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Which "Virtue" triggers "Limit Break" when it comes to sexual assault? (Heavy Issue)

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  • Which "Virtue" triggers "Limit Break" when it comes to sexual assault? (Heavy Issue)

    After watching Liam Neeson's "Taken", "Fist of The North Star", "Sword Art Online" and "LA Confidential" (Starring Russel Crowe) back to back of late for gaming-scenario inspiration, a thought hit me.

    A common "Berserk Button" present in ALL four of the above works is watching (or knowing the possibility of) a helpless woman/girl being sexually assaulted.


    Bryan Mills of "Taken" (played by the marvelous Liam Neeson) is almost disturbingly *calm* about witnessing a criminal nest full of drugged up sex-slaves, in spite of clearly *hating* rapists. Yet in "Exalted" terms he CLEARLY had a "Limit Break" moment when he electrocuted Marco From Tropoya to get information about where his kidnapped daughter is until the latter's heart exploded like a balloon in his chest.

    But, when it comes to the unstoppable RAGE of Kirito (From "Sword Art Online") Bud White (LA Confidential's Russel Crowe) and *especially* Kenshiro (of "Fist of The North Star") when it comes to women getting disgraced... it is EXPLOSIVE, and you'd be LUCKY to have a marginally complete corpse afterwards (though even Kirito is surprisingly calm about turning his Wife's attempted-rapist into Confetti until the FINAL blow)

    So, the discussions being.

    1) In Exalted Game Terms: Which Virtues would trigger a 'Limit Break" when it comes to witnessing War-Crimes (sexual in particular) against Women and Children?
    1A) Surely not Temperance and/or Conviction, as those two are the embodiment of "I'm too cool, calm and cynical to care about the harsh realities of life"
    2) Even though "Red Rage of Compassion" or "Berserk Anger" seems to be the most appropriate (such as Bud White of LA Confidential *ripping an oak chair in half" at the mere MENTION of a little girl held as a sex-slave).....
    2A) ... how is the *dispassionate and calm* Rage of Bryan Mills (rescuing his own-Daughter) and Kirito (rescuing his Wife and the Mother of their Daughter) even POSSIBLE when faced with a crime as sickening as (attempted) rape and sexual slavery? Because their reactions do NOT resemble "Red Rage of Compassion" or "Berserk Anger" so much as "Deliberate Cruelty", even when the RAGE of witnessing sex-crimes runs in direct contradiction to the Calm and Logical "Temperance" and "Conviction"
    3) The "Tragic Flaws" inspired by "Greek/Roman/Ancient Chinese" heroes REALLY is much more complex than one would think at first glance.

    Curioser and Curioser.
    Last edited by Lin Liren; 12-10-2018, 02:42 AM.

  • #2
    Ultimately... the difficulties in representing this stuff is why 3e changed all this: you can't really do it justice as a Limit Break in 1e or 2e.

    Though Deliberate Cruelty (and Conviction in general) seem to be Bryan Mills to a T. It captures the disturbingly calm nature of his demeanor, and numerous actions he takes in the name of saving his daughter that are clearly beyond what was necessary to get what he needed. It also explains why he didn't really do much for any of the other girls besides kill the people he did. He's driven by his convictions (one of which is to keep his family safe at all costs), rather than compassion or valor.

    I think any of the Virtues could generate limit. Compassion is obvious. Conviction is actually better is specific things bother the character rather than broad ones. A Conviction heavy character is generally going to suffer Limit more if challenged to go compromise their ideals. The Deliberate Cruelty flaw's Limit Break Condition is severe stress. Watching war crimes is pretty stressful. Temperance doesn't have an good flaws for this, but letting war crimes happen is certainly against the Virtue's ideals and being unable to stop such excessive violence would build limit. Valor is a bigger stretch to me because Valor only really builds limit when you're insulted/challenged/etc. It works for Kirito because his enemies frequently taunt him directly by threatening Asuna. Kenshiro might be valorous, but Compassion is clearly where is flaw lies.

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    • #3
      In an honour-based culture, hurting someone's family members could insult their valour. But I agree, it's probably the least likely.

      Doing whatever it takes to rescue a loved one seems like a Conviction-based limit break.


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      • #4
        I don't know, I think there are enough problems with the narrative of "rape of women as source of man-pain" to make trying to figure out a specific way for Limit Break to model it is... not the best pursuit.

        Originally posted by Lin Liren
        Bryan Mills of "Taken" (played by the marvelous Liam Neeson) is almost disturbingly *calm* about witnessing a criminal nest full of drugged up sex-slaves, in spite of clearly *hating* rapists.


