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  • Shuankhsen and Apotheosis

    Not that it wouldn't be horrifically difficult, given their particular state and...patron ...but still, theoretically, could one of the Shuankhsen break free from Ammut?

  • #2
    Isn't it canon that they cannot?


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    Yes, I made it the same way as a Promethean. No, the authorities haven't found me yet.

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    • #3
      It is. On top of that, if you were to make it possible, it'd be hugely problematic. Apotheosis requires rebuilding your soul, so getting more pillars. Now look at how Shuankhsen restore their pillars.

      ...yeah. "Get free of Ammut by doing exactly what she wants and eating an absolute metric ton of Mummies."

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      • #4
        It's possibly even more twisted. The Arisen and the Deceived need to regain their Memory to have a shot at Apotheosis. If we assume that Shuankhsen need to regain their Humanity, that goal might not be attainable after millennia of Soul-eating. With their perfect recall, they don't even get a fresh start, unlike other Mummies. Also, considering that the Apotheosis means different things for the Arisen and the Deceived, Shuankhsen might get something else entirely. Like escape into oblivion. It's arguably an improvement, but still...


        ~

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Azahul View Post
          It is. On top of that, if you were to make it possible, it'd be hugely problematic. Apotheosis requires rebuilding your soul, so getting more pillars. Now look at how Shuankhsen restore their pillars.

          ...yeah. "Get free of Ammut by doing exactly what she wants and eating an absolute metric ton of Mummies."

          I really like the idea of one reaching Apotheosis by "paying off their debt", there's a terrifying villian plot right there.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Urbenmyth View Post


            I really like the idea of one reaching Apotheosis by "paying off their debt", there's a terrifying villian plot right there.
            Oblivion, maybe. Not Apotheosis. That runs counter to its every underlying theme and principle.

            Maybe a Shuankhsen that has deluded itself into thinking it can achieve Apotheosis through doing so. But honestly, why would Ammut cast aside a tool so powerful that it has consumed enough Arisen to get 5 in every Pillar?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Azahul View Post
              Oblivion, maybe. Not Apotheosis. That runs counter to its every underlying theme and principle.

              Maybe a Shuankhsen that has deluded itself into thinking it can achieve Apotheosis through doing so. But honestly, why would Ammut cast aside a tool so powerful that it has consumed enough Arisen to get 5 in every Pillar?
              I mean, whether it will work is kind of incidental to the fact you have a powerful super-undead running around with a plot to devour countless souls.

              And besides, even if it fails it can't make things any worse for the lifeless so hey- worth a shot, right?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Urbenmyth View Post

                I mean, whether it will work is kind of incidental to the fact you have a powerful super-undead running around with a plot to devour countless souls.

                And besides, even if it fails it can't make things any worse for the lifeless so hey- worth a shot, right?
                "Powerful super-undead trying to devour countless souls" is the default behaviour of any Shuankhsen though. That's not really something special. An Arisen's Pillars are described in the core book as the ultimate prize of any Shuankhsen.

                I don't mind a complimentary reason to try and make life miserable for the Arisen (the good ol' "I was your slave in life and now I want revenge" is a great standby) but let's not act like "Shuankhsen's coming to eat you" is a spectacularly novel bit of villain design Personally, I love giving Shuankhsen reasons not to eat a given Mummy. Way more creepy.

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                • #9
                  Vile as they can be, Shuankhsen as a whole do have legitimate grievances with the Arisen, and so theoretically could get their due with a minimum of moral erosion.And let's not forget, difficult as it may be, Morality can be raised later. And Ammut may not want to 'cast aside' such an agent, but that's the point of Apotheosis, isn't it? It's not about what Ammut wants, but what the Shuankhsen wants.

