Back in February, RPG.net produced a sizable thread talking about the Lunar Exalted that received lots of developer attention regarding 3e Lunars (as well as a bit of Exigents discussion). I’ve compiled relevant dev quotes into the following post, threading them together as best I can.
For additional information, I also recommend consulting Holden’s 3e Lunars discussion from 2013, recorded on Chancel Aleph.
I almost feel like people are saying we shouldn’t set it up so you need to rip out people’s hearts and eat them in order to access cool animal shapeshifting powers…?
Like, there’s actually an obvious built-in middle ground here between the pacifist who never kills anyone and doesn’t shapeshift and the serial killer who cannibal-murders tons of people and who has a lot of shapeshifting-related powers.
My main conception of the Lunar is Apex Predator.
Not merely in the physical sense, but as “one who has prey”. For social variants and themes, Anansi and Coyote are inspiration, but physically, the werewolf should still be very much informative.
The Lunar should hunt the mighty, and Bring Them Low, wether in terms of stalking and killing the most dangerous prey, or humiliating and undoing the pretenses of mighty kings.
The Lunar should be able to switch between many faces and many approaches to a situation, adapting to the situation at hand, rather than reshaping the environment.
Where the solar rises to the level of their opposition, the Lunar should learn from failure. I think Wound Mastering Body evolution, while poorly executed, embodies a concept that should appear in Lunar charms.
The Lunar Escapes and Evolves.
The lunar should be both a Cunning Trickster and a Vengeful Monster.
We share and adore this vision in many ways.
I guess I have trouble seeing Lunars as apex predators because… well… they aren’t Solars. They have thousands of years of being a thorn in the side of their enemies, but they’ve never brought them down and now the Solars are back to do the job. I’m not trying to be insulting, honestly. I just don’t see managing to avoid extinction as a great ad for being the apex predators.
I don’t know. Like I said, I’ll give whatever comes out for them my best shot.
Exalted is a heavily myth-inspired game. A Dragon-Blooded can outmaneuver Ahlat on the battlefield without him suddenly getting demoted from war god. A god of culinary arts can get his ass handed to him by a Solar chef in a cooking competition. The Exigent of Do can lose a kung fu fight to a Sidereal. A Lunar can also be the most fearsome predator to walk Creation while still having to contend with the Wyld Hunt.
Taking on non-animal forms was mocked outright, combat-adaptive and shapeshifting other than popping into a specific form…
Excuse me? I understand you are disappointed at what you perceive to be a slight against yourself through our goal of upholding the core design elements of the Lunar Exalted, but we have never mocked the idea of Lunars turning into things other than animals. When we talk about them shifting into bestial battle forms and chimeric fusions of different beasts and you call that “zoo Exalted” you are the one who is mocking them turning into things “other than animals.” Every post from you in some way mocks Lunar players and what we plan to do for them. What you don’t seem to understand is that we have constituents other than yourself, and they form a majority of the fanbase, and we are not going to screw all of our customers just to make a few new customers, customers who hate the Lunars at their core and want them to be something else. So if you feel that your cries are falling on deaf ears, it’s because we’re not going to ruin the splat on your behalf by negating what they are through some horribly poor decision just to make you happy.
And the strength of whatever, speed of whatever, charms they talk about sound like just plain old dice adders. Yaaaaaay.
Just as an FYI, every Charm that can be mapped to a roll is a dice adder.
And every time someone suggests a proper mythical monster (save the nemean lion for some reason) they shoot that one down too.
2e Lunars were incoherent, but at least they had an incoherent set of cool stuff. Every suggestion that fits my idea of Lunar ‘cool stuff’ that’s been brought forward to the devs has been Jossed, so like Scutarii, I’m not seeing anything other than “blandly animalistic” in the supposed “primal” theme.
Here’s where the confusion lies: I have compared the Lunars to mythical monsters such as hydra and the Nemean Lion, possibly on more than one occasion.
Some people translate this as “the Lunars are based off of Greek monsters.” To clarify this confusion I said “No, they’re not.”
Why did I say two seemingly contradictory things?
Because some people might take “based off of” to mean that Lunars literally are built around emulation of Greek monsters. That, like the hydra they grow multiple heads that grow other multiple heads, or have extremely poisonous saliva, because they are built to emulate hydra. While a Lunar might regenerate extra heads or have poisonous saliva, the distinction in Exalted’s case is very important.
Are they becoming the monsters of Greek myth as an end-goal? Are the themes of their Charms an ekphrasis of Greek monsters? IE, more than just regrowing heads, is the Lunar when rebuffed socially, going to generate three new approaches, as one with the spirit of the hydra might?
The answer is No, because the Lunars are not being based on Greek monsters. They are not an ekphrasis of hydra. However, you can compare one to hydra, because it might become a multi-headed giant snake that has venom that can dissolve spirits permanently and because it can hide its real head behind its false ones, leading enemies to make useless attacks against parts of its body it can cast away. They might split their social approach into three new tactics after the first is rebuffed because Lunar Essence sips from our understanding of the god-monster, and that includes the hydra. They could be compared to the Nemean Lion because they can take the form of a gigantic lion and have a hide that is damn-near unbreakable.
The answer is No because Lunars are not being designed with Greek monsters directly in the heart of the design. They won’t have Medusa’s baleful gaze or a tree devoted to being half-horse, or shrieking like a harpy, etc., but where the idea of god-monster intersects with Greek myth, the comparison is there. Plus, who are we kidding? A really pissed Full Moon could take on the hydra, Scylla, Charybdis, and the Nemean Lion all at once. So a Lunar enters the lexicon of myth on a level that is singular, and makes its entrypoint as something connected to but above the myths of old, not climbing to meet them.
hatewheel, I really like your posts, but I have to admit, I don’t understand some things. For example when you make the comparison between multiheaded hydra and a Lunar trying to do social stuff in some other way than before after he got rebuffed the first time. But what about that approach (“I failed with strategy A, now let’s try strategy B”) is explicitely Lunar … or explicitely hydra? Isn’t that how everyone acts? Sorry, perhaps I’m too dense to see it, but this looks like again having animal- or monster-named charms because well, Lunars.
The hydra’s most well-known characteristic is that if you cut off one head, three more grow in its place. Things that are hydra-like would then mimic this nature. An Exalt “of the hydra” would show this particular resiliency in many ways, as an ekphrasis of the hydra.
I’m having trouble parsing this.
So a Lunar doesn’t
[“is the Lunar when rebuffed socially, going to generate three new approaches, as one with the spirit of the hydra might?”]
Can a Lunar
[“because it might become a multi-headed giant snake that has venom that can dissolve spirits permanently and because it can hide its real head behind its false ones, leading enemies to make useless attacks against parts of its body it can cast away”]
The: [statement], ‘The answer is No’ of that post is confusing me as to what is a positive statement of ‘Lunars can do X’ and which is a negative ‘Lunars can’t do X’.
The Chosen of Hydra would have no Charms that are not somehow impelling the Exalt toward a state of perfect hydra-like being. Ergo, the Lunars are not based on Greek monsters. There’s some intersection, though.
Solars are able to conjure a sword out of their anima. Is conjuring things out of their anima a major Solar theme? Is their Charmset largely structured around pulling things out of thin air? If not, why can they conjure a sword out of their anima?
Thanks for taking the time to answer me, hatewheel, but I feel too stupid to understand what you want to tell me.
I’m not hatewheel, but my interpretation is that a Lunar that is aligned with the hydra would attack problems (often metaphorically) in the manner a hydra would. So if a Lunar emulating the hydra faces an obstacle and a solution is closed off, they would attack the problem with three more solutions.
I think you’re giving me too much intellectual credit here – I still can’t parse which parts of hatewheel’s post are examples of things a Lunar can do and which are examples of what a Lunar can’t do. Or if he’s not trying to give example at all.
I am perfectly capable of understanding that one example does not mean that’s the ONLY thing they can do, also that one example is not a definitive statement of of the only KINDS of things they can do. I get that they aren’t monsters form Greek myth and they aren’t thematically trying to be them, they just happen to have some overlap in what they can do. I understand that because a Solar can make a sword out of their anima doesn’t mean that they are completely and totally defined by laser swords.
But the combination of different posters across multiple different forums arguing over what IS and what is NOT a Lunar thing, examples like Alex Mercer being argued as an example of a Lunar and then others arguing that it isn’t, examples of things like a Lunar growing multiple heads being a positive (I think?) while Lunars with a gaze that turns someone to stone as a negative leaves me pulled in all sorts of directions. Reading the old 2e stuff seems a waste of time as everyone and their dog agrees that they were so broad and eclectic in there as to be too nebulous and 3e is moving away from that, 1e is apparently a terrible book.
About the only positive thing I know about Lunars is that they can transform into an animal.
Can they change parts of their body into animal parts?
Change your left arm into a squid tentacle and whip it out to grab a foe, pull them in and crush them with a giant crab’s claw of a right hand? Change their legs into gazelle legs to jump? Grow a spinneret to create a rope to climb with?
Or do they change into a spider itself and just climb the wall?
Or do they remain in a human form but can climb like a spider without actually growing spider parts to do it?
All of the above?
None of the above?
Design not far enough along to make a statement about that either way?
I appreciate your question, which is why I’m doing my best to answer.
