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Examining Lesser Iron Seals

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  • Examining Lesser Iron Seals

    I must admit that I'm a big Exarchs fan. I mean, something in the Iron Seals' presentation and themes just makes them so compelling, that chances are that if I were to Awaken in the CofD's world, I would have probably ended as a Seer (not sure for how long I would have survived as such, though). As such, it is a little surprise that the first thing I read in Signs of Sorcery was the Exarchs section (which is also in the introduction, so I don't even feel bad!). Anyway, while the boom gave us some more information about the Big Ten, which is awesome of course, one of the sidebars have also gave some information about other, lesser Iron Seals (other than the Gate- but the Gate has Their own interesting place in the Seer cosmology, so They don't really count). From that list, the chances are that many of the presented names are alternative titles or aspects of the Eleven, and others may very well be Ascended Seers, but a few could be "original Exarchs" on their own right... as much as "original" means anything for a time-edited-broken-[redacted] setting such as that of Awakening.

    Anyway, from the least, the section mentions that the Rani and the Progenitor are thought to be such Ascended- even though the chances are that the first is a Doctor Who reference, as the character is literally the first thing I got in Google. Judging from the names, the Rani has a cultural identification, which seems kinda interesting considering that the rest of the Exarchs lack such identification. Even if it were an ascended Seer, I would have imagined that the act of Ascension would have removed such such cultural connotations. The Progenitor, due to its name, I would have assumed to be a twisted reflection of the Life Arcana- perhaps representing the concept of biological/ genetic engineering. Due to Life connotation, it has probably reached Ascension by acting as an avatar of the Raptor- so perhaps they represent the concept that if humanity is nothing but animals, and the strong prey upon the weak, humans can treat weaker humans (that is, mages can treat Sleepers) as nothing more than animals to be engineered and toyed with. Their worshipers may not only be scientists of some kind, but all slavers which breed humans to gain the "perfect servitors", so the Progenitor could be much more ancient that its name may make us think.

    Now, the Monarch could either be an aspect/ alternative name for the Father, a Seer which ascended following the Father or, interestingly, an alternative title for the Rani- if not that the Rani is an aspect of the Monarch. On the other hand, the Monarch/ Rani could also easily be aspects/ ascended avatars of the Unity- with could explain the national connotation of the Rani. Thinking about it again, they could also relate the the Prophet, as his whole purpose is choosing kings and dictating history. The Hierophant and the Tutor seem to be strongly Father related, and perhaps even being the same entity (if they are not both just titles of the Father). The Judge also strongly relates to the Father, as either an aspect of ascended. The Surgeon seems to be a different title for the Progenitor, especially if we use the whole "human engineering" angle for that Exarch, which helps to different it from the Raptor. The Predator and the Cannibal, however, are very likely just different names for the Raptor, as they basically represent what the Raptor represents- we are all animals, and eating the weak. The Destroyer is probably just an aspect of the Ruin, as their names and nature is practically identical.

    Now, the last three are the most interesting ones, IMO- the Mother, the Stranger and the Traveler. I don't know, unlike the other names, those three actually has a mythical quality. The Mother is especially interesting, considering that the Father is exclusively a male, unlike the rest of the Exarchs. She could very well be a primordial Exarch, or that she could have been one of the first of the ascended ones. She makes me think of the concept of Shekhinah- that is, the feminine face of God in Judaism. Maybe she was a Seer which ascended by completing the "missing nature" of the Father, serving as a side of the divine the Father does not, and by doing so completing Him? Of course, with the Rani also being an obvious feminine Exarch, the two entities may be the being, with the Rani serving as a lesser aspect of the Mother (if not ascending through her service, like the Mother ascended through the Father.. its is like a matryoshka doll situation in here). If the Monarch is an aspect of the Rani, perhaps it is in fact the "combination" of both the Father and the Mother- that is, the "true face" of Prime's lie. On the other hand, the Rani could be indeed connected to the Mother, while the Monarch belongs to either the Unity or the Prophet. Heck, maybe the Monarch is just the title that ANY Exarch could use to command the Seers- like a mask above a mask.

    Now, if the Stranger and the Traveler relate to any known Seal, it would be the Gate. At least one of those is either an alternative name for them, or an Ascended Seer of some kind. Now, we could easily treat both as aspects of the Gate, but their names are so cool that it kinda feels like a waste to do so. While the Stranger is likely just another face of the Gate themselves, I feel like the Traveler could be a complementing face to it, like the Progenitor is to the Raptor and the Mother to the Father. The Gate is all about blocking entrance to the Supernal- so what if the Traveler is about crossing it? On the other hand, the Traveler could be a title/ aspect/ avatar of the Psychopomp- but again, the Psychopomp is about blocking passage, and the Traveler is about crossing boundaries. The main issue with the Traveler is that it is hard to grasp what kind of lie it would represent- if it and the Stranger are the same entity, it gives a pure connotation of mysterious traveling stranger which brings ruin wherever it goes- which could also work for, like the Ruin. All in all, the Traveler seems to be in the same boat as the Monarch, as a Seal which could relate to so many different Exarchs that it is hard to define to which they belong, if any.

