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  • Mortals and Enlightenment

    So enlightened mortals are no longer a thing in 3e. Martial Artists and sorcerers are still a thing, of course. Mortals just don't have mote pools to power these things, from what I can tell.

    What other Charms could enlightened mortals even learn in 2e? Mostly just martial arts and sorcery unless they happen to be god blooded, right? So it just feels like an alteration in terminology to me. Like in 3e, enlightened mortals still exist in their two major forms, we just don't call them enlightened mortals anymore.

    If that's the case, why the change?


    Don't feel bad. People tell the developers they get Exalted wrong all the time. -hippokrene

  • #2
    Maybe it's like Magitech, which will still be around, just called something different to distance it from previous portrayals?

    But mortals not having an active Essence pool severely hampers them in performing MA, Sorcery and Thaumaturgy. So, I'm not sure how this is going to work, esp. given the emphasis on making mortals credible threats to the Exalted now...

    God-Blooded will still be Enlightened, right? (crosses fingers)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Childofthesun1 View Post
      If that's the case, why the change?
      Well, I always thought that enlightened mortals are supposed to be someone akin to Indian guru or Chinese xian, people who attain enlightenment through ascetic practice. Turn out they are just Mortal with Charms in Exalted, and the way someone become enlightened looked extremely...um...logical and mechanical?, a god or a Solar slap your butt and commit some motes, bam, you become a guru, the god and the Solar stop commit motes, bam, you're no longer a guru. When there are plans to mass enlightened like making hamburger then it just feel silly instead of being mythological.

      Not to mention many people love the idea of Mortal with Charms, witness the rage over the disappearance of TMA and Techniques. Enlightened mortals foster the idea that a true hero is a human who attain enlightenment, then learn Path of the Arbiter Style to get himself Artifact weapon and armor, then learn a shit load of TMA, then use hax Artifacts to get Sorcery, maybe even have a Warstrider made from yellow Jade since you don't need to commit mote to those things. Exalted, on the other hand, are just a bunch of cheaters that get lucky while the human is a badass self-made man who don't need some divine ticket like an exaltation, example include the Perfect oh so Perfect.


      Originally posted by Hand-of-Omega View Post
      Maybe it's like Magitech, which will still be around, just called something different to distance it from previous portrayals?

      But mortals not having an active Essence pool severely hampers them in performing MA, Sorcery and Thaumaturgy. So, I'm not sure how this is going to work, esp. given the emphasis on making mortals credible threats to the Exalted now...

      God-Blooded will still be Enlightened, right? (crosses fingers)
      I feel like you shouldn't need charms to be a credible threats to the Exalted, that mentality is one of the reason why some people want to mass product enlightened mortals since they are the best mooks that you could get.

      And the devs has said that there are mortal Sorcerers in Third Edition, they don't use normal motes to fuel their spell, but instead by gathering energy? from the environment IIRC.
      Last edited by Jen; 03-28-2015, 12:11 PM.


      The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~

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      • #4
        I don't think Enlightened Mortals were ever supposed to be like "enlightened" mystics in the Real World. At least, not specifically. That's one way for them to go, and there are appropriate exercises, of sutras, yoga, and various other meditations, that take years to awaken one's Essence, so, yes, the game does allow for that. But EM come in many flavors!

        You can play one who "cheats", by taking the short cut of an empowering artifact, or drug, or exposure to the Wyld or Demesnes. Yes, you can play someone who gains their power from Exalts or Spirits, either committed, as you describe, or they can have their essence permanently awakened, and the Exalt/Spirit can't take it back. There are probably other ways to do so, that I'm forgetting right now...

        Why should the game be so narrow as to restrict itself, and our options, to just one thing?

        And, yes, many people love the Enlightened Mortal concept and were upset at this change, which should tell you something. Although I doubt if most (or any) of them were minmaxing to the absurd level you describe, Jen!

