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Niobraran: What Do We Know?

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  • Niobraran: What Do We Know?

    I was thinking of doing a thread on Pelagials on 3e and what kind of involvment might they have had not or not in the Niobraran War, but then it dawned on me that discussing what are the Niobraran about in the first place could be of much help to players, STs and prospective writers. So here goes a list of citations i got while perusing on my books:

    Originally posted by Corebook, pg. 392
    Sea Devil Training Technique
    Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Sail 5, Essence 3
    Type: Simple
    Keywords: None
    Duration: Indefinite
    Prerequisite Charms: Invincible Admiral Method
    Once, the nations of the sea rose up to drive the Chosen from the world as the Exalted had driven the gods’ masters before them.
    The Solars answered this piracy by training a host of marine-warriors to sweep the Niobrarans back across the sea.
    Here the one that started it all. Also, "nations of the sea" has a certain interesting dubiousness, in that it can mean civilizations both below and above it. The parts about "to drive the Chosen from the world as the Exalted had driven the gods’ masters before them" and "piracy" only adds to the variety of possible readings i think.
    Also, the fact containing/opposing the Niobrarans starts at Essence 3 Solar charms kind of sets a pretty respectable bar, i guess.


    Originally posted by Corebook, pg. 393
    Black Fathoms Blessed
    Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Sail 5, Essence 3
    Type: Simple
    Keywords: None
    Duration: One scene
    Prerequisite Charms: Any ten Sail Charms
    The Exalt taps deeply of her Essence, merging ship, sea and self into one form. For the rest of the scene, as long as she is on her ship, add the vessel’s Speed as automatic successes to her movement actions, and the ship’s Ma*neuverability to her defenses. Any magic which increases these values cannot increase the bonus to these traits by more than +1 each. In addition, regardless of whether she is aboard her ship, she may speak in an ancient maritime tongue that is instinctually understood by oceanic spirits, aquatic raksha, the Lintha family and members of the Niobraran League.
    The final part about an ancient maritime tongue and those who may understand it is specially interesting, not only on itself (where does it come from, some sort of sorcerous pact/working lost in ages and to what other effects?) but in that it gives some stealth implication that some elements of the Niobraran League might still survive in the Age of Sorrows in some shape or form.


    Originally posted by Corebook, pg. 626
    Black Wind was first carried by Shih Azen, Night Caste and veteran of the Niobraran conflict, in those days when the Solars were still consolidating their rule over an untamed Creation.
    It's uncertain from text if Black Wind came to be during or after the Niobraran conflict, but still we get an idea of the war as something in the early times of the Solars claiming rulership over Creation.


    Originally posted by Arms of Chosen, pg.10
    The end of the Divine Revolution marked another beginning for the Chosen. The world was still new to them, a yet-uncharted patchwork of foreign peoples, untamed wilderness, and prehuman ruins. It was a time for exploration, adventure, new wars and new struggles. Servitor races and other creations of the world’s makers lingered in dark places; the war’s shadowlands unleashed ghastly Underworld spawn; Fair Folk stalked world’s edge. Mighty peoples and great alliances pitted themselves against the Exalted Host: the Niobraran League, a benthic confederation of peoples led by strange Chosen to challenge the Host’s supremacy; the Nine Foxfires, dreadful witch-ogre siblings who grew stronger with each defeat; and countless others, many lost to history.
    This one is, i think, the paragraph that better sums up our general image of the Niobraran and their war with an Exalted Host still going through its growing pains.


