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How secret are SMA?

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  • #16
    Depends on your definition. Many Sutras exist out in the world, known by street rats in Nexus and elders in Coral. They are pieces of knowledge so old and fundamental that they almost do not qualify as knowledge anymore.

    However, the perspicacity granted by the Exaltation of the Maidens is required to recognize the essential truths hidden in plain sight and gain enlightenment from it.


    ....

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Lundgren View Post
      Hm... Now I want to create a Sidereal organization that has the abbrevation NSA so I can use the "No Such Agency" name joke. But I can't think of a suitable name; ******* Sidereal Agency.

      Non-existant Sidereal Agency
      Never Seen Agency
      Notationally Silent Agency
      No Sane Agenda

      As for SMAs in my head-canon, 1.5ish, Since (mostly) nobody except Awakened Essence beings can even remember Sids in the first place, most beings aren't aware of SMAs, but it's not like the Sids go out of their way to hide them either. It just makes the intimidation factor that much higher against anybody who *can* remember that Sids have this rather impressive set of manuvers that (again, mostly) nobody else can gain access to.

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      • #18
        Still wondering how option 3 would play out.
        Is there a secret cabal of Sids going around silencing witnesses like MIB? Do they have code words for their job? Do they say they're gonna quack you if you don't shut up? How do they explain away the sudden increase in duck population in correlation with the escalating number of disappearances? Do they quack people who ask? When does it stop?
        So many questions.

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        • #19
          How else is everything strange explained in Exalted?

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          • #20
            It tends to vary in my games, depending on how metagamy my players are trying to be and subsequently how much I have to crack down on them. I'd say I average around 1.75, but have cranked it up to 2.5 in games where the players have tried to use past life memories and Lore excellencies to argue that they essentially have rulebooks downloaded into their brain upon Exaltation.

            Even then, it varies by style. When most people say "Sidereal Martial Arts," they mean Prismatic Arrangement of Creation. A good deal fewer people know about Citirine Poxes, Charcoal Spiders, Quicksilver or Sapphire Veil (and other Caste-flavored styles). The only person who ever knew about Obsidian Shards was the creator, and she only used Breathing on the Black Mirror once. It's logical to assume that Naro-O knows about the style (since it's within his purview), Lytek might have some details (because he took all memories off her Exaltation before it went back into the world, though for reasons unrelated to the style), and Kejak is rumored to have mastered all forms of SMA that have ever existed, including several that no one else has ever heard of, but if you listen to all the rumors about Kejak...


            Have you ever read a Coik post before, man? lol
            -Holden

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            • #21
              I'm with Coik on this one, mostly.

              Obviously things depend a lot on the individual game, but my default position is that some SMA are better-known than the Sidereals themselves. Prismatic Arrangement of Creation and Charcoal March of the Spiders get a special mention here- if there's a myth representing a legendary kung-fu archmaster, the illustrations probably picture katas from PAoC. If someone talks about an ancient forbidden technique of terrible power, they're probably referring to Pattern Spider Touch. Since most of my games aren't all that kung-fu centric, it doesn't come up much.

              (In any game I ran, something like Kaleidoscopic Border would be apocryphal even to most Sidereals)

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              • #22
                Related to that, I wonder how secret the SMA sutras and Sidereal charm tree prayer strips are? They're not really useful to most people, but presumably they would have been widely-distributed in the First Age, and assuming the breaking of the mask didn't obscure them, they might have survived... although probably even if any books of them did, most people wouldn't see them as anything but slightly odd poetry.

                Do people worship the Maidens in Creation? There's a lot about the worship of the UCS and Luna, but almost nothing about the worship of the Maidens, probably because "wander around making people worship my patron" isn't exactly a Sidereal concept. I'd assume that the prayer strips and possibly (for better-known styles) the sutras would have factored into mortal worship of the Maidens in the First Age, though, if nothing else.

                What about Gaia? It's telling that her own Exalted never seem to have worshiped her, but I would have expected there to be Gaia cults in the First Age, especially among the DBs... did they all die out? It'd be weird for the Immaculate Faith to only incompletely suppress worship of the Incarnae, but to completely suppress worship of Gaia.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                  Related to that, I wonder how secret the SMA sutras and Sidereal charm tree prayer strips are? They're not really useful to most people, but presumably they would have been widely-distributed in the First Age, and assuming the breaking of the mask didn't obscure them, they might have survived... although probably even if any books of them did, most people wouldn't see them as anything but slightly odd poetry.

