Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

. It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.

. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet / Sample Character ListCharacter Creation PrimerCompiled Martial Arts.

. Subindexes: RPG DesignTwilight IslesBattletechChampionsd20Legend of the Five RingsShadowrunWhite WolfOther GamesBattling Business WorldStar Wars

. Cumulative General Index. Continue reading

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLXVII – The Helical Storm

At the Fair, Aikiko was considering that weird waiver… “expression of unconscious desires”? With a whole bunch of Neverborn memories in her head at the moment, that might be VERY problematic! She’d… have to store them somewhere in Aden to make sure more weirdness didn’t happen like at the last concert! She’d been lucky with that one, but who wanted to rely on luck? She’d pick them up later.

Perhaps the Underworld Communication Manse would be able to handle them? Maybe with some help from Kyrema Mindsage… even if that particular Guardian always DID make her feel a bit like she was back in fifth grade she was a top expert on mental and spiritual healing. Those were pretty hard to come by, and she might be able to help some more now that the Raksha had transformed their memories of pain in some ways.

(Kyrema) “The memories of subsouls of the neverborn? What HAVE you been getting into young woman?”

(Aikiko) “I couldn’t just leave them in there, burning like that!”

(Kyrema) “No of course not… No one with any compassion at all could. But just as importantly… memories by themselves are mere information, passive. The deaths of the Primordials might have been enough to violate the rules – but it’s worth asking… who is hosting those memories and providing an informational substrate for them to act in?”

(Aikiko, thoughtfully) “Oh. So let me get this straight… I’ve given them a fetter to attach to, which would be me.”

(Kyrema) “Yes. You’re anchoring them to the living world, and you’re helping them change – but you aren’t giving them all room in your head. You just don’t have enough!”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, that would be a bit much to ask.”

Wait, would that be the Monks – and by extension the human racemind? And was that why the Neverborn had been so determined to wipe out humanity? Because it would bring their memories peace? Was that why the Underworld was so closely tied to humanity?

Gah. She was DEFINITELY catching some of Charles’s speculation-mania.

Still, Charles was pushing his way ever-closer to becoming a cosmic principle of healing. Was Kyrema close enough to being a third circle for her oath to let her speak to her or not? The only way to know would be to test – perhaps dropping a hint; if there was no resistance… than Kyrema and the other Guardians should be close enough to satisfy the oath!

Since Charles had been installing his elemental poles, she was quite close enough.

(Kyrema) “Now that’s quite a project! And, I think, one showing humanity at it’s best.”

(Aikiko) “I thought so too. I’ve got to check on the winners sometime. .”

(Kyrema) “That’s likely to be interesting!”

(Aikiko) “I hope so. Anyway, thanks for taking care of them!”

(Kyrema) “You’re welcome; this is a burden that no one should have to bear alone!”

Aikiko said her temporary goodbyes to the memory-devas – and gave out a whole lot of hugs. They’d been traveling together for a while now, they could certainly use them, and some of them had almost gotten to be good company.

Well, she’d be back soon!

Back at the fair, the concert would be early tomorrow and it was getting late… Well, it wasn’t like she was lacking for resources at this point and there were ALWAYS ticket scalpers! Charles – and hence Lytek – had all the Celestial Salary that they could possibly need at this point – and even her own Salary was plenty for Creation!

At five time the base price it was easy enough to get a ticket. Besides, it sounded like it would be the kind of concert she’d have loved even as a mortal. Huh! The scalper got into mild trouble! It wasn’t really against the rules, but it was considered REALLY bad form. Well, that was no concern of hers

And the concert was extremely well attended by… fairly normal people. Were they not aware that the venue was quite literally connected to Faerie, or were they slumming like her? Time to kick in a few of her investigative talents… It looked like they were aware of Faerie to some extent – but wanted to attend anyway. Apparently word of mouth advertising.

Good on them! People needed to be aware of the supernatural, what with the gates scheduled to be popping up in less than a month. They might be in for more than they expected, though.

Talking to them… everyone she spoke to was a serious misfit. Most of them had serious body image disorders too – and some idea of what was likely to happen. It seemed to be why they were here; many of them felt trapped between the wyld lands and plain old England, with no real place in either. This way… they would finally firmly belong to one or the other.

Well, hopefully they’d get what they came for, then… as for her, she had her mission and the band was coming on the stage!

It looked like… several feybloods and either a very powerful feyblood or a full Raksha – and a lead singer who looked like a powerful god-blooded at a glance. The performance included a lot of illusions, some really good, as well as some really very good performances – and geomancy. With her essence-senses running it looked like… one mind within, mutagenic geomancy under control of mirrored subconscious impulses. Most of the audience did indeed wind up being transformed. Of course… And such an effect was definitely appropriate for a Guardian. Not too surprisingly, it seemed to be coming from their lead singer.

Even if the shaping effect hadn’t been blocked, despite a momentary fantasy of becoming a Kaiju and going out for dinner with Mechagodzilla, it looked like… she was more or less happy the way she was. There were a few others like that in the audience – but not many, and most of them were pretty shocked; it was hard to believe that people could just CHANGE like that!

The transformed people were… being mildly surprised (it actually happened!), looking at themselves, and enjoying the music. From what she could overhear… it looked like most of them were planning to leave through gates, although a few were planning to stay on earth in the wyld zones. Hard to blame them for wanting to escape the mundane world!

On the bands side… it looked like they were more or less on a rotating tour; as audiences were exhausted in one place, they moved on. Sneaking backstage might be best – and security was only moderate; a few guards – half-fey at best – but nothing major in the way or wards, alarms, or such. The crows was quite dense enough for Easily Overlooked Presence Method or Mental Invisibility Technique – and there were some others who wanted to get back there keeping the guards busy.

Getting past them wasn’t hard. Given her talents it mostly amounted to ducking past while the rest of the crowd masked her presence.

Backstage was mostly just some tents – where there was something of an after-the-concert party going on. A limited number of the more interesting fans were getting passed through to join the party anyway, and a modest number of servants were serving drinks, food, and similar items. It was about the opposite of a proper English party; as informal and bawdy as possible. “Interesting” fans seemed to be a mix – really exotic types, really good-looking types, and ones who manage to impress the guards with their personalities. There was a slight preference for quasi-avians or those with really good voices – although one with iridescent crystal scales had apparently gotten in on sheer gorgeousness, while another seemed protean.

Aikiko settled for wings (courtesy of the behemoth cloak) and a dramatic song! Her training at Toho was quite helpful! “Every Rose Has Its Thorns,” – with dramatic billowy illusions of rose petals and thorns – it was!

She did pretty well at it too – more than good enough to get her an interview with some of the performers. They could always use backup groups and opening acts. Far more importantly… it let her take a close, careful, look at them all with essence-senses. The lead singer… Was definitely radiating the geomancy, as well as a certain amount of solar essence; she appeared to be actively using some boosting-charms, which the veil did not conceal. Less hidden than Charles, then – but it wasn’t like she had a whole city of supernatural beings trying to determine what she was either.

Probably not too many artifacts either; she seemed more the Charm type – although some fey treasures wouldn’t be surprising. She seemed to have a LOT of fey influences, and was using solar charms to channel and amplify geomantic and wyld effects. Rather neat, if potentially quite dangerous! Still, it was probably less dangerous than the stuff that Charles was messing around with.

Outside of greeting Aikiko and the others, it looked like the girl was pretty focused on doing a little partying – and THAT looked… all too familiar! Rebellious sixteen year old girl, now on the loose! It wasn’t like SHE hadn’t had to get it out of her system, although the Celestial City was not short on opportunities for that!

She was drinking one of those appalling multilayered liqueur things, with vodka chasers. Her capacity was pretty high though – doubtless the Exaltation of course. That seemed kind of likely to be “yuck”, but… oh well, Aikiko had what she was having.

It actually did turn out to be interesting. there was a bit of magic being used to keep the layers from mixing, and they were flavored with various fruits, mints, chocolate, nuts, and more. Each sip was different – not to mention highly intoxicating. Kind of neat at least, even if the sticky stuff wasn’t exactly to her taste.

(Aikiko) “Great concert! Are you sticking around for a while?”

(Salera) “At least for the night! It looks like you enjoyed it too!”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, that was really cool how you transformed everybody! That takes a lot of skill!”

(Salera) “They mostly do it to themselves really! We just open a way for it to happen!”

(Aikiko) “That’s a neat trick… and the drinks? Mine should have blended by now! That’s really cool! You’ve got to show me how you do that!”

(Salera) “Oh, the guy mixing the drinks is more than happy to demonstrate that! I can show you a few of the tricks perhaps! But it does take a lot of energy!”

(Aikiko) “Would you? I’m mostly a performer and an athlete…”

Honestly… she got the feeling that they were invoking something built deep into the structure of creation with music. Something akin to the higher sorceries really. Perhaps an alternative method of using the Salinian Working? It might be celestial circle though; it was just one audience.

(Aikiko) “That’s some powerful magic! I could never affect an area that big.”

Well, not without more essence and study anyway.
Still… Salera was pretty obviously enjoying running amuck and being away from her (likely) straightlaced parents. Evidently she also rather enjoyed giving the misfits of the world a second chance – likely on worlds where they’d feel that they fit in – and that she liked being the star. She was like Charles in at least one way though; there was no apparent desire to rule.

Aikiko could definitely support that!

(Aikiko) “You know… you’re a lot like my friend Charles! He does this kind of thing too! Not as… entertaining as you though!”

(Salera, obviously more than a bit intoxicated) “Really now! How does he do things?”

(Aikiko, who was feeling the effects herself) “Lots and lots of Manses and geomancy! In his soul!”

(Salera) “Hur! I’ve got a bit of that sort of thing!”

(Aikiko) “I should put you in touch with him! He’s a LOT more goody-goody than you!” (Snickering) “Still sleeps with his teddy bear…”

(Salera) “Whaa? What is he, eight?”

(Aikiko) “Uh… fourteen!”

Although… for a moment she’d almost agreed! Charles DID act a lot younger than he looked – and anyone in Aden – in him – did not age. It was… awfully hard for her to picture Charles as a fellow teenager, even a younger one! And he DID put thaumaturgic shapeshifting into his artifacts, which made it even harder to tell the age of the wearer, or their real appearance.

Gah! Maybe he WAS eight!

(Aikiko) “But I’m not sure when he stopped aging…”

(Salera) “Hrm… you know a LITTLE KID running around with these kind of powers? What’s he do, run around collecting pets and chocolate?”

(Aikiko) “Nah, peanut butter! He’s crazy about peanut butter! And he terraforms planets too!”

(Salera) “Thas a big project! How long does it take him?”

(Aikiko) “You’ll think I’m nuts… but less than a minute.”

(Salera) “Whoa! That must take some serious power!”

(Aikiko) “I know, right? That’s what lots of geomancy will get you, I guess! And lots of working with the fey, and making his own fey, too!”

(Salera) “Whaa? Making People? Is that a good thing to be doing?”

(Aikiko) “He likes to have the help! You should consider it! That’s how he does a lot of his big projects: get the Coatl and the Djinns, and everybody else to help out in the big Manses! Do you want artifacts? He’ll just GIVE them to you!”

(Salera) “Yer drunk!… Me too!”

(Aikiko, even drunker than she realized) “No, dude, I’m serious! I’ll call him up right now! He gave me this totally awesome phone that crosses dimensions!”

(Salera) “Thas cool!”

(Voices) “I got the phone! I got the phone!” “I want it! No, me!” “Find Charles!” “Not here! Not over there!” “Ask the computers!” “Oh yeah!”

(Aikiko) “Whoa!”

It seemed like possession of the phone was being contested by a crowd!

(Aikiko) “Who is this? Where’s Charles?”

