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Dragon-Blooded Half-Caste in the Realm

In tossing around a few ideas for a series, the topic of Dragonblooded Half-Caste has come up. More to the point, the issue of just how they would be viewed by the Realm has come up ...

In the First Age "[The Terrestrial's] Half-Caste were seen as deficient or precocious depending on whether they ultimately Exalted" (PG p. 57); but this isn't the First Age.

Now maybe I'm missing some finer bit of setting, but it appears to me that there's a distinct line between the Dragonblooded (the enlightened few) and "normal" mortals (the unenlightened peons) -- and that this is why the DBs have to (theoretically, anyway) shepherd the mass of humanity. It's because they are something more, something better.

What happens when the waters get muddied? And Half-Caste look like they would throw in a terrible amount of mud. They would be rare, certainly -- Essence 4 parent required! -- but that could make the appearance of such a strange offspring all the more unusual, couldn't it ... the scion of a powerful Terrestrial, with such a feeble "Exaltation"?

I'd like to see varying opinions on the results of these offspring existing. Their existence suppressed by Immaculates? The little darlings killed off? Exiled to the Threshold? Just considered a "weak" Dragonblood? An event that could shake an individuals' belief in the Immaculate Philosophy ...?

(Please note: I know some don't like the idea of Half-Caste; tis fair enough. But I hope to be using them, and thus will have somewhat less use for "they make no sense" arguments. Maybe I'll start another discussion for that line of thought ...  ;) ) - Taichara

I don't know why Dragon-Blooded attitudes would change much in the Age of Sorrows in the Realm. Half-Castes are probably good candidates for the "I was raised to expect god-like power through Exaltation but I never Exalted so now I am crazy/depressed/suicidal" thing, since one might think they came CLOSER to Exaltation than the mortal Dynasts, but failed to achieve full spiritual goodness (i.e. Exaltation). Personally, I would think the stigma against Half-Castes would be greater than that against unExalted Dynasts. I doubt most lay people of the Realm would be able to distinguish in any significant fashion between Half-Castes and Terrestrial Exalts, and the elite would allow them that misconception to avoid any muddying of the waters (though, again, I doubt it would require active suppression by anyone). I would imagine that a Half-Caste could pass himself off as a low Breeding Dragon-Blooded to mortals. I doubt finding out that Half-Castes exist would shake someone's faith in the Philosophy . . . it would just add a new stratum for spiritual enlightenment. The Half-Caste would be closer to the Dragons than a mortal, but not as close as full Dragon-Blooded. I don't think Dragon-Blooded parents would be any more lenient or cruel to Half-Castes than they are to those who fail to Exalt, either. I mean, they don't go killing the kids who fail to Exalt as a matter of policy, and I think most Dragon-Blooded would realize that Half-Castes could still be used in political marriages and produce children who will Exalted. ~ Andrew02

Hm. Good points. The majority of my thoughts re Immaculate Philosophy revolve(d) around whether or not the concept of "degrees" or "strata" of enlightenment were in fact present ... if there are, Half-Castes are another degree; if there aren't, well then some adaptation might be in order :)
Mortal viewpoints are an interesting subject to bring up, also; I was looking at the situation from primarily an Exalt point of view. Bu then, the plebes are often kept ignorant of the conniving, backstabbing, and general fractiousness of the Host in most cases, yes? Half-Castes would just be something else to be glossed over as "something the unenlightened would not understand and do not need to know". Something for me to ponder ...
Although, just for clarification; if you think that there would be more of a stigma attached to Half-Caste offspring than to unExalted offpring of a Dynast, in what way(s) would you expect that stigma to be expressed?
(Further thought -- would you allow a Half-Caste character with a suitable backstory to take the Breeding Background?)
Off for some more mulling-over of the topic ...  :) -- Taichara
I'd imagine the stigma would be the same things done to those unExalted children, only cranked up to 12. Probably would see the Half-Caste have a harder time getting their family stipend, a decent (relative to Dynasts) job, that sort of thing. They'd probably be the ones to marry lower . . . like, into those non-Dynast families who are nonetheless rich and almost nobility (their name escapes me . . . Patrician, I think). If they were given comissions, they'd probably be lower ranking and/or in less glamourous units.
I'm probably extremely permissive, so I would just plain let a Half-Caste buy some Breeding . . . probably at Lookshy or higher costs. -Andrew02

