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  • Fabricated from "whole cloth" always annoys me because it's a line straight from the "Bronze Faction and Belief" section of the DB book which is then immediately contradicted by the next lines in the same paragraph. The metaphysics of the Immaculate Philosophy derive from the "beliefs and approaches" of the old guard Bronze Sidereals who wrote it. It's why the teachings of the Order on reincarnation match closely with the objective explanation of reincarnation in Exalted: The Abyssals (page 26, The Broken Wheel: "Each life is a soul's chance to rise in the greatest cycle of all - reincarnation - from dumb beast, to human to, perhaps, Dragon-Blood and final union with the great Dragons themselves.") and why Sidereal priests of the Corpse can give Rising Butterfly Prayers recommending recently deceased heroes for incarnation as a Terrestrial Exalt in their next life (see Exalted: The Sidereals, page 232). Souls do not end up in the body of a Terrestrial Exalt by equitable lottery, they are Chosen of the Dragons after all.

    Immaculate lies about spiritual advancement are found in the refinement of the Central Tenet (when beliefs are introduced with the formation of the Scarlet Empire). Until then the Immaculate teachings seem to have been aimed solely at the Dragon-Blooded themselves, as a tool to mold Exalted not the mortals underneath them. Things like "Obedience to the Dragon-Blooded cannot lead a mortal astray from enlightenment" are additions for social engineering that are definitely untrue metaphysically but enormously useful to maintain the Realm.
    Last edited by Shinjo; 10-07-2017, 01:23 PM.

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    • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
      They're technically incorrect, and certainly the basis of institutions that are harmful, but not exactly grasping at straws with regards to questions of the nature of the Exalted, reincarnation, and compelling narratives for purposes of structuring society.
      I'm not even sure how to interpret the "grasping at straws" part of this. I mean... the Immaculate Philosophy contains outright falsehoods (that the people constructing them knew were outright falsehoods) as to the nature of the Exalted and how reincarnation works.

      ​Something can only be 100% false when it refers to unambiguous quantities;
      Yeah, but people very rarely talk like this. If I say "The sky is blue because it's actually a dome of crocuses drawn across the heavens" nobody is going to say "well, the first part of that is right, but the second is wrong." They're just going to say "That's wrong." And they'd be correct to do so.

      A religious system based on ambiguous and abstract spiritual and social subjects for the purposes of an agenda, that's more uncertain.
      I am comfortable calling something whose main purpose is deception a lie, even if it is salted with truths. People use things that are true in the service of lies all the time. I

      ​Really, that point about the problems inherent to the systems that the narratives justify is something I think should be harped on a bit, because I find a significant part of excessively emphasizing the accuracy of the Philosophy to be a dog and pony show when compared to the question of the morality of it.
      If the Immaculate Philosophy not only cannot accurately describe the nature of the metaphysical assumptions it bases its morality on, but has deliberately falsified them in a context where those things are falsifiable, it has already fallen at the first hurdle of being an effective and ethical system of morality.

      I would question whether something being made up for the sake of promoting a desired social narrative necessarily constitutes a lie.
      Yes. Of course it is. You've created something you know it is not true and are presenting it to other people as true in order to get them to do as you wish. That's umambiguously a lie.

      I'm thinking of something like the various unifying national mythologies developed by nationalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries; not necessarily historically accurate (which is probably often known to their composers, when many nationalist leaders tend to be academics), but could be regarded as containing a more essential truth.
      Even if this were so, that wouldn't make the parts of it that are lies not lies, and if the proofs or justification for an "essential truth" contain enough lies, they're probably not essential truths; they're probably more lies. If you require Lie X and Lie Y to make Truth Z actually work, then Truth Z is almost certainly merely Lie Z.

      Among other examples; yes, Virginia, there is an Immaculate Dragon.
      That letter is bullshit. It was bullshit when it was written, and its bullshit now. Dude was deliberately misinterpreting the question of an impressionable child, while doing his best to obfuscate that he'd done that, and then answering not the question she asked, but the question he wanted to answer instead. This doesn't mean he didn't perhaps get at some things that were true in it, but he wasn't being honest in doing so, and those things that he might have gotten at are also things other people got at without being deliberately dishonest and obfuscatory.

      That response, to an earnest question asked earnestly, wasn't for the childs benefit. It was for the benefit of Francis Pharcellus Church, and he should have been ashamed.


