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At what Essence would Anathema become a serious menace to the Realm?

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  • At what Essence would Anathema become a serious menace to the Realm?

    Essence 2..Essence 3...Essence 4...Essence 5? Since it seems that Solars and Lunars grow in power at an exponential rate compared to Dragon Bloods, at what point would a Circle of Solars, or Lunars, become so powerful that toppling or overrunning the realm becomes a serious possibility? The main book says that most Anathema will reach Essence 3, with some reaching Essence 4 and the best reaching Essence 5. Essence 6 and beyond would be truly legendary. At what point would the Wild Hunt declare that even they might not be able to contain the Anathema at the gates?

  • #2
    Not sure I understand the question. An E1 Solar in the right place and time, with the right resources, allies, and followers, could deal a major blow to the Realm. Five E5 Solars could personally cut their way through a legion or two, but would eventually be worn down by hundreds of Dragon-Blooded. Both might be more successful if Creation’s other major threats distracted/weakened the Realm first.


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    • #3
      In the current world there are multiple Essence 6-7 Lunar anathema that have been held at bay by various Dragonblooded nations for millennia, so the idea that past a certain essence level a Celestial will just have way too much power to be contested isn't really a thing.

      No matter what you'll never have the kind of personal power that lets you just destroy the Realm by yourself if it's united at full strength against you. One Solar vs 10,000 dragonblooded, and the resources of an entire continent plus hundreds of additional kingdoms just isn't going to match up.

      That being said, a lot of that power is structured in such a way that it can be attacked, you can help those kingdoms turn on the empire and rebel, you can foster civil war in the Realm, you can actually get allies of your own beyond just your personal charms, whatever Essence they are. Or you might find some kind of crazy miracle, like a way into the Imperial manse, which lets you start wiping cities off the map at your discretion.

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      • #4
        Every Anathema is a serious menace to the Realm. The Bull of the North (and his circle and their allies) wiped out four legions and crushed a Great House (at great expense to themselves). And a Solar who can say "Doesn't she look tired?" is even more dangerous.

        Where are you getting your exponential growth thing from?

        (Also I don't think "Essence" is the shorthand you're looking for here. Though certainly, more experienced and enlightened Exalted are more dangerous.)


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        • #5
          Like what kind of thing are you defining as "serious threat?" Like are we talking this exalt is capable of causing mass destruction, chaos, and what have you by themselves? Are we talking leading an army, are we talking economic conquest, what?

          Because I'll be honest the point where my Solar chef became a threat to the Realm was very different than the point where my friend's Night became a threat.

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          • #6
            As for toppling the Realm, that's a thing you'll have to do by causing a decades long civil war, eroding entrenched power bases, liberating satrapies, and finally getting a person on the throne all others will recognize as a ruler. I don't think its possible to complete that journey before E5, if not because doing all that stuff beforehand will get you to E5 by then.


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            • #7
              The right Essence 1 Solar could literally write a proof that makes the entire Jade Coast sink into the sea.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
                As for toppling the Realm, that's a thing you'll have to do by causing a decades long civil war, eroding entrenched power bases, liberating satrapies, and finally getting a person on the throne all others will recognize as a ruler. I don't think its possible to complete that journey before E5, if not because doing all that stuff beforehand will get you to E5 by then.
                It... doesn't have to get a person to that Essence by then.

                And that's not the only way for the fate of the Realm to play out. History has a few examples of states that were so old and seemed so strong that just caved in over about five years. I don't think a Solar needs to be Essence 5 to play at being Alexander the Great.

                It should be observed that the book The Realm portrays elements in which that empire was already showing problems with sustainability before the Empress disappeared (which one might attribute that to, making her loss a symptom more than a cause).

                The correct Solar applied strategically could have devastating effects.

                The correct circle?

                The Lunars in the chapter fiction for Fangs at the Gate, going by descriptions of their powers what's the highest Essence they'd need to be? Is the sabotage they applied to that satrapy fundamentally something that couldn't be done in the Realm?


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  It... doesn't have to get a person to that Essence by then.

                  And that's not the only way for the fate of the Realm to play out. History has a few examples of states that were so old and seemed so strong that just caved in over about five years. I don't think a Solar needs to be Essence 5 to play at being Alexander the Great.

