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The atmosphere of Abyssal Exalted

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  • The atmosphere of Abyssal Exalted

    For those of you who are fans of the Abyssal Exalted...why? What kinds of stories can you tell with them that you couldn't otherwise? What's necromancy like? What are their Charms like? What changes are you looking forward to with 3e Abyssals?

  • #2
    So, this is in the context of a setting hack I'm working up, and not part of the core setting. But, at the heart of it is a desire to remix the basic assumptions of Exalted, which I think might be interesting topic fuel.

    In the setting hack, there are essentially shard realms called Aeons. Sometimes they pass on from Creation, falling away into the Underworld (or forming a pocket Underworld of their own) and becoming, after a fashion, the ghostly remains of an entire kingdom. Or entire religion, empire, continent, stronghold, or any other sort of place or concept that has a definite boundary.

    So, the Abyssals that I'm presenting are on the boundary between the fallen Aeons and Creation. On the one side, the Abyssals and their Deathlord masters are unable to resolve whatever issues led to their Aeon's fall and struggle to restore them. On the other side, Abyssals act as reapers who seek to cut away the fallen Aeons and commit them to Oblivion.

    The stories I have in mind for them are presently more a jumble if ideas yet. But I'm hoping to cover topics like the tragedy of being unable to let go, the temptation to seize ancient power, the return of old rivalries thought passed, and maybe see if I can sneak in a bit of a nostalgia trip for better days buried in Aeons long lost.

    I don't have a specific thought in mind for Charms or Necromancy, but I am specifically keeping them as Solars whose glory is tarnished by association with decay and fall.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by SpectacularTentacular View Post
      For those of you who are fans of the Abyssal Exalted...why?
      Honestly, Abyssals have to be the Exalted I'm least sure of why I find anything compelling. I mean, I do feel a draw to them but I don't fully get why. I guess the root from the past might have been primarily on some of the cosmetic details, the general Exaltation story, and... probably a lot of them being associated with ghosts. Ghosts may have often had problem mechanics, but I've always found the concepts and imagery around them to be a big draw.

      Hmmm, also some of the stuff surrounding the dichotomy with the Solars.

      Anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, because my attempts to actually read stuff from the Abyssals Manual has often been hampered by my issues with finding it engaging, which leaves big gaps in my practical knowledge about them.

      Originally posted by SpectacularTentacular
      What kinds of stories can you tell with them that you couldn't otherwise?
      I suppose that, now and in prior Editions, the most unambiguous answer to that could be stories in which one does emerge to be a scourge of the Age of Sorrows in a manner similar to the Solars, except where unlike them you more generally get to start off embedded in the upper echelons of some grand, gaudy, gothic kingdom beyond the grave.

      I think that there are a bunch of as yet untapped implications of that which I hope the new Edition will capitalise on, but that's the basic core difference. When they ultimately came along, even the Infernals weren't quite like that, considering both how their support network in Creation was more restricted and the general character of Hell is reasonably different than that of the Underworld.

      And stories in which you're actively trying to end the world, which I think has its own appeals.

      Also stuff with relating to the Deathlords; none of the other Exalted entail quite such direct personal associations with their patrons, and stories relating to that melodrama can end up being distinct to them.

      Originally posted by SpectacularTentacular
      What are their Charms like?
      In prior Editions, still fairly close overall to those of Solars, just with the cosmetics changed. It mixed in some stuff to diminish the strengths or successes of others, some powers for raising zombies and creating and spreading poison and disease, some Charms to get particular boosts of superhuman power from leaning more deeply into experiencing Whispers from the Neverborn, and a Charm to let them acquire and use some Solar Charms.

      They also had the Spectral keyword, which restricted the effectiveness of some of their powers outside of the Underworld and shadowlands, but that was ultimately regarded as not the best idea.

      Originally posted by SpectacularTentacular
      What changes are you looking forward to with 3e Abyssals?
      The chivalry of the dead to hopefully give them activity and personality a bit more inclined towards gothic melodrama. Some adjustments to the personas and activities with Deathlords and relationships with their Exalted, both to make them slightly more engaging figures in the setting and expand on interesting possible relationships, and powers that will incorporate a wider variety of macabre, funereal, undead and gothic imagery.

      Hmm, that powers one is vague...

      Charms that draw inspiration in form and function from the imagery of the Deathlords.


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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      • #4
        Well, have you watched any of the Mystery Skulls music videos on YouTube?

