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Babies and Bathwater - The Captured Warstrider

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  • Babies and Bathwater - The Captured Warstrider

    Introduction

    I think we can all agree that 2e's presentation of the setting was at times abysmal; it's hard to get attached to a given city when half a dozen beings each intend to destroy said city utterly, and possess the power and means to do so almost as an afterthought. Back in 2e, I actually got rather upset at Wonders of the Lost Age for introducing me to warstriders, and then describing how the one made by Lover Clad in Raiment of Tears was certain to fuck up Lookshy.

    ​But now that the power level's been scaled back, now that the pile of dooms heaped on the setting's shoulders is smaller, now that the way artifacts work as a baseline is so drastically different, I can't help but wonder... is there a kernel of cool story amidst the chaff?

    The Story

    ​So, back in 2e, the story was that this Day Caste Abyssal, Exquisite Pain, went on a rampage while piloting the soulsteel warstrider Hateful Devourer of Love, until Lookshyan forces confronted him; he ditched the artifact and retreated, and the triumphant Lookshyan military seized the warstrider.

    This was all according to keikaku for the Lover Clad in Raiment of Tears, who had used necromancy to hide Lookshy's doom in the warstrider's chassis. In at least one version of it, she had bound some impressive number of hungry ghosts into the thing. Either way, the Lover Clad knew that the city-state notorious for its class of sorcerer-engineers wouldn't recognize the trap when they saw it, and once they got it back to Lookshy, she could just wait for the opportune moment, and release them all to overrun the city and kill everything.

    ​(Other options included the warstrider having a vial of the Great Contagion inside, and it would break after being brought to Lookshy, but I'm going to ignore that because I like it even less.)

    The Reworking

    ​Let me say right here that I'm almost venomously opposed to the "villain gets captured on purpose" plan in fiction. So my first stab at trying to salvage this story hook would be to assume that instead of having intended for an invaluable mass of soulsteel to fall into enemy hands from the start, perhaps Exquisite Pain was actually overwhelmed enough to necessitate leaving the walking war machine behind. It was never intended to be dragged into Lookshy and blown up like a bomb (though it may have been intended to be used to destroy Lookshy, and may still be the cause of some trouble there).

    ​Second, given the way artifacts in general and warstriders in specific have been reworked in the setting, I think it might fit the new paradigm better if the huge number of hungry ghosts bound into the components of the warstrider were just a feature of this warstrider, It also means that Lookshy's savants can analyze this warstrider and not somehow miss the fact that its insides are brimming with restless spirits.

    "Oh, yeah," one can say. "That explains the 'Million Screaming Mouths Howl'."

    In fact, I'd go so far as to make its bound spirits an obvious part of it; my tentative name for the reworked warstrider is "Heartless Shade Prison." Its pilot could wield Evocations that put these vengeful spirits to use, using their cold hatred to fuel grandiose attacks or even turning some of them loose to even the odds when outnumbered. Instead of it just going off and releasing all the ghosts to pour out of it and devastate the city, maybe the warstrider will tend to create more collateral damage as a result of his Dragon-Blooded pilot's Dissonance with the soulsteel that makes up the colossus. Even then, it won't destroy Lookshy for a Dragon-Blooded to use the thing, though it may create as many problems as it solves.

    ​Lastly, I can't help but want to change the Deathlord who made this monstrosity. The Lover Clad is a bit of an awkward choice; the Fortress of Crimson Ice is some thousands of miles away from the city-state she supposedly plans to destroy. Perhaps Walker in Darkness oversaw its creation, or he found it amidst the ruins of Princess Magnificent's citadel. Or perhaps it's a gambit by the Mask of Winters?

    Conclusion

    ​By reworking the warstrider's origins, powers, and intended use, we've turned one of 2e's Thousand Dooms into what I hope is a more versatile story hook. Rather than stealing heat from Lookshy to prop up a Deathlord that has no business scheming there, I tried to present its capture as the triumph that Lookshy should see it as, while keeping the warstrider dangerous enough to come back to bite them if they wield its power irresponsibly. I hope that you can use Heartless Shade Prison in your games.
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 06-11-2018, 06:20 AM.