(Voices) “Tommy! Leggo! I’ve got it! You find another errand!”

(Voice) “Charles left his phone here, and he’s in conference with someone here, so we’ll run it over to another place where he is! It will just be a minute of so!”

(Aikiko) “Thanks dude!”

(Voice) “You’re welcome Ms Aikiko!”

(Charles, a minute later) “Oh, hello! What’s up Aikiko?”

(Aikiko) “Heeeey Charles. Guess what I found?”

(Charles) “Not another batch of neverborn soul-memories is it? Gothmug finds them inspiring!”

(Aikiko) “Good! No, it’s another person like you! I’ll put her on.”

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLXVI – Looking From The Outside In

Over the past several months Ruki had successfully escaped from the pictures of terrestrial grandchildren – and had gradually crossed much of the world looking for an oasis of sanity!

And everywhere she’d gone stuff had gone WEIRD. It was like she’d been plunged into some bizarre hidden world that was a warped mirror of reality, filled with monsters, madmen, and people claiming to have all sorts of magical powers. Some days it seemed like she’d stumbled into one or another manga, and was unable to find her way out!

Fortunately, so far, most of the weirdos had taken her cyberware as proof that she belonged to some sort of dreaded organization or other. But now the news was full of some sort of gibberish about interstellar colonization… Fat chance that it was for real, but she’d followed more unlikely leads – and that sort of thing should provide pretty much endless work.

All gear provided? That sounded more and more like some kind of joke… Oh well; there was an address for “applications” – so she took her motorcycle and headed that way to apply to become a “colonist”.

All the lights were green as usual – not that Ruki really thought about it.

The office turned out to be in a fairly normal light commercial space – except for the discreet sign that said “Interstellar Colonization Project Office.” Right next to the Staples… The odds of a joke or con of some sort were climbing fast…

Inside the offices were well appointed, albeit in a “pioneering” theme – illustrations of building log cabins, wood-splitting systems, carpentry, husbandry, and more, with a wide variety of tools and such on display and video demonstrations, as well as a schedule up for various pioneering-skill classes and special classes listed for children. Someone was, at least, spending some money on the stunt.

The young woman manning the front desk seemed normal enough though, although most secretaries weren’t prepared to answer questions about cheese-making. She might be getting information off her discreet heads-up display though; that was an expensive little toy…

(Ruki) “Alright there, howthe HELL can you tell me about the different methods of culturing cheese without needing any notes – or are you just that used to giving this spiel?

(Arlissa, cheerily) “I have a number of references on hand in case I need to check something – but after a month and a half on this job I have many of the basics firmly memorized! Most of the basic questions are fairly common!”

(Ruki, with blatant suspicion) “Oh yeah, I’ll bet you have… So where exactly would you be sending me off to go die on a rock?”

(Arlissa) “What would be the point of that? After all, no one is being forced to either go or to stay once there!”

(Ruki) “Yeah, well I’m kinda fed up with this rock I’m on right now so where woud ya’ll be sending me”

(Arlissa) “There are a wide variety of choices avaialble. Are you restricted to relatively nearby gates, or could you afford to travel?”

(Ruki, looking for the scam) “I can afford some travel”.

(Arlissa) “Well then! The full range of planets should be in range… Most are quite varied of course, but do you have any particular environmental preferences?”

(Ruki) “Hot and muggy, none of those cold winters I hear about”

(Arlissa) “Well, Isvelin-II, Tava-III, and Kayvit-II are all suitable! Kayvit has a somewhat redder sun than Earth, but only marginally so, while Tava-II mostly has chains of larger and smaller islands with lots of seas. Isvelin-II is primarily earthlike, but a bit hotter near the equator and with temperate poles!”

Well, they were certaintly going with the hard sell! For a scam there were a lot of details available!

(Ruki) “Ok then… what can you tell me about Tava II?

Arlissa got out a set of maps and pamphlets – all free – showing the major landmasses, locations of support cities, colonization zones. likely trade routes, and a note that whaling was not allowable, and would not be for at least some centuries as whale populations would take time to establish themselves and the entire endeavor was ethically questionable in any case. Supposedly a wide variety of tropical to semitripical ecosystems have been established. The near-polar landmasses had conifer forest interior heights and deciduous forests around the borders. There are a few small polar islands with relatively cold climates though.

Established ecosystems. Yeah, right.

(Ruki) “Sounds like a interesting place… So how’s all this possible. I mean your office is beside a Kinkos… This  kinda project sounds like it would be impossibly expensive you know.”

(Arlissa) “Well, that’s not being handled by our department – but I’m told that the stargates are being provided by the upper management!”

Yeah, right.

(Ruki) “Have anyone from upper management I could talk to by chance?”

(Arlissa) “Well… I will see if Mr Ignescu will see you!”

Ruki… had no cloaking against essence-senses and was outside of fate. It wasn’t long before Mr Ignescu agreed to see her. The office she was shown to was still pioneering-themed, but had a fair number of mirrors, some incense-odor, and some rather odd boxes about – with what appeared to be a dignified middle-aged man behind the desk, his hands classically steepled.

Ignescu… denied being in charge of more than this office, but was happy to answer questions; they were conducting training classes for those interested and matching up groups who intended to go – although many showed an interest but did not actually believe that the gates would open. Still, at least according to Ignescu, when the gates did open, those who had made prior arrangements and were ready to go would get their supplies, and guides to their selected homesteading claims or – if they have opted for town activities – to those areas. Walk-ins at that time would have to either demonstrate sufficient skills or undertake training programs at that time before they got supplies and a choice of the remaining homesteading claims. They wouldn’t want to be sending anyone who was unprepared!

(Ruki) “Sounds like you’ve been planning this out for awhile now”

(Ignescu) “Upper management is quite through! It’s an excellent quality I think!”

(Ruki) “Well then, what sorta skills are you looking for?”

That included… farmers (grain and fruit, cotton, linen, nuts, berries, many other specialities), carpenters, lumberjacks, blacksmiths, tailors, weavers, animal handlers, herders, leatherworkers, tanners, and a hundered other practical skills. It looked like… the aim was an agrarian society of around the late 1800′s style, at least to start with. Secondary openings were available for hunters, search-and-rescue teams, medical personnel, trappers, and other specialists.

Including (and there was a meaningful look at Ruki) magical and combat specialists. Most of the combat positions… would primarily be defense and law enforcement. While “upper management” had yet to fully recognize the fact that some people would go renegade and attack others as soon as social restrictions relaxed a bit. Mr Ignescu and his colleagues felt that it would be irresponsible not to cover it on the local level.

(Ruki) “Well, I happen to be rather good at doing bad things to bad people”

(Ignescu) “In itself a useful qualification. Would you like us to register you for an in-town office? And have you a planetary preference?

(Ruki) “Sure – and Tava II”

(Ignescu) “Easy enough then! That gate will open up near Chicago in twenty-six days; here is the address – and if you need a bus pass to get there we will provide one!”

These people were either innocent pawns, or really good… And she still hadn’t been able to spot the scam. Could they actually be serious? What was in it for THEM?

(Ruki ) “I’ve got a bike, I can get there fairly readily enough. Anything in particular I should bring?”

(Ignescu) “Well, any personal items you wish to take! The basics are all provided of course.”

What, no background check or anything? And… offering to give her something for free. Sure, it was only a bus ticket – but that was still a fair amount to invest in a random scam victim. And did these people have no sense of security at all? Still… what the hell. If it was a scam, she’d ride it as far as it would take her and she had no particular prospects around here anyway.

Chicago it would be.

Well, OK; After a bar.

Meanwhile, Ignescu was reporting a MOST exotic essence signature up the line; mingled Alchemical-Sidereal readings were peculiar, to say the least. Eventually it got to Charles…

(Charles) “Well that’s funny! Somebody else has been experimenting I guess.. but then the Alchemical Exaltation is based around a body built of magical materials attached to a soul, and the Celestial one is built around an immaterial artifact attached to a soul – so I guess that there’s no reason you can’t mix the two to some extent! Hmm… Doc Smith will probably want to know!”

Doc Smith, Master of Technomancy, Eighteenth Soul of Aden, Mentor of the Lensmen, was a fairly stereotypical mad scientist – although his vast personal powers, array of implanted artifacts, thaumaturgic essence-lens, and inhuman skills put him far, far, ahead of any mortal. Currently he was considering the workings of the Vat Complex and a selection of Alchemical Charms.

Yes, he did occasionally fool around with his DeLorean – which he’d equipped with a fusion converter, wheels that tilted to become rotors, rocket boosters, and many more insane systems – even if he couldn’t get the time travel one to work right (you could look but not interact, and it was probably just a divination-and-illusion combo).

Given that Charles’s souls were strongly media-influenced, Doc Smith combines traits from E.E. Doc Smith, Einstein, Doc Brown, the Professor from Gilligan’s island, and many others.

(Doc Smith) “What, so we have someone who’s… rebuilding Sidereals into Quasi-Alchemicals? Wonderful! It sounds fascinating! I must see this wonder of artifice!”

He placed a call. “Ruki” might or might not have a phone, but that didn’t matter much to him.

Meanwhile, the more Ruki thought about it, the surer she got that it had to be a scam – and the more frustrated she became that she couldn’t see it! How far would the hoax go? Still, the beer was good.

And then something started playing music in her pocket. It seemed to be a… brand new Smartphone. And a nice model too! What the HELL? She didn’t own a Smartphone! And the number it was showing was pretty weird too… Caller ID said “E. T. Smith”?

Oh why not… She answered it. Maybe Smith would know who the phone belonged to.

(Doc Smith) “Ah, hello there Ms Ruki? I’m Dr Smith, and I’d quite like to meet you! My information suggests that you are a very interesting case indeed! It would be well worth your while!”

Wait, it actually was for her? How could that happen? Had someone planted the phone on her for some sort of gag? Or maybe at the office?

(Ruki) “What the hell do you mean case, and how the hell did I get this phone?”

(Doc Smith) “I wanted to call you, and therefore you have a phone! How else? And surely you’ve noticed some strange things happening Ms Ruki? Oh! You don’t have visual on on your end! Menu-videoconferenceing-on if you would be so kind?”

There followed instructions on feature usage…

Videoconferencing got her a man in a lab coat with wild hair – it looked like the classic “Einstein” cut – although he was using a an obvious cybereye and metal cheekpad. Now that… was kind of weird. The laboratory behind him was even weirder. It was horribly cluttered and it even had those lightning-arc things – “Jacob’s Ladders” – like you saw in bad movies!

(Ruki, somewhat tipsily) “You’re  a fucking weirdo”

(Doc Smith) “And you hold a 9-5 job as an investment banker? I, personally, would regard a few oddities as a credential!”

(Ruki, sourly) “How’d you guess what my real job was?”

(Doc Smith) “You hide it very well! Now about your fee…”

As long as it was cash up front the weirdo could dress however he wanted.

(Doc Smith) “This would involve little or no danger and perhaps forty-eight hours of your time – but there is a strong possibility of self-discovery judging from your reactions so far! Perhaps 20,000?”

(Ruki) “What all would this entail from me there Doc?”

(Doc Smith) “Primarily discussion and some non-intrusive scans! Nothing that is at all likely to cause you any discomfort!”

(Ruki) “Sure why not, 20K to sit and chat sounds like a fine way of killing some time.”

(Doc Smith) “Very well! A driver will be by to pick you up in about… three minutes! That should give you just time to finish that drink you just ordered!”

Three minutes? What, were they parked just around the corner? She hadn’t spotted anyone on her tail…

(Ruki) “What the hell?”

(Doc Smith) “Oh definitely not! But why waste time?”

And a Delorean pulled up just outside a few moments later – just on time. Oddly enough, no one seemed to be paying any attention to the car – or to it’s driver, which is a bit weird given that it seems to be being driven by a robot.