I don’t want to discuss how their powers work yet, though. We have much work to do before we can make a lot of definitive statements.
I appreciate the attempt and I appreciate you’re not ready to talk definitively.
I’ll fall back to the statement I made in my first post in this thread then. Namely that as of right now I’ve not been sold on why Lunars are interesting or something I should care about but that will likely change once we get closer to release of the Lunars book and the hype machine starts up.
The largest and most powerful empire in the world says you are a monster and has vowed to hunt you to death. Many other nations also agree that yes, you must die. The powers of Heaven move against you, formed into a knife held in the hands of an assassin born from the stars. The wrath of the Five Elemental Dragons is upon you, in the form of Dragon-Blooded champions. Exigents try to be you, burn you, or follow you. Spirits older than time, that hunt the wastes fear and hate you for your power and will try to kill you if you aren’t paying attention. Elementals would like a taste of your power. Raksha would like a taste of your soul. Demons want to corrupt you and make you theirs. Horrors from the Wyld see you as food. Beasts and animals hunt you, flee you, and join you as kin. When the world of man is too hot or too dangerous, you can shed your skin and retreat into the wild untamed embrace of Gaia—nature. If the Sidereal assassin and Exigent shikari still follow you, you can go further into the Wyld, where they cannot easily follow you. The world is a womb of horrors and mysteries, of old magic winding down and going bad, of tomb doors sealed for eternity impossibly sliding open. And you, Chosen of the Moon, are at the center of it all. The whole world is against you but they cannot touch you unless you let them.
Well, that might be another basic problem. The werewolf, weretyrantlizard and werewtfwhatisthisthing are Lunars which just hunted animals and now can become monsters – in the stereotypical monsters as killing machines way. The trickster Lunar who is not living in the “wilderness” but in “civilized society” has most likely a greater need for human shapes – and so he becomes a (mass?)murderer, which doesn’t fit well with the tricksters as not violent brutes stereotype.
Or in other words: the Full Moon guy can be just a big-game hunter which doesn’t stop him from playing weregodzilla, but the Changing Moon guy who just wants to play Anansi has to act like Jack the Ripper.
Go look up the Changing Moon anima power. I’ll wait.
Sunder the Gold:
Is that one sticking around? I’d thought you guys would have various reasons to give them a different one, this time around.
Lunars need spiced up animas. Changing Moon might get that, but maybe not just that.
Nothing’s set in stone until the book comes out, but of all the old Lunar anima powers, it’s the one I think is probably the best.
It’s certainly got potential, conceptually, though mechanically it was extremely disappointing. Wasn’t there a relatively cheap artifact in the core book that was superior in every way?
Though I’ll admit, that particular problem might be better expressed as “there’s a cheap artifact that’s better than the signature advantage of the Changing Moon Lunars” instead of “Changing Moon Lunars have a caste ability so sad that a cheap artifact is better.”
Still, I’m hoping that the Changing Moon anima ability becomes a bit meatier.
It was definitely too expensive, but so were almost all the 1e animas.
My inclination is that everything about Lunars becomes meatier, and more versatile. Lowered XP costs, easier to branch out, etc.
Not really. Exigents seem to each be utterly one-note by design – is only in the possibility to be ‘exigent of ‘ that breadth manifests.
That’s adamantly wrong. I have forwarded to my writers, an approach I call “ecstatic design” and used several Exigents to demonstrate the approach of “ecstatic design” to them.
I call it ecstatic design for two reasons. First, it is a design which unfolds into another design, naturally transitioning from one premise to another with no logical breach. Second, because discovering this design in-play creates a sense of euphoria for the player. It is both emergent and optimistic. It uses the spectral logic of Essence and the mythos of Exalted to make sense.
Therefore the Thousand Venoms Mistress, your so-called “one note” Chosen of a “Poison Goddess” might turn her own blood into a strain of poison so painful it sends her into a state of hyper-real cognizance and changes how her powers work. This is aside from her basic, standard core powers of injecting people with venoms, delivering poison kisses, spreading venomous rumors, and so on. The design is ecstatic, because you hit a point where one Exigent becomes more than just what she was. And what she was was fun all on its own! But then all of a sudden, bam, through a logical transition something new unfolds inside her Charm set.
So no, they’re not all one note, requiring you to make the Chosen of Everything.
Yes, either they’re working from a coherent vision of them right now, or they aren’t. And if they’re really a big setting element now, and their nature isn’t a settled question. ..
I can see how you’d think I have no coherent vision, because I spend my time responding to people who want eighty-seven completely different, incoherent things attached to Lunars, and I do this without laying out exactly what we plan to do for them.
That said, we’ve been short on specifics but very clear about where Lunars stand in EX3. They are what most of the world thinks of as Anathema. They are the legends of the wild untamed world. Masters of the hinterlands, gods of the wilderness; a fusion of man, god, and beast. They cut their teeth on the horrors of the Wyld and even the mighty enemies of the enemies of the gods go before the Lunars in trepidation; hate and fear them for their power. They are locked in a war for Creation with their former allies, who bend the very stars with their will and twist fate to control destiny, and the mighty, nigh unstoppable host of 10,000 Dragons.
You don’t like it, you reject it, OK. But we’ve been clear about it. Just because we haven’t written the Charms yet and we’re still very interested in what everyone (even you) wants to see in Lunar magic, doesn’t mean we’re somehow remiss or undecided about what Lunars must be / will be. There’s many different ways to do something and we are putting a lot of effort and time into testing, rebuffing, and changing our ideas to make the best outcome, and we will continue to do that until the Lunar hardback goes up for sale on drivehtrurpg.
But when you’re here, allow me a question: some of the stuff we got from you guys about Lunars mention that illusion as basic concept of Lunars is gone.
First of all, Lunars as the Illusion Exalt has been unsupported in their Charm sets for two editions. So if we said “no illusions whatever” it wouldn’t be a concept that we took away because it was never there.
Second, I did not say there would be no illusion magic whatsoever in Lunar magic. I don’t support the idea that they are Illusion Exalt. The actual post I was responding to was a demand for illusion magic to be a major part of the Lunar design, and it isn’t.
At least I read that into some comment hatewheel made here: http://avatarcomic.net/ExaltedWiki/m…p?title=Exalts. If illusions are so un-Lunary, will the Changing Moon anima stay the same at all?
Misrepresenting someone’s statements shows bad faith. But in case you really didn’t understand: Lunars having a heavy core of illusion magic would take away from the fact that they are shapeshifters. Their body magic is very physical and not a mere trick of the light. If they were sprouting illusions, soon the demand would come to give them the power to make those illusions real, effectively giving them freebase sorcery. This is not something that we’re ever going to do for Lunars. We could dial it down from that and let them do a lot of light-tricks, but people wouldn’t like that to be a heavy part of their core design because it wouldn’t be very powerful and because it doesn’t match what they’re really good at. Your takeaway should not be “no illusions ever” but rather Solars have illusions but I wouldn’t call out illusions as a big part of their Charm set. The same is likely for Lunars.
I was thinking about the Lunar castes, and it seems like while Full-Moons are great, that the No-Moons and Changing-Moons are reversed.
Shamans, as I understand them, rely almost entirely upon having a personal relationship with the spirits/monsters/things that they interact with. They need to be able to make just about anyone feel comfortable with them, because they will frequently deal with powerful things that can have rather short tempers or odd perspectives. That suggests really impressive interpersonal skills and thus Changing-Moons.
Tricksters, on the other hand, are generally widely disliked. They generally influence people and situations by finding an opportunity to be a manipulative bastard and taking full advantage of it. They are almost always clever and perceptive, and often quite intelligent. To me that suggests No-Moon.
Very thoughtful observation.
Originally, they were just werewolves, but Exalted to me. It’s probably not a coincidence I didn’t find them very interesting then. Then GotMH: Luna came out, and we had this awesome protean, mercurial figure with fierce loyalties baked at her core and an ever-changing skin on top of that, and that got me interested in them. I like the idea of Lunars as a group being adaptable and unpredictable; I’m alright with exalts being a bit less versatile than the actual goddess of the moon, but I’d still put the social lunar as the one who shows up looking like someone’s personal image of beauty happening to know just what they’re interested in or the combat Lunar being a regenerating juggernaut who looks like they’re in trouble when the spears show up… Before they start growing a puncture-resistant hide and tank onwards. That’s kind of my jam with them, but I expect it’s probably wrong.
I invented Luna as you know her. Anyone else who loved Luna’s myth in Glories might keep in mind that I wrote and invented Luna’s myth in Glories. I did this out of a keen interest in improving the Lunar IP, even though I was a dark horse freelancer on his first gig with zero writing credits to his name.
So first there’s this post. Your response to the precedence of Lunar shapeshifting is
a) a comparison to a lazy Halloween costume some five year old kid can do–something that connotes childishness
b) a facile statement that looking like something isn’t becoming something. Facile because while that is obviously true, the context of Lunars isn’t people who look like things, it’s people who turn into things.
That’s not mockery. That is setting down the basics of shapeshifting. I am not talking about what Lunars can do there. I am talking about design theory. If I give Lunars the power to look like a ghost, they will want to walk through walls. The point being made is that looking like something is the least factor in being a shapeshifter, and does not entail having the powers of a thing.
Shoggoth is cool, but Lunars are not Shoggoth. Construing that as mockery is super bad faith.
