Posts by: Stephen Lea Sheppard

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[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/16/2017
That, too.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/16/2017
Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
Didn't you take a stab at developing for at least a couple of books, there, Stephen?
Yes and no. During the height of Ex2 and when John Chambers was dividing his time between his CCP duties, developing Exalted, and creating the first edition of Scion, the standard procedure for book production became him writing the outline and choosing freelancers, soliciting first drafts, and then passing development of those drafts to a freelance developer to write redlines and revise the second drafts into finals as well as writing art notes. I did Compass: West, Roll of Glorious Divinities I, and then burned out in the middle of development of Compass: You-Shan, leaving him to finish it. Which I still feel really badly about. I was never anything like an actual line developer.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/15/2017
Whoever owns the rights to Exalted owns the rights to Exalted; there's no "X owns 2e, but Y owns 3e." Currently it's owned by Paradox Entertainment (Paradox Interactive? Whatever), who purchased them from CCP, and who license them to Onyx Path Productions. But the owner of of Onyx Path, Richard Thomas, was the creative director of White Wolf Game Studio back when it was White Wolf Game Studio and not a just brand, and the Onyx Path freelancer pool mostly consists of former White Wolf Game Studio freelancers and employees, with the normal churn you see over time. There hasn't been any handover where the people who worked on Ex2 have been entirely replaced by a new group of people who work on Ex3, just complex legal juggling happening over all their heads.

(Though the actual developers have changed -- from Rob Hatch during 1e's first development phase before the game was released; to Geoffrey C. Grabowski for the 1e corebook and all of 1e and the 2e corebook; to John Chambers, Ex1's chief editor, for 2e after the corebook and up until near the end; to Holden Shearer and John Morke for the very tail end of 2e and the 3e core; and now to Eric Minton and Robert Vance, who were late 2e freelancers and 3e corebook writers. As I said, normal churn. Richard Thomas has been Boss of Exalted's Boss the whole time.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/6/2017
Originally posted by LDDM84 View Post
Okay, but there are many subject with problematic implications related to real world in the game line. Instead of changing this character now, make other characters in the following months so to make a better presentation of the Realm military.
I don't think you fully appreciate the scale of your suggestion here.

As per the Exalted game line's high-level discussion of the setting's organizational and cultural tendencies, the Realm is a matriarchy with a glass ceiling for men, staffed by legendary (albeit hereditary) heroes. As per Savage Seas' example of this in action, three of the Realm's five fleet admirals are men, and the two women did not acquire their positions by merit.

It is possible, in theory, to correct the discrepancy between the high-level description of the setting's demographics and its examples by adding new NPCs. For example, we could establish that this suite of admirals is an historical aberration. We could publish names and biographies of their predecessors, making it clear that most of the time, the Realm's admiralty is matriarchal, and we could publish biographies of the current admirals' subordinates and likely replacements to make it clear the current demographic anomaly is unlikely to remain as it is, and that soon things will revert to the mean. We could hang plot hooks off that.

Sometimes this is the correct approach. We're fixing the "Not enough satrapies" problem by adding new satrapies, for example.

But it's not just the admiralty demographic examples out of line with what they ought to be. It's pretty much everywhere throughout Realm NPC lists. High-ranking competent men who don't face prejudice based on their gender everywhere, and the women are wastrels who sleep their way to the top (with a few notable exceptions such as the Roseblack).

We would have to publish so many new NPCs. Not just a few. Far more than the setting warrants, given the amount of material we can reasonably publish per year.

It would also be super-restrictive to work around existing material like that. So we're not.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/3/2017
NPC demographics usually turn out shitty due to unconscious writerly biases, even if everyone is well-intentioned, because of culturally instilled and deeply internalized patriarchal misogyny. It's one thing to say "Hey, let's write a world with less terrible gender norms" and another thing to pull it off.

Ex3 creative team is working on it, hence Regara Feria's rewrite to not be an incompetent who slept her way to the top. We'd like to bring 3e's actual NPC demographics in line with what Creation's societal descriptions say they ought to be.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 6/30/2017
Re: Keywords: The foes in Antagonists of the Righteous and Hundred Devils Night Parade serve first and foremost as playable-off-the-page NPCs. Using them to e.g. preview Dragon-Blooded Charms is a lot of fun, but using them to preview the full complexity of new DB Charm keywords is impractical due to both utility and wordcount concerns. Antagonist Charms can be simplified versions of something with more complexity when used by a PC, or even abstracted representations of multiple other Charms being used in concert.

Re: Gay marriage: When Exalted was launched in 2001, and when Dynastic society was conceived for publication in the first Dragon-Blooded hardcover published in April 2002, gay marriage wasn't legal in the US and the idea that it might get legalized in less than, like, thirty years felt like a pipedream. There are solid in-setting reasons why the Dynasty might not treat gay marriage as even a thing, and adherence to that sort of internal verisimilitude was valued highly by the setting designers, I believe to the game's strength many years later.

It is now 2017 and gay marriage has been the law of the land in the USA for years.

The Dynasty is deliberately terrible. It is an engine of murderous exploitation informed by everything from King Leopold's Ghost to the Draka Domination. One of the Aspect Books features the story of a Dragon-Blooded mother who, unhappy with how weak and soft she believes her child to be, literally feeds her child's favorite nannies alive to sharks, ostensibly in the name of toughening her up but also because the mother is a bitter, vindictive old ass.

