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Why would a DB of the Realm join a group of Anathema?

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  • Why would a DB of the Realm join a group of Anathema?

    I have been bored recently and brainstormed a circle for a comedy Exalted fic/story/something that I will probably never write. The first two members I came up with were a Solar and a Lunar, of course, so I had to have a DB in there.

    Unfortunately, I love Exalted and read the books, but I have immense trouble finding a game. I have been in exactly one Exalted session (not game, session--indeed it was the only RPG session I have ever been in) in my entire life back when I was as a freshman in high school (I'm a college sophomore now), in a game that ended in two sessions due to a legit pedo in our group (long story). As such, I have a semi-decent grasp of Exalted canon, but I have basically seen zero actual Exalted in action. So I'm not sure how people do this. I came up with a few ideas, but they feel unsatisfactory:

    1: The Dynast becomes disillusioned with the Realm. This doesn't seem like a plausible idea, though. The Realm goes to literally every length possible to exult DB's as bodhisattvas who are literally incapable of doing wrong. I can understand a Realm citizen who's used to getting fucked becoming disillusioned, but Dynasts get basically everything. Why rebel against a system where you are at the absolute top, no questions asked?

    2: The Dynast realizes the lies and truth the Realm spreads, discovering the actual history of Creation. Now...how is he to do this? The Realm censors everything heavily and even the goddamn historians and sorcerers themselves are pretty in the dark. How did this random Fire-Aspect learn about the Usurpation and the First Age, etc?

    3: He sees the "Anathema" do some glorious things and decides to follow them, confused or interested. However the Immaculate Philosophy's indoctrination is so deep and strong that he would probably rationalize it away. This is what happened to Ten Winds in Keychain of Creation, but he was an old monk who had seen this happen over and over again. The Fire-Aspect we're talking about here Exalted at 15-or-so less than a decade before he joins the circle.

    4: He's really fucking bored and just joins them 'cause why the fuck not

    I'm just wondering why he would do this. What would drive a DB to join this Solar and Lunar? I don't want to use Solar brainwash bullshit or Lunar deception, I want this choice to be his own. Sorry if this has been discussed endlessly on the forum and I'm just wasting space.

    On the other hand, maybe I am vastly overthinking a story where a major character is a Sidereal who owns a Starmetal kazoo

  • #2
    Well does your DB have to be a Dynast? Can't they be an Outcaste from a culture that isn't as into the Immaculate faith, or doesn't believe it at all?

    (Also keep in mind, Ten Winds' initial backstory wasn't a lie, but it was incomplete: he had an additional and much more compelling reason for joining the circle, spoilers if you haven't read the whole comic.)
    Ten Winds wanted to retire from the All-Seeing Eye, which is hard when they're super-spy Exalted with Sidereals among them, and retirement isn't allowed. So he picked allies who could not possibly be allied with the Eye. And as a member of the Eye's super-secret inner group, he had already been told the truth about Celestial Exalted, so the only question was whether these particular Celestials would do something to his or the Realm's detriment.

    That said, Ten Winds' and Misho's weird backstories are elaborate excuses to put a ridiculously powerful elder Immaculate and a literal First Age Solar in the same group in a comedy story.


    The thing is, it's plausible for an intelligent and curious Dynast to learn some of the truth. Some of them do know at least about Sidereals, and their religion contains so many lies (and probably contradictions) that at least some Dynasts must notice it doesn't add up. It's also plausible for a Dynast with a strong conscience to have doubts about how the Realm oppresses people, or even about the Wyld Hunt -- look at Cynis Avaku.

    But such characters are still Dynasts. They have a good life -- why would they throw away privilege, wealth, and power unparallelled in Creation? Why would they abandon their entire society and family? Suspecting or believing that there are lies or even moral problems in the Realm isn't enough reason for them to leave. Just uncovering the truth about the Celestials and the Usurpation doesn't necessarily motivate a Dynast to care that they're oppressing innocent Celestials, because the Dynasty are benefitting from it and what's the alternative, really? Those Celestials would challenge their empire and take away their wealth, if they let them live. The Realm can't survive if Lunars and Solars are able to consolidate their own kingdoms. Murdering Celestial Exalted won't look like a moral problem to a Dynast who's happy to hurt and kill mortals for their House's gain.

    In real life, people who disagree with or oppose their own society or government sometimes move away, or rebel, but plenty stick around because they still have strong ties to the place and maybe hope they can change some things.

    Things might be different if it becomes personal. You're a Dynast, perhaps a low-ranked one who has experienced just enough sneering from the higher-up to have some sympathy for those less fortunate than you*. You have a mortal relative -- a sibling, nephew, aunt, uncle, maybe even your spouse or kid or parent -- who exalts as a Lunar or Solar. You weren't dedicated enough to the faith to just kill them or take them to the monks -- for whatever reason you don't feel entirely certain that a demonic parasite has murdered your loved one and hijacked their body. Emotionally or even intellectually, you hope/doubt/fear that they might still be them. What do you do? Maybe you help them run away, but get caught. Then you're on the run, too. You didn't want to leave the Realm, but you can't go back now. With your relative (or not, if they were killed or separated from you) you have to escape to the Threshold if you want to live. You might still support the Realm as a civilization, while becoming uncomfortable with or downright opposed to the Wyld Hunt. (Iselsi Shen is a Solar and he still supports the All-Seeing Eye for I-can't-imagine-what-reason.)

