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Isator Levi reads Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought

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  • Final chapter. This shouldn’t take long.

    First a fiction returning us to Righteous River, as she deals with news that four Anathema are present on the sacrosanct Blessed Isle. I like the dynamic here with a mortal member of a Great House acting on their behalf; he might not have the power, but he can assert some of the attitude if he’s on business for one of the Exalted.

    Ah, so as of the setting’s year zero, River is no longer in the Immaculate Order, through a combination of guilt for having survived where several shikari died, and a wish to marry a woman. Aaaand one of the escaped Anathema is the one that was captured alive in the opening fiction. Makes sense. That she has a family also means she fears retribution, so she asks them to go into hiding while she, too, gets the band back together. That group probably has some interesting times ahead.

    River’s fiction isn’t quite the insight into an Exalt in the Order that I would have expected, but I find it a compelling narrative in its own right.

    So, Chapter Ten, Princes of the Earth. How shall I approach it…

    Fairly minimalistic, at this late stage. Comment only upon character traits and stories that seem particularly interesting, and any QC renditions of Charms that might hint at distinct powers.

    Hmm, there’s a new Imperial bureaucrat in the form of Amon Mora, a patrician in charge of the daily functioning of the Imperial palace (including safeguarding its treasure, files and arsenal), and descendent of a dispossessed Shogunate gens. He’s highly placed, but keeps apart from Dynastic politics, having no Exalted children or family, and thus a distinctly lone Terrestrial. He doesn’t quite have an agenda regarding the Throne, so much as a very reserved standard for offering support. Oh, and he stands as a nice bit of asexual representation. Let’s see, usually accompanied by a unit of Palace guards… and possesses the Artifact that is the First Imperial Seal, used both mundanely to seal documents in the Empress’ name and the actual key to the palace; its holder or an appointed representative needs to greet visitors so that the sorcerous defences won’t regard them as intruders (I can see that as having given Mora power to control the Empress’ appointments, keeping certain petitioners waiting), as well as literally opening certain inner chambers. Hmm, unless when it says that people of the Empress’ blood are automatically welcome it means anybody descended from her in any degree… still useful. It also has an Evocation for improving defensive prowess against intruders.

    Berit is one of the daughters of the Scarlet Empress who achieved great battlefield acclaim, but was distinctly never granted a House of her own despite publicly expressing a desire for one. Berit led a force to fight a particularly troublesome Lunar, whom she personally slew in single-combat, after which she still wasn’t granted a House despite all other honours and accolades, resulting in an estrangement from her mother and self-imposed exile to a marginal island prefecture. She lives in almost complete isolation as a scholar, and is rumoured on the island to be responsible for disappearances for sinister purposes. With the disappearance of the Empress, many Dynasts want to win her favour, since she’s still an acclaimed general, and if she can, she’d look to acquire the throne for herself. Children of the Empress who lacked Houses were always an interesting background detail, and it’s nice to see one placed at the foreground with some baggage and a chance to shake up the power structures of the Dynasty. She’s also at about the height of power that typical Exalted could reach.

    Heh, I like her Major Principle regarding hard work. A Water Aspect ought to be so salty.

    Yeeah, for the time being, I’m only going to skim the quick character Charms. If Mnemon still has greater than Essence 5, I’ll examine hers more closely, but otherwise they can wait.

    Cathak Cainan. I mostly know his story already, between some old elements of the backstory with his brother, and the new relationship with Cathak herself. He’s a solid and high-minded authority in the Realm, and due to advanced age prefers to play the role of queenmaker. He’s still sexy, but can feel himself slowing down. And while he’s fair and honourable, he is so according to his own terms, which aren’t exactly accommodating to satrapies (although still extends to an aversion for duplicity).

    Cynis Cogen is a grandson of the House founded, who after a couple centuries of living according to the House ethos and serving as a spy, grew bored of the hedonism and responded to losing his wife to old age by turning to the Immaculate Order in a search for meaning. He became an itinerant monk to travel as a teacher and searcher for heresy, applying his intelligence gathering skill for the Order’s benefit. He’s a powerful fighter, enjoying battle and holding nothing back as he doesn’t expect to live long anyway. He also still has a lingering connection to the Dynasty through his daughters and old friends, which draws him to the periphery of intrigues.

