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  • What is the Wyld like

    So, I'm confused as to just how to portray the Wyld:

    It's said to be a place of limitless potential from which all existence originally sprung.

    But also to be incapable of creating anything truly new, only able to copy and recombine the things of Creation.

    It's said to be shaped by the desires of the Raksha to create stories. That leaves the question of what sort of stories the Raksha shape.

    In particular, to what extent should one assume the Raksa's stories are cliche and unoriginal? Should the Wyld try to draw those who enter it into a succession of cliches, or into a mess of competing narrative aesthetics each executed creatively and beautifully?

  • #2
    Ah, I see your confusion. There are actually multiple levels of the wyld.

    Near creation, in the shallows, it's mostly restricted to recombining the features of regular things. It's chaotic, but there's an underlying sense of logic in there.

    As you go deeper though, The things you see begin to get more and more impossible, until eventually you're in Pure Chaos and reality just goes out the window completely. That deep, anything goes. Any resemblance to creation there is likely due to the small chunk of it (you) that it is currently attempting to melt into a puddle of bananas. .

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    • #3
      Originally posted by diagrapher View Post
      So, I'm confused as to just how to portray the Wyld:

      It's said to be a place of limitless potential from which all existence originally sprung.

      But also to be incapable of creating anything truly new, only able to copy and recombine the things of Creation.

      It's said to be shaped by the desires of the Raksha to create stories. That leaves the question of what sort of stories the Raksha shape.

      In particular, to what extent should one assume the Raksa's stories are cliche and unoriginal? Should the Wyld try to draw those who enter it into a succession of cliches, or into a mess of competing narrative aesthetics each executed creatively and beautifully?
      I find it helps to actually sit down and read "Night's Master" the book that inspired Exalted. The iron and obsidian towers of Druhim Vanashta and the like are excellent fodder for both Malfeas and the Wyld.

      I personally let the Wyld follow a certain kind of twisted logic. Almost like playing mad-libs. "A Raksha lord lives in a tower made of [Noun associated with the decadently wealthy] so that you get things like Raksha living in towers of calligraphy, drinking wine brewed from pleasurable shivers, being served by beautiful children with eyes of mother-of-pearl and skin of blue fire. Take an object and twist it slightly, do a find replace for things which are somewhat relevant to the object. Make heavy use of metaphor and symbolism as literal meaning.


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      • #4
        My imagination for the Wyld is kinda based on the Taoist idea of Wuji and that one what-if scenario about falling into a black hole I read once before. Pardon if I ramble -- I've been sleep-deprived for a few days.

        The Wyld is a state of infinite creation, but it is without form. Everything springs forth on the "passage" toward Pure Chaos, but the phenomenon is without form, shape or distinction. The ambient reality-pressure is simply too great for one thing to remain distinct from another (except for random oddities, like the primordial creators that -did- remain distinct and miraculous entities like the Exalted). Further you move away from Creation and toward Pure Chaos, reality becomes less and less coherent. Imagine Creation like a still lake, with bordermarches and middlemarches being rapids feeding into that body of water. The surface of the lake that is Creation is relatively still and you can even see beneath what's beneath the waters, but the rapids kick up dirt and debris.

        But Pure Chaos is not really something that can be "reached". It's the concept-place where all things spring forth. The closer you get to Pure Chaos, the stronger the currents get. Strong enough for ideas like "direction" or "momentum" to stop mattering. Perhaps the tributaries (the bordermarches and middlemarches) are weak enough that one can swim against their currents, but the flow approaches infinity near the boundary. In a way, like an inverse event horizon. Dimension, movement, inertia, energy, time, et cetera -- all stop mattering because the moment of omnidirectional (kinda a misnomer!) creation hasn't stopped yet.

        Though, I imagine... Beyond the event horizon that is Pure Chaos, there is... perfect stillness. A moment without beginning or ending, a space without poles, a state without qualities, and all that jazz. The Wuji. This is when/where/what Shinma are. Properties about reality (or rather meta-reality?) that apply regardless of is-ness or is-not-ness. But that's aside the point.

        I think the comparison of the Wyld to an inverse black hole still stands. The Wyld is the transition from calm waters of Creation's reality to raging torrents of indiscriminate reality.