Ruki peered suspiciously at her drink, but there didn’t SEEM to be anything in it. Maybe this was for real?

The DeLorean… pulled out, took off, jumped through some weird vortex – where she somehow picked up a clock shaped like a black cat with a swinging pendulum-tail that meowed the hours – and emerged in a world where things eventually got high up and were lost in the clouds, rather than their being a horizon.

There HAD to have been something in that drink.

(Ruki) “So then, where are you taking me then?”

(Robot, quite mechanically) “To. Doc. Smith’s. Laboratory. Complex. In. Aden. Ms. Ruki.. For. Tea. With. Raspberry. And. Lemon. Biscuits. Essence. Signature. Analysis. And. General. Communications.”

(Ruki) “What, no beer?”

(Robot) “Beer. Is. An. Option. With. Dinner. The. Hobbit. Dark. Is. Generally. Recommended.”

(Ruki) “The WHAT ?”

(Robot) “The. Hobbit. Dark.”

(Ruki) “That isn’t something I’ve heard of.”

(Robot) “It. Varies. With. Each. Hobbit. Inn. But. I. Am. Informed. That. It. Is. Always. Very. Good.”

Oh well. Whatever she was on, there wasn’t going to be any getting off the trip until it wore off…

Even convinced that she was tripping, Ruki had to look twice as the flying car came in for a landing at the Doc’s laboratory. The place was overrun with assorted robots patterned after various movies.

(Robot) “Ah. Yes. Ms. Ruki. There. Is. A. Brochure. For. New. Arrivals.”

It beeped, printed one out of it’s chest, and handed it to her.

(Ruki) “Thanks… I think”.

Looking over the brochure… it was semi-typical tourist fair; where to sleep, good inns and restaurants (all run by hobbits apparently), some information on basic services, some rules (mostly behave reasonably – hard as that often was) and a list of places to visit – museums, the Jedi Temple, the Hundred Acre Woods, and many more previously fictional locations.

Oh come on. Next it would be a giant gorilla throwing barrels! You’d think that a hallucination this intense would have a FEW original details in it! No doubt this “Doc Smith” guy would be nuttier than a fruitcake.

She said so.

(Robot) ”Doctor. Smith. Is. By. Definition. Somewhat. Mad. The. Brochure. Is. Factual. However. Reality. Here. Is. Defined. By. Aden. Shining. Dream. He. Is. Fond. Of. Earth. Media.”

(Ruki) “And who the hell is this Shining dream, some kinda Native American or something?”

(Robot) “He. Is. The. Consciousness. Of. This. Dimension. And. Sustains. It’s. Existence.”

(Ruki) “You’re telling me nothing I can use. A person can’t be in control of a dimension.”

(Robot) “ He. Is. This. Dimension. You. Are. Currently. Inside. Him.”

OK, she’d wanted something original, and now her imagination was getting DISTURBING.

The robot noted her disturbance.

(Robot) “There. Is. No. Harm. In. It.”

(Ruki) “You just told me someone in control of a dimension I entered basically ate me up right now”

(Robot) “Per. His. Direction. There. Is. No. Aging. Here. All. Injuries. Regenerate. In. Short. Order. Other. Services. Are. Automatic. Guests. Are. Free. To. Depart.”

(Ruki, giving up) “Well, let’s first meet up with this Doc then get me outta here, got it tin can?”

They pulled up to a large building, with lots of big windows. It seemed to be mostly a single room with some smaller ones around the edges… One man was currently going from project to project, adding details to bits that the robots are working on. When he noticed Ruki’s arrival the floor promptly extrudee a table and some chairs near some disquieting-looking machinery. Robby the Robot brought tea and biscuits…

(Ruki, looking over at the devices and gulping once) “Thanks I think… ain’t going to use that shit on me I hope”

(Doc Smith) “Only the multiauric analyzer; after all, from our current information, you have been modified with cybrenetic devices typical of a very small group, and one not generally in contact with earth! Both the procedure, the modifications to your physiology, and the implants themselves are of interest… Can you tell me anything about how you came by them?”

(Ruki) “No clue, just came too in a locked room that led into one of the sewer drains in Roanapur.

(Doc Smith) “Most peculiar – unless it was just an experiment! Those are, of course, their own justification!”

(Robby) “I. An. Told. That. The. Raspberry. Cream. Biscuits. Are. Quite. Good.”

(Ruki) “What the hell are you going on about?”

(Robby) “Biscuits. Although. In. American. English. They. Are. More. Properly. Called. Cookies.”

(Doc Smith) “Well Ms Ruki… it seems that various devices have been installed in your body! Aren’t you at all curious about who did that and why? And their extent?”

(Ruki) “Well yeah, but I can’t exactly just take them out and look them over now can?”

(Doc Smith) “Not as such of course, but we CAN do a set of full body scans and examine them in situ!”

(Ruki) “I thought that’s why you asked me out here.”

Gah! How desperate was she? Was she actually trying to get information out of a hallucination? Maybe it was her own mind trying to tell her something that she knew but wasn’t aware of?

Gods. She was REALLY reaching wasn’t she?

Oh well. There was no point in arguing with an ongoing hallucination – but she didn’t have to take it seriously!

(Doc Smith) “Well naturally! Would you be willing to be scanned? I will, of course, share the information with you! There should be no side effects  unless something very unexpected happens. You should at most feel a slight tingling…

And there was much scanning.

(Doc Smith) “Hmm… Reflex enhancement, accuracy enhancements, and subcutaneous armor plating, stamina augmentation, integrated artifact transmogrifier, a set of sensory-recording and analytical functions, mobile sensory drone…

It went on for some time.

(Doc Smith) “So then! To judge from your expression, there is more installed than you knew about! The procedure is fairly straightforward though; the systems essentially replace portions of your body with artifacts that can serve the same purpose and have additional functions; this is complicated by attuning it to your essence – but that is straightforward enough. An Exaltation can function perfectly well with a seriously injured host, and so it can accommodate such devices.”

Heh. That… actually seemed competent. Evidently she had a good imagination.

Maybe too good. The Doc was muttering on about genetic data, ethnic background, and probable relatives – before he consulted someone over some bizarre communication system and provided a list!

That was just too bloody silly. She’d been fished out of the sea! Any relatives she’d ever had had doubtless presumed her dead…

Champions – Clarity Aldane, Magical Contractor

Even as a child, Clarity Aldane had a talent; she saw, heard, and could communicate with spirits – the lingering dead, nature spirits, minor fey, and all the other astral and/or imaginal entities that came along.

Of course, in the emergence… those talents were as well-recognized as any other. Just as another child might be encouraged to develop a talent for sports, or art, Clarity was encouraged to develop her occult gifts – earning her occult merit badges, getting private lessons from Madame Vosser, and taking all the paranormal courses her high school offered.

She proved an apt student of both shamanistic and ritualistic magic, and completed her bachelor of science degree in ritual magic with honors – earning her certification to work with major power nexi.

Since graduating Clarity has served as a magical consultant and spirit-translator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as an independent contractor for those needing specialized magical services.

Clarity is usually well-prepared, with several prepared spirit-spells and major rituals in reserve – although they tend to be a bit generic unless she knows what she might be going up against in advance. For most situations she simply relies on channeling spirit-energies through her wand. That’s relatively crude, basic, and tiring, but it’s more than a match for most minor magical difficulties.

Personally, Clarity is well aware that she’s relatively young for her profession, and tends to try to make up for it with crisp efficiency and no-nonsense business suits.

 

Clarity Aldane

 

Value Characteristic Points
8 STR -2
11 DEX 3
13 CON 6
8 BODY -4
13 INT 3
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
12 COM 1
2 PD 0
3 ED 0
2 SPD -1
5 REC 0
26 END 0
19 STUN 0
Total 13

 

Points Powers END
3 Elemental Control: Spiritualist Powers (6-pt reserve); Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼; Visible (Readily Detectable, -.25), (-.5).
a-3 Mental Defense (14 pts); Add to Total; Always On.
b-6 Astral Senses.
(4) Astral Sight (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Always On.
(4) Astral Hearing (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Always On: -½.
c-2 Power Defense (12 pts); Always On: -½; Generic Limitation (Only versus magical and spirit attacks): -½.
d-4 2d6 Aid: Shamanic Magic (Fade/turn, Max. 30); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Trigger: Changeable, +½; Points fade instantly after power used: -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Maximum of three rituals per day and seven prepared effects.: -1; Increased END (2 per turn over the one-minute usage time): ×5, -2. 10
e-2 Extra-Dimensional Movement; The Astral Plane; Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Carrying Mass: None; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Generic Limitation (Leaves physical body behind): -1; Increased END: ×5, -2. 10
f-3 2d6 Aid: Knowledge of some exotic topic or future threat (Fade/week, Max. 12); Range: 0; Generic Limitation (Her knowledge comes in the form of symbolic visions, odd prophecies, and vague warnings.): -2; No Conscious Control: -2; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Generic Limitation (Visions and premonitions are often rather overwhelming.): -1. 3
g-3 Detect Psychic Phenomena (+1 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5.
6 2d6 Aid (Ritual Magic) (Fade/turn, Max. 90); Range: 0; Trigger: Changeable, +½; Points fade instantly after power used: -½; Fragile Focus: -¼; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼; Increased END: ×10, -4; Costs END: -½; Side Effects: 60/All, -1; Visible (Easily detected by other mystics at fairly long ranges): -¼; Requires exotic locations or components at the option of the game master: Half, -1; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Charges: 1, -1¼; Recoverable Charges: -2 lev; Extra Time: 5 min., -2; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Maximum of three rituals per day and seven prepared effects.: -1; Requires Skill Roll (using a relevant magical knowledge once per ritual): -½; Ritual Magic requires a bag full of odd components (starting off with candles, chalk, parchment, incense, a brazier and charcoal, pens and ink, odd bits of jewelry, a wand, a knife, a mirror, holy water, oil, and a bell, even before getting into the odder stuff required for particular rituals), an hour of chanting, gesturing, and fooling about with the materials, and a skill check with a relevant knowledge skill. If you succeed, you’ve built up the power to be used – which can either be unleashed immediately, or be saved to be unleashed with a short invocation later. If you fail, the magic goes wild, with unpredictable (but generally bad) effects.
Ritual effects can have active point totals of up to 40 points if prepared anywhere, 60 if prepared at a minor nexus, 80 if prepared at a major nexus, and 90 if you have an appropriate extradimensional source of power to draw on.
20
6 1d6 30-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 30); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; This allows a character to haul along 60 CP worth of customized gear. 20
38 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
5 +1 level w/Occult-Related Skills
1 Professional License: Spiritualist
1 Professional License: Ritual Mage
5 Profession: Mystic 14-
3 Access to a major mystical nexus
3 Scholar
3 Knowledge: Magic 13-
3 Knowledge: Spirits 13-
3 Knowledge: Psychic Phenomena 13-
1 Knowledge: History 11-
1 Knowledge: Occult Literature 11-
1 Knowledge: Invocations 11-
1 Knowledge: The Imaginal Realms 11-
1 Knowledge: Law 11-
3 Enchantment 11-
35 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

