[Exalted 2e] Age of Judgment (Season 2)

Datamancer

Retired User
So, our group had a little bit of a shakeup, we lost our playnight for a while due to changing work schedules, and I nearly burnt out on storytelling high-level Exalted... but we pulled through, and now the Age of Judgment game is back in full swing, with a new Lunar, new badwrongfun, and a new menace: The Bishop Chalcedony.

To celebrate the relaunch of the game, we've made a website, and I hope you'll all visit it and tell me what you think of it. The Blog still isn't quite up and rolling yet, but the wiki is there and the main site has every synopsis and every episode I've written so far.

www.ageofjudgment.com
 

Datamancer

Retired User
Re: Age of Judgment (Season 2)

Gentle Embrace Style

A Celestial Martial Art designed to be used barehanded and without armor.

Developed early in the Age of Judgment by the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible, the Gentle Embrace style is the epitome of combat inspired by the Void Itself. Where the Hungry Ghost style draws on mere Nephwracks for its inspiration, Gentle Embrace Style’s soothing name belies its true nature: the drawn open mouth of the Void.

Gentle Embrace Style has Resonance costs for many of its charms. As such, it is very likely to cause Resonance Outbreaks whenever it is used. This is considered a feature by its developer, ensuring that the Style’s practitioners stay faithful to the will of the Neverborn, or else feel their displeasure directly and swiftly. Non-Abyssal practitioners of the Style, if any could be found who would want to learn such a inauspicious style, may substitute one temporary Willpower and one Limit for any Resonance cost listed. It must be noted, however, that many of the style’s effects are based on the practitioner’s Resonance score, which for those without Dark Fate is always zero.

Gentle Embrace Style, inspired as it is by Hungry Ghost Style, is incompatible with armor and has no form weapons.

1) Guided by the Master’s Desire
Cost: 3m, 1 Resonance; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2 Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Avatar (1), Combo-OK
Duration: Instant

The Neverborn desire for all life in Creation to end. Their eternal desires guide those willing to listen to greater haste in combat.
This charm supplements a Join Battle roll, giving a number of successes equal to the practitioner’s (Martial Arts + Whispers), subject to normal charm limits.

2) Embracing the Master’s Will
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2 Type: Reflexive (Step 10)
Keywords: Avatar (1), Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Requires: Guided by the Master's Desire

The Neverborn want for everything, including their faithful servants, to fall into the Void. However, they can be convinced to play favorites, preserving a useful tool a moment longer so that it can drag more into the Void sooner rather than later.
This Charm reduces the amount of post-soak damage inflicted by an attack by the practitioner’s Whispers rating. This can reduce an attack’s damage below the attacker’s Essence pool, but only to a minimum of 1.

3) Swiftness of the Faithful Servant
Cost: 4m + variable Resonance; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3 Type: Extra Action
Keywords: Avatar (2), Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Requires:Embracing the Master's Will

By paying close attention to fury of the Neverborn, and drawing a portion of that rage into oneself, the practitioner is able to vent that fury on the bodies of her enemies.
By paying the 4 motes and gaining any amount of Resonance up to her Whispers rating, she gains a magical flurry of attacks equal to the gained Resonance + 1. Each attack uses her full dice pool.

4) Scourging the Faithless
Cost: 2m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 3 Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Avatar (2), Combo-OK, Emotion, Spectral, War
Duration: Instant
Requires: Embracing the Master's Will

Those who do not share the Shining Path’s faith in Oblivion are deluded cowards afraid to find the truth of Creation’s lessons. Let them flee before a true servant of the Eternal Unity that awaits all things.
This charm supplements a unarmed Martial Arts attack. If it hits, the target’s Dodge and Parry MDVs are reduced by the practitioner’s Essence for a number of days equal to her (Martial Arts + Whispers) score. As an Emotion effect, the target is filled with abject terror of the sight of the stylist, fleeing as swiftly as practical from her. On the battlefield, this causes an immediate Rout test with difficulty equal to the practitioner’s Whispers rating.

