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Inspire me: A Fair Folk Court and a Present for the Scarlet Empress (Realm Year Zero)

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  • Inspire me: A Fair Folk Court and a Present for the Scarlet Empress (Realm Year Zero)

    I am starting a one-on-on game this Saturday and I come here for a little inspiration:

    The game begins during the Great Contagion. As I envision it, the Blessed Isle is riddled with small Shadowlands, Wyld Zones, infighting Dragon-Blooded, and mortals struggling to stay alive. In a Fair Folk court on the Blessed Isle, the sole player character is kept as a slave. His background is that of an actor and I am thinking that this is what the Fair Folks use him for, stirring the emotions of other captives before their souls are eaten.

    One of the things that I know the player wants to explore is putting his mark on Realm history and he has said that once he hears of the Scarlet Empress, he will probably be drawn towards her because the character wants to climb to the very top of society. Talking about the long-term direction for the game, the player has explicitly said that it would be pretty cool to get start a dynastic Great House.

    What I am thinking is that while he is a slave with the Fair Folk, he will learn of a hidden treasure from one of the other slaves. He will then be able to go searching for this treasure after he has escaped. I would like for this treasure to be something that will allow him to get the attention of the Scarlet Empress.

    I need inspiration for two things:

    1) What kind of treasure can he learn of that will be an interesting bargaining chip or suitor's gift interesting enough for the Scarlet Empress to notice him? My first thought was a warstrider, but I kind of want to avoid the logistics of him having to haul it across the Blessed Isle, so something smaller would be preferable.

    2) How do I make a Fair Folk court on the Blessed Isle in Realm Year Zero (or minus one, I guess) suitably weird, dangerous, and memorable? I have ideas, of course, but I would love to hear your takes.


    Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


    My wife is on Spotify!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
    I am starting a one-on-on game this Saturday and I come here for a little inspiration:

    The game begins during the Great Contagion. As I envision it, the Blessed Isle is riddled with small Shadowlands, Wyld Zones, infighting Dragon-Blooded, and mortals struggling to stay alive. In a Fair Folk court on the Blessed Isle, the sole player character is kept as a slave. His background is that of an actor and I am thinking that this is what the Fair Folks use him for, stirring the emotions of other captives before their souls are eaten.
    Is he unexalted at the start of the game? Because making a dragon-blooded into a Fae slave would be quite a feat on itself.
    While awakening to the Blessing of Dragons amidst the domains of the Fair Folk could be quite the event with which to jumpstart a game.


    Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
    One of the things that I know the player wants to explore is putting his mark on Realm history and he has said that once he hears of the Scarlet Empress, he will probably be drawn towards her because the character wants to climb to the very top of society. Talking about the long-term direction for the game, the player has explicitly said that it would be pretty cool to get start a dynastic Great House.

    What I am thinking is that while he is a slave with the Fair Folk, he will learn of a hidden treasure from one of the other slaves. He will then be able to go searching for this treasure after he has escaped. I would like for this treasure to be something that will allow him to get the attention of the Scarlet Empress.
    Honestly, i would focus on defining the racetrack itself before thinking of the prize, so to speak.

    - Where does the PC come from?
    - What happened to his family, friends and/or love ones, does he even know?
    - Is he a native of the Isle or a foreigner shangaied into it along with other slaves by its Fae masters, what language(s) does he read and/or speak?
    - What other individuals, human, inhuman, supernatural, are part of the Court as either members, servants, slaves or food?
    - In what part of the Isle is that Fae court established, what communities or groups have they been preying upon?
    - Does it have any mortal o supernatural business partners or allies, like a landowner that trades imprisoned people for ravaged mortals to use as slaves or a demon/rogue god/elemental with whom the Fae keep a mutual assistance pact for the sake of keeping celestial authority and the Immaculates out of the area?
    - What other kinds of troubles is the local population struggling with?

    Let's speak of the road to freedom first and the options & travails that may come with it. Details, details, my friend....


    Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
    I need inspiration for two things:

    1) What kind of treasure can he learn of that will be an interesting bargaining chip or suitor's gift interesting enough for the Scarlet Empress to notice him? My first thought was a warstrider, but I kind of want to avoid the logistics of him having to haul it across the Blessed Isle, so something smaller would be preferable.
    Being a dragon-blooded on itself makes the character something of a noteworthy resource on itself, anything else is just icing to the cake. But if you want a treasure of this kind, i would say a lvl 5 artifact could be suitably impressive. $mart@$$ bonus for Mela's Coils, since it's pinnacle evocation One with the Blue Jade Dragon, basically turns the wearer into a towering dragon of blue jade, what's practically a warstrider.

    (In fact in a past game our group made "Danaad's Coils" part of the story and the player would use "One with the Black Jade Dragon" as an excuse to stack the evocation tree of the warstrider Crusading Spear of the Depths upon it. Yes, we are a bunch of evil, abusive, munchkins. We do require a greater hearthstone for that, because the ST likes to keep some degree of balance on things at least.)

    First thing that crosses my mind is that this court's presence must be somewhat hidden/secret, as Raksha in the Isle would be a prime target for destruction for pretty much any dragon-blooded warlord or hero wanting to obtain recognition amidst the masses of this trying period of rebuilding for the Blessed Isle as a whole. In fact i'd say that exposing the presence of such a Court and its location, possibly directly contributing to its destruction, might definitely count as "interesting enough for the Scarlet Empress to notice him".

    Also, there's a number of ways to found a dynastic house, becoming the spouse/consort of a child of the Empress sure counts in my book, even if it's not your name that is passed to descendants. Let the history start and see where it goes - who's to say the Empress is his type & vice-versa and not find mor affinity with someone else along the way? Let's not get ahead of ourselves.


    Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
    2) How do I make a Fair Folk court on the Blessed Isle in Realm Year Zero (or minus one, I guess) suitably weird, dangerous, and memorable? I have ideas, of course, but I would love to hear your takes.
    Baby steps, baby steps. Let the character free himself or herself, garner some attention, then start climbing any ladders of authority, fame and such toward the imperial court.

    Well, tell us a bit of these and what is your idea of the Realm in its infant years, then. Also, do you have the Realm book, or RoCD: Blessed Isle from 2e? While focused in the present Realm rather than the past, both have bits of fluff you might have much use for in mining or tinkering with for your own ideas.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 11-02-2020, 12:53 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
      First thing that crosses my mind is that this court's presence must be somewhat hidden/secret, as a such a being would be a prime target for destruction for pretty much any dragon-blooded warlord or hero wanting to obtain recognition amidst the masses of this trying period of rebuilding for the Blessed Isle as a whole.
      Yeah, I am going down a route that is a little more apocalyptic than the official setting. So the cavalry is not coming.

      Think Old Man Logan or Batman Ninja. There are still Dragon-Blooded abound, naturally, but much of Creation as a whole as well as the Blessed Isle in particular have been claimed by various factions that had been suppressed by the Shogunate before it collapsed during the Great Contagion. Ghosts, demons, Lunars, rebellious Dragon-Blooded, and Fair Folk have all taken advantage of the Great Contagion.
      Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
      Is he unexalted at the start of the game? Because making a dragon-blooded into a Fae slave would be quite a feat on itself.
      He is not and he is not the only one.

      It is quite a feat, yes, but this is not a particularly martial character and the game is set during a time when society has collapsed, hordes of eldritch horrors have invaded, huge swathes of Creation itself have been swallowed, and a supernatural plague is killing nine out of ten people who contracts it.
      Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
      Baby steps, baby steps. Let the character free himself or herself, garner some attention, then start climbing any ladders of authority and such toward the Empress.
      Yeah, except that is not the game we want to play.

      We have both played Exalted for almost twenty years, including some long-ass chronicles.

      That is not where we are right now.

      We have an opening for three sessions in our collective schedule and my plan is as follows:

      1) Escape from the Fair Folk.
      2) Treasure Hunt.
      3) Gain the Attention of the Scarlet Empress.

      If we have fun with it, we will have established a setting and a character and we will have a good stepping stone for further adventures (solo or otherwise) if we want to take it up at a later time.


      Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


      My wife is on Spotify!

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      • #4
        You have done some edits to your original reply, so let me be clear:

        I am not asking for your condescension or for your advice on how to run a game

        Please trust me that I know what I am doing. Details and baby steps are not the issue.

        I know how to build my metaphorical mansion; I come here asking two questions about adding some fun window dressings to it.


        Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


        My wife is on Spotify!

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        • #5
          Honestly, between the Fair Folk, the Silver Pact and one another, and the fact that they're not the strongest Exalted, I feel as though history should contain a decent number of Dragon-Blooded who departed unknown into ends that were protracted and humiliating.

          Although as a fair counterbalance, I also think there were more than a few Wyld Hunts that drew things out when they encountered Solars and Lunars that were not dangerous enough.

          A slave character sounds quite plausible to me.

          Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
          1) What kind of treasure can he learn of that will be an interesting bargaining chip or suitor's gift interesting enough for the Scarlet Empress to notice him? My first thought was a warstrider, but I kind of want to avoid the logistics of him having to haul it across the Blessed Isle, so something smaller would be preferable.
          I've been playing a lot of Devil May Cry lately, so I'm a bit inclined to steal something from that. I'm leaning right now towards a bottle of siren's screams; in the game, it's a key used to access a door blocked by a vortex of hellfire by blowing it away. In Exalted, I'm thinking it's the kind of thing that might have a general utility in undoing barriers and dispelling malefic enchantments, the sort of treasure that I think the Empress would value as something to bestow on her agents as they bring this particular vision of the Blessed Isle back into stability. And I think it's a particular image of a magical item that fits the Fey aesthetic.

          Originally posted by Jutlander
          2) How do I make a Fair Folk court on the Blessed Isle in Realm Year Zero (or minus one, I guess) suitably weird, dangerous, and memorable? I have ideas, of course, but I would love to hear your takes.
          I'm thinking of something like a grim parody of the Shogunate itself. They all dress themselves in typical court and military uniform, but taken to the greatest heights of ostentation. The appearance of their seemings favours more overt and literal dragon imagery. Most importantly, they play-act at periodically falling apart and not listening to one another as a matter of course, rendering the constant strife of that era as a farce. The court's leader goes by the title of Shogun and is genuinely the mightiest among them, but adopts the role of the utter fool, akin to Medieval parody of clergy and nobility. It is the raksha commentary on the governance of a world that is supposed to contrast them in its orderliness.

          Bonus points if that jester-shogun survives to witness the Regent who ultimately ascends just short of the throne.


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

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
            You have done some edits to your original reply, so let me be clear:

            I am not asking for your condescension or for your advice on how to run a game
            I did edits because i was digesting ideas and throwning stuff - like a treasure example, since it was one of the things you directly asked for - to see what stuck.
            If some of what i said ended up sounding somehow condescending, my bad. I beg your pardon as it was in no way my intent.

            (Also, because i'm terribly slow at writing and if i try to type everything i want to say in one go, 9 times out of 10, the forum will log me out and i lose the post.
            Ergo the "post by bits & edits" method. )


            Originally posted by Jutlander View Post
            Please trust me that I know what I am doing. Details and baby steps are not the issue.

            I know how to build my metaphorical mansion; I come here asking two questions about adding some fun window dressings to it.
            So the idea is to make a closed one story arc, if not just a one shot game, right? Well, my suggestion is taking a look at some of the magistrate in the Aspectbooks for inspiration, as their whole concept seems to hang into "you managed to catch the Empress' attention enough to become a special agent answering directly to her", with Tepet Lira from Aspectbook: Air in particular being one that actually got into the Empress' bed for her heroism. While not a magistrate per se, other figures, Crow, from Aspectbook: Earth, might count too, i guess.

            A bunch of Wu Xia films could make great fodder for such "from nobody to empress' favored" stories, though right now i'm drawing a blank on specific examples. I know for sure Jet Li has done at least two that end with a character being presented to the emperor and joining his court as some sort of advisor/instructor.... sorry for not having something more specific like titles for actual help.

