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Exalted Essence x Mummy the Curse: The Arisen Exalted

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  • Exalted Essence x Mummy the Curse: The Arisen Exalted

    This was born partly out of prior discussions in this forum about WoD/CoD templates being converted into Exigent Exalts, for which Dataweaver Data has my thanks, as well as prior observations on how High-Sekhem Mummies were essentially Exalts in terms of power (blowing up cities and the like). Because of those factors, I've decided to give a go at converting the Arisen as Celestial Exalted.

    Background: No one is really sure where the group known as the 42 Judges came from. Well, that's a lie, it's well known that they came from the Underworld, being powerful ghosts and all. But what about before? And how did they become so powerful? While not as powerful individually as the latter Deathlords, both of these ghastly groups combined were a match for each other, with each Deathlord possessing more puissance than each Judge, but outnumbered 3-to-1. Regardless, the 42 Judges see themselves as the arbitrators of the Underworld's Laws, punishing newcomers for their crimes committed in life. While the Deathlords could overwhelm each Judge individually easily enough, for the most part they choose not to bother with them due to it being a waste of time and resources (though there are exceptions.)

    While no one is fully sure as to the origins of the Judges, plenty of those old enough to have witnessed the First Age know about their grudges towards the Celestial Exalted and the Solars in particular. Unlike their Neverborn-enhanced neighbors, the Judges abstain from using large amounts of Soulsteel in favor of having agents locate and, well, relocate natural veins of Oriachalcum. In addition, the Judges have under their control in one of their Shadowlands territories a volcanic facility, one of the last of it's kind, dedicated to producing Oriachalcum. Why they treasure the stuff is simple: It is a container of life. Not literally as with the case of Green Jade, but metaphorically. Oriachalcum is the magical material of sorcery, of energy, of power, and for the vain of heart it looks quite nice. Possessing and utilizing such a material would normally be out of the wheelhouse of the Judges, but they have somehow made it work.

    Thus, their opposition towards the Solars, the other major snatcher of Oriachalcum. It's not the only reason of course for this rivalry, but all other reasons possible are either lies or kept hidden from those not among their ranks. Common speculations among the learned include the creation of the Underworld's Calendar, the abuse of Necromancy to affect the ghosts within their domain, defiance of legal judgement for some matter or another, the list goes on. As for why the Lunars and the Sidereals were also lumped into the Judge's targets for ire, the reasons (possible and certified) are far less clear, but they are hated all the same (though less than the Solars). Dragon-Blooded are more ignored than hated, but are certainly not liked either.

    Many centuries ago, in the height of the First Age, the Judges decided that they would craft a weapon, one strong enough and tenacious enough to exterminate the Exalted Host and get revenge for... whatever it was that the Celestials had done. While the Judges were powerful enough combined to craft an Exaltation on their own, they decided not to waste any of their own power beyond the bare minimum to fuel the creation, and instead rely on human sacrifice to pay the toll. Lots and lots of human sacrifice. In the end, 42 skilled humans, one for each Judge and all deserving of the title of "hero", became 42 shambling, mummified amnesiac corpses fused with the power of tainted life and the Underworld's Laws. These mummies, the Arisen Exalted, were sent out into Creation to begin their war against the Exalted Host.

    To put it bluntly, the first go around they didn't get very far. Not a single Celestial slain, and only a few Dragon-Blooded dead. This normally would have marked one of the shortest lasting wars in Creation, were it not for a small detail about the Arisen: Their ability to return from death. And so it was, while the first wave of attacks achieved little, the second wave did a bit better by killing a young Lunar. Then the third came with a newborn Solar falling to their might. So on and so forth, each wave would do a bit better than the previous as the Arisen slowly regained their sapience and with it their cunning. Fearless charges morphed into night attacks and less-than-honorable duels. Eventually, the 42 Judgesworn became too much of an annoyance for the late First Age Solars to ignore anymore, resulting in a planned decapitation strike against the Judges. A few of the Judges ceased to exist, and the Arisen souls of that Age were permanently destroyed, leaving only empty shells waiting to be filled.

