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 Design – Twilight Isles – BattletechChampionsd20Legend of the Five RingsShadowrunWhite WolfOther GamesBattling Business WorldStar Wars

. Cumulative General Index. Continue reading

Joining The Stampede – Ponies, Bio-Arcana, and Eclipse

For today it’s a rather odd question; “Alzrius has written up several ponies recently. How do you think that their species, society, and Alicorn Ascension, works?”

Indeed he has: here we have Lashtada, Hearts and Hooves, the Sirens, Lex Legis, and his Origin, Celestia, Rarity, the Pony Races, and the Elements of Harmony.

Well why not? I know enough about the program and setting to speculate, and a few Google searches can help fill in the details as needed.

So lets see… It’s pretty obvious that the creatures of Equestria pretty much ALL use a lot of magic. While timberwolves and dragons are perhaps the most blatant about it, even the birds and normal-looking small animals are near-sapient and do some really odd things. Ponies are no exception. They pick up things with hooves, they heal with astounding speed, their genetics are more than a bit odd, and they’re incredibly resistant to injury. Having anvils and pianos falling on their heads from considerable heights is shaken off in short order, they crash into trees and through masses of rock without injury, and they are only briefly stunned by bolts of lightning. They still seem to be vulnerable to beestings, being smacked by other ponies and creatures, and similar menaces though, which is kind of odd. Perhaps the inherent magic of an attacking creature can partially overcome their defenses – which may explain their reliance on melee weapons.

So… pony biological systems all involve magic. Ergo, pony gestation involves magic – some sort of life-supporting effect to keep the infants magical systems working and (since any pony can have any kind of offspring) the ability to support and nurture all three basic types of pony magic – earth, pegasus, and unicorn.

As a pony develops greater reserves of magical power, all of it’s magical abilities can be expected to increase in power – if not all necessarily to the same extent.

Ergo, at some point, a female pony with enough power can be expected to start sustaining it’s own life with magic, becoming very difficult to harm or poison and resistant or immune to aging. As a female ponies ability to nurture all three types of magic within itself grows, eventually it will develop all three types of magic within itself – regardless of it’s original type.

Thus a female pony who develops sufficient magical power can be expected to hit a critical point and “ascend” to become an alicorn. Even if they do not do so, greater magical power can be expected to extend their lives. Male ponies probably lack that nurturing function – and so, while they may become powerful and long-lived, cannot ascend.

Even before that point, female ponies can be expected to survive prenatal issues, childhood accidents, and various illnesses more often than males, and to live longer lives – leading to some degree of sexual imbalance in favor of females.

It is possible that males – who seem to possess greater physical aptitudes than the females – also possess greater aptitudes for the more combative forms of magic than the females. This would be a rough parallel (which seems normal enough) with the behavior of earthly equines and would neatly explain the predominance of males in troop-level military roles in an otherwise female-dominated culture.

Of course, with magic, the development of skill and experience over time seems to outweigh most of the physical limitations of age. Thus, while young adulthood is generally the peak of physical prowess, magical prowess may continue to develop until senility sets in. Ergo, barring amazing natural talent, older females are likely to dominate the magical arts – likely including combat magic.

That’s a reasonably plausible theory. What kind of results will it lead to?

  • We can expect non-magical projectile weapons to be fairly useless – and therefore virtually unheard of.
  • We can expect the “military” to be fairly light-duty; it’s only real roles are 1) to keep things from surprising the powerful magic-users, and 2) to hold back monsters long enough for the powerful magic users to turn up and make them go away. For that… medieval-style armor and pointed sticks will do very nicely indeed.
    • That nicely explains why we see trains, engines, electrical devices – and weapons that are medieval at best.
  • We can expect most ponies to show one basic response to anything even remotely unexpected or frightening – to run to get behind the guards with the pointed sticks while they wait for the powerful magic users to take care of whatever-it-is.
  • Despite that tendency to flee, we can expect a willingness to live and wander about in unreasonably dangerous areas as long as the group is confident in their protectors.
    • So… we have creatures who are willing to live on the borders of the Everfree Forest, yet who will run in panic from a “stampede” of rabbits.
  • We can expect a primarily matriarchial society, organized around the most powerful magic users who are willing to defend the rest of the herd – and to see that even a bad leader, such as Sombra, can rule since even a noxious defender is better than none.
    What male leaders there are will be more tenatively in charge; since they cannot become Alicorns, they have no obvious sign of authority – and they will be subject to aging.

    • Thus Shining Armor – while capable of generating extremely powerful shields and barriers – is somewhat tenatively a “prince”, possibly merely by virtue of marriage. Prince Blueblood may hold an honorary title – but it’s interesting to speculate that his magical talent (perhaps an ability to confuse or manipulate directions?) is powerful enough to make it worth putting up with his deficient social skills. After all… if he was really THAT useless, Celestia has had a thousand years practice in manipulating people, rules the country, and is considered a goddess. She really ought to be able to get him placed somewhere where he wouldn’t be so annoying.