  • #2
    Good idea. I especially like the fact that the Deathlord fighting Lookshy with this is... a Deathlord who's actually fighting Lookshy, not one fighting Karn.


    "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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    • #3
      I kept thinking that was a thing inherent to the magic of the warstrider (such as it was), rather than just being one that had a bomb loaded in its chassis.

      ​Ys, if I was trying to rework the concept, it would be an eye towards the thing not being dangerous because it was a Trojan horse*, but because being made by a Deathlord is liable to leave it with unpleasant qualities, if not outright trying to influence the values of its pilot.

      ​I wouldn't be inclined towards just being a matter of collateral damage, partially because I don't think that would sufficiently distinguish it from many other warstriders (is it causing more damage than the more neutral Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation?), and partially because I personally find breaking lots of things to be an uninteresting way of conveying power that is great in scope or terrible in aspect.

      ​I think there's potential in developing the idea of its power being based on harnessing ghosts; to explore things like what it says about the persona of the warstrider itself (great icon of a war god holding innumerable souls in thrall), the experience of the souls that it wields and those that it assaults, the manner in which it kills, the manner in which it leaves survivors, and incentives that it might provide to refuel. If it needs souls, is that damage collateral, or is it very deliberate?

      ​Mind, I think some of these might be the powers one expects of a royal warstrider, but I imagine that helps the narrative. It's a dreadful weapon, coming from a malefic source that wiser counsel might prevail to give a wide berth, but even when dissonant it's an uncommonly powerful thing, the likes of which Lookshy has rarely encountered and can't often be found in the Age of Sorrows, and under the current circumstances that might compel one to wield it.

      ​Hmm, the narrative of sending it out to be deliberately captured is not without potential, but with a bit more subtlety... the Deathlords often scheme against one another, and the Mask of Winters is a rather immediate threat to Lookshy. A rival Deathlord, seeking to undermine the Mask while maintaining deniability, forges a warstrider intended for Lookshy to wield against him, possibly one whose powers might make it well-suited for contesting Juggernaut. It wouldn't be trusted if it was simply left out, but if taken as spoils of war from the hands of a clever Abyssal that was in on the scheme...

      ​So now Lookshy has a powerful weapon with which to fight against the Mask of Winters, that also presents a threat to the national soul of Lookshy (and literal souls of its inhabitants), one of the great powers of the Scavenger Lands (high value target for the still untapped treasures of the First Age within), and also being something to draw the attention of other enemies and rivals that might find the power of a royal warstrider, particularly one that might present itself as ideal for combatting the rising threats of the Underworld, difficult to pass up.

      ​Sure, there's a question of whether or not it's a good idea to hand your enemies a powerful weapon, but if it's such a weapon that their values might be changed in the use of it that, if ever they should confront you, you'll have a good idea of some buttons to press with which to try winning them over, or wracking them with guilt or despair...

      ​* Although the idea of a Trojan horse in the form of something intended to trick people into thinking that it was a functional warstrider until they bring it inside their defences, and it unleashes something dangerous, is not bad in its own right, I think.


      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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      • #4
        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
        I wouldn't be inclined towards just being a matter of collateral damage, partially because I don't think that would sufficiently distinguish it from many other warstriders (is it causing more damage than the more neutral Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation?), and partially because I personally find breaking lots of things to be an uninteresting way of conveying power that is great in scope or terrible in aspect.
        Well, to be fair, just up and destroying more buildings or whatever wasn't what was in my head; I was imagining more something where the ghosts unleashed by its attacks might come to haunt the region they were released in if its pilot isn't resonant enough to recall them after, potentially causing damage to diplomatic relations when deployed in the defense of an ally.

        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
        ​I think there's potential in developing the idea of its power being based on harnessing ghosts; to explore things like what it says about the persona of the warstrider itself (great icon of a war god holding innumerable souls in thrall), the experience of the souls that it wields and those that it assaults, the manner in which it kills, the manner in which it leaves survivors, and incentives that it might provide to refuel. If it needs souls, is that damage collateral, or is it very deliberate?