5) Gentle Embrace Form
Cost: 5m + optional variable Resonance; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3
Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Form-Type, Combo-Basic, Avatar (3)
Duration: One Scene
Requires: Scourging the Faithless, Swiftness of the Faithful Servant

The Gentle Embrace form is one of understanding. Understanding one’s place in Destiny, understanding the Five Noble Truths and the Eight Beneficial Practices of the Shining Path, and also understanding the coming Embrace of the Void.
The practitioner adds his Whispers Rating to the accuracy and defense values of his hands, and may parry lethal attacks unarmed without a stunt. As an additional cost of the charm, he may accept an amount of Resonance no greater than his Whispers rating to reduce the Speed of this charm by an equal amount (minimum 1, explicitly breaking the rule about the minimum Speed of simple actions).
Lastly, for the duration of the scene the practitioner becomes a living conduit for the whispers of the Neverborn. A scene spent in the company of a practitioner using this form charm counts as a scene spent at the Mouth of the Void meditating on the Neverborn for the purposes of gaining or raising one’s Whispers rating. This effect includes the practitioner himself.

6) Compassion’s Scars
Cost: Special; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4 Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Avatar (4), Combo-Basic
Duration: Instant
Requires: Gentle Embrace Form

Understanding the Shining Path means coming to terms with the inherent hypocrisy of Virtue. These four charms explore the twisted ends each can be put to use for, ultimately negating the logic of each of the virtues. This charm assaults the logic of Compassion, twisting it into meaningless sympathy for the Neverborn, and restored vigor.
To activate the charm, the practitioner must channel her Compassion. Rather than the usual dice bonus, it instead reduces the practitioner’s Resonance score and heals a number of wound levels up to her (Compassion + Whispers).

7) Temperance’s Denied Lusts
Cost: Special; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4 Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Avatar (4), Combo-Basic
Duration: Instant
Requires: Gentle Embrace Form

This charm assaults the logic of Temperance, showing that self-deprivation is simply a masochist’s denial of self-pleasure, and ultimately as utterly self-centered and depraved as any wanton’s lust for sexual pleasure.
The charm requires a Temperance channel to activate, and restores a number of points of temporary Willpower equal to the user’s (Temperance + Whispers).

8) Conviction’s Ignorance
Cost: Special; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4 Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Avatar (4), Combo-Basic, Emotion
Duration: One Scene
Requires: Gentle Embrace Form

When you are certain of your own beliefs, you ultimately become blind to the truth, no matter how often it assaults your senses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the truth Creation would try to impose on you is ultimately a lie in the face of Oblivion.
This charm requires a Conviction channel to activate, and raises the user’s bashing and lethal soak, as well as his Parry and Dodge MDVs by an amount equal to the stylist’s (Conviction + Whispers). The MDV bonus counts as a bonus from Virtue use, not from Charms.

9) Valor’s Ultimate Cowardice
Cost: Special; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4 Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Avatar (4), Combo-Basic, Emotion
Duration: One Scene
Requires: Gentle Embrace Form

Why does the hero charge in to slay monsters? Because he is afraid of every monster. Yet that fear gives the so-called brave strength. The contradiction gives the Gentle Embrace practitioner her strength.
This charm requires a Valor channel to activate, and for the rest of the scene the practitioner adds (her Valor + Whispers) dice to her Martial Arts attacks. These dice count as a bonus from Virtue use, not from charms.

10) Resonance-Transferring Touch
Cost: 1+m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 5 Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Avatar (5), Spectral
Duration: Instant
Requires: Compassion’s Scars, Temperance’s Denied Lusts, Conviction’s Ignorance, Valor’s Ultimate Cowardice

Building off the practitioner’s understanding of the will of the Neverborn, as expressed through his Resonance Outbursts, he gains the understanding of how to share and direct the rage of the Neverborn through his own Dark Fate and a touch.
This charm supplements a barehanded Martial Arts attack. If successful, during Step 10 the practitioner may reduce his Resonance score by any amount up to his current Resonance and spend an equal number of Motes to convert an equal number of dice of rolled post-soak damage into levels of Aggravated Damage.