I didn’t make up the Alex Mercer = playable shoggoth thing, that is how I have had multiple people describe him when trying to convince me that’s what Lunars should be.
A few posts down. Holden says that 1e Lunars didn’t get to turn into “rocks and houseplants.”
They could in 2e. And it’s a bad idea, because it’s silly. We don’t want the Lunars to be perceived as the silly guys who turn into ferns. That’s not intended to make you feel mocked, Scoop Life.
“It’s hard to caricature an argument from a guy that wants to play a vegan Lunar.”
Yes, if you read the conversation, you will see that I am responding to someone who said that they want to learn non-lethal shapeshifting forms because they don’t want to eat animals because they are vegan. And when I said no, this other poster accused me of imagining a caricature of the idea. I consider the idea itself to be a caricature of Lunars, as they are defined by eating heart’s blood, as I explained in a post before that one, comparing it very seriously to the improbability of vegan vampires. I don’t think every idea is a good idea and I say so.
I guess pretending to be a cannibal is only for hardcore mature adult roleplayers or something.
So here you are directly mocking our customer base, which is basically what this post comes down to, isn’t it? I’m not going to sit here and let people like you call the fans of Lunars stupid and mock them because you don’t like the way the design is going. I will object, because people who say shit like this are killing the conversation and chasing away good posters and customers.
Meanwhile, it’s hard not to read this post as mockery in general, if not specifically of non-animal Lunar transformation. I mean, really? Every Lunar conversation? You may be the current developer, but you don’t know how every conversation had gone. Unless it’s just hyperbole… people usually use hyperbole to mock, though. Jussayin.
And I mean, it may be good for the Lunars to be Zoo Exalted! You’re the one, after all, telling Irked he thinks animals suck (presumably by reading his mind) perhaps out of an attempt to assert that animals don’t suck.
First, that’s Godjaw. Second, he was calling them Zoo Exalted and going about how animals are shit. In the very post I am responding to, he’s telling me that animals need to be pretty awesome. You know, as opposed to shit. The way he implied they must be in his other posts.
You’re the one that, when presented with a quotation of your original intent NOT to make Lunars “the Chosen of Zoo Tycoon,”
Yes I did. In 2012 or possibly even 2011, while we’re still mostly wrapped up in how Second Edition did hyper-literal mechanics, I was talking to a group of Lunar fans who hated the idea of Lunars getting literal powers of animals. I made a jokey post including a reference to Jump the Shark Prana. It was meant to be cute. Anyone who took that as a statement of throwing out animal themes, or bashing animal themes, is stretching really hard.
I feel the context of the other poster’s full statement says something different than what you’re stating here.
People are repeatedly casting aspersions on Exalted players for wanting to play Lunars, because Lunars are “stupid barbarians” “serial killers” and “Zoo Exalted.”
To me that looks to be exactly what he is doing.
Here’s the post he’s mocking:
Originally Posted by hatewheel:
The argument that having to take heart’s blood makes you uncomfortable and therefore we should change it has absolutely zero traction with me. It’s like, you know, maybe Lunars aren’t your bag. Maybe they aren’t what you need from a character. If it were an rpg about vampires and you wanted to not have to drink blood so that you could play a pacifist I’d react the same way. I’d also point out that a pacifist vampire who still has to drink blood is a fascinating character. Of course, if it’s not fascinating to you, then you shouldn’t be playing it.
Here’s him mocking it.
Originally Posted by Scoop Life:
I guess pretending to be a cannibal is only for hardcore mature adult roleplayers or something.
And yes, that’s a mockery, because it implies that we’re running cannibal RPG and that’s why people play Lunars, it’s wrong to play something like a vampire, being a vampire makes you an adult poser, etc.
In terms of design-space for Lunars, fair enough.
However, I was wondering if I could clarify: when I think of example Tricksters in culture, Anansi and Coyote spring immediately to mind, and they didn’t leave a trail of dead people in their wake as part of Being Other People. Even Loki is in the same basket.
The discussion so far suggests that these characters are not in the constellation of inspirations for the Lunar design space, and fair enough.
So, I guess my query is: what mode of Trickster IS in the Lunar design space, if either they can’t pretend to be other people, or do so via ritual murder?
This deserves a response, but I need to think about it. Before I respond to this, I have a query for anybody who feels like participating.
List if you can, every problem you can think of with a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another character. Describe all the problems with this. I’ll be back in a bit.
Sunder the Gold:
Sounds like Shaping The Ideal Form, a First Edition Charm.
“Problems”, hmm. Problems.
Presumably, this Charm cannot change the Lunar’s Tell (or the pattern of their Tattoos, which will be assumed as included in “the Tell” for the rest of this post). So long as the Lunar’s Tell remains unchanged, anyone who knows the Tell can recognize the Lunar regardless of any number of permanent changes to her true human shape. Though continuously changing her true human face can make it harder for someone to attach a specific identity and history of association with the Lunar, if they failed to notice the Tell in previous encounters or fail to see it in later ones.
Essentially, this Charm is just a really good disguise Charm — like Solar Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise, only without the mote-commitment or any need for make-up or props.
A clever Lunar can, of course, assume an appearance plausibly close to that of someone another character has heard of but has never personally met. For example, a Dynastic mortal comes to Nexus looking to make a deal with a slave-owner known to have dark skin, red-hair and a thick Nexus accent. The Lunar can become a dark-skinned, red-headed man and speak with a thick Nexus accent, and even though the slave-owners associates would be able to spot the fake instantly, the Dynastic costumer can be fooled into thinking the Lunar is the man he’s looking for.
Especially if the Lunar uses social influence Charms to affect how others see her (the Lunar).
I’m not seeing any “problems”. Rather, I do hope we see a return of Shaping the Ideal Form!
Yes, I do recall that Charm. How about the logical problem that if you can make yourself look like anybody you will always look like somebody? In essence, the clause that you can’t impersonate a character makes the power incoherent? Or do you think that’s easily solved?
Only issue I see is that I’m reminded of how much cheating went on with Loom Snarling Deception “I’m not turning into the guard captain, I’m turning into his imaginary twin brother”
LOL. Well I just think the power negates itself. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Yeah, that’s pretty much where I fall. “You can’t look like some specific person” just seems a little weird and arbitrary. I’d buy that if it was a fairy illusion or something, which you rather expect to have odd loopholes. But if you’re physically changing the way your face looks, it’d be weird to be able to look like any hypothetical person, but no actual person.
Wouldn’t you say that makes the power improbable? What if you run into someone you didn’t know about, but you look just like them? Or do you not see this as a problem?
I’d consider “you can shapeshift into anything reasonably human but not duplicate a specific person” kind of silly. What’s stopping me, exactly — assuming the effect isn’t so crude that anyone who sees me can immediately spot it as “doesn’t actually look human after all”, that is? And if I do assume some particular shape and later discover that somebody I run into just so happens to look exactly like that, does that mean I now lose the ability to take that form ever again?
I’d be far more inclined to go with “you can outwardly duplicate the looks of anyone you know well enough, but you may miss details you weren’t aware of or paying attention to and you’re certainly not automatically getting their knowledge and mannerisms as well”. I might be able to copy Brad Pitt’s face from watching a few movies starring him with this, but I wouldn’t also get, say, his fingerprints or know the first thing about what he’s like when the cameras aren’t running…
Yes. My read on it is that this is the main problem with such a clause. It negates the entire power, because if you can look like anybody, you always look like somebody.
Agreed with everything here.
Rather than saying “you can’t turn into someone you know”, why not just require a Larceny roll when trying to imitate a specific person, like any other disguise?
That way the “I ran into this guy who coincidentally looks like my favorite alternate form, so now I can’t turn into that anymore” problem is completely avoided.
I like the way you think, but I think if you have to change the rules so that the power doesn’t have that clause anymore, it demonstrates the flaw of the power. It negates itself.
I think you will find many possible limitations to shapeshifting that don’t make sense. If you are searching for a way to make shapeshifting balanced by preventing it from allowing a Lunar to freely turn into anyone, you won’t find many limitations that do make sense.
Well yeah, the logical power would be something like: “you have the power to mould your form like clay, with a Craft/Larceny skill roll to shape yourself into a form resembling a specific person well enough to fool a knowledgeable observer.” The advantage being flexibility, the disadvantage being time and investment.
Quite. But if you change the power, you aren’t fixing it. You’re throwing it away.
Can it be said that the power negates itself, and therefore should be seen as a bad deal?
Or can there be some value of “good” in it? Anyone care to argue that you are still highly unlikely to ever run into anyone you look exactly like, and therefore it shouldn’t matter? Does anyone feel that the elasticity of what you imagine can support an inconsistency in the logic of the power, which does not fit the wider logic of Creation?
If attitude is that the power should fit the logic of Creation and therefore negates itself and is not good, then you have to look anywhere else for a reasonable substitute.
If you’re only interested in the result but not in how you get there, you are going to have a lot of problems writing Exalted mechanics. This is something we plan to discuss in The Exigents.
This confuses me, too.
hatewheel, would you mind unpacking the logic here when you get a chance? It seems to be an intuitive “So this obviously doesn’t make sense!” for you, where I see no issue whatsoever.
I think I must have misunderstood something, because currently my impression is that your logic could equally say “Being a grifter character in Leverage is internally inconsistent because you might make yourself look like someone who actually exists somewhere in the world.”
