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  • #76
    Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
    Also, the only examples we have of the UCS have been in 2e where he's been a shining paragon of everything good.
    Didn't the Dragon Kings used to do human sacrifice to him and he was like "yeah, that's cool."?
    Also, he spends all his time playing games and has allowed Heaven to become corrupt.

    I mean, Morke (who, IIRC, wrote his background) did use a lot of words like "righteous" and "virtuous" to describe him, but also wrote him as quite clearly having irresponsibly abandoned his duties.

    Not saying that he's a monster, but neither was he presented as a 100% perfect guy.

    I do still agree with you to some extent though; certainly, the UCS choosing does imply some virtue or value in the Solars, beyond the "they're someone who will try to change the world and not sit around doing nothing" of 2nd ed. And I don't really want a morality test for PCs before they're even made (beyond that of the ST telling people not to play serial killers or something), not to mention I want to be able to use Solar villains.
    But I don't think it's a huge issue.


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    • #77
      Evil solars are like those villains in stories you can't help but like.

      "Man, this dude is an asshole but he's so cool."

      "Wait, shit."

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      • #78
        Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
        Didn't the Dragon Kings used to do human sacrifice to him and he was like "yeah, that's cool."?
        Also, he spends all his time playing games and has allowed Heaven to become corrupt.

        I mean, Morke (who, IIRC, wrote his background) did use a lot of words like "righteous" and "virtuous" to describe him, but also wrote him as quite clearly having irresponsibly abandoned his duties.

        Not saying that he's a monster, but neither was he presented as a 100% perfect guy.

        I do still agree with you to some extent though; certainly, the UCS choosing does imply some virtue or value in the Solars, beyond the "they're someone who will try to change the world and not sit around doing nothing" of 2nd ed. And I don't really want a morality test for PCs before they're even made (beyond that of the ST telling people not to play serial killers or something), not to mention I want to be able to use Solar villains.
        But I don't think it's a huge issue.
        The games were treated as something to migrate his overwhelming compassion and unless it was stated otherwise the sacrifices stopped when he changed. I mean he was the god of of all virtue essentially. Not a fan of it but it's currently the only thing we have on him. Even if he wasn't, I still don't like the idea of him handpicking people.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
          Morke (who, IIRC, wrote his background) did use a lot of words like "righteous" and "virtuous" to describe him…
          He was also pretty quick to point out that the virtues weren't connected to any objective morals, and that righteousness in such a world equates to having physically or verbally beat the shit out of everyone else's arguments.

          Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
          …but also wrote him as quite clearly having irresponsibly abandoned his duties.
          Mørke was hardly the first; check Games of Divinity again - did the Unconquered Sun say, "Let us slay our creators, and then immediately get back to work at the thankless jobs we didn't ask for!"?
          Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 07-29-2018, 10:08 AM.

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Saipjas View Post

            I am not sure that if the UCS died solar exaltations would remain, as we now have examples of other Chosen in 3e lore who have died off due to their patron dieing. IIRC in the Dev Q&A they mentioned that to kill off exaltations required either complete removal of the being that was able to be exalted OR removal of the source of exaltation, but I could be misremembering.
            You are. Killing the Unconquered Sun would not stop the Solar Exalted.


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            • #81
              Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
              but also wrote [the Unconquered Sun] as quite clearly having irresponsibly abandoned his duties.
              It may be useful to view the Unconquered Sun through the lens of "former slave who organized a slave revolt to free his people" when looking at his relationship with his former duties.

              It's also worth noting that the idea of the Incarnae being dangerously irresponsible only became entrenched after the game line switched over to the idea that Creation was in constant, imminent danger of annihilation from a thousand dooms. Third Edition has walked that back, allowing PCs to indulge in non-world-saving adventures without moral panic. This makes the question of how responsible or irresponsible the Incarnae are into something less dramatic.


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              • #82
                Originally posted by Robert Vance
                You are. Killing the Unconquered Sun would not stop the Solar Exalted.
                Good. That'd be awkward.

                Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                He was also pretty quick to point out that the virtues weren't connected to any objective morals, and that righteousness in such a world equates to having physically or verbally beat the shit out of everyone else's arguments.

