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How Would You Represent the Exarchs as Comic Book Supervillains? (Mostly Serious)

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  • How Would You Represent the Exarchs as Comic Book Supervillains? (Mostly Serious)

    I've been learning about Jack Kirby's take on gods recently, and I came up with a plot hook; a webcomic artist who is unknowingly tuned to Supernal symbols, and they inspire her when she's making characters and plots for her semi-comedic superhero series. By reading, you can get a good idea of what the Supernal world looks like around her area, and insight into Mysteries even beyond her sixth sense.

    As might be evinced by the title, I am debugging how she represents the Exarchs in her work; her version of Apokolips and its ruling New Gods (an inspiration that is quite blatant), a dark planet that has been hollowed out and transformed into a weapon of conquest, a vast Astral Organ who plays endless hymns praising the Gospel of Obedience that are transmuted into solar winds that are spread across the universe and inspires dreams of conquest and compliance-by-force...yeah, this is trying to be a comic book. You should see her version of the Anti-Life Equation.

    Which brings me to my question: I've got her versions of the Father (Deacon Birch, High Priest of Unbending Justification), the Unity (Domina Pure, Queen of Twinned Thought), and the Prophet (Enlightened Tenebrae, Keeper of the Histories), but I'm looking for other slightly silly names and titles to give to the ideologies and concepts the Exarchs embody, especially the Ruin (I have an image of an architect who builds flaws in his otherwise invincible buildings and tells his subjects that the only way to survive is to protect the flaws-not fix, protect), but I'm looking for people a bit more familiar with Kirby's style of character-building than I am.



  • #2
    For the Ruin, I think you'd want to go more personal. I don't know if you've ever seen the Sopranos, but Tony Soprano's mother, Livia Soprano, basically spends her entire life poisoning her children's hopes and dreams, jumping on any sort of discord in order to further inflame it. And if confronted with it denies it, or falls back on her fragile appearance. Basically she's a monster that instills doubts and poisons relationships, masquerading as something that should be a support. You get a bit of this with Kirby's Granny Goodness, who taints her 'charges' confidence so that, without her, they are aimless and directionless and unsure about what they do.

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    • #3
      Gregory Greene: Schadenfreude, Shining Shadow, Mord -- Gregory was a human sorcerer who was so envious of the Grand Sage that he made pacts with the ancient and unspeakable for power, becoming like unto a demon or dark god. His Pillars are marked with his symbol of the Evil Eye and stand in dark places, drawing power to him and exerting control over those places. Greene subtly curses the works of others to make sure they can never rival his own, usually through their own sense of rivalry or jealousy. He particularly loves to see people overreach themselves and, thus, collapse their entire projects.With his mastery over the arcane and dark, he's learned that the death of a dream is as powerful a basis for a curse as the loss of life; He'll afflict his victims with Death Curses powered by their failures.

      His disciples are never allowed to rival or challenge him, much less surpass, but he grants them great insights into toppling their rivals and has entirely enjoyed putting the uppity ones in their place. (Feigning weakness was so much fun the last time...)

      His Chronicle of the Cursed holds records of all the victims of curses throughout history. It's unclear if he created that library or wrested it from a previous owner, but it grants him unprecedented knowledge on the nature of curses and the skein of Fate. Sometimes he shares it with those who pay him proper tribute.

      Some of his servants are those he cursed and who he now uses to whisper jealousies and poisons into ears of his current targets.Others are the shadows of weakness that hide inside all men.

      It's rumored that the pacts he made are his greatest weakness, but none to date have found a way to exploit them.


      Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.

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      • #4
        How dark do you want to go?

        The whole world of darkness setting turns down every possibility for a gray or ray of hope in the darkness. Everything about it find the darkest way to be, dives in, and refuses to go anywhere else even then the possibility for hope exists. Comic book villains range from having deliberate flaws and blind spots for heroes to be heroic with to sex and drug addicts the heroes only prevail against through extreme luck at the cost of their lives.
        Last edited by HarbingerLeo; 10-26-2018, 04:46 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by HarbingerLeo View Post
          How dark do you want to go?
          The whole world of darkness setting turns down every possibility for a gray or ray of hope in the darkness.
          ...no it doesn't.

          We have an entire gameline whose premise is innately hopeful and wherein the natural endgame is the fulfillment of that hope.

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          • #6
            Oh! What did I miss?

            I kind of grumble when I find descriptions of stuff that doesn't have to be dark, but steps out of it's way to be anyway. Villains that are still villains, but could have some even vaguely symbiotic quality.

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            • #7
              While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

              Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by nofather View Post
                While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

                Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.
                Or Changeling, for that matter. CofD seems to have embraced, if you'll forgive the neologism, nobledark as a concept (grimdark, only less cynical and unrelenting-Kingdom Come is a good example). So these are very much villains in the mold of epic fantasy; evil with little in the way of redemptive potential, but undone by their own flaws and meant to be more symbols than characters anyway).


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                • #9
                  The Warden: This being was a warden over a large prison but was so successful at crushing the spirits of his charges while maintaining order that his government took notice and the leaders brought him in to consult on various planned invasions of their enemies. (They expected guerrilla opposition) He gave them sound advice but released useful details to the opposition. The resulting action was bloody. His government demanded he explain why his plan had failed and he explained that they hadn't given him enough information. They granted him authority as a master of spies, and he swiftly set up a surveillance network throughout the borders. He used this position to mask his overtures to the contesting countries. He began to get them to trade him useful intel. Eventually, he was playing both sides so well that everyone knew that their enemies would know what they were doing before they could do it. He'd ended the war.

