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Isator Levi reads Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought

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  • #91
    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
    You know, I've never really been a fan of the notion of Ragara as secretly badass, but damn it if I can't see something to work with in the idea of him drawing longevity from a daiklave. If nothing else, it could be an idea that getting it to up the juice to him so that he can fight at a higher level is something he would only do under the most desperate circumstances because it would rapidly eat away at the life he has left.

    ​I developed this image: Ragara sitting in a wheelchair, alone for the fact that his orderly has already gone out and fallen in his defence. He's sitting there, in a white robe yellowed with age, shrivelled and with lank, brittle hair hanging down from his pate, lifting himself slightly to look at the people confronting him. One ultimately moves forward to finally put him out of everybody's misery... and then a needle of blackened blood shoots from his left wrist, piercing the attacker in a vulnerable spot just enough to make them stagger back.

    ​Ragara grasps the needle and drags it across the length of his body, pulling away lines of blood that follow the traces of his veins and arteries, shredding through his robe as they go, before congealing into the shape of a black and gold daiklave, with red accents. His left hand drops to the ornate ceramic head of his arm rest, crushing it to reveal a hearthstone, that he places into the daiklave.

    ​Ragara stands, the remains of his robe dropping away to reveal a thin, wiry body covered in scar tissue, that rapidly blackens as though blood was congealing throughout his skin. He falls into a feral stance and lifts his weapon to rest upon his shoulder, while what hair he has straightens out and darkens a bit, and he raises his glance to look at those confronting him from beneath his brow.

    ​Well, it's good enough for me.

    ​(For a less overwrought version, and what originally came to my mind, there's something as simple as him keeping the sword concealed within his wheelchair, and if he draws it to fight, it confers enough vitality to effectively swing it around, but not quite sufficient to fully restore mobility)
    I really like this.


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    • #92
      Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
      I really like this.
      Posts like that one drive me to check out his recent posts, just to make sure I didn't miss anything.

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      • #93
        As a visual reference, my image of Ragara is King Bumi crossed with David Lo Pan crossed with the Old Monk from Demon's Souls when he's in the chair, and when he pulls Blood Zenith from out of himself he goes to Bumi crossed with Mishima Heihachi crossed with Slave Knight Gael (except very thin, as opposed to those rather bulky characters).


        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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        • #94
          Something that I only just considered about the Houses having descriptions of their military forces:

          ​Quite apart from how it's very beneficial to lay that kind of thing out in reasonable detail if a war is supposed to be in their future, it's a very solid change for them to actually have the number of legions divided differently in accordance with need and political bargaining, as opposed to the old system of everybody getting exactly two each (with... probably some adjustment for Nellens, Tepet and Iselsi, that I can't quite remember because it was probably vague). I'll admit, the notion that they divided the legions evenly always struck me as rather odd, as well as leaving them with forces that seemed a bit flimsy for what they intended to do.


          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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          • #95
            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
            I'll admit, the notion that they divided the legions evenly always struck me as rather odd
            I see what you did there.

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            • #96
              Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
              I see what you did there.
              ​Entirely coincidental.


              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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              • #97
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                Something that I only just considered about the Houses having descriptions of their military forces:

                ​Quite apart from how it's very beneficial to lay that kind of thing out in reasonable detail if a war is supposed to be in their future, it's a very solid change for them to actually have the number of legions divided differently in accordance with need and political bargaining, as opposed to the old system of everybody getting exactly two each (with... probably some adjustment for Nellens, Tepet and Iselsi, that I can't quite remember because it was probably vague). I'll admit, the notion that they divided the legions evenly always struck me as rather odd, as well as leaving them with forces that seemed a bit flimsy for what they intended to do.
                The legions were not divided evenly two to each House in previous editions, though you get a different distribution depending on which pieces of contradictory information you choose for interpretation (whether the total count is 30 or 31 is contested between editions!). I found this thread compiling info from late 1E and early 2E that gives a fairly wide spread between the Houses even back then.