            Any opinions on the "Mela Coils' buildup" as a quick portable retool for a warstrider?
            Last edited by Baaldam; 11-02-2020, 01:55 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
              If some of what i said ended up sounding somehow condescending, my bad. I beg your pardon as it was in no way my intent.
              Hey, no worries. Maybe I overreacted or maybe I could have been more clear about what I was looking for.
              Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
              So the idea is to make a closed one story arc, if not just a one shot game, right? Well, my suggestion is taking a look at some of the magistrate in the Aspectbooks for inspiration, as their whole concept seems to hang into "you managed to catch the Empress' attention enough to become a special agent answering directly to her", with Tepet Lira from Aspectbook: Air in particular being one that actually got into the Empress' bed for her heroism. While not a magistrate per se, other figures, Crow, from Aspectbook: Earth, might count too, i guess.

              A bunch of Wu Xia films could make great fodder for such "from nobody to empress' favored" stories, though right now i'm drawing a blank on specific examples. I know for sure Jet Li has done at least two that end with a character being presented to the emperor and joining his court as some sort of advisor/instructor.... sorry for not having something more specific like titles for actual help.
              I guess Hero matches that description, actually. And good ideas with the Aspect Books
              Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
              Any opinions on the "Mela Coils' buildup" as a quick portable retool for a warstrider?
              I am not too familiar with it to be honest. But I guess I would like something a little more exotic from the sound of it.


              Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


              My wife is on Spotify!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                Honestly, between the Fair Folk, the Silver Pact and one another, and the fact that they're not the strongest Exalted, I feel as though history should contain a decent number of Dragon-Blooded who departed unknown into ends that were protracted and humiliating.

                Although as a fair counterbalance, I also think there were more than a few Wyld Hunts that drew things out when they encountered Solars and Lunars that were not dangerous enough.

                A slave character sounds quite plausible to me.



                I've been playing a lot of Devil May Cry lately, so I'm a bit inclined to steal something from that. I'm leaning right now towards a bottle of siren's screams; in the game, it's a key used to access a door blocked by a vortex of hellfire by blowing it away. In Exalted, I'm thinking it's the kind of thing that might have a general utility in undoing barriers and dispelling malefic enchantments, the sort of treasure that I think the Empress would value as something to bestow on her agents as they bring this particular vision of the Blessed Isle back into stability. And I think it's a particular image of a magical item that fits the Fey aesthetic.



                I'm thinking of something like a grim parody of the Shogunate itself. They all dress themselves in typical court and military uniform, but taken to the greatest heights of ostentation. The appearance of their seemings favours more overt and literal dragon imagery. Most importantly, they play-act at periodically falling apart and not listening to one another as a matter of course, rendering the constant strife of that era as a farce. The court's leader goes by the title of Shogun and is genuinely the mightiest among them, but adopts the role of the utter fool, akin to Medieval parody of clergy and nobility. It is the raksha commentary on the governance of a world that is supposed to contrast them in its orderliness.

                Bonus points if that jester-shogun survives to witness the Regent who ultimately ascends just short of the throne.
                Loving both of these.


                Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


                My wife is on Spotify!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Magical devices are after all the kind of thing in which much power can come in easily transported form. I'm also the type inclined to look for forms that emphasize depth more than scale, as well as the precision utility of something less powerful.

                  That Fair Folk court is one where I think it would particularly make the point if they schism over the most petty and arbitrary things, as I'd see that as not only being emphatic and creepy but laying seeds for their ironic downfall. That their mythos actually leaves them very fragile, and can be manipulated into a genuine liability for them by a person with the proper intel.

                  For what it's worth, I see the descriptions of the first camp of the Empress, being ramshackle and impromptu and seemingly driven by her whimsy, as exactly the sort of thing where some peasant Exalt could just kind of walk in and participate around the camps until they catch her attention.

                  Does the player have any thought on being a member of the proto-All-Seeing Eye?

                  Hmm, an alternative to my first idea could be some kind of eye Artifact used in a manner that gives rise to the organisation's recruitment ritual.


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

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