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  • So, we finally started our new Chronicle!

    After a year-and-some of prep on the side of finishing up our last campaign, my home group and I have finally started our Exalted 3rd Ed Chronicle.

    The Storm This Way Comes ( https://thestormthiswaycomes.obsidianportal.com/ ) is two official sessions in, plus a prelude!

    We're using the Aeon Exalted setting hack - which is pretty well shaped up and due for a posting as soon as I finish up some editing.

    We're using the Momentum Exalted rules hack as well. I even got a handmade battlewheel for my birthday, from one of my players. So far, Momentum is staying fast and only had a few hiccups in actual play, which I'm thrilled about.

    Great timing on the WFHW backer PDF coming out! We've got a Solars storyline and a DB's storyline, set to intertwine.

    Our Solars entered the scene with a bang - they fell from the sky, leaving holes in thunderclouds and craters where they landed. They were clutching at whatever Artifacts they had at hand, and unsure exactly how they got there - fully Iconic. They landed on a beach in the middle of a Lintha invasion, and proceeded to do what Solars do.

    So far so good! I've already used a lot of ideas that people have posted here during our long prep time. I apologize that I didn't note who came up with what, but Baramue, the Shogun of Accursed Inspiration, already had an appearance in our DB's prelude.

    Also, my forum time has gotten pretty limited lately. I'll post when I can!


    Check out Momentum Exalted!

  • #2
    I have become a Fan of your chronicle on Obsidian Portal! Please feel free to become a fan of Sun Forged Oath when you have a spare moment, and enjoy some of the wonderful writeups my players have been doing.


    May you live in interesting times...

    Storyteller of Sun Forged Oath

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    • #3
      We're just wrapping up our session for tonight. We stepped into an Aeon ( a sort of pocket realm ) that was about to fall. Glau, our Zenith, met a ghostly image of her once (and future?) lunar mate. Varsay, our Eclipse, was frustrated trying to rescue some knowledge. Phoenix, our Dawn, stabbed a full Zelator worth of blood-ape kebabs.

      I fanned your Chronicle back, and looking forward to reading up, Keichiokami!


      Check out Momentum Exalted!

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      • #4
        Just for fun, I thought I might post some of the short stories & monologues coming out of our Chronicle.

        We've got two story threads going - one for Solars, who fall from the sky as meteors, with missing memories how they got here, and bearing artifacts that they're not quite sure how they obtained.

        The other is for Dragon-Blooded. They have a very familial organization around them, with a mix of resources to call upon and responsibilities to uphold.



        Here's the introductory monologue for four of our five our Solars.


        A broken mirror sparkles with the light of uncountable reflections.

        Moments of exultant victory and bitter frustration twinkle in the jagged facets. The sounds of celebration and mourning, joy and terror ring in the reverberating noise of shattering. In the shadows of each crack and fault, lurk the ghosts of might-have-been.

        The shards of the mirror tumble, in the timeless neverwhere of the strange vision. All around is dark and still - all light and all sound in the vision seems to come from the uncounted multitudes in the reflections.

        One of the reflections goes dark and silent.

        Then another, and another.

        The fragments of possibility fade - ever more quickly winking from existence - and you begin to become aware of other sensations.

        The clamor of the mirror's shattering noise is replaced by a whine-roar coming from all around.

        The vision of the broken mirror suddenly seems very far away, as if vanishing to an unknowable horizon. The darkness warms, first into a halo all around you; brilliant gold that yet flows through your mind, body, and soul. Then, in but a moment, heating further into a corona of gold, red and white flame.

        The blazing corona merges with the terrible roar beyond your Anima. You begin to become aware of your body once again. Every bone and muscle throbs with pain and power. Your hand reaches to grasp some ledge, or tool, or lost weapon - but finds nothing. Legs try to crouch, or run, or remember how to leap. Arms strain to rise to some defense.

        Somewhere, only an instant ago, you were shouting a terrible war-cry into the pages of myth and history. But now, recollection of all those words, places, and people seem to be just beyond your gasp.

        Before you can command sense to rise from the confusion, you are flattened against some surface in a bone-crunching impact, jarring you out of the vision.

        ---

        [Olivia prompt] The heat of the roaring coronal flame is quenched by a plunge into seawater. Heavy objects sink beside you. Their plummeting draft threatens to drag you down - but your hand finds grip on a large spar of tropical wood. Whatever ship this is, your impact has broken her keel, and you cling to half of it as she heaves and rolls in her death throes. The current reverses, rising into the ship, and you quickly find yourself on your feet in a rapidly-flooding bilge.

        Demonic pirate sailors all around you shout conflicting and confused orders in a bizarre and unholy tongue. Several are dead from your impact, their remains swirling in the rising swell of seawater filling the bilge. Others run by on the intervening two decks, or the top deck. Yet others stare in gawping confusion.

        Though you are in a doomed ship, in the bilge, in a churning storm, you stand in a beam of daylight. The ray of sun shines through a circle-cut gap in the clouds and down through each shattered deck. Your name is Olivia, and your Anima burns iconic with the light of the Unconquered Sun.

        The sorceress stands in the Twilight between night and day, and no god or demon may challenge her will.

        ---

        [Glaukos prompt] After the first impact, your body tucks reflexively, rolling through the subsequent bounces. You've impacted some sort of sandy terrain; your rolling motion flings a tail of damp sand in your wake.

