Troubled Lunar History

I think Peter made the best of a really nasty tangled mess. Of all the Exalted, the Lunars are the most thematically incoherent, and their Charmset is the blandest by far. Thank God they have Knacks to impart delicious, delicious flavor in conjunction with the Charms in their set which are flavorless (which is most of them).

Also, he was, within the constraints of his situation, probably correct to make them Silver Solars, since that's what people seem to have wanted to play since they first caught sight of Lunars in the 1e corebook (and that's what the 1e Lunars hardback bent over backwards to try to make sure you could not play them as).

Here, I'll quote Lea, since he sounds smarter than me when he explains this stuff:

"The Lunar Charm set is flavorless. It has no flavor. It has, instead (and to switch metaphors), what we in the video-game-playing business call a skin.

There are a couple of reasons Peter did this, but the big one was, Peter hated the idea of Eclipses being able to shapeshift according to the lunar paradigm of shapeshifting, with all protean flesh and everything, and he hated the idea of things-called-Charms that Solar Eclipses can't learn. So he wrote the entire Lunar Charm set around the idea of "Solar Eclipses should be able to learn these without breaking their own thematics" and then shuffled anything that would be counter to Solar thematics into the Knacks system. But because he was focusing on the dichotomy of generic-stuff-in-the-Charms vs. specific-stuff-in-the-Knacks, and he had already established that Knacks were about shapeshifting, he was locked in a conceptual blind alley of "The only specific stuff Lunars get is shapeshifting." The Lunar Charms came out very generic, and intentionally so..

This was a vast improvement over the 1e Charm set, which had specific Lunar Charms with specific Lunar-y effects based on, say, getting extra actions by growing a bunch of tentacles, and not just by being generically awesome like a slightly less powerful Solar with silvery special effects instead of gold. But it was hardly ideal, as it turns out.

Back to skins.

Very nearly every single Lunar Charm has a "flavor text" that starts with the statement "Lunars are awesome, like some kind of animal" and then describes a mechanical effect that could very easily be described according to any other sort of flavor text you can imagine."

And yes, I know it's not every Charm, but it's most of them. I'm too lazy to go through and compile a list, but I'm positive it'd be longer than yours (and would contain more than a few of the same Charms).

I'm aware of the long trip Lunars took to get where they are, and they bear severe scars from it. They were originally not playable at all, then they were made playable at the last minute but given no niche. Grabowski eventually decided that, since all of the playable Exalt types were also self-contained genres of epic fantasy, Lunars would be savage fantasy in the vein of Conan, the poetic Eddas, or the Saga of Burnt Njall. This pushed them to the margin of Creation, which was good, because he felt that there wasn't enough room left in the setting for 300 Celestial Exalts to have been actively doing stuff for the last 1500 years. This had to coexist with the mandate that Exalted be full of WoD callbacks, so in addition to Conan-Aesir-Njall they were also Garou to some degree.

Grabowski miscalculated badly, in that people latched onto the corebook's portrayal of Lunars very hard, and moreso in that nobody writing the Lunars book grokked savage fantasy and what made it so very cool. The guy who did the Storytelling chapter, in particular, seems to have thought the subject matter sucked ass and wrote his chapter around trying to help you have fun despite Lunars being boring and dumb. But the one thing that came through very clearly was that you were not supposed to be some guy from Nexus who Exalted under Solar-like circumstances and did Solar-like things. You definitely ought to Exalt while wiping with a pinecone, and should rape at least four people per day who believed in the heresy of toilet paper.

Oh, and they are full of natural instincts to go claim some territory and insanely attack anything that comes near it, including other Lunars, because they're like, animalistic loners, man.

In a game that is designed for 3-5 players.

I feel sorry for Grabowski, really.

Then we get to 2e, and there is a lot of pressure on for this to be the book that redeems Lunars. So not only does the book have to explain what 300 Celestial Exalts have been doing for the last 1500 years, in a timeline that has left no room for any real answer that would shift things into a different shape, but it also has to be a direct refutation of the 1e book's focus on the cannibal rapist pinecone-wiper tribes. Oh, and it would be nice if Lunars were actually designed to do something, like the Solars and Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals, rather than just having been designed to be Robin to the Solars' Batman (but they don't do that any more!).

So now they're mostly out at the margins with the barbarians but carrying out a secret agenda of social terraforming to create the Perfect Society! (But note that this doesn't play out on the same time-scale the setting's written to go forward at; a Lunar in the West is hardly going to complete the Great Society in the paltry two years before the Bodhisattva launches his Black Fleet.) So now a bunch of stuff we had before is the result of Lunar meddling. Okay. But! What are they supposed to do? Well, they're supposed to DEFEND STUFF. They were made to defend the world, in a general sense! And in a more specific sense, they safeguard specific things, like this society, or that Solar. This gets grounded into the mechanics to the point that their Motivation must revolve around stewardship!

But Luna designed the Lunar Exaltation to select for survivors, outsiders, and iconoclasts. Because those totally make the best stewards, I guess.

Oh, and they shapeshift, too!

Lunars are thematically incoherent because they're a bunch of patches and welds stuck on top of patches and welds. They're really cool, and it speaks to the talent of the 2e team that their book came out so very well in spite of everything naturally dragging it toward coming out badly. But the incoherence still shows if you bother to look for it.

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