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ReImagining Exalted: Abyssals, Deathlords, and the Neverborn

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  • ReImagining Exalted: Abyssals, Deathlords, and the Neverborn

    Food for thought. Ideas been playing with.

    What if there was only ONE Neverborn - the Undeworld. The equivilent of Gaia is to creation. The Neverborn have barely been discussed same a few name drops, but for me it makes more sense that ONE "Yozi" died and this led the others to Surrender on the grounds of realizing "wait... that can happen to us??"

    What if the Deathlords weren't ghosts but Souls of the Neverborn? Corrupted and twisted echos of their 'Undead Yozi' akin to 3rd Circle Dameons in Malfeas? Wouldn't this play to both the maddness of the Neverborn (each soul being a reflection of its self-destructive insanity; each wanting to win, but making sure the others fail) and the essence of something being changed to something darker - echoing the Abyssal Exalted themselves?

    What if the Abyssals aren't alive but ARE undead? The Abyssal Exaltation finds Hungry Ghosts and offers them a chance to have their bodies rise again - lifeless but animate - making them TRUE "DEATH" Knights? A pattern similar to the Infernal Exaltation and Corruption of Solar Souls into darker creatures?

    What if the Abyssal Castes were renamed so the word "day" isn't used twice (this one's pure pet-peeve) and the Daybreak Caste were the "Morning" Caste (being a play on the word Mourning" as well)?

    What if the Abyssal Castes were symbolized by stages of the Anti-Sun (Dawn/Dusk, Zenith/Midnight, Twilight/Morning, etc...) but REPRESENTED the 5 stages of loss and grieving. I.e.:
    • Dusk - Denial (death is ignored until it makes itself know; hide in the delusion you will live forever; the reaper comes to remind you of your lies)
    • Midnight - Anger/ Passon (life is unfair but death is equal; hate the living, embrace your end; preach it)
    • Morning - Bargaining (death inspires new methods; new disease breeds new cures; new weapons builds new walls; create problems to produce solutions to be overpowered by new created problems)
    • Day - Dispair (death is fear; it is everywhere; unseen; always present; daylight won't reveal the dagger held by a close friend)
    • Moonshroud - Acceptance (death will happen; but in accepting it you gain great power and convinction to choose how your death will happen and what meaning will come from it).
    Last edited by zenvious; 01-12-2018, 01:29 AM.


    Awaiting profile deletion. Not a fan of the sarcastic tones of the Onyx Form community. Feels like its a troll hunting ground.

  • #2
    Originally posted by zenvious View Post
    Food for thought. Ideas been playing with.

    What if there was only ONE Neverborn - the Undeworld. The equivilent of Gaia is to creation.
    Gaia is not, and has never been, Creation.

    Creation is Creation.


    "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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    • #3
      Originally posted by Murcushio View Post

      Gaia is not, and has never been, Creation.

      Creation is Creation.

      Fair nuff... but then... what if she was? Afterall:

      Creation was created from the Wyld by the Primordials Gaia and Cytherea.

      And if Malfeas can be a Primordial AND Hell AND be the size of Creation, yet still fit within it...

      Point is just because it hasnt been, doesn't mean it couldn't have been - nor could it be now if a Gamemaster chose it.
      Last edited by zenvious; 01-12-2018, 12:58 AM.


      Awaiting profile deletion. Not a fan of the sarcastic tones of the Onyx Form community. Feels like its a troll hunting ground.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by zenvious View Post
        Food for thought. Ideas been playing with.

        What if there was only ONE Neverborn - the Undeworld. The equivilent of Gaia is to creation. The Neverborn have barely been discussed same a few name drops, but for me it makes more sense that ONE "Yozi" died and this led the others to Surrender on the grounds of realizing "wait... that can happen to us??"

        What if the Deathlords weren't ghosts but Souls of the Neverborn? Corrupted and twisted echos of their 'Undead Yozi' akin to 3rd Circle Dameons in Malfeas? Wouldn't this play to both the maddness of the Neverborn (each soul being a reflection of its self-destructive insanity; each wanting to win, but making sure the others fail) and the essence of something being changed to something darker - echoing the Abyssal Exalted themselves?

