Lunars and Bureaucracy
The Solars are unquestionable god-kings. They run over situations, especially social ones, easier than anyone else, throwing cheap and powerful Charms and their oodles of favored abilities at any problem. They excel at running things, and the Lunars are their main assistants in this role. But Lunars, at first glance, don't have much in the way of Bureaucracy Charms-- how could they play the judiciary branch to the Solar's executive branch without the Charms for it?
Well, first the uninspiring, gritty truth of things-- no one's as good at running things as a Solar. Only they can waltz around speeding up bureaucracies with magic, selling you anything they please, and riding around the Gold Lane at Yu-Shan because their first-tier Charm lets them add their Essence in successes to getting permission to use things they probably shouldn't. The other Exalted types are generally forced to actually boost their Bureaucracy score and roll the skill-- that is, if you want your Lunar to be a consummate bureaucrat, you're going to actually have to buy up the skill, like all the non-Solars do.
So why keep the Lunars around as your second-in-command? Well, here's the more fun part of the answer. First, the organizational aspect of Bureaucracy.
Ever seen the commercials featuring Terry Tate, Office Linebacker?
Put it this way. It's one thing if the Solar is around at the time, making everything run smoothly and extra fast. But he's not always gonna be there, and behind the boss' back someone's always going to try and either slack off or go corrupt and skim things off the top and things like that. Who does the Solar leave in charge while he's off petitioning the Deliberative, to make sure things don't go wrong?
How about the shapeshifter who can move unobstrusively among the people doing the work, watching them in a hundred different shapes? What if the shapeshifter can literally smell your emotions? What if he can, with a few words, boost your Temperance so that doing dishonorable things is harder for you? What if he can drop your Valor and hit you with a Charm-boosted intimidation attempt to scare you straight? What if, if he's really displeased that day, he can just turn into a bear and throttle you?
I think workplace efficiency would soar and even the more heroic slackers might be too frigging scared to misbehave. Even if the Lunar's the boss and not the boss' very dangerous 2nd-in-command, that just means the Lunar has to use his own Bureaucracy skill to run the operation and his other talents to keep his workers in line. Remember that Unspeaking Aura of Dread will allow to you add dice to Bureaucracy rolls using a Social Attribute!
What about the mercantile aspect of Bureaucracy?
Well, getting people to buy things from you at high prices or sell them to you at low prices isn't that hard. Lunars have Charms for this, it's just that people forget that Lunar Charms aren't tied to specific Abilities-- note that Tale-Spinning Mastery works with any test involving storytelling, no matter what's being rolled, and that Unspeaking Aura of Dread works for any roll using a social Attribute, no matter what Ability is being used (on a similar note, pay attention that the Sidereal Bureaucracy dice-adders are under Performance and Socialize, not Bureaucracy, and that the Solar ones are under Presence, and that the DBs don't get any). Using first-tier Charms, beating someone about the head with the awesome (and probably fabricated) story about how the horse you're selling him once fought off 3 bandits and a wolf while carrying a badly wounded child to safety will probably fetch you a higher price when you boost your Manipulation+Bureaucracy roll to gouge your customer, and Unspeaking Aura of Dread will certainly come in useful when you're using Charisma+Bureaucracy to convince a merchant to sell you his elephant for half price.
And if that doesn't satisfy you, there's always Emotion-Shaping Technique (if you tell an excellent story about your sick mother needing the blue life flower and you boost the merchant's Compassion to 4 or 5, you'll probably get a discount). If that still isn't enough, then it's time to specialize your way to Glib Tounge Technique and just magic your way to getting what you want by brain-washing merchants into wanting to give you things and getting the heck out of dodge before they snap out of it.
In summary, a Lunar has Charms to use with his Bureaucracy ability and can be darn useful in a bureaucratic setting, but Lunars are more like Sidereals than Solars-- you generally can't just magic-whammy your way to victory. You'll actually have to use your magic in conjunction with clever use of your skills to attain the effect you want. -TheMyriadOfShades, who next will go into socialite Lunars, with a discussion of how DBT isn't the huge limitation people think it is
- Why do people miss this? My theory is that in 1st edition, there was no solid mechanic for social interactions like this - most STs adopt their own ad-hoc solution for how convincing you are, and most of these solutions unfortunately boil down to "roll a lot of successes on your Foo+Bar check". Most Exalted STs I have seen (admittedly, I haven't seen many) go "target's Virtues? sounds stupid, get 10 successes or you suck". -- BillGarrett
- I kinda agree here. Although I think part of it is many social charms, and Lunar charms especially work in fuzzy ways(even Solar charm, about as straightforward as you can get, have some of this). Thus a ST has to somehow figure out how your Tale-Spinning Mastery helps. (And Unspeakable Aura of Dread rivels Slayer Khatars for naming conventions). -FlowsLikeBits
- Smacks of bad STing to me. Ignoring a target's Virtues in social situations is like ignoring cover or footing in combat-- it simplifies how things work, but removes options as to how to use situational variables (like if it's an icy slope or if the person you're trying to convince has a huge, generous heart) that also normally come into play. It's fine if that's how you like to play, but if I wanted simple rules that reduced everything to how many dice I could roll, then I'd play a cRPG and not a ttRPG, since the former is better suited for that. -TheMyriadOfShades
Lunars and Social Powers
It is sometimes said that the Lunars lack effective magical social prowess. I intend to look at their social powers and explore what's possible using them.
There are two first-level Lunar social Charms, Tale-Spinning Mastery and Unspeaking Aura of Dread, and their trees go in seperate directions. The latter's tree is shorter, so let's start with that one.
Unspeaking Aura of Dread is expensive-- it ranks up there with the Solars' Listener-Swaying Argument in terms of cost. It also has a use restriction of being forced to be near your target(s) to use it. But, like LSA, Unspeaking Aura of Dread makes up for this in applicability. Unspeaking Aura of Dread is the most widely applicable social Charm in the game-- it adds to any social roll. That is, if it uses a Social Attribute and you're within a few yards, this Charm will add to it, whether you're trying to haggle costs, seduce someone, lie to them, convince them to betray their allies, or whatever. In addition, the Charm's cap is Charisma, no matter what Attribute+Ability combination you're trying to roll. You don't have to buy up multiple social Attributes to add dice to rolls involving all of them. In short, the Charm is nice to have, and certainly useful in most one-on-one social situations. -TheMyriadOfShades