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Sahajiya

What would YOU do with the Underground Sanctuary?

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In First Edition, there was an awesome little book called Cult of the Illuminated. In it, you got to see every facet of the organization, from the "public face" of the Outer Circle to the "Exalts Only" club of the Inner Circle. It also gave a chapter that detailed the Cult's training camps, along with the methods they choose to prepare the Solars (and other new Exalts) for their role in Creation. Three camps exist, though only two are discussed in-depth. The third is left up to the Storyteller to create, and a sidebar gives a few suggestions on what the other camp's philosophy might be.

I'm taking one of those suggestions and making it my own.

Specifically, I'm going to be using the Underground Sanctuary as the base of operations for my game's Solars. It fits the feel of my chronicle's Solars and looks like a good way to build a foundation for heroic Exalts who aren't as pompous as the ones from the Tabernacle or as militaristic as the ones from the Rock. Rather than create this camp in a vacuum, however, I'd like to get your input to make it as well-rounded as possible. What sort of facility would you give it in Nexus? How would you set up its unique style of instructing the next generation of Exalted? How would you treat its master, Joseph One-Shoe?

In short, what would you do with the Underground Sanctuary and its Exalts?

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Curator

I'm too lazy to go look through my books now... so remind me what they say about the Underground Sanctuary.

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Fortunately, I have mine right here. To quote directly from their paragraph:

"The era of the glorious, lordly Solar is past. The other training camps foolishly cling to the past, attempting to resurrect former glories that can never return. The modern Solar is a hunted being, and Joseph One-Shoe, Chosen of the Maiden of Journeys, Master of the Underground Sanctuary, offers them haven deep in the underbelly of Nexus. Acknowledging the realities of the modern day, Joseph One-Shoe teaches his Solars to hide their divinity and to work their miracles out of sight. Resembling a loosely organized crime syndicate crossed with a charitable soup kitchen, the Underground Sanctuary uses its array of contacts and subtle influence to provide material gain and secret support to the Cult of the Illuminated. Far from irreligious, the Solars of the Underground Sanctuary lack the pretentiousness of the priests of the Tabernacle or the aloofness of Kether Rock's soldiers. They are street messiahs and heroes of the common man. The heated spice of revolution scents the air, and when it breaks the Underground Sanctuary will be ready."

I'm toying with the idea of housing the Sanctuary itself within a Water Manse in Nexus, one nestled within a part of Nexus that floods regularly (Cinnabar district, most likely) but deflects all but the worst tides due to the manse's design, making it a true sanctuary for those seeking shelter in that part of the city. Other details, however, are still being brainstormed...

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No suggestions, eh? C'mon, someone's got to have a comment or two on a "new" Cult of the Illuminated training camp. :)

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Donor

Well honestly, of the suggestions they provided for the Solar training camps, that is the one I least like.

Description and everything makes it sound like a Fagin-style learning camp....

But, if one were to pick that image up, shake it REALLY hard and put it down on it's side, you might discover a Training camp designed to create Batmen, heroes who operate in disguise, from the dark, guiding, judging and well...becoming Caped Crusaders and what have you.

Imagine, a Shadow Justice League of the Scavenger Lands, where the heroes are all part-time masked do-gooders, part-time social leaders and guides who stay low=key.

The Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Flash and so on are all very do-able with Exalted, and the idea of a school hidden beneathe Nexus pumping out Costumed heroes (and sadly the occasional villain) is begging to be used.

now the costumes obviously aren't going to be Super-hero costumes, but concealed identities and iconic imagery would be of the utmost appearance for them.

Through out the Scavenger lands, Solars are infiltrating communities in mid-level positions, becoming staunch citizens and good neighbours, while also bringing with them a costumed Alter-ego to bring Righteousness to creation.

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Huh. That's a take on it that I never considered, which is strange given that I'm such a comic book superhero fan.

When I read the description of the Sanctuary, the first image that popped into my mind (and forgive the '80s reference) was a Sidereal Mr. Miyagi training Solar-powered Daniels to counter the other two "Cobra Kai" training camps. Sure, they're all learning to use their Essence the same way to counter their opponents, but while the others are also building ego strength to match (especially those in the Tabernacle), the Solars of the Underground Sanctuary are coming from more humble and less lordly or aggressive origins. That unconventional approach - balancing the philosophical with the martial and grounding it with modesty - has the potential to build Solars who are more likely to help the little people that compose the vast majority of Creation, rather than stepping on them on the way to their throne, and thus are more likely to build this Gold Faction ideal of a new age that is as great and possibly greater than the First Age.

