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  • #16
    You could say that the Realm/Sidereals were suppressing Dragonblooded exaltations of people they couldn't co-opt, and a resurgence of outcastes reflect their grip on creation slipping?

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
      The Dragon-Blooded certainly tell themselves and each other that Exaltaion of the Dragons (or from the Dragons, if you prefer) is a sign of worthiness, usually in a context that links strength and moral worth i.e. "If you didn't Exalt, it's either because of a moral failing on your part or because you're weak, which is itself a moral failing." And they use this as justification for mistreating Dynasts who don't Exalt.

      I think confirming this as a metaphysical truth removes value from the setting, however.

      Although I don't have a problem with e.g. that Sidereal Astrology power that flags a soul for reincarnation as a Dragon-Blooded, because Sidereal judgement (and indeed divine judgement, because the existence of a mechanism by which Sidereals flag souls for Dragon-Blooded incarnations suggests a mechanism by which Heaven does the same on a larger scale) is not something the setting presents as morally sound.
      I can get behind that. A story with a theme of proving your worth implies that it's going to be questioned otherwise it's not much of a story.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
        The Dragon-Blooded certainly tell themselves and each other that Exaltaion of the Dragons (or from the Dragons, if you prefer) is a sign of worthiness, usually in a context that links strength and moral worth i.e. "If you didn't Exalt, it's either because of a moral failing on your part or because you're weak, which is itself a moral failing." And they use this as justification for mistreating Dynasts who don't Exalt.

        I think confirming this as a metaphysical truth removes value from the setting, however.

        Although I don't have a problem with e.g. that Sidereal Astrology power that flags a soul for reincarnation as a Dragon-Blooded, because Sidereal judgement (and indeed divine judgement, because the existence of a mechanism by which Sidereals flag souls for Dragon-Blooded incarnations suggests a mechanism by which Heaven does the same on a larger scale) is not something the setting presents as morally sound.
        I ran quite a few Dragon Blooded games during 1st and 2nd edition, and my group ran into out-of-game issues with this idea - what makes someone Exalt as a Dragon Blooded. Is it their genetics? Or is it because they're worthy? First Edition pushed the idea that it was more due to bloodline, whereas 2nd edition made it a matter of personal worth (with the idea that all DB's needed to have a heroic motivation).

        What we ended up doing was settling on a mixture of the two. Certainly ones "genetics" are paramount. In the good old days, when the Dragon Blooded bloodlines were 100% pure, every child born to them would Exalt. On the other hand, if someone has absolutely no drop of Terrestrial blood in their background, it's simply impossible for them to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded.

        What my group ended up going with was the idea that when you're born, the cosmos (or Fate or what will you) essentially rolls the dice to see if you're going to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded or not. The more pure your bloodline is, the higher the chance. If it fails however, that's not necessarily the end.

        When someone finds themself in an extremely stressful situation or pushes themselves beyond their usual limits (physically, mentally or however) they effectively get a "reroll" - the stress can cause their nascent Terrestrial heritage to assert itself and allow them to Exalt.

        What this ended up meaning was that some Dragon Blooded were entirely unworthy of the blessings they had received. They were cowards, fools, and wastrels who had Exalted only because mummy and daddy had a good background. At the same time though, there were other Dragon Blooded who had Exalted because they had done something "heroic" in a sense and managed to earn their Exaltation. And importantly, there was absolutely no way to show whether someone had "earned" their Exaltation or been "gifted" it purely due to the vagaries of their parental lineage.

        Most Dragon Blooded (in the Realm) put it all up to personal worth - "In my past life I did such a great job that I was blessed to be born into a Great House, which then had me face a second test to actually Exalted. My personal actions ensured I was Exalted so I earned it."

        This allowed our group to have it both ways, with bloodline being a factor but personal worth also being a factor.

        As to eldagusto's idea, I would probably play with the idea that the bloodlines of Dragon Blooded have been strengthening for the last half-century or so, and children are more likely to Exalted than before (both in the Realm and out of it). Nobody has any idea why this is or what happened. The Immaculate Order has all kinds of notions and ideas, but nobody can definitive prove anything one way or another.

