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Den of inanity
The Ivory Tower  (Topics: 304 - Posts: 1,820)
Page  1
Exalted Returns
Posted by Sunjumper Mar 25, 2010, 02:07
My last campaigned died a honourable death.
It was in a way still in its prologue. And as it was reaching Chapter one it ended.
But I got to wrap the adventure up and give it a proper send off so that was cool.
Most RPG campaigns end in a whimper.

Now I am play with Ageis and bobthepariah in a Alchemical campaign and becuase Ageis is a bit of a perfectionist the pauses in between sessions can be a bit long so I thought I filled in in between sessions with an adventure of my own. Completely unrelated to the one we are playing now.

My job at the momemet is boring as hell. (The colleages are great though) so I do have a lot of short periods of ultra boring time where I can actually write stuff and that is what I did. So ironically my little filler adventure has one of the most elaborate backgrounds I have ever clobbered together for a game. And if my lazyness alows I will try and post a general synopsois here. And as there is a very strong theme emerging I would also like to hear your opinions if you are willing to share.

Little break here. Ageis (who is still with out a new password by the way) if you are reading this stoop right now because after this post a million spoilers will follow and this one time I have managed to shut up and not let anything slip to my players not even neat little hints that only make sense in hindsight.

Posted by Sunjumper Mar 25, 2010, 02:35

So here is the basic premise.
The players are Sidereals. Exalted working for Heaven trying to protect 'Fate'. Fate is in broad terms causality. Because creations swims in the mid of chaos things do not have to make sense. And when things happen out of sequence or in ways in which they would not happen in the 'real world' this damages fate. So Sidereals are there to remind nature to stick to the natural laws.

Usually things worck just fin. Until other Exalted start to meddle with fate or so called 'outsides' beings from outside fate appear and have fun in Creation. As their actions are not part of fate everything they do causes problems. Problems the Sidereals have to take care of.

Our heroes are not any Sidereals they are part of Bureau 15 the Bureau for Harmony and Peace between Heaven and Earth. A special unit created to take care of the biggest threats to creation. When more sublte methods have failed or when individuals central to the well being of reality (such as Gods for example) become corrupt Bureau 15 gets involved.
They are in a way an anti-terror ttask force working for heaven. (This is because I originally stole Section 9 from Ghost in the Shell as I thought that the themes and stories of the Films and Shows fit the Sidereals very well)

The adventure I am planning takes place in the North of Creation. Either in the frozen wastes surrounding the Haslanti League or the more temperate region around the giant free trade city state Chanta. (Both right now are focal points for the things that are happening.

And the theme is one of corruption.
It plays alot with the general themes of what we expect as corruptive influences and how sometimes what you would expect to be corrupt is not neccesarily that way. And how not inly power can corrupt you but also the way people treat you and more or less force you into corruption or help you reinforce your virtue.

What is funny is that the theme only slowly emerged as I was puzzeling together what the adventure was going to be about. At first I had just anti-terror demi gods fighting 'evil' in the frozen north.

Then came the 'antagonist' a Solar Exalted who in his days as mortal merchant was fucked over several times. He tried to follow his trade. Just doing his job and make a living. But in the end the powers of the Guild (an amoral financial super power) forced him out of his business. His own government let him hang to dry. He slwoly turned to criminals. Trading goods for the black market allowed him to put food on his table and feed himself and his wife.
But as time passed the criminals wanted him to oick a side. Their side.
He refused and he was sold out to the Guild who assaulted one of his caravans and left him to die.

When he made it back home against all odds, he complained to the crime lord he was working with asking him for his help, only to find that he had been sold out. Only when he returned home did he exalt.
As a Solar he was fed up with the waqy the powerful played with the weak and started his crusade against the corrupt.

But things are never that easy.
soon he found out that people do not change just because you ask them nicely. And that every corrupt bastard that dies is replaced by another one. Despite his god like power he could not stem the flood.
Not alone anyway.

So he decided to change his way of how to do things.
Instead of fighting the corrupt leaders head on he would empower the deserving. And so as time passes the rightous would rise against the tyrants of the world.

Only that his own power was not enough to empower anyone.

