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Does anyone actually Like the Bronze/Gold divide?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post

    I don't think so. 1e. Exalted: The Sidereals. Sidebar, the Blind Prophets, page 64. That tended to suggest that the Prophecy was somewhat banjaxxed by Sidereal blindness to Outside of Fate thingies... Though maybe 2e up'ed it by stating it was no better than throwing darts while wearing a blindfold or something, and massively extending the amount of things which were Outside of Fate, I don't know.
    I think it was more that it kept coming up. The Wyld and anything in or from it doesn't show up in the Loom because its not part of Creation, The Underworld and things from it or of it don't show up in the Loom because not part of Creation, Abyssals don't show up because as far as the Loom is concerned they're already dead, things from Malfeas not part of Creation, Autochton same deal, the use of essence was at one point expressly noted to screw with the Loom and make it less accurate. It was a button that people liked pushing in the books like "This can be destroyed by absolutely nothing save maybe hurling it into the maw of Oblivion."

    So as opposed to the Wyld being the biggest potential problem because the Underworld didn't have any strong actors to worry about and Malfeas was not only sealed, but removing the Solars and Lunars from play was going to lower the odds of dangerous entities from there getting loose too. It felt like the Sids were going "I know our powers of prophecy can't cover most of existence and in fact our major source of information is constantly getting screwed up and is unreliable at the best of times, but I think we should go with this even if the data inputted means it only accounts for slightly more than filling in the bubbles in a way as to make the sheet display a kitten." Then I forget if 2e had that thing where it was stated that the Great Curse effect on Sids was their egos would corrupt and screw up things they did and the effect would get worse the more of them were working on a thing, but that was an issue.

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    • #62
      Levi, Not a word choice I'd given a great of reflection to! However, 'weird' in the sense of "subjectively seems a bad and unusual choice" (in the sense that human character with moral drives are in the general case more interesting and sympathetic), not in the sense of "evokes that which is unsettling, strange, eldritch &c.".

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      • #63
        'Outside Fate' was a thing in First Edition as well, but it wasn't so tightly codified. We didn't see a lot of attention paid to things that were genuinely FATELESS (things out of the Wyld, and out of Malfeas), and it was implied that reading the fates of the Underworld was a discipline that Sidereals and other agents of destiny could learn, engage in, and then contrast with the plans laid out by the bureau of destiny. Resultantly, 'Outside Fate' still registered as a thing that Sidereals could largely PLAN FOR in First Edition because there were mechanisms for countering most things that were outright unplannable (the binding oaths on the Yozi, and various defense mechanisms to catch whatever the Wyld regurgitates and because the fates of the dead weren't a completely unwritten book.

        The idea that the Great Prophecy just outright missed the Great Contagion is kind of up for debate, but it's established as early as the 1st ed Dragon-Blooded book that it didn't specifically mention it. Possibly the Vision of Bronze encompassed some of its consequences, but it was only showing half the picture and if the Sidereals had bothered to conduct horoscopes based on underworld astrology they'd have seen the missing puzzle pieces.

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        • #64
          Hmm... I think at that point we're talking about fairly subjective stuff that is hard to distinguish from the mood of the Exalted community. It's not like Black Ice Shadow was written out between editions, for'ex. And I remember a lot of complaints about too many Outside Fate things written by Neph in late 1e.

          Late 2e fan community (at around a little earlier in years than my post count here ) was kind of "all in" for things really being *about* the "Solaroids", and Celestials and Terrestrials being somewhat fatally inept in general at doing without the Solars, and generally it being inherently flawed to consider that "non-Solaroids" could do anything to counter anything significant, and thus that the Path of Bronze was inevitably simply fatally undermined by inability to counter the "Ten Thousand Dooms" (and the Sidereals just couldn't see it). Sidereals being unable to do much at all with beings Outside Fate is kind of a facet of that general view of the setting.

          (Parenthetically, it's kind of that fanbase attitude of "If Exalted were a TV show, well, it'd be the Solars' show". And so good writing is writing that moves agency and importance to Solar Exalted PCs.)

          But I'm not sure whether the text really changed that much.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
            However, 'weird' in the sense of "subjectively seems a bad and unusual choice" (in the sense that human character with moral drives are in the general case more interesting and sympathetic)
            Eh, makes it evocative of certain forms of spy fiction.