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        • #5
          And, yes, many people love the Enlightened Mortal concept and were upset at this change, which should tell you something. Although I doubt if most (or any) of them were minmaxing to the absurd level you describe, Jen!
          There are crazy schemes to mass product enlightened mortals somewhere on the Internet, I'm sure of it ! >_<

          Hmmmm, looking at my comparison between enlightened mortals and Chinese xian make me think of something. Xian is people who attain enlightenment through Taoist practice, one of the power package when you become a xian is the ability to fly using a fluffy cloud. And guess what does Cirrus Skiff do ? Allowing you to fly with a fluffy cloud !

          Perhaps "Enlightened Mortal" still exist in Third Edition, they are just called " Mortal Sorcerer" now !


          The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jen View Post

            There are crazy schemes to mass product enlightened mortals somewhere on the Internet, I'm sure of it ! >_<
            Yeah, I'm sure some people have put together such plans, although whether they are seriously intended for use, or just exercises in theory is debatable. Still, ANY system lends itself to such abuses, and 3E won't be an exception, I'm sure.

            I'd rather have options available to me than have them excised to cut out such potential (and absurd) abuse.
            Hmmmm, looking at my comparison between enlightened mortals and Chinese xian make me think of something. Xian is people who attain enlightenment through Taoist practice, one of the power package when you become a xian is the ability to fly using a fluffy cloud. And guess what does Cirrus Skiff do ? Allowing you to fly with a fluffy cloud !

            Perhaps "Enlightened Mortal" still exist in Third Edition, they are just called " Mortal Sorcerer" now !
            Pretty much what the OP was saying, I think!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jen View Post

              Well, I always thought that enlightened mortals are supposed to be someone akin to Indian guru or Chinese xian, people who attain enlightenment through ascetic practice. Turn out they are just Mortal with Charms in Exalted, and the way someone become enlightened looked extremely...um...logical and mechanical?, a god or a Solar slap your butt and commit some motes, bam, you become a guru, the god and the Solar stop commit motes, bam, you're no longer a guru.
              Er... this is possible, certainly, but as your own words attest to later on it really isn't how things work in the vast majority of cases. Most Enlightened mortals got there on their own terms.

              Enlightened mortals foster the idea that a true hero is a human who attain enlightenment, then learn Path of the Arbiter Style to get himself Artifact weapon and armor, then learn a shit load of TMA, then use hax Artifacts to get Sorcery, maybe even have a Warstrider made from yellow Jade since you don't need to commit mote to those things. Exalted, on the other hand, are just a bunch of cheaters that get lucky while the human is a badass self-made man who don't need some divine ticket like an exaltation, example include the Perfect oh so Perfect.
              ... that is a bad example. The Perfect found a magical beatstick and leveraged it. He is far from self-made. Him being lucky enough to find the staff is functionally equivalent to having been lucky enough to receive an Exaltation.

              I feel like you shouldn't need charms to be a credible threats to the Exalted, that mentality is one of the reason why some people want to mass product enlightened mortals since they are the best mooks that you could get.
              I'll be honest, the devs have been saying this, but I'm not sure how you can represent that mechanically or narratively.

              Puissance, for lack of a better word, in Creation is represented in one of three ways; stats, Charms, and spells. Mortals have a hard cap on stats (it's kind of ridiculous to imagine a mortal with the kind of Strength score that, say, a Tyrant Lizard has) which leaves them at a disadvantage against Exalts, who have Charms and spells. But there really isn't a fourth path to puissance.

              This is problematic if you want mortals to be a credible threat in anything other than a "if you hurl human waves at an Exalt for long enough they'll run out of motes" sense. Training and cleverness only go so far, especially since one of the kinds of puissance the Exalted have access to (Charms) includes a number of ways to actually make yourself more clever; there are literally Charms that make you think better and faster than any mortal.