Cost Equipment
5 Atherium Lenses; Detect Magic (+0 to PER) ; Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Focus (Glasses): Obvious Accessible, -1
12 Spirit Wand; Multipower (30-pt reserve); Focus (Wand): Obvious Accessible, -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Change Environment (4″ rad.) 3; Effect: Variable, +1.
u-1 Change Environment (2″ rad.) 0; Effect: Variable, +1; Charges: +6, +1; Continuing Charges: 1 Day, -7 lev.
u-1 3d6 Entangle Mystic Chains (DEF 3) 3; Range: 150.
u-1 Force Wall (6 PD/6 ED) 3; Range: 150; Width: 6″, +0.
u-1 10″ Flight (NC: 80″) 2; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×8, +10; Non-Combat (MPH): 60.
u-1 Images (Hearing, Sight, 4″ radius) 3; Range: 150; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0.
u-1 Invisibility (Hearing, Sight) 3.
u-1 4d6 Energy Blast 3; Range: 150; Versus: ED; Variable Special Effects: Any, +½.
u-1 Force Field (15 PD/15 ED) 0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Charges: +6, +0.
u-1 Telekinesis (STR 10) 2; Range: 125; Manipulation: Fine, +10.
u-1 6d6 Healing 3.
u-1 8d6 Dispel Magic 3; Range: 150; Affects: Any Single Power of Special Effect, +¼.
u-1 3d6 Ego Attack 3.
30 Total Equipment

 

50+ Disadvantages
15 Vulnerability: Mental Powers (1½× Effect); Attack: Very Common, +15
5 Reputation: Psychic Expert, Medium (8-)
10 Paranoid: Mystical Entities (Uncommon, Strong)
15 Code Against Killing (Common, Strong)
5 Distinctive Features: Crisp Businesswoman; Concealability: Easily, 5; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
10 Public Identity
5 Watched: Various Spiits (11-); Capabilities: As Powerful, 10; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Mild, -5
10 Powers affected by ambient magic limitations (Infrequently, Greatly)
75 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
13 + 73 = 86 125 = 75 + 50

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
4 4 4 14 17/15 18/15 6, 12

 

Height: 155cm (5’1″), Weight: 56kg (123 lbs), Sex: Female, Age: 26, Race: Human

 

Champions – Ballistic of the Mandate

“Ballistic” possessed a powerful, if mostly unconscious, talent for molecular manipulation – and, unfortunately, a highly disfunctional family. Without parental reassurance her various childhood nightmares started to manifest in the physical world – which made her paranoia worse and worse and frightened away every other child who might have played with her. Her mightmare predictions came true with frightening regularity.

Of course, her own power provided “playmates” and even a few accepting, if nonexistent, siblings. Her parents and relatives denial that they knew anything about those kids she hung around with didn’t help her persecution complex one little bit.

As ever-stranger horrors born of her own subconscious mind attacked her, she fought back – finding arsenals of weapons ready to hand wherever she lived for a time, unconsciously guiding her attacks and assisting her other activities, and learning psychic “martial arts” based on various movies. Along the way, she convinced herself that she had a cybrenetic eye – and so she did.

Now fully convinced that she was pursued by evil organizations, assorted villians, and various outright monsters, “Ballistic” fell in with the Mandate, and participated in a number of their adventures – during which time they made extensive (if futile) efforts to break through her delusions and get her to use non-lethal weaponry. Unfortunately, “Ballistic” eventually had one too many outright psychotic breaks, and targeted a mouthy youngster with lethal force while being recorded by Ranko’s cameras. The rest of the Mandate promptly turned her over to Primus and Project; Thunderbolt for trial and treatment.

Given her utterly blatant insanity, “Ballistic” was taken into government custody for intensive treatment. Relatively recently, with her delusions more or less under control thanks to extensive telepathic treatment (using her experience to buy off the “Delusional” and “Random Nonexistent Villians” limitations), Project; Thunderbolt has deployed her on several (carefully supervised) missions. She will not, however, be considered for any form of unsupervised mission until she buys off the rest of her psychological problems.

 

Ballistic

 

Value Characteristic Points
40 STR 30
23 DEX 39
18 CON 16
12 BODY 4
13 INT 3
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
16 COM 3
10 PD 2
10 ED 6
5 SPD 17
12 REC 0
36 END 0
41 STUN 0
Total 127

 

Points Powers END
10 Multipower; Bionic Eye (20-pt reserve); Optical Sensory Powers Only (-1), OIF (-.5)
m-2 Enhanced Perception; Sight (Normal Sight, +10 to PER)
u-1 Combined Powers Slot; Frequency Compression
(2) Infrared Vision
(2) Ultraviolet Vision
u-1 Flash Defense (Sight, 10 pts)
u-1 Microscopic Vision (×1000)
15 Martial Arts Multipower (30-pt reserve); Martial Arts Techniques Only: -1
u-1 +20 STR (For use with Grab/Escape, Throw, & Disarm ONLY); Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Reduced END: Zero, +½. 0
u-1 Martial Strike; Hand-to-Hand Attack (5d6, Total 13d6); Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½. 0
u-1 1d6+1 Killing Strike (HKA) (Total 2½d6); Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½. 0
u-1 Choke Hold (Hand Attack) (3d6, Total 5½d6); Range: 0; No Normal Defense (Hard neck armor, Force Field, Need Not Breathe): +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Continuous: +1. 0
u-1 Nerve Strike (Hand Attack) (3d6, Total 7d6); Range: 0; No Normal Defense (Armor, Force Field, No normal nervous system): +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½. 0
Other Abilities :
12 2d6 60-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 60); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; Active Points: 119; This allows a character to haul along 60 CP worth of customized gear. 30
15 Armor (5 PD/5 ED)
6 Mental Defense (8 pts); Add to Total
6 Running (+3″, 9″, NC: 18″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 11 2
1 Swimming (+1″, 3″, NC: 6″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 4 1
75 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
24 +12 level w/Ranged Combat (Psychic Targeting); A mutant power; Subject to effects which target mutant abilities.: -½; OCV Only: -½; “Visible”; Character “Detects” as a mutant.: -¼; Will not work in water or other impeding media: -¼
23 +4 level w/Overall Level; Mutant Psychic Power; Affected by relevant abilities.: -½; “Visible”; User “Detects” as a mutant.: -¼
Skills :
3 Acrobatics 14-
3 Breakfall 14-
3 Climbing 14-
3 Combat Driving 14-
3 Combat Piloting 14-
3 Demolitions 11-
3 Paramedic 12-
3 Security Systems 12-
3 Shadowing 11-
3 Stealth 14-
3 Streetwise 12-
3 Tracking 12-
Talents :
5 Combat Sense 13-
5 Defense Maneuver
14 Find Weakness with Single-Target, Focused, Ranged Attacks; Attack Type: Group, +10; Not vrs Force Fields or Mystical Defences: -½; Concentrate: ½ DCV, -¼ 12-
3 Lightsleep
5 Resistance (+5 to EGO Rolls)
Martial Arts :
3 Martial Throw (OCV +0, DCV +1, 8d6+v/5)
4 Martial Block (OCV +2, DCV +2)
122 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

Cost Equipment
25 Assault Cannon Multipower (75-pt reserve); Full Power Only: -¼
; Breakable Universal OAF (Assault Cannon, -1), Must be free to fire (Restrainable / “Gestures”, -.25). All powers must use charges, which can only be recovered at armory (Grenades) or by recharging (Energy Bursts) (-.5), Full Power Only (-.25), Variable LImitation (-.25. Particle Beam Modes share charges (-.25) and No Knockback (-.25), Grenades cannot be fired in water (-.25) and do not work in intense magnetic fields (They trigger the detonation circuit unpredictably, -.25). Her Assault Cannon is a combination particle-beam projector and multi-magazine grenade launcher. While not as powerful as some other ultra-tech (or psionically boosted) weapons, it’s very versatile.
u-2 2d6 RKA Particle Beam 0; Range: 375; Armor Piercing: 1, +½; Invisible (Silent): One Sense Group, +½; Charges: 16, +0; No Knockback: -¼; Increased STUN Multiplier: 1, ½; Full Power Only: -¼
u-2 2d6 RKA Autofire P.B. Mode 0; Range: 375; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Charges: 250, +1; Full Power Only: -¼
u-2 12d6 Energy Blast; Concussive Particle Blast 0; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Charges: 32, +¼; Full Power Only: -¼; This does knockback, but does not work in water.
u-2 3d6 Flash Grenade (Hearing) 0; Range: 375; Area Effect (Radius): 12″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4, +½; Charges: 16, +0; Full Power Only: -¼
u-2 2d6 RKA Fragmentation Grenade 0; Range: 375; Area Effect (Radius): 8″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×2, +¼; Charges: 32, +¼; Full Power Only: -¼
u-2 4d6 Energy Blast; Neural Disruptor Grenade 0; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Affects Desolidified: +½; Area Effect (Radius): 6″ radius, +1; No Normal Defense; Exotic/no nervous system, airtight armor, EM shielding, etc.: +1; Charges: 32, +¼; Full Power Only: -¼
9 Utility Belt; Multipower (20-pt reserve); Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Regeneration Serum (2 BODY/Turn) ; Regenerate: Standard, +0; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Superleap; Jump Belt (+20″, 28″, NC: 56″) 4; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 74; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Swinging; Grapnel Line (+20″, NC: 40″) 4; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 74; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Survellience Package; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
(4) Eidetic Memory (Audiovisual Recorder; Also works with eye).; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
(4) Parabolic Microphone; +5 Hearing Perception (Normal Sight, +5 to PER) ; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 +6 DEX; Stim Pills ; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Charges: +6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 Spectrum Antidote; Activation: 12-, -¾; Charges: 8, +½; Continuing Charges: 5 Minutes, -4 lev; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
; A broad-spectrum antidote/scavenger/antibiotic shot; it’s effective against most common items; exotic or magical diseases & toxins will bypass it, as will truly massive doses – hence the activation roll.
(5) Need Not Breathe ; Activation: 12-, -¾; Charges: 8, +½; Continuing Charges: 5 Minutes, -4 lev; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
(1) Immune to Disease ; Activation: 12-, -¾; Charges: 8, +½; Continuing Charges: 5 Minutes, -4 lev; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-1 1d6+1 RKA Throwing Knives 0; Range: 100; Charges: +16, +0; Universal OAF (Equipment Belt): -1; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
6 Minor Items :
(1) Assorted Paperwork (Passport, Weapons Permits, PI License); Forged; Will not stand up to any investigation: -1
(1) Cell Phone
(4) Vehicle (Motorcycle): 20
59 Total Equipment

 

125+ Disadvantages
Hunted/Watched :
20 Genocide (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
20 Random Nonexistent Villians (Psychic Projections). (11-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0; Ballistic was so psychotic that she spontaneously projected psychic constructs built out of her own paranoid fantasies to hunt herself down. In effect, she was hunted by her own private set of supervillians that appeared randomly from nowhere to attack her and her friends.
10 Watched; Project Thunderbolt/Primus (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
Psychological Limitations :
25 Delusional (Very Common, Total); Ballistic lived in a world full of evil corporations that committed mass murder, agonizing months in the hospital, people implanting things in her brain, and similar suspicions. None of this was real, but she could not be convinced of that.
15 No Code Vrs Killing (Common, Strong)
10 Vengeful (Uncommon, Strong)
Physical Limitations :
20 Projects Psychic Constructs (Frequently, Fully); Unlike most characters with delusions of plots and conspiracies, Ballistic’s come right out to get her…
Other Limitations :
20 Vulnerability; 1.5x Stun & Body vrs Electrical Attacks (1½× STUN and BODY); Attack: Common, +10
10 Vulnerability to Mental Illusions (2× Effect); Attack: Uncommon, +5
15 Reputation; Lethal Maniac (11-, Extreme)
15 Secret Identity
15 3d6 Unluck
195 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base Exp.
127 + 197 = 324 324 = 195 + 125 + 4

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
8 8 4 8 15/5 15/5 3, 5, 8, 10, 12

 

Height: 175cm (5’9″), Weight: 57kg (125 lbs), Sex: Female, Age: 26, Race: Human (Mutant)

Appearance: Stereotypical “Heroic” good looks with a tight-fitting bodysuit and trenchcoat to keep her weapons in.