I still come back to the Trickster question: If the Trickster deities like Coyote and Anansi are off the table for Lunars, then fair enough, that’s the choice that’s been made. I currently don’t have an understanding of what Tricksters would be on the table instead.
You can either look like somebody, or you can look like nobody. The stipulation clearly negates the power. I am not sure what’s confusing about that. It is impossible to categorize the power to look like another human who looks like nobody else, while looking like nobody in particular. You always look like someone in particular. It is not possible, otherwise, to look like anything. A person who looks like no other human would not look like a human, they would look like something imperceptible, something from a dimension above or beneath our own.
Let me humor the power for a moment and walk you through some scenarios, however:
1) You turn into another unspecified person. When it is time to drop the Charm, you cannot return to your normal shape. Remember, the Charm does not allow you to look like a specific character. I am not being coy or pedantic here; the power to shapeshift into something should logically include the power to shapeshift back into one’s self. This would obviously require a clause that you be able to look like yourself. But wait—what if you are a dead ringer for a parent, grandparent, and so on? You would not then be able to shapeshift back into your own face. Of course, we’d waive that aside—everyone who wants the power to work is willing to overlook the implausibility. But wait, what about one of my stolen shapes? Does this mean I cannot use this power to return to a shape I’ve stolen? Well, obviously there would be a clause somewhere stating that a face I have permanently stolen now counts as my face for the purposes of all such Charms. But then, what if the face I have stolen is a dead ringer for one of that person’s family members? Then I would not be able to use this Charm to return to that shape. In effect, every time I used this Charm, it would necessitate losing the shape I am changing from forever, because of the content line stipulation. Never mind that this power just doesn’t work in the first place, because the stipulation makes it negate itself.
2) I’m standing next to Bob and I want to change shapes to impersonate Bob, but the power won’t let me. So I grow moonsilver talons and rip Bob’s face off. Bob no longer looks like Bob. Now can I turn into Bob? Or does the Charm’s stipulation mean that “no, you smartass, you can’t get around eating heart’s blood by literally stealing someone’s face”? I can guarantee you that yes, the stipulation means exactly that. Just because Bob no longer looks like Bob, doesn’t mean you can now look like Bob-that-was using this Charm. So, if you throw Bob in a volcano, and he burns up and his physical form and identity burn up, does that now mean you can look like Bob? Well, no, because the stipulation is that you may not look like another character, and Bob with or without a face, incinerated or unincinerated, is a character whom you cannot take the shape of. So you can’t use this Charm to look like someone who has ever existed. So you can clearly see, this Charm negates itself because you cannot use it to look like any other character, and every other shape of a human which might have ever existed falls outside the wheelhouse of this Charm. The stipulation causes the Charm to negate itself.
3) In all the world, there are people who look exactly like you, even if you aren’t related. Body doubles are an actual thing, not just something from science fiction. You can argue that the much lower population of Creation means there is less chance of you looking exactly like someone else, but there is no guarantee of it. You might argue that humans in Creation don’t have genetic laws like we do, or common ancestors, having been created by the gods, or that the Loom of Fate makes sure everyone looks visibly different, but then you are having to introduce metaphysical clauses to compensate for a Charm which, by 1&2, negates itself and can’t even work in the first place.
You cannot ever look like nobody. You can only ever look like somebody. There’s no middle.
This is not an injunction against writing or using such a Charm, but it is certainly a mechanic you need to understand if you plan to write Lunar Charms.
Note: It is absolutely within the wheelhouse of a Lunar in EX3 to take the form of that unbeheld other—the imperceptible being. A Solar would need some decent Awareness, Occult, or Investigation Charms to reconcile such a being to her own eyes.
Or, you can’t shapeshift with enough precision to impersonate a specific person and saying “you can’t look like a specific person” is a rules shorthand. You are really making this way more complicated than anyone else here, i think.
I am demonstrating how shapeshifting limitations often do not make sense. If you can’t look like another character, then the Charm doesn’t work, because it makes you look like another character. It doesn’t matter if there’s a specific or unspecific character. It’s just a logical impossibility. As you can see in my post above, this wouldn’t stop me from writing a Charm. It works because people want it to work—which is another important element of design. Magic is implausible from the outset, but people expect it to follow rules that make sense to them, and will accept rules that allow them to have fun and keep a power simple and ideal. These are very basic considerations to make when writing Charms.
Also, that rules shorthand can also fall apart pretty fast as soon as you introduce a character with better shapeshifting than your own, or weird shape-assumption powers.
Let’s say some weird new kind of Fair Folk wants to screw with you, so he drifts in out of the Wyld and assumes the exact shape of the “unspecified character” whose shape you are now inhabiting. Now that form is the official form of his character. What happens? Does the power stop working? Does it force you to change shapes? I hope you haven’t put too much time and effort into establishing your identity!
As above, I get the metaphysical problem of identity there, but I do think that “you can’t reproduce intentionally a specific person by imagining that person” is a not crazy nonsensical limitation, even if it allows you to accidentally become the duplicate of someone you didn’t intend. In fact, I think that’s kind of a feature, because it lets you hang mistaken identity comedy of errors on top of it, and it means the person who invests in “become a perfect mirror of x” charms also gets to avoid said comedy of errors.
That’s an interesting point. Because in the unlikely case that you look exactly like someone else, then it demonstrates the uselessness of the stipulation, unless you think the Charm would force you out of shape (which it probably would not–it would be written specifically to not do that).
If you think about the effect from the perspective of internal consistency of how stuff works within the setting, there are issues.
It’s fairly easy to work around them to produce an effect that will produce smooth play at tables (even the busted-ass 1e Lunar set managed that) but if you’re not aware of the issues you’re papering over, you’re likely to run into nastier snarls elsewhere, yes? Writing something as big as a full Charm set requires very deep thinking about how things hook together, even if nobody who reads or plays the set later thinks as hard about it as you did.
Sorry about that, it’s not intentional. I guess my problem is that it sounds to me like you’re explaining step 2 of a thought process where I don’t see step 1 – no matter how well 2 is explained, I still don’t see why it’s necessary, y’know?
It’s just that to me it seems like you avoid most of that by saying the limitation is that you can’t intentionally turn into someone else. Yeah sure, maybe you’ll look like some random person two kingdoms over, but who cares? It’s not like you can use that, you didn’t get to pick which random person it is!
Perhaps you should read over the (several times reiterated and re-explained) answers you’ve already gotten, try to think of a new angle to approach from, and then ask about that, or explain the conclusions you reached so that conversation can move forward in the thread due to getting some new insight and ideas? Right now you’re coming off as just repeating the same question until you get an answer that agrees with you.
The point of the exercise is not to say “you’re dumb and wrong if you think a power to change your eye color is fun,” it’s a prompt to get those interested in design (which is everyone in this thread, at least ostensibly?) to consider potential problems with ways of structuring an imaginary shapeshifter’s powers. But the current page of this thread has 4 posts of you repeating a question more and more stridently. That’s not productive to respond to, nor a good use of anyone’s time.
Well, mostly I think we are having different conversations. I am talking about design philosophy and trying to point things out to people who are interested in the angles and perspectives. I’m not roping off powers that Lunars can’t have or shouldn’t.
You are 100% correct (in your above post) that the rules are not a physics engine, but I still have to consider whether they push the boundaries of people’s expectations, or create snares in the design that will trip up a writer or the players, or create unexpected results, or say things about the splat that are unintentional.
I see shapeshifting as a tippy-top shelf power because it doesn’t outwardly seem all that powerful but it really is. Likewise, I see it as an extremely difficult thing to mechanize, because it looks simple but can quickly become extremely complicated and overwrought. One of my big problems with stipulations that are obviously in place to stop something unfair from happening is that they often are not consistent with what a splat should be capable of. I have to be able to set aside the hard mechanics and ask “why?” and “what does this feel like?” which is an equally important part of mechanics writing, because sometimes the answer is “they need this power to make it cost them more to get the Charm that has no limitation” and sometimes they answer is “this limitation says bad things about the entire splat” and sometimes it’s “this limitation is AOK because it doesn’t threaten splat perception.” In order to make that call I have to understand the mechanic completely (or as close as philosophy will allow me).
I’d see that less as a problem than an opportunity; you look exactly like SOMEONE out of Creation’s teeming millions. Now, is it anyone important and can you capitalize on that?
And if that’s not something a GM wants to deal with that day? Sure, you look exactly like a rice farmer on the other side of the Direction. It won’t be important.
Yes, it is highly unlikely that the discrepancy will ever matter at someone’s table. But it could matter to the entire rest of the design.
Also not seeing the ‘the charm cancels itself’ implication that’s being said here.
To me, it looks really simple. The Charm won’t let you look at, say, Lord Applebloom the local fish merchant, and deliberately shift yourself to look like him. And that’s it. That’s the only implication of the Charm that I can see.
Lord Applebloom doesn’t look like Lord Applebloom, though. So why can’t you look like him? I mean, he looks like his father. His father, likewise, looks like his father. Why should a Lunar’s power to change shapes ever be contingent on deliberately not looking like someone? You know, outside of heart’s blood being a thing.
Just because we understand it and want it to work doesn’t mean it’s actually plausible, or even consistent.