    Recovering from this counterattack took time, far too much time in the opinion of the remaining Judges. While their ranks were refilled with other ghosts assuming the judiciary rainments, finding more mortal heroes willing to take up the mantle of Arisen was a trying effort. By the time all 42 Arisen were reborn with their new souls, the Solars were already dead and buried, the Lunars had escaped into the Wyld where few could pursue them and the Sidereals secluded themselves in Heaven. Suddenly, the all powerful superweapons of the Judges had no use in this new Age of mediocrity. So, they were put to an eternal sleep, awaiting the day that they would be needed once more, where their forever rest would become a finite one.

    The time is now. The Solars have returned, flanked by twisted versions of themselves as well as other strange Exalts. The time for the Arisen, the enforcers of the Judge's will, has come to pass. Though this second generation does not have the memories of the first (nor most of the memories from their own lives), they still possess the dangerous power which fills their decrepit bones and bowstring sinew. They are strong and eternal, and as the Usurpation showed, the Solars are not. The Lunars are not. The Sidereals are not. None of them are.

    Mechanics: The Arisen Exalted are Celestial-level Attribute Exalts, numbering just 42 souls. They are considered Undead and Creatures of Darkness. Their capabilities include the following:
    • 2nd Circle Sorcery
    • 2nd Circle Necromancy
    • Celestial-level Martial Arts
    • Resonance with Oriachalcum, the magical material of "spiritual" Life.
    • 1st Trait: Exhausted Souls: At the beginning of each session, an Arisen Exalted starts at Essence 5 (for all intents and purposes). At the end of every scene, they roll their Essence in dice. Should any of those dice show successes, the Exalt's Essence goes down by 1 (to a minimum of the Exalt's actual Essence.) This returns to Essence 5 at the next session. They are able to buy charms of up to Essence 5 regardless of their actual Essence score, so long as they meet all of the other requirements. If the Exalt's Essence score dips down below the minimum required to use a charm, they cannot use it until the next session.
    • 2nd Trait: Awe-Inspiring Corpses: While their Anima Banner is at 2 or lower, the Arisen's true nature is as well, granting (6 - Essence) bonus dice to all rolls to appear as a normal human. When their Anima Banner becomes Burning (5-6) or higher, their corpse nature becomes visible, granting them +Essence bonus dice to all rolls to inspire fear and awe in others.
    The charms of the Arisen Exalted follow a general formula: All of their charms are purchasable at Essence 1, and require 3 dots in a specific attribute (Force for Ab, Finesse for Ba and Ren, Fortitude for Ka and Sheut.) These charms can also be repurchased twice, the first time requiring (Attribute) 4, and the second requiring (Attribute) 5. They also demand a higher Essence score, with some charms needing repurchases at Essence 2 and 4, and others at Essence 3 and 5. Again, these charms can be repurchased regardless of actual Essence score, but can only be used when the Arisen's current Essence meets that requirement.

    The modes demonstrated by the Arisen tend to intrude on the domains of other Exalted: Miracles for the Solars, Fate for the Sidereals, Bodychanging for the Lunars and so on. However, all of these traits are tainted by the Arisen's existence as a walking corpse: The miracles they perform are generally destructive acts or are "creatively" generative. The changes to Fate they make typically are temporary changes as opposed to a Sidereal's longer-lasting alterations. Rather than change into animals (for the most part), the Arisen change their bodies into less-material things such as ghosts, fire, gods and the like.

    The Great Curse of the Arisen Exalted revolves around their lack of memory. The procedure done to fuse new souls into the Arisen forms is a traumatic one that deprives them upon waking up from their normal memories. The first scene that an Arisen is brought back to life by the Judges in, they cannot benefit from Intimacies or Virtues except for a temporary Major Virtue: Ambition (Destroy the enemies of the Judges.) This dissipates at the end of the scene. Beyond this, the Arisen suffer from the Great Curse as usual, with manifestations ranging from sociopathy (as they forget all memories of empathy and understanding) to bedlam (due to their dementia-ridden minds losing all inhibition).

