Well, now that real life isn’t demanding all my time again, I can get back to posting things…
Elzeard Lifeshaper, Treeherd, Lord of Totems, Guardian of the Survival Imperative, Apostle of Gaia, Fourteenth Soul of Aden.
While Elzeard takes many forms – whether anthropomorphic beast or tangled mass of vines and leaves in the shape of a man – he is always recognizable by the staff of bronze and iron that he carries, it’s verdigrised metal a testimony to the power of artifice bent to the service of life. Where he strikes stone, waters break forth. Where he touches the ground, plants and trees rise up. Where waters bathe it, they are filled with algae and plankton – and where it touches living things they adapt to their surroundings, growing healthy, and strong, and changed as Elzeard wills.
Where he walks, Elzeard brings life to the barren places – spreading trees and greenery, raising springs, placing exotic bacteria is equally-exotic environments, filling the lands, seas, and skies with life. He restores lost species, reinvigorates ecosystems, grows forests, and sometimes tosses invasive species out on their ear…
Unfortunately, while Elzeard is very helpful, he helps in his own idiosyncratic fashion… When a terrible flood sweeps down on your village, or you fall from a skyscraper, what you want is to be rescued – pulled from the waters to safety on higher ground, to land on a giant stuntman-style airbag, or to be caught with magic or charms. You DIDN’T really want to be abruptly transformed into an otter, or into a creature of the air, or some such*. If you are clever, and lucky, you may master your new form in time (in fact, the odds are quite good unless you’re totally incompetent; Elzeard IS being helpful after all). If not, well… neither nature nor supernature is always kind. Elzeard looks after species and ecosystems, individuals are not his primary responsibility.
You DON’T want to be killing off endangered species while he’s watching; he’s quite likely to transform you into a replacement specimen.
*Neither did you usually want one of the totems he commands to be assigned to grant you animalistic supernatural powers – at least not as a surprise – but that’s an entirely different tangle of complications all by itself.
The Totems include various plant-patrons (the ones Elzeard most commonly works through) and beast-patrons. In general, they are essentially mid-ranking nature gods, following the usual guidelines (Attributes 49 (12 max), Essence 7, Pool 120, Virtues 5, 4, 3, 2, Willpower 10, 28 Spirit Charms, Abilities 35, Backgrounds 5, Bonus Points 6, +6L/6B Inherent Soak. Health: 2x -0, 14x -1, 12x -2, 2x -4, Incapacitated. Uses Adenic Thamuaturgy) and equipped with Behemoth Cloaks and Rings of the Earth’s Blood.
Ring of the Earth’s Blood (Artifact ****): This ruby-and-emerald set ring is always warm to the touch – and glows with a faint echo of the primal energies of the earth. It provides:
- +4d to Geomancy
- Makes from 2 (minimum) to 24 extra motes per hour available to the wearer depending on the density of the dragon lines, demesnes, and manses within a thirty mile radius.
- Allows the wearer to tap into some of the powers of manses or demesnes within a similar radius. By default, the ring tunes to eight construction points worth of enhancing abilities from amongst those available (if any. If tapping demesne powers, the game master will just have to rate them). The user can, however, spend an hour in meditation to get a list of what powers are available in the area and pick out what he or she wants to attune to. That’s useful when you’re staying in one place for awhile, but few travelers bother.
A Ring of the Earth’s Blood has one Hearthstone Socket (into which, oddly enough, a hearthstone of any size fits) and requires the commitment of two motes to attune.
A totem’s most unusual attribute is a variation on the Allies ability; a Totem can share enough of it’s power to give a small number of mortals (five) animalistic or nature-oriented abilities roughly equivalent to the powers of a terrestrial Exalt. While these allies are unusually easy to replace – the Totem need merely spend some time and effort to imbue another mortal – they aren’t necessarily especially helpful unless the Totem puts a lot of effort into locating a helpful prospect to begin with. While they usually respect their patron, that rarely translates into doing major favors for them without suitable payment – or into listening to orders. After all, once they’ve been imbued with power, it cannot be withdrawn.
