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How hard do you make it for players to change the Setting/World of Exaltd?

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  • How hard do you make it for players to change the Setting/World of Exaltd?

    I had a bit of a realization on this topic some months ago for Exalted. For such an epic scale game, it's easy to make to the setting too hard to change. (In my experiences, both as a player and GM.) I've played the game for years, and in many cases with adult players made the setting very difficult to effectively change.

    Last year I ran a game with my 11 year old son, he wanted a plotline involving Lunars and Dragonbloods. He read the description of the CAul and found it fascinating. So, I had his solar PC end up on The Caul in his quest to defeat an Evil Infernal. The Infernal had convinced the Lunar Army besieging Faxai that he was a Solar. They then set about to conquer Faxai. My Son had to fake being a DB in order to repel the attack. However, during the attack, the Infernal started the pilgrimage.

    When finished, he began the pilgrimage to maintain his cover. On the way My son's PC was warned by a Gold Faction Sidereal that no one knew what would happen when an Infernal completed such a pilgrimage other than "nothing good." That even they had scant records of a Solar completing the Piligramage, and weren't sure what that would do either.

    It turned into a race to complete the pilgrimage first, and also discover what would happen when a solar completed the pilgrimage. Lots of battles with DB's and Lunars along the way, with a final battle against the Infernal to stop him from completing it first. It ended on a positive note, that a solar completing the pilgrimage invoked the power of Gaia and Luna to purify Solar Exalts and remove their Curse. It also changed all Infernals and Abyssals *in creation at the time* back into Solars. (So any Abyssal or Infernal not in Creation wasn't changed.)

    In a group with Adults, I probably wouldn't have been willing to do that as a GM, I would have made such a change much harder or impossible to do. At the same time, we'd been playing for 5 months over a two dozen sessions... So why not make a big change?

    How have things run in your games?
    Last edited by Tytalus; 04-27-2020, 10:11 AM.

  • #2
    Well it kind of depends on scale I mean unmaking two splats is kind of too extreme for me to allow as anything other than a campaign ender. Smaller things though, I had a player upend the power structure of Wu Jian before we got the realm book because he wanted to make sure no one looked at his business wrong when he and the circle were off island. (Massive gang war and infighting leading to dynastic crack down.)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
      Well it kind of depends on scale I mean unmaking two splats is kind of too extreme for me to allow as anything other than a campaign ender. Smaller things though, I had a player upend the power structure of Wu Jian before we got the realm book because he wanted to make sure no one looked at his business wrong when he and the circle were off island. (Massive gang war and infighting leading to dynastic crack down.)
      Scale totally matters- as well as length of play and for how long. In my case, there are still plenty of Infernals and Abyssals in Malfeas and the Underworld respectively when the pilgrimage ended.. So they can still remain as bad guys, they're just diminished in power as a faction.

      Big changes in Wu Jian sounds interesting, do mind going into it more in depth?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tytalus View Post

        Scale totally matters- as well as length of play and for how long. In my case, there are still plenty of Infernals and Abyssals in Malfeas and the Underworld respectively when the pilgrimage ended.. So they can still remain as bad guys, they're just diminished in power as a faction.

        Big changes in Wu Jian sounds interesting, do mind going into it more in depth?
        So the part that made me laugh my butt off is I basically ended up with Wu Jian how it was in the Realm book. Structure wise, it was just funny because I did it before the book had come out so my group had a big laugh.

        As for what happened, he was a night caste assassin. He just assassinated a bunch of gang leaders and bigger players and allowed the resulting power vacuum to cause the criminal underbelly to start eating itself. I had originally had Wu-jian's underbelly as more of a stagnated thing, so you had a few groups that handled things because they'd been entrenched or people were alright with how it ran and others were just accepted as a sort of necessary evil. Consequently you had sloppy leadership, and in the case of one restraunt cascade of cutting terror being used to recreate a scene from boondocks saints during the investigation,* allowing a lot of important dead people in a terrifyingly short time frame with just enough evidence to suggest the involvement of other players to get people at eachother's throats. Plus the fact that generally speaking the assumption that no one in their right mind would start trying to take out these individuals without replacement plans.

        *Look up the scene "There was a fire fight" on youtube for what I'm talking about there.

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        • #5
          Tytalus that was sweet what you did. If I ever ran Exalted I would allow the players to make whatever changes they wanted AND were realistically capable of making.


          “It is a far far better thing I do than I have ever done...” Sidney Carton’s last line before going to the guillotine to save his True Love and her husband

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          • #6
            I think big changes should be related to similarly great effort, with some possible fast tracking by the GM depending on scale of the game. Obviously if some Primordial survivor rolls up to Creation having made 1,000 Unconquered Suns to use as his weapons to destroy Creation or something that game needs to kick it up to eleven pretty fast.