        You come to a stop, rising to a knee. You have a pouch or small satchel in your hand, but do not remember where you got it. Across your back, you have strapped a heavy and lopsided harness of some sort.

        You stand on burned and bloody white sand, and at the edge of a circle of firelight. The light is marred by stinking, oily smoke. In the center of the firelight burns a giant megalodon, impaled upon a ship's mast and hoisted upright upon the sand. It burns with the scent of oils, tars, and incenses, perhaps some degenerate thaumaturgic idol.

        Around the circle, seacolor-skinned chanters jump back in surprise from your appearance. The flaming idol, the chanters, and you, all stand in an island of sunlight, blazing down through the clouds above. Your name is Glaukos and your Anima burns iconic with the wrath of the Unconquered sun.

        The depth of night merely reminds Creation to await the Zenith of the bright day.

        ---

        [Phoenix prompt] Globs of sand and debris rain around you, and you find yourself laying in a deep crater of sand and cooling new glass. Your hands and knees find their way under you, and you lever yourself up to look around. Partly buried in the settling sand and debris, a litter of weapons and armored limbs poke up from the crater.

        Above and around you, you hear the burble-bubble of demonic seatongue. Mutant fishmen struggle to find their legs, most of them rubbing their heads, or trying to clear their ears or eyes after the blast.

        A strong, armored gauntlet hooks under your armpit, hoisting you to your feet. "Stand, Lintha!" the warleader commands. Saved from the blast by his armor of sea-monster shell, he hoists you to full height.

        Half of the Lintha warleader's face is peppered with a spray of molten glass globs. "The weaklings have some siege...." His voice trails off, as he's swiped the sand and muck from his eyes and sees who he's talking to.

        Your name is Phoenix. Your caste mark burns upon your forehead, reflected in the fishlike eyes and in the cooling glass globs of the unluckiest of all Lintha. He blinks a few times, too stunned to be terrified. Your Anima burns iconic, under a tight shaft of sunlight piercing the thunderhead above.

        The Dawn rises, pushing back the darkness. The Sun is Unconquered.

        ---

        [Varsay prompt] The surface beneath you is hard, coarse, hot to the touch, and dun red. Broken bits of the reddish granite pelt down around you, tumbling back down from your impact. You seem to be sliding, with a squeak, face- and head-down the slope of a mountainside.

        You get your hands under you, stopping the slide. One hand clanks on the stone - a comfortingly familiar Artifact confirming that you've escaped the vision of the mirror. Rising to a crouch, you discover yourself to be some quarter mile up the long stony slope.

        Just above you, on a flat ledge, a group of blue-skinned scouts have scattered back from their signal fire. Jars of color powder roll away from the fire, knocked over by their leap to cover. A reflector of beaten brass slides down from their position toward you.

        Below you is a beach, the scene of a landfall of troops. A squadron of warships and transports rests at anchor in the rocking water of a river delta. Nearest you at the bottom of the stone slope is a port town built on stilts.

        The landfall has been disrupted by an impact in the middle of their formation. The largest ship of the squadron has had its keel broken. The town has been sacked and is burning, but the thaumaturgy keeping the rain away has faltered. Each of these places is lit by a beam of sunlight, shot through the opaque cloud cover. And each is also lit by the iconic Anima of the Solar Exalted.

        Your name is Varsay, and you stand in your own beam of sunlight, your Anima burning bright all around you. The Lintha raiders' signal reflector slides all the way down the slope to your feet, casting a brilliant light down in all directions.

        As wisdom is the knowledge of dark and light, the Sun is not extinguished during the Eclipse.






        Our fifth Solar is my character. He's in use as a detailed NPC right now, but ready to go for the rare chances I get to play!

        I wrote his introduction up as a short story, structured in parallel to the main monologue. It also helped me get the facts together.

        [Kalifiir prompt] I feel myself slamming into an unyielding stone surface. I have no chance to tuck and roll, so the impact is sharp and white-hot. I hear myself yelp as I flatten against the stone. I'm

        I am underwater. Sunlight shimmers down to me, through the churning surface and a torrent of bubbles rising around me. The water is clear, fresh, and cold. White sand and pale stones reflect the gold-and-night colors as my Anima shimmers iconic.

        I sink for what seems to be a long moment, trying to reorient. At the bottom of the clear pool, I see the Orichalcum and Irrigo colors of my Fang, just settling into the white sand. I swim down to the bottom to retrieve it. Concealed by the no-self of my Anima, I am wearing a snug jinset and a handy pouch. Only tatters of other ruined equipment remain.

        I kick from the bottom, erupting through the surface. I find that I am at an oasis of sorts, a clear, deep spring pool hidden in a grotto of reddish mountain stone.

        The grotto is filled with fires and camps. Above the grotto, surmounting vertical cliffs, stands an enormous tower, commanding the view.

        My name is Kalifiir Sabra, the Wolf of Shadows. I've interrupted a convocation of beast-masked raiders. They back away from my phantom no-self, remembering their fear of things from the shadows.

        No evil which hides in the shadows can conceal itself from the Night itself.




        Check out Momentum Exalted!

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        • #5
          And here's the introductory monologue for our Dragon-Blooded.

          They'd just survived a troublesome Calibration celebration, during which authentic news of the Scarlet Empress' disappearance arrived.


          The Sun rises, dawn pushing back the dark sky of Calibration. Five dark days come to an end.