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                • #98
                  What was said in the First Edition core, then.


                  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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                  • #99
                    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                    What was said in the First Edition core, then.
                    "Houses Cathak and Sesus each maintain five legions, with the other nine houses funding the other 20 legions." page 46 of Exalted First Edition, "The Legions".

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                    • All right, time to cover chapter three, Life in the Scarlet Dynasty.

                      Our opening fiction features Sesus Eshevur (obviously our only signature who is actually part of the Scarlet Dynasty proper), visiting his lover as he contemplates his tumultuous marriage to an unExalted Dynast. What’s interesting here is that even though she’s the mortal, and the idea that such marriage (and the implication of having borne Exalted children) is a necessary elevation of her status, that some of the gender stereotypes still seem to hold true; his philandering seen as an insult to her, as he plays into the image of being a disobedient playboy.


                      Let’s see, he’s recounting a bit of the values that his mother taught him, contemplating whether or not his life should be elevated above those of mortals, and recounting his relationship to his Hearth (which he seems to feel unworthy of). Ah, that’s interesting, a sense of anxiety over his gender. I presume that by “mother’s only son” he means that he has sisters.

                      Aaaand that’s about it, before he’s off for a tryst.

                      I think it’s an interesting fiction to introduce the Dynasty; it doesn’t shy away from the privileges, and the values and skills that they would be raised with, while also giving insight into some unique aspects of their culture and the issues that might produce in somebody.

                      Now, let’s see how the other half lives.

                      You know, I’m kind of glad that there’s no preamble giving an overview of them. We’ve really already gotten that anyway in the first couple of chapters, so I approve of diving straight into each phase of their life. So, what is the childhood of a Dynast like?

                      It opens up with the familiar nigh-Victorian attitude to child-rearing, albeit with a more direct focus on it being the responsibility of the mother, and not entirely against the idea of loving one’s child; it just shouldn’t get in the way of raising them to be Princes of the Earth. Specifically also how they’re not against being barely involved, so much as one carefully manages their rearing and education.

                      Now that’s an interesting take on the idea that early life is spent primarily in the presence of servants; one is being conditioned from a very early age to command, and see oneself as higher in status. I’m guessing that primary school is the first time one starts to be acclimatised to an environment of peers. Also works well with the idea that one is still subject to corrections if one’s childhood authority should be misused.

                      Ahh, I like the idea of breaking down and detailing the specific roles of one’s childhood servants. So they’ve got the nanny, the initial provider and possible first source of affection, protected against the possibility of a cruel charge by how this would damage the family’s reputation. The tutors, who oversee their early play activities and introduce them to the first stage of education, with a focus on the physical and probably basic ideas of history, culture and the layout of the Dynasty (with an erroneously repeated line). And the slaves, who provide early playmates and a class environment for their initial instruction (Dragons help the Dynastic child who is initially outperformed by the slaves, although their prospects can’t be good either), who can grow up alongside them and sometimes be valued servants. With a final note on the exceptional circumstances in which one has a sibling of the same age, as well as how children from family friends are also gradually introduced (so the peer environment comes shortly before attending school), and regular encounters with actual Exalted, to help instil their sense of awe.

                      It’s an interesting picture of the Dynast childhood, with a bit more texture than it used to have. It’s not just a harsh educational regimen, there’s also the earliest stage of instilling their values and laying the groundwork to define their place in the world.

                      Huh, a sidebar on the subject of Dynast orphans; I don’t think I’d ever really considered those to be a thing before. So in their value system, it’s generally viewed that one needs a mother to oversee their early life, even if the father is still alive, so one without a mother will generally be taken in by somebody else in the House. There’s a value there for couples that can’t have children of their own for any reason, which I suspect can resolve the complication of dissolved marriages (if those are still around). In any case, so long as one has parents to arrange the nannies, tutors and slaves, their childhood is about the same.

