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The Empress : Who Was She?

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  • The Empress : Who Was She?

    I split this thread off from the Ghost Thread as it seemed to be a bit distracting!

    But I found the idea of speculating about the Empress pretty fascinating. I read this great post from Isator Levi...

    ​I would expect the Scarlet Empress to have high ratings in Abilities that make sense for her character as I assume it, and little to nothing elsewhere. I picture her as having been high in things like Bureaucracy, Presence, Socialize, Lore and Occult (and maybe Integrity), passable in some combat Abilities and Abilities useful for combat such as Dodge, and maybe War, and to have little else.

    ​When it comes to long lived Exalted, I incline away from the idea that long life means that they continuously get better at everything just out of the need for something to do. It may not be entirely realistic (although it's also far from being unrealistic), but my main priority with such long lived Exalted is that they be comprehensible as people and as mechanical representations. I ascribe great ages the significance of having accumulated a lot of personal history, rather than having seen so much that nothing can surprise them and they can work all of the angles (which, if one is not adding a transhumanist element to the Exalted, is kind of overestimating the computational abilities of humans in the first place).
    ... and I was thinking about it, and actually I slightly disagree!

    I feel like to imagine the Empress you need to remember who she was BEFORE the Imperial Manse. First, we know she was a Dragonblooded officer. So we can infer from that some ability with War, Presence, Melee/Martial Arts or other pertinent skills. Secondly, we know she was courageous (and desperate enough) to brave the Imperial Manse to save Creation. More importantly, she was selected to do this above potential other candidates. This implies at least passable confidence in the art of scavenging and making use of relics of the ancient past.

    So we get an image of a plucky young officer who is probably passably skilled in martial combat and tactics, but also has unique and probably valuable (to command) training in archeology, history and thaumaturgy. She's the sort of person they send in when 'all is lost', with a team of similarly unique and interesting commandos (who sadly all die).

    One of the more interesting aspects of the Empress is that she almost certainly is not particularly pure-blooded!... despite the fact it's heresy in the Realm currently to suggest otherwise. I imagine many of her earlier marriages were created with the express purpose of mingling her bloodline with the most potent remaining shogunate families so she could effectively usurp matriarchal legitimacy from them.

    A really interesting character!
    Last edited by Piff; 05-07-2017, 01:03 PM.

  • #2
    My idea on who she was beforehand was she was the unrecognized bastard of a Gen patriarch, who was trained as her father's intelligence/security officer (and assassin) in the service of her trueborn relatives.


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    • #3
      The Empress is actually three Ysgardian squirrels, standing on each other's shoulders, in a robe and bladed headdress.

      Wait...or was that the Lady of Pain? I can never remember.


      Have you ever read a Coik post before, man? lol
      -Holden

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Piff View Post
        Secondly, we know she was courageous (and desperate enough) to brave the Imperial Manse to save Creation.
        ​That's true, but for me it's not something that I would tie to any particular level of any Ability. I think it's important to maintain that a meaningful will to act can be a component of any character, regardless of how players might assign things like their character creation.

        Originally posted by Piff
        More importantly, she was selected to do this above potential other candidates.
        I'm not sure what this refers to.

        Originally posted by Piff
        One of the more interesting aspects of the Empress is that she almost certainly is not particularly pure-blooded!... despite the fact it's heresy in the Realm currently to suggest otherwise.
        I don't really place much stock in the significance of breeding, and I'm hoping that the new book will at least have less than what Second Edition ultimately gave it, but I am (sincerely) interested in your interpretation.

        ​To add to the conversation, the First Edition Aspect Book: Air had a little fiction piece from the Shogunate implying that the officer who became the Empress might have been the result of some kind of extended social engineering game that was popular among an underground subculture of Dragon Blooded intellectuals.


        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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        • #5
          She was intelligent enough to figure out how to activate the Realm Defense Grid without Celestial Exalted assistance. Beyond that, she ruled most of Creation for nearly eight centuries and managed to terrify over ten thousand DB into a semblance of obedience. She was probably the most exceptional DB ever in existence and I would not be surprised if she managed to escape the Ebon Dragon (and Malfeas) by playing one of the other Yozis off against him. I wonder what the Infernal Exalted would do if she managed to utterly destroy her youngest daughter on the way out (their 'mother')?

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          • #6
            I tend to assume the Empress was fairly young, not much more than a century old (if even that) and probably no higher than Essence 3 when she took the Imperial Manse. I suspect that she was very much the typical Shogunate officer, though her highest Ability was probably Lore (as she seemed to be scholarly enough to have a basic understanding of what the Sword of Creation could do, how it worked, and how to get past many of the traps). But overall, I tend to imagine she was not otherwise particularly remarkable or well known at the time.

            Still, by the time she vanished, the Empress was probably very skilled in a large number of different Abilities, simply reflecting that as she lived for so many centuries, she had time to learn things. I doubt she was an expert at everything, but she was probably passingly skilled in most areas.

            And yes, the Empress was probably not initially over terribly high breeding, but many of her children seem to be. So I suspect it's reasonable she may have used Workings or other things to increase the potency of her blood at some point.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
              She was intelligent enough to figure out how to activate the Realm Defense Grid without Celestial Exalted assistance.
              And…?

              I mean, what's that even supposed to mean?

              Either we go by the 1e/Ex3 standards of "The RGD is only vaguely defined," rendering your statement meaningless, or the 2e "The RGD is exhaustively defined, including how to use it as a Terrestrial, at no point indicating super-intelligence is required for its use, in fact just bleed on the thing," rendering your statement meaningless.
              Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 05-07-2017, 06:46 PM.

