Exalted – The Raksha Hordes

The Creation of Adam

And thou shalt have facial hair, and be like unto me in a very small way…

Sleighwen, The Bard Who Calls the Stones To Weep

Sleighwen’s narrative is one of lost love, of mourning – and of hope. He mourns Branglera, a daughter of creation, who fell to time – aging and dying in an eyeblink as mortals do. He travels Creation singing of her – of her beauty and kindness and love, of the tragedy of time and death. He sings of a loss that need not be eternal – for when all creation has shed a tear for her, then she will be reborn of the Wyld as a Raksha, perfect and eternal – and his long sorrow will be at an end. Until then, he wanders and – in her memory, and because those who mourn for themselves have little time to hear his song and sorrow for others, he uses his mighty powers to negotiate an end to wars, to bring health, prosperity, and joy to the people of Creation, to defend them, and to wipe away their tears – asking that they shed but one for his own ancient pain. His music and his narrative spreads far and wide, entangling everyone – whether as sympathizer or as someone so hard-hearted as to be unmoved by his ages of epic grief.

Is his story true? Did Branglera ever actually exist? Is he in the right version of Creation? Could Branglera indeed be born or reborn of the Wyld once all creation has shed a tear for her? Does it matter? Sleighwen has come forth from the Wyld, and has entangled much of Creation in his tale – and that is much to Creation’s benefit.

Is Sleighwen a likely foe?

Well, not really. You could contrive something of course. Perhaps the princess must never shed a tear, since that is the key to unlock some terrible doom, and thus the Sidereal Brotherhood wishes to stop the music. Perhaps some Crafter wishes to harvest the eyes of twenty children who have never cried to make some wonder. Perhaps you’d really be stretching there unless you’re running a “we like nastiness!” Abyssals or Infernals chronicle.

Is Sleighwen an Ishvara? His essence is very high, his tale certainly spreads to involve everyone around him, it places the little gods of creation under his sway – rendering him immune to weapons and environmental damage (if not to unarmed combat) and to ranged attacks other than shaping combat, as well as allowing him to work instant thaumaturgies affecting massive areas – and he has many other unique powers. He probably is.

And he’s still basically harmless. This sort of thing is why the Raksha only make a difference when there’s a statistical fluke. They are BORN of Chaos – but they don’t SERVE Chaos. The only inherent bias in their desires and motives is towards survival and activity, and even that is only because the ones who don’t have a survival drive simply dissolve into chaos again, while those who lack a desire to be active tend to be content manifesting as inanimate objects or passive pieces of the landscape. For every “Destroy Creation!” narrative, there’s a “Defend Creation!” narrative, a hundred or so – such as Sleighwen’s – that rely on Creation’s existence (and so will draw them to defend it), another hundred or so which exist in opposition to those benign motives, hundreds more involving goals like “locate the best of all beers!”, and thousands that have nothing to do with Creation at all since they’re founded on ideas and principles that have no place in it.

Fundamentally, the larger the number of Raksha are in any given area, the more likely it is that any given individual Raksha will have a counterpart who will effectively cancel out their efforts, whether directly or indirectly. Sure, there will be the occasional random cluster which will have an impact – but even the greatest Ishvara will never be able to draw the vast majority of Raksha into involvement as anything other than “audience”. Yes, the Balorean Crusade had quite an impact on Creation – but there have probably been a thousand other Raksha Crusades, every bit as powerful, since. It’s just that when a flood of Raksha pour in, visit a small island called Roril, turn all the parrots there a pretty shade of electric blue, and – their crusade against Green Roril Parrots victorious – depart into chaos again, it’s entirely likely that no one will notice. Even the Loom of Fate probably won’t care about the color of parrots on a distant island.

Raksha motives and narratives don’t have to be anti-creation, or even coherent by Creation’s standards. They just have to BE.

If there are long-term limits to their power, then – in a long-term sample – the trend will tend to be towards becoming sociable, peaceful, averse to risk, focused more on defense than offense, showing some self-restraint, and using tolerably effective strategies. The weaker ones will band together in more stable areas and groups. How do we know that? Simply because those traits tend to lead to long-term survival when there are no more rewards to be won.

Taking large risks to build up power rapidly is a viable strategy as well if there is no upper limit – but the general assumption is that there is. For an immortal, it’s a lot easier and more efficient to get there slower but with a lot less risk.

And thus you’re rather unlikely to see someone like Balor. You’re much more likely to meet someone like…

Rasamenite of the Green Mustache

This Ishvara travels the deep wylds seeking out alternate versions of creation. When he finds one, he walks within it, seeks out one of it’s largest cities, and invokes a potent onieromancy – transforming every rat within it into a feybeast green mustache-rat which will seek out and bond with the nearest mortal face – making the mortal bearer good looking, self-confident, clever, and alert, as well as giving them a knack for finding what they need! Admittedly, this means that men, women, and children will all soon be sporting bushy green mustaches – but that is surely a splendid thing, even if it confuses some of them. 

Then he moves on, to seek out another creation to bring the Green Mustache to.

Why? Because it is his purpose and tale, and he needs no others. Within the reach of his (admittedly, somewhat eccentric) tale, no Raksha can be clean-shaven, and in his wake there are boycotts against barbers.

No, there’s probably no real point in doing battle with HIM either. Still, his unique transformative powers might be VERY useful at some point; he can make fey beasts other than Moustache-Rats of course (including some that bestow other abilities), it’s just that he generally doesn’t bother to do so. Still, he’s a sucker for people admiring his own glorious mustache. 

Moustache Rat (Behemoth *, also known as a “Fey Beast”):

This is a small rat that looks, feels, smells, and otherwise resembles a luxuriant bushy mustache. They live by symbiotically attaching themselves to a humans face under the nose, and then basically… go to sleep. They do sneak off for a bit to breed when their “owner” is asleep sometimes though. For good or ill, they normally don’t breed nearly as rapidly as the original rats do, and sometimes only seem to do so when the wearer/bearer uses somebody else’s comb.

Six Mutation Points base plus No Natural Weapon (+2) and Dependent on Humans (Mustache Rats must spend at least one day a week in close contact with a human to survive, +2). That gives them ten points worth of mutations:

  • Symbiotic Attachment (2): Provides the benefits of up to six points worth of the creatures mutations to it’s partner (although no conferred mutation may exceed the two-point level) as long as said partner remains in contact with the creature, accepts having it as a part of his or her body, and commits one point of will to the relationship. This effect will not work on characters with access to Charms beyond the Martial Arts and Terrestrial circle sorcery.
  • Self-Reproducing (2): Mustache Rats can breed more mustache rats, and will do so reasonably often.
  • Glorious Hero Form x2 (4): Provides +1 each to Appearance, Charisma, Intelligence, and Perception.
  • Scavenger’s Knack (2): The user gains a +1 bonus to his or her effective Resources.

And yes, this same basic build could be used to spread a variety of other mutations among the human population; it’s not like there aren’t plenty of ways to to that anyway.

2 Responses

  1. […] The Raksha Hordes: Why the Raksha rarely have much effect. […]

  2. […] The Raksha Hordes: Why the Raksha rarely have much effect. […]

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