          The view is striking, from the top tier of the Golden Pavilion. Newborn light spills across the rooftops of Goldenseal, awakening the squares and streets, sparkling along the winding canals. The Pavilion itself, palace of the ruling Peleps, is decorated with bright pennants and streamers - purples and yellows predominantly. Marble statues line the grounds below the central pagoda, framing walking paths of dressed coral stone.

          The mixing sounds of cheers, songs, and hand cymbals echo up from the streets below. The mortal celebrations are subdued, winding down after five days of clamor. The last of the fireworks and wine welcome the new year. By midday, they will be busy cleaning up. By evening, they will be back to their routine toil.

          The Sunrise Welcome is the last formal event for the Dynasts of Goldenseal and their Calibration guests - including you, the delegation from Stormclaw. The Chosen in attendance are all resplendent in their finest regalia. The flood of sunlight into the ballroom reflects from worn ornaments of gold, silver, jade, and gemstones, crowning the pagoda with sparkling light of every color.

          But it is the Sun itself that draws every eye. Sunrise ending Calibration causes a tangible realignment of Dragon Lines - every Chosen feels the shift of Essence as an emotional tideswell pouring through the soul. Even here, among the jaded elite of the far Southwest, this Sunrise draws whispered prayers of thanks - and of relief. A few of the present luminaries are so struck with awe that they gasp or flick open a fan.

          Hiding in the glory of the Unconquered Sun, the fresh start of this new year carries a pang of nostalgia. Only a few short days ago, the righteous order of Creation was assumed and certain. Calibration brought official news of the Scarlet Empress' disappearance. Certainty vanished in the darkness.

          The Peleps, masters of Goldenseal and hosts of the Sunrise Welcome, offer a cheerful kanpai, the first of many toasts and well wishes. Tastefully understated cheers and polite laughter rumble through the partygoers. No one mentions the news from the Blessed Isle, nor the orders delivered to members of the Great Houses, nor the Dynasts who are missing from the Welcome. This morning is all smiles - the knives can wait, for now.

          For now, cautious eyes glance around the gathering, chasing the shifting tells of alliance and rivalry. For now, careful ears listen for hints about sealed orders and concealed preparations.

          What a blessing it will be to get back home, to Watermaple. You just can't imagine any way this year could get off to a worse start.

          ---

          [Ina prompt] The sunrise itself is silent, but you feel the radiance of celestial fire warming your face. So long has it been since you've seen the Sun with your own eyes, that it's become difficult to imagine. While the simplicity and power of sunrise is a fading memory, the warmth is eternally familiar and comforting.

          Concealed by your silk sash, the vine sutures across your eyes relax slightly in the warming glow. The creep of their shifting is no longer a discomfort. After many years it is just another sensation to note - no more disturbing to you than a weather-ache predicting a storm.

          Alone among the attending Dynasts, you pick out a minor note in the sounds of celebration among the mortals. Like a sigh swimming in a sea of laughter, it hints that news of the Empress' disappearance has spread to the people of the land.

          The waking sounds of birds and insects dance among the clamor as well. Only the beasts of Creation seem to be carefree of their future.

          Your name is Cathak Ina. For these last decades you have seen no sight, but yours is a world of sensation few others will ever notice.

          ---

          [Gavad prompt] The intrigue of Imperial court plays out for you, seeming like an overwrought chapter from one of the Romances of the Sevens. You are the audience outside the action but inside the scene. Forever a stranger.

          The ballroom, filling the top tier of the Golden Pavilion, is as a stage. Actors in fine costumes play out their cunning intrigues with excellent poise. Each acts out their role, written in the ink of caste and title.

          Whispers are shared, hidden behind sleeves or fans. Danger lurks in words, hidden by the pantomime of ritualized propriety. They will prosper, who can discern real danger among all the distractions of the world.

          You are Gavad Sirhpo. Your strange journey has carried you across Creation, to a place you never expected. Every place along your winding path has been a stage for the same drama - the struggle for the phantom treasure of privilege, acted out while real dangers stalk the night.

          Wherever you roam, danger does not stalk unchallenged.

          ---

          [Rithik prompt] Petty lords of lesser families play their politics, aping their betters on the Blessed Isle. The Satrapies of the Southwest are far from the centers of power, and so naturally form a sanctuary. Rather than consolidating in safety, these small Dynasts squabble over scraps.

          Lines drawn in dust always thirst for blood.

          Already, several Dynasts and a dozen or more Patricians are missing. They will never be found. Lives lost that could have been recruited. Nothing remains of them but a polite excuse for missing a preening and useless extravagance.

          Watch how these lessers sharpen their knives and brew their poisons. Watch as they ready themselves, to spill their lives into the sand, dancing among daggerpoints - all for no greater prize than fields of mud and frog ranches. Watch as they play their games and die at the edge of alleged civilization.

          They may yet learn how sharp a knife can become.

          You are Iselsi Rithik, fostern Cathak. For a year, you have been learning the secret Gateway gameplay of your true House, while becastled in a sanctuary among allies. Each Dynast around you is but a piece on the board; none seek to know the hand that moves them.

          --

          [Charlotte prompt] Those who wear the tall collar and epaulets of the Imperial Navy stand apart from the crowd. Down to the small manners, officer lords must be calm and sure, even in the troubled waters of shifting alliances.

