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Liars, Cheaters, and Thieves - new Lunar themes

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  • Liars, Cheaters, and Thieves - new Lunar themes

    The Solar Exalted are the best liars, cheaters, and thieves around... when they train to be. But their talents only allow them to perform these tasks with unsurpassed success... that doesn't mean their talents are empowered by these activities.

    But larceny and dishonesty surely does empower the Lunar Exalted.

    The very Essence of the Sacred Hunt is to steal the Hearts Blood of others. The various alternative methods are either outright new ways to steal Heart's Blood, or enable secret theft by permitting the use of lies, audaciously unbelievable admissions of truth, deliberate omissions of facts, cheating to stack the deck, or malicious entrapment in conditions that the target cannot help but break.

    All Lunars can steal your face. They can steal your life, your home, your identity and place in the world. Some can steal your memories, your language, your skills, your creative inspiration.

    What's more, so many Lunar powers are never so effective as when they are wearing someone else's face. If they want to spread the most terror against their enemies, they would find it more effective to wear a false face and build their fearsome reputation around that instead of their true form.

    Even when bearing nothing but good will towards a kingdom or an individual, they are encouraged to be dishonest.

    Beast-King Dictates doesn't care how legitimate a Lunar's claim to the throne is, or how loyal her people are to her; Beast-King Dictates will not hit hardest unless she is wearing someone else's face.

    Soul-Baring Testament may be about baring your soul, but it's most effective when you hide your face behind that of your Solar Mate, and if anyone catches you they will have cause to question whether they were in the past or are the in future ever actually dealing with your Solar Mate.

    At the most benevolent, a child tells a story of how their tribe's guardian beast waited until his nanny had fallen asleep before appearing to administer to his mental illness (Midnight Soul Reprieve), and then revealed her deception before vanishing at sunrise. Or maybe she didn't say anything at all, and the next morning everyone is asking how the nanny did it. Or maybe the child isn't a child, but a Dragon-Blooded catspaw the Lunar is using against other Dynasts in the area, so she kills his lover so that she can wear her face to cure the Terrestrial of his malaise, pin the murder on his rivals, and sit back to watch the fireworks.


    By comparison, all other Exalted cannot help but seem fundamentally honest and forthright in their heroism, because they are generally more effective at and less burdened by performing acts of heroism without any sort of disguise at all, with their faces and identities clear to see.


    Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

  • #2
    Sounds about right.

    It gave me a strong idea of how the partnerships between Solar and Lunar of similar inclination might have worked in the First Age; that the Solar gets put on the throne because they function better in that position of grandiose proclamation, management of a court and running a pyramidal structure from the top, while the Lunar descends among the whole structure and diffuses, seeing things from a multitude of angles, subverting or encouraging from the inside, and occasionally creating sharp points of obsession or terror or liberation that don't quite come to the Solar magic.

    I suppose a broad metaphor would be that a Zenith or Eclipse does well at the top, and a Changing Moon (or equivalent courtier or priestly type Caste of the First Age) does very well at making sure everybody is looking in the right direction.

    Mind, the Lunar can still have a lot of power in this partnership, since they can also be pretty good at getting people to pack up and leave if they disapprove of how things are playing out, in ways that Solars would find a meaningful challenge to counteract.

    Something that struck me in reading some of the Dominion write-ups were comparisons to various Cossack groups, reportedly descended from Eastern European and Russian serfs who simply abandoned their tenancies and made for the dangerous freedom of the open steppes, and apart from that feeling like the kind of thing that several of the more liberating Charisma Charms could get people to do as a way of opposing the Realm and its puppets, I'm imagining that as a source for nomadic peoples deep into the First Age.

    Oh, also how the Roman office of Plebian Tribune emerged as a compromise from the multiple occasions during the earlier Republic when basically the entire pleb population of Rome simply up and walked out to go camp on one of the nearby hills in protest about their lack of political power, and some of the abuses of the magistrates.


    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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    • #3
      It's interesting, because Sidereals have also withdrawn into the background a fair amount, manipulating events from a distance, whispering into the ears of Queens, wearing a thousand faceless faces and so on. I assume that both Sidereals and Lunars were more open about things during the First Age, but both groups seem to find the shadows much more conducive to long term health in this modern age. I will be very interested to see the contrasts and similarities in their two charmsets.

