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  • How much "X" do you like in your Creation?

    This was going to be two separate posts, but I decided to conserve energy/words, and just combine them, by asking both questions in the same thread:

    1) How much Fantasy do you like in your version of Exalted? There seems to be a recent trend in Fantasy to "celebrate the mundane", so to speak, and to make settings as "plausible and believable" as possible by stripping out most of the fantastic elements. Personally, I can't stand this; if I wanted that, I'd read/watch/play Historical Fiction. I prefer to lay it on thick, with multiple moons in the sky, exotic lizard- and bird-people being pretty common, and marvels, miracles and horrors being right around the corner. But that's just me!

    How many fantastical elements do you like to see in Exalted: Barely any, outside of Charms, so it's mostly like "the real world"; a fair amount, with regular appearances of Spirits and Artifacts; or heavy usage, with the PCs constantly running into new wonders, strange creatures, and odd dimensions?

    2) How much sophistication do you prefer to portray in Creation? I was looking up that line in the 2E core about how Creation's society is a Bronze Age-level one, only to find that it actually says Bronze-Iron Age, and is largely talking about *technology*. In fact, Creation's societies have inherited intact many systems and processes from the First Age, including functioning banking (even during the Shogunate, virtually every citizen had a bank account!), accounting, corporations and companies (complete with stocks and bonds), insurance and so on. There's also fairly well-developed post offices and couriers running items and information, as well as printing presses (the major change from the First Age/Shogunate is that none of this is international anymore, it's all local to city-states).

    But I wonder how many of us recall all that. I sure didn't (although I do recall the odd mention of trading companies in various supplements)! Does this fit with your conception of Creation, or would you rather see it as a much more primitive place? Personally, I'm now looking into PC ideas based on Postal Carriers, Commodities Traders and Insurance Investigators!

  • #2
    1) I'm with you here. I love fantastical elements in my fantasy games. I can see the need to make things plausible and add coherence to the setting, but for me, so long as there is an underlying chain of logic behind the bizarre elements, I'm happy.

    2) As above, so long as it fits in to the setting well enough, I can accept sophisticated socioeconomic systems such as banks, stocks and bonds. I'd be more willing to accept such things were there is a large and developed populace of people, such as The Realm, Chiaroscuro, Nexus and the like, than out in hickvill where advanced mathematics would seem as magical as sorcery.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JayTee View Post
      1) I'm with you here. I love fantastical elements in my fantasy games. I can see the need to make things plausible and add coherence to the setting, but for me, so long as there is an underlying chain of logic behind the bizarre elements, I'm happy.

      2) As above, so long as it fits in to the setting well enough, I can accept sophisticated socioeconomic systems such as banks, stocks and bonds. I'd be more willing to accept such things were there is a large and developed populace of people, such as The Realm, Chiaroscuro, Nexus and the like, than out in hickvill where advanced mathematics would seem as magical as sorcery.
      Ditto.

      Ten characters.


      I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~

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      • #4
        1) I love me some fantasy. Generally speaking, in my games, every person in Creation has a story to tell you about something weird they've seen. Some sort of weird supernatural thing they, or a friend, has encountered. In very cosmopolitan cities, there are Fair Folk, spirits, demons and even ghosts who are open members of those towns, and so in such a place many people might even have quite a bit of first-hand experience with the supernatural.

        Still, it's only in someplace like Great Forks where people wouldn't bat an eye at blatant supernatural prowess or magic.

        2) Major cities tend to have many modern social systems, though as you get further from those major cities things get quite a bit more primitive, until you're dealing with actual hunter-gather tribes who don't even use currency.

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        • #5
          1) I like a fair bit of it, but I like it to be rare, if that makes any sense. Like the PCs run into it a lot because they go looking for awesome magic adventures, obviously. I just don't like the idea that everyone has a little wood elemental in their back yard bushes and waves to them on their way out to the fields, or that a farmer will just be sitting on a stump chatting with the god of his field like they're just random buddies. You might do a little ritual at night to ward off wood elementals and you might see your crops coming in extra small and curse the god under your lips while going to have a chat with your local monk, but it's not an every day occurrence. Also there are certain places where it's obviously common, like Yu-Shan and stuff.

          2) For this for sure I like to go with the guild being a kind of Victorian era Scrooge style group of companies. Maybe not always with the waiscoats and stuff but definitely with the "If you want my corn gentlemen, you'll meet the price I quoted yesterday plus five percent interest for the delay."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Hand-of-Omega View Post
            I prefer to lay it on thick, with multiple moons in the sky
            ...Huh. Multiple moons and thus additional moon-deities would be an interesting way to introduce new kinds of Celestial Exalted, and particularly different interpretations of the Lunar Exalted.