          The Peleps lords of Goldenseal count several lord-Captains among their number. Guests for Calibration, you find in them the kinship of command. They share an understanding that yearning for the sea is a call to action.

          Your own cousins, Cathak lords of Goldenseal, are well pleased to showcase you at every chance. While Cathak counts some lord-officers of the Legions as guests, you are the only lord of the Navy among them.

          That prestige does not seem to extend to private audiences. Salon and refreshments at the Cathak mansions have been punctuated with the practiced sneer of superiority. One must wonder if Cathak blood carries some defect of loyalty. Perhaps the same that excuses the exile of two of the House's daughters to the edge of the world.

          No matter. Opposite the Eastern Sunrise, Ranger stands proud at her post in the review line. Her masts are tall and straight. Her pennants are crisp and colorful, streaming in the breeze with a whip-snap. Her crew stands ready for inspection or action.

          Troubled waters await, and no one can know how many of Ranger's sister ships will still sail by next Calibration.

          You are Cathak Charlotte. Command and action are yours by right and by title. With your ship beneath your feet and your Consulate by your side, no horizon is out of reach.





          Check out Momentum Exalted!

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          • #6
            We had an encounter with an Infernal antagonist.

            This was a short story about her going back to report to her queen, Lintha Azora.




            Sitting atop the grimacing Ikon of Burning Ice, Jewel Inverse was lost in deep communion. She kicked her feet, shins swinging childishly off the front of the ship. Her expression was a tight-lipped and toothful grin, cheeks lifted over dimples, like some uncanny grimacing doll. Smears of dried blood framed the white of her teeth and rolled-back eyes. Her caste mark unglowed fulgant, reflecting as wisps of matching unlight orbiting through her Anima.

            She did not hear the scrape of sargasso dragging along the hull of the Blackship, nor the toil or work-song of the surviving crew. Her mind was filled with the soft murmur of voices not her own. Too faint to hear without focus, too loud to ignore without effort, they burbled just at the edge of her awareness, nibbling at the boundaries of her remaining sanity. The voices of Hell were the warm water in which she swam, a comforting blanket of outlandish sin, a dark closet of private terror.

            The stone hull tapped, finally, against something solid, awakening Jewel from her unnatural meditation. She always felt a lurch of sickness and self-conscious anxiety in the moment the voices left her. The wisps withdrew, leaving only the unglow of her caste mark. Her uncanny grin remained, for the moment, as fixed as stone. Only her eyes moved, rolling randomly and independently in their sockets, before settling together to glance in the direction of the sound.

            The bump was that of the ship's igneous hull against the white marble of a baroquely carved pier. They'd reached Anzuss, awaited by an honor guard of Kinsblood Lintha masters.

            Jewel had not readied herself for a formal welcome. She'd let the blood stains on her skin and cute dress remain where they fell, imagining the favor of Lintha Azora, her beloved queen. In the black depths of the Fiend's twisted fantasy, Azora would delight at the return of her blood-splattered princess. Her queen would savor her favorite princess smelling - and tasting - of dragon's blood.

            She bit back a stomach-wrenching pang of self-consciousness. The Kinsblood masters who awaited her didn't conceal their contempt at her appearance. Though they were one-and-all fishmen mutants and demonic hybrids, their sea coats, honor tokens, and grooming were just as perfect and upright as their poise.

            A bilious worm of Essence chewed through her soul, eating the disgust from her sense of self and shitting it out in another place. As the mote passed, she neatly projected her perceived shortcoming on those who stood judging her - If they had a problem, it was their fault for standing in her way.

            Jewel rose to her feet, her body no heavier than her freshly hollowed conscience. Standing on-point in an exaggerated, gleeful pose, she greeted them with a giggle and irreverent wave. Behind the grin and hiding in the giggle, she felt only contempt. She had no choice but to destroy the dignity of her welcome home.

            She skipped down the boarding plank, unbothered to acknowledge her lessers. Marmarik could stand on his own and walk off his ship, or beg to be carried. The masters and their judgmental scowls could await her forever in Hell.

            Opposites in every way, a beautiful girl wrapped in gory spatter pranced past wretched half-demons wrapped in pristine grace.

            Her queen awaited, and hers was the only approval Jewel Inverse would ever need.




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            • #7
              We just finished up a story arc in the Pit of Xaarr, featuring our Solars. The Pit is the Lost Aeon of the long-fallen Empire of Xaarr. (A Pit being a fallen Aeon that's attached to, or closer to, the main Underworld than to Creation or anywhere else.)

              As Creation seemed inexorably drawn toward an apocalyptic turning of Ages, the dragon lines and flowing Essence keeping the Age of Sorrows intact had been weakening. Finally, it seems, some Lost Aeons are starting to reconnect, partially becoming accessible to wanderers in Creation itself.

              Our Solars accompanied our DBs to the strange phenomenon. The DBs would soon be off on a more political mission (which we're playing now!) to hold the Stormclaw Dominion together in the time of turmoil.

              The village of An Dakkar is just inside the border at the southernmost corner of Khazan. Khazan is the wealthiest nation in the Stormclaw Dominion. It was looted by the retreating Satrap Ledaal Usada, though not nearly as bad as Iril. An Dakkar is at the intersection of the Golden Road, which runs as far north as An Teng, and the local, ancient, and well-maintained Al Zaar's Road running west to Iril Irilfang and east as far as the Azalea Road leading up into the inland mountains, and into Val Nevan. The Zaar/Xaarr name is a bit of deliberate linguistic drift.

