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Solars in the Imperial City

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  • Solars in the Imperial City

    I need some help preparing for my players exalted 3e session

    I have 5 solar PCs all of essence 2. They discovered that the Wyld Hunt was tracking them so they went to the library in Mahalanka and tricked Raksi into giving them access. They discovered the existence of the loom of fate and have decided to steal it. (They don't yet realize how big it is). At the end of last session they left lookshy with rented space on a fishing boat for the imperial city.

    What might happen to them when they get there? I guess my long term plan would be to have them find the inner sanctum and have to defeat the guardians at the gate to get into heaven where hijincks ensue before they discover the loom of fate itself.

    What trouble can I get them into on the way? Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Well, for trouble on the way, they're trying to sail across about 1300 miles of water on a fishing boat. That's basically like sailing from the west coast of Ireland all the way to the south tip of Greenland, or only about 25% shorter than the distance between Ireland and Newfoundland. So, it's a very long sea voyage, in a ship that I'd guess isn't very large - I would not generally assume that a "fishing boat" is very big. So the whole range of ocean encounters is available: great storms, sea monsters, pirates, and so on.

    Once they reach the Imperial City, things get even more interesting. Now, personally, I'm not an advocate of the idea that Sidereals can easily locate any given Exalt by using the Loom. At the very least, they have to know roughly who they're looking for, and actively do so - there's no "Solar Alert" setting that will warn them that random Solars are entering restricted territory. So, assuming they haven't already attracted hostile Sidereal attention, they should be able to at least enter the city without meeting immediate Exalted opposition.

    But that won't make it easy. First, there's going to be the regular challenges that anyone entering the Imperial City will face - they'll be expected to show some sort of permission to be there. If they're claiming to be foreigners, they'll probably be expected to state what their business is, and to have some amount of proof to back that up. And "We're tourists" will probably not fly for this - I doubt that the Realm in general, and the Imperial City in particular, accepts that as a valid reason for foreigners to visit, unless they're notably wealthy. And note that whatever story they spin will be examined more closely than usual, since they're coming from one of the Realm's traditional enemies, Lookshy.

    Once they get past the port authority, they have two major considerations: how to find the location of the Celestial Gate (and the sub-issue of how to open it), and how to live in the City while they're doing that. The second issue is probably more immediate - only Realm currency is likely to be accepted by most people in the Imperial City, so they'll have to convert any Threshold money they've got into that, if they're going to pay their way. That's probably expensive - I'd probably treat any such conversion as a purchase equal to the Resources level you want to have handy (barring some good negotiation with Bureaucracy), meaning that they'll probably have a bit less than their full Resources available, at least for the course of a story. Even once they get their money, they'll probably have to do some work to maintain their cover story - if they're merchants, they'll have to do some buying and selling, if they're religious pilgrims, they'll have to visit Immaculate shrines, and so on.

    The issue of finding the Celestial Gate can be complicated or simple, depending on how you want to play it. If someone has an appropriate Lore background, I'd allow a roll to declare a fact to place the location. If no one has the Lore background required, or you just want to draw this part out more, you could handle this as an extended roll, requiring rolls against Lore, Investigation, or Occult, probably with an interval of a day or so, until they hit whatever threshold you assign. Personally, I'd make the difficulty of the roll fairly high (4 or 5), but only require a fairly limited threshold (probably 5-10 successes). I think that makes the most sense - it takes someone with a lot of knowledge or ability to deduce to find a Gate in the first place, but if you do know the signs to look for, it actually doesn't take too long.

    No matter how they find the location, it will definitely be defended, even if that isn't super-obvious. Heaven doesn't want people just stumbling into it by accident. So I'd place it in a building where it doesn't look unusual for a bunch of guards to be wandering around, and one where spirits travelling in and out aren't completely implausible either. That suggests an Immaculate shrine to me, though other good candidates might be a location in the Imperial Bureaucracy, or possibly something maintained by one of the Great Houses.

    Of course, the party will have to do all of this while being very, very careful not to flare their animas. This is the heart of the Immaculate Philosophy - everybody is going to know the signs of Anathema. Just a caste mark should be enough to set off a countdown to a Wyld Hunt showing up, and not a long one, either. Basically, anyone who witnesses any level of anima is going to have to be infallibly dealt with if they don't want that.

    A question in general - do the players or the characters know that there's more than one Celestial Gate? Because there are, and probably virtually all of them are easier for a bunch of Solars to access than the one in the Imperial City. Are the characters going to this one because its the only one they know, but the players are aware, and just want to have the fun of infiltrating a heavily-defended enemy stronghold? If so, that's fine. But if the players don't realize there's other options, you might want to inform them before they get to the Imperial City, because they're likely to be resentful if they find out there were many easier options to get to Heaven.

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    • #3
      You said the Wyld Hunt is already in pursuit, how known are they to it? Like does the Wyld Hunt just have the reports of 5 anathema in the area they were in, or has the circle been made?

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      • #4
        Wow so that sounds good. I'll have a sea monster attack to start. Then when they arrive they will have to find a celestial gate which will be challenging and somewhere super protected. The current wyld hunt doesn't know where they are. They are being formed and saw an animal flare from two of the exalted somehow tied to raksis thread in the loom. As far as the wyld hunt knows there are two anathema and they are on the periphery.

