[Help Me Develop A Chronicle] The God-King's Runaway Bride

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CTPhipps
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Hey folks,

I've finally got an Exalted group together and I'm setting out the pieces for a lengthy planned campaign that will hopefully last a year's time or at least six months. Most of the players are pretty experienced and it is going to be a mix of Solar Exalted and renegade Abyssals.

I have the basics of a Chronicle worked out and I wanted to share it with you guys as I'm always eager to get feedback as well as figure out how to adjust things for the better.

Here's my basic set up:

+ The player characters are mostly Solar Exalted that have access to an airship (First Age artifact) that they have been using to do heroics across the Realm. We'll be starting with them having been together for some time and fighting off a bunch of Realm soldiers on the back of giant eagles or something suitably awesome.

+ I'll be portraying the Realm as unapologetically antagonistic on this. The Realm has its own issues but will constantly be sending war parties to harass and meddle with the PCs. The Realm isn't above attacking the people the Solar Exalted save either. In this world, the PCs as a group of five or six Solars are an existential threat to the Realm to who is running the Wyld Hunt as only one other Solar Circle exists as far as they know.

+ The PCs aren't scared of the Dragonblooded but they're ANNOYED and have wracked up a pretty impressive body count that just keeps getting bigger. Obviously, killing so many Dragonblooded and soldiers doesn't make them more popular but is draining the strength of the Wyld Hunt when everyone else is buckling down.

+ The PCs then proceed to receive a invitation from The God King who invites them to his kingdom and offers them sanctuary. I haven't gotten a name for the guy, I may go with Heru-Re because subtlety is for wimps. He is a Solar Exalted that has successfully taken over a homebrew kingdom in the South.

+ Unlike the PCs, the God King has been focused on nation-building and has been uniting city-states and building a army for the purposes of challenging the Realm. He's managed to unearth or start reconstructing a First Age city too with a few unearthed pyramids that are the Tombs of the PCs and himself.

+ The God King is also a Eclipse caste and this is important because his artifacts and the building he's unearthed have given him a boost. The PCs will find that his kingdom, I need something suitably Egyptian themed (Ptah? New Stygia?), is a place of prosperity and growth. It's also a kingdom with a vast number of VERY HAPPY slaves.

+ One of the moral ambiguity is the fact the people of this country are ridiculously happy to be serving the God King. The slaves aren't abused or beaten because they are all slaves to the God King and happy to serve. He's making extensive use of his superhuman charisma and charms. It's meant to be unsettling but also a direct contrast to everywhere else where its force of arms that keeps the population down.

+ In Vampire terms, the guy has a Presence 9. Except the PCs are effectively immune for reasons that will need to be investigated (either his Charms don't work on Solar Exalted or he took an oath in past lives).

+ The God King definitely wants to team up but he used to be part of a Solar Exalted Circle like theirs and this is how he accomplished so much. However, his Circle has broken up and he'd like their help to get it back. His fellow Solar wife was kidnapped by his Lunar general and he's terribly worried about this.

+ The PCs of course probably (correctly) suspect that she's run off with her Lunar mate from the First Age and just prefers him or her to the God King. However, the God King offers them a vast reward if they go help like freeing all the slaves from a city he just conquered or helping them liberate their hometown.

Not sure what.

+ Oh and the Runaway Bride and her Lunar lover may not be great people themselves. I was thinking they plan to raise an army to sack their ex's city-state. Because Solars fighting among themselves to do the Realms dirty work for them seems appropriate.

That's my current set of ideas at least.
Last edited by CTPhipps on Fri Feb 25, 2022 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Aramithius
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I'd build out some ideas for why the God-King (henceforth TGK for ease) actually wants the Solars around; if they're actively being hounded by the Wyld Hunt, that's the last thing that an empire builder like TGK should want knocking at their door. He'll need some pretty strong benefits out of them in exchange for housing them and potentially bringing the Wyld Hunt a-knocking. That can begin an "is it really worth the help" conversation, as you want to bring out the questionableness of TGK in the piece.

If he's linked to any PCs' past lives, you can use that to tease what's going on. Did TGK do horrible things in a past life, that look like they're being replayed? Have them appear in flashes or in dreams. Show a distant past that could possibly be the future.