            Is George Smiley an uninteresting character because his motivations are based on preserving the integrity of British intelligence as a source of preserving the standing of his nation, rather than interrogating the morality of its international endeavours? Is he an unsympathetic one despite the picture of the toll that his service has taken on his personal life and general state of mind?

            I am myself compelled by the idea that the members of the Fivescore Fellowship have been effectively sold on a doctrine that the essential existence of the world, warts and all, is inherently right and... let's say beautiful, but without conveying an aesthetic standard. Endings presides over the death of saints and tyrants alike, and the proper things is harmoniously ensuring it occurs in the proper order.

            I also think it would not be amiss to include a sense that individual Sidereals are still human, and sometimes require some relief from any toll inflicted by the more morally dubious actions they undertake or oversee.

            A problem that I see in an idea that they should have overthrown the Solars on account of tyranny is, well.... tyranny thrives throughout the aptly named Age of Sorrows. What would their excuse for that be?


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

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            • #66
              Hmm... Lots to think about there. I don't really have a precise answer. For a mostly incoherent one:

              I haven't read Le Carre so it's hard for me to comment deeper on how Smiley works as a fictional character within Le Carre's fictional mode (and even whether he works at all!). I don't think Smiley would be an uninteresting character if he were balancing the preservation of the state with those moral drives and preference within himself... But I do think he would be uninteresting (and perhaps morally banal) if he were wholly unconcerned with whether any particular action he ordered done was morally the correct choice, and wholly unconcerned with whether his actions as a spy were unholding or not a moral order that he at least perceived to be superior to the alternative (presumably a Soviet order?). He would be uninteresting if you did not get the sense he would look himself in the mirror and ask the question believe he was doing the best possible, ina moral sense, he could achieve within his scope. He would be uninteresting if the scope of his endevours was not merely trying to play a cat-and-mouse game with Russian counterparts, but to actually engage as an architect of the shape of human destiny, and he had no real opinion beyond acceptance of the general shape of things ("Que Sera Sera" / "what will be is right and beautiful" / Professor Pangloss) and no real desire to question or reshape the order he was a part of.
              (If he were like all this though, this would probably be more bearable as a character archetype in our world than one of virtuous heroes.)

              Re; whether it would be internally consistent (which may not be the right phrase) with the Age of Sorrows setting as we know it for the Sidereals to be concerned with the Usurpation on the grounds of Solar tyranny, that's also question for the first page of the first page of Exalted, which framed it in precisely those terms! I would guess that the Sidereals would say that it's a lesser tyranny, or "It was not the grandeur of the Realm's heyday, nor was it entirely peaceful, but it was devoid of the vast atrocities and terrible indulgences that had driven the Dragon-Blooded to regicide". (Partly, that's the version of the Usurpation I first bought into, I guess?) The First Age seems undefined enough that this is viable(?).

              Part of my argument here is that, I guess, is simply an argument of feel - on some notional level I feel like the Usurpation feels right as an act of people pushing back against other people who exercised power over them to which they had no right, and which they abused, and feels less right and satisfying as a question of effectively, "Well, these people are not doing anything particularly bad, they're not misruling us, but their experiments are very dangerous for the world". It's primarily about misrule and an unaccountable, hubristic, morally decayed autocracy, not dangerous experimentation. And since that frames everything else that comes after, it should feel right. (For one, to me it seems right that when you're playing a Solar thinking back about your past lives in the First Age, you should be thinking about redemption really and about how your incarnation was a great person who made moral mistakes that you wouldn't, not so much about how they were a great person who was too reckless in their experiments.)

