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How much should Castes actually matter to the Lunar Exalted?

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  • How much should Castes actually matter to the Lunar Exalted?

    EDIT: To avoid confusion, this thread was created BEFORE the recent conversation with Robert Vance and Lunar Castes; it had fallen to the second page a short while ago. It is being re-visited in light of that conversation (click here to skip to the relevant post below), not created as a reaction against it.


    What if Castes didn't actually matter all that much to the Lunar Exalted? Like, if a Lunar player character already enjoyed her complement of four (or more) Favored Attributes, and getting a Caste would really only give her some useful Anima Powers?

    If being Casteless for a length of time didn't matter all that much to the Lunar Exalted, that would actually be consistent with their willingness to become Casteless for the length of time necessary to fix themselves into new Castes.

    As for why they would bother going to the trouble of simply exchanging one set of Anima Effects for another set, one must remember the time and place. They were currently exiled out into the Wyld by the Creation-spanning Shogunate, and a Wyld Hunt equipped with the weapons of the Solar Deliberative. They already needed to work on the Moonsilver Tattoos which would protect them from the Wyld, so while they were going to that effort, the Lunar Host decided to kill two birds with one stone and designed the Tattoos to also provide them with new Anima Effects.


    A player who wants to go Casteless for an extended period of time can probably live without Anima Powers, but a shortage or lack of Favored Attributes would really sting.
    Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 10-06-2017, 11:36 PM.


    Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

    My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

  • #2
    Honestly I'm not sure Lunars should bother with castes. It seems to run counter to a lot of their themes.

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    • #3
      Water is still water, but if you don't put it in a container, there isn't much you can do with it.

      I'm... not entirely sure where I'm going with this, but it feels right?


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sunder the Gold
        What if Castes didn't actually matter all that much to the Lunar Exalted? Like, if a Lunar player character already enjoyed her complement of four (or more) Favored Attributes, and getting a Caste would really only give her some useful Anima Powers?
        I was rather confused by this at first, because I was thinking "Wait, but that's already the case!" Then I remembered that was our house rule (which we've gone with for like... 8 years or something, so I forgot how it was actually supposed to work).

        Every Lunar had 4 favoured attributes, and their caste rotated, until it was fixed by tattoos.

        We initially had the awkwardness of people potentially being tattooed with the "wrong" caste, but I decided that the tattoos reflect you, so it's only possible to become the caste that you have two favoured attributes in.
        (If 2 are from one caste and 2 from another, I guess you can choose, though I don't think this ever happened.)

        Of course, this does lead to a possible issue:
        What if you only favour two attributes from one caste? So you end up as a Full Moon who doesn't favour Dexterity?

        There's two solutions. One, say that Casteless Lunars have to pick 3 favoured attributes from the same caste, and 1 from the others.
        Or, two, say that Lunars, instead of favouring all 3 of their caste attributes and 1 other, favour 2 caste attributes and 2 others.
        That's the solution we went with.

        So, my Lunar owl-totem sorcerer (the one in my avatar actually) favoured Dex, Manipulation, Perception and Intelligence.
        He's recently retired from the game as he's gone to see the Silver Pact to get tattooed, so he'll become a No Moon. This won't change his favoured attributes at all.

        And it works fine. For example, if someone has an elephant-totem Full Moon, they can favour Strength and Stamina, but don't have to favour Dexterity (which in the core rules, they'd have to), which isn't particularly elephant-themed anyway.

        With the new Solars choosing 5 out of 8 caste abilities, having Lunars choose 2 of 3 caste attributes doesn't seem very weird. Then choose 2 others.

        We didn't do this, but you could certainly say Casteless have no anima powers, so getting the tattoos to fix your caste gives you caste powers. You just have to say that people automatically get the caste they have 2 favoured attributes in. No-one choosing to get the "wrong" anima powers.


        One last thing, about why I think this is necessary:
        It was really kind of odd, I felt, in 2nd ed, that getting the tattoos changed your XP costs, making some things cheaper. Or, even, potentially making some things more expensive, since you could lose a favoured attribute (if you had one favoured attribute in each set).