Lord Applebloom probably doesn’t look exactly like his father though. They’ll likely have a family resemblance, perhaps a strong one but they’re not identical copies of each other. The power doesn’t say the character can’t so much as bear a resemblance to any other human being in Creation just that can’t deliberately become identical to someone.
Certainly possibly true. But some people do look exactly like their forebears and could pass for them. There are also people with identical twin siblings.
I don’t see how that is relevant to the discussion.
I’ve thought about it, because I am not sure why I instinctively feel that is a point. I guess what it comes down to is that a power with such a stipulation would let you accidentally look exactly like someone else, or it would allow you to only look “almost” like someone else, but not exactly. Which makes me wonder why. I mean, you and I both know there are reasons that exist outside the power, and they are reasonable…reasons (lol.) but! I have to consider how it feels too, and if it makes a weird statement. I think everyone here is correct in saying that there is no problem with the power. Which is in itself interesting, because let’s say you all agreed that the power was inconsistent as I say it is–I still think you’d all be fine with it anyway.
Let’s see, the Charm concept as I originally plated it:
“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another character.”
The main problem here is that a power that changes how you look definitionally allows you to impersonate another character.
Alderman suggests the following change:
“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another specific character.”
There’s still problems with that that I can point to, but it mostly squares it with everyone.
So then the question becomes, why the stipulation? Anyone care to make some suggestions?
“You can shapeshift to look like another human as long as you look like no other human” is incoherent. :-p
You could use the power to assume features similar to someone in that family line, but not a specific Applebloom. If you could pull off posing as one of the family would be an exercise of the Lunars Abilities (and role playing). Someone might say “She looks like might be from the Applebloom clan.” but they won’t say “Hey, its Gracie Applebloom!” at least not from the use of this ability alone.
This really feels like searching for an issue where there really isn’t one.
If you go back a few pages, I was asking whether people felt like it was a problematic Charm or a perfectly fine one. My purpose in asking was to execute a fact-finding mission, to see people’s different ways of approaching an effect. When people explained what could possibly be wrong with it, I explained it. My intention is not to say that anyone is wrong, because ultimately there’s no objectively right way to write a shapeshifting Charm. Indeed, if you disagree that you in order to look like anybody you must look like somebody, you won’t think this is a problem. But that’s why I started this conversation by asking people if they thought it was a problem. You seem to have misconstrued this as an argument. It’s not. I’m explaining another point of view which some of you seem not to share. 🙂
I get the concept of what the power is meant to do. This says nothing whatsoever on how effect the given ‘mechanic’ is in actually embodying the proposed concept that would or would not raise potential issues in gameplay and only be analyzing it through various interpretations can you determine whether something about the language used raises issues of indefiniteness.
Yes. Thousands of people will beat on a Charm and some will take different meanings from it. I’m really not trying to be obtuse here, just trying to show how shapeshifting magic might be contentious.
If the stipulation exists it negates the power, and makes me wonder how to roleplay a Lunar. I always approach the use of a Charm from a point of feeling. And when I feel my way into the use of this Charm, I don’t like the psychological “hitch” it entails. That hitch comes when I am forced to consider transforming myself into a person who looks like nobody else, when my idea of “somebody else” is formed entirely by other people I’ve seen. This is absolutely not a game-breaking, splat ruining stipulation, it’s just one that comes to mind. 🙂
I don’t think it is based on deliberately not looking like anyone. It just means the Lunars doesn’t have the fine control and artistry required to sculpt themselves relatively instantly into a flawless double of another person. But they can alter the features as to appear like a different person. If those changes make them resemble someone else and what effects that might have are determined by situation, the ST and the player’s creativity.
I think you are correct. Any thoughts on why you’d want to write a “first step” power like this?
It seems like a reasonable ability for Lunars to have, at least as I see them.
Sure, but why not just start them off with the more effective upgrade?
What’s the more effective upgrade?
One hasn’t been mentioned, I just took this—
I don’t think it is based on deliberately not looking like anyone. It just means the Lunars doesn’t have the fine control and artistry required to sculpt themselves relatively instantly into a flawless double of another person.
—to mean the Lunar would at some point gain that power. Not your intent?
Could a Lunar use this power to look “close enough” to a specific person to enable them to do a Larceny roll to do a mundane disguise roll at a lower difficulty than they would with their natural appearance?
Probably. It could also be used to evade people searching for you.
Wouldn’t it be easier to say that the power works based on your general desire, rather than allowing you to sculpt your features in an intentional and craftsmanlike fashion? If the power works based on “I want to turn into a big blond guy with cauliflower ears” rather than letting you work your features like clay, then you’ll have generalized shapeshifting without the ability to specify a known individual.
That is probably the best way to put it, because it feels right.
Or that you have a design goal of having progression shown in the mechanics of your game (I’m thinking of the Upgrade Charms from Infernal Exalted here).
I think that’s very astute.
Honestly, I don’t think so [re: “Yes, it is highly unlikely that the discrepancy will ever matter at someone’s table. But it could matter to the entire rest of the design”]. Quite aside from this being the very first time I’ve ever seen anyone bring up a major problem with an ‘alter self’ type power, it’s a difference that makes no difference in relevance to the overall design, I think. The real core of that particular idea is “the Lunar doesn’t get to fine tune it”, which means:
* The character cannot choose a specific appearance beyond ethnic generalities,
* The character will probably look more like any given person they’d like to disguise as, but ultimately it’s just more effective hair and skin dye; worth a bonus to a disguise roll, certainly, but not foolproof.
* There is a very slight chance you look exactly like someone who would be relevant to your situation, through sheer chance. Rather than run away from this, embrace it, because it’s the kind of attention to detail that the best Exalted supplements have. (How many fantasy settings go into the details of the monetary system, down to a pseudo-prime interest rate?) Perhaps a botch on a roll while shapeshifted means your random appearance happens to mimic that of a wanted criminal or someone else who significantly complicates your situation, whereas a high number of threshold successes means you’ve lucked into looking exactly like the prince you were wanting to assassinate. Or just admit the chances of it mattering are astronomical and make that whole second bit optional.
I don’t see it nearly as self-negating as you seem to think it is, honestly, either in actual use or in thematics. If the thematic of this particular charm is, “As a first step, Lunars can affect gross changes in their body, but lack the skill for fine detail at this point”, then it’s not self-negating at all – the important bit is the Lunar cannot control when they happen to look exactly like someone. It’s roughly as important a detail as the possibility that a Sidereal using Embracing Life Method may find objects of great value or importance, even though most of the time they won’t. The main role of the limitation would be to offer a broad sort of shapeshifting if becoming someone’s exact double intentionally is supposed to be a bit harder or more involved.
I don’t think it’s self-negating. It is self-negating. Magic doesn’t have to make sense, but officiating over the logic of powers is sort of my job. Of all the responses I’ve seen so far, people have been squaring the stipulation in the mechanic with the rest of the mechanics, but only Rand has really sought to square it with the logic of other powers in the setting. The stipulation can easily be squared with people, but nobody is really asking why it should be there in the first place, outside of the mechanical limitations. And yes, it does create implications on the rest of the design. Because it points to some other factor outside of this Charm, limiting it (heart’s blood).
It’s not important that a player see a problem with the Charm. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. But Lunars have had a contentious existence. I think it’s safe to say that some people have had very strong ideas about shapeshifting that did not fit other people’s very strong ideas, and this caused friction.
You are literally never going to come to a point where you don’t have friction based on people’s ideas. There is no design nor wording that will solve that.
It’s worth noting that, while true, if you set down a guideline in the text, players take it as an objective truth. This guideline was missing for six years, and everyone’s interpretation of shapeshifting became valid. There are thousands of ways to shapeshift, and Lunars cannot and should not encompass all of them.
I think what hatewheel is trying to say is that as developer, it’s his responsibility to come up with a logic for each Charm that makes sense not just for that Charm, but that serves as a segment of the whole set of Charms. The Charmset is defined by the things it can do, and also by the things it can’t do (see Sidereals for an example of a Charmset heavily designed around what it can’t do), and there needs to be a visible internal logic for why it can and can’t do certain things if you want people to be able to read the Lunars book and make custom Charms without actually taking Lunars 201 at the feet of the writing team.
If you consider it as a work of deliberate craftsmanship, the proposed disguise Charm is troublesome because the Lunar can deliberately shape her own features, but only depending on whether the result falls into an arbitrary category (does this face already exist). That’s an odd limitation if the Lunar is consciously reshaping her own features, especially when you take into account that the category in question is also a fuzzy one, since you can eat someone’s face and remove them from the list of existing faces.
This kind of hinky logic, while it doesn’t really hurt the Charm much in isolation (because you can just invoke Chicanery-No), is bad as part of a Charmset because it doesn’t set a good precedent for how Lunar magic works and what further Charms should be able to do.
Yes, 100%. Rand gets it.
Ha! You just proposed a mechanism for exactly how the sacred hunt lets you take a particular face!
If it’s a matter of deforming an entire set of charms for a type of Exalt, then we would have to see the charms in totality before we could even start to comment. Note: I’m not asking to see the charm set in totality.
I’m not discussing a Charm being written. There’s no set to see. The object of this exercise was to see whether people thought this basic limitation was problematic or okay and why. It requires someone advocating for it being problematic. I am not asking for anyone’s help to write, visualize, or understand a mechanic. I am trying to show how difficult it can be to put limitations on a shapeshifting power.
