View Full Version : Fleshing out the Underworld (Exalted but Fluff only)

Evil DM Mark3
2008-10-26, 09:46 AM
OK at some point in the not too distant future I want to run an abyssals game. For those of you not familiar with Exalted some background:

Long VersionThe underworld is not part of the original design of Creation. It was created when the inventors of reality (the primordials) where overthrown by their servants (the gods) using enhanced mortal life as a weapon (the exalted). Some of the Primordials "died" and their death, by and by, created the underworld. But it is not possible for a primordial to die properly and despite their desire to enter oblivion they are stuck because of a thing called fetters, the typical "unfinished business" that ties ghosts to creation. In their case the fetter is for creation itself, they made it and cannot pass into oblivion until it is destroyed. These Dead-but-not-gone primordials are called "The Neverborn" because, well, they never where.

When they where cast down the primordials, in their moment of hatred and rage, cursed the exalted and the gods with The Great Curse. The Solar exalted that had been the generals in the great war and who now ruled Creation bore the brunt of it. First there was a a period of great prosperity and growth, then the curse hit and, slowly at first, the Solars (and to a lesser extent the Lunas (The Solar's companions) and Sidreals (The Visers)) went mad. The madness of the Solars was so great that the Sidreals (who by this point where suffering from real bond villain levels of mad scheming) conspired to have the Dragonblooded (lesser exalted who served as soldiers in the Primordial war and, unlike the other exalted, have no fixed number but instead pass on the exaltation like genetics) overthrow the Solars. This they did and the Sidreals locked the Solar's exaltations away in the Jade Prison.

Everyone in exalted has two souls, the lower soul is sort of instinct whereas the upper soul is more the sentience side. Exaltations BTW are a third soul that adds to the first two. What is meant to happen in creation is that the souls reincarnate but ever since the underworld came to be some have been hanging around as ghosts. Ghosts usually pass back into reincarnation after a while. When the Solars where killed many of their upper souls decended into the underworld. Long story short 13 of them agreed to serve the Neverborn and became the Deathlords. After a lot of time messing about and not doing their job one of them unleashed a disease known as The Great Contagon, a plauge that almost wiped out all life. If two of the others had not tried to steal her thunder and messed everything up she may have succeeded. That was 700 years in the game's past. Much more recently the Yozi (the imprisoned primordials) made contact with their dead kin and told them that if they sent the Deathlords to break the Jade prison and use specialy deisnged traps they could corrupt the trapped Solar essences to their bidding. The plan goofed and half of the 300 Solar exaltations got away. The Deathlords where given 100 of the remaineder as servants, the Abyssals.

The short versionThe underworld is ruled by 13 Deathlords (crazy powerful ghosts) who serve The Neverborn (dead-but-not-gone titans) who want to destroy the world. The Deathlords have 100 Abyssal exaltations between them that they can glue onto a dieing person to make them into a scary powerful half alive half dead things.

What I would like is this. They give you info on 9 Deathlords and leave the other 4 for you to give your own ideas. And I can't think of 2. Also I have only vauge ideas about on of the 2 I can think of. Also it is rumored (and in my game true) that each Deathlord has a secret weakness that can be used to kill them. Finding it out is likely to be hard but I would like to have them on had and so any suggestions are welcome. Oh for reference all Deathlords and Abyssals give up their name, hence the fruity titles.