One potential answer and "big mystery" that would explain the happiness of the slaves and the miraculously advancing empire is that TGK is in fact a stooge for Adeimantus, from Adversaries of the Righteous.
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andrix
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I'd also ask the question as to what the endgame or aim for the PCs here is, as a prompt for you to think about. There's plenty of hooks and cool stuff there but no clear drive as to what the group should be striving for themselves which I'd want to keep in mind as an ST

Is the idea that the campaign is for them to be tipping over the Realm at the end? Is it that they're meant to be cutting out their own kingdom, rule and righting Creation? If it's the later then are you prepared for the fact that the God King's kingdom is a bit of a focus steal from that? Or is the story that they're initially set up as being underlings to the God King to then replace him when he's found to be wanting in certain respects?
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CTPhipps
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Aramithius wrote: Sun Feb 20, 2022 8:17 pm I'd build out some ideas for why the God-King (henceforth TGK for ease) actually wants the Solars around; if they're actively being hounded by the Wyld Hunt, that's the last thing that an empire builder like TGK should want knocking at their door. He'll need some pretty strong benefits out of them in exchange for housing them and potentially bringing the Wyld Hunt a-knocking. That can begin an "is it really worth the help" conversation, as you want to bring out the questionableness of TGK in the piece.

If he's linked to any PCs' past lives, you can use that to tease what's going on. Did TGK do horrible things in a past life, that look like they're being replayed? Have them appear in flashes or in dreams. Show a distant past that could possibly be the future.

One potential answer and "big mystery" that would explain the happiness of the slaves and the miraculously advancing empire is that TGK is in fact a stooge for Adeimantus, from Adversaries of the Righteous.

If they're slaughtering every party of Wyld Hunt that comes knocking on their door, may I ask what he's supposed to be afraid of as the ruler of an Empire? I admit, part of that wasn't clear but I definitely want the Wyld Hunt to be established as Team Rocket at the start so we can eventually subvert that somehow.

Maybe when the Sidereals get involved.
andrix wrote: Sun Feb 20, 2022 8:51 pm I'd also ask the question as to what the endgame or aim for the PCs here is, as a prompt for you to think about. There's plenty of hooks and cool stuff there but no clear drive as to what the group should be striving for themselves which I'd want to keep in mind as an ST

Is the idea that the campaign is for them to be tipping over the Realm at the end? Is it that they're meant to be cutting out their own kingdom, rule and righting Creation? If it's the later then are you prepared for the fact that the God King's kingdom is a bit of a focus steal from that? Or is the story that they're initially set up as being underlings to the God King to then replace him when he's found to be wanting in certain respects?

Part of the issue with answering this is that I don't want to give the player characters an answer to that question. I don't know how their characters are going to react to TGK. Are they going to want to overthrow him and replace him? Free all of his slaves? Destroy his kingdom and potentially one of the few Solar refuges? I generally enjoy presenting these dilemmas to my PCs and then letting them go in whatever direction they want.

I basically have the ST style of presenting a sandbox and letting them build whatever castles they may (or knock them over).
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I think you need some sort of obvious goal for the players, even if it's just "build a kingdom" or "protect these refugees." The God King doesn't seem like something that will occupy them for long, one way or another-- even a Solar isn't going to be able to stop a full circle if they come after him head-on. Conversely, there's nothing to dissuade them from just flying away if they decide they're okay with his empire existing.
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I agree with Grod. I don't think you need to give the players that answer, not overtly anyway. Nor is there anything stopping you from pivoting away from what you think the answer is now, especially if it's a sandbox, but having an answer for yourself initially is a good way of helping focus in on things and shape the sandbox you give them. So if it's say a nation building game that you have in mind then it would help you seed things with other locations that are potential seeds for their own place, or potential foils and dilemmas to face if they side with the Sun King. If the game is a high pressured, action focused fight for survival against the realm then that would push you to include NPCs and artifacts and the like nearby that have a compelling reason to be fighting them etc. etc.

In my experience Exalted as a game is one that can get away from STs quickly due to just how high powered everything is and how much possibility there is. I'd always recommend to someone running it to make sure you've got a relatively clear picture of the sort of sessions and tone you want to see happen and then ask how whatever you're including is meant to serve that. Or you run the risk of something dragging your game off course or overshadowing a PC really quickly. High powered NPCs like the God King can be a huge part of the appeal for Exalted but you want to make sure that he's set up to compliment the sort of stories you want to tell for your PCs rather than ending up obstructing them down the line.

For my own game I have a list of keywords and themes that I keep in mind and use to keep things tonally and thematically consistent. My players have zero idea of what these are and some have shifted or been added to retroactively over the years, but it helps me as an ST

This may be suuuuuper obvious in which case apologies, but I'm going to throw it out there as my two cents for public viewing given this is a forum and someone else might also find it interesting or useful
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CTPhipps
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To give my best rebuttal and answer to the above.

So the first session has happened and the players killed the God King and now their Solar Exalted sidekick (two of player characters' biological daughter) is plugged into said God King's Solar Weapons Systems.