        It seemed like just another thing to punish people who wanted to play Casteless Lunars. But the designers didn't seem to remember that there could be good in-game reasons that your Lunar is untattooed, and it could take ages before they can get tattooed. If you want to play, say, a newly-exalted Lunar, you won't have tats, but then when you're caught up in adventures you might not have the downtime necessary to go get tattooed, if you're in a mixed game.
        We had a couple of casteless Lunars for ages. This wasn't out of some ideological desire to be Casteless. One character didn't trust the Silver Pact, the other a)didn't think it was necessary (until he got brain damage), b)didn't want to leave his circle to go find a Silver Pact elder, and c)didn't want to get tattooed until he'd managed to wyld-quest away his permanent mutations (some of which he did manage to get rid of).
        Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 09-03-2017, 06:28 AM.


        "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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        • #5
          Essentially, I agree with you Sunder about the lack of favoured attributes being much more problematic than the lack of anima powers.

          (Hey, I played a No Moon: it's almost like having no anima powers anyway!)


          "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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          • #6
            Well, I wouldn't really worry too much about making a major feature of playing Lunars in service to the wider setting logic. It's not like your logic is a bad logic, assuming you don't want the act of changing and breaking Castes and remaking themselves as new to have as much resonance and be as meaningful an act of self redefinition.

            That aside it's all just preference; I was a bit against the shift to what felt like more constrained Castes for Solars (in a way) with the Supernal Abilities in 3e, but with some time and space I've actually come round to this being OK lately. I generally feel that if Castes are in the game, and they seek to evoke a feel that they're these big, meaningful parts of who each hero is, and really, to evoke what the word Caste suggests, then its better for that to have teeth.

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            • #7
              I agree with you that it's not necessary to say that castes don't change your favoured attributes because of a period of time that happened nearly 1500 years ago in the setting.

              I mean, I still think it's important for the play experience, as I said. It's quite awkward when you have a character whose favoured attributes are going to change partway through the game. But not because otherwise they'd have never changed their castes.

              I don't think it's too connected to the Solar play experience though, because Solars are not going to change from Casteless to Casted during the game, which may well happen to Lunars.

              If Lunars had Supernal Attributes (which I don't think will do) I'd be okay with that only happening after they get their castes: because it doesn't increase/reduce xp costs (which could have weird effects vis-a-vis what Lunar plays buy at the beginning and what they play later), it just gives more options of what you can buy (ie unlock more charms).

              Essentially, I see your point about Castes actually meaning something (though I think it still can be too constraining: but then, Solars get as many favoured abilities as they do favoured attributes. Unlike 2nd ed Lunars), but I don't think giving a Lunar more favoured attributes when they get tattooed is a good way to deal with it.
              I think giving them 3 interesting and useful anima powers for each caste is plenty.

              Saying this, I think defining castes is more important for Solars than Lunars, especially as Lunars don't start with castes anyway, whereas to be a Solar is to have a caste.


              "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                What if you only favour two attributes from one caste? So you end up as a Full Moon who doesn't favour Dexterity?
                Is this a bigger problem than a Dawn Caste Solar who doesn't favor one of the attack Abilities?

                Third Edition deliberately made it possible for a Dawn to favor just one attack Ability, and select the supporting combat Abilities for the rest of his Caste traits.

                Between two physical Attributes as Caste traits and the Full Moon physically-oriented Anima Effects, I think you've got more than enough potential to act like a Full Moon. Especially since you don't have to skimp out on Dexterity Charms just because you don't Favor them. If you can only favor four Attributes, then making Dexterity your fifth-most invested Attribute still puts it above four other Attributes. It's the half-way point of potential investment.

                This isn't even counting how Favoring Dexterity isn't necessary for dipping into Strength-oriented Martial Arts Styles for physical problem-solving.


                say that Lunars, instead of favouring all 3 of their caste attributes and 1 other, favour 2 caste attributes and 2 others.
                That's my preferred solution.

                Pick two Attributes of the Caste you would want when your character is finally locked, and two others; one of the two could be another Caste Attribute, but it doesn't have to be.

                Someone who is clearly undecided about which Caste they want can pick two physical and two mental Attributes, for example, and use their play experience to figure out which set of Anima Effects they want later.


                And it works fine. For example, if someone has an elephant-totem Full Moon, they can favour Strength and Stamina, but don't have to favour Dexterity (which in the core rules, they'd have to), which isn't particularly elephant-themed anyway.
                I know, right?


                Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

                My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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                • #9
                  Well, it looks like we all broadly agree, I guess!


                  "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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                  • #10
                    Until someone disagrees, let's move forward like no one does, and cover the topic of what Anima Effects those three Castes should have.

                    Most of the effects from the previous Editions are either bad or hard to translate into Third Edition, I propose we start by borrowing Solar Anima Effects and adjusting to taste.

                    Their Anima Effects should be at least as useful as these, and aiming to accomplish similar things.


                    Lunar Full Moon:
                    • For five motes, all of the Full Moon’s movement Charms with outstanding reset conditions are automatically reset. This effect can only be used once per day, becoming available again at moonrise.

                    • For five motes, the Full Moon projects an aura of pure force, reflexively gaining five Hardness for one turn. At the bonfire/iconic level, this power activates itself automatically at no cost. This effect doesn’t stack with other magic that raises Hardness, but it can be used during Initiative Crash.

                    • For three motes, the Full Moon can ignore up to (higher of 3 or Essence) penalties to a Stealth attempt for one instant. These motes are always considered Personal, regardless of the pool they’re spent from.


                    Lunar Changing Moon:
                    • The Changing Moon inspires terror in her foes. She adds half her Essence score (round up) in dice to all intimidating social influence. She may also intimidate targets which do not feel fear, such as automatons, golems, and certain undead.

                    • For seven motes, the Changing Moon may order a dematerialized spirit to manifest using a (Charisma + Presence) persuade action with (Essence) automatic successes. All spirits inherently recognize Luna’s authority in the shaman-queens and are compelled as if by a Defining Intimacy, but may still have Defining Ties or Principles which counter this advantage. If successful, the Changing Moon’s very command draws the spirit into the material world, so that it does not need to pay the cost to materialize.

                    • The Changing Moon has diplomatic immunity when treating with the enemies of Creation. So long as the Changing Moon approaches them on legitimate business of some kind, shades, spirits, the demon princes of Hell, and the Fair Folk may not attack the Changing Moon or her companions without just cause, and such creatures must observe the local rules of hospitality. Such beings may still attempt to provoke members of the Lunar's embassy into breaking the peace, thus voiding this effect’s protection.


                    Lunar No Moon:
                    • At bonfire/iconic anima display, the No Moon adds half her Essence score (round up) to her base Initiative upon resetting to base after a successful decisive attack.

                    • For two motes, the No Moon can dampen her anima, treating all Peripheral Essence expenditures as if they were Personal for one instant.

                    • For 10 motes, one Willpower, the No Moon’s anima flares blue and white and consumes her body over the course of the round. On her next turn, she vanishes into her anima and ceases to exist. If the Exalt moves or suffers knockdown before the action is completed, it fails and the effect is wasted. After using this power, the No Moon will not reappear until the following moonrise. When she does, it will be at a place of power within 10 miles of her vanishing point, chosen by the Storyteller. She might appear at a temple, a demesne, a major crossroads, the door of a god’s sanctum, the precise center of a city, etc.


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                    • #11
                      If the shift to the new castes is post usurpation I'm not sure the diplomatic immunity would work, since those negotiations would have been pre-usurpation and thus may not recognize the new castes.

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                      • #12
                        I assume that Sunder isn't saying "these would be good powers for Lunars to have", but rather "this is the kind of level they should be". Is that right Sunder?


                        "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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                        • #13
                          Using the Solar Caste abilities as a basis seems simply.. wrongheaded. Their themes are different enough methinks that they should be expressing more radically different themes than the Solar anima powers. And additionally, though mighty, they *are* supposed to be not as powerful as the Solar Exalted. At least, by an iota; they can match them after all.

                          At the same time, the caste abilities of previous editions *also* seem wrongheaded.

                          I posit we look at these individually, and then broadly by examining themes.

                          1st Edition Full Moon Caste: Double your speed and leaping by "Honing your body"
                          2nd Edition Full Moon Caste: Same as above, but adds in to increase strength for purposes of Feats of Strength.

                          1st Edition Changing Moon Caste: Appear to be anyone you are familiar with for 1 scene.by projecting an illusion.
                          2nd Edition Changing Moon Caste: Same as above, adding in "Smells and voices" while creating an aura of moonlight and shadow to hide your identity if it fails.