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        • #19
          Probably terrible idea, an off the top of my head, if you're looking for a reason that wasn't "Gaia wills it, seeing a world in need" / "Reasons!", which might work:

          The Jade Prison of the Solars was, in fact, bound with vast amounts of Dragonblooded essence set in jade; it had to be a metaphysical edifice of the supremacy of the Dragonblooded Realm the Bronze Faction willed, literally binding the essence of the Solars within the terrestrial earth of the Dragonblooded's essence (and a lot of sorcery and astrology). Mystical fertility drained from those Dragonblooded who were a mix of the Solars most vehement enemies (willingly), their Solars' loyal retainers (unwilling), those who were neither but envisioned by Bronze to be potentially politically inconvenient for the would-be Shogunate. (The oft self imposed infertility of this choice carried echoes in the then nascent Immaculate movement).

          Unknown to the Deathlords, breaking the prison released this flood of Dragonblooded essence back into the world, flowing anew in the lines of long distant descendants.

          (If you wanted, you could even say this essence was subtly changed; not in the crude way of power, but in a way that would manifest in flashes of second sight and odd connection to the Solar Exalted).

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          • #20
            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

            I ran quite a few Dragon Blooded games during 1st and 2nd edition, and my group ran into out-of-game issues with this idea - what makes someone Exalt as a Dragon Blooded. Is it their genetics? Or is it because they're worthy? First Edition pushed the idea that it was more due to bloodline, whereas 2nd edition made it a matter of personal worth (with the idea that all DB's needed to have a heroic motivation).

            What we ended up doing was settling on a mixture of the two. Certainly ones "genetics" are paramount. In the good old days, when the Dragon Blooded bloodlines were 100% pure, every child born to them would Exalt. On the other hand, if someone has absolutely no drop of Terrestrial blood in their background, it's simply impossible for them to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded.

            What my group ended up going with was the idea that when you're born, the cosmos (or Fate or what will you) essentially rolls the dice to see if you're going to Exalt as a Dragon Blooded or not. The more pure your bloodline is, the higher the chance. If it fails however, that's not necessarily the end.

            When someone finds themself in an extremely stressful situation or pushes themselves beyond their usual limits (physically, mentally or however) they effectively get a "reroll" - the stress can cause their nascent Terrestrial heritage to assert itself and allow them to Exalt.

            What this ended up meaning was that some Dragon Blooded were entirely unworthy of the blessings they had received. They were cowards, fools, and wastrels who had Exalted only because mummy and daddy had a good background. At the same time though, there were other Dragon Blooded who had Exalted because they had done something "heroic" in a sense and managed to earn their Exaltation. And importantly, there was absolutely no way to show whether someone had "earned" their Exaltation or been "gifted" it purely due to the vagaries of their parental lineage.

            Most Dragon Blooded (in the Realm) put it all up to personal worth - "In my past life I did such a great job that I was blessed to be born into a Great House, which then had me face a second test to actually Exalted. My personal actions ensured I was Exalted so I earned it."

            This allowed our group to have it both ways, with bloodline being a factor but personal worth also being a factor.
            I like that!

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            • #21
              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              I think one of the biggest problems with the Dynasty is that the ruling class of exalted are so sharply different and almost always more capable than their mortal underclass. Particularly with how Exalted presents exalts. In real life you can absolutely point to children of wealthy families and show how they had every advantage in education, connections and all forms of nepotism.
              ​Can you not point to the idea of Dragon Blooded who only ever develop ten Charms and then coast by on that, their Anima Banner, and their socially ingrained privileges?

              ​That was part of what I was saying; the idea that their hegemony in the world could maybe just get a few (hundred) Exalted who become powerful enough to secure themselves a decent position and bully mortals around them, and that's all they ever want or need. Good at whatever their given individual characterisation is focused on, but not exactly insurmountable even in that area.

              ​As for the subject of "almost always more capable", well, my sense of verisimilitude has me strive to the utmost to come up with an present scenarios, even if only in background, where things like non-zero sum games and effectively operating from a disadvantaged position and being able to exploit and manipulate people higher up the ladder than you are able to happen.

              ​A world in which the existence of a Civil Rights Movement can readily be stopped by going up to the protesters and telling them how their lot in life is really something they should be okay with, as an example, holds little interest to me.

              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey
              In exalted the Dynasts have that, but also the incredible ability to bestow upon their followers the blessings to become the greatest clerks, soldiers ect. they could ever be.
              Which ones can do that?


