Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Some concerns with Penumbra Gleam from Lunars

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • wern212
    started a topic Some concerns with Penumbra Gleam from Lunars

    Some concerns with Penumbra Gleam from Lunars

    So, I'd like to start this by saying that I don't hold any ill will towards any of the writers. I believe that the current story of Penumbra Gleam could use some improvements, but I don't consider it a disaster.

    I was recently discussing character concepts with a friend of mine and we started talking about Penumbra Gleam, from the Lunars manuscript. I was quite surprised to hear that they strongly disliked the artifact and after more than an hour of discussion I understand what they mean and I agree with them.
    Essentially, my friend rightly claims that the way the artifact's backstory and powers are currently written, it does not seem to be about self-improvement. The Lunars stole a mirror in front of which Maja of the Starling’s Song spent ages perfecting her technique. And even if she most likely was not perfect, spending a lot of time training and learning should have left her stronger than whatever she left in the mirror.

    This leads to the unsettling idea that Penumbra Gleam isn't actually about improving. It's about reminding your enemies about all their flaws and dragging them down with the things they worked very hard to overcome. In essence, it seems to say that training and attempting to improve is pointless because you are still flawed.

    This is not a message I enjoy. It could be part of the Ebon Dragon's Infernal charms if such a time comes, but I believe this doesn't make a lot of sense for a Lunar artifact. I'm also not sure if the writers intended for this to be the message of the artifact? It seems to about self-improvement, however, neither the story nor the charms suggest that such improvement is possible. Instead, it seems to push the character and their foes further and further into self-doubt and possible loathing as they are never good enough. For example, Meditation In Silver has the user gain negative intimacies towards themselves as they reflect on their flaws, but it does not reward them for overcoming these flaws, nor take these intimacies away.

    Now again: I don't think this was the goal when Penumbra Gleam was written. Luckily, the story and charm set both only need a few tweaks to remove all of this. Below are some suggestions we came up with.

    First, have the mirror that is stolen not be something that Maja simply practiced in front of, but a sorcerous container (or something similar) of all her flaws. This changes the narrative from Maja trying to improve herself by learning into trying to cheat and seal all her flaws. The Lunars steal it, build the artifact, and Maja gets confronted with all the flaws she tried to hide. The story still works but sets a much better tone.

    For the charm set, we'd like a charm somewhere up the tree (could even be a capstone) that reflects the user accepting the lessons from the mirror. We envisioned a Permanent charm, but anything works. The main goal is that it allows the intimacies of humility or frustration from Meditation in Silver to be replaced with one of accomplishment or even pride. Something that can show that unlike Maja, the wielder has accepted their flaws and worked to overcome them. Once they unlock this charm, they understand that their flaws are not something to fear or shy away from but to embrace and learn from. This reinforces the change to the story as well: Maja tried to hide her flaws and this led to her defeat, but the wielder accepts their flaws and grows stronger for it.

  • Amayad
    replied
    Originally posted by wern212 View Post
    Right. Well, that's a shame, I feel like I enjoy the artifact a lot less now.

    In any event, thanks to everyone who contributed to this conversation!
    The wonderful thing about artifacts is that they're quasi-living things, they change their charms as new wielders bond with them. Apparently this one is pretty solidly a critic, but the right Lunar might be able to pivot it from "perfection is an unattainable thing worth striving for" to "perfection is a blade that never stops cutting".

    I don't think you'll ever get the dark tinge entirely out of it, given its origins, but I could easily see it switching from one kind of mindfuck to the other - a thing that leans into obsessive perfectionists rather than breaking them down.

    Leave a comment:


  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Originally posted by wern212 View Post
    Right. Well, that's a shame, I feel like I enjoy the artifact a lot less now.

    In any event, thanks to everyone who contributed to this conversation!
    Well nothing stops you innovating new Evocations for it. Or creating your own artifact.

    You've got some great ideas that are pretty balanced and interesting. *shrug*

    Leave a comment:


  • wern212
    replied
    Right. Well, that's a shame, I feel like I enjoy the artifact a lot less now.

    In any event, thanks to everyone who contributed to this conversation!