                      We get an overview of education, how it’s funded by the Empress and donations from applying parents, and what its aims are, and a summary of the four secondary schools. Tutors are given a more detailed explanation; it starts within the first couple of years, and they’re selected by the House matriarch, with the child’s own mother in consultation. Generally patricians, although it’s sometimes how newly graduated Exalted spend their sabbaticals. As well as the basics, different Houses have their own priorities, such as appreciation for fine art and music and recognising good lackeys in Cynis, or more specific fields such as mathematics and history for Mnemon (particularly being taught about the life of Mnemon). Oh, I like this particular detail of them all being taught basic medicine and how to recognize poisons; I wonder if that’s a case of a later life skill that can’t be taught early enough, being better safe and sorry, or if enemies of a House actually do regularly attempt to poison the children. Actually, with the two details together, I’m given to wonder how many Dynastic children have been required to give life-saving first aid to any of their school mates or friends.

                      I’m glad for this section; a lot of these things were still present in the prior books, but in a more vague and generic manner, that meant that they evidently stuck less. A firm focus, with examples, this is a case in which clarity and detail is to the benefit of the material.

                      The motivation of their tutoring is laid out, with a final note of how it’s regularly tested in public, as well as a sidebar about occasionally, a child with a special future in mind (or possibly more personal motives) is kept home for specialized education throughout the primary, or even secondary level.

                      Then there’s primary school, with the notion of class environment being not just about competing against peers, but for the actual attention of teachers, which can be a stress to new students. The staff of schools will be used to dealing with even young Dragon Blooded, and function to ensure that they won’t be cowed (probably because it would interfere in their education; it’s probably doing no nine-year old any favours if they go around threatening their teachers with elemental bolts, and I imagine that their mothers make that very clear to them). Childhood friendships (or other relationships; I imagine that there are more than a few cases of somebody lower on the totem pole suddenly rising above with Exaltation) have a hard time surviving the pressure of their environment, not just to excel, but as every year brings them closer to the deadline for being Chosen, with the higher years of high school in particular starting to fixate on superstitions and rituals in the hopes of becoming Exalted. The methods are technically futile, but have credibility from being stressful and dangerous enough to occasionally trigger the power in those who already had the potential, which is a fun idea about how such things continue and compound. To actually be Exalted is to have a pall of separation fall between oneself and the mortal student body.

                      On the note describing the quality of the schools themselves, I like the note on how for some schools and some families, it actually represents a step down in one’s familiar standard of living, while still being viewed as necessary as a means of seeing life outside of the manse one was born in. It’s also got to be a singularly stressful experience to be part of the staff of an underfunded school, when one of the patrician children Exalts; possibly, the Great House that will adopt them make a point of paying for the repair of any damages.

                      The curriculum is government mandated, with an eye to ensuring uniformity and conformity, and has a requirement for an advanced political or religious course. Makes sense; either one probably is probably intrinsic to the Dynastic place in the world, so they’d want to ensure that everybody comes through with related skills and indoctrination. And there are the specialty schools, with additional advanced courses to make them more attractive to a particular kind of parent. I wonder about how possible patronage for that interacts with Dynastic policies; would Mnemon fund an architectural school for the sake of giving her own scions an early start in the family business, or be against it as a system that might educate competitors? I also like the idea of field trips to the Threshold by schools specializing in the government of satrapies; that must be a stressful time for parents, and a golden opportunity for the likes of the Lunar Exalted.

                      Finally there’s a breakdown of the typical school day, with the classics after breakfast, specialty practical subjects in the afternoon, and metaphyics and the world in the evening. The merits of study past lights out varies depending on how it affects performance. There’s also a sidebar on what to do with students who show themselves incapable of aligning with the disciplined school life, sent off to the industrial schools of the House of Ancient Stone and Palace of the Tamed Storm. I like the comment on how the child being killed by the schools harsh discipline is an undesirable outcome, but a risk worth taking if one has demonstrated themselves to be uncontrollable by the other schools (which may still include the odd individual with a learning disability or tendency to question imperial dogma, unfortunately).

