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  • #16
    Originally posted by Elfive View Post
    The deathlords want power. They want subjects.
    Well, some do. The Bishop is kind of on the fence. Eye and Seven Despairs? The Dowager? Who knows.

    Originally posted by Elfive
    Their subjects are ghosts. The easiest way to get more subjects is to kill people.
    But who might the subjects of the ghosts be? Look at the domain of the Bodhissatva, and imagine it in terms other than just being a ploy to gather raw materials for his war machine.

    I see the Silver Prince as dreaming of a world almost purged of life; so thoroughly enamoured of death as he presents it that hardly anybody can feel an attraction to or joy in it. A cold, dry desert of a world. What few living people remain exist solely for the sake of harvesting all that is warm and vibrant and colourful and invigorating, and feeding it directly into the burning alters. His final victory over the life that he hates for having been denied to him; that all he once wanted from it becomes the sole property of the dead.

    There would probably be many shadowlands, but not all the world, and possibly not even most of it (although in many cases the distinction might largely be one of metaphysics).

    Not even an end that he would prefer to achieve through war, but through diplomacy and economics. On the whole, the Bodhissatva doesn't want to kill people; he wants people to stop wanting to live, sure that death is the superior state.

    I prefer that for a couple of reasons. One is that I see it as a stronger standard for the magic of Abyssal Exalted to strive for. Another is that Dark Souls enamoured me of a certain style and tone of end-of-the-world fiction, one in which the world isn't threatened so much as exhausted, with what villains there are often being worn out remains or figures that have become enamoured of the impending end.

    I think to place Deathlords in the context of a world that, per the first line about it in the corebook, is already doomed.

    Originally posted by Elfive
    And as for the neverborn, I agree that they work best as offering their power to the deathlords on the assumption that no matter what they did with it their actions would destroy creation eventually. They're playing the long game. They don't demand obedience because they don't need it.
    Whenever I imagine the state of the Neverborn, the connotation of descriptions such as "dead, dreaming gods", and the kinds of fiction that might often inspire them, I keep feeling as though being active figures with agendas and demands and... very much in the way of awareness is really the least interesting thing that can be done with them. It makes them feel too much like the Yozis, and not delving deeply enough into some really compelling and disturbing mythic death imagery.

    I like the Neverborn most as dead Primordials. There's still something at play which can convey information down there, because they're dead Primordials. There are principles that come away with those who descend into their tomb-corpses and come away powerful, because they're dead Primordials. Everything about them when they were alive was vast beyond imagination.

    I'm attached to the idea that the Deathlords are, on the whole, on board with the end of the world, and I'm really focused on the notion that this is their idea. Not because the Neverborn are opposed or indifferent to it or anything, just that they don't have ideas.


    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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    • #17
      I've actually found notions of Deathlord 'agency' something of a problem in the past particularly when a PC has one as a previous incarnation. It's easy to get a sense that they're the real Solar antithesis and the Abyssals are just kind of a side act not helped by the old Monstrance selection method which could make them feel more numerous than First Age Dragon-Blooded.
      Last edited by Lioness; 09-17-2018, 04:14 AM.


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      • #18
        I'm not interested in anything in Exalted which relies or builds up on the impending and inevitable destruction of Creation, and this ties heavily into the way I would like the Deathlords to be portrayed and their role in the setting.

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        • #19
          And I should say, I love Dark Souls, but I also love many things I don't want to be in Exalted.

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          • #20
            I think the presence of agency in any particular entity or group is really scoped to your Chronicle and what you want to do with it.

            Everything that's going on that isn't what your group is chasing can probably be low-res, distant, and free of agency or even substantial movement. At least until you need to foreshadow something.

            If my players kept on investigating, I'd try to keep on having them find something, and that's where I believe a lot of the sense of agency would come into play.




            For instance...

            Let's say my players' Circle is focusing on the Mask. They keep on probing for more information, so they get some military intel, a bit about the behemoth, and so on. There's some intercepted communication that Lion is doing maneuvers, but that's far away.

            A little more infiltration, and they can find out that Mask is working for a Neverborn. (I forget which one Mask works for, so I'll call him NeverFred)

            With some scrying and arcane interpretation of the rantings of void-scarred madmen, they can find out that NeverFred is frustrated that Mask isn't moving faster. NeverFred has few direct forces to mobilize, but the Deathlords aren't NeverFred's only direct minions - merely the freest and most creative.

            NeverFred has detected in its dreams that the Circle is skulking about and trying to gather some information. It sends an emissary, offering to set Mask up for a betrayal... surely as a sign of its NeverDisappointment.

            In the social scene, the Circle figures out that NeverFred's minion is probably setting Mask up to be forced into a choice of accepting other peer minions to keep an eye on him, or of being cast down as punishment for being so slow. The Circle can decide how to deal with it, but you've now got a three-group story and some agency among everybody.

            Before the Scenes finish up though, there's some news. Lion has started marching. It's a setup for the next chapter, but a formerly static character is foreshadowing a presence in upcoming stories.



            Just a thought!


            Check out Momentum Exalted!