                  He had key media figures replaced. He had major figured in governments replaced. He did everything through others who simply needed to know and kept his hands clean. Eventually, everyone was too paranoid to act out against Society, the name they put to the strictures that were enforced by nameless agency. This system of terror worked for years. Very few, even inside his network, knew Warden was pulling the strings. No one is completely sure where his Robe of Eyes came from, but it's said that it shows him everything around him for miles or possibly even thoughts.

                  Having conquered and established his surveillance state on multiple worlds, he has begun moving through dimensions bringing entire realms into subjection. Warden often ends war, though the peace of his Society isn't restful..Those who speak out against Society disappear; an enormous, inescapable prison dimension called Panopticon is a rumor in all his lands.


                  Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nofather View Post
                    While the old World of Darkness was more about everything being evil or bad, Chronicles of Darkness focuses more on the darkness hiding things, mysteries in every shadow.

                    Also Inodiv may have been referring to Promethean or Geist.

                    Right. And it's entirely possible to have characters (PC or NPC) who accomplish noble or heroic deeds as a consequence of their interrelation with the world, others and its secrets. Not the heroes you want, but the ones you need. This is easy to figure into comic book and story tropes, including (or especially) cycles in which the previous "hero" is now the villain.

                    That said, there have been CofD stories, especially in 1e that went over-the-top in portraying characters as irredeemable monsters who need a bullet to the head and a replacement extra. That's... actually distracting to the setting, though certain interactions with denizens of other dimensions (Shadow, for example) call for extreme as a matter of course.

                    --Khanwulf

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                    • #11
                      Ok, reading up a little I'll grant Geist or Promethean have a tormented hero archetype. I'd still call that a dark setting, but that's me. I may not be the spot on target audience. I'll go the extra mile to be a boyscout even if I have to fight to be. I just comment the setting requires you to fight tooth and nail to do so as a default instead of a option from the start.

                      I did mean to ask, in a not rhetorical way, How dark did you want it to be, Leliel? Some tropes would only fit in a Jason movie, some tropes would only fit in 90s or 80s Saturday morning cartoon.

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                      • #12
                        I don't think it means heroic, necessarily, as much as there's a solid and usually beneficial end point.

                        But you don't have to reach these points by being heroic, a Promethean's pilgrimage can be full of acts that make an Ashwood Abbey veteran blush.

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                        • #13
                          Can a n00b have a list of the exarchs that haven't been covered yet. And do they all have to be New Gods' level/style villains? Maybe you could have a new street level villain be a representative of a Seer destined to become a new Minor Exarch in the future? (that happens once in a blue moon, right?l


                          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HarbingerLeo View Post
                            How dark do you want to go?

                            The whole world of darkness setting turns down every possibility for a gray or ray of hope in the darkness. Everything about it find the darkest way to be, dives in, and refuses to go anywhere else even then the possibility for hope exists. Comic book villains range from having deliberate flaws and blind spots for heroes to be heroic with to sex and drug addicts the heroes only prevail against through extreme luck at the cost of their lives.
                            I mean, he said "semi-comedic", but also Jack Kirby style. I'd go for a Grant Morrison style myself: complex symbolic villains that have modern sensibilities but at the same time hearken back to the Silver Age and early Bronze Age of comics

                            So, no post-Identity Crisis Dr. Light.


                            A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post

                              I mean, he said "semi-comedic", but also Jack Kirby style. I'd go for a Grant Morrison style myself: complex symbolic villains that have modern sensibilities but at the same time hearken back to the Silver Age and early Bronze Age of comics

                              So, no post-Identity Crisis Dr. Light.
                              Yeah, that as well; I'm not a comics sort, so I don't know the exact styles of people.

                              In answer to another question: Given how I'm talking about the Iron Seals, they are in the New Gods style-or can possibly become as such.

                              The Iron Seals being generally what people are thinking of when you invoke the Exarchs, the masters of the Ten Arcana Plus The Abyss.

                              The Four Archgenitors, patrons of the current Great Ministries:

                              Unity - Exarch of Mind (embodies xenophobia and devaluation of the self in service to the state)
                              General - Exarch of Forces (embodies war and the belief that the only measure of worth is abilities in violence)
                              Father - Exarch of Prime (embodies dogma and the capacity of zealotry to blind)
                              Eye - Exarch of Space (embodies paranoia and how fear of being seen alters behavior)
                              And the Lesser Seals, who don't have a Great Ministry-yet. They have less focus, but there's enough to make some assumptions.

                              Chancellor - Exarch of Matter (greed and devaluation of others into commodities)
                              Nemesis - Exarch of Spirit (ignorance of the supernatural and view of supernatural as inherently hostile)
                              Prophet - Exarch of Time (the Great Man theory of history, and its attendant elitism)
                              Psychopomp - Exarch of Death (fear of mortality and barring unbelievers from good afterlives)
                              Raptor - Exarch of Life (materialistic nihilism and the natural order as an immutable chain prevents/abdicates all free will)
                              Ruin - Exarch of Fate (existential pessimism and refusal to even try)
                              Gate - Exarch of the Abyss (the one the Seers don't like to talk about, and yet the one that allows them the ability to control the world at all, by enabling the ability to decide "what is" and "is not")



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