              Monologue at the Pit's Astral Verge

              Refreshments at the Wayfarer's Pagoda in An Dakkar are rustic, tasty, and filling. For the moment, ten Chosen sit and dine together after a hurried, shared journey. This afternoon, though, the Brotherhood and Circle will part company.
              You've traveled together from Watermaple. Part of the journey was buoyed by Keodor's traveling music. When he concentrates and plays, it seems as though your feet had wings. When he starts to experiment with his tunes, it feels like your feet are drawn to collide.
              The rest of the journey was filled with conversation. The Brotherhood caught you up on much of the history and political situation of Stormclaw. The more you find out, though, the greater seem the mysteries around your emergence in this place.
              Al-Zaar's Road continues East from this crossroads town, until it meets the Azalea Road. Where the Golden Road meets al-Zaar's Road, The nation of Khazan marks its southern border. Wayfarer's Pagoda is a rest, barter, and customs enterprise sponsored by the House of Gao, rulers of Khazan.
              Indeed, the Brotherhood is soon to resume their journey to Dusk Haven. An issue awaits their attention in Khazan's capital.
              Other members of the guild took to the west, seeking to open contact with Iril. Doubtless, they have instructions to check the facts of your claim.
              The guild master asked your Circle to investigate the strange phenomenon here. You can see it from the Pagoda. Below you and a few hundred yards away, a rice paddy is cut with a seemingly perfect square. The hole passes into the earth, leaving its edge cut into earth, mud, rice stalks, and the water itself.
              Several bodies lay rotting in the paddy, and a few by the side of the road. Mortal family members of the deceased, and mortal clergy nearby, have reported being too terrified of ghosts even to approach. It seems there was a night of terror several days ago, marked by ghosts wandering the area. Morning light revealed the impossible square hole.
              Two other members of the guild approach the Pagoda. Shastra Galloway, a short, stout and cute young woman, set out from the Consulate ahead of your group. She'd rendezvoused with a wood-dark skinned Prasadi man named Purumar Argindi. They both seem talented in fieldcraft - they've been quietly investigating the area ahead of your arrival, and have come to report.
              Exploring around the area, they found that some of the local mortals died, having met their own ghosts. That's rather a strange thing to happen, that isn't in any Occult manuals.

              The Solar Circle pretty quickly made their way into the interspatial temple, and climbed their way down into the Pit itself.

              In the Pit, they found an ancient ghost of a long-forgotten nation. The boundary around the nation was ringed with mountains. Beyond the mountains was nothing at all - pure Void. Any mortal seeing the Void is blind as long as it's within eyesight, but the border around Xaarr's domain usually churns with mist. Above, the sky hung low and dark, with only the palest memory of sunlight filtering down through clouds and void-above. Below, in the valley, great stone columns rose into the mist, sometimes creaking or turning slightly.

              They met a Lunar, one of Xaarr's allies - or thralls. He'd gotten out of the Pit earlier and killed a few mortals before returning. He desired to leave and explore the real Creation. All this time he'd thought that the Pit - still called the Empire of Xaarr by the natives - was all that was left of fallen Creation. But he was bound here by powerful oaths and commands.

              They also found the ossified remains of the Empire's ancient and dead dragon lines - turned to black basalt-like stone and visible above ground.


              Monologue at the Black Lake

              Miles pass as you journey deeper into the mysterious, otherworldly valley. More and more, the land is covered by terraces, some of uniform height and some of varying. Various poor crops grow on some of them, twisted brown things with barely edible grain heads.
              Some of the terraces have gentle sloped ramps, sweeping down to meet the unusual road. Most have rough steps or simply a worn track up the side.
              Graveyards are a common feature of the terraces. Low stones, semi-polished and faintly marked dot the edges of the highest terraces, surrounding shrines. Many of the shrines themselves, or the centers of the graveyards, are marked by the enormously tall plinths, rising into the opaque sky above.
              Farm houses, shanties, and old camps scatter around atop the various terraces as well, hinting at some sign of life and agriculture. Yet, the only signs of movement come from shades or drawn-withered humans. All of them live hunched, hands and feet to the ground. All of them flee at your approach.
              A few of these once-farms seem to have fresh supplies laid up. Sacks and barrels of field grains, salt, coarse flours, and salted meat of some sort seem to appear in larders …. as if by habit and with no source you can quite find.
              Oddly, more and more of the terraces seem to have low walls - ruined or intact - along the edge of the terrace facing the interior of the valley.
              The road itself seems allergic to straight lines. It turns to follow the curves of the terraces, often going completely around them. It crosses itself unmarked, like the ghost of a mad maze grown to the size of a country. The road's path is tight and claustrophobic, wedged between the slopes of the adjacent terraces, and blanketed by the low fog above.
              Ahead, finally, you see a clearing opening between the terraces. Moonlight shines from the still surface of a black, mirror-flat lake. Even the fog above the lake seems to be relieved somewhat.
              The Black Lake was home to a deep, liquid-bodied monster. Shrines and a small village surrounded it. The pitiable cultists who would show up would often become so despondent that they would step into the Black Lake and be consumed, rather than living or unliving any longer.