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Solar View Post
              I'm not interested in anything in Exalted which relies or builds up on the impending and inevitable destruction of Creation
              The Third Edition corebook outright draws a juxtaposition between the line "the world is doomed" and things that the Exalted have achieved despite all certainty. So that side of it is already covered.

              I think the doom stuff should be incorporated into the Abyssal Exalted and their Deathlords because it is so hard for them to be interesting, and I think that kind of atmosphere and its artistic and philosophical underpinnings are a good place to start.

              Plus, if there's no emphasis on a sense of impending doom at all (more subtle and pervasive than simply loading the world with many many things that are outright trying to destroy it), it makes the lines in the corebook look kind of stupid and pointless.

              I'm enamoured of the picture of the game painted when Geoff Grabowski talked about ancient heroes being resurrected in a world at the end of history, presenting them with a worthy challenge to save it.

              Hence, I'm enamoured of the idea of Abyssal Exalted being counterparts to the Solars by the ancient heroes returning from death to a dying world, ostensibly to preside over it. That means a greater variety of things than just going around mass murdering people or trying to vaporise the landmasses, especially with the metaphysical impact that the setting gives to death.

              I just... do people not want the Chivalry of Death to be a thing?


              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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              • #22
                So, i only rarely considered the doom that the Deathlords would bring as any source of agency attributed to the Neverborn, but the level all of the Deathlords were on board with that doom and ready to conquer no matter who they were always felt more odd. I consider their non-agency form to being used as foils or status-quo (easy for super ghosts) while having them be more active should play on what they want to get done for themselves. Eye & Seven Despairs and The Heron always felt like they had more Agency than others since they dealt with their own things more than the big stuff. Seeing what the Deathlords want for themselves helps me feel their motivations more

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                • #23
                  The way 1e handled it, the Deathlords all signed up for the destroy the world thing, but were mostly signing for power and were not interested in the follow-through. The Lion famously got imprisoned in his armor because He Who Holds In Thrall got pissed at him for wanting to spend all his time playing Underworld warlord -- which did not work, because it resulted in a Lion who wanted to mope in his citadel and hold dress parades and moon over Princess Magnificent, who herself got tossed into Deathlord Jail with him for being too clever with Great Forks. Eye and Seven Despairs played mind games with his Abyssals, the Bishop fucked around with his philosophy project, the Dowager fucked around with the Well of Udr with the explicit goal of escaping Creation into an alternate universe, the Bodhissatva played Civ. They all had agency, which they were using to pursue various personal projects while giving the impression of doing what they signed up for, but out of all of them only maybe the Walker in Darkness was on on board for Project: Everything Goes Into Oblivion, and that's hard to say because he was a cypher and anyway he died by getting stabbed with the Forgotten Blade, so maybe he's not even sure.

                  2e didn't maintain any difference between professed goals and actual goals, though -- Deathlords signed up to destroy the world? Then they must actually want to do that.

                  So I would say my favorite version of Deathlords with agency is just the 1e Deathlords.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
                    So I would say my favorite version of Deathlords with agency is just the 1e Deathlords.
                    Do you want them to be that going forward?


                    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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                    • #25
                      While I did like the 1st ed Deathlords more than the 2nd ed ones, because they're less chumpy (for example, the Eye and Seven Despairs is actually a Deathlord, rather than a creepy ghost who's supposed to be a Deathlord but is too busy torturing 3 people)... they're still a little bit chumpy. Princess Magnificent got beat by a story.
                      Which is weird of course, because mechanically they're ridiculously powerful.

                      (Also... from what I remember, Eye and Seven Despairs' little torture party with 3 Abyssals is a 2nd ed thing. First ed, if I remember, had him much more just being an evil mad scientist cackling over his necromantic creations. Actually doing Deathlord stuff.)

                      And I agree with Isator, that part of this is the Neverborn. For slumbering cthonic ghost-gods, they sure do give a lot of orders (and cursed Princess Magnificent to have to hang out with the "nice guy" who's crushing on her... which is a bit weird as a curse from slumbering cthonic ghost-gods).

                      Whereas, with Nephwracks and Spectres, the Neverborn are always presented as a more unconscious, insane influence. Dark whispers of madness pushing them towards mad and nihilistic schemes, rather than shouting "You're a loser Princess Magnificent! I'm putting you under Faffles control!" Fonts of evil cursed power found by 13 vengeful ghosts, rather than their bosses.

                      The Deathlords are, after all, already the bosses of the Abyssals. Not sure you need another level. And if you do have the Deathlords and the Neverborn, they should be different. The Neverborn shouldn't just be top Deathlords.

                      In short, Darth Vader is an Abyssal and Emperor Palpatine is a Deathlord. He's not a Neverborn: the dark side of the Force is the Neverborn.

                      (In my own game, the Lion, Mask, and Eye and Seven Despairs worked with the ghosts of Chejop Kejak and the Scarlet Empress to put the Neverborn back into proper slumber. Kejak and the Empress so that the Neverborn wouldn't drag everything into Oblivion, the Deathlord triumvirate so that they could concentrate on conquering and ruling the Underworld for all eternity rather than having to take orders from the Neverborn.)
                      Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 09-17-2018, 03:02 PM.