The mechanisms that allow ponies to have three seperate forms, and to have members of any one group born to parents of any other group are… odd. Virtually any genetic explanation will have trouble explaining why, for example, Sweetie Belle resembles her sister Rarity so much, yet Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake are entirely different types in a family of earth ponies. To make it even worse, we have ponies being transformed by environmental factors – such various characters becoming Crystal Ponies for a time.

About the only way to sort that out is more magic. It’s hard to say what governs it though; there really isn’t enough data to even speculate.

That does make another problem though. The three major pony types are so heavily interdependent that it’s hard to see how they could get along separately – or how their interbreeding would work if they were actually genetically separate. Yet the Hearths Warming Eve play suggests that they were separate tribes.

Of course, the Hearths Warming Eve play may not be any more historically accurate than the Morte de Arthur – especially since it’s describing a piece of history that predates Discord’s reign. Given that… I don’t think that much of an explanation is required.

Overall, the theory fits the evidence about as well as can be expected for a cartoon. I can’t guarantee that I’ve taken all the details into account since I don’t know them – but that gives us a reasonable basis for pony society and a number of it’s oddities as well a theory to extrapolate from.

Predation Beneath The Eclipse

The original question here was about Kevin and Kell or 21’st Century Fox or The Suburban Jungle, and how to make a setting like theirs for a RPG.

That’s really kind of awkward.

Kevin and Kell is probably the most prominent and oldest strip of this kind, and sets the pattern for most of the rest – but it’s a cartoon, and doesn’t need to make any sense. Thus:

  • The major characters all have plot immunity, and pretty much always win. Thus Wendell (a rabbit-child) readily defeats attacks on him by nameless predators – but a full-grown tiger who’s after her mother is readily devoured by Coney (a rabbit-wolf hybrid girl) while she’s still an infant.
  • Most of the sapient animals who die are simply from “the wilds” – which apparently is basically a near-limitless source of prey who usually only appear to be eaten or to point it up when the major characters are too distracted to eat them. They get no chance of winning.
  • Little kids don’t die (that isn’t funny) instead of doing it all the time.
  • The economy and society operates normally enough to be a recognizable backdrop despite the enormous casualty rate – which would rationally make it near-impossible to train people, make even basic schools an enormous expense, pretty much eliminate making loans, and otherwise make it awkward to keep things functioning.
  • Despite the fact that the young, sick, and injured are all natural prey and can be expected to be quickly eaten, there’s a human-style medical infrastructure in place to take care of major characters – instead of a series of butcher shops.
  • Major character parents value their children a great deal, despite the ongoing mass slaughter of background characters and their children. “The young and stupid are MUCH easier prey”.
  • People get devoured neatly and usually don’t make a fuss about it (often being swallowed alive and whole despite how vulnerable the throat, neck, and abdomen are to even a single frantic claw-slash from the inside), since blood and stinking guts, pleading, struggling, screaming, and grieving relatives are off-putting to the readers and reduce sympathy for the major characters.
  • Things like Predator-to-Prey ratio – and what so many of the species having human-like sizes, breeding, and aging patterns would do to it – are NEVER discussed.

So lets take a quick peek at reality (such as it is).

A mammalian predator in the human size range (wolf, big cat, etc) needs to catch roughly it’s own weight in prey every week. Thus a ten-year-old predator kid needs to have caught, defeated (without getting killed or seriously enough injured to let something eat him), and eaten some five hundred other kids. Yes, there’s parental care – but that just shifts the burden to killing more a bit later in life, it doesn’t really change the basic calculation.

Every additional decade he or she lives, our predator will need to do the same thing again.

So lets say that (on the average) he or she lives to be twenty-five – long enough to get through school, make some kind of contribution to society, and raise a kid or two (presuming that they start breeding as teenagers) to the point where they might be able to survive without you.

So our average predator… will be eating at least 1250 other people. And there will have to be enough breeding pairs of prey species to keep that at a reasonably steady state and to cover for accidents and diseases and such. A ratio of about 1600 to 1 is close enough to work with given these rather crude calculations.

If a given prey kid has a one-in-fifty chance of winning or inflicting sufficient injuries (clawing the inside of the throat perhaps for the popular “swallowed whole and kicking idea?) when jumped (not nearly enough to be fun in a game), then our predator kids chance of making it to adulthood at eighteen will be .99 to the 900’th power – 1 in 8500. Of course if the prey kids start helping each other intelligently, or carrying poison pills, or some such… all the predators are going to die. That’s why humans have no major predators.

For predators to function… their chance of winning a fight with a prey animal has to be closer to 99.99% (giving one a 91% chance of surviving to adulthood). Their prey must either breed extremely quickly or outnumber them enormously or some of both – and their prey must NOT act much more intelligently than they do.

Of course, basic prey-species defensive tactics include cooperation – herds, gangs, flocks, and all the other variants. If a prey species is even moderately dangerous to the predator species, and is intelligent enough to organize and plan ahead a bit… they have the numbers to massacre their predators. That’s a major reason why elephants have no real natural enemies other than humans.

If a predator is going to focus on a slow-breeding, slow-to-mature population of prey, it will be massively outnumbered or it will soon starve. If the target population is even modestly intelligent and dangerous to the predator… it will have to pick off outliers in secret or it’s going to get massacred. You can make social excuses (although excuses for “not protecting your kids” are a stretch) – but societies of prey species that don’t use such excuses will expand at the expense of the ones that don’t. In the long run, social excuses are not enough.