::)

Be interesting we're it goes from here.
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CTPhipps wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 11:08 am To give my best rebuttal and answer to the above.

So the first session has happened and the players killed the God King and now their Solar Exalted sidekick (two of player characters' biological daughter) is plugged into said God King's Solar Weapons Systems.

::)

Be interesting we're it goes from here.

CTPhipps wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 11:08 am To give my best rebuttal and answer to the above.

So the first session has happened and the players killed the God King and now their Solar Exalted sidekick (two of player characters' biological daughter) is plugged into said God King's Solar Weapons Systems.

::)

Be interesting we're it goes from here.
Whelp, he indeed did not last long. But it sounds like the players are starting to put down roots in his former kingdom, so all ahead full!
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Yes, I'm used to them throwing complete wrenches into my plans. It was the kind of huge ramification-inducing thing that will propel much of the rest of the plot.
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Since the original Chronicle premise is now trashed, I'm already working around their ideas:

1. The player characters will be now be protecting the Child Empress (their own biological child) because I love the idea of a child Solar Exalted that vacillates between horrifying and adorable. That gives a desire for them to protect the city and also be suspicious of whatever First Age technology is now responding to her as the Solar plugged into it.

2. Rather than trying to chase down the Runaway Bride, I now can use her as someone who wants to raise an army of the people outside the city to sack it because they murdered her ex-husband and are now usurpers of what she previously considered her kingdom. Her lunar mate can be her general and that sets up an antagonist for the future.

3. With the Eclipse caste Solar dead, the city is no longer under anything resembling control and there are multiple factions from feuding city-states and cults and religions that no longer are being forced to work together. These various groups are all interested in overthrowing the old order to put their own people in power or breakup the makeshift empire.

4. I'm inclined to draw from Mereen in Game of Thrones with the player characters' new regime under constant attack by an enigmatic terrorist organization that views them are foreign invaders. The thing is they're not WRONG but the people who are against them aren't exactly beloved by the other people in the city. I'm thinking they may be Yozi cultists, funded by the Realm or Guild, or both.

5. Having killed one of their fellow Solar Exalted may also have its own consequences among the Gold Faction or wandering Solars who hear the story second-hand. After all, Solars fighting among one another is the least thing they can afford these days and will, of course, lead to more Solars fighting among one another.

6. I'm going to have to come up with some creepy Conan the Barbarian-esque creepy cults to put in the city and similarly awful names. The Cult of the Human-Headed Spider, the Cult of the Dweller Beneath, and so on. Presumably there's plenty of places in this city to put creepy temples and overly large sewers since it's a First Age city they were rebuilding.
'
7. Eventually the Realm or Lookshy will want to conquer their city-state/empire because you don't let Solars establish an empire on your borders.
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CTPhipps wrote: Wed Feb 23, 2022 6:13 am 4. I'm inclined to draw from Mereen in Game of Thrones with the player characters' new regime under constant attack by an enigmatic terrorist organization that views them are foreign invaders. The thing is they're not WRONG but the people who are against them aren't exactly beloved by the other people in the city. I'm thinking they may be Yozi cultists, funded by the Realm or Guild, or both.
Hopefully with a better resolution than Meereen.

Spoiler
I got the impression that the show just kind of gave up with the Sons of the Harpy. They were initially framed as a consequence of Daenerys not recognising that Meereen had a culture beyond slavery and among book readers there was speculation that their leader was someone we'd already met.

Then Varys bribes that one prostitute with a bag of silver and it turns out they're just an arm of the old slave masters she already defeated and upon being rumbled decide that open warfare against dragons will somehow work better this time.

I also watched it with my Mom who refused to take them seriously and repeatedly called them "The League of Shadows".
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@Lioness 

There's multiple ways to handle it and the indications are that due to the books not being finished, that the developers of Game of Thrones misread George's intentions.

Spoiler

For example, your suggestion is that Daenerys has dramatically misjudged her position and the Mereen hate her because she's an invader who has inflicted a brutal monarchy ontop of them and is occupying their nation. It is something that cannot be solved by such simplistic ideas as, "the Mereen are evil slavers and thus I am bringing enlightenment to them."

My read is that George R.R. Martin was actually setting up the opposite message that Danny wasn't ruthless ENOUGH and she was only going to succeed by totally destroying her enemies rather than trying to make peace with them. A lesson that would help establish her Mad Queen credentials.

It's my stupid theory that the developers got told this only after they'd set up the more morally ambiguous plot. Which is morally ambiguous but on DAENERYS side not the slavers.


I could go either way with my version.
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