                  Edit: I've just gone over the Shuankhsen section again, and it doesn't explicitly state anywhere that they can't raise Pillars with Experience. So, there's that.
                  Last edited by shkspr1048; 05-11-2017, 10:32 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by shkspr1048 View Post
                    Vile as they can be, Shuankhsen as a whole do have legitimate grievances with the Arisen, and so theoretically could get their due with a minimum of moral erosion.And let's not forget, difficult as it may be, Morality can be raised later. And Ammut may not want to 'cast aside' such an agent, but that's the point of Apotheosis, isn't it? It's not about what Ammut wants, but what the Shuankhsen wants.
                    I was referring explicitly to the idea that a Shuankhsen could achieve Apotheosis by "paying off their debt", i.e. consuming enough Arisen that their duty to Ammut is fulfilled. That suggested to me that Ammut was being bought off, in spite of the fact that she has no reason to actually accept a Shuankhsen's desire to be free.

                    Now, I certainly agree that Shuankhsen are some of the easier enemies in the Chronicles of Darkness to empathise with on an ideological level, but I can't agree that the effort required to reach 25 Pillar dots (21 more than a Shuankhsen begins with) would result in "minimal" moral erosion. We're talking cannibals from a culture that don't see a separation between the physical and the spiritual when it comes to the soul. We're talking the very literal systematic destruction of the souls of others in order to build one's own power. Shuankhsen recover spent Pillar points with actions of violent physical or spiritual betrayal.

                    Because of the way Morality works it is theoretically possible that a Shuankhsen could achieve 25 pillar dots without descending to Morality 0, if they pace themselves and spend experience to rebuild their Morality after each loss (assuming that Shuankhsen can spend experience on Morality, it's been a while and I can't actually recall if there's any text preventing that). But I vehemently disagree with the idea that Apotheosis is an appropriate reward for performing, at bare minimum, 21 acts of soul-shredding cannibalism. Whether the Shuankhsen is a good person at the end of it is rather irrelevant, you're predicating your Apotheosis on the performance of extremely harmful acts. That, simply, doesn't fit.

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                    • #11
                      My campaign involved a Shuankhsen, once a beloved Arisen meret-mate of the PC, hunting down an exceptionally unique relic they used to protect in hopes it would result in his freedom. It didn't really work.

                      I always liked the idea of a Shuankhsen having a way out, even if they partially exist as the opposite 'end-game' of an Arisen's Apotheosis. Still, Mummy is a game about freedom; while I think it might dilute its themes to say even they can become free, I think it might be more in theme to say that they go from one bad option to another.

                      Right now they serve the Devourer and life is awful. Then they become free of Ammut just to exist in some other torturous state that they always believed would be better might not be unreasonable. Whether they can reach that unexpected Oblivion or not is one thing, but as long as it doesn't actually redeem them I think is okay.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Azahul View Post
                        I was referring explicitly to the idea that a Shuankhsen could achieve Apotheosis by "paying off their debt", i.e. consuming enough Arisen that their duty to Ammut is fulfilled. That suggested to me that Ammut was being bought off, in spite of the fact that she has no reason to actually accept a Shuankhsen's desire to be free.
                        Ah, OK. I see what you meant.

                        Now, I certainly agree that Shuankhsen are some of the easier enemies in the Chronicles of Darkness to empathise with on an ideological level, but I can't agree that the effort required to reach 25 Pillar dots (21 more than a Shuankhsen begins with) would result in "minimal" moral erosion. We're talking cannibals from a culture that don't see a separation between the physical and the spiritual when it comes to the soul. We're talking the very literal systematic destruction of the souls of others in order to build one's own power.
                        As per the edit to my last post, there's nothing in the rules explicitly forbidding Shuankhsen from raising Pillars with Experience. Using Jaws of the Devourer to steal Pillar dots from Arisen is an alternative that requires no spiritual effort (XP), and is a bonus reward to an action that most Shuankhsen would gleefully perform, given the chance (getting a bit of revenge on an Arisen). It's basically a choice between Hard and Easy and afte all they've been through, it's no wonder that most of them lean towards Easy.

                        Shuankhsen recover spent Pillar points with actions of violent physical or spiritual betrayal.
                        They can also use their Vices; not the most spiritually healthy option, but potentially more-so than the alternatives.

