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[Ex3] Is 'Heroic Mortal' a taboo phrase now?

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  • [Ex3] Is 'Heroic Mortal' a taboo phrase now?

    I was just musing how on a couple of occasions, I saw someone on the forum use the phrase 'Heroic Mortal' to refer to a Mortal PC, and for someone to point out that the core doesn't use the word Heroic Mortal once. As if this somehow means something.

    I mean, for comparison, off the top of my head, the following places aren't mentioned at all in the Ex3 core, to the best of my knowledge:
    • Yozi/Primordials (instead awkwardly replaced every time with 'Enemies of the Gods')
    • Infernals
    • Alchemicals
    • Autochthonia
    • God Bloods
    • A writeup for Paragon (though it IS shown on a section of the map)
    Is the takeaway that those things no longer exist in Ex3? I mean, they weren't mentioned by name once in the core either.

    In addition... So what? Does noting that the core doesn't use "Heroic Mortal" actually mean anything? I don't know about everyone else, but I use 'Heroic Mortal' and 'Mortal PC' interchangeably. Because let's be honest: A mortal PC is not going to be a typical mortal. They're going to be EXCEPTIONAL ones. "Peasant #2 Drinking Away His Awareness Of His Shitty Lot In Life" isn't a mortal PC, neither is "Bystander #7 at the market". It's like saying in D&D that your Adventurer is an exceptional individual compared to their dirt-farming cousin. It's just kind of true.

    Now, Lin Wu the Peasant drinking at the tavern when he decides to get up and DO SOMETHING is an entirely valid PC concept, but at that point he's no longer Some Guy (not to be confused with Martial Arts prodigy Sum Gai, scourge of the Eastern martial arts tournaments).

    If there was a memo about the devs not liking the term 'Heroic Mortal' because I Don't Know Why, I missed it. Is Heroic Mortal as a phrase going the way of the term Magitech?


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

  • #2
    I wouldn't take its absence to mean they don't like it, nor do I think it's a really meaningful distinction. Mortals get called heroic, mortal heroes, etc. it just doesn't have any kind of system meaning, so you don't really need to do that.

    They do mention the Yozis.

    Originally posted by Exalted 3e, p. 61
    "Locked outside Creation in an endless city of vitriol and brass, lit by a mad green sun and bordered by an infinite silver desert, the Yozis, the overthrown creators of the world, rage in inviolate imprisonment."
    I don't think God-blooded are taboo, they're not really systemized by the core (They weren't in previous editions of Exalted, as far as I know) but I suspect one could make one by throwing them some charms or supernatural merits. Maybe we'll get more about them in a future supplement? An interesting place to detail them could be a book about Exigents.

    If Paragon is on the map, safe bet it just didn't make it into the final wordcount for the world section.
    Last edited by Leetsepeak; 06-15-2016, 06:19 PM.


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    • #3
      In my mortal campaign, I used the same character creation steps to create mortal antagonists as the PC's did to create their characters.

      I figured that the PC's were significant because of what they did, not who they were. Granted, they did start out as effectively-minor nobility, but all that did was give them some Influence and Resources dots, which meant they started out with better equipment than the "average" mortal warrior. Their stats weren't marginally higher than NPCs, however.

      I disliked that "PC's are super-speshul" aspect of D&D as well, among many other things. If your PC's are special, they don't need special stat bonuses to be so. Again, they are exceptional because of what they do, not because Fate is smitten.

      Mortals are mortal. Granted, doing the above makes already-gritty mortal games even grittier, but my characters enjoyed it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
        They do mention the Yozis.
        Huh, I'd overlooked that. My bad.

        Either way, my point of bringing up those other places is more a comeback to people I saw note "The corebook doesn't use the phrase Heroic Mortals". That comeback being "Yeah, and they don't mention a bunch of OTHER things by name either. We KNOW they're there somewhere, just not mentioned in the core."

        Originally posted by Boston123 View Post
        I disliked that "PC's are super-speshul" aspect of D&D as well, among many other things. If your PC's are special, they don't need special stat bonuses to be so. Again, they are exceptional because of what they do, not because Fate is smitten.
        ... But, that's part of it being a game. Not every mortal can get Strength 3 and Athletics 5 to lift heavy weights, not every mortal can say "Yeah, I want to be a Sorcerer" and become one. Yeah, they're great because of what they do. That's why the story focuses on them. They are, themselves, exceptional in their deeds, and that's why they're PCs.
        Last edited by Kyman201; 06-15-2016, 06:35 PM.