    Leave a comment:


  • Alistair
    replied
    Originally posted by wern212 View Post

    The problem I have with this is that I don't see the artifact as being presented this way? To me, it feels like the writer is trying to present it as a tool for self-improvement without seeing the darker side, which causes narrative dissonance for me. I have no problems with the Lunars (or any Exalt) wielding powers that I personally consider "evil", it's just that the artifact as presented in the book doesn't seem to acknowledge this side of the artifact at all, which I find strange?

    The Artifact is not about self-improvement. It says those who wield it are left improved by the ordeal, but that refers to turning hotheaded warriors into humble masters of battle who strive for perfection without ever being satisfied, it doesn't refer to making you more powerful in the ways you already were. The mirror shield is absolutely about destroying those who believe themselves to be all high and mighty, as it was made using the looking glass of a vanity-fueled Raksha and twisted to shatter her self-perception. It's about realizing your imperfections and striving against them, as well as using your enemies' imperfections against them, and it does fully acknowledge this is what it is meant to be; if both its backstory AND its Evocations are about that, it seems to me it is fully intended to be so. You're just misreading that one line.

    Leave a comment:


  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Originally posted by wern212 View Post

    The problem I have with this is that I don't see the artifact as being presented this way? To me, it feels like the writer is trying to present it as a tool for self-improvement without seeing the darker side, which causes narrative dissonance for me. I have no problems with the Lunars (or any Exalt) wielding powers that I personally consider "evil", it's just that the artifact as presented in the book doesn't seem to acknowledge this side of the artifact at all, which I find strange?
    Your inference is not my inference.

    The line about "all of them bettered by the ordeal" is about conquering ones hubris, not about any other form of self improvement. It's not about becoming the perfect warrior, it's about realising you're not the perfect warrior.

    To me, the artifact doesn't read as anything other than how I described it. I don't agree with your interpretation: what you want isn't supported by my reading of the text. (By the Dragons.)

    "It’s often given to young Lunars — especially those who need a lesson in humility, for the shield reveals the flaws of anyone it reflects, especially its wielder. Granting the shield to another is considered [...] a rebuke, but it’s served many Lunars in its time, all of them bettered by the ordeal."

    It's a rebuke and ordeal. It's a weapon made from the flaws of a Raksha that reveals flaws and shatters self-image.

    I don't see how you can read the story about where the artifact came from and what its first use was and come away with anything else. The charms match that story perfectly.
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 08-21-2019, 05:43 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • wern212
    replied
    Originally posted by Amayad View Post
    Hm. Let's have a look!

    The story is explicitly about a Lunar stealing a Raksha's training-mirror and making it a weapon against her, because the mirror recalls her mistakes. Is it meant to be a tool of self-improvement? Not really, it's meant to be a weapon. Does the narrative suggest that self-improvement is impossible? Maybe for Fair Folk.
    Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
    Yeah Penumbra's Gleam is about hubris -- not self-improvement. It works fine as-is: first it conquers your hubris, then the hubris of your foes. Striving, not achieving, defines Lunars.
    The problem I have with this is that I don't see the artifact as being presented this way? To me, it feels like the writer is trying to present it as a tool for self-improvement without seeing the darker side, which causes narrative dissonance for me. I have no problems with the Lunars (or any Exalt) wielding powers that I personally consider "evil", it's just that the artifact as presented in the book doesn't seem to acknowledge this side of the artifact at all, which I find strange?

    Leave a comment:


  • JohnDoe244
    replied
    Yeah Penumbra's Gleam is about hubris -- not self-improvement. It works fine as-is: first it conquers your hubris, then the hubris of your foes. Striving, not achieving, defines Lunars.

    If I were to change anything, I'd say your real journey starts when you're ready to pass the shield on. I wouldn't mind if (so long as you aren't dissonant) giving the shield away immediately replaces any Initimacy you hold toward yourself into a Minor Tie of Humility, at the price of becoming permanently dissonant to the shield (you can't step in the same river twice). (Evocation XP should be refunded as Lunar XP.)
    Last edited by JohnDoe244; 08-20-2019, 04:14 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Aquillion
    replied
    It reminds me of Suiguutou (水禺刀 Water Monkey Sword; Sword of Suiguu), the royal sword of Kei from Twelve Kingdoms.

    While Suiguutou had other powers - it could be used to scry things through reflections in still water, and it was a powerful weapon on its own - its main feature was that it had a demon-monkey sealed in its scabbard, which would taunt its wielder with visions of their failures and errors, trying to lead them astray. Long ago, one of the rulers of Kei had the monkey sealed so he couldn't torment them any more.