                      I run... Lunars: The Apocalypse! Exalted 3rd edition. Fimbulwinter is upon the world as an Ice Age begins, and only six young Lunar heroes have a chance of saving humanity.

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                      • #26
                        I don't remember the Neverborn as being asleep in 2E. Honestly, the way they were constantly interacting with the Deathlords, that the whispers merit was interpreted as them leaking knowledge and instructions into abyssals minds, Holds in Thrall crouching in the Dowager's head, the constant threats to strip Eye of Seven Despairs of his abyssals and give them to the other Deathlords if he didn't stop with his weird games,and possibly that Raton abyssal that none of the Deathlords claimed as theirs but made a point of saying something that made the Lion's armor start to compress on him. So I mean add in that and the explanation that necromancy was a group of solars and lunars waking up the Neverborn while stealing secrets from the Neverborn's tombs and it just never seemed like they were asleep.

                        Which getting back on topic I think was the problem with the Deathlords vis a vis 2E agency. With the exception of Eyes the books kind of hammered in that almost everything they did was either at the Neverborn's instruction or a result of the Neverborn's actions.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                          ...

                          I'm enamoured of the picture of the game painted when Geoff Grabowski talked about ancient heroes being resurrected in a world at the end of history, presenting them with a worthy challenge to save it.
                          ...
                          I'd like to hear more (from anyone) about refreshing or replacing the Underworld, Deathlords, Neverborn, Abyssals, and the whole idea space, with ideas drawn from this particular spark.





                          Check out Momentum Exalted!

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                            (Also... from what I remember, Eye and Seven Despairs' little torture party with 3 Abyssals is a 2nd ed thing. First ed, if I remember, had him much more just being an evil mad scientist cackling over his necromantic creations. Actually doing Deathlord stuff.)
                            The over elabourate scheme where he pretends to be dead was around in 1st edition but the different editions have a very different spin on things.
                            In 1e the Abyssals were already fighting over the concubine and being unproductive so he set out to teach them a lesson.
                            In 2e it's all about him and his pain, the implication is that it'll stop when they're all dead and then he'll choose new incarnations and play out a different revenge scenario.


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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                              I don't remember the Neverborn as being asleep in 2E. Honestly, the way they were constantly interacting with the Deathlords, that the whispers merit was interpreted as them leaking knowledge and instructions into abyssals minds, Holds in Thrall crouching in the Dowager's head, the constant threats to strip Eye of Seven Despairs of his abyssals and give them to the other Deathlords if he didn't stop with his weird games,and possibly that Raton abyssal that none of the Deathlords claimed as theirs but made a point of saying something that made the Lion's armor start to compress on him. So I mean add in that and the explanation that necromancy was a group of solars and lunars waking up the Neverborn while stealing secrets from the Neverborn's tombs and it just never seemed like they were asleep.
                              I think it mentioned them being asleep... but you're right, they sure didn't seem to be.

                              I did quite like, actually, the thing where the Black Nadir Concordat mined too deeply in search for forbidden power and woke up things that should not be woken, as a theme in of itself, but I think more broadly it didn't really work so well.


                              In 1e the Abyssals were already fighting over the concubine and being unproductive so he set out to teach them a lesson.
                              In 2e it's all about him and his pain, the implication is that it'll stop when they're all dead and then he'll choose new incarnations and play out a different revenge scenario.
                              Yeah, that is quite different.

                              I think an ancient vengeful ghost tormenting a small number of people because they wronged him/her in a previous life is a fine plot for players to encounter, as a small self-contained story about creepy ghosts. But it's a big waste of a Deathlord.


                              I run... Lunars: The Apocalypse! Exalted 3rd edition. Fimbulwinter is upon the world as an Ice Age begins, and only six young Lunar heroes have a chance of saving humanity.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                                I don't remember the Neverborn as being asleep in 2E. Honestly, the way they were constantly interacting with the Deathlords, that the whispers merit was interpreted as them leaking knowledge and instructions into abyssals minds, Holds in Thrall crouching in the Dowager's head, the constant threats to strip Eye of Seven Despairs of his abyssals and give them to the other Deathlords if he didn't stop with his weird games,and possibly that Raton abyssal that none of the Deathlords claimed as theirs but made a point of saying something that made the Lion's armor start to compress on him. So I mean add in that and the explanation that necromancy was a group of solars and lunars waking up the Neverborn while stealing secrets from the Neverborn's tombs and it just never seemed like they were asleep.

                                Which getting back on topic I think was the problem with the Deathlords vis a vis 2E agency. With the exception of Eyes the books kind of hammered in that almost everything they did was either at the Neverborn's instruction or a result of the Neverborn's actions.
                                So much this. The insistance that the Neverborn were asleep seemed to originate entirely from the forums in the later part of 2e, if you discussed the books and everything they said about the Neverborn it was like being gaslighted when people were going 'nah... the Neverborn are dead they don't control Resonance or really do much of anything'.



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