Cannon Deathlords The Bishop of The Chalcedony Thurible: He uses relegion as his method to controlling and to bring about of Creation. He and his servants preach that life is pain and reincarnation simply a cycle of pain on pain. His texts form the basis for most of the Death Cults in Creation. His HQ is a temple that, due to some very clever geomancy, can exist in any one of eight places. His progress is slow compared to the other Deathlords and this is making the Neverborn impatient. For this reason he gives his abyssals a lot of free reign and even lets them freelance for other Deathlords at times. The Bodhisattva Anointed by Dark Water: Quite possibly the most dangerous Deathlord, simply because no one realizes how dangerous he is. He has a huge number of intricate and interwoven plots to destroy creation but annoys the Neverborn with his long timetable, estimating that he needs 1200 years or so. Like the Bishop he uses religion as a tool, but unlike the Bishop he has no religious feeling himself. He is currently building a massive warfleet from the ghosts of about 90% of his territory in creation's population (said population take it as a matter of faith that they infact reincarnate). The Dowager of the Irreverent Vulgate in Unrent Veils: The architect of The Great Contagion The Dowager has stewardship of The Well of Udr, a terribly powerful artifact that is the intersection of all realities and possiblites, going beyond even the Oblivion that the Neverborn seek. She has, through the Contagion, killed more people that anyone else in the history of creation and still fumes over the fact that she did not get them all. She now peers into the well looking for the anti-creation, the perfect opposite of Creation. When she finds it she will bring the two together and let them neutralize each other. The other Deathlords think her mad. She does not debate this, after all, what sane person whould have made a pact with the Neverborn? Eye and Seven Despairs: Was a young Solar who committed suicide a scarce six months before the Dragonblooded overthrew the Solars when the other Solars tormented him to the point of despair, eventually gifting him his still living father's left eye in a jeweled case. As a Deathlord he seems to have become obsessed with revenge against any and all slights, no matter how petty or imagined. When he puts his mind to something he is truly brilliant, but for the most part revenge is all he cares for. His biggest weakness however is the fact that unlike the other Deathlords he did not have millennia of experience as a Solar and even to this day is somewhat naive and inexperienced. The First and Forsaken Lion: One of the most powerful Deathlords he is also one of the least well regarded. Together with Eye and Seven Despairs he tried to steal the thunder of The Dowager and ended up bringing a premature end to The Great Contagion. For this the Neverborn first instructed him to take his army and build a new fortress an insane distance from everyone else, and then fused him into his armor in agony. Despite all this he is truly mighty both in personal combat (having been one of the oldest Solars when he was killed) and with his army. Unfortunately for him his isolation prevents him mobilizing it against creation. The Lover Clad in
The Raiment of Tears: AKA She Who Must Be Obeyed. Most Deathlords consider her a whore and wastrel. Only Bodhisattva thinks otherwise because he remembers her when she was alive. Remembers her, and fears her. Back, long before the Solars where cast down, she ventured into the deepest reaches of the underworld and learnt magic that could cause any man to die for the love of her. She is not, infact, as obsessesed with pleasure as she appears. Infact while she was alive she explored pleasure to the point where nothing was new or exiting to her anymore and she contemplated suicide. Now she seeks to bring all of creation out of the cycle of boredom and loneliness the seeking of pleasure brings. Her schemes are intricate and cunning and every last person who has tried to kill her has ended up bedded by her instead. Her Bane: She may only be slain by one for whom she feels unrequited love. The Mask of Winters: For centuries the Deathlords held an agreement that they would act with stealth and deceit so as to hide their nature and prevent the living from uniting against them. Then, out of nowhere, The Mask of Winters attacked the nation of Thorns. Most of the others now scrabble to try and match this accomplishment. For now it seems that his primary goals are to force the nations near Thorns to open political paths with him, and to kill his fellow Deathlords (although he keeps that quiet) . (He is however perhaps most famous for the error in a rulebook that meant that he was illiterate, errata fixed this but still, teh funney!) Princess Magnificent with Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers: Most who know these things call her the second-weakest of the Deathlords after Eye and Seven Despair, but it is not inexperience that brought her low, but a single misstep. When the Deathlords first moved on creation they did so very carefully indeed. Princess however moved a little faster than others and tried to enslave three tribes of refugees. The tribes where however protected by a trio of powerful gods who used meta-physical trickery to weave a story of her defeat. She was so terrified that she fled back to the Underworld and became the laughing stock of the Deathlords. She was punished, not for loosing as she had no way of guessing the presence of the gods, but for exposing the existance of the Deathlords to Heaven. The punishment is to serve the First and Forsaken Lion and it drives her crazy. Her weapon of choice is The Umbrella of Discord made from the bones and skin of five Solars, a weapon she made back before she died. The Walker in Darkness: What passed in his life is irrelevant. When he arrived in the Underworld it was without his memories. The truth is that he was slain by The Mask of Winters. Despite not knowing this The Walker in Darkness really dislikes The Mask of Winters thinking him without subtlety and blames him for the way that their enemies are now focusing on them more and more. He can at least claim to be competent, although he does tend to abandon one plot as soon as it hits difficulties in favor of his latest dark inspiration.

