Posts by: Stephen Lea Sheppard

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[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Arrakiz wrote:
Tavar wrote:
Iozz-Sothoth wrote:
Tiresias wrote:
Stephenls wrote:
Is pimping slave girls into early syphillitic graves really not as bad as eating the hearts of bandit leaders just because society tolerates the former and finds the latter distasteful?


The wealth of the Realm is sustained by rape, murder, slavery and brutality. The problem is that the books don't really connect the rape, murder, slavery and brutality to all the perks Dynasts get. It's all off-screen and unless they're directly involved in it, the average player will never make the connection between Dynastic privileges and the people who die daily in order to maintain those privileges.


*boggles* That must be a 2E thing, right? I mean, the link was fairly obvious to me back in the day...

Yeah, it's very much 2ed. Well, that and there are many people who don't realize how bad empire are, because the education system doesn't like to dwell on the failings of, well, most of Europe, America, Japan, etc.

Now would you look at that, living in a third-world country does have some pluses. Least my history lessons aren't whiteshed.

And btw, am I the only one who suddenly got the feeling that Exalted got a little... Darker? Or was it always like that and the 2e failed to deliver the image?


It was always like that and 2e failed to deliver the image. 2e is, on the one hand, very whitewashed in terms of ugly political realities, and on the other hand almost intolerably shitdark in terms of presenting NPCs as fuckheads with no redeeming personal qualities.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Tiresias wrote:
Stephenls wrote:
Is pimping slave girls into early syphillitic graves really not as bad as eating the hearts of bandit leaders just because society tolerates the former and finds the latter distasteful?


The wealth of the Realm is sustained by rape, murder, slavery and brutality. The problem is that the books don't really connect the rape, murder, slavery and brutality to all the perks Dynasts get. It's all off-screen and unless they're directly involved in it, the average player will never make the connection between Dynastic privileges and the people who die daily in order to maintain those privileges.

The problem with Lunar cannibalism isn't the killing, it's that people can't ignore the killing.



Have we said anything about the portrayal of the Realm in 3e that suggests we're going to keep the murder, slavery, and brutality of the satrapial system offscreen?

(Rape, as always, remains a sensitive topic and we will tend to deal with it subtextually.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
("Wanted: local bandit leader, dead or alive." Kill him, bring his head back, say it was too much bother to bring the whole body and so you burned it. Is anyone but you gonna know you ate his heart?)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Drascin wrote:
Stephenls wrote:
(You know, it's not like Creation has any shortage of roadside bandits, abusive pimps, avaricious drug-peddling crime-bosses, and slavers. Go Batman on a few of their asses: that totes counts as a sacred hunt. If you we're a Solar you'd be putting their ilk to the sword, and let's not kid ourselves—dead's dead.


Problem being of course you need to stalk one of them for like six hours before it'll "count". If you're attacked in the road by a bunch of miscreants and kill them? Doesn't count. If you get discovered two hours into the hunt and forced into a fight? (which is highly likely if you aren't already very proficient at stealth) Still doesn't count. And most STs in my experience require you to be capable of killing your target in open combat, to boot. Ever getting the shape of actual plot-imporitant enemies is never going to happen, of course. And so on.

You have to specifically seek them out for the specific purpose of ripping out their hearts, and only those who are weaker enough than you that you're pretty certain you can kill them without getting ganked. Premeditated killing is generally more affecting to one's psyche than murder in the heat of things - and a premeditated murder where you not only had to want to kill someone but breathe the other person's very life for hours, seeing them be a person that you can't depersonalize at all, and then still not even hesitate to kill them for an extremely minor convenience, is kind of serial-killer-y, really. I could about see it if the other person is someone you really wanted to take revenge on, people can be really nasty when personal feelings are in the way, but just doing that with a random bandit you didn't even know a day ago is more the stuff you expect from a serial killer from a terrible TV police procedural than from a character you have to try to get in a mixed party :p.


You think heroes always encounter bandits via bandit ambush? What about listening in the teahouse about rumors of which stretches of road are being plagued by bandits lately, and then going out to solve the problem? Hell, look for wanted posters!

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Irked wrote:
One suspects the Slug would come across a lot less sympathetic if the books also noted that he periodically killed and ate his slave girls so that he could take their shapes.

I mean, slave prostitution is a big huge horrible thing, but murder-cannibalism is going to draw some attention even in societies that give that a pass.


Is pimping slave girls into early syphillitic graves really not as bad as eating the hearts of bandit leaders just because society tolerates the former and finds the latter distasteful?

Irked wrote:
Hm. I thought "Pretty much everyone in the world is a morally reprehensible jerk not worth saving," was one of the things 3e was moving away from.


Injecting more hope into the setting isn't just a matter of writing both rulers and outlaws as more positive and ethical, contrary to all historical and sociological precedent -- that's exactly the mistake 2e Lunars made, trying to strip out the more transgressive elements of Silver Pact society and present them as more benign, well-intentioned, and, uh, bland.

It's a matter of shifting focus.