      "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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      • The idea that Truth Z cannot actually be a Truth if it's built on Lie X and Lie Y misrepresents what is happening. For example, Newtonian Physics is still taught in physics classrooms to this day. They are objectively "untrue" yet of great utility both as close-enough approximations at the macroscopic scale, such as engineering, and as a stepping stone to the more "truthful" sciences of quantum mechanics and astrophysics. Bohr's model of the atom is used in much the same way; it's wrong, but as a simple version of atomic structure it lets a teacher impart knowledge that will help students grasp later models. Lies X and Y do actually lead to Truth Z.

        For a Bronze Sidereal, the Immaculate Texts are used in much the same way.

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        • Originally posted by Piff View Post

          How do you know?

          First, the secular assumptions we make in our world... that karma doesn't really exist, the afterlife is probably not real and most religious is a matter of opinion and personal identity... do not hold water in Creation. In fact, in 1e and 2e, the world VERY MUCH WAS completely defined by karmic afterlife laws that were set into place by the Deliberative in the High First Age (and may not have even reflected accurately the moral and ethical composition of post-first age individuals).
          1e had none of the "Deliberative mandated karma" claptrap. That was very much a later 2e thing, and it can be called into doubt by noting a number of factors that don't support it, like how DotFA tried to claim that the SD could mandate who got to be Exalted by telling Lytek what to do, which isn't how it works.

          So, frankly, the Immaculate version is pretty solid. They've obviously thought a lot about this and done a bunch of research. If they make educated guesses about what 'Good Karma' is and what it means, honestly these opinions should be given a bit more weight than they would in our world.
          The Immaculate Philosophy is a deniable funhouse mirror image of the truth.

          Karma in Exalted IS real (or at least it was) and the idea of being reincarnated as a Dragonblood isn't as fanciful as you put forth.
          The text describing this prayer as facilitated by Sidereals casts substantial doubt on this. It's a Resplendency in the Rising Smoke, which can possibly get the deceased a good reincarnation gig... but the gods in charge of that don't really seem like doing anything with the system in place, which seems to be both 1) automatic and 2) not capable or inclined to reincarnate one soul into a different one. We have word of developer that beasts don't have the same structure as humans, so how that works, if anything, is not nearly so certain, if it happens at all.

          It's damn near science, and it might not be as 'ambiguous' as modern people on earth believe. I'm not saying the Immaculates have it right, but they're not stabbing in the dark for unknowable quantities purely for political gain.
          Well, you know, the most effective lies accompany truths. In this case, though, the truth is a thin outer coating, with creamy lies in the center (and most of the volume of the thing as a whole). If you're only looking for the vague shape of something, its center might be something that you can tinker with extensively. Meanwhile, the most learned savants of the Immaculates know that Solars and Lunars are Exalted, and decry their power as too much for Creation, much less any mortal, to handle. So they have that covered as well, conveniently siding with the Bronze Faction party line even if they know more of the truth.

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          • Originally posted by Shinjo View Post
            The idea that Truth Z cannot actually be a Truth if it's built on Lie X and Lie Y misrepresents what is happening.
            This isn't what I said, though. I specifically said: "If you require Lie X and Lie Y to make Truth Z actually work, then Truth Z is almost certainly merely Lie Z." The word require is an important and necessary modifier.

            None of the examples you present specifically require Lie X and Lie Y in order to make Truth Z work. Quantum mechanics and astrophysics actually do work without Newtonian physics, and can be proven and demonstrated to work, without first passing through an inaccurate model. You can, in fact, teach atomic structure without Bohr's model at all.

            And even if that weren't true, you can present the inaccurate model truthfully; you can say right up-front "this model I'm showing you is inaccurate; it actually isn't wholly true. But it's useful as a mental aid to eventually grasp and internalize the models that are accurate, at which point you may discard it. These are training wheels for the mind; treat them as such." In order for astrophysics to work you are not required to continually accept that Newtonian physics are an accurate and complete model. You can get to Truth Z without Lie X and Lie Y.

            For a Bronze Sidereal, the Immaculate Texts are used in much the same way.
            They're really not. They're not designed to eventually lead you to deeper truths and then be discarded; they're designed to make you buy the lie endlessly. And the lie is not presented up-front as an inaccurate but perhaps useful aid; it is presented as something you'd better believe or they'll murder you as an example to all the other people who are maybe thinking of not believing.