Until he one day reached an Ice mine far, far north. Where the Elemental Ice is so cold that it withstands heat and stays frozen for many years. A great commodity and very hard to extract from the earth.
The mine he reached had a bit of a demon problem.
The local Dragon Blooded had a soft spot for magic and sadly demon summoning.
He had summoned a domon to powerful for him to control. The demon drove the Dragon Blood insane and fled into the mines.
Here our hero managed to beat the demon and seal him into an ice shard.
He also found an extremely disciplined and courages woman who he deemed worthy of power.
So he used the demon in the shard to grant her Exalted like powers and sent her into the world and make it a better place.

Months later he was in Chanta. Having refined his concept of demon sealing he empowered a police man. A bitter man once from a rich merchant family, he had turned his back on his life of riches to... impress a girl. She was one of the few police officers who did not take any bribes but prefered to make herself unpoular with the ruling families by treating them like every other criminal. He followed her into the police force and they becae a rather successful police duo. Until his wife died of a serious illness. Alone, bitter and alcoholic one day a man approached him and promised him the power to punish the guilty no matter how powerful.

It around this point that Bureau 15 becomes aware of the influences of very strong Outsiders extending their influences in the North.

Only that there are no outsiders. But actually people who use demonic powers to further their rightous agenda and a Solar Exalted who trap demons, sealing them away and using these sealed Outsiders as powersources for those who else would have no champions doomed to live and die according to the whims of the mighty.

What makes the adventure interesting for me is that it is very much up to the players to decide whther they will fight the Solar and his Empowered champions or side with him and try to take the risk in hopes to achieve something that might very well make the world a slightly better place.

Posted by Carduus Mar 27, 2010, 20:57

I like to see how this evolve... [:)]

Good to hear that you have found a creative outlet again and that you can use the slow times at work to write.

Send Bob and Aegis my regards!

Posted by Sunjumper Mar 30, 2010, 00:31
Not much creativity going on in the last few days as my writers block/procrastination combo are getting stronger and work was rather busy.
But I have over 50 hand written pages about the background.

I was creating an order of warriors very losely based on the Knights Hospitaler protecting the merchant roads of Chanta. The knights are all Dragon Blooded, they mantained fortified inns along the way. And patrol them to keep them clear from monsters so that the trade can go on.
The follow a heretical off-shoot of the religion of the Realm, the large central empire of this world that is ruled by Dragon Blooded.
The Order is called the Order of the Disciples of the Enlightened Dragon.
They rever and emulate the five Elemental Dragons, the beings that originally gave them their power. Which so far is not that heretic.

They also openly worship the gods of their roads, and the local gods of nature and the weather. Which is a bit more of a renegade system as they are supposed to treat all the gods the same and in the way they are intended to be revered and usually the worshipping is supposed to be done by monks.

And lastly the secretly worship the 'All-Dragon' which is a theoretical entity that embodies all five qualities of the Elemental Dragons. This deity does not exist. The prayers in the end reach Gaia who happens to be the All Mother, she is the origin of the Dragons.
Still the Orders emulation of their Dragons and very single minded devotion to their patron gods gives them an interesting form of control over their powers that their brothers lack.

The also worship their equipment. The venerate their weapons and their armour.
And when ever they do maintanence they automatically pray to it. There are also greater ceremonies where the gods of their equipment are thanked for their eternal service.
This has some very interesting effects.

The first and most dramatic is that as time passes the tiny gods attached to their singular pieces of equipment, which are usually weak entities whose vague existence does not play an but the most representative role do draw power from these prayers and as time goes by become more and more 'aware' of themselves and their role. Whil this hardly play any role in the begining it leads to the equipment becomming stronger as time passes and as the Knight wearing and wielding it increases in power so does his equipment.
While all other Exalted tend to discard their things and replace them with better ones the Knights of the Order use their equipment which they are given once they are full members for the rest of their lives and what begins as 2nd rate (if impressive looking) magical equipment evoles into very unique artefacts of power that are very intimately bound to the owner.

Another thing they do is take bits and pieces of the most powerful enemies they vanquish (either parts of the bodies of beaten monsters of parts of the weapons of an especially powerful enemies) and work them into their own equipment. The ritual reforging of armour and weapons is another sacred duty of every knight. And each time they do it they imbue their things with more power and quite literary forge a closer bond to it.

