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[Exalted] how to set an Abyssal campaign

LordofArcana

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At that point, though, I'd argue you're not really playing this archetype of Abyssal any more, and probably need some justification for why their Deathlord or the Neverborn are putting up with an Abyssal who isn't really furthering the cause of death very much.
"Listen, I'm just trying to have as many people die as possible"
"You're feeding the homeless and giving them free medical care!"
"Everyone dies eventually. If I want more people to die, I need more people."
"..."
 

Poisson Resistance

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"Listen, I'm just trying to have as many people die as possible"
"You're feeding the homeless and giving them free medical care!"
"Everyone dies eventually. If I want more people to die, I need more people."
"..."
Deathlord, thinking: It's not un-true... but damn, I'm pissed that I didn't think it first!
 

hippokrene

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I am curious at ideas for how you might create an Abyssal campaign. [...] Ideas?
Someone makes a virulent plague that turns people into ravenous beasts, and unleashes it in Creation. You and your buddies need to stop its spread and find the creator. Maybe stick a 'should we destroy this or save it for our own purposes?' in there.

You’re tasked with establishing a death cult among the warring tribes of the southeast. You can pick a favorite and lead them in destroying the others or attempt to unite them into a larger force.

Ashrise, the ghostly remnant of long-forgotten First Age city, has maintained its independence for centuries within the Underworld. Now nightmarish terrors are warping the city-scape and devouring the ghost citizens. Is this the work of some mad god? The prelude to an attack? Or a horror sealed in Ashrise-that-Was seeking a way to freedom?
 

Tumbleweed

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I always wanted to run an Abyssals game (or maybe just a one shot) where the PC’s are the henchmen of a mad Deathlord ...

... modeled on Skeletor. So they’re trying to scheme and destroy things while their boss keeps on ranting and throwing that beefy Solar Hero into easily escapable death traps.

“My lord, we have him at our mercy— let me slay him.”

“NYAH! Death is to good for him, you fools! PREPARE THE SLIME PIT!”
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
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I guess I don’t see Abyssals as salesmen of death who need to hit their monthly numbers or their boss gets mad. If you’re an Abyssal who’s building up a massive ancestor worship death cult, or a suave diplomat, then maybe you want to keep your kill ratio low.

Although that would be a fun scenario: “First place gets to play the Games of Divinity one time. Second place gets a soul steel daiklaive. Third place gets dropped into Oblivion.”
 
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Kelly Pedersen

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I guess I don’t see Abyssals as salesmen of death who need to hit their monthly numbers or their boss gets mad.
I actually agree, yeah - I don't treat all Abyssals like that in my own games (not that there are any Abyssal PCs in my current campaign, but I don't assume the NPCs work like that either). And I'm very glad that the devs have confirmed that not all Deathlords are going to be "all death, all the time" in the 3e material. However, we don't have the 3e material yet, so my responses have sort of been assuming 2e was the standard that the OP might end up looking at, by necessity.

If you're reading this, K Kevin Perrine , I'd suggest being wary of using 2e setting material if you're planning an Abyssal game. The game line at that time had a very narrow view of the Deathlords - they're basically all variants on the "Kill everything" as their goals, differing only in motivations and approaches to achieving that. It's okay to have more diverse Deathlords and Abyssals than that material suggests.
 

Isator Levie

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I think that when we get the personalities and agendas of a bunch of the Deathlords, there's going to be a lot of potential to mine drama out of discord between them and their Abyssal apprentices in a manner other than Exalted who don't want to kill everything.

An image that came to my mind was First and Forsaken Lion and an agenda to conquer throughout the Underworld. I'm assuming that this is a more onerous task than it would have felt in prior Editions owing to his own power being downgraded, the potential from an access to magitech being less overpowering, and the opposition that he might face having more credibility.

I'm also picturing the First and Forsaken Lion's personality being more in line with the glimpses we got in Keychain of Creation; I got the impression there of a very severe and professional figure who endeavours to run a tightly disciplined and somewhat fair and reasonable operation, who needs to deal with the fact that some of his most powerful (or at least having the highest potential and varied applications) soldiers are a bunch of colourful weirdos.

If a common characteristic of Abyssals actually was going to end up being that their brush with death and the Essence infusing them as a result inclines them towards gothic melodrama, I'd say that one could get a compelling conflict just out of their militaristic Deathlord trying to rein in flamboyant tendencies and maximize their use in combat, with stakes that can be high without needing to be the fate of the entire world.

And hey, it's a thing that can end up putting the actual personality of an Abyssal, player or otherwise, at the forefront of things even if they actually are in accord with the Deathlord in principle. Among the many weaknesses I've often perceived in the Loyalist/Renegade dichotomy is that Loyalists often felt like they had little in the way of defining personality, at least of a kind that influenced the setting, and thus when plans of the Deathlords are described they're just kind of assumed to be there, doing whatever is required to facilitate the Deathlord's plans and otherwise not making a loud nuisance of themselves.

I'd honestly say that the biggest flaw in the Silver Prince's deal with Island Five and his impending death fleet is that it feels as though it would go ahead in the complete absence of Abyssal Exalted. Same with the Lion building the Death Egg, and a few others. This despite how acquiring the Abyssals was supposed to be the big thing galvanizing their plans.

This is also a problem that Green Sun Princes and especially akuma had. I always found akuma really bad for how they're basically just treated as a resource for Yozis to exploit, and a lack of meaningful personal agency wound its way to being encoded in their design with a purpose (i.e. Michael Goodwin thinking it was proper for them to be pathetic losers who, in seeking power from Faustian bargains, ought to have any meaningful motive or personality extracted).

Look at this in contrast to how Third Edition is presenting Great Houses and Lunar schools; we get a decent number of distinct personalities among the Exalted of either, some of whom have some friction with their cultures or superiors without being in a state of rebellion, so that the dynamic feels more complex than just "powerful elder or stand-in and the innumerable nameless scions or adherents ready to do their bidding". You can get the interesting situation where a person lower in the hierarchy can be genuinely trying to do something that they see as being in line with the overall agenda, and their boss is unhappy because it's not really taking place the way that they want, but the power gap between them is not so large that the superior can just beat the subordinate into line (and the subordinate still happens to be a person capable of accomplishing quite a lot).

Sooo… yeah, I would recommend adjusting some Deathlords just a little bit and trying to think of interesting ways for them to clash with their deathknights.
 
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