You can, of course, run a game in such a setting – but you’re just going to have to ignore or gloss over a LOT of the background details. You want prey-species player characters and some pretext of “balance” with predator-species player characters? The prey-species characters are going to be VASTLY more powerful than the background prey-species NPC’s. You want predators to make up 5% of the population? You’re just going to have to quietly ignore the fact that they’d pretty much wipe out the prey species (and then starve, since there’s only enough food for them for nineteen weeks) well within a year even if they turn on each other quite a bit. You want combat to be exciting enough to be interesting and to have serious consequences? Then PC’s are going to die a great deal more often than in the source material. You want your group of four predator characters to skip over three weeks? You’ll need to skip past the twelve people they killed in that time. You don’t want frantic screaming, begging, last-minute attempts at dirty tricks, weeping children, and grieving parents? Then no one is going to be taking death too seriously (there may even be volunteers, no matter how quickly any such tendency would normally be bred out). You want a supporting cast? Then you ignore the likelihood of random casualties among them.

And that’s the basic trick; once you’ve realized that you’re running a game set in a cartoon universe, then the system you’re using matters a lot less. In practical terms, however, you’re probably best off with a point-buy system to allow people to build characters of a wide variety of species and with off-the-wall abilities. Given that the opposing combative NPC’s are likely to be pretty transient (since the characters casually kill swarms of people just to live you can’t expect them to hold back against actual opponents), you won’t need too much detail there.

Personally… I like to be able to build nuanced characters, so I’d prefer a reasonably detailed system. Eclipse will (of course) do – and there are handy racial templates for human-scaled anthropomorphic animals and plenty of other creatures – but you could also use the Hero System or GURPS (although GURPS is probably too realistic for the setting). Other systems, like Ironclaw and Fuzzy Pirates, are designed for anthropomorphic role-playing – but they tend to have a lot of world-assumptions built into the rules (massive predation is NOT normally amongst them), so they can be considerably harder to work with than the more generic systems.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXC – Waiting For Godot

And to continue with Aikiko…

A little research was easy enough… The train had been crossing Wolvertons Gorge in Colorado, headed for it’s next stop in Fort Collins. It had consisted of several passenger cars and an assortment of freight cars. The manifest listed… a selection of assorted exotic reagents for a research project at Colorado State University (a set of sealed crates, not individually described except for being noted as minimally hazardous, originating from a defense department laboratory), a selection of Indian relics reclaimed by a lawsuit being returned to the tribes to be reburied in rifled tribal graves (any supernatural importance was not, sadly, listed on the computer manifest for the train), several crates of old-style rifles (reproductions of early military rifles, from the Indian Wars period) for a re-enactment group, biological samples (sealed, not otherwise identified), and gold-veined black facade marble for some fancy building. It was supposed to be picking up… microbrews, refined silver, computers, solar panels, and waterproof smartphone cases. A solid majority of the passengers were university-related or escorting freight. It looked like… most people with money opted to fly in. No surprise there, it was a long hot trip on a train.

Well… the mine was going to be a minor shadowland – and she wasn’t all THAT well equipped for investigations in the underworld. Tracing the essence-users who’d tried to stop it would be a good trick given how little there was to go on. Next stop… Fort Collins, and some supernatural detection effects.

Fort Collins was a rather interesting place! She picked up a bicycle at the Bicycle Library – which was fine with an untraceable cash deposit (well within her current means) and provided a local GPS locator/map. Even better, the city was EXTREMELY bicycle-friendly! Very convenient! And really quite lovely!

So… the reagents might be tricky to check on if they were already at the laboratory – which was likely; there’d be no reason to delay delivery. What else was there around the place?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology time signal transmitters WWV and WWVB were nearby, as was the Roosevelt National Forest – and the Poudre Valley Hospital (that she hopefully would not need) provided a regional health care center.

Well, that was interesting, although likely less than vital.

The city itself hosted… the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, the Human Genome Project, an Atmospheric Chemistry and Aerosol Laboratory, the Vectorbourne Illness Laboratory of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a USDA Seed Lab Storage facility, Headquarters for SCUBA Schools International (SSI), a National Wildlife Research Center, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Western Regional Headquarters, and the University of Colorado.

Hm… those reagents had been addressed to the department of physics and chemistry, Professor Marnot – the Nanosecond Imaging Project.

Well, that shouldn’t be TOO bad to sneak into. Scientists tended to be more than a bit focused on their work, rather than on looking for possible magical spies.

Besides, that sounded intriguing… it was supposed to be imaging rapid chemical reactions mixed with neuroscience; they were trying to chart the activity of neural networks fast enough to trace the actual pathways involved in image-recognition and such to see how the brain actually worked. That would be worth a look even if she HADN’T had some business with the place!

The laboratory had a security guard – but it was one rather bored man, who spent most of his time directing wandering new students to the correct buildings. After all… few people really CARED all that much about this stuff! Easily Overlooked Presence Method it was, then, with the old clipboard and labcoat trick.

