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Isator Levi reads Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought

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  • Isator Levi reads Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought

    All right, so it’s once again time to react to an Exalted book as I read it. Starting off with a chapter fiction about the Wyld Hunt, for once.

    It’s off to a good start with the image of somebody retreating alongside a reclaimed heirloom weapon, on which higher priority was placed than even the body. That’s the kind of introduction that conveys some culture and character all on its own. It also looks like we’re being acquainted with members of our signature Kinship. I’m guessing that they’re fighting… actually, I don’t want to assume. Still, I like the image that most of the bodies can’t be given proper due; it strikes a personal note with something that horrifies me.

    Ooh, one of them is dismissing the camp servants because of the danger, that’s neat.

    Oh great, is it going to be using the Immaculate names? I can never keep those straight… I think the Wretched are the Dawn/Dusk Caste?

    Anyway, it’s a nice cross-section of Exalted they’ve got here in the signatures. And it’s a good conceit to present this Wyld Hunt in terms of a battle of attrition, of sorts.
    Oh, and they’re being joined by Exalted from Lookshy, for extra representation.

    It’s an interesting choice to present this Wyld Hunt in a heroic, underdog kind of role, while still referencing their possible ruthlessness. It captures the contrasts inherent to the Dragon Blooded position in the world.

    Ooooh, seeing a Sworn Kinship/Brotherhood being formed in narrative. I… don’t think that’s ever been shown before, which now seems like a remarkable oversight. It’s short, but an effective little scene.

    Oh no, they are Lunars. Should have run with the first instinct. Let’s see, fight scene, fight scene… yeah, it’s okay to keep it minimalist at this stage, since it’s not really the point; it’s more about the emotions, and the sense of coordination. But the notion of taking one of them captive is intriguing.

    Annnd final note is on how they’re sticking together regardless.

    It’s a good opening fiction. It sets the stage of the Dragon Blooded, their place and power and diversity, and gives them an effective triumph. I think that it’s good to introduce them with something like this, more at the ground level, which I think might be more accessible in what they’re about than the typical representations of Realm intrigue.


    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)

  • #2
    Link to where you're reading?

    I've kicked, but haven't gotten any updates beyond the kick confirmation.


    Check out Momentum Exalted!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Simon Darkstep View Post
      Link to where you're reading?

      I've kicked, but haven't gotten any updates beyond the kick confirmation.
      Its on the front page of the kickstarter right under About

      Comment


      • #4
        It's a backer update. So on the main page you should see a little 1 next to the Updates, right next to Comments.


        Raksha are my fae-vorite.

        Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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        • #5
          Thanks!

          (10)


          Check out Momentum Exalted!

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          • #6
            Dawns are called Forsaken. The Wretched are Night Castes.

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            • #7
              Now, the introduction chapter…

              The summary is familiar, but it’s got emphasis on key points such as them being the only Exalted that civilized Creation have ever known. I also like some of the terminology that is employed, such as referring to the Empress as their God-Matriarch.

              Hmm, what chapters are we getting… an overview of the Dragon Blooded in general, and all of the Great Houses. Shouldn’t be too dense. I knew that there was going to be sorcery, but wasn’t expecting it to be a dedicated part of a chapter, so I’ll be interested in seeing what kinds of spells are there.

              Let’s see, anything new in the Lexicon… a specific term for a school’s headmaster portends an interesting new take on Realm education. Oh, there are three Dominions now.

              And the inspirations list is about what one would expect, although it’s stoked my interest in Basilisk, and I’m excited to see what the Charms might have gotten from Legend of Korra.


              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                Dawns are called Forsaken. The Wretched are Night Castes.
                ​So then a Solar-Lunar pairing, it would seem.


                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)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Now, Chapter One…

                  Interesting choice to tell a chapter fiction from the perspective of the Empress…. where she isn’t being horribly tortured. I suppose this book shall be full of firsts. I wonder if there’s anything substantial to not wanting to sleep in sunlight, or if it’s just a bit of superstition. I would wonder if it’s leaning too hard on her possession of the hearthstone for the Imperial Manse, but it at least adds to her iconography.

                  Anyway, on to the meat:

                  It’s nice that the origin story of the Terrestrials is appropriately brief, and lacking in any… unsuitable details. Much more interesting is the wording of the Celestial Exalted having needed to court their service, rather than being entitled to it, as well as the idea that many of them had independent dominion.

                  Hmm, has the order of the Great Contagion and the Balorian Crusade been… switched?

                  This chapter probably has a lot to get into, so I can see why they’d want to abridge the history of the Empress and the Realm. Here’s hoping that it gets a somewhat longer form in the Realm’s own book.

                  A sidebar to establish the rough numbers should help keep a number of things straight.

                  Let’s see, a section dedicated to describing their Exaltation… yes, given how there are several cultures built around it, some focus and clarity there is a good call. It’s also a succinct place to introduce new concepts, such as procreative Essence.

                  I’m glad that it takes time to state that having a leisurely life does not outright prevent the Exaltation.
                  I’m guessing that the presentation of the little Exaltation snippets (which, don’t get me wrong, are nice) will work better in the finished book.