Champions – Alzharad of the Mandate

Alzharad was an early (and short term) member of the Mandate – a psionic with the ability to “expel the thermal energy from his body” and thus transform into a being of super-tough ice with a corona of flames and formidable powers of fire and ice. Alzharad left the Mandate after a short time (the player made a character they thought was more interesting) to operate as an independent hero. Alzharad was reportedly killed during the Twilight War, but that – like so many reported deaths during that conflict – has never been confirmed.

In action, Alzharad normally appears as a statue made of ice, surrounded by an aura of flames. Under normal circumstances he wears light clothing and sandles, since freezing tends to destroy his shoes and light clothing is easier to maneuver in. He was a pretty effective blaster – but that was pretty much all he did.

Alzharad

 

Value Characteristic Points
30 STR 20
24 DEX 42
18 CON 16
12 BODY 4
10 INT 0
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
10 COM 0
9 PD 3
9 ED 5
5 SPD 16
10 REC 0
36 END 0
36 STUN 0
Total 113

 

Points Powers END
60 Thermal Projection Multipower (120-pt reserve); Flame Blast Powers Only: -¾; Limited Power; Dampened by water, rain, etc.: Slightly, -¼; The multipower defaults to the Damage Shield unless fully deactivated – and out of hero mode.
u-3 12d6 Thermal Energy Blast; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Reduced END: Half, +¼. 3
u-3 10d6 Fireball Energy Blast; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +0.5. 7
u-3 16d6 Supernova Energy Blast; Range: 600; Versus: ED; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +0.5; Extra Time: full phase, -½; Charges: 4, -1; Costs END: -½. 12
u-5 8d6 Fire Corona Energy Blast; Range: 500; Versus: ED; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Damage Shield: +½. 0
7 Elemental Control: Ice Form (15-pt reserve); Ice Powers Only: -½; Linked to Thermal Projection Multipower: -½
a-9 Armor (11 PD/11 ED).
b-7 Life Support (total).
c-7 Damage Reduction (Energy, 50% Resistant).
d-7 Fist Of Ice (Hand-to-Hand Attack) (8d6, Total 14d6); Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼. 1
e-7 Regeneration (2 BODY/Turn); Regenerate: Lost Limbs and Organs, +10.
27 15″ Flight (NC: 120″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×8, +10; Non-Combat (MPH): 223; Linked (To Thermal Projection Multipower): -½ 3
43 Flame Aura (Force Field) (16 PD/16 ED); Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Linked (To Thermal Projection Multipower): -½ 0
188 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
16 +2 level w/All Combat
0 English (Native Accent); Literacy: Standard, 0
3 Streetwise 12-
19 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

125+ Disadvantages
25 Hunted: Genocide (11-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
15 Hunted: Dagger (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
10 Hunted: Upset Supervillian (8-); Capabilities: As Powerful, 10; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
5 Phys. Lim: Low body temperture, shows up on relevant sensors (Infrequently, Slightly)
25 Accidental Change: Thermal Effects (14-)
20 Paranoid (Very Common, Strong)
40 Vulnerability: Electricity (2× STUN and BODY); Attack: Common, +10
10 Public Identity
10 Distinctive Features: Scars; Concealability: Concealable, 10; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
20 Code Against Killing (Common, Total)
15 Overconfidence (Very Common, Moderate)
195 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
113 + 207 = 320 320 = 195 + 125

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
8 8 4 0 36/27 36/27 3, 5, 8, 10, 12

 

Height: 181cm (5’11″), Weight: 84kg (185 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 23, Race: Human (Mutant)

 

 

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLXIV – Catharsis Of Shadows

Aikiko continued to contemplate the list for a bit – but at least the rules of the Fair were nowhere near as complicated as the rules for living in Yu-Shan! But… just WHO were these “Fairwards”? She’d been thinking of literal wards, but they were obviously something more than that! And just how powerful were they?

Asking Samelin and Amelia… the Fairwards were HALF a rotating committee of sorts – but you had to be pretty powerful to get on the list! Mostly only very old half-fey, a couple of gods, and senior fey qualified – and most of them were thousands of years oldy. The long-term members were hard to tell apart, but they supposedly once supervised trade with some very ODD places and were (and are) very powerful and very fair!

And they put up a bunch of wards too.

The kids weren’t sure what the prohibition on Plaids was all about though except that it had something to do with “Marack”.

Weird… had somebody who got on someone’s bad side?

The kids didn’t know – but if that was it, it must have been REALLY bad!

She could see that – but it must be awfully hard on Scottish fey, though. Would they have to change into plain kilts. Still, apparently just bringing them in wasn’t all THAT bad. Trying to sell them though… It made things awkward for a few cloth and clothing merchants. If they wanted to deal in Plaids, they have to set up outside the fair!

Come to think of it… the fair seemed to surround the town entirely, and seemsedto be a fairly precise circle. There were wards up against entering by any other way than the usual roads. Now THAT was security… why surround the whole place, though? Perhaps it was some aspect of the local narrative? Or was it just for more room?

She took a closer look – and determined that the edge of the fair-grounds was also the edge of a geomantic zone of Influence – and a powerful one. There were traces of serious wyld energies, malfean energies, underworld energies, Yu-Shan’s energies, and something that was just WEIRD there. Most were apparently latent though. A Manse? Or just a freehold that’s using some kind of minor Grace?

The Coatl guessed a manse. If the fair was located on a really an OLD trading center – and Malfean energies argued for that, since there hadn’t been many people on earth for millennia who were even capable of reaching Malfeas – it might take a manse to last so long. Freeholds… tended to come and go over the millennia, even if they were stable enough for a few centuries. Perhaps there was some kind of dimensional nexus around here? That would certainly explain a trading center! And if the energies were latent… Charles’ plans for Yu-Shan might reopen shut gates there – and the welling up of energies on the dragon-lines might well be having an effect.

All over the planet for that matter. A LOT of old things might be coming back online, and long after how to handle them or maintain them had been forgotten. That could be disastrous for many things other than Manses.

But… there was little choice but to rush!

With that information in the back of her head, Aikiko headed on in – while continuing to check out that geomancy! It was… old and strong – and definitely NOT a freehold; the area was still basically just tainted, like most of the route here. Perhaps there’s some kind of stabilizing effect or artifact built into this place… to think she got here from London! She might be out in the Wyld somewhere now.

But… her GPS still said Great Britian – at… a shopping center in northern England. Near a sleepy little town and a retirement village. How strange… there had to be some wide-scale glamour on the place to make it look normal – or perhaps an overlay of some sort. There was certainly enough old magic about for it. Especially if it dated back to the Reshaping! That had been a REALLY weird time!

(Elderly gentleman passing by) “Warried `bout tings? T’ fair be saf nough be ye a wee mite o caution!”

(Aikiko) “It never hurts!”

(Elder) “Ye be righten tere, byt respict te rules, an tink twicet on ye bargains an ye be sailin tru!

Huh. Good advice in any situation, really… still, moreso around here.

(Elder) “Be ye by yurselfin? Mit naut byt a couple a slav-bairns when ye be naut muc mor’n a bairn yeself? Tat be nau way to trapise abrod!”

Rather parental there!

(Aikiko) “Hey, I’m more savvy than I look!”

(Elder) “If’n ye ninsist! Yut may the Good Lugh be watchin oer ye chile!”

(Aikiko) “Thanks, I’ll be careful!”

It took her a bit to remember who Lugh was, and she had to get the details out of Aden’s archives…

(Elder) “Ye do tat!”

The elderly gentleman and his wife looked after Aikiko with a bit of concern – but if she had been traveling with no problems, she was unlikely to get into any major disasters at the fair!

And a bored half-fey guard wanted to know if she was carrying any contraband – with a special mention of plaids!

Well, she didn’t have any contraband that she knew of – although the very question confused Skoll a bit. Plaids? A superficial color combination was forbidden?

(Aikiko to Skoll) “Organic beings forbid things for weird reasons sometimes.”

(Skoll) “Recommendation; exercise extreme caution with “plaids”. Entities designate “Fairwards” are apparently very experienced and may have good – if perhaps exotic – reasons for their rules”.

(Aikiko, to Skoll) “Of course.”

Just in case she changed her clothing to single shades of color where it wasn’t already – and told the guard “No”.

(Guard) “Very well then! Were you intending to sell either of these two? If’n you are, don’t forget the guild tax!”

(Aikiko) “Nah, I’m keeping them.”

(Guard) “Well, you’ve had adequate warnings I think (as he nodded at the elderly couple behind her)! I hope that you’ll enjoy the fair and find whatever you’re looking for if you’re shopping!”

(Aikiko) “Thanks!”

(Guard, waving her on through) “It’s no trouble, but you’re welcome!”

Hm… Accent and patios a LOT smoother than most of the local “peasantry” – looked like another feyblooded – but one with a lot more modern influences, like a wristwatch and a hands-free cell phone headset. Must get out of the fey regions regularly – or, if he had enough power to cover himself, a public-school education?

The fairgrounds were colorful, bustling, and busy with strolling entertainers, musicians in small groups, theater groups, merchants with a wide variety of wares, suspicious foodstuffs (very traditional that – although the deep fried twinkies with sugar and cream and chocolate syrup were a bit less traditional. Those… induced rather nauseous feelings in Aikiko, but definitely seemsed to be attracting the two kids), and many another offering. The very highest quality stuff was quite obviously reserved for private deals. There were some very strange booths though, including one where you could – apparently – sell various aspects of yourself… Probably not a good idea to fool with that one; she didn’t have any qualities that she felt like parting with.

She settled on checking out musical performances and listening to gossip – and on some morbid curiosity about the twinkies.

The people at the “aspects of yourself” booth cheerfully made an offer on her shadow as she went by. That was almost tempting, considering that it could give stealth away, but wasn’t the shadow associated with the soul in many traditions? And apparently… all sales were permanent, even if they did pay well.

They assured her that they weren’t including that with the shadow! Just an image of it!

Still, there was obviously something wrong with you if you didn’t have a shadow. She passed.

Apparently they didn’t do a brisk business, but there were always a few takers at every fair… It had to be an interesting trade.

As for today’s performers… minor performers were unscheduled. Major performers included Metalstorm, Zombies At My Brain, The Wandering Songbirds, the Harpist of Sorrow (today) and (for tomorrow) The Devil Drummers, Ode to Joy, Helical Storm, Lorien’s Bells, and Continental Drift. Modern ideas about naming bands had DEFINITELY leaked over! Still… Helical Storm at last! She’d have to attend – and check out their security setup. (That must be REALLY confusing for the local peasants.)

For today she focused on finding out more about the current performers.

It looked like Metalstorm played rock music and did some light metal style stuff, very modern. Zombies At My Brain did experiential music – apparently including memories of trips to some very weird places. The Wandering Songbirds were traditionalists. The Harpist of Sorrow was rumored to be a ghost, but specialized in TERRIBLY sad songs – to the point that people coming out needed an hour or so to recover, but generally felt that their lives were WONDERFUL after that.

Unfortunately, the tickets for Helical Storm were among the half of the shows which were already sold out! Bother! Well, she WAS a Night Caste. Man… It had been a while since she’d sneaked into a concert – although the rules might count it as “not paying”. Still, she could always drop money into the till on the way in to cover that. She’d be being rude, and might get a small fine for that, but as long as she paid nothing more than that.

Tickets were about fifty bucks or the equivalent. Official tickets did seem to come with some odd paperwork though; waiver for the use of Charms? It’d match that news story…

It turned out to be for… long-term modifications of unspecified nature. It seemed to cover the “expression of subconscious desires”.

That was a little risky… Still, she couldn’t let Lytek down!