And the odds of someone being up to something had just gone WAY up! There was a well-concealed ward! Thaumaturgy, against detection – and according to the Coatl and Skoll it functioned… by diverting probes directed at the current building to an older version of the lab, torn down in 1928 but still existent in the underworld. That neatly provided results, and some reasonable-looking information, and even some activity – but concealed what was currently going on very nicely indeed! Someone… was quite clever! If she hadn’t walked through it while running essence-senses, she might never have noticed it; from just a few feet away, you just got the impression of some decrepit old-fashioned scientific types puttering around in a lab.

What was so important here as to require concealment like that?

Inside… there was a hell of a lot of complicated equipment, not to mention lots of samples of brain tissue. At the moment, a couple of researchers and some grad students were busily turning their equipment to the atomic-clock tick from the NIST transmitters to achieve the precision they needed for plotting thoughts moving through the brain!

Checking on the more detailed delivery manifest and looking things over with her (cloaked) investigative excellencies… It looked like about half the reagents were tissue-dyes, bioluminescent compounds, enzymes, and so on – used to make the reactions of the tissue more easily detected. The other half… were going into a graduate students lab, and were MUCH stranger stuff! Adrenaline, graveyard mold dust imbued with temporal energies, blood (greatly enriched with iron and apparently a mixture from many donors), neurotransmitters, ATP suspension, bone dust, and waters of lethe… Was somebody trying to raise the dead, or make their own Frankenstein? Didn’t they read their Mary Shelley? Or watch any of the movies? At least other than Young Frankenstein?

Wait, you could ORDER Waters of Lethe and the rest of that stuff as a part of a shipment of scientific reagents from the DEFENSE DEPARTMENT, and LIST THEM ON THE MANIFEST (even if it WAS the detailed one in the box rather than the public one), and no one paid attention? The Masons and thaumaturgical underground had to be a whole heck of a lot more active than she had EVER believed.

Of course… her FATHER had regularly dealt with magic, there were all those psychic power experiments the CIA was supposed to have run, psychic hotlines, astrology was a big business… Was the only thing keeping magic undercover a cultural assumption that getting involved with it – or just paying too much attention to it – was bad?

Which – for most mortals – was ALSO true.

Heh. So the Underworld and blood magic based assaults of WWII had simply left most of humanity unconsciously aware that even paying too much attention to the magical stuff was the equivalent of standing in a metallic bucket of water, wetting your finger, and sticking it into a powered-up light socket. No wonder so much stuff was just casually ignored. If you didn’t look at it, it might go away and leave you in peace! You saw it every day with people just… avoiding eye contact and going around “crazy” people on the street.

Blast it! It was just like YU-SHAN! She could probably stand on a streetcorner blazing with supernatural power and throwing explosions into the sky, and all she’d get would be a citation for illegal fireworks and creating a disturbance and some attention from the cranks who were too crazy to leave it alone! No wonder the Terrestrials were managing to cover things up… most of the population was quietly cooperating with them whether they knew it or not!

It looked like THAT lab was unusually magically active too – which was no surprise – but it was also Warded – this time against supernatural entities and with an alarm. Some very nice work there – but she had to admit that she counted as a supernatural entity. It was going to be tricky to disable it without triggering the alarm though. Still, she had Adenic Thaumaturgy and her Coatl (who had it too) to assist her…

It was still tricky – the caster was GOOD and she was well out of her specialties – but she managed to get rid of the alarm without triggering it eventually. After that, taking down the ward itself was fairly simple!

Even if it did require a lot of dice and bonus successes.

The laboratory looked normal enough visually. On the essence-side… it was actually functioning as a midrange manse, and had several areas available that didn’t exist for ordinary folk. Weirdly enough… Air Aspected. Not at ALL what she might have expected! Especially given those ingredients!

She kept a careful eye out. After all, at this point, any resistance was likely to be supernatural, and therefore not wanting this place exposed.

The obvious centerpiece of the main area that did not exist in normal space was a complex piece of electronic apparatus. It was surrounded by forty-six strange sculptures, apparently made of gold-plated platinum, each about three feet high and covered with countless tiny symbols that she needed to have Skoll turn up the magnification to make out. Twenty-two of them were paired, but there were two unique ones. They made up the outer border of a magical circle laid out on the floor. There was a minor artifact nearby – a perpetual power cell.

Hm. Some Sidereals used those in their cell phones and such – but this one was a good deal bigger and more powerful. It was also… connected to a dozen smartphones, each of which was sitting on a zodiac symbol in the inner part of the circle. There was another power cell for the mechanism in the center.

OK. This was WEIRD. The Smartphones seemed to be very minor (essentially merely being nigh-indestructible) artifacts in themselves, but were all basically just Samsung Galaxy Smartphones and components of the greater system. The mechanism at the center was pretty odd too; a sort of a sphere with crystal tubes sticking out all over it, a port showing an internal mechanism, and various wires. Part of it appeared to be a clock display too – and that might be some radio circuitry in there.

The clock display was digital – with rather a LOT of decimal places – and was mounted on a few support struts and some wires. It currently showed… “10.04.2014:03.14.12 – with another eighteen or so decimal places which were changing REALLY fast. Presuming that it was right… her watch was a couple of minutes off. It was counting up of course, the last eighteen digits or so too fast to see, and the one that seemed to be seconds at… one second per second.