At least, that's my initial take on it. ;)

The superhero angle is an interesting facet to "hide their divinity and to work their miracles out of sight," and one that would certainly give a unique experience in the typical Solar game as they grow more and more powerful. I do like the "unsung heroes" type of story, those who fight the good fight away from prying eyes and never stick around to soak up the accolades...

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Donor

More so, with the direction of the new Solar Charms released on the Ink Monkeys blog: http://forums.white-wolf.com/cs/blogs/freelancers/archive/2010/04/07/ink-monkeys-vol-8-chosen-of-the-unconquered-sun.aspx (especially the Ride Charms) help move that ideal forth (the lone wandering masked Solar hero...)

I personally really like the idea of a generation of Masked heroes, Solars who take the route of Protectors and Servants of the Greater Good, who hide their identities to help keep their humility and perspective.

The School would likely even be willing to train ANY Exalt that comes their way. Think on THAT...

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The School would likely even be willing to train ANY Exalt that comes their way. Think on THAT...

Already on that! While the majority of my group is playing Solar Exalted, one of them really wanted to play an Outcaste Dragon-Blooded. To put him on somewhat even ground with the group's Solars, he's playing one of the camp's more experienced students. He's a bit... unconventional, in keeping with the camp's theme, but he's there to keep them from getting too full of themselves.

I also plan on opening up the other Exalted types to them through the camp once the chronicle progresses, but I wanted to have a solid foundation for the game with the Solars and DBs before I started adding Lunars and Sidereals to the crew.

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Curator

Interesting way of looking at it.

Call me a suspicious bastard, but my main thoughts latch onto the motives of any Sidereal who decides he wants a ring of Solar spies/crimelords...

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Interesting way of looking at it.

Call me a suspicious bastard, but my main thoughts latch onto the motives of any Sidereal who decides he wants a ring of Solar spies/crimelords...

It's true, graduates of the training camp might go off on their own and become the Exalted version of The Kingpin. Then again, they could end up as Creation's Robin Hoods, which I think is the intent here, judging by their write-up in the CotI book.

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Curator

You missed my point.

It's not so much what they become.

It's why the Sidereals want them to become people with a vast range of covert skills and lots of information gathering.

There's a huge possibility for the Sidereal to be using them as catspaws to gain all sorts of interesting things, information and act out all sorts of nefariousness while his Exalted pupils struggle to put together the full picture.

Also, a ready made villain is a Solar who does come off and become a vicious crime lord.

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You missed my point.

It's not so much what they become.

It's why the Sidereals want them to become people with a vast range of covert skills and lots of information gathering.

There's a huge possibility for the Sidereal to be using them as catspaws to gain all sorts of interesting things, information and act out all sorts of nefariousness while his Exalted pupils struggle to put together the full picture.

Also, a ready made villain is a Solar who does come off and become a vicious crime lord.

This is true. But one thing that I've noticed about the training camps as presented in the book is that both of them are deeply flawed due to the Sidereal running them. It's only a matter of time before the students surpass the teacher (as Solars are fully capable of doing) and seeing through the teacher's lies. I wonder how long a camp would last beyond that? Hmm...

Until then, the Sidereal has the most powerful covert ops team in the world to strike at the Bronze Faction, and any threats that may present themselves in the Loom of Fate. All it takes is a little careful manipulation and the right story to tug on their sense of right and wrong. :)

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When I finish what I'm working on, perhaps we can put our heads together?

As it stands, I'm writing up a Second Edition version of the creation rules for Cult of the Illuminated (since I don't think White-Wolf ever will). One thing that I hated in 1e was that if you had Calling Abilities and they overlapped Caste/Favoured, that you could get those Charms for 3 exp and get 2 points in any of those Abilities for 1 Bonus Point. I didn't mind all of the extra Charms in character creation, but those reduced costs made them broken.

With that in mind, I've been revamping it. As I have it, they're more or less made like a starting character (not one of the older kinds) in Dreams of the First Age. That is, they get the Caste and Celestial Training dots. I changed how Calling Abilities work. Instead, an Exalt gets one free dot in each of their five Calling Abilities. Calling Abilities do NOT have a reducecd cost like Caste/Favoured. With exp, they can buy the Charms of thier Calling Abilities at the same price as Cast/Favoured Charms, but there is no double reduction (sorry, no more 3 exp Charms!). With what comes out to 45 points in Abilities, 12 in Backgrounds (13 if you count the automatic 1 in Illumination), and 3 in Starting Essence, and the extra starting Charms, they're not exactly pushovers! (Not that any Solar is.)