        Yeah, that kind of paints that film with a bad brush of it being less about rape as a whole, and more about him being laser focused on violence against his own daughter (who is still kind of framed as "having it coming" for not having heeded his warnings about the terrible danger of venturing out into that infamous den of crime and flesh-eating... modern France).

        See also the fact that his daughter's friend, whom he finds in the place and shows no concern for whatsoever, and has already suffered the abuse, was either implicitly or explicitly sexually active, whereas his daughter is saved by the fact that she's "pure".

        Never mind that not only are virginity tests bullshit because the hymen doesn't work that way, but even if they did the process of such an examination is straight up sexual assault...


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        • #5
          Someone Like Kenshiro (the ULTIMATE Dawn Caste Exalted) makes the heads of rapists (literally) explode because he is raised to be a kind and loving person, and hence is driven by furious Compassion.

          But what about someone like the Beat Cop Budd White of “LA Confidential”, who watched his mother *beaten to death* in front of him?

          His *introduction* shows him beating a violent husband until he is disfigured and tying him up on the porch with Christmas lights... and in the same scene, warmly, gently and politely escorting the wife down the porch to the car taking her to the battered wife shelter with all the kindness in the world.

          So where would Detective Budd White’s Fury stem from? Compassion (kindness) or Valor (rage and resentment)?
          Last edited by Lin Liren; 12-10-2018, 11:11 PM.

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          • #6
            Someone with high compassion can get limit from witnessing sexual assault for reasonably obvious reasons

            Someone with high temperance can get limit from witnessing sexual assault on grounds that its excessive and a far too brutal display of sexual urges. As in, the temperate exalt might not be as offended by the sexual assault itself as the wanton display of the rapist failing to control his urges.

            Someone with high conviction could get limit from it if... hmm... maybe because the exalt considers it a too crude and barbaric way of dominating or hurting people? I'm not sure on this one - high conviction characters have always struck me as being far more morally shady than characters with other high virtues, so i guess it would really depend on the context of the assault.

            high valor exalts could get limit as suggested previously: its an insult to the victim's honor, or victim's family/house's honor, whichever way you want to spin it.


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            • #7
              Hmmm, I missed the line about "women getting disgraced".

              That's, errr, that's not what the criminal element of rape is.

              I have certain... issues with Fist of the North Star that I think I can more effectively express now than when the subject came up in a discussion of Virtues several years ago, and the whole narrative of "guy righteously avenges woman with ultra-violence which is juxtaposed by his immediate kindness towards her" is a thing with a lot of issues all its own in terms of exactly who is supposed to be being helped here, and what kinds of behaviour are actually helpful for victims of abuse and people that have experienced trauma.

              Now in terms of being behaviours that either undermine some of one's core characteristics or ultimately create a harmful environment, sure, the Great Curse makes sense as something to emphasize and strengthen such issues. I, personally, would be a bit cautious about the subject due to how closely it might resonate with some real world traumas.

              I think some of the premise of this thread is a bit confused, because it's referring to these narratives in which the violence of these men is justified and laudable (which the language choice seems to agree with), but is looking to the Great Curse mechanics to depict that, even though the underlying narrative point of the Great Curse is that things have escalated in a bad way. Strictly speaking, you're using the right tools for the right purpose, but not quite for the correct reasons.

              Actually, to speak a bit about Fist of the North Star: Kenshiro is unnecessary in the setting of Exalted, because basic Creation is not portrayed as so absurdly violent that such a level of violent reprisal needs to be portrayed as tragically necessary and ultimately dragged out of somebody who doesn't really want it, and Exalted can be afforded tools to subdue people with the kinds of power disparities that Kenshiro tends to experience with his "opponents" in a manner that isn't as severely lethal, if they're willing to.

              Mind, I've grown to adopt the perspective that Fist of the North Star kind of depicts Kenshiro as a bit too quick to escalate to that level of violence for me to really take the whole "he's so reluctant that he cries a lot about it afterwards" thing particularly seriously. I don't think the franchise is lacking in merits, but I find that element to be way too into ideating extreme violence detailed to an almost fetishistic degree, especially considering the underlying factors of how it goes out of its way to craft a scenario in which the violence is justified, as well as the problems inherent to the idea of the hard man who weeps over the terrible things that cruel circumstance forces him to do.


              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
              Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                Hmmm, I missed the line about "women getting disgraced".
                That's, errr, that's not what the criminal element of rape is.
                Nor is that exactly what the virtues try to accomodate either, so it seems one need not to worry about this particular aspect.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lin Liren View Post
                  Which "Virtue" triggers "Limit Break" when it comes to sexual assault?
                  Seconding Isator Levi that this seems like the wrong question to be asking. It might be better to ask why media that wield sexual assault against women as weapons against men are a crucial part of your campaign-planning.

