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A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-through of Ex3

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  • We associate swords with an era in which we perceive great men to have lead from the front; we associate guns with an era in which we perceive great men to plan and leave the action to faceless masses. These associations and perceptions are largely inaccurate, but still shape what we expect from fiction and the meanings we read into symbols like guns and swords.

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    • Swords are for fighting, guns are for killing. If Miyamoto Musashi cuts you down, he likely did it in a duel. If Simo Hayha shoots you, he likely did it without you even knowing he was there.

      Guns, portrayed realistically or semi-realistically, do not lend themselves well to heroic battles.

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      • I'm pretty sure we had actual combat veterans decrying the romanticization of weapons such as swords and bows long before guns were a thing. There's a lot of bias behind statements that imply you can reasonably have fictionalized heroic portrayals of swords, but guns are right out, because reasons.

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        • The tangents this thread goes through are so much fun to read.

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          • Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
            I'm pretty sure we had actual combat veterans decrying the romanticization of weapons such as swords and bows long before guns were a thing. There's a lot of bias behind statements that imply you can reasonably have fictionalized heroic portrayals of swords, but guns are right out, because reasons.
            Bows aren't much better than guns, from a heroic action perspective. Actually, they might be worse. Ranged weapons in general don't make for good duels or good hero-vs-mob fights.

            Thing is, bows are basically unavoidable in a fantasy setting. Not having them would be really weird. And it's very easy to abstract away the things that make ranged weapons so problematic when writing rules. Could do the same with guns, if we really wanted to, but I don't think there's much point. (Unless you're playing Exalted Modern or something similar).

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            • We've had people complaining about "unheroic" weapons long before guns. I mean, who can ever forget the sheer horror of Agincourt where the flower of the French knighthood, the best and brightest of its nobility, equipped with the finest of forged arms and armor, were slaughtered by a bunch of cowardly, uncultured peasants?

              I think though that Stephen is ultimately correct - modern readers naturally give a huge amount of gravitas to the gun as a symbol, and if Exalted actually did have guns there would be lots of people arguing over why the setting should be significantly different due to its inclusion. I mean, we had those same kinds of arguments in 2nd edition based around the existence of the crossbow, and why the "common" military paradigms of Creation should have already been obsolete.

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              • Originally posted by Chejop Kejak View Post
                I am not sold on the "Great Man Theory" being dead, actually. Don't I keep on hearing about movies lionizing modern tech moguls?
                I think the shift is, these days, we (I'll define as, presumptuously, people who even think about these things at all) tend to see the closest parallels to "Great Men", whether corporate architect guys like Musk or Jobs or populist charismatic demagogues like Duterte - all rather dubiously "Great Men" - as epiphenomena and phenomena of their times. They're... some statistically certain point in the normal distribution of "talent" that intersects with a social / political / knowledge trend driven by materialist forces outside themselves. Not sui generis architects of ideas that change civilization. The individuality of their experiences and background, and any essential unique genius, doesn't really come into it.

                I think we tend to feel that, if there were no Bezos or Musk or whoever, statistically, some other h. sap would've come along and just slot into their role in the economy, and the ecology of human society. Maybe with a some statistical variance on the timing. That's not really compatible with being a "Great Man" in the classic sense, because the idea of "Great Men" is that that they are not replaceable, substitutable - a "Great Man" is supposed to direct history, not act a role in its play, that'll be filled be some understudy in his absence.

                Properly, if this is true now, it was always true - of Muhammad, of Alexander, as much as Deng Xiaoping. But those earlier figures still have residual glamour from eras that didn't as immediately take them in those terms.

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                • Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
                  I think we tend to feel that, if there were no Bezos or Musk or whoever, statistically, some other h. sap would've come along and just slot into their role in the economy, and the ecology of human society. Maybe with a some statistical variance on the timing. That's not really compatible with being a "Great Man" in the classic sense, because the idea of "Great Men" is that that they are not replaceable, substitutable - a "Great Man" is supposed to direct history, not act a role in its play, that'll be filled be some understudy in his absence.
                  This is the key. Even if Bill Gates wasn't around, someone else would have probably come up with a way to mass-market the personal computer. Even if Mark Zuckerberg didn't found Facebook, we would all simply be using some other communications platform (like Myspace or whatever). Tech mogols, while people do lionize them, can't really be said to direct history in the way that the Great Man theory posits it.