    Originally posted by Arms of Chosen, pg.65
    Shipbreaker (Black Jade Siege Crossbow, Artifact ••••)
    Long ago, the undersea nations of the West formed the Niobraran League to oppose the Exalted Host. Ianthe of Nengur Deep — a Solar warrior-artisan of the sea peoples — sided with the Niobrarans, seeing herself as seaborn first and Solar second. Descending to the abysses where prehuman spirits dwell, she incorporated their arts in forging Shipbreaker, a mighty weapon against the Exalted fleets. Together, she and Shipbreaker sent many a warship spiraling down into the depths.
    Even as the tide turned against the Niobraran League, Ianthe remained loyal to the sea peoples. But when a Lunar emissary offered clemency not merely for herself but for all of Nengur Deep, what could she do but comply? She surrendered military secrets to the Exalted host, then led her own people in ambush against the Niobraran reserve at the Battle of Saffron Wave, breaking the back of the oceanic forces.
    When Ianthe perished in the last days of the Niobraran conflict, Shipbreaker was taken up by Dragon-Blooded heroes of the Western seas, whose descendants employed it to hunt down Solar survivors after the Usurpation. Wielded after the Contagion by the Exigent god-admirals of Cabochon, the weapon has since fallen to the Lintha Family, whose demon-blooded captains employ it to terrible effect.
    A black jade siege crossbow, Shipbreaker’s fittings and string are of orichalcum. Orichalcum inlay on the stock depicts a kraken crushing ships in its coils and drawing them beneath the waves.
    Attunement: 5m
    Type: Medium (+12 DMG, OVW 4)
    Accuracy: Close −1; Short +5; Medium +3; Long +1; Extreme −1
    Tags: Lethal, Archery (Long), Crossbow, Piercing, Powerful, Slow
    Hearthstone slot(s): 2
    Era: Niobraran War
    And here we have a more personal, so to speak, look into the story of the conflict, through the tale of a Solar that would be a hero on the side of the Niobrarans, only to change sides along with her people later in the war, for the sake of clemency from the winning side. It also tells us of the fate of this relic of the conflict and some of the hands it has been exchanged between through the ages - and that might all fight each other one day, over disputed claims to its legacy.


    Originally posted by Arms of Chosen, pg.152
    Vehicles - Horizon Endeavor (Orichalcum Warship, Artifact § ••••)
    One of the greatest sailing vessels ever built amid the First Age’s shipyards, the legendary warship Horizon Endeavor has appeared in naval wars and odysseys throughout Creation’s history, and vanished from history’s pages just as often. The pirate-empress Zala Firemane sailed it into battle against the hell-leviathan Rahabaris, which the Lintha Armada had called forth to torment the West. Laughing Mirror wove fate to reshape the rivers of Diamond Grass Province so that Horizon Endeavor could fight at the Battle of Five Suns. More recent legends claim that the Lunar elder Leviathan or the Scarlet Empress herself piloted it against the dread fae prince Balor, but these tales are as preposterous as those that claim it dates back to the Niobraran War.
    This one is more of an example of the rumours - factual, farsical or both - that may accrue itself around the greatest of the treasures of the Chosen. What is fact or not? Completely up to individual table!

    Originally posted by Arms of Chosen, pg.131
    Crusading Spear of the Depths (Black Jade Warstrider, Artifact § •••••)
    When the Exalted Host of the First Age went to war against the Niobraran League in the early days of their reign, they needed vessels and weapons capable of descending into the Undersea to strike at the heart of their enemy’s civilization. Crusading Spear of the Depths was forged to answer this call to arms, forged in the temple-atelier of the Sidereal artificer Oadenol. She bestowed it on Karesha Coral-Breaker, a Dragon- Blooded hero whose prowess in battle had caught the seer’s eye.
    Karesha and Crusading Spear fought valiantly against benthic monstrosities and Niobraran legions, staining the Undersea red in their descent. She met an honorable end in battle, outnumbered on all sides by the armies of the Spoken. With her last breath, she drew upon the war*strider’s final Evocation, twisting the seas themselves to destroy both herself and her enemies.
    Crusading Spear of the Depths was lost after Karesha’s death, drifting up from the Undersea and snagging on a reef, where coral covered it over an age. It was found and salvaged by the Shogunate’s Jade Lion Dynasty, but suffered irreparable damage in the internecine strife that toppled that dynasty. To this day, it remains entombed in a Shogunate ruin. Some in Heaven whisper that Oadenol spoke a secret prophecy regarding one worthy of inheriting the warstrider, and that any other who tries to claim it is as doomed as their predecessors.
    Attunement: 15m
    Soak: 15; Hardness: 10
    Damage track: −0x5/−1x5/−2x10/−4x10
    Speed bonus: +2 (+3 underwater)
    Hearthstone slot(s): 3
    Era: Niobraran War
    Much like Shipbreaker, another personalized glimpse into the battles of the Niobraran War.
    One that cost the sacrifice of an Essence 5 dragon-blooded hero to bring her victory, might be said.