            "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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            • Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post

              I think the thing is that I would actually argue that "narrowing the gap" can be about increasing the effectiveness of the setting logic.

              I mean, usually the setting logic argument for the power gap is "This gap in effectiveness needs to be high, or else this small in numbers group (Solars typically) would not be as important as it needs to be". Which is fine, as far as it goes.

              But the upper limit isn't unconstrained - Solars and Dragonblooded for example both do need to perform within an overlapping realm of being pulp and myth heroes with glowing essence fueled magic with shared inspiration. There's a limit to the scope of differentiation - if they are "too strong" or "too weak" in their powers then they'll fall out of being the right sort of heroes we need to be able to recognize them as being.

              While the problems of putting a gap too low could have a problem for the wider consideration of the setting, the other problem, setting power gaps which might push each splat out of the shared genre they are living in, and which make them too effective / not effective enough against other opponents (e.g. too strong / weak against demons, mortals, etc.) such that they lack challenges or have too strong challenges, could be a bigger problem for the immediate issue of having individual games and stories work out as they should.

              With all of the way, I also wanted to say that the fiction actually set out pretty much exactly what I wanted it to do - our sympathy and our interest is with the teller, Arada, and not the demon prince he is vanquishing (who is a colorful antagonist, with a real nasty power), and it roots us our interest directly into the problems of the House Tepet. That's actually more important in my mind than getting right that the characters are as strong and weak in the example as they need to be, but that does matter and the fiction gets that right as well.
              I am not sure that you understood my meaning, which I will blame on my perhaps being unclear.

              'Important' feels like an unhelpful word. There is as of yet no exalted type that is not important. DBs, Sids, Lunars and Solars all contribute heavily to the setting logic and labeling one as more important than another is sort of like arguing whether the sky is more important than the ground.

              I am going to explain my meaning by going into two of the major events of the setting, the creation of the exalted and the First Age.

              To first tackle their creation it begs the question of how each exalt may contribute, however we first run into a wall of sorts.

              The Dragonblooded are a self-contained host. Aside from the previous conceit of their assumed relative weakness, there was no role which they were unsuited for. Lunars are not the most optimal for creating sophisticated bureaucracies, Sidereals are not optimal for protracted battles, Solars are not the best at not cooperating with their own kind, etc. DBs on the other hand have no serious deficit aside from an assumed general one. This however is weighed against the fact that they are exceedingly well suited for being an army.

              They are the only type of Exalt that can grow in number, can be trained and indoctrinated to serve a purpose from birth and suffer far less gravely from the heavily fractured nature. Now indoctrination is a word that the modern consciousness has some rather unfortunate ideas about but it is both universal and it can even be argued that that loathing is itself a result of indoctrination. It is a massive benefit for establishing a stable order when you do not have to worry about finding that one of your best inflitrators reincarnated as a Yozi worshipper.

              So if the general deficit is sufficiently removed without adding further elements to justify other roles the question becomes clear. In what way are the DBs lacking that would justify the grave investment needed for crafting the Celestials? Perhaps I am merely not sufficiently imaginative but I argue that it is a rather hard question to answer given the rather general nature of Terrestrial powers which while previously lacking in potency were never really lacking in utilitarian potential.

              Before anyone jumps on this point, yes exceptions exist. However, there is a serious pitfall in always assuming that everything is an exception because that term in an of itself becomes largely worthless if there is no base to be exceptional from and implies that it is somehow a poor decision for the incarna to play to their strengths in a war which could result in their own demise.

              What I said was that setting logic has relied on Solars establishing tyranny via strength (including social and mental), pinning most of the excesses of the First Age on them relies on this premise.

              Lunars have traditionally been allocated the spot of mitigators at best and victims at worst, they did not act against them due to a supernatural bond (which no longer exists). This absolves them of blame and further acts to portray them as an innocent wronged by both sides. If the bond is gone then the question becomes 'why did they not act?'.

              Funnily enough, the Sidereals are actually the best served here already. They quite simply were worked to the point of exhaustion more often than not and made considerable efforts to get things under control before resorting to the grand master of all bad ideas (referring to the vision more so than their following plan, which made sense from the context given by the vision).