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        • #5
          The loom isn't going to be easy to get to even if they're in yushan. I would read yushan or 1e sidereals to get a scope of how far a gate is from the loom as well as the kind of defenses and threats there are. Get to yu-shan is one thing compared to moving through it.

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          • #6
            Step 1: Get to the Imperial City
            Step 2: Find a Celestial gate
            Step 3: Enter Heaven
            Step 4: Find the Loom
            Step 5: steal the Loom
            Step 6:....
            Step 7: Profit

            It's worth noting that this process goes from merely difficult to nigh-on impossible with steadily increasing likelihood of running afoul of the Wyld Hunt/the Bronze faction. You've got some pretty arrogant essence 2 Solars in your party... of wait, nm, that's pretty much every Solar PC ever. Carry on.


            Check out my homebrew exalt: The Fabulists - Chosen of the Raksha here

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            • #7
              Well my players don't realize that the loom is in Yu Shan. They just determined that if the wyld hunt comes from the realm, the realm must have the loom. They also think the loom is hand sized and I'm not sure why. It should be quite a shock when they realize the loom is fifteen miles long and located In heaven.

              I think the difficulty for me as a first time exalted St is what actualy stands in their way? I imagine there will be realm guards. Maybe some heavenly guards on the gate.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RadioFreeDeath View Post
                Well my players don't realize that the loom is in Yu Shan. They just determined that if the wyld hunt comes from the realm, the realm must have the loom. They also think the loom is hand sized and I'm not sure why. It should be quite a shock when they realize the loom is fifteen miles long and located In heaven.

                I think the difficulty for me as a first time exalted St is what actualy stands in their way? I imagine there will be realm guards. Maybe some heavenly guards on the gate.
                There are several celestial lions guarding the gate and if they try to force their way in it becomes an army. OOC i would probably disuade them or IC i would perhaps have them find a book on yu-shan that details these things to at least they won't try something akin to picking a fight with billions of gods and a bulk of the sidereals. The loom is the fundemental underpinning of creation. It's not something you can can casually steal.

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                • #9
                  If they know about the Loom, do they know about the Maidens?

                  *whistles* If you want a comprehensive list....

                  1: The Imperial City is full to the brim with Dragon Blooded. It's the heart of the Realm, and therefor the point most of their elders congregate. So all the Great Houses have forces nearby, most major buildings have dedicated security forces, and the Imperial Force: the Realm policing unit charged with arresting Dragon Blooded is nearby. There are hundreds of powerful Dragonblooded nearby should the PCs start drawing attention to themselves, Plus since it's known for politicking, everyone in authority is likely going to be suspicious.

                  Now, branching path. Do they work out that it's in Heaven, or does that pass them by?
                  2a, The most likely spot for them to investigate is the Scarlet Empress' palace, and the attached Imperial Manse. This is guarded by the Legion of Silence: a group of sorcerously created supersoldiers, and the defenses within the manse proper are all first age stuff. It's literally the most epic dungeon in Creation: even for Solars, the traps within will be difficult. After all, Solars built them. Powerful autometa, tricky puzzle locks and sorcery designed to get them out of there... nothing's off the table

                  This... kinda ends here. Unless your Solars are willing to take on the most powerful Dragon Blooded in the Dynasty/the toughest dungeon of them all, this will likely prove a dead end.


                  2b: Assuming they work out they need to get to heaven, they need to find a Yu Shan gate. The gods know about them, so they'll need to find a god and talk it into giving them directions to the nearest one. Could be easy could be hard depending on your circle's composition

                  3: Upon finding a gate, you go through the creation side and there's a passageway leading to a second gate that opens onto Heaven. This second gate is guarded by Celestial Lions who'll ask the PCs what buisness they have in Yu Shan

                  4: Getting to Yu Shan, the PCs will have to find a way to reach the Locus of Heavenly Design. Keep in mind Yu Shan is massive: it's the size of the Blessed Isle. Gods mostly use the canal system to get around.

                  5: Once they reach the Locus.... well, no one really planned on anyone trying to steal the whole loom. There'll be some more Celestial Lions around, but so long as no one does anything malicious, they'll probably get in fine.

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                  • #10
                    ... I am massively interested in learning how this campaign goes.