    Ledaal Kes is another with a familiar story, a child prodigy with a much repeated story of playing Gateway against the Scarlet Empress in his youth, and Exalting extraordinarily young, creating a drive to excel in all he did. He’s widely popular and has a taste for the finer things available to Dynasts, and is married to his longtime friend and rival Ragara Szaya, with whom he has created numerous strange inventions, and a mutually open relationship owing to their respective sexualities. In public, he’s an official of the Treasury in the inner circle of minister Bal Keraz, tasked with keeping track of currency flow and counterfeiting (a kind of Exalted Sir Isaac Newton), and is secretly an agent of the All-Seeing Eye. He’s rooted a bit in the Dynasty’s adjustments with a bit of resentment for being subject to sexist remarks, but overall uses being underestimated to his advantage. His primary motivation isn’t precisely to a higher loyalty, so much as the intellectual stimulation that comes from treating everything like a puzzle to solve.

    Ah, I’ve wanted to see Mnemon, even if much of her story already seems to have been provided in the write-up of her House. Hmm, I feel as though there’s a slight contradiction in describing her as older than four hundred, but never mind that for now. Her bloodline is impeccable, her manses are renowned, and the prestige of her House is among the Realm’s finest. Many think of her as already being close to the next Empress, and few are happy about it for how ruthless and unyielding she is, as well as her litany of grudges.

    Oho, that’s a fun new detail; in First Edition, she took pride in her birth having no omens, in contrast to Ragara’s meteor shower, whereas now her birth was heralded by an earthquake. But the story of her Exalting in later teenage while sparring with a hidden Sidereal sifu remains the same. It still has the story of Ragara’s attempted poisoning via suit of armour, but it also seems to suggest that the Versino did not actually dramatically fall, Mnemon just fled to the Immaculate Order because it wasn’t safe, and from there developed training in warfare (another newer detail) and sorcery. She’s got a reputation for hardly being defenceless even when not bearing obvious arms, including the old idea of often having a retinue of invisible demons. She’s immensely powerful, but still power hungry, and still carries the Emerald Thurible.

    She’s a devout and sincere adherent of the Immaculate Order, having funded construction of monasteries, had a hand in selecting the Mouth of Peace, and either financed Wyld Hunts or personally led them. But she still has a possible tendency to follow the principles of the Philosophy more in letter than spirit. She’s also got a practice of having private audience with House members who join the Order, to both congratulate them and instruct them on how to reconcile loyalties to both institutions.

    Let’s see, apparently never married, but numerous consorts and lovers, carefully selected for pedigree and power. Huh, it’s nice that she actually lavishes affection on her lovers, even while she’ll be trying to find marriages for them that suit her agendas.

    And she’s an especially hands-on matriarch, deeply invested in the personal lives of descendents. Still, in keeping with her revised character, she’s noted to offer wisdom and comfort in addition to scolding and scorn, although she probably has little mercy for those who go against her. Hehehe, I like the idea of her going sleepless nights to plan a descendant’s marriage or counsel a nervous child, that nice blend of controlling and affectionate. I like the overall image that members of the House can see a less severe side to her than the Dynasty as a whole does, even if it’s still one that is an admirable and fearsome pillar of power. Plus an acerbic sense of humour, you can’t go wrong with that.

    Heh, after all of that, why not let her still have a certain view of the throne as her birthright?

    Just a quick observation of the technical write-up: I expected that it was possible that Mnemon would be brought down to Essence 5. Not just because of the revised principle of what Essence constitutes, but because of notes when the whole attitude towards Essence was first brought up; the question of what higher Essence actually brought and gave to a character. For all Mnemon’s gravitas, she was never exactly presented as a figure with grander powers outside of her sorcery, so better to keep her more on the level of “pinnacle of expected Exalted power”. Thus, there wouldn’t be any special powers in her Charms, so those can be glided past.

    And I like her Intimacies and all, including what holds equal billing as Defining to her.

    Huh, the Emerald Thurible has a couple of Evocations, one in expected spirit binding, the other a nice image of making demon smoke to reduce costs to materialize.