        Have you ever wanted to play as Dracula, or as Castlevania's Alucard? Or Hellsing's Alucard.

        One of the characters from Black Rock Shooter, in their Underworld-like Otherworld?

        Spawn?

        The Punisher?

        Celty, from Durararara!

        Guts the Black Swordsman from Berserk? (Dammit, that's where they're finally going to publish a greatsword Martial Art, isn't it?)


        The Abyssal Exalted are going to be a lot more Tim Burton than before. Halloween Town and Corpse Bride and Darkstalkers. Spooky scary skeletons, bizarre ghostly powers and transformations and conjurations.

        I'm looking forward to them mimicking the miraculous and unhallowed powers of 13+ Deathlords who each embody a different kind of Evil Overlord or vision of the Afterlife. The First and Forsaken Lion is why Abyssal Charms let you be Darth Vader, and some other Deathlord is how you can be The Mummy who rules over a Netherworld of burning sand and endless thirst.


        Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

        My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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        • #5
          The goth/vampire aesthetic is really hecking cool. Probably more of it than I'd like to think just comes from black being a better colour than gold, and black-robed necromancers at the head of a zombie horde being metal as hell. Aside from that, it's the emotions they focus on. Ambiguous and troubling concepts of morality, internal struggles, tragedy in both the fall of a perhaps good and noble person into a bleak servant of death and in the concept of a tragic cursed hero who can never truly be one of the people they try to protect. It's all stuff you can do with other Exalts, but Abyssals are custom made to do it best.
          Last edited by Lanaya; 02-28-2019, 01:41 AM.


          My homebrew: Abyssals, Infernals, Dragon Kings, martial arts.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
            (Dammit, that's where they're finally going to publish a greatsword Martial Art, isn't it?)
            Hmm, has there ever been a query after something like an Executioner Style?

            That puts me in mind of how Abyssals might be an inroad for more of a dark fantasy style and theme than the other Exalted really have, in terms of their own characterisation, how they take the world, and what they bring into it.

            Heh, that's returning my thoughts to a certain prominent example of somebody who looks like the image of what I think would be very evocative in Abyssal Exalted, that neither Solars nor even Lunars would quite capture in the same way; of the savage and regal Slave Knight Gael.

            Just look at the things he does: his beautiful ruin.



            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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            • #7
              I haven't really been a fan of the Abyssal Exalted, historically speaking... But I would sort of like to be, y'know? There's a lot about them that I find really compelling, but there's also a lot about them that has driven me away.
              I like the associations with ghosts, the Underworld and death in general. I love their whole 'brought back from the brink of death' thing, alongside their occasionally-ridiculous elaborate titles and undead aesthetic, though I do believe that the latter can be too uniformly black a lot of the time. I even find their close relationship to their patrons pretty interesting, though I do have a lot of issues with how said relationship (and patrons) have been portrayed in previous editions.
              I dislike how-... Limited they've felt historically. They could either be one-note omnicidal villain or a rebellious anti-hero, with few other options. I guess that derives from a particularly 'Oblivion-focused' view of the Deathlords. I'm not a fan of their whole omnicidal-Oblivion thing in general.

              I don't know. It may be that the Abyssal Exalted aren't really for me.


              Raksi plays Peek-a-boo for keeps. ~ nalak42

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              • #8
                Fun fact: I used to find Abyssals perhaps the least compelling of the the exalted. Then a story seed took root in my mind and I realised I could only really do it justice with Abyssal protagonists. I thought the campaign would last maybe a year. That was 2015.

                Now granted, I still don't find the idea of "villain protagonist" Abyssals very interesting (except may as a one-shot when you feel like hamming it up), but there are stories you can tell with heroic Abyssals. It's not that they're stories you can't tell with other exalts, in most cases, but as Lanaya said earlier, Abyssals are particularly well suited to certain themes.

                Abyssals are a new and emerging power in the world and people are uncertain how to react to them, and all the while existing power structures are weakening, giving you a chance to seize this unique moment in history to write your legend across the sky. In blood, probably. You can tell a story of the struggle between your noble ideals and your cursed nature. You can forge your way in a world that rejects your very nature and try to find and maintain personal connections even while most of the world reviles you as a monster. If all of this sounds rather Solaresque, that's kinda my point. Abyssals take all of the "tragic hero" aspects of playing a Solar and dial them up a few notches. So if you really want to lean into those themes as a prospective Solar player, you could do worse than playing an Abyssal instead.