        What if the Abyssals aren't alive but ARE undead? The Abyssal Exaltation finds Hungry Ghosts and offers them a chance to have their bodies rise again - lifeless but animate - making them TRUE "DEATH" Knights? A pattern similar to the Infernal Exaltation and Corruption of Solar Souls into darker creatures?

        What if the Abyssal Castes were renamed so the word "day" isn't used twice (this one's pure pet-peeve) and the Daybreak Caste were the "Morning" Caste (being a play on the word Mourning" as well)?
        One Neverborn just increases the Canon surviving Yozis, which as a fan of one of the dead Yozi's, I'm down with. I'd say the equation ot Gaia makes sense in the "is the creator of but not identical too" sort of way. The neverborn's nightmares are the underworld, the neverborn itself isn't etc etc.

        The Deathlords being the souls of the Neverborn removes alot of what makes them intreasting to me as Gothic-horror writ large. I mean, it's doable, and I think seeing more of the broken and twisted remains of the Neverborn would be cool. But it changes a number of things.
        1. It removes them as a novel force in the underworld. AS written, Deathlords are (IIRC) about as old as the Usurpation, give or take a bit. This set up means they've had a much longer time to set up shop, and also that they were a force the Solar Delieberative probably new about (Esp w/3e's references to necromancer uprisings).
        2. It makes them less...people. I like Deathlords as people. 3rd circle demons are...the least people of the demons. They're landscapes as often as not. They have human emotions and recognizable logic, but at the same time saying their more akin to Chuz then they are to Dracula. Demons are more alien in wants then humans are.
        3. The Neverborn, being abjectly insane and inchoherent except on the wanting to die angle is reinforced by keeping access to them mostly distant. However, more importantly, deathlords as souls aslo makes them extnesions. Can souls of the Neverborn want to conquer creation instead of destroy it? Wouldn't that be like Ligeir wanting to stay in hell?

        Abyssal's being undead is...odd. Infernals aren't demons, notably, so I think the parrellel their is a bit weak. Hungry Ghosts wouldn't be my first choice either (since, well, IIRC their not intelliegent), and my actual first choice for neverborn-based-ghosts-of-note would be Nephwracks. I'm not sure how that divide would be healed( Ekorren has a homebrew exalt that's exalted ghosts that might be of intreast to you). Further, if I _was_ gonna do that route, I'd make it a not-yet-dissovled ghost, and given them physicallity(Abyssals are much more Vampires than Ghosts to me at least).

        The name thing is fine. I'd keep day, unless you want to change the Solar Night caste to a different name as well.


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        • #5
          Sure, your table your rules. But I think Murcushio's point is just that your first hypothetical involved "the equivalent of Gaia to Creation," and by pointing out that that isn't the default state of affairs and your hypothetical is a larger deviation from canon than perhaps you thought, maybe that would inform your decisions.

          In general I think it's an interesting setup you propose, and I didn't notice the duplication of Day in Abyssal Castes until you pointed it out (and now it will annoy me, grr). Why hungry ghosts, though? They're the least human part of the soul; I'd expect that if you wanted to make Abyssals out of true undead, you'd want regular ghosts (formed from the part of the soul with, like, memory and personality) rather than hungry ghosts (which are basically just vicious beasts).


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Epee102 View Post

            One Neverborn just increases the Canon surviving Yozis, which as a fan of one of the dead Yozi's, I'm down with. I'd say the equation ot Gaia makes sense in the "is the creator of but not identical too" sort of way. The neverborn's nightmares are the underworld, the neverborn itself isn't etc etc.