      That does put an interesting face on things for the First Age though. If you saw an Exalt on a daily basis, it was probably a Dragon Blooded functionary, because they were numerous enough to handle common issues. You were certainly aware of the Glorious Golden Queen that ruled your nation. If you had cause to go to court, you might notice the functionaries giving advice to your Queen, but with only your weak human eyes, you likely wouldn't get close enough to notice that one had stars in hers. If your nation was lucky, perhaps one of their citizens was Chosen by another God and there was a more unusual Exalt who walked among you.

      And, of course, you heard the tall tales about the Wolf who eats bad children and Tiger who brings them back and the Fox who seduces married people away from their spouses before eating their livers, but you don't believe them, Why would you put any stock in those obviously made up tales. *laughs nervously*


      Anyway, the point is that, during the First Age, people knew the DBs, they knew of the Solars and the occasional Exigent or other Exalt, but the Lunars and Sidereals seem like they tended to stay more in the background, being encouraged to let themselves become legends even before the Usurpation made it necessary.
      Last edited by BrilliantRain; 03-16-2019, 01:16 AM.


      ....

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      • #4
        It sounds facetious, but one of the things I genuinely love about Third Edition Lunars is that it is entirely possible to play a game of thinly veiled expies of the Phantom Thieves of Persona 5.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
          If you saw an Exalt on a daily basis, it was probably a Dragon Blooded functionary, because they were numerous enough to handle common issues.
          Even by the standards of how Second Edition depicted it... not really? There was only one in ten thousand of them, and given their capabilities, they're still handing issues that warrant the attention of the Exalted.

          Originally posted by BrilliantRain
          You were certainly aware of the Glorious Golden Queen that ruled your nation.
          But yeah, going by the presentation in Third Edition, some of those glorious queens ruling nations were also Dragon Blooded. Going by the depiction in Fangs at the Gate, sometimes those were Dragon Blooded who had a Lunar that would serve them.

          Despite what I said before, I'll note that the capabilities they have don't all mean that Lunars need to be shadowy and secretive about everything. Even the model I described is not strictly one that requires a Lunar to be discrete about who they are to function. The new book was good about depicting Lunars who are still functioning openly, and effectively. Lukha Palash, and how he's employing the manner of a Changing Moon to keep the Bronze Tide together, stands out to me. I still view it as distinct from what a Solar in that position would do.


          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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          • #6
            First age Lunars probably had a "public face" that could be seen ruling or speaking to the deliberative. It's just that a lot more people had spoken to them face to face than they realised.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
              Mind, the Lunar can still have a lot of power in this partnership, since they can also be pretty good at getting people to pack up and leave if they disapprove of how things are playing out, in ways that Solars would find a meaningful challenge to counteract.
              I'm imagining a passive-aggressive Lunar who, when the Solar does something they don't like, reverses what they normally do to support a change. They do their best to get police to overlook lawbreakers, citizens to not take it seriously, deliberately hide evidence from the Solar instead of bringing things to their attentions, etc. Then this leading to an increasingly dysfunctional society as the formal, top-down mechanisms of power have one goal and the informal, bottom-up ones have another, and this won't be resolved as long as the exalts are making it be this way.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                First age Lunars probably had a "public face" that could be seen ruling or speaking to the deliberative. It's just that a lot more people had spoken to them face to face than they realised.
                Then you get to Essence 3 and can buy the Charm to commit, what, three motes to be able to change shapes reflexively? I imagine that for a lot of Lunars, changing shape on a dime during conversation is just a thing that they do; for self-expression, for fun, for putting the other speaker on edge.

                Yeeesh, suddenly I'm picturing a Lunar who outlived something like five incarnations of their mate, and has a persistent habit of scolding their current Solar with the face of one of his prior incarnations.


                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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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                  Then you get to Essence 3 and can buy the Charm to commit, what, three motes to be able to change shapes reflexively? I imagine that for a lot of Lunars, changing shape on a dime during conversation is just a thing that they do; for self-expression, for fun, for putting the other speaker on edge.
                  Makes me think of Soulcatcher.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                    Makes me think of Soulcatcher.
                    Soulcatcher's gimmick with the voice is good and close, but I don't think anything can quite beat the visceral impact of flowing between an enemy you slayed together, some of the Lunar's former lovers that they know you worry you don't measure up to, and the occasional child.

                    Personally, my go-to image for somebody who'll shapeshift at the drop of a hat is Amethyst.


                    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)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by autXautY View Post

                      I'm imagining a passive-aggressive Lunar who, when the Solar does something they don't like, reverses what they normally do to support a change. They do their best to get police to overlook lawbreakers, citizens to not take it seriously, deliberately hide evidence from the Solar instead of bringing things to their attentions, etc. Then this leading to an increasingly dysfunctional society as the formal, top-down mechanisms of power have one goal and the informal, bottom-up ones have another, and this won't be resolved as long as the exalts are making it be this way.
                      This is certainly what the USA is like right now, and has been for decades.