    Castes: The Arisen Exalted fall into five castes, each represented by a "part of the soul" (which of course does not conform to actual soul science studies and an animal. (Note: Caste descriptions and powers to be added later).
    • Heart Caste, also known as the Lions or the Ardent (Ab)
    • Spirit Caste, also known as the Falcons or the Dauntless (Ba)
    • Life Caste, also known as the Bulls or the Stalwart (Ka)
    • Name Caste, also known as the Serpents or the Cunning (Ren)
    • Shadow Caste, also known as the Jackals or the Eldritch (Sheut)
    Last edited by Critian Caceorte; 07-05-2021, 11:15 PM.

  • #2
    Well, out of curiosity & ignorance let me ask: how similar or divergent would the Cursed as exalts be from Liminals in the first place and in what ways?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
      Well, out of curiosity & ignorance let me ask: how similar or divergent would the Cursed as exalts be from Liminals in the first place and in what ways?
      Liminals I find tend towards more "internal" Powers, one's that affect their own bodies. Obviously there's some exceptions, but even their "heal others" charm uses their own biomass to do so. Contrast that with the Cursed, who display large, showy and "external" abilities like calling down miracles and meteors. Obviously there's exceptions there as well (Blessed is the God-King's final stage, Power of Red's final stage, etc.) But those tend to be high-Essence abilities and not an Arisen Exalts typical repertoire when their Essence score is running low.

      There are of course other similarities, such as both being reanimated corpses, having Powers that deal with ghosts, etc. But whereas Liminals solidly have their niche, Arisen have a broader skillet that they can access far earlier compared to most Exalts.

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      • #4
        Can't wait to see the castes. Obviously the guilds, and with a corrupted counterpart in the sixth guild (I forgot there name)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by evtrax View Post
          Can't wait to see the castes. Obviously the guilds, and with a corrupted counterpart in the sixth guild (I forgot there name)
          You can certainly adapt those into Castes as well. I'm going for the Decrees as the Castes, but honestly now that you've said that I'm curious about converting the Guilds as well for that purpose. Maybe in the future.

          Anima: When the Arisen's Anima Banner is at 4 or lower, they maintain a human guise for their form. Mundane senses have a difficult time piercing through this veil except when the Exalt is of a high level of enlightenment. Magical senses function as usual. Their Caste Mark takes the form of an animal head, corresponding to the animal associated with their Caste, and the veil around the Caste Mark tends to fluctuate in it's presence, on occasion displaying a brown crusted forehead. At Glowing, the illusion does not vanish, but does not hold up as well under scrutiny, with flickers of the Arisen's true form showing up in the corner of one's vision. When the Arisen's Anima Banner is Burning (5-6) or more, the illusion dissappates fully, allowing all to see the horror that is the dead walking among them. The actual Anima Banners themselves tend to display combinations of gold and brown as the primary colors, with accents based on Caste.

          Castes: When they were first created, in order to survive the process the Arisen were forced to devote themselves to a particular aspect of the soul. Rather than abiding by actual soul mechanics, these aspects instead were based on a more philosophical understanding of the soul. Through the process of conversion, this idea of the soul was made real, the two part soul dividing itself into five different parts, at the cost of preventing the Arisen from ever entering the normal cycle of reincarnation (useful for an eternal servant, less so for their sanity.) As such, when the Arisen die their souls do not go to Lethe, but instead quickly return to their respective Judges in order to be reborn once more.

          The five different Castes are as follows:

          Heart

          Without passion, life is meaningless. It fuels one's thoughts and actions, and keeps a man going for just one more day, something which the Arisen desperately need. The Heart Castes were those who declared their passions to be their guide in life, and thus are ruled by them. They can include in their number poets, merrymakers, and those who remain children at, well, heart. Their Caste Mark is a lion's head burning bright red to emulate it's owner's passionate nature, and their Anima Banner is flanked by rose red flames on the edges.

          At the end of each session, if a Heart Caste upheld a Major emotional intimacy, for good or ill, they earn an Exalt Milestone.