OK, if this was all a project of some obsessive timekeeper trying to compare time in the Underworld to time in Creation or something, she was going to laugh SO hard.

According to various detection effects and her excellencies… the output… imposed some sort of essence-signal on radio waves that broadcast from the central mechanism and through the cell phones. Part of that modulation – the fine-tuning – came from the weird statues. The actual effect wasn’t yet in place – but seemed to involve some of those reagents and something to do with time.

Was that going faster around here? Then why match her watch reasonably well at all? And why would you need such precision?

Wait a moment… the Samsung Galaxy… Hadn’t Charles somehow given those things limitless range… A time standard for the universe perhaps?

The “Obsessive Timekeeper” theory was looking better and better, if it wasn’t just someone trying to study that effect. Looking for lag across the light years maybe? Trying to communicate with aliens? E.T. Phone Home? Nah… no need for the clock function with either of those.

Come to think of it, with this manse setup… was she even still ON Earth?

Ah. Yes and no. She was on the borders of the underworld – although not in it. Sort of between life and death. A shadowland of sorts. No wonder the place looked a bit old-fashioned – although that machine certainly looked up-to-date. The grad student probably wasn’t a ghost then.

Time for some deep analysis.

Traces of Wyld Thaumaturgy and Abyssal Energies. Some Necromancy. Also Energetics and Enchantment. Another Cauldron-Born? Well, she couldn’t blame an Abyssal for accepting Demien’s offer, although that HAD to have some awkward side effects.

No… it was just wyld thaumaturgy, not wyld charms. Still, someone was DEFINITELY fooling around with some oddities!

As for the sculptures… twenty-two paired, and two unique ones. All abstract spirals. The two that didn’t match looked rather like a cross and a an upside-down “Y”. Some kind of antenna? They did seem to have something to do with tuning. They were covered with tiny symbols though – somewhat stylized groups of letters: ALA, CYS, ASP, GLU, PHE, GLY, HIS, ILE, LYS, LEU, MET, ASN, PRO, GLN, ARG, SER, THR, VAL, TRP, and TYR.

What the hell?

OK, time to Google!

Peptides? That looked like DNA! So this student WAS trying to make a person, or at least an organism. No, definitely human; those matched human chromosomes – presumably accurate ones, given that the Human Genome Project was in town. But they were modulating a broadcast of some sort – which, for some reason, included an incredibly accurate clock and wyld thaumaturgy and something that needed intergalactic range and was being tuned with representations of human DNA.

And that an Abyssal was interested in… Perhaps it was Hubert Farnsworth’s Death Clock! After all… a world a lot like Futurama almost certainly DID exist someplace in the universe. More likely though… if it was being tuned with DNA, it might be some subtle working to alter people. It wasn’t ready to broadcast yet – but she knew the layout and the reagents and could ask some of the greatest occult experts in the universe for help.

It looked like the broadcast would be tuned specifically to humans (although that did cover an awful lot of “aliens”), using wyld thaumaturgy to attune human minds that were within reach of the broadcast and on the edge of death to the clock. It had probably originally been meant to tap into the time broadcasts from NIST and cover the earth, but now used the Smartphones to cover the universe instead. There was a secondary information-providing function, but what that was was buried in the machine since the broadcast was not currently going out.

An attempt to extend Lethe? Waters of it were among the reagents.

Well, Skoll DID have perfect stealth (barring physical contact) as long as you stood still. Why not hang around and ask or watch? It sounded as if someone was coming anyway. Blast. There must have been an electronic alarm as well as the magical one!

It looked like… a woman in her early 20’s, quite obviously an Abyssal. There was a rather careful search – but after it turned up nothing, the woman went back to installing various reagents. Rather single-minded there! Was this about ready to do whatever it did? Still, she didn’t seem at ALL hostile.

Watching the various reagents being installed allowed her occult advisers to find a solution; the broadcast would allow (but not force) dying human minds to operate on the zeptosecond time scales of the clock – and would inform them of their options; a smooth transition into Lethe or becoming a voluntary ghost (or, for those with the skill, taking over an animal body). You would, however, only have a few effective hours to think about it if your brain was being destroyed at the speed of light or something. Otherwise… you could basically take as long as you needed.

Huh. That was really rather benevolent! Likely a Daybreak, or possibly a Midnight. Time to reveal herself!

(Abyssal) “Hrrmph! I thought there was someone in here! One moment!”

She added the last reagents.

(Aikiko) “Oh, take your time.”

And the entire mess… sank into the floor as the Utility Artifact Suite for the manse was completed.

(Aikiko) “Whoa! So… why do you want everyone to know their options about their afterlife?”

(Abyssal) “So that it won’t be messy and random! It’s inefficient and intolerable! People need to die properly, and without all this insane, unnatural, attempts to keep a dying body alive! We’ve got ghosts handing about who don’t realize that they’re dead, others stuck in weird situations, people who would have wanted to be ghosts who don’t figure it out in time, people who can’t find the right way to go! There should be ORGANIZATION! Plenty of time to leave dream-messages and haunting impressions for family and friends on the way out BEFORE going straight to Lethe! The ability to voluntarily check out when it is time to go! And so on!”