                      Secondary school is definitely going to be a lengthy section, what with each institution being detailed, so I’ll return to that in a bit.


                      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                      Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
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                      • Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        AHuh, a sidebar on the subject of Dynast orphans; I don’t think I’d ever really considered those to be a thing before. So in their value system, it’s generally viewed that one needs a mother to oversee their early life, even if the father is still alive, so one without a mother will generally be taken in by somebody else in the House.
                        It's not about needing a mother, but about the mother's house retaining control of the children. (Where the mother was a patrician or a member of the father's house, the children could be expected to stay with the father; unfortunately, I didn't think to specify that during development.)


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                        • All right, secondary schools. They’re elective, but the students themselves don’t really get a say in it, instead being another area managed by their mother and matriarch, based on extensive reports on the entirety of the child’s life and the needs for the House and the Dynasty (and maybe the child, if it comes to that). Admission is not automatic, but influenced by making sure that the prospective stands out, and offering generous donations.

                          There’s a clarification on how each of the schools has a comprehensive curriculum to ensure that the graduates are well-rounded in the pursuit of the careers associated with the more specialized program of each school, so that’s good to diversify characters and ensure that nobody needs to have major shortcomings.

                          Secondary school also contrasts with primary on account of how everybody is going to be on a more even footing, so it’s where they’ll form their peer groups and reciprocal friendships, creating the skeleton of Dynastic decision-making.

                          Let’s see, anything interesting in the sidebar on mortal attendees… requires them to excel and have access to wealth and influence even before admittance, at which point they face the new pressure of needing to keep up with the Exalted. Oy, the idea that washing out leaves one being labelled as arrogant for ever having thought they could try, that’s rough. But the rewards for making it through seem as though they would be great.

                          So, if it takes particular benefits to be admitted, what becomes from those who can’t (or don’t wish to) get in? There’s a number of lesser secondary schools now, mostly for instructing people directly towards various branches of Realm service, several of which operate around the Spiral Academy (I like that “Outer Coil” name). This answers the question of what kind of higher education the mortals from primary school generally go on to; Exalted who attend get to be big fish in small ponds for a little while, but will be disadvantaged afterwards by lesser qualifications and lack of networking. Oh, but they’ll have the benefit of connections among patricians and the like, which certainly have their place in Dynast business.

                          Finally, some satrapies (particularly home to cadet houses) have a few secondary schools of their own, and there’s the brutal regime of Pasiap’s Stair for those outcastes who take the coin. Pasiap’s Stair seems a bit more standardised now, if Dragon Blooded will generally Exalt around their teens, even when more thin-blooded. It says that Dynasts might enrol if they want to test their stamina, but I wonder if doing so represents a certain break from your mother and matriarch.

                          Now, the schools themselves. First, the Cloister of Wisdom. Let’s see, the centre of their curriculum has been made meditation and mastery of their own Essence, surrounded by subjects that I would deem a general education rooted in Immaculate ethics. I think the layout of the school is about the same as it ever was, monastic structure, ascetic lifestyle for the students (including many outcastes preparing for life in the Order), instruction by the monks. I like the lengthy description of how the faculty break in new students and deal with them if they get unruly. It says that exposure to the prowess of instructors is desirable for the martial arts that it yields, but I can also readily image a matriarch looking at somebody who is a bit too heady from a recent Exaltation and thinks that they need the monks to offer some discipline.