    Ahhh dammit, I have no time… I don’t want to bomb through the rest, but I want to post up before the Kickstarter’s deadline, as I just want to review my pledge to ensure that everything is in order.

    If I hadn’t lost a day… well, can’t be helped. I’ll return to finish shortly.


    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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    • Wait... never mind, I got faulty information on how British Summer Time corresponded to Irish time. There's still another hour to go. More than enough.

      Back in a tick.


      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


      • Now, Ragara Benoru, another new character. An unusually morally focused Dynast growing up (particularly for her House), she distinguished herself in youth by taking part in a peasant uprising, lending the rebels in a manner that kept them against responding legions. She was offered clemency in return for surrender, and the Empress regarded her as being ideal for the magistracy. By the time of the setting, she’s served for decades, with several prestigious cases against corruption and conspiracy that have made her widely storied in the Realm (to the disapproval of authorities). Yeah, even I can often forget about the magistrates, so it’s a good idea to include at least one in this section.

        The renown she has gives Benoru an advantage in the uncertain times, which she leverages to often place herself in the homes of Dynasts in which it would be inexpedient to murder her, or allow another to do so, while she still fulfils her duties. But she doesn’t interpret that duty as maintaining order for the benefit of the corrupt Dynasts, and has a potential to galvanize the people into further rebellion, another interesting addition to the possible dynamics of civil war (along with the chapter fiction to suggest patricians seizing the Imperial City). The text might not be presenting her as a candidate for empress, but I’m either reading between the lines or applying my own knowledge of history when I see something in her reminiscent in many Chinese peasants who died as sovereigns.

        Heh, “hare was once a dragon”, nice word play.

        Huh, and she’s also married to a woman in House Ledaal. I’d suppose that’s unusual for magistrates, but if she’s still technically a Dynast… in any case, I like the note on how her typical demeanour reminiscent of a peasant shocks many who hear her speak in a thunderous, commanding voice when performing duties as a magistrate. Plus her having a Minor Principle of repeating peasant superstitions despite protesting that she doesn’t believe in them.

        Ahh, good oul’ Sesus Nagezzer. What’s he been up to? The outset is about the same as it ever was, with his Throne of Roses (although I think the derisive name might be new), and his retinue of the scum of the earth. One thing that I like are the emphases in his physical description; not just his grooming, but how in addition to being quite fat, he’s very tall and surprisingly powerful (while his leg is still maimed). I even see an element of making his appetites more impressive than off-putting. Plus the idea that he’s a very reserved man at social events.

        Still has the martial backstory (including how the wound came from a powerful spirit), although I feel as though the idea that he built himself up as a paragon of martial prowess has more bravado than he did in First Edition. Given what is emphasized in the Immaculate Order now, it’s interesting to consider that his shift in focus might have come less from being totally incapable of resuming his prior standing, and more in growing to see the value of an alternative path (even if full recovery was still in question). It combines interestingly with the House’s overall tendency towards spycraft now. So he’s got his entourage of hangers-on to obscure his agents and petitioners, as well as having a cousin of poor standing direct mercenary activities that are presumably beneficial to the Realm.

        Huh, Essence 4, he’s actually rather powerful now. And has quite a few skills to make rolls on. I like the name of his weapon, and among his Intimacies think the more interesting are the contrast between distrusting his House and trusting the Sesus cousin that works under him.

        All right, final character, Tepet Ejava, the Roseblack. First off described as somebody who disdained House politics to serve the Realm, complicating her status as a possible saviour of Tepet. Still has the noteworthy background story of having been born on the battlefield, as well as some elements of her distinctly violent Exaltation story (in the Aspect book, she recalled briefly thinking that she had become a Lunar). I can’t recall if “the Roseblack” was ever put into context, but here it’s given as a derisive nickname from an incident in which he destroyed a teacher’s treasured rose garden (the monster!*), which she decided to lean into as a show of humility, being carried through her achievements until it was a mark of pride. Heh, I like that as another kind of thing that plays into the Caesar comparisons, given the origins of that name.