Personally, I'd say that they'd fit in rather neatly, frankly. It's no big secret that beings of spiritual power leave by-blows among the mortals, so in one light, Half-Castes could be seen as proof of the enlightenment of the Dragon-Blooded. Their spiritual development is so great it follows through the blood, after all.

Second of all, as a previous poster said, there's the different levels of enlightenment. I don't think that the Immaculate Philosophy needs a strict hierarchy of enlightenment to fit these guys in, either (although, being Sidereal-influenced, it probably does, and it's not like the Half-Caste were a surprise or anything). Instead, when you view enlightenment as personal development, Half-Castes are those who were juuuuuust this side of worthiness. So close that they were allowed to touch the blessings-- or, enlightened, but with some great sin on their soul that requires that they struggle for further enlightenment. After all, that 'further enlightenment' need not be another lifetime, although that's always a possibility under the Philosophy. It can just be whatever epic quest the Half-Caste has to go through to get some spirit's Endowment after developing spiritually (raising Essence). I mean, the Half-Caste IS nearly a Dragon-Blood, and almost certainly has Dragon-Blooded relatives to "manage" the spirit communications if necessary to set up the quest dealie. And if THAT Exaltation fails, clearly, the Half-Caste continued to carry some sin on their conscience.

Which brings us up to point #3, of course. From a very practical standpoint, Half-Castes are near guarantees. If managed correctly by their powerful Dragon-Blooded parent(s)-- isolate the kid and/or teach them very carefully how to fake being a "weak" blood, or stage-manage the kid in some other way, then focus on forcing the kid to develop spiritually as fast as possible-- the kid becomes eligible for a second shot at Exaltation just by finding and either bargaining with or intimidating some powerful spirit into getting that reboot with +3 shot. Thats a minimum of 60%, with a poor-stock partner; jumping even higher based on Breeding and the partner's suitability. As for getting that shot from some spirit-- remember, it does take a parent with Essence 4 to get Half-Caste. These aren't wimps.

Hm. Part of me likes this scenario immensely. The other part of me almost thinks that a "second shot" at Exaltation is .. I don't know, not cheating exactly, but maybe something akin to it ...? I know it's in the PG, but I suspect I'll have to mull it over carefully first. -- Taichara
It is cheating. You Exalt or you don't - but (at least with Solars *coughAdmiralSandscough*) Exaltation does not have to come at a particular age. I know most DBs Exalt in their teens, at roughly the age they finish primary school if the Aspect books are an indication... Can DBs Exalt later in life?
I wonder if Half-Caste who Exalt are more or less likely to do so at an age different from the average? And I wonder what the percentage who Exalt is... I'd gotten the impression that it was fairly low, but then, I'd also gotten the impression that Half-Caste were on the rare side. Maybe they just haven't been mentioned as often because they aren't as cool as Exalts, in terms of ninja kung fu gaming. ;} -Okensha

Actually, that brings up a last point(which may null the first half of point #2). Dragon-blooded in marriages are expected to produce kids once every roughly 12 years or so, right? And as far as I can tell, it's not like Half-Casting is an optional thing. Essence 4 is powerful in Dragon-Blooded society, but it's not impossibly rare. As a result, the upper echelon must have, past a certain point, all Half-Caste kids. I note that the Five Elemental Dragons are shown as the one type of Exalted-makers who didn't put in blockers against Exaltation with God-Bloods in general, let alone with Half-Castes, who are unique. So Half-Castes may simply be viewed as the natural privilege of a spiritually-well developed Dynast. All of his children will be born tasting the power of the Dragons; some of them, probably more of them than usual (although there's no real rules either way there), will actually Exalt, and all of the rest can go on Epic Quests to prove themselves (or have "arrangements" made for them). Thus, the power of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is secure over the spiritually bereft and childless. --IsawaBrian