                          1st Edition No Moon Caste: Reduce the cost of sorcery shaping. Because reasons?
                          2nd Edition No Moon Caste: Reduce the cost of all Occult-based charms, essence requirement of spells, and shroud yourself with a shadowy penumbra to make yourself harder to hit.

                          Now, what are the themes of the three castes? "The Frenzied" "The Tricksters" and "The Ogres" or, alternatively "Nightfangs, Night-Thieves and Night-Witches" going by Immaculate name-calling.

                          Now, compare the themes of the castes they broadly align to; Eclipse/Night, Dawn and Twilight/Zenith.

                          Eclipses being preternatural negotiators have diplomatic immunity, being bargainers and pact-makers, they can form promises which can't be broken, and being walkers-in-all-courts, they can pick up the skills of those courts they visit, so they can go everywhere, and fit in anywhere. Nights at the same time, being unmatched in their own field can make their use of essence unnoticeable, so their nature is inherently as they are; stealthy. By the same vein, they can ignore stealth penalties and make their identity indiscernible.

                          Dawns, being astounding warriors strike terror in the hearts of their foes, by their unassailability. They are so skilled they always have a bit of an advantage over any foe so their initiative resets higher. And they can reset their combat charms due to their unmatched martial skill.

                          And the Twilight can give himself hardness, because even heaven reaches down to protect the knowledge he represents. He can subsume himself into the essence flows of Creation itself, because as a sorcerer, he understands it, inherently. And finally, he can bond any elemental or demon, because of his position as their rightful master, from both the surrender of the Yozi and the Creation Ruling Mandate of the Unconquered Sun. The Zenith performs an important final sacrament in their role of priest-king. She strikes down the unholy that would raise hand against her. And uses her spiritual authority as rightful king, ordained by heaven, to command the spirits of the earth.

                          So, now, what are the three castes? Well, as discussed, they're not what they were anymore; they're Lunars as a whole putting themselves on perpetual wartime footing, meant for a guerilla war. And what is the essential theme now of Lunars? Rage. All of them, no matter who, have their rage to fuel them. And separate from the Solar Exalted, Lunars are by default outcasts, survivors, barbarians, people pushed to the fringes and forced to survive on their own; the prototypical Lunars are Enkidu, Myrddin (The Welsh Merlin), Slaine and Simmu, and who are they? A hairy mountain man who climbed down to become Gilgamesh's best bro, a shapeshifting, wise but eccentric old druid and wizard who advised and taught a noble king by changing him into various animals, a violent, berserker-raging irish barbarian and a wandering orphaned hero who swore to slay death respectively. I.E. all wanderers, savages or outcasts.

                          The Full Moon Caste represents rage most directly; hell, they're even called "The Frenzied" in 2e. But what are they? They're ronin. Mercenaries; barbarian hordes. If you took Berserk's Guts, he could be a Full Moon or a Dawn Caste depending on how you bent him, but at the same time they're also predators and hunters; they stalk, strike and kill.

                          And, as Sun Tzu said, all war is deception; the Changing Moon is this; they're not just great speakers and skilled orators; that's the vein of the Eclipse and Zenith castes (note, this is me saying that a caste itself should represent the idea behind the caste at its most fundamental; not that great speakers and orators couldn't become Changing Moons.) the Changing Moons are *tricksters* they're shysters and con-men. Liars, gypsies, sneak-thieves and snake-oil salesmen.

                          And the No Moons? They're a war of a different kind; a spiritual one. A mental war. They plumb secrets and mystical knowledge from intentionally dark and hidden places. Yet they're also most in touch with the spirits themselves. Priest and sorcerer all in one; a shaman. The wise man and witch-doctor.

                          So, broadly, the existent themes of each of their anima powers?

                          The classic Full Moon power honed their bodies to perform impressive athletic feats.

                          The classic Changing Moon used illusion and trickery to convince those around him of his trustworthiness. It also had a theme of "lunacy" a sort of fanciful madness that seems sane under the full light of the moon, or in the logic of a dream. At the same time, Illusions aren't one of the Lunars themes anymore; they don't deceive by creating illusions; instead, they become what they wish. Scratch a Raksha's illusion, and underneath there is one surprised Raksha who will in very short order be a dead one. Scratch a lunar and underneath is more angry lunar.

