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Abyssal character idea

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  • Abyssal character idea

    A couple of days ago I was sitting around waiting on something, and my mind wandered to the subject of this year's White Elephant and what I might ask for; I felt a particular inclination towards some kind of Abyssal.

    Then I felt as though I would once again fail to clearly explain what I was looking for, and instead imagined how I might provide such a character if asked for it. I started with a few pieces of the look, and it expanded from there.

    The result was something that I liked so much I felt as though I didn't want to wait until Christmas for the off chance of sharing it. I hope people find the result interesting.

    In the Hundred Kingdoms there is a lone wandering monk. A short, rotund man with pale skin and a shock of ragged hair around a balding head, and long arms that look ready to embrace whole crowds. He goes dressed in a wide brimmed hat, a pure black robe with holes and gashes across it underneath which his yeddim hair cilice can be seen, a belt of rough rope and spectacles of translucent milky glass. He carries nothing but a set of prayer beads in one hand and an ash walking stave in the other. At all times his face is split in a wide congenial grin. This is the Friar in the Sable Habit, an Abyssal Exalt of the Midnight Caste.

    He walks the lands seeking to tend to the sick and infirm in village and city alike, although there are many who find his ministrations strange for he offers no medicines. He instead preaches that the pain of the afflicted and the dying is cowardly flesh that seeks to keep a desperate hold on souls that yearn to break free. That the world and its cycles of reincarnation are a prison to keep men bound as slaves to cruel gods and those Chosen by them, but death offers a true escape. For those who let go willingly (either moved to cease clinging to a life trying to end or else willing to accept his offer for a draught of peace), the Underworld provides the opportunity to start a true journey of contemplation and self-discovery; he has compared it to a sieve through which they can pass repeatedly until all falsehoods created in the world under Heaven are taken away, one's genuine self being all that remains, able to look upon the world with unclouded eyes. Yet he also discourages suicide for any purpose other than ending an ailing life; that a soul needs time to develop the fullness of identity that will be pursued and expressed in the shadowlands.

    For those who depart under the Friar's care, there are no elaborate funerals, for he also holds that most among the dead have squandered the gift provided for them, clinging to the memory and yearning of worldly pleasures and transient things when they should be exploring their souls. The ones who relinquish life before him only get quiet words of comfort before passing through the veil completely unclad, but these words must be powerful for the ghosts who walk away from him have been found to be particularly strong-willed. He preaches also against the ancestor cult, a facilitator of indulgence and self-created net to bind souls to the living world. Where he walks, such cults have widely failed; sometimes out of necessity for lack of living worshippers, but more often when the ghosts themselves voluntarily disband.

    Many a god and king has found his messages disturbing and sent spears against him, but all have failed. All have also returned to tell of it, for the Friar is an avowed pacifist, holding that the soul that departs in violence lies cruelly weighed down with traumatic memory in the hereafter, and that this sin burdens also the one that inflicted it. He permits his attackers to strike him with sling and barb, confident that the depth of his faith and the rightness of his mission will proof him against such, before offering remonstration for such violence combined with forgiveness and hope for their futures, before heading merrily on his way. Many a soldier has come away from such missions unable to get the strange monk out of their minds, and quite a few have abandoned their duties afterwards.

    It is only in the presence of gods and other Exalted who appear in opposition to his mission that the Friar's congenial demeanour changes. He still will not act in violence, but these receive tirades of cold wrath as he rebukes all that they make and do, curses the power they abuse to keep souls small and dull across innumerable lifetimes, and spins them grim visions of a future in which they forlornly pick through the ruins of a world finally devoid of life. He has yet to meet an opponent that has not been paralysed with terror and shame in the face of these sermons, and thus far they continue to remain haunted by them.

    Although no clear pattern in his wanderings has appeared as of yet, and for those who have attempted to track his movements it appears that there are many times he appears and vanishes inexplicably, rumours abound that his path brings him inexorably to Great Forks.


    (I did not consciously look to emulate anything as this picture of the character unfolded, each detail just emerging out of the last, but on reflection I find he is likely influenced a lot by my recent rereading of Dune and A Wizard of Earthsea combined with things I've looked up about reformist Christian clergy)


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

  • #2
    I saw this thread was still stuck in limbo after the forums started moving again, would the Friar have preferred it be put out of its misery?


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    • #3
      Elsa, is that you?
      More seriously, I am reminded of ‘Lord of Light’ where the disciple was more enlightened than the teacher, and kind sorta didn’t quite suicide? I’d want to see the Friar with a ghostly follower/companion.

      In Creation with Solars, Sids, and Wyld Hunts I’d wonder if strict pacifism is really possible. Sounds like he has some sort of skin = armor protection, but what about a MA that is joint locks (hold them while you preach”, and counterstrikes that destroy attacker’s weapons? Or something to let ghosts block attacks on the Friar.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SpoonR View Post
        I’d want to see the Friar with a ghostly follower/companion.
        They'd spend the whole time being gently but firmly encouraged to depart for the Underworld to experience what it has to offer and deepen their sense of understanding for their own identity.

        Even a living follower is likely to only be accommodated if they're looking for reassurances about eventual death, but I imagine limits to that as well; the Friar doesn't seem to want followers beyond people that take his words to heart and await the end of their lives peacefully to be the start of a great journey of self-discovery. He accepts alms if they're offered, although nobody could say if he lives off of them.

        Originally posted by SpoonR
        In Creation with Solars, Sids, and Wyld Hunts I’d wonder if strict pacifism is really possible. Sounds like he has some sort of skin = armor protection
        He has straightforward Abyssal Resistance Charms, which in the past have often carried an aesthetic of permitting weapons to mar the body without causing any actual injury.

        In his case, that is the type he'll go for before anything that armours him; there's a reason he wears a hairshirt of the roughest, most unpleasant fibre you might come across.

        Things such as Presence and Resistance Charms do their part for him sure enough, but in the end yeah, it's easier to kill this unarmed, passively resisting man who never overtly and directly caused any harm than many others.

        Fair enough there are certainly non-player characters who would have no reservations whatsoever about doing so, but the manner in which they are spread out lends some credibility to him functioning in scenarios where they're not able to converge upon him, at least for the moment.

        Besides, consider the line about how he seems to vanish during stages of his journeys, and whether that constitutes a challenge for Wyld Hunts to actually locate him.

        And how he might react in the event somebody actually should go all the way.

        Originally posted by SpoonR
        but what about a MA that is joint locks (hold them while you preach”, and counterstrikes that destroy attacker’s weapons?
        They are not suitable to this character.

        Originally posted by SpoonR
        Or something to let ghosts block attacks on the Friar.
        Ghosts may do that if they wish, but in many cases he'll have no part in it. He's open to being persuaded by the proper ghost with the proper argument, though.

        (These answers based on the presumption that the manner in which this Abyssal presents is genuine)


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

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        • #5
          I must admit to being a little bit disappointed. I thought that I'd happened upon something distinct and interesting, but I suppose not if the only response it gets is "needs less pacifism".


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

          Comment


          • #6
            Sorry, I like it, but I was feeling a little too busy to comment at present.

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            • #7
              I don't think he needs less pacifism.

              The main angle I'd take with him is using circumstances to help goad the PCs into attacking an Abyssal who refuses to fight back. It could be a nice palate cleanser early into a third edition campaign for players used to how Abyssals were portrayed in previous editions so their own assumptions were leading them into an encounter where they could be considered the antagonists.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator
              Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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