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how was the usurpation successful?

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  • #46
    I note in regards to this that canon so far in 3e is that the Lunars were on the losing side of the Usurpation, chased to the edge of the world. No details, just the broad strokes.

    In addition, DotFA isn't canon for 3e's First Age.




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    • #47
      These issues are why I favor just calling the Usurpation story a myth, and walking away, though the prospect of surviving NPCs does make that tricky of course.

      Personally I like to suggest a fairly impressive multi-decade military campaign took place AFTER the Usurpation which involved civilian casualties on a scale previously unthinkable ala the Taiping Rebellion. With millenia of peace and weapons development, you can bet this would be a brutal, tragic conflict. This state of 'Total War' serves to drive the Lunar Exalted out of Creation, creates significant impacts on infrastructure and raw worldwide population, and involved enough abominable behavior on both sides to ruin the previously sterling reputation of the Lunar Exalted for the foreseeable future.

      So effectively, in my interpretation, the myth ignores a conflict as serious as a world war. You can fix almost anything as long as we assume the actual in-world story is realistically simplistic and massively incomplete.

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      • #48
        Greyman Writing up a bit of comic book narration there, eh?

        ​I'm personally averse to the idea that the Usurpation was followed by a military campaign that lasted decades, because barring occasions in which you're fighting a foe living in mountains or something, for it to take decades to resolve a campaign has to be a sign of particular incompetence.

        ​I assume that many Lunars in the Usurpation were in a similar boat to the Solars with regards to the idea of trying to go to ground and finding that the Dragon Blooded had taken control of a lot of key positions and arsenals (forcing many of them to go to ground in different places that even Solars would have a difficult time following them; if you can turn into a fairly quick bird, it's hard for anybody to pursue you into a cave network), and of those who survived you had a combination of ones who slipped by because they weren't the priority targets, and the ones who were especially canny and fierce and lucky. After which, many of them go deep underground (literally and figuratively), partially because that's where their strengths lie, and partially because they're trying to get a vantage point to figure out what the hell just happened.

        Originally posted by Piff
        The Lunar Exalted have a FOUR TO ONE numerical advantage on the Sidereal Exalted
        ​Unless the Sidereals have planned to attack Lunars in known times and places and go in groups of about five or six for each one.


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        • #49
          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
          Greyman​I'm personally averse to the idea that the Usurpation was followed by a military campaign that lasted decades, because barring occasions in which you're fighting a foe living in mountains or something, for it to take decades to resolve a campaign has to be a sign of particular incompetence.
          Military history is more or less a huge history of incompetence at grand scales! Particularly when new technology and tactics are involved, which we can only imagine they were, since the world had been at 'peace' for so very long. I must envision dozens of eager new generals playing with shiny new toys to the detriment of Creation at large.

          Also, the Taiping conflict I was using as an analogy did last fourteen years!

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Piff View Post

            Military history is more or less a huge history of incompetence at grand scales! Particularly when new technology and tactics are involved, which we can only imagine they were, since the world had been at 'peace' for so very long. I must envision dozens of eager new generals playing with shiny new toys to the detriment of Creation at large.

            Also, the Taiping conflict I was using as an analogy did last fourteen years!
            Yes, but these are dragonblooded. Even the worst commander amongst them is equivalent to the best mortal strategist in history

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            • #51
              Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
              Greyman Writing up a bit of comic book narration there, eh?

              ​I'm personally averse to the idea that the Usurpation was followed by a military campaign that lasted decades, because barring occasions in which you're fighting a foe living in mountains or something, for it to take decades to resolve a campaign has to be a sign of particular incompetence.
              I think Lunars don't really need to live in the mountains to count as that kind of foe. I mean, they could be anyone, anywhere.

              Also, we're talking about a war across the entire world. I'm sure there were plenty of places for pro-Lunar armies to hide, striking in ambush, as the armies of the new Shogunate slowly hunted them down, pushing them further and further into the deep Threshold.

