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Making a setting without Yu-shan

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  • Making a setting without Yu-shan

    So I'm trying to make a setting where Yu-shan has been annihilated a long time ago, time broke, and now, it's trucking along. Now, the question is this: What are gods and elementals?

    Elementals, in this shard, are basically animals. Not much different from lightning strikes or tsunamis or clouds. Sometimes, they form after elemental phenomena. Sometimes, they last after the elemental phenomena ends. And, most rare of all, sometimes they retain a sense of self, and become sentient. They have charms based around their element, and as they grow older can expand into bigger, more powerful, and more flexibility. Some mortals, in desperation or greed, bind themselves to the elementals with tattoos and scars of jade, hoping to become the equivalent of Furycrafters.

    Gods in this shard are beings embodied within Creation itself. Their sentience, power, and activity depends on not only their portfolios, as well as how many people worship them. And sometimes, they can be put to sleep or awakened by thaumaturgy and sorcery. A god always has charms befitting their power and their worship. A god of a singular blacksmith's forge can 'transfer' itself to a great steel works with the forge as its beating heart, and gain an increased amount of power due to a large purview and more prayer. A god who has lost their portfolio, like a god of a city that has been wiped out, loses some power... but not all of it. They still hunger for their old positions though, and a god who has lost their city would wish to either take over another one, or recreate it. Gods still gain quintessence and ambrosia, with quintessence based on essence level and ambrosia based on who prays to them. This lets them put out bribes and gifts to gain influence and power.

    Waking up a god is a risky proposition. But a potentially useful one. A god can use their charms to improve a city, or become a tyrannical ruler. Such a thing is never done lightly, and when a god spontaneously gains sentience, religious cults and shrines are erected to keep them propiated. And of course, manipulate and steer them around. Gods don't tend to like other gods. Yes, they enjoy power and allies... but having more gods around means there's less portfolios to snap up, and less prayer to go around.

    There are no gods of universal concepts. There may be a god of a river, who can extend his portfolio over the riverbanks, the rich soil around the riverbanks, and the fish within it... but there is no 'god of rivers'.

  • #2
    I don’t get how all that follows from there simply not being a heavenly city. What bearing does Yu-Shan’s presence or absence have over whether elementals have intelligence?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
      I don’t get how all that follows from there simply not being a heavenly city. What bearing does Yu-Shan’s presence or absence have over whether elementals have intelligence?
      Is that it?

      Is that the only problem you have with this?

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      • #4
        Well it is kind of first question to come up is why does all of this change when something that wasn't originally part of Creation*, is no longer part of Creation. So it is kind of a question you'd need to answer on why Gods are now completely unorganized and absent a government and elementals are not even sapient.

        *Can't speak for 1st edition, but in 3rd and 2nd it was established that Yu-shan came after the Primordial War as the Primordials inhabited Zen-Mu.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
          Well it is kind of first question to come up is why does all of this change when something that wasn't originally part of Creation*, is no longer part of Creation. So it is kind of a question you'd need to answer on why Gods are now completely unorganized and absent a government and elementals are not even sapient.

          *Can't speak for 1st edition, but in 3rd and 2nd it was established that Yu-shan came after the Primordial War as the Primordials inhabited Zen-Mu.
          To be honest, I'm now trying to write in a new story and a new setting. Long story short, Something happened. In my draft it's Rametheus and the other Primordial coming back during the Age of Sorrows, basically causing everything to explode. The Celestial Exaltations are now sealed within the prison, and the entire setting goes through the equivalent of the Time of the Cascading Years. No one is sure what happened. But what is known is this: creation is in a thousand pieces, and Yu-shan is gone. Not even the Yozis went through with memories unharmed.

          So basically no Yu-shan. No upper bureaucracy telling anyone what to do. No one having Fate at the helm. No celestines, either. If there's an overgod there that people pray to, it's really quiet. It's basically part space-age shit, with multiple worlds and such, with no celestial exalted.

          Here's the thing. I *could* create a setting without gods. It's a thing thats easy to do. But I think that would be really unfortunate and also remove something that is important to the setting. So I created a world where there are gods... but there's a reason why not every god is out there beating up people for worship even though there are no censors in living memory and zero chance of the upper management punching you for committing crimes.

          And for the elementals? It's something I made up. There should be a space for non-sapient elementals, basically being big dogs or cats with elemental powers.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
            Is that it?

            Is that the only problem you have with this?
            Per what nalak42 posted, it was just the first thing I thought of. I was on the last minute of my break, so I didn’t really have time to go over every detail; I just went with what jumped out at me.

            As for wanting elementals of animal intelligence, those are already present in the setting, such as most greenmaws.