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              • #67
                Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post

                I haven't read Le Carre so it's hard for me to comment deeper on how Smiley works as a fictional character within Le Carre's fictional mode (and even whether he works at all!). I don't think Smiley would be an uninteresting character if he were balancing the preservation of the state with those moral drives and preference within himself... But I do think he would be uninteresting (and perhaps morally banal) if he were wholly unconcerned with whether any particular action he ordered done was morally the correct choice, and wholly unconcerned with whether his actions as a spy were unholding or not a moral order that he at least perceived to be superior to the alternative (presumably a Soviet order?). He would be uninteresting if you did not get the sense he would look himself in the mirror and ask the question believe he was doing the best possible, ina moral sense, he could achieve within his scope. He would be uninteresting if the scope of his endevours was not merely trying to play a cat-and-mouse game with Russian counterparts, but to actually engage as an architect of the shape of human destiny, and he had no real opinion beyond acceptance of the general shape of things ("Que Sera Sera" / "what will be is right and beautiful" / Professor Pangloss) and no real desire to question or reshape the order he was a part of.
                (If he were like all this though, this would probably be more bearable as a character archetype in our world than one of virtuous heroes.)
                I surmise we have no common ground on this matter.

                I find such a narrative and character interesting because the situation they're in presents a challenge that needs to be navigated with skill and cunning, surrounded by mystery and with high stakes. It is not a narrative in which I think moral actors are a necessity.

                It's much like why I enjoy history.


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

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                • #68
                  Well, I think there's always some common ground!

                  I guess to refocus, I'm more in this thread (where I'm on the topic you were interested in me expanding on), of the feeling that it was not a good choice for Exalted: the Sidereals to deemphasize in Sidereals' decision point in the Usurpation their empathy for fellow human suffering, their moral conscience, and really, the original ostensible reasons that inspired the Usurpation in what we learn first about it in the first edition core ("The benevolence of the Realm's rulers turned to tyranny and peace turned to civil war.").

                  Really that's more of a position I hold a least semi-strongly than some fairly inchoate ideas about whether characters in fiction should always be "moral actors" (whatever that means to us!).

                  The discussion about whether characters in fiction need to have moral reflection and conscience about their society and their actions to be interesting or compelling, is somewhat of a tangent and I probably hold less strongly. We can easily think of examples of characters that people do find compelling despite a lack of much more reflection or conscience or moral empathy. Some people find Hannibal Lecter fascinating, as a fictional character, for an extreme. (There's a question of how sustainable interest such characters would be if they were taken to comprise a cast of hundreds of individual people of course!).

                  (Partly my thinking here is motivated a little by a reaching at a Michael Moorcock quote that always tends to stick at the back of my mind in discussions about heroism: "When I was growing up, my favourite heroes (William, Tarzan, Mord Em'ly, Zenith the Albino, Jo March, The Continental Op) all seemed people struggling for liberty and identity, forced to rely on their own wites and values, but ready, at some point to make a serious, if reluctant, sacrifice in the common interest. There is a level at which the hero becomes fairly ridiculous, often because he never fundamentally questions his society.". From the foreword of an edition of Elric that probably hit me at about the right age (16-ish). The latter sentence I take to mean as questioning in the sense of questioning its justice and structure and his place within it. So in some sense those sentences sit in my mind and probably push me towards Sidereals that really meet that challenge; to not be, in Moorcock's sense, "ridiculous"; by having the capacity to question the order they're part of, and choose to reshape it.)

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                    I guess to refocus, I'm more in this thread (where I'm on the topic you were interested in me expanding on), of the feeling that it was not a good choice for Exalted: the Sidereals to deemphasize in Sidereals' decision point in the Usurpation their empathy for fellow human suffering, their moral conscience
                    It seems to me that the whole game of Exalted was premised on introducing things with big mythic preface language about how things used to be and why they got worse, and then as the layers were revealed showcasing all of the realpolitik and conflicting agendas and how these things make complicated challenges for the return of the Solar Exalted.

                    So you start off with Sidereals who superficially look like the wise and lofty sages on the mountain, and then you look under the hood and find the spycraft and bureaucracy.

                    The absence of empathy being the exact thing that is wrong with them, with all of them, that needs to be challenged. Hence Grabowski's line about how the "canonical" fate of the world is everybody jockeying for influence until the sky caves in.

                    Originally posted by Ghosthead
                    The latter sentence I take to mean as questioning in the sense of questioning its justice and structure and his place within it. So in some sense those sentences sit in my mind and probably push me towards Sidereals that really meet that challenge; to not be, in Moorcock's sense, "ridiculous"; by having the capacity to question the order they're part of, and choose to reshape it.)
                    That is a question for the Sidereal that you play, not the one who made important decisions about the world two thousand years ago.


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

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