Green Exaltations Aren't Devil's Bargains

Foxcalibur posted:

The correct answer to "when I rise to bladdah bladdah you can still have blow and hookers," is to say "keep your blow and hookers, thank you, I don't want any part in your revenge." Even if that means you DIE, then and there, it's the right answer. The Yozis drive a hard bargain, but you don't have to take it. All you have to do is resist one extreme: to serve hell.

Stephenls posted:


What good does refusing it serve? Creation has no YHWH, and the closest thing it ever had to that is now the Demon City. There is no Baby Jesus who you will make cry by listening to a demon. You have no afterlife in heaven to look forward to when you die, no matter how good you are, just lethe and reincarnation or a grey half-existence in the Underworld, which itself can only lead to lethe and reincarnation or the far worse Oblivion option.

The Exaltation the demon is offering you is going to go to someone.

The story of Fauste, and its themes, which you seem to adore so much, is tied into a big whole mess of other things, and Exalted's position as a narrative and as a set of assertions is basically "Fauste is just something the Church tells people so they'll keep tithing and doing whatever the priests say." Just like Exalted, as a game line, takes the position that "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" is first and foremost something kings say to keep the lowly peasants from aspiring to kingship, and if there's any truth to the statement, that truth is not the reason why kings like to say it.

Rebelling Against the Yozis

If you swear loyalty to She Who Lives In Her Name and then spend all your time making a big empire in Creation, you are rebelling against her. She wants you to crack her out of hell and then get out of the way.

The Incarnae just wanted their Chosen to stay out of the Jade Pleasure Dome. That's not a huge deal when the Exalted had all of Creation to play around with. The Yozis want a hell of a lot more from the Infernals than the Incarnae ever wanted from the other Exalted. That's why the Infernals might rebel when the other Exalted didn't. —-

Two Types of Villains

The Yozis are a type of villain not often seen in action movies.

In action movies, you will often see the sort of villain where everything goes right for them up until the very end. This is so normal that we assume every villain works like that. Sometimes they're written very well — Hans Gruber in Die Hard, for example. Other times, they are written badly — most Bond villains. But it's very normal to have villains who are going to succeed right up until the last minute.

That's not the Yozis.

The Yozis are another type of villain. They're the type of villains where things start out going well for them, and then the protagonists get involved, and the villains' control of the situation starts to slip. This makes them nervous. In their nervousness, they start to make mistakes. These mistakes make them more nervous, and they start to get panicky and desperate. In becoming panicky and desperate, they become more dangerous — not because they're going to succeed, but because they'll begin to take courses of action they wouldn't have previously considered.

If you've read Thud!, by Terry Pratchett, the Yozis are the dark dwarves. If you've seen The Dark Knight (and this is a particularly good example about Infernals in general, but not particularly topical to this discussion because we're talking about the possibility of not-evil Infernals), the Yozis are the mob bosses and the Infernals are the Joker. The Joker kicks the mob bosses in the balls because they did not know what they were doing — they were scared and desperate and so they made a mistake.

This sort of villain also shows up in crime fiction a lot, you know, the kind where the bad guy seems smart and on the ball at the beginning, but by the end he's holding a gun to a hostage's head while standing with one foot over a very long drop, surrounded by police who are pointing guns at him and saying things like "It doesn't have to end this way."

More to the point, this is what happens in real life to plotters who start to lose their grip on their plots. The Yozis aren't the Exalted. They don't get to drag their genre protection around behind them. For the Yozis, Exalted begins in media res — by R.Y. 768, they've become very desperate. They haven't been winning for a long, long time.

It has always been presented that the Yozis aren't dangerous because they're going to escape Hell. They can't escape Hell. They're fucked. They're dangerous because they can't accept that they can't escape Hell, and in their attempts to do so, they might burn the world as a side-effect.

Their portrayal is not limited to this, and includes aspects of the Yozis as Hans Gruber, because it's understood that a lot of people will want to run them as masterminds about to succeed up until the last minute, so there's support for that. But Hans Gruber is not the portrayal of the Yozis that arises naturalistically from their place in the setting.

Yozis on Eggshells

It says right out in Games of Divinity, the first place the Yozis ever got detailed and the material every portrayal of the Yozis since has walked on eggshells to preserve:

"They are Primordials: creatures that predate the gods, the first rulers of the world, cast into their cells of stone and brass by the power of the Exalted and the gods that created them. They are the cousins and allies of the Malfeans, the dreaming lords of death and endings. They are the princes of a cold and purposeless world, lit by a green and angry sun, locked forever outside the boundaries of Creation."


"The Ebon Dragon's nature is to test his prison. He does not trust the work of the gods to contain him, for he is that which they are not. Thus, the Yozis have given him the task of breaking their durance, and his plans work always to free him from his cell. This effort is doomed, but it may be that the Ebon Dragon may damn Creation along the way."

(Note that in 1e, "Malfeans" was the term used to refer to the Neverborn — this was an oWoD reference. In 2e, they were changed to the Neverborn because it was confusing to have Malfeas as Hell, and the Malfeans as a group of dudes who didn't hang out in Hell, but in the Underworld instead.)

It's pretty clear: The Yozis ain't getting out. They are mistaken; their efforts are doomed; they will not succeed. They are dangerous for the damage they might cause along the way. As for the Infernal Exalted: they're Exalted — Primordial-defeating weapons. We know what happens when the Exalted and the Primordials clash. The only thing that can threaten the Exalted is the Exalted, and from this will come the world's ruin.

It may help to understand the logic behind the decision to present the Yozis this way.

"The Yozis are about to escape Hell" is the single most cliche, predictable, been-done plot you could possibly run with them. In almost every RPG in existence with a Hell and Demon Princes in it, the Demon Princes are about to escape Hell and wreak their havoc on the world. Geoff Grabowski, the original developer, and Jenna Moran, the writer of the Demons chapter of Games of Divinity, knew that everyone would assume that's the way you're supposed to run the Yozis. It's not, though. The Yozis are wreckage. Hell isn't Mordor; it's a field of undetonated land mines from a forgotten war.

So they explicitly prohibited Yozi escape. They figured that's the only way they could ever get anyone to even consider using the Yozis for different sorts of games. By default, most people are just going to ignore that stuff about the Yozi escape being impossible and run The-Yozis-Are-Escaping games. By default, most people use Exalted to run slightly higher powered D&D. But if they hadn't declared it impossible, everyone would have run those games, not just most people.

The Storytelling chapter of Infernals devotes so much space to Infernals games where the Reclamation is utterly doomed and cannot succeed because that's the way it's supposed to work. It devotes space to Infernals games where the Reclamation isn't doomed because while that's not how it's supposed to work, it's how most people are going to use it anyway.

And I think the first chapter gives the most support to the obvious, not-doomed interpretation of the Reclamation because that's the easiest version of the Reclamation to write.

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