                  It should be observed that the book The Realm portrays elements in which that empire was already showing problems with sustainability before the Empress disappeared (which one might attribute that to, making her loss a symptom more than a cause).

                  The correct Solar applied strategically could have devastating effects.

                  The correct circle?

                  The Lunars in the chapter fiction for Fangs at the Gate, going by descriptions of their powers what's the highest Essence they'd need to be? Is the sabotage they applied to that satrapy fundamentally something that couldn't be done in the Realm?

                  Alexander the Great didn't go up against 10,000 super powered Warrior-Aristocrats with army destroying powers. The power balance is so wildly in favor of the Realm that there's no way your Glorious Solar Hero Army is gonna crusade from one side to the other flipping cities the way he did. Skipping specifics of the Macedonian, the Great Houses are too big, too well coordinated, and too powerful to lose in a straight up Crusade for the Throne. And even then, if you're gonna park a usurper ass on it, there's at least a dozen major players who want it to be their usurper ass.

                  As for Lunars, I don't think their "Forever Guerilla" thing would work on the Isle itself. It works well at the edges of the map because it's too much logistics to oppose them on the home field advantage, even if you did get Ma-Ha-Suchi, Leviathan, and Lilith on the Isle in ass kicker mode, you'd be ringing the Apocalypse Bell for the Dynasts- time to put aside our cold war for the hot war at our doorstep.

                  You can play Alexander in North, the South, the East, The Scavenger Lands, the West, and most other places. Doing it on the Blessed Isle is suicide without the kind of support youd have to build the entire campaign around getting.


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                  • #10
                    I think people are leery of having Dragonblooded be mooks this edition, so they hype them *ALL THE WAY* up, not realizing that tales of gritty underdogs overthrowing evil empires are a genre trope and extremely doable in game.

                    As Isator has pointed out, 4 Ess 1-2 Lunars can ferment revolt that takes down a key Dragonblooded led satrapy. (Though Tegama cheats as he's using a top tier build, Single Point Full Moon).
                    Last edited by prototype00; 11-05-2020, 07:20 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
                      I think people are leery of having Dragonblooded be mooks this edition, so they hype them *ALL THE WAY* up, not realizing that tales of gritty underdogs overthrowing evil empires are a genre trope and extremely doable in game.

                      As Isator has pointed out, 4 Ess 1-2 Lunars can ferment revolt that takes down a key Dragonblooded led satrapy. (Though Tegama cheats as he's using a top tier build, Single Point Full Moon).
                      Taking down a Satrapy is a step in the right direction, but it's going to take a lot of those steps to foment open war with the world's only superpower. If the Lunars could have done it on their own, they would have. They had a Millennium to take over the world and they didn't. They had what, 4 centuries to stop the Realm? and it's still there.

                      This is also assuming the Realm doesn't bust out the Nuclear Option and activate the Realm Defense Grid, which I think isn't defined properly so it can do whatever the ST needs it to do.


                      Please be warned: this is not champagne, this is most likely a duck.
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                      Message me for Japanese translations.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post


                        Alexander the Great didn't go up against 10,000 super powered Warrior-Aristocrats with army destroying powers.
                        If you're applying yourself strategically than neither are you.

                        Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
                        The power balance is so wildly in favor of the Realm that there's no way your Glorious Solar Hero Army is gonna crusade from one side to the other flipping cities the way he did.
                        Maybe start with the cities that have fewer Dragon Blooded in them, and build up from there. Create dividing lines that make it hard for Dynasts to gather in one spot (or rather act in multiple spots in a coordinated fashion, which would be more effective but still has a lot of overhead that can be fairly fragile).

                        And not just in terms of actual borders. Lots of Dynasts hate each other and Solars have Charms to spread incredibly vicious rumours. And to... move quickly.

                        Put some of that stuff together.

                        Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord
                        Skipping specifics of the Macedonian, the Great Houses are too big, too well coordinated
                        House Tepet just got done being screwed over by everybody else and their leaders can't agree on how to move forwards.

                        House Sesus has a matriarch who is quite disagreeable with their secret cabal of spymasters.

