This page is for those quotes which people on forums have created that seemed cool, interesting, insightful, or clarifying, found about the web in places like web forums, chat rooms, or games even.
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Created by Blaque
I find most people's problems with Raksha stem from thinking of these things in real terms. Try thinking of them in the terms of a story instead. Consider "Super Hero Crossovers." If people discuss who would win, Batman or Captain America, we don't really consider their real capabilities (Surely, with his super human prowess, inhuman fighting skill and nearly a century of combat experience, the Cap is the prime choice) but instead, we consider their narrative weight (without a doubt, Batman is more popular than Captain America. More people would prefer to see the Dark Knight victorious), and thus Batman would defeat Captain America, not because Batman is physically more capable, but narratively.
Once you're in this frame of thought, things become clearer. Batman's cape and cowl are more than just cloth to him. They are his identity as a stalker of the night, they are his ability to inflict terror. They are his Greatness: thus, it is his Sword Grace. His belt is his ability to alter the world around him: his Ring Grace. Steal his belt and steal his ability to rework the world around him. And stealing his belt must be done in a proper manner. A villain does not simply walk up to Batman and take it, even if Bats is unconcious. He goes through the appropriate machinations and plotting until we, the reader, accept that the belt can be stolen. In short, the villain must manipulate the narrative until we buy that the belt can be stolen. If you were to transport a "real person" into that world (something you occassionally see in comedy movies), that person can violate the "rules" of the world. He can walk up to batman and just pull the cape and cowl away like so much gossamer, and suddenly, Batman is exposed, naked, and looks silly. His greatness has been lost, but the human violated the "rules"... because he could. Because he had his own reality.
For more esoteric graces, consider the importance and impact of Batman's secret identity. Stealing that, too, greatly diminishes Batman. And, at his heart, Batman is about the tragedy of losing a loved one. If you rip away Batman's tragedy, you've stolen his very ability to exist: his heart.
(Mailanka, on RPG.net, making the Fair Folk make sense)
If you want things a little more messed-up, here's another possibility:
So, Creation. If you aren't an Exalt or a powerful god or elemental, life basically sucks hard. You've got pain, misery, suffering, evil, death, tyranny, disease and basically every bad thing there is, in quantities as large as you want. Why would anyone create a universe so terrible? The answer is the Games of Divinity. They are a transcendent piece of artwork, so marvelous and brilliant and astonishing that their genius justifies all the suffering in Creation. Imagine the most horrible perversion you can, happening to the most wonderful, enlightened and least deserving person that you can conceive of. The art of the Games justifies that injustice, a million times over. But -- the Games of Divinity are a game, and the art of a game only lives when it is played. The Celestines play the Games of Divinity, and do not cease, even when all the demons and deathlords range themselves against Creation, for if they stop -- even for an instant -- the moral justification for Creation is lost.
-- Neel Krishnaswami, channeling Rebecca Borgstrom
I've said before, and I'll say again, the fact that I like the Dragonblooded means I find them interesting, which does not imply morally correct or that I feel they have to "win" (whatever that means). Some people do, but I've never said so.
But here's the thing - I don't think they're bad either. I think they'll FAIL, sure, because that's the canonical end of the Age of Sorrows, but so will everyone else.
But they aren't going to fail because they're not heroic enough. Nor are the Solars. Nor are the Lunars. Nor are the Sidereals. They'll fail because the odds are too high and the time too short and the divisions between the Exalts too deep.
(I'm excluding the Abyssals from this as they're a special case - they're not their own Exalt type, they're corrupted Solars, who one and all chose to be corrupted, albeit under duress. Also they've only just come into existence.)
But I don't see any of them as fools and villains. And I'll explain why.