                Mørke was hardly the first; check Games of Divinity again - did the Unconquered Sun say, "Let us slay our creators, and then immediately get back to work at our thankless jobs!"?
                Exactly, I don't think the UCS has ever been presented as a perfect moral deity.

                Originally posted by Epimetheus
                I mean he was the god of of all virtue
                I'm sure someone can make a point about how one views virtue, but I'll point out that there's lots of gods who don't reflect their purview perfectly. Venus doesn't always make everyone happy, the God of Health isn't immune to Citrine Poxes of Contagion, Mercury sometimes has a rest, the God of Badgers is more intelligent than a badger, and the god of strength isn't infinitely strong.

                Even being the god of virtues doesn't actually make the UCS perfectly virtuous.


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                • #83
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  Yes, that Havesh is truly wasting his potential. Why, in the single, solitary year that he's been Exalted, he's only managed to strike such fear into the hearts of the oppressive upper class of his native major city state that he's been dubbed with a terrifying moniker. Most Solars in that time have already unzipped and worn their first Ebon Dragon as a coat, as I understand it.

                  Never mind any of that stuff I said about how he seems to be gradually talking himself into being a champion for his fellow casteless; if you don't come to that conclusion immediately upon being given greater power and opportunity than you ever could have dreamed of in your previously extremely underprivileged life, you've missed your window for your entire, several millenia long lifespan.
                  The main point I was making is even if the Sun thinks osmeone will do something, good or not, it might be they don't. This is a big thing I think folks presume: The Sun gets exactly what he wants when Exalts someone (which as you note, Lyta and Havesh can be construed to as doing) or that maybe he got the person but they do their own thing. In that case, tough shit, no take-backs for the Sun. See the whole reason he turend hs face in the first place.

                  Folks getting upset on the Sun somehow picking jackasses means the Sun is a jackass has a lot of leaps in logic that I was trying ot illustrate fall through in Lyta and Havesh if you do go around judging them for your actions, even though as you and other snote, even they might just be fine by the Sun anyhow. My complaints is folks seem to have this need to moralize the Sun today in a way apparently he wasnt' in th epast, and in ways which try to make their Exaltations less legitimate/worthy because he went and Exalted those assholes over there.


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                  • #84
                    I'm trying to think of the worst Solars from the Time of Tumult that we've ever actually gotten in the Time of Tumult, and the worst that I can recall are people who somewhat prioritise things of abstract or aesthetic value over the lives and livelihood of other people in Creation, which is not the best, but also far from the worst villains that one can envision, or see at work in the rest of the Time of Tumult.

                    I mean, the worst thing that I can think of about Arianna is something along the lines of her viewing people around her as less worthwhile than the kinds of things that she might discover or envision or create as she comes into her power. That's kind of obnoxious, but not exactly harmful, and there might be something to be said for the value of the things that she might create. Some of the greatest artists in history have been kind of conceited jerks to actually know, and when this didn't extend to things like actually being severely abusive in their personal lives or outright tyrannical in their professional conduct, I don't think that exactly detracts from the value of their art.

                    Havesh, sure he sees the power that he's been recently granted as finally the chance to get his, but that's still specifically via means of taking it away from the mouths of his former oppressors, rather than joining their ranks and growing fat on the system. Having sex with people under false identities is a violation, but within the very specific context of this story's premises and supernatural details, something that I think is worth examining in terms of being less actively violent than other means of violation. I'll certainly say that the image of a kind of trickster thief that slays the rich and sleeps with their wives is the kind of thing that peasants and commoners throughout most of history would probably laugh it*.

                    Yurgen Kaneko? If we still go by his write-up in Caste Book: Dawn, he's a weary old man that was given a new lease on life, and is struggling to decide what to make of it. Sure, he's engaging in a campaign of imperial conquest in a similar model to the Mongols, but the thing that I find in both of those cases that strikes me as a bit different from other models of imperial conquest is that they're not exactly coming from an advantaged background that makes their conquest a form of punching down.

