Where It All Went Wrong


Basically, the Fair Folk outline helped me out tremendously. Grabowski had a strong vision for Fair Folk which got dropped down a storm drain somewhere between the outline and the 1e book's publication and was never recovered.

At least, not until I put some gum on the end of a stick and Jesus I'm torturing this metaphor to death. Um. Well, you know how that turned out.

So I went to all this trouble to get the Lunars outline hoping it would be a similar situation- here's the complex, nuanced, thoughtful original design blueprint for what the Lunars were supposed to be before the devils of miscommunication and poor impleme-

No. Not so much.

I love Geoff, he is my favorite game designer to have ever walked the earth, but in this case a bad book grew out of a bad outline (I think it was written before the corebook was even on store shelves)-AND there was at least one last-minute writer substitution that I know of for certain. Maybe more.

There was no original guiding vision for where the Lunars fit into the greater scheme of things. The outline is about doing up the Barbaric Exalted, simple as that—sure, there are some Lunars that aren't barbarians, but they're outside the book's scope of interest the same way outcaste DBs were outside the scope of their hardback.

It was very much intended to be a book about introducing the Conan savage fantasy milieu to Exalted. And as such, it is the only time I've ever seen Grabowski instruct his authors to write with a bias- downplay the usual Exalted nitty-gritty realism, downplay the missing teeth and lack of toilets, and emphasize that these are REAL MEN living REAL LIVES who spit on the soft decadence of civilization! I'm guessing this book's calamitous failure is the reason every subsequent Exalted book assumed a tone-neutral style of delivery rather than the splat-slant practice of the old WoD.

The word 'rape' doesn't appear anywhere in the outline, amusingly enough.

Neither does the word 'chimera.'

There's no thought given to Lunars in the larger context of the setting because the book doesn't care about mixed games-it shares this failing with all of the 1e hardbacks. The outline is totally about the barbarian swords-and-sandals genre experience.

So what actually went wrong with the hardback is that the authors clearly wanted to do the no-toilets cultural anthropology thing, and had to fight their instinct to do realpolitik barbarians and balance that against Grabowski's mandate to focus on Conan chasing down the ice giant's daughter so he could rape her. They wanted to talk about marginalization of fringe societies, Grabowski wanted Thundarr and Princess Ariel stalking Fair Folk through someone's ruined First Age shopping mall. (Horrifyingly, the actual Lunars ended up more as Ookla the Mok. Augh.) The result is a clusterfuck that yaws back and forth between the two tones; and while I won't name names, the guys who handled chapters one and two are some of White Wolf's best writers. Their particular talents were ill-suited for the assignment and directions, is all.

Grabowski's mandate not to make the Lunars Garou or fera was roundly ignored as well, naturally.

In essence, folks, this is not Graceful Wicked Masques. There is no powerful original guiding vision to return the Lunars to.

It's all down to us.

Now, it had some good ideas, as well, things that were not followed up on, and you'll be seeing them as new Lunar material rolls out- I won't spoil that yet.

The other good news is, we're up to the task, and already have the really tricky issues solved. Now it's just a matter of a hell of a lot of cleanup and actually implementing all those ideas.

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