11) Entropic Shell Defense
Cost: Varies; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 5 Type: Reflexive (Step 6 - Defender Reroll)
Keywords: Avatar (5), Spectral
Duration: One Scene
Requires: Resonance-Transferring Touch

Having finally mastered the link between his own Essence and the destiny of that Essence to merge wholly with the waiting Void, the practitioner is able to shepherd the violent Essence of others swiftly into the Void, rather than into his own flesh. By spending a number of motes equal to his current Resonance score, the practitioner throws up a near-impenetrable shell of entropic Essence. Each time he is attacked, his attacker applies his current Resonance score as an external penalty (subtracting successes). This shell is not infallible, however. His attacker may spend a number of motes equal to the practitioner’s current Resonance score to overcome the penalty for a single attack.
 

Datamancer

Retired User
Re: Age of Judgment (Season 2)

Below follows the custom martial art designed for our Zenith, a former ship's captain in the West who has now risen to the post of Hierophant of the New Deliberative. From a design standpoint, this is very much a cut and paste art, there isn't much going on that's completely novel to Exalted, but it was done this way to give a character who was lagging behind the combat curve a cheap and efficient boost.


Indomitable Archangel Style
A Celestial Martial Art for use with paired sword and pistol.

Long ago, during the High First Age, seven guiding ideals were held in the highest regard among the Shining Mandala Intangible school of Solar Exalts; Charity that would see the world shine as gold, Graciousness that would win the stoniest of heart, Patience that would outlast the world, Heroism that would overcome all fear, Mercy that would humble the most ruthless of enemies, Perseverance that would abide no obstacle, and Hope to shine in the darkest of times.

It was the gentlest of Solars; a young woman of the Zenith caste who heard the words of the Unconquered Sun. Sol Invictus commanded her to forge these principles into a mighty weapon that would reap prosperity from strife, that would fell the wicked, and rekindle the light of the virtuous.

The fruits of her labor was this style. Although not the most prominent, it was a unique and powerful school of combat, using paired blade and prayer piece to become a hand of Sol Invictus. Its practitioners became known as Angels who embodied the principles as commanded by Sol. For each principle, a god drew breath in heaven, and a sacred duty was bestowed. For each god, there would be an Archangel; a grand-master of the style. These grand-masters would be judged by these principles, and if found worthy, were taught the pinnacle charm of this style by the gods themselves, and upon mastering it, would be bestowed with a crown; a circlet of orichalcum bound intrinsically to the patterns of essence within the martial art itself. The archangels were paragons of virtue, and ushered in the high first age as agents of Sol himself.

Sadly, as the solars fell out of their worship of the unconquered sun, and selfless virtue and duty gave way to malaise and gluttonous lust for self gratifying power, the style fell out of favor. No new disciples were initiated, and the last of the Archangel Grand Masters fell in the Usurpation. The style has been dead; known only by the seven principal gods of the style since that day. A single manuscript remains, and was entombed within the crypt of the style's originator; the Golden Seraphim Righteous Wing of Heaven along with her form weapons where they remained until they were retrieved by her Shard successor.

1. Charity
2. Graciousness
3. Patience
4. Heroism
5. Mercy
6. Perseverance
7. Hope

Type: Celestial Martial Art
Form Weapons: Single-handed projectile weapons, Swords
Armor: Light or None

1: Swiftness of the Errant Seraph
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-Basic
Duration: Instant
To assault an Indomitable Archangel is an act of suicide. Their retribution is swift and terrible. This Charm enhances the Join Battle action, giving the Solar a number of bonus successes on the Join Battle roll equal to her Essence. This Charm immediately and reflexively draws and readies any available Form Weapons he chooses.