        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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        • #5
          At its most basic, and as a comparison to the Second Edition core, it means that there are not two different sets of character creation rules for mortal player characters.

          ​I will note that the system does actually have mechanical distinctions akin to how certain Charms divided all targets into heroic mortal and extra; however, trivial characters represent a different standard of characterisation than that distinction did.


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          • #6
            In 2nd Edition you had either Heroic Mortals or Extras. Extras were mortals who were unimportant to the plot, had minimum statistics and were basically just living scenery designed to be splattered or abused by the PC's. Your character's Aunt May? She might not be "Heroic" in the sense of being badass, but she's definitely not a an extra. She's important to the plot and (if it ever came up) would warrant a full character write-up.

            Some random soldier on the city watch could probably kill Aunt May without any problem (she's an old lady with minimal combat ability). That doesn't make him Heroic. He's still just an Extra. He has no name, no unique features, no particular importance to the story plot. If he did kill your character's Aunt, then he probably shouldn't be treated like an Extra anymore.

            One important point was that powerful spirits, Exalted, etc, were never Extras. If you introduced one into your game, they should be given a name and treated as an important individual - that's the "narrative weight" that such beings brought with them.

            In Third Edition we now have "normal characters" and "quick characters." Quick characters fill a similar role as Extras did, with the caveat that a quick character can even be an Exalt or being with powerful supernatural powers, plus a QC's power is actually reduced (I don't believe you gain automatic damage against Quick Characters for example). You do have Trivial Opponents that functional similarly, but in general a member of the guard probably shouldn't be trivial even if they don't have narrative weight.

            So over the last ~10 years I've gotten used to using Heroic Mortal as a term, not only for player character mortals but any NPC who is important towards the purposes of the plot. That was the initial idea behind Heroic Mortals as a way to differentiate them from being an Extra. I guess I still use it as a way to differentiate between Important Mortals and Trivial mortals.
            Last edited by AnubisXy; 06-15-2016, 06:41 PM.

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            • #7
              Huh, thanks Anubis, that's actually pretty helpful and makes sense. Alright, works for me.

              Edit: I guess I mentally classify it this way.

              A. Mortal PCs/Rather Important Characters - Built fully using the Character Construction rules. VERY vital to the story, and PCs. These are what I call 'Heroic'
              B. Semi-Important - Important, sure, but benefits best from QC Writeups. The bodyguards protecting the king, for example.
              C. Trivial Characters - "That Guy Over There", the extras in the background, and the individual members of a battlegroup.
              Last edited by Kyman201; 06-15-2016, 06:50 PM.


              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post

                Huh, I'd overlooked that. My bad.

                Either way, my point of bringing up those other places is more a comeback to people I saw note "The corebook doesn't use the phrase Heroic Mortals". That comeback being "Yeah, and they don't mention a bunch of OTHER things by name either. We KNOW they're there somewhere, just not mentioned in the core."



                ... But, that's part of it being a game. Not every mortal can get Strength 3 and Athletics 5 to lift heavy weights, not every mortal can say "Yeah, I want to be a Sorcerer" and become one. Yeah, they're great because of what they do. That's why the story focuses on them. They are, themselves, exceptional in their deeds, and that's why they're PCs.
                Technically, any mortal can "get" those ratings, they just have to spend bonus dots, and they will likely be gimped in some other area as a result.

                "Crippling Overspecialization" is possible as a mortal, and likely to be lethal or game-hindering as a result

                My strongest PC has 3 dots in Strength. He is known for being a big, tough guy, but there is at least one guy, probably more, unloading longships down by the drydock, that is as strong as he is. Likewise, his Huscarl is definitely "better" at he is at combat. The PC is exceptional for being the Thegn of the Saltspear Hold, Captain of the longship "Dragon of the North", and his ability to lead troops in battle.

                Maybe because my PC's decided to go for "breadth" rather than "depth". Nobody really specialized in anything, and instead decided to go for a decent spread of skills. So, the guy with a longbow is known for his skill (3 dots), but he is more famous for his oratory abilities and his ability to sweet-talk the Ting (Assembly) into doing what he wants.

