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How much history do Creation's people know?

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  • How much history do Creation's people know?

    I've thought about this a number of times before, but I think it's an interesting topic for discussion. In Exalted's canon history, there's the standard progression of Wyld Chaos, Primordial rule, the Primordial War, the Solar Deliberative, the Usurpation, the Shogunate, the Great Contagion/Fair Folk Invasion, and then the Second Age and the Time of Tumult. But how much of that history is really known or understood by people in Creation? Of course, your average farmer in a village and even most city-dwellers aren't going to be especially knowledgeable about any of it. I'm not so concerned about them. But if you're a reasonably schooled person or a scholar or somesuch, how aware would you be of that progression of events? How would it be related to their Lore (History) rating? What understanding do Immaculates have of the pre-Solar Deliberative period? Are things like Primordials common knowledge among scholars, or is it more like a few specialized scholars have some inkling about them? I know there are a lot of questions here, I'm just interested in the topic in general.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    But how much of that history is really known or understood by people in Creation?
    It varies (trending toward "very little", because quite a bit of that isn't history, but also because most of the knowledge of what came before has been lost with the ages).

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    Of course, your average farmer in a village and even most city-dwellers aren't going to be especially knowledgeable about any of it. I'm not so concerned about them.
    I dunno, sometimes I feel it's helpful to step back from theorycraft circle-jerking and think about the guy in the street and his position.

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    But if you're a reasonably schooled person or a scholar or somesuch, how aware would you be of that progression of events?
    It varies (trending toward "very little", because quite a bit of that isn't something someone's going to teach you in a history class).

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    How would it be related to their Lore (History) rating?
    I'd say that the mythic prehistory of the world isn't typically covered by Lore (History). Even the First Age won't be touched on much by Lore (History), I feel, because it's effectively such an esoteric knowledge as to be its own field. What the First Age was is so thoroughly divorced from the understanding of what the world is for people in the Second Age that even the historian is gonna consider quite a bit of it to be unintelligible or fantastical.

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    What understanding do Immaculates have of the pre-Solar Deliberative period?
    About as much understanding as anyone else: very little. You're talking about five thousand years in the past, in what was effectively a different world. "History" stops being the right word.

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    Are things like Primordials common knowledge among scholars…
    Not even remotely.

    Originally posted by Sundance View Post
    I know there are a lot of questions here, I'm just interested in the topic in general.
    No worries.
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 09-19-2016, 07:13 PM.


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    • #3
      How much does your average modern university graduate know about what was going on during the Late Pleistocene Age? Probably nothing, unless they're majoring in geology or the like. If you ask, you'll likely get a lot of blank stares and the occasional hopeful "Is that when there were dinosaurs?" There you go.

      People with Lore (History) scores aren't likely to exist. You'll instead encounter people with Lore (Jiaran History) or Lore (Medoan Mythology) or Lore (Immaculate Theology). Even in the real world history is something that is argued over, not an objective record that everyone happily agrees on.


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      • #4
        Typically people know what the Immaculate Order has told them, and nothing more. I believe the IO has done its level best to censor or outright destroy any texts or documents that refute their version of history.

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        • #5
          Well first, remember that it depends exactly where and who you are talking about. There might be barbarian tribes off in the hinterlands that have no stories of times before they lived in the jungles and don't have stories about the Shogunate or any other time period.

          Still, in general I would say that the average person of Creation probably has some understanding of the wide swaths of history, which is something like the following:

          In the beginning there was some kind of Era of Dreams, a "golden age" in which all people and all Creation lived together in peace and order. People did not fight or kill or steal from one another and everyone lived with justice and duty in their heart (or something like that anyway). But then the evil Anathema, servants to the Demon Princes of Malfeas slowly corrupted the hearts of the weak, introducing jealousy, selfishiness hatred and all manner of evil into the hearts of the people. In time they sat on thrones of skulls and even the Dragon Blooded knelt before them - this was an Era of Nightmares. However the blessed Immaculate Dragons heard the wails of the people and helped the Dragon Blooded to break free of their chains and enchantments and they managed to fight back and overthrow the despotic Anathema. They introduced a new order to the world, the Shogunate.

          The Shogunate was not a return to the Era of Dreams - the ideals of the Anathema existed and selfishness and laziness could never be defeated - one could only stand vigilant against such things. Then, depending on who is telling the tale, they might focus on how the Shogunate's Dragon Blooded stood tall to battle against the horrors of the Wyld or they might tell stories about how the Shogunate was filled with petty in-fighting. Eventually the Great Contagion struck - some stories might claim it was heaven's punishment against the Dragon Blooded for their infighting, others might say it was a wicked Anathema plot or the first attack by the Fair Folk. Then you would have Balor's Crusade which finally ends with the Scarlet Empress' ascension and her driving the Fair Folk from Creation.