    Originally posted by Lunars, Fangs at the Gate, pg.23
    Together, the Lunars fought in the bloody Sunstrife Wars, led the Old Realm’s armies in the undersea theater of the Niobraran War, joined the ill-considered campaign against the Dragon Kings, and probed the Underworld’s seas for secrets better left forgotten.
    This one is short, but this paragraph, along with the bit on a lunar emissary in the tale of Ianthe of Nengur Deep & Shipbreaker, paints an image of the Lunars quite big role in directing the conflict and cementing their shared leadership role with the Solars. It also hints at other interesting events that might or not connect with the Niobraran War as as whole.


    Originally posted by Lunars, Fangs at the Gate, pg.99
    Where Luthe’s titanic scale was meant to impress humans, Obsidian was built to the massive scale of the eldest Spoken, those extinct Niobraran Exalted. Today its beastfolk inhabitants — as varied as Luthe’s — almost disappear against alien black spires holding neither doors nor windows. Sometimes patterns in blue light appear on the spires: writing in an ancient Niobraran tongue. Power-hungry priests claim to see divine omens in the words, inciting religious upheavals, some of which spread to other undersea communities. While the Siaka Guard — and, at times, Leviathan — have repelled every attempt by Obsidian zealots to conquer the Temple District, their apostate creeds have at times found fertile soil in Luthe, especially among its poorest inhabitants.
    And again some strong hints of remnants/descendants of the Niobraran - direct, spiritual or symbolic, who can say for sure - on the western seas in the Age of Sorrows. Causing trouble to Leviathan of all people, most interesting indeed.


    Those are what i managed to scrounge, though i have no doubt there may be more juicy stuff on the Ask the Devs thread and other places across the forums.
    If anyone has thoughts, opinions, theories or any fun homebrew they would like to bring in, feel free to do so, i'm all ears and probably far from the only one.


    edit: the name itself, as pointed out by Greyman a few years ago (and i had mostly forgotten for almost just as long until a Google search just today), seems to be a reference to the Niobrara Formation, a geological formation that offers us glimpses of what was once an inland sea that divided the continent of North America during much of the Creataceous. Another example of the devs dropping peculiar adjectives here and there and letting us struggle with catching or not evocative references/spoilers.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 01-07-2021, 05:10 PM.

  • #2
    Ok, instead of just compiling book references, time to open actual discussions of the Niobraran i guess.

    That last reference, the FatG one, gives us a little bit of - indirect, vague - info on their form, through the implication that Obsidian's alien black spires holding neither doors nor windows were built in a massive scale not just to impress, but to accomodate the equally massive scale of the eldest Spoken their exalted.

    It leaves open the question if all niobraran were of a massive scale, just the Spoken or only the eldest among the Spoken, but that along the choice of Spoken as the blanket term to describe their exalted has made me consider more than once the idea of the Niobraran as "whale-singers" and some sort of cetacean.

    I'm the first to admit i might be grasping at straws in drawing such a conclusion based in the scant info we have, but it makes for an interesting image so i'm tempted to trying to run with it at present in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 01-07-2021, 11:35 PM.

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    • #3
      Up to this point I've thought about the Spoken's connection to voice as sirens of myth- but the idea of whale like entities which draw their power from the deep seems like a much cooler concept. Thinking on the Voice in the Trench as a strange, compelling whale song makes so much sense that now I can't not imagine it that way. I wonder if the Voice was killed at the end of the war, or if the Solars simply silenced it in some way, like sealing the trench through powerful magic.. or just a bunch of boulders or something like that :P


      Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

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      • #4
        I think the Niobraran was a LEAGUE, a rough confederation of benthic life-forms and beings. The Spoken, I believe, were a special kind of Exalt, the Chosen of the Voice in the Trench. I want to say that they were some kind of giant sea creature, but I can't cite where that was established.

