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Inspiration Discussion: This Is How You Lose the Time War [SPOILERS]

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  • Inspiration Discussion: This Is How You Lose the Time War [SPOILERS]

    I recently finished the wonderful novelette This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. There will be spoilers below.

    To summarize if you haven't read it, it's an epistolary novelette (209 pages in print, 4 h 16 min in audio book) featuring two time travelling agents, Red and Blue, on opposing sides of a secret war that spans all of Earth and history. They start writing little notes and calling cards to flex their victories and tease each other, but they soon find that having someone to talk to that can properly relate to their very special circumastance is pleasant. By the end of the book, it's stopped being "me against you" and become "us against them". El-Mohtar is a poet, and the prose and moods in this novel is definitely one of the biggest selling points for me. I can see it being a bit too purple for some, but I'm about it.

    One of the many reactions I had when reading it was that this seems like two Sidereals. True, time travel isn't a Thing in Exalted, but the idea of meeting your soul mate on the job, starting out by dancing around each other, only to notice that at some point you started dancing together, sound like a super Sidereal way to do romance. Writing letters in the rings of a growing tree, the beating of an insect's wings and the random knots on a sea-tossed length of rope is also totally something that seems like a Fate things to me. Or, perhaps, more like a Getimian thing? I'm not sure, I don't know them very well yet.

    Red and Blue themselves are more like an Alchemical and a Lunar-ish thing, I suppose. Their organisations are still mostly Sidereal to me, though. The tendency is for the Agency to do the "secret agent" thing, putting their operatives into a situation to make a concentrated, accurate strike at just the right moment, turning the arc of history their way before pulling out again. Flash and action, James Bond-style. Garden, instead, works by letting their agents go undercover for livetimes on end, growing and pruning their efforts one day at a time to cultivate the future in which they won. Both seem like Sidereal methods to me. Or, I guess, Getimian.

    I feel like this book is a good inspiration for how secret agents of heaven might think and feel. Has anyone else read the book and seen these parallels? Or do you have any stories about how Sidereal relationships have turned out in your games?
    Last edited by Weimann; 11-20-2020, 05:27 AM.


    Dex Davican wrote: I can say without exaggeration or dishonesty that I am the most creative man ever to have lived

  • #2
    Max is a wonderful author

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    • #3
      It sounds very much about a long-reaching shadow war spanning possibly a whole world (and beyond) accross multiple generations or ages. Great Game and/or Cold War writ large & small.

      Inspirational for Sidereals and their conflicts, internal and/or external? Indeed. But possibly also for Dragon-Blooded of the All-Seeing Eye or Houses Iselsi & Sesus with a secretive bent or Lunars involved in their millenia-long shell game society-building as attrition war on hegemonic empires.

      All of the above even, for a particularly elaborate, colorful - and deadly - tapestry of crisscrossing natures, powers, loyalties and interests.

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      • #4
        Yeah, it's s really interesting setting for an adventure. Much more Exalted-esque than the wandering adventurer type, since it properly activates the social aspect of the game.


        Dex Davican wrote: I can say without exaggeration or dishonesty that I am the most creative man ever to have lived

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