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Third Edition Raksi: Less Monstrous But Far More Villainous: An Opinion Piece

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  • #46
    Ohoho Lord. I still have a wider thing to say about Raksi, but I just had a notion that is just too delicious.

    I wouldn't characterise Raksi as cruel in the sense that she gets gratification from the suffering of others... but I'd just bet that she really likes feeling as though she's the smartest one in the room, and that she's got everybody else figured out.

    If I was behind her words, I would have it be that the ultimate reason that she made the student who spoke out against her the caregiver of the saved baby was because she thought that shit was really clever.

    And her putting on appalling shows... might be the Exalted exaggeration of somebody who would be partially motivated to say "people before the 19th century didn't value children until they could walk and talk" out of a desire for some smug cleverness.


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    • #47
      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
      I personally read Raksi's ideology as being less focused on self-determination and more on a sense that holding all of Creation under a large, interconnected system makes it too vulnerable to large-scale collapse from something going wrong in a given sector, and she argues that greater provincial independence allows the system as a whole to be more robust against breakdowns or invasions of any given sector.

      Mostly because I want there to be somebody in the setting who believes that. I'm not sure if there are any stray details in her associated write-ups that might contradict that.

      One implication I think it would have would be Raksi being somewhat less concerned with their freedom than their responsibilities as she judges them; she wants them to govern independently from one another, but she also wants them to govern. Not necessarily confined indefinitely to their own principalities, but still reprimanded if they skip out on them.
      That's a very good point. One world government isn't practical in the age of the internet, let alone the age of sorrows.


      My characters:
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      • #48
        Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
        One world government isn't practical in the age of the internet
        The age of the Internet is one in which we're more interconnected and interdependent than ever, there are so many social and economic systems that could experience complete disaster if the wrong server farm goes up in smoke.

        Look at some of the fears around Brexit; one country pulls off a poorly considered and short-sighted referendum, three years later it's facing a major severance from an important common market which could have ruinous consequences for its own economy, and being one of the largest and most important ones in the world, that would have major knock on effects to drag several others down with it.

        I've not yet seen The Big Short, but I know that it goes into the details of how an American housing crisis turned into a worldwide economic disaster.


        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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        • #49
          Okay, so my overall assessment of Raksi with the available details before she gets a write-up in the later chapter.

          First off, the line about her revelling in being herself. That's capping off a description of how she's had to change in the Second Age, specifically the activities in opposition to the Realm. That reads to me as heavily focused on the matter that the terrible things that she's had to (or opted to) do in the course of battling the enemies of the Silver Pact, in contrast to her more scholastic and contemplative nature in the comfort of the latter First Age, is not something for which she feels any kind of conflict. She'd wake a sleeping behemoth and direct it at coastal towns of the Blessed Isle, and not lament what cruel fate has forced her to sully herself with; she'd think that she's pretty awesome. In that, she's probably not very different from a lot of Lunars, just standing out heavily from the fact that she's experienced a transition from the time when the Lunars were more persecuted. I don't even think she's particularly vengeful towards the Usurpation; I'd say that, at best, she views her activities against the Realm as pragmatic necessities to preserve her own sovereignty and fight for the future she wishes to build, at less than best she thinks that being thrust into this conflict has allowed her to find her best self.

          Okay, the general situation of what is and is not an act; put a pin on what she exposes her opposition to for the moment. The overall characterisation of Raksi's court is presented as one of hedonism and decadence, unrestrained extravagance. That's the public face, that's what a majority of fellow Lunars see. The general assessment of Raksi's character is probably that she views her domain as a source of pleasures to indulge herself in, and even when there might be some discerning enough to assess that it's so showy that it comes off as trying too hard, they're uncertain about where such artifice ends and where Raksi's true pleasures begin.

          Even the displays she puts on for the benefit of opponents are probably generally framed and received as that pursuit of hedonism extended beyond the limits of reason and decency, as well as with the actual intention to shock and outrage. I would even imagine that a lot of people who experience that know that the intent is to get a rise out of them, and figure the best way to get a reprieve for themselves and any unfortunate victims is to put up a front of being unmoved, or even finding it predictable and passé. I still imagine that in a lot of cases, such a thing won't work, because I'm guessing Raksi has good Perception and is good at figuring out the true feelings of people before her; whether a visitor takes her more extreme displays at face value or recognises it as something intended to provoke, if they try to affect disinterest and Raksi sees through that, the game probably shifts to trying to break down their façade for all to see.

          So that's the face. What about the Raksi beneath?

          Per the information conveyed, the hedonism itself isn't the point for her, and she could probably internally manage without it. It itself is not actually gratifying for her, and she wouldn't be moved by its absence. Likewise, the displays of cruelty aren't about sadism in the sense of her experiencing an emotional gratification directly in the pain or disgust of others.