              I guess really, the length of time really depends on at what point do you say it's no longer a military campaign, but rather anti-terrorism.



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              • #52
                While we are on the subject, how has the Lunar campaign of sabotage and subversion gone so poorly for so long? It is almost trivial for a lunar to turn into a bird and slip poison into something a DB is going to eat or drink. Even if all the upper echelons have food testers, stomach bottle bugs, sorcery, charms, or what not in proportion to their relative importance and likelihood of being target for assassination (which won't always originate with Lunars) there are a lot of other important people whose death would have a massive impact.

                It needn't even be poison: altering orders or manifests, swiping valuable objects, spying, etc. are all things lunars in the form of small birds or rodents can do almost from the moment they Exalt. I know there was mention of the Bronze and their detection systems, but that is less than 50 people trying to track hundreds of Exalted who might have powerful stealth charms on top of their actual jobs and political intrigue. Kejack spends time as the secretary to the Mouth of Peace during which he cannot be in the Loom Chamber looking for Lunars and I imagine he isn't the only one who does something like that.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post

                  I think Lunars don't really need to live in the mountains to count as that kind of foe. I mean, they could be anyone, anywhere.
                  No, they can be a select number of people, often after having killed them, something that is liable to both limit their library, and create an avenue to realise that a form has been taken.

                  ​For the majority of Lunars, their human forms are much like their animal forms; they're limited in number, and a bit less useful as disguises against somebody who is familiar with them.

                  ​I'm also thinking of a scenario in which a Lunar is actually being chased, in which case I see it as generally useful to go somewhere that it is very difficult, if not outright physically impossible, for anybody to follow you.

                  Originally posted by Exthalion
                  how has the Lunar campaign of sabotage and subversion gone so poorly for so long
                  For one thing, I imagine that large numbers of Lunars don't care about it.

                  ​Although I also think the overall subject shouldn't read the agenda of the Silver Pact as going poorly.

                  ​I think that for any kind of thing such as this, we need to be willing to assume that in the logic of the setting, there can be a number of small annoyances that act as sufficient obstacles to characters, even if they wouldn't be huge deals in the course of gameplay, because the priorities are different.

                  ​Maybe also revise some assumptions that something would be trivially easy for a Lunar, whether it would be consistently dosing somebody with a poison that could actually kill them, or getting close enough to kill so intimately. I think the statement of doing massive damage by killing somebody with minimal defences is begging the question a bit.

                  ​Still, some of it probably has to rest a bit on some suspension of disbelief. I know that if I was in a writing position, and I was forced to choose between adding all kinds of contingencies and addendums for how the whole world isn't broken by the presence of hostile people who can turn into tiny creatures, and avoiding that whole headache with an implicit assumption of "not all Lunars do that, for their own reasons", I would be inclined towards the latter.


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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                    ​I'm personally averse to the idea that the Usurpation was followed by a military campaign that lasted decades, because barring occasions in which you're fighting a foe living in mountains or something, for it to take decades to resolve a campaign has to be a sign of particular incompetence.
                    This isn't actually true. In the pre-modern world, conflicts that spanned decades were quite common. The Thirty Years War springs immediately to mind, but there are a lot of other examples.

                    The issue is that prior to the modern idea of total war backed up by sophisticated logistics operations, campaigns didn't operate in a continuous state. Your army might dissolve because the feudal service of your vassals had expired and you couldn't make things sweet enough to keep them in the field, so sorry, we'll see you next year. You might literally run out of food and have to retreat or watch your army starve to death. Winter could come. You could be evenly enough matched with your enemies such that in any given year you slap each other around but nothing decisive happens. A lot of things could cause wars to just drag on and on and one that have nothing whatsoever to do with incompetence.

                    Of course, the First Age isn't precisely analogous to a pre-modern society, but... there's also the fact that "barring occasions in which you're fighting a foe living in the mountains" is doing a lot of work in that sentence. One assumes that in the hypothetical scenario of enough Solars living through the initial punch of the Usurpation to force an extended military settlement, that's exactly where they went to ground; in the remote fastnesses of Creation where they'd created boltholes.