2: Judgment of Seven Sins
Cost: 2m per attack; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2
Type: Extra Action
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
Duration: Instant

Judgment of Seven Sins burns significant Essence to unleash a powerful flurry of blows. The Lawgiver moves as smoothly and rapidly as ice on hot metal. This Charm is a magical flurry of two or more Martial Arts-based attacks. Each attack costs two motes, including the first, and the Exalt can buy up to (her permanent Essence + 1) attacks. This Charm lets the Solar make these attacks regardless of the weapon’s Rate, without multiple action penalties, and with a DV penalty equal to only the highest penalty for any one attack.

3: Sentence of Just Retribution
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 1
Type: Reflexive (Step 9)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Counterattack
Duration: Instant
Those who attack the Chosen of the Sun invite their own deaths. The Solar invokes this Charm after using her Parry DV against an attack. This Charm gives the Solar a Martial Arts counterattack, which is resolved in Step 9 of the initial attack’s resolution. This attack must either be performed unarmed or with a Form Weapon.

4: Omniscient White Metatron Stance
Form Charm
Cost: 5m, mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2
Type: Simple
Keywords: Form-Type
Duration: One Scene
Prerequisites: Swiftness of the Errant Seraph, Judgment of Seven Sins, Sentence of Just Retribution
The adept Indomitable Archangel martial artist prepares for the oncoming assault. Adopting a stance that channels the natural currents of ambient essence around his form. Arrows are swept out of their path, and blades slow as though pushing upstream in a swift flowing river. The martial artist gains +2 to his Dodge DV and +1 to his Parry DV.

When struck, the essence rebounds. The martial artist channels this natural reaction, and focuses it within his weapon to be redirected at his command. While in this stance, if the martial artist counterattacks with a Ranged form weapon, he may attack any available target in range.

5: Dismissing the Wicked
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Knockback, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisites: Omniscient White Metatron Stance

Essence imbues the Lawgiver’s every attack with great force. This Charm supplements a Martial Arts attack. If the attack hits and rolls even one die of damage, the enemy’s player rolls (Stamina + Resistance) against a difficulty of (the attack’s post-soak damage dice). On failure, the attack knocks the enemy away from the Exalt a number of yards equal to the Exalt’s Essence. Objects do not get a roll, but are instead knocked back automatically if (the raw damage x 50) exceeds the object’s weight in pounds.

6: Purifying Flames
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Holy, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisites: Omniscient White Metatron Stance
Supplements an unarmed or form weapon attack to add (essence+4) damage and the attack does Holy damage.

7: Weighing and Measuring Gaze
Cost: 5m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 2
Type: Reflexive (Step 9)
Keywords: Combo-Basic, Obvious
Duration: Until next action
Prerequisites: Omniscient White Metatron Stance
The Solar stands ready to force back any foe. Until his next action, whenever he uses his Parry DV against an attack, this Charm provides him with the option to make a counterattack either unarmed or with a form weapon.

8: Infinite Arsenal of the Heavenly Host
Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
Duration: One scene
Prerequisites: Dismissing the Wicked, Weighing and Measuring Gaze, Purifying Flames
The solar's weapon pulses with golden light for an instant before a shot is fired. This Charm allows the Solar to shape arrows from ambient Essence at will for the remainder of the scene. Doing so functions as Phantom Arrow Technique but does not cost one mote of Essence per arrow. This Charm can create firedust charges in addition to the normal ammunition options. Ammunition created by this Charm adds one die to its normal damage and never strikes an unintended target. It will stop in midair for an instant before vanishing rather than hurt someone the Solar wishes spared.

9: Unyielding Light of Sun's Apex
Pinnacle Charm
Cost: 7m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-Ok, Crippling, Obvious
Duration: Varies
Prerequisites: Infinite Arsenal of the Heavenly Host

An Indomitable Archangel master innately understands the divine energy that binds all of Creation together. When invoking this Charm, he draws in the web of ambient essence, focusing it inside of his weapon, filtering these energies through his righteous will. Essence pulses through his caste mark as Celestial fire circles about his head and bursts from his back and shoulders. When the Exalt shoots, a white-gold, Essence-enriched deluge of flame engulfs his target. Any flammable items around the target (within the Exalt’s Essence in yards) are burned to ash.

