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  • Ysyr and the Dragon Blooded

    So... A player of mine is playing a Ysyrian sorceress that Exalted as a Twilight, and we were going over her backstory. She suggested to me that she actually doesn't have an inherent problem with the Solar Exalted, and figured that her view of them was that they were ancient powerful and enlightened people, with all the risks that go along with that sort of thing... but no view of them as Anathema or evil.

    She reasoned that that Ys probably have no use for the Immaculates, and that most of the sorcerers in Ysyr are probably mortals.

    It occurred to me: She might actually be right about that. I read back over the Ysyr bits in the book but there's nothing to suggest that they have a significant Dragon Blooded force on their side. Or even that they have any at all.

    Then the line about how you're either a sorcerer or a slave. Well... Not every Dragon Blood can be a sorcerer. I know the book technically lets anyone take that charm with the right abilities, but that's just game mechanics.

    So... What do y'all think? Do you think Ysyr even has any DBs to speak of? You think maybe most -- or even all -- of their DBs screw off to Prasad or somewhere else, because they want to live somewhere where they can make something of themselves?

    ... Do you think they enslave their non-sorcerous DBs? Or, hell, maybe they don't even have any at all? Maybe the blood is so thin that their exaltation rate is almost non-existant?

  • #2
    Is it possible that there are Dragon-Blooded among the Ys? Sure.

    Are the ruling class composed of Dragon-Blooded? Almost certainly not.

    Would I call the thaumatocrat rulers of Ysyr, who apparently are capable of enslaving the raksha mortals? I wouldn't. The ruling class are sorcerers for one, and for two, I'm sure they've done things to themselves or found things that might place them somewhere adjacent to mortals.

    Are the people of Ysyr Immaculates? Probably not. I really doubt it. What does their religion or culture look like? Not sure! I imagine a cool answer might be that if they 'worship' anything, it is likely themselves/their forebears. They might look at Solar Artifice, but not look to the Solars themselves, if that makes sense. It's the difference between seeing yourself as the inheritor of Rome 's legacy and as subjects of the Eternal City, you know what I mean?

    How would they see Solars? That's a great question! I think it's really a matter of what you want your game to look like. If it were me, I think the rulers of Ysyr would seek to exploit the power of the Solars and be wary of them. Would they submit, to a Solar or a group of them? Probably not. They're a power in the Dreaming Sea that's been around a long time, and they likely have some fairly powerful sorcerers among them.


    <3

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    • #3
      There isn't any kind of "official" ruling on what the exactly population of Ysyr is, whether it's run by Dragon Blooded or humans, or whatever. So just go with what you feel will make your chronicle better and more interesting.

      Personally, I think it might be interesting if it doesn't have a permanent population of Dragon Blooded. Mortals, sorcerers, godblooded yes. But no Dragon Blooded. The city may occasionally accept Dragon Blooded who seek to learn sorcery but it quickly makes them leave afterwards. And any mortal in the city who does Exalt as a Terrestrial is "banished" from the city (they'll give the Dragon Blooded and his family a modest amount of money and then send them somewhere else). They simply have no desire to bend their knee to anyone, and Terrestrial Exalted tend to live for so long and be so powerful that one of them would inevitably end up with more control over the city than anyone would feel comfortable with.

      You could even write some background that the city used to have a Terrestrial tyrant until he was overthrown by the Sorcerer-Kings and they have no desire to see anything like that repeat itself, so they do their best to ensure that Dragon Blooded don't stay within the city long enough to cause any potential problems. They could easily have a somewhat similar view on other Exalted (Solars, Lunars, etc) - powerful beings they don't want sticking around for too long and moving into a leadership position.

      Of course, you could easily change this to whatever you want depending on what kind of interacts you decide Ysyr has had with other Exalted.

      Maybe there's a neighboring No Moon Lunar who has quietly been helping the city out for the last several centuries, so the leaders there are more accepting of Lunars than they otherwise might be. Maybe some Solar hero died valiantly protecting the city 300 years ago, and his legend is still talked about today so everyone has a good opinion on Solars. Or maybe some Solar tried to hold a revolution a long time ago and now the Sorcerer-Kings of Ysyr teach that all Solars are horrible demons who should be killed whenever possible.

      Lots of possibilities. Really, I'd suggest working with your player to decide on whatever the two of you think would be most interesting for the campaign. There are lots of ways you could do things, and off hand your players idea sounds pretty reasonable.

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      • #4
        Given the expansion of the world, both literal and mechanical, and the distance between the Dreaming Sea and the Realm, I find it pretty hard to believe the Realm has really any influence there at all. It's somewhat like Rome having influence over South America. It's a vast, uncharted distance. I don't doubt that a 'silk road' type trade relationship might exist but I like to propose the Prasadi Dragonblooded are far more culturally removed than the canon does.

