Character Seed: Aborted Sacrifice

Concept: Aborted Sacrifice 

Seed: Living the first eighteen years of life in absolute pampered luxury, this character was given everything he/she could possibly desire.  The character was raised as royalty, and as far as he/she knew, that was the only reason for the opulence of his/her life.  The village/kingdom had a completely different understanding, however.  They had pampered this character throughout his/her life because he/she was being prepared as a sacrifice to some dark or alien power for the protection of the village/kingdom.  The character receives the Unconquered Sun’s exaltation during the sacrifice ceremony, however, and changes everything.

Sample Character: Mendicant Phoenix

Known in his pampered youth as Shining Water Aneru, he had no idea that his people, the Ba’ani, had prepared him his whole life to be a sacrifice to the Fair Folk on his eighteenth birthday.  Upon later reflection, that would explain why his parents, the king and queen, had always been distant and unloving.  Every 200 days since the day he was born, Aneru received a new tattoo on a previously uncovered portion of his skin, all depicting scenes of joy in his people’s small jungle kingdom, but he had no choice in the matter, and for all his wealth and privilege, he never felt the joy that was displayed on his body.

When the time came for his sacrifice, something went very wrong.  A seemingly crazy old man ambushed the delegation of priests – accompanied by the still clueless Aneru – in the dense jungle.  He described their actions as barbaric and feeding the evil outside of Creation.  This was the first time that Aneru learned the truth about his life.  During the fight that ensued, the Fair Folk delegation also arrived and joined in the melee, attacking both sides and hoping for an ever larger meal.  Aneru tried to crawl away through the jungle, but he received a blinding vision from the Unconquered Sun telling him to be his instrument of righteousness.  As the vision faded, the last light of the image settled on a large green gem a few feet away.  Behind him, fire was now raging in the trees and foliage.  He reached out with his arm and a new source of power he could feel within him and grasped the stone just as the fire caught in his shoes and pants.

Aneru burned as the jungle and the priests and even some of the Fair Folk burned.  It was some time later before he finally regained consciousness, and when he did, the crazy old man was standing over him, and his body was pale and pink and completely devoid of tattoos!  The old man explained to him that his body had been reduced to ash, but that it slowly reformed.  The old man became his mentor and sifu, training him in the Golden Janissary Style of martial arts to fight the evil from outside Creation.  Aneru left his old name and his people behind and chose a new name, Mendicant Phoenix, and began to cover his body in new tattoos, this time of his own accomplishments.  The green stone, however, could not be found in the jungle, but Mendicant Phoenix can still feel it attached to him, and throughout his adventures, he searches for it still.

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Backer T-Shirt for Dragon-Blooded: WFHW Released!

The 25th update for backers of Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought revealed the t-shirt design that had been promised as a stretch goal reward (image at right).  Rather than a piece of artwork from the new book, it is instead something like a wearable forum badge that shows that you backed the Kickstarter.

What do you think of the new shirt?  What is your favorite piece of available Exalted apparel?  Let us know in the comments!

The White Treatise: Molding of the Lesser Mind

Molding of the Lesser Mind

Cost: Ritual, 3wp

Keywords: None

Duration: Permanent

Lawgivers are the mighty warriors and priests of old, given dominion over all of Creation. They use their might and their words to sway history, but sometimes those they seek to influence manage to shake off the words of the wise. Molding of the Lesser Mind is one of the tools the sorcerer can use to correct that.

The sorcerer must have a piece of material of value to the target, whether that be a scrap of clothing, a cherished book, or even a lock of hair. During the course of the spell, which takes 8 hours to complete, the sorcerer subsumes the item completely with his Essence. Once this is complete, the sorcerer must roll (Essence + Manipulation) and can then implant a number of memories into the subject’s mind equal to the number of successes on the roll.

The implanted memories have an effect one of the subject’s Intimacies. The target difficulty for affecting a minor Intimacy is 2, 3 for a major Intimacy, and 4 for a defining Intimacy. Memories used in this way can only change an Intimacy by one level. 

Alternatively, the sorcerer can attempt to implant memories which create a new Intimacy. Newly created Intimacies are at the minor level. The target difficulty for this is 2.

If the spell fails, it cannot be attempted again on the same target for a year and a day.

A sorcerer with this as his control spell needs only to have attempted a Social Influence action against the subject within (Essence) months in order to cast the spell, eschewing the normal required materials.

The White Treatise: Piercing the Veil of Flame

Piercing the Veil of Flame

Cost: 7sm, 1wp

Keywords: None

Duration: One Scene

Sitting close to any fire that is the size of a campfire or larger, the sorcerer draws his face to within twelve inches of the flame, staring intently into the fire.  Entering a trance, he searches through the ever-shifting tongues of flame to project his senses into any other fire in Creation.  At first, he glimpses seemingly random images and locations, but he may focus his attention with a successful (Wits + Occult) roll with a difficulty dependent upon the distance his desired target is from his current location.