            For one I just find it more realistic. Doing something with real weight like erasing a continent or whatever feels like it should warrant more than a bit of work. Also it’s more satisfying that way, if you’re reshaping the world with an afternoon’s work it doesn’t really feel that impactful.

            Plus as a ST f your players are making sweeping global changes once a session it can be really really hard to keep up with all the ramifications of that, especially when they start overlapping.

            Also Creation is an enormous world which is full of stuff, you don’t really need to have huge global adventures to feel epic. You can quite comfortably fit the entire empire of Rome, at its peak, in the East, maybe even without hitting any major canon landmarks. You can have as big an intricate a setting as Rome, Britannia, Galia, ancient Spain, Syria, and Egypt, except even more epic because it’s Creation. Conquering a fantastical version of Rome rife with powerful elemental sprits, armies of death, ancient gods, exalted heroes, forgotten plagues, perfidious fairies, inhuman monsters, and conniving nobility can be big enough.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              I think big changes should be related to similarly great effort, with some possible fast tracking by the GM depending on scale of the game. Obviously if some Primordial survivor rolls up to Creation having made 1,000 Unconquered Suns to use as his weapons to destroy Creation or something that game needs to kick it up to eleven pretty fast.

              For one I just find it more realistic. Doing something with real weight like erasing a continent or whatever feels like it should warrant more than a bit of work. Also it’s more satisfying that way, if you’re reshaping the world with an afternoon’s work it doesn’t really feel that impactful.

              Plus as a ST f your players are making sweeping global changes once a session it can be really really hard to keep up with all the ramifications of that, especially when they start overlapping.

              Also Creation is an enormous world which is full of stuff, you don’t really need to have huge global adventures to feel epic. You can quite comfortably fit the entire empire of Rome, at its peak, in the East, maybe even without hitting any major canon landmarks. You can have as big an intricate a setting as Rome, Britannia, Galia, ancient Spain, Syria, and Egypt, except even more epic because it’s Creation. Conquering a fantastical version of Rome rife with powerful elemental sprits, armies of death, ancient gods, exalted heroes, forgotten plagues, perfidious fairies, inhuman monsters, and conniving nobility can be big enough.
              Or you could go out and conquer Lookshy, or other named locations that have a bunch of wordcount directed at them already! Burn Sijan to the ground! Hurl Great Forks into the Rolling River! Topple the towers of Kamthahar! If you allow your players to change things and leave permanent marks on the world, they're much more likely to be invested.

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              • #8
                IMO, one point of Exalted that is very different to DnD is that PCs can and should make your mark on the setting.

                You're Alexander the Great, Moses, Leonardi Da Vinci, etc, travelling around together.

                But as DrLoveMonkey points out, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to kill and replace all the Gods, destroy Malfeas, sever the Underworld from Creation forever, etc. That's now what the famous people of history still talked about to this day are known for. If your character is Solar Julius Caesar, then seizing power over a mighty empire is pretty impressive, you don't need to change the very metaphysics of the setting.

                If one PC is playing Temujin the nomadic chief, then absolutely uniting the tribes of Medo and forging an empire that conquers the entire Scavenger Lands is a possibility. That doesn't necessarily mean he's got to conquer Yu-Shan as well, and if you present that as always being what the game is about, then when people do conquer a mighty empire, it might seem a bit lame.
                But if that's the game you want, go for it!


                Of course, it's "if I had a long enough lever, I could move the world". They need the lever!
                The ST has to work with the PCs to give them opportunity to change things; that's what, to me, is fun. But at the same time, you make it too easy, and it's meaningless.

                So the example above where the Solar used the pilgrimage to end the curse and turn back some Infernals and Abyssals into Solars is fine. It's not actually one I'd probably do, but I might. It's fine, anyway. With ones like that, you want to think about what games you're going to continue to run, and how it'll affect them. Also, how is it perceived by the characters? The curse vanishing might be imperceptible to them. The Infernal NPC turning into a Solar is more obvious.
                Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 04-27-2020, 06:25 AM.


                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.

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                • #9
                  Usually my PC will change the story of the Region (in a very loose sens, aka "the place they directly interact with") they live in, and have influence on neighboring Regions.

                  However, I'm not the kind of ST that will handle a story where the players say "ok today we destroy one Direction". Usually not my jam, except maybe as a very specific campaign ender.


                  My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters

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                  • #10
                    So, games I run/play...