              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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              • #22
                I do genetics only: If your parent was Dragonblooded, then you stand a chance of being Dragonblooded. If your great, great, great x whatever grandparent was Dragonblooded, you also stand a chance to exalt, just proportionally lower.

                Of course, damn near everyone has some degree of Dragon-Blood in them, from x generations back in the family tree, it is just so 'minuscule" it never really expresses itself. Just sometimes, through the random choosing of inherited genetics that is human reproduction...... you express the Dragon-Blood, and exalt, usually around puberty, because life doesn't suck enough during that specific time frame.

                Parents with "more" Dragon-Blood, aka those already Dragonblooded, or directly descended from the same, pass along much stronger Dragon-Blood "genes", and that makes their descendants more likely to Exalt, but it also makes them look like Dragon-Blooded as well. An unExalted mortal child of two Fire Aspects is gonna have some pretty heavy Aspect-related phenotypical traits, they just aren't going to have an Anima. This kinda lets people pass off children as Dragonblooded, until they reach adulthood, then the cat is out of the bag.

                I view it kinda like, well, hair or eye color in reality. For example: I have blond hair and blue eyes. My father didn't, my mother didn't, my sister doesn't..... but my grandfather on my mother's side did, and I inherited it from him. Unless I have children with someone with blond hair and blue eyes, however, my children are unlikely to have them.

                This completely removes any "sense of worthiness" from the process, which I personally believe is a good thing. "Personal worth" is just that, personal. Arguably, "worthiness" comes into play when dealing with Celestial Exaltations already, and even those are more specific brands of heroism as opposed to "worthiness".

                ..... can I just admit that "worthiness" as a concept makes me cringe? I dunno why.

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                • #23
                  I prefer Dragon-Blooded exaltation be genetic with the understanding that genes aren't biological destiny.

                  Lots of genetic expression is due to a complex interplay between internal and external factors. Intelligence, for example, seems to have strong heritability, but you'll still see variations in it within the same family.


                  "First, props to you for actually reading the book! People seemed to miss this part." - Totentanz

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by hippokrene View Post

                    Lots of genetic expression is due to a complex interplay between internal and external factors. Intelligence, for example, seems to have strong heritability, but you'll still see variations in it within the same family.
                    Well, that particular example might be a result of external factors influencing specific gene expression, and it might also be a result of being based on a variety of genes.

                    ​I think a lot of people's understanding of genetics starts with the simple examples one learns in second-level education, going with straightforward things like hair and eye colour; the idea of heredity as a binary thing, where every trait comes down to a single gene, you got one allele from either parent, and whichever one is dominant is evident in the result.

                    Whereas for the majority of things*, you're looking at properties that emerge from the interplay between numerous genes, that can come in a vast number of combinations.

                    ​If you have two intelligent parents, and their intelligence is based off of having the exact combination of about 20 genes, then you can get a lot of scenarios in which those combinations are off even to a slight degree and so you wind up with a fairly different child. That's not even accounting for things like mutations.

                    ​And, like you said, there are environmental factors apart from the actual genetics; genes are the foundation of your biochemistry, but external factors can then affect how that biochemistry, such as diet, lifestyle and environment.

                    ​For the Dragon Blooded... when I'm thinking a lot about it, I wouldn't characterise it as strictly genetic, because that makes no sense to me. Is there a particular combination of transcribed proteins that serves as the basis of Exaltation?

                    ​I would think of it more as being something that complements genetics; it doesn't come from you having the specific combination of nucleotide sequences located at various points of the genome, it comes to the person with that particular heredity.

                    ​* Possibly even actually for hair colour; it wasn't exactly an area covered by my genetics courses, so I'm unsure if even that was still a simplification. I'll have to read into 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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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      ​I would think of it more as being something that complements genetics; it doesn't come from you having the specific combination of nucleotide sequences located at various points of the genome, it comes to the person with that particular heredity.
                      i personally see it as heredity essentially replacing the limitation of ~300 Solars in the world. You *could* have near-countless Dragon-Blooded, but just like infinite Solar exaltations doesn't mean everyone in the world ever exalts Solar, so too does limitless inherited potential for power mean not everyone tracing their lineage back to another Dragon-Blooded will become one.

