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Why doesn’t Exalted have a metaplot?

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
    I had blessedly forgotten that THE KUKLAAAAAA!!! had ever existed.

    The basic idea is fine, but it sort of became a meme on the level of “the sun (as opposed to the Sun God) is a battleship that transforms into a giant mecha”.
    It's not really KUKLAAAAAA! unless Chejop Kejak starts crowd surfing.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Penelope View Post
      Wow. I never thought of it that way. Thanks. I guess in Exalted PCs have a lot more soft power than in more traditional RPGs.
      In addition to what Kelly said:

      It's not necessarily that Exalted PCs start with more soft power than most traditional RPGs, but rather than Exalted puts a lot more attention to soft power; both what the PCs can start with, and how they can build it up. You're incentivized to use it, rather than ignore it.

      A great example is that Exalted doesn't just have Merits for interacting with organizations, or have Bureaucracy as a trait, but you can get Bureaucracy magic. Having Exalted run your country is fantastic because they're supernaturally good at making sure all the little aspects of daily life go smoothly. It's also bad because Exalted are flawed human beings with immense power, but that's a slightly different conversation.

      They also have War magic (and war magic, and mind-control magic). But imagine how this impacts things: you can go to war with the Exalted and all their hard power, or play ball with them and benefit from all their soft power. It's far from a perfect world, but like real history, empires like Rome didn't just conquer, they built.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

        In addition to what Kelly said:

        But imagine how this impacts things: you can go to war with the Exalted and all their hard power, or play ball with them and benefit from all their soft power. It's far from a perfect world, but like real history, empires like Rome didn't just conquer, they built.
        Your last two sentences make a really good point.


        “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Blaque View Post

          So in context of RPGs, this point here is actually a big reason a lot of them don't do metaplot, and why Exalted specifcally is trying to avoid it, especially in 3e. Those clues aren't there for fiction writers to fill in and folks to guess what the writers will do. They're there as plot hooks, that shoudl be used by GMs and players to build on for their own campaigns. RPGs aren't really meant to be a mystery novel that you try to outwit the author. They should provide material to allowf or better games. When a plot hook like that is created and then answered later on by the gameline, it in effect "closes off" that plot hook to many tables. While it is intersting to read and youc an ignore it, if it is soemthing that by being open it wasn't talked about, foten when it is closed it gets talked about in ways that make later supplements and books less useful to people in general unless they follow that particular plot line.

          A lot of folks read RPGs for ficiton, and that's fine, but I think folks often forget RPGs should in general probably gear to what's useful for tables. A mantra I remember the current and previous devs had is that if you close off/solve a setting hook, you should introduce soemthing else at least as cool to make up for it. And oftentimes, metaplot is not written in that way, as it treats plot hooks as something later authors can solve, rather than something for tables to use.
          While that is certainly true for some, the people I play with have always been able to differentiate between the books and gameplay. It's never been a problem when we play together because we all have to ability to disconnect what we dislike from what we do. Perhaps that's the source of the disagreement. With no metaplot at all you either get a world where you already know everything going on that creates plots, or you have a world where it's almost just game mechanics with a little fluff.
          A lot of people like that kind of setting, but I personally find those games don't get well received by the people I play with as it just feels like you only get what you see from the creators. Maybe it's because we're all older school fandom culture members.
          Be that what it may, I'd appreciate it if you didn't just assume because I disagree about it must mean I don't play. :]
          Last edited by KnightFenrirWulfhart; 12-26-2020, 11:16 PM. Reason: Phone typing >÷<

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          • #50
            So I'm of two minds about metaplot.

            In practical terms, I think what metaplot does is present multiple, optional versions of the setting. Storytellers always get to choose how to blend them, so it's all more grist for the mill.

            Say there is a metaplot point wherein Gem blows up. If an ST thought Gem was interesting the way it was and wants to use it in a game, it just didn't blow up. If they think the plot elements around it's destruction were cool and wants to use them, Gem hasn't blown up *yet* but probably will when the PCs are around. If the ST likes the aftermath elements, the PCs arrive to find a smoldering crater.