                I don't think any of my PC's have any Abilities or Skills over three. Lots of 3s, 2s, and 1s, though. They don't like penalties. Instead, they have a lot of Influence, Followers, Command, etc as a result of the things they do. There are plenty of NPC's, even minor ones, that have "better" skills or abilities than the PCs. They had to earn their supremacy, vs them being better straight from character creation.

                The "average" mortal opponent in my campaign has 2 dots in almost everything "important", with 1 dot in things they dabble in. In a 1v1 battle ( a duel,to be precise) with one of my PC's, both parties ended up getting severely wounded and almost killed. The PC accepted the challenge precisely because he thought, since he was a PC, he would be arbitrarily better. He got stomped, because he was cocky.

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                • #9
                  It should be noted that in 1e and 2e, there were actually three tiers of people. There were mechanics for the creaiton of non-extra, non-heroic mortals in both corebooks. It's just that, as far as I gather, authors never remembered them or at times even denied they were relevant. And something of note too is that at least in 2e, there was some implications that existing as a heroic mortal was an in-character thing, which also had odd implications.

                  3e I think in part isn't just dismantling the systemitization of the whole thing, but also kind of just tosses out that heroic mortals are something inherently different than other mortals beyond dots on the sheet. And that being fully stated is more a sign of someone's plot relevance than metaphysical relevance.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                    In 2nd Edition you had either Heroic Mortals or Extras.
                    ​Only in Charms written by Nephilpal.

                    EDIT: Personally, while I might still be inclined to use the term "heroic mortal" just as language to describe people who engage in certain kinds of audacity, rather then a system term or even term of art, I have a stronger inclination to try and avoid it, because I think it still mortals in a light where the distinction between heroic or otherwise is something intrinsic and consistent, rather than the probably more likely adaptive and situational. The person who runs into a burning building to grab hold of a child, carry them back to the threshold and toss them over the collapsed beams while themselves remaining trapped long enough to sustain terrible burns that require a long and brutal healing period, that person is heroic in the instance where they did that, even if it's the only heroic thing they ever do. Likewise, I could say merchant princes who live lives of risk and daring until they become comfortable and routine factors, or princes who land themselves cushy jobs hauling straightforward, reliable assets, until they save their way up to factor and enter a world of high stakes intrigue.

                    The point I'm getting at is to break myself on an attitude that otherwise regards it as a binary, and forgets the capacity of mundane people to become heroes when the moment calls for it.
                    Last edited by Isator Levi; 06-15-2016, 07:19 PM.


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                    • #11
                      God-Blooded are actually mentioned in quite a few places. We just don't have rules for them right now.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        The person who runs into a burning building to grab hold of a child, carry them back to the threshold and toss them over the collapsed beams while themselves remaining trapped long enough to sustain terrible burns that require a long and brutal healing period, that person is heroic in the instance where they did that, even if it's the only heroic thing they ever do.
                        This depends on how you approach the setting, really.

                        Does the Exalted setting exist as a narrative setting specifically for your players to explore, or is the Exalted setting, rather than being based around a narrative, instead a world that stands on its own regardless of players or their activities?

                        I tend to approach Exalted from the view that the setting is there to be used by the ST and players to tell a story. While some guy being a hero and saving a kid from a burning building is cool, if it doesn't happen during the game, or it doesn't involve anyone important to the PCs, then the PCs probably don't particularly care and that event and the people involved are unimportant. His actions might be heroic and impressive but he's not important to my game so he's not a Heroic mortal. If the guy Exalted during the process and he showed up during a game, then suddenly that incident is very important as were his actions.

                        I don't have an issue with terms that describe the narrative weight and importance that different kinds of NPC's bring to the table. Calling Johnny the Hand, a weaselly coward who is involved in a gangwar with the PC's a "Heroic Mortal" isn't really a slight against Timmy who bravely saved his sister from a burning building but never appeared in my campaign. Timmy just isn't important and what he did doesn't matter. His actions may have been "heroic" but, from the point of view of the ST running a game that doesn't include Timmy, he is not "Heroic."

                        If the word "Heroic" is what grinds your gears, then like I said in my earlier post, maybe we can come up with a new one. I admit, I'm not terribly attached to the term Heroic, I just haven't found anything that works better to describe mortals that have narrative weight behind them and differentiate them from the human-scenery NPCs (Trivial or Quick Characters). And to note, I don't like "Important mortals" even though I've used it a few times.
                        Last edited by AnubisXy; 06-15-2016, 07:44 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                          Yozi/Primordials (instead awkwardly replaced every time with 'Enemies of the Gods')
                          I'm just hoping 3e stays true to its 1e roots and brings back "Malfeans." As a name for the Neverborn. And not the inhabitants of Malfeas.