        I kinda find the notion that the Realm wishes to 'expand its power over the Dreaming Sea' also pretty silly - these are (to me) very 2e sentiments that poorly represent the vastness of the 3e take on geography and national borders. The Realm has far more localized places to draw trade goods and spices from that are far more productive uses of the treasury. I don't doubt they end up with goods from the Dreaming Sea, but these are likely provided by an informal chain of merchant transactions across dozens of cultures.

        I have few criticisms of the Dreaming Sea because it's pretty awesome but Prasad never quite clicked for me. I rewrote it a bit.

        So the Yser? I'd FULLY support them being virtually untouched by Realm authority, and possibly even removed enough to say sincerely, 'Wait, what 'Realm' are you talking about?'. I prefer a huge world with isolated cultures.

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        • #5
          Something about this initial question feels very strange to me, since it seems to assume that places having a noteworthy group of Dragon Blooded is the norm.

          ​I expect outcastes in Ysyr are about the same as outcastes anywhere; highly unlikely on the provincial scale.

          ​Even if the write-up for Ysyr had not specifically attributed their sorcerers to mutation (or described the whole thing as operating on a class system), given the existence of non-Exalted sorcerers I would have defaulted to the assumption that they or any other mentioned sorcerers are not Exalted unless specifically described otherwise.

          Originally posted by Jetstream
          Do you think they enslave their non-sorcerous DBs?
          ​{briefly presuming that the culture of Ysyr is more than about three hundred years old, and will check back on the book later}

          ​I think on the one occasion where somebody from Ysyr Exalted as anything about five hundred years ago, if that person didn't already want to become a sorcerer in order to integrate smoothly into the existing class structure, then the thaumatocrats elaborated some highly specific social and legal terminology to describe the one Exalt who happened there ever as belonging to some kind of category distinct from the usual caste system without actually undermining it.


          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
          Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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          • #6
            See, I'm not worried about whether or not they're Immaculates. I'm sure they're not. I'm also not worried about the Realm's influence on them.

            I'm mostly trying to nail down in my head two major points: How the Ys feel about Dragon Bloods as a whole, and whether they see Solars/Lunars as Anathema or not.

            It's like, Buddhists might not recognize Lucifer/Samael/Satan/Whatever, but if they see something that looks like a demon, they probably wouldn't trust it much, yeah?

            But, then... We don't know a thing about Ysyr. Maybe they don't buy into the whole Anathema thing. Maybe they barely even acknowledge it, whether out of a sense of self-superiority, or because they've got Exalts among them, or whatever.

            It's a question. And I'm mostly interested in how other people interpret it, and whether anyone's really thought about it at all.

            Until my player put that in her backstory, I'll be honest and say I hadn't even considered it.

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            • #7
              I think I would take heed of what the book says about spirits. Whether the Ys believe them to be Anathema or not is largely academic compared to the idea that Solars or Lunars (who I'm sure they've had at least I one or two run-ins with!) are very dangerous and very powerful, something which would leave them inclined to approach them with caution but possibly without the religious baggage which dictates that they should destroy them.

              I imagine a Ys who Exalte with the blood of the Dragons might become an important person, but that Prasad might leave them with a low opinion of the Dragon-Blooded as dangerous rivals to their hegemony.


              <3

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
                I think I would take heed of what the book says about spirits. Whether the Ys believe them to be Anathema or not is largely academic compared to the idea that Solars or Lunars (who I'm sure they've had at least I one or two run-ins with!) are very dangerous and very powerful, something which would leave them inclined to approach them with caution but possibly without the religious baggage which dictates that they should destroy them.
                I'mma have to disagree with the assertion that it's academic. There's a pretty significant difference between "This thing is powerful and I should be very careful around it," vs "This thing is a demon from Hell that is going to try to eat my soul and I should find someone to help me kill it."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jetstream View Post
                  How the Ys feel about Dragon Bloods as a whole, and whether they see Solars/Lunars as Anathema or not.
                  ​It should be kept in mind that the wider cultural perceptions of the Dragon Blooded and even influence of the Immaculate Philosophy are things that are much older than the Realm.

                  ​The Dragon Blooded Shogunate ruled the entire world in a much more literal manner than the Realm does, and even though that still would have been a time where there weren't enough Dragon Blooded for everybody to be personal witnesses to them, their influence would have been much more evenly spread out. The Immaculate Philosophy was not as strong (which may have just amounted to them not having an organised and hierarchical body that was actually part of the ruling establishment), but they'll still have been spread over many parts of the world, repeating the narrative of the dangerous and unworthy Solars and Lunars.

                  ​So I would say that overall, the people of Ysyr think of the Dragon Blooded as much of the world does; the Exalted, the legendary rulers of the world (even if in practical terms that mostly means that they're somewhere off in the distance being a tremendously rich ultimate destination for local trade goods and possibly ultimate source for certain sorcerous reagents and instruments that Ysyr will have a peculiar market for), who saved the world from the Fair Folk way back when.

                  ​I would suppose that if they meet an actual outcaste, they'll recognise abstractly that this is the same kind of person as those legends, but in more grounded terms. Mostly just "this is somebody worth a bit of respect, and with strengths meaning that they need to be approached carefully".

