Hello, Ladies, Lords, and Lieges! As I mentioned in this
post, I'm more than comfortable opening up my particular game of Exalted 3e to recruitment and discussion, particularly with regards to character concepts and what players would like from the game.
This is an attempt to help interweave the players' characters into the part of Creation they will be exploring, inhabiting, conquering, ruling, and/or destroying as the game goes on, as well as to help ensure that the circle that does form can, should they wish, interweave their backstories and relationships as best pleases them. Now, moving on to what I can offer to the players to help guide what they might want to explore as character concepts go.The Setting:
Due to feedback in the interest check thread, I'm thinking of placing my game in the satrapy of Dun-lat, in the South of Creation. Dun-lat, as I envision it, is located along the River Ammon (which is itself far too small to be represented on the map of Creation), which empties into the small seas south of the Scavenger Lands, with its source even farther south. Dun-lat itself is located along the major route between the Varangian City-States and Ember, though is more than 1500 miles from the former and around 500 miles from the latter.
Dun-lat is a longtime satrapy of House Tepet, where devotion to the Immaculate Philosophy is at such a great height among most of the populace that almost all fertile couples give their firstborn child to the Immaculate Order to raise as a monk, inflating the numbers of the Order to such an extent that one of the four greatest cities in Dun-lat is in fact primarily based upon a great monastery.
However, not all members of society are so devoted to the Immaculates - Dun-lat's salt mines are filled to the brim with slaves bought and sold by passing nomads, Guild traders, and prisoners of war, and the aristocracy's palaces are full of similar unfortunates. Even amongst the free peasants there exists some dissatisfaction with the current regime, as nearly twenty years ago, when a famine struck Akhetan, one of the great cities of Dun-lat, the people there rebelled when their requests for easing of taxes were disregarded, and were utterly crushed by House Tepet's forces (who feared the Empress might replace them as the satrap if they failed to extinguish this utterly). The waliyah's immediate family was crucified, her servants and loyalists sold into slavery, and her city sacked. The ruling Malik, Orsam, was also executed for allowing this to happen, and Irelen, his sister, was appointed Malika in his place.
More recently, a young woman claiming to be the daughter of the Mother River, the goddess of the River Ammon, began a revolution against the weakened Tepet-backed regime, with resounding success relative to the earlier attempts - for five months the revolutionaries wracked the satrapy as the increasingly desperate legions struggled to fight them... until somehow, the Daughter died, and her revolution fragmented into squabbling bandits, raiders, and would-be revolters.
Now, above all other times, Dun-lat is fragmented - numerous factions attempt to affect control over the shattered satrapy, whether to restore order or simply to reinforce their own power, and threats from without are watching with eyes full of hunger even as the Mother River begins to show her wrath to the people who allowed her Daughter to die. The people of Dun-lat are greatly affected by this, and the services of the Listeners are coming into the fore as the conflict drags on.
Dun-lat is ripe for change - will your characters bring it prosperity? Destruction? Both? Neither? This chronicle is going to start in Akhetan, the City of Bridges, described below. Keep this in mind when designing characters. Akhetan is north of Nalandun, and south of both Latir and Nefrem.
There are four major cities in Dun-lat, though one of them is more rightly considered a monastery - Latir, the capital and home to the Malika, the satrap, and the greatest of Realm Garrisons in the satrapy, it is located just east of the Mother River, its palaces sitting on the shore. Latir is where the most wealth is concentrated, and its groves of citrus trees remain untouched by the recent debacles... at least for now.
Nalandun is not a city as such, but rather the greatest of all Immaculate monasteries in Dun-lat. Located about one hundred miles south of Latir and on the west shore of the River Ammon, the majority of Immaculates live and are taught here, though significant monasteries exist dotted throughout the satrapy. Nalandun is a place of prayer-wheels and chanting, of bells and sacrifice, of incense and ritual as the monks pay respects to gods according to the Immaculate Calendar. Here is the base of the Wyld Hunt of the Realm in Dun-lat, and here is where monks spar as they debate each other's finer interpretations and extrapolations of the Immaculate Texts.
Akhetan, the City of Bridges, sits upon both shores of the River Ammon, as well as upon an island sitting in the middle, midway between Latir and Nalandun. Once a beautiful city surrounded by the lush green growth of papyrus and lotus plants, with great irrigated fields of crops destined for the Blessed Isle and elsewhere, Akhetan is now but a shadow of its former self, ransacked and burnt. The bridges, once grand displays of artifice, are now replaced to unstable and ill-constructed monstrosities that bear the weight of a cart only with the most ill of grace. The people, once guided by a waliyah and her aristocratic family, have descended to feuding families and street violence, with few authorities able to put things in order. The Daughter's Rebellion saw many members of Akhetan's populace flocking to her banners, as they felt they owed the Realm an even greater blood debt than they did each other, and now the City of Bridges lies in wait for the hammer of the Realm's wrath to fall upon them once again...
Nefrem, the northernmost city of Dun-lat, sits in the foothills of Pro-at, where there are significantly deep mines of salt as well as quarries full of limestone. Nefrem is isolated from the rest of Dun-lat, separated by a series of mountainous hills through which the Mother River flows, and it is here that the majority of the slaves of Dun-lat are owned. While the majority of Nefremi are not the same people as the Dun-lati of the rest of the satrapy, they are ruled by a council of Dun-lati merchants who own the majority of the slaves, including janissary troops who keep the Nefremi in line. The council knows, however, that without the presence of a Realm garrison (which has been removed for the sake of fighting the Daughter's Rebellion), they are dancing on the edge of a popular revolt even now...