                  And now there’s some stronger emphasis on Aspects, so let’s see what we’ve got… clarification on where the line is looks like a good start, and the elements themselves are familiar. Their own version of Essence Fever… well, the image of their blood rate actually being higher is unusual, but it does seem like a good small detail to make their power feel more grounded and physical.

                  Ahh, the idea that it’s also something that impels them to kinship, and they build upon this to make the Hearth oath, that’s a very nice bit of mysticism.

                  Oh I see; they’re framing the societies of the Dragon Blooded in the same terms as the different Exalted in the core book. I like that, that’s clever.

                  Ohh, it’s cute that Lookshy frames the Shogunate’s constant warfare as something character building.

                  Now, Prasad, something new… but personally familiar from the preview of The Realm. I do like the idea of them having cultural interchanges with the Scarlet Dynasty, though. Particularly with the focus on them as a newer and more dynamic empire; the Realm is good, but I’d warrant that them being on top for centuries prevented certain kinds of stories in the past, so Prasad makes a good alternative, actively expanding and making war on equal terms, while retaining the characteristic Dragon Blooded authority.

                  Heh, it’s a bit ambitious to introduce the Forest Witches this early, but if it captures somebody’s attention… at the very least, the shorter format might make them more readily comprehensible to newcomers.

                  And with a summary of outcastes, that’s the end of this chapter. It was a bit less detailed than I might have expected, but that’s probably for the best; trim a lot of fat, stay on message (and leave enough space for all of the magic later on). It’s a solid introduction to these Exalted.

                  The Great Houses is liable to be a long and intricate chapter, so I’m going to save that for tomorrow.


                  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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                  • #10
                    Yeah you might want to go one house at a time.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      This chapter probably has a lot to get into, so I can see why they’d want to abridge the history of the Empress and the Realm. Here’s hoping that it gets a somewhat longer form in the Realm’s own book.
                      You're in luck!


                      Developer for Exalted.

                      Want to write for Exalted? Look at the freelancer submission guidelines.

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                      • #12
                        Before I get on, a small detail that I like more on reflection:

                        ​So, here we've got a chapter fiction in which we see a group's signature circle actually come together. I... don't think that's ever happened before; the closest we've gotten is a few references to why the circle of new Solars is together strewn throughout some of their fiction pieces, but even then we've not actually gotten a story of them coming together; what drove it, their perspectives on one another, the shared turmoil that forged a bond.

                        ​It... actually highlights weaknesses in the previous ones to me. For the old Solars, what exactly brought any of them besides Swan and Arianna together, and what did they get out of that relationship? Neither the Lunars nor the Dragon Blooded ever had a signature group before (especially weird for the latter, considering how important kinship was supposed to be for them, and unlike the Lunars, that group of characters who, but for two, could conceivably have never spoken to one another before in the game's fiction kept showing up in other art pieces), and for the rest, they only ever seem to be together because they have the same boss, and never seem to like each other.

                        ​I'm sorry, this isn't what I wanted to talk about, it's just that the line of thought streamed off when I came to it... what were they thinking?! Why have circles and Brotherhoods by a conceit of the game world's culture, and feature no prominent examples of them that seem positive or make sense?

                        ​Leaving that aside, being the game's signature Hearth suggests to me that they have to still exist in Year Zero, so any time that a date of earlier in the century is provided, that establishes how they're not only together, but have been so for decades. That's an enjoyable idea to me.


                        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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                        • #13
                          We know why Jade and Dace are together from A Day As Dark As Night.

                          It's almost a classic superhero meet up. Both investigating same atrocity, someone gets confused and thinks the other did it, and then punch out leads to team up.


                          Raksha are my fae-vorite.

                          Reincarnation of magnificentmomo.

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                          • #14
                            Okay, something to keep on track of me reading the book...

                            Additional perspectives on the Scarlet Empress fiction:

                            ​I actually like the way it's about her morning routine, for a combination of how those can often be one of the more unusual and intriguing aspects of a monarch's life, and how there are few things I find more humanising for a powerful figure than the basic idea that they go to sleep at night and have to sort themselves out in the morning. When I was young, a basic common detail in my imaginings of villainous figures would be the idea that they never actually slept, and in retrospect I think that was from a combination of making them more alien and an association between sleep and vulnerability.

                            ​So yeah, it works for me to have a simple vignette of the Empress waking up in the morning and going over to get dressed. It's not quite Catherine the Great's daily kickstart of coffee, but it works on its own merits.

                            ​I do like some of the ritual elements that Neall came up with for it as well, such as how the servants have to avert their eyes while she crowns herself, or how to get to her dressing room she walks past expensive murals depicting her own public persona.


                            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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                            • #15
                              All right, Chapter Two:

                              I wonder if Sesus Daral’s derision represents a cultural bias, or a personal one. I’ve often thought that the Realm wouldn’t have something like the Imperial Chinese Confucian disdain for merchants, if a number of Dynasts are involved in commercial activity, but perhaps they draw exacting distinctions in a manner that would leave the kind of business the Nellens are involved in looked down upon. In any case, I like introducing the Dynasty with a tense social scene.