            I'm told Eberron has 12 moons, and a Saturn-esque ring. Perhaps Creation's sky might also have a ring (or more like a permanent, monochrome rainbow) as a fourth kind of celestial body.


            formerly Tornado Wolf, formerly Inugami

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            • #7
              1) I'd like to say that I like a fair amount of magic without it feeling like an alien planet (lots of what we expect in our reality, just alive with magic and with a magical side we don't have, like there's just a single moon, it interacts with the world as if it had a real magical goddess)...

              However if I'm being honest with myself, my preferences for what is like history+alt+history plus magic and utterly strange weird fiction fantasy worlds are so balanced, and Creation at such an intersection of both, that I'll pretty much go along like a sheep with either so long as its well realised.

              2) Yeah, I think this is a strange one, in that Exalted bills itself as Bronze Age, and then takes end up taking inspirations for the societies from variously Qing Era China, Classical Rome, Edo Era Japan, 2nd Millenium AD South East Asia, post-Hanseatic League North Sea and Baltic and various post-birth of Islam societies of Central, South and West Asia, in terms of institutions, trade, urbanization, etc.

              Of course, this is a good thing, as these places as cosmopolitan and interesting and that's one of the goals here, while the Bronze Age was in many ways much more of a dull time. Just Bronze Age often only really means having a certain Conan esque "Bronze Age Fantasy" feel that was ahistorical and you-have-to-suspend-disbelief when it was first written.

              Platonic ideal Exalted would probably take a number of late Bronze Age and pre-modern places and combine them up in a surprising way that managed to avoid feeling anachronistic, somehow. And in other places eschew these definitions while still feeling like these are old cultures.

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              • #8
                1) People can have their more realistic Creation, and it's entirely possible that Li from Bumfucknowhere in the central East will go his entire life without seeing more than a glimpse of a ghost repelled by the wards the priest put up, and seeing a local Harvest God once a year. Fairly low key. But it's not one I'd want to PLAY in. I like my character to chat with elementals, punch zombies, and negotiate a succession crisis where our contender for the throne has to earn the support of a magistrate who made a deal with the Walker in Darkness in exchange for a champion to protect his lands.

                2) I admit this interests me SLIGHTLY less, since I'm not exactly a sociologist, so the smaller fine points of a city working are an uphill battle. I try to keep my tone consistent, but if a bank isn't historically accurate to the era that Creation seems to take place in, I'm not going to flip tables.

                Honestly, it all comes down to story and what serves the overall feel that my games go for. If it serves the story and mood, I don't object to it.


                Disclaimer: In favor of fun and enjoyment, but may speak up to warn you that you're gonna step on a metaphorical land mine

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                • #9
                  1) I have in the past tended to have magical stuff all over the place, artefacts, spirits, ghosts, Exalts, sorcerers, martial artists... but honestly? I found over time that these things therefore became trite and boring. Or so it seemed to me. So this time, now I've started running Exalted again, I've resolved to have less, but try to make it more important and impressive.
                  Though considering that right now my players are hunting a necromancer hiding amongst the 15 Dragonblood that rule a small country, mostly by interrogating ghosts, I'm not sure I've really succeeded at making the supernatural less common.

                  It's like GoT: Daenerys has 3 Dragons. And they're really significant and important because there are only 3. Whereas in, say, when someone in an Anne Mcaffrey book has a Dragon, who cares? There's hundreds of the things.

                  Now something like multiple moons in the sky and lizard-people will be notable, which is fine (at one point in my game's backstory a second, blood-red moon did appear in the sky as a herald of dark omens). But when there's elementals hanging out in the pub every day or a sorcerer in every town, then they're no longer that interesting.

                  2)I tend to take the Chinese influences (I live in China, one of my players used to live in China, and most of my players are fans of Chinese wuxia and historical films) in the "civilised" parts of Creation, and so base the technological level and societal sophistication on ancient China. The barbarian tribes in the jungles, deserts and bordermarches tend to be significantly less advanced.
                  I should also say, I always felt that "Bronze-Age" as a description referred to places like ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and so on, so socially a lot more sophisticated than, say, Iron-age Britain.


                  STing Bronze Age Exalted

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                    -It's like GoT: Daenerys has 3 Dragons. And they're really significant and important because there are only 3. Whereas in, say, when someone in an Anne Mcaffrey book has a Dragon, who cares? There's hundreds of the things.
                    I don't know if I would necessarily agree with that idea. I think, all too often, this sort of thinking, that something is interesting because it's rare, whereas common things aren't interesting, tends to end with things being done a bit lazy (I'm not accusing you of being lazy, just saying that in general, that's where I have often seen this sort of idea end up going)

                    So with the former you have a situation where you ask, "Why is this dragon interesting?"