Interestingly, when Elzeard is working through a given totem, it’s imbued “allies” experience a notable power surge – not quite up to second circle levels, but considerably more than they normally possess.
The Staff of Elzeardis actually a four-dot artifact that allows him to channel the powers of the manses he’s attuned to into thaumaturgy and charms; thus he can back a thaumaturgic lifeweaving with the manses Mutagenic power (making such transformations experience-cost free and permanent), use it’s powers of rendering land clean and fertile and well-watered in thaumaturgic spells to induce such conditions permanently, multiply, mutate and grow the bacteria on it’s hospitable surface into sizable living creatures, and so on. As a weapon it has Speed 5, Accuracy +2, Damage +10B, Defense +4, Rate 3, Str **, Tags 2, R, M, and Special: will never take anyone save inhabitants of the underworld – including Abyssals – beyond “incapacitated”. It will not kill anyone who shouldn’t be dead already.
Note that mutations induced by demesnes and manses are not shaping effects; they are a fully natural part of creation. As such, they cannot be dispelled, removed via Order-Affirming Blow, or similarly disposed of; you’ll simply have to induce a specific counter-mutation or undo them in some other fashion. Thaumaturgicaly-induced mutations can, however, be dispelled with appropriate countermagic – provided that they have a duration. Otherwise it’s like trying to dispel armor to turn it back into ore.
As for Elzeard himself…
Thaumaturgic Specialty: Lifeweave (+6 Automatic Successes).
Motivation: Protect and Assist Charles / Aden by bringing life to barren realms and restoring lost and damaged species and ecosystems.
Attributes: Strength 10, Dexterity 18, Stamina 20, Charisma 18, Manipulation 18, Appearance 12, Perception 24, Intelligence 24, and Wits 24
Virtues: Compassion 4, Conviction 4, Temperance 4,Valor 4.
Abilities: Archery 8, Athletics 13, Awareness 13, Bureaucracy 13, Computer 13, Craft 13, Dodge 13, Drive 8, Firearms 8, Integrity 13, Investigation 8, Larceny 8, Linguistics 8, Lore 13, Martial Arts 13, Medicine 13, Melee 8, Occult 17, Performance 8, Pilot 8, Presence 13, Resistance 13, Ride 8, Sail 8, Socialize 8, Stealth 8, Survival 13, Technology 8, Thrown 8, War 8
Special Bonuses: +3d (Adenic Thaumaturgy) to everything, another +4d with Thaumaturgy, store four Thaumaturgies, four Terrestrial, and four Celestial Spells, may temporarily learn three spells given time to study, -2 on the target numbers of Twilight abilities, the ability to attack and parry with the Occult skill as if using a perfect weapon of choice, inherent computer services and Aden internet access. +7 automatic successes when casting spells or using thaumaturgy, +1 additional automatic success (up to a maximum of +20 more) per geomantic relay available to devote to that purpose. Night Sight, Wolf-like sense of smell, May spend 2 motes to pick up 12 points worth of mutations or to revise his current selection, regenerates one level of bashing damage every third action, double ground speed, heals one level of lethal damage per hour and one level of aggravated damage every five hours, regains +40 motes per hour.
Usual Attack: Staff of Elzeard: Speed 5, Accuracy +2 (38d), Damage +10B (20b), Defense +4, Rate 3, Str **, Tags 2, R, M, and Special: will never take anyone save inhabitants of the underworld – including Abyssals – beyond “incapacitated”. It will not kill anyone who shouldn’t be dead already.
Charms: Terrestrial and Celestial Circle Sorcery, Two Thaumaturgical Boosters (to Terrestrial and Celestial Circle Status), Essence Plethora. Sixty additional charms.
Health Levels: 2x -0, 29×-1, 29-2, 2x -4, Incapacitated. Suffers a maximum of two levels of damage from any effect or flurry. If slain without the use of Ghost-Eating Technique or some similar spirit-slaying attack AND exploiting his unique weakness, Elzeard will reform a day later. If he’s truly slain but the manse survives, it will simply generate a replacement in about a week.