                  Do people worship the Maidens in Creation? There's a lot about the worship of the UCS and Luna, but almost nothing about the worship of the Maidens, probably because "wander around making people worship my patron" isn't exactly a Sidereal concept. I'd assume that the prayer strips and possibly (for better-known styles) the sutras would have factored into mortal worship of the Maidens in the First Age, though, if nothing else.

                  What about Gaia? It's telling that her own Exalted never seem to have worshiped her, but I would have expected there to be Gaia cults in the First Age, especially among the DBs... did they all die out? It'd be weird for the Immaculate Faith to only incompletely suppress worship of the Incarnae, but to completely suppress worship of Gaia.
                  Well, there's of course the indirect ways of worshiping the Maidens throughout Creation.

                  For example, since Venus is the Maiden of Serenity and her color is Blue, Creation has Blue Light Districts rather than Red Light Districts.

                  I think I also remember ceremonial prayers to the appropriate Maidens being said at the start of caravans and at funerals and before battles.

                  Other than that, I believe Immaculate Doctrine is that the Incarnae as a whole are distant and very important gods.

                  As for Gaia.....IIRC, the Immaculates believe that she is an ancient and important figure, but not one that requires prayers.



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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Nervaqus987 View Post
                    For example, since Venus is the Maiden of Serenity and her color is Blue, Creation has Blue Light Districts rather than Red Light Districts.
                    Off-topic, but I'm kind of curious what Creation would actually 'do' given the words 'Red Light District.'

                    Would it be just this entire square of martial arts dojos, swordfighting academies and fighting rings, or would they get more elaborate with it?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                      Related to that, I wonder how secret the SMA sutras and Sidereal charm tree prayer strips are? They're not really useful to most people, but presumably they would have been widely-distributed in the First Age, and assuming the breaking of the mask didn't obscure them, they might have survived... although probably even if any books of them did, most people wouldn't see them as anything but slightly odd poetry.

                      Do people worship the Maidens in Creation? There's a lot about the worship of the UCS and Luna, but almost nothing about the worship of the Maidens, probably because "wander around making people worship my patron" isn't exactly a Sidereal concept. I'd assume that the prayer strips and possibly (for better-known styles) the sutras would have factored into mortal worship of the Maidens in the First Age, though, if nothing else.
                      There are a couple mentions of worship of the Maidens, but I think it's largely functional worship as opposed to the airy temples of the Sun and secret glades of the Moon.* For example, it's mentioned that caravans are often decorated with yellow streamers, and I imagine that the signs of the Maidens are often invoked in other contexts. It's just...

                      Well, look at Mars, for example. If you're going to go to war in the South, you can give her a short prayer. You could even make her a sacrifice, if you want. She's not going to reply. On the other hand, if you sacrifice enough to Ahlat or some subordinate, at least you might be able to guarantee that he won't actively cause you problems. It's plausible that there are traditional prayers to Mars spoken before battles in many cultures, but she gives very poor return on investment.

                      Likewise, I'm sure there are sailors who offer a kiss or a pour of rum to Mercury before they set sail. Then they actually arrange their worship for the gods of the sea and storms who might actually give a damn. Hell, even if you're looking for a better destiny you're probably going to offer prayers to Luranume rather than a Maiden. Probably the nearest exception to that is Saturn, because her veneration would largely be with the same fear that any death-god is worshiped.

                      That leaves actual reverence of the Maidens to weird monastic orders, knowledgeable sorcerer-priests, mendicants, and Sidereals.

                      So, Scriptures and Sutras.

                      I like the Scriptures. They're really, really well-done; head-and-shoulders above what you'd expect from poetry in an RPG gamebook. They're also built into that cool sort of structure where you can legitimately interpret them to mean many different things. It's not implausible that they'd be lost from modern Creation, but since it's also reasonable to assume that they'd have gotten some play and been preserved from the First Age, I favor the option which lets me drop them into more games. So, here's how I've used them:

                      Journeys Scriptures

                      I've always found these the hardest to use in an organic way. They're grim, spooky Scriptures, and people who want to invoke Mercury are more likely to be asking for a safe travel. I did once have a captain out of Coral tell the Scripture of the Maiden at Sea as 'An old faerie tale', since it's long and narrative enough. I also once used the Scripture of the Maiden Entombed as a ward stamped onto a caravan travelling through a Shadowland, and went so far as to have those Scriptures glow a wan yellow as the party walked through the unnatural night. It's a pretty good ward against curses.