          Anima Effects
          • Love Brought to the Brink (Passive): Friendly characters acting under an intense emotion (Major Intimacy or Virtue) can spend 1 mote to automatically bring the Incapacitated Exalt back into the fight without transferring power. For the rest of the scene, the Exalt treats their Major Virtue as being Ambition (Fulfilling that emotion.)
          • Sharing the Burden (Active): Spend 1 mote, the Exalt rolls Fortitude + Awareness against difficulty 3 (for willing targets) or 5 (for unwilling targets). The target loses a Minor Intimacy (or downgrades a Major Intimacy) and the Exalt gains that Intimacy at the Minor level.
          • The Heart Knows (Iconic): Whenever the Exalt succeeds at a social influence roll, they automatically find out one of the target’s Intimacies or Virtues (starting with Major.)
          Spirit

          In life, you cannot standby and act passively. To do so is to stagnate and die, leaving behind no mark of your own within history. Decisive action is what's required to better your situation and stand out, and the Spirit Caste understands that fully. They welcomed into their ranks blacksmiths, guards, soldiers and others with an actual spine in their bodies. Their Caste Mark is a falcon's head of piercing blue, and their Anima Banner contains a fluctuating upward wave of blue which pulses with the Exalt's adrenaline.

          At the end of each session, if a Spirit Caste charged into a situation, for good or ill, they earn an Exalt Milestone.


          Anima Effects
          • The Will to Carry On (Passive): Friendly characters with a desperate need or obsession (Major Intimacy or Virtue) can spend 1 mote to automatically bring the Incapacitated Exalt back into the fight without transferring power. For the rest of the scene, the Exalt treats their Major Virtue as being Ambition (Fulfilling that need or obsession.)
          • Competition Breeds Character (Active): Once per story per dot of Finesse, regain 1 mote after engaging in any contested action, regardless of success.
          • Lifting Other's Burdens (Iconic): When acting to support a friendly character’s intimacies, reduce the difficulty of all rolls by 1.
          Life

          Others say that a person depends on this to get through the day, or they need to embrace this theology, or what have you. This, to be blunt, is bullshit. The Life Castes known perfectly well that all you need to get through life is sheer willpower and gumption, and they certainly have those in spades as well as loyalty to their people. Within their brigade include craftsmen, artisans and middle managers, the people one step above those who know nothing and one step below those who think they know everything. Their Caste Mark is a bull's head of a constant orange, and their Anima Banner is shielded from the outside world by a lining of macaroon yellow around it.

          At the end of each session, if a Life Caste refused to budge on an issue, for good or for ill, they earn an Exalt Milestone.

          Anima Effects
          • You Shall Not Touch Him Again (Passive): Whenever one of the Exalt’s Major Intimacies are harmed or attacked, the Incapacitated Exalt returns to the fight without needing to reach 10 power. For the rest of the scene, the Exalt treats their Major Virtue as being Ambition (Protecting that Intimacy.)
          • Endure to the End (Active): Whenever healing an individual through magic, whether that be themselves or another, the Exalt increases their Soak and Hardness by 1. If they are healing a Major Intimacy, they increase those values by Essence/2 (rounded up) instead.
          • Cowards Buckle (Iconic): Whenever the Exalt makes a social influence roll involving intimidation or violence, they can treat their roll as being a success with 1 Influence Effect applied as long as the target’s Resolve is less than the Exalt’s Essence + 2.
          Name

          You must remember who you are and understand yourself before you can take one step forward on the path of life. Forgetting what you're made of can often lead to mistakes, rash decisions and general stumbling blocks on your way to enlightenment. The Name Caste strive to remember these facts just as they remember their names, and they find comfort whenever people remember who they are as well. They recruited into their ranks historians, teachers and archivists, people who remember details about the world around them, understanding those names and applying that knowledge as power. Their Caste Mark is a cobra's head lined with an unchanging green, and their Anima Banner is coated in emerald green letters, representing the names they've acquired in their journey.

          At the end of each session, if a Name Caste accepted a part of themselves as being who they are, for good or for ill, they earn an Exalt Milestone.

