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Does anyone actually Like the Bronze/Gold divide?

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  • Does anyone actually Like the Bronze/Gold divide?

    I feel like every time I hear about someone playing a Sidereal, they're usually doing the "Creation is on Fire, why are you letting petty politics interfere with putting it out!?!" type of character who basically just gave up on the Bronze/Gold infighting and went Independent (or, well, as independent as you can go without Chejop taking away your parking space or something).

    However, this is anecdotal evidence at best and it might just be personal bias (as I really dislike the factions being stuck on a thing that hasn't mattered for over a thousand years instead of stuff that matters now, like who stole my lunch from the company fridge).

    Unfortunately, I'm not exactly in a position to do a truly scientific survey of the entire Exalted fan base, but I figured I could at least see how everyone here feels about the whole thing.

    So, what do you think? Do you like the Bronze/Gold faction fight? If so, why? Do you dislike it? if so, why?


    ....

  • #2
    I imagine it would get more attention if splat crossover were better handled, A Dynast game would be notably more friendly to a Bronze-faction character concept than a pure sidereal game, same with the gold faction and the other celestial exalted. It did not help that 2e was more than a bit preoccupied with the ideas that solars were the protagonists of Exalted so the bronze faction were cast in a more directly antagonistic light. As a result, pure Sidereal games were less focused on the idea of teaming up with the other exalted, and consequently, less interested in the Team Solar/Team Dragon-blooded divide.

    I expect 3e will handle the affair a bit better and Exalted Essence at least is likely to make splat crossover more viable.

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    • #3
      I agree: in a system where cross-splat Circles are better-supported, both factions will be more interesting than they were. But I do think that the emphasis on the factions reduced Sidereal political games down to a two-party system, which--as we've seen in the real world--provides little room for common ground and compromise.


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      • #4
        I like the Bronze/Gold divide, but I like my version of it, which is not quite how it's been presented. Basically, I see the Bronze Faction as representing pragmatism, while the Gold Faction represents idealism. I think these were first codified as names during the Great Prophecy/Usurpation, but basically represent divisions that have always been in the Sidereals, and probably always will be. The Bronze Faction thinks that the best approach for planning Destiny and setting Heaven's agenda is the safe route, that has the greatest chance of success, where success is defined as "Creation survives". They're willing to sacrifice a lot for that, mostly in terms of quality of life for the average person, but also, when push comes to shove, a fair number of lives and actual parts of Creation, so long as the whole system is basically guaranteed to continue.

        The Gold Faction, on the other hand, are the risk-takers, the ones who believe that Destiny should be gambled with, willing to take the less than sure bets if the good outcome will be good enough. Like the Bronzes, I think they've always effectively been around, but there's always been fewer of them, since the institutional culture of the Bureau of Destiny leans conservative, and the Bronze Faction made up the majority of the leadership, and tended to pressure younger Sidereals towards their ideology. In fact, I don't think that there's really been an organized "Gold Faction" for a very long time, not really since the Usurpation. There were always the Bronze Faction Sidereals, who identified themselves with the architects of the Usurpation as a group identity, but the iconoclasts were few enough that they often didn't have a group to really rally around, and even when there were more than one or two of them at once, it was usually best to keep their heads down and not claim the "Gold" mantle, to avoid political censure from the majority. But now, the return of the Solars and the impending collapse of the Realm has given a number of Sidereals more hope that some big gambles could actually pay off, and even more have realized that the Realm probably isn't viable in its current form, some kind of new order is going to have emerge, and guiding Creation to that point will absolutely require some bigger gambles than they've been making.

        I prefer this approach because, while it establishes a pretty clear ideological split between the factions, it's not one that's rooted in, as you say, a thing that really hasn't mattered for more than a thousand years, and, even more importantly, it's a split about means, not necessarily one on goals. The Sidereals all want Creation to go on existing, and to deal with things like Wyld incursions, demons roaming about, Deathlords and Abyssals stomping things, and so on. And probably most of the Bronze Faction Sids think that, if it doesn't interfere with any plans, a better life for the average inhabitant of Creation is a good thing. This division on means rather than ends means that Bronze and Gold Faction Sidereals can easily be put in the same Circle, and work together, with little reason to come to blows, but still plenty of material to generate interesting, dramatic disagreements with one another.