          This is probably all stuff that is taught by the Immaculate Order and would be as close to a "average" understanding of the world as possible in a setting like Creation's. Some people might know about certain famous battles or particularly important Dragon Blooded - maybe the story about Gens Daylar Rathumar, the famous general who led his soldiers to fight for seven days and seven nights without rest could be a common parable in the Immaculate Texts and the subject of various plays, stories and songs.

          Still, for most people these broad strokes along with a small, carefully cherry-picked handful of people, events and anecdotes are going to be the extent of their historical knowledge (with the understanding that their knowledge about local history is probably much deeper).

          Of course, skilled historians, scavenger lords and sorcerers are going to have a much deeper and profound knowledge of the history of Creation with many more facts and lots more knowledge. Still, I suspect that any factual information predating the Shogunate is going to be extremely rare and very dangerous (it's the kind of thing the Realm and the Bronze Faction might want to cover up).

          Among the Sorcerously inclined, I suspect the concept of what Primordials actually are isn't something they understand. Most probably suspect that the Third Circle Demons are the unquestionable rulers of Malfeas, and if they hear stories about the Ebon Dragon or Adorjan, they're going to assume that those are simply powerful Third Circle Demons rather than having a full understanding of the demonic hierarchy, though certainly demonologists who spend time questioning and dealing with demons might learn the truth, such people would be extremely rare.
          Last edited by AnubisXy; 09-19-2016, 07:21 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
            Among the Sorcerously inclined, I suspect the concept of what Primordials actually are isn't something they understand. Most probably suspect that the Third Circle Demons are the unquestionable rulers of Malfeas, and if they hear stories about the Ebon Dragon or Adorjan, they're going to assume that those are simply powerful Third Circle Demons rather than having a full understanding of the demonic hierarchy, though certainly demonologists who spend time questioning and dealing with demons might learn the truth, such people would be extremely rare.
            Speaking of Sorcery, how many people in the Realm and elsewhere even know that there are multiple Circles of Sorcery and not just one single 'Sorcery' ability?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Marcob View Post

              Speaking of Sorcery, how many people in the Realm and elsewhere even know that there are multiple Circles of Sorcery and not just one single 'Sorcery' ability?
              I suspect that among Sorcerers (so much as they have a "community") there would be legends and fables about the "magic of the Anathema" and their horrific spells such as the Magma Kraken which simply lay beyond the capabilities of Sorcerers. Of course, most would simply scoff at the idea because it's clearly bullshit and yet the idea that there might be even more powerful spells just out of reach might cause some Sorcerers to spend years testing and trying to acquire them before giving up.

              That said, depending on how the Heptagram is portrayed it might be somewhat common knowledge among graduates - in earlier editions the Sidereal Exalted made themselves known to all graduates and used Celestial Circle Sorcery to bind their tongues and prevent them from speaking of certain things that they learned at the school - in such a case every graduate would know about the existence of a higher level circle of Sorcery they could not achieve. Again though, that concept had certain inherent flaws and might no longer be the case in 3rd edition.

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              • #8
                I didn't so much mean, Alucard, that I wasn't interested in the common man's view of history as such. I actually quite like playing around with historical memory in my games (I'm a historian by training). I just meant that for the purposes of this question I wasn't so interested, because I can imagine what Joe the Haslanti Cobbler thinks easily enough. It's the experts that are tough for me to wrap my head around.

                The book does seem to suggest that Lore (History) exists, Ferryman, though to be fair the description of the ability is ambiguous enough to leave some uncertainty there. Your suggestion might be more reasonable, in any case.

                I do like the idea of decreeing that Lore (History), or any permutation of it, only reaches back to the Usurpation, at earliest. Though I'm not sure what knowledge of earlier times would even be called, or if the Lore skill would apply to that knowledge.

                That does seem like a good encapsulation of the orthodox Realmish/Immaculate history of Creation, Anubis. And I suppose that the Order has been the established authority on the matter enough to strongly influence the scholarship of the rest of the world, though independent cities might have their own spin on the events. And you're right, it's important to remember that there are a heap of smaller events over the course of the last thousand years that a scholar might know about but that will never be detailed in any canon book, hence the Introduce Fact ability.

                I suppose that it's also important to consider that outside of the Realm, Lookshy, and maybe Nexus or another smattering of major cities, organized knowledge isn't something that's easy to come by. Libraries would be largely private and jealously guarded, universities small and elite. Having a collection of 500 books would probably make someone a world-class scholar (the expense of books themselves notwithstanding). But in considering that historians and sorcerers and the like do have significantly more knowledge than the educated person, how does that understanding not leak out more broadly? Is it just that ancient history and mystical metaphysics are considered esoteric, impractical, and vaguely heretical by most everyone else? Or do people with that kind of knowledge just not talk about it for whatever reason?

