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How does Realm generals survive on the march?

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  • How does Realm generals survive on the march?

    Hello all.
    This is something that bothers me from a narrative point of view. What can a sleeping Realm army commander do against night castes, dematerialized 2nd circle demons and lunar-assassin-bombs, in the middle of the army camp? Can terrestrials even detect anything of this caliber?

  • #2
    Post appropriate guards.

    And...yes.

    DBs who favor awarenesss andd invest charms in perceptive abilities are a thing. DBs who favor occult and invest in perceptive abilities are a thing. DBs who have a combat sorcerer on staff to bind demonic or elemental sentries/bodyguards/living armors are a thing. Mystical wards and mundane but well hidden bells on strings are things. And that's before you even get to the fact that if this commander is actually important or involved in an important war....Chosen of Battled and Chosen of Endings who are trying to keep her alive long enough to fulfill her destiny and KNOW YOU ARE COMING SOMETIME TONIGHT are quite possibly a thing. Even if you pull it off... getting out can be a lot harder than getting in, and local populations tend to get blamed and brutally punished for this sorta thing by the remaining Realm forces.

    The moral of my story is not that you can't assassinate important Realm personages! The moral is that, as an ST, you shouldn't make it boring for your player who signed up to play the assassin.


    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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    • #3
      Thanks Guru.
      I do feel that night caste stealth supernals are OP as all hell.
      Last edited by Hyper Prime; 10-18-2018, 06:54 PM. Reason: Was too negative.

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      • #4
        I think your biggest defence is often going to be the opposition not knowing exactly where you are.

        Still, a Realm legion camp probably benefits a lot from not having all of the Exalted asleep at the same time. And their standards of modesty and privacy are not going to be the same as ours; your bodyguards can damn well be sitting right next to your bed.


        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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        • #5
          Remember: Anything you do once is going to be harder each subsequent time, because now your enemy is alerted to the danger. The only way to avoid this is to eliminate the entire enemy in one strike, and with the Realm that's impossible.


          Revlid wrote:
          Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

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          • #6
            There's a couple things I'd point out here.

            First, if the question is "how do DB generals survive in general", remember that Stealth-focused Solars, or even Exalts in general, are not common. First, even now that the Jade Prison is open and all the Solars are loose in the world again, there's only ~300 of them (counting the Abyssals and Infernals in that group). So right there, the odds of running into one is quite low, given there are hundreds of millions of people in Creation. Of those ~300, only one-fifth are Night Castes (again, or the equivalent Abysall/Infernal versions), who are the only ones who can have Stealth Supernal. So that's a fraction of the already-small number. Basically, against something like 99.9% of the foes they face, a DB general's own Awareness charms are going to be just fine.

            The second point, though, is to suggest that it's not a bad thing if a Supernal-Stealth Solar can relatively easily off a DB general. Exalted, at least when dealing with the highest-power splats, is really less about "will you succeed in accomplishing your goals". Basically, you should probably expect a Solar-tier character to accomplish what they set out to do, if it's in their area of speciality. Instead of worrying about challenging them to complete their goals, ask yourself "what problems will successfully accomplishing this create?" Dealing with those, in my opinion, is the really interesting part of Solar-tier Exalted play. For example, with this "kill the DB general" situation, I'd suggest assuming that the Night Caste will accomplish it, and asking yourself "what happens next?" What will the general's army do, for instance? Will it safely return to the Blessed Isle? Or is it more likely that the next in the chain of command will take over, and up security? Can the Night Caste kill every DB who might take control? And once the army is under new command, will they continue their original mission? What if the new commander decides that reporting failure to the Realm is likely to get them dead, and decides to go rogue instead, hiding in the hills as a guerrilla force, or maybe changing their goal to conquering some other territory near the PCs' home region? Even if the army disbands entirely, its soldiers will probably become bandits or mercenaries, making the whole region more dangerous and violent.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hyper Prime View Post
              Thanks Guru.
              I do feel that night caste stealth supernals are OP as all hell.

              Also rare as hell in setting. A Stealth Supernal Night Caste is a BIG DEAL threat to Realm security - as it should be.


              Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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              • #8
                Honestly, of the various possibilities mentioned, I think dematerialized demons and elementals are probably the things to be most concerned about (since the number of Sorcerers in Creation is potentially larger than the number of Dragon Blooded) along with DB Assassins. Lunars are likely to be less common, but, given that any Lunar could hunt a dog or cat or rat and use that form to sneak in and they're all pissed at you, they're a definite threat (and they probably get more billing than demons because of that).

                Mortal assassins are also problematic in potential numbers. All they have to do is get lucky once.

                To combat all this, they do the things people have mentioned, I'm sure. I'd bet some commanders don't have special tents or insignia, so that others don't know who to assassinate. Dynasts are generally trained to recognize the taste of common poisons.

                I'm hoping that either the Realm book or the Lunars book will discuss how the Realm guard against enemy shapeshifters, because, to be honest, I would not want that job. Even a doppleganger code wouldn't necessarily help, since Lunars can consume memories from those who's shapes they've stolen.


                ....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post


                  Also rare as hell in setting. A Stealth Supernal Night Caste is a BIG DEAL threat to Realm security - as it should be.
                  Yeah. Assuming Supernal choices are evenly distributed, there are roughly 7.5 Stealth Supernal Night Castes in Creation. Even if they aren't, there are only around 60 Night Castes in Creation and I doubt more than a third are Stealth Supernal, so you're talking about guarding against the top 10 to 20 most accomplished natural assassins in all of Creation.

                  Guarding against that threat is the kind of thing that keeps people up at night. Hell, it keeps Chejop Kejak up at night, when he's not worrying about getting killed by Lunars. Fears of Night Caste Assassins and Dawn Warlords are why the Wyld Hunt still has any amount of funding, given the current political climate.


                  ....

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                  • #10
                    I think it's probably best not to think about it. I just assume that the somewhat small fraction of people capable of doing that don't often have a taste for it. Or simply that while PCs may have access to that kind of charm, NPCs have yet to learn it or apply it in that way. DBs are notoriously bad at dealing with things like shapeshifting assassins, and I'm not a huge fan of a setting where Dynasts abroad and at home all keep their heads down and try no time to be noticed because nowhere and no-one in the world is safe and they get assassinated regularly. Especially when the alternative is them prancing about like spoiled entitled pillocks on parade, and arrogant but cunning jerks. It just make for better antagonists.

                    It might change in 3e but I believe in 2e it was possible for a Lunar to shapeshift into a spider, and then crawl into a tent or a bedroom and kill a sleeping person without ever changing back. Or just become one of those trusted bodyguards and slay them that way. Either way the escape options for Lunar/Night assassins were so effective that basically you could just kind of Dark Souls it, and throw yourself at the attempt until you got it.

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                    • #11
                      Dragonblooded sorcerers aren't uncommon, and spirits don't need to sleep - they might want to, but they don't need to.


                      Which isn't to say that every single general is this crazy-paranoid, but if you are that paranoid (say, because commanders in this region tend to be found inexplicably dead in the middle of their camps), it's not too hard to get a sorcerer added to your personal retinue. Her job is to cast Stalwart Earth Guardian on your tent every night and keep your tomescu bodyguard in line.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                        DBs are notoriously bad at dealing with things like shapeshifting assassins
                        That's not going to fly in a setting where the Lunar Exalted are actively at war with them. The Realm book has been stated by developers to contain information on security measures against Lunars, some of which will probably be applicable on the march.

                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey
                        I'm not a huge fan of a setting where Dynasts abroad and at home all keep their heads down and try no time to be noticed because nowhere and no-one in the world is safe and they get assassinated regularly. Especially when the alternative is them prancing about like spoiled entitled pillocks on parade, and arrogant but cunning jerks. It just make for better antagonists.
                        That's just a bad way to army even when you're not up against shapeshifting devil witches.

                        There's room for the archetype you're referring to, but it seems more fitting to somebody on holiday, rather than conducting serious military operations.

                        As an overall picture of Dragon Blooded, it's terribly unnuanced.

                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey
                        It might change in 3e but I believe in 2e it was possible for a Lunar to shapeshift into a spider, and then crawl into a tent or a bedroom and kill a sleeping person without ever changing back. Or just become one of those trusted bodyguards and slay them that way.
                        I'm not sure how seriously to take a speculation that Third Edition Lunars won't be able to take the shapes of people or animals, but just to set the record straight, they absolutely, unambiguously will. Why, with Protean Charms and a broad array of sacred hunts right out of the gate, they'll be able to do it better than ever. A sufficiently powerful Lunar will have a shot at getting the form of an Exalted bodyguard that is very scared of them, through the medium of dreams.

