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"That's not fair! Monsters shouldn't be so smart!" discussing Lunar Intelligence

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  • "That's not fair! Monsters shouldn't be so smart!" discussing Lunar Intelligence

    Okay, so bestial monsters and monstrous beasts, rather than heroes, are the Lunar bailiwick. We actually can work with that for Intelligence Charm inspiration.

    One of the things that scares you about monsters is how "unfair" they are. They're stronger, faster, hardier, armed with more pointy bits, can see in the dark, can track you by scent... Often the only thing that you have in your favor is human intelligence.

    Which makes it all the more terrifying when that advantage is revealed to be smaller than you thought:


    Ripley: They cut the power.
    Hudson: What do you mean, "They cut the power"? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!"

    I ask you to think back over every horror and survival-action story you've read or watched, and think of times that the monsters displayed a frightful, "animal" cunning. Every time they seemed to learn or understand or anticipate something that it initially didn't seem they could.

    Along with the xenomorphs of Aliens, the velociraptors of Jurassic Park are a great example. It's not the level of their feats (any mortal can figure out a door knob, and Lunars start as mortals), but the kind of feats: Testing defenses and containment measures, looking for a weakness to exploit; Understanding locking mechanisms and how to circumvent them; Discerning resources upon which prey depends, and removing those; Using obscuring terrain, pack tactics, distractions and ambushes. These are the kind of things that Intelligent Lunars accomplish at superhuman levels -- if an animal can learn to use a door knob, a Lunar Exalt could bypass a First Age security lock.

    The titular Predator, despite its arrogance and Arnold's apparent total helplessness, stopped at the last instant by the prompting of some intuition, allowing it to realize that Arnold was baiting it into a trap.

    The Lunars already mimic the monster of The Thing in their ability to take the memories as well as the faces of those they eat. Stealing information that could never have been gained through investigation or torture, and which should have gone to the grave, is a terrifyingly "unfair" ability that forms the stuff of Creation's nightmares.

    It's best to avoid going too far in that field of inspiration, though. The Lunars do not draw inspiration from the Tyranids or Zerg, who rely too heavily on science-fiction in their aesthetic, whereas the Lunar Exalted are supposed to be firmly spirit-and-stone fantasy. Even the resemblance to the The Thing is incidental next to the more down-to-filthy-earth examples of cannibal witch-doctors eating brains as part of their unholy, pagan rites.


    formerly Tornado Wolf, formerly Inugami

  • #2
    I feel like Lunars can certainly borrow heavily from StarCraft II Zerg, who are not basically Tyrannic expies (unlike how they were largely portrayed in StarCraft I). Especially with regard to the Zerus/Primal Zerg storyline.


    "Chicanery-No: If a player uses this Charm in an abusive or exploitative manner, the ST may punch him right in the goddamn face." --TheDementedOne

    "Happiness is very brittle and short-lived in the Exalted community, because ressentiment is our cultural touchstone." --Gayo

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post
      I feel like Lunars can certainly borrow heavily from StarCraft II Zerg, who are not basically Tyrannic expies (unlike how they were largely portrayed in StarCraft I). Especially with regard to the Zerus/Primal Zerg storyline.
      How? In what way?


      formerly Tornado Wolf, formerly Inugami

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      • #4
        I still wouldn't use The Thing as an inspiration for any Lunar capabilities, because it forms a fundamental part of 2e chimerae, and the more distance from that, the better.

        Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post
        I feel like Lunars can certainly borrow heavily from StarCraft II Zerg, who are not basically Tyrannic expies (unlike how they were largely portrayed in StarCraft I). Especially with regard to the Zerus/Primal Zerg storyline.
        Weren't the Tyranids originally much less like the Zerg of SC1? I seem to recall someone posting unit pictures of what looked like weird looking aliens with swords and "bioguns" on /tg/ of years past.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
          How? In what way?
          Survival of the fittest, planned Darwinism, consuming others to increase your own strength...I wouldn't even mind seeing some of the Darwinian themes in the Silver Pact, like inc your Mentor grows too weak to hold his station you have a duty to overthrow him so the fittest are always in charge. That's just a side thought though.

          Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
          Weren't the Tyranids originally much less like the Zerg of SC1? I seem to recall someone posting unit pictures of what looked like weird looking aliens with swords and "bioguns" on /tg/ of years past.
          In appearance, sure, nids infantry has always had like bioswords and biorifles etc but then you also have things that are effectively Ultralisks and Mutalisks in everything but name - living tanks, etc. In theme, not really, it was clear that the SC1 Zerg were borrowing heavily from nid themes. SC1 didn't do much with them beyond "giant horde controlled by some specialized conduits for the Overmind," kind of like the Bugs of Starship Troopers, but I think the Brain Bugs were more independently sentient than anything portrayed in the nids until the Swarmlord, or the Zerg until SC2.


          "Chicanery-No: If a player uses this Charm in an abusive or exploitative manner, the ST may punch him right in the goddamn face." --TheDementedOne

          "Happiness is very brittle and short-lived in the Exalted community, because ressentiment is our cultural touchstone." --Gayo

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Zelbinnean View Post
            Survival of the fittest, planned Darwinism, consuming others to increase your own strength...I wouldn't even mind seeing some of the Darwinian themes in the Silver Pact, like inc your Mentor grows too weak to hold his station you have a duty to overthrow him so the fittest are always in charge. That's just a side thought though.
            It has no Darwinian themes, and evolutionary fitness has nothing to do with Lunars, seeing as how they don't propagate by blood and both they and beastfolk have many an independent bent away from Pact business (which is pretty much just one thing - fuck the Realm). Even the Social Darwinism that you're bringing up is likely going to end, since it doesn't do much for the asymmetric military goal of EX3 Lunars. You don't want constant infighting in your local cell, or among other cells. It doesn't make them stronger, it just wastes resources while the Realm watches and laughs.

            In appearance, sure, nids infantry has always had like bioswords and biorifles etc but then you also have things that are effectively Ultralisks and Mutalisks in everything but name - living tanks, etc. In theme, not really, it was clear that the SC1 Zerg were borrowing heavily from nid themes. SC1 didn't do much with them beyond "giant horde controlled by some specialized conduits for the Overmind," kind of like the Bugs of Starship Troopers, but I think the Brain Bugs were more independently sentient than anything portrayed in the nids until the Swarmlord, or the Zerg until SC2.
            That's not what sentient means, though in fairness, an awful lot of the "living war machines" of scifi tend to show no indication of feeling pain or discomfort as they crash into mechanical war machines to do battle. Can't really argue too much on the Starcraft vs 40k front, though. I try to stay out of it, so I only catch snippets of arguments.
            Last edited by Saur Ops Specialist; 11-27-2014, 01:19 PM.

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            • #7
              This reminds me of the problem with synthesist summoners in Pathfinder, you can dump your physical stats because you are just going to take them from your Eidalon. I don't thing Lunars necessarily get the stats of their animal forms so hopefully it wont be a problem in EX3.

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              • #8
                I like this model. I think there's room for straight up "uncanny genius" in Lunar Intelligence, but this is a good vision of how to add a distinctive character to them at the tree level.

                Conceptually, I tend to imagine Lunars as punishing specialists -- shifting the context of battle into a situation where their adaptability and versatility has the maximum benefit, and exploiting the fact that major adversaries tend to be very narrowly focused. So it's not hard to see them using powers that circumvent or strip away the advantages their opponents rely on, and I could definitely see that sort of thing going in Intelligence, among other places.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gayo View Post
                  I like this model. I think there's room for straight up "uncanny genius" in Lunar Intelligence, but this is a good vision of how to add a distinctive character to them at the tree level.

                  Conceptually, I tend to imagine Lunars as punishing specialists -- shifting the context of battle into a situation where their adaptability and versatility has the maximum benefit, and exploiting the fact that major adversaries tend to be very narrowly focused. So it's not hard to see them using powers that circumvent or strip away the advantages their opponents rely on, and I could definitely see that sort of thing going in Intelligence, among other places.
                  "If you thought you won, you never saw me change the game that we were playing."