                  If you must figure out the Primary Virtue of a character who hates sexual assault, figure out what it is about the act that offends that character.

                  Is it the cruelty? Compassion.
                  Is it the wantonness? Temperance.
                  Does it transgress against specific ideals, beliefs, or goals? Conviction.
                  Does it make them feel powerless? Valor.

                  Having figured out what actually matters, you can then apply the Limit Condition to other stuff as well. And you probably should.

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                  • #10
                    Well, someone needing a limit break to act against the abusers is probably quite low on Compassion to start with. It also kind of says that only those under the Great Curse would go all medieval on them. I don't know, but to me the limit breaks is more about people mainly over-reacting to something considering to be minor to everyone else.

                    The Intimacy system of Ex3 works better for the kind of reactions presented in those movies, and worth importing to previous editions even if not putting a mechanical weight on it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lundgren View Post
                      I don't know, but to me the limit breaks is more about people mainly over-reacting to something considering to be minor to everyone else.
                      Hmm, that seems to have been the kind of thing that has contributed to people really hating it in the past.


                      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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                      • #12
                        I don't think it's within the spirit of the piece to think of "Taken" in terms of Limit Breaks. (Note: I'm deliberately setting aside the problematic elements of male power fantasies that rely on female disempowerment as their impetus, but yeah, it's an issue)

                        As I see it, the main throughline of Taken is that Neeson's character is, as in the ubiquitous tagline, just a dude with a shady past and a "particular set of skills". Then his daughter is kidnapped and he *must* use said skills to visit ultraviolence on some Bad Dudes to get her back. That's the key to the Angry Dad Power Fantasy; Neeson's character is doing "what any father would do" in this situation, if he could. Limit Breaks on the other hand are all about disproportionate response, but the movie starts from the premise that he's both empowered *and* justified. At most, he has outlier Conviction, though in the frame of the movie that's as much one of his "skills" as it is a Virtue.

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                        • #13
                          How about over-reacting to something that isn't minor?

                          For example, it would be a fairly normal reaction for a mother to want revenge on a man who sexually assaulted her son. It probably isn't normal for her to massacre the entire army because of what one soldier did.

                          Or perhaps over-reacting isn't the right term... Reacting in an irrational way? It's a curse of madness after all. But then, humans frequently act irrationally in extreme situations anyway.

                          (I'm trying to engage with the OP's premise, but I confess this is a fairly awkward topic. What's a rational vs irrational response to incidences that cause trauma? Especially one on which the effects of trauma, such as freezing or not reporting crimes, is frequently used by prosecutors as proof of a crime's non-existence. And I suggested earlier that the OP's framing of the question is something which frequently is a Valor-based limit break; their female friend/relative's victimhood is essentially an excuse for a male revenge fantasy. It's the same as when the super-villain murders/kidnaps the superhero's girlfriend/wife/sister at the beginning of the story. There's a reason few male action heroes go to avenge their own rape.

                          So, could we maybe rephrase the question?)


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                          • #14
                            deleted (+10)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
                              I don't think it's within the spirit of the piece to think of "Taken" in terms of Limit Breaks. (Note: I'm deliberately setting aside the problematic elements of male power fantasies that rely on female disempowerment as their impetus, but yeah, it's an issue)

                              As I see it, the main throughline of Taken is that Neeson's character is, as in the ubiquitous tagline, just a dude with a shady past and a "particular set of skills". Then his daughter is kidnapped and he *must* use said skills to visit ultraviolence on some Bad Dudes to get her back. That's the key to the Angry Dad Power Fantasy; Neeson's character is doing "what any father would do" in this situation, if he could. Limit Breaks on the other hand are all about disproportionate response, but the movie starts from the premise that he's both empowered *and* justified. At most, he has outlier Conviction, though in the frame of the movie that's as much one of his "skills" as it is a Virtue.
                              I guess though, that in reality most Dad's wouldn't. Even if they were ex-soldiers or whatever, they probably wouldn't kill a whole bunch of people getting their daughter back, or torture people, or whatever. It's a genre trope, not something that happens to that extent very often.

                              To get away from the problematic subject matter for a second... How many people, even if they were master fighters, would go to war with the Russian mob for killing their dog?* It's kind of nuts.

                              The issue with the Great Curse is that it's not going to make people do something no human would ever do, if they had the power, just something people would very rarely do, as it's so extreme.

                              *Because, let's be honest, the dog in John Wicke basically has the same narrative role as Deadpool's girlfriend in Deadpool 2.


                              The thing with the Great Curse is it's inspired by Bronze Age and Iron Age stories of hero-figures going mad with rage/grief/etc, being cursed with madness by the gods and so on, but those stories themselves are inspired by real life extreme reactions.


                              My characters:
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