              The only way to make mortals an actual credible threat is to either nerf Exalts (it's own set of problems) or buff mortals in some way. In previous editions buffing mortals has taken the form of Enlightening their essence and/or strapping awesome gear onto them. Both of those are apparently becoming disfavored, so I wonder how they're going to represent this. The only thing I can think of is "the mechanics have been tweaked such that you can't just ignore mortals anymore; you can still scythe through them like stalks of grain, as an Exalt should, but that will require nontrivial expenditures of resources rather than just something you can turn on and forget about."



              "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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              • #8
                Exalted has traditionally drawn inspiration from a lot of different sources though two of them are very important. The first is the genre of Wuxia, while the other is the mythological Epics.

                Many people conflate Wuxia with wire-fu, but that's only a small part (you can have wire-fu films that aren't Wuxia). One of the core conceits of Wuxia though has always been the idea of "Equality through Martial Arts." Basically, through hard work, training and effort, anyone is able to become the equal to any other person. Whether you're the son of the Emperor, the son of a god, of the son of a street whore, if you work hard and you dedicate yourself to the martial arts, you will be able to equal anyone else.

                In fact, a common refrain in Wuxia is the idea of the "lazy martial artist" who has allowed his skills to rust because he's so confident. He stops working hard, and as a result his kung fu weakens, and when your kung fu is weak, you die. So in a sense, Wuxia is predicated on the idea that working hard will pay off, while one's birthright and the divine powers are much less important.

                However, in the mythological Epics (The Iliad, the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, etc) the opposite is true. In these stories, the most important thing is your lineage - are you the child of a god? If so then you are automatically going to be much cooler and much more badass than everyone else. Indeed, normal mortals have little chance when faced with a god-child. The only other way people can compete is by gaining the attention of a god - if a god has your back, then you're pretty cool (though that is dangerous as the gods are fickle; just because Aphrodite thinks you're pretty cool today doesn't mean she'll feel the same way tomorrow).

                In the epics you rarely see pure, normal humans who rise to the greatest heights because ultimately hardwork and effort aren't as important as the gifts you were born with. This is a common refrain that you often see over and over, and why characters like Heracles, Achilles and Gilgamesh can do the sort of things that they do.

                Exalted has always borrowed much more from the latter than the former. In Exalted, what matters is the Exaltation. If you don't have it, you're going to be, at best, a second stringer. The Exalted can do things you never can, and will live much longer, etc.

                And the important thing to remember is that the Exaltation is a gift. It's not something you can earn. No matter how hard you work or how much effort you put in, you will never be able to earn an Exaltation. The Exaltation is not something you deserve - to repeat (because it's important), the Exaltation is a gift that has been given to you. In Creation there are countless people who deserve an Exaltation yet will never receive one. And likewise there are Exalted who never deserved the power they were given.

                So the idea of the Exaltation itself flies in the face of Wuxia and it's concept of "Equality through Martial Arts." No matter how hard you work, no matter how much dedication you put in, if you're a mortal you will always be left behind. And no, it's not fair, but that's just the way the setting works. Some of the books (like the old Aspect books) actually discuss this idea quite a bit.

                Enlightened mortals were basically a sop thrown to the people who really dig on the idea that hard work should be meaningful and that, even if you aren't an Exalt, you should still be able to matter and still be able to be important. Allowing mortals who worked hard to Enlighten their Essence gave mortals a chance to become a little special, though still not on the level of an Exalt.

                So I imagine that many of the people who are upset about the loss of Enlightened Mortals were those who liked the idea that hard work and effort could still have some meaning, even in a setting where they are ultimately of secondary importance.

                In Third Edition it seems like Sorcery is the last path available for mortals who work hard, and I know some people are going to miss the Martial Arts/Wuxia overtones. I certainly will, and I may see about somehow reintroducing the concept into my setting.
                Last edited by AnubisXy; 03-28-2015, 02:36 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                  And the important thing to remember is that the Exaltation is a gift. It's not something you can earn. No matter how hard you work or how much effort you put in, you will never be able to earn an Exaltation. The Exaltation is not something you deserve - to repeat (because it's important), the Exaltation is a gift that has been given to you. In Creation there are countless people who deserve an Exaltation yet will never receive one. And likewise there are Exalted who never deserved the power they were given.
                  I am relatively certain you are dead flat wrong about this when it comes to Solar and Lunar Exaltations. You're making a category error, I think. It's not a choice between "a gift" and "you can earn one." It is both, at the same time.

