[Exalted] how to set an Abyssal campaign

Kevin Perrine

Registered User
Validated User
I am curious at ideas for how you might create an Abyssal campaign.

I have limited knowledge of the Exalted setting. I know of the types of Exalted, but i don't know a great deal of background, history or anything to hang a good syory on.

Ideas?
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
First there is what they are about. To quote the developer:

"Abyssals are legendary heroes whose magic evinces the bleak power of death - cruel death, death unconquerable, death triumphant, death that makes your life seem small - and the iconic magic of the Deathlords."
 

narm00

Registered User
Validated User
Isator's quote sums up what Abyssals are going to be about, but how that manifests mechanically remains to be seen (in 2e, they were very much built around being (un)living weapons of Oblivion, and it was hard to play anything outside that).

Another thing is that the Abyssal milieu is getting changed up this edition, and we don't yet have a full view of what it's going to be like - we know the Deathlords and Underworld are getting overhauled for better playability, but not what form that takes.

More from the dev on the Underworld:

Main points of difference [from previous editions] include: A) It's a venue of interesting play for anyone and everyone, B) it's as big and varied as Creation, C) the Deathlords aren't the only regional powers who matter, D) Stygia's status quo is different (see C), E) the history of it is different, F) the psychogeography of it is different, G) the role of the Neverborn is different, etc.

You could find some eerie underworld kingdom where some random ghost prince is running a The Good Place scam, and absolutely none of the Deathlords or anyone from Stygia or any big names are involved in it, and that locale is enough to be the basis for an entire game.

Previous edition books aren't going to be totally useless, but at the same time, there will be significant divergences from them

The Labyrinth exists. It is the farthest point from the shadowlands, and the place where the tomb-bodies of the Neverborn can be found.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
Isator's quote sums up what Abyssals are going to be about, but how that manifests mechanically remains to be seen
My thinking is that Abyssals are more or less going to be doing the things that Solars are in terms of raising nations and creating wonders and chasing passions, but their attitudes are liable to be things like a gothic melancholy or a kind of revelry; not necessarily sadism, but things like an attitude that the fragility of life and/or equalizing (or liberating) quality of death are things to celebrate, or at least enjoy oneself in the face of.

For the powers, I'm thinking about ways in which those themes could inform some alternative approaches to what Solar powers can do; where Solar Presence can overwhelm you with how glorious and fearsome you are, an equivalent Abyssal Charm would radiate a sense of leaden inevitability that you shrink in the face of. Unconquerable and triumphant death are things that I can imagine not just in Resistance, but things like Larceny where it comes to taking on a quality of being inexorable and inescapable. I'm thinking that there can be dice tricks and Initiative bonuses for combat Abilities to give their approach to fighting a particular quality of dread or being fearsome that would be distinct from how they're usually used to attack people.

I'm guessing that the Deathlord stuff will be what informs the most overt spectral manifestations; ghostly chains from your anima that lacerate enemies (and ultimately encase them in iron maidens converting them into zombie knights in your service), projecting phasmic images of yourself to people with whom you have intimate connections so that you can feed on their life, harnessing the chill of the grave, things like that.

anything to hang a good syory on.
In Lunars: Fangs at the Gate, one of the new societies of nomadic raiders (recently settling in a conquered city with the intent of remaining for the long haul) has close ties with a community of its honoured departed ancestors (one of whom continues to run their clan despite being a ghost). I can't remember all of the details, but there are supposed to be tensions between the living and the dead, I think due to the ghosts feeling that attempting to settle into a new city is in contravention of their values.

An image that I got from all of that was an Abyssal who comes among those ghosts and offers to lead them according to the old ways even if it causes a schism with the living clans, and the ghosts become strongly inclined to take them up on that offer and seek a return of their lost glories. I pictured a scene in which the clans' associated Lunar (not a born member of them, but somebody who assimilated openly into their community a couple of generations ago and is widely beloved by the people as a champion and aunt) speaking before an assembled host of the dead, begging them to reconsider leaving, while the Abyssal stands to the side offering encouragements and counter arguments, before they all go off for good.

Obviously one might not do that specifically, but I think the thing to take from it is that the nature of ghosts in this setting can cause people to maintain very strong ties with loved ones even after they die, which can create complicated personal and social dynamics, into which the interjection of an Abyssal can cause compelling drama. Abyssals aren't solely confined to dealings with the dead, but it's an area in which they'll have distinct advantages and inclinations.
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
I’ll be looking at this closely, it’s the part of the setting that I like the most.

Generally speaking, there are two classic Abyssal campaign types:
1) Loyalist Abyssals who work for a crazy powermad ghost,
2) Renegade Abyssals who are in flight from same.

You can of course have a campaign where the PCs are Abyssals and the Deathlords are pretty much off stage, the fluff in the first two editions really didn’t support this though.
 

Tricksy and False

Social Justice Murderhobo
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In discussions of Exigents, we've been reminded that for the majority of exalts the exaltation can't be taken back once it's given. The choosers know this in advance and don't have any expectation that the exaltation by itself grants loyalty. I think that if this theme extends to Ex3 Abyssals as well (the deathlords can no longer yank on the monstrance of celestial portion to bring their exalts to heel), a lot of possibilities will open up for Abyssal campaigns.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
I’ll be looking at this closely, it’s the part of the setting that I like the most.

Generally speaking, there are two classic Abyssal campaign types:
1) Loyalist Abyssals who work for a crazy powermad ghost,
2) Renegade Abyssals who are in flight from same.

You can of course have a campaign where the PCs are Abyssals and the Deathlords are pretty much off stage, the fluff in the first two editions really didn’t support this though.
What we need are Deathlords whose personas and agendas encourages the agency of the players, rather than shackling it.

They'll still be bad people, but so are most Dynast matriarchs and Lunar teachers, and the things those player character types do doesn't exactly smell of roses.
 

Delgarde

Registered User
Validated User
You can of course have a campaign where the PCs are Abyssals and the Deathlords are pretty much off stage, the fluff in the first two editions really didn’t support this though.
I had a concept – never played – for an Abyssal who'd done a deal with the Neverborn, and as such had a certain liberty... still reported to a Deathlord, but one who'd been instructed to keep an eye on him without interfering...
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
I never know what to do with the basic tension of the Abyssals: they are champions of death but both they and their most common servants exist only because they rejected death.

The easiest solution is to get rid of the first part and have them not be champions of death but rather of the lack of it. They preserve things around them, forcing those around them to deal with consequences that they would rather forget and removing the space that new things need to flourish. If they don't take care they will reduce all of Creation into a tomb.

However that completely destroys the Neverborn's motivation.
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
The Neverborn aren’t really your boss as an Abyssal, though. The Deathlords are, and their relationship to their supposed masters is tenuous.

There should be some room in the setting to tell a story about Abyssals who are trying to do good with a power set that is optimized for death and destruction. For that matter, I’d like there to be room in the setting for dudes who just hang out in the Underworld or Shadowlands all day and want to defend their homes.
 
Top Bottom