        The battle of Futile Blood upended her worldview with the major defeat to the Realm and loss of so many family, friends and comrades, so with the dire straight the House is in, even ones that are jealous of her would sooner have her prowess leading the one, inferior legion that they were saddled with. Ejava is said to have refined the Vermillion Legion significantly in her years in command, clearing up some more old ambiguities about its status. She’s described as a consummate officer, and one that has distinctly put off marriage to her House’s consternation. She’s mentioned to have a single close-friend and confidante, one Ragara Nova, prefect for Chanos, but otherwise rather socially withdrawn and more at home commanding battle. She’s finally described with her iconic features, her red hair (described as being of the same kind of as Scarlet Empress) and her green jade panoply.

        Aaaand that’s everybody. I’m just going to quickly look through the ending fiction.

        Oh, wait, this is covering every member of the Kinship individually? I’m going to post this now, and come back for the denouement after I’ve reviewed my Kickstarter pledge.


        * And I’m not being ironic; I have a distinct dislike for people’s precious possessions being destroyed.
        Last edited by Isator Levi; 04-26-2018, 12:21 PM.


        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


        • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
          All right, final character, Tepet Ejava, the Roseblack. First off described as somebody who disdained House politics to serve the Realm, complicating her status as a possible saviour of Tepet. Still has the noteworthy background story of having been born on the battlefield, as well as some elements of her distinctly violent Exaltation story (in the Aspect book, she recalled briefly thinking that she had become a Lunar). I can’t recall if “the Roseblack” was ever put into context, but here it’s given as a derisive nickname from an incident in which he destroyed a teacher’s treasured rose garden (the monster!*), which she decided to lean into as a show of humility, being carried through her achievements until it was a mark of pride. Heh, I like that as another kind of thing that plays into the Caesar comparisons, given the origins of that name.
          Could you elaborate here a bit? I feel like I'm missing something...


          A tinkering effort at bringing Raksha into Ex3: Fair Folk: The Beautiful Thieves

          A tinkering effort at bringing fate ninjas into Ex3: Sidereals: Where Fate Has Led - Album of the Charm Trees thereof.

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          • Originally posted by wastevens View Post

            Could you elaborate here a bit? I feel like I'm missing something...
            ​The full name of the famous general of the late Roman Republic was Gaius Julius Caesar. In ancient Roman naming conventions, one could have three names; the personal name (in this case, Gaius), the names of the family or gens (here Julius), and the cognomen, which is basically a kind of hereditary nickname; an ancestor receives a cognomen for some distinct trait or achievement, and it persists through the family line. For example, Caesar's contemporary and rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, his cognomen meaning "the Great", bestowed upon him by the dictator Sulla in recognition of his military achievements. Or Publius Cornelius Scipio, given the additional and personal cognomen Africanus, given to him after his victory over Carthage.

            ​The exact origin of the Caesar cognomen is disputed; Pliny the Elder asserted that it came from an ancestor born by Caesarean section (coming from the verb caedere, to cut), whereas a Roman text from about two hundred years after he died suggested that it either came from caesaries (meaning hairy, suggesting an ancestor with an especially think head of it), oculus caesiis (referring to bright grey eyes), or for killing an elephant (or caesai, in a North African language) in battle. That Julius Caesar issued coins depicting elephants suggests that he favoured the last explanation, whereas the one about being hairy would be particularly ironic due to his own receding hairline (of which he was reportedly quite self-conscious).

            ​So who knows; perhaps whatever "Roseblack" is pronounced as in Old or High Realm could eventually become the basis for a number of ruling titles, as Caesar became for Rome, transitioning to kaiser for German speaking countries, and tsar for Russia.


            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


            • Now, the last fiction to close the book.

              Starts with Righteous River, engaged with an old tic of massaging her hand after writing a number of letters, and speculating that it is exaggerated by knowing that the Anathema that her Hearth captured when she got the tic is on the loose, and reflecting (perhaps even flashing back) to that Wyld Hunt. She’s already gotten Eshuvar on board with her plan, and has faith in the rest of her Kin coming through, thinking that the Solar is their responsibility for having been brought to the Blessed Isle by them, and bitterly attributing having taken him alive to pride, while resolving to deal with the consequences of their actions.