The attack this Charm supplements does Aggravated damage. In addition, if the attack hits, the target is engulfed in flames for a number of the Target's actions equal to the Attacker's Essence. These flames do lethal damage equal to the base Damage of the attacker's weapon, ignoring soak from Armor but not from Charms or the target's innate Lethal Soak.

If the target takes damage from the initial attack, he must succeed on a reflexive (Stamina + Resistance) roll, difficulty 3. On success, the target suffers an internal penalty to all dice pools equal to the attacker's Essence until the engulfing flames go out. On a failure, the target falls prone and can only take Reflexive actions until he either recovers or the flames go out. To recover, he must succeed at another reflexive (Stamina + Resistance) roll with difficulty 3 + 1 for each action the target has been affected by the flames.



Halo of the Highest Choir (ARTIFACT ••••)

This artifact is a ring of orichalcum that sits atop the lawgiver’s head as a crown. It is inscribed with sacred sutras, a setting for a single hearthstone, and a shrine for one of the gods of the seven principles of the Indomitable Archangel style. As such, only seven of these artifacts have ever been created; one for each of the gods. The Halo requires a hearthstone of at least two dots to power it. While set in the halo, the hearthstone conveys no ability other than powering the halo itself. While powered, the halo allows the user to add her Martial Arts rank to accuracy and damage rolls made using charms in the Indomitable Archangel martial art. While using Omniscient White Metatron Stance, the powered halo augments the defense values conferred by that charm, adding the user’s martial arts rank to the bonuses already conferred by the Omniscient White Metatron Stance.



The wearer may attune to the Halo by committing (the user’s essence +3) motes. While powered and attuned and a form charm is active, the halo reduces the number of motes needed to execute a charm from the Indomitable Archangel style by one mote for 2 and 3 dot hearthstones, and by 2 motes for 4 and 5 dot hearthstones to a minimum 1. The halo will not function with any other martial art, though there had been some debate among twilight castes in the first age regarding the manufacture of similar devices for other martial arts. If any such device ever was created, it has not been found.



If the wearer dies, the Halo and any hearthstone set within it vanish to elsewhere where it may be retrieved only by its associated god. The gods who are associated with these halos instinctively know when their halos are in this particular pocket of elsewhere, and know when a grandmaster has fallen. As such, the gods have been known to weep for days or weeks after the fall of their grand master, and to rejoice for a similar time when a new martial artist has achieved the pinnacle of the style. These gods will only pass on the halo only to one who has achieved the pinnacle of the Indomitable Archangel martial arts style. The wearers are renowned as the style’s grand masters. None have mastered the style since the first age, since all seven grand masters fell in the usurpation.
 

Datamancer

Retired User
Re: Age of Judgment (Season 2)

During one of the downtime months due to a holiday season, we played a few solo and small-group sessions to scratch the Exalted itch and keep the story moving without losing anyone's interest in what would essentially have been solo play anyways...

Interlude Part 1: The Pride of Blade and Steel

At a fashionable dinner party on the Blessed Isle, in a manse owned by the remnants of the Tepet Dynastic House, Steel Tsunami decides at the last minute to accept his invitation, causing ripples in Dragonblooded society as he passes. He meets an unfamiliar Solar dandling attractive Dragonbloods on each knee, and introduces himself to the strange Senator - only to discover the Solar is actually an Abyssal posing as a Senator! Worse, the counterfeit Solar is one of the Silver Prince's servants, named Scorned Blade. Scorned Blade greets Steel Tsunami as an honored rival, not a blood enemy, immediately putting Tsunami on his guard.

Using subtle language and socialization Charms, the two Solars have a private conversation under the very noses of the two Dragonbloods, one of whom has decided to make an attempt to slip into Tsunami's bed. Scorned Blade reveals that he is on the Blessed Isle without permission, partaking illicitly of the traditions and pleasures of the living, reveling in the percieved weakness and beauty he finds in Dragonblooded society. His deceitfulness is detected, and Scorned Blade realizes he is about to come under the scrutiny of his dark master for having a peaceable conversation with Tsunami, his mortal enemy.