                          (This is not actually a thing I hope.)


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                          • #14
                            The main significance of me describing Creation as a setting in which humans are humans is that it establishes my expectation that characters act in unexpected ways at various junctures. That upon conquering a city, somebody might step forth, terrified, from the crowds of common people to speak out on behalf of their fellows in the face of all of your strength and Psyche Charms, and that could be the first and last thing that person ever does in their life that is brave, without that being a contradiction of some established tenet of the setting that everybody who is not axiomatically heroic is scenery to be fought over, exploited, or discarded at will. I don't need everybody's life story, just an overall texture that makes me play a character who acts as though they have lives.

                            ​I mean, as a description, the term "extra" is fine if it's just describing people who happen to be going around their daily business when the purpose of the scene occurs, but is less fine when applied to the general people who the characters are presumed to be acting towards by a large part of the game's premise.

                            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                            While some guy being a hero and saving a kid from a burning building is cool, if it doesn't happen during the game, or it doesn't involve anyone important to the PCs, then the PCs probably don't particularly care and that event and the people involved are unimportant.
                            I don't think it would ever really be a thing that happens or is so much as mentioned in the course of a game, unless there's a scene of the players trying to save people from a burning building (in which case it takes the Storyteller one sentence to inform them that some of the extras are trying and succeeding to do the same, just to set the emotional tenor of the scene), but I think the assumption of it as a thing that can happen and expectations that arise thereof can make for a richer experience of the setting.

                            Originally posted by AnubisXy
                            His actions might be heroic and impressive but he's not important to my game so he's not a Heroic mortal.
                            Well, until he takes actions within a scene, from a mechanical perspective he's not really anything, and I would think the mechanics that are assigned when needed are more a matter of practicality than what category of person the character is.

                            If the guy Exalted during the process and he showed up during a game, then suddenly that incident is very important as were his actions.

                            Originally posted by AnubisXy
                            If the word "Heroic" is what grinds your gears, then like I said in my earlier post, maybe we can come up with a new one. I admit, I'm not terribly attached to the term Heroic, I just haven't found anything that works better (I don't like "Important mortals" even though I've used it a few times).
                            (Darn it, I hate when a post gets edited just after I quote it, so something I would respond to is not in the text box)

                            In a case like this, it's not really about specific words at all; in the absence of mechanical distinctions, I question the need to apply a specific piece of terminology that can only ever be significant as a description of what the character does in the scene; unless you do things like assign dice pools based on that terminology, and the Storyteller (or possibly players) are the ones who decide what the character does in the scene, so what does a separate branch f terminology really describe?

                            ​EDIT: Bah; too much high-minded, self-satisfied rambling. I've made my point to my own satisfaction of it as something relevant to the topic of this thread, and will read any responses or counters from Anubis, but I don't want to trouble the thread with my own statements any longer.

                            Last edited by Isator Levi; 06-15-2016, 08:08 PM.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Kyman201 View Post
                              Edit: I guess I mentally classify it this way.

                              A. Mortal PCs/Rather Important Characters - Built fully using the Character Construction rules. VERY vital to the story, and PCs. These are what I call 'Heroic'
                              B. Semi-Important - Important, sure, but benefits best from QC Writeups. The bodyguards protecting the king, for example.
                              C. Trivial Characters - "That Guy Over There", the extras in the background, and the individual members of a battlegroup.
                              I think of it more like:

                              a: Full Write-ups: Going to come up enough to warrant the extra work.
                              b: No Write-ups: Don't show up enough to have anything written up. If they get dice rolls or stats, they're decided on the fly.
                              c: Everything else: QC.

                              Nothing about it denotes power or capability, and all categories could range from normal people to exalts and gods and behemoths. That's why Heroic Mortal isn't really a useful phrase anymore, since a mortal who is heroic could easily be represented as any of my three categories. The only system term (as in there are Charms that work differently against them) are trivial opponents. In my scheme all trivial opponents would be in category b, but not all characters in category b are trivial opponents.

                              ---

                              As for the OP's question, God-Blooded does come up a fair amount, but iirc the rest don't. Not using Primordial is a little silly (especially since I believe the term was used in the 1e core), and especially since the phrase "enemies of the gods" is used a lot interchangeably.


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