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1e Luna - How the Changing Goddess Changed

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  • 1e Luna - How the Changing Goddess Changed

    I've been reading a lot about Luna lately and I thought I'd start a thread to discuss how the character evolved over multiple iterations of the game. This thread isn't intended to discuss aspects of Lunar theme or Lunar mechanics or anything Lunar really. This is a place to discuss only the character Luna and how it changed over time in Exalted, and whether those changes were positive or negative.

    In 1e, Luna was very unique, super intersting. Here's some text snippets (everything about her in the book IIRC)...

    Gaia’s companion Incarna, Luna is not a Celestine, but might as well be from the amount of power her consort has delegated to her. Many-faced, cunning and perhaps mad, Luna is a trickster and shapeshifter without compare. During the war against the Primordials, she advised the Unconquered Sun on battle stratagems. Luna is said to have a very distant relationship with her Exalted, asking little and offering less.
    Consort of Gaia, Luna is a many-faced trickster. A shapechanger and a warrior almost the equal of the Unconquered Sun, Luna is the mother and patron of the Lunar Exalted.
    Five divinities second in sheer power only to the Unconquered Sun. The Five Maidens are Mercury (the Maiden of Journeys), Venus (the Maiden of Serenity), Mars (the Maiden of Battles), Jupiter(the Maiden of Secrets) and Saturn(the Maiden of Endings). Though Luna is not numbered among the maidens, she is considered their equal in power. Though the Maidens are venerated in many places, the Immaculate Order officially disapproves of their worship by the unExalted.
    Gaia: The spirit of creation, the mother of the Elemental Dragons and all those things that live and grow. It is said that Gaia is one of those who came before the gods but that she aided the gods in their war against her fellows out of love for her consort, Luna.
    This concept work predates even the 1e version of Lunars, so we can see some changes already beginning to take place by the publication of that book. For example, in the 1e corebook, Luna 'offers little to her Exalted and asks less', where as by the time Lunars is actually printed, Luna actually shows up to personally introduce itself. Just in the span of a few books, Luna changed! Shapeshifting goddess indeed!

    It's very interesting to me how much a complete story these tiny fragments put together. You can get a fairly clear, if vague, idea of the Primordial War and how Luna functioned within it even though not a lot of page count was dedicated. A Shakespearean tragedy of sorts comes in through the edges that helps inform about a lot of the passions of Gods and Primordials.

    Also interesting - The image of Luna as an 'uplifted' creature becomes very clear, as well. The text is clear - Luna is not using her own power, largely. She is using power Gaia has delegated to her. And the term 'delegation' is itself a suggestive one. Perhaps as the Exalted as a whole were delegated Creation, Luna was delegated Gaia?... the thematic implications are pretty interesting to contemplate. This also opens up some interesting areas for charm design, as well. In the 1e core, Luna is very directly a caretaker of Gaia's responsibilities, whatever they might be.

    Also notable - this character begins weak, but becomes a Celestine due to earning the love and respect of a powerful patron. It is left unstated whether Luna as originally conceived was a God, Raksha or some other strange Outsider, but it's important to note that these details are ignored largely because they just aren't very important to the story. What matters is that once within those august halls Luna made itself invaluable to the grand general... and lent valuable expertise to the Primordial conflict. This creature eventually became the equal of any Celestial Maiden.

    Quite a story!

    The journey of the 1e corebook Luna is not that far away from the journey of many human beings... Theadora is a good example!... who have managed to find themselves in the grip of power and demonstrate exceptional talent when called upon by fate. That's why it grabs me so much, really. You can relate to it. This stands in stark contrast to the Glories Luna (concieved as the child of Oramous and Cytheria) who is immediately special and does not claim any of its power through merit or circumstance.

    Note how the Glories version of Luna affects the epic love story between Gaia and Luna as well, one of the fundamental axioms of the Primordial War initially. It's far less remarkable to be seduced by something crafted by your Primordial Siblings explicitly to be the most seductive thing ever. It's not really a story at all, really. It diminishes Luna and Gaia both.