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                  • #10
                    I like this.

                    First off, Chimera are cool, especially as antagonists to regular Lunars, and should be kept around as a concept. Not necessarily implemented the same way, but the idea that a shapeshifter can eventually lose himself and forget who he really is at the core and turn into a monster is really awesome...and Chimera being SMART monsters instead of just ravening beasts makes them amazingly useful for telling horror stories in Exalted. You can definitely have some "it cut off the power?!" moments with Chimera.

                    Lunar intelligence should include this sort of cunning. They're guerrilla fighters by nature, so Alien and Predator and other such sneaky badasses make good inspiration even if you don't want your Lunars all alien and transhuman-decent werewolf movies have the same sort of tropes, for instance. Lunars doing things like striking, taking out one member of your group in a chilling display of violence, and vanishing into the night to leave you staring at shadows before striking again days later is definitely in-theme. Lunars taking away your advantages one by one until you're just a big naked ape is also a thing they should be doing: if you have heavy armor, they'll bring the game of cat-and-mouse into a swamp where your armor drags you down into the mud and their scales don't. If you are a brilliant archer, they'll try to get you into a thick jungle. If you're an expert at urban warfare, they'll try to get you out of Chiarascuro into the empty desert, and swim under the sand. They should always be using their amazing versatility to try and take advantage of the fact that you're not as versatile. Like Alien taking advantage of ventilation systems or the fact that nobody ever looks up, they should be intelligently analyzing your weak points and striking you there.

                    They are hunters, after all. Every form in their library is something they spent eight hours stalking before killing. There's an intimacy to that sort of hunt: it's about knowing your prey. Lunars should be doing things like figuring out your intimacies by stalking you so they can use them against you, or determining some of your ability ratings during the hunt so they can adapt their tactics to suit your weaknesses. A Lunar hunter should have charms that let them deduce your fears so they can become them, or to figure out who you trust so they can devour the heart of someone who can get them close to you. If you're another exalt, you're dangerous, so they'll take their time: being hunted by a Lunar exalt shouldn't just be a big furry monster tearing out of the woods: you should KNOW you're being hunted, and be TERRIFIED of it.


                    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

                    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
                    -Roger Zelazny

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                    • #11
                      Hmmm... A simplification like "Lunar Intelligence Charms are not monstruous on their own... but are particularly intimidating within the body of a monster"? Complementary mental abilities to enhance the effect of their primary physical changing (mental because these examples work as well for Perception and Wits). Probably a horrible simplification.

                      Definitely one sort of cool inspiration to consider. Although I don't know if Lunars, chimera apart are ever really "it", rather than just perceived that way by prey (when that suits the Lunar), and a new idea. Of course, Lunars need to have Intelligence beyond the predatory, as they can't just be "terrifying" or predators and hunters.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wise Old Guru View Post
                        First off, Chimera are cool, especially as antagonists to regular Lunars, and should be kept around as a concept. Not necessarily implemented the same way, but the idea that a shapeshifter can eventually lose himself and forget who he really is at the core and turn into a monster is really awesome...and Chimera being SMART monsters instead of just ravening beasts makes them amazingly useful for telling horror stories in Exalted. You can definitely have some "it cut off the power?!" moments with Chimera.
                        I have a real issue with the notion that of all the Exalted, only Lunars might risk losing themselves and basically turning into the Relic as a side-cost of actually using their native powers. This should be a thing that happens to all of them or to none. Losing control of your body and mind for constantly being something you are not (which is one of your bred-and-butter powers on top of it) is just punitive when layered on top of the Great Curse.


                        "Chicanery-No: If a player uses this Charm in an abusive or exploitative manner, the ST may punch him right in the goddamn face." --TheDementedOne

                        "Happiness is very brittle and short-lived in the Exalted community, because ressentiment is our cultural touchstone." --Gayo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wise Old Guru View Post
                          I like this.