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                  • Maybe, in a world where John Wu and Jane Shepard and Jason Borne and James Bond and John McClane and probably some people whose names don't begin with "J" don't exist, there are no standout heroic gun users who have dramatic duels. I don't live in that world.

                    That said...

                    Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
                    We associate swords with an era in which we perceive great men to have lead from the front; we associate guns with an era in which we perceive great men to plan and leave the action to faceless masses. These associations and perceptions are largely inaccurate, but still shape what we expect from fiction and the meanings we read into symbols like guns and swords.
                    There certainly is something to the notion that "sword heroes" are often kings and generals and otherwise The One In Charge, and "gun heroes" are usually relatively low-ranking people caught in the crossfire of (and/or rebelling against) larger forces such as governments and conspiracies. This could be seen as reflecting the idea of guns as a great equalizer, which anyone can use to be a deadly combatant. The historical truth of this is a bit dodgy, but there's certainly a grain of it in there - there's a big difference between the lifetime of dedication needed for those Agincourt longbowmen and the maybe-a-day of orientation which can let you use and maintain an AK-47.

                    But how did we end up talking about this? Whether guns and/or flamepieces are in-setting for Exalted? Exalted has laser guns. They... also belong to that milieu of quickdraw duels and taking cover, and thus to the world of The Everyman rather than The Chosen One. There's a reason why Han Solo has a blaster and Luke Skywalker has a laser sword. Granted, I don't really like having laser guns in Exalted, but I never liked flamepieces, either, so I'm clearly a jerk.

                    My jerkishness aside, Creation's laser guns and flammenweapons alike come with built-in exceptionalism. The former are relics of a lost age which require magic to create, and usually to fire as well. The latter are noted as rare and their ammo is impossible to mass-produce, meaning that outside of rare exceptions (the Brides of Ahlat), they are a weapon for the lone hero, not a whole army. Like everything else in Creation, they are built around the assumption of individuals being emphasized over groups.

                    So, really, were I to point out one of Creation's weapons as compromising the heroic narrative, it wouldn't be either of things. It would be the crossbow. I mean, I can think of tons of heroic archers (India, in particular, supplies many of these, complete with epic archery duels), but imagining a Heroic Crossbowman just feels odd. Certainly, the only Exalt I can think of in such a role gets there by making a crossbow out of magical energy, and probably stunts it looking like a Bleach murder-mandala than any traditional weapon. And on the army scale, crossbows work a little more like guns (in that you don't spend your whole life training and deforming your skeleton in order to use them effectively) than bows do. Maybe this is why, once upon a time, they were the special mark of high-tech nations, but since that's no longer the case... crossbows strike me as stranger for Creation than any number of (exotic and rare) guns, whether they fire Essence, flames, or lead.


                    "For me, there's no fundamental conflict between really loving something and also seeing it as very profoundly flawed." -- Jay Eddidin

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                    • Originally posted by Daerian View Post
                      Not really true. We are still talking about "Great Man" in every part of our modern history. It just changed from kings to generals, politicians and thinkers/sciencists. For example:
                      Today world and entire business and management is shaped by Ford and Deming. Economy? Every real economists will tell you that Smith, Marx and Keynes are three pillars of today economy.
                      Leaders and politicians? Lenin, Stalin, Hitler (sorry for Godwin), Mao and (to change not nice trend) Mahatma Gandhi. You yourself talked about Bismarck. Then we have lesser scale, but Talleyrand. Need Night? Fouche. War leaders/generals? Napoleon, Patton, Zhukov and Rommel.

                      We didn't move from Great Men in any resemblance. We just changed who we see as Great Men.

                      I'll give you Hitler and Napoleon, but Ghosthead's analysis is dead on for all the other figures you note. Maybe Gandhi, but India was going to achieve independence sooner or later anyway and Gandhi merely influenced the form that independence took.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Chejop Kejak View Post
                        I mean, I can think of tons of heroic archers (India, in particular, supplies many of these, complete with epic archery duels)
                        Hold on, a friend of mine linked me a thing about Hindu Archery Duels...

                        Hindu Mythology Primer: Arjuna vs Karna

                        Then he went on to talk about Arjuna and Karna being portrayed in Fate/Extra CCC and Fate/Grand Order being seriously nerfed compared to the actual myths, considering the shit those two got up to.


                        Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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                        • Basically, if you see a Hindu mythological hero in any sort of crossover story, expect nerfs. Hindu mythology tends to be a fair bit more over-the-top than most classical stories (and raising/shattering mountains is a recurring theme in many classical stories), even before you get to the bit where someone circumnavigates the globe in a single step and kicks a giant into space.