The second larger effect is that the Dragons have a sentient and by now quite capable god representing their weapons and philosophy. As the order increased in power (it is now severaly centuries old) she became more apparent. She represents the order quite nicely and contains also an interesting hint towards a inherent error in the believe system.
Hoplodrakaina the Armoured Serpent looks like a humanoid lizzard with an armoured hide, wearing jade armour and having all the signature weapons of the Order on her.
She has a calm compasionate personality reflecting the orders believes. And most important she is a woman. No one has given this much thought but this is because the All-Dragon is actualy a woman.
Hoplodrakania gives in times of troubles birth to a single egg out of which hatches after a gestation time of one Month a living weapon.
These weapons (three exist so far) are the most revered artefacts of the Order. And despite their power they are only ever used in the darkes hours off the order and only then they are only wielded by the most worthy Knights. (So far most of the wielders have been women. Another small hint that the Order has yet to recognize. To be fiar the weapons have chosen a
few men in their time)


I think that's it for now. as I have created a wall of text and invented a goddess that did not really exist before.

If you have more questions about the setting or the adventure feel free to ask.

Oh and so far the Order has nothing to do with the adventure. They are just there to make the setting more interesting.

Posted by Sunjumper Apr 12, 2010, 22:27
Yesterday I played a one shot adventure with one of the players.

It was set one hundered years in the past.

This bit was a small but integral part of the adventure.

I had just thrown a bit of information at a player to show him bits and pieces that he would probably care a bout that make the world seem more alife and would make a nice touch when he later found aout how that single story panned out.

Only the player liked the idea so much that he wanted to meddle with it.
In the past.

At first I panicked because if he was there, back then and changed things... my advenute would die. Well not really but I would have had to re rwrite a massive portion of it.

But then I thought about it and knew that I could probably present the situation to him and trust that because of his personality and interests he might change the setting but not break it in any way.

And indeed he did.
He changed history. He modifed certain out comes considerably.

But the end result is the same.

Only that now one of the very key pieces of the plot are now tied to his actions. In a way now a lot of things that will happen in the present (100 years later) are his fault.

So yesterday I loded Checkov's gun. And it is the size of the Eifel tower.

And that feels awesome.

What actually happened I will explain in my next post. But for now it is sleepy time for the lazy cat.

Posted by Carduus Apr 14, 2010, 20:04
Oooh. This will be interesting! [grin]

It's such a delight to watch people digging a hole for them self to fall in to...
Especially when it's only almost for real and one can really indulge in it without being a real bastard. [grin]

Posted by Sunjumper Apr 15, 2010, 20:41
Let's load Checkov's rail-gun.

As I mentioned above the main figure of this advenrture is a Solar who disappointed by the corrupted ways of the world decides to give power to the deserving. Spreading power among the worthy hoping that slowly he will build an army of just indiviuals who will rise up and fight the evils of the world.

The first Empowered (as I will call the pseudo Exalts from here on out) he creats in an ice mine far in the North.

Because I am lazy I simply stole her basic story from the Count of Monte Cristo.
She was young and successful. Had a straping young lad she was very much in love with and had some really good friends. Only that one friend wasn't that good, colleagues were jeallous etc...
End of the story she get's framed for a crome she did not commit and gets sold as a slave and carted away to a penal colony in the far north.

There she get's to know a man called Cynis Farish. A mortal of immense knowledge.
One a very prmising child of the Great Dragon Blooded House. Even as a child he was deeply interested in everything he could get his hands on. He loved to study and learn. His capabilities were such and his motivation so indomitable that all took it for granted that he would become a Dragon Blooded.
When he did not his family waited.
Until it was clear that he would never draw second breath.

He then was shamefully shunted away. But still he was one of the most well educated individuals in his generation so he became a very sought after teacher of the Great House. And he taught all the off spring of the most prestigious families within the Great House of Cynis.
Many of his pupils Exalted but even after claiming their devine birthright they kept Farish's teachings close to their hearts.
So much so that the elders of the House became aware and deeply alarmed by it.

Farish was teaching that the slave treade, the drugs and the orgies that are so typical for Hosue Cynis were mostly a waste of time. The Dragon Blooded should seek to gather all knowledge that they could lay their hands on. They should constantly stribve to become wiser and advance all of societey with their knowledge.

He was branded a corrupter of the youth and he was to be executed.
His pupils who were by now calling themselves Farishitians were broken apart and sent to the furthest corners of Creation to quell their seditious thoughts.

In the end they could not bring themselves to kill Farish. They owed him to much.
So they sent him away to a forced labour camp in the hopres that he would die 'naturally'.

In the mine his intelligence and knowledge were noticed by Cynis Aramas the poor devil who was the 'warden' of the mine and he was made his assistant.

