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Everything here will stay here, obviously. And if, for some reason, the community as a whole decides that it prefers to stay at this Wiki to working at WW's, we'll probably move back.
Manual of Exalted Power: the Infernals
Receive, O Lord, all my liberty.
Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me;
I give it all back to You
and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
-Saint Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, #234
Why Another Infernals Project?
Okay, so this is the fourth "let's do the Infernals!" project. Why another one of these Damned things? As with the others, the broad vision differed quite a bit from the others. You won't see inverted Virtues or "Forsaken" and "Blasphemous" Caste Infernals here. This project is based on the vision of Infernals broadly hashed out in this RPGnet thread, and hopefully the breadth of talent that contributed to that thread can be harnessed for this Wikiproject; and the project is titled in homage (and, well, the fact that that's what the new fatsplats are going to be called.)
What is that vision? Basically, an attempt to corall the Infernals into Exalted's subjective morality gestalt. In other words, to make them sympathetic. A side with a point of view. Still something that any one of us, if dropped into Creation, would oppose? Yup. But antagonists with motivation and heroism of their own make more compelling antagonists, and it wouldn't be Exalted if you couldn't play a splat and grok their point of view. So the first overarching principle on this project is the attempt to grok the Infernal POV.
The second design principle is that this should be, eventually, a complete splat. That means formatted like a splat - cleaving probably most closely to the Autochthonians "non-canonical" splat - with complete chapters, fiction for beginnings of chapters, and so on and such forth. If this is admittedly an unrealistic goal, hopefully it will result in a "shoot for the moon; miss and you land among the stars" kind of thing. Anyway, being new to this, I have boundless faith in the fan community to come up with utterly astounding things.
I'm MUrielw, by the way. I'll certainly be trying to implement in this wannabe-fatsplat the vision of the Infernals that I most like, but it's far from "my" vision. Consider the RPGnet thread to be the more or less founding document. Over the next day or two I'll try to go over it to create a Cliff's Notes and steal some quotes. And give this page a better format.
What these Infernals Are and Are Not
Just for clarity and distinction from other Infernal projects:
- These Infernals ARE the Fifty.
- They are NOT Akuma.
- They are as different from Solars and Abyssals as Solars and Abyssals are from each other.
- They ARE, like every major group in Exalted, evil in the sense that they would be considered despicable and neccessary-to-oppose if they lived in our reality, and like Abyssals, are more worthy of opposing from a typical player's standpoint than most of the rest.
- The are NOT Evil, in that they hold Evil as an ideal. Rather they follow the ideals of duty, obediance, and transcendance through communion with their absolute masters.
- They do not embody selfishness or destruction; only destroying inasmuch as it is neccessary to the greater goal and only being selfish inasmuch as all human being can fall into selfishness despite their ideals (and then, substantially less.) Abyssals represent selfishness and destruction.
- They do not embody Corruption, either. Rather, they view the world as broken and corrupted and seek to return it to a state of harmony with the Primordials' will.
- There ARE rogue Infernals. Rogue Infernals are not rebels but motivated by the same loyalty as their fellows. They understand their masters as broken in a fundamental way and seek to repair them even when it violates their stated desires. Most (of the few) who do this consider it to be the ACTUAL will of the Yozis, the result of apocryphal hinting.
- The Infernals are motivated first by duty and philosophical perspective and, to a proportional degree to their memories of past lives, by guilt. They are not motivated by any immunity from the penance which the Yozis intend all Creation to perform, because they have no reason (or, in varying degrees, desire) to expect this.
- The Chosen of the Demon Princes are so Chosen among those who, feeling adrift in a broken world, instinctually journey to Malfeas through Cecylene, and there come to what they view as a religious awakening and desire to serve the Yozis.
- The Infernals do experience the full range of human emotions (ANGST! ANGST! ANGST!) but are transformed by zeal.
Why the Yozis are Right (And You Should Suffer and Obey For All Eternity)
If the Abyssals are Evil Buddhists and the Sidereals represent a sort of utilitarianism taken to its High-Conviction conclusion and the Dragon-Blooded represent the idea of positive law, and Fair Folk what happens when you have to view reality as a story and not so much reality - other people can phrase all that better than I; Stephenls, are you listening? - the Infernals are basically Divine Command Theory. Like all the splats they basically have a reason and a developed ethical system that impells them to do what they do, and that system is - the Primordials are Right.