                          The classic No Moon power, for all that it lacked verve, was about them drawing strength from the occult nature of the moon; typically associated in the real world with its "dark side". A hidden face, to practice things best hidden by the dark of the moon, in secret.

                          Therefore, I posit these rough-draft powers for discussion;

                          Full Moons

                          • For three motes the Lunar may become a preternatural hunter, in combat his position in the battlefield becomes unclear; while stalking a target, or preparing an ambush his foes attribute every snapped twig and rush of wind to his presence.
                          • For five motes the Full Moon's rage suffuses his weaponry; silver fire bursts forth from under the quick of their nails and claws, wrapping around them and causing all of his unarmed and natural (such as claws or bites) attacks to deal aggravated damage to any beings with which he holds a negative intimacy of anger, resentment, disgust or the like, as well as the Undead, or any being who has within the scene given insult or threatened the Lunar, Creation itself, Luna, their Circle or their bondmate; additionally their attacks ignore soak equal to the lunar's essence against such a target. If the Lunar is wielding a weapon forged of Moonsilver this applies to their weapon attacks as well.
                          • When the Full Moon's anima is at bonfire/iconic level, they may double their physical attributes for the purpose of qualifying for feats of strength, speed or endurance, ; they may add their essence as non-charm dice to any such checks, as well as ones involving general athleticism such as rushes or the like, their sinew and constitution empowered by their glowing soul; additionally, they may apply any relevant latent abilities belonging to any animal forms they possess to these checks, such as a Boar-Tusk Crocodile's Sundering Bite or a Cat's "Lands on its Feet".

                          Changing Moons

                          • For five motes, the Changing Moon can adopt a subtle nature that seems to make them inherently trustworthy; while impersonating another being, any Manipulation rolls made by the Lunar to perpetuate the belief that they are the being they seem to be may lower the target's Resolve by the Lunar's essence, unless they are given reason to disbelieve the Lunar's subterfuge, in which case they may spend Willpower to cancel this effect.
                          • The Changing Moon may, for three motes obscure their identity, their appearance simply sinking into black shadow, indiscernible from the night sky save for their apparent form and shape. These motes are always treated as peripheral.

                          No Moons

                          • For ten motes, the No Moon is subsumed by the darkness behind the moon and between the stars, entering the world of the spiritual and intangible; becoming invisible to the naked eye, though she may still be seen by effects which can perceive dematerialized spirits, including the dematerialized spirits themselves. Additionally, they cannot be struck by physical beings by any means except powers which may harm dematerialized spirits, such as Spirit-Cutting Attack, dematerialized spirits can interact with them as though both were physical, allowing No Moon Caste Lunars to attack dematerialized beings.
                          • The No Moon may call upon the dark face of Luna to empower their spells; for 1 willpower and five motes, in addition to the spell's sorcerous Mote cost, the Lunar may activate the control effect of a spell as if it were their control spell.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by A Not Quite Simple Soul View Post
                            If the shift to the new castes is post usurpation I'm not sure the diplomatic immunity would work, since those negotiations would have been pre-usurpation and thus may not recognize the new castes.
                            A fair point.

                            Especially since all Lunar Exaltations are actually inherently Casteless to begin with. Solar Eclipse Exaltations are separate and distinct entities from the other four Castes, but a Full Moon Exaltation is fundamentally no different from any other before you slap a Caste on it.


                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                            I assume that Sunder isn't saying "these would be good powers for Lunars to have", but rather "this is the kind of level they should be". Is that right Sunder?
                            If the Caste Effects aren't powerful enough to be about this useful, I don't think the Lunar Exalted would have bothered breaking and replacing their First Age Castes. Or, for that matter, making the First Age Castes after winning the Primordial War.
                            Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 09-06-2017, 09:16 PM.


                            Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

                            My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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                            • #15
                              Well do lunars need to have solidly differentiated castes? Maybe just give them a selection of anima merits to buy and a few dots worth for free at character creation. Or make them bonus features of certain charms? Sort of a make your own anima powers package kind of deal?

                              Maybe it comes from not being familiar with older editions or the lore, but I just have trouble jiving solar style castes with Lunars' themes. So some sort of system where you can tweak your anima powers seems more appropriate than hard castes.
                              Last edited by A Not Quite Simple Soul; 09-06-2017, 09:18 PM.

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