    When the main character first acquires the sword, she's a lost and confused girl embittered by the things that have happened to her; due to the scabbard getting damaged, the monkey is released and starts tormenting her. Partially because of the monkey's taunting and the way he constantly forces her to relive her mistakes, she improves and becomes a better person. Later, at the very end of the series when she's become the Empress, the sword's creator offers to seal the monkey again so he'll stop tormenting her, and she declines; after this, he kneels and thanks the heavens for sending them a great Empress, with the implication being that learning from the monkey's torment was the sword's original purpose.

    There's no magic reward for it. The monkey is a jerk. But because he uses the sword's truth-revealing power to show you your genuine faults and flaws and to force you to see things you don't want to confront, you can become a better person by enduring his torments.

    The point is, the reward you get for learning from your faults and becoming a better person is that you're a better person. Not everything can be expressed as a charm.

    Leave a comment:


  • nalak42
    replied
    So looked it over myself, with the exception of its weapon function, the idea is that you can get better. Its why it explicitly delivers the message of "strive" to its owner when you attune and it gives you the first evocation. When it was used against Maja it showed her all the faults that she'd ever had, including present ones presumably, and that crushed her considering she'd grown to the point of considering herself perfection and the forceful reminder of her failings was not something she could take. Hell its first evocation coaches you in how to get better and you get even better results if you don't think you're good enough.

    When used as a weapon, it is very much and explicitly reminding your foes that they are flawed. When used as tool for improvement it is to remind you that you are flawed, that you are not perfect, that you can be better. It even says flat out that it is often given to young lunars deemed too egotistical and giving someone this artifact is either a show of faith ,that they can use it well and become even better without being broken by their flaws, or a rebuke.

    So yeah it fits fine as is on the moral thing.

    As far as the, "Your efforts are pointless because you are still flawed and not perfect" bit goes I'm fond of this one image.

    Leave a comment:


  • Amayad
    replied
    Hm. Let's have a look!

    The story is explicitly about a Lunar stealing a Raksha's training-mirror and making it a weapon against her, because the mirror recalls her mistakes. Is it meant to be a tool of self-improvement? Not really, it's meant to be a weapon. Does the narrative suggest that self-improvement is impossible? Maybe for Fair Folk.

    One has to keep in mind that a Raksha is a big bag of lies lying so hard it believes itself, and sometimes the world plays along. They are entirely creatures of narrative, Her invincible prowess likely came as much from actual competence as unflappable confidence. - while the Raksha is able to internalize the narrative of an invincible warrior, she is, which is why the shield unmade her perfection.

    is it a useful tool for self-improvement? Only in that keeping an eye on your flaws is beneficial, hubris will get you killed, and obsessive perfectionism will drive you mad. The Exalted do not need ego boosts,nor do they need any help becoming obsessed with their own peerless skill. Penumbra Gleam is meant to teach that perfection is unreachable, not that striving is pointless, because you can't make an Exalt stop striving anyway.

    Leave a comment:


  • wern212
    replied
    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
    I think that, as a Fair Folk, everything about her is a lie.
    Being able to psychologically destroy somebody with a statement does not make it true, though.
    Especially with Maja; that her ego was so fragile attests to the fact that, being a Raksha, nothing she learned was real
    Is it being something magical not implicit in the fact of a Fair Folk having anything to do with it whatsoever? They're pretty narcissistic.
    I made a number of these points myself yesterday when discussing the artifact. The problem is that ultimately, it seems inconsistent to have an artifact that adds only self-loathing be prized as one of learning and growth.
    And as appropriate to a Lunar, well... With considerations for some of the shit that they can do to people with Appearance and Manipulation Charms? Penumbra Glean does not even rate to me.
    Lunars are monsters. They're not just monsters, but they are monsters nonetheless. Destroying the conceits of their enemies as a prelude to eating them is just one of their many tools, a recurring element throughout their Charms. I believe that it informs no less than two of their Sacred Hunts.
    The Artifact doesn't feel very out of place to me with that.
    My problem isn't with the Lunars being monsters, Lunars make awesome monsters. The problem is that the text to me feels like it's describing this heroic and enlightening artifact without explaining the conflict in resonance.
    I don't know, I've been meaning to look at the manuscript again, I want to see if I can find some of the tone contradictions that you are.
    Yeah, I think that this is the biggest problem for me. It's not that the artifact can't be either as helpful as it's being presented as or as devastating, but it can't be both without this seeming contradictory.