Now, it's easy to see why Solars are heroes, and I hardly have to convince Nagisawa Takumi of that anyway, but hey, here goes: they're Exalted due to excellence. They were Exalted because they surpassed their fellow man even before they had a hint of divine power. They are left in the world, alone, to forge their own destiny. Some find others like them, but there's so few of them in such a huge world that most work alone. They have no backup, no support, and no cause beyond that which they choose for themselves (although sometimes Zeniths get instruction, they're very vague). They have to forge their own place in a world that, if it perhaps doesn't all fear and hate them, is mostly willing to take advantage of them at the friendliest. And they DO it. Their reappearence: scattered, without support, in a time of tumult, has nonetheless already redefined the world. Every Solar can change the world, singly or jointly. They can descend into the darkest sin or be a paragon of virtue(s). They were instrumental in building the First Age, and could build the Third. The Solars are undeniably heroes.
But they are not the only heroes.
Let me tell you what it means to be Dragonblooded. To be Dragonblooded is to have a responsibility. To be Dragonblooded is to take up the sword to defend Creation. Every Dynast can ride, and shoot, and fight both bare handed and with a weapon, and lead troops into battle. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. The most fat, jaded, lazy bureaucrat of the Thousand Scales can take up a sword and fight a strong man to a standstill without use of a single Charm, and lead troops into battle with competence. The requirements for Lookshy Dragonblooded are even more strict. If you cannot learn to fight for Creation, Dragonblooded society has no use for you. They believe themselves to be the only force standing between Creation and that which would destroy it, and they act accordingly. That does not just include personal competence. To be Dragonblooded is not a title, or an adornment, but membership in a single nation. Only Dragonblooded, of all the Exalted, have a Charm that allows them to take their most hated Dragonblooded foe and instantly trust and love them like a brother to join together to fight a greater threat. That is their duty: that is their call. You say they have failed Creation in their stewardship. But they have saved it. Saved it once, and twice, and many times over. When they overthrew the Solars, they were dying in scores, in droves, in their hundreds and thousands, but they would not surrender. They would not break. They fought until every last one was gone, because the brotherhood does not retreat. When the Great Contagion broke the armies of the Shogunate and the survivors faced oncoming endless hordes of horrors from beyond reality, they did not lay down and die, or flee screaming and broken. Oh, a few may have, but the records are clear on the whole: they fought. They fought to the end, they forced the Fair Folk to scratch and claw and die for everything they wanted to grasp, and in some places they even won, the broken remnants of reality against an impossibly larger foe! And ever since, whenever anything has threatened Creation, any horror has run loose upon it, the Dragonblooded have marched. They have fought the Fair Folk. They have fought rogue gods. They have fought the armies of the dead. Some have failed, some have died, a few have even turned traitor, but the brotherhood of the Dragons still stands in the defence of Creation. Even now, at the beginning of the setting, the Dragonblooded are the two mightiest forces in Creation. They have a religion that venerates them, yes, but also one that orders them to treat mortals well, which is more than one can say for any other known religion in Creation. And they police themselves. Sometimes it is effective and sometimes not, but even now the realms of the Dragonblooded are the safest and most stable in Creation. Even now, in both the Realm and Lookshy, you can find mortals in position of power. Even now, the peasants eat, the spirits are kept doing their proper jobs, and the foes of Creation dare not yet enter, because that is the peace that the Dragonblooded fought and bled and died for. Everything in Creation, everything that lives, owes its life to the Dragonblooded, because it is they who have been the army that defended Creation since the Solars were overthrown and the Lunars left. Every Solar owes his life to the Dragonblooded, even if he owes his death to them as well. Creation might need a more powerful protector, but it could never ask for a more loyal and dedicated one. The Dragonblooded are heroes.
But they are not the only heroes.