                        House Peleps and V'neef are hovering on the verge of leaving altogether.

                        House Ledaal can't decide on whether or not it wants to consolidate Isle holdings or crusade against the Mask of Winters.

                        And so on.

                        They're not a house of cards, but there are numerous points of fragility that, properly leaned on, could make them shatter. Somebody with the correct audacity, insight and energy could then sweep them up one by one.


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                        • #13
                          One thing I think is relevant to comparisons with Alexander is that it bears noting that the guy was a risk taker. We can kind of retroactively impose a pattern as though he was only ever applying force that was fully weighed and measured, but accounts of the time make it seem more like he was a guy hyped up on youthful energy, being convinced he was a literal demigod, and no small amount of alcohol. Guy often threw himself into very dangerous situations and trusted a combination of that energy, a well-drilled tactical model, and divine favour to carry him through.

                          And he was often damn lucky it worked. We're impressed when risk takers succeed, but I think there's a tendency to view that in terms of cleverly seizing an obscure victory rather than survival bias. Most risk takers fail, because most really impressive gambles are the kinds of things with a lot working against you.

                          The narrative of the setting's history suggests that many Exalted are risk takers at some point, and that's the main thing that keeps them from old age. The Realm plausibly can be a thing that can devour all but the strongest Exalted, and it's plausible for that to lead directly to many Exalted deaths because they tried their hand anyway.

                          But it's also plausible for conditions to be just right that a correctly applied risk can pay dividends.

                          And the kicker is that the conditions are not a thing that exists objectively, they're determined by a Storyteller. Whether or not a circle of Essence 2 Solars can become premier in the Blessed Isle owes a bit to whether the pins are set up for them (but again, with reference to every systemic problem with the Realm to make it more than just handing them the win).

                          Like, you can play Great House leaders as being uncharacteristically hesitant in the face of some unexpected and dramatic interference that prevents them from capitalising on the opportunity to prevent opponents from making a major strategic objective that makes them harder to shake later. That's a thing that has happened. Nothing about Cathak Cainan makes it impossible that he's unusually sluggish today because a knot in his back kept him from sleeping properly.


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                          • #14
                            Celestial players could also make a bid for the Sword of Creation, or the Eye of Autocthon or whatever. You can also vary up how fast and hard the Realm is devouring itself, if it’s on the verge of crumbling a Solar Circle, especially with the continued pressure of other enemies of the realm, might be the thing to finally knock out the last support.

                            It’s just that this would be exceptional, not inevitable. It’s not like 2e where once Solars hit Essence 3 they were effectively immune to both mortals and terrestrial exalted, and one single Solar could march their way across creation killing the entirety of the united terrestrial host and all of the armies.

                            This being pure mechanics, nothing in the lore has ever suggested that Essence 3 Solars only care about other Solars.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by prototype00 View Post
                              I think people are leery of having Dragonblooded be mooks this edition, so they hype them *ALL THE WAY* up, not realizing that tales of gritty underdogs overthrowing evil empires are a genre trope and extremely doable in game.
                              Some blonde farm boy toppled a Galactic Empire. But many more farm boys just got pwned.

                              If your game is about your plucky Essence 1-2 Circle toppling the Realm then that's an absolutely valid story you can tell. Sounds hella fun.

                              But the default NPC Celestials, even the Solars, are more Porkins than Skywalkers.

                              Your PCs can topple the Realm. But that's because they're PCs, not because they're Solars. My Dragon-Blooded PCs are half-way to taking the Throne.

                              But yeah, every Anathema has the potential to topple the Realm. That's why they aggressively Hunt them instead of casually adopting a "live and let live" position on the other Exalted. No Dynast is kicking back saying "Don't worry about it, they're only Essence 1!" Every Solar is a "bring me my red shirt and brown trousers"/"kill it with fire!/Oh sh-!" level threat. Especially the kindly old baker and that really beautiful singer.

                              By default... those guerrillas have had two thousand years with multiple Essence 5+ badasses and not managed to topple the empire yet. There's a balance there. These are two great forces at loggerheads. Victory for the plucky underdogs is hardly guarenteed but it's definitely possible.
                              Last edited by JohnDoe244; 11-05-2020, 10:39 AM.


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