    First, it's a three-for Artifact, it has none of the cosmic significance of the Second Edition Ebon Dragon.
    I mostly made the connection to the Ebon Dragon in the sense of the Second Edition charms like Golden Years Tarnished Black or similar self-loathing inducing powers. It's not a direct connection in any way, only a similar theme.

    Leave a comment:


  • Isator Levi
    replied
    Originally posted by wern212 View Post
    spending a lot of time training and learning should have left her stronger than whatever she left in the mirror.
    I think that, as a Fair Folk, everything about her is a lie.

    Originally posted by wern212
    In essence, it seems to say that training and attempting to improve is pointless because you are still flawed.
    Being able to psychologically destroy somebody with a statement does not make it true, though.

    Especially with Maja; that her ego was so fragile attests to the fact that, being a Raksha, nothing she learnt was real.

    Originally posted by wern212
    It could be part of the Ebon Dragon's Infernal charms if such a time comes, but I believe this doesn't make a lot of sense for a Lunar artifact.
    First, it's a three-for Artifact, it has none of the cosmic significance of the Second Edition Ebon Dragon.

    And as appropriate to a Lunar, well... With considerations for some of the shit that they can do to people with Appearance and Manipulation Charms? Penumbra Glean does not even rate to me.

    Lunars are monsters. They're not just monsters, but they are monsters nonetheless. Destroying the conceits of their enemies as a prelude to eating them is just one of their many tools, a recurring element throughout their Charms. I believe that it informs no less than two of their Sacred Hunts.

    The Artifact doesn't feel very out of place to me with that.

    Originally posted by wern212
    First, have the mirror that is stolen not be something that Maja simply practiced in front of, but a sorcerous container (or something similar) of all her flaws.
    Is it being something magical not implicit in the fact of a Fair Folk having anything to do with it whatsoever? They're pretty narcissistic.

    I don't know, I've been meaning to look at the manuscript again, I want to see if I can find some of the tone contradictions that you are.
    Last edited by Isator Levi; 08-19-2019, 11:34 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • wern212
    replied
    Originally posted by Epitome View Post
    I believe Penumbra Gleam is genuinely meant to have a negative message.
    I can see that being the case, but in that case, I would've preferred them to just say as much. Right now it feels very contradictory, with a narrative that seems inspiring but ends up feeling quite dark and twisted once you analyze it, and charms that reflect that.
    Now, Artifacts are meant to change with each wielder, each wielder canonically having their own set of Evocations. So if your player's character feels strongly about challenging the hope-shattering message of Penumbra Gleam, then there is plenty of room for them to develop custom Evocations which resist or subdue the mirror's curse, and that's perfectly fine.
    Certainly, and even if the mirror doesn't get changed I'll probably be making changes in my home game to reflect the above.

    Honestly, I'm just kind of confused, since I'm not sure what message the writer wants me to read? If it's meant to be a tool for learning and growth, the narrative needs to change. If it isn't, why not say so? Maybe I'm too used to everything being laid out before me.

    EDIT: The main thing is that even if the artifact is meant to be somewhat darker, there is a line in the description that does not seem to match with that logic.

    Granting the shield to another is considered either a show of confidence or a rebuke, but it’s served many Lunars in its time, all of them bettered by the ordeal.
    Again, it seems to be contradicting its own narrative in both ways.
    Last edited by wern212; 08-19-2019, 11:08 AM. Reason: Added quote

    Leave a comment:


  • Epitome
    replied
    I believe Penumbra Gleam is genuinely meant to have a negative message. There is a darker side to everything, and Lunars embody this in several ways. I don't think it's out of place for Lunars to have a an artifact that tells them they will never be good enough, it's simply a cursed artifact like Gorgon or Stormcaller (Or Nightmare Shard, another Moonsilver Artifact whose reflections induce madness even in the wielder).

    Now, Artifacts are meant to change with each wielder, each wielder canonically having their own set of Evocations. So if your player's character feels strongly about challenging the hope-shattering message of Penumbra Gleam, then there is plenty of room for them to develop custom Evocations which resist or subdue the mirror's curse, and that's perfectly fine.

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X