              When the Lost Monster of Black Lake attacks, it attacks endlessly, as if unending waves of battle groups. Destroying one batch of tentacles stops the attacks for a turn (or more, from range) as fresh tentacles burst forth and slither into combat. The Lost Monster tries to gain Momentum (initiative in Core) to perform a Gambit to drag people into the lake and down to be consumed. It's impossible to steal Momentum from the tentacles - only by attacking the main body down at the bottom of Black Lake.

              The Circle defeated it by using the thirsty maw spell, ripping most of the lake away to reveal the main body, which was then vulnerable to attack.

              They met Atel and Manday, two ancient Solars, now dead and dwelling as ghosts. In the playtest sessions, our DB Brotherhood had killed them when they appeared in a nearby swamp in Creation. None of the Celestials had this memory, and Atel and Manday both had conflicting memories of how they got out and how they ultimately died. It seems that some paradox is going on, affecting Celestial Chosen.

              The Circle found a broken cosmostat - a device used to view the heavens while navigating a ship or skyship. It was of much later construction than anything else here in the Pit - the rest of the Pit seems to long predate the so-called First Age, and be much closer to the first rise of mankind.


              Monologue at Aahn Porodo

              The road seems to rise, for the first time. The main path of this weird echo-memory of al-Zaar's Road rises onto one of the terraces, where it meets an outpost. Living guards, gaunt but attentive, mind the turnpike.
              Beyond, you hear the sounds of a bustling city. Torches burn away the glum dusk, and the rising smoke seems to part the low fog somewhat.
              From here, you can see that the city seems to be built on rings of ever-rising terraces. They aren't flat, but are built up at janky angles. The buildings of dark wood and stone are jammed together, forming into their own layers and geography.
              The guards at the turnpike notice something coming from the city-side opposite you, and hustle to open the way. A coach of ancient style goes rolling by at full tilt, pulled by a trio of large but gaunt horses. It races by you uncaring if you're run over or not.
              Aahn Porodo is what passes for a city, down in the Pit. It's a baroque madhouse town, twisted at weird and impossible angles. Anything that might be called commerce or bureaucracy in Xaarr's domain is to be found in Aahn Porodo.

              The Circle encountered the strange remnant of a Night Caste assassin. With some great effort, they parlayed with it (avoiding a stealth/assassination/backstab combat with the assassin and her minions) and discovered a great many things.

              Atel (Dawn Caste) and Manday (Zenith Caste) were powerful Solars in their own right, though they seem to have lost a great deal of their power in clawing their way early into Creation. Leliel, the Night Caste of Xaarr's ancient Circle, presided over the town, clinging desperately to whatever she could call civilization.

              The Pit itself was held together by the unyielding will to power of Xaarr himself. He and his Circle had forged the Empire, wresting it from the Dragon Kings, and turning it into something stable and prosperous even at the far edge of Creation. By might and will and Essence, Xaarr and his Circle were unable to let go of their passion, and so when the Empire fell, it fell away from Creation entirely and became a Pit. The transition was so sudden that citizens of the Empire thought that they were all that was left of Creation.

              Xaarr himself was his circle's Eclipse, and continues to hold his Empire together with powerful mental powers and oaths. He's amazingly powerful in his own right, even if twisted by the effort of keeping his Empire from vanishing, and certainly by witnessing the slow undeath that was creeping into every part of it.

              The Twilight of Xaarr's Circle was so passionate to keep the Empire going, that s/he forged their own bones into the tall spires, creating a nation-spanning Artifact that kept the Pit from falling forever and vanishing into the Void. The unmade Twilight's name entirely forgotten, the so-called Twilight's Ribs tried forever to drag the Pit back from Oblivion.

              The Circle found a big-brother style poster celebrating Xaarr's dominion, as well as some books of the Empire's legendarium. There were some strange references in the latter, hinting that the Empire had been attacked recently by a group of Exalted in a skyship... but memories of that seemed to be impossibly contradictory as well.

              They also found 108 semi-ethereal hands, each about a yard from wrist to fingertip. They were in a range of soft pastel colors. A few of them held onto cast-iron rings, as if some sort of door handle scaled up to their size. They'd been killed, but didn't seem to be part of any such larger creature.

              Leliel negotiated for some of her townsfolk to escape the Pit and return to Creation, so that some part of the grand effort of so many millennia might survive again in the sunlight. She led all those who would heed the call to escape. Then, Leliel stepped into the Void at the edge of the Pit, before Xaarr's multitude of mental influences and mighty Eclipse oaths bound her mind and soul again.


              My monologue at Xaarr's temple complex didn't survive the actions of my players. So, this was heavily paraphrased and expanded upon when we got there!

              Monologue at the temple complex

              If the geomancy of dead dragon-lines can be said to have a center, the temple complex appearing before you certainly qualifies. It rises upon a broad terrace of its own, built of stacked stone much like the entire road has been. In front of the weather-rounded wall, outbuildings, towers, subsidiary shrines all await visitors. Some seem occupied, some are in ruins. All are weathered.
              The complex stands in the center of a forest of the giant, creaking, slowly-turning plinths. Hundreds of them dot the land around the nexus terrace. Shades move in the shadows of them, fearing the true sunlight radiating sourcelessly from the area above the temple complex. Eyes seem to peek out from shadows hiding in shadows, regarding you with hate and terror.
              Xaarr himself was a giant (about 14 feet tall) gaunt humanoid. Once human and twisted by effort, will, and the creeping destruction of the Empire to which he had given himself entirely. He was mostly naked, except for a few linen wraps at the extremities. His face was eyeless, mouth eternally open as if to give a snarling commandment. His Caste Mark shone forever, but from above and behind him, lighting the central terraces of his Empire like the sun.

