How much do (Celestial) Exalted remember of their past incarnations?

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TryingToBeSlim
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Asked this on the Onyx Path forum only to realise the forum was not working so I came over here.

I used to think that most memories were removed (unless you had the past lives merit from 2E) but I am reading about Rukhsara-Who-Remembers in 3E and one of her big things is that she has memories of her past life that are apparently clear enough that RAKSI consults with her on matters of lore and sorcery.

Narratively : Is Rukhsara just special? or is it a Lunar's only thing and not shared with other exalts? Or do many exalts remember their past lives?

Mechanically : Is the Past Lives merit present in 3E?
 

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Greyman
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Yes, Rukhsara-Who-Remembers is so named exactly because such clear recollection is meant to be exceptional. There is no merit to allow that.

Miracles of the Solar Exalted discusses the intended portrayal of past life inheritance in third edition, as mysterious guidance rather than detailed memories... Strange, inexplicable dreams. Emotional reactions to significant places. Feelings of deja vu triggering visions. So forth, et cetera.

It also manifests in how spirits, sorcerous workings, artefacts, occult places, and other old magics might recognise the exaltation and respond to the exalt as if they were 'who they once were'; for good or ill.
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andrix
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This certainly seems to be one of those things that 3rd edition has made a concious decision to play down a little. I think there's a general concensus that the edition as a whole makes an effort to be, I'm not sure if grounded is the right word, but certainly more epic on a human scale rather than the 2e approach where characters quickly had the potential to outgrow the immediate world around them.

Greyman gives a pretty good summary of my understanding of the 'canon' approach to stuff. It's one of those things however that I've always put down to people's mileage varying and would encourage ST's and players to simply find the level that suits them. For me personally past lives are a big draw to Exalted, I find that idea of personal narratives being epic and told across thousands of years to be a unique potential of the game's lore compared to other tabletops. I love leaning into the idea of dealing with the sins and triumphs of the past, of characters grappling with these legacies they've been left or untangling relationships that have happened across multiple incarnations. But I've always gone with that as snippits and feelings rather than simply having a full recollection of how things were.

And I also know not everyone is so grabbed by it, including within my own group, and that's cool too.

Fortunately it's an element that feels pretty easy to tune to your own tastes provided you've got an ST that's willing to go with you on it. A past life merit doesn't exist but is easy enough to simply create without it breaking anything. Or you don't even need a merit for it and can just sprinkle those elements and stories into 3e games just as readily as you could with 2e.

Did you have a thing you were asking this for specifically or was it more of a general curiosity?
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Bastet
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I could see the merit coming back in some capacity if someone writing for the gameline has thought of an idea to make it interesting.

Right now though, appropriate lore specialties actually do more than the old merit did because you can work with your ST to make suitable narrative declarations based on this via Introduce A Fact.
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Bastet wrote: Sat May 07, 2022 11:55 am I could see the merit coming back in some capacity if someone writing for the gameline has thought of an idea to make it interesting.

Right now though, appropriate lore specialties actually do more than the old merit did because you can work with your ST to make suitable narrative declarations based on this via Introduce A Fact.

First Age Memories(2 points): The Celestial happens to possess surprisingly vivid and extensive memories of her past lives. First Age topics are always viable for Introduce a Fact rolls regardless of education or other backgrounds. If she does not know Old Realm she can still understand it enough to get the intent of written or spoken Old Realm regardless of normal literacy.
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So, you know how in avatar they found Aang because he picked the right toys out of a huge amount of toys? And how Aang said 'but I didn't get any big visions or anything, those toys just seemed kind of fun and nostalgic'? Mostly stuff like that. Actual complete memories instead of subconscious level responses are rare and only likely to happen for events that left the deepest kind of mark possible on the soul of the previous holder. Rukshara got an epithet out of the level of memory she retained for a reason, by the games baseline she is a freak occurrence outlier.

Of course, as usual, the disclaimer of 'feel free to change it if you have a story you want to tell' always applies.
Last edited by Mizu on Sun May 08, 2022 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Thanks all.

Special shout out to Greyman for pointing me towards Miracles of the Solar Exalted. Will read it.

andrix wrote: Sat May 07, 2022 10:26 am This certainly seems to be one of those things that 3rd edition has made a concious decision to play down a little. I think there's a general concensus that the edition as a whole makes an effort to be, I'm not sure if grounded is the right word, but certainly more epic on a human scale rather than the 2e approach where characters quickly had the potential to outgrow the immediate world around them.