My Deathlords:

Twisted Artificer of Shattered Dreams: The Twisted Artificer is either the most or least competent of the Deathlords, probably the latter. He spends all his time in his main primary citadel, the Chapel of Tortured Steel, performing strange and unsettling experiments into the nature of Death, Necromancy, Geomancy, Fate and almost anything else that takes his fancy. What, if anything, is his overall plan is a mystery. His territories are small and where built up solely to allow him to harvest the resources he needs for his experiments. His servants all do what they please for the vast majority of the time, only receiving very rare instructions from their master. Why the Neverborn let him get away with this is a mystery, perhaps he is planning something or perhaps the spill over from his experiments is enough to please them. Almost all of his experiments are declared failures and are released into the vast tunnels under the Chapel, most of which where made by some of his early work and as such have a layout unknown even to him. What he does with successful experiments is unknown but rumors abound or necotised dragons and gods and of ghosts made of hybrid souls. Most rumors are ridiculous, and yet their persistence says something for the Twisted Artificer's reputation. He will perform services for other Deathlords but only if the problem is interesting enough, otherwise he ignores them for the most part.

No name yet: Not sure of much but I picture a female, almost 100% emotionless and detached, obsessed with efficiency with territory that resembles a Dickensian nightmare with a dead gentry, a mortal working class and massive factories where hundreds of mortals work themselves to death daily.

So, um. Ideas?

Innis Cabal
2008-10-26, 10:25 AM
March of Endless Dirges drapped in False Intent...for your other deathlord

2008-10-26, 06:10 PM
My advice? Build from the ground up.

Each deathlord has a few traits that are important: They have a goal, a method of achieving that goal, and a reason why they want to achieve that goal.

Take the Lover, for example. She wants to destroy Creation because she sees it as an endless cycle of boredom. She goes about it by carefully calculated plots, playing mortals and the Exalted against each other so they do her work for her.

The Bishop, on the other hand, honestly believes that Oblivion's cause is the only true path to happiness and seeks to guide Creation there. He does so by spreading death cults as far and as wide as he possibly can.

From those 3 basics, you can hang on the rest. The resources they have to put towards that goal, plots they have in the works to further that goal, side goals they may have, particularly vexing enemies that they might have, etc.

Nicely, one of the 3 basics is already given for you. All Deathlords want to destroy Creation. How soon differs between them, but all have it as their eventual end.

2008-10-26, 06:27 PM
Kyeudo has a good point. For an example motivation, maybe the Artificer wants to destroy it just for the data - he's curious.

As for the second, well, that's obvious. The world is so inefficient, after all...

As for Banes, how about Arty's being that you have to kill him with a sword he made just for that purpose? And No.2 might need to be killed while sleeping (and she never seems to sleep).

I'll see if I can't picture a deathlord or two for you...

Evil DM Mark3
2008-10-27, 08:22 AM
Kyeudo has a good point. For an example motivation, maybe the Artificer wants to destroy it just for the data - he's curious.First, thanks to all who took time to reply. Second, I have decided that the Artificer will only have that random crazy feel if I decide NOT to decide his motives and just do whatever seems interesting at the time. I like the idea for his band though. I had considered "only while she is laughing" for the other one but yours it good too!

2008-10-27, 09:21 AM

The Wrathful Dragon Caged through Hatred and Loathing: Desires to end existence because he views it as a prison that has separated him from his corporeal existence. His plan would theoretically enable him to gain permanent existence at the expense of all Creation, and he hates all Creation (his prison) enough that that suits him just fine.

2008-10-27, 01:10 PM
Imperial Supplier of Forbidden Power:
The Artificer's best customer among the death knights.
Likes to make wars happen.
Basic modus operandi: Finds a small nation getting oppressed by a big nation. Supplies them with infernal contraptions which change the tide of battle. Gets the ruler addicted to infernal power. Starts talking to the new rebels.
Ultimate goal: Create a state of Mutually Assured Destruction between two or more nations, then set it off.

Bane: Applied stupidity. Completely immune to anything magical, forged, technological, infernal, living, dead, hot, cold, etc. Everything but hand thrown rocks. Toss a rock at him.

2008-10-27, 02:42 PM
I don't play Exalted, but:

The Sinister Scholar with Watchful Eyes:

Possibly the most scatterbrained of the Deathlords, but also one of the most dangerous. Younger then the others, he, as his title suggests, is a cold, dispassionate scientist who is constantly making new magics, usually that of the weapon variety-and often several at once. Usually keeps to himself, and many of his schemes seem to fail, but this is deceptive-in reality, he keeps detailed notes on everything, and knows much about the hidden things in the world.