With a rogue grin, Scorned Blade hands Tsunami one of his dueling pistols, and challenges him to a duel - one shot, no Charms, no tricks, just the two men and Fate between them. Tsunami, unsure of Scorned Blade's honesty, yet confident of his own ability, agrees. The two men both honor their bargains, and trade well-aimed bullets - Scorned Blade's shot lays a thin bloody line across Tsunami's left shoulder, and Tsunami's shot clips the earlobe of Scorned Blade - at the same instant, a true tie. Laughing off the wound, Scorned Blade reclaims his pistol from Tsunami, throws a jade obol onto the table to cover the damages of the two bullets, and disappears into the night.

Tsunami, concerned about what subtle mind-control Charms might have been used on the two Dragonblooded women before he intervened, contacts Virtuous Rose, and, without explaining who might have done the mind control, asks Rose to check the two women for any unnatural mental influences. Rose finds none.

Confronted with evidence that Abyssals can pose indefinately as Solars, the Night Caste's ability to monitor Abyssal activity is explained, and yet knowing that each side can monitor and spy on the other does little to help the sense of cold dread gathering in Steel Tsunami's gut.
 

Datamancer

Retired User
Re: Age of Judgment (Season 2)

Interlude Part 2: Iron and Ice

Iron Phoenix visits Cerulean Ice Harmonious (formerly Tepet Sianna), after she contacted him via Infallible Messenger to let him know that she had made a breakthrough in their joint research project: placing an animating intelligence inside a combat-worthy automaton body, thereby giving the Stargazer a fully-mobile animating intelligence capable of accompanying the crew even off the vessel. This would make Tepet Dianeva a full member of Stargazer's crew, and the most powerful automaton constructed since the fall of the Solars.

She shows Iron Phoenix through her factory/reasearch manse, revealing many of its secrets to him, as well as a few of her own secrets. It is clear that she is attracted to Iron Phoenix, and is very puzzled that he continues to blandly ignore her advances. She knows Iron Phoenix's Lunar mate, Fifth Bull, is male, and is beginning to consider that Iron Phoenix may simply not be interested in the company of women - she's correct, but not for the reasons she would guess.

Iron Phoenix was in the East, in the Hundred Kingdoms, before the Solar Deliberative retook the Blessed Isle, and married with two daughters. As he came on the cusp of mastering the Adamant Circle of Sorcery, a band of Wyldspawned monsters came, and his required sacrifice became clear - he had to watch the most precious things in his world, his wife and children, be carried away from him forever. He made that sacrifice for his power, and left the East shortly after in order to try and forget the terrible choice he had been forced to make.

He didn't share any of that past with her, but instead let her in on a part of his own grand plans for the West - a continent, pulled from beneath the waves of the West by Phoenix's powerful Wyld-shaping techniques, and made eternal by the power of an artifact long thought lost forever - the Opal Spire. Once the most powerful tool of the Solar Deliberative's Wyld-shaping efforts, it was lost shortly after the Usurpation, and the Wyld overran its last known location. However, the Opal Spire was designed for permanent operation even in the farthest reaches of Primal Chaos, and so should still be operational - if it can be reached. She is duly impressed by Phoenix's grand vision for the future, even if much of the plan still needs to be worked on, and offers her conditional support.

Before they part ways, Cerulean Ice Harmonious makes an offhand comment about a youngish Solar who had come and apprenticed himself to her for a month. Twilight's Promise Boddhisattva was his name, and he was of the Twilight caste. She found him polite and capable, but was still happy when he left her at the end of the agreed-upon month, as her mortal servants were beginning to tell rumors of vampires and wolfpacks attacking people out in the wilderness and leaving them bloodied, exsanguinated corpses. Iron Phoenix immediately recognizes the name and description of the face, but as Daybreak's Promise Boddhisattva, the Daybreak he had secretly helped recover the Monstrance of Celestial Portion of, months before. He keeps the revelation to himself, though, in order to cover his own deceptions in the past.
 