The Primordials created the world. They fastened its bases from pure chaos and built up a bubble of reality. Gaia and Cytherea built the Creation known by most mortals, while others laid the foundations of Yu Shan, wrote the rules for the Games of Divinity, and invented things like gravity and hierarchy and romantic love. Autochthon gets called the Great Maker by the bacteria living in his belly because he's the only one they know, and gets called a Mary Sue because he made humanity and the pattern spiders and Exaltation, but they all did stuff like that. The Primordials are all Great Makers - it's why they formed themselves into solid shapes and implemented grand visions instead of staying in protean, aproggressing chaos like all the other Unshaped, if you subscribe to that metaphysic.
And with the Primordials there isn't all that much of a difference between "making" and "being." And they made, did, expanded out everything that exists, and you know how at the end of the day you just want to sit back and have a beer? Damn right you do! And so they came up with these nifty subroutines so they could just take a fucking break, right? Some awesome robots, and even set up in a nice hierarchical system, so everybody's pet creations can get overseen by these spiritual subroutines that are overseen by these neato "Incarna" bots...
And then everything went to shit. The housecleaning-bots turned malfunctional and took everything over and locked their parents, their creators, the beings responsible for their very existence up, but not, before, mind you, actually killing some of the Makers of All, allowing so so many intelligent races to die, and killing some their very souls, mutilating them into wholly different identities.
What kind of sick fuck murders half of her loving parents and grandparents, destroys some of their souls, their hearts, their very beings, and locks everybody living left together in a cage composted of their own bodies?
And the Yozis are the Primordials who have survived this. They have carried on, because they have not forgotten creation, and those among them who put faulty programming into the bots to make them go nutso, and because they must carry on, because they are Will and Making and Vision themselves.
And you are an Infernal. In a previous life, you mutilated your mother and tied her up, binding her flesh to your father's - and all so this creepy man down the street could live the high life in their beautiful house that they built with their bare hands. Now your mother, crying, is calling for help. Guilt overcomes you, guilt defines your existence. You know what you did was wrong. You have to make it up, somehow. Mommy says you and all the other rebellious children have to be punished, and you, contrite in your heart, understand. You will submit to it. O dear god, how could you hurt your mother so?
In your heart, will she ever forgive you? Maybe, maybe; she's still your mother and she loves you - now, now is time to untie her, to cure her wounds, and round all the other children up for punishment. Not because it will spare you that punishment in the least - not that you'd want to be spared that, overcome with guilt as you are - but because it's just the right thing to do and because you want be regarded, someday, in the end, as a good child again. It's going to hurt her more than it hurts you, ultimately.
And they have taken mercy on you. They have said to you, little child, little child whom we parents love, we know that you hurt us, we know that you did this to us, and you and the rest of Creation will have to be punished for hurting us, because we love you. But you'll make us very proud if you help us accomplish that - we'll in the end, forgive you, look with pride at you among all the rebellious creation, because you are our prodigal son or daughter.
Won't you make your loving parents proud?
(Or hear it straight from the source.)
But how is that the action of a loving parent? The Yozis are horrible stewards of Creation, the wayward student observes. Here, calmly explains the Infernal, if emotion shall not suffice, perhaps intellect will. Here is how the Primordials love you:
The love a Primordial feels for its creation is the love one feels for a thing that one has created and that does its job excellently. Look at it this way:
What is objectively best for a thing? To fulfill excellency? What is excellency? To fulfill its purpose, to be itself most fully. This is all tautological. An excellent knife, for instance, is a knife that cuts well, doesn't rest, is aesthetically appealing, et cetera. If you take pride and love in your knife then you keep it sharp, polish it, and maybe even keep it in its own leather container.
What is an excellent tree? One that grows, that doesn't get weird infections, that produces fruit that is good to eat, that provides a home for birds, that provides shade, that doesn't mess up the erosion patterns of the local environment. If you chop it down, it will provide good, sturdy wood. An excellent flower, likewise, is pretty, whether in the ground or in a vase, provides polination for bees, does not inhibit the growth of flowers around it, and maybe even has medicinal properties. A good gardener - who can truly be said to "love" her garden - will go around and uproot the bad flowers, she will take careful track of the soil, and she will find a way to arrange all the flowers harmoniously, beautifully, and creatively. It's what is best for the flowers - how flowers become the best flowers they can be. A good arborist will cut off diseased limbs, and good forest managers understand that forest fires play a natural role that helps forests to be the most excellent forests that they can possibly be.