        How would I use this idea to my games? As the ST, I'd say bordermarch things (like some fairies) still resemble Creation's reality. That raksha has a shape and it has a color, which can be named. Maybe it's red. But for things from deeper chaos, maybe the color of the thing is somewhere between purple and yellow, or has a color like a moment of nostalgia. Near-Creation chaos things are expressions and move away from there. Expressions into metaphors, metaphors into incoherent linguistic utterances, utterances into meaninglessness. And finally, meaninglessness into pure meaning unbound by expression.

        Then, again, this is mostly based on my assumption that none of my players will play with Pure Chaos beyond theory.

        Note #1: As I typed this up, I felt Oblivion could be the sinkhole that's draining the lake of Creation. But maybe that's me trying to "finish" the metaphor.

        Note #2: I'm reluctant to compare this idea of Pure Chaos to a white hole, mostly because I'm under the impression that the popular conception of a white hole is a spatial warp. But I might be wrong and maybe a white hole is a better metaphor than an "inverse black hole".
        Last edited by szp; 04-07-2017, 08:29 AM.

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        • #5
          Do remember that the Exalted sources portray what their subjects believe to be true about a thing (Dragon-Blooded - Anathema are bad! Release the Wyld hunt!, Lunars - Guys, we used to just go 'Wyld hunting' for fun, you've got it all wrong) and the Wyld has more conflicting opinions than most.

          The Wyld is a collection of Waypoints - places where you can be, connected by journeys - places which you travel through. These Waypoints are only vaguely related spatially. The deeper you go into the Wyld the more likely you can journey from one Waypoint to another, should you desire the result of your journey to be that Waypoint, without transitioning through intervening Waypoints. Even the ones that are mostly Creation, like the Bordermarches, can be rearranged like tiles in a boardgame.

          Each Waypoint is a well of potential, and that well either cycles through possibilities by pure entropy (like the banana puddles mentioned above one day deciding to firm up into banana flavored hard-candy castles) or is bent to the will of a being capable of attuning to the Waypoint like a Demesne, gaining the ability to change it to their will (and thus takes on characteristics of their creator's conscious or unconscious desires, like a castle of calligraphy).

          To complicate matters, some Waypoints are sentient beings all their own, called the Unshaped - or perhaps the Unshaped are simply the desire of a highly mobile creator - which roam the deep Wyld with no other purpose than the story it tells its component selves.

          Suggested readings included Graceful Wicked Masques, The Fair Folk, and Compass of Celestial Directions: Volume 2: The Wyld.


          Exalted Fanfiction on AO3 that I have authored. A Lunar oral history, a Solar buddy-fiction, and other story hooks.

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          • #6
            I imagine that when you get very deep into it, it's a lot like a lot of psychedelic art; colours are stark, imagery is overwhelming, things often have warped and surreal shapes and spatial relations are illogical. It's constantly in motion, and the forms of things often shift. Sometimes it's very abstract, but it can also often have vaguely familiar forms in very exaggerated fashion.

            ​I would say that the art of William Blake could be a good visual reference point, and the scenes in Puella Magi Madoka Magica where they confront Witches a good sense of what it is like to try navigating such a landscape.


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            • #7
              Okeanos Excerpt
              One game session of my Okeanos game had Barbus the Storm King venture into the Bordermarches to meet with the goddess Shepolpa, who sends storms carrying the Thousand Hungry Wings when she is wroth. The colors of the waters were more intense, and the lapping of the waves against his ship's hull had more of a rhythm to it. Sometimes his reflection was slightly out of sync with his motions.

              However, after he crossed into Middlemarches, he made the mistake of falling asleep, and sank into an enchanted slumber; his reflection, which had followed him into the Wyld, truly came to life, believing itself to be the real Barbus. (His player would go on to play Reflection Barbus, since RPing sleep is boring.) Reflection Barbus went into Shepolpa's domain in the Storm King's stead, and surprisingly made a pretty solid bargain.

              Reflection Barbus started the journey back to Okeanos, but as he sailed he felt himself getting more and more tired. He slept without dreaming, and when he awoke he was just as exhausted as when he'd started. (As he drew further away from the Wyld, his chaotic energies were ebbing.) He got into a tense fight with some critters, only to find out that his excellence had dimmed. (Reflection Barbus, being only a reflection, had no Charms.) More surprisingly, when a monster's teeth pierced his skin, he bled seawater. Realizing something was up, he sought out an agent of the Ocean Father in Creation, who told him that he'd become a thing of the Wyld. The Ocean Father agreed to purge Barbus of the Wyld taint, and proceeded to dissolve Reflection Barbus to death.