Ironicly, in Exalted, being more powerful makes the power less transferable. Thus Celestials don't have Exalted Kids, DB's can and Dragon Kings always do. I don't think this would affect the Immaculate Philosiphy at all, but it is amusing. Honestly, it does seem that at the required essence level, Half-Caste are produced automaticly, with every birth. -FlowsLikeBits
I don't know about every non-Exalt birth, but I may be missing something important. Would you happen to know a citation, or is it a surmise? if it's a surmise, it does seem to be a good one ... -- Taichara
I would suggest that the Dragonsbloods' have in all likelyhood figured that very thing out, and so the Dragonsblooded are just expected byproducts of the very best when they breed. - Dasmen
Well, yes. The Immaculate Philosohpy is a constructed philosophy. There's going to be things that it misses, especially for beings that it considers to be "outside" the basic hierarchy of enlightenment, like those durn awful Anathema. -- IsawaBrian
Gah. Now you're tempting me to mutilate the spirit of the rules and throw in an (obvious) Half-Caste DB who -- somehow -- Exalted as a Solar. Just to watch the characters have small brain embolisms, or something. :) -- Taichara
I'm sure I've seen a DB Half-Caste Solar Exalt soemwhere... but it might be the wiki rather than the books. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? -Okensha
Another thing to keep in mind is that Half-Castes do not always, or even usually, channel essence. Look at beastmen, for lunars. It would, (IMO) be a very rare for one to have a charm before they exalted. So basically, all this means is that you have this kid, with a few more BP, and maybe some slight sign of elemental markings. Really, to be expected, given how powerful his parent(s) are. Also, as this may just be me, but being /eligible/ for the merits to channel essence, and actually having them are pretty different. In my games, the half caste are around, but as the cream of the dynast crop. As a general rule, they are not taught how to channel essence, though perhaps one or two dynasts know the secrets of them, and thus, can push their children into exalting. (Like the Empress did. All her kids exalted, after all). - Scrollreader reminding you that essence channeling does not come standard with kickass parents
Well, Beastmen don't, but that may simply be because they're never given a chance to learn. I can't recall a godblood in the books who doesn't have some sort of Charm; Half-Castes haven't really come up that often. Still, essence channelling isn't necessary to begin any of the points I mention. :) It is necessary for the kids to grow up and boost themselves to become DBs, to get Essence 2 and 3 and then be eligible for 4, but that's later down the line and can be handled with enforced training and the like. Even without that, Half-Caste kids are pretty cool. Remember, Half-Caste kids have a slight boost on even Heroic Mortals (extra attribute points), and are certainly far above the crop of an ordinary mortal. I can't see the Dynasts not knowing about them and how to play with them, since they're not really a new phenomena (or all THAT rare). But there's no canon on the subject, and, hey, your campaign, your rules. :) -- IsawaBrian

So many different options and ways to twist and gleefully mangle the situation!  :) I thank thee all; with some of the discussion here and a few meanderings of my own, I may have some ... interesting things to toss into the plot. There's still a few bits that seem a bit off-kilter, but I'll hammer them into shape. (Political practicality vs. spiritual leanings, maybe. Need to iron out how the Immaculate Philiosophy is going to work. I so like tinkering.) Huzzah! -- Taichara

I would think that a terresterial exalted Half-caste FITS into the immaculate teachings. Think about it. A Dragonblooded is supposedly only possibly if you're absolutely close to the Immaculate Dragons due to your spiritual 'purity', right?
So, what happens to those who are on the cusp of becoming a Dragonblooded? They end up as 'Dragon-touched', who are close, but not quite there yet. Perhaps, if he works REALLY hard, he might even get to fully taste of the divine glory that is the birthright of all Dragonblooded.
Not that this would help much in certain Dynastic families, who would be... oh so disappointed that the kid didn't make it fully. ~ Haku