                        You don't need to be ultra-paranoid about that, but it warrants some security.


                        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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                        • #13
                          There's also the body double trick. Inexperienced Night caste decides he'll take the head of the Realm general, slips through the camp nigh-effortlessly, and cuts the man's bedroll in half before he even draws a breath?

                          His "retainer" bolts awake and ignites in flame.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            That's just a bad way to army even when you're not up against shapeshifting devil witches.

                            There's room for the archetype you're referring to, but it seems more fitting to somebody on holiday, rather than conducting serious military operations.
                            But surely the general’s tent would be marked by special heraldry? Or marking themselves with iconic armor, or by being placed next to their personal flag. It might just be a product of inaccurate fiction that I’ve consumed but I can’t recall a case where the emperor/king/general of an army slept in and dressed exactly like the rank and file for fear that if they could be picked out among their troops that they would be assassinated.

                            Obviously with any group spanning an entire planet, hailing from a hundred different cultures and diverse origins you’re going to have people acting differently. I don’t want every Dynast to be a moron or anything, but I expect them to mostly go around in dress and entourage that says “your boss’s boss is still my underling.”

                            Like leaving a decoy in your bed while you go to sleep with the cooks in commoner nightwear is something that’s really cool for a few Dynasts to do, but kind of lame for it to be standard practice.


                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            I'm not sure how seriously to take a speculation that Third Edition Lunars won't be able to take the shapes of people or animals, but just to set the record straight, they absolutely, unambiguously will. Why, with Protean Charms and a broad array of sacred hunts right out of the gate, they'll be able to do it better than ever. A sufficiently powerful Lunar will have a shot at getting the form of an Exalted bodyguard that is very scared of them, through the medium of dreams.

                            You don't need to be ultra-paranoid about that, but it warrants some security.
                            Yeah I think that’s the point. A tiny spider moving carefully in a darkly lit room is nearly impossible to spot. If you can activate charms and sorcery, and keep your physical stats as you can do in 2e, from that form you can easily crawl into the bed of pretty well anyone and kill them by any number of means. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve got different ideas of privacy and the room is full of guards, their ward just lets out a garbled gasp in the middle of the night because a lunar spider exalt just garrotted their neck, and is currently slipping away under the tent flap/floorboards.

                            That kind of security works awesomely in the real world because assassins in the real world can’t become lethal insects, and generally can’t take the identical form of one of your guards. Unless you have a traitor in your midst but then it’s one guard among several and not an exalt to the chaff of mortal security. It gets double hard when you have a kind of setting standard for exalted primacy, where charms and other effects of exalts tend to have special exceptions to barriers against them. Even if said exception just means it provokes a rolloff where the exalt gets automatic successes to add onto their already superior dicepool. Which I know mechanics of the game aren’t setting physics but they do represent what the characters capabilities are.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Meianno Yuurei View Post
                              There's also the body double trick. Inexperienced Night caste decides he'll take the head of the Realm general, slips through the camp nigh-effortlessly, and cuts the man's bedroll in half before he even draws a breath?

                              His "retainer" bolts awake and ignites in flame.
                              Right, which would be awesome but then the assassin can pretty easily just nope out of there and try again soon. It’s just the nature of stealth/athletics in exalted. It’s not even like some thing where you need the capstone of stealth and athletics or anything like that.

                              Why it’s a lot harder than, say, combat where in a straight up fight 10 terrestrial exalts are just going to dogpile and wear down the celestial warrior, is that there’s really no way for a Dynast to pin down an assassin that wants to escape and actually make them fight. Detecting them before they slip in is hard as well because having multiple eyes everywhere doesn’t really help that much. Shapeshifting is also a huge boon here as well.

                              Edit: to be clear I’m not really talking about a mechanics thing like you get one stealth roll against many with no penalty for how many are opposing you, I mean like Invisible Statue Spirit that just makes you straight undetectable by sight, so if you’re standing on top of the central tent pole and staying still having 500 eyes searching for you does nothing.
                              Last edited by DrLoveMonkey; 10-20-2018, 12:03 PM.

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