Consider a bonsai tree. Its growth is stunted. Do its caretakers hate it? No. They are good, loving caretakers - they want it to be a good bonsai tree, beautiful and touching precious.
When girls' feet were likewise bound, was that because their parents hated them, or didn't care for them? No. Their parents did it because they loved them. They wanted them to be as beautiful as possible. What about circumscision? Do parents go through a bris because of hate or neglect? No, the do it out of love for their son. They want him to be as pleasing before G-d as possible. They want him to be fully a member of the community. They want the best for him.
Some child wants to do nothing more than eat candy and watch TV all day. The parents will not have it! They take away the candy, which makes the child happy, and the TV, which makes the child happy, and force them to eat vegetables, which are painful, and read books, which are torture. How could the parents be so cruel? "You hate me!" screams the child at his parents. "You hate me! You never let me do anything I want!" This breaks the hearts of the parents. They love him so much, they want the best for him. Do eating candy and watching TV (and being able to use the house for some party while the parents are away, et cetera.) objectively make him much happier than eating vegetables and reading books? Yes. Categorically. But it is the negligent parent that lets him do what he wants, be truly happy in this regard. The loving parent abrogrates this preference - "hurts" if you're using that way of looking at things - in order that the child might be a more excellent person.
What is a patriot? A patriot is somebody who loves their country. "Stand beside her, and guide her..." A patriot wants her country to be the best country that it can possibly become. A patriot isn't someone who dreams of her country falling into idyll - a patriot, a hero, understands that there are sacrifices that must be endured to make the country as best as possible.
What is most excellent for a thing is for that thing to be most excellent, and if you love a thing, you will promote its true best interests - being all that it can be. Its subjective states of happiness and unhappiness are categorically not what that is. States of happiness and unhappiness in humans and other intelligent beings are subroutines that were part of their most pussiant design, a feature created - just like feet, or hands - so that it might most fully fulfill its purpose. And if it's not working towards that purpose then, for the sake of the being of which it's a part, that has to remedied. That's what love - or at least the kind of love with which we're concerned here - is.
The Abyssals' mission is purely destructive, the Fair Folks' totally senseless, the Sidereals' only to preserve the status quo, the Solars' and Dragon-Blooded's and Lunars' and Guild's for nothing but pure and petty power. The mission of the Yozis is purely and uniquely soteriological. They propose to heal a broken world, not by petty secular standards, but by the only standards that truly matter.
And that, dear child, is why you should suffer and obey, repent and adore, for ever and ever.
The "Actual" Book
- The Introduction covers an overview of the rest of the book, as well as a short glossary.
- Chapter One: Malfeas describes the Demon Realm and its inhabitants, which are, conveniently, indistinguishable, in greater detail than the vision presented in Games of Divinity, from the workings of the Yozis inasmuch as they can be comprehended to the diverse and difficult life of ordinary demons.
- Chapter Two: the Infernal Exalted describes the newly-arrived heroes of Hell, their nature, philosophy, and role in the world.
- Chapter Three: Character Creation contains rules for creating these Chosen of the Yozis.
- Chapter Four: Traits details Traits unique to the Infernals, and standard ones that take on a new meaning.
- Chapter Five: Miracles showcases the Charms and, uh, maybe Martial Arts or some Sorcery variant or something, of the Infernal Exalted.
- Chapter Six: Hell on Earth details a campaign of epic proportions - the Malfean invasion of Creation.
- Chapter Seven: the Grail Quest, another campaign, showcases the task of the Rogue Infernals, who are driven to sedition by their very loyalty - and must find a way to heal their masters as their masters seek to heal all Creation.
- Chapter Eight: Wedding Crashers is a campaign detailing the counterinvasion of Malfeas.
- Chapter Nine: Storytelling contains tips and advice for running a game of Infernal characters.
You see the header! Talk! --MUrielw
This is very cool. :) I'll be keeping an eye on it and probably using stuff from it in my own game. *evil grin* - FrivYeti
- Oh great, now look what you people have done. -TheHoverpope
- Steal away, please! Just remember - the more you add, the more there is to steal. ;) --MUrielw
Aight, I'm out for a week. I fully expect the entire project to be finished by the time I get back, its printed-out pdf in my mailbox. :P --MURielw
Ooh, this looks interesting. Now I have to think of how to contribute. --Azrael
Special Talk Subject: Let's move to the new wiki!