        ​Mind, I think some of these might be the powers one expects of a royal warstrider, but I imagine that helps the narrative. It's a dreadful weapon, coming from a malefic source that wiser counsel might prevail to give a wide berth, but even when dissonant it's an uncommonly powerful thing, the likes of which Lookshy has rarely encountered and can't often be found in the Age of Sorrows, and under the current circumstances that might compel one to wield it.
        Ooh, I like this.

        Originally posted by Isator Levi
        ​Hmm, the narrative of sending it out to be deliberately captured is not without potential, but with a bit more subtlety... the Deathlords often scheme against one another, and the Mask of Winters is a rather immediate threat to Lookshy. A rival Deathlord, seeking to undermine the Mask while maintaining deniability, forges a warstrider intended for Lookshy to wield against him, possibly one whose powers might make it well-suited for contesting Juggernaut. It wouldn't be trusted if it was simply left out, but if taken as spoils of war from the hands of a clever Abyssal that was in on the scheme...

        ​So now Lookshy has a powerful weapon with which to fight against the Mask of Winters, that also presents a threat to the national soul of Lookshy (and literal souls of its inhabitants), one of the great powers of the Scavenger Lands (high value target for the still untapped treasures of the First Age within), and also being something to draw the attention of other enemies and rivals that might find the power of a royal warstrider, particularly one that might present itself as ideal for combatting the rising threats of the Underworld, difficult to pass up.
        I definitely like this better than what was given to us, yes.

        Originally posted by Isator Levi
        ​* Although the idea of a Trojan horse in the form of something intended to trick people into thinking that it was a functional warstrider until they bring it inside their defences, and it unleashes something dangerous, is not bad in its own right, I think.
        Well, now I've got an idea for something to do with my Twilight...
        Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 06-11-2018, 12:19 PM.

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        • #5
          Loving these ideas. Everything.


          Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

          My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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          • #6
            Glad y'all like it!

            I am not sure that I've got the story I want to tell hammered out enough to produce a set of Evocations for Heartless Shade Prison, but hopefully I've at least given you guys some fun inspiration. I'm gonna try and brainstorm some more later.
            Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 06-11-2018, 03:22 PM.

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            • #7
              Me, i'm having this pretty much bonkers idea that a Deathlord indirectly tipped Lookshy forces into fighting a young brash abyssal seems to be beholden to no one Deathlord so far, a most undesirable wild card only made more so by its acquisition of the equally mysterious warstrider. Too much of a potential mess for one not to deal with, but at the same time too risky and uncertain a situation to directly play one's hand.

              The crazy part? The warstrider is the young abyssal's patron, the mausoleum-temple of one of the dead titans many fallen souls given different form and semblance of animation by the fanatical work of legions of spectres and mortwights subsumed themselves into it as a great act of self-sacrificing devotion. A slumbering piece of the Labyrinth in giant robot form, now within the walls of the mighty fortress-city.

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              • #8
                Loving all these ideas! This would make for a pretty cool novel...

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                • #9
                  If I do a version of this plot again it's going to revolve around my version of the Seven-Degreed Physician of Black Maladies.

                  Essentially his goal to create a "war machine to end the Second Age" is the Bonestrider, not a singular warmachine that's going to kill everyone but the idea of necrosurgical constructs facilitating advanced forms of warfare as long as you're willing to deal with a necromancer. He sees it as something that nations will need to invest in or invest in countermeasures against thus changing the face of warfare in Creation.

                  I'm not sure if he'd try to take out Lookshy from within or try and get them to be his customers.


                  Assorted homebrew goes here.

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                  • #10
                    The thousands of trapped souls could be the thing's "power source" for some kind of ghostly soul blaster weapon or something

                    ...and then lookshyan tinkering risks cracking it


                    Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction

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                    • #11
                      I like the idea of the warstrider's magic influencing the pilot. Has anyone ever considered an Evocation which unlocks for free the first time the pilot kills someone who offers to surrender, allowing the pilot to recover a point of Willpower 1/d by doing so? As a side benefit, nobody seems to be able to find the ghost of said squished former prisoner-to-be. I wonder where he went? [Clickety Clack, Get in the Warstrider Sack].


                      Popping in from time to time.

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