Still, that would be for tomorrow… At the moment, there were people trying to sell her things, several really excellent singers performing some sort of love story, one pair setting up for a performance of Tolkien’s musical duel with Sauron, and a strings performance of some of Mozart’s music. On the theater side… there was a Shakespear troop, a more modern comedy, and something called “Kirk and Khan”, which was apparently a one-man show (?).

Well, she wasn’t into Star Trek nearly as much as Charles was… she’d attend and record that one for him, if possible! Or just buy a recording, if available.

Ah, it looked like they DID sell DVD’s of performance… She got Charles one of those! He’d enjoy that!

And the guy was actually very good. He used half-face makeup and a two-sided costume so that he changed characters by turning around to face where he was a moment ago – which was amusing in itself. The arguments and “encounters” ran from “teenagers” on to “old age home” – until Khan, overstressing from his temper, had his final fatal heart attack, and Kirk – of course – yelled “KHHHAAANNNNN!!!!”)

Heh! It WAS an interesting rivalry and opposition… and an interesting take on the whole thing! The guy did his own effects with illusion magic too! Kirk/Khan got two thumbs up from her! And he not only had DVD’s, he had forms to order essence-powered TV’s and Players for those without electricity – and Essence-Generators if you’d rather go that way. Very handy!

The stuff that was publicly for sale around the fair was mostly ordinary (and gossamer) goods of course – but there were magical services, odd creatures and slaves, talismans, exotic experiences, magical supplies, tailoring, lessons, musical services, alcohol, drugs, and medicines, and odd weapons. The backroom stuff is harder to identify though! Still, Aikiko’s investigative skills were pretty formidable… At least one place was selling small bottles of Vitriol and demonic essence, there was a place that alloyed underworld materials with normal ones for making weapons that struck true against ghosts and paint that they couldn’t go through and that sort of thing. There were a few exchanges of very minor artifacts too – although apparently nothing above rank two, if that.

It was pretty strong confirmation of the extradimensional energies around the place though! Even getting some of those materials implied some method of reaching Malfeas and the Underworld around here. The apparent shadowland nearby might be a source for at least some of it though – and there weren’t supposed to be many of those left on earth, a majority of them only dating to the Second World War, and almost all of them on the continent. Not, of course, that there might not be links to the continent around.

Hmm… the Harpist of Sorrows next. She was bound to get some catharsis from that one – and might be able to determine if she was a Ghost, ghost-blooded, or Raksha using a death-based Assumption.

It looked like… Raksha with an underworld-themed assumption and a couple of ghost-blooded backup performers. And it WAS an interesting performance… She opted not to resist the mental influence given the fair restrictions. After all, catharsis wouldn’t do her much good if she blocked it!

The Harpist played sorrow for the lost, for blighted potentials, for the failure of youth’s bright promise, for the horrors of war, for pain, and for the pervasive failings of small hopes – not so much inflicting it as acknowledging that the world was broken, and full of pain, but that the pain was, at least, shared. Her skill was great – and the power of the wyld suffused her music.

Aikiko was shocked at the answering surge; she had become so used to the whispers and the pain in the back of her mind that she’d briefly forgotten the Memories of the Neverborn – and the music was touching them as well. As was the nature of the Raksha… the pain was shared, and made a part of their tale – and transformed as the power of the wyld flowed. The deeper the pain, the greater the relief as it was acknowledged, shared, and transmuted into experience and new hope. There was a certain pressure building up there now; with that realignment… outside human-and-nature flavored power was flowing into them from somewhere. They were discarding the elements that held them to Death, and doing a bit of reshaping. Quite impressive for a musical performance – but they did always respond pretty strongly to music.

She’d… gotten awfully used to that backdrop to her consciousness, even if the water park fantasy had been soothing. Hopefully that will help with the healing! And… at least it was the memories of the component devas in there, and not the full Primordials! Skoll probably couldn’t hold that many Primordials. He’d certainly never been designed for it!

Oh dear. She – and her passengers – owed the Harpist of Sorrows some pretty major favors didn’t they? And… the Harpist didn’t know about it. Well, letting her know would be a start on discharging the debt. After all, she HAD brought them in without paying. They probably didn’t technically count (it was really unlikely that the rules covered the situation), but morally they did as far as she was concerned.

(Harpist) “Er… you’ve got WHAT riding in your head?”

(Aikiko) “It’s a LOOOONG story…” (She explained behind privacy warding.) “If I’m lying, I’m dying!”

(Harpist) “Normally I provide catharses for mortals and near-mortals! What possessed you… no, you’ve said what possessed you… at least it didn’t turn into a disaster! That pain could have drawn in everyone nearby if it had gone wrong though! Just as the Whispers once did!”

(Aikiko) “Oh… I didn’t realize. I’m very sorry about that.”

Yeah, should have thought that one through a bit better… Still, her power was impressive to channel grief like that – and it had worked out, if only through fool luck!

(Harpist) “We are most fortunate that it worked out! You for your sanity, and I – at the least – for avoiding a disaster that would have kept me out of the fair from now on!”

Oh dear. Was she becoming like Charles? Experimenting with no heed for the consequences? Or should she count it as an accident and worry about accidentally unleashing some vast destruction? For that matter… would it be at all wise for the Harpist to ever call in one of those favors? It was hard to say what calling them in might get you! Perhaps better to go out into the wyld and see what kind of trinkets they could be forged into!

Back in Yu-Shan, Charles’s latest beacon-in-a-bottle was riding the essence flows in a very interesting path – from the Fulgent Administrative District (where Charles spent most of his time in Yu-Shan) it flowed along the dragon lines, through the Central Metropolitan Zone, and all the way to the far eastern quarters of the Lunargent Ecological Protectorate. It then sank deep, deep into the adamant until there was something that – in human terms – felt like a full stomach and a comfortable down blanket. It was different from the feelings he’d gotten from the Pole of Pleasure: purer, not so… hormonal.

It was deep in the eastern empty quarters too! A good thing that he’d already spoken to the Overseers of that direction; the only deiphages who even approached him were the wild ones – who got treated and sent to the sanctum-manse. As befitted that direction of Yu-Shan, the region was formerly tamed Celestial “wilderness” – now deeply overgrown, but still beautiful, parks, forested hunting preserves encroaching upon blocks of abandoned apartments, and the occasional fenced-in area where someone was growing some of the more obscure Celestial crops.

Still… he had not left a a major dragon line since beginning the trace. That was doubtless a good sign even if it was a little weird.

The path terminated in the middle of a field, about as deep as you could get into the eastern empty quarters. It felt… different, even by Celestial standards. While many Creation-born animals had made their way into Yu-Shan since the Reshaping, the birds that flew in the city avoided this place – as did stray animals for that matter. The ambient environment of the area crackled with Essence – despite some fairly traditional demesne-capping: one focus-pillar of each of the five magical materials on the geomantic nexi, each well-warded against deiphages and tampering.

The pole of all-devouring snacking? The Loom and the Jade Pleasure Dome might be the center of the city itself, but he could feel the certainty from this place. It might not be in the middle per se, but an awful lot of the dragon lines ran from here. And the surrounding land was quite impossibly fertile – even more than one of his geomantic fertility blessings would account for. Even a cursory examination revealed the seeds of a myriad Celestial plants around the area – pretty much any kind he could think of, not just peaches!

Hm. He’d been meaning to look into those anyway; a peach-growing manse might be fun! And other celestial stuff!

The center of the demesne felt almost alive, even more so than most demesnes. Close to the center, the ground felt even more solid and real than the Celestial adamant normally did.

Charles threw in another beacon-spell and consulted his references… it looked like this would be the upper levels of the Elemental Pole of Matter, which composed everything physical in Yu-Shan that was not covered by the Pole of Adamant. Here, everything else become solid and touchable – and the matter of Yu-Shan became of truly transcendent quality. The bottle-beacon emerged about where the Elemental Pole of Wood would be. Life arising from matter? Perhaps why it was natural for all the actual creatures of Creation to have physical bodies…

It seemed so hungry though. Probably not getting anywhere NEAR enough energy! The place did seem to be very important to the dragon lines themselves. After all, only about seventy-one percent of Yu-Shan’s geomancy was functioning as intended at the moment – and the Bronze Faction would be starting Stanewald at 76%…

Charles tossed in some extra essence to see if that would help with the hunger a bit – and to see if it bumped the “pure” fraction. He wasn’t putting in enough power for any real progress there, but on the scale of Yu-Shan even a tiny fraction of a percent would register.

For a fleeting moment he felt a bit of gratitude and just a slight pang of hunger. Some of the plants turned to face him – and the “demesne” felt slightly less hungry. Perhaps the basic geomancy just wasn’t enough any more, even without the pure/impure battle – or perhaps Yu-Shan was trying to evolve in her sleep a bit. She might be long overdue!

Oh BOTHERATION! He didn’t want to speed things up any – there was already enough time pressure – but he didn’t want to leave her THIS hungry in the meantime… He consulted Li Kao the Geomancer since he always succeeded. Was there any way to help some with the starvation without all of any extra power he puts in being diverted into the war/old geomancy expansion/new geomancy city services? Could he, well… limit the essence-bleeding in the damaged areas?

Li Kao knew the place quite well, actually. It was consistently referred to as the Cornucopia of All in the celestial geomancy gods’ records. It was possible, although there would always be a bit of bleed-through – about .1% per week, maybe .2% if the place was feeling especially hungry. Still, that meant that 99.8% or more of the energy would got to Yu-Shan’s core functions, rather than being diverted into trying to battle the “infection” directly. Well worthwhile. It looked like… he’d need to find all the poles first; they’d all need similar measures and a set of manse links; six each should do it. The bleedthrough would be much smaller if he matched the poles’ aspects – for which all he needed was some exotic manses…If he was right about the associated Deva’s it might require some communication with them too. That might be a bit difficult if they were sleeping.

Hm… he could assign some aides to step up the tracing efforts now that he’d established a working procedure. He had to find at least some of the Devas – but outside of checking the major structures he hadn’t a lot to go on with them yet.

Hm… the Violet Bier of Sorrows, the Forge of Autochthon. The Pavilion of the Calibration Gate and the thirteen “central” gates does too, and the Loom were on his list. The rest of his “likely locations” were all either out in the celestial wilds, not actually structures, or deep in the underground.

The rumored location of the Heart of the Canals was on the list as well; it was one of the subterranean ones.

The Pavilion got traffic all the time, so it would be easiest to check there first!

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLXIII – Cell Phones and Circumstance

Leon was having a good time at the party, having just meddled in some poor up-and-coming director’s life, and that of his wife and kids! Fun for him and werewolves were fun as long as they were the “get a few helpful mutations and occasionally have to conceal your embarrasing hair growth and modest canine tendencies a few times each month!” kind! While he was in the mood he bestowed a few minor boons on people; increased attractiveness and acting ability mostly! Nothing too large, but a few minor tweaks were easy enough.

Then Oscar got a call.

(Oscar) “Hello… hey, how did you get this number? What?”

He motioned Leon into another warded area – so Leon cheerily “stopped the universe” again.

(Oscar) “Not too surprising… somebody actually realized it’s not normal for lion-men to appear on the Academy Awards. Thing is, it’s not any Sidereal I’ve run into – and it sounds like a KID.”

(Leon) “Well it IS fairly subtle! But what do they want?”

(Oscar) “I don’t know, but he wants to talk to you. I STILL don’t know how he got my number!” (He tapped his chin.) “I’ve got to track down how… Anyway, I’ll put you on the line.”

(Leon) “Well then, why not?” (On the phone) “And hello there! To what do I owe this pleasure?”

It really did sound like a teenage boy…

(Boy) “Heh, one sec… yeah, the name’s Dawei Chen. What was THAT all about? And how much do you charge for high school graduations?”

(Leon) “What was it about? Mostly just my arrival! As for high school graduations… if the thought amuses me, it’s free!”