                      Serenity Scriptures

                      These are, with one big exception, pretty upbeat. They make some sense at harvest festivals, and The Scripture of Lover and Maiden makes an excellent flavoring for bindings on Raksha or people touched by the Wyld. The Scripture of the Bride is a really good one for a lover to give their partner who is departing for war, perhaps inscribed on an amulet. Finally, the Scripture of the Whore is one of a handful of tricks which I use to indicate to my players OOC that Sidereals are involved when there's no IC reason they'd know.** In my games, the Whore is commonly inscribed somewhere upon the residence or possessions of someone working as an agent for the Sidereals, knowing or not.

                      Battles Scriptures

                      The Battles Scriptures are possibly my least-favorite batch, including the Scripture of the One-Handed Maiden which Infernals familiarized everyone with. The Scripture of the Drowning Maiden or the Scripture of the Maiden on the Shelf would be great to indicate that someone is cursed, but a cursed person is probably more interested in a talisman against their affliction than a sign of it. I did have a disease in a town once which was 100% deadly, but became less and less so as you infected others. When authorities from the Satrap arrived and found the afflicted, they quarantined the town and marked the plaguebringers with 'Survival is acceptance' as a warning to all parties involved.

                      The big exception is The Scripture of the Maiden at War, which I love. As ST, I've used it three times, to mark places where ancient Solar monsters, dangerous sites or strange machines lie sealed. Since one of my characters was a gaoler of things which could not be destroyed, I got a lot of use out of it there.

                      Secrets Scriptures

                      The Secrets Scriptures are among the best of the Scriptures, and that means they're very good indeed. First off is the Scripture of the Savory Maiden, which is somewhat hard to use because if my players see it they're going to suspect that Chaos-Conning Technique is in play somewhere. I have had occasion to use it in spoken form, when the players needed to meet with a Raksha in the bordermarches and were advised to recite it in order to attract fae interest.

                      I use the Scripture of the Maiden in Terror to warn players about writings which are inherently dangerous. The whole thing is inscribed on the doors of prominent sorcerous libraries, but I've also had 'To know the world is to fear it' written on faded green ribbons wrapped around single scrolls. Alternatively, I once had it replace the pages of an old tome which mentioned the Sidereals, since I've always thought it was a reasonably good symbol for them.

                      At one point, when a player crowned themselves ruler of their own city-state, I had an anonymous letter appear bearing the Scripture of the Maiden in Chains. That was more a theme-setting message than anything else.

                      The Scripture of Absence is my preferred way for a Sidereal to mark to other Sidereals that she has done something in an area. This usually shows up in unknowing people working "Should I live or die? Am I living or dead?" into a conversation, which is a signal to players that they should expect that there is behind-the-scenes machinations going down.***

                      Endings Scriptures

                      These are easy to insert into places which have nothing to do with Sidereals, because every part of every setting has some area dedicated to death and memory. I'm not a fan of using the Scripture of the Maiden and the Scythe for this, so my favorite generic death-scripture is The Scripture of the Maiden and the Dust.

                      The Scripture of the Maiden's Promise gets put on monuments to incredible tragedies.


                      (By the way, during one game where my players encountered the Jade Prison, they translated the ancient runes on its broken seals to be the Scripture of the Eternal Maiden on one hand and the Scripture of the Expectant Maiden on the other. I think they appreciated it.)



                      *Not that there aren't a few grand abandoned temples to the Maidens, I'm sure.
                      **I think it makes for a better story.
                      ***Yes, I realize that the secret demigod illuminati probably wouldn't leave hints everywhere, but I really enjoy the moment where a player realizes that someone's used a line from the Scripture and suddenly guesses at what's up.

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                      • #26
                        Main reason I don't imagine people worship the Maidens because, for better or worse, the Sidereals are generally committed to the Immaculate Philosophy, or if they aren't would face a lot of blowback from people who are.

                        In the First Age, I expect the Sidereals were, to a greater extent than in the Second Age, people who led powerful prophecy based and fatalistic faiths. It's not like the world of Exalted sees a major contrast between being a member of the Celestial Bureaucracy and being worshiped as a god. Provided it is arranged according to the proper forms being filled out and observant to the Mandate. And having lots of mortals living their lives in harmony and spiritual unity with Fate through a religion is I think a thing the Sidereals would view as generally good.