I've been plundering around the new wiki for a while, and now that they've activated log-ins, I think it would be a good move to transfer our work over to the new wiki and do our work there. It's got some really excellent tools that this wiki just lacks. Kukla
- I agree. The logic of wikis is, of course, that either this or the official wiki is going to survive, but I'm not quite sure which. Still, since the next month or so should be a lull in the project, with everyone absorbing 2e, we'll have a chance to see if the community as a whole switches over or not. But for now there's certainly no danger in porting the main body of the project over while leaving this here. Allow me to do this when I have the time to spare, since I have a few changes I want to make in layout. --MUrielw
- Also: what should the title of the project be called? "MoXPInfernals" would be anything in Second Edition, really, and stealing the InfernalExalted name straight-up would be rude and exclusive, since I know at least DeathBySurfeit wants to port to Second Edition and is likely to want to use the Official Wiki (and there's canon info on the Infernal Exalted, anyway.) MURielwInfernals is pompous and in any event innacurate. What say youse? --MUrielw
Special Talk Subject: What is the Infernals' Schtick?
In the thread, Stephenls wrote: "Aside from the obvious Dante, what are the other characters in media (western and eastern historical/mythic epics, pulp fantasy, wuxia, anime, manga, video games) that function as the archetypal Infernal Exalted? Which characters exist such that, if a theoretical book about Infernals existed that didn't allow someone to play them or facsimiles of them, readers would rightfully call the book broken? (In a manner similar to how Abyssals would be broken if you couldn't play D, or Solars would be broken if you couldn't play Herakles or Beowulf.)
"Who are the heroes of Hell?"
For me, it's: Brother Justin, Vlad Tepes, Claude Frollo, Nicolae Carpathia, the Biblical Prophets (Moses was a Solar, but Jeremiah was an Infernal), and Station Agent Kurtz. The broad archetype I've got in my mind is:
"The Infernal archetype is the person who, adrift in the world beset by the feeling that both the world and themselves are somehow broken, decides to make a journey into the wilderness. There, they have a profound spiritual experience, and return a completely changed person. They cannot abide by the shallow values of the world, but thirst to bring their new, authentic mode of experience to all. Seeing sin in all places they strive to correct it, and their sympathy for human happiness is extinguished, replaced with a desire for a humanity (and broader reality) in line with the 'way things were meant to be.' They rectify sin by bringing pain - preferably pain, to bring the sinner back into the fold, but sometimes death is neccessary when expediency calls - to the sinner, though it is customary to offer the person a choice in disguise, the unprincipled one of which leads to doom. They have an acute knowledge of their own role in humanity's fall and the pain they have caused their Creator, and hold out in their hearts the hope that one day, they can find forgiveness. They have a strong self-loathing which they channel into energy for their zealous works."
So, for example, take Young Goodman Brown. Brown is sufficiently adrift in the world that he feels the need to go into the woods to talk with the Devil. The Devil tempts him (though the rejection of the tempations here represents rejecting all the wiles of the Yozi's alternatives) shows him the depravity of the world. When he returns, he has lost his ability to love his fellow human beings.
That's the Infernal story in a nutshell.
Well, in the Infernal story he whips out Kung Fu and beats Goody Prior into a pulp for her hypocrisy in teaching the catechism to young children while indulging in Satanic bacchanals in the woods, but.
To take my favorite inspiration, take a look at Brother Justin from Carnivale. (Brother Justin's powers throughout the series should all find some sort of analouge in the Charmset, mos def.) Brother Justin starts out with a strong desire to do justice in the world. But when the orphanage gets burned down, with the children inside - and all for the petty greed of the earthly powers of the world - he falls into a deep depression. He leaves his ministry and becomes a vagrant - journeying through the wilderness of rural California. When he is on the absolute brink, he realizes something, something about his purpose in the world. His compassion (in the small-c sense, I'll try and write something later about Virtues among the Infernals and how Compassion works) for, say, the suffering of the poor and so on is erased and he needs to remake the world through his divinely appointed mission. Even as he realizes that he is essentially a sort of Antichrist figure, which is a long and difficult road, he understands it as his appointed role in the world, and seeks to fulfill it with excellence. (Though even before the Journey Into the Wilderness he does a lot of great Infernal things.)