                    Having said all that, I don't like the idea that the Usurpation was followed by an extremely extended military campaign either, but for thematic ones, not practical in-setting ones.

                    Originally posted by Exthlation
                    While we are on the subject, how has the Lunar campaign of sabotage and subversion gone so poorly for so long?
                    I asked this very same question some time ago, because it seemed logical to me there'd be a few Lunars who were ultra-specialized in things like "can kill a Dynast anywhere, anyhow." I can't find the specific thread, but I remember Minton being kind enough to drop in.

                    Basically, it's a number of factors. Isator, as he so often is, is absolutely correct when he says that a large number of Lunars don't care about it. But it's more than that.

                    First of all, the Sidereals and the Dragon-Blooded play a numbers game. A Lunar might be able to infiltrate the Blessed Isle or the more secure satrapies and murder a Dynast who it is valuable for that Lunar to have murdered (say, a talented general or spymaster or colonial administrator whose actions in the Threshold are deleterious to their interests) a number of times... but eventually, if you're successful, the Dragon-Blooded and the Sidereals will notice, and they will dedicate sufficient resources to finding and murdering that Lunar. Experienced Lunars would usually prefer to keep on being experienced Lunars, and so will not take those sorts of risks on a regular basis.

                    What about striking at critical infrastructure instead of critical people? Well, it turns out that's even harder. It's really hard to kill a bureaucracy or an institution via assassination, and stuff like bridges, roads, manses, vaults full of Jade, etc. are pretty hard targets. And you're just one Lunar. Take a look at Strength-of-Many. He's not an Elder, but he's a robust, experienced Lunar who has dedicated himself to smashing the slave trade... and he's having a very tough time of it, because that institution is more than the sum of the caravans he destroys.

                    So that's direct action and its likely consequences. There's indirect action, of course, economic warfare, subverting society from within, social engineering, that sort of thing. Well... turns out that kind of thing is very much within the Sidereal and Dragon-Blooded wheelhouse, which obviates a lot of your advantages as a shapeshifting hellmonster, and there's a lot more of them than there are of you.

                    If you want to poke at the Realm and survive the poke back... well, you need resources outside of your own puissance. You can get that by forging a nation-state equivalent somewhere. You'll need alliances and friends among other Lunars and enemies of the Realm and of the Sidereals. You need a way to ensure that if you get too successful you can keep a Sidereal hit squad off your back. And if you don't have that, you need to not get too successful.

                    And hey, look at that! The most successful and/or longest surviving Lunars have done that. You've got the Caul, where they're this close to expelling the Realm from a major piece of geography and have done... something... to keep the Sidereals at a major disadvantage. You've got Jyudo Far-Flung, who has built a tidy little vest-pocket kingdom of his own that the Realm can't squash with typical Legion play, but isn't actually big enough or important enough to justify the use of the Defense Grid or of a very dedicated Sidereal hit squad. Ma-Ha-Suchi, same deal, although Ma-Ha is so old and so tough and so crazy that even a dedicated hit squad might have real problems facing him on his own turf, and the threat he poses doesn't justify the risk that he rips the head off a three thousand year old member of the Inner Circle before they bring him down, which might happen.

                    The Lunar campaign of sabotage and subversion is highly circumscribed by the situation they find themselves in. It would likely be going much, much better if the Lunars were unified into a hierarchical command structure that was dedicated wholly to winning the ongoing war with the Realm. Lunars ain't have that. What they have is what they have. The fact that many of them are powerful warlords, centuries old, with armies of their own at their beck and call, and have survived to become those warlords, isn't some sort of failure because they haven't toppled the Realm; it's a sign of their great success at surviving and in many cases thriving when faced with the second greatest empire Creation has ever known.