If the target is within a day’s journey, the difficulty is 1.  Beyond that, if the target is within the same cardinal direction (or if both sorcerer and target are on the Blessed Isle), the difficulty is 3.  If the target is located in a different cardinal direction, the difficulty is 5.  If the target is simply nowhere near a fire during the time of attempted scrying (at Storyteller discretion), then there is no chance of success.  The sorcerer will instead cast his senses to the nearest fire to that target, which can be quite random.

A sorcerer with this as his control spell may make a (Presence + Occult) roll with a difficulty equal to that of the original roll to find his target in order to cause the fire on the other end of the spell to grow suddenly larger, potentially setting structures, objects, and people on fire nearby.

Distortion (Goal number: 7): Distorting this spell allows the opposing sorcerer to cause the origin fire to grow suddenly larger, certainly setting the casting sorcerer on fire, and perhaps other objects or structures nearby as well.

The White Treatise: The Liar’s Tell Tale

The Liar’s Tell Tale

Cost: 10sm, 1wp

Keywords: Psyche

Duration: Indefinite

The sorcerer chants a mantra of the righteousness of truth as he reaches out his hands towards a target at short range.  Dark ink swirls through the air and into the target’s skin, leaving behind no trace.  The sorcerous ink carries with it the force of the mantra, however, and enforces a powerful curse that prevents the target from being able to tell a secret lie.  The casting sorcerer must make a successful (Intelligence + Occult) roll against the target’s Resolve in order for this curse to take effect.  If this roll fails, the sorcerous ink instead just splashes against the target’s body, leaving skin, clothing, and hair stained with ink until the target can wash it off.

A person who has been successfully cursed by this spell finds it very inconvenient to tell lies.  Each time the target attempts to lie or bend the truth, the lie appears somewhere on her visible flesh as a permanent tattoo, merely describing the content of the lie, not the truth that was concealed.  The only way for the tattoo to be removed is for the target to confess the truth and to admit that she had previously lied.  Then the ink will be absorbed back into the skin.  These tattoos will always move around on the target’s body to remain visible, even if the target tries to cover them up with clothing.  If the target tries to cover her entire body with clothing to conceal the the ink, then that it is own sort of punishment.

A sorcerer who knows The Liar’s Tell Tale as his control spell may cast it on himself instead, suffering all of the above effects.  He may then pass the curse off to another through mere physical contact.  This contact can take the form of a handshake, a light touch, or an unarmed attack that manages to contact his opponent’s skin.  The (Intelligence + Occult) roll needs to be made at the time of contact.

Distortion (Goal Number: 10): Distorting this curse allows the victim to cover up the liar’s tattoo with an article of clothing for a single scene.  At the end of the scene, the ink shifts to be visible again.

Character Seed: Right Hand to the Prince

Concept: Right Hand to the Prince

Seed: This character comes across a land in his/her travels that seems to have all but wasted away into insignificance.  Through some arcane discovery, however, or through careful use of his/her power, this character is able to rekindle a dying economy and infrastructure.  Rather than take the reigns of the rebuilt kingdom his/herself, though, the character ensconces his/herself into the renewed nobility and becomes the right hand to the prince, controlling the kingdom from the sidelines and the shadows.

Example Character: Jareth

After his exaltation, Jareth wandered creation, trying to find his place in it all. That’s when he found the village of Solstice, nestled between two large, snow-capped mountains. It was a small farming village, boasting a population of no more than thirty, but that wasn’t what drew him. The ancient walls of Fort Solstice stood abutted against the western-most mountain, built into the side of the rock and scree.

Jareth spent severals days exploring its depths: a standard layout for a frontier fort, but with a series of winding tunnels leading to various places within the heart of the mountain.  He suspected that he had stumbled upon an ancient manse, and he felt something calling him from deep within. He eventually located the hearthstone in a secret chamber, and once he attuned himself to it, he felt the warm flow of Essence as it immediately began transforming the lands around the manse.

The harvest that year was unlike any other. Within the next two years, Solstice had grown from thirty inhabitants to more than a hundred and fifty. Jareth felt he finally knew what he was meant to do. Through a series of subtleties and maneuvering, he convinced the people of the valley to elect a king, which they gladly did, albeit according to his will. He then insinuated himself into the royal household as a seneschal – a high-level advisor.  Under his guidance, Solstice today wields a growing amount of power in the region, but with power comes envy, and every day Jareth tries to stay ahead of those that would see this power be used for ill gain.

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Let’s Start from the Beginning…

And that beginning is called a Prelude. A Prelude is a flashback of sorts, a glimpse into your character’s past. It may be as simple as a one or two paragraph write-up, or it could be as elaborate as the first session or two of your game! With that in mind, let us dive a little deeper into Preludes and how you can use them to best enhance your game!

Many would be quick to say that Preludes serve to enrich your character’s back-story. While this is not necessarily incorrect, I think that is the least useful way to use a Prelude. So, you ask, what purpose do they then serve? To enrich a character’s personality. 

Also, this is a great time to explore your character’s exaltation! Some players choose to write that into their backstory from the get go, which is valid. But others might be interested in actually playing it out and sharing that awesome moment with their circle mates watching.