But that's not the only thing the Dynasty is. The Dynasty is also Exalted's primary "social play" venue -- it's the part of the setting you set your game in if you want to do Game of Thrones or other courtly romance games, or Dynastic highschool hijinx. It's full of awful political backbiting and dark family secrets and also galas and balls and schools and sophisticated high society, based on but not always visibly engaging with terrible economic exploitation of the rest of the world. It is at once a villain for PCs to confront in some games, and a setting for other PCs to thrive within in other games.

Because the Dynasty is in so many ways so terrible, it feels really weird to keep all those terrible factors and then say "Despite their natalism and domineering attitude towards their children and focus on filial piety and borderline-to-obviously-not-borderline abusive childrearing techniques, the Dynasty is surprisingly tolerant and enlightened when it comes to same-sex relationships!" ...but it also feels unconscionable to tell LGBT players "Ahah, even now after you can get gay married in real life, the primary social play venue of our imaginary fantasyland does not support gay marriage for your original characters (do not steal), because of reasons!" The setting exists the way it does because we write it that way. You can't hide behind "But it makes no sense because setting" when you're the reason the setting is the way it is.

So gay marriage in the Dynasty in 3e is no longer just not a thing. All the factors motivating its discouragement are still around -- the Realm's interest in strong inheritence tracking and precise lineage records, its distrust of sorcerers and demons, the unreliability of sorcerous workings -- but they also exist in the context of a world that's been run by god- and element-chosen heroes shaping the world according to their epic passions since the dawn of history. When your best friend in secondary school now wields an ancestral heirloom daiklave that was famously forged during the Shogunate because of its creator's anger that arranged marriage prevented her from being with her chosen wife, and its use in pursuit of that grievance lead to the extinction of three family lines, the death of a regional daimyo, a volcanic eruption, and a tsunami that reshaped the coastline in ways you can still see centuries later when you visit your summer home, grandkids via demon midwife are still not what you want, but they don't look so much like the end of the world.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 5/25/2017
Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
...Oh yes. Lea, if you're around, I had a question for you about Tomb of Dreams.

IIRc, way back during the Kickstarter, I think you made a comment to effect that you'd figured out what the main issue was that all the other Exalted adventures (or maybe it was just the Tombs ones, I dunno) suffered from, and that you'd solved it in yours. I've been wondering what that issue was.
No social angle. Tomb of 5 Corners was a dungeon crawl; Return to the Tomb of 5 Corners is just Tomb of 5 Corners again with a reskin and fancier environs.Tomb of Dreams is modeled after a stripped-down Mass Effect planet like Feros or Noveria -- self-contained environs, social challenges, martial challenges, moral quandry.

(And yeah, it was the problem with the other demo scenarios specifically, not the problem with all the scenarios.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 5/23/2017
I really love this.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 5/7/2017
Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
Holden did a perfectly serviceable job"]providing firearms stats[/URL] the last time you discussed introducing firearms to the Exalted setting, Aya Tari… though"]your position on them[/URL] seems to have changed pretty drastically, since last time you suggested they double successes on all attack and damage rolls, for free.

I must ask, what brought this about? Between this and your discussing the prevalence of magic in the Underworld versus Creation and the costs of sorcery versus thaumaturgy, you're treading quite a bit of old ground.
Jesus Christ, that thread.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
By default, the scenario doesn't include a clear way to keep Cseke bound. Either you free it, or it fights you to the death.

Of course, Mirror Flag has an oathsealing power....

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
I don't think "Go to sleep and in your nightmares manifest a pocket dimension in which various elements of your personality serve as sentries to guard some loot we're going to stash in you" is something you can normally task-bind a demon to do. This was probably a nonstandard bit of sorcery, maybe a working.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
The pregens are written up according to the needs of the scenario, yeah, and are not really the versions of those characters that would show up elsewhere. Volfer doesn't have his signature sword, f'rex.

I may have fucked up her career time, like I fucked up that tentacles/arms thing. I'll check when I get home.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
I should probably note at this point that the phrase "Tomb of Dreams" is not merely a description of the scenario's setting or a joke on Exalted demo adventures always having "Tomb" in the title. (Though it is those things!) The scenario is ultimately a dilemma where your power is sufficient to ensure you're the only one who can force a resolution, but not sufficient to determine what that solution ought to be; if you had dared hope your status as a Solar Exalt would be sufficient to always Captain Kirk Third Option your way out of these things, welp.

(I am very pretentious.)

I'm super-interested in hearing how it plays out at actual tables.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
So, query: how does one get out of this situation without hurting anybody that doesn't deserve it?
Well, for starters, it'd probably be a good idea to go in with more setting knowledge and occult puissance than the premades have. Maybe something that actually lets you compel the demon to do no harm once it's released, or even just tell with some certainty what it's likely to do if freed.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Page 43, top of the second column: "Eight of the monster-squid's tentacles drift and reach outwards, but its two longer arms end, not in leaf-shaped sucker-pads, but in the heads of two serpent emanations, both of which stare intently down at the Solars, waiting."

This is backwards! Squids have eight arms and two tentacles, not eight tentacles and two arms. Hence, replace with the following:

"Eight of the monster-squid's arms drift and reach outwards, but its two longer tentacles end, not in leaf-shaped sucker-pads, but in the heads of two serpent emanations, both of which stare intently down at the Solars, waiting."