          Rather, I would view Raksi's gratifications in activities of dominance, and in displays of her intellect and prowess. In constructing her court, the gratification isn't in the revelries it entails, but having put together and managed such a façade that people who want to truly engage her are forced to navigate through (and probably a bit of gratification for experiencing peerage when somebody actually does have the wit to see through it all, or impresses her enough to bring the walls down). In other cases, her exertions of dominance are amoral; she's extravagantly generous to friends, adherents, worshippers, and utterly merciless in the face of enemies and ideological rivals. Part of the significance of a difference between act and truth is that it can cause even adherents to misjudge her; the likes of Dark Eyes think she's as temperamental as the persona she puts on in public, and so try to act in her blind spots, unaware that her genuine priorities would actually enjoy some of their achievements.

          Probably not in an empathetic sense, but rather an aesthetic admiration. In cases where she acts in accordance with her true priorities rather than what would be consistent with the persona, people not in the know probably judge her as mercurial and move on.

          In a lot of this, Raksi would not be very different from many other fictional depictions, or some real life speculations, on autocrats, where the pageantry of their officer and cruelty of their "justice" doesn't really reflect their real inner life or private moments, and in cases where they don't find it soul-draining, they at least find it exhausting to maintain the façade. I once read a semi-fictional account of an Ottoman sultan, in which he felt a wearisome obligation to have sex with a newly provided member of the harem when all he really wanted to do was read his books, because to not do so could generate rumours of impotence that would weaken his standing in court.

          What I find interesting with Raksi is the idea that she is not exhausted or conflicted in the falsehoods she spins about herself, because for her the energy expended is the point, is its own reward. I don't think you get many depictions of a character like that.

          As for whether or not she's a villain, I think one thing that complicates that if one is playing a member of the Silver Pact is that Raksi is truly on your side. Not like some villains where their assistance is a side effect of something that fulfils their own agenda, and the seemingly mutual relationship is ultimately exploitative of the less evil person, I'm reading Raksi as sincerely believing in her vision for the future of Creation. Not necessarily driven by a moral imperative, or even the needs for her own personal security (which she seems to have covered already), she just finds it a worthwhile and beneficial endeavour.

          So one thing that any Lunars who find her truly repellent would need to process is the matter of how she's still a really useful person to have in their cause, and that the benefits she's brought are actually something that fourth generation Lunars on the whole have been privileged by. Even leaving aside babies, there's no ethical consumption under Raksi. I actually think that can be a more compelling moral subject to grapple with than pursuing the conclusion that Raksi is evil to the point of casting her down in some fashion.

          What I think might really bake the noodle of some Lunars is the possibility that Raksi could genuinely sacrifice her own life in the service or safeguarding of other Lunars. Probably not go out of her way for it, but there may be circumstances in which, faced with a trolley problem in which the trolley is a really powerful Sidereal-backed Wyld Hunt, she'd turn that trolley on herself with the same gusto with which she seems to pursue everything. If she thought that doing so could better safeguard a world in which her vision for Lunar supremacy could come to pass, and where she gets to go out on her own terms and with one last grand feat to her name... she might just do it.

          Or perhaps if she got a good shot at Chejop Kejak, and has judged that the chance that she'd die was not massively weighted against the chance that she'd kill him, I think it's conceivable that she could go for that from desire to remove a major opponent of the Pact.

          A lot of this is still provisional. What I'm really excited to see are her Intimacies.


          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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          • #50
            So in other words, when Raksi left the screaming match with Ma-Ha-Suchi, as the Silver Pact just looked at her with disgust and horror, she left with an invocation of "Say goodnight to the bad guy!"?

            I don't have any problems with that.


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            • #51
              Originally posted by Leliel View Post
              So in other words, when Raksi left the screaming match with Ma-Ha-Suchi, as the Silver Pact just looked at her with disgust and horror, she left with an invocation of "Say goodnight to the bad guy!"?

              I don't have any problems with that.
              I feel that this is a reference to something, and I can't fully parse it on that.

              I have a notion in which Raksi's domain is one in which, something like once a week, the people within her border get to go before her throne and make direct petitions to her; not everybody gets to go at once, but there's something in place to try and ensure people with pressing needs aren't left for a week.

              A family might come before her, begging for help, as their eldest son, a previously strapping young lad, has developed a big lump in the middle of his back, his legs are no longer working, and his sight seems to be going the same way.

              Raksi immediately descends from her throne, reaches into the boy's back, and bloodlessly rips the tumour right out of him, and already he reports that some of the feeling is starting to come back. Sure, she could have done it in a less dramatic and somewhat extreme way (and a lot of the time probably does), but the mood took her.

              And in that moment, her thoughts won't be with how all of her petitioners and guards and courtiers go to their knees in awe of her. They won't be on how that family will be back in another week to make an offering of some rare game animal, or sweet papayas from their own grove, or some piece of jewellery they lovingly crafted (although she'll graciously accept those things, because waste not, and besides they actually are delicious).

              They'll be on that tumour in her hand, and they'll be something approximately like "yeah, fuck cancer, woo!"