                        In terms of who the Maidens would attract as worshipers, well, they're probably not praying for divine intervention. Leave aside those who are legitimately praying to be in harmony with reality and for spiritual reasons, and approach those who want divine favor. What they are more likely to be praying for is Fate continuing to be... stable. Like the beggar whose fate is looking up, and who prays for protection from the forces that would tear his destiny asunder. Those who live in uncertain times where the Exalted's actions feel like the fate of their region is being turned away from what it should be. And so on.

                        edit - Generally I think a lot of First Age religion focused at the Incarna happened because the Exalted wanted it to happen - if you consider worshiping the UCS, the kind of issues that Grabowski describes for Ahlat seem magnified for the heavenly emperor, were he to actually begin personally intervening at that level. Analogizing Ahlat to a mayor, the UCS is like a President or Prime Minister - it's obviously improper for one of these to be handing out favors to his personal supporters, much more so for the other (although on the other hand, one of them has less authority above him to stop him). So it's pretty hard for that to be a motive, and the real motive might end up being more that the chosen of those gods wanted it to happen and were personally there to *encourage* mortals to worship the right way.
                        Last edited by Ghosthead; 04-10-2015, 11:46 AM.

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                        • #27
                          The Maidens are directly worshiped in Varangia, possibly more as the stars in the sky than in their personal forms. Dev comments indicate that this will likely change, however. I do seem to recall some book mentioning that libraries and other places/people of scholarly bent often are decorated/dressed in green, as an homage to Jupiter.

                          I'm really liking the notion of the sutras being so culturally ingrained that they are one of the major signs of the former international society of the First Age. A street rat from Coral to Nexus might shout out "There's always an ending!" to the pursuers she's managed to shake, and bits of them may be quoted as proverbs in formal speeches or show up as graffiti or novel titles. Of course, due to linguistic translation, they may lose something in Riverspeak or the other Directional Languages...

                          Don't have my 1e Sidereals on me, so how did the rearrangement of Abilities (shuffling between Castes, losing some, gaining others) change the sutras from 1e to 2e?

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Guancyto View Post
                            Off-topic, but I'm kind of curious what Creation would actually 'do' given the words 'Red Light District.'

                            Would it be just this entire square of martial arts dojos, swordfighting academies and fighting rings, or would they get more elaborate with it?
                            Maybe that is what they call places where they hold all the gladiator death matches?


                            Exalted Whose Name is Carved in Leaves of Jade

                            Senator of the Greater Chamber

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                            • #29
                              And the "violet light district" would be the funerary district?

                              But lights are probably substituted by ribbons in a lot of these cases, especially in neighborhoods too poor for colored transluscent glass, or societies that can't produce it. Where even colored dyes and paints are too expensive, I imagine signs with charcoal drawings, or specific arrangements of knotted ropes, or something of the like would be used for nearly any shop.
                              Last edited by Erinys; 04-11-2015, 11:47 AM.


                              She/Her. I am very literal-minded and write very literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to joke.
                              My point of view may be different from yours but is equally valid.
                              Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Nervaqus987 View Post

                                Well, there's of course the indirect ways of worshiping the Maidens throughout Creation.

                                For example, since Venus is the Maiden of Serenity and her color is Blue, Creation has Blue Light Districts rather than Red Light Districts.
                                I love to see things like this played up as a way to differentiate Creation from the RW, but sometimes writers default to normal and editors don't catch it, so a couple of books do mention "red light districts" when they really shouldn't (the Dream Parlors of Gem are particularly notable, being draped in red silk), just like they sometimes write "24 hours" instead of 25...

                                Other than that, I believe Immaculate Doctrine is that the Incarnae as a whole are distant and very important gods.

                                As for Gaia.....IIRC, the Immaculates believe that she is an ancient and important figure, but not one that requires prayers.
                                The Immaculates give all the Incarnae, and Gaia, regular worship, but keep them distant from the people, who are encouraged to think of the Immaculate/Elemental Dragons as The Top Dogs in the cosmos.

                                So, to get back to the original question, about the masses filling up the Circus Radiant to watch the Battle Maiden's Dance tournament: Most of you have no problem imagining the participating Sidereals whipping out SMA techniques on each other for this?
                                Last edited by Hand-of-Omega; 04-12-2015, 12:11 AM.

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