                          "For me, there's no fundamental conflict between really loving something and also seeing it as very profoundly flawed." -- Jay Eddidin

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Daerian View Post
                            Not really true. We are still talking about "Great Man" in every part of our modern history. It just changed from kings to generals, politicians and thinkers/sciencists. For example:
                            Today world and entire business and management is shaped by Ford and Deming. Economy? Every real economists will tell you that Smith, Marx and Keynes are three pillars of today economy.
                            Leaders and politicians? Lenin, Stalin, Hitler (sorry for Godwin), Mao and (to change not nice trend) Mahatma Gandhi. You yourself talked about Bismarck. Then we have lesser scale, but Talleyrand. Need Night? Fouche. War leaders/generals? Napoleon, Patton, Zhukov and Rommel.

                            We didn't move from Great Men in any resemblance. We just changed who we see as Great Men.

                            One of the issues with "Great Men" is that you're seeing them less and less often, especially in Europe/America (The West). The biggest reasons are the lack of massive, continental wars (which tend to push individual military leaders to the forefront) and the existence of hard term limits on the amount of time a politician can lead a nation. Other than Roosevelt (who served for an unprecedented 11 years) few presidents can be said to have personally charted the course of America in the way that "Great Men" do. There were influential ones like Kennedy and Reagan, but even they were fairly restricted in their power.

                            A look at America during Reagan's term or during Kennedy's term would be seeing something much bigger than their own, personal stories.

                            In contrast, you can still see "Great Men" in other parts of the world where individuals are able to exert power for much longer - a look at Russia in the 21st Century might as well be a biography about Putin. He's been so heavily influential and powerful there in a way that American politicians can only dream of.

                            So while the idea of "Great Men" might have had some argument to being correct in yesterday, in today's world (at least in the Western World, especially coupled with modern technology) the current story of the world is much more than the biography of a few great people.

