A World Familiar, Yet Different . . .   Posted by The Grand Design.Group: 0
The Grand Design
 GM, 1 post
Thu 8 Oct 2020
at 22:59
A World Familiar, Yet Different . . .
"Stories say that, in the ancient times, great heroes rose up, empowered by the gods to strike down horrors that hungered for our world. In the peace that followed their triumph, though, they fell to infighting, warring against each other until the earth itself was rent asunder, casting their souls into the pit below . . ." The museum tour guide gestures to an ancient mural, reading from a prepared and carefully memorized script. The visitor group gawks from the other side of the velvet rope, their breath fogging the glass, before moving on, glassy-eyed towards the gift shop. A camera pans away, and a woman behind a monitor smirks at the lie well-told . . .

* * * *

This is the world of Exalted, as inspired by the Modern Shard presented in Shards of the Exalted Dream, but edited heavily. For inspiration, I'm drawing on the likes of "The Matrix" trilogy, "Blade Runner," "The Bio-Boosted Armor; Guyver", "Dark City", and "Wanted" (the comic book, not the movie), and "Final Fantasy VII" (especially the remake).

In broad strokes, this is creation, but far advanced. In many ways, it resembles our modern world, both in its sensibilities and level of technology. This is a world where mankind believes that, through science and perseverance, they have triumphed over the primordial elements that seek to scour mankind from the planet . . . or at least, placed themselves on even footing. More on that later.

Of course, this myth of the mighty man is a grand fabrication. The true masters of creation lurk behind the scenes, and they have shaped the course of human history with their power. In the time before, those chosen who took the corrupting powers of the dark titans into themselves turned on their fellows. After binding away the mad titans, locking them out beyond the stars, they stole creation for themselves . . . while wiping away all traces of themselves and their fellows from history. Now, the Thing Infernal rules the world from behind the scenes, a shadowy body politic responsible for creating the pall that hangs over creation, interrupted only by the neon lights of their urban metropolis.

At the edge of the worlds, the untamed elemental lands teem with spiritual energy and life. Mad shamans, barbarians, and monstrous storms of barely sentient elemental power teem. What leads these mysterious forces, and why do they seek the destruction of civilization? The people of the Blessed Isle believe the propaganda given them by their secret masters, and do not question the call to war, but for most, the battles are far away. For those who live closer to the frontier, however, life is a more harrowing experience, and many countries beyond the isle struggle daily with keeping the elemental storms at bay. It is for this reason that many have accepted extremely . . . one-sided agreements with the Isle's deliberative for protection.

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:02, Fri 09 Oct 2020.

The Grand Design
 GM, 6 posts
Fri 9 Oct 2020
at 02:50
The Chosen
The Infernals - The green sun princes, those corrupted champions of the primordial age long past, are the real power behind the thrones of the world. Though the Blessed Isle may believe its deliberative of mortal politicians holds all the power, its lineal royal family simply a figurehead and relic of the past, they have no idea who is really pulling the strings. Chosen by the thing infernal from those driven, connected, brilliant, or mad enough to suit their elite club of degeneracy, they are at once secret society, age-old conspiracy, and organized crime family.

Inspirations: If you've ever watched Speed Grapher or Guyver, this is the Roppongi Club and Chronos all rolled into one with a healthy dose of Shinra Electric Power Company mixed in.

The Sidereals - The shadow men. Secret agents. Enforcers of the Thing's grand design for creation. The hundred men and women of the Bureau of F.A.T.E. (don't ask me what it stands for yet, I haven't figured out the acronym) are boogeymen. Deep in their headquarters, they consult the probabilistic integrity engine, a piece of enlightened magi-technology that runs on the powerful prophetic abilities of the five mysterious maidens plugged hopelessly into its "think-tank." Here, they watch for disturbances in the pattern while making the Thing's problems disappear, adjusting the world to suit their vision. A growing conspiracy within the bureau, however, seeks to release the world from the Infernal's stranglehold.

Inspirations: These shadowy agents behind the curtain are the men in black. They're the agents from the matrix. Nobody is quite sure who they represent, but when they show up on the scene and start flashing badges, people fall in line. When they leave, nobody can quite remember what agency they were with.

The Dragon-Blooded - In the unending war on the Elemental front, the soldiers produced by Project Dragon-Blood are humanities greatest weapons . . . or so the propaganda says. While the public message is that any soldier driven enough and possessing the right aptitudes might qualify for the bio-essence therapies and drug-treatments that create the super soldiers of Project Dragon-Blood . . . the truth is that these elite specimens are actually the product of Infernal experimentation. Using elemental essence harvested from spirits captured on the front lines, human embryos were enhanced at fertility and prenatal care clinics across the Blessed Isle and its colonies. These special children have been monitored throughout their lives for signs of potential, called by the government to participate in the special program in order to catalyze their exaltation. Only the Thing and their sidereal agents know the truth behind the public lie, however . . .

Inspiration: There are plenty of super-soldier programs in fiction. The people believe these righteous soldiers to be heroes like Captain America. In truth, they're much closer to Shinra's Soldier program (of FFVII).

The Alchemicals - A wayward experiment in exaltation . . . one the thing hoped would allow them to create powerful soldiers without the careful breeding and catalyzing process necessary for their Dragon-Blooded. The Alchemical units were supposed to be a techno-organic interface system that would allow any person to be transformed into a weapon and brought under the control of the Thing. These palm-sized gems, overlaid with a lattice of magical circuitry, bond to a human host, transforming them into a bio-mechanical nightmare. Powerful and adaptive, project Alchemical has failed in only one regard . . . its subjects are completely out of control. While experimentation continues, a cadre of rogue sidereal agents, acting under the radar, arranged for an accident at a research facility to result in the "loss" of a small number of alchemical units.

Inspiration: The most direct and obvious analog for this version of the Alchemical exalted are the (anti)heroes of Guyver, but there's a lot of sci-fi manga from that period that could fit. The original Kamen Rider is a great example (though later ones drifted from the core tropes used here). Key themes are normal people becoming cyborg warriors, willingly or not, due to nefarious scheming and experimentation.

The Abyssals - In times long past, the Infernals betrayed their brethren and seized creation for themselves. Casting their golden souls into the underworld, the barren tomb land beyond creation, they closed the gates and considered the matter settled. For an age, they remained trapped there, steeping in the bleak energies of that eternal sepulcher. Now, however, the wheel of ages turns, and the gates to the underwold have opened. People on the edge of death find themselves empowered by a force from beyond the grave, hearing a voice they do not know that offers them a chance at power . . . and vengeance. Is the cost too high, though? Only time will tell.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:41, Sat 06 Nov 2021.