Let me tell you what it means to be Lunar. To be Lunar is to be tougher than any other Exalt ever had to be. Lunars don't Exalt for trying to do something audacious and remarkable, like Solars. They Exalt because they did something audacious and remarkable. A Solar might Exalt for taking up a sword to defend his village against the Fair Folk, but a Lunar only Exalts if he survived doing that. A Lunar has to win, to overcome a trial that seems impossible, before they get any reward. That is the life of a Lunar in a nutshell. They do not have the overwhelming power of the Solars, nor the brotherhood of the Dragonblooded, nor the support of Heavens and certain knowedge of the Sidereals. And yet they survive nonetheless. There is no challenge the Lunars cannot survive. The fury of the Primordials could not destroy them. The Dragonblooded and Sidereals could not stop them from escaping. The Wyld twisted them, broke them at their very core, crippled that which made them Exalted, and the Lunars yet survived. They not only survived, they remade themselves. Without their patron, without the Solars, without anyone else, the Lunars forged themselves new Exaltation and survived still. If they could not inhabit Creation, they inhabited the Wyld, a place absolutely antithetical to life, and survived still. And they did not just simply survive, either, cowering like dogs at the edge of a campfire's light. They grew stronger. They seized places of power. They forged nations. And they forged each other. They found new Lunars and tattooed them as the Lunars now needed to survive. And they did this without Sidereal astrology or any other means of instantly finding out when and where one Exalted. They did this through constant vigilence and looking out for those who needed it most. Nobody, not even the Solars, have faced what the Lunars have. The Solars merely died. But the Lunars were broken down to their very soul. Every Lunar, everywhere, is broken. But they have not died. They have not surrendered and become the lapdogs of the Dragonblooded and received the considerable benefits of their strength. They have not turned their backs on Creation, either. They have not walked out into the Wyld and left everything behind. Despite everything, despite terror and betrayal and death, despite being wounded more than any other Exalt could even imagine, they remain steadfast and true to themselves above all. The Lunars are heroes.
But they are not the only heroes.
Let me tell you what it means to be Sidereal. There is no life harder than that of a Sidereal. To be Sidereal is to be chosen, from birth, although you neither knew nor asked for it. To be Sidereal is to Exalt and be told that now you must train to be the finest-edged weapon in Creation, that you will spend the rest of your incredibly long life protecting Creation, and that there is no time for weakness, for doubt, or for failure. You will do what is required of you, or you will die and another will be chosen who is of a finer mettle than you. And most every Sidereal you will ever meet was given that choice, nodded their head, and devoted their existence to keeping Creation from the abyss. You may sneer that Sidereals control the world. That is true, but it is nothing to be rejoiced about. Controlling the world is a literal thing for Sidereals, not figurative. They must espy every aspect of it. They must figure out when anything is going wrong. And then they must stop it. Ninety-nine Sidereals, to our knowledge, do this. Ninety-nine men and women work day in and day out for Creation, and their only reward is another assignment and knowing that Creation has gone on another day. They have given up friends. They can love, but will never be loved for themselves. They erased their very existences from Creation to better serve it; if their judgement on how to best serve Creation was wrong, it does not erase the sacrifices they have made in pursuit of the noblest goal there is. They do have vacations, because there is no time and nobody to take their place. They can amass staggering wealth and power but will never be able to enjoy it. Some guide the Solars, some guide the Dragonblooded: in either case, they see young heroes who have their whole lives ahead of them and can do whatever they want with it, who have the ability, the sheer luxury of saying on any given day "screw this, I'm going to go do something else". That's the freedom the Sidereal will never have, can never have, but they will do their job nonetheless and try their damndest to help the Solars or Dragonblooded to save Creation. That is their reward - that Creation lives another day. Not adulation. Not even a thank you. Just a satisfactory result. And they die. Oh yes, they die. Sidereals are the longest-lived of all the Exalted. And yet barely any survive from before the Usurpation. Why? Because they are out, every day, doing what they think must be done to save the world. And many times they die doing it. And death might be a relief, except it's an abject failure which has taken out a key piece of the network that keeps Creation safe. You may not agree with the decisions they make, but only an ingrate or someone suffused with hatred could fail to be in awe at the sacrifices the Sidereals make for what they believe they have to do. Their lives are only the first step. Only a Sidereal could, and does, wield a weapon which is immensely more effective against someone they love. Not pretend to love. Not have convinced that he loves. Not said he loves. Loves. Truly. Deeply. That weapon was built because it would be used. Because to be a Sidereal is to put nothing above your task of defending Creation. Not yourself. Not the one your love. Not your desires. Not anything. You don't matter. You chose not to matter. You chose figuratively (and quite literally in the oldest cases) not to even exist, all in the desire, the drive, the duty to make sure that Creation does exist. The Sidereals are heroes.
