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What exactly are Sidereal themes?

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  • What exactly are Sidereal themes?

    Solars - Just that good/ perfection/ leadership/ humanity/ golden light constructs
    Dragonblooded - teamwork/ the elements/ family/ bloodlines
    Alchemicals - transformation/ modular charms/ steampunk/ technology/ pick and refit
    Infernals - permanent transformations/ transhumanism/ taking from the yozis/ inhumanity/ myth and legend

    Urm... what are Sidereals? Solars are good at archery. They are so good, you can break their arms, throw them in the middle of a hurricane, and they can shoot a coin-sized target on the moon. Dragonblooded throw fireballs and grow arrows from the ground. Alchemicals can refit charms and with it, powers, letting them transform from deadly hulking giant that can smash down fortress walls to smooth tongued socialite that wages war with words. Infernals can do a pretty good job of imitating a god of a cult, listening to their followers' prayers and blessing them with money, talent, power, or mutations.

    What can Sidereals do? So far, I've seen neighbourhood relocation scheme, a part of the dodge charm tree. Another one was a stealth technique that let you move around reality unobserved and whisper subliminal messages into other peoples' ears. An awareness charm that lets you see the future impact of any decision you make.

    So what's their guideline?

  • #2
    For like charm powers? They're manipulators of fate and reality. So they have an archery charm where they whisper a message onto the bowstring, draw it back and fire it, they have a dodge charm that allows them to slip from existence as if they'd never been there in that scene at all. They also do things in an awesome roundabout way sometimes. For example they have a charm that convinces people they're lying. Like, you say something, and no matter what it is everyone who hears you is absolutely certain that you're fibbing. They're also often really elegant in a way that I find difficult to describe.

    Of course, there's also martial arts. Solars are technically the most straightforward powerhouse martial artists, but Sidereal martial arts are crazy and esoteric. You may activate a SMA charm and suddenly the physical battle that you're having is now taking place across a series of metaphors, or you might grab hold of the strands of a person's destiny and snarl them into a pattern that nobody recognizes.


    From a story standpoint they're the special agents of heaven, and I think the best way I can illustrate that is by ripping off a Warhammer 40k game into and putting a text exchange between heavenly bureaus, as follows:

    Transcript compiled from communiques between Gloam Celestial Field Office and Bureau of Heaven


    Priority Alert - Suspected Labyrinthine corruption detected.
    Origin - Gloam seacaves
    Ce
    Request direction for containment procedures

    Implement sublime warding field

    Negative - Corruption spread too wide for effective warding field containment
    Suspected Class 4 pervasivity

    Deploy Transmundane Brightspark

    Brightspark ineffective
    Personnel losses increasing
    Corruption spread accelerating

    Coordinate wide area spirit courts
    Unity in defense, by Mandate of Heaven

    Local agents ineffective
    Corruption spread CONTINUES TO ACCELERATE
    Corruption approaching proximity threshold for defense of Celestial Gateway

    Executive Request Contact
    Petitioning Bureau of Destiny
    Best effort until response or relief


    Assistance urgent
    Population in danger
    Corruption breakwall OVERSPILL!

    Bureau of Destiny response received
    Deploying Sidereal Exalted


    Basically when the world is falling apart, and all the checks and guards in place from Heaven itself are failing, and the beleaguered custodians have just about given up hope, Sidereal exalted arrive to strike fast, fix the problem with incomprehensible skills and abilities, and move on to the next one. Or alternatively when those guards and watchers are themselves corrupt, jamming up the gears of the great Bureaucracy for their own selfish gains, or just simple incompetence, the Sidereals are there in the limelight and in the shadows to set it right.

    Then woven through all that is the fact that they're still people themselves, with their own desires and politics and values. As a chosen of the maidens the world needs you, and there's not enough to go around, but how do you balance everything?

    Comment


    • #3
      One way to look at it is what they effect, generally. Solar charms manipulate their actions. Lunar charms manipulate their own bodies, Dragonblooded charms manipulate the world around them. Sidereal charms manipulate causality.