            And these aren't mutally exclusive! That's a big ol' mountain range; if the ST wants to use elements of both plots at the same time, maybe there are two different, culturally related cities-within-volcanos down there (Gem pronouced like "GIF").

            The downside is that every paragraph describing something that happens to Gem is a paragraph *not* describing somewhere new. And as much as 1e and 2e tried not to have metaplot, they still often gave the impression of a big empty map, because it seemed like a few places (and NPCs...) kept getting name dropped over and over. I might even go so far as to say that 1e and 2e's world building may have suffered because the writers still chose to link books together (and create brand identity...) by reusing elements again and again, *without* the benefit of metaplot to keep them dynamic.
            Last edited by Blackwell; 12-27-2020, 08:54 AM.

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            • #51
              The first setting i played in and ran was legend of the five rings. Besides being the cringiest weeaboo fest on the market, L5R has a mess of a meta plot. Its based on the card game of the same name and the yearly tournaments that happen. Metaplot keeps happening thanks to this card game and the card game tournament events and tbh the meta plot that gets spit out is straight up stupid. I've never run a game set in the present day for it and i always start the game either sometime before the second day of thunder or just after the second day of thunder.

              As far as exalted is concerned, i really appreciate that the setting gives possibilities. I actually didn't like parts of the reclamation plot. Frankly i see the scarlet empresses ambition as far to great to allow her to be the wife and side kick of the ebon dragon, and therefore she'd never settle for less than being empress of all creation herself. Sure many folks talk about the sword of creation requiring some possible sort of human/exalted sacrifice to activate or some infernal power necessary to use it but tbh just never worked for me personally. I prefer it be that mnemon was able to somehow covertly kill her mother out of her own ambition but hasn't been able to consolidate enough power to actually rule the empire.

              I also loved the big open world personally because it made it easy to slap in a number of myriad kingdoms that aren't concerned with what else is going on with the world and run a story that has nothing to do with the rest of the setting other than how they find a way to placate the realm or how they have maintained independence.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by joshopotamus View Post
                The first setting i played in and ran was legend of the five rings. Besides being the cringiest weeaboo fest on the market, L5R has a mess of a meta plot. Its based on the card game of the same name and the yearly tournaments that happen. Metaplot keeps happening thanks to this card game and the card game tournament events and tbh the meta plot that gets spit out is straight up stupid. I've never run a game set in the present day for it and i always start the game either sometime before the second day of thunder or just after the second day of thunder.
                Had. The current owners reset things for fifth edition.


                Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by marin View Post

                  Had. The current owners reset things for fifth edition.
                  Indeed, one thing one consistently finds in settings with metaplot is later-puublished versions that are resets, because people want the version of the setting from before it was messed up by metaplot.

                  The granddaddy of games with metaplot is Traveller. Every version of Traveller's setting published in the last quarter-century is one set in a universe where the published-in-1985 Rebellion and subsequent Virus are irrelevant. Most post-1995 versions use a setting material date prior to the date of the Rebellion, one used an alternate history where the Rebellion never happened, and another uses a centuries-after-the-Rebellion date -- which, in a move of astonishing meta, has your characters spend their time in a VR simulation of the universe from before the Rebellion.

                  Fans of settings don't like having the things they liked yanked away by metaplot, whether or not their characters were powerful enough to have any influence.

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                  • #54
                    Now you can do adventure modules and stuff without issue. If its decided to do a few small books focusing on the Underworld draining into Creation at an alarming rate that's fine because those books are contained to their own thing and don't have to be referenced by books that are released afterwords.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Verzio View Post

                      Indeed, one thing one consistently finds in settings with metaplot is later-puublished versions that are resets, because people want the version of the setting from before it was messed up by metaplot.

                      The granddaddy of games with metaplot is Traveller. Every version of Traveller's setting published in the last quarter-century is one set in a universe where the published-in-1985 Rebellion and subsequent Virus are irrelevant. Most post-1995 versions use a setting material date prior to the date of the Rebellion, one used an alternate history where the Rebellion never happened, and another uses a centuries-after-the-Rebellion date -- which, in a move of astonishing meta, has your characters spend their time in a VR simulation of the universe from before the Rebellion.