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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                      The Thirty Years War springs immediately to mind,
                      ​A war that lasted so long because it was more expensive to disband the mercenary armies than to keep them in the field, and consisted primarily of them rampaging around the German countryside committing atrocities of such scope that in many areas the population was reduced by as much as thirty percent.

                      Nothing incompetent there.


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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                        Having said all that, I don't like the idea that the Usurpation was followed by an extremely extended military campaign either, but for thematic ones, not practical in-setting ones.
                        Honestly I've always assumed that the Usurpation was followed by an extended series of military campaigns. I've always imagined that it took some time (a half century or more) to finally slay the surviving Solar Exalted, drive all of the Lunars to the edges of Creation, kill the the remaining Dragon Blooded who were still loyal to the old regime, bring all of the Solar's created races to heel, put down rebellions of common citizens that refused to bend to the Dragon Blooded, etc. Plus, of course, there would have no doubt been some level of infighting and friction between the various rebellious Dragon Blooded as many of the Gens had little loyalty to one another outside of shared ancestry and a recognition that the Solars and Lunars represented a bigger threat.

                        *edit* at the least, it probably took a few decades before everyone accepted that the vast majority of Solar Exalted were not going to reincarnate. Until then, I suspect there were still a lot of groups and Exalted fighting for the old order.
                        Last edited by AnubisXy; 09-11-2017, 08:22 AM.

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                        • #57
                          I typically imagine a long campaign or hunt as the majority of the Usurpation. But that's because I only recently found the idea of the Calibration Feast palatable(I greatly dislike any centeralizing of the First Age, but it makes sense among sorcerers, since they have the capacity and reason for such a ritual). It makes more sense to me that a number of ideological rebellions began (All with something along the lines of "The King/Queen is mad, they must be stopped." on various levels), and upon realizing their were others participating in the same rebellion, formed a grander coliation against the solars. Who of course are hard to dislodge once they've settled in.
                          As for the campaigns themsleves, I imagine that the hardest part was the Night and Eclipse castes. I imagine that some fled beyond creation and went low to ground, assuming they could wait out the new regime change and get their revenge when they could reassemble their assets. And then found that the Dragons were willing to chase them wherever they went.
                          Into the Fae courts.
                          Into the depths of the Earth.
                          Into the underworld.
                          Into Malfeas itself, if need be, to be certain that they were dead.
                          Now, I also assume that the Jade Prison was collecting every solar marked, no matter how long passed. If it weren't for (UCS turning his face on creation, machinations of the Yozis, misplaced paperwork, take your pick), their still wouldn't be any surge in solars. That makes a long series of wars and hunts more tenable.


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                          • #58
                            Personally, I like the 'big war' idea because it helps resolve my difficulty with the Dragonblooded in the Usurpation. I've always had pretty major issues with how they are portrayed as being entirely on the side of the usurpers, which made no sense to me.

                            If you think about it, many of them have local obligations and loyalties. Many of them would be very well compensated for being part of the regime - to put it another way, they would have more to lose by a rebellion than the status quo... which would probably be a pretty accurate judgement to make if real world precedents are any indication. The 'treasure' offered by the state is usually going to be of generally higher quality (and more importantly easier to guarantee) than hypothetical rewards given to revolutionaries... which any students of history in any setting will be wary of. And finally, the Lunar Exalted are explicitly embedded within the first age military to a degree the Sidereals are not and are in fact some of the most visible heroes and lauded generals of the era.

                            Put it all together and I do not see a unified Dragonblooded consensus by any stretch of the imagination.

                            In fact, my Usurpation is more or less focused on this point - it's a battle for the hearts and minds the Terrestrial Exalted... who are even more influential in this time period due to simple demographics. The battle begins when the Solars are massacred, but it does not end until virtually all of the Dragonblooded who are left can agree that doing this was a good idea.

                            The 'long war' concept fixes these issues with Dragonblooded actions during the Usurpation because you can simply say - the loyalists are all dead! The losing side got more or less massacred! Which allows you to easily reach the modern status quo where the Lunar Exalted have inexplicably abandoned notions of loyal Terrestrial servants.