In a solar game I played with Corey and Jim, fellow hosts of the Deliberative Podcast, we each had our own individual Preludes to start. In them, Corey (as the ST) would pose a scenario to our character, giving us a problem we had to solve. We then role-played out how our character would do that, thus enriching our character’s personality in the process. We also had a baseline going forward of how our Solars would attempt to solve certain situations. 

In another Solar game with the same players, we each began in a town on fire. They started out small at first. Each of us was in our own little area. During the course of our trying to deal with the scenario, we stumbled into each other. It was then we saw the true threat: a giant fireball composed of burning insects soaring through the night sky, its destination: our town. It was then we knew that we would either work together and save our town, or fail and watch it burn around us. Not only did this give us each individually a baseline for how our characters act under pressure, but also it drew us closer together as a Circle.

So, I’ve convinced you Preludes should be in your game. So, how do you run them? Do you use dice? Do you eschew them for a more story-driven experience? The answer is: there is no right or wrong. It’s really up to you and the your players. If you think the situation would be better told without dice, then the answer is don’t use dice. If you want them to really test their character, then maybe have them roll some dice. 

Also, should Preludes be done one-on-one, or should they be done together as a group. My answer is both. There is merit in having very individualized Preludes, which allow both the ST and player to push the character further than in a group setting. However, group Preludes can help cement the Circle together as a cohesive unit and set the foundations for future drama within the Circle.

At the end of the day, your group has to decide if Preludes are right for them, and whether they should be individual, group, or some mix of the two. Dice? No dice? Your group is unique, and your game is one-of-a-kind. Do what feels right and which makes for a better story and you can’t go wrong! 

Character Seed: Forsaken Idol

Grizzled WarriorConcept: Forsaken Idol

Seed: Prior to exaltation, this character was an influential person in his/her homeland.  Then, in a dramatic moment, sudden exaltation allows the character to save many lives, and his/her fame and honor among the people reaches the heights of near-worship.  At this point, the government in the land turns on the character and disowns or forsakes him/her.  Now banished, but not forgotten, the character accrues a following among his/her former people, and they set the character as ruler over themselves, forcing a direct conflict with their kin.

Example Character: General Jun Wu

General Jun Wu was the most decorated military officer in his nation’s history.  His reputation among his men was almost divine.  He had never lost a single battle.  Ten years ago, he had even led his forces to victory against a fair folk incursion at their nation’s border – something that had never been accomplished by any Remiran militia since the founding of the city-state.  But on the 13th of Ascending Air in RY 767, Remirak’s greatest mortal general was elevated above his own mortality into the ranks of gods and legends.

Remirak has no ties with the Scarlet Empire, but the Immaculate Philosophy holds a powerful sway over many lands that the Ten Thousand Dragons would never be able to control directly.  General Jun Wu was branded an anathema, stripped of his rank, and exiled from his homeland as soon as word of his mighty deeds reached the reigning prince’s ears.  His men would not allow him to retreat quietly, though.  A full five hundred of his best soldiers followed him as he walked the road east out of Remirak, their families and possessions borne with them, bound to whatever fate the Unconquered Sun had laid on Jun Wu’s shoulders.

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Character Seed: Abused Weaponsmith

Young blacksmithConcept: Abused Weaponsmith

Seed: Once a highly-skilled iron worker toiling away as an under- appreciated slave for a wealthy family, this character was brought to a point of crisis one evening when the master sought to punish him/her viciously for an embarrassment caused by one of his/her creations.  The Unconquered Sun’s exaltation was bestowed on the character at the very moment when he/she would be maimed or killed by the wrath of the master.  Choices made in that moment have defined the Abused Weaponsmith ever since.

Example Character: Kamasai “Kama” The Soul Forged in Living Flame

Kamasai’s eyes were opened by an exaltation into the Twilight Caste, and he immediately was able to see through eyes of essence.  What he noticed first was that the magical flame that had burned in the heart of his forge was in actuality a bound fire elemental.  Instinctively, and without conscious thought, he reached out to it with the newly granted power of his solar anima and bound it instead to his will.

After fleeing his former master and the rest of the household, Kamasai and his new fire elemental friend Arrack spent some time in the wilderness, trying to survive.  Arrack taught Kama the rudiments of manipulating essence, to which he was a quick study.  Now they are ready to make their mark on the world together after two lifetimes of servitude.

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Lunars Book Name Revealed!

In the Onyx Path Monday Meeting Notes this week, the title of the upcoming Lunars book has finally been revealed.  The new book will be called, Lunars: Fangs at the Gate.  We don’t know much else about it at this point, except that it is in the First Draft stage.

We have the utmost confidence in Vance and Minton that this version of the Lunars will be the best yet!  And if they can pull that off, then the new Lunars book may very well be the greatest RPG book ever published!

Here’s to my spider sorcerer that murdered his own twin sister (which he was madly in love with) just so he could wear her skin!  May he live again in Third Edition!