                    The first game they started out as adventurers in the Scavenger Lands. Adventured around a bit, ended up destroying the Guild's headquarters in Nexus. Adventured around some more, travelled to Varang and rescued all the Djala slaves and took them back to their homeland jungle, where the ghost of their friend (a Djala) became the god-king.
                    There were lots of different adventures etc that didn't have a huge effect on the setting.
                    Then, for the finale of the game, they travelled to the Imperial Manse and battled the Abyssals of Walker in Darkness (who they'd fought a few times before). They ended up destroying Walker in Darkness and seizing control of the Sword of Creation. They used it to... a)shoot every Shadowland in Creation with radiant light to close them, b)shoot the Raksha a bunch, c)sear shut the doors to Yu-Shan and stop gods teleporting between Yu-Shan and Creation. Then they ran away from an Infernal. Also, because they'd killed some Realm politicians but left Ledaal Kes alive, he took over the Sword of Creation and declared himself Emperor (he didn't last long though).

                    Also, things they were tangentially involved in and did do things that sort of led to; some Deathlords betrayed the Neverborn and put them into deeper sleep so they could simply rule the Underworld as kings; Ragara allied with Lunars and together they ravaged the Realm; the Raksha invaded Creation, but Sidereals summoned Autocthon (which they only knew about because of the PCs) to save Creation, and he brought the Autocthonians and Alchemicals with him.

                    Fast forward 25 years in-game, 2 years out-of-game, and a new edition, and the PCs returned to the jungle of the Djala. They then slowly engaged in spreading their influence and creating nations, or taking over nations and putting puppet kings in power.
                    So now the Cult of the Illuminated temple in the Land of Lakes (east of Harborhead) is surrounded by various PC-controlled kingdoms; the magical mountain kingdom of H'hui'shan with its dragons and golems, the Djala Co-Prosperity Sphere, various petty kingdoms and towns controlled indirectly by PCs.
                    They're fighting Ahlat's empire of Harborhead (they recently freed Varang from Ahlat), but he and some other gods are aiming to conquer the region. Also, the Realm is about to invade. Also, the PCs recently discovered that Autocthon rules Yu-Shan (they'd heard rumours before, but not the details) and that the Maidens are fake, really being other gods in disguise (Siakal, the god of slavery, etc).
                    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 04-27-2020, 06:42 AM.


                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chausse View Post
                      Usually my PC will change the story of the Region (in a very loose sens, aka "the place they directly interact with") they live in, and have influence on neighboring Regions.

                      However, I'm not the kind of ST that will handle a story where the players say "ok today we destroy one Direction". Usually not my jam, except maybe as a very specific campaign ender.
                      A lot of that kind of thing does work best as a campaign ender, honestly. It may be great for that end, but what next?


                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The game I've played for... 12 years maybe?

                        We spent a lot of time travelling. We eventually did some time-travel, to try and stop demons changing history, but I'm not sure whether we actually did or not. When we got back it was 10 years from when we left, and Autocthonians had conquered the South. We kicked them out of Harborhead. Then we went to one PCs' home kingdom, and we've been there for the rest of the game, interfering with local politics of the local kingdoms.


                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The 2nd ed Dragonblood game I played for many years (and many years ago) one PC became Empress.

                          Then later we defeated her husband in a civil war, and apportioned the ruling ministries between the PCs.


                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Finally, the game I run now (all Lunars) the PCs saved Mela from Solar assassins, and convinced her to stop destroying the world with eternal winter. Then they returned home to find 100 years have passed, and she... didn't destroy the world, but there was clearly serious problems with eternal winter, which caused a lot of the North to mostly be abandoned with everyone fleeing south to warmer climes.

                            I think they're planning revenge against the gods now. We'll see.

                            Should say, in this game Pasiap and Hesiesh were killed, the Realm destroyed, and the very geography of the world has changed. But that's just the setting, not something the PCs changed.


                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I play my games around Red 3.

                              The PCs will not change the setting by accident. There's too much inertia. Even if Solars save the world, people will look at them with fear, or at best terrified awe. The villains are villains. The heroes are heroes.

                              A Solar who completes a pilgrimage of the Caul isn't going to convert dozens of Abyssals and Infernals to Solars. The Great Curse isn't going to be overcome in a single story arc.

                              But, whilst the setting is hard to change, a person can be changed. Completing a pilgrimage around the Caul might give a Solar insight into the Great Curse. It might convert the Infernal they were racing against into a Solar.

                              A person can sway another person, can sway a town, can sway a city, can sway a kingdom. An individual might be damned or redeemed in a story defining moment. If Solars work diligently to change people's perceptions of them, then perceptions will change.

                              Setting changes are the rewards for completing a Story. Not for rolling 20 successes on a Charisma + Performance roll.


                              Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

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