                          First off, Chimera are cool, especially as antagonists to regular Lunars, and should be kept around as a concept. Not necessarily implemented the same way, but the idea that a shapeshifter can eventually lose himself and forget who he really is at the core and turn into a monster is really awesome...and Chimera being SMART monsters instead of just ravening beasts makes them amazingly useful for telling horror stories in Exalted. You can definitely have some "it cut off the power?!" moments with Chimera.
                          No you won't. At least, no more so than any other Lunar.

                          Originally posted by Cromage
                          Q: I like the idea of "dualism" but I'm not so keen on the "human vs monster" and have actually seen that more in the province of (gasp!) other splats (don't kill me). I like the idea of Lunars being champions of two worlds--exiles, outsiders, emigrants, and wanderers--and having to either choose one world or another or somehow trying to reconcile them.
                          ETA: More importantly I always hated chimerism and its tendency to drag Lunars into really dumb places. Maybe 3e will make it not suck.
                          Originally posted by John Mørke
                          A: Human vs. monster isn't on the schedule. I'm not turning Lunars into a werewolf story.
                          Chimeraism is going to be way different in EX3.
                          Lunar intelligence should include this sort of cunning. They're guerrilla fighters by nature, so Alien and Predator and other such sneaky badasses make good inspiration even if you don't want your Lunars all alien and transhuman-decent werewolf movies have the same sort of tropes, for instance. Lunars doing things like striking, taking out one member of your group in a chilling display of violence, and vanishing into the night to leave you staring at shadows before striking again days later is definitely in-theme. Lunars taking away your advantages one by one until you're just a big naked ape is also a thing they should be doing: if you have heavy armor, they'll bring the game of cat-and-mouse into a swamp where your armor drags you down into the mud and their scales don't. If you are a brilliant archer, they'll try to get you into a thick jungle. If you're an expert at urban warfare, they'll try to get you out of Chiarascuro into the empty desert, and swim under the sand. They should always be using their amazing versatility to try and take advantage of the fact that you're not as versatile. Like Alien taking advantage of ventilation systems or the fact that nobody ever looks up, they should be intelligently analyzing your weak points and striking you there.

                          They are hunters, after all. Every form in their library is something they spent eight hours stalking before killing. There's an intimacy to that sort of hunt: it's about knowing your prey. Lunars should be doing things like figuring out your intimacies by stalking you so they can use them against you, or determining some of your ability ratings during the hunt so they can adapt their tactics to suit your weaknesses. A Lunar hunter should have charms that let them deduce your fears so they can become them, or to figure out who you trust so they can devour the heart of someone who can get them close to you. If you're another exalt, you're dangerous, so they'll take their time: being hunted by a Lunar exalt shouldn't just be a big furry monster tearing out of the woods: you should KNOW you're being hunted, and be TERRIFIED of it.
                          "They cut the geomantic power flow!" is probably more likely due to Perception (to sense how the Essence flow in a Manse moves with a sensitivity for the mystical) and Strength (to "redecorate" the Manse by turning into a bull and rampaging around all of the sculptures and fine china). Intelligence probably sees more use in vision quests, omen reading, dream interpretation, and producing toxins and other substances.

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                          • #14
                            Something that is important to remember... Lunars are people. They couple human brilliance with animal instinct and cunning.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ejtaka View Post
                              Something that is important to remember... Lunars are people. They couple human brilliance with animal instinct and cunning.
                              Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                              Along with the xenomorphs of Aliens, the velociraptors of Jurassic Park are a great example. It's not the level of their feats (any mortal can figure out a door knob, and Lunars start as mortals), but the kind of feats: Testing defenses and containment measures, looking for a weakness to exploit; Understanding locking mechanisms and how to circumvent them; Discerning resources upon which prey depends, and removing those; Using obscuring terrain, pack tactics, distractions and ambushes. These are the kind of things that Intelligent Lunars accomplish at superhuman levels -- if an animal can learn to use a door knob, a Lunar Exalt could bypass a First Age security lock.
                              Since you quoted no one and don't seem to be responding to Saur Ops, I must conclude that you are responding to the original post.

                              In which case, I think you skipped something.

                              I get very angry when people skim my words and post a point they think I overlooked.


                              formerly Tornado Wolf, formerly Inugami

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