Even with all of these extras, they're seriously detwinked. That said, however, once I finish the write-up, I'd love to post and share it, and then we could, if you like, put our heads together and come up with more ideas on the third school that you're proposing. I haven't even begun to think of a third school yet, but you've seriously piqued My interest.

With regard to the Solars figuring out that they're being duped, I wonder how quickly the fools of the Gold Faction would run back to the arms of the Bronze and finally realize that the Solars are too dangerous to be allowed to live? I've also wondered if the Bronze might just decide that the Gold are too dangerous and declare open season on them. Sure, heaven might burn, but if the Gold are not stopped, all of Creation could be lost. It would definitely be a scary setting if the Gold and Bronze went to open war.

I wonder how things would work with Green Sun Princes in the Cult? Of course, they'd pretty much HAVE to be renegades (but Green Sun Princes CAN'T rebel - if I understood Infernals correctly), since I doubt that the Yozis want to put the Green Sun Princes in a position to be quickly figured out by Sidereals.

Also, what about the school in Nexus? I wonder how bloody it would get if the Guild finally gets their way. We know that the Emissary could probably walk through any Solars like they were little kiddies (especially if one uses the idea that he's a First Age Solar, himself). What are peoples' thoughts on how that would likely play out (players stumping the ST aside)?

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I'd be happy to help where I can, sharing what I'm doing with my game and offering insights where I can. You should be warned, however, if it isn't obvious already, I tend to put more emphasis on the Solars as heroes and saviors than as ticking time bombs waiting to go off. Not that I don't use the Great Curse in my game, but I don't define them strictly by their one big flaw as others have a habit of doing. Yes, the Great Curse can - and should - be devastating when a Solar Limit Breaks, but they're not in a constant state of Limit Break. The majority of the time, they are the archetypal Hero of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, as they are intended to be. So there! :P

That being said, since I'm running a Solar-centric game, my emphasis is less on the Sidereals working behind the scenes and more on the Solars who are on the front lines. If need be, I can go back and connect the dots to make it look like the Sidereals were manipulating everything from the very start, which I'm eerily good at. As far as my players know, however, their actions are their own, and perfectly in line with what the Gold Faction has in store for them. Eventually, however, they will rise in the ranks and find themselves introduced into the Inner Circle, where they will indeed be paying attention to the man (or, in this case, faction) behind the curtain and decide if this is something they still want to be a part of, or if this is where their roads diverge. But that's still down the line a ways.

In terms of the third training camp, I have them running around Nexus right now and haven't gone into excruciating detail of how the Underground Sanctuary is set up, to give me some wiggle room as I continue to hash out how I want it to operate. I've also ditched the separate character creation rules for the Cult altogether, both because there's no 2nd Edition equivalent and because I think Solars are already at a decent advantage over the other Exalted types in terms of power level. Why do I need to buff them even more? Besides, by the very nature of the chronicle I'm running, they'll far exceed most other Exalted types after the first few stretches of significant downtime, anyway. I'm not opposed to the CotI creation rules, I just don't think I need them for this specific game. (And, on a strictly lazy note, I just didn't want to create new callings for the new training camp.) I do like what you've got on the creation rules, though. A notable advantage without being absurd. Yep, I like. :)

I also like the Gold and Bronze Factions going from a cold war to a hot war, with Creation and Heaven caught in the crossfire. That would be an awesome transition to play out, as the Sidereals use their Exalted tools (the Immaculate Order and the Cult of the Illuminated) to wage all-out war on each other. I may have to factor that into my future timeline for this game...

As far as the fate of the training camp in Nexus, this first story arc that kicks off my chronicle will put the Solars and the Underground Sanctuary itself in very good favor with Gen, provided no one does anything monumentally facepalm-worthy to jeopardize the plan. Getting into the city god's good graces will go a long way toward assuring the safety of the training camp, and might just buy the Cult another ally when things heat up.

Not sure what I can say about the Infernals at this point, since I'm not even sure I'll be using them in my game yet. I'd imagine that Lytek would be just as interested in studying them to find out how to "purify" the corrupted shard as he would the Abyssals, tho...

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All right, any further inspiration you might incorporate into a write-up of the Underground Sanctuary? I'm working on the geography and training regimen for the camp to put up on our chronicle forum sometime in the next couple weeks, so further suggestions on training camp elements are very welcome!

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