                            (Which by the way also should not be, and I would hope/expect for a few Dragonblooded 'loyalist' regimes to emerge in 3e who have a very different view of the Usurpation and close Lunar allies - nothing on the scale of the setting defining Realm, mind, but still legitimate centers of culture)
                            Last edited by Piff; 09-11-2017, 10:36 AM.

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Exthalion View Post
                              While we are on the subject, how has the Lunar campaign of sabotage and subversion gone so poorly for so long?
                              This premise assumes Creation would look much the same without the Lunar sabotage efforts. The comments I recall from the former developers indicated this was not the case. The Lunars are the main force keep the infrastructure level of the world at late antinquity levels, preventing a recreation of Shogunate level infrastructure.


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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by chance View Post

                                These kind of explainations are bollocks. Any mature solar would with reflexive charms be more or less immune to short time harm and able to move to safety with a simple or two actions. Without overwhelming arcane abilities being involved the calibration feast massacre doesn't happen, only the weak ones die. This seems true for most any edition even if I'm less familiar with 3rd it seems to hold in some ways it seems even more true.
                                Originally posted by Accelerator View Post

                                Ah, yes. But remember. These aren't quantum solars. These are npcs. Which means they aren't optimized. Sure, some have defenses.... but some don't.

                                My view of the usurpation is like this:

                                1. Everyone is singing and dancing and getting drunk/ high.
                                2. Sidereal comes up to make a speech and a toast.
                                3. All take the toast.
                                4. Some fall dead from the poison as the don't have the right resistance charms.
                                5. Avoidance kata occurs.
                                6. Soulbreaker orb detonates. Anyone with no surprise negator or perfect dies.
                                7. Survivors find themselves struck by several instances of essence disruption attacks and equivalents.
                                8. Escape the burning building, only to find an entire first age army of fully kitted out dragonblooded army, with air and warstrider support, along with elder sidereal martial artist.
                                9. All through this, the sidereals are granting curses and blessings, stacking the deck
                                Under 2E, top level Solars wouldn't be remotely threatened by an attempt like the above. We're talking about Essence ~10 beings with full panoplies, Solar charmset, Solar sorcery, Power from Darkness/Eclipses, and some of them with Sidereal Martial Arts. They'll have a way to teleport away reflexively on tick 0, and a backup way or two to do that the moment they act, and they'll be likely to act on tick 0.

                                While the story doesn't require the Usurpation to make system-sense in any way, the way to do it if possible at all would be

                                1. Sidereals use whatever deus ex broke the Mask to hide their plans from high Essence Solar Investigation charms that predict threats.

                                Optional: Sidereals somehow boost a 5-dot manse of the ones defending Meru temporarily to N/A

                                2. Two Sidereals (one at the manse), who are already in Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Form use Smoky Adept Gesture to not only act on tick 0, but act before anyone else as a perfect effect trump-able only by SMA (although that last part may not hold vs other strongly worded perfect effects).

                                3. One of the Sidereals deploys the Greater Sign of Venus, defeating the likes of Rings of Vanishing Escapes (and artifacts in general), Celestial Sorcery teleports in Third Hand Orbs, all non-permanent Charms be it Solar, MA, or Eclipsed/Endowed/PowerFromDarknessed

                                4. The other Sidereal unleashes the inverted Sorcery-suppressing quality of the manse, and within a wide range it has a chance (if 5-dot) or certainty (if temporarily N/A) to counter Solar Circle Sorcery teleports of the Sunburst Portal Evocation ilk.

                                Bonus: the manse also has the Indestructible quality which it imbues into the dome the Solars will be under attack, making flying away harder

                                5. Unleash the Dragon-Blooded army under the Greater Sign of Venus. If there were ever a chance for DBs to, firstly, force Elder Solars into a fight, and, secondly, win it, this would be the one.
                                Last edited by emeraldstreak; 09-11-2017, 04:00 PM.

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