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                • #9
                  Regarding sorcerers, I'd guess that most of them (at least the Immaculate ones) who know about the vast powers of Celestial and Solar Circle sorcery wouldn't immediately consider it proper sorcery, but some sort of blasphemous power given out by Anathema's horrible demonic patrons that kind of looks like sorcery. Questioning that assumption too extensively might make people wonder why you're so interested in the powers of the Anathema, anyway. That said, since Anathema can clearly learn sorcery and probably do use it in some of their old tales, in orthodox schools like the Heptagram or the like the question of, "Hey, if Mela invented sorcery, how did Anathema know it first?" has to be one of the questions you quickly learn not to ask more than once.

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                  • #10
                    How is Aphrodite the daughter of Zeus and Dione and born from the seafoam where Ouranos' severed genitals splashed into the ocean?


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                      I suspect that among Sorcerers (so much as they have a "community") there would be legends and fables about the "magic of the Anathema" and their horrific spells such as the Magma Kraken which simply lay beyond the capabilities of Sorcerers.
                      Depending on what you mean by legends and fables, I'd guess there might be a little bit more certainty or concrete facts about the existence of such things. While the Solars have been out of the picture until recently and the Sidereals are mostly unknown in Creation, the Lunars are also capable of using such spells. The stuff that is only heard of in legend (at least until one of the returned Solars starts using them) probably sits at the Adamant Circle.

                      Exigents are pretty rare all things told, and rarer still those who can and do learn Sapphire Sorcery, but that might influence how the Realm view Celestial Sorcery (on the other hand, it may just get such Exigents suspected of being in cahoots with Anathema)

                      It wouldn't surprise me if the top people in sorcerous organizations such as the Heptagram had at least half-preserved instructions to a few such spells among their secret treasures and forbidden chambers. Actually that might also be true for the extremely rare piece of instruction for Adamant Sorcery, but then the Emerald Sorcerers can't begin to make head or tails out of it.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sundance View Post
                        I do like the idea of decreeing that Lore (History), or any permutation of it, only reaches back to the Usurpation, at earliest.
                        If I were to allow a scope as broad as "History" (and no, I probably wouldn't), I definitely would cut it off earlier than the Usurpation. Probably right around the Contagion, an event that killed in the neighborhood of 9/10 of everything. Then the Balorian Crusade came in and scoured the remains. That's pretty catastrophic and would be as close to a historical reset button as you're likely to see. Anything previous to that - including most of the Shogunate era - is likely to fall into the realm of "speculative history" (a.k.a. mythology) for all but the most erudite, and would merit its own Lore scope.


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                        • #13
                          Don't forget, somewhere between 80-95% of people in Creation are unlikely to be literate, much less be learned in history, much less history that doesn't even apply to them.

                          Even those people that are learned are going to concern themselves with what is applicable to them and their locale. There isn't a Lore- History Ability, there is a Lore - History ( Caledon), etc.

                          In my games, the Shogunate is roughly equivalent to the Hollywood-ized "Dark Ages" Europe remembering Rome. The Usurpation and Solar Age is like the Golden Age of Man of Greek myth. Half-remembered and mostly-made up stories.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by danelsan View Post

                            Depending on what you mean by legends and fables, I'd guess there might be a little bit more certainty or concrete facts about the existence of such things. While the Solars have been out of the picture until recently and the Sidereals are mostly unknown in Creation, the Lunars are also capable of using such spells. The stuff that is only heard of in legend (at least until one of the returned Solars starts using them) probably sits at the Adamant Circle.
                            By "Anathema" I was thinking more of Lunar anathema.

                            Still, it's important to remember that even if there are a comparative handful of Celestial Circle Sorcerers, few people in Creation would have ever seen a Lunar cast Magma Kraken or Summoning the Heart of Darkness. Undoubtedly there are stories that circulate among occultists abut I imagine most would just brush them off as exaggerations -

                            "Oh, the story about the Lunar Anathema's attack against Gem? Certainly contemporaneous accounts claim that the darkness it summoned covered a full mile, but it was probably just a few dozen yards wide and panic simply exaggerated the size in people's minds. Even if the accounts are true, and the darkness was as pervasive as the story says it's most likely the Lunar performed the trick as the result of some kind of artifact. I mean, are you really going to suggest the most plausible explanation is that there exists an entire level of sorcery that nobody else can cast?"

                            I suspect that, outside of people finding actual Sapphire or Adamant Circle Spells or seeing someone cast such spells, most occultists and Sorcerers won't give much weight to accounts of such powers.

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                            • #15
                              Most people will know history in terms of fairly broad and simplistic narratives, often abstracting away a lot of the finer points, and typically with an eye towards contextualizing things in a manner that reinforces contemporary ideological concerns.

                              ​In the setting of Exalted, this might include references to the occasional dragon.


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