But they, too, are not the only heroes.
All of them are heroes. Not individually, of course - there's always individual except. But collectively? Yes. Oh yes. Collectively, they have given more of themselves then anybody should ever be asked to do, and they have done it gamely and with excellence. They have all accomplished feats that border on and in many cases should have been impossible.
They are EXALTED. The name of the game is EXALTED. And the Exalted, all of them, are heroes.
The tragedy of the setting is that being heroic is not enough. Giving of yourself is not enough. Straining yourself to the utmost is not enough. It's too late, too hard, the enemies are at the gates and they cannot be denied. Not by the Solars, or the Dragonblooded, or the Lunars, or the Sidereals or anyone else.
That's where the PCs come in.
I found a core theme of Exalted to be "don't say no with a period; say yes with a comma." -- Vaegrim
This is one of the toughest (for some people) but most important things to grok about Exalted. Especially if you're coming off a system with absolutely polar moral/ethical systems embedded straight into the rules (by which I mean to say D&D).
Exalted is very big on the concept of moral relativity.
This is gonna be a big post, so you may want to settle in with a can of soda or something.
Exalted throws the word "heroic" around a lot. The use of the word needs to be made explicitly clear. Exalted does not use "heroic" in the modern sense of the word, i.e., 'a paragon of the moral/ethical/civil system of the person handing out the title of hero.' In Exalted, you are not a hero for giving CPR to a drowning child; nor are you a hero for strapping a bomb to your ass and blowing up a jewish market for Allah. Heroism in Exalted is heroism in the classical sense, performing feats beyond the aptitudes or daring of ordinary men. If you are larger-than-life, if your ambitions are GREAT ambitions, then you are heroic.
This vastness of thought and deed is completely independent of morality. Alexander the Great's incredible campaign of conquest was heroic in scope; so was Abraham Lincoln's ambition in emancipating the slaves and saving the Union; so was Hitler's genocidal drive to wipe 'subhuman people' off the earth; so was the Red Baron of World War I, with his incredible aerial combat record.
In Exalted, both parties involved in most epic conflicts are heroic individuals.
This is represented by the Virtue system, which Solars use... and also DBs, Sidereals, Abyssals, gods, ghosts, and the Fair Folk. There's a pretty famous exchange between a poster and the game's developer from way back in First Edition on the topic... someone posted
- "the Virtue system can easily suggest that you often act in a not-good way: Starting fights with everyone who challenges you, refusing to side with your friends if they're wrong, killing swaths of soldiers to save a small village, refusing to back down from a goal."
to which the developer replied
- "So good backs down from goals, protects its friends even when they're wrong, and will sacrifice the innocent because it cannot bear to shed blood? I think it's easier to say that the Virtue system operates independently of good and evil."
This is the second big thing a lot of people have trouble with: the gods are not arbiters of moral right and wrong. They are, in fact, for the most part, a fairly shady pack of individuals. This draws from real-world epic myth cycles, particularly those of the Greeks. Consider Zeus: often wise, usually clever, boundlessly mighty, king of the gods! ... and also a ceaseless adulterer and sometimes rapist, given to bouts of petty pride and vast wrath.
This applies even to the Unconquered Sun, who is far from all-wise or all-knowing.
So, without a Christian 'God' equivalent or AD&D 'god of good' equivalent, there's no central moral arbiter for the universe, no force beyond reproach or question to separate right from wrong, good from evil. This puts that task squarely in your lap (both you the player, and you the character).
Exalted is about characters who are very mighty, but not necessarily correspondingly wise. One of the coolest parts of the game (in my opinion) is that it can be used as a morality play-- the Exalted often find themselves in very ambiguous situations, with only their own Virtues or moral compass to guide them through, and will often have to deal with the consequences of those choices somewhere down the road.
In a stereotypical D&D module--
((Please, don't jump down my throat about this, I have to use SOMETHING for an example, and more no-brainer stories have come home to roost in the House Gygax Built than any other. I'm sure your D&D campaign is a numinous and transcendent work of art))
In a stereotypical D&D module, the characters might stumble upon a kingdom ruled by a corrupt tyrant, or in the grasp of a wicked vizier giving his king bad advice, and they have to cobble together a rebellion or an assassination or whatever to overthrow the tyrant.