(Dawei) “OK, I want to surprise everyone at graduation this year-get a little more excitement, anyway. How do you like pranks?”

(Leon) “Ah, Pranks can be quite entertaining! However… a word of advice! It is wise to check on just how serious the pranks might be! For young man… if you invite the Fair Folk to your parties… even the best among us find offense in oathbreaking, hubris, and other common faults, and mortals can find such offense in being turned into a horse or some such… Or are there some that you think that that would suit? There are many schools that are troubled by gangs, and delinquents, and such whom would not be missed!”

(Dawei) “Well, there’s this one jerk who used to give me swirlies. He can’t do that now, but I really want to rub it in to him and all his friends. I’d do it myself, but… it has an effect on me.”

(Leon, amused) “Ah, and what sort of “prank” do you think this foul one deserves?”

(Dawei) “Can you turn him into a toilet for a week?”

(Leon) “Of course! Still… do you care about his fate as long as it is humiliating and not actively painful or damaging?”

(Dawei) “Eh, not really. He’s ALWAYS been a jerk – and I can handle the less social end of hiding it, so you don’t have to worry about those things.”

(Leon) “Ah, then you do not really need me in person I think – but tell me where to find this young man and I can easily dispatch a minion to quietly collect him for his transformation!”

(Dawei) “Aw… I wanted to meet some other supernatural being! But okay. I’m in Sacramento, and I can get you his home address and where he works.”

He provided that information – and Leon dispatched one team of Raksha Warriors, with all their various gear and powers… that should suffice to snatch one obnoxious highschooler… They could take a black helicopter!

(Leon) “Well, perhaps I can drop by at some point when things are a bit less involved… And what kind of supernatural being are you?”

(Dawei) “Not sure. Things are pretty weird – I just know I can snatch data out of the air now, and I have this sweet underground cave full of whatever I can think up. Oh yeah… and I can make Neo look like a poser, too.”

(Leon) “Well now! So; you bend time, have a private world of your own – even if it isn’t very large – and have odd powers… If you leave me your number, I shall try to drop by I think! You sound most unusual!”

(Dawei) “Eh… I try to keep the number as hidden as possible. But… yeah, oaths. Swear to keep what I’m about to tell you secret?”

(Leon) “Hm… As long as it actually is a secret and you continue to keep it so! Tantalus got stuck that way… found out that he’d sworn to keep an entire city secret! What a pain!”

(Dawei) “Aw… how am I supposed to impress girls that way? I’ll just give you my number. That way, you can’t loophole me! And I’m pretty sure there’s some supernatural conspiracy that can find it anyway . . .”

(Leon) “Well, would you rather find that I was now obligated to capture every girl you gave it to and wipe it out of their minds?”

(Dawei) “Heh. Pretty sure I can just chat them up and take them to my place – and from there… What about email?”

(Leon) “What about it? You wish to give me an Email address? Perhaps one of those “blind drops”?”

(Dawei) “Yeah, I’ve got plenty of those.”

(Leon) “Was there anything else right now? There IS a party going on!”

(Dawei) “I think that’s everything… (more humbly) please, you’ve got to tell me more about other supernatural beings when you come. I’d appreciate it.”

(Leon) “Why not? It might be fun! Do have a good time! I certainly intend to!

(Leon, after hanging up and handing the phone back to Oscar) “I don’t think you need to worry; it’s some specialized power he has to know phone numbers I think! It may be targeting the dialing system instead of you, so it’s hard to resist… Hm! I wonder if he was trying for the Goddess Technical Assistance Help Line?”

(Oscar, shrugging) “Got me… or maybe he figured there was somebody pulling the strings, and just happened to yank my number… Hey, they’re popping open THAT bottle! Wood Aspects make great wine, you know. You’ve got to try it.”

(Leon) “And why not?”

It was a VERY good champagne, with a dry finish and a hint of oak. Subtle, but a pleasant drink!

(Oscar) “Not bad, for mortals. Now, if only I could get my hands on some celestial wine…”

(Leon) “Ah, now THAT can be done – and it’s considerably more aged too!”

He cheerily fished a dusty bottle out of the air and puffed the dust off it…. Interestingly, it had a VERY strange symbol on it – not the celestial emblem of present-day Yu-Shan, and not even the older symbol from the Age of Glory; the bottle was sealed with a seven pointed star, apparently made of flame – and emblem from lost Zen-Mu. Whether or not it was “genuine”, or even whether that question meant much when you pulled things from chaos, were just more questions…

(Oscar) “Wow.. . most of the ones who come here are either too weak for that one, or want ridiculous favors for it.”

(Leon) “But it’s a party!”

(Oscar) “And they’ve come to hobnob and politick, and have fun. But YOU . . . you just want to have fun and circulate!”

(Leon) “Ah well! I suspect that they need more things than I do!”

(Oscar) “So what’s your story… or is just running around, having fun with people and being impressive, it?”

(Leon) “Ah, I’m new to the area, and I think that there are a few things that need doing! Perhaps most importantly… there are some places that really need to be opened up to a little wonder and magic; they are so insular now that they would reject what is coming as petty rulers attempt to cling to their insignificant local power!”

(Oscar) “I can think of several places like that, off the top of my head . . . most of them are pretty far from here!”

(Leon) “Well, as I said… this ceremony was a convenient gate!”

(Oscar) “And come back next year… just a little quieter! I’m pretty sure that kid wasn’t the only one who noticed.”

(Leon) “Well, perhaps I will! There does seem to be a most plentiful supply of pretties such as these (indicating the two he’s towing around) about!

And there were toasts with Celestial Wine.

After the party he was off! First to pick up some interns/assistants/aides/attendants, then to research, then to check around to see if there’s any other major supernatural presence there…

Leon did try the camera – although he kind of suspected that it didn’t really show the future, but only what some Sidereal wanted to show you. He still had to select someplace though – so he decided that he would do the research and pick this week, and then leave a large sign with his choice printed on it right THERE next week – and tried taking a picture of the spot! That way he should be able to find out what he would have come up with without doing all that work! And he’d get to see if the camera did paradoxes!

Hm… It said “the United Kingdom”. That seemed pretty unlikely! The United Kingdom was more or less a democracy and didn’t NEED a god-king!

He did the research – and wound up picking Saudi Arabia, which badly needed a monarch better than the one it had at the moment… Perhaps the picture had been a Sidereal trying to direct him toward the United Kingdom’s plentiful Wyld zones, where a Raksha could do many things without impacting the mortal planet? Not that it mattered…

On the supernatural presences front Leon was mostly checking events and news looking for oddities. There were bound to be some god-bloods and such, and the local gods would be above that – but they mostly didn’t interfere directly. What he was worried about was a dragon-blooded clan, or some lunatic abyssal, or some such operating in the area – which should show at least some signs…. Sure, he was more powerful than most – and he had quite a lot of minions – but someone else might well have the same idea!

Hm… There WAS more deathly Essence in the region than would be expected, and, with the recent troubles with the energy industry and the harshness of the local laws an increase in deaths would be expected, but… usually the pattern would not be people heading into Mecca and Medina for the hajj. That was blatantly disrespectful of that vital institution. Was somebody mining the area?

Besides, he was feeling a definite draw there… there was certainly a suitable role open! Was it time for Gilgamesh to return?

The Saudia Arabian government had been attempting to suppress it of course. Not only was it a threat to the economy, which was already suffering, but the implications for the monarchy’s ability to protect Islam’s most sacred sites were not good! Still, discontent was high; the Internet was available there, and reports had been leaking out. Most of the victims had been found in their accommodations, dead in their beds. Coroners were only able to determine “heart failure” for the cause of death, and there were no signs of entry in many cases.

Meanwhile, his mission team had lurked for a day or so to make sure that they had the right one – humans looked so much alike! – and then had swooped in and scooped up their target with little difficulty. He’d been on his way home from work at some fast food fish place. That was amusing!

(Leon) “Hey kid! How old are you and what did your name used to be?”

(Kid) “Kenny… what do you mean, USED TO BE? And why are you dressed like a lion? You look like a dork.”

(Leon) “Hey, I’ll rename you to suit myself! You really are a young dimwit aren’t you? Any preferences for what I should do with you? I hope you’re bright enough to know that “being set free” is not on the list!”

(“Kenny”) “Uh… oh, crap. L-listen, you can’t hold me hostage for long! My dad owns a dealership!”

(Leon) “A “dealership”? What does he deal in? And Hostage? For what? Why should I care what your father does? You’ve been given to me as an offering… Would you like to be a horse? You seem healthy and in good shape; you’d make a nice one! Possibly even worth breeding!”

(“Kenny”) “L-look, I can get you totally sweet deals on a new car… I don’t want to be a horse!”

(Leon) “Ah! You have some wisdom, and are looking past the surface… You realize that I COULD easily turn you into a horse! That’s something! I’ll tell you what! Allow me to drain your will with no further resistance, and in a year I shall consider whatever talents you’ve shown and possibly promote you out of the “slave” category… And know that you are being offered great kindness in that, simply because the one who offered you to me might be something of a peer, and might come to regret his actions later – in which case it would ease his mind to know that I hadn’t done anything TOO horrible to you!”

(“Kenny”) “Oh, that little – okay, wait, you want to drain my will? Like, make me a zombie?”

(Leon) “Simply obedient for a time! Or would you, perhaps, rather serve in the kennels?”

(“Kenny”) “N-no… draining is fine.”

(Leon, cheerily slurping down his will) “There now! That wasn’t so bad was it my young slave?”

(“Kenny”) “No, Master!”

(Leon) “Ah good! Now strip down – good – here’s your collar, put it on – good – and lets get you fixed and changed into a cat-boy to match! Good! Now, you serve well and show off whatever talents you’ve got, and I may promote you later on! Got that… uhm… Felix?”

(Felix) “Okay, Master!”

(Leon) “Good boy! Go get me a glass of the 62 red, and then heel!”

And he did, quite appropriately!

(Leon) “Very good! Nice to see that youngsters CAN be brought nicely to heel these days!”

(Felix) “I can also stand on my hands…”

(Leon) “Ah? Athletic are you? Perhaps later; you have a goblet to hold when I’m not using it right now!”

(Felix) “Okay, Master!”

Felix got quick pat on the head, which made him smile – and Leon decided to call Aikiko… She’d had recent experience with Abyssals – and killing people on a pilgrimage… they were very strongly expecting an afterlife, not Lethe – so they probably made good strong ghosts, and possible soulsteel fodder. And weren’t some abyssals wanting a lot of that stuff right now? So she had recent experience… besides, he had some information that she might want! Besides… young Felix made a nicely pliable slave – he hadn’t even triedd to ARGUE – and so sending a supernatural being to meet the donor might work very well!

(Aikiko) “Hello, Aikiko speaking… huh, you’re a new voice… And a new face, too! What’s up?”

(Leon) “Hello there Aikiko! I’m Leon – although I may soon be going by Lord Gilgamesh – and I’d like to talk to you about some potential problems in your line in the Middle East!”

He explained.

(Aikiko) “That’s not good! Not that I care for that place, but that could cause all kinds of bad things! You really think someone’s that daring to harvest on Earth? And what if there are demesnes there? All that death . . . I think it would shift them if enough people died.”

(Leon) “Definitely a problem! Now… You’re very good at this “investigation” stuff and you have contacts which I do not; if I move into the area I will doubtless find both opposition and assistance… I would like to obtain your evaluation as to what I’m likely to run into. It might compliment my own evaluation nicely!”

(Aikiko) “Okay… how soon did you want that? I’m currently investigating strange events in London.”

(Leon) “Oh, I will have some preparations to make – but with people dying in such a way, I would hope to start within a week or two at most!”

(Aikiko) “Okay… I don’t think this will take much longer, so I’ll get started on these killings as soon as possible. Hopefully… no more than two or three days.”