                    I think there's a noteworthy difference between certain kinds of European imperialism, in which a society that benefits from geographic and circumstantial advantages becomes exceedingly rich, and out of a need for ever expanding revenue streams, direct access to natural resources, and a general sense of entitlement, starts stealing countries, and a society in which a widely distributed but culturally related people are struggling to scrape together a living in barely arable steppe land (or tundra, as the case may be), such that they're forced to constantly fight amongst themselves to accumulate basic resources, who ultimately have a figure who is able to knock them all into line and say "we're surrounded by people who thrive off of having so much more than us, at the moment they're experiencing a moment of vulnerability, and the fact that we're conditioned to live and breathe war means that as a fully united front, we're capable of overpowering them; let's take some things to make life less of a struggle". In the case of the actual Mongols, one might argue that such a motivating factor may have been part of why their attitude towards conquered territories that relented was more accommodating than might be typical of imperialism (and even the mass murder kind of existed in a calculation where their numbers and lifestyle did not exactly support sustained occupation of major holdouts of opposition, which is not exactly good, but I think needs to be considered a bit from the viewpoint of the people doing it).

                    So when the matter of some Solars being monsters comes up, I'm often left with the question of exactly what they've done and who they're doing it to, and if they might ultimately be using their powers in less objectionable ways than many of the other powers of the latter Second Age, that grow fat off of the exploitation of the under classes?

                    One thing that I'll say might advantage Solars over the likes of the Scarlet Dynasty and the Guild; offhand, I cannot recall any book depicting a Solar that has grown wealthy off of the acquisition and trade of enslaved people.

                    * There is an intrinsic underlying misogyny to the premise of things like Havesh viewing the wives of his marks as a kind of prize, that to sleep with them constitutes a final insult to the memory of those marks, and to the general assumption that his wealthy victims have spouses in the role of kept women, but that's more an unexamined assumption that goes into the writing rather than a specific trait of the character.


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                    • #85
                      But do you think that their actions are not quite so monstrous because the Solar exaltation/Unconquered Sun actively seeks out good (or better-than-average) people, or because most people who are bad in some ways are actually complex characters whose motivations do make some sense in context?
                      So that whenever there's a bad Solar, their views and actions do make some sense based on their social position, background, psychology, etc, but this would also be true for a bad Lunar, bad Dragonblood, bad Liminal, bad Sidereal, bad Exigent or bad mortal?

                      Like... I used to live in a country ruled by a dictator (who's just abolished term limits), whose sister has a suspiciously large fortune, who cracks down on dissent, has people imprisoned for criticising him or the political system, etc. The prison in my city was full of people whose only crime was to belong to a religion that became too popular. I have friends banned from being involved in politics or a high rank in the civil service because of their religion. And I've read of far worse on the news (I just don't know anyone personally who's been arrested/killed).

                      But if you look at his background (he grew up in a period of anarchy), history, etc, you can argue that he really believes that what his country really needs is a strong, hard leader, and he can't give up power because the friends of those he arrested for corruption will come after him (and, okay, his sister might be hella corrupt, but how many of us would arrest our own family?).
                      I think he's a bad guy, but his actions can be justified from a certain point of view. Like most bad people.


                      What I'm saying is the fact that Lyta and Havesh's actions can be justified from a certain point of view isn't proof that Solars are chosen with moral standards in a way that Dragonblood aren't, but just that they're well-written and realistically portrayed. A Solar who's just a serial killer who loves killing people because they love evil would be very dull.

                      I would say, overall, Solars probably are better morally than Dragonblood (whose exaltation isn't chosen by anyone), but that's because many Dragonblood were born in lives of privilege built on imperialism, with a religion that encourages them to think they're better than others, not because the UCS chooses Solars he thinks will be good.

                      (I mean, it'd make sense for the UCS to choose them that way; but I think the implication that Solars were chosen because he thought they were good people would be awkward for the game)
                      Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 07-29-2018, 11:57 AM.


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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        I'm trying to think of the worst Solars from the Time of Tumult that we've ever actually gotten in the Time of Tumult, and the worst that I can recall are people who somewhat prioritise things of abstract or aesthetic value over the lives and livelihood of other people in Creation, which is not the best, but also far from the worst villains that one can envision, or see at work in the rest of the Time of Tumult.
                        Well, there was that one Solar out East. I can't remember if it was Rathess or a different city, but he's got a bunch of feral Dragon Kings for lackeys. He worships some ancient god of decay, disease, cannibalism, or something like that. The Solar has the Dragon Kings round up anyone captured nearby, and sacrifices them to that god. I'd label him as pretty far down on the totem of sanity! The god himself was said to be an enemy of heaven, so yeah.