(Aikiko, sighing) “Let me guess. Daybreak Caste?”

(Abyssal) “I never paid much attention to labels!”

(Aikiko) “Well, I’m not opposed, so I’ll keep quiet about this.”

(Abyssal) “Surprisingly sensible of you! So many of your sort are maniacs who believe that everything they do is heroic and right!”

Gah. Social Skills = Zero, natural talent for dealing with people… about as minimal as a human being could get. Rather like Charles when she’d first met him, but without his self-effacing way of fading into the background. It hadn’t even been MAGIC, he’d just… stood around being naive, and everyone just talked over him while he gave people what they needed… Aargh! Could this be some sort of… abyssal aspect of Charles? Like that bit about the Neverborn aspects of Primordials? Given that he was ALREADY being a quasi-primordial and had spawned a near-Ishvara aspect… And this one was… obviously… kind of focused on… manses and artificing…

Oh SURELY not!

(Aikiko) “Anyway… I came up here because of the train accident.”

Aikiko told her about it – although it was likely that she already knew; she’d been looking for someone who might have pulled a bridge out of the underworld to get the train through, and here she had an Abyssal who’d wanted the train to get through. Circumstantial, yeah, but it did seem pretty solid.

(Abyssal) “Hmph! Panicky Idiots! I couldn’t be having that! I may have to do something about them!”

(Aikiko) “What, talking about the ghosts in that mine?”

(Abyssal) “They need some straightening out, but it’s the local terrestrials who need to learn to behave!”

(Aikiko) “Oh? I can see how they’d be freaking out lately, what with all the weirdness going on.”

Unfortunately, the game was already overtime at this point. Investigation takes a good deal longer to play out than it does to summarize.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLXXXIX – Planes, Trains, and Kaijumobiles

In the morning, Aikiko was back to her search – and had opted to go back to the tabloids. They’d been informative enough last time!

As long as you were a hyper-investigator with the ability to sort the clues from the trash anyway.

She discounted the stuff about mysterious power sources, collapsing oil and coal industries, Gilgamesh, blatant sorcery, and a winged golden angel fighting demons in Mecca.

  • The Amber “Thefts” (or “unauthorized but vastly overpaying purchases”) seemed to have wound down; whoever was doing THAT evidently got enough for whatever he or she had been doing with the stuff. Perhaps a ritual or some artificing? Presuming that it wasn’t just some creature that ate the stuff or something. Well, at least it hadn’t been an obvious catastrophe.
  • A small town in Scotland had abruptly been placed under martial law, and mostly cut off. The current speculation was “Terrorists”. It was some distance away from the one that Leon’s city opened up to though. Wait… it was a bit of a stretch… but if you read the towns name as if it was Old Realm… “The Place Of The Moon’s Gate”? “Where The Moonlight Enters In”? “The Path Of The Moon”?

Bah. A little more reaching and letter-substitution and she could turn it into “Vortex Of Occluded Stars” or “Where The Moon Knocks”, or any of a thousand other things. As if someone would found a town and name it in a long-dead language anyway. Next thing you knew she’d be trying to interpret Nostradamus.

  • A gigantic plane of some sort was reported as having traveled from New York to Tokyo at supersonic speeds, but details were sketchy. While several chase-planes had been deployed, no pictures had been released. That… was a bit odd; unless the thing had been dragging along it’s own private storm or was cloaked or something there should have been plenty of time for all kinds of cameras to get a shot of it. Still, that could be all kinds of things.
  • In the southwest, a train had apparently managed to cross a major gorge on a bridge that had collapsed in an explosion some twenty minutes before. It was reported that some passenger had cold-cocked the engineer and taken control of the train, despite attempts by the crew to intervene. Additional reports of a bandit gang chasing the train on horseback were mostly being disregarded since no one had seen any sign of such a group otherwise.

OK: That one was kind of weird. Air Aspect? Guardian or Chosen of Journeys? Raksha playing hero?

  • The EPA had approved plans to construct a water system using “emerging technology” in the midwest. So… they’d decided to get Charles to build them a water-supply manse. Well, it wasn’t as if he was going to keep them a secret otherwise, what with his being about to open up hundreds of stargate-manses across the planet.
  • There were claims that Mechagodzilla had been sighted in Oregon again. There were some photographs, but they were mostly being disregarded as publicity stunts for Toho – and while no one knew for sure what had stopped that flash flood, trees forming a temporary dam seemed a lot more plausible to most than Mechagodzilla.

Well… she did need to talk to Mechagodzilla anyway.

  • In the Ukraine, there had been massive disruptions of the Russian military forces, lots of equipment failures, and a few command disappearances – although those individuals were popularly thought to have skipped out rather than attempting to explain the sillier failures. Of course… in a semi-invasion situation, any number of creatures might have opted to get involved. Even without the political factors half the magical beings out there were pretty territorial. Still… could that be connected to the amber-gathering?
  • Iran and Iraq were both gearing up their military forces while they still had the currency reserves to buy things. Not too surprising that; even if they weren’t both so paranoid about each other they probably found Leon kind of threatening. Still, a LACK of hostilities in the middle east would have been a lot more surprising.