      A solar breaks a rock by hitting it just right. A lunar breaks a rock by making themselves strong enough to break it. A dragon blooded tells the rock to break itself. A sidereal says "it is the rock's time to break", and then it breaks.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Elfive View Post
        A sidereal says "it is the rock's time to break", and then it breaks.
        Yes. But how does that work?

        Comment


        • #5
          Maybe it turns out to have had a fault, and the sidereal's tap hits it in just the right spot so it shatters. Maybe an elephant randomly stomps through and breaks it. Maybe they ring a bell and the rock crumbles from the sound, or they fire an arrow laced with the destiny of being broken.

          Some kind of weird fate/plot shit happens, and the thing they want done is done.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Accelerator View Post

            Yes. But how does that work?
            You know a theory that if you knew the position and energy state of every single particle in existence in one instant, you could calculate all their future interactions, and thus predict the future with absolute certainty? Fate in Exalted works kinda like that - it tracks everything inside it, governs all the interactions, and predicts the future based on that. The rock's "destiny" is to persist until certain conditions are met - it's hit with X amount of force, it's hit in a particular point, it gets heated in forest fire and then rapidly cooled down as the nearby river overflows... basically, all the normal ways you'd expect rock to break.

            Now, where the Charms of other Exalted would try to break the rock by increasing the user's strength to X or beyond, or let them divine the weak point, or forcing a new break condition on the rock ("the rock shall persist until my command of Earth Essence forces it to split") the Sidereal Charms would rather just change the existing conditions so the Exalt can meet them - make it so X value is lesser than the strength of their hit, or move the weak point to the exact point they're hitting, or maybe just artificially tick off the "heated" part of the scenario so all it takes is cooling the rock with water.

            In other words - Sidereals have admin-level access to reality, and can pull up people's and objects "source code" and make certain alterations to them to manipulate the circumstances in their favor.

            Comment


            • #7
              They are also esoteric ritualists who can gain powers by performing certain proscribed roles within the purview of their astrological specialties. Long before Solars had personas, Sidereals were the "character with extra characters attached" characters, though these subsidiary identities tended to be much more short-lived, and fade from attention soon after they play their part (read, when the effect and duration run out).

              Comment


              • #8
                I just do not get why, when a question such as this comes up, people fall back upon vague platitudes rather than citing the actual published Charms. Especially as regards Sidereals, where the platitudes have a tendency to be the most vague and least accurate to the actual published version.
                I mean, fair enough, even though Sidereals have a very strongly defined and firmly established format for their evocative powers in First Edition, the substance of that format is intricate and esoteric enough that it's hard to figure out exactly what it will look like in a form updated for Third Edition. But the existing Charm sets are still something, and should serve as a more solid reference point.
                Now, as regards examples such as how a Sidereal breaks things, I'll admit that I had forgotten about the Charm "Hungry Touch", so there is a thing that works kind of similarly to ordaining that a thing is destined to break (specifically the Sidereal could consume part of its destiny to hasten its conclusion, mechanically functioning as reducing a target number for boosting one's Strength + Athletics rating to determine what feats of destruction can be achieved).
                There's also Burn Life, which just straight up spends motes to increase the rating of one's physical Attributes. So a Sidereal who wants to break something can and should simply just magically increase their Strength. There's some fluff about how doing so decreases one's lifespan a bit, but that doesn't play out in the scope of a game scene or anything.
                What exactly is the Charm to
                "artificially tick off the "heated" part of the scenario so all it takes is cooling the rock with water"? I don't know about it. A lot of Sidereal stuff actually was ultimately more direct than that. If a Sidereal wants to break a rock, they're almost definitely still hitting the rock, and one way or another need to be at least strong enough to break it.


                So, answering a couple of question:

                Originally posted by Accelerator View Post

                Urm... what are Sidereals?
                The Sidereal Exalted are mystic sage bureaucrats of Heaven. They're selected from birth and lead lives auspiciously guided towards teaching them the principles of their station and their Caste up until the point they Exalt, at which point they're whisked off to Yu-Shan to be trained and take up their position. They live their lives as specialist agents of the divine bureau responsible for destiny, participating in the planning and predicting of such fates, issuing commands and coordination to the gods, and going down to Creation to personally ensure when sensitive matters unfold in the correct manner without interference.

                They're also politically intertwined with the circumstances of the Usurpation because of their prophecies about impending disaster having come from the ancient Solars. Hence, they function as behind the scenes advisors and enablers for the dominance of the Realm, and run counter operations against forces that threaten it, particularly the other Celestial Exalted.

                Originally posted by Accelerator
                What can Sidereals do?
                A lot of things, it's complicated. The Five Maidens provide five overarching themes for their powers to work in, although they're still clearly tied together. The Abilities are also tied to a bunch of fictional astrological signs that provide further imagery for what their powers might do, leading to a lot of more abstract and metaphorical interpretations of them.

                I can think of... three broad summaries of how Sidereal Charms tend to function. The first are fairly straightforward things that are given some fluff to make some destiny interaction the basis of how they function, with limited practical output. There are times when some of the stronger effects of such are tied to some limited circumstance or resource expenditure.

                A lot of their powers involve interacting with or manipulating things in odd ways. Neighbourhood Relocation Scheme is an example, being able to physically drag an area around to place it in a new place. There are powers to kind of absorb and reapply some things, and they can inflict strange transformations. Also a few powers that involve kind of... slipping behind the scenes to get from point a to point b, to evade notice or to have unusual angles for manipulating things.

                (There are some powers that involve generating an effect through what is basically casting a spell that I'd put as a crossover between the two)

                And there's the stuff to do with seeing or affecting the future. Largely things to let Sidereals see the future, although never in a direct manner; you get things like seeing a future from the perspective of a world where it already happened, or being limited to assessing options that will further a stated goal. They have at least one power based on weaponizing revealing another person's future to them, and a few odder things such as striking a person and giving them an option between taking the severe damage that it can inflict or allowing themselves to be cursed with some harmful random happenstance coming upon them later on.

                They're not supposed to be able to come up with their own Charms, so the actions of Sidereals are very strongly guided by the limits of what their Charms can do, and there set is supposed to be very tightly designed to have a number of powers that combine or sequence well to achieve results.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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                Comment


                • #9
                  In terms of Storytelling, Sidereals can be about :

                  -Having your life decided for you and being expected to fall in line. Doing the same to others.

                  -Being tasked with keeping a failing system running despite being vastly understaffed and poorly managed. Sticking to one's duty even when the outcome is likely eventual failure.

                  -Having to play by the rules or facing drastic consequences. Being torn when doing the right thing would require you to commit sacrilege.

                  -Knowing much about your own future and that of those close to you, and how that impacts the decisions you make.

                  -Holding the reins of history yet having no one who remembers you.

                  -Being in it for the long, long game. Planning the rise and fall of entire empires in advance, and steeling your heart when you orchestrate disasters which you know are necessary for the world's survival and stability.

                  -Preserving your humanity even though you must play with mortal lives and decide people's fates for them to achieve your aims.
                  Last edited by Epitome; 10-11-2019, 05:15 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Accelerator, the themes of the Sidereals are Fate, Destiny and foresight.

                    Unless you want to explore what those words mean to you - and unless you take seriously at least for the game's cosmology that they do have coherent meanings - you probably won't be able to get far with what the Sidereals are about! In pith, to be a Sidereal is to be person who gets power from Fate, Destiny and foresight, but is also uniquely bound by the strictures of that power and to face unique choices as a consequence of foresight.

                    Further than that, they represent the idea of destiny and Fate as a subtle, but decisive hidden force, ordered by mysterious patterns. To that end their powers are intended to be subtle, but decisive and ordered in partially opaque structures ordered by symbolism and subtext, and which, when experienced, have unexpected synergies! To that end the experience of playing a Sidereal is to play a person who is a hidden force, much as Fate itself is!

                    These themes are structured within the five houses of Journeys, Battles, Secrets, Endings and Serenity, each of which is rich in mythic narrative and potential for human connection.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
                      What can Sidereals do? So far, I've seen neighbourhood relocation scheme, a part of the dodge charm tree. Another one was a stealth technique that let you move around reality unobserved and whisper subliminal messages into other peoples' ears. An awareness charm that lets you see the future impact of any decision you make.

                      So what's their guideline?
                      I'm not sure that I totally understand the question, but a lot of people have answered according to their interpretations. To me, Sidereals are another angle of Exalted's deconstruction of power fantasy, in which every Exalt-type understands and expresses power differently. Sidereals are a personification of exploitation and understanding. They exploit influence, people, tools, wisdom, knowledge, coincidence, human nature, bureaucracy, physics, wordplay, and even themselves (see the Charm "Burn Life"). They're legendary martial arts masters because they can understand the secret power of martial arts like nobody else can. They make effective viziers and operatives because they see the world like nobody else does, and they're untrustworthy for the same reason. They're expected to use any tool at their disposal, including each other, because they often see little other choice.

                      Edit: The 1st Edition Athletics tree really says it all. They achieve basic Exalted Athletics competence by cheating their lifespan, timing, gravity, and the fundamental mechanics of the human body.
                      Last edited by Dex Davican; 10-12-2019, 11:41 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Sidereals are system administrators with special system privileges, permissions, and approved cheat codes and exploits, and limited item-spawning and code-manipulation abilities.

                        Sidereals are agents of Fate and ambassadors of heaven, whose power derives from the authority of others. When they flash their badges, you must submit to the authority invested in them, or suffer the weapons granted to them.

                        They’re like the Agents of the Matrix, whereas Getimians are like the humans who plug back into the system and break the code to their liking.


                        Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dex Davican View Post
                          I'm not sure that I totally understand the question, but a lot of people have answered according to their interpretations. To me, Sidereals are another angle of Exalted's deconstruction of power fantasy, in which every Exalt-type understands and expresses power differently. Sidereals are a personification of exploitation and understanding. They exploit influence, people, tools, wisdom, knowledge, coincidence, human nature, bureaucracy, physics, wordplay, and even themselves (see the Charm "Burn Life"). They're legendary martial arts masters because they can understand the secret power of martial arts like nobody else can. They make effective viziers and operatives because they see the world like nobody else does, and they're untrustworthy for the same reason. They're expected to use any tool at their disposal, including each other, because they often see little other choice.

                          Edit: The 1st Edition Athletics tree really says it all. They achieve basic Exalted Athletics competence by cheating their lifespan, timing, gravity, and the fundamental mechanics of the human body.
                          1e Sidereal Athletics? Time for Hungry Touch.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                            They’re like the Agents of the Matrix, whereas Getimians are like the humans who plug back into the system and break the code to their liking.
                            More accurately Getimians are humans who've been migrated from a different system and brought some of its rules with them.

                            Morke basically felt that introducing a dedicated red pill (Jesus, there's a term that's not aged well) exalt type as a Sidereal foil would mostly serve to cast them as agents of stagnation and vilify them in their own stories.


                            Onyx Path Forum Moderator
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                              as a Sidereal foil would mostly serve to cast them as agents of stagnation and vilify them in their own stories.
                              That's silly. Fighting to defend a status quo can be made into one of the most heroic things in the world; just look at the Alchemical Exalted.

                              If the Sidereal Exalted cannot feel heroic while serving Heaven, that's a statement about Heaven rather than them.

                              Though if memory serves, their Sutras show a disturbing malice towards children.


                              Jesus, there's a term that's not aged well
                              Not as poorly as ABC's coverage of the "Turkish bombardment of the Kurds", which turned out to be altered footage of an American artillery show in Kentucky.

                              Or the footage of "corpses" under sheets that can't lay still for two minutes, and the "dead" baby that starts blinking in his mother's arms.

                              The Matrix is breaking down.
                              Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 10-15-2019, 10:48 AM.


                              Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

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

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