                    And you're told, "Because it's a dragon! And there's only three of them in the whole world! So that's why it's interesting!"

                    With the latter idea, when you ask, "So why is this dragon interesting?"

                    They response you get is going to be, "Well, even though there are hundreds of dragons in the world, this one has the qualities X, Y and Z, which set it apart from many of the other dragons in the setting. So that's why it's interesting!"

                    Generally, the former allows people to point towards its simply existence as a reason enough for being interesting and significant, whereas the latter actually requires that the writer come up with traits and qualities that make the dragon interesting. He isn't as able to get a "free pass," and I think that tends to produce more interesting characters, but maybe that's just me.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hand-of-Omega View Post
                      1) How much Fantasy do you like in your version of Exalted?

                      2) How much sophistication do you prefer to portray in Creation?
                      Sophistication wise, I like to imagine The Realm as literally being the Roman Empire crossed with imperial Japan, with all the art and politics and rigid social structures that that implies.
                      With 10'000 fire/water/air/earth/wood-benders that have decided to take control and call themselves enlightened super-human demigods who have taken upon themselves to wrestle the gods and (lesser elemental) dragons into submission.

                      I like it heavy on the fantasy side, and for all the magic and wonder, to still have it struggle with real-word issues.
                      (though not quite "punch-a-universe"-levels of fantasy. Somewhere in the midsts of Asterix and Obelix / Avatar / One Piece / Fairy Tail, with rare yet succulent bits of KSBD and The Sandman.
                      >Dem Soft Places)


                      Bearer of the legacy of Trauma Bear
                      Need a dice-roller? Check out Dicemat.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                        I don't know if I would necessarily agree with that idea. I think, all too often, this sort of thinking, that something is interesting because it's rare, whereas common things aren't interesting, tends to end with things being done a bit lazy (I'm not accusing you of being lazy, just saying that in general, that's where I have often seen this sort of idea end up going)

                        So with the former you have a situation where you ask, "Why is this dragon interesting?"

                        And you're told, "Because it's a dragon! And there's only three of them in the whole world! So that's why it's interesting!"

                        With the latter idea, when you ask, "So why is this dragon interesting?"

                        They response you get is going to be, "Well, even though there are hundreds of dragons in the world, this one has the qualities X, Y and Z, which set it apart from many of the other dragons in the setting. So that's why it's interesting!"

                        Generally, the former allows people to point towards its simply existence as a reason enough for being interesting and significant, whereas the latter actually requires that the writer come up with traits and qualities that make the dragon interesting. He isn't as able to get a "free pass," and I think that tends to produce more interesting characters, but maybe that's just me.
                        I get what you're saying, and I can see how having one of something is likely to make that one have little detail (because generic dragon is good enough).

                        But I find in games, that when there's one, say, Celestial NPC, I put a lot of effort into thinking of a personality and cool stuff for them. When there's 3, they each have a different personality but I probably didn't think through the backstory so much.
                        When you go to a CoI training camp and there's 15 Solars, then they're lucky to even be a stereotype and not just "generic Zenith #3" or whatever.


                        STing Bronze Age Exalted

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                        • #13
                          1) I like low fantasy settings, but I have other RPGs for that.

                          My view of exalted goes from where a village or town might have an artifact the place is built around, and some god or other essence user might be known; but their immediate surrounding might actually be less fantastical than they believe. A thaumaturge with a bit of god/ghost/yosi blood might be a feared or respected bigshot, and someones brother's friend's cousin's uncle saw a Dragonblood once. But at the other end of the scale we have Yu-shan, Malfeas and the Wyld. A living mountain to befriend of fight is just somewhere in the middle.

                          I love verisimilitude, that there is an internal consistency, and this applies to Exalted as well. But here we have beings so wast their mind can't be contained within a single body, humans gifted with enough powers to overthrow them, and other fantastical things.

                          So... "fair amount", with the possibility of "barely any" and "heavy usage" depending on location.

                          2) The real world Bronze age required a fairly advanced level of trade, which made the bronze age kind of more sophisticated than the first few hundred years of the the Iron age. When the trade resumed, iron based technology had become good enough so it was worth it to continue to use them (still crap compared to bronze; but required just one resource that was, in comparison, fairly common). The Minoans had plumbings http://www.historywiz.com/minoanplumbingandheating.html and the list of finds from the Uluburun wreck (late bronze age) might be of interest https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uluburun_shipwreck#Cargo Well, some areas might have been blessed with both copper and tin, so they could stick with it a while longer.

