Lunars And Cannibalism

Or they really are meant to be cannibals.

I mean, it fits. 1e Exalted was all about that. Remember Geoff's big rant about demon-summoning being powerful so that when you decide that there's great power to be had in bargaining with the infernal but that power is not for you, it's a genuine and meaningful sacrifice of capability and not just some shit you say to sound nice?

In 1e, if you were a Lunar and wanted to be able to take other human forms and weren't a changing moon with access to the changing moon anima, your options were 1) cannibalism, or 2) there is no option two. And so you had Lunars who didn't take other human forms, and Lunars who found it distasteful but too useful to entirely pass up, and on the extreme end you had Lunars who reveled in it, like Raksi.

Y'all are lucky I'm not in charge, I seriously would remove all non-cannibalism ways of acquiring alternate human forms in 3e.


Here's why I like limiting taking human forms to cannibalism: it makes stealing faces A Thing.

Like, as a Lunar, you can pretty much take any form you want. Fly as a bird? Sure. Swim like a fish? Yup. Eyes of the raptor, strength of the mammoth, speed of the cheetah. Infiltrate anywhere as a mouse. Transform into a terrifying beastmen amalgam of yourself and your spirit shape and then on top of that temporarily grow wings for flight or gills for water-breathing? Absolutely. Fuck, learn to become "Yourself, except of another gender?" Okay.

You can systemize it so that all those things are impressive mechanically. Obviously neither 1e nor 2e did, but you could.

Take someone's face, though… Well. That's easy, too. And it's so useful!

But it's a big step. It's a major decision, for a young Lunar, whether to do… that… or whether to put it off. Some Lunar elders maybe don't talk about it much. Others, maybe, laugh and call you naive if you insist it's as big a deal as it seems. And, ironically, it places a weird barrier in Lunar competence, because taking other human forms is not a thing that's terribly useful if you don't care to interact with society so much… but if you take that step, all of a sudden you've separated yourself from human society in order to be able to move more effectively within it. You can be the perfect social predator but in order to do it you need to become a social predator. It makes a solid and irrefutable statement about the way Luna expects her Chosen to relate to the world.

Also, what does it do to the experience of meeting a Lunar as an NPC, forming an opinion about him based on how he acts and how he reacts to you, and then later, meeting someone else and realizing the new person you just met is the same Lunar, wearing a different face?

All that goes away if you can just tell yourself "Enh, he probably has the sex knack."

Keep in mind I also like Shun The Smiling Lady for Sidereals—specifically I like having it at the base of the Socialize cascade where players need to buy it to progress, and then it sits their on their character sheet saying "You spent XP on me, are you just going to let me go to waste?"

Now, obviously, we are not doing this. But, yes, I think a big part of the appeal of cannibalism-only Lunars is it puts constraints on the characters you can play that you may not be entirely comfortable with.


You can't disguise yourself as a dog and infiltrate through the kennels? You can't escape pursues by taking the form of a sparrow? You can't watch a conversation as a spider on the wall, or just use your amazing charisma to seduce a servant-boy and have him smuggle you in?

Fuck, put on some makeup. Wear an outfit that lets you cover your face. You can use dice-adders to apply your disguise, you know.

…or you could take someone's face. It'd be easy to do!

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