If you ask me, I have an ambivalent feeling toward this Charm’s stipulation. I like it because the players readily accept and understand it. I also like it because it suggests a step upward in a Lunar’s progression toward becoming a shapeshifter. I distrust it because the progression seems artificial; the stipulation makes perfect sense within the mechanics of the game, yet it makes arguably no sense within the broader logic of shapeshifting. Lunar shapeshifting in itself is full of broad contradictions as well.
That makes sense. Also I can see how difficult putting limiters on an amorphous type of power such as shapeshifting can be. I do think, though, that Exalted requires player buy-in when it comes to charms and various other powers. The player-base is used to structure even if it’s been… unevenly applied in the past. As long as you’re consistent, I think you’ll be okay in the end.
Yes, precisely. Player buy-in is why we believe in some forms of magic but not others. I think that player buy-in is based heavily on formalized and consistent logic set out in the text of the book.
Apologies, by “argument” I mean it in the sense of “stated position” is all, not as in “dispute.” Would it be out of bounds to ask if the comparison could be restated with the requested parameters of feedback? I think I at least may have gotten turned around.
No worries! I will try to make a redraft of the original concept.
“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their human features to fit a general but not a specific desire. Therefore, they could change themselves to look like a pristine scarlet-haired woman with a certain build and height, but they could not become the Scarlet Empress. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another specific character.”
Did I miss anything?
You missed the very interesting question raised earlier in the thread of whether the Lunar could abandon the form and then later return to that specific form again. By the new logic of the power, I would say not, since a general desire is not going to yield the same results the next time you try it. However, that definitely reduces the general utility of the power still further. Now it’s basically a thing for spur of the moment disguises, not new identities.
Yes, that is definitely how the Charm reads.
An issue with the Charm’s logic crops up almost as soon as you think about it. But is it a problem?
Let’s evaluate it based on a clause that lets you return to a previous unspecified form you have taken.
This clause would allow you to generate more true forms without actively engaging in the Sacred Hunt. This clause shows that the Charm negates itself.
First problem with this Charm:
Lets say you turn into a very attractive unspecified character using this Charm. As you are walking through the streets of Nexus, a Solar looks down from their balcony and spots you. The Solar is so taken with your beauty that they memorize it perfectly, using an eidetic form-capturing power a Solar can certainly have.
The Solar then goes down to their sorcerous laboratory and builds an absolutely perfect, flawless copy of your unspecified character and gives it life through a sorcerous working.
This character has its own persona, identity, and emotions. It is fully human and though it is discovering its personhood for the first time, it is obviously now a specific character.
While still in the form of the unspecified character, you meet your perfect double on the street. What happens?
The Charm negates itself by either forcing you out of your current form or by keeping you in the same form and ignoring the rules of the Charm. More likely the latter, because Storytellers tend to be cool like that, and it might be genuinely fascinating to think about why the Charm negates itself. (Which I think some people upthread said is why they actually like it.)
As a thought exercise, I can see where this might be problematic at least in potential, but whether the ST is cool with letting the Lunar player keep the charm, it was the ST that set the situation up in the first place. You can’t legislate ST superdickery.
I don’t think it’s dickery tbh. I just think people play the games and make different interpretations.
I also have to evaluate mechanics based on Charms that haven’t been written yet, because oh my gob I have so many Charms to write in the future.
Sunder the Gold:
“This Charm allows the Lunar to change their human features. She may change her age, height, proportions, gender, and coloration to highly specific degrees. In regards to her facial structure, she is limited to broad strokes, adopting the nuances of a specific ethnicity she has seen or imagined. In essence, a Delzhani Lunar can make herself appear as if born a Dynast, but this does not mean she can make her face mimic that of a specific Dynast, just as she could not make her face mimic that of a fellow Delzhani. At most (by manipulating the factors she can control specifically) she might appear related to the Dynasts of a specific house.”
I’m out of time to refine this paragraph further this morning.
You have a natural Charm-writing voice.
That does seem a rather specific edge-case – if the charm just lets you be ‘generic person of demographic origin ‘ and is non-repeatable in specifics, then it mostly resolves itself (although I suppose a solar using a perfect disguise charm or a Sidereal with a ‘steal someone’s appearance’ would also allow similar effects). You can keep the appearance until it expires, then you can use the charm again and you might look similar-ish, but as the charm states, you can’t imitate a specific person. This is vaguely circular as you can’t imitate yourself imitating a generic person of whatever details, but I don’t think it breaks particularly. A charm that lets you return to the same face again and again would still work – the main limitation is that you can’t use it to fake being someone else, if someone else uses shenanigans to make someone else look like ‘you’ then it’s still good, because you’re not pretending to be someone else, there’s just someone else that happens to look like ‘you’ wandering around.
I think that’s a very sound explanation and interpretation of the mechanics of that Charm.
I’m curious what you think of the observation I made right after this hypothetical Charm was presented for discussion. Specifically, the issue of Lunars taking their own shapes and the shapes they’ve stolen – TRUE shapes – vs FALSE shapes they’ve made up. I don’t have an opinion on the way it SHOULD be, but is this kind of thing an issue to consider in 3E Lunar design?
It is worth considering. If you can take a “made up” shape you are effectively getting around Heart’s Blood. As I made clear in the “Ask the Developers” thread, any option you give the Lunars to get around taking Heart’s Blood is going to transform how they are seen. Like if I gave them the Ability to grasp a target and absorb it, thereby taking its shape by merging with it, and allowing the Lunar to contain hundreds of these captured forms, which it could later release alive and unharmed. Suddenly the Lunars are this creepy-assed thing sorta like Pennywise? They are far more amorphous and nasty than something that just eats its prey to take on its power, which is a belief of many tribal myths.
hm, I’m wondering.
lets say we make a few hypothetical Exigents.
an Exigent of Shapeshifting
an Exigent of Barbarism
an Exigent of Animals
an Exigent of Survival
an Exigent of Cthulhu
an Exigent of Witchery
Not trying to bag on you when I say this, because it’s a super-intuitive first approach and it took us a while to figure out the wisdom I’m about to impart:
That is one of the worst ways to go about designing Exigents. It nets you a superhero rather than an Exalt about eight out of ten times. Unless an Exigent springs to mind full-formed, when you’re fishing about for them you almost always want to start with the god, not a concept. (Consider the different inherent thematic shading between “Chosen of Storms” and “Chosen of a Storm Mother,” or “Chosen of Wilderness” and “Chosen of a Dog of the Unbroken Earth”)
good to know, they’re not intended to be actual Exigents, they’re just for sake of example….
Fair enough, but… your followup question:
Originally Posted by Lord Raziere:
how would Lunars be different from each one?
The Lunars would be different from each one because you don’t have an Exigent of Animals, you have an Exigent of This Particular Animal God, and the manner in which your Exigent of This Particular Animal God is going to differ from a Lunar will flow, quite freely and clearly, from the nature of This Particular Animal God. Likewise… Exigent of Shapeshifting…? Is there a God of Shapeshifting? Have there ever been that?
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be! I’m saying if you can’t come up with the actual specifics of your hypothetical God of Shapeshifting, then you don’t have a developed God of Shapeshifting yet and can’t make an Exigent of Shapeshifting who was Chosen by it. And if you do have the specifics of your actual God of Shapeshifting, then it’ll be pretty clear how your Exigent of Shapeshifting differs from Lunars, because you’ll be able to draw on the specifics of your God of Shapeshifting when coming up with your Exigent.
I think that the point may be that the character of the deity that is Exalting someone has a significant impact on the resulting Exalt. For example that, if Luna had lost to Zatesh in her crucible, with Zatesh being the deity of the moon that Creation knows, then the Lunar Exalted of Zatesh would be very different than the Lunar Exalted of Luna.
Least, that’s my interpretation.
Yeah, that’s my read, too. An Exigent is the Chosen of a specific god – not of that god’s divine portfolio. They’re not a volcano-Exigent – they’re the Exigent created by a particular god who happens to have domain over a volcanic island in the West. And likewise, Lunars are the Chosen of Luna – not the Exalted of some abstract concept of shapeshifting and stuff. The god is of utmost importance to the process…
That implies a truly impressive amount of teamwork between the Maidens, that they could end up with a single Exalt type differing only by caste rather than five separate exalt types. Perhaps the closed charmset isn’t their whim but was a necessary component of the entire process.
The Celestial Incarnae are numinous and transcendent in ways other gods are not. Also handwave handwave.
Something that struck me as off was being a Chosen of a particular Dog of Unbroken Earth. Perhaps very closely related and possibly weaker gods would work together to exalt someone? So there wouldn’t be a chosen of a particular Storm Mother, but rather the Chosen of Storm Mothers (with some not having participated). Of course if a particular Storm Mother distinguished herself sufficiently from her fellows, that would be different.
More powerful gods wouldn’t need that kind of help, but if they are sufficiently similar they still could take advantage of the possibility.
The Exigence is the help weaker gods need to Exalt their own champions. Ten Sheaves was just a Field Guardian, remember — that’s a particular type of god, down around the power level of Dogs of the Unbroken Earth and somewhat weaker than Storm Mothers. He wasn’t Heroic Field Guardian, Distinct From All Other Field Guardians; he was just some tiny Terrestrial god who stepped up when stepping up was needed.