        Another benefit of splitting up the factions like this means that it's easier to integrate Bronze Faction Sidereals into mixed Circles (that is, mixed with other Exalts besides Dragonblooded), because the Bronzes' pragmatic ideology probably means they're willing to work with people like Solars, Lunars, etc., if those characters seem like they're willing and able to help deal with the many problems currently threatening Creation and Destiny - they can always be dealt with later, after all. And conversely, the Gold Faction being idealistic doesn't mean they'll automatically think that Solar (or Lunar, or Abyssal, or Infernal, or whatever) Exalts should be put in charge automatically - they could well be ready to take gambles that involve sacrificing individual Exalts if they think it has a chance of creating a much better outcome. So splitting up things like this means players can't automatically judge a Sidereal by the faction they belong to, making for more interesting drama there as well.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
          However, this is anecdotal evidence at best and it might just be personal bias (as I really dislike the factions being stuck on a thing that hasn't mattered for over a thousand years instead of stuff that matters now, like who stole my lunch from the company fridge).
          The best explanation I've heard of this is that, yes, the original divide was based on the choice to kill the Solars or attempt to save them, but this has grown into a more general philosophical rift. For example when a new artifact is discovered just barely intact in a first age ruin the Gold faction guy will say "repair it! It's a wondrous and unique relic of a better time that will serve us now!" whereas the Bonze guy will go "No! We must disassemble it, we don't even know how long it will work if we repair it, and in its disassembly we'll get the materials for ten lesser magical items that we know we can use!"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Darkfoxdev View Post
            I imagine it would get more attention if splat crossover were better handled, A Dynast game would be notably more friendly to a Bronze-faction character concept than a pure sidereal game, same with the gold faction and the other celestial exalted. It did not help that 2e was more than a bit preoccupied with the ideas that solars were the protagonists of Exalted so the bronze faction were cast in a more directly antagonistic light. As a result, pure Sidereal games were less focused on the idea of teaming up with the other exalted, and consequently, less interested in the Team Solar/Team Dragon-blooded divide.

            I expect 3e will handle the affair a bit better and Exalted Essence at least is likely to make splat crossover more viable.
            I agree that the Bronze Faction are well suited to Dynast games (aside from DBs and possibly heroic mortals they're the only characters that are), but I disagree that the Gold Faction are well suited to games with other celestial exalted - the emphasis the Gold Faction puts on getting solars into the Cult of the Illuminated means that they're either going to be a perpetually annoying entryist proselytist or destroy everyone else's character concepts by turning them into brainwashed cultists.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rj.au View Post
              I agree that the Bronze Faction are well suited to Dynast games (aside from DBs and possibly heroic mortals they're the only characters that are), but I disagree that the Gold Faction are well suited to games with other celestial exalted - the emphasis the Gold Faction puts on getting solars into the Cult of the Illuminated means that they're either going to be a perpetually annoying entryist proselytist or destroy everyone else's character concepts by turning them into brainwashed cultists.
              Yeah, but what if the Ex3 devs wrote the Gold Faction to not suck?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                (as I really dislike the factions being stuck on a thing that hasn't mattered for over a thousand years instead of stuff that matters now, like who stole my lunch from the company fridge)
                This is slated to change for 3e. (We are also aiming to write them as actual political factions with all of the complexity and messiness that entails, rather than as spherical frictionless ideologies in a vacuum.)


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                • #9
                  If anything - what the game needs is fluff that shows the gold factions as more than 100% good guys who just wanna help those innocent and pure solars.

                  I want some fluff showing gold factions orchestrating the assassinations of solars that do not live up to their own sky-high standards, luring solars into wyld hunt traps when the solar refuses to cooperate/be controlled by the gold faction handlers.

                  I want gold faction handlers trying to convince solar players to go and quietly kill off a "rogue solar" who is totally smearing the good name of solars, because they're behaving like villains... like, we swear that's what she's doing! It's totally not that this solar has refused our council and eluded our assassins or anything.

                  I want gold faction sids "brokering" deals with bronze sids, where the lives of solars are traded around for political capital in heaven, because if there's one thing that idealists are known for, its sacrificing their own to achieve their ideals (plus the solars will just reincarnate, what's the harm?)


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                    I feel like every time I hear about someone playing a Sidereal, they're usually doing the "Creation is on Fire, why are you letting petty politics interfere with putting it out!?!" type of character who basically just gave up on the Bronze/Gold infighting and went Independent (or, well, as independent as you can go without Chejop taking away your parking space or something).
                    This has been my experience too.

                    It was often the actual number of Siderals that made the Gold/Bronze divide seem so odd to folks I played with. 'So, X Sids have just died/are in training, Scroll of Exalts gives us 10 Sids, throw in the Green Lady, Dozima Wokish and the other named guys... we're just basically meat in the room at this point aren't we?'

                    When your 'faction' is 40 people arguing against 30, with another 10 newbs who don't have an opinion yet and another 15 who are contemptuous of both sides, the 5 typical players I've encountered largely tend to just go 'Screw those guys, let's actually try and accomplish something ourselves'.

                    This might just be collective memory/meme replacement theory at work, but the fact that 2e didn't really do a great job of adding depth to how the bazillion other Creation-shaking events (Contagion, the Shogunate Wars etc) have impacted the factions/created groups within groups didn't sell people either. The divide thus ended up feeling... petty? Which is weird when you step back and actually consider the stakes.