Datamancer

Retired User
Re: Age of Judgment (Season 2)

Interlude Part 3: Justice's Swift Edge

Sylvie and Djibril visit the Bey of Windgate, fulfilling a promise they'd made to do all they could to ensure the coast's safety. Fifth Bull, the Lunar Steward of the island and Iron Phoenix's Mate, met them briefly in the harbor, letting them know that all was well from what he could see.

The Bey of Windgate greets Sylvie and Djibril warmly, offering them the same hospitality he had so many times in the past. This time, however, he has a story to tell, one he is pleased to share with Djibril, since it seems to reflect very well on the discipline of the Deliberative Navy.

Three weeks earlier, some of Djibril's support-fleet sailors were on shore leave, and provoked a fight with some street thugs, with fatalities on both sides. By the next morning, the Bey's peacekeepers had learned that the crewmen were involved in the fight, and went to the dock to learn more. When they arrived, they found the men responsible kneeling at the edge of the pier, and the vessels Night caste captain standing at his ease waiting on the captain of the guard. Immediately after receiving the guard-captain's report of the night's events, the Solar captain acknowledged that he, too, agreed with that version of events, and summarily executed the men responsible for the Navy's side of the disturbance.

This display of swift discipline and justice so impressed the Bey that he had to communicate his approval to Djibril as the Admiral of those forces. Djibril covered his shock well, and accepted the Bey's acclaims while playing down the whole incident. After the meeting, he verified that no Solar from the Deliberative Navy had taken command of any of his vessels - meaning that the unknown Solar was actually a Day caste in disguise.
 

Datamancer

Retired User
From the Age of Judgment Blog: http://ageofjudgment.com/blog/?page_id=13

Age of Judgment Tropes

Tropes are those core themes and leitmotifs that a work uses to communicate its ideas quickly to its viewers. Our game has always seen itself as a TV show, with “We’ll fix that in post” a common refrain when lines get flubbed or when a scene that we all knew should have been emotionally compelling turned out to bomb at the table. Our game has story arcs, fairly clear “seasons” (so far the ship has blown up and a main character died to mark the season finales), and a few other critical themes that have come up time and again at the table, that are not themselves a core part of the Exalted experience.

“God sent me, personally, to fix all this and make Creation whole once more.”

While it’s a common theme of Solar Exalted, our game has touched more than most on what it means to have 150 Divinely Inspired Heroes all with their own temperaments, backgrounds and ultimate goals, all of them with the same claim to Divine Right, and all of them gifted with world-shattering power. Our Heroes have tried to avoid falling into what we’ve called the “it’s not fascism when we do it” theocratic dystopian game, even though the normal mode and policy of the Deliberative government is one with a pervasive and highly powerful secret police (The All-Seeing Eye, led by the Night Caste Solars), routine use of re-education camps (not even used here as a euphemism for “torture camp”, but a place where Memory Reweaving Discipline and other powerful Solar mind-affecting charms are used en mass to change the subject’s perception and interpretation of past events), and a level of military and industrial integration that is usually seen with Communist authoritarian states. Respect for un-Exalted human life, and the corrosive effects on the moralities of those who no longer sympathize with their pre-Exaltation lives, is a central and recurring theme.

“Loyalty is a problem.”

Any Exalted game set in the Age of Sorrows or afterward is shaped by the betrayals that formed it: The Gods against the Primordials, the victorious Solars slowly turning their backs on the Gods to contest among themselves, the Usurpation. The reconquering of the Realm by the Returned Solars does nothing to answer the questions raised by the Usurpation, and the restoration of the Creation-Ruling Mandate to the Solars isn’t the panacea it was hoped to be. Powerful and highly abusable spells like Threefold Binding of the Heart make Solars able to magically enforce loyalty in their subordinates despite any mistreatment… but those spells are not infallible. Getting someone’s genuine loyalty is much harder, and also impossible to monitor or verify. With the Great Curse driving wedges among the Solars, and between them and the other Exalts, the question “will another Usurpation happen” seems more one of when than if. As the Solars become more paranoid despite their nearly Godlike power, the question of loyalty will take center stage again and again, and the more perceptive (paranoid?) Solars have begun pondering the question already.