                That and there's all the stories you can tell of exploring the Underworld, but it's getting a major makeover this edition and we're not sure exactly what it's going to look like. Apparently it's less a geographical mirror of Creation with the colour saturation turned way down, and more a series of culturally specific afterlives, so if there isn't some way to play a valkyrie I'd be surprised.


                "Measure of Hope is right about everything." - Wise Old Guru

                Currently running an Exalted 2.5 Abyssals game in a homebrew modern shard because I value neither my time or my sanity, and I'm loving almost every minute of it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lanaya View Post
                  in the concept of a tragic cursed hero who can never truly be one of the people they try to protect.
                  Now now, what is more central and unifying to the human race than the inescapable reality of death?


                  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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                  • #10
                    I've liked Abyssals since I first saw them---not because I really wanted to revel in being Big Shitty Jim, but because I like the idea of a character still being able to do arguably good or constructive things despite being inherently linked to power that is generally destructive.
                    Abyssals also have the fun "become very powerful by dying/almost dying" angle, which makes them a shoe-in for revenge angles. The most recent Abyssal I played was/is (unsure if that game is dead or napping) essentially still lashing out at the person (now dead by her hand) who refused to let her follow her desires and tried to kill her for daring to pursue them.
                    I guess that leads to another point---there's a certain catharsis in playing a character who is not necessarily emotionally healthy on all fronts, and while obviously any Exalt can do that, the Abyssal condition supports it very well.

                    Also, spooky ghost stuff is just hella neat.


                    Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

                    Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                      In prior Editions, still fairly close overall to those of Solars, just with the cosmetics changed. It mixed in some stuff to diminish the strengths or successes of others, some powers for raising zombies and creating and spreading poison and disease, some Charms to get particular boosts of superhuman power from leaning more deeply into experiencing Whispers from the Neverborn, and a Charm to let them acquire and use some Solar Charms.

                      Never having gotten to really play prior editions of Exalted, this bit was what I heard about and it intrigued me. The image I had in my head was like Karnak from the Inhumans, able to see the weaknesses around them and exploit them due to their connection with death and entropy. Like the Euthanatos from Mage: Ascension. And I admit, I like the horror imagery and the desire to turn it around onto the people who (arguably) deserve it the most. I guess what I'm really asking, deep down, is if the Abyssals actually offered that in play, and if there's a good chance they'll offer more of that in this newest edition.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SpectacularTentacular View Post


                        Never having gotten to really play prior editions of Exalted, this bit was what I heard about and it intrigued me. The image I had in my head was like Karnak from the Inhumans, able to see the weaknesses around them and exploit them due to their connection with death and entropy. Like the Euthanatos from Mage: Ascension. And I admit, I like the horror imagery and the desire to turn it around onto the people who (arguably) deserve it the most. I guess what I'm really asking, deep down, is if the Abyssals actually offered that in play, and if there's a good chance they'll offer more of that in this newest edition.
                        Off the top of my head, the only thing I could refer to of it is literally taking some of the successes from other peoples' dice pools.

                        And even then, I'm starting to doubt it... was it not just something in the core book, that they ended up drumming out of the full Manual, and ended up being an Ebon Dragon Charm thing?

                        I think some of the suggestions of themes deriving from a few Deathlords might include such an idea, and I think Third Edition's Charm presentation might have more to do with it.


                        I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                        Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                        https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                          And even then, I'm starting to doubt it... was it not just something in the core book, that they ended up drumming out of the full Manual, and ended up being an Ebon Dragon Charm thing?
                          They were a major element in their 1st edition design that was almost entirely abandoned by MoEP:Abyssals.


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                          • #14
                            I guess what I'm hoping for is a bit of Karnak, the Euthanatos, and the undead in the form of vampires and liches to be a big part of the theme for the Abyssals this time around. I hope so. that would be something I'd be dying to play.

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                            • #15
                              The mention of Karnak highlights something I think that Ex3 is going to do really well.

                              2e had this mythical divergence point where Abyssals were supposed to become almost unrecognisible from the black painted Solars they started out as but were never really given that room to grow. I want to say that the Ink Monkeys Abyssal charms were the closest we had to that but I was involved enough in spitballing ideas for that to feel awkward praising it (aren't I great for suggesting Abyssals should have charms that reduce visibility for having light-consuming black animas ) but alas, I digress.

                              Supernal ability and having a charm trees like Awareness not abruptly end at 6 charms facilitates a character whose sense of touch has been honed into a deadly weapon.


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