That potential situation -- with certain Dynastic families -- is sort of what I was hedging around when I posed the question initially, so to speak. Even if the Half-Caste can and does fit into the grand scheme of things, there are going to be families (and Houses?) who aren't going to be very happy ... And less happy, maybe, if the kid tries for a (second) Exaltation, and fails. -- Taichara

Page 46 in the PG is the only place that talks about the creation of Half-Castes. It's unclear, but does seem to imply that a parent with Essence 4 or greater will always produce Half Caste's, while a parent with lesser essence won't. I'm not sure it matters that much, as I think Half-Caste traits show up at about the same time as exaltation, so most Dragon Blooded kids probably Exalt before becomming Half-Caste. -FlowsLikeBits

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that a Half-Caste is obvious from birth. It would make more sense, because how else would they be considered precocious if they aren't exhibiting elemental traits prior to Exaltation? -Okensha

True, but I believe, it's the combined essence of two exalts (or whatever) that is used for the inheritence rating. Check out page 270 of the Abyssal book for the godblooded table. So, two essence 2 dragonblooded if they don't produce a dragonblooded should in theory have a low level half-caste, perhaps with elemental markings. Said kid might be considered a mortal... ~ Haku

That's an interesting table, that is. Would it apply to other Celestial Exalted, or the Abyssals alone (let alone the Dragonblooded)? The math seems to add up correctly enough, anyway. (I think?)
I don't think that two Essence-2 DBs would produce a low level Half-Caste, however -- according to that table, at least, a combined Essence of 4 results in an offspring with a "touch" of something only. Surely that isn't enough to warrant the Half-caste's extra Attribute points ..?
I could be barking up the wrong tree ...  :)
(Or maybe use the "normal" Godblooded character creation with Half-Caste Merits and whatnot to create such a very low-level Half-Caste?) -- Taichara
Given that it says 'Godblooded', I think it applies to everything, and that an exalt with essence 4 would be with a mortal or an animal. ^_^;
Besides, a touch isn't much, inheritence can mean alot, at 1 and 2, it just means you're more 'heroic' then the common man, at least stat-wise. ~ Haku
This is true. It would ultimately depend on how on wanted to interpret the table in the Abyssals book, I suppose. (What an odd place to put it, really. Geh.) And low Inheritance does make a difference ... I was just considering that Half-Caste Godbloods start with higher Attributes than the other forms of Godbloods, and that if you really wanted to emulate a mereest touch of the Dragons, using the lowe Attribute spread is one way to do it. Ymmv, of course.  :) -- Taichara

One other little thought -- the varying Houses and their opinions / reactions. I think I might actually take a hand at working on this one a little later, if anyone is interested (feel free to contribute ideas!). I daresay that House Nellens, say, has a differing opinion on Half-Caste than ... oh, House Mnemon .. ;) -- Taichara

Exalts of Ess 4 or greater are required to produce Half-Caste- an Ess 4 being mating with an Ess 1+ being. So two Ess 2 DBs won't have half-caste kids (if they did, there would be an awful lot of half-castes running around). The standard rules suggest that it isn't possible for two DBs of Ess 2 and 3 or even 3 and 3 to have a half-caste, but you could give it a % chance if you wanted. An Ess 4 DB will always have a half-caste unless they're mating with a spirit, demon, fae or ghost of higher Essence, in which case it will be the appropriate different type of god-blood. So if you have, say, an Ess 4 DB and an Ess 2 DB (or heroic mortal), you'll have an Inheritance 3 kid. If an Ess 4 DB and an Ess 1 mortal, Inheritance 2. Ess 4 DB and Ess 6 god? Inheritance 5 godblooded. Kinda makes you wonder what'd happen if two Ess 8 Celestial Exalts had kids (Do Lunars have a Charm to ensure multiple births? Ie, could you have a Solar + Lunar couple with Inheritance 8 fraternal quintuplets? In, say, 60 years, with appropriate magics and merits, would you have an entirely Inheritance 8-staffed legion of perfect gunzosha soldiers- armed with Ess 1-3 Solar Charms? And here's the real fun part to imagine- given their depravity, how often did this happen in the First Age?). - Arafelis

Actually, that's not quite true. The way I figure it is... you get the combined essence, divide it by 2 for inheritance. So I don't have a problem with DB half-caste being common where there is a LARGE population of Dragonblooded. They're not that much more powerful then other GBs or even DBs... heck, it would make sense that the kids of dragonblooded are more 'heroic' then normal mortals.