“If they wanted us dead, we’d be dead. So what do they want anyways?”

The Neverborn have a problem. They themselves are dead, and so by the rules of their own Creation are bound to a torment of nightmares, haunting whispers, and inaction. They solved that problem by recruiting and creating the Deathlords after the Usurpation, using the ghosts of powerful Solars slain during the conflict. This solution is not without its own complications, though, complications which the Neverborn are only now beginning to perceive through the nightmare haze of their existence. While the Deathlords are mighty indeed in the Underworld, they are so powerfully bound to the necrotic essence of that land that even setting a foot into Creation is impossible for them. Instead, they are forced to take land from Creation and turn it all into Shadowland, which during the night they can walk freely into. Worse, they are the ghosts of Solars, and as such remember the dramas, passions, and rivalries of their previous lives – and with lives as long as those of the First Age Solars, they had a lot of rivals and passions. This conflicts with their orders to destroy Creation – in truth, each wants not to destroy, but to rule the Twilight Age for a short eternity, until the ennui of the years finally overcomes their selfish egos and drives them to destroy the last remnants of the world along with themselves. Preferably with one of those hated rivals still around to use as a sex toy and footstool until the Last Day comes around.

Already that conflict of desire and orders has caused major setbacks to the Neverborn’s goals. The introduction of the chaos and infinite possibility brought by the Balorian Crusade gave the crucial chance to find a way to survive the Great Contagion which had previously been perfect in its killing power. The Crusade happened because The First And Forsaken Lion did not want the Dowager to ‘win’ and rule with the blessings of the Neverborn. He wanted to put the last remnants of Creation to the sword personally, to steal a part of the credit… and instead Creation survived. Years later, remembering the pettiness of the betrayal, and remembering that the Neverborn did not give her so much as a scrap of credit for her plans, the Dowager found a way to flee this metaphysical reality and did so, depriving the Neverborn of one of its much-needed servants.

The Mask of Winters hoped, like Princess Magnificent before him, to strike a savage first blow against Creation, one that would flood the Underworld with ghosts to be forged and Creation with corpses ready for reanimation. His plan even worked, as it took nearly the entire army of the River Province to stop his behemoth Juggernaut and a team of Solars, Lunars, and Dragonblooded which his plans could not have accounted for in order to kill him. Had even a single Deathlord come to reinforce Thorns at the critical moment, Mask of Winters might not be dead, and Lookshy might be the Fortress Europa of the Deathlords in the east. But none came, because the one in the best position to do so, Walker in Darkness, hated Mask of Winters back when they were both Solars… and so the Deathlords lost another powerful servant.

So it goes. The Deathlords are beings of incredible power, but also incredible desires and hubris. Rather than work together to win and squabble over rulership later, the constant infighting has made them vulnerable time and again to the Solars. Were it not for their incredible prowess as individuals and their cadres of loyal Abyssals, the Deathlords might already have been defeated.

“Sure, the un-Exalted are powerless in a Creation which does not love them. They’re still the point. If we forget them, we forget ourselves.”

Most Solar Exalted games touch on the concept of noblesse oblige, the idea that since their power is at its core a random dispensation that could have been given to any number of other worthy individuals, the Solar’s first duty is to that field of worthies from which their successors will be chosen. However, the nature of the Exaltation is alienating to those mortals he or she leaves behind. They will die of old age long before the Exalt even reaches the first peaks of her power. Their grandchildren will be old and frail and the Exalt will simply lose track of those lives as the years wear on. The Solars have been back for less than a hundred years and yet the beginnings of that isolation from mortal society is almost complete. No Solar keeps his birth name long after his Exaltation, and few Dragonblooded still live who keep their Dynastic or Gens name. The Cult of the Illuminated has done its job almost too well – the Exalted are a separate flesh, heroes nearly without connection to the lives they left behind. What will happen when the Solars forget they were ever mortal?
 
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