              However the Dragon-Blooded come under the most scrutiny here. Previously they were taken as pure victims, which frankly hurts their characterization but we must accept that that is all we have to go on initially. They were too weak to defend themselves from the depredations of their commanders and were eventually able to kill their cruel overlords after using the TzarBomba of Creation to even the odds.

              If we accept them as stronger than they were though, the question becomes quite clear again, why did they not act sooner? If power is anywhere near par then a Solar would struggle to rule without consent from her subjects, the ones able to affect change at any rate and the status quo presented beforehand would be impossible to reach. Tyranny is only effective when the populace is unable to or believes that it is unable to fight back. This is far from an irreconcilable problem but it is a problem.

              In short, with power comes responsibility.

              The conclusion is that we are left with one of two options. Either the Solars were considerably more powerful and solely to blame for the darkest aspects of the age that came before or that the host overall was corrupt or at the very least complacent in the pitfalls of the era. Narrowing the gap heavily supports the latter.

              The funny thing is that I think that such an explanation would be quite a lovely addition to the setting but it does not exist to the best of my knowledge. Ergo, narrowing the gap without considerations and modifications the greater setting logic really undermines the central logic and motivations of the forces of the setting.

              That being said I would be thrilled if they narrowed the gap all that they wanted while adding more data to both strengthen the logic of the setting and improve it over all. I honestly have faith in the Devs to do this but I do think that it is worth pointing out.

              Importance of a single is largely a nonissue and does rather undermine the value of the whole discussion. An exalt is an exalt.

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              • I am very excited for a more interesting and sophisticated take on the Immaculate Philosophy in the upcoming books.


                Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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                • Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                  I'm pretty damn sure that's not true.
                  It's 'DoTFA' true, which is not a super firm canonical basis but it was indeed printed. Here's the quote...

                  'Those who die at the whim of the Solars that are blessed will be rewarded in the next life.

                  With the limited authority Solars exert over Heaven, this is literally true. Long ago, the Solars reached an agreement with Heaven's Department of Abstract Matters and the Division of Endings that the souls of those mortals who die because of Solar action would reincarnate in bodies destined for peaceful, content lives. With the purity of Lethe removing the memory of violent death, those who die in service to the Deliberative go on to lead lives of comfort and happiness. The Deliberative has graciously made sure that this phenomenon extends even to mortals who die in service to those Exalts unaffiliated with the Deliberative.'

                  ... which is all kinds of fucked up if you think about it. Imagine of the criteria for a great afterlife was written by the Ancient Egyptians, and we have NO RECORD of what that criteria is. Are we supposed to pray a particular way? Observe a specific holiday? Nobody has any idea how the ancient government decided things could work and theoretically every single person in the Age of Sorrows might be living a 'sinful' life by the standards of the culturally distant ancients.

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                  • That... doesn't really look like any sort of moral judgement to me. "Mortals who die because of Solar action" sounds more like collateral damage. This isn't a judgement. This is a "Whoops, sorry! Here, have a nice reincarnation as compensation."

                    Also the life of any exalted doesn't really strike me as being peaceful or content.

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                    • Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                      Also the life of any exalted doesn't really strike me as being peaceful or content.
                      There are almost certainly some Dragon-Blooded who live peaceful, content lives. Not all of them are going to be gritty warriors or cutthroat politicos or whatnot; some of them will not have the aptitude or the calling for a life of conflict, and they might simply work diligently in the Thousand Scales (or some other low-impact enterprise), marry as their house commands, and eventually retire to their estates and raise a family. Or they might enter an Immaculate Monastery somewhere and just never leave, leading a life of quiet contemplation as they tend a single tree in a single garden for centuries on end.

                      It's probably not that common, but it probably does happen.


                      "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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                      • Originally posted by Piff View Post

                        It's 'DoTFA' true, which is not a super firm canonical basis but it was indeed printed. Here's the quote...

                        'Those who die at the whim of the Solars that are blessed will be rewarded in the next life.

                        With the limited authority Solars exert over Heaven, this is literally true. Long ago, the Solars reached an agreement with Heaven's Department of Abstract Matters and the Division of Endings that the souls of those mortals who die because of Solar action would reincarnate in bodies destined for peaceful, content lives. With the purity of Lethe removing the memory of violent death, those who die in service to the Deliberative go on to lead lives of comfort and happiness. The Deliberative has graciously made sure that this phenomenon extends even to mortals who die in service to those Exalts unaffiliated with the Deliberative.'