            The Deathlords being the souls of the Neverborn removes alot of what makes them intreasting to me as Gothic-horror writ large. I mean, it's doable, and I think seeing more of the broken and twisted remains of the Neverborn would be cool. But it changes a number of things.
            1. It removes them as a novel force in the underworld. AS written, Deathlords are (IIRC) about as old as the Usurpation, give or take a bit. This set up means they've had a much longer time to set up shop, and also that they were a force the Solar Delieberative probably new about (Esp w/3e's references to necromancer uprisings).
            2. It makes them less...people. I like Deathlords as people. 3rd circle demons are...the least people of the demons. They're landscapes as often as not. They have human emotions and recognizable logic, but at the same time saying their more akin to Chuz then they are to Dracula. Demons are more alien in wants then humans are.
            3. The Neverborn, being abjectly insane and inchoherent except on the wanting to die angle is reinforced by keeping access to them mostly distant. However, more importantly, deathlords as souls aslo makes them extnesions. Can souls of the Neverborn want to conquer creation instead of destroy it? Wouldn't that be like Ligeir wanting to stay in hell?

            Abyssal's being undead is...odd. Infernals aren't demons, notably, so I think the parrellel their is a bit weak. Hungry Ghosts wouldn't be my first choice either (since, well, IIRC their not intelliegent), and my actual first choice for neverborn-based-ghosts-of-note would be Nephwracks. I'm not sure how that divide would be healed( Ekorren has a homebrew exalt that's exalted ghosts that might be of intreast to you). Further, if I _was_ gonna do that route, I'd make it a not-yet-dissovled ghost, and given them physicallity(Abyssals are much more Vampires than Ghosts to me at least).

            The name thing is fine. I'd keep day, unless you want to change the Solar Night caste to a different name as well.
            Originally posted by Aretii View Post
            Sure, your table your rules. But I think Murcushio's point is just that your first hypothetical involved "the equivalent of Gaia to Creation," and by pointing out that that isn't the default state of affairs and your hypothetical is a larger deviation from canon than perhaps you thought, maybe that would inform your decisions.

            In general I think it's an interesting setup you propose, and I didn't notice the duplication of Day in Abyssal Castes until you pointed it out (and now it will annoy me, grr). Why hungry ghosts, though? They're the least human part of the soul; I'd expect that if you wanted to make Abyssals out of true undead, you'd want regular ghosts (formed from the part of the soul with, like, memory and personality) rather than hungry ghosts (which are basically just vicious beasts).
            Thankyou to both. Really good feedback. I'll look into some possible adjustments with some of the suggestions given. I should also offer some clarity (as I think I used some terms wrong):

            The name change is ONLY for the Daybreak Caste - calling them the "Morning" Caste instead. The Day Caste remains the same as the opposite of the Night. I think one "Day" name Caste is fine. And I personally like the parralel of "Morning/Mourning" as suggestive of both a phase of day and death reaction period (it also has the same verbal beats as "Twi-lIght/ Mor-Ning"),.

            I agree on the Nephrac idea since they were the "Abyssal Equivilent" prior the Abyssals. My thinking was the Exaltation finds the Ghost, but its not a "Exalted Ghost" but rather the Exaltation allows the Ghost to re-inhabit their body - the Exalted Essence acting as a glue for the spirit to puppet its original shell. The only difference in the idea of this is, instead of being offered the Death Exaltation PRE-death, it comes POST-death. The passion of the "ghost's" refusal to want to die being the beacon equivilant of "heroic act" that finds a new Solar.

            I will definately review the other ideas you've proposed. Thanks team!


            Awaiting profile deletion. Not a fan of the sarcastic tones of the Onyx Form community. Feels like its a troll hunting ground.

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            • #7
              So, just a thought- while I like the stealing of the 'stages of grief -> Abyssal Castes' associations, I think trying to force the traditional order of the castes to line up with the order of the stages makes for some... weird associations.

              I'd argue they more naturally follow something like...
              Dusk -> Anger
              Midnight -> Acceptance
              Moonshadow -> Bargaining
              Morning -> Despair
              Day -> Denial


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              • #8
                Originally posted by wastevens View Post
                So, just a thought- while I like the stealing of the 'stages of grief -> Abyssal Castes' associations, I think trying to force the traditional order of the castes to line up with the order of the stages makes for some... weird associations.

