The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVI – Views of the Enlightenment

Da Wu Sheng Peking Opera Cast, Celestial Produ...

And now, presenting…

About some things High Lord Jorgensen of the Bronze was quite right… In Aden the Solar (well, anybody really) training facility – Alora Nagandurga, the Citadel of Enlightenment - was in operation. Admittedly, most of the current students were Kickaha (who were quite enjoying the Celestial Martial Arts), god-bloods, and humans – with Baalgrogs as “campus police” and sparring partners – but there were nine Solar Exalts (three Eclipses, three Zeniths (one with a Half-Moon Lunar Mate), two Twilights (with their Waxing and Full Moon Lunar Mates) and a Dawn) there.

The Gold Faction had been lucky to find that many. The Solar Exalted were scattered across the cosmos, and were anything but easy to locate.

Physically, Alora Nagandurga is a series of beautiful Tibetan-style “temples” and “monasteries” cut back into the mountainsides and linked by meandering paths and elaborate landscaping. The entire complex is nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by towering icy peaks, with small waterfalls tumbling down to the cliffs to gurgle into the central lake – a tranquil mirror for the spectacular scenery above. Even within Aden it’s difficult to reach, since it isolates itself rather like a Freehold does, and only a few routes – along narrow trails and crossing icy ravines – provide access. The three gates to Yu-Shan are, of course, normally closed – and well-guarded (and are equipped with Portal Control Systems, just in case someone needs to make a really long-range commute). The various courses cover the arts both practical and cultural. Among many MANY other topics, Alchemy, Metallurgy, Physics, and Zoology cross paths with Acting, Music, Puppetry, and Dance.

Charles, of course, is willing to supply a variety of artifacts, although he much prefers to provide defensive and utilitarian devices as opposed to weaponry. That’s why there’s a garden full of Seed of the Immaculate Blood (Oadenols Codex) Ferns – but no serious arsenal beyond the training weapons.

Like most of Aden… the complex hums with raw geomantic power.

Alora Nagandurga is – of course – a manse, supported by a series of secondary manses. It’s inhabited by Guardians/Instructors (all with Skill 10 and Attribute 10 where relevant) and the complex includes classrooms, eateries, comfortable quarters, superb facilities for artificing (and for writing, performing arts, and various other fields), research facilities for magic, elaborate thaumaturgical laboratories, some powerful privacy wards supported by the geomancy, and a set of upgraded (Artifact-****, and doubly-effective) Crystal Arenas. It’s multiply-redundant computerized library-archives feature all the non-secret (and not horribly dangerous) information that Lytek has been willing to provide on charms and exalted powers, a copy of the archives of Seven Whispering Winds (a first-age Sidereal library, albeit – once again – with a few really dangerous items removed), and additional information harvested ( in an ongoing effort) from the various libraries of Yu-Shan and Earth.

In general, the archives cover the various types of supernatural beings, most common charms, a wide selection of Terrestrial Circle Spells, a modest selection of Celestial Circle Spells, a few Solar Circle Spells, a fair number of Terrestrial Martial Arts, a modest number of Celestial Martial Arts – and a few vague descriptions of Sidereal Martial Arts (albeit not enough to help with study, although there is enough to say “watch out for this…”). Secondarily, of course, the conventional library and skill libraries are suitable for a major university – and are constantly expanding.

In large part, that’s because Charles – with his usual constructive excess – has seen fit to install Galileo – a Synergistic Overmind – as the librarian, has assigned it a budget, has provided access to the network, has set it up with a stack of enhancement artifacts, and has provided a series of clockwork aides to help it continue to collect and collate information.

Galileo:

Galileo and Viviani

Not these guys.