    *I don't think it's a coincidence that Avaku was given a background as the sole Exalt of a trashy, despised bloodline.
    Last edited by Erinys; 09-02-2015, 12:42 PM.


    I am extremely literal-minded and always 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.
    Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.

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    • #3
      Keychain of the Creation had a former Immaculate Monk Join the a group of Anathema.



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      • #4
        I ran a game recently where events conspired to have an Immaculate monk team up with a Solar circle, both for self-preservation and to combat a worse threat. The dynamic of mutual mistrust was quite entertaining.

        Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post
        Keychain of the Creation had a former Immaculate Monk Join the a group of Anathema.
        KoC is fun but like a lot of stories it misses the core of the Immaculate teachings. The idea is not that the Anathema are absolute monsters all the time, it's that by taking power beyond their station and transgressing outside the coils of enlightenment, anything they do contributes to spiritual decay in themselves and others. Whether they actually act evil or not is immaterial.
        Last edited by Crumplepunch; 09-02-2015, 12:17 PM.


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        • #5
          There's a goal that requires their mutual resources in the short term. Characters may or may not be overt about the idea that once that is fulfilled, all future interactions will revert, if not outright declaring "once we've accomplished this, I'm going to try and kill you". Characters might develop towards revising this idea, especially in the form of continuously delaying it rather than outright disavowing it. There's always some other thing to go after that warrents keeping them around.


          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
          Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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          • #6
            If it makes you feel better, not too long ago I read a story by a somewhat popular author about a Solar who got a DB magistrate to join his rebellion against the Realm by kicking the crap out of her. Kind of like a pokemon. So whatever you come up with it'll probably be better than that.

            Something that might work is having the Realm screw them over somehow. True they're the 1% of the empire, but even Dynasts are scapegoats sometimes. You could have him know a lot about the immaculate lies, then have him take the fall for something he didn't do, and when he gets fed up with all the crap, possibly because of an attempted assassination, that's when he decides to maybe see what the whole anathema thing is really about.

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            • #7
              There are people living in stations of high privilege IRL who reject the system that privileges them as inherently unequal and terrible.

              While it's harder and less likely for that to occur in a setting with an aristocratic class and less ability to expose yourself to the inequity that you don't really see because it doesn't personally affect you, it's by no means impossible.

              Take a page from the book of Gautama. Hell, take a page from Mahasamatman in Lord of Light. You can live in pleasure and relative ignorance and have your opinions turned quite hardline against the system when you actually see the conditions of the oppressed or bad things happen to the people you care about.


              "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

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Crumplepunch View Post
                KoC is fun but like a lot of stories it misses the core of the Immaculate teachings. The idea is not that the Anathema are absolute monsters all the time, it's that by taking power beyond their station and transgressing outside the coils of enlightenment, anything they do contributes to spiritual decay in themselves and others. Whether they actually act evil or not is immaterial.
                Given what we later learn about Ten Winds it's likely he's more in the know about things than he was letting on at the time.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Erinys View Post
                  Well does your DB have to be a Dynast? Can't they be an Outcaste from a culture that isn't as into the Immaculate faith, or doesn't believe it at all?

                  (Also keep in mind, Ten Winds' initial backstory wasn't a lie, but it was incomplete: he had an additional and much more compelling reason for joining the circle, spoilers if you haven't read the whole comic.)
                  Ten Winds wanted to retire from the All-Seeing Eye, which is hard when they're super-spy Exalted with Sidereals among them, and retirement isn't allowed. So he picked allies who could not possibly be allied with the Eye. And as a member of the Eye's super-secret inner group, he had already been told the truth about Celestial Exalted, so the only question was whether these particular Celestials would do something to his or the Realm's detriment.

                  That said, Ten Winds' and Misho's weird backstories are elaborate excuses to put a ridiculously powerful elder Immaculate and a literal First Age Solar in the same group in a comedy story.
                  I want a Dynast because I like the idea of one rebelling and want a character who knows the Realm. On the other hand, the Solar of the circle was a Dynast himself who never Exalted as a DB but later become a Solar; maybe there doesn't have to be two former-Dynasts in the same group.

                  And yeah I read KoC, I really hope the author manages to get better and continue it.