Join Battle: 40, Dodge DV: 22, Parry DV: 19
Willpower 24, Essence 10, Mote Pool 300
Immunities: Unwanted Shaping, Unnatural Mental Influence, Aging, Disease, Poison, Disabling, Crippling, Bleeding, Scarring, and Environmental Effects. Need not Eat, Drink, or Breathe. May reflexively negate any Desecration or Special Martial Arts effect for two motes.
Soak: 41L/51B, Hardness 12L/12B, Ignores the first 6d of Ping damage, may completely negate any attack without cost or taking an action three times per scene.
Geomantic Powers (all usable as needed within a radius of 250 feet).
- Natural Awareness: Elzeard may sense the thoughts of nonsapient creatures – and share their senses – as per Invisible Theft.
- The Great Binding: Elzeard may reflexively protect anyone and anything he wants to from both shaping powers and the effects of the Wyld.
- Ward of the Forest: Elzeard may extend indestructibility to (ordinary) plants and landforms, making them impervious to woodcutters, floods, explosions, fires, and bulldozers.
The individual powers of Elzeard’s manse include:
- Fate-Linked (1): This lesser version of the “Inside Fate” power simply causes all creatures born or created within the manse or it’s zone of influence to have proper souls. Thanks to the Staff of Elzeard, any creatures that Elzeard creates, modifies, or presides over the birth of, will be similarly affected.
- Mutagenic (1): When Elzeard uses his powers to bestow mutations, they are normal and natural – not temporary creations of essence. To remove them you need to bestow counter-mutations, not dispel or unshape them.
- Provider (3): Elzeard’s manse causes plants to grow, waters to spring up, and the area to team with animals both within and without (but within it’s zone of influence). Thanks once again to his Staff, Elzeard can incorporate these effects into thaumaturgy – blessing areas for lengthy periods, growing verdure, and otherwise renewing the land. Sadly, this is only “permanent” until again changed; he may grow trees and raise springs, but – given a few months – forest fires, droughts, and earthquakes may change the situation.
- His Archives contain massive amounts of information on biology, the genetic structures of all the creatures originally placed in creation (thanks to copying a bit of the Primordial Archives), biochemistry, biomechanics, ecology, and medicine.
Standard Adenic Thaumaturgic Enhancements:
- Uses the Advanced Thaumaturgy System.
- May select six thaumaturgical effects which are automatically sustained indefinitely. If dispelled they will re-establish themselves six ticks later. One of these is normally the good-fortune die booster, the others are up to the user.
- Gets fourteen free uses of thaumaturgy per day (ignoring the usual mote and/or willpower cost), with +3 bonus successes and a one-level reduction in the time required.
- Gets three motes to power Thaumaturgy or Sorcery with up to seven times per day. This does not count as an action; the motes are simply available when needed.
- His thaumaturgy and sorcery requires an opposed essence check to dispel with Countermagic; on which he gains +6d against thaumaturgy and +3d against the Terrestrial Circle, has no advantage or penalty against celestial circle countermagic or adenic countermagic thaumaturgy, and suffers a -3d penalty against solar circle countermagic. Their effects are protected against “Spell Shattering Palm” and similar charms; these simply work against it like celestial-circle dispelling attempts.
- May stack one thaumaturgic effect with charms, artifacts, or other sources of power.
- Impervious to messiness; his clothing, hair, and person is always neat, clean, and well-repaired unless he wishes it otherwise.
- May generate minor lightshow effects at will, producing sparks, tiny flames, glowing lights, and even small obvious images at will within a radius of twenty feet or so.
There are, in fact, three essentially-identical Elzeards – allowing “him” to show up in three places at the same time. Normally, however, one will be working in Creation, one around Aden, and one will be guarding “his” manse and be standing by to project his powers though the manse Hearthstone (carried by Charles) if Charles needs his assistance.
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- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXVII – Investigating Charles Mansen (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
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- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XXXIX – Gates of the Third Circle (ruscumag.wordpress.com)