                    Eric's post above sounds great. If the factions can be made to feel more inclusive, nuanced and epic, with explicit power structures, gods and elementals in specific postions on top of the few dozen Sids that each faction has, maybe even DB and Exigent hit squads/power players a la Heaven's Dragons, what actual plans each factions has moving forward in the vein of webkilla's post, then I think the Gold/Bronze divide would seem like a less restrictive thing than it has become in everyone's minds.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Moss Reynholm View Post

                      This has been my experience too.

                      It was often the actual number of Siderals that made the Gold/Bronze divide seem so odd to folks I played with. 'So, X Sids have just died/are in training, Scroll of Exalts gives us 10 Sids, throw in the Green Lady, Dozima Wokish and the other named guys... we're just basically meat in the room at this point aren't we?'

                      When your 'faction' is 40 people arguing against 30, with another 10 newbs who don't have an opinion yet and another 15 who are contemptuous of both sides, the 5 typical players I've encountered largely tend to just go 'Screw those guys, let's actually try and accomplish something ourselves'.

                      This might just be collective memory/meme replacement theory at work, but the fact that 2e didn't really do a great job of adding depth to how the bazillion other Creation-shaking events (Contagion, the Shogunate Wars etc) have impacted the factions/created groups within groups didn't sell people either. The divide thus ended up feeling... petty? Which is weird when you step back and actually consider the stakes.

                      Eric's post above sounds great. If the factions can be made to feel more inclusive, nuanced and epic, with explicit power structures, gods and elementals in specific postions on top of the few dozen Sids that each faction has, maybe even DB and Exigent hit squads/power players a la Heaven's Dragons, what actual plans each factions has moving forward in the vein of webkilla's post, then I think the Gold/Bronze divide would seem like a less restrictive thing than it has become in everyone's minds.

                      Yeah, truth be told the one time i STed Sidereals their hilariously small numbers made it pretty much a necessity relating the faction divide to a much larger partisanship issue going on across the whole of the Celestial Bureaucracy to give it some weight. That said, it was quite the quantum leap and my players loved every second of it as the back-&-forth between Sidereals, Yu-shan & spirit politics in general would lead the campaign in some crazy, crazy directions and unexpected turns indeed.

                      Like a young Gold Faction violetsid being taught the Demon-Wracking Shout by Chejop himself, a neutral bluesid developing connections with the secret masters of Quicksilver Hand of Dreams, a Lunar living in Yu-shan, an apocryphal Maiden (and clues the Saturn ain't the original one) among other crazy, crazy twists and turns.
                      Last edited by Baaldam; 08-25-2020, 10:30 AM.

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                      • #12
                        I both like and dislike it. I dislike it as an actual representation of Sidereal politics. It should be way more complex, nuanced and not binary like that - especially with a division that's not very relevant to the situation at large. I did like the part in 2e where that division was tied to the effects of Great Curse on Sidereals - how the fact that this division was clearly based on things that were no longer relevant, and was a chain weighting fivescore fellowship to the ancient past was actually its very point. Sidereal internal politics was dysfunctional and irrational, because it was a byproduct of actions of ancient elders that at this point were as crazy as the people they once helped depose. Problem is, while that was quite cool from a purely narrative point of view, it was very problematic if you actually wanted to play as a Sidereal.

                        Especially, since, as i said, the factions could have been presented better. Having to pick between Bronzes, depicted as the bad guys, and Gold Faction, that was... well saying it was dumb would be an understatement, was a really bad choice to have.



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                        • #13
                          The divide is most evocative and useful in early 1e when the Sidereals were literally two secret societies engaged in a conflict, who didn't work together or share institutions.

                          I'm not as keen on it as an vehicle for Sidereal party politics; in a setting with the Bureau of Fate Sidereals we've come to love I'd be perfectly happy with a setting where all the Sidereals were basically and publicly Bronze, until recently, or else ronin... YMMV.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                            I feel like every time I hear about someone playing a Sidereal, they're usually doing the "Creation is on Fire, why are you letting petty politics interfere with putting it out!?!" type of character who basically just gave up on the Bronze/Gold infighting and went Independent (or, well, as independent as you can go without Chejop taking away your parking space or something).
                            And how do they reconcile that with the fact that the fundamental divide between the factions in the first place is “Will Solars make it easier or harder to put out the fire?” 🤔

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                              I'm not as keen on it as an vehicle for Sidereal party politics; in a setting with the Bureau of Fate Sidereals we've come to love I'd be perfectly happy with a setting where all the Sidereals were basically and publicly Bronze, until recently, or else ronin... YMMV.
                              Kicking Sidereals out of the Bureau of Destiny for holding unpopular political stances is untenable both from the in-setting perspective of being perpetually short-handed, and from the out-of-setting perspective of undermining the sort of collegiality demanded of mixed-faction play.


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