The Dun-lati hold to a relatively unusual (but still quite acceptable) permutation of the Immaculate Philosophy - specifically, they believe that if a dark thought, experience, action, or emotion is not spoken of to another, it becomes as poison and cripples the soul's ability to ascend the Coils of the Dragons. As such, they have developed a longstanding tradition of the Listener.
The Listener is a person who dons all-concealing robes, that none might know who they are, and simply sits and listens to those who come to them, then responds with compassion and understanding. While in most villages there is a designated Listener family, who sit to hear the tales of their communities (effectively negating the desired effect of their robes), the aristocratic families have long felt that slaves are much more trustworthy as Listeners, and developed their own (owned) families to whom they may speak of their troubles.
Even free Listeners are under immense societal pressure to never share what has been spoken to them when wearing the robes, while slave Listeners take their lives in their hands to even risk speaking of their owners' private secrets. While there are tales that tell of such things, they emphasize the consequences of the Listener's actions. More popularly, there are innumerable songs and tales of scandalous romances blossoming between the Listener-slaves and their owners, but all aristocrats firmly deny such tales.
Poetry (as represented by the Performance or Linguistics abilities, somewhat arbitrarily) is widely beloved by the people of Dun-lat, and those who can use words to create beauty and cleverness are held as prestigious additions to one's family. Particularly praised is poetry that represents the values of the Immaculate Order, and a well-crafted poem that refers to those virtues is widely held as hinting at the perfection of the Immaculate Dragons themselves.
Dun-lati names run a wide gamut of styles, with many villagers and peasants using simple "Adjective Noun," "Noun of Noun," or just plain "Noun" sorts of names. A few examples might be Honest, Laughing Rain, or Son of River. Occasionally, they will be something that is less simple, such as Radiant Dashi or the like, though this is more common in city-dwellers who are not aristocrats. Aristocratic families tend to avoid the "Adjective Noun" or "Noun of Noun" sorts of names - for those are the names of the lowest ranked sorts, and I take inspiration from Middle Persian, Hebrew words, and a touch of Arabic for the names of wealthy and elite families, myself.
That's what I have on the setting for now, and I'll add more as questions come up. But in the meantime... welcome! What you can expect from me as an ST:
It occurs to me that I kind of forgot to put this in earlier. As a person, I shall endeavor to respect and have fun with my players, while nonetheless maintaining the integrity of the story (whacky hijinks are wonderful things on occasion - a game full of them isn't what I'm playing Exalted for, per se).
As an ST, I tend to put a greater focus on story than on mechanics, and so I'll be extending you guys a lot of trust in respect to how you build your characters mechanically - I'm not very good at figuring out what's balanced and what's not, but I hope to improve as we play. Because I emphasize story over mechanics, I'll be using those three rules at the beginning of Chapter 5 quite a bit, and I want to make that clear to everyone before we continue.
Finally, as someone who knows violence far more deeply than I'd like, I want to warn you that your actions will have consequences. Depending on what they are, even the best-intentioned actions may
lead to your characters screwing up the lives of those they tried to save - you may end up accidentally exacerbating conflicts you tried to mediate, and creating blood feuds where before there were none. As a player, I have a tendency to prefer resolving difficulties with wits and words over swords, and this means that I tend to look to the negative consequences of using violence more deeply than I do to the negative consequences of not
using violence. I want this to be clear, so that if you guys do
try to fight your way through problems, when the people start turning against you because you're frankly terrifying, you know why.
All of that said, however, if you're careful, smart, and charming, you can
make Creation a better place. You can
improve the lives of its people, and resolve difficulties in a way that leaves them resolved, with no lingering embers to burst into flame (though new problems will always arise). That's all I have right now, but if any of this strikes you as something you'd rather not deal with, let me know and we'll see how we can work it out.COPIED FROM BELOW
I am inclined to say that I probably won't pick more than 5 players, because three was my last experience, but PbP should be more merciful than the chat thing I did for the other game I've run. ... With that in mind, I may focus on one or two characters at a time in a given story/scene, if the rest of the players are okay with that.
(I made it bold 'cause it's important.)
I think that what I'm looking for in this case from characters is not that they're well-constructed (because I know you guys are going to make excellent characters) but how well they seem to me to reinforce themes that I would like present in my game. In order to ensure that you guys all get a fair chance at that, I'mma toss up a list of a few themes that strike me as particularly resonant with what I'm looking for here.
- Actions have Consequences: This one's a big one. If your characters do things (as you might want to, given that it's not much of a game if you're not playing...) there will be consequences. Give a convict a second chance at life, and a sense of purpose? S/he might follow you loyally for the rest of the chronicle. Kill a soldier as you're infiltrating the satrap's palace? Well, that might earn you an enemy for life in that soldier's spouse and/or children and/or other family members. So people who will act and then see the consequences of their actions are welcome... but I imagine that that applies to all characters, almost. Just a thought, y'know.
- Disintegration of Society in War: Dun-lat has fragmented since the Daughter's Rebellion, and House Tepet has yet to solidify its hold on the satrapy. The once-unified rebels are now fighting with one another, with the Realm, and with the satrapy's own government, and the people are kind of in trouble. As time goes on, things are likely to get worse, unless you guys act to hold society together. I'm not sure what concepts, if any, resonate with this theme, but it's there.
More of these as thoughts arise.