                        ... which is all kinds of fucked up if you think about it. Imagine of the criteria for a great afterlife was written by the Ancient Egyptians, and we have NO RECORD of what that criteria is. Are we supposed to pray a particular way? Observe a specific holiday? Nobody has any idea how the ancient government decided things could work and theoretically every single person in the Age of Sorrows might be living a 'sinful' life by the standards of the culturally distant ancients.
                        DotFA is irrelevant when discussing lore, because it's not the vision of the First Age that the present developers plan on using, and even the end of 2e was furiously trying to get away from it, as the last book of 2e involved a bunch of alternate settings where DotFA is similarly irrelevant, and the books before that talk around it or provide more alternatives, since CoCD6 didn't even take place in a world touched by Solars.

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                        • I think, also, DotFA kind of contradicted everything about the afterlife previously said.

                          What I mean is, the books were always clear that reincarnation is just random, there's no karma. And then DotFA suddenly said that there's a whole bunch of stuff governing reincarnation, it's just rather bizarre (like red-headed women who die while middle-aged get a nice reincarnation, because a Solar got it passed for her mum).

                          Seems much better to go back to the old no-karma. More appropriate for the genre.


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

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                          • Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post

                            DotFA is irrelevant when discussing lore, because it's not the vision of the First Age that the present developers plan on using, and even the end of 2e was furiously trying to get away from it, as the last book of 2e involved a bunch of alternate settings where DotFA is similarly irrelevant, and the books before that talk around it or provide more alternatives, since CoCD6 didn't even take place in a world touched by Solars.
                            Yes, hence the qualifier I opened with - 'It's 'DoTFA' true, which is not a super firm canonical basis but it was indeed printed.'

                            But thanks for restating that?

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                            • Originally posted by Gigaton-Falcon-Emu
                              Importance of a single is largely a nonissue and does rather undermine the value of the whole discussion. An exalt is an exalt.
                              It's the last sentence here that's worth emphasizing - even a single Exalt is a hero. There's elements of second edition that verged on deprotagonizing the Dragon-Blooded - "Smaller Heroes, Smaller Motivations" from the ST Chapter for MoXP DB - but even first edition fell prey to it a little (like the fiction where Elias Tremalion kills a Dragon-Blooded with a single blow). The difference with the latter is that Elias was damned sure the other Dragon-Blooded was going to kill him in the next exchange, and that's really more the power levels we're talking about here.

                              As to why they didn't act? They did, and they did so with the aid and backing and urging of the Sidereals. As to why they didn't act sooner, I can't tell you. The Great Curse is like the old saying about the frog in the pot. Put a frog into boiling water, it'll try to jump out. Heat the water up slowly, it'll never notice it's being boiled alive. But the star-frogs did notice, and let the elemental-frogs know, and they killed the sun-frogs who kept cranking up the temperature for their own sick ends.
                              Last edited by Neall; 10-08-2017, 12:28 PM.


                              Neall Raemonn Price
                              Beleaguered Scion Developer

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                              • Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                                What I mean is, the books were always clear that reincarnation is just random, there's no karma. And then DotFA suddenly said that there's a whole bunch of stuff governing reincarnation, it's just rather bizarre (like red-headed women who die while middle-aged get a nice reincarnation, because a Solar got it passed for her mum).

                                Seems much better to go back to the old no-karma. More appropriate for the genre.
                                Well, were they? I mean, genuinely, I can't really remember that the canon really said that reincarnation was random or much on it (as a separate issue from "is the Immaculate Philosophy made up?").

                                The whole idea of the huge bureaucracy determining the destinations of souls isn't my favourite (though I think in you handle it well, then like most things, it can be turned to cool ends, like, as another example of the monstrous whimsical afrontery, or harmonious functioning, of Heaven).

                                But I do like playing with the idea that in a sense higher souls are out there seeking lives, seeking incarnations because of what they lacked or what they had in their previous incarnations - souls of lovers turn to lives with another, residual guilt turns to repentant incarnation. Not as driven by an external mechanism of reward so much though. Seems like a shame to cut through all that and just close the book with randomness.

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