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                            • Black Claw Style
                              • Oooh, a martial art with an actual backstory!
                              • Demon-taught, and is more about emotional manipulation than physical blows. Interesting...
                              • I like how many of these styles aren't necessarily about killing a foe, necessarily. I just wish that the general melee section had a section about death and defeat not being the same thing... In preparing for my game (which finally kicks off next Wednesday, huzzah!) feel like I've had to prime my players to not always kill everything, because I'm petrified that they're totally capable of doing that and leaving me with no plot. It's nice to see some mechanical reinforcement of that with this style.
                              • An actual requirement of an intimacy this time! See, Righteous Devil Style? THIS is what you should have!
                              • And a tie, which makes for auto-plot hooks. I already like this style a lot.
                              • Totally unarmed and unarmoured style, as befits the "oh, HE attacked ME!" approach.
                              • Dodge and Presence make sense as complements here.
                              Open Palm Caress
                              • Even the greatest of heroes are villains when they fight a Black Claw Stylist.
                              • If her enemies win Join Battle, they are seen as starting hostilities, even by themselves. This may cause confusion. May see through it on a reflexive read intentions roll vs the martial artist's Guile. Black Claw stylist gets a point of initiative for every enemy convinced by this charm, up to a maximum of her Manipulation. Those with mastery may pay a point of willpower to make a clinch or decisive attack against an enemy with higher JB but who failed the Guile roll count as an ambush.
                              Torn Lotus Defense
                              • Because the martial artist has already been broken by loving her sifu, she can't be beaten any more.
                              • May counterattack to instil a positive tie towards herself in her attacker. The exact nature of the tie depends on the context, can be chosen by the attacker. Does Manipulation-based unsoakable withering damage if the target already has a positive tie towards the martial artist. If done while the form is active, this can also be applied to bystanders without the penalty for influencing multiple people. Bystanders never take withering damage from this. Dragon-blooded cannot gain the Form benefits of this charm. Those with mastery can declare this charm before the attack roll, and gain additional defence bonuses.
                              Flexing the Emerald Claw
                              • There is always a time for vengeance for the unjustly wronged.
                              • Martial artist scratches her opponent with poisoned Essence. Poison does initiative damage and gives a -2 action penalty. While the form is active, any initiative damage done against the poisoned enemy adds to the martial artist's initiative.
                              Black Claw Form
                              • Black claw stylist assumes a pose where it is clear she doesn't want to fight, but will do so if she must.
                              • Adds auto-successes to disengage or withdraw actions, which cost less initiative. Gives a defence bonus. When in close range of enemies who have positive ties to her, other enemies take defence penalties. Enemies with positive ties to her also take this penalty. May reflexively activate when she successfully defends against an attack, and that defence causes the opponent's initiative to fall below her own.
                              Doe Eyes Defence
                              • Black Claw stylist defends against attacks with vulnerability.
                              • Attacks against the martial artist get a penalty equal to her Guile. Enemies with a positive tie towards her add that tie's intensity to their penalties. Dragon-blooded use the lower of Essence or Guile. Those with mastery gain initiative from successful defences while this charm is active.
                              • Despite appearances, Torn Lotus Defence, and not the form, is the key to this style. Weird.
                              • Now this is a charm that feels like it would make much more sense as a charm that you can commit motes to. Or would that make it too powerful.
                              Storm-Calming Embrace
                              • Black Claw Stylist JUST WANT TO HUG!
                              • martial artist gets double 8s and an auto-success to a grapple control roll, but cannot savage or throw her opponent. While clinched in this way, poison's duration does not go down. Those with mastery can double Manipulation-based numbers of 8s and 9s on the attack and initiative roll, as well getting an enhanced control roll. An enemy clinched with a Black Claw Stylist with mastery is treated as being in initiative crash for the purposes of poisons.
                              Table-Turning Reversal
                              • Black Claw Stylist is good at beating up bullies, and has the support of creation as she does it.
                              • Can be used to respond to an attack with a disarm gambit, getting an auto-success to the attack and initiative rolls. If successful, that weapon can be reflexively readied by the Black Claw stylist, which can also be used to break attunement and reflexively commit the necessary motes to attune it to herself. As long as she wields it, it counts as a Black Claw style weapon. The first time she does a decisive attack against the enemy she stole it from, her attack roll counts as an instil roll to either grant a positive tie to her or erode positive ties against the person she has struck.
                              • Erm... is this a counter-attack or not? The counterattack keyword doesn't actually meak things counterattack capable, but that feels like the intention with the use of the keyword here.
                              Outrage-Kindling Cry
                              • Who can stand by while the poor defenceless Black Claw stylist is pulverised?
                              • Allows a counterattack against a decisive attack, targeting all characters who can hear her with a social action, without the usual penalties of targeting multiple characters. The martial artist's wound penalties count as penalties to targets' Resolve. Those who fail will attempt to restrain the opponent, or attack her, depending on the strength of their tie to the Black Claw stylist. Character must enter a decision point to resist, with the intensity of the positive tie being one level higher than it actually is for the purposes of determining intimacies to spend willpower. If the intimacy of the tie is defining, it costs 2 willpower to resist. Can be used once per fight, can be reset with a 2+ point stunt emphasising the stylist's fragility or her underdog status. Dragon-blooded using this charm can only target a single character, or an audience of trivial opponents who form a battle group.
                              Heart-Ripping Claw
                              • Betrayal is inevitable, so better to be the betrayer.
                              • Add some temporary willpower to raw damage. If the taget has a positive tie towards the martial artist, double it or triple if tie is defining. If incapacitated with this styple, the target's heart is ripped out. Once used, this attack can't be used against anyone who saw it for the rest of the fight, until their positive ties toward the martial artist or a negative intimacy towards the previous target have been strengthened. Dragon-blooded use the lower of their Essence or temporary willpower. Those with mastery gain back health levels & an appearance boost for the rest of the fight when the heart dissolves.
                              This is a really neat style. However, I'm kind of curious about intended use for social fu martial arts like this. Many of the charms are beyond Essence 1, and yet the style cannot be taken as supernal by the castes who would most benefit from them. I guess it's entirely possible to build a Dawn with this style as favoured by taking a variety of social abilities as favoured, I guess. Possibly an acceptable quirk in the system, but an observation. Is this one of those "think about their methods, not their abilities" times? Sorry, I'll stop thinking aloud now.
                              Last edited by Xerxes; 07-09-2016, 05:54 AM.


                              A Not-Quite-Newb's Read-Through of Ex3 - my thoughts, notes and trials and tribulations with the Exalted 3rd edition rules.
                              Ex3 Reference Materials - currently includes an ST screen, common actions sheet, weapons reference sheet, character creation summary and mortal QCs reference sheet.

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                              • The dawn cast in the game I play in is a little old lady with this style, everyone is so aggressive towards the elderly these days!

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