  • Perception 15, Intelligence 15, Wits 15, Charisma 5 and Manipulation 5.
  • Bureaucracy 15, Computer 20, Integrity 15, Investigation 15, Linguistics 15, Lore 15, Medicine 15, Occult 20, Performance 10, Socialize 10, Technology 15, War 10.
  • Essence 5 (Effective), 165 Motes, First (Solar Style) Excellencies for all of it’s skills.
  • Can use Adenic Thaumaturgy without penalty for lacking manipulative organs and without components.
  • Reduces the time needed for mental activities – research, design, thaumaturgy, etc – by two levels. (Centuries to Decades, Decades to Years, Years to Months, Months to Days, Days to Hours, Hours to Minutes, Minutes to Seconds).
  • Compassion 3, Temperance 4, Conviction 4, Valor 2. Will 10.
  • Motivation: Assist Charles and the Students (not stupidly; it doesn’t want them relying on it as a crutch!) by gathering information and assisting them in learning and research.
  • Intimacies: Likes Charles, Scholarship, Information, Teaching, Libraries, Art, and Happiness. Dislikes Death, Loss of Information, and Lack of Academic Funding.

Galileo is currently running on relatively low power, although it does control the manse systems and the power-bestowing aspects of the Citadel. Charles has a LOT of other uses for geomantic relays, and so it rarely has more than twenty or thirty available – but that still suffices to let it take twenty or thirty mental actions at once without penalty and to provide it with +2 bonus successes on it’s mental actions.

As residents of a Rank-5 Manse in Aden, students get +20 motes/hour, immunity to Aging, Poison, Disease, Disabling, and Crippling effects, rapid healing (two bashing levels per hour, one lethal level per hour, and one aggravated level every five hours), mental access to the internet, and seven 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). Each also gets to sustain three thaumaturgic effects. While these can be dispelled normally they will re-establish themselves six ticks later.

Those actually within the school or it’s Extended Zone of Influence are affected by the following powers – at least as long as Galileo approves of their presence there.

  • Wyld Revocation/Natural Learning. Determined students may profit from instruction. A student affected by this power may roll (Conviction) while studying something in which they have a tutor or instructional materials; each success reduces the cost of learning whatever they’re studying by 1 XP to a minimum of one point.
  • Wyld Revocation/Personal Training Montage. There is no difference in training times between developing your own charms, spells, and martial arts abilities and learning them from instruction.
  • Wyld Revocation/The Tidal Surge: Those within the school find that all normal metabolic needs are met by pure essence. They need no longer eat, drink, or breathe (although they may do so if they wish). Since little details like “blood circulation” are no longer vital to them they are immune to bleeding and double up their base health levels.
  • Immutability - offering immunity to unwanted shaping effects and the ravages of the Wyld.
  • Unbindable (2): This close relative of Immutable renders the manse, and everyone currently in it, impervious to Unnatural Mental Influence – albeit not to natural mental influence or to political, economic, or physical threats and pressure. As a side effect, Exalts accumulate Limit – or Clarity (or whatever) at only one-half the normal rate within the manse.
  • Dance of the Dragon Lords (4, Solar Favored): The manse amplifies the essence of those within it, and makes it easier to channel – allowing them to access normally-unavailable abilities. The may affect everyone within the manse, those attuned to the manse, only the hearthstone bearer, or some other group if combined with control systems. The first incidence of this power provides those within the manse with a +1 to their effective essence and allows them to buy it up beyond their normal limits – although the extra essence, and any abilities dependent on it, only work within the manse. It also provides those within the manse the ability to use three additional charms – although the charms must be selected from among those to which the user normally has access (for Mortals, Martial Arts and Spirit Charms) and the user must fulfill all of the usual prerequisites – although charms bestowed by this power do count towards them. Unfortunately, this function is only partially cumulative; if you happen to exposed to it more than once, the second incidence only provides +3 charms, the third +2 charms, and the fourth and fifth +1 charm each – while further incidences provide no benefits at all. Once selected, the bonus charms are fixed until the user buys one of them “for real” – which frees up that slot for another charm.

The Graduate Student Program :

Wyld Revocation/Multipresence: A student at Alora Nagandurga may opt to spend a few hours of meditation to transfer their lowest health level into the Citadel. Thereafter they’re always considered to be within the school, as well as wherever they physically are. If they’re killed or otherwise destroyed in any fashion that does not destroy the Citadel as well, they will reform at the manse as a spirit (unless they were already a ghost, in which case they will reform as a ghost). There is always some unique flaw which can prevent a character from reforming – but the nature of the flaw is usually very difficult to discover. Equally unfortunately, if all the health levels above the one you transferred are gone, your body will die immediately.