The 2e shitdark problem stems from deciding that the virtues of the setting are boring to talk about and as much wordcount as possible should be spent reminding people that power-players -- that is to say, rulers, who effect change in society by leveraging it; and outlaws, who effect change in society by operating outside its precepts (these categories are fuzzy and I just made them up, by the way) -- tend to crush people in the process of effecting change, and typically are ignorant, callous, or both of the negative consequences, side-effects and costs in lives and liveleyhoods of the change they effect. In 3e, that's not going to stop being a thing that's true.

Injecting more hope into the setting is more about providing a few contrasting examples -- power players who are not callous or ignorant -- and then presenting a setting that's interesting enough to seem worth caring about. Compass: Autochthonia didn't make Autochthonia appealing by making it less doomed, it made it appealing by making the doom more worthwhile to fight.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
(You know, it's not like Creation has any shortage of roadside bandits, abusive pimps, avaricious drug-peddling crime-bosses, and slavers. Go Batman on a few of their asses: that totes counts as a sacred hunt. If you we're a Solar you'd be putting their ilk to the sword, and let's not kid ourselves—dead's dead.

Hell, if you want to get really ambitious, find a local asshole duke, infiltrate his court, seduce and devour him, institute some positive social reforms, designate a decent heir, fake your death, and skedaddle. If you we're a Solar you'd have put his head on a pike as a demonstration to other rulers who dare abuse their power et cetera.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Fanservice wrote:
fata_ku wrote:

But they're not. 7 Devils Clever isn't what I'd call a Cannibal Murder Beast. No more than a splat having Elemental Bolt make every character of that splat "An [Element]-Bender". Solars aren't _just_ killing machines, Sidereals aren't _just_ Astrology Ninjas. Though you do have the option to play them as such.


7 Devils Clever is very cool and I'd love to see more Lunar's like her! I am actually arguing for Lunar's to not be the "Cannibal" splat. Which they're not going to be so yay me.


Seven Devil Clever existed in 1e, when there was no way to get human forms aside from cannibal murder. Seven Devil Clever exhibited multiple human forms in 2e without the traits necessary to acquire them without cannibal murder.

Seven Devil Clever is a cannibal murderer. You don't acquire the cred necessary to pull off a name like "As clever as seven devils" without doing devilish things. Did you really assume she didn't? Because I always assumed she did. It's kinda like how dealing with vampires you can assume that the vampire you're talking to has probably committed a few erotically charged murders and, you know, that's that.

Cannibalism isn't SDC's only thing. She does a lot of other stuff! It's not something that defines her, it's clearly more of a hobby! Unless, of course, you're the sort of person to get hung up on that sort of thing, in which case she is far from the only NPC you're going to interact with who has done things you won't approve of. The Slug is right over there, using slave-girls in his brothels. He's one of the Realm's comparative good guys!

Look, the Age of Sorrows is a savage adventure venue. It can be assumed that most heroic-tier people, i.e. people who have accomplished great things, have skeletons in their closet. You can assume that any hero you talk to has probably engaged in some murderous thuggery, any ruler you treat with has probably had political dissidents assassinated and engaged in public works projects that involved working a bunch of slaves to death. As far as the majority of people in the setting are concerned, that sort of thing ain't no thing. Eating a few peoples' hearts so you can have some prepared disguises is basically not a big deal unless you're squeamish.

...

Incidentally, regarding the Lunars 1e rape sidebar: The Lunar 1e book has two rape sidebars. There's one in Chapter 1, on page 27, written by Malcolm Sheppard, and one in Chapter 2, on page 71, written by Ethan Skemp. If you will compare the two, you will note that the sidebar in Chapter 1 is short, to the point, comprehensive, does not use particularly evocative imagery, takes a general approach of "Deal with it or don't, but know what you're doing," and is basically perfect. The one in Chapter 2 is completely awful. This is largely because Malcolm Sheppard is totally comfortable taking the setting's inclusion of uncomfortable subject matter as a given and talking about it in a matter-of-fact fashion, while Ethan Skemp was really uncomfortable doing that and had to make a big squicky deal out of it.

My position on cannibal murderbeasts as expressed in the book is basically that it should be dealt with in the manner of the Chapter 1 sidebar. "This a thing, keep that in mind, next topic."

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
(I actually think that adding pokemon to the Exalted syncretism is pretty brilliant, but yasal crystals would be way better if you had to let the spirits out to do your bidding instead of drawing on their powers as your own.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Seven Devil Clever.

Seven. Devil. Clever.

Her name in 1e was Seven Devil Clever.

2e changed it to Seven Devils Clever. With an S. You will notice that Seven Devils Clever, with an S, does not roll off the tongue nearly as well as Seven Devil Clever, without an S.

Her name is Seven Devil Clever.

(This is exactly like changing Raksi's tell to something else and her backwards hands to a mutation -- "Let's make this simple and elegant thing overcomplicated and clumsy in the name of adhering strictly to some piddly little rule." 2e is full of this shit.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Gayo wrote:
That's pretty much what Riding the Dragon is, though, let's be fair.


