks, which irks me on a personal level. It just looks unprofessional, as there’s not even like italics or bolding to indicate what’s dialogue and what’s not with the pig.

            The pig god basically tells Sabriye to get the fark out, he don’t like Solars in these parts. He doesn’t seem to like Eastern Star either, which is a shame since they both seem to hate Solars just because.

            Eastern Star apparently isn’t very personable, because she tries to just outright kill the pig god, only to find out that Sabriye stole her sword. There’s another run-on sentence (shorter than previous ones, thankfully) as the fight resumes. The pig gets a needle in the eye, it charges, Sabriye manages to swing Eastern Star down into the pig’s face.

            Not that this stops the pig. Or makes it pause.

            There’s some property damage, Eastern Star gets her sword back, she’s ready to make a killing blow that will intercept Sabriye should she get up and out of the way of the charging pig.

            Sabriye takes Option C and flips the pig to smash Eastern Star. Through the damage of the wall, she sees the sea, and the sun.

            And it’s finally over.
            Last edited by Kyman201; 02-19-2017, 04:30 PM.


            Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

            Comment


            • #7
              Final Thoughts:

              So, rereading this… Is this fiction the worst thing ever? No, not really. I’d rate it higher than, say, most of what we got in the Exalted Fiction Anthology. However, that’s not exactly a high bar to clear.

              While I was making this post, I was recalling reasons I’d seen as for why they enjoyed it, and something I noticed?

              Several people seemed to enjoy the story as a series of moments. I’ve seen people praising things like the line of Jin’s about “Tell me you didn’t keep me alive to discuss meatbuns”, or liking the moments of showing Star running through a setting and showing the background weirdness.

              And y’know what? They’re not wrong. There’s some nice moments here. But unfortunately I can’t call this story good on the grounds of the few parts that work while ignoring the parts that don’t. And there’s a LOT that simply Don’t Work for me. Here’s a few of them.

              Pointless Details
              Quite frankly, if I cut out all the parts that didn’t directly contribute to the actual story, then I’d be trimming out a good 30% of the overall length, from a ballpark estimate. The two stories of Wu-Jian’s history could have been condensed, and stuck together to share their framing device of Sabriye’s aunt telling her and Suzu a story. Or cut out entirely, for all that they added to the story.

              The entire section with Suzu’s magic pig isn’t foreshadowing anything, nor is there any payoff to the details spent on it. That can be cut out as well, or at least reduced into being a mere background detail of “Huh, that’s nifty” rather than “A prophecy? What of? Oh, you’re not telling us”

              (Semi-related: Does Jenna just like pigs? Because pigs are indeed nifty animals, sure, but why IS the Standing Water God a pig? Seriously, I did some searching and I’m not finding any mythical associations between pigs, standing water, rivers, or oceans)

              Flow, or Lack Thereof
              Stories are meant to be read. They’re meant to take the reader along, and meant to entertain, be understood, convey something…

              And jeeze, was this one a difficult read for me. The transitions are awkward and clunky, and the mix between Mythical Tone and Witty Banter don’t gel well in this case. And I know it can be done better, but in this story they feel awkward. Nowhere is this more clear to me than when the story abruptly shifts from Jin, Toad Rat, and Eastern Star discussing meatbuns and how shit their jobs are to suddenly we’re hearing about the legends of Wu-Jian.

              There was no transition, no leadup, no reason for us to even talk about Wu-Jian’s history. Eastern Star doesn’t say “Well Wu-Jian was never really a place of CULTURE, let me tell you about it-” or some other kind of lead-in.

              That, combined with going from the previous scene’s casual discussion tone to the Mythic Storytelling tone causes a dissonance and a sense of whiplash. This isn’t helped by jumping from the Creation History to the Political History with Sabriye, Suzu, and their Aunt, which is interrupted by Jin’s sudden attack. Aside from a couple lines in the fight, there wasn’t really a reason for the history, and CERTAINLY not worth the full two-column page that was dedicated to that part.

              There’s also the run-on sentences. I only quoted one, but they’re something that appear frequently in the story. The problem with run-ons is that they’re exhausting to read. They are HIGHLY discouraged in pretty much all forms of professional writing, and for good reason in my opinion.


              Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

              Comment


              • #8
                Why Are You Making Such A Big Deal?
                Honestly, I’m just an overly pedantic English Major with a Writing Emphasis. Writing is what I do. I read bad fanfiction the same way people go to watch cheesy B-movies. One of my favorite passtimes is reading writing critiques and riffings online.


                So when I read the Ex3 Intro Fiction, I just had to analyze it. And it disappointed me. Yeah, it’s not the worst, but it’s nowhere near the best RPG fiction I’ve read. I mean, I loved the Scion 1E Intro Fiction a heck of a lot more.

                As well as my all-time favorite Exalted fiction - The Strawmaiden Janest story. THAT story was, to me, far superior to the story of Sabriye. As well as the story of Volfer and his hijinks at the Teahouse. That one flowed well, got to the point, and the joke didn’t get drawn out.

                So, those are my thoughts on the Exalted 3E Intro Fiction. Feel free to discuss here, but I’d like to make some requests.

                Please don’t make this personal - I tried to keep my critiques focused solely on the story itself, as as mentioned I don’t know enough about Jenna to make any comments on her. So while saying “I disagree with you on the flow because of this, this, and this” is fine, saying “You’re a hack who wouldn’t know good dialogue if it bit him” might be in poor taste.

                Other than that… Post your thoughts. Explain why you liked it, why you disliked it, let’s just discuss it!


                Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm not a big fan of Jenna Moran's writing either. From what I've read---and maybe it's because English is my second language---but the text feels a bit all over the place and a bit pretentious at times. But I do think she's got a talent for words and for flow. You can tell from the way she writes that she pictures the text being read in a certain rhythm in her mind, and if you don't read it exactly like you're supposed to, you don't get it. That's all well and good when you get in the mood and immerse yourself in the scene (and she's good at immersing you in the scene because of her attention to detail), but it doesn't work at all if you're even the slightest distracted which I often get when it's my second language.

                  As far as intro fictions go, I think it does well in introducing an original setting to new readers. I read Audrey Whitman's intro fiction to Chronicles of Darkness last night and let me tell you, that was the most deadpan introduction to the supernatural I ever read in a while. I wouldn't have minded Jenna Moran writing the intro fiction to that book instead because then I know there would have been some emotion in it.


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                  • #10
                    I get where you're coming from.
                    I liked the bits with Wu-Jian because it gave me a sense of it being Sabriye's first outing as a player character with her player establishing backstory while the ST world builds around this.
                    I really didn't know what to make of the antagonists, particularly Eastern Star whose got the most stupid and childish reasons for her faction alignment that I've ever seen, it's like she took Rakan Thulio's apparent "kill the Solars because my boyfriend left me" as a challenge.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                      ...Rakan Thulio's apparent "kill the Solars because my boyfriend left me" as a challenge.
                      Something about this doesn't sound right to me. But maybe Thulio hates the Solars - we don't know much about him yet. (Ribbing aside, I will join in on the hatred of what we've seen of Thulio's "motivation". But, hey, I guess I'll take it over the "we have this awesome new character who we'll show to you some day, we swear!" approach of Sha'a'oka and The Dark Mother.)

                      Kyman, it's interesting to me that you call out the Scion story here as a better example. Regardless of their writing quality, I see the Scion stories as some of the worst gaming fiction I've ever seen, since they have (like, admittedly, many aspects of Scion) such an overwhelming focus on their specific characters. The EX3 intro characters are largely pretty thinly-drawn, but in an RPG intro, I don't see that as a problem - I look at Sabriye or Jin and think, "oh, here's the story I would tell around a snarky Outcaste or a Solar unsure of what she actually wants from godlike power," and also, "rooftop battles with lots of banter are cool, judo-throwing giant monsters is badass, I can expect to do those things in this game." I read the Scion intro and think, "well, that dude sure did talk to ravens, and get tricked by someone named 'I am going to trick you'. Huh." It's far more page count, spent on something which seemed far less applicable to a random game.

                      That said, my warm feelings for the core fiction are heavily shaped by some personal factors. There is, of course, my love of Moran - but more to the point, something which I assumed (and, as far as I can tell, nobody else does... so it's probably not intended): I took it as writ that Eastern Star is Suzu. Read this way, a lot of the (non-trivial) structural problems with the story disappear: the oracular pig is relevant because it prophecies that Suzu is fated to become a Sidereal, Sabriye's return home to find her cousin now includes an ironic twist, and Star's somewhat desperate inner monologue about why you have to hate Solars even when it doesn't make any emotional sense is solid character-building. And, of course, the story is bookended by finding magical pigs, but with very different messages.