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                        • #87
                          His name is Filial Wisdom, and yes it is in Rathess. He's a good villain for a mid-level circle of Celestial PCs, or a higher-ranked circle of Dragonblood.

                          I suspect he's too wacky to return in 3rd edition though. We shall see.
                          (Or not; more likely he just won't be mentioned)


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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                            But do you think that their actions are not quite so monstrous because the Solar exaltation/Unconquered Sun actively seeks out good (or better-than-average) people, or because most people who are bad in some ways are actually complex characters whose motivations do make some sense in context?
                            I can model it as two basic things. One is that the criteria for selecting Solars excludes people that would be severely greedy, virulently anti-social, or reactionary in a manner that would persecute the underprivileged.

                            The other is that the kind of power that one can possess as a Solar strikes me as being something that can be somewhat liberating from things such as fear that the oppressed and marginalized will drag you from your home and pillory you, or that the advancement of your own benefits rests on the exploitation of those beneath you.

                            There may still be cases in which you get Solars who privilege their own in-group over any others, and prosecute war on their behalf (which is unlike the Realm, whose imperialism is not predicated on nationalism), but I would also think the dynamics of such may intersect with the prior points in ways distinct from much of reality. I also think that privileging one's in-group may only go so far; I propose that a person whose tribalism is based on a highly irrational bigotry, such as a White Nationalist, would not be Chosen as a Solar under any circumstances.

                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz
                            So that whenever there's a bad Solar, their views and actions do make some sense based on their social position, background, psychology, etc, but this would also be true for a bad Lunar, bad Dragonblood, bad Liminal, bad Sidereal, bad Exigent or bad mortal?
                            My point in the other post isn't really about whether being bad makes sense, but rather to examine their conduct and their targets and think about what this might say about power dynamics and how that might inform motivations.

                            The motivation behind converting human beings into property and profiting dramatically off of them makes sense, but I'm questioning whether or not it's a motivation that would be present in Solars, and what that says about the kind of harm that they cause.

                            However, my point is not ultimately on whether or not any given Solar is a better person than a given Dragon Blood, just whether or not their actions cause more harm, questioning who they're causing it to, and whether they're people that deserve it less.

                            (I don't think my actual world and moral view is so consequentialist, insofar as I understand the philosophy, but I think it's a consideration for examining the different Exalted)

                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz
                            Like... I used to live in a country ruled by a dictator (who's just abolished term limits), whose sister has a suspiciously large fortune, who cracks down on dissent, has people imprisoned for criticising him or the political system, etc. The prison in my city was full of people whose only crime was to belong to a religion that became too popular. I have friends banned from being involved in politics or a high rank in the civil service because of their religion. And I've read of far worse on the news (I just don't know anyone personally who's been arrested/killed).

                            But if you look at his background (he grew up in a period of anarchy), history, etc, you can argue that he really believes that what his country really needs is a strong, hard leader, and he can't give up power because the friends of those he arrested for corruption will come after him (and, okay, his sister might be hella corrupt, but how many of us would arrest our own family?).
                            I think he's a bad guy, but his actions can be justified from a certain point of view.
                            I guess what I'm saying is that Solars might not necessarily be expected to embark upon these courses, because they're less vulnerable to negative outcomes, and can potentially develop stronger alternative means of dealing with them.

                            It's like, implications that Vladimir Putin lives in mortal terror of being dragged out of his home, brutally and humiliatingly tortured in public, and executed make a kind of sense, because no matter how good his exercise regimen or martial arts training is, he's still a mortal man, and can be easily overpowered if he's trapped alone with something like five or more people, preferably armed. There's a discussion about whether there's anything reasonable in responding to that fear by trying to be less of a man who might be subject to such revolution, and the morality underlying actions taken while perceiving oneself (possibly accurately) to be trapped in a situation in which relinquishing power is liable to be a death sentence (which I think speaks a lot to many historical dynastic power struggles and policies), but that might be a bit beyond the scope of this discussion.