          Anima Effects
          • Passive: Any friendly character can sacrifice 1 Major Intimacy to bring the Incapacitated Exalt back into the fight without transferring power. For the rest of the scene, the Exalt treats that Intimacy as one of theirs.
          • Active: Once per scene, the Exalt can cut corners on a Venture to gather information without gaining a complication.
          • Iconic: The Exalt treats the Resolve bonus a target gains from Intimacies and Virtues as being halved (Rounded up.)
          Shadow

          It can be surprising to some that stubbornness and endurance are two different things. The first is a matter of disposition, while the second is a matter of ability. The Shadow caste endure not because they have the willpower to do so, but because they cannot be stripped of what they have already lost. Their's is a cynical view, with every action in the world being motivated by ephemeral, unseen thoughts and feelings that can result in wildly unexpected actions. In their peerage reside priests, criminals and sorcerers, those with a darker or more mystical bent. Their Caste Mark is a jackal's head coated in purple, and their Anima Banner does not at first glance appear all that different from the usual gold and brown... unless you observe the royal purple shadows stretching from those cast in it's light.

          At the end of each session, if a Shadow Caste's cynicism was proven right, for good or for ill, they earn an Exalt Milestone.

          Anima Effects
          • Passive: Any ghost can spend 1 mote to bring the Incapacitated Exalt back into the fight without transferring power. For the rest of the scene, the Exalt treats their Major Virtue as being Loyalty (That Ghost.)
          • Active: Automatically knows when in a god’s domain or touching a ghost’s anchor.
          • Iconic: Can spend 1 Anima and roll Fortitude + Sagacity against Difficulty 3. If successful, dematerialize and be treated as a ghost for the purposes of charms for the scene. If the Exalt's body is destroyed, their spirit form is killed as well.

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          • #6
            Ok. I would like to see the guilds adapted.

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            • #7
              My inclination is similar to Critian Caceorte: the Castes should mirror the Decrees, with Guilds being factions or agendas rather than Castes. Which is not to say that the Guilds shouldn't be addressed; just that they shouldn't be part of “what you are” (which is very much a Decree-like thing), but rather part of “what you intend to do”.

              That division between “what you are” and “what you do”, with a separate set of splats for each, is nearly(?) ubiquitous in the Chronicles of Darkness; not so much in Exalted.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                My inclination is similar to Critian Caceorte: the Castes should mirror the Decrees, with Guilds being factions or agendas rather than Castes. Which is not to say that the Guilds shouldn't be addressed; just that they shouldn't be part of “what you are” (which is very much a Decree-like thing), but rather part of “what you intend to do”.

                That division between “what you are” and “what you do”, with a separate set of splats for each, is nearly(?) ubiquitous in the Chronicles of Darkness; not so much in Exalted.
                I don't disagree, but in M:tC Guilds have a much bigger impact than Decree, with not only more of an impact on how the character is perceived by peers but a far greater impact on magical abilities as well. In 2e they buffed Decrees to give them more of an impact, but I still feel like Guilds had more weight. It doesn't help that there isn't a lot of room in Exalted design for Guilds outside of Castes, which in turn fit well as Decrees.


                Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by FallenEco View Post

                  I don't disagree, but in M:tC Guilds have a much bigger impact than Decree, with not only more of an impact on how the character is perceived by peers but a far greater impact on magical abilities as well. In 2e they buffed Decrees to give them more of an impact, but I still feel like Guilds had more weight. It doesn't help that there isn't a lot of room in Exalted design for Guilds outside of Castes, which in turn fit well as Decrees.
                  same here. it makes sense that the decrees are the castes, but the Guilds should be an inborn thing. they are in the base game. and i have an idea for the deceived, they are neverborn tainted. the exaltations return to Duat, and the neverborn managed to snatch seven of them somehow, and the Temakh are the ghosts of there third circle deva's.

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                  • #10
                    While the Arisen in Exalted is a great idea, in your OP you systematically removed the entire point of it piece by piece. Mummy: The Curse is about living on borrowed time, bound to serve the inscrutable whims of beings whose chains your incredible power is still not enough to break (unless it is) and given a stressfully short deadline to do so by before they reclaim your soul to torment as they see fit until your next assignment comes. In other words it is a deliberate implementation, played for pathos, of what many people describe the 2e Abyssal play experience to be. Despite the lukewarm reception then, I’d say there is a place in Exalted for such a play experience if done well and that you do the Arisen as a concept a disservice by turning the Descent into a mildly inconvenient short-term power fluctuation and replacing the varied agendas of the Judges with “Destroy the Celestial Host.”

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