                          Finally there’s a note on the graduates, with the intriguing notion that one of the benefits of the mindset cultivated by the time spent there gives them serenity and unobtrusiveness, being another reason to send students to that school specifically. Conversely, the Order benefits from running such a school by putting out sympathetic Dynasts who can be relied on to keep them informed.
                          Next is the Heptagram, something that I’ve been wondering about with the changes to how sorcery works. The introduction notes familiar points such as the school being based on the Isle of Voices and the complicated attitude that the Dynasty has towards sorcery. There’s an emphasis on how small the school is by how it only has a single lecture hall, and the idea of designated seating gives me a sense of there being a certain hierarchy to how they’re arranged (although I might not be thinking that through). Oh, the description of the more autodidactic instruction here reminds me of how the Cloister seems to have been changed up a bit, but I’ll come back to that. The important thing is that this seems to be where alternate initiations come in; they’re taught the basic principles, and then determine their personal path to true sorcery, under advisement from the teachers. They have big lectures for the entire student body to attend, and specific courses come up at the leisure of the master sorcerer. They otherwise have large amounts of material and infrastructure with which to study and experiment in their own right.

                          It may just be me, but several details of this are putting me in mind of the college of Byrgenwerth from Bloodborne. 😊

                          It’s still a difficult course on account of how hard it can be to master sorcery and the limited attention of the instructors, and there’s a reference to how not everybody who attends can even cut it for initiation. Between that and how there’s always liable to be a few who die, well, it’s definitely still far from the Hogwarts that many people would want it to be.

                          Here’s the sidebar laying out the Realm perspective on sorcery; generally off-putting due to its mysteries, the powers that it affords, and association with demons. Conversely, they’re still useful and can demand high prices for their services. The net result is lonely spellbinders who get visited only for as long as it takes to secure the use of their powers.

                          Suddenly, I’ve got another perspective on Mnemon; where whatever went on behind her own initiation in the adverse environment of her youth, the manner in which she was regarded afterwards contributed to her social coldness and made it that much harder to establish herself. With that perspective, I could see her capacity to build such a powerful House as even more of an achievement.

                          Err, the House of Bells, the Realm’s premier military academy (something that stands out more now that there are definitively other secondary schools for officer training). Historically more comprehensible but less interesting than the prior two, so let’s see what it’s got now. For one thing, it’s big, to accommodate the resources for military exercises (including a bay for naval training), as well as its own villages for accommodation and recreation, in addition to urban combat training. Now, it’s interesting that in comparison to the usual fantasy take on military training from hell, the House of Bells has an emphasis on safety (such as a preference for students to wash out over staying and being killed), and especially on the idea that camaraderie should help somebody who isn’t entirely up for it on their own to make it through the program. It makes sense, really, considering the communal nature of the Dragon Blooded, and how they might fight together. I suspect that more than a few training fangs become Sworn Kinships in the course of time. There are probably some interesting story hooks in the idea of a new tension between veteran House of Bells graduates and dropouts that the new policy in the legions makes room for.

                          They’ve got their intense early-morning physical training, a variety of military academic disciplines (interestingly including ethics), and specialized training under veteran Exalted (one of which gives the impression that the Realm approach to cavalry has been adjusted significantly; I’ve actually been wondering myself if their approach to archery is also different, if they’re engaged in more active warfare). Aaand they only get a few hours a day of sleep. Field exercises still include that unfortunate practice of hunting condemned criminals. And they’ll often name their Hearths for the squads that they trained in.

                          The House of Bells still isn’t quite as colourful as the others, but it’s a solid write-up.

                          Finally there’s the Spiral Academy*. Now, here’s an interesting idea with them being focused on extensive study of the Imperial Service not because they’ll actually take part on it, but because understanding the system is necessary to use it to their ends. They’ve got the comprehensive curriculum for study of rulership, and that old nugget of them being used for raw paperwork processing for the government and local businesses, for which they make bank. Despite the paper pushing, graduation means being qualified for high ranking administrative positions in the Imperial government and House businesses, and occasionally even fast track into the ranks of the ministers.
                          It also doubles up to teach the Dynasts general espionage skills in their diplomatic functions and to serve the purposes of the Houses, with a secret advanced course only for those who discover it. That seems like it might be a circuitous method of training All-Seeing Eye candidates, but considering the kinds of powers that they might be up against, I suppose that filtering them for the highest qualified has its merits.

