Thus Spake Zaranephilpal/HeroicMortals
On Drugs, Artifacts and the UnExalted
Nephilpal - 03/29/2004 09:56:14
I've wrestled with this.
I remember the first time I read Exalted: the Outcastes and I came across gunzosha troopers. I thought... wow... people who give up half their life to fight on the same battlefield as Exalted. That's pretty damn cool.
And then you have thaumaturgy and the power of alchemy and ways for mortals to temporarily become powerful.
I think it would be reasonable to imagine a mortal who uses a combination of alchemical regimens, power armor and other Shogunate gear to take the field among Exalted. Of course, to play on a weak Terrestrial level, he's a drug-addicted wretch whose body and soul won't last a decade... and that's assuming the great powers of the world don't strike him down for his impertinence.
The Exalted setting allows for such a hero, the scarred super-veteran who is cheating the system every way possible at once for the briefest moment of glory. These are the people who become Celestial Exalted when there is a Celestial Essence available. But what if that day never comes? Such a character makes a stark object lesson in the way the setting works. Let's assume for a moment that you have an Outcaste brotherhood with this superveteran thaumaturge as a member. Let's say he can generally keep up when he has to. After the battle with the mutant horde, they're all sitting around the campfire tending their wounds and unwinding. The Terrestrials are cleaning the gore off their armor and laughing, taking in Essence from food and fellowship. Their ally has removed his war-carapace and is carefully smearing a glowing paste onto his cuts to accelerate healing and prevent infection. The paste leaves disfigured purple scars and he's a patchwork of them now, but he wouldn't win any beauty pageants with his array of glittering amulets riveted through skin and muscle and bone. His companions pass around the wineflask. He can't drink wine. He can only sip a bitter mineral water whose formula and tincture is carefully regulated because he can't be sure how anything else will react to the complicated batch of drugs churning through his hardened and aged flesh. He can feel a burning with every swallow and his blood barely smells like blood any more... less iron... more... he can't find a name for it because no analogue exists in nature. He's not even sure if he's human any more or whether he could breed a new species if the drugs hadn't left him sterile years ago.
That's what it takes to play the game with Exalted as an equal or something close (or something equally harsh).
Using the Merits and Flaws, you CAN be Frodo with a Legendary Artifact so dangerous that none of the magical beings can be trusted with it. Or you can be like the guy in Princess Mononoke and be Dying for your power. Etc.
It's ok to break the system a bit, given that people in the Exalted setting do that sort of thing. Of course, the system always breaks you back with interest. That's another part of the setting.
The rules let it happen, but really should they be so powerful? I have read your bit about how powerful they can get, and while its possible I don't know if that matches what should be. - BogMod
Wasn't the Perfect of Paragon once a mortal? - MetalFatigue