              Later on she'll grow that tumour into a meat dragon, that she'll chase over to perform a raid on Greyfalls, having instilled in it an instinct to attack expensive or irreplaceable infrastructure (although not the war manse, it's too well-protected for what this creature can do and would waste the effort of making it), and ensures that it sees Dragon Blooded with her face in an expression suggesting vulnerability (it probably won't survive against as many as are in Greyfalls, but it will definitely at least maim a few of them enough to be sent home for costly treatments, and might even take a few down with it), and her thoughts won't really be on the terror and disgust and the screams of pain, they'll be on another job well done.


              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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              • #52
                It's a reference to Tony Montana, from Scarface (the 80s version). He makes that a centerpiece of a drunken rant aimed at everyone in a resteraunt who just saw his girlfriend break up with him, pointing out he knows he's at fault and owns his darkness, as opposed to everyone else thinking they can blame their problems on him.


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                • #53
                  Originally posted by Leliel View Post
                  It's a reference to Tony Montana, from Scarface (the 80s version). He makes that a centerpiece of a drunken rant aimed at everyone in a resteraunt who just saw his girlfriend break up with him, pointing out he knows he's at fault and owns his darkness, as opposed to everyone else thinking they can blame their problems on him.
                  You know, I've only ever seen something like the last third of that movie, and that was ages ago. The start of that scene might have been the point at which I tuned in.

                  In any case, I would draw a distinction, because I don't see Raksi having any issue with the circumstances of her life, and she kind of comes across as more stable than Montana does. I would imagine her derision in a similar scenario to be more chipper.


                  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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                  • #54
                    So a Dexter Style Sociopath who depending on your allegiance probably works for everyone’s greater good?

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
                      So a Dexter Style Sociopath who depending on your allegiance probably works for everyone’s greater good?
                      Nnnot really.

                      For one thing, what is a sociopath?

                      For another, Dexter's actions were portrayed as being driven by an indelible impulse to kill, that he was basically taught to mythologize by doing in accordance to standards of permission from his father figure. He's not... in a war. Against, like, the whole United States. He also doesn't really proactively do beneficial things for other people, at least not often.

                      I think that Raksi could effectively get through the rest of her life if all of her goals that were opposed by other great powers were accomplished. Spends the remainder of her life asserting her power by manufacturing wonder in her domain, studying her troves of sorcerous lore, and contemplating the deep esoteric mysteries.

                      I'm not suggesting that killing, in and of itself, fulfils something for her emotionally, but rather than being in the situation of a war like this means that a core personality trait of revelling in dominating applications of her intellect means that she engages in the violence with gusto.

                      If I was going to compare her to any fictional property, I guess... I could kind of see something comparable in her to the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series, in which she's both Sherlock and Moriarty simultaneously, except a Sherlock whose revelry in intellectual exercise includes creative outlets that benefit people, and a Moriarty whose involvement in criminality is owed to an inherent deviance and general bored detachment from life.

                      Again, all very provisional. Really want to see her Intimacies.

                      EDIT: Alternatively, she's like a differently egotistical, anti-globalist version of Doctor Doom.
                      Last edited by Isator Levi; 02-28-2019, 09:43 PM.


                      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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                      • #56
                        I want to note that since it's very new, I'm still getting all of the details of what we have so far straight in my head.

                        To whit, per the description in the book, Raksi's meat dragon days are mostly behind her, with more dedication given to her tumour removal (which she probably had less time for when she was dedicated to making meat dragons), and at least part of the reason for cultivating her current image of hedonistic excess is to keep the memory of her reputation from those days alive, in the hopes that it will inspire the next generation of front line Lunars to make their own meat dragons.

                        And to condition them more directly, for any of them who heard stories of that orb thing with the nerves, that electrocuted people and ate their skin, and decide they'd very much like to learn to make or find things like that for themselves; Raksi's going to do her level best to be an object lesson to ensure that they actually have the will to employ such things once they know everything she has to teach about them.

                        She could probably do more if she wasn't really embittered about her falling out with Ma-Ha-Suchi… which is now making me think that part of why she maintains the hedonistic image is that she's just proud enough to want her peers to think that she's withdrawing into her secured domain to just indulge monstrous appetites, rather than because she's nursing hurts from the messy end of a dear friendship.

                        Which all rolls back to the point of Raksi still ultimately being a jerk, because of what some of this says about her priorities, but still a jerk motivated by big melodramatic feelings rather than intrinsically anti-social and lacking in empathy or remorse. Other Lunars, possibly playable Lunars, might be varying degrees of jerks themselves in how much latitude they give her should they be allowed in.

                        Hmm, some of these considerations might be cause to revise the idea that Raksi's magnanimous rule is driven by gratification from exertions of power and intellect alone. I mean, even within that model, there was still a consideration for the idea that having a category of people to be generous to in the first place implies some sense of investment in either the well-being of certain people, or the value of Lunars as a positive ruling force. It just might be that proactive empathy figures in a bit more than I was initially considering.

                        It occurs to me that one could probably make an interesting story out of how either Raksi or Ma-Ha-Suchi responds to the other being killed.


                        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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