                              Aww darn it; this is going to have artwork when published, possibly ruining my mental image of Daral as Jasper from Steven Universe.

                              Oh, wait, Daral is a man; nevermind.

                              Heh, the only thing that could have improved my liking of such an argument is it fluidly turning into a duel.

                              (What does he mean by insult to Sesus’ father?)

                              And it ends nicely. I enjoy these characters.

                              So, let’s have a look at this general introduction…

                              Yes, that’s a good basic introduction to what Houses are and how they do; I think the comparison to nations in particular casts a certain light on their operations. Prominent bloodlines are about the same… but here’s an addition that I’d caught before, how the House leadership is now specifically referred to as the matriarch. That seems like quite a bit of power conferred in an individual, and it looks like a much more official position than it used to be. I wonder at the implications that has for how the Realm in general is organised.

                              Huh, I wasn’t expecting a guideline on naming conventions… if Dynastic names are mostly chosen for euphony, does that mean that they’re generally ad hoc? Or at least were when they originated?

                              Aaaand important House properties, such as land and magical prodigies, are held in a corporate manner, which should add an interesting dimension to internal House politics.

                              Oooof, I’m taken aback by that use of the word “symbology”; even leaving aside whether it’s a real word or not, it would refer to the study of symbols, not the application of them. That really should be symbolism. As to the substance of their symbolism… the idea that House colours are out of fashion, and thus carry a particular statement, is an interesting dimension to add to House culture.

                              Okay, the Houses themselves; taking two at a time. And to start, we have Cathak, so let’s see what they did to finally make them interesting.

                              Still a military focus (nothing wrong with that), but with a general predilection for adventure… they get standing from the assumption that their military service or similar leaves them well-travelled (possibly in contrast with the more austere Tepets)… and a certain competitive streak. I think it’s a good idea to add a subtle recent trend to a House; gives them a sense of organic history, as well as framing the power of a House matriarch.

                              The idea that they have a military approach to politics is curious, and I wonder what it might consist of in practice.

                              Ahh, now there is something interesting; that their priorities in marriage negotiations can favour Dynasts of lower status, giving them a romantic image in the Dynasty as a whole. There’s a
                              lot that can be built on that foundation. Plus the idea of military husbands being put through the wringer, an amusing reversal of certain literary conventions.

                              Hmm, here’s a rather significant change to the conventions of the Realm; limiting House legions to only three of them. Even apart from what it’s saying here, about the business and social dynamics behind that, it probably eliminates the idea that House legions were generally inferior. It also casts the Houses appropriating the Imperial military in a very different light. I can’t quite remember the dynamic that was given to the Tepet military, but the Cathaks strike me as a more military adventurer type, with the stated emphasis on acquiring territories, with the interesting twist of it including some financial chicanery and flipping businesses; between that and the marriage section, I can already imagine some strong partnerships that can be made in the setting.

                              The relationship with their satrapies is about the same, buuut… ah, here’s something that I was particularly hoping for; distinct House strategies for the Realm’s future. I’ve always said that I’ve liked the sidebar in the Second Edition core, and this idea that Cathak’s strategy is to state that it will support whomever acquires the Throne as a means of courting favour and wealth from the
                              other Houses definitely feels like it is in the spirit of that sidebar. I approve of it.

                              Let’s see, their military philosophy… the idea of Cainan’s influence leading to the practice of attaching spiritual advisors is nice, but I particularly like the notion that they apply the principle of the Thousand Correct Actions in terms of how units need to be heroes, rather than individuals.

                              It’s interesting that Cathak doesn’t really seem to have any distinct allies, which casts its strategy in the succession crisis in a particular light. Plus how even its antagonistic relationships are more… subtle, it makes Cathak seem like a good choice for playing a Dynast who can move in a lot of circles.

                              So, Cathak has a headquarters now, in the form of a spiritually provocative fortress, aaaand they’re the ones attached to the old standby of Harborhead and the new hotness of Fa… ah, I initially misread that as being Faxai (as in the Caul), but no, it’s “just” a new Western satrapy.

                              As for the personages, it’s an interesting idea to detail the House founder and a line of continuity to the current matriarch like this, in a bit of House mythmaking. Cainan’s position in particular has a strong change to it, that plays more off of the matriarchal bent of the Realm as a whole, with his leadership being something unusual that he strives to live up to, while still retaining (in a somewhat lower key form) the element of him being a viable candidate for the throne but for his age.

                              Incidentally, I find the idea that even a leading man gets called “matriarch” to validate my long-held notion that most people expect to call the new monarch “Empress” regardless of gender. 😊

                              Garel’s not bad, although I don’t find anything to particularly stand out about her. Nothing wrong with that, just that it leaves her a bit utilitarian. Whereas Elanda… well, it’s a distinct idea to have somebody with a form of disability (at least prior to Exaltation) exist to provide a kind of internal outsider’s perspective on the Realm and Dynasty.

                              ​I'm going to leave it at that for the moment, since half of this post consists of the general House assessment, I'll be skipping Tepet anyway, and I have a pressing engagement.


                              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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