                          Personally, I'm a bit allergic to when Exalted is referred to as a bronze age setting. I use the term "Age of Bronze" at times, but that has nothing to do with technology but with the fact the Bronze faction and the Dragonbloods has been running the show for some 1,500 years. To me, the Baloran crusade was more or less a "nuked backed to the stone age" event, the big different is a lot of knowledge were preserved due to when immediate survival wasn't an issue anymore, there were still people/beings around remembering the pre-catastrophy days. So in a way, it has been more of a question of rebuilding (and reshaping) than reinventing.

                          When it comes to how sophisticated Creation is, technology wise, I see it held back due to political and traditional ideas; and that quite a bit is kept secret as there isn't even a corrupt ill managed patent system. Also, just as the use of iron was held back by bronze in our world, quite a bit isn't explored because of Essence. Why explore how boiling water can be used for propulsion, when you can just use something essence driven or a Yeddim? So there is probably someone who has made an essence driven horseless carriage, and it was seen as curiosity for a while and a fun toy, but no one could see any practical use for it. Infallible messenger is most likely why no one have developed something like cable based Morse system. But there probably is a way to redirect pigeons.

                          Then there is probably a group of Sids who have figured out that explosives is the first step to city destroying weapons, and don't want mortals having access to something that powerful. So they kill off anyone who figure out how to make gunpowder.

                          Still, I want there to be places where irrigation and using an ox to pull a plow are considered high tech. But Creation is a big place, so I see no problem with having both

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                          • #14
                            1) Taking ques from wuxia movies and a few other sources, my preference is that Fantastic elements should be common enough that they are easy to find if you look, but rare enough that you will probably not encounter many if you are not looking. Consider A Chinese Ghost Story: the people who live in the town are vaguely aware that the abandoned house in the woods is haunted and unsafe, but nobody ever goes there so they couldn't tell you exactly why. They lead peaceful, unremarkable lives. It's only when a hapless fool goes out to spend a night there that it becomes apparent that the place is infested with a variety of evil spirits, and even then said fool takes a while to notice anything because of his general obliviousness. People who do heroic stuff for a living and/or wield supernatural power themselves naturally encounter more of the supernatural.

                            2) I like my sophistication levels to vary from place to place, culture to culture. Usually, I don't have to work the more complicated elements of economics or information distribution into my games, so I just don't think about them. When I do, I usually take the most advanced stuff I can find for the Realm (e.g., ancient hydraulic telegraphs, carbonated steel, and block printing), and get progressively less sophisticated as the setting moves away from urban centers and towards the wild edges of the world. Literacy is pretty low everywhere.


                            On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

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                            • #15
                              1. I like a mix. I do think that if everything is super overtly supernatural, it does dilute it and make it banal. I think this is maybe okay for Sidereals, who live and work in an extremely specific supernatural setting, but that even there, they should sometimes be surprised and baffled by the kinds of gods that exist. In Creation, I think direct supernatural sighting should be pretty rare. Farmers and city folk go about their days in a relatively mundane manner, though living in a big city like Nexus or Great Forks increases the likelihood of seeing something unusual. And it's important to remember that to the average person, Exalted are incredibly unusual, even DBs - rare, unpredictable, dangerous, somewhat beyond human ken even though they look and act like people, but slightly off in either appearance (Aspect markings) or behavior (narratively, being somewhat larger than life - a good comparison is a ranked xia in Legends of the Wulin, who has unlocked their inner chi and probably approaches the world very differently when they can punch through a stone wall, dance on the surface of a lake, or jump over a building, than a normal person who has not awakened their chi).

                              It's important to remember something else here. For the players, having four moons is going to seem really weird. For the characters, it's generally going to be perfectly normal. If there are four moons in the sky, there's a good chance that there have been four moons since time immemorial and thus it would only be weird if there were more or fewer than normal. Unless the number of moon changes with frequency because magic, and then that will be pretty normal for them! It's all a matter of perspective.

                              I think it's also context-driven. A farming village may be super normal and pray to a god they never see until something relevant to the plot happens there (see also: the opening comic from 2e). A monastic temple on top of a mesa may have an ifrit as an abbott and seeing him around town is super normal for the inhabitants of the city at the base of the mesa. It's just hard to generalize about things like this.

                              2. I am absolutely fine with banking, because concepts like corporations, banking, and insurance predate modern history by a damn good bit. Banks and loans existed in Rome. Extremely complex bureaucracies have existed throughout Chinese history. Insurance dates back to China and Babylon. Corporations, including manufacturing corporations, existed in Rome and ancient India. These aren't new concepts even if new technology has made them more accessible across social classes and geographic distance. These concepts fit in a Bronze Age world must a certain period feel must be maintained, though magic access probably helps somewhat for big organizations like the Guild

                              What I am NOT fine with is cutesy mote-based credit cards, etc.


                              "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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