                        Because of the way Morality works it is theoretically possible that a Shuankhsen could achieve 25 pillar dots without descending to Morality 0, if they pace themselves and spend experience to rebuild their Morality after each loss (assuming that Shuankhsen can spend experience on Morality, it's been a while and I can't actually recall if there's any text preventing that). But I vehemently disagree with the idea that Apotheosis is an appropriate reward for performing, at bare minimum, 21 acts of soul-shredding cannibalism. Whether the Shuankhsen is a good person at the end of it is rather irrelevant, you're predicating your Apotheosis on the performance of extremely harmful acts. That, simply, doesn't fit.
                        In this context, I think Apotheosis is less a reward and more a loophole to be exploited.

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                        • #13
                          Although I don't see anything either that prevents them explicitly from spending xp to raise Pillars, the text does mention that they need to hunt down and eat somebody in order to fuel their Utterances, and does make a big deal out of that they get Pillars via eating Arisen.
                          Allowing them to spend Experience for Pillars sounds awfully a lot like it isn't Rules As Intended, and a an oversight/error by the authors; I dunno, maybe they didn't explicitly say it because they didn't think they needed to. I don't think we'll get one in here to say "no" but that's not something they seem supposed to be able to do, from a reading of the section.
                          Also doing so removes part of the threat; they have to hunt the PCs for power and revenge in equal measure.

                          I am not sure what you mean by "more of a loophole;" do you mean a loophole only for the Shuankhsen?

                          Tangentially, my reading of Apotheosis is that it's for the Deathless and only the Deathless. The Shuankhsen are Lifeless. It's metaphysically different; they cannot return to life the way the Arisen can. I really like that reading, that Shuankhsen are the opposite opposite of Apotheosis. Makes a lot of sense to me.

                          I also wanted to add that the Shan'Iatu tried to pay off Ammut and that did not go so well. I'd be inclined to have a Lifeless who believes vehemently they're paying off the debt, when in fact it's not Indentured Servitude but outright ownership; the sword cannot pay off the owner, as it were.

                          Here is a different question: why would you want an NPC who can do this, and what purpose does it serve in the story, and what does it do for your chronicle that a Deceived can't do just as well/better?
                          Last edited by Ben Quo; 05-12-2017, 01:32 AM. Reason: Edited for errors.


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                          Yes, I made it the same way as a Promethean. No, the authorities haven't found me yet.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by shkspr1048 View Post
                            In this context, I think Apotheosis is less a reward and more a loophole to be exploited.
                            Ben Quo addressed my issues with your prior points (I'll note that in my campaigns I've run Shuankhsen, including my one player Shuankhsen, as only being able to gain Pillars through cannibalism too for precisely the reasons he outlined). I would only add that I suspect the reason it isn't mentioned is because Shuankhsen are intended to be NPCs only and thus there isn't much point in tracking experience. But this... you don't achieve Nirvana through a loophole. Apotheosis isn't a contract you enter into or anything you enter into with an external force. The Heretic, when asked on the subject, explicitly tells player characters that it is a personal path to enlightenment, discarding any idea that there is a set formula that can be repeated to achieve the state.

                            Oh, and you can't play rules lawyer in one section ("It doesn't specifically tell me that Shuankhsen can't buy Pillars with experience") while simultaneously taking a loose interpretation of the rules in another (ignoring that Apotheosis requires a Memory stat and a Judge, for example).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ben Quo View Post
                              Here is a different question: why would you want an NPC who can do this, and what purpose does it serve in the story, and what does it do for your chronicle that a Deceived can't do just as well/better?
                              It presents the Shuankhsen as sympathetic villains. We, the players having read the book, know why they're sympathetic, but the Silence prevents them from explaining that to your PCs in-game. Having them yearn for freedom from their cruel taskmaster, mysterious and unknowable as She is to the PCs because of the Silence, is something that many Deathless understand.

                              "You know those monstrous crocodile-jawed mummies who are unquestionably evil? Turns out not all of them like being that and want a way out just like us."

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