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              • #8
                I don't know... I have this nagging feeling that Infernals will have very little (probably nothing) to do with the Empress' youngest daughter this time around.

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                • #9
                  Lillun could be used in an interesting way there without the rapey body-horror angle. I wouldn't write her out yet entirely.


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                  • #10
                    How would you suggest doing Lillun? I am thinking that she could be used as a 'purification' unit, with her soul taking on the positive emotions and positive memories that 'contaminate' the Infernal Essences, so the Infernal Exalted would only negative emotions and negative memories to connect them with Creation when they receive an Exaltation. With each Infernal Essence that passes through her, her goodness increasing and, eventually, she will become too 'contaminated' with goodness to be used as a filter, but her purity is an essential element of the Reclamation until then.

                    In that case, the Infernal Exalted would have a 'love-hate' relationship with her. They would love her for preventing them from suffering the cognitive dissonance that would cause their existence to be unbearable and would hate her for taking half of what makes them human. Since they would be prevented from harming her, they would use threats against the innocents brought to Malfeas to be her companions to keep her in line. After being forced to watch the horrible things that the Infernal Exalted were willing to do to the innocent children who were her companions when she first misbehaved, she would obey everything that the Infernal Exalted asked her to do to avoid witnessing such horrors again.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
                      She was intelligent enough to figure out how to activate the Realm Defense Grid without Celestial Exalted assistance.
                      You know, an interesting thing about the dramatic resolution system of the game is that people with low stats can still conceivably manage impressive results.

                      ​I'd say that having fought through hell in pursuit of a goal intended to save the entire world is sufficient to qualify as a three-point stunt, so even if one assumes that bringing the Defense Grid to life is a difficulty 5 action, somebody with Intelligence and Lore of 1 each who spends a point of Willpower on the roll would only need to get two successes on a dice pool of at least four.

                      Originally posted by Aya Tari
                      Beyond that, she ruled most of Creation for nearly eight centuries and managed to terrify over ten thousand DB into a semblance of obedience.
                      Hmm, "semblance of obedience" doesn't quite sound as impressive.

                      ​I read the setting as general being credible in presenting the capability of the Scarlet Empress, but I also note how the parts that I judge to be best present the existence of other figures who contribute to that achievement, such as Chejop Kejak, her first consort, Tepet, or... the name of the Minister for the Treasury currently escapes me, but that guy.

                      ​It leans into the point about how the premises behind systems of government and who can be agreed upon to be in charge tend to be a bit more nuanced than "smartest person at the top".

                      Speaking of:

                      Originally posted by Aya Tari
                      She was probably the most exceptional DB ever in existence
                      ​I'm wary of trumpeting exceptionalism as an ethos in general, since I've grown to judge it as rather immature and self-centred, and thus can see a lot of problems with presenting it as an interpretation of a particular character.

                      ​I would personally account the Empress as among the most accomplished (among because I'm sure all kinds of amazing things could have happened in 5,000 years of First Age), not least because accomplishments are often collaborative efforts one way or another.

                      Originally posted by Aya Tari
                      I would not be surprised if she managed to escape the Ebon Dragon (and Malfeas) by playing one of the other Yozis off against him.
                      Well that's just silly.


                      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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                      • #12
                        You think Scarlet was her nickname even before she took power? Certainly not Scarlet Empress, but she had a nickname with Scarlet in it.

                        Then again, I'm thinking her whole circle had colorful monickers (Azure, Violet, Magenta).

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                        • #13
                          My take on most of the tales of the Empress is just propaganda, in a quite similar way as Putin is handling his image. So the Empress leading a Wyld Hunt probably meant she was sipping tea a few miles away, and saw the corpse after the Anathema was killed.

                          In my mind, she was sort of a nerd on lore about what would later be called the Imperial Manse. So the reason she got involved was because one of the others mention "hey, I know of a young sorceress that might be useful." She wasn't the leader, and as the rest of the group she deserted to go on the mission. A desperate "if we fail, we will be branded traitors, but as the world is doomed I guess it is moot." If anyone in the group had Sidereal workings to improve their odds, and was planned to become the new leader, it wasn't her. She was just the one surviving to the end, and then having the choice between taking power or being seen as a potential threat to anyone taking power.

                          The reason I have for why she is known as Scarlet is first of all because she was unknown enough, so no one surviving knew her real name. In my own head canon, she served under her father, and when she abandoned her post he disowned her and told her if she left she was no daughter of his. He didn't survive, so that was the last words from him. Not using her old name is her way of showing respect to his last wish. So she went by the nick-name she got from the others in the group, so she is named after the color of her hair.

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                          • #14
                            Her real aspect is Solar, specifically Dawn, because she is really Queen Merela using disguise charms. That is why nobody makes a big deal about her Aspect. :P


                            It is a time for great deeds!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                              Her real aspect is Solar, specifically Dawn, because she is really Queen Merela using disguise charms. That is why nobody makes a big deal about her Aspect. :P

                              In all seriousness, the degree to which Merela and Scarlet are incredibly different people (not even taking the nature of their Exaltations into account) is something I find very well done. Merela is very much "a great conquerer, not a ruler" figure, while Scarlet is an archetype of effective totalitarianism, ruthlessly practical and meticulous.

                              I feel like people would draw a lot less conflation between the two if history had two different men who claimed rulership of Creation at different times, we're just not used to seeing multiple women in that niche and it makes us think there has to be some deeper meaning behind it.


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