MO: Observes Creation until he sees a "situation"-usually a war or the actions of a cult-with potential for knowledge that could assist the Neverborn. Once that happens, he starts spreading his spellbooks around at places where they could best inflame the problem. Secretly, these books are also his artificial eyes, so he knows exactly what is happening wherever they are, and he suits his current plan to match. Indeed, much of his "failures" are actually experiments in human nature with a backup plan-whenever he's involved, you can never be sure if you've beat him, or if he's just collecting data. Inevitably, someone uses the new spells he created, and he marks down their effects. When everyone's dead, he collects his spellbooks, rinses, and repeats.

Goal: Unlike the other Deathlords, the Scholar doesn't wish to permently destroy Creation-he wants to recreate it in his image after it has been annihilated. To that end, he seeks a spell that would allow Creation's "bulding blocks" (and himself) to survive, but the rest annihilated. Once there, he plans to use the Neverborn's magics to put them back together. The Neverborn themselves would still die, so everyone-at least, everyone he knows-will be happy.

The scary part is, he already has a way to destroy Creation-he is the future co-creator of the Broken Winged Crane, and he's made a rough draft of the complete book-he just needs the safeguads.

Bane: The Scholar, while a brillaint scatterbrain, is still a scatterbrain. If he expects somthing, he can summon a magic that will maeke him invincible to that thing, but he can be caught unawares quite easily...Relatively.

2008-10-27, 03:49 PM
The Glimmer of Moonlight -

Perhaps, oddly enough, the nicest Dreadlord. (Insofar as that can be applied...) He wants to make the world better - and to his mind, that means it will have to be taken apart first. The Neverborn don't mind - they'll certainly die, whether his plan to reassemble Creation works or not. He's a bit of an artist at heart, really, and certain he can sculpt a better creation.

MO: Simple. Enhanced mortal life worked for the gods, right? No reason it can't work on Creation. To this end, he sets up territories to abduct subjects for remaking, and for study. He has Dragon-Blooded Exalted, Sidereal Exalted, Lunar Exalted, Fey, a little god or two, and uncountable other beings. All his collection lacks is a Solar Exalted, which his followers eagerly hunt for. These he studies, in order to create versions of their gifts for his subjects.

His remaking processes, contrary to what you would think, are quite painless, and often result in great beauty or gifts - he got his name from his penchant for silver in his designs. His creations are now mortals of great power - some kidnapped, some volunteers. He chooses those who have no hope, and offers them new lives. From orphans given silver eyes and wings, to soldiers left to die on the battlefield now encased in gleaming silver armor, his followers are utterly devoted.

He tends to avoid outright assault, if he can help it - he'd much rather work with the willing. If one of his followers are hurt, however, especially his orphan "angels", he grows enraged - in this state, he even frightens some of the other Deathlords. They've learned the hard way to leave his subjects alone.

Combat - Directs hordes of his followers, if he's calm. If you hurt his subjects, he might grow enraged, and assault you himself. He wields a sword and armor of liquid silver that can transform as he wills it - he might create anything from a cannon to a daiklave. He also has a personal pet - an obsidian dragon construct, chased with silver, whom he rides about. The dragon is quite intelligent, and often apologetic about slaughtering the Exalted that it faces. If he can, when he defeats a foe, he will later remake them into a follower.

Bane: Cannot die so long as one of his subjects lives, but is mortal when they are dead.

2008-10-27, 04:36 PM
Intresting...I can see my Deathlord and your Deathlord working together-The Scholar provides spells and raw materials, while Glimmer assists with his minions.

2008-10-27, 04:51 PM
Intresting...I can see my Deathlord and your Deathlord working together-The Scholar provides spells and raw materials, while Glimmer assists with his minions.

Indeed - it makes much more sense for Glimmer, as an artist, to have gotten his science-y majicky stuff from the Scholar, and the Scholar in return doesn't have to bother with recruiting. So long as Scholar remembers to play nice with Glimmer's minions, and Glimmer doesn't mess up the Scholar's plans, they'll probably get along quite well.

Heck, even their ultimate goal is compatible - just noticed that. Maybe Scholar is in charge of the science and construction for Creation 2.0, while Glimmer is in doing the artistic design.