So….its more about the god than the concept?
that IS unintuitive. which means I’m going to have to figure out the god I want draw upon beforehand, which means he would have his own character and methods and so on and so forth.
which means I’d basically have to make an extra character just to make one hero. thats kind of annoying, even if it does allow for a lot of personalization. it means that one volcano god Exigent is different from another though.
I should probably start now, just to get that out of way for the concepts I want…
Making up a good whole Charm set is difficult, and Exigents are the homebrew Exalted splat. The Exigent hardcover is not going to present one single, unified Exigents Charm set for all Exigents to use; it’s going to have a few examples and a lot of help for STs, presented both as mechanical precedents and prose advice, on how to make new Exigents from scratch including their Charm sets. I have very little doubt that one of the pieces of advice it’ll offer is “Start by making up the god who created the Exigent; this may seem like extra work, but having it done will actually save you a lot of work later when it comes time to make your Charm set come off as interesting and not just one-note.”
How is a Lunar different from an Exigent of Luna? Or are they the same thing?
As far as I know, there aren’t Exigents of Luna. She doesn’t need to petition the Unconquered Sun to provide her access to the Exigence to create Exalted, and if she tried he’d probably sort of look at her and be all like “Srsly?” The Exigence is for gods lesser than the Incarnae, to help them do something only the Incarnae among the gods could really do without that help.
because you’d think that at some point there would just be y’know…some commonalities? there is only so many ways you can say “this fire magic is different because…” even the Exigents will eventually have things in common
They’re going to have things in common in the same sense that a Solar and a Lunar multiattack Charm might resemble each other mechanically, because there’s only so many good ways to model multiattacking. But even so, a Solar and a Lunar multiattack Charm are not going to be mechanically identical, and neither are a forest fire Exigent’s fire Charms and a volcano Exigent’s fire Charms. If you want to make an Exigent of fire, start by figuring out what kind of fire god it might be fun and interesting to play the Exigent of; if you want to specifically play “The Exigent of the most generically firey fire god that could exist, because I want to play a guy with fire powers and not a guy with this specific god’s fire powers” you’re gonna have a bad time.
(Look at it this way. You could play the Exigent of a fire god who is also a catgirl.)
As I understood the setting logic behind the term Exigent is a just a type or class of Exalt (like Terrestrial vs Celestial), the unusual one offs (typically) that gods below the Incarna level can produce in the right circumstances. So an “Exigent” of Luna or the Unconquered Sun would basically be a Lunar or Solar respectively if they ever choose to create a Chosen that way.
All true. As a side note, the Incarnae can’t use the Exigence to make more Chosen.
……..argh, silly me trying to use logic and consistency for mythical powers, what was I thinking.
That combination does sound good though, if oddly unconnected, I have to make some way of associating the two things. now Exigent of a shadow god that is also a catgirl…..much more plausible, as cats being nocturnal are associated with shadow.
Nothing stops a god who happened to be feline in features and shape who also happened to be about fire and such. If not a cat I can easily imagine at least a fox. I’m using the browser named for that right now. I mean there are war gods associated with sharks, bulls, ravens, hawks, wolves, and effing dragons right now.
But a big factor seems to be not just making the god’s purview important, but also its personality and impact on things. What personality it has and such.
Yes, but the war gods all make sense. sharks, bulls, hawks, wolves and dragons are all predators while ravens are similar enough to crows to merit a “scavenger” association. as far as I can recall, the only cat could possibly have any connection to the sun are lions.
your telling me that the Exigents design is basically just “mash up whatever you think is cool no matter how unconnected into a singular divine champion” is that correct?
No, there has to be some sort of an underlying consistency, but nothing stops you from deliberately setting out to challenge yourself by beginning with a few seemingly-unconnected elements and then trying to create something consistent out of them. Sometimes you will fail! Sometimes you’ll make something that’s kinda lame! That just means you have to start again.
Now, the obvious problem here is that if you go e.g. “Okay, lava pouring down the side of a mountain can look sort of like a slithering snake depending on the contour of the rock it’s pouring down, so how about a volcano snake?” is that a lava-snake spirit probably works best as an earth elemental, and elementals don’t get Exigents. So, on the downside, that didn’t work, but on the upside I just had an idea for a cool new earth elemental. Score!
(Also, bulls aren’t predators.)
“Fire exigent” remains pretty one-note, though. The goal is to create a notable hero chosen by the gods in the vein of mythic narrative, not the Human Torch. So, yeah, make a cat-shadow god and then make a shadow-exigent associated with cats and darkness and things. Make a lion-sun god who’s one of the Unconquered Sun’s lieutenants from ages and ages ago, and then make a sunfire-cat Exigent.
So the common mythological symbols of the snake are fertility and rebirth, guardianship, poison and medicine, and vengefulness and vindictiveness. You can easily build a volcano god out of that.
Rebirth: Volcanic ash kills most of the plant life, which then regrows because of the fertility of volcanic soil.
Guardianship: Moats of boiling lava make for excellent protection.
Poison: Volcanic ash and fumes are toxic.
Vengefulness: Volcanic eruptions happen when the god is angered.
It’s really easy to make a volcano god who has the shape of a snake.
(I know that’s not the point, but I really, really love how mythography can create common associations between two seemingly unrelated elements if you look deep enough. I’m just a nerd that way.)
This is genuinely great. (And if you did it again with cats, you could probably make a good catgirl-volcano-goddess and justify an Exigent who has genuine mythical resonance while simultaneously appealing to someone who wants to play a catboi-fire-Exalt the same way Solars are appealing to people who just want to play Cloud Strife. Exalted has never really shied away from “Okay, if we do it well, we can afterwards admit it was all an excuse to play Sephiroth, really.”)
Honestly, I don’t know what they are to me anymore.
They never were what I wanted after the original Core 1e book, and that “Illusionist” edge is a big thing I always wanted more focus on. Instead they lost a lot. And the depictions they gained never really did it for me either.
Do you mean “Illusionist” in the sense of casting phantasmal force?
Speaking personally, I mostly just wanted to be able to e.g. make a dilapidated mansion appear whole and luxurious, because of that one thing the fox-shifter did in Sandman: The Dream Hunters1. Not so much phantasmal force or silent image as being able to cast seemings on things to make other people perceive them as other things. So, gold coins that are actually leaves, regal garments that are actually peasant rags, etc. EDIT: Possibly a beautiful carriage that’s actually a pumpkin.
I don’t really want it anymore, though, because it’s closely associated with a method of shapeshifting where e.g. once you notice that the beautiful woman has a fox-tail poking out from under her dress, you look at her face and realize she has actually been a fox in a dress the whole time, OMG, and that’s not really how Lunar shapeshifting should work. Tying Lunar shapeshifting to the physical but then giving them a bunch of powers that make the most sense given a much more trickery-and-illusion shapeshifting paradigm leads to incoherence.
1. Sandman: The Dream Hunters is a standalone original pastiche of Japanese fairy tales by Neil Gaiman, in which the character of the Sandman only appears tangentally; it is mostly about a monk. He goes to a remote temple where he’s pestered by a shapechanging fox and badger, but the fox falls in love with him, and then later it turns out he was sent there by a court magician who had forseen his own doom and was using ritual magic to inflict it on the monk instead. There’s a bit after the monk dies and the fox takes revenge where she makes the magician fall in love with her, and then gets him burn all his belongings and follow her to a remote country estate, where he compliments her on the decor and fine food and she goes “Yes, and to think, if I hadn’t been here, you might have had to sleep in a dilapidated old mansion and dined on mice and spiders!” My very first thought when reading the 1e Lunar description was “Awesome; I’mma make a Lunar character who can do that.” And then of course it turned out Lunars can’t do that.
This sounds amazingly cool, but how do you do it without messing with the Loom of Fate and without casting phantasmal force? Evaluate it separately from what you’ve been told about Lunars and just from the standpoint of what you know about Essence.
Maybe “Under the light of a waning moon, the eyes play tricks — a gnarled branch may seem as a grasping claw, or a [insert other example of thing looking like other thing in dim light here that isn’t something lame like a coat on a rack looking like a stranger in the hallway]. A Lunar may give one thing the appearance of another.”
This is still the action of a phantasm, by shifting moonlight or Lunar Essence. I’m not trying to be a bickerer here, and I’m certainly not saying that phantasmal powers are bad.
There’s really no way to get away from ephemeral phantasms here, because the alternative — literally shaping things into other things — is if anything even lamer. I never liked Lunar Charms that let them take one thing and make it pliable so they can turn it into another thing, so that leaves us with persistent holograms or some sort of mind-whammy effect. (And anyway it’d be dumb to do the my-mansion-is-actually-a-hovel trick with a literal stuff-is-pliable-like-clay Charm.)
I think it can be made acceptable by putting in a bit of text in the Charm about moonlight, but I don’t write Charm sets!
That said, when people lament Lunars losing illusion powers, I think they are mostly lamenting the loss of powers like that depicted in Sandman: The Dream Hunters, and they don’t have an answer for how those powers can be well-portrayed because, d00d, they want to pay us game designers to answer that question! That’s why they buy books!
I’m not sure lame is the word I’d want to use. I would say that it’s incongruous with the power of shapeshifting.