                  You absolutely and completely have to earn Solar and Lunar Exaltations. Both editions have hammered on that fact repeatedly, especially for a Solar Exaltation; you have to be excellent. You have to push beyond the limits of a mortal, have the ability to keep slamming your head against the wall when any other mortal would have given up. In that moment, you prove yourself worthy. You have to earn it. An Exaltation will not come as a random gift to someone who never does that, ever.

                  But by the same token, it is also and at the same time a gift. There aren't enough Exaltations for everybody who is deserving of one to have one. So those who were lucky, who were in the right place at the right time, receive it as a gift. But it's a gift that they earned.

                  The one doesn't preclude the other. You will never find a Solar or a Lunar who did not earn their Exaltation, who wasn't worthy of it. You will find a shit-ton who proved themselves unworthy of it later on, but that isn't the same thing.


                  "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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                  • #10
                    You can be the greatest warrior in Creation who honed his skills and fought bravely in a thousand battles. That doesn't mean you will Exalt.

                    You could be a farmgirl who never used a weapon before, who picked up a sword to protect her home and Exalt as a Dawn Caste warrior. That is absolutely and totally possible.

                    Hard work and effort have zero baring on whether you will Exalt (save maybe an Alchemical, as you have to have put in hard work and effort over the course of many lives, but Alchemicals are a bit different in a lot of ways).

                    You can't earn an Exaltation, save possibly making a deal with a Deathlord. Other than that, you can only be gifted an Exaltation. Because it is, ultimately, a gift - this is especially something that the authors have discussed for 3rd edition.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                      You can be the greatest warrior in Creation who honed his skills and fought bravely in a thousand battles. That doesn't mean you will Exalt.
                      Uh. Well, you're correct, but martial puissance isn't the criteria by which Exaltations are earned. That's like saying "you can become the greatest expert on yeddim in Creation, but that doesn't mean you will Exalt." "Knowing about yeddim" and "martial prowess" are not the criteria by which you earn an Exaltation.

                      You could be a farmgirl who never used a weapon before, who picked up a sword to protect her home and Exalt as a Dawn Caste warrior. That is absolutely and totally possible.
                      And that farmgirl earned her Exaltation. It did not come to her randomly! She proved herself excellent. She pushed beyond her limits in a situation in which most mortals would have completely folded, and she earned her Exaltation with her bravery, fortitude, and unwillingness to quit. Without displaying those qualities, she gets jack shit.

                      Hard work and effort have zero baring on whether you will Exalt (save maybe an Alchemical, as you have to have put in hard work and effort over the course of many lives, but Alchemicals are a bit different in a lot of ways).
                      "Hard work and effort have zero bearing on whether you will Exalt" /= "you can't earn an Exaltation." Those two sets are are non-overlapping.

                      You can't earn an Exaltation, save possibly making a deal with a Deathlord. Other than that, you can only be gifted an Exaltation. Because it is, ultimately, a gift - this is especially something that the authors have discussed for 3rd edition.
                      It's. Both. You have to earn it, and it is a gift. I am reasonably certain that in 3e, the Exaltation is not completely random and can come to anyone at any time. You will still have to earn it in a moment of excellence.


                      "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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                      • #12
                        Its probably just a concept of scale. In previous edition, if you were an enlightened mortal, yeah, good for you, but I don't think anyone really registered you as bad-ass. Even Sorcerers were 'just' enlightened mortals.

                        Now, that word is getting thrown out. Now, you are a Sorcerer. "Oh shit". Yeah, I know. *flails magic* And a Sorcerer is something to be feared. Just a toe line away from demonic scary.