In Exalted, a Circle of Solars would be equally likely to stumble upon such a situation. Now, unlike a bunch of level 4 guys, the Solars, even straight out of chargen, are more than up to the task of handling this situation. They might brew up a full-scale rebellion. They might just walk right up to the castle gates, hack their way in, and toss the tyrant from the highest rampart-- whatever. Deposing the evil central government isn't really a problem.
In the D&D module, this is probably the end of the adventure. Cue party, cue magical items as presents or loot, move on to next goblin cave.
In Exalted, this is where the story really begins-- okay, so you got rid of the tyrant, but now the local army is without a leader, which means it's not getting paid, which means... well, it can't mean anything good. You smashed up the corrupt bureaucracy, okay, but it WAS still at least semi-functioning as a bureaucracy, and now there's no mechanism to move food around the kingdom from the storehouses to the cities. In the wake of your glorious assault on the tyrant, this place is left without a military to protect it or a government to rule it. What do you do? Do the characters feel like it's even their responsibility to address those issues at all? This is a far greater challenge than just mowing down a couple hundred soldiers.
In terms of 'good' or 'bad' status of the other Exalts... very few people, unless they're deranged, would regard themselves as 'bad guys.'
Dragon-Blooded come in several distinct varieties! Roughly 10,000 of them live in the Realm, and most of them are very invested in it. They were raised from the cradle to believe they are spiritually elevated beings with a divine right and duty to rule over mortals and to defend Creation. Many of them are quite corrupt, skimping on the 'defend Creation' bit and lining their own pockets instead, but not all. Some of them-- many of them!-- would gladly lay down their life to defend Creation from the terrible threats that assail it daily.
Their religion tells them that your Dawn Caste guy is up near the top of that list of terrible threats. Getting on speaking terms with these guys will be... difficult, to say the least. But hey, maybe one of your friends has social Charms strong enough to get his foot in that particular door. You never know.
But then, there are about 10,000 more Dragon-Blooded out there in the Threshold who are not Dynasts of the Realm. These Outcastes are descendants of Terrestrial enclaves that never joined the Realm, or by-blows of Dragon-Blooded trysts, perhaps even several generations removed from the original tryst. Before they were Exalted by the Dragons they may have been a village blacksmith, or a caravan guard, or a diplomat or scout or merchant or pearl diver. In many ways, they're a lot like your Solar-- one day they were a guy, the next a demigod. Maybe they Exalted in a region that is full of Immaculate beliefs; maybe they Exalted in a place full of god-worship and old legends; or maybe they just don't care-- god, demon, whatever's profitable. These Outcaste Dragon-Blooded may be enemies, contacts, allies, boon companions, lovers, or anything else.
Abyssals are mostly bad people from any perspective other than their own. Unlike other Exalts, they get a choice in their Exaltation-- they can willingly give away their name and destiny and accept the Black Exaltation; or they can refuse it (and probably die). They chose to preserve their existence at the expense of the world, accepted the burden of slowly killing reality and everything beyond it.
Some of them come to regret that choice and try to fight the fate they accepted. Some think they made it for noble reasons. Some are just angry, or bitter, or vengeful.
Exalted is designed so that the various types of Exalted (DBs, Sidereals, Lunars, etc) are all viable player-characters with the proper supplements. As such, their positions on various issues are at least somewhat tenable. Most often, 'right' or 'wrong' in Exalted depends on where you are standing.
I hope some of that will be of use to you
"She won't ask for anything, but she'll aid and support you...and slowly, you become dependent, slowly, she starts taking hold. Her advice still sounds good...and you never even notice what she's doing, not even when you're wading hip-deep in blood. She might even lie and say 'Not all of us enjoy being slaves of the Neverborn, you know...I'm taking a huge risk by doing this...' and looking all tragic and heroic as she hands you a dark grimoire...and for a moment, you think you see through the ice-queen exterior to the scared peasant girl she was in the First Age. And in that instant...you're hooked. Truths people think they discovered themselves always hold more weight than truths they are given by others. And remember, she has all the time in the world for her machinations. And if you refuse? She's planned on that. She's planned on your exact reaction. If you refuse, it's because she wanted you to. It serves her plans.