              Countless shades, unable to bear the sun, hide in the shadows behind the Twilight's Ribs or whatever structure they can find.

              Two undying Dragon Kings, sustained by being chained to huge statues and shot-through with acupuncture needles (keeping them unmoving but unaging) joined the battle.

              A battle group of human thralls joined as well. At the command of Xaarr, great multitudes of the shades threw themselves into his holy sunlight to attack as well... while their corpus burned away.

              Xaarr had some Momentum Tilts (an extra pool of dice that he applies to every roll while they're in tact, in Momentum Exalted) in the form of a trio of astrological/geomantic pyramids in the center of his temple complex. The ring of giant statues around that area was another source of a Tilt.

              Xaarr himself fought bare handed when someone got close - described a bit like Muay Thai. Most of the time though, he would attack the mind and will of his opponents.

              Grinding his fingers and thumb together - like cricket legs - he would cause vibrations in his target's lungs, causing them to shout out an oath of loyalty - which Xaarr could then sanctify.

              As a Gambit, he could slap his hands together, causing a shockwave to strike everyone nearby, with a similar effect.

              Both of those could be defended with Willpower, and the Circle started coming up with their own sonic stunts to parry these attacks with.

              As an expensive direct mental attack, Xaarr could also issue a mighty command, demanding an oath of loyalty. Failing to overcome it with Resolve, it could be disregarded with 4 Willpower. Failing that, the attack creates a Defining Intimacy of loyalty to Xaarr - this Intimacy can be degraded over sessions but can never fall below Minor.

              Xaarr also reset to 10 dice of Momentum instead of 3, and benefited from Tilt until that was destroyed.

              Varsay, our own Eclipse, was struck by Xaarr's mental attack and unable to resist it. Olivia, our Twilight, had been carefully reserving her Willpower for Sorcery, and was able to resist it, but that put her out of spellcasting for the battle.

              In the course of the fight, Varsay had to fight against his own comrades or take Limit. He gained a lot of Limit in that fight.

              Ultimately, though, Varsay had a Vader-and-Emperor moment, betraying his new master and killing him with all his reserved Momentum.

              As the Pit started to falter and fall apart to forever vanish into the Void, the Lunar they'd met hailed them from the back of the temple complex. He'd created a pathway to get back to Creation, and because the Circle had dealt with him honorably and saved some of the Empire's citizens, he came back to show them the way home.



              There were some themes we got into that are going to be pretty important in this Chronicle.

              > Celestial level mental powers leave a mark on the minds of those affected, and they can be very very powerful. Mortals and Dragon-Blooded are not wrong to fear the Anathema's skill at raising armies and growing cults. Varsay will be able to remove most of the forced Intimacy with time, but some part of him will always, for the rest of his life, be comparing the empires and leaders of Creation to what Xaarr did, and how he held on to his passion and his goals for so long.

              > Strange that Lunars seem to be extra good at navigating Aeons, isn't it?

              > We'll definitely be seeing more Aeons here and there. Pits and otherwise. The Pit of Xaarr is only the first delve. There are many, and they have many different behaviors.

              > Something weird happened to the Celestial Exalted that cost them some recent memory. Or is it only memory? Did things un-happen? The effect seems to extend into some Lost Aeons, but perhaps imperfectly.




              I'm also really really happy with how both Aeon Exalted is shaping up as a setting, and how Momentum Exalted is shaping up as a combat rules hack.

              Writing for a Circle and a Brotherhood is a lot of work, but it's letting us explore both sides of the same story. What happens when worlds collide ... and what happens when nations and alliances fall apart?


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              • #8
                I had a chance to play for once. One of my usual players took a turn, while we were short handed for players.

                Kalifiir my fill-in Night Caste who usually just shows up with hints, had a chance to go visit a town in Val Nevan, a southern nation in the Stormclaw Dominion. They had a bit of a problem with a horny god kidnapping marriage-age girls.

                Up to then, he'd been pretty much a supporting character able to keep quiet and occasionally knife a baddie or steal something or deliver a message. Since he got some screen time, it seemed natural to me that he'd be thinking about what might be in store for him, so I got all that out of my head in a story.


                The Last Stretch of the River

                Kalifiir stood at the prows of the River Empress, lost in thought. The barge wallowed along with the slow downstream current, lumbering her way through the last few curves in her journey. He could see the gap in the forest ahead, where missing trees revealed the deep lake beside Athasend Landing.

                This would be the last time he would travel to Athasend, without a legend preceding him.

                Some part of him wanted to take to the shadows. The Essence of Night called to him, beckoning him to darkness and secrecy.

                In truth, he felt kinship with the lurkers of dark places, as if he might better understand monsters, assassins, and rogues than his own sudden Circle. It was not an understanding that could stay a blade from a deserving throat. Rather, the owners of throat and knife would understand and live the same reality.

                Another part of him felt the call to rule. Dreams of empire taunted his sleep these days. Sometimes the imperial dream beheld a land drenched in golden sunshine, but whose secret masters commanded the shadows.

                Other dreams lurked through a twisted labyrinth of informants, bootleggers, scoundrels, and rebels. In such empire of lies and surveillance, back-alley deals and the politics of the whisper reign over all.

