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  • Where was the Scarlet Empress?

    Where is the Scarlet Empress?
    Where was the Scarlet Empress?
    Where did the Scarlet Empress used to be when it was a mystery and -

    Ok, what I'm getting at is, what ideas did people have about where the Empress was back before it was defined in canon? There's things I like and don't like about her being kidnapped for the Reclamation, but I got into Exalted during 2e, I've seen heaps of discussion of that as canon and little else. I remember hearing this group talking about their game before I got into Exalted, and their idea was one of the things that drew my interest to the setting. They took turns storytelling, basically playing 3 games in the same setting - one was a group of Dragon-Blooded looking for the Empress, One was a group of Solars looking for the Empress, and one was a group of Abyssals looking for the Empress. They planned to play through a few stories of that and then decide which group would be the player characters in the final plot arc.

    I played in a game once where she returned, and her story was "I was kidnapped by demons, but I freed myself and won these 50 totally-not-anathema servants from my captor in the process," giving the wedding guard a cover to act in Creation. That was kind of cool, but my understanding of the core qualities of the Scarlet Empress is that she's A) pretty badass and B) dedicated to protecting Creation (albeit ruthlessly.) So I find it hard to rationalise a plotline (for a game I'm running, I mean) where she's serving the Yozis willingly, or under their control. Maybe I could do something where she's pretending to co-operate while she prepares some stratagem to fight back, but that's a lot of time & focus on her in a game that's not necessarily going to be centered on the Realm.

    Anyway, what other alternatives have people come up with?

  • #2
    I got in about when Exalted: the Dragin Blooded came out so I never got to speculate before

    As for now, I have a few ideas. Will post some later when I'm on a computer with a keyboard

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    • #3
      My current group has a running gag about how she just got fed up and retired to run a noodle stand.

      It's the greatest noodle stand in Creation.

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      • #4
        In my game, she was assassinated by Lunars.


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

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        • #5
          In my game she stepped through some kind of portal within the Sword or Creation and is gone. Elsewhere, Zen-Mu, who gives a shit, important is: she's gone and there is no way of telling if and when she'll be back which creates exactly the atmosphere I wanted at my table. Your mileage may vary.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Katamari_Naneke View Post
            I played in a game once where she returned, and her story was "I was kidnapped by demons, but I freed myself and won these 50 totally-not-anathema servants from my captor in the process," giving the wedding guard a cover to act in Creation. That was kind of cool, but my understanding of the core qualities of the Scarlet Empress is that she's A) pretty badass and B) dedicated to protecting Creation (albeit ruthlessly.) So I find it hard to rationalise a plotline (for a game I'm running, I mean) where she's serving the Yozis willingly, or under their control. Maybe I could do something where she's pretending to co-operate while she prepares some stratagem to fight back, but that's a lot of time & focus on her in a game that's not necessarily going to be centered on the Realm.
            It's a way of seeing it for certain. Another is that her protection was for utterly selfish, though human and valid, motives - the survival of her and the world she lives in, the consolidation of a world-ruling power base around the strategic position she managed to get into through snatching the Imperial Manse.

            Or alternately, she honestly cared deeply for her stewardship role over Creation. Once. But decades and centuries of success, stability and power may bring with it many temptations and ways to corrupt, changing a person in ways subtle and remarkable both. It's partly what lead into the Usurpation, no?

            Your view is pretty valid and it's your game anyway, but wanted to bring up some valid rationale for other views, that may be adressed either OoC or IC itself for the sake of conflict and drama.

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            • #7
              Turns out the real Scarlet Empress was inside us all along!


              So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

              The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
              -Roger Zelazny

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
                Your view is pretty valid and it's your game anyway, but wanted to bring up some valid rationale for other views, that may be adressed either OoC or IC itself for the sake of conflict and drama.
                Yeah, I guess that's true. And obviously other people's conception of the Empress are just as valid either way. I'm not opposed to casting her as a villain, I mean, look at all the horrors wrought in the name of the Realm. But I find it hard to stretch that as far as voluntarily working with the Yozis. Although, saying that has just given me the idea that maybe she made some terrible pact with them in order to gain power that made it possible for her to take up the Sword of Creation at all, and they've come to collect unexpectedly early. I still don't really like the idea of her being forced to marry the Ebon Dragon (I'm much more attached to her being badass than her being ultimately noble), and even if she wants to protect her world for selfish reasons, it's hard for me to imagine her getting behind the canon Reclamation. Do you care to elaborate on your view of her further?

                I also like Ascension's noodle stand idea. I dunno if I'll use it though.

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                • #9
                  On a more serious note (compared the the noodle stand), one of the ideas I've toyed with in the past is having an assassinated Scarlet Empress refuse to die, accepting the mantle of a new Deathlord not with any intention to spread Oblivion and etcetera, but with a plan to turn the tables on the Neverborn and reclaim the Realm which was taken from her, a Scarlet Phoenix rising from the ashes.