              At least the shock of it woke the real Barbus, who had been taken to the Strand of Sleepers in the Middlemarches. He found himself deep underwater, inside one of a long string of bubbles - like a titanic pearl necklace - extending as far up and as far down as he could see. The ones below him were occupied by people, sleeping or dead. Barbus carefully popped his own bubble, then seized that of the sleeper below him, and towed the entire strand to land.

              From there he fought some shark-headed goblins, and met a masked woman whose tribe were nomads of the Wyld; he observed that she had a masked cataphract servant, and when he asked her about him, she confided that she'd won his heart in a game. They bargained over transport into Creation for himself and the sleepers.

              During a stopover on another island for supplies, Barbus discovered curious hooved mammals, the likes of which he had never seen before - great wooly beasts with horns, bleating menacingly. He decided to hunt one for meat, only to find himself in the midst of an ambush by three more, intent on killing and eating him. (I used the stats for tigers.) He proceeded to trap the monsters in a massive cave; he rolled a boulder in front of the entrance, took his kill, and set sail again.

              On the way back, the masked woman observed that Barbus did not cast a reflection in the water, so she sewed a new one for him out of scraps of what seemed to be cloth, then had him stand over the water and throw it into the sea.

              Barbus did return to Creation after that, but not before agreeing to come and see the masked woman again. He was also pleased to learn that when the sleepers returned to Creation, the magic keeping them asleep was broken. It was a bit of a shock to the sleepers, mind, nor were they happy to see the masked pair at the helm of the ship.

              "Aaaaahh, Fair Folk!" some bawled.

              "Relax," the Storm King replied, "she's got him under her control. He won't do anything to you."

              "But what about her?" asked one.

              "Oh, she's just great, isn't she?" the Storm King said with a grin.


              Sometimes it's like that.
              Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 04-07-2017, 11:36 AM.

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              • #8
                When it came up in my game we portrayed the deeper wyld as letting the viewer fill in the blanks. So the DB who had bad childhood memories of cruel tutors and absent parents "projected" a vast echoing palace of high columns with the local fairfolk taking the form of 20 foot tall shapes in dark robes holding switches that dripped blood. Upon seeing something so unsettling her warrior instinct came out and she started to resemble her fighting instructor at the House of Bells and the roof opened to let in hot light while the ground turned to blood soaked sand. It kept going like that, a kaleidoscope of her memories and associations (with random odd bits like artwork she didn't "get" being windows into her insecurity or a tutor who spoke blades of grass and shade when she had random ideas). Then one of the Solars remembered to throw out CRP.

                Once the CRP was down the patch of ground they were standing on stayed normalish, but it moved with them and the waypoint changed to "fit" the part they were standing on. When they first used the charm they were standing on a patch of broken glass that grew like thornbushes, so it spread out to become a forest of stained glass trees showing the lives of the slain they grew from. When they moved a little and a piece of stone that looked like a piece of a temple (that has been an unimportant detail before) came into the CRP the whole thing changed into a ruined city with the same layout, broken columns where trees used to be, etc.) where warlords squatted like beasts on hills of bones and treasure.

                They realized this waypoint's "setting" was a battlefield after the battle.

                Had they not used CRP the DB would have eventually forgotten who she was as all the aspects of her mind and memory blended together and flowed apart. The Solar speculated that Fair Folk were characters in the story the same way the waypoint was a landscape, a visual appearance and specific concerns like a cloak over a particular narrative role.

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                • #9
                  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The books by Lewis Carroll, not the movies. The strangeness of Wonderland, the way it warps logic in ways that seem nonsensical (until you start to buy into the nonsense, and then it starts to make a strange amount of sense after all) can be a useful reference point for getting a handle on how the weirdness of the Wyld manifests itself in response to the people who enter it. It also has the advantage of being something that most western audiences already know, so it's a very accessible place to start for players and STs who might not be familiar with other works. The deeper into the Wyld you go, the stranger and more fluid it becomes.