                        I haven't heard about Martial Artists using essence, but if you command the most powerful techniques in the martial world, normally held by only the Exalted then...yeah, you're also quite scary.

                        But just labelling them all 'enlightened mortals' was handy, but not nearly as cool.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                          Many people conflate Wuxia with wire-fu, but that's only a small part (you can have wire-fu films that aren't Wuxia). One of the core conceits of Wuxia though has always been the idea of "Equality through Martial Arts." Basically, through hard work, training and effort, anyone is able to become the equal to any other person. Whether you're the son of the Emperor, the son of a god, of the son of a street whore, if you work hard and you dedicate yourself to the martial arts, you will be able to equal anyone else.
                          I know this is often cited, and there is a certain Chinese belief in hard work, cultivation and merit so it is a thing, still typical wuxia still has a lot of high families and natural brilliance and clans and stuff - I think you're mostly right, but its more to me that in wuxia, supernatural power is a continuation of whatever your theory of human talent is.

                          Like, Jen is just more naturally talented than Jade Fox and Yu Shu Lien. She did not work harder for it! And that's a major plot point and not really a deconstruction of wuxia. That stuff is quite common. A person's just a once in a generation genius, or the son's the only one who groks the father's style.

                          You need hard work as well, but its not like Achilles or Odysseus were effortless.

                          That's different from being gifted from the gods though, perhaps.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Hand-of-Omega View Post
                            But mortals not having an active Essence pool severely hampers them in performing MA, Sorcery and Thaumaturgy.
                            Cite to the 3e rules proving your case. Oh, wait.

                            At any rate nobody uses their own motes for sorcery and this is confirmed so that's one thing you are definitely wrong about.

                            Originally posted by Hand-of-Omega View Post
                            So, I'm not sure how this is going to work, esp. given the emphasis on making mortals credible threats to the Exalted now...
                            Stop thinking about magic being the be-all end-all, for starters.


                            "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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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jen View Post

                              Well, I always thought that enlightened mortals are supposed to be someone akin to Indian guru or Chinese xian, people who attain enlightenment through ascetic practice. Turn out they are just Mortal with Charms in Exalted, and the way someone become enlightened looked extremely...um...logical and mechanical?, a god or a Solar slap your butt and commit some motes, bam, you become a guru, the god and the Solar stop commit motes, bam, you're no longer a guru. When there are plans to mass enlightened like making hamburger then it just feel silly instead of being mythological.
                              That is not an enlightened mortal. The Charm to mass-enlighten mortals is in Scroll of the Monk, and does not commit motes. You reference Power-Awarding Prana, which is a commitment, but it grants real, honest-to-god Solar Charms. They start at Essence 2 and there's no mention of buying up to 3, but Enlightened Mortals can so maybe? But PAP gives access to perfect defenses and all kinds of shenanigans, much better than a TMA or a few (impressive) spells. PAP never got any expansion Charms, but I would fully expect stuff to let Hercules buff Iolaus for cheaper, make him able to increase essence, and generally make him a mini-Solar. I do think it should have included a clause about refunding xp upon breaking the commitment, or becoming enlightened upon turning off the Charm, or something. This is really early 2e though, so it's bound to be weird.

                              Anyways, I liked the idea of "Mortal with motes." The big difference between mortal and exalt is then their anima banner, which contains the lion's share of their motes and also lets them increase their mote pool by virtues and willpower. Enlightened mortals may not have got enough love, but it should have always been a Big Deal to have motes. Motes give you artifacts, Charms, and generally represent gaining an understanding of the Essence of creation. I think there is no problem with the term's existence, only with it's execution.

                              Edit: To be clear, mortals do no need enlightenment. But I think it was cool and encompassed Sorcerer and Martial Artist nicely.
                              Last edited by Childofthesun1; 03-28-2015, 03:40 PM.


                              Don't feel bad. People tell the developers they get Exalted wrong all the time. -hippokrene

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