Riding the Dragon summons a taxi.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Drascin wrote:
Omicron wrote:
There is a vast margin between "Good Guy Splat" and "half of your powers require you to be an asshole, and if you're not an asshole you are gimping yourself," though. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Someone made a good post upthread on how requiring one or several Charm purchases to take a human shape without killing and eating someone is buying Charms, and is therefore committing a considerable amount of advancement, of power, of his character concept, to avoid being a cannibal. He's already paying the price, and it is a steep fucking price.


Pretty much. Besides, much as people like to talk about it here, there's no real big interesting moral quandaries to develop in play here. Some characters will be willing to, some will not, and that's more or less the end of the line, because it's not like Heart's Blood shapeshifting offers the kind of incredible power that would actually tempt people who aren't already pretty willing to kill people. It's not some big interesting character conundrum.


Shun the Smiling Lady doesn't provide "incredible power" either. This is not the climax of an anime where the heroes have to stop the villain doing something super-evil in order to become a god.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Tiresias wrote:
Abyssals are the Exalted of Murder. If you don't want to play a murderer, don't play an Abyssal (unless you want to deliberately gimp yourself, which can certainly be interesting to play).


Enh, that's super-narrow. I really prefer the 1e ST Companion's Exalted of Death to the 2e hardcover's Exalted of Murder.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
John and Holden are, of course, much better than me at this, and much more likely to settle on something that applies all the potential strengths of my preferred approach to something that provides, uh, broader appeal.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
Okay I'll take a moment to explain why I keep bringing this sort of thing up and, indeed, why I push for it in my discussions with Holden and John about what Lunars should be like.

If you look at Sidereals, their Charm set is actually full of taboo-breaking moral quandries they have to face when using their powers. Just off the top of my head we have Shun the Smiling Lady and that pinnacle familiar Charm that turns one of your mortal friends into a lesser elemental dragon for a few hours at the cost of lobotomizing them, and cannot be used on someone who isn't a friend. Powers like that are necessary for the full Sidereal experience and removing them or making them friendlier (as 2e did with the dragon Charm) is... well... the word I'll use is weaksauce. Indeed, Exalted in general is full of that sort of thing. But Sidereals tend to face quandries like that in a sort of subtle, genteel form where it's easier to remove yourself from the situation and -- Shun the Smiling Lady is accomplished by striking someone from Heaven's record of lovers, and the dragon thing is a prayer-strip Charm. They are both literally atrocities committed via paperwork.

Lunar powers aren't genteel. Lunar powers are primal. So while I think it's compelling to build that sort of quandry into the Lunar power set, I do not think it's appropriate to put them there in such a way that it's easy to distance yourself from them when you use them.

Things like cannibalism and bestiality have important places in the myth-cycles that Lunars draw from. Luna herself is is the Devil of Heaven. Elder Lunars trend towards being shapeshifting monsters from the depths of oh-my-god. To the extent that Solars are mythic heroes, Lunars are the mythic god-monsters that mythic heroes had so often to treat with, and I find the idea of a setting where those two archetypes were bound together against a common foe and thereafter ran a world together pretty interesting, especially since the Time of Tumult creates a venue where they have a unified and cooperative past but now have reason to engage in a more traditional hero/monster relationship, albeit one where the hero is neither guaranteed to survive nor guaranteed to be the party in the right. But you can't have interesting playable mythic god-monsters by taking away all the transgressive elements of god-monster-ism. So, yes, they're cannibals. Yes, they rut with animals, or take the form of a swan and seduce Leda. These are the things they do because it's in-genre for the archetype they embody to do, and Exalted encourages in-genre behavior by providing in-setting reasons for characters to engage in that in-genre behavior.

Now, I get that a lot of people don't want Lunars to be those things. I have seen, over and over, for the last decade, calls for Lunars to be the Good Guy Exalted, the poor persecuted underdogs (that's unintentional; I can't find a better term) to the Solar bullies, or, like, superheroes with shapechanging powers and no transgressive elements at all. Or, most annoyingly, furries, in the sense of being animal-people who are morally superior to people-people, for folks who are deeply misanthropic and believe that humanity sucks and believe themselves better than humanity because they have the soul of a wolf or a cat and not a filthy human or something. You're all familiar with the relevant tumblr communities, I'm sure.

I'm not interested in providing that, or arguing on the behalf of people who want any of those things. I don't want to provide a Lunar archetype that people feel can feel superior by identifying with. I recognize that a lot of people would prefer something from the above paragraph to mythic, primal god-monsters, but I don't really care. Like, I'm not interested in giving those people what they want. At all. I think it's bad for the game's integrity.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 2/14/2013
The MG wrote:
Thief-of-Faces wrote:
Yeah, I really do get where your coming from. But I'm not sure how much of it is an actual view of next edition Lunars, StephenLS' thoughts on the matter or just the forum extrapolating and speculating. It's actually pretty confusing, I probably should re-read the thread come to think of it.
Anyway, I'm reserving judgement until I have a more complete picture.
To my knowledge, neither Holden nor Mørke have said anything on the subject of beastmen (except that they're human and therefore potential candidates for Exaltation). Stephenls, meanwhile, seems to be speaking of his personal preferences on the matter.


Indeed!