                    Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

                    Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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                    • #11
                      Isn't there also a trick about opening the gates? I know spirits are supposed to be able to get in easily enough, but I think ,at least in 2E, you needed sorcerery to get the gate open on the Creation side. So depending on how difficult it is to get the gate open without the help of a spirit that might also influence the security. Afterall if it requires a sorcerous ritual taking an hour to open the door without a god then it can probably just be folded into normal patrol routines and whatever security the area would necessitate as it would be unlikely for someone to open the door quickly without it moving into DB territory.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                        Isn't there also a trick about opening the gates? I know spirits are supposed to be able to get in easily enough, but I think ,at least in 2E, you needed sorcerery to get the gate open on the Creation side. So depending on how difficult it is to get the gate open without the help of a spirit that might also influence the security. Afterall if it requires a sorcerous ritual taking an hour to open the door without a god then it can probably just be folded into normal patrol routines and whatever security the area would necessitate as it would be unlikely for someone to open the door quickly without it moving into DB territory.
                        Hmm... Interesting note. You're quite right: canonically, you need a spell that could allow you to enter a spirit's sanctum, or an equivelent artifact/charm. I don't believe those exist in Ex3 yet, but assuming mortals pass back and forth, finding an artifact is plausible. Failing that, it looks like you could have a friendly god/elemental open the door for you.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RadioFreeDeath View Post
                          Well my players don't realize that the loom is in Yu Shan.
                          A question - are your players all completely new to Exalted? I don't think all players should be, like, immersed in 100% of the lore, but this sounds to me like stuff that even people who are vaguely familiar with the setting might be aware of.

                          Again, I'd strongly suggest chatting with your players before they get to the Imperial City, and make sure they're all on the same page here. It's fine if the players are aware this is likely to be much harder than the characters expect, and think that's part of the fun. But if it's the players who don't realize this, and are surprised when it's harder, you will probably get some pushback. Especially if any of the characters have abilities like Lore that they could roll to know about stuff like this - that's likely to provoke complaints of "my character should have known that this was a dumb idea. Now I feel dumb."

                          Originally posted by RadioFreeDeath
                          I think the difficulty for me as a first time exalted St is what actualy stands in their way? I imagine there will be realm guards. Maybe some heavenly guards on the gate.
                          Both of those, for sure. Like I said, the Gate's likely to be in a place that's already heavily guarded for non-Heavenly reasons, so there should be mortal guards stationed there, with very high stats. Personally, for those, I'd start with the "Elite Troops" Quick Character stats (Exalted Core, p. 497), bump up all their die pools by 1, and further increase their Read Intentions and Senses pools by another 1, since they'd be trained particularly to read people and observe them. Besides those, there would also be at least a couple, if not more, Dragonblooded commanders. I'd suggest using the Experienced Dragon-blood QC (Ex3 Core, p. 544) as the commander of the guard, and the Young Dynast QC (p. 541) for the rest. Or, if the gate is in an Immaculate Philosophy building, use various Immaculate QCs (pp. 541-544). In that case, in fact, you could easily justify a whole Hearth of Immaculates as the leaders of the guard, with additional Dragon-bloods to boot, plus mortal monks, of course.

                          In addition to the mortals and Dragon-Blooded defenders, there could possibly be some spirit defenders on the Realm side of the Gate as well. They'd have to be spirits who were able to reliably disguise themselves as humans, but that's not too difficult to find. Any given "mortal" could actually have much more impressive stats, and suddenly start breaking out some impressive magic when the Solars reveal themselves. For that, I'd use stats similar to the Storm Mother QC (Exalted Core pp. 513-514, though I'd suggest changing the merits and charms around).

                          Once they're through the Gate, the spiritual opposition will ramp right up. As mentioned above, those will start with a few Celestial Lions, and get worse from there, as reinforcements arrive. The first post of this thread has some decent stats for Celestial Lions. Other spirits you'll have to make up, but the Gates are a big deal - a serious fight could probably draw out someone as potent as a Lesser Elemental Dragon, if it went on long enough.

                          Of course, once they're through the Gate, things will only get tougher - the Loom is not immediately accessible from any of the Gates, so the party will have to cross Yu-Shan (which is as big as the entire Blessed Isle, remember!) to get to one of the Maiden's Houses, which each contain portals to the Loom's sub-dimension. There, they'll have to deal with more defenders, which should certainly include high-Essence Sidereals, in addition to all the other spirits.

                          Frankly, fighting all of Heaven sounds like a losing proposition to me, even for Solars. They'd be better off if, when they enter the Gate, they can convince the Lions there that they have legitimate business in Heaven. That generally requires being invited by a god, a high-ranked elemental, or a high-ranked Sidereal, so they'd better be able to get that, or be very good at lying (and remember that the Celestial Lions have some good lie-detection abilities too). Getting that permission will allow them into Heaven and probably let them move about reasonably easily, but getting into one of the Maidens' Houses to access the Loom is another matter. Also remember that many spirits will have the inherent ability to gauge what sort of beings they are (various versions of Measure the Wind), and will be curious and/or hostile to humans walking about, so it will be very hard to go unnoticed.

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                          • #14
                            I'm wondering if any of them actually know what a loom is.

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                            • #15
                              I don't think the current plan from the players is to fight their way there. They realize the realm is bad news. Their plan is to sneak in steal the loom and run before the realm realizes they took it. Of course this plan won't survive impact with reality.

                              I imagine they will find the offices where the wyld hunt info is coming from assume the loom is there. Sneak or fight their way inside and realize it's actually a path to another realm. Either retreat and research a way to open the gate or convince a god to let them in. Once they arrive and see that they can't just steal a massive building? Well that will be a real interesting moment.

                              Quite frankly I don't know ow why they think a loom that has strands for all mortals in creation would be hand sized... But you know. I think it will be a great moment in campaign.

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