    Now, that's just for the example Iron Seals- and drawing upon external source material to add some new ones is obviously the next step. I have personally made the Warden as the "Iron Seal of the Lower Depths", for example. Now, looking at the Seals we already have, I get a strong feeling of the Seven from Song of Ice and Fire/ Game of Thrones. The Father, the Mother and the Stranger are already covered, and the Warrior could be seen as a lesser aspect of the General. The Maiden could be an interesting concept to add among the Seals, as the idea of forcing vows and taboos upon yourself to maintain innocence kinda touch the Father's territory, but not really. The Crone could also serve as a nice addition, especially if you want to make a Vampire/ Mage crossover game where the Crone is the Iron Seal of Blood. Heck, following Tremere mythology, the Crone could be the sixth Dragon/ Watchtower of Blood/ Fallen Seal of Vampirism. The Smith more or less represents a missing archetype of craft and creation- perhaps a lesser Seal of Matter, which takes the potentiality of the Chancellor and turns it into tools of destruction? The presentation of the Stranger in SoI&F kinda moves it from being a Gate aspect into a Psychopomp aspect, so perhaps both they and the Traveler represents a being which stands on the boundary between those two dangerous entities?

    Talking about the Traveler, it kinda makes me think about Eberron's Dark Six. There, the Traveler is the only non evil member of the six- even though they are no less dangerous, bringing change and chaos and serving as "giver of gifts" of which you'll be sorry. That kinda moves the Travelers into the Gate's ally, which further mixes the idea of both they and the Stranger into some short of hybrid Death/ Abyss entity. The Devourer represents some form of natural force of calamity and destruction- kinda like what the Destroyer could make you think, which we initially aspected with the Ruin. However, that presentation moves more toward Forces than Fate, which could make it into either a lesser aspect of the General or Seer which covers a part of Forces the General does- that is, of natural calamity instead of human violence, even though that as the Exarchs are very human gods, the Devourer/ Destroyer need to be thought about their context from human culture. The Fury may be a lesser Seal of Mind, even though she shares a lot of her nature with the Raptor IMO. Perhaps she is the lie of "passion brings ruin"? The Keeper would be an aspect of the Chancellor, plain and simple. The Mockery could serve as lesser aspect of the General, one which represents betrayal and dirty fighting instead of grandiose wars. The Shadow seems like a lesser aspect of the Gate- even though that where the Gate does not try to corrupt the world, the Shadow does. Maybe that would help to differ the Stranger/ Traveler from the Gate- instead of keeping the world asleep, the Stranger shares the "Gifts of the Abyss" with the world, for better or worse.

    Finally, how could we end without examining the most mythic inspiration for one- word titles: that is, the Major Arcana of Tarot. The Fool would probably be another aspect of the Stranger/ Traveler. The Magician is another face of the Father, like the Hierophant, while the High Priestess is the Mother. The Empress and Emperor could both correspond to the Mother and Father, or be the dual faces of the Monarch, whatever it may be, if not the Unity. The Lover(s) could be connected to the Maiden, and the Chariot to the General. The Judge we already connected to the Father. The Hermit is probably the Gate, and the Wheel is undoubtedly the Ruin. Strength seems to be the General- but the whole point of it is that physical strength is not true strength, which leads me to connect it to the Maiden. The Hanged Man either the Psychopomp or the Gate (if not the Stranger), while Death is obviously the Psychopomp. Temperance may be a different face of the Unity with its all "unification of contradictions" thing, even though it feels more like a part of Force. Maybe it is a Lesser Seal by its own right? The Devil is the Gate, or maybe the Warden, while the Tower is an obvious Gate representation. The Star feels kinda like Ruin to me- a lesser aspect of Fate and false hopes. The Moon, being all about madness and dream like experience, is probably connected to the Gate or the Stranger. The Sun is the younger face of the Father, more or less. Judgement feel much more like the General, even though not perfectly. Finally, the World is, ironically, the face of the Gate- the promise of Ascension for those who show themselves worthy to stand among the Exarchs.

    So to sum it up, here are those Exarchs which I have not easily corresponded to the major Iron Seals-

    1) the Progenitor, Exarch of Life as biological engineering.
    2) the Mother, Exarch of Prime as feminine divinity
    3) the Strange, Exarch of the Abyss as chaos unleashed
    4) the Monarch, unknown (too many possibilities)
    5) the Warden, Exarch of the Lower Depths
    6) the Maiden, Exarch of Life/ Prime as false innocence
    7) the Crone, Exarch of Vampirism
    8) the Smith, Exarch of Matter as maker of weapons
    9) the Destroyer, Exarch of Forces as natural calamity
    10) the Temperance, Exarch of Forces as unification of contradictions
    11) the Fury, Exarch of Mind as passion brings ruin

    Of course, that's far from a finale list, and the chances are we could easily fold some of those Exarchs into the main Seals (like the Fury into the General), but it is a start. Feel free to add your own ideas or suggestions to how to develop those lesser Iron Seals.

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  • #2
    The Progenitor was an arch-master servant of Unity that created the Hive-Souled servitors. So yeah, there was some biological engineering, but it went deeper than that.


    • #3
      I heard that Rani is a reference to one of Dave's APs, but can't confirm it.

      Also, the Monarch and/or the Mother could be names of the Dethroned Queen.

      Speaking about the Dethroned Queen, did anyone notice how her Artifacts correspond in power to the Profane, not Sacred versions of Exarchial Artifacts, despite the Sacred versions supposedly representing the Exarchs own regalia? Ring reveals Exarch influence, Robe conceals from the Exarchs, Scepter counters Exarchs (counterspelling), Crown uses some Patterning level spells (the one Master spell is an Adept level spell in 2E, and Psychic Domination is *Apprentice* Ruling spell in 2E), and the Throne allows you to use Multispacial Perception spell (Space 3 in 1E). I wonder if that was intentional...
      Last edited by Prometheus; 07-15-2019, 03:26 PM.


      • #4
        Uh, yeah. The Rani is me indulging myself with a small Broken Diamond reference.

        Dave Brookshaw