Aramas was sent to the mine (called Noalan's Spear) because of his obsessive fascination with demon summoning. Especially the summoning of demons more powerful than Dragon Blooded can control. There are three circles of demons in Exalted and Dragon Blooded can only summon demons of the first circle. So he was basically looking for a way to summon Demons of the second and maybe even the third circle and get away with it. This is an incredibly foolish endavour. Because of the danger he posed and his woeful lack of social skills he was sent to the mines. There he could keep experimenting without killing anyone the Great House cared about and should he by accident find something useful they could still recal him.

70 or so years later Dema Tsudaya appears and becomes Farish's student.
She gets a very through education and get's to survive the hardships of the mine. This makes her mentally and physically fit. All the while planning her escape and revenge. Before she can escape Farish dies and she is left alone to plan her future escape (Farish always told her to let go of her pursuit of revenge) and lis now alone acting as the voice of reason for the detached amoral Aramas.

During an experimental summoning Aramas manages to summon the Demon Gumela but fails to bind it. But instead of lashing out (which unbeknown to the demon would lead to his banishment) he pretends to be bound. A demon of orgies and wild debaucheries and flaring passions he finds the mine an incredibly interesting play ground.
The demons slowly corrupts Aramas and tempts him to take drugs. Alledgedly to gain higher understanding of the 'weave of the universe' but the drugs only drive the Dragon Blooded to insanity. Once driven over the edge Gumela vanishes into the mine and turns it into his play ground.

It become a place of horrible outbursts of animal passions. The inmates turn into wild beasts and fight each other.

Dema using her iron will and knowledge groups a few trusted friends around her and carefully channeling their passions manage to survive.

A few weeks later Ryo Kabash (the Solar who will empower Dema) appears.
He was intending to free the mine of its opressors and give the slaves a chance at living. Instead he finds an orgiastic hell of crazed passions. And Dema and her band of friends.
They band together and with help of Dema's knowledge, the mad ramblings of Aramas and his notes they track down the demon. Kabash after reading the work Aramas and remembering quite a lot of his First Age memories has finally an idea that will allow to empower a mortal with Exalted like power. With the Demon securely embeded in a shard of true ice, the builds an artefact around it and implants it in Dema who he deems a worthy vessel for this power, sacrifincing Aramas to use his blood and eSsence to power the ritual.

Dema felt into a coma out of which she did not awaken for several weeks in which she fought quite literaly her inner demon. But in the end it all worked out well. The survivors banded together, they continued the mining and when the supply caravan arrived they comandeered it and used it to flee back into civilasation. Most opf the stupllies were left behind together with the people from the caravan. They would be saved by the next one.
Selling the mined goods and artefacts they had enough money to start their own lives.

Dema wakes up. Ryo keeps an eye on her for some time while they make plans. Seeing that she controls her inner demon and not the other way round and that she can actually draw power from the being he leaves her to her own devices while he seeks out the next vessel.
Dema wander out into the world to gt her vengance and to seek out the Farishtians to reestablish the honolur of her late master.

This is how the story was originally planned.

But then I made an error.

Posted by Sunjumper Apr 15, 2010, 21:26
Because one of the PCs Cynis Aden is also a Cynis I told him about Farish and the little movement that he caused.

Aden was fascinated by the character as he himself once was a very promising offspring of the Great House who failed to Exalt. (Until one fateful day a party went quite literaly to hell because a summoned demon broke lose during a party and started eating the guests. And yes this was Gumela too...)

So when I tell him that Farish is sent to a hard labour camp to rot he tells me that Aden would not stand for this and would decend to Earth to help him.


What had I done?!

This is about a century before the game starts and despite it looking like a rather harmless side story if he changes it the present disappears and so does the initial story of my adventure.
IF Farish is not at Noalan's Spear there is no one to keep Cynis Aramas in check nor anyone to teach Dema.
I would either have to replace him (lame-o-copter) with a similar figure or change Dema's story (which would fuck almost every other part of the basic set up requiering major rewrites).

So I do what every sensible GM would do.

I panic.

So I tell Aden that Farish has disappeared from fate so he can't track him.

Brilliant really.

Now of course the player loses interset right?

Aden is now hell bent to go look for farish.
So I take a long hard breath and let him have his fun.
I start a little one shot adventure were Aden get's to track down Farish and 'save' him.
I jokeingly tell bob (the player) that he should not make anything to drastic as that would potentially change the future.
Lucky for me bob decides that Aden would mostly like not to interfere with Fate to much (after all it is his job to protect Fate) and isntead opts to try and make his life in prison as comfortable as possible.