        And I think there were Exalts that weren't the Spoken. Chosen of the Depths, a catch-all term for Exalts among the Niobraran League, which would include those such as Lintha Exalts.

        Edit: That being said... Alls I need is some homebrew instructions and a lot of passion and I can start work on a "Tome of the Niobraran War", all about running games during the war against the Niobrarans!


        Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

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        • #5
          Ianthe confirms that there were ancient Aquamen involved. Or beastfolk I guess.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
            I think the Niobraran was a LEAGUE, a rough confederation of benthic life-forms and beings. The Spoken, I believe, were a special kind of Exalt, the Chosen of the Voice in the Trench. I want to say that they were some kind of giant sea creature, but I can't cite where that was established.


            In discussion following the Kickstarter, it was confirmed that the Spoken were chosen exclusively from among one of the non-human peoples of the Niobraran League, and despite the particular wording in Fangs at the Gate their sizable people did not consist solely of those Exalted.

            The whole thing gives me the image of the Leviathans from Mass Effect.

            Originally posted by LostLight View Post
            Thinking on the Voice in the Trench as a strange, compelling whale song makes so much sense that now I can't not imagine it that way. I wonder if the Voice was killed at the end of the war, or if the Solars simply silenced it in some way, like sealing the trench through powerful magic.. or just a bunch of boulders or something like that :P
            I like to think that despite their best efforts, the pro-Realm Exalted of the war were never able to confirm whether or not the Voice in the Trench ever really existed. That the depths, pressures and darkness of the Trench defied even their attempts to descend far enough to discern anything of value (which is not to say that they were incapable, just that if they could have it required more than any were willing to commit at that time).

            To have rendered the only people that could be Spoken seemed sufficient, and after enough time following that in which there were no further stirrings no more action seemed necessary.


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

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
              In discussion following the Kickstarter, it was confirmed that the Spoken were chosen exclusively from among one of the non-human peoples of the Niobraran League, and despite the particular wording in Fangs at the Gate their sizable people did not consist solely of those Exalted.
              My understanding was that the Spoken where drawn from the peoples of the Niobraran League and grew to those monstrous sizes as a result of their Exaltation, but I have no idea where I got that idea.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                In discussion following the Kickstarter, it was confirmed that the Spoken were chosen exclusively from among one of the non-human peoples of the Niobraran League, and despite the particular wording in Fangs at the Gate their sizable people did not consist solely of those Exalted.

                The whole thing gives me the image of the Leviathans from Mass Effect.
                You say Leviathans, I'mma go with the Liir from Sword of the Stars. Cetacian-like aliens that communicate through telepathic 'singing'.

                The adults start about this big, and they only get bigger as they get older. Liir Elders can get to be the size of the largest Earth whales, and would in fact keep growing until the Square-Cube law catches up with them.

                Now imagine, if you will, these massive 'singing' superwhales were given the power of Exaltation by the Voice in the Trench?


                Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                  Up to this point I've thought about the Spoken's connection to voice as sirens of myth- but the idea of whale like entities which draw their power from the deep seems like a much cooler concept.
                  What's to say itcould not be a bit of both? There have been bits and pieces across editions implying the sirens have had a peculiar, stormy and at times antagonistic relationship with the spirit hierarchies and the Exalted both through the ages. what if they once were allied with the Niobraran or even served the Voice in the Trench itself?


                  Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                  Thinking on the Voice in the Trench as a strange, compelling whale song makes so much sense that now I can't not imagine it that way. I wonder if the Voice was killed at the end of the war, or if the Solars simply silenced it in some way, like sealing the trench through powerful magic.. or just a bunch of boulders or something like that :P
                  Who's to say death would stop it.... there are immaculate tales of Danaad closing a door to the Underworld in the deepest places of the West i think.
                  "Daana’d and the Queen of the Deep Wyld" (Aspectbook: Water, pg. 67, also, see image on page 64) might or not be a reference to the same.