Greyman gives a pretty good summary of my understanding of the 'canon' approach to stuff. It's one of those things however that I've always put down to people's mileage varying and would encourage ST's and players to simply find the level that suits them. For me personally past lives are a big draw to Exalted, I find that idea of personal narratives being epic and told across thousands of years to be a unique potential of the game's lore compared to other tabletops. I love leaning into the idea of dealing with the sins and triumphs of the past, of characters grappling with these legacies they've been left or untangling relationships that have happened across multiple incarnations. But I've always gone with that as snippits and feelings rather than simply having a full recollection of how things were.

And I also know not everyone is so grabbed by it, including within my own group, and that's cool too.

Count me in as one who loves them.

andrix wrote: Sat May 07, 2022 10:26 am Did you have a thing you were asking this for specifically or was it more of a general curiosity?

Trying to convert my old character into 3E, he had the past lives merit.

Also it helps to give him a bit of a background/oomph as a Zenith.

Game is set before current timeline, Empress is still around and UCS has still turned his back so my Zenith's vision was of the UCS's back (literally) while feeling how disappointed the god was.

That experience along with his past memories (so the guy knows who the UCS is a bit) made him swear to make the UCS forgive/embrace/turn back towards his children.
 

Mizu wrote: Sun May 08, 2022 12:28 am So, you know how in avatar they found Aang because he picked the right toys out of a huge amount of toys? And how Aang said 'but I didn't get any big visions or anything, those toys just seemed kind of fun and nostalgic'? Mostly stuff like that. Actual complete memories instead of subconscious level responses are rare and only likely to happen for events that left the deepest kind of mark possible on the soul of the previous holder. Rukshara got an epitaph out of the level of memory she retained for a reason, by the games baseline she is a freak occurrence outlier.

Of course, as usual, the disclaimer of 'feel free to change it if you have a story you want to tell' always applies.

That sounds solid and I will use that for my PC for a general case.
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Happy to be of help
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andrix
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TryingToBeSlim wrote: Sun May 08, 2022 4:25 am
Trying to convert my old character into 3E, he had the past lives merit.

Also it helps to give him a bit of a background/oomph as a Zenith.

Game is set before current timeline, Empress is still around and UCS has still turned his back so my Zenith's vision was of the UCS's back (literally) while feeling how disappointed the god was.

That experience along with his past memories (so the guy knows who the UCS is a bit) made him swear to make the UCS forgive/embrace/turn back towards his children.

Sounds like you've got a pretty clear idea of what you want to see here, so in the absence of a dedicated merit I'd maybe suggest speaking to the ST and just asking if it's something you can play with narratively and have lean into the story. Alternatively homebrew one between you. Maybe something like being able to make lore checks or something similar.

I'm a fan of the whole zenith wanting to win back the Sun's approval thing btw, there seems like some really good material for some existential crisis type stuff there
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BogMod wrote: Sat May 07, 2022 7:05 pm
Bastet wrote: Sat May 07, 2022 11:55 am I could see the merit coming back in some capacity if someone writing for the gameline has thought of an idea to make it interesting.

Right now though, appropriate lore specialties actually do more than the old merit did because you can work with your ST to make suitable narrative declarations based on this via Introduce A Fact.

First Age Memories(2 points): The Celestial happens to possess surprisingly vivid and extensive memories of her past lives. First Age topics are always viable for Introduce a Fact rolls regardless of education or other backgrounds. If she does not know Old Realm she can still understand it enough to get the intent of written or spoken Old Realm regardless of normal literacy.
I'd consider allowing Facts to be introduced with Integrity rather than Lore because the source isn't your knowledge of the world. Not sure about automatically understanding Old Realm though, maybe it could negate the normal Lore 1+ and Occult 1+ prerequisites?
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Could work. Was just trying to throw something out there with some impact. The negation could certainly work or perhaps a penalty to social rolls as you are getting the gist of it but not the details. Something along these lines though definitely something I would allow in a game.
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There's already a penalty with communicating non-verbally that I've always assumed to apply if you don't share a language with someone.
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That is a good point. I had forgotten about that.
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