                            For the time being, I'm suggesting that a Solar, not totally invulnerable, but perhaps considerably less vulnerable, might not feel incentives towards the same kinds of oppression.

                            I think the Dragon Blooded live less in fear of their mortal populace than they do one another and existential threats from the edges and outside of the world, but I think the result is still largely the same in having created highly exploitative and widespread social systems based on privileging the few in order to maximize their power against such threats.

                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz
                            Like most bad people.
                            I think most bad people are just conditioned to entitlement and indifference to the lives of others.

                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz
                            What I'm saying is the fact that Lyta and Havesh's actions can be justified from a certain point of view isn't proof that Solars are chosen with moral standards in a way that Dragonblood aren't, but just that they're well-written and realistically portrayed. A Solar who's just a serial killer who loves killing people because they love evil would be very dull.

                            I would say, overall, Solars probably are better morally than Dragonblood (whose exaltation isn't chosen by anyone), but that's because many Dragonblood were born in lives of privilege built on imperialism, with a religion that encourages them to think they're better than others, not because the UCS chooses Solars he thinks will be good.
                            My priority is less on justification than on questioning and examining the assumption that they represent contrary examples that either undermine a heroic thesis to the Solar Exalted (particularly if it's supposed to be chosen personally by the Sun), or presents Solar Exaltation as wholly amoral.

                            It's also a bit of a re-examination of my generally questioning the assumption that Solars are inclined to become oppressive overlords.

                            Plus a few other things, like my ongoing quest to form a coherent argument against the assertion that the founder of the Guild would have been appropriate for an Eclipse Caste Exaltation if one had been available, and developing a basis for differentiating Solars from Abyssals and Infernals.


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                            • #89
                              Originally posted by TalosX View Post

                              Well, there was that one Solar out East. I can't remember if it was Rathess or a different city, but he's got a bunch of feral Dragon Kings for lackeys. He worships some ancient god of decay, disease, cannibalism, or something like that. The Solar has the Dragon Kings round up anyone captured nearby, and sacrifices them to that god. I'd label him as pretty far down on the totem of sanity! The god himself was said to be an enemy of heaven, so yeah.
                              You know, I'd forgotten almost entirely about Filial Wisdom. I'm not really sure where to place him in an examination of the Solar Exalted, because he's extremely weird and kind of marginal.

                              I'm a bit torn about his relationship with Han-Tha; on principle, I maintain the significance of Solars being open to the influence of others rather than being entirely enclosed and open to no will but their own, but association with that god seems to so thoroughly undermine any meaningful agency or personality to Filial Wisdom at all...

                              I guess he counts as the most unpleasant Solar by default, but even then it's not only off-kilter, but kind of self-contained (as I recall, all that he's really doing is presiding over a kingdom of monsters, and is only particularly threatening to people that stumble across him), that I'm left questioning whether he's substantially monstrous, or just mostly carries the look.

                              I don't know. I kind of want to discount him altogether, but also fear that to do so is to just be a matter of saying "this doesn't support my thesis, so it doesn't count".

                              The best that I can think of for the moment is that he's an edge case, and one that says more about apprehension over the power of the Solars being wielded on behalf of malefic but compelling beings than something that says very much about the Solars themselves.

                              I suppose even that has to accommodate the idea that, after taking the Second Breath, Lyta could conceivably fall under the influence of somebody that convinces her to burn the poor (especially given my overall principle of reinforcing that no Solar is an island), which certainly makes things more complicated, but would at least maintain an idea that they're not singular wills indelibly charting their own course.


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                              • #90
                                I think you could certainly argue that Filial Wisdom might have started out good, but been corrupted over time by Han-Tha.
                                While Solars being chosen with some kind of moral criteria isn't something I like, I don't think the existence of Filial Wisdom disproves it. He's had over 100 years of being the only Solar he's ever known or met, and for much of that he hasn't even interacted with humans that much. It'd make anyone crack. That's before adding Han-Tha.

                                To get back to the central idea...
                                Does Solars being chosen with morals in mind apply to other Celestials chosen by patrons? Ie Lunars and Sidereals? Or purely Solars?


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