                  What if the Voice of Trench are the Whispers of one Neverborn? Making exalted diminishes that which exalts, but what means loss to a titan already dead?
                  Any change or transformation might be welcome.


                  Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                  I think the Niobraran was a LEAGUE, a rough confederation of benthic life-forms and beings. The Spoken, I believe, were a special kind of Exalt, the Chosen of the Voice in the Trench. I want to say that they were some kind of giant sea creature, but I can't cite where that was established.
                  I would say it's implied from multiple references to the Spoken themselves not being of human origin.


                  Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                  And I think there were Exalts that weren't the Spoken. Chosen of the Depths, a catch-all term for Exalts among the Niobraran League, which would include those such as Lintha Exalts.
                  The tale of Shipbreaker and its maker, the Twilight Ianthe of Nengur Deep (among the references in the OP) pretty much confirms it. By Lintha exalts you mean the occasional Lintha whose blood mixed with that of dragons, occasional Akuma or individuals that somehow became worthy of celestial exaltation or something more peculiar and specific?


                  Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                  Edit: That being said... Alls I need is some homebrew instructions and a lot of passion and I can start work on a "Tome of the Niobraran War", all about running games during the war against the Niobrarans!
                  Give the thread some time to spin, who knows what might come out.


                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  In discussion following the Kickstarter, it was confirmed that the Spoken were chosen exclusively from among one of the non-human peoples of the Niobraran League, and despite the particular wording in Fangs at the Gate their sizable people did not consist solely of those Exalted.

                  The whole thing gives me the image of the Leviathans from Mass Effect.
                  To be fair, the only thing that excerpt implies for certain is that the spires of Obsidian are of massive scale and that it reflects the fact the eldest among the Spoken were too. Anything else, like to what proportion of the Spoken or Niobraran as a whole such massive sizes applied or not and to what degree, the lion's share of that is very much our own feverish shared fan imaginings filling the dots in the blank space, at least so far.
                  Last edited by Baaldam; 01-08-2021, 12:17 AM.

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                  • #10
                    You know, when I hear about the Spoken becoming Legendary size and not leaving the depths (implying they becoming sessile), I think of something similar to the Alchemicals, who can grow gigantic and become cities. There could be something in them not being 'found' by the other exalted, as the spires in which they lived were actually them. Maybe they would become beings of living coral, somewhere in their development.

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                    • #11
                      I'll be honest; big things in the depths is... making me think of Exalted Book of the New Sun "Megatherians".

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pcontop View Post
                        You know, when I hear about the Spoken becoming Legendary size and not leaving the depths (implying they becoming sessile)
                        I don't think that's necessarily the implication. The ocean can be home to very large things that are constantly on the move.

                        Actually, so is the land, for that matter. Becoming large enough to be sessile doesn't really seem to happen; most sessile animals actually seem quite small.

                        I'm presuming it helps to not need very much nutrition if you need it to come to you.
                        Last edited by Isator Levi; 01-10-2021, 07:29 AM.


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

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                          I'll be honest; big things in the depths is... making me think of Exalted Book of the New Sun "Megatherians".

                          That would go well with the "whale-singers with ties to sirens" angle, i'd guess.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                            And I think there were Exalts that weren't the Spoken. Chosen of the Depths, a catch-all term for Exalts among the Niobraran League, which would include those such as Lintha Exalts.
                            Hmm... Is there a connection between the Lintha Family and the Niobaran League?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Greyman View Post
                              Hmm... Is there a connection between the Lintha Family and the Niobaran League?
                              I think that was asked at a Q&A thing way back when, but the Devs have changed since then and it isn't like we got a lot of details since.
                              Short answer; about as much as one would expect the surface and the depths too, is; not a lot. At least at the time of the War.


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