                  Aesthetically the idea of a risen Empress appeals to me, but I've never quite sold myself on the idea enough to try putting it in a game.

                  I feel like, in general, the disappearance of the Empress is actually a pretty difficult plot point to use. The setting is more or less built for a default of "What matters is that she's gone, the 'why' is unimportant," and so the basic structure of the setting doesn't really give you much help when it comes to providing an explanation. The simpler explanations (Lunar assassins, Gold Faction assassins, fell afoul of something in the Imperial Manse's basement, etc.) feel small and unsatisfying in the face of her larger-than-life character, but the more grandiose plots have a tendency to blossom into something campaign-consuming like the 2E-canon Return.

                  I suppose it may be useful, however, to recall that numerous leaders in real-world history show that glorious lives do not always lead to glorious deaths. Both Alexander and Attila are good examples of that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Katamari_Naneke View Post
                    Where is the Scarlet Empress?
                    Ok, what I'm getting at is, what ideas did people have about where the Empress was back before it was defined in canon?
                    Even before it became canon, since Exalted 1e/2e was strongly hinted to be the prehistory of the World of Darkness, the usual speculation was that the Scarlet Empress was the same person as the Vampire: Kindred of the East entity the Scarlet Queen. And as that entity was the wife of the KotE Ebon Dragon, her disappearance was linked to the Yozi of the same name. This was seen as particularly likely because of the cycle of the Ages -- Exalted was set in the Second Age on the cusp of a transition to a Third, while in KotE the Scarlet Queen and the Ebon Dragon presided over the Ten Thousand Heroes in the Third Age. So alternative explanations were always 'alternative', there was the expectation that the 'real' story was the one that was eventually canonized.

                    So speculation of alternatives now is actually freer than it ever was, since we know the 3e design explicitly doesn't have a 'hidden truth'.
                    Last edited by Verzio; 08-29-2018, 01:54 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ascension View Post
                      I suppose it may be useful, however, to recall that numerous leaders in real-world history show that glorious lives do not always lead to glorious deaths. Both Alexander and Attila are good examples of that.
                      Or the "Flower of English Chivalry!" http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=353

                      I'd forgotten that bit about Exalted being the prehistory of the World of Darkness. I never liked the idea, it seemed like mixing cake into pasta sauce. I mean, I've enjoyed WoD games as well, but that comparison just felt like White Wolf reminding everyone that there was this other game line that they could buy. Obviously it's fine if people are into it, but now you remind me of it I'm gonna chalk it up as a strike against the Reclamation in my own approach.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cheshire Cat View Post
                        In my game she stepped through some kind of portal within the Sword or Creation and is gone. Elsewhere, Zen-Mu, who gives a shit, important is: she's gone and there is no way of telling if and when she'll be back which creates exactly the atmosphere I wanted at my table. Your mileage may vary.

                        good use of this: when she does return, it weas only about an hour to her. she'll be shocked by how much time passed on this side

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cheshire Cat View Post
                          In my game she stepped through some kind of portal within the Sword or Creation and is gone. Elsewhere, Zen-Mu, who gives a shit, important is: she's gone and there is no way of telling if and when she'll be back which creates exactly the atmosphere I wanted at my table. Your mileage may vary.
                          I like the idea of her going to Zenmu that may be a cool idea I steal so she does return. Also maybe she goes to Malfeas not as a slave Bride but a normal bride, so she retains her agency and just has greater political power and weird relatives. Also they each own half of each other’s stuff.


                          It is a time for great deeds!

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                          • #14
                            Personally, I'm partial to the idea of her permission to use the Sword of Creation back during the Balorian Crusade being the result of a program in the Sword that basically says 'if a Big Thing is going down and the Sword is needed RIGHT NOW, people normally not allowed to use it may do so, but they will be later erased if an authorized user doesn't then come and verify them within X amount of time'. The Empress said yes, used the Sword, and then managed to trick it for 760-odd years, but eventually she missed a step and it realized that that authorization was long overdue, and the next time she entered the Imperial Manse she got dusted.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ajf115 View Post
                              Personally, I'm partial to the idea of her permission to use the Sword of Creation back during the Balorian Crusade being the result of a program in the Sword that basically says 'if a Big Thing is going down and the Sword is needed RIGHT NOW, people normally not allowed to use it may do so, but they will be later erased if an authorized user doesn't then come and verify them within X amount of time'. The Empress said yes, used the Sword, and then managed to trick it for 760-odd years, but eventually she missed a step and it realized that that authorization was long overdue, and the next time she entered the Imperial Manse she got dusted.

                              I like this idea - To make it seem more magical than computer code, it would be easy to say that the Imperial Manse originally found her "worthy" and then after 7½ centuries of political bargaining or what have you, it no longer did. Same effect for each scenario, but different aesthetics depending on what you like

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