                          And a note on secret societies that pervade the Academy, and provide a grounding and extension of the intrigues and scheming of the Dynasty at large. I’d say that for those who are put off by that, it’s offset a bit by at least one of them being focused on uncovering judicial corruption.

                          Yes, short write-up for the Spiral Academy, but it was always the workhorse school; the place where you got taught the general skills of being a Dynast, as opposed to the fraught military, the rare and esoteric sorcery, and the… necessary discipline of the Order’s school.

                          Need a moment, and then I’ll get into…

                          Oh, right, they’re talking about Pasiap’s Stair here as well. Okay, work through it…

                          Ahh right, this is the one with the more hellish training environment, owing to how most attending outcastes will not have powerful people to advocate for them. They’ve got to live in rough hewn cells and classrooms, and climb up and down a steep mountain just to get their field training. They’ve got some training to round out the lack of being brought up as Dynasts, and have the elder students help out and look out for the younger as part of that and building up their own form of camaraderie. Apart from what that does for the legions, I’ve got to imagine that House V’neef has a lot of vigour and closeness built into it from even before it was legally incorporated as a family. On the other hand, the group punishments lead to that occasional bit of murder of somebody holding the group back, and the associated official story with its colourful euphemism.

                          Outcaste sorcerers cut the teeth there rather than the Heptagram, and they end terms with big mock battles before graduates are sent to join the legions. Or were; with the legions made into arms of the power of the Great Houses, outcaste graduates of the last few years have had difficulty finding a position to reflect their qualifications. One has to wonder if any Dynasts have given serious consideration as to what happens to that backlog of highly trained outcastes that they’re refusing to give a job, or plans for the academy’s future.

                          And one last sidebar, concerning the subject of those who can’t cut it. They can get education elsewhere, although it reduces their prestige, and they can also make their own way with pursuits related to travel and society (I would guess that this can include the more artistic and adventurous types), who can make their own reputations. This is also where it details the postgraduate sabbatical, in which new Dynasts take some time off to cut loose and travel on their own terms after a life of highly regimented education. Many are expected to return within only a couple of years, but the Dynasty accommodates those who go much further and might take years or decades to come back and contribute to society.

                          Hmm, if sabbatical is in the sidebar, I suppose that the next section will be what happens when one actually returns to take on their first job. But I’ll come back to that later.

                          * I just want to say that I have noted that they all start off with a three word motto summarising their school’s focus and philosophy, I just can’t think of much to say about them.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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                          • Okay, I’ve covered the entirety of childhood, and am close to halfway through the chapter, so I’m going to see how far I can get into their early adulthood, and then call it a day.
                            It had already come up a couple of times in the secondary school section, but the education period at that stage has definitely been extended. I’m guessing that it goes as far as the age of 21 so that it covers the real life stages of both later secondary school (or high school) and college years. More comprehensively getting them into adulthood before they join society, with the associated privileges and duties.

                            The celebratory gala sounds like a fun affair, the kind of thing that you could open a chronicle with, and a particularly like the ritual of amending the rolls of the House to include the new Dynast. Likewise, the idea that it would be the first time you start to get sized up as a possible marriage partner plays into my image of an opener, where there’s somebody to introduce the players to all of the big names in the local circles. I think it’s good to lay out how, even at minimum, marriage negotiations can go on for a decade, to alleviate a sense that it’s something that is foisted upon the young.

                            So even apart from the sabbatical, the period after graduation is a time for relaxation, and taking consultation with House elders about one’s future. The idea that this is generally done without the input of the new addition reinforces the emphasis on conformity, the sense that, even if they don’t control the whole of your life, they ensure that you’re drawn into the fold in a function that benefits the House as a whole.