                  ​I can picture their attitudes towards the rulers of neighbouring Prasad as even more abstractly considering them to be Exalted, and otherwise more firmly rooted into the politics of the ongoing competition.

                  ​I think most people in the world follow the general course of the Anathema narrative regardless of what they take from Immaculate spirituality, because the narrative about them being extremely dangerous has been heavily promulgated, and is extremely credible in any (usually Lunars) happen to do anything nearby.

                  ​I mean, in relative terms, Ma-Ha-Suchi is right over there. He's a lot better than he was in Second Edition, but I'd say that even distant familiarity with him paints him as a terrifying person. More of a slumbering and easily placated dragon than just another local ruler.


                  I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                  Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                  • #10
                    I'd argue that given how distanced Prasad's version of the Immaculate practices are from the baseline, and Ysyr being even farther from the Blessed Isle, its understanding of their teachings would be even more remote.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jetstream View Post

                      I'mma have to disagree with the assertion that it's academic. There's a pretty significant difference between "This thing is powerful and I should be very careful around it," vs "This thing is a demon from Hell that is going to try to eat my soul and I should find someone to help me kill it."
                      I meant the distinction to a non-Immaculate between the powerful and dangerous Solar & Lunar Anathema and the powerful and dangerous Solar & Lunar Exalted is largely academic. Because either way, they are often quite dangerous and regardless of the lens that you interpret their actions through, they still often represent a threat to the status quo.

                      But I think that's really secondary to the point, which is that Immaculate or no, I was suggesting there would be a clear recognition of the danger that these beings from the Immaculate fables represent. Whether they see that as "opportunity" or "trouble" is as likely to vary by the individual as it is for any other Thresholder not beholden to Immaculate ideology.


                      <3

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                      • #12
                        I don't think Ysyr has native DBs, at least not in any number. Ysyr is stated to be "pitting their forces against Volivat and Prasad, so I doubt they think very highly of the Dragon Blooded.

                        Speaking of Prasad, and the geographic distance between it and the Realm, I imagine that most inhabitants of Prasad are barely aware of the Realm's existence. The Dragon-Blooded know more about it, but probably still view themselves as only nominally affiliated with their distant cousins.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                          Something about this initial question feels very strange to me, since it seems to assume that places having a noteworthy group of Dragon Blooded is the norm.
                          That's very much the tone that was set by Exalted: The Outcastes where rather than focusing on attitudes and potential sources of Terrestrial Bloodlines it kind of assumes everywhere has a thriving Dragon-Blooded community unless it got poached by the Realm or wiped out.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            ​I think on the one occasion where somebody from Ysyr Exalted as anything about five hundred years ago, if that person didn't already want to become a sorcerer in order to integrate smoothly into the existing class structure, then the thaumatocrats elaborated some highly specific social and legal terminology to describe the one Exalt who happened there ever as belonging to some kind of category distinct from the usual caste system without actually undermining it.
                            This seems like exactly the kind of thing a small ruling class might do. I could imagine a traditional exceptional social role reserved for the once in a generation Outcaste that Exalts in Ysyr. Some kind of champion or other dramatic role. It could be of genuine aid to the sorcerers as a unique person in the system. It could also potentially provide an easy way for them to get rid of said outcastes, sending them away on some great impossible mission for the city or sending them to their death. Maybe both have happened over the course of Ysyr's existence!


                            <3

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                            • #15
                              I kind of don't have much to say about the Dragonblooded that hasn't been said, but a couple thoughts on a couple parts of OP:

                              Originally posted by Jetstream View Post
                              She suggested to me that she actually doesn't have an inherent problem with the Solar Exalted, and figured that her view of them was that they were ancient powerful and enlightened people, with all the risks that go along with that sort of thing... but no view of them as Anathema or evil.
                              I think makes sense although on another tack - they could have good occult lore and trafficking with demons and gods, they are probably aware of the end of the First Age, and have some awareness of late First Age horrors / atrocities. That could go with believing that the Solars turned to evil, albeit not looking at this through the Immaculate Philosophy's lens of Anathema.

                              Originally posted by Jetstream View Post
                              She reasoned that that Ys probably have no use for the Immaculates
                              Be interested to know what your player has to say about how she views her character's religious beliefs and thinking about the gods, and whether she sees there as being gods of Ysyr who matter to it, or it as a godless society.

                              My intuition would be a pragmatism about the gods. IRC there's not anything like a harmonious relationship with a local court of gods (like An Teng's Golden Lord, Ahlat's position in much of the South, etc.), or a relationship with Heaven as a feature of Ysyr society in the brief description we have. That might go hand in hand with suspicion of any Exalt who approaches things as a champion of a god (Exigent, a Solar with this perspective, etc.).

                              Although equally, they could probably accommodate a strong relationship with a local god or gods as a patron or equal, if you wanted to include that.

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