                I'd argue they more naturally follow something like...
                Dusk -> Anger
                Midnight -> Acceptance
                Moonshadow -> Bargaining
                Morning -> Despair
                Day -> Denial
                I agree I was being very "Square-Peg Round-Hole" there :P This works much nicer.


                Awaiting profile deletion. Not a fan of the sarcastic tones of the Onyx Form community. Feels like its a troll hunting ground.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wastevens View Post
                  So, just a thought- while I like the stealing of the 'stages of grief -> Abyssal Castes' associations, I think trying to force the traditional order of the castes to line up with the order of the stages makes for some... weird associations.

                  I'd argue they more naturally follow something like...
                  Dusk -> Anger
                  Midnight -> Acceptance
                  Moonshadow -> Bargaining
                  Morning -> Despair
                  Day -> Denial
                  That would make for an interesting Abyssal antagonist circle. Their mission and method could be to incite those emotions through various means, as an extended working to pull chunks of Creation into shadowlands.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by zenvious View Post

                    What if there was only ONE Neverborn - the Undeworld. The equivilent of Gaia is to creation. The Neverborn have barely been discussed same a few name drops, but for me it makes more sense that ONE "Yozi" died and this led the others to Surrender on the grounds of realizing "wait... that can happen to us??"
                    ​Not much; like you say, the Neverborn aren't really individually characterised, and the Underworld is already weird enough that I don't think that there would be anything massively transformative from it being the body of a Neverborn in its entirety.

                    Originally posted by zenvious
                    What if the Deathlords weren't ghosts but Souls of the Neverborn? Corrupted and twisted echos of their 'Undead Yozi' akin to 3rd Circle Dameons in Malfeas? Wouldn't this play to both the maddness of the Neverborn (each soul being a reflection of its self-destructive insanity; each wanting to win, but making sure the others fail) and the essence of something being changed to something darker - echoing the Abyssal Exalted themselves?
                    ​I think you lose out a lot on the angle created by them having a personal connection to the Old Realm and the Usurpation and the Solars/Abyssals themselves. That and how dreadful and majestic kings of the dead is an evocative image with this unique space for it, whereas your suggestions sounds like it doesn't do enough to distinguish them from regular demons.

                    Originally posted by zenvious
                    What if the Abyssals aren't alive but ARE undead? The Abyssal Exaltation finds Hungry Ghosts and offers them a chance to have their bodies rise again - lifeless but animate - making them TRUE "DEATH" Knights? A pattern similar to the Infernal Exaltation and Corruption of Solar Souls into darker creatures?
                    ​Well how far does that angle go? Are they the same thing with just some of the serial numbers being different, or are they a kind of extra powerful zombie, or what?

                    ​Hungry Ghosts seem like an odd choice for the target of a bargain, considering how they're always portrayed as completely feral.

                    What if the Abyssal Castes were symbolized by stages of the Anti-Sun (Dawn/Dusk, Zenith/Midnight, Twilight/Morning, etc...) but REPRESENTED the 5 stages of loss and grieving. I.e.:
                    • Dusk - Denial (death is ignored until it makes itself know; hide in the delusion you will live forever; the reaper comes to remind you of your lies)
                    • Midnight - Anger/ Passon (life is unfair but death is equal; hate the living, embrace your end; preach it)
                    • Morning - Bargaining (death inspires new methods; new disease breeds new cures; new weapons builds new walls; create problems to produce solutions to be overpowered by new created problems)
                    • Day - Dispair (death is fear; it is everywhere; unseen; always present; daylight won't reveal the dagger held by a close friend)
                    • Moonshroud - Acceptance (death will happen; but in accepting it you gain great power and convinction to choose how your death will happen and what meaning will come from it).
                    ​It seems like the kind of thing to move them away from gothic champions of the dead, and more like a kind of psychopomp figure. The connection to Solars seems thinner.