    And this leads nicely into my own opinion - I maintain the original 1e corebook Luna was super evocative, interesting, mythic and useful. Almost everything printed about Luna past that corebook made Luna worse and less fun. I think 3e Luna could be much improved by paying attention to what got lost along the way. Glories Luna strays fairly far from the original concept and I would personally like a return to the roots of the idea.

    I welcome any other further attempts to help us chart and quantify the mysterious mutations our shape-changing goddess has gone through over the last decade or so!


  • #2
    I agree on the point for the background mythology to why Luna was born, but disagree on the point of Luna being powerful as a result of things given to her by her consort.


    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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    • #3
      Gaia’s companion Incarna, Luna is not a Celestine, but might as well be from the amount of power her consort has delegated to her.
      Though Luna is not numbered among the maidens, she is considered their equal in power.
      These are the text bits I feel support my position.

      While I can understand the criticism that these aren't specific power references (mostly because they aren't), they do seem at the very least rather clear in implication. I'd further argue that Luna being empowered by Gaia is fairly central to the idea of the original character. Again, I feel like the myth we are referencing here is an ancient one : the consort / concubine who not only happens to inherit power due to a fortuitous relationship, but then actually... against all presumption... turns out to be exceptional in every respect and invaluable to success. It's my opinion that this is the archetype the initial work intended to convey.

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      • #4
        I don't think "offers little and asks less" and attending the Exaltation of all her Chosen is necessarily the contradiction you seem to view it as, Piff.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
          I don't think "offers little and asks less" and attending the Exaltation of all her Chosen is necessarily the contradiction you seem to view it as, Piff.
          I wouldn't go so far as to call it contradiction. I'd more identify it as elaboration. As authors layer intepretations upon the original work in RPGs, some things get lost not because of an outright attempt to contradict them but just as sort of a natural entropy of the initial concept. WW products in particular suffer from this due to the way they engage and hire freelancers. This isn't always a negative, either. Sometimes this 'new blood' ends up being a fantastic asset.

          And because that might seem a dodge, re: the specific of Luna visitations... I don't have a strong feeling one way or another but I mildly dislike the concept. It's not a 'big deal' and is easily ignored. The visitations don't have much impact on Luna one way or another, IMO, though I wouldn't find them appropriate to some narratives so I'd like at the very least to see them become optional story components this time around.

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          • #6
            Yeah. There were lots of interesting things in the 1st edition core book that were later retconned. My favorite was Chosen of Endings have orange Animas.

            That said though, removing the idea of Incarna vs Celestines was probably a good idea. It was a carryover from Werewolf but not terribly important or useful.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Piff View Post



              These are the text bits I feel support my position.
              ​I'm not saying that you're incorrect about what was written in the First Edition core, I'm just laying out my position for why it shouldn't be a presentation in the new Edition.


              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                I don't think "offers little and asks less" and attending the Exaltation of all her Chosen is necessarily the contradiction you seem to view it as, Piff.
                The context of Luna being the only one described as having "a distant relationship" with her Chosen makes the meaning relative, I think.

                By implication, Luna is more distant than the other Incarnae, and gives less than them while asking less than they do.

                Well, she certainly asks less than the Maidens do of the Sidereals, since the Sidereals were the only Celestial Exalted to have to take over their patrons' job in Heaven. The Sun also expected his Solar Exalted to live up to a certain standard, and then forsook them and the world after they disappointed him.

                But in terms of giving less and having a distant relationship, Luna is the only one who personally shows up before each of her Chosen when she Chooses them. The Sun tends to send a vision at best, and generally only to his Zenith Caste, and the Sidereals are treated like employees whenever they get lucky enough to run into their patrons in the hallway at the office.


                I've never been favorable to the idea that Luna was something different and weaker than the other Incarnae, and owed her power to Gaia, but I was extremely biased. Back in the days of First Edition, the apologists for the screw-ups regarding the Lunar Exalted would defend how shitty Lunar Charms were with the outdated concept of Luna inherently being weaker than the Sun and Maidens.

                A more objective rebuttal (to which I often resorted) was how the First Edition core repeatedly claimed that Luna was in fact nearly as strong as Sol and that the Lunar Exalted were considered partners of the Solar Exalted, rather than inferiors.


                Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                  I've never been favorable to the idea that Luna was something different and weaker than the other Incarnae, and owed her power to Gaia, but I was extremely biased. Back in the days of First Edition, the apologists for the screw-ups regarding the Lunar Exalted would defend how shitty Lunar Charms were with the outdated concept of Luna inherently being weaker than the Sun and Maidens.

                  A more objective rebuttal (to which I often resorted) was how the First Edition core repeatedly claimed that Luna was in fact nearly as strong as Sol and that the Lunar Exalted were considered partners of the Solar Exalted, rather than inferiors.
                  It's important to note that Luna WAS weaker than Celestines... in the past tense. And tense is absolutely important here.

                  Her origins don't really have any bearing on her standing in the modern setting or her capability within it. In a sense, she's not unusual in owing her power to a patron. All of the Celestines 'owe' power to the Titans. The only real distinction is the others were (as far as we know) created whole-cloth, where as Luna earned her position through genuine merit and remarkable cunning. And, it's never hinted that the other Celestines view Luna as lesser or in some way inferior to them owing to her past. She has earned the respect due her station.

                  To me,what is remarkable is that Luna's gifts were given out of love and respect, rather than for a specific purpose. Luna was underestimated and becomes accidentally critical - which (I would propose) intentionally evokes the story of the concubine-queen, the 'common thing' who actually in fact reveals innate nobility when thrust before the lens of history that rivals and often exceeds that of genuine blue-blooded monarchs. Luna may have brought insights from the 'real world' that the Celestines not only found useful, but critical, and the text seems to support that idea.

                  And to that point... you are absolutely correct Inugami when you point to several of the other references in that same 1e core text - Luna advised the Sun in his battle plans, Luna is nearly his equal in combat, etc. All of these things can and should be true along with Luna's more humble origins in my opinion. Luna is hardly by any interpretation weak in the modern sense.

                  Theodora was absolutely a queen the equal of any other. She wasn't lesser than any other queen would be. Her origins and past serve to make her more interesting and capable, not less.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                    Yeah. There were lots of interesting things in the 1st edition core book that were later retconned. My favorite was Chosen of Endings have orange Animas.

                    That said though, removing the idea of Incarna vs Celestines was probably a good idea. It was a carryover from Werewolf but not terribly important or useful.
                    It only seemed to be a distinction for the lexicon, and then a rather thin one, given the actual difference between the two from Werewolf. Then the rest of the book just started using the term Incarna exclusively.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                      It only seemed to be a distinction for the lexicon, and then a rather thin one, given the actual difference between the two from Werewolf. Then the rest of the book just started using the term Incarna exclusively.
                      I think a big part of it is that while originally Luna was an Incarna and the Unconquered Sun and Maidens were Celestines, the developer never wanted to introduce any other Incarna to the gameline. Which made the distinction rather pointless, especially since Luna was as strong as a Celestine anyway. So they had basically created this entire class, Incarna, for one being, Luna, who didn't really even fall into that category anymore anyway. So they just said fuck it, got rid of Celestines and made everyone Incarna.
                      Last edited by AnubisXy; 05-14-2017, 09:07 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Side note: Theodora was a bamf. 'The Royal Purple is the noblest shroud' That whole speech rather then running. Just damn.

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                        • #13
                          I actually like the Glories version of Luna better, though I do agree that "Luna was specifically created to seduce Gaia, which she did" thing could go, especially as it is really rather irrelevant to her story and does take away some of the power of her and Gaia's love story. Making her some sort of upjumped whatever who only got so powerful because of who she married seems rather degrading, even if she's grown since then. And I think "Luna was created to counterpart Sol" is much more logical.

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                          • #14
                            How is it degrading? Just about every character was given power because of something. That's practically the premise. So what if Luna got their power because their consort decided they should have it. If anything that seems like something (seducing a god) that could result in Exalting for mortals. Why is it degrading if it's Luna that got their power that way.

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                            • #15
                              I like this idea, and I hadn't read any of the 1e stuff about Luna, so thanks for sharing it. I like to run the Incarnae as being fairly thoroughly corrupted by the Games of Divinity because I like to confront pious heroes with the possibility that their Gods are unworthy of them, but I usually think of Luna as making at least an effort not to entirely abandon their duties. The concubine-queen being worthier than the born royalty fits my headcanon nicely.

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