Charles is NOT generally offering Adenic Thaumaturgy yet though; he thinks that would-be students need to learn the basics first – and unless someone really wants to focus on Thaumaturgy, they’re probably better off with their native charms.

Yes, Alora Nagandurga is Charles’s replacement for the first edition “Cult of the Illuminated”. Of course, helping out the Gold Faction this way also has a side-benefit over and above the fact that it fits his purposes perfectly; if he DOES get boarded by some pesky Abyssals, they’ll probably be surprised to find a Solar training academy aboard…

Unlike the “original” version (which never existed in this setting) the Lunars attending are being accommodated with their Solar partners or separately, as desired and are very definitely being treated as equals to their Solars. Of course, several of the Sidereal instructors have Nocturnal partners, and so have some understanding of what a bond with another Exalt felt like. They weren’t attempting to brainwash their students to be pawns or pets either. They were encouraging a positive attitude toward Heaven and towards those Sidereals who espoused Solar advancement (and avoiding conflict beyond some serious snubbing Sidereals from other factions; that was just pointless!)… but that was really to be expected and wasn’t particularly intrusive. After all, it’s sane to like the people who are helping you – and Yu-Shan was worth supporting because the alternative was dimensional chaos. OK, they may get manipulative later on – but that’s just how Sidereals are.

The Gold Faction has looked just in case – but none of the Solars at the Citadel appeared to be capable of making something like Aden. That might just mean that such a capability was sealed away or was located down some obscure side-path that no one had bothered to unlock – no one had ever been able to fully analyze an Exaltation – but it was a strong indication.

The Lunar Bond’s one-way nature was a potential problem for the Solars with partners, although one of the Zeniths was working on a solution. She didn’t think that it was fair that her Half Moon friend was inclined to be positive toward her whether she liked it or not – so she wanted to make it two way, and ensure that there was more parity. She’d accepted Charles’s offer to do a link-upgrade as a temporary measure (he didn’t think it was really fair either – and even if HE tended to be positively inclined towards everyone in creation that wasn’t true of everyone and he WAS always available in Aden due to those multipresence manses). It would help while she worked on something more intrinsic to her.

Of course, several of them were rather curious about the nature of their host as well – and were looking into THAT. Solar investigators – especially Solars without centuries of prejudices and stereotypes in their heads to confuse the issue – might not take all that long to figure things out.

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6 Responses

  1. Has there been any progress in Aden developing a Fetich, or barring that a core-equivalent?

    • Well… not directly on the Feitch – although, if it does turn out to be a competition, Elzeard is probably in the lead; his priorities ARE pretty close to Charles’s after all. He’s just oriented towards species rather than individuals.

      At the moment, of course, the Guardians aren’t technically true Devas; he can’t draw on their strengths directly (even if he is carrying their hearthstones and they can work through those), and injuries to them wouldn’t affect him. That does suggest a charm – one that would allow him to link to them more directly by investing them with his intimacies and drawing on their power in exchange for thus making himself vulnerable – but he hasn’t developed that yet. They might need to be more independent of their manses first too, although that’s not at all certain.

      Indirectly, one of Charles’s current experiments is to use the dual-processing mental-duplication effect to reflect his mind as the core of a synergistic overmind – essentially consciousness-expansion. After all, currently quite a lot of his health levels are invested in manses in Aden – and while that doesn’t give him extra bodies or actions, he has found it possible to use those links to run remotely operated constructs. Sadly, without the ability to focus on more than one thing at the same time, he can’t do much with them besides talk to people and watch movies and such (and even then it’s a distraction he has to block out if he’s doing something important).

      Of course, making his mind capable of running multiple independent bodies, each doing their own things, will both let him meddle more and be another major step along his particular “path of transcendence”.

  2. [...] CXVI – Views of the Enlightenment: Alora Nagandurga, the Citadel of Enlightenment, Galileo the Synergistic Overmind, The Gold Faction and the Graduate Student Program. [...]

  3. [...] CXVI – Views of the Enlightenment: Alora Nagandurga, the Citadel of Enlightenment, Galileo the Synergistic Overmind, The Gold Faction and the Graduate Student Program. [...]

  4. [...] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVI – Views of the Enlightenment (ruscumag.wordpress.com) [...]

  5. […] Galileo (scroll down): A Synergistic Overmind – and librarian. […]

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