He enters the mine in the guise of a mortal sorcere looking for Cynis Aramas so that he might become his teacher. Aramas at first laughes at the thought of wasting his time with a puny mortal. But then Aden summons and binds an Elemental (which a mortal should not really be able to). Aramas is deeply impressed and makes Aden his disciple.
In the following weeks Aden slowly gains the trust of Aramas and during a memorable little scene involving an incredible ammount of luck Aden by accident comes up with a brilliant idea that inspires Aramas to come up with a hypothesis which is akin to the discovery of quantum physics. A very wild idea about how Essence resonance can affect things that are shielded from it, or should ne be directly affected by it by using secondary effects (a bit of a mix of the uncertainty principle and how tsunamis propagate) he calles it advaced resonance theory (or ART) and will build on that hypothesis for the comming century, turning it into from an intriguing concept into a viable idea.

But Aden isn't there to study magic or indulge the delusions of grandeur of a half crazy Dragonblooded. He seeks out Farish and as he finds him offers him a life as assistant to Aramas. That way he can live comfortably and even gets to further his education.
But Farish declines. While he would love to be freed from the hard labour and see a library from the inside again he could not bare to do so knwoing that his new friends and the other slaves would still be living in missery.
He tell Aden that if he want's him to help the labour conditions have to change.

Aden agrees. Telling Aramas that he has found another genius mortal among the prisoners (Aramas is slightly shocked but exhuberant) who could help with research. After the good news he argues that the prisoners should be treated better. Not because of kindness but simply for efficencies sake. After all happy labourers work harder.
Arams responds to this that he could not care less one way or the other. He is as much tossed aside as the slaves. And if he can milk House Cynis for better supplies he'd be happy to and the workers might as well feast like Kings for he cares.

The deal is struck. The slaves are turned into workers. Their rations improve. The working condition do too. House Cynis reacts to the slightly higher bill from the north with utter indifference.

Aden's mission now complete he feigns his own death in a summoning accident.
He does share his plan with Farish who is fascinated by the strage and obviously semi devine benefactor. Farish asks Aden what he is but Aden politely refuses to answer. Farish thanks him for all he has done.

Aden vanishes into the sunset and Farish lives 'happily' ever after.

Decades later he gets to know Dema who has enormous potential.
He teaches her all he knows.
He ides of old age (instead of pneumonia)

Gumela gets summoned.
Aramas goes insane.

Ryo arrives and saves the day.

But things have changed.

Aramas has developed the highly sophisticated ART.
Ryo uses the ART to better bind the demon and harness its powers.
The operation become much less invasive.
Also Dema has now learend a slightly different less bitter philosophy from Farish (who was never very bitter to begin with) and she knows the legend of the Age less God Walker who once came and saved his life and made the mine a better almost bareable place.

History remains the same.
But important detials have changed.

Now Aden has become an integral part of what happened in Noalan's Spear.

Also beause of the way how he changed history it now looks like Aden play the pivotal part in the development of the Empowered as now the ART is a central piece in the development of the demon powered mortals.

He also saved Farish who in turn taught Dema.
Again this would have happened anyway, but as far as Aden is concerend it is now his fault.
Also Aden's meddling has subtly changed how things developed and changed the way Aramas, Farish and Dema see things.
And Dema now knows about Aden the timeless God Walker.

So now the things that are happening now are in a significant part Aden's fault.

And me?
I laugh.


Posted by Sunjumper May 14, 2010, 01:18
A week or so ago I had the first actual play session.

It was quite interesting.
Bob was very much his character while rather unexpectedly Ageis was being rather silly (no problem it was not quite what I had expected from him) but that was mostly because he was not comfrotable in his new role.

No synopsis today it would take to long and I am tired.

What I found rather interesting is that by the time the players finally hit the streets of Chanta, one of the two cities where the story begins, they could run around in a little world that allready had btween 30 and 40 pages of background info.
That way their little free roaming adventure turned into something very interesting.

No railraoding happned.
I did drop some hints which I found very obvious which were copiously overlooked.

Instead it was an interesting sand-box game. The players entering a living city and starting getting involved in the local webs of politcs. Or crime mostly in thise case.
I am really looking forward how this is ging to continue.

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