                            So, for House of Bells graduates, it used to be that the family would secure the highest ranked position possible for them, and if that wasn’t to taste they’d be liable to go off on sabbatical and await an opening or impressing an officer. I wonder if it was considered gauche to take sabbatical in proximity to a legion stationed in a satrapy or on campaign. Whereas since the Empress disappeared, they get drawn more or less immediately into the House legions, and are horded jealously while awaiting war.

                            Administrative training gets you assigned to one of the House’s businesses, unless one’s particular skills and inclinations show potential in administration of the Realm. Between the reference to being guided towards the Deliberative here, and a few comments about satraps, I’m guessing that the exact standards of those positions have been changed a bit this Edition; less of a thing proscribed for people with a lot of experience in service to the state.

                            And the sorcerers will be provided with the resources they need to utilize and pursue their power, and otherwise largely left alone ala the prior sidebar. That’s got to really reinforce the image of the Dynastic sorcerer, if they pigeonhole you a bit like that.

                            A sidebar on the Grand Tour that sabbatical tends to take the form of, going to visit the satrapies so that one can see the world from the perspective of a Dynast; what one rules, and the luxuries that it affords. I like the specificity and sense of the wider world given by the idea that the South is favoured for that vacation, on account of the wealthy and exotic city-states down there.
                            Some sections on everyday life are a good way to give perspective on Dynastic characters, particularly since they’re likely to be rather unfamiliar to most players. Let me see… reiterating the time spent assessing marriage possibilities, moving on into that note I always liked on how young Dynasts would spend time living with an older relative. I would like if this part covered a bit more detail on what both parties get out of the arrangement, but it at least gets the point of what they do in that place.

                            The matter of duelling has always been vague verging on neglected to my mind, so good for there to be a sidebar on that. Informally accepted, but to the death was strictly forbidden by the Empress, harshly (but not mortally) punished, but picking up in her absence.

                            Last for the moment is the subject of their money. The core of Dynastic wealth is still the house stipend, although it strikes me as a bit higher than it used to be if it can purchase such lofty accommodations. Something that is definitely new is the idea that the increase in stipend is specified for daughters, and the notion that they need to support husbands, which I’m going to chalk up as an extension of their authority rather than a perception that men can’t support themselves. With the conditions of the stipend, income (which is now specific to working in your own right, rather than in a position provided by your elders, or for the state) is primarily about being able to afford greater luxuries or being less under the family’s thumb. Actual purchases are still a matter of taking what you please, and allowing your retainers to handle the particulars.

                            There’s another useful bit of detailing by going into exactly what kinds of luxuries they’ll actually spend money on. The cloth, drugs and mechanical toys I would expect, but if there are food stalls that can offer imported luxury foods, I would have to imagine that in the major cities, Dynasts going shopping is either an extremely regular occurrence (that they do for hours at a time), or they’re just within the price range of patricians.

                            Speaking of patricians, you wouldn’t be a villainous ruler of the world if you couldn’t expect to have hordes of minions. Come to think of it, I could see that as the basis of covering luxury street foods; how any given Dynast on the go is going to be surrounded by hangers-on that they’ll be expected to buy treats for. Yes, that could make it work. The image of them typically having combat training is also neat; get the occasional elaborate street brawl going.

                            Okay, Dynasts who are travelling can be expected to perform respectable services in the lands that they’re in as a means of supplementing their stipend so that they can continue living in the manner to which they’re accustomed… Ah debt, really glad to say a point concerning that in a discussion of money. I’m guessing that personal debt isn’t the province of House Ragara so much as the debt of House businesses, which would be the basis of having a rather disparaging attitude towards one getting into debt. I wonder what the circumstances of the courts assigning services to debtors is; does that happen because one’s debt is to the Treasury or the Empress, or was that a matter of people who were forced to default on debts? Either way, it’s another useful plot hook; that and the idea that really bad debts get you sent to take a walk in the Threshold while the family sorts things out.