                    ​It doesn't seem like a bad idea for a distinct kind of Exalted associated with death to have Castes based on non-sequential variations or experiences of grief, but ill-suited to the Abyssal Exalted unless they were rebuilt from the ground up and dropped a lot of the Solar association.


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                    • #11
                      If the Underworld was a single Yozi's Dead Nightmares here is what I'd do to the Underworld:

                      I would layer (realm) the underworld. Each layer is related to a single 3rd circle Demon that perished with the primordial. It would be a collapsing ring or spiral structure, with the protective soul before the Labyrinth. The last layer relating to the moment of death between the Fetch and the over entity hanging directly over the void, this would be encapsulated by the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth would spiderweb out touching on points in each of the other souls but pass through the protective souls layer before continuing on to the final layer.

                      Imagine the void in the middle of a sphere, think black hole. Around that is the realm/layer of the Fetch Soul, the labyrinth is between the protective soul and the fetch layer. The Protective soul is around the labyrinth, the fetch layer, and the void. The protective layer is punched through with holes as the labyrinth tunneling to the other 3rd circle soul realms. Many if, not all of the 3rd circle layers except the protective and fetch layer are coterminous with creation through various shadowlands. Sometimes layers are linked via labyrinth tunnels sometimes water channels. Second Circle demons have abodes within the correlating 3rd circle layer, those defeated by the Exalted may be exceptions.

                      Specters, the native inhabitants of the underworld are twisted first circles demons however, not all of the first circle species are represented as they may not have crossed over or were wiped out during the exalted hosts campaigns to "Conquer the underworld".

                      Not sure about transforming Deathlords into 3rd circle souls or making Abyssals Truely Undead.


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                      • #12
                        That is a very cool realm design, Maudova!

                        One nitpick: the mapping of souls to roles (defining, reflective, protective etc.) is purely for the seven souls of a given Third-Circle Demon; as far as we know, there's no role-based ontology for the mapping of 3CDs to their Primordial, apart from the fetich.


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                        • #13
                          I think *the* Neverborn in your vision would be more of an enigmatic, isolated figure as one who stands alone with a certain kind of grandeur. I think I'd be framed to see him/her as more of a "King of the Underworld" cthonic, plutonian figure, or a singular "Dark Lord" or dark master (a la "Shadow of the Demon Lord", etc.).

                          The Neverborn as they are, though they're not described very much, by being plural, tend to make me intuitively go for feuding, hungry scraps and shadows; more like the Nine Nazgul writ large, and others of such an ilk.

                          (Any time you make a god singular, I think you tap into more of that monotheistic vibe where the Devil and God are singular figures who stand alone?)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            ​It doesn't seem like a bad idea for a distinct kind of Exalted associated with death to have Castes based on non-sequential variations or experiences of grief, but ill-suited to the Abyssal Exalted unless they were rebuilt from the ground up and dropped a lot of the Solar association.
                            This is one of the big things for me. The legacy of the Deathlords as the angry ghosts of fallen Solars is a major part of their narrative, and informs a lot of who they are and their motivations. Likewise, the Abyssals as altered Solar Exaltations allows for some specific stories as the new Lawgivers come to terms with the Exaltation they've inherited. Both of them are there to present an element of "I remember you. I know who you were. My dearest friend, what is this thing that you have become?"

                            And you can do that, to be sure, with someone you knew returning as an Exalted revenant, but this course does mean that it is harder to play this with past lives and the legacy of the First Age.

                            Again, like Levi says, the ideas presented are not bad ones, but unless you really want to discard the potential in the existing setup*, I strongly feel this is far better suited to a new splat rather than replacing the Abyssals entirely.

                            * And if you do, that's fine.

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                            • #15
                              Weren't the Deathlords already supposed to be some of the slain Third Circle souls of the Neverborn, grafted onto the hun souls of Solars who died in the Usurpation? I thought that was the mechanism for how the latter became so powerful in their new, un-Exalted state.

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