                      Not everyone in the world experiences the sort of events that cause them to draw the eye of an incarna-level being; I personally think the situation of "Person catches Sol's attention but he shrugs and says 'I've got too many Chosen out there as it is'" should be extremely, vanishingly rare, not a constant occurrence. The same with Lunars and Dragon-Blooded; a nascent Terrestrial still needs to stand up and do something or decide something, even if the criteria for igniting their power is somewhat lower [youth stopping bullies at school from harassing a kid he likes, as opposed to running into a fire to save people or whatever, or abandoning all the trappings of a life of luxury to do nice things for people], rather than sitting back on his ass for a week straight and suddenly he's an earth aspect because his genes were right and his identity and personality are irrelevant.

                      Now, people are people, is one of the core themes of Exalted, and just because someone stood up and did something once doesn't mean they're righteous and worthy forevermore. A Solar can break a slavemaster's lash and chains upon exalting because he likes a fellow slave, only to turn around and found an empire on slavery bringing luxury and idleness to himself, going out only to conquer and claim more for him; this is hypocritical in the extreme, but it's quite easy ["I don't like being enslaved" is a more likely principle for most people in the time period than "Slavery is wrong in any form"]. Just because every Dragon-Blooded did something once to kindle the spark in their blood doesn't mean they're immune to the temptations of luxury and corruption in the empire most of them reside in.

                      I realize this is unpopular on account of 2e's constant sabotage of Dragon-Blooded, but I at least hope it's a little more of the 3e direction than "The Gods in Yu Shan look down on Dragon-Blooded more than a mortal peasant because at least the mortal peasant can become ~*^*~a Solar~*^*~"

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                        ​Can you not point to the idea of Dragon Blooded who only ever develop ten Charms and then coast by on that, their Anima Banner, and their socially ingrained privileges?
                        Well yes, of course, exalted laggards tend to be less capable than driven, dedicated mortal experts.

                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        ​That was part of what I was saying; the idea that their hegemony in the world could maybe just get a few (hundred) Exalted who become powerful enough to secure themselves a decent position and bully mortals around them, and that's all they ever want or need. Good at whatever their given individual characterisation is focused on, but not exactly insurmountable even in that area.

                        ​As for the subject of "almost always more capable", well, my sense of verisimilitude has me strive to the utmost to come up with an present scenarios, even if only in background, where things like non-zero sum games and effectively operating from a disadvantaged position and being able to exploit and manipulate people higher up the ladder than you are able to happen.

                        ​A world in which the existence of a Civil Rights Movement can readily be stopped by going up to the protesters and telling them how their lot in life is really something they should be okay with, as an example, holds little interest to me.
                        ​That example, in particular, I think is definitely beyond the scope of Dragonblooded power. It's even almost beyond the scope of Solar power, barring some special circumstances. Either way, where I was going with my comment, but didn't really feel like typing so much out on my phone, was that in most settings, and in real life, the privileged elite tend to only really be separated from everyone else by their privileged background only. They often SAY they have superior breeding, which makes them stronger, smarter, more charismatic ect, but what minuscule amount of that might be true, isn't by much. Sometimes they say that they've been chosen by god depending on the setting/culture. But that's often not true or means very little.

                        This doesn't hold for Creation. The exalted ARE faster, stronger, more charismatic. A middling dragonblooded swordsman, when channeling the divinity in his blood, is as skilled as the best mortal fighter, and that's before considering that he can leap twenty feet into the air and light his sword with searing flame. That absolutely doesn't mean that he can't be beaten, not by a long shot. You might get lucky, or he might make some horrible mistake, or you might trick him into some impossible situation.

                        Now, what the DBs do is they take their skills and powers and try to convince people that since they are better swordsmen, diplomats, and crafters, with powers beyond all other women and men, that they are also more righteous and pure. Which is actually the opposite of true, DBs in particular among exalts and Dynasts specifically among DBs are more greedy, jealous, prideful, angry than other people. Compound that with being corrupted by power and they usually end up being kind of awful at the best of times, and sickeningly cruel at the worst.

                        The reason I don't really like the comparison is because even without the established order and culture, terrestrial exalts would tend very much to rise to positions of power and authority anyway. At least in anything resembling a democracy, or meritocracy or most other kinds of organizations. l feel like it's not appropriate because they actually are what so many of those privileged people claimed to be, superior just by virtue of being who they are. In specific instances, no, there are DB fuckups just like there are Lunar fuckups just like there are Solar fuckups and mortal fuckups, but not much more than any other population and the ones who aren't are demi-demigods.