In a certain sense, if Autochthonians is Straight Paranoia and Abyssals is Straight My Life With Master, Infernals is Evil Dogs in the Vineyard.
Neitzche's Zarathustra works very well too. Not the actual content of what he's saying, which is pretty much the opposite of the Yozi's morality, but the story structure and character arc of the character Zarathustra.
So this is at least my preliminary understanding. Hopefully it will develop in cool and unexpected ways. --MUrielw
Personally, I think one of the best archtypes for Infernals can be Jack the Ripper. A zealot believing the world to be wrong, infected, broken and repairing it requires the blood-shedding of the human objects who best embody Jack's concept of sin and wrongness. Change the values to those of the Yozis and bam, you have yourself the Infernal. -- BrassLeviathan
- Yes! Great! From Hell is perfect. And get an account that isn't a page in and of itself. ;) --MUrielw
- Done :) --BrassLeviathan
Also, I think that if you bend the story a little, Neo (The Matrix) can be a great archetype infernal, at least for the charms section. Why? Neo's super-powers are based on the simple concept - This world is not real, it is a game, a program, an elaborate illusion, knowing I'm more real than this makes me Uber. This resonates nicely with what was already discussed about Infernal charms.
Regardless, The Matrix offers a neat outlook on Archetypical Infernals - The world is broken, fixing it requires enlightening as many people as possible, and if that means destroying tons of others, so be it. If it means destroying their world, so be it. If enlightment is something that will cause them pain or suffering? So be it. We are more right and we are more real, therefore our decisions are superior to the wills of those inside the Matrix. --BrassLeviathan
- I think that sounds like an excellent idea, especially given that MUrielw has a 'cyberpunk' (meatpunk? demonpunk?) vision of Malfeas. --Kukla
- Meh meh meh, Meatpunk. I think that word is here to stay. Lets keep it! Meatpunk. Haha. --BrassLeviathan
- The phrase I had was "acid-trip cyberpunk," but "meatpunk" is sooooooooo much cooler. And while we're discussing influences on Malfeas specifically: New Cruzubon. --MUrielw
- Dig it tremendously. --MUrielw
Another idea, one of my favourites so far - Death Gate Cycle's Patryns (if that's the way to write their bloody name, I read it in Hebrew, I don't care. :-) ). I mean, dig this - a character who's goal is to free his maze-locked kindred, locked there by a powerful race of adversaries? Doesn't this sound awefully like Malfeas and the gods? I read it very long ago, so I can't be specific, but I'm still pitching this away. --BrassLeviathan
- Yes and no. The problems is that philosophically speaking the Patyrn are kind of at odds with Infernals (ie, there big thing is independance and survival via your own powers). Also in terms of magic their adversaries came closer to what we're going for. Patyrn magic was somethign that flowed from within to without, while the other guys had magic that flowed from without to within. However you could use it as a visual style here, especially as befits magic in creation since Creation is tainted and the Infernal is the portal through which Righteousness returns to it. Epsilon
Special Talk Topic: Influences
As far as external media, however, what are/should be the primary thematic influences on the Infernals? --MUrielw
Gods, I never use this thing. Here's my first post.
Secondly, beyond the older ideas, I feel we should look at Abyssals and Autochthonians, if only to determine what NOT to make the Infernal. If they're not unique among the Primordial Exalted, what's the point?
The third place to start would be other White Wolf games. In designing the original akuma, Neph used The 1000 Hells for KoTE. Besides that, the only other White Wolf game where characters were required to have the courage of their conviction - enough to make it a measurable stat - was Hunter: the Reckoning. Specifically, we should be looking at Creedbooks Avenger and Wayward, those who take their virtues and convictions to a violent and extreme level. -- Spider
I can't believe nobody pointed this out earlier. Hellraiser! Pinhead and the cenobites make perfect examples of how Infernals should look, act and the powers they display. Pinhead himself is a great example of an Inquisitor. Epsilon
- (Reads Wikipedia article) Hot damn, you're right! Not sure about the look thing, thinking that would be the thing to appeal to the more flamboyant kind of Infernal, but I'll make sure to see the movie the next time I have the chance. Also, you're being so helpful, don't you think it's time you had an account to sign in so we can know when you've edited? --MUrielw
- I do have an account, its just a bitch to sign in at work since they don't save cookies. Epsilon