                  Things might be different if it becomes personal. You're a Dynast, perhaps a low-ranked one who has experienced just enough sneering from the higher-up to have some sympathy for those less fortunate than you*. You have a mortal relative -- a sibling, nephew, aunt, uncle, maybe even your spouse or kid or parent -- who exalts as a Lunar or Solar. You weren't dedicated enough to the faith to just kill them or take them to the monks -- for whatever reason you don't feel entirely certain that a demonic parasite has murdered your loved one and hijacked their body. Emotionally or even intellectually, you hope/doubt/fear that they might still be them. What do you do? Maybe you help them run away, but get caught. Then you're on the run, too. You didn't want to leave the Realm, but you can't go back now. With your relative (or not, if they were killed or separated from you) you have to escape to the Threshold if you want to live. You might still support the Realm as a civilization, while becoming uncomfortable with or downright opposed to the Wyld Hunt. (Iselsi Shen is a Solar and he still supports the All-Seeing Eye for I-can't-imagine-what-reason.)
                  Hmm...maybe I can link together this guy and the Solar. Maybe they were part of the same house so the DB isn't immediately going to go into "ANATHEMA FUCKING DIIIIE" mode.


                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                  There's a goal that requires their mutual resources in the short term. Characters may or may not be overt about the idea that once that is fulfilled, all future interactions will revert, if not outright declaring "once we've accomplished this, I'm going to try and kill you". Characters might develop towards revising this idea, especially in the form of continuously delaying it rather than outright disavowing it. There's always some other thing to go after that warrents keeping them around.
                  See, I don't want that. I want him to join of his own free will, not just to get some shit done and then break ways. This is a comedy story at heart, though not a gag comedy. Think...Gintama, maybe? There's a lot of humor but it's not just a bunch of disconnected skits, there's still an actual plot. I want a logical reason for him to join but this isn't a super-serious hard look at the Realm and what it does to people.

                  I mean, this is a story where a major character is a Twilight who built an Orichalcum clothes iron called "THE WRINKLEFUCKER" (all-caps mandatory by the way, and yes that is a reference to MSPA), which is pretty much a useless piece of shit since it weighs as much as a house and the essence-powered steam vent system tends to be more "essence-powered flamethrower of scalding death" so...

                  Last edited by Frostav; 09-02-2015, 01:05 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Well, given that, you can give the DB a silly reason for leaving the Realm, instead.


                    I am extremely literal-minded and always 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.
                    Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Erinys View Post
                      Well, given that, you can give the DB a silly reason for leaving the Realm, instead.
                      Of course, but I want to maintain a sense of seriousness. It's hard to describe.

                      Homestuck might actually be a good example of what I mean. It's a completely serious story, but it's filled with absurd references and humorous happenings in the middle of the actual plot. I hope I don't sound too flippant or like a dick, sorry if I do.

                      Likewise for this story: yes, there's a Twilight sorceress who built an orichalcum clothes iron called "THE WRINKLEFUCKER", and yes there's a Sidereal who owns a Starmetal kazoo that is just a wire-outline of a kazoo making it damn near useless, and yes the Solar leading the group is an absurdly passionate wrecking ball...but it's still an Exalted story about a circle who goes around doing grand shit.
                      Last edited by Frostav; 09-02-2015, 01:29 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Or they could just be related. KoC gave us "it's one thing to hear about the evils of anathema, and another to look your sibling in the eye and see nothing has changed."

                        Having several siblings, one of whom I'm not all that friendly with, I can attest to the power of having grown together.
                        Last edited by Owill0w; 09-02-2015, 01:29 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Owill0w View Post
                          Or they could just be related. KoC gave us "it's one thing to hear about the evils of anathema, and another to look your sibling in the eye and see nothing has changed."

                          Having several siblings, one of whom I'm not all that friendly with, I can attest to the power of having grown together.

                          This is pretty much the reason why my Twilight's Water Aspect brother is an ally on her character sheet instead of hunting her down.


                          Also, there are a lot of instances in real life where Americans go and reject the Western Lifestyle. Some join the Peace Corps. Others join Al-Qaeda. Or go the Martin Luther route of "The Immaculate Religion is a Lie!" and have to leave before the Wyld Hunt goes after you as a Heretic. Or Edward Snowden route of finding out that there are "Anathema*" running the Scarlet Empire behind the scenes.

                          *Depending on your character's definition of Anathema includes Sidereals or not.
                          Last edited by wonderandawe; 09-02-2015, 01:52 PM.


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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=Erinys;n649041]why would they throw away privilege, wealth, and power unparallelled in Creation?QUOTE]

                            Yeah, about that...the jade is running out. I can think of several fictional DB-analogues who'd ditch the old system once it stopped giving them, say, free champagne. Cutbacks are never popular.

                            ...Wasn't there a guy in Pirates of the Caribbean who literally gave up his old life to become Charon- and thereby get more rum?
                            Last edited by Argonometra; 09-02-2015, 02:34 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Frostav
                              I want him to join of his own free will, not just to get some shit done and then break ways.
                              Ruthless pragmatism doesn't come from free will? Regardless: "Good night, Anathema. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."


                              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                              Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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