            Are we to also assume that the Dragon-Blooded have also somehow been removed from the setting?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
              Per what nalak42 posted, it was just the first thing I thought of. I was on the last minute of my break, so I didn’t really have time to go over every detail; I just went with what jumped out at me.

              As for wanting elementals of animal intelligence, those are already present in the setting, such as most greenmaws.

              Are we to also assume that the Dragon-Blooded have also somehow been removed from the setting?
              Here I'm wiping away the Great Houses. They were shattered in Primordial war 2. There are some artifacts and manses that survived out of time, but... well, nothing much.

              In the Time of Cascading years-verse, there are still terrestrial exaltations. And terrestrials band together, form family groups, and whatnot... and then do as they do.

              The difference here is that there's no immaculate order, no heaven, no sidereals. Much knowledge was lost. So each and everyone has their own theories and ideas on the Dragonblooded, and how they work. Some say that it's an indication of Mia'rhak, who live in the blood of all living beings, dispensing his favors on those he sees as fit, with the ages of 0 to 21 as the testing ground. Some say that it is the indication of the greatness of the ancestors, showing up in their descendants. All sorts of things.

              Nothing stopping them from setting up a new religion like the Immaculate order, but there's nothing that truly *centralizes* them like that. Some places might simply stand there as an aristocracy, with the power of the elements serving as divine favor to show their legitimacy. Some places might be a representative democracy, with several influential families using their members to take over/ head major corporations and political organisations. Others simply have them as a mercantile interest, the equivalent of the East Indian Trading Company or Walmart Corp only backed by superhuman power. There *are* people who have Great Houses-esque and use shows of dominance to extract tribute... but there are just as many who use performances and social media to gain the influence and money they want, or as a megacorp, or as manufacturers of artifacts.

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              • #8
                The Great Houses wouldn’t have been formed in the Time of Cascading Years anyway; they are further removed temporally from each other than the building of China’s big wall and the advent of Grumpy Cat.

                EDIT: Never mind, misread - for some reason I thought it was an offshoot of the Time or Cascading Years, not a Second Age retread of it.

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                • #9
                  Honestly, my impression is the OP's idea of a scenario requires far less setting change than it think it does. On one side the lack of Yu-shan would have zero relevance to the nature of elementals. On another, animalistic elementals are, if not the norm per se, quite common and close to it, specially in the more basic Ess 1-3 tier. In fact it might be more a matter of writer focus on antagonists that may also interact socially more than anything.

                  The portrayal of gods as you describe fits right in with terrestrial gods per se and a number of rogue deities peppered here and there in the books, so yeah, taking the Celestial Bureaucracy's oversight out of the way might leave them just like that, i guess.

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                  • #10
                    Caveat: I like the quality of Exalted's gods that they kind of are just godly, and gain status and wealth from worship (Ambrosia) and some Essence, but aren't like these sort of Discworld like gods where they're composed of and really gain lots of their being from worship, and if it gets sufficiently low they become sort of ghost gods.

                    This is a personal take - the Discworld-y kind of idea of gods almost "belief vampires" strays a bit too much into the idea that gods and religion are fundamentally constructs of human faith and belief, where their power and meaning derives wholly from what humans choose to give to them. Which is fine for Pratchett's literary themes for the Discworld, which are to a large extent about questioning fantasy literature, and really much about his core humanism and skepticism of narrative forces and constraints as anything other than constructs that confine, restrict and suit the goals of others, with which we can make some peace but always need a certain level of skepticism, (and you see this absolutely repeated again and again in almost every Discworld novel - it's in his elves, his pyramids, his dragons, his "returning king with a enormous magic sword", even his "gonnes"... and if you're a late GenX-early Millennial-ish generation sort of kid who read a lot of these books at an impressionable age, this will sit in your head and very much confirm your tendency to be skeptical of overarching narratives from any source in your subsequent life ; ) ). But for more "real" fantasy that's looking to just straightly and seriously evoke what people felt about the gods in "ancient" societies, what they believed and felt about kami, numina and so on, not necessarily my preference.

                    That's a tangent though - I guess my real question in this thread, is, like, more than this, what are you looking for from us in terms of forum engagement here? If it's kind of an overall impression then, I think it seems fine; it does seem to be expressing some of your own kind of psychology as I would expect from other threads I guess in that if I had to draw a thematic difference it would be that your world here is much more characterized by a kind of straightforward, rational, dynamic, economic competition in its fundamentals (between gods, Dragonblooded, presumably other forces), than baseline Exalted.

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                    • #11
                      Well to be honest, I'm asking if you think there's anything I missed or anything I can add. This is part of another verse, so anything plotholes or inconsistencies or setting implications has to be covered up or at least dealt with.

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