What was semi-serious reporting like that doing in the tabloids anyway? Oh; framing for a series of much sillier stories about mercenaries and such.

  • Hm… the largest beaver dam in the world had been discovered in Canada. There were pictures. And… an attempt to vandalize it was supposedly driven off by Bigfoot? Clearly the beaver hired Bigfoot as a bodyguard once the first humans invaded his turf!

OK, that was kind of cute – and a friendly sparring match with Bigfoot had it’s appeal – but that was much more classic woo. Probably not worth investigating; at the most she’d just find some interesting scenery and someone out being “Bigfoot”.

  • An F5 tornado headed through Minneapolis ran into a “dome of light” over the city which it apparently could not penetrate. The current scientific speculation was that it had lifted off the ground (which was not at all unknown, even if it was mildly unusual) and had thrown up enough clouds and dust to reflect the cities own lights.

Now THAT sounded like a Guardian. Or at least like someone with a good deal of power and willingness to oblige. Or possibly one of Charles’s agents? He certainly had enough of them running about and a “dome of light” could EASILY be a ward.

  • Satellite Surveillance had revealed a massive structure in the antarctic after a massive iceburg (115 miles long, 16 miles wide at it’s widest point) cracked off of an ice shelf. It was apparently buried under the ice and appears to be made of crystal. Current speculation is that the pictures have been doctored to add a “Fortress of Solitude” for publicity for the new Superman movie; it will be 27 days before the satellite is back in position for more decent shots.

Likely a Manse. Anything else would have been ground to powder under the ice sheet a long time ago. Still, that also implied that it had been there for quite some time and hadn’t turned into a catastrophe yet. That would probably keep – at least as long as the humans didn’t get too far into some kind of investigation. Still… the most urgent thing at the moment was to get in touch with MechaGodzilla. She needed to ask him for a Kaiju-Boon, just in case! Ergo, a trip to Crater Lake was in order.

Of course, the Cauldron-Born knew that SHE knew about Crater Lake – and might well meet her there – which could be VERY bad…

Oh, wait! She was one of MechaGodzilla’s shrine maidens – and thus a priest of his! She could just hype up a prayer with a little linking magic and basically phone him up! That was a LOT less likely to result in being ambushed too.

And she managed 11 successes on 16 dice.

(Aikiko) “Hey there! What are you doing, performing civil engineering like that?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Greetings small worshipper! You have shown my grandeur to another potential shrine maiden! Congratulations! And why not protect the little ones? A simple blast of the Absolute Zero cannon in passing to preserve many worshippers! And putting in an appearance is no bad thing!”

(Aikiko) “Thanks… anyway, I was wanting to ask you for a boon! I think there’s going to be trouble in Heaven soon, and I want to help protect it. Is that something you’d be interested in?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Ah, protect a giant city from some terrible attack? This seems appropriate!”

Aikiko facepalmed. Of COURSE it did.

(Aikiko) “Can you… heh. Can you make me and Skoll Ultraman-size when the time comes?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Hmmm…. Grow to giant size? Easy enough!”

(Aikiko) “OK then… now if I accept that, what were you expecting in return?”

It did seem wise to ask! Deities could get weird, and Kaiju Deities might be even weirder!

(MechaGodzilla) “It is a small enough thing! Do show my movies at your parties though!”

(Aikiko, with a breath of relief) “OK, done!… Um… so what are your creators up to in there?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Preparing for something or other! Some sort of battle I think… It should be fun!”

(Aikiko) “Do you know where?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Off in the god-city I think!”

(Aikiko) “Do you know whose side they were on?”

(MechaGodzilla) “Must be against other Kaiju! What else would be worthy? Maybe Tournament!”

Was it possible that the Cauldron-Born knew about the Neverborn Kaiju?

(Aikiko) “I don’t think the Heaven-and-Earth Invitational allows kaiju, unless there’s some style that makes you into one…”

(MechaGodzilla) “Less silly than some styles! Heard about one that involves nothing but going to sleep and contagious yawning…”

(Aikiko) “Sidereals are weird-but then one made you, sooo… Not that I think you’re weird or anything! You’re pretty cool, all things considered.”

(MechaGodzilla) “Of course! I am MECHAGODZILLA! How could I be anything BUT cool?”

(Aikiko) “Exactly!”

She rather hoped that he was not wearing his distracting hat right now, because that WAS silly. Of course it WAS a Raksha artifact. So many of them were silly.

(Aikiko) “Well, thanks, Mechagodzilla. Stay out of trouble, now!”

(MechaGodzilla) “Not likely! But you are welcome!”

(Aikiko) “Huh… Oh, is your pilot still after me?”

He or she might already be headed her way!

(MechaGodzilla) “Off in Chaos at the moment!”

(Aikiko) “Ah, okay then…”

Well… it was hard to scry from outside Creation into Creation. Unless they had some Manse for it. Or were using the Eye somehow (who knew what all that thing could do?). Or were using Sidereal charms. Or…. Well, OK; there were a lot of ways.