                        I much prefer to look at the Dynasty and explore how people with more power use that power and how it interacts with what they consider to be good. Or by showing that just because you're better than somebody at something doesn't mean you're unstoppable, and every time you forget that you invite disaster. Of course this is all in the margins of playing a game that's fun and energetic for everyone fighting for/against the empire.

                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        Which ones can do that?
                        Any of them who took Geese-Flying-South administration, which was either 1 or 2 charms in, I can't remember, but even understanding that mechanics aren't physics it was considered to be a pretty base ability for terrestrial bureaucrats.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
                          Also as a general thing I'm skeptical of setting timeline elements that confirm the setting's "now" as intrinsically significant rather than coincidentally significant. If you look at the timeline, pretty much everything that makes RY 768 meaningfully distinct from the past five centuries can be traced to one event. When the Empress disappeared, the Realm's politics became insular and they started withdrawing armies from the Threshold, which lead to Threshold political instability and vulnerability that drives both an economic boom and increased vulnerability to things like Fair Folk and Silver Pact raids; this vulnerability was what lead the Deathlords to breach the Jade Prison right now, which lead to the release of the Solars. It's all because the Empress disappeared. That feels verisimilar to me -- "now" is circumstantially significant, but not metaphysically or intrinsically significant except in ways that spring from circumstance.

                          Adding "And there's a bunch of new and extra DB Exaltations because, uh, reasons" violates that.
                          On the one hand, you have a point and I agree that that does help things hang together.

                          On the other hand, I think it can be overdone too. Everything you specifically listed seems legit to me, but I wouldn't want someone to take your argument and then feel like they had to spin some kind of spurious logical chain to justify something they want to have happen as being because the Empress vanished. Sometimes stuff does just happen and it would probably be good for a few things in the setting to not be the fault of the Empress vanishing. As powerful and far reaching as the event was, not everything in Creation revolves around her.

                          So, yeah, I'm actually up for "And there's a bunch of new and extra DB Exaltations because, uh, reasons" because sometimes that is what happens.


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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                            .

                            So, yeah, I'm actually up for "And there's a bunch of new and extra DB Exaltations because, uh, reasons" because sometimes that is what happens.
                            Seconding this. And if the story you want to tell is from Solars facing the ramifications of this, you need to be in a period with a circle of Solars, which is difficult at any other time.

                            I wouldn't want it to be the DEFAULT that all this stuff happens because omg solar return so hugely important, but it works as well as anything else for the associated stories

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                            • #29
                              Genetics doesn't work purely like it does in our world. I take Creation to have both a physical aspect to their being, the Genetics we know, and a spiritual aspect, so the legacies and sympathies of their parents and peoples souls effecting a child's soul.


                              Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                              Probably terrible idea, an off the top of my head, if you're looking for a reason that wasn't "Gaia wills it, seeing a world in need" / "Reasons!", which might work:

                              The Jade Prison of the Solars was, in fact, bound with vast amounts of Dragonblooded essence set in jade; it had to be a metaphysical edifice of the supremacy of the Dragonblooded Realm the Bronze Faction willed, literally binding the essence of the Solars within the terrestrial earth of the Dragonblooded's essence (and a lot of sorcery and astrology). Mystical fertility drained from those Dragonblooded who were a mix of the Solars most vehement enemies (willingly), their Solars' loyal retainers (unwilling), those who were neither but envisioned by Bronze to be potentially politically inconvenient for the would-be Shogunate. (The oft self imposed infertility of this choice carried echoes in the then nascent Immaculate movement).

                              Unknown to the Deathlords, breaking the prison released this flood of Dragonblooded essence back into the world, flowing anew in the lines of long distant descendants.

                              (If you wanted, you could even say this essence was subtly changed; not in the crude way of power, but in a way that would manifest in flashes of second sight and odd connection to the Solar Exalted).

                              Hey this is a pretty cool idear!


                              It is a time for great deeds!

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                              • #30
                                Cheers Eldagusto. (Cringing a little today at the amount of purple prose it felt like a good idea to put in that yesterday, but glad it got the idea across).

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