Yeah, I don’t have a solution. If one is sufficiently attached to that sort of trickery-and-illusion motiff and the idea that it should apply to Lunars, the obvious solution is to proclaim that obviously, Lunar magic should not just be about physical shapeshifting, but about all sorts of things that relate to it — physical shapeshifting but also mental trickery and hypnosis-style make-you-believe-things powers, and casting seemings and conjuring holograms, etc.. And while it would be pretty easy to justify including all that under the domain of Luna, goddess of the night and trickery and misdirection and things, the result can easily come across as incoherent. This is how we got Lunars 2e. I would like some way to reconcile it all, but I don’t have one.
Well, shapeshifting and phantasmal illusions are two very different and very powerful abilities. They are not necessarily inversions, but they aren’t of a same set either. I think it’s safer to say that they are conversions of one another. If I allowed Lunars to pick shapeshifting or the power to project illusions, I would quickly have people demanding that they should get both and that a disconnect is unreasonable, even if I were to explain the logic of the division in-text. I don’t see the gain being worth the subtraction from the “were-thing” side of the design, which is already going to be super complex and difficult to resolve.
People are surprisingly unobservant and take a lot for granted. A quick-witted Lunar can easily take advantage of this for smaller objects. Doing so for a structure is harder, but still possible. All of this would fade under careful examination, but I don’t see why Lunars couldn’t do supernaturally effective stage magic.
I completely agree, but that’s a whole other sort of illusionist.
If they can pass off leaves as money and a dilapidated structure filled with cobwebs as a mansion with beautiful tapestries, does it matter that they are actually taking advantage of a trick of the light?
They can’t do that, and yes it does matter.
In this case I am confused as to what you meant when you said you agreed with me. My argument was that Lunars can cause seemingly miraculous illusions, and they do so through physical manipulation and awareness of others’ points of view (in this case quite literally). A Sidereal manipulates fate, a raksha creates a phantasm, but a Lunar uses a trick. In each case the practical result might be quite similar, but the process is very distinct.
What was your thought on the matter?
It means I agree that Lunars can do illusionist stuff, but illusionist stuff doesn’t include changing the way someone views reality.
Alright… I was hoping for something more than basically mundane legerdemain and trickery,
Sounds reasonable for the quixotic and mysterious Changing Moons to have more than just petty tricks. I should note here that I think sleight of hand is pretty amazing, though, especially if you can trick a god with it.
perhaps being able to induce hallucinations, hypnosis,
I definitely plan to look into this. Not making any promises, but I see this as fertile ground.
or using essence to create ephemeral constructs – a bit like how the Glorious Solar Saber and similar charms, but with something much more dispersed and malleable.
As much as I hate being the bad guy, I detect a fair number of problems with Lunars projecting phantasmal force.
I read several Coyote myths from a book at the university library tonight.
In not one of them did he change shapes or cast an illusion.
There definitely is the issue of people asking for Coyote influence in their Lunar trickster abilities, and linking that to the shapechange discussion, when that really isn’t Coyote. Kitsune, sure. Wukong, definitely. Coyote? You need the Manipulation Excellency, a ton of imagination, and an irritating laugh.
In terms of being tremendously good liars and con artists, yes Lunars will be great analogs for Coyote and Anansi.
Hrm… Coyote is an anthropomorphized entity. In some of the stories, he’s talked about as a coyote, some stories he’s talked about as a man and other stories he’s not really given a specific description of being either a coyote or a man, because he’s Coyote and whether he’s a coyote or a man doesn’t matter for the purpose of the story of Coyote being Coyote.
I find it similar to how Zeus isn’t described as the Greek deity of Shapeshifting, despite him taking the form of animals in all sorts of stories.
So, I would not say that Coyote is lacking in inspiration for a shapeshifter, especially if you’re looking at how a Lunar character can become famous (or is that infamous?) as both the Lunar as a human and the Lunar as their preferential animal.
I find Coyote and Anansi to be very interesting and likely candidates for Lunar inspiration!
But they have specifically been brought up to me in this thread and on the Ask the Devs thread as part of an argument for illusion magic or the power to freeform shapeshift, and in my admittedly limited explorations, which I vow to expand, I have yet to see how they have become such a talisman for fans who want to see that happen. I’m not saying that they’re wrong, and I plan to keep reading, but to be honest it’s beside the point, because even if Anansi is switching shapes by stealing the face of anyone who blinks in his presence, and even if Coyote reveals himself to be the master of kanzen saimin, it wouldn’t change any of the problems with those ideas given over to Lunars.
…To be honest, I really get this vibe in general discussions of Lunars and Shapeshifting, that if a Lunar Exalted just stuck to the stuff they get from their Spirit Shape, then they’re a shitty shapeshifter. Like if you’re not constantly expanding the options of what you can shapeshift into, then you’re doing it wrong.
I don’t think that’s what you mean to imply or suggest. I just see it creep up a lot.
Yeah, that’s an attitude I see a lot as well. And it is makes very little sense to me.
I really do support Lunar Exalted being shapeshifters that can expand in breadth and pull off Beast Boy shenanigans, because that’s fun, but I also hope that there’s plenty of support for Lunar Exalted being shapeshifters who are strong in being who they are, whether that’s the Lunar as a man or the Lunar as wolf or whatever animal they particularly identify with, and not be seen as ‘wasting’ their capabilities or not being a proper Lunar.
…Huh. I said a lot more than I initially intended. I guess that’s just been something that’s been bugging me on this particular topic.
That’s intriguing, and I think I agree with you, but I am not certain. Could you elaborate?
Moonlight trickery, kitsunebi (aka will-o-the-wisps), kitsune are known for crafting illusions for trickery, the Ramayana and Mahabharata (sweet friggin cripes the Exalted inspiration here!!) have the Rakshasa who are shapeshifting demons who are powerful warriors, magicians and illusionists.
I don’t think it’s random. There are legends out there of shapeshifting creatures who have powers of illusion. We’ve had Sun Wukong mentioned by someone multiple times and that’s from Journey To The West which is listed inspirational material from the Exalted 2nd Edition Core. Why does it seem random when the books have pointed specifically to shapeshifters known to have illusion powers?
Frankly, I wouldn’t want to box off illusion magic as a “Lunar” thing. Let all the Exalted get in on it! I’d want Air-Aspects playing with sounds in the air to make you hear what they want you to hear, I’d want Fire-Aspects playing tricks with the light from torches or fireplaces, ‘phantasm’ is a deadringer descriptor for Abyssals and I’m 100% positive that Holden can come up with illusionary tricks that Sidereals can play with.
Illusions are just fun for everyone and should be a sandbox everyone gets to play in! ^.^
I would like to see where the books pointed to those things as part of the Lunar design, so I can adjust my thinking.
It’s not that Lunars can’t or won’t have illusion magic, it’s just an issue of how it will be balanced against their shapeshifting, which is going to be very powerful. Free-standing, free form illusions are one of the most powerful effects you can get. It implies the ability to make multiple Solars and Sidereals see something that’s not there and draw conclusions which are incorrect, before dice ever come into play. The ability to work this kind of change on the world around you also doesn’t match the jutsu nature of Lunar Charms or how they interact with their Essence. Forcing an illusion on a single target through some means of contestable delivery is possible* within this design, but it would be far less powerful because it would be single target and contestable.
*though I am not guaranteeing it, since the rest of the mechanics have to be written.
As a general note, I find this an acceptable stance on Lunars. I’m simply pointing out that something we consider illusory is very different from what other cultures might consider, especially when removed from modern context although certainly not exclusive of modern context either.
Yes, there are multiple definitions of illusionist and different ways of being a Trickster. It’s why I have to be very clear in separating the meanings, because I don’t want people to think I’m saying “yes” to something I’m not, or “no” to something I’m not. In general, I am trying not to say no to anything, but to shine light on the design logic (without spoilers) to explain some of the reasons why X might happen but maybe not Y.
Quotes from the 1st edition core:
Those Lunars who retain their sentience also have a deep connection to the unconscious mind, and they can use this to create complex and deadly illusions or to evoke primal emotions – love, rage, despair and the like – in the minds of those around them, friend and foe alike.
There’s a rich mine of potential in that statement. Personally, I guessed this would be something like Malkavian Dementation, except with a more positive flavor, and maybe a touch of Cliomancy and a couple of Bard Buffs.
What I am specifically looking for are the design points that reference–indirectly or otherwise–the material he is citing.
I’m not sure I’m parsing your statement correctly. Do you mean source inspiration?
Na, just wondering if he sees some design point that I don’t. I see similarities but not the more damning absence of not being able to do what a direct progenitor of the Lunars could do. Which I know, was not his point. I’m not saying it is. But I have to evaluate resources based on the most extreme expectations. If I say “yes like Kitsune” and it’s only because your Lunar can have fox tails, then people who expected something else and didn’t get that are going to think I lied to them.
At this point I think the biggest thing that seems to stand in the way of my saying anything about the Lunar Exalted or having opinions about them is that I no longer know what their mythic inspirations are supposed to be.
At one point I would have said Anansi, Loki, Sun Wukong, or Baba Yaga, but now it feels as though any of all of those are not a part of the intended design. Although it’s hard to be sure because I know so little about what that design is.
Inspiration might mean as much as having one similarity, or being a direct port of something else. The Exalted are not a direct port of real world mythology. There are some deliberate similarities, though.