(Leon) “And I may have something for you… (since he hadn’t been asked to swear after all) a youngster with a a magical “private cave” “filled with whatever he wants” who has powers over time and computers, but does not feel able to handle simple bullying from another mortal child personally…”

(Aikiko) “Wait, what? Really? Where was this?”

(Leon) “Well, I can tell you the school – Felix, where were you going to school? – and give you an Email contact… I shall send him one myself first, to tell him that I’ve found someone he might like to meet!”

(Aikiko) “Okay, thanks . . .”

(Felix) “St. Francis, Master!”

(Leon) “And in what city Felix?”

(Felix) “Sacramento, California!”

Felix got another pat on the head and purred nicely! A natural cat there! No doubt he’d also enjoy chasing pieces of rope. That should certainly satisfy young Dawei…

Aikiko hadn’t drawn much attention with her phone. For all the quasi-medevial styling, there were plenty of cell phones about – even if the coverage was a bit iffy without some boosting. That was a good thing; that could have been awkward. She needed a few minutes to consider that call very carefully indeed anyway! That fellow had known things that only she, Charles, and Lytek ought to know right now! Who was “Leon”, how had he gotten her number, and how did he know who she was? And who was that cat-boy in the background?

Throwing in some of her special resources… that had obviously been a Raksha and a mutated animal-boy. Since the boy had been going to school on earth, the mutations were probably very recently induced. The slave-collar tended to confirm that. From his being asked to say where he came from, he was very likely the “bully that the possible-young-guardian couldn’t bring himself to deal with. Now he was obviously a Raksha slave – although “Leon” seemed to be kind enough to pet his slaves and the boy wasn’t in any pain or anything. Still, that was… a bit darker than what she’d expect from a Guardian. She couldn’t see Charles being quite so… petty.

She called Charles. He needed to know about this too!

(Charles) “Oh, Hello Aikiko! Is something up, or is this just sociable?”

(Aikiko) “Um… I just got a call from a Raksha. about possible Abyssal activity in Saudi Arabia.”

She explained.

(Charles) “Er… Well, I can see why a Raksha wouldn’t like that – but intending to go and do something HIMSELF? That’s… not like a normal Raksha anyway! What was he like?”

(Aikiko) “Really decadent, but seemed like a nice guy. Oh yeah: and he apparently ran into a Guardian too. Or… talked to him, at least. The Guardian gave him some guy who was bullying him.”

(Charles, looking quite startled) “But… how would he KNOW about them? I’m pretty sure that I haven’t discussed it with anyone, much less a Raksha – and you probably haven’t, and Lytek is REALLY unlikely to! Did he actually call whoever it is a Guardian?”

(Aikiko) “Well… you’ve made Raksha, right? Maybe one got out of the Mardi Gras Manse? And no, he didn’t say ‘Guardian,’ but the description matched.

(Charles) “Well… yeah, but I haven’t TOLD them about any secrets! That certainly SOUNDS like it – but it still brings up… how he knew to call YOU. You’re not exactly famous or infamous! Especially not among the Raksha!”

(Aikiko) “I don’t know, maybe Mechagodzilla is trying to help my career?”

(Charles) “Erg… That makes no sense!”

(Aikiko) “Well… ah! Isn’t Aden made from your whims – conscious and subconscious?”

That head-tilt, and the speech-patterns, had seemed awfully familiar! And there’d been more than a hint of tawny gold there too.

(Aikiko) “I bet you accidentally made a raksha, like you made that Underworld-communication Manse when you were tired. He was acting a LOT like you in some ways.”

(Charles) “But decadent? I’m not decadent, and I don’t just… take people and enslave them as a rule! And just because someone ELSE was annoyed with him? None of my Guardians act like that!… Well… maybe Elzeard a little, but that’s just because he’s more oriented towards species than individuals!”

(Aikiko) “Maybe you put all your suppressed urges in there – and since you didn’t want to express them, you didn’t put them in something linked to Aden. You work too much to be decadent!”

(Charles) “Erg… Well, I DO use an awful lot of wyld energies and shape a LOT of things… At least he seems to mean to help people a bit if he’s worried about murders and abyssals. I suppose that’s something! He’s either overconfident or he has a lot more power than the usual Raksha though!”

(Aikiko, sighing) “Also like you, in some ways… I bet a little of it rubbed off!”

(Charles) “Well, if he knows that much of what I know – at least what isn’t shielded by the privacy manse – he may have a lot of other unusual resources too… Erm… He might be pretty decadent, and wild, and inclined to just take over, and to confront problems instead of trying to subvert or get around them though… (Sigh) not that there aren’t a lot of plain humans who are pretty decadent too.”

(Aikiko) “Well… HEY! You don’t think he’d really try to take over there… he said he would be Gilgamesh soon.”

(Charles) “Erg… well, I certainly wouldn’t! So, if he IS my suppressed urges… he very well might! He’d want to be a god-king – and Gilgamesh… certainly fits!”

(Aikiko) “I’m not sure how I feel about that. We’re not sure what he’s going to DO with all those people, if he wants to pull off a coup.”

(Charles) “Well… from what you said… he’s treating the boy as a pet. Now… I’ve got some who are being treated that way, but it’s because they can’t live on their own. I’d guess that… he’d treat anywhere he took over as his personal property – and try to build it into a glorious reflection of himself.”

(Aikiko) “I guess that’s not as bad as trying to make it the perfect Islamic state.”

(Charles) “Well, considering how some of the Islamic states act… I’ve been kind of worried about what’s going to happen when the gates open anyway!”

(Aikiko) “Ugh… it’d be anarchy, and a lot of finger pointing.”

(Charles) “Well, he hasn’t done anything TOO bad yet…”

(Aikiko) “So I guess watch and help him out if he continues that, then. Oh yeah, about that… I need a stone of gender change if I’m going to Saudi Arabia.”

(Charles) “I suppose so! There are too many major threats doing horrible things to worry about one Raksha who’s treating mishebaving youngsters as pets. Well… Shall I try to look into the possible-guardian a little later?”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, sure… if he’s doing stuff like that, he might need your help.”

(Charles) “Well.. he might just not have thought it through! Bullies can be REALLY upsetting… Anyway… how’s England? I hear that they have more ghosts and Raksha around than America does!”

(Aikiko) “Oh, it’s interesting… they’ve got stronger connections between the Wyld pockets than us. It’s like a whole other country!”

(Charles) “Huh! That… must have taken them a LOT of work unless they were somehow linked up already.”

(Aikiko) “Maybe the rumors about the British Isles being fey are true, and the whole area was in the Deep Wyld before Gaia reshaped things . . . isn’t distance funny the farther you get in there?”

(Charles) “Very! In a lot of ways… it doesn’t even exist; trips work by telling stories about travel, rather than actually moving.”

(Aikiko) “Huh… sounds like how I got to this fair.” (She told the story.)

(Charles) “Hrm! That sounds like a rather high level of wyld energies there!”

(Aikiko) “Maybe there’s still a connection to the Deep Wyld or Pure Chaos, somewhere in there.”

(Charles) “Huh… That… could be kind of dangerous. Still, there are worse things out there. Well… is there anything you need right now? I’m trying to sort out fixing Yu-Shan, but I can’t think of much that would help in that offhand.”

(Aikiko) “Eh, I’ll need a stone of gender change for Saudia Arabia, like I said… no way am I wearing a burqa. Other than that, though . . . I’m doing fine at the moment!”

(Charles) “Hrm… Well, I think I’ve got one around somewhere… Come to think of it, I’ve never figured out how THAT got into the que; it’s not like they have all that many uses!”

(Aikiko) “Maybe somebody else was going someplace really sexist.”

(Charles) “Well maybe! But you can certainly have it… Things have been getting weird enough around here without that!

(Aikiko) “Thanks! And it seems like it, if you’re making raksha without even knowing it.”

(Charles) “Well… Hey, you’ve got a Satyr – or is it a Faun? – along! Those are actually roaming around in England these days?”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, he’s a few centuries old!”

(Samelin) “237 Lady!”

(Aikiko) “Ah, my mistake.”

(Samelin, after a moment of puzzlement) “Er… yers Mi’Lady, not centuries! Sorry!”

(Amelia) “Huh! If he was 237 CENTURIES old he’d be WAY too powerful to keep as a slave so easily!”

(Aikiko) “Isn’t time screwy around here anyway? I’m not sure it matters.”

(Samelin) “Tis fas sametimes an slew sametimes, an sametimes kips or ads a myte – byt yers in t edgerows is usual petty close to yers byond MiLady!”

(Charles) “Slave is it? Oh well…”

Aikiko’s package arrived shortly – and contained a dozen resplendent butlers accouterments and two sashes/sets of commando armor, along with the stone of gender change.

(Aikiko) “These are handy; you should both put them on.”

(Amelia) “Uhrm… which mistress? And what do they do?”

(Aikiko) “The sashes!”

She explained about them and the collars. If they wanted to wear the collars after she explained them, they could go right ahead… it wasn’t like they were that bad, even if they were nigh-indestructible and hard to remove.

(Amelia) “Oh! Yes My Lady!”

Even if she was rather boggled at the level of wealth that putting magical artifacts on your slaves implied. Had this been a good deal after all?

(Samelin, with a curious mixture of nervousness, wistfulness, and disbelief) “Er… tey cure prety much EVERTHIN? An I cn relly use one?”

(Aikiko) “Why of…. wait, you have something wrong with you?”

(Samelin) “Ell… t ful satyrs don preciate yxtra boys abut, so Fathr kut me hen I was yng, long afore I was sole. Id… ned m mastres sy-so wouldn I?”

(Aikiko) “Would you be able to control yourself if I allowed it?”

(Samelin, sadly) “I don relly kno MiLady! I wose eight!”

(Aikiko) “Well, if you wait a while longer… I plan to take both of you to a place where you won’t have to worry about a lot of things. But don’t spread that around, OK?”

(Samelin, happily) “Ys MiLady!” (Amelia, nervously) “Er… where?”

After all… if you were sold or transformed into something… you didn’t need to worry about much any longer!

(Aikiko) “My friend’s got his own chancel where he takes in needy people.”

(Amelia) “One of the fair folk Mistress? Does he do oaths?”

(Aikiko) “Er… I’m not entirely sure what he is, but I don’t think it’s unless he feels the need to.”

Amelia wasn’t so sure about being that trusting – but it wasn’t like she had any choice.

And they were almost at the edge of the fairgrounds – and there were some rules posted…

  • All bargains and pacts must be fully explained.
  • Enchantments and transformations must end when the fair is over!
  • Theft will be severely punished – as will be short-changing, lightweight or mislabeled inferior goods, and other cheats.
  • Fully-explained bargains are, however, final! (Even if you were an idiot or drunk)
  • Plaids are not permitted, and intentionally attempting to sell them at the fair may call for the death penalty.
  • Crocodile-styling is also banned, on pain of being thrown into lock ness.
  • No motorized vehicles.
  • Please set cell phones and electronics to vibrate or silent mode while attending musical performances.
  • Chips are free, fish is potluck.
  • No Demon-Summoning without the permission of the Fairwards.
  • No Polka Music.
  • For the protection of the food merchants businesses, no faliboxting.
  • Violence is prohibited unless mutually agreed to and supervised by the fairwards. Violaters will be punished according to the whims of the goblin king.
  • Abandoned children too young to care for themselves will be taken in by the Fairwards. If not claimed by the end of the fair, they go to the slave market.
  • Failure to Pay is considered theft.
  • Anyone adding to these rules will be severely beaten.

No polka music? Aw! Still, she should have known better than to expect all the rules to make rational sense… what did they have against plaids though? And would the Goblin King bear a coincidental resemblance to David Bowie?

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