                      Fans of settings don't like having the things they liked yanked away by metaplot, whether or not their characters were powerful enough to have any influence.
                      Your last paragraph makes a lot of sense.


                      “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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                      • #56
                        I keep on getting partway into typing a response, and then getting distracted or deciding that enough people have answered to the OP's satisfaction.

                        And yet here I am.

                        Part of it, for me, is that the core has consistently painted an entire world on the brink. On the brink of what? Who knows. But there's a whole delta of rubicons about to get crossed.

                        There's a lot of tension there is what I'm saying, and the scale of the game and of its characters means that what happens will run a good chance of affecting your game.

                        Now, I'm not gonna say metaplot is bad. Orpheus, frex, was nothing but metaplot after the core, with the action of each book moving it forward in major, broadly irreversible ways. But in part that was okay as this was ultimately the story they wanted to tell from the get-go, and it was a contained, limited series.

                        Exalted doesn't have that. It's an open setting for ten thousand stories, and the scale of the action means that an active metaplot ribs a dangerous risk of stumbling into the next Avatar Storm, a plot element in Mage Revised that looked at what had become the default playstyle in second edition and ordered it to stop having fun with such gravelly finality that it murdered Changeling Revised with its banality before it had been written.

                        Metaplot isn't good for Exalted. But I do acknowledge that this creates a different weakness, as it closes off a potential avenue for future supplements, and like it or not a game that isn't being actively worked on and produced might not die, but it will fade.

                        New editions, then, become the realm of reimagining the setting as it stood at the beginning, refining the mechanics, and also convincing folks that you've done well enough at both that they need to buy the new versions of what they've already got.

                        So yeah, even outside of the curiosity regarding the official "what happens next?", here's plenty of appeal there in the idea of metaplot. But it really doesn't work here.

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                        • #57
                          To summarize what others have been saying: No plot survives contact with the players. Therefore, there has to be room for a metaplot to happen around whatever kinds of adventures the game assumes the players will be having.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Mockery View Post
                            I keep on getting partway into typing a response, and then getting distracted or deciding that enough people have answered to the OP's satisfaction.

                            And yet here I am.

                            Part of it, for me, is that the core has consistently painted an entire world on the brink. On the brink of what? Who knows. But there's a whole delta of rubicons about to get crossed.

                            There's a lot of tension there is what I'm saying, and the scale of the game and of its characters means that what happens will run a good chance of affecting your game.

                            Now, I'm not gonna say metaplot is bad. Orpheus, frex, was nothing but metaplot after the core, with the action of each book moving it forward in major, broadly irreversible ways. But in part that was okay as this was ultimately the story they wanted to tell from the get-go, and it was a contained, limited series.

                            Exalted doesn't have that. It's an open setting for ten thousand stories, and the scale of the action means that an active metaplot ribs a dangerous risk of stumbling into the next Avatar Storm, a plot element in Mage Revised that looked at what had become the default playstyle in second edition and ordered it to stop having fun with such gravelly finality that it murdered Changeling Revised with its banality before it had been written.

                            Metaplot isn't good for Exalted. But I do acknowledge that this creates a different weakness, as it closes off a potential avenue for future supplements, and like it or not a game that isn't being actively worked on and produced might not die, but it will fade.

                            New editions, then, become the realm of reimagining the setting as it stood at the beginning, refining the mechanics, and also convincing folks that you've done well enough at both that they need to buy the new versions of what they've already got.

                            So yeah, even outside of the curiosity regarding the official &quot;what happens next?&quot;, here's plenty of appeal there in the idea of metaplot. But it really doesn't work here.
                            Thank you anyway 😊


                            “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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                            • #59
                              I was talking about N/A artifacts and I remembered this gem from the 1E Storyteller's Companion:

                              Last edited by JohnDoe244; 12-30-2020, 05:19 AM.


                              Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

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                              • #60
                                Why’d you repeat the same image three times? EDIT: Fixed.
                                Last edited by Sith_Happens; 12-30-2020, 02:10 PM.

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