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Sell Me On: Feeling Strongly About Lunars

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  • Sell Me On: Feeling Strongly About Lunars

    I really don't understand what about Lunars is such a point of contention for people. I've always seen them as... fine. They're OK. They're not my favorite Exalted. I don't hate them. They're just fine. I get the role they serve, I can come up with some character concepts for them, I think they have some neat aesthetics and themes.

    But why do people feel so strongly about them? What are they arguing about? How is "Meerkat Steals The Spotlight Prana" a thing?


    Shameless Technocratic shill.

  • #2
    Originally posted by The Nilbog View Post

    But why do people feel so strongly about them?
    ​I'd say that the heart of all arguments is that being an area that has generally been seen to not live up to its potential, and unclear or conflicting ideas about how that might be improved upon, creates a space in which that kind of impassioned argument can develop. In a sense, that there is something to argue about, in a way that most other parts of the setting and system are decided enough to lack.

    ​That and a few aspects of their premise made them a place to accumulate every new idea somebody had about something that should be in the setting.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

      ​I'd say that the heart of all arguments is that being an area that has generally been seen to not live up to its potential, and unclear or conflicting ideas about how that might be improved upon, creates a space in which that kind of impassioned argument can develop. In a sense, that there is something to argue about, in a way that most other parts of the setting and system are decided enough to lack.

      ​That and a few aspects of their premise made them a place to accumulate every new idea somebody had about something that should be in the setting.
      Interesting. Please elaborate. How are these arguments divided? How do people want to see Lunars realized?


      Shameless Technocratic shill.

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      • #4
        Lunars have a lot of potential to be really cool and interesting. Unfortunately they have utterly failed to live up to that potential. For many people the idea of Lunars in their heads, the Lunars who have reached their potential, are awesome and they're unhappy about where Lunars currently stand (or stood) in the gameline. Unfortunately the awesome Lunar Exalted in my head are probably different from the awesome Lunar Exalted that are in someone else's head, and the things I think need to be done to make Lunars live up to their potential are things someone else might feel would completely ruin them. So even among Lunar fans there's often a lot of disagreement over what exactly is wrong with them and what needs to be done to make them better.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
          Lunars have a lot of potential to be really cool and interesting. Unfortunately they have utterly failed to live up to that potential. For many people the idea of Lunars in their heads, the Lunars who have reached their potential, are awesome and they're unhappy about where Lunars currently stand (or stood) in the gameline. Unfortunately the awesome Lunar Exalted in my head are probably different from the awesome Lunar Exalted that are in someone else's head, and the things I think need to be done to make Lunars live up to their potential are things someone else might feel would completely ruin them. So even among Lunar fans there's often a lot of disagreement over what exactly is wrong with them and what needs to be done to make them better.
          I'd rather like to hear the opinions of the major camps. What are the ideas of how to portray Lunars that are so diametrically opposed?


          Shameless Technocratic shill.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Nilbog View Post

            Interesting. Please elaborate. How are these arguments divided? How do people want to see Lunars realized?
            ​That... is a complicated subject involving more than a decade of arguments and many positions that mix and match numerous points. It's difficult to elaborate on, or even summarise effectively.

            ​The best that I can come up with is a list of some of the more noteworthy contentious points. (And by noteworthy, I mean things that I can manage to remember)

            There are:

            ​* people who dislike Heart's Blood shapeshifting, either wanting a more freeform kind ala characters such as Mystique, or just a method of acquiring forms besides hunting and killing (or for it to take front and centre).
            * people who dislike the animal association.
            ​* people who dislike the Solar association.
            ​* people who think that a conflict with the Realm is nonsensical.
            ​* people who think that the setting should be filled with the results of Lunar nation building, crowding out the Realm.
            * people who think they should be reigning princes of the Wyld, drawn back to Creation solely by the return of the Solars.
            ​* people who want the shapeshifting to lean more towards the fantastical or alien.
            * people who primarily want to focus on them as a kind of mirror Exalted.
            ​* people who want them to have established princedoms throughout all of the realms of existence, and have a primary schtick about moving between them.
            ​* people who were really on board with the Thousand Streams River.
            ​* people who wanted chimerism to be viable as a transhumanist path to ultimate power.

            And many more.

            I think you get the gist of it.


            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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            • #7
              Right. Sorry if I'm forcing you to simplify a complex subject. It's just an aspect of the fandom that I never really understood.


              Shameless Technocratic shill.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Nilbog View Post

                Interesting. Please elaborate. How are these arguments divided? How do people want to see Lunars realized?
                Well, on at least one count, people saw them as general shapeshifters. This tended to be encouraged by second edition, which abandoned any notion of first edition out of an extreme knee-jerk reaction. It was somewhat understandable, but still left everything hanging because of a poor execution. Poor execution is, ultimately, a bad reason to walk back from the concept of "bestial shapeshifters that freak out most people who aren't living on the edge", because that premise is quite rich with possibilities. You can't let yourself get bogged down by Charm Bushes or a quizzical inclusion of the concept of Renown; these things are not central to kindle that theme.