                  In my opinion the best thing to borrow from Carroll is the notion that the stories of the Wyld - like those of Wonderland - don't have to go anywhere or to make sense. They just are and do not owe an explanation to the reader. Narrative is the self-justifying force of reality, and that narrative doesn't have to be productive, nor obey any rules but its own, nor make sense according to any external epistemology. The narrative shapes the world, and the world responds to the narrative, and there doesn't have to be a point to any of it unless someone with the power to do so (like a Fae Noble or one of the Exalted) imposes one.


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                  • #10
                    Generally speaking you you have the Near Wyld and the Deep Wyld.

                    The Near Wyld is essentially Creation, just a bit strange. You might have a tree with head-shaped fruit that screams when you pluck it. The Deep Wyld though is a place of constant flux and change. Something might come into existence and then vanish just a few seconds later. There is absolutely no stability in the Deep Wyld, other than individuals (such as Raksha) that have managed to gain a measure of stasis.

                    Isator's mention of psychadelic art is a good one. In the Deep Wyld, I will often use various forms of avant-garde artstyles (cubism, impressionism, surrealism, etc) as a basis for describing what things are like the Deep the Wyld.

                    One nice example is the old Loony Toon's episode Duck Amuck where the animator is sadistically dicking around with Daffy. At first it's just the backgrounds, but over time the animator starts changing Daffy himself, redrawing his physical shape. There's no sense of stability in the Deep Wyld, just constant change.

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                    • #11
                      Funny you should mention Loonh Toons there, because I was about to being up Wacky Land from Tiny toon Adventures . I think that would be a good example of a Mid-Wyld place
                      Last edited by vampire hunter D; 04-07-2017, 11:14 PM.

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                      • #12
                        TV Tropes. Just..... TV Tropes. Stories and aspects of stories, but sentient.

                        Or, for those not into spending hours on days wasting their time..... picture a videogame. Preferably, a sandbox, and you've got the whole book of cheatcodes in front of you. You can do basically whatever you want.

                        All those NPC's you see wandering around? Do some wacky things with them! It isn't like they are real people........ right?

                        Up until your cheat codes stop working, and you can't load from the last save.

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                        • #13
                          My take on the Wyld is the version of the Underhill seen in Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy outings, particularly When the Bough Breaks and Chrome Circle. Be careful what you dream...


                          Iä! Iä! Moe fthagn!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by diagrapher View Post
                            So, I'm confused as to just how to portray the Wyld:

                            It's said to be a place of limitless potential from which all existence originally sprung.

                            But also to be incapable of creating anything truly new, only able to copy and recombine the things of Creation.
                            Creation was birthed out of the Wyld, and in being born, it ended up affecting all of the Wyld in certain ways, such as forcing the existence of time to remain within it. It's one of the reasons the Fair Folk want to destroy Creation, to unfetter their natural home from this constricting force. (That said, time works in such weird ways out there that, to Creation-born, it might as well not exist for any practical purpose) However, the Wyld can certainly create new things, especially out in the Pure Chaos where anything and everything is possible.

                            It's said to be shaped by the desires of the Raksha to create stories. That leaves the question of what sort of stories the Raksha shape.

                            In particular, to what extent should one assume the Raksa's stories are cliche and unoriginal? Should the Wyld try to draw those who enter it into a succession of cliches, or into a mess of competing narrative aesthetics each executed creatively and beautifully?
                            The Raksha can indeed shape the Wyld into settings and stories of their choosing. They are drawn to interesting things and people, and seek to make their world interesting. If an idea is stale and boring, it probably won't catch their attention. In fact, in the previous edition, a Fair Folk who became boring and did nothing could calcify and turn to stone!

                            But the Raksha are also weird and have an alien perspective, so they could become fascinated by watching a boy fetch water every day from a well for weeks or years, admiring the dedication and simplistic beauty in the boy's life, until the boy dies in a barbarian raid on the village. Curious how his life might have gone, maybe he assumes the guise of the boy and his mannerisms for a time, always carrying a bucket of water... Or something weirder! Basically, things can be as original or unoriginal and cliche as you can imagine, because the Fae see things weird.

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                            • #15
                              Nitpick: Time may be wonky in the Wyld, but it still can't take you directly backward - you can spend 500 years in there and come out the same week you entered, or spend one minute there and come out with a year having passed, but you can't go in and exit into the week before you entered.

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