                            And finally a sidebar reminding us of the subject of Imperial and House patents, basically a form of advertising by letting a business display a brand showing that they provide services to respective powerful entities of the Realm. Sure, that’s likely to cover a lot of luxury goods, but one should not forget how many basic resources even a Dynastic household would require; you keep a stable of horses, you need to buy their fodder, and the merchants who sell that get to display the mon, which draws the attention of patricians, and even citizens. I mean, it’s probably the kind of thing that would only work if it’s a business that has an arrangement with the House as a whole, rather than just a single family (probably a bulk discount deal, to be made up by the added business brought in by the advertising), but it gives a sense of the depth of the endeavours.


                            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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                            • Ah screw it, a little bit more this evening.

                              Next along is the high society of the Realm, an important (but possibly a bit underappreciated) detail, so elaborate that it requires a varied terminology. And I see that Lea finally got that line about the difference between proscription and description into a book.

                              There may be a party going on in any city, but surely the majority of them would be held by patricians?

                              So, we’ve got the salon: the informal party of the small, intimate group, dedicated to more relaxed activity and a bit of backroom dealing. The kind of party where, even if they’re trying to impress and outdo each other, they can try and let their hair down for a bit. There’s the gala, the highly expensive and elaborate party in which everybody will dress their best (or provocatively not), the entertainments are lavish, and everyone who’s anyone needs to be invited (such that you need to plan around them being away if you don’t want them to show up), the exception being personal events like one’s birthday. Patricians occasionally get invited, which represents a golden opportunity to advance a career. They’re also not places for conducting business, but are for celebrating business that has already taken place (meaning that I’m now picturing something like a Mnemon gala to celebrate having received a rather lucrative construction contract, featuring things like ice sculptures of the planned building, or a chocolate fountain emulating the one to be built). This is also where we get the description of the Dynast wedding ceremony, which is directly incorporated into the gala, and still a largely secular affair.

                              Next is the celebration, the public festival in which peasants can attend. The lesser status means that the Exalted put less into them (leaving organisation to associated mortals), and dress less elaborately, while also conducting themselves in an austere fashion. The very idea represents a very intriguing new take on Realm society; the occasional event in which Exalt and mortal… not mingle, as such, but are in proximity for a shared cultural event. I’ve got a picture of the Disney Notre Dame film, where Frollo comments on how he’s obligated to be present at a peasant festival, but has no personal enjoyment of it. I guess the idea there is to not so much endear themselves to the commoners as provide a visible reminder that they exist, as well as cultivate that sense of cultural commonality.

                              Visits are less formal even then salons, just covering any time one hosts another Dynast in their home, either to arrange personal business between them, or to provide hospitality while one is travelling. There’s still a particular etiquette to be rigidly observed, concerning the order of events and how one is to conduct oneself in the stages. It also refers to the times when friends or family are simply getting together to enjoy each other’s company, with no particular obligations. There’s the return of that format of hospitality that I always liked, where there’s a set maximum of how much time must pass before one is overstaying their welcome, and the notion that when you leave, you’re supposed to make a big show of giving your host an unsolicited gift to compensate them for the expense of keeping you.

                              There’s finally a sidebar to go into Gateway. It’s still not very detailed, beyond the addition of extra possible players and a change from several variations to the board being applied to play alternate games. It’s mostly just about the social context in which it is played, rather than the game itself. I think that’s definitely the better call; modelling a board game within a role-playing game would be weird, but pointing to the idea that it’s mostly a prop in social interactions gives it a more concrete place, as well as adding detail to Dynastic society.
                              It’s a good section; not very long, but it gets the point across about what the importance of these events to the Dynasts is, and the manner in which they’re conducted, with some intriguing new points.

                              Next is marriage and children, and it is far too late to cover that complex subject, so that will be where I start next time.


                              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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                              • Actually coming up with rules for gateway sounds like a fun fan-project.

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