                Kalifiir mused whether Leliel had ever faced the same conflict. Had Aahn Porodo been the destruction of Leliel's dream - or its realization? Had they even been given a choice?

                Could it be that the compromise between mortal will and Celestial power was ultimately, inevitably one-sided?

                The last curve opened ahead of the river barge. When he reached Athasend Landing, he would become many new things to many people: leader, terror, salvation, boogeyman.

                Anathema.

                For the hundredth time, he entertained the thought of silencing all mortal witnesses to his deeds. A few dozen dead today might spare thousands, as the Solar lifespan ran its millennial course. Witnesses, bounty hunters, rivals, and Wyld Hunts - all would be drawn into his path by tales told today.

                He dismissed the idea again, and regretted thinking it. Yet, as dreams of empire colored his sleep, a daydream of the butcher's quick mercy lurked nearby, ready to tint his waking thoughts.

                The river barge slipped from the mouth of the river, her hull nodding gently as she slowed into the lake. The warm water was draped in jungle steam, Athasend Landing just visible through it.

                The rising steam reminded Kalifiir of a naïve fantasy - long ago he yearned to dance on clouds. Clan Sabra bore the blood of Mela and Danaa'd. The roar of his siblings' Second Breaths could lift their feet to alight on the faintest puff, or vault them across the lake entirely.

                In another Creation, whose stars wrought a different Destiny, he'd have stood beside his siblings and quested among the Chosen.

                In a different Creation, his chance would have passed. Ignored by the dragons, he'd become a minor, soon-forgotten disappointment.

                Whether the blood of dragons awoke in his veins or slumbered a generation, his purpose would be written for him. He'd need only live it out.

                In this Creation, he had no guide forward but his own will.

                Perhaps that was why he would be called Anathema.



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                • #9
                  We're still at it. We just finished up a big Chronicle turning point. It's been a roller coaster.

                  This is a bit of supporting material I posted to our portal page a few hours before a decisive battle in An Teng.


                  Two old friends sat quietly in the audience room of the Watermaple Consulate.

                  A single oil lamp flickered at the corner of the great rustic cypress table. It was the only light in the room and cast long, dancing shadows. The table itself was one of the Consulate's newest treasures, wrought from a battle trophy nearly a year ago.

                  Cathak Soren leaned on the table informally. A pot of tea steamed by his elbow. The centennial dragon was lost in thought, keepsakes scattered in the candle's light.

                  Mokke Elton reclined near the outside wall, halfway across the room. The sliding door was ajar by a few fingers' width, letting in the sound and smell of unending jungle rain. His iron pipe and pouch of smoke-leaf rested on a tray by his cushion, accompanied by a half-empty teacup gone tepid.

                  Five Gateway pieces stood on the table, in a fine formation. Faces to the light, they cast long shadows, all the way to the table's end. Soren had forgotten which grateful lord had gifted his Brotherhood with the set, but the faces of his friends - as commemorated in unblemished Jade - would never leave his memory.

                  Until her death in Irilfang, Habitha had held the Gateway set on behalf of their Brotherhood. She fell protecting her son, on the day the suns fell.

                  Elshabet and Rhoklaw fell in the subjugation of the Anathema called Prince of Wounded Heart and his skull-tattooed cult. That made three of his Brotherhood gone.

                  How he wished they were here.

                  The world, he thought, was no longer his world. The fundamental truths that once centered him seemed to no longer make sense.

                  Elton stretched, pretending to be lazy. When he'd heard that Soren was here, nursing one of his melancholies, the wind-weasel had invited himself. He picked up his pipe and started to clean it, keeping an ear and an eye on his friend.

                  Soren was under no illusions of Elton's pretense. He glanced around the room, letting the drone of the rain measure his mood. He wondered if he would ever again see this place. In the morning he was to depart for a journey north - to An Teng.

                  He took a sip of tea and refilled his cup.

                  A pair of lacquered boards lay on the table. Pressed together and tied securely, they would protect and flatten a collection of papers - tonight they were untied and open, the collection spread in candlelight opposite the Gateway set.

                  The collection was of hand-drawn pictures of his children, back home on the Blessed Isle. And their children. He couldn't quite remember how who related to whom, or if there were faces from a third generation in the mix. He suspected there were.

                  Soren stacked them neatly, as he always did, and pressed them safely between the boards, as he always did.

                  He carefully placed the collection inside a matching lacquered chest beside him on the floor. Making room for the boards, he gently nudged them down, alongside a stack of envelopes.

                  The dozens of envelopes were carefully ordered. Each year had one envelope to mark its passing. The years brought letters from his wife and descendants, beautifully written, but saying nothing.

                  Soren had replied to every missive. Once per year, he wrote kind words of encouragement in splendid, bold calligraphy. Every year, he included a writ, permitting his estranged family on the Blessed Isle to draw upon his stipend as a member of the Wyld Hunt. Even as a distant old man at the edge of the world, Cathak Soren saw to his duties, as he always did.

                  Every letter from the Blessed Isle had earned a reply.

                  The last dozen letters from the Blessed Isle were unopened.

                  Elton finished packing his pipe. He held it up.

                  Soren smiled thinly and flicked a finger, sending a spark unerringly into the packed leaf.

                  Swords and armor shone in the spark's brief light. Freshly serviced and polished, they waited on their display stands until tomorrow. Cathak Soren would have need of those keepsakes soon enough.




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