              It moves ahead a bit to Eshuvar accompanying River as they’re on a ship, and he’s noted to employ his anima to keep his clothes free from salt spray, while the two talk about seeing their old friends again (with Eshuvar having a particular desire to see Mathar), and a note on how the two have been able to grow closer over the years for living in the same society; Eschuvar being the one that summoned the neomah to create River’s child with her wife, and River having helped Eshuvar out with his wife when he once pushed things too far. It’s a nice insight into part of a Kinship, a few decades down the line and when most of their glory days are behind them. River also reflects on how Eschuvar has changed and not changed in the intervening years, thinking that getting away from the Isle is lifting a weight from him, which builds effectively from what was put up in his own chapter fiction.

              It returns to Kingfisher Swift in the study of her patrician niece, who expresses concerns that their Exalt being away to stop an Anathema from building power and targeting their families might keep her away from helping out if the Dynasty finally goes to war, while Swift (trusting an assessment given by River) assures her that the Houses are unlikely to start making moves before the Solar acts, which her niece agrees with, but expresses a hope that returning to help in an uprising will take priority if it happens before stopping their quarry. I like this one both for continuing a prior narrative, and for one of the Kin being torn between obligations, rather than feeling a relief to go on an adventure.

              Cut to Mathar on the road out of Lookshy, greatly looking forward to seeing his Hearth again, before being accosted by a fellow Lookshyan Exalt, one Vaya, who effectively sabotaged his career in the intelligence service by bringing attention to how he had varied contacts (many in the Realm) that he wouldn’t draw upon. She’s also trying to convince him to not place loyalty to Dynasts over Lookshy. The cross-cultural nature of the Hearth was always interesting, and I like how we get an image of it causing difficulties for at least one member.

              Back to Left Hand Chalima, having fortuitously received the latter informing her of the escaped Solar the day after sending out her own letter inquiring about the Realm’s position on the increase of Anathema activity, and hinting a desire to ride in the Wyld Hunt, with her husband helping her into her armour. They exchange a rather sweet goodbye before she heads off. Don’t really think this has much commentary on an Exalt’s position, it’s just effectively humanising.

              And so the group meets back up in the area where they first came together, now with a town built over it, with River in particular hoping that there’s no trace of the tools that she used to write up the condolence letters that she so hates the memory of. The group catches up, draws up plans, consults a map to determine where the Solar is in a manner reminiscent of their first Hunt. Swift is again the one who suggests that the group should renew their oath, and the group goes so far as to go out and find the actual spots upon which they initially bound themselves, in public view. The fiction ends on a note of River’s contentment at being home.

              As I said at the beginning, the introduction of the signature Hearth was very good for really giving us a group of Exalted with a sense of camaraderie, for basically the first time ever. Seeing how those characters changed in the ensuing time was a good throughline for the chapter fictions, and for them to come together again and go off, dedicated to an important task, gives a nice sense of them transitioning into the uncertainty of the Time of Tumult. It’s actually more than just a good introduction to a group of Exalted, it’s a very effective use of the medium to draw one a bit more into the setting, and help the fictions flow together. It’s a good end to what has been a very well made book; brimming with energy and personality and vivid imagery, that I am sure will prompt many fine games.



              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


              • Nagezzar's Manse being called the Throne of Roses actually goes back to his very first appearance in the 1e core, where he inherited it as a byproduct of having poisoned his mother for pitying him unduly for his condition.

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                • Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                  Nagezzar's Manse being called the Throne of Roses actually goes back to his very first appearance in the 1e core, where he inherited it as a byproduct of having poisoned his mother for pitying him unduly for his condition.
                  I am 100% aware.

                  ​Was it ever called the Fungal Manse before?


                  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


                  • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                    I am 100% aware.

                    ​Was it ever called the Fungal Manse before?
                    Nope. Forgot about that part of the writeup.

                    Comment


                    • Thanks for doing this. I found your read-through both enjoyable and enlightening.


                      I want to play this as a starting character, I don't even care what game
                      http://forum.atlas-games.com/viewtop...7a1c&start=272

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                      • I really like the write up in this book of the artifacts, not that I have any imagination to make my own, but this certainly gives some nice ideas .

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