Bladestorm on the Lover Clad in a Raiment of Tears, The Freedom Stone IRC chat
'Might Makes Right' just cannot be a central tenet of Creation. No being who has seized power through force has done any good to Creation. The Primordial War, the Usurpation, everything has broken the world farther and farther. Even those who tried it 'with the best of the world at heart' and tried to place themselves with the reins of Creation - the Scarlet Empress and Kejak - are shown as ineffectual and leaving nothing more than scorched earth as their legacy.
To say that 'might makes right' is to ignore pretty much every consequence of every major action in Exalted's history and cosmology. And the developer's words on tyrants and suchlike. Of course, it works like a charm on the short-term. But on the long-term... the name AGE OF SORROWS rings a bell?
I'm not sure if this is 'moral' or not, but Exalted seems to have two central tenets:
'Actions have consequences'
'Doing the right thing is hard'
Last Updated March 10, 2008
Man, I need to go to google and search for posts by that Neel Krishnaswami dude, he seems really creative - SRNissen
Agreed. That has to be the first time I've seen something positive said about the Games. Great Fair Folk quote as well - Bigeshu
About Ayiekie's entry on the Sidereals: I think that yes, the Sidereals are wonderful people, but it was kind of retarded to design a universe that wasn't self-sufficient in the first place. If it's constantly being repaired, it was a piece of crud in the first place. They're also manipulative little jerks, whatever anybody says. They have the right to be, for the reasons detailed by Ayiekie, but they're still manipulative little jerks, and my character still likes to see them suffer. Also, about the Abyssals: Can anybody really say they wouldn't choose immortality and servitude over death? People tell me I'm a nice person, but I'd be all like "Where do I sign?" - Han'ya
- I prefer to perceive them as slaves of necessity, as per Ayiekie's worldview; after all, their manipulative nature is enforced by a drive for efficacy rather than being little jerks. As per Abyssals, remember that Creation operates on different metaphysics - one who refused the Deathlords would enter Lethe and reincarnate into another body. Essentially, they're choosing to cling to their current consciousness at the cost of damning themselves and the entire world, which doesn't seem like such a great deal. As per the crudiness of Creation, I gather it worked just fine until the gods thought they could run it better than their progenitors...DeathBySurfeit
- Creation wasn't supposed to be self-sufficient. I wouldn't be surprised if the Primordials built it to need them deliberately. ;) As far as the Abyssals go, it's not just servitude. It's servitude and also destroying the universe. If someone said to me, as I died, "Hey, I can give you awesome cosmic might in exchange for helping me control my empire of the undead"... well, I don't know, but I'm weak, so I'd probably go for it. If they say, "Hey, work for me as we destroy all of reality for being such wimps", I'm going to say no thanks. - FrivYeti
- Good points both of you. Then again, it's not necessarily destroying the universe. If you've read the novel Day Dark As Night then you probably know of the Disciple of the Seven Forbidden Wisdoms, who actually said that his master was well-disposed towards humanity. Then again he could be lying. Headaches. Also, on the topic of a non-self-sufficient Creation: Wouldn't it be easier for the gods to just make it self -sufficient and then just lie to the mortals and say that they still needed you? Then you wouldn't have to work! And my character doesn't have to have a rational reason to hate the Sidereals, it's just one of those little personality quirks that either endear you to others or make them terrified of you.- Han'ya
- I will go so far as to say there is zero reason to believe it is actually possible to create a self-sufficient Creation in Exalted. It's not a case where the Primordials said, "Hey, let's make a universe in constant need of repairs." It seems more likely that it was impossible to create a totally self-maintaining universe and they just did the best they could. - JohnBiles
- After taking a cold shower and growing up a little, I have decided that everybody who disagreed with me is probably correct. - Han'ya