Also, don't forget that there are modifiers to lower the total essence requirement of both parties if an exalt. Worship, living on a demanse.... ~ Haku who thinks kinky Solar / Lunar sex is cool

Is it possible for a Half-Caste who's exhibiting one elemental affinity to Exalt with a different one, do you suppose? I know it's highly unlikely... -Okensha

The player's guide did note it was rare, but it does happen. every now and then. At least for Celestial Exalts. ~ Haku

I've never really liked the idea of Terrestial Half-Caste, certainly not the notion that they come about the same way as Celestial Half-Caste otherwise the Realm would probably have vast numbers of them. Could a Terrestrial Half Caste be the result of an ultra thin bloodline? Breeding -1 if you will. Enchantress

So, I'm johnny-come-lately to this discussion, but it seems to have been overlooked: there's no DB charm that says "I look at your character sheet." If the kid is learning charms and using Essence, how are the parents going to know he's not just a slow-learning, relatively weak DB? There isn't necessarily a litmus test. After all, DBs are supposed to inherit their power by birth. I've always taken that "deficient or precocious" line to mean that the difference isn't even clear to the society of their peers. After all, it's possible to have a dragon-touched who is Affected By Wards as if he were a Terrestrial Exalt, has the Aura of Power to go with his Awakened Essence, the Anima Powers, the Material Resonance, who has high Breeding to go with his high Inheritance, has the God-Body to neither age nor be hurt too easily, and so basically can only be told apart from a normal DB by the slow learning (increased experience costs). Never rising above Essence 3 isn't uncommon at all; 90% of DBs don't go further than that. - IanPrice

Half Castes have neither Aspect nor Caste and the “Anima Powers” merit only grants the most basic power of their Exalted type and not a Caste or Aspect ability. The only way this is possible is if you get creative with the interpretations and reason that a Terrestrial Half Caste is entitled to Elemental God Blooded merits you get something much closer. Even then however I'm deeply sceptical to the concept that in the combined history of the Realm and the Shogunate nobody's noticed them. Enchantress

I didn't say nobody's noticed them, though you are correct that I missed out on some of the things they are missing (though they do have their parent's Aspect, and it shows in their Aura of Power). I said it wouldn't be a matter of course to notice them; that it would be difficult, even for true Terrestrial Exalts. The tests in the academies involve more use of charms than anima powers - don't need to teach what comes naturally. I also implied that many wouldn't really care much about the difference, especially since vagaries of chance and breeding could leave them with a slightly more powerful start but less advancement potential. The ones most likely to know would be the half-caste themselves, conscious of the lack of true insight owing to no true Exaltation, and mostly (I would guess) desperate to hide their failings so as not to damage their house's reputation. After all, duty is duty. - IanPrice
Hmm yes possibly, but I'm not too keen on the idea that the vast majority of Terrestrial Half Caste aren't noticed. First of all the dependence on Merits to create such half Caste doesn’t sit well with me.

I have no doubts a Terrestrial Half Caste could pull it off but it sounds more like a unique character rather than a typical example of what Half Caste do. Enchantress

Well, if it were my game, the official party line is that the half castes are just "elemented aspected," a response to a rare defect resulting from dragon lines, or elemental charms in the surrounding area. That's what everybody could be told, at any rate, and thus the larger spirtual questions could be avoide. Given the original treatement of blood lines for DBs it seems strange that the Half-castes wouldn't exalt eventually. That's just me though, as I've not listened to Scroll of mortals yet. That's my ten cents though.

--Blindguy 14:07, 25 January 2013 (UTC)