                And the concept of bestial shapeshifters itself for whatever reason tends people to vastly underestimate where they should stand. They're not tiny obstacles to be swept aside. They are existential threats wearing the skins of beasts. Turning into an animal is something that people scoff at, but Lunar Exalted are of such puissance that when they do it, it utterly overpowers the might of dragons and slips around the foresight of the stars. They tackle the power of demons, throw down their adversaries, and smite them with the features of beasts. But no one did this, twice in a row, even though it seems like it would be a gimme for a company that made arguably the most powerful werewolves and other werebeasts around in the rpg industry.

                Further, there are people who disagree that the above is what they are. I recall much acrimony over this point, basically exploding on the forums six years ago after the final errata hit but long before the plans for EX3 were public knowledge. There was much bemoaning apparently not being able play Mystique from some parties, because they would have to choose a spirit shape and turn into animals as well as humans. There was a persistent cry to be like T-1000. Nowadays, we have other Exalted slated to act as shapeshifters, so those hats can go elsewhere, but in those days, the thinking was locked into the Exalted from 2e alone fulfilling every last archetype there was, which meant that Lunars were being stretched to be some kind of omni-shapeshifter, and people had it in their heads that it would be way better and more impressive if they relegated and/or cut turning into animals in some fashion.

                Except that Lunars are still based on W:tA and have a lot in common with its themes and fixtures, They had, and have always had, a focus, even if some of the writing tried to run away from it twice over. That reference to the "unfinished" world in EX3 likely means unfinished as in raw, rough, and naked. It's not much of a journey from there, if any at all, to being wild and untamed. I do tend to lean on the shapeshifting into animals and other humans part, but this plays into another similarity to W:tA, wherein the focus is on the world, as it exists through a bedrock of primal spirits. Between that and Luna's affection for Gaia living in her Exalted, I'd guess that Lunars are also meant to have bloody or unrestrained ritual practices that grant benefits that are normally had through more pedestrian (and predictable, traceable) means. We already have one standing example in ecstatic visions and trances across some of their earlier Charms, not just in terms of telling the future, but also the hacking methods that they got in the Modern Era shard.

                The further answer to your question probably lies more in responses to this post than in the post itself.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                  And the concept of bestial shapeshifters itself for whatever reason tends people to vastly underestimate where they should stand. They're not tiny obstacles to be swept aside. They are existential threats wearing the skins of beasts. Turning into an animal is something that people scoff at, but Lunar Exalted are of such puissance that when they do it, it utterly overpowers the might of dragons and slips around the foresight of the stars. They tackle the power of demons, throw down their adversaries, and smite them with the features of beasts. But no one did this, twice in a row, even though it seems like it would be a gimme for a company that made arguably the most powerful werewolves and other werebeasts around in the rpg industry.
                  Yeah, that's where the mechanics blew the idea up. Generally speaking a Lunar Exalt, wielding an artifact weapon, was stronger than any form he could turn into (barring a few niche examples like Tyrant Lizards). This was compounded by Form Lock, where a Lunar essentially couldn't spend much Essence while in an animal form to increase their combat capability, save for the animal form that counted as one of their "true forms". Sure your Lunar could turn into a bear and fight, but you'd probably be better off not bothering, and even if you did, within a couple of rounds you probably wouldn't be able to stay in your bear form anymore anyway.

                  Coupled with this was the fact that Lunars could turn into animals for free at character creation, whereas if they wanted to turn into other stuff, they had to buy Charms to upgrade their transformation powers. As a result animal shifting was largely viewed as the basic, introductory power and many people thought about Lunars in terms of turning into other things. To a large degree the mechanics encouraged players to think about this.

                  This tended to mean that when it came to shapeshifting, turning into animals outside of spying on someone or travelling quickly was fairly pointless and many of the more useful shapeshifting effects were things players had to spend experience on. That's how things were for two editions (about 15 years) and why many people tend to pooh pooh the idea of turning into animals, since it was generally wasn't as impressive as you might think for the vast majority of the game's existence.

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                  • #10
                    It’s worth noting that, when 1e was being developed, apparently the Lunars were going to be the hunting hounds of the Fae, exalted that had been corrupted by the wyld into insane servants. Deciding that they were going to be playable was apparently an 11th hour decision, which meant that they weren’t really included in history or in the setting. They felt like an afterthought because they were.

                    Heck, the Alchemical Exalted were apparently figured out conceptually before that, so they actually fit into the setting better than Lunars in 1e.

                    So, that helped contribute to the mess they had to deal with in both previous editions and to the perception that the 2e Lunar charmset is broken and the Sidereal one fine (the Lunar one works, but it’s kinda boring and a thematic mess, while the Sids charmset is pretty cool thematically, but, because they copied so much directly from 1e, it doesn’t interact properly with the rest of the game in many important ways).

                    So, yes, there’s always been lots to talk about in regards to Lunars.


                    ....

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                    • #11
                      Going way, way back, Werewolf was the first game where you could play a distinctly "monstrous" character without being a cardboard cutout villain.

                      Vampire also had traditionally antagonistic characters presented as player characters, but vamps look and act like humans, and assume that their supernatural coolness factor is a curse. Mage had otherwise-regular people who could do Magick. But a werewolf's power is obvious, inhuman, and transformative.

                      Werewolf was translated into Lunars for the early Exalted setting. Solars and Terrestrials filled a niche sort of like Magi, in that they were the same sort of people they used to be, except incredibly good at what they did - including being good at being tough. Abyssals were sort of vampiric, but still basically people who are good at the gothy things they did. Lunars were semi-rescued from purely antagonist status, which was a disappointment.

                      People have already mentioned the mechanical gaps between how cool Lunars coulda-shoulda-woulda been in 2E, so I'll leave that be.



                      I feel strongly about Lunars for 3E for several reasons.

                      Solars and Terrestrials are still the characters who are the same sort of people they always were - just more competent and powerful. Lunars open up story space for characters who literally transform. There's quite a bit of fantasy transhumanism built into the idea here, that the Lunar changes themselves to adapt to the situation, and makes those changes a part of their continuing self. There's no reason why that transformation would be purely physical, either, or purely animal based.

                      For example, a Lunar story could begin with a first transformation, showing the horror of having your body rip and stretch and rearrange itself into a new and awkward form. Then, with a little practice, the Lunar would get better at it, gain a few more forms, and start expanding her repertoire. She would live as other people in villages and towns, taking those forms with her when she leaves - here's a story about taking power at the cost to the innocent.

                      She would live as the beasts when she hides away from civilization. She would learn what it means to be a bunny being stalked by a big cat, and also what it means to be the hungry big cat. Here's a story about perspective, for how scary could any number of humans be after that?

                      She would experience the rage and Fury of the Fickle Lady, in a way that is poorly captured by Charm descriptions. Those would become part of her as well. She might craft a special shape engineered for war, or she might take the shapes and live the lives of gods, demons, or elementals. Here's a story about her battles, or her entry into strange worlds and planes of existence.

                      She might eventually create the form of a giant kaiju. She would be so completely alien to anyone else, and equally alien to the young Lunar she once was, but by now this is as natural to her as changing clothes to anyone else. Here's a story where every old enemy seems so very small.

                      The more of these things that incorporate into her nature, the smaller, more parochial, and more distant would seem the people of civilization. I think this is where the intent of Lunars as barbarians or as shapers of civilizations appears, though perhaps poorly captured in editions to date.

                      Lunars would also be great candidates to join and adventure with any of the other splats. They could be the equal and complimentary mate to a Solar. They could walk incognito among the Dragon-Blooded. They could be the heavies to the lighter touch of the Sidereals. They could adventure with Abyssals in the Underworld or Infernals in Malfeas or Raksha in the Wyld. Each of these opens up as many story options for the Lunar as for the other, and a Lunar who returns from such an adventure is changed by it.

                      Lunars aren't the only ones who change themselves, of course. Alchemicals and Liminals both do as well, and could partake in a different perspective on a lot of the same themes.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Nilbog View Post
                        But why do people feel so strongly about them?
                        I think Lunars are so popular because they are the Zero for the Solars' Megaman X.

                        You know X is the central character, he is good and powerful... But who is this other guy with a different color pallete and... A plasma Sword!?

                        This type of characters are always attractive. So Lunars are expected to be cool companions, and/or decent rivals. When their mechanics can't backup these themes, people usually demand changes.


                        Join the Strife

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                        • #13
                          Honestly, after recalling several of the talking points prompted by this thread and some of the extremes that some people have gone to, I've got to say that feeling that strongly about Lunars is not something that one should be sold on.

                          ​The developers have a solid vision of Lunars developed in the context of seeing several years of mistakes, and a good deal of mechanical and world-building acumen. I'd say they can be relied upon to deliver a solid, consistent product. Maybe it will be to your taste, maybe it won't, but I'd say that you should just leave it at that.

                          ​Don't feel so strongly about Lunars. Don't identify with them so significantly that the question of any given mechanical or characterisation point can be a source of deep-seated personal outrage. Don't care about them enough to take commitments that both development teams have stuck to from the beginning as personal insults.

                          It's really not worth it.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                          Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                          • #14
                            That is a really good post and I hope people take it to heart!

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                            • #15
                              Of course not. I'll gladly be enthusiastic to give them a good play, but it's not, nor should be, a sore point.

                              Edit to add: I'm doing as much Lunar story space building as I can right now, because 3/5 of my players for our anticipated upcoming Ex3 chronicle want to play Lunars. We'll be starting with Solars for at least a short Story and to get everybody into the setting and rules, then decide if the homebrew is ready to play by then.
                              Last edited by Simon Darkstep; 03-05-2018, 02:42 PM.


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