                      ... but that's more or less fan fiction. I will admit that nothing in the story spells that out, and if it were the intent, something clearly should have.


                      Here is a koan: what is Exalted without hate? What is life without suffering? What is philosophy without pretension?

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                      • #12
                        I'm normally the one advocating 'wait and see' on Thulio but I understand why people have formed opinions of him based on Tale of the Visiting Flare and the Corebook because I recognise that I'm one of the people that the developers occasionally tease with spoilers, so it's easier for me to accept that they have a plan and they're doing things even when they're quiet.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chejop Kejak View Post
                          That said, my warm feelings for the core fiction are heavily shaped by some personal factors. There is, of course, my love of Moran - but more to the point, something which I assumed (and, as far as I can tell, nobody else does... so it's probably not intended): I took it as writ that Eastern Star is Suzu. Read this way, a lot of the (non-trivial) structural problems with the story disappear: the oracular pig is relevant because it prophecies that Suzu is fated to become a Sidereal, Sabriye's return home to find her cousin now includes an ironic twist, and Star's somewhat desperate inner monologue about why you have to hate Solars even when it doesn't make any emotional sense is solid character-building. And, of course, the story is bookended by finding magical pigs, but with very different messages.

                          ... but that's more or less fan fiction. I will admit that nothing in the story spells that out, and if it were the intent, something clearly should have.
                          I'm pretty sure that is actually what is going on in the story. The connection between Suzu and Eastern Star is not clear because Arcane Fate. It took me a few reads to get at it.

                          I'll admit to having trouble finishing the story when I first read it. I had a lot of trouble following the plot. While it had some great descriptions and awesome phrases, the story was long and had quite a few run on sentences. Note, I am both Dyslexic and ADHD, so run-on sentences are my nemesis. If Exalted wasn't one of my hyperfocus topics, I may not have put the effort into understanding the plot of the story.

                          My favorite story in the Ex3 Core is the Janest one at the end. Clear plot, great imagery. I was wary of Exigent's place in the Exalted Setting until I read that story. Now, I'm like "Shit, I want to play an Exalt with a personal relationship with a god!" Makes a good chance from all the distant (Solar), odd (Lunar), confusing (Sidereal), abusive, (Abyssal, Infernal), nonexistent (Dragonblooded) relationships the other Exalts have.



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                          • #14
                            At least for me, any initial confusion I might've had was, I think, somehow due to it being in PDF format; when I held a physical book and read it, I followed it better.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chejop Kejak View Post
                              I took it as writ that Eastern Star is Suzu. Read this way, a lot of the (non-trivial) structural problems with the story disappear: the oracular pig is relevant because it prophecies that Suzu is fated to become a Sidereal, Sabriye's return home to find her cousin now includes an ironic twist, and Star's somewhat desperate inner monologue about why you have to hate Solars even when it doesn't make any emotional sense is solid character-building. And, of course, the story is bookended by finding magical pigs, but with very different messages.

                              ... but that's more or less fan fiction. I will admit that nothing in the story spells that out, and if it were the intent, something clearly should have.
                              I'd seen that theory, yes, but looking at the story I'm afraid I couldn't find any actual HARD evidence of it, or even really suggestions of it. If I had been writing this rough story and wanted to make it clear that Suzu was Eastern Star, I might have put a couple hints in. Nothing obvious, but something like, say... Making it clear that Eastern Star is telling Jin and Toad Rat that history of Wu-Jian's creation. Throw in a comment here and there about Star saying "If I had my way I'd never come back here"

                              And maybe give Sabriye a faint feeling of deja-vu upon seeing Eastern Star. Even if Arcane Fate is at play, a flicker of "... Do I know you?"

                              Also, Jin mentions that Eastern Star's killed three Solars... And from the flashback we see that Eastern Star's motive of "I hate Solars because I hate Solars" seems to predate Sabriye's Exaltation, so not all of my problems vanish with the assumption.


                              Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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