                      Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                        First age Lunars probably had a "public face" that could be seen ruling or speaking to the deliberative. It's just that a lot more people had spoken to them face to face than they realised.
                        Or a lot more people thought they'd spoken to them than had...

                        My Lunar (No Moon) and his adopted daughter (Changing Moon) both got the form of the Emperor of a south-eastern state.
                        We'd take it in turns to impersonate him, while the other one was notably present, just in case anyone suspected he'd been replaced by a shapeshifter.

                        While Lunars no longer have a charm to learn forms from other Lunars, as there are various ways of getting forms without killing someone, it's still possible for Lunars to take the same shape.
                        For example, with Heart-Drinking Allure, you could get your Blood-Brother to take a form you want, and then give him a really big hug. And get that form.
                        And vice-versa.

                        The aforementioned Changing Moon also has the shape of her husband, a Night Caste who she got declared the "long-lost son" of the pharoah. He's terrible at politics, and has currently run off to become a kung-fu hero in the slums, so she regularly turns up to meetings at the palace as him and gets stuff done.


                        So you can share forms with other Lunars, or your Solar Mate, and so take it in turns to be the same person in public. It probably gets a bit confusing, but it's a lot more confusing for your political opponents!

                        (This is also how the Circle of Exalts who were the main antagonists of the game I ran had the reputation for being unkillable; the Lunars took the forms of the Solars so if a Solar died it seemed they hadn't. And it made the final fight confusing when two identical Twilights fought the party, only one then turned into an Owlbear.)


                        My characters:
                        Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
                        Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng
                        Shadow of Kings, Twilight barbarian scholar, master of lost First Age crafting techniques. Has a lot of clones. Picture by Jen.

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                        • #13
                          Suddenly I'm realising that shapes might be a really big item of currency around the Silver Pact.

                          You manage to get the shape of a high ranking Dynast, and a lot of people will want to do something to get in on it as well. You can't sabotage yourself, but... there's surely a way to make it work.


                          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)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                            Suddenly I'm realising that shapes might be a really big item of currency around the Silver Pact.

                            You manage to get the shape of a high ranking Dynast, and a lot of people will want to do something to get in on it as well. You can't sabotage yourself, but... there's surely a way to make it work.
                            Judging Sacred Hunt charms by how easy they are to give someone your form
                            Heart-Drinking Allure: Very easy to give your form to someone you have a major+ tie of love or lust towards, you may not want to form such a tie just to give someone your form.
                            Debt of Borrowed Skin: Straight-forwardly bargaining for a shape. Sets a minimum price of Serious or Life-Defining task, and needs to be a service rather than a good.
                            Nest-Raiding Slyness: Forming a negative intimacy as part of your sale is probably bad for business
                            Blood-Geas Binding: Explicitly disallows making oaths for the purpose of granting shapes.
                            Argent Trickster's Rook: Let's you bet on a form, but no easy way to trade one. Possibly agree to partake in unbalanced gambling in exchange for a form?
                            Face-Taker's Gaze: Requires a week and forming a defining intimacy they have, but works fairly well.
                            Whispering Heart Revelation: Requires finding out a serious secret, but if you want the form of someone who trusts you they might be willing to help you. Arguably as long as they wouldn't publicly reveal the secret it's all right if they aren't keeping it from you, or aren't especially. Still complicates and kind of impersonal bargaining.
                            Hero's Heart Challenge: Challenging someone to a contest you know you're better at seems to be fair game, as long as they try their best to win. You need to form a major tie of respect, but that seems like it matches being business partners better than love/lust.
                            Terrifying Predator Consumption: Needs a tie of fear in the victim, needs a fight but a nonlethal one. Poor for bargaining, though you could use it to threaten a form out of someone.
                            Stalking Nightmare Hunter: Also needs a tie of fear, so, similar to TPC.
                            Moonlit Path Guide: Takes a week, must have some peril but the descriptions all seem easily beatable by an exalt or two. Needs major change and character development, which could be tricky.

                            Which is best probably depends on time frame, the nature of your relationship, and how much abuse of rules the players are willing to engage in.

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                            • #15
                              What are the possibilities of hunting another Lunar’s mirror-spirit?

                              Normally spirits aren’t eligible for the Sacred Hunt, but there are anti-spirit Charms in Intelligence and Perception.


                              Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

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