Time to look into that train incident. The more she thought about that, the odder it sounded. Sure, temporarily fixing a bridge wasn’t one of the great acts of magic – but who would have a charm for it? That was kind of specialized. Even if it was a general “repair road” effect… it would still be kind of specialized!

It was easy enough to get to the area. Not too surprisingly, one of the drier areas of the west (they could REALLY use that water supply). The bridge was currently being repaired – and the current speculation was that the timeline of the incident must be wrong; it must have held up just long enough for the train to pass.

She was no demolitions expert – but while there might have been some dynamite stored around or something – even if no one sane would store it under the supports for a train bridge in the middle of nowhere – but the placement had been awfully convenient; the main support struture. Overall, it looked more intentional than anything else, but there wasn’t much of a crater or any other signs of a large enough blast. Essence-senses said… there had been an essence-blast here – fire essence, and apparently well-targeted. Those traces were almost drowned out by the flood of necrotic essence however… Of the fifth or sixth essence rank. Some sort of high-powered – if fairly transitory – summoning from the underworld. That was a pretty powerful ghost or Abyssal, though! Not a neverborn Kaiju – but perhaps its charms?

Nah. There should be a lot more destruction and dismay if it was THAT. Hekatonkire? But how would it imitate a set of train tracks well enough to avoid a derailment.

Oh! There HAD been something very big that had just been sent to the Underworld! The bridge itself! Now… that was a clever (if likely mote-intensive) use of a MUCH more sensible charm. That must have really irritated the people who’d blown it up! Those horse riders… Ghosts? Train robbers? After all, presumably the point of blowing up the bridge was to wreck or stop the train. The train crossing a spectral bridge must have been quite a sight.

Were there any shadowlands nearby?

A small and minor one; a ghost town that once centered on a gold mine that collapsed, sealing several hundred miners underground. No one knew how long some of them might have survived – but attempts to reopen the mine had never gone well. There were a number of robberies of course; a sizeable load of gold was a very tempting prize. Most of the bandits were caught and hanged eventually – but no doubt at least some found their way to the other side of that shadowland.

She might have to pay that one a visit.

Still, somebody had really wanted to stop someone or something on that train – and possibly acquire it. Perhaps she could get the passenger and cargo list?

Eclipse d20 and Dexter’s Laboratory

This time around (and for another try at restarting) it’s another request for a look at how some characters could be represented in Eclipse. In this case… it’s some cartoon characters from Dexter’s Laboratory, starting with Dexter himself. That means taking a look at what Dexter actually does. He may talk about “Science!” a lot – but that doesn’t mean that his abilities and devices actually have anything to do with actual science. In fact… it’s rather more likely that they don’t.

So looking at the episodes, we can derive some rules for Dexter.

  • Dexter normally only uses one major invention per episode. When two appear, the second is usually being used by Dee-Dee.
  • Dexter’s inventions do not carry over from episode to episode. On those rare occasions when an invention “reappears”, it usually does not work quite the same way as it did before.
  • Dexter’s inventions often go very badly wrong – and he is usually not at all clear on how they work or what they do.
  • Dexter’s computer cannot operate his Dream Machine (that requires Dee-Dee). It seems likely that it cannot operate most of his other inventions, or testing them would be a lot safer.
  • Dexter can’t deal with ordinary devices very well; he can’t fix his broken glasses, can’t repair his shoes (instead Dee-Dee helps him call on magical Shoe Gnomes to fix them), and gets caught in a Chinese Finger Trap (although that incident also involved Dee-Dee, which might relate).
  • Dexter’s actions and devices often fail if Dee-Dee thinks they won’t work.
  • Dexter has a limited supply of “mental energy”. When he runs out, he becomes stupid (Not that he doesn’t reach astonishingly silly conclusions most of the time anyway). He spontaneously recovers once his supply of “mental energy” rebuilds, which it does naturally, if relatively slowly.
  • Dexter has been implied to have been killed more than once, and simply comes back for the next episode.
  • Dexter’s laboratory is often “destroyed” – but the damage generally seems to be superficial and “old inventions” often survive (although they are resentful for being abandoned).

For some restrictions…

  • Dexter’s incredible “intelligence” does NOT apply to planning; his plans almost never work.
  • Dexter cannot control his pets, or apparently other living creatures (or ghosts, since he was haunted by a dead goldfish).
  • Dexter’s laboratory draws at least part of it’s power from external sources.
  • Dexter needed two hundred million dollars worth of equipment (from NASA) to build his laboratory. (Conveniently, Dee-Dee produced the money for him to pay them).

Of course Dexter gets into endless amounts of trouble – but that’s a basic element of making a cartoon, and doesn’t count. For all we know… he gets through many entire days without trouble, but those dull days don’t become episodes.

Hm. So far… that doesn’t sound much like actual science. That’s not really surprising of course – this IS a cartoon we’re talking about – but the Professor on Gilligan’s Island came a lot closer than this to how science and engineering actually work.

Perhaps looking at Dee-Dee will help sort things out? Dee-Dee…

  • Cannot be kept out of Dexter’s laboratory.
  • Is not limited by odds – conveniently winning 200,000,000 dollars just when Dexter needed it.
  • Can manifest a dimensional portal without equipment or difficulