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How Does Your Realm Civil War Start?

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  • How Does Your Realm Civil War Start?

    The Realm is a powder keg just waiting to blow. There are any number of ways the simmering tensions between the Great Houses could erupt into open conflict. How has it happened in your games?

  • #2
    Mnemon's sister, Mnemon Rulinsei, gathers some loyal followers and attacks Ragara (yes, that Ragara) in his own home. She doesn't intend to survive, she's just there to take out Ragara and as many of his lineage as possible. Mnemon herself hasn't ordered her to do this, she never would (whether out of fear for the backlash or because she wouldn't order her own sister to her death depends on how the ST wants to display Mnemon), but it happens. Now it's war.
    I should mention that this isn't how it has happened, since I haven't had a chance to do the Civil War game yet, but this is how I would want it to happen.


    • #3
      Funny you should ask that now. I'm playing in a Dragon-Blooded game that has been going on for more than a year and the first conflict has just happened. The seat of House Ragara was attacked and nearly destroyed by three second circle demons. Since only Mnemon can summon and bind demons of that circle everyone assumes she did it.


      • #4
        There's a war breaking out in the coral archipelago with light realm involvement, and that's going to give one of the houses cause to claim resources from a rival house to fund that war "in the interests of the Realm", and that will garner support from a couple houses (as this is a good position for the warring ones to pay their dues) and animosity from others. From there it's just a couple public assassinations.

        Check my Exalted homebrew!


        • #5
          Originally posted by satoshi View Post
          Funny you should ask that now. I'm playing in a Dragon-Blooded game that has been going on for more than a year and the first conflict has just happened. The seat of House Ragara was attacked and nearly destroyed by three second circle demons. Since only Mnemon can summon and bind demons of that circle everyone assumes she did it.
          Lunar frame job!

          Anyway for mine we aren't to that point yet since the players are all managing a Satrapy in year 764 now. Time will come though and it'll probably be based on group dynamics and politics a bit. I'm strongly hinting at Peleps finally deciding to take what they view is theirs to add tension with the player Peleps and V'Neef but might do something entirely third quarter to kickstart it and let that become fallout once it gets going.


          • #6
            Game 1: Essence 2 2nd ed Solars in the Scavenger Lands to Essence 5 3rd ed Solars in the near South.

            Who should be the new Empress?

            Most agreed that it should be a child of the Empress.

            Most agreed it should not be her oldest child Ragara, as he's a doting old man. His own house supported him, but they knew it was a losing proposition.

            Some considered Berit and other children, but only two had the institutional and social support: Mnemon (traditional values, strong leadership) and V'neef (new ideas, trade).

            Neither of them could get majority support though: Mnemon had the grudging support of Cynis and Sesus, but was too widely hated, while V'neef had earned the vehement hatred of House Pelleps, and many considered her to have too little experience.

            Some young radicals, especially in Ledaal, Tepet and Nellens, suggested something different: a Republic. No Empress, just the Deliberative, choosing elected Consuls to rule for short periods so no one person could dominate.

            So the situation simmered, unresolved... until in one night, Mnemon's best legion was swallowed by the earth. The same night, her satrapies across the Inner Sea coasts rose in coordinated rebellion. Pelleps troop transports full of barbarian mercenaries hit the beaches of Mnemon and V'neef prefectures.
            Ragara was back, restored to the flush of youth by a Peach of Immortality*, yet still possessed of ancient cunning and potent earth-might. Backed by Pelleps, he declared war on both his sisters. Cathak, horrified by barbarians on Realm soil, declared for Mnemon, and in the chaos Tepet, Nellens and Ledaal seized the Imperial City and declared a Republic. Delzahn and Kunlun horsemen scoured the land, burning Immaculate temples, Harborhead raiders sacked villages, Jiaran sword-dancers cut down Blackhelms.

            V'neef was soon forced to surrender when Ragara destroyed her army with a wave of his hand and a massive earthquake. Mnemon was slain by barbarian assassins, as was the Republican faction's top general, Tepet Ejava.

            But worse was to come. In the Imperial City, five black-clad Anathema appeared from a mirror and slaughtered the Legion of Silence, breaking open the Imperial Manse and entering, shortly followed by even more Anathema.
            They took control of the Realm Defence Grid, and began to turn its effects against the world, destroying cities in the Threshold such as Thorns, Sijan and Skullstone, and causing earthquakes and forest fires across the Realm.
            The Imperial Consuls knew this must be stopped, and so Nellens Poromo and Ledaal Kes, with their bodyguards and warriors, bravely entered the Imperial Manse, ready to stop the Anathema or die trying.
            Inside, they fought a huge battle with the Anathema, and unfortunately everyone except Ledaal Kes and his wife was killed.** Kes, however, managed to kill most of the Anathema, with only Dupree, Butcher of Lookshy and Master of Lunars, and Babar, a disgraced heretic immaculate, escaping.
            Taking control of the Realm Defence Grid, Kes declared himself Emperor.

            Hearing this, Ragara was furious, but in his rage he revealed to his children a horrible truth; the supremely skilled barbarian generals Ragara put so much trust in were actually Lunars, a fact Ragara was well aware of. He'd literally made a deal with the Devil-Beasts to gain the throne. His horrified children slew him, but were in turn killed by Tammuz Khan, leader of the barbarians.
            Their secret revealed, the barbarian generals summoned nightmares; demons from Hell, twisted goat-wolves from the east, fish-men from the western seas, mad ghosts and eyeless horrors. The whole Dynasty united against them under Ledaal Kes's leadership, but his inability to use the Realm Defence Grid properly hampered him, and while he was a master strategist, he was no match for the unorthodox tactics of Tammuz Khan, Ma-Ha-Suchi, Leviathan and Raksi the Queen of Fangs.

            The Dynasty was losing the war, but were saved by... a massive invasion of Raksha. By opposing the Dragon's appointed authority, the Anathema had foolishly weakened the world's defences, allowing a second Balorian Crusade. With their barbarian realms threatened, the Anathema were forced to give up their war against the Dragonblood and return to the Threshold to stop the Raksha. However, their unrighteous ways were not enough to defeat the Raksha, and the world was only saved by the return of the Dragons' maternal Uncle, the Great Maker Authocthon, and his Thousand Golem Army. The Raksha were defeated and the world was saved... but the Blessed Isle was a war-ravaged wasteland. The Azure Emperor Ledaal Kes had failed to defeat the Anathema, clearly due to being a man, and of low (by Dynastic standards) birth, even if he was well-bred.
            While addressing the Deliberative, Kes was surprised to find the Deliberators drawing weapons and Dragonblood soldiers marching in. In a bloodless coup, he was forced to step down. After extensive lobbying, a more legitimate Empress was chosen. The new Jade Empress V'neef promised to rebuild and regrow the Blessed Isle, recover from the war. To show her spirit of peace (and avoid a Ledaal rebellion), Ledaal Kes wasn't punished, but appointed head of a Legion (a Legion filled with V'neef officers). However, the remainder of the devastated House Ragara was stripped of their status, and forced into the Immaculate Order where they could be watched for signs of Anathema influence.
            Within a decade, the Jade Empress signed the non-interference Pact of Blood and Iron with representatives of the Thousand Golem Army, and began retaking the most vulnerable and important satrapies; Gloam, the Lap, Cherak, etc.

            Two decades later, the Realm was ready to invade both North and South. The Legions sailed once more.

            *The Full Moon in the group was in the sh*t with Raksi, so in return for letting him off, she demanded the PCs steal a Peach of Immortality from Heaven for her. They did, and gave it to her, not knowing she'd then give it to Ragara. Not sure if they'd have cared, of course.

            **This may not be exactly what happened, but it's what Kes told everyone.

            I should note that my friend is running this game now, so there may be some retconning.
            Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 01-22-2020, 12:00 PM.

            I play...
            Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
            Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.


            • #7
              Game 2: Essence 1-2 Lunars, 3rd edition, in the Far North-East.

              Laksi, Queen of the Lunars, opened a portal to Hell, unleashing the 666 Kuromao, the Black Devil Kings, who brought with them a devastating plague that killed 90% of those living in the Sacred Land, including the matriarch of the Royal Clan, the Red Queen. The capital, Miklegard, is a charnel yard, the great Drakonreich is brought low. The Sacred Land is a stalking ground for demons and hungry ghosts. Most of the remaining Dragonblood took refuge upon the holy mountain of Jormungandr... but the Kuromao's demon hordes besieged and then defeated them, before burrowing through the earth and slaying Jormungandr himself. It's said they've also slain Sutr, and are now travelling to slay the other three Primordial Serpents and bring about the end of the world.


              Although to be fair, the Dragonblood who told the PCs this also sometimes claimed to be an ancient Shogunate Legion lost in the Wyld for centuries, so they may be referring to the fall of the Shogunate in the Great Contagion. Or not, they may have been lying about being a lost Legion.

              I mean, none of the players even know what year the game is set; they live far away from Realm influence and none of them have a high rating in an appropriate Lore topic. Plus no Solars have appeared or been mentioned (or Abyssals, or Infernals, or Sidereals for that matter), they're just a legend from ancient history. One player's theory is this is before the return of the Solars, but I don't know what the rest think.
              (I mean, it's the Year of the Mouse but that doesn't tell you the Realm Year.)
              Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 01-22-2020, 03:21 PM.

              I play...
              Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
              Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.


              • #8
                Whichever house defaults on its debt to House Ragara and refuses to hand over any collateral. The first shot of the war is fired at a repo man.


                • #9
                  The thing about a powder keg is that it doesn't need a conflagration, just a spark. And sparks can pop up in the most unexpected of places.

                  Consider Viridian Plains Prefecture, a small and placid area along the northwestern border of Numinous Rolling Wave. Nobody ever considered it very significant, the most important thing it did was grow surplus wheat that the union of flour vendors in its capital city would buy as much a share as was permissible, have ground by the millers in bulk at a discount and then export to more arid prefectures. Mind, those flour vendors could always be pretty ruthless in squeezing as much profit as they could from areas that really needed their product. It was a growing business, but they kept founding that expansion was frustrated by local municipal regulations.

                  But then Great Houses targeted this verdant prefecture to redirect the majority of tax revenues to their coffers, and suddenly the prefect and governor found that their reduced budgets forced them to make significant staff cutbacks, and limit the operations of those that remained. The flour vendors knew an opportunity when they saw one, and started flouting the law to make arrangements with farmers to buy up the majority of the grain before it even reached the city. The intention was to have the millers grind it at an even steeper discount to match the bulk purchase, where most would be sent out and the rest could be sold directly to the bakers. Problem was, the millers refused; not out of any kind of principle, just because they could see how what was going on would hurt their profit margins. It didn't take long for the populace of the whole city to become divided, with most supporting the millers, and a fair few on the side of the vendors; not just the bakers, but other groups that would expect to earn more from their schemes, like wagon drovers and people that worked on the river docks.

                  Tensions rose quickly. People started to gather into mobs, with flaming rhetoric talking about their respective sides, and the occasional violent altercation. Rumours abounded that the vendors were planning to martial their supporters to seize the mills by force, to which the millers responded by fitting their buildings to act as makeshift fortresses. The authorities, alerted too late to the growing crisis, attempted to use their meagre resources to ease the situation, but far more of their efforts went towards trying to keep word from getting out of the mess they had made.

                  They failed in that. House Mnemon learned of the crisis first, their home being the closest to the prefecture in question. Appalled at the idea of such an overt conflict taking place among mortals on the Blessed Isle, she ordered a dragon of the House troops to occupy the city and restore order. The dragonlord in command went a step further and even passed down a decision in favour of the millers; somewhat arbitrarily, as the House had no previous financial stake in the satrapy, but theirs was the position more in keeping with local law. Besides, the Mnemon in charge was a devout Immaculate, and viewed the schemes of the vendors to expand their wealth as contrary to the Perfected Hierarchy. The majority of them only grumbled in that position, knowing they didn't nearly have the strength to challenge a Great House.

                  But one was brazen enough to decide to try and stir the pot enough to create the possibility of things coming out in their favour, and sent word of what was going on further down the Imperial River. A month after the start of the Mnemon occupation, a dragon from House Cynis (who did have a financial stake before, if a distant one) arrived. Their commander accused House Mnemon of trying to capitalise upon a crisis to start seizing direct control of a prefecture that they thought nobody would notice, and demanded their immediate withdrawal. They also quietly pledged to support the flour vendors, partially to take the contrary position to Mnemon, partially to get a share in their profits. A week later, representatives from the Humble Caretakers turned up, reprimanding both sides for going far beyond the authority of the Great Houses and ordering them to leave with the authority of a Ministry of the Empress.

                  For another week tensions rose, culminating in a scene of both dragons, each surrounded by crowds of supporters for the two factions, facing off across the city's central square while a procession of people carried sacks of grain to the river mills. Nobody could say how the fighting started, since it doesn't seem that any direct witnesses survived. All that is known is that the two units of soldiers became gripped in a deadly struggle, while their Exalted leaders clashed without restraint and the mobs threw against one another savagely (and right next to fighting military professionals). When the dust cleared and what was left of the two dragons were falling back to their home prefectures, several buildings had been levelled and thousands were dead, among them the representatives from the Caretakers.

                  Both Houses accused the other of having struck first and being possessed of reprehensible ulterior motives, in addition to responsibility for the deaths of imperial bureaucrats displaying a contempt for the central authority. Mnemon responded first, as a combination of not wishing to alienate her Immaculate allies by not cleaning a mess caused by her troops and thinking that Cynis had greater designs on the prefecture had her sending back a full legion to both make what amends they could and convert the city into a fortress. When House Cynis, finding that Mnemon's actions confirmed all their worst fears of her intending to seize lands in their possession, sent a legion of their own in kind with an ultimatum to withdraw and siege engines to see to them if they refused, that's what the historians will consider the start of the Realm Civil War. It was Sesus who came in next, objecting to fighting breaking out so close to their own heartland and their closeness to House Cynis, while Mnemon received unexpected financial support from the also nearby Nellens now that Sesus had a clear enemy.

                  Strange thing, that the Realm should collapse over a dispute involving the sale of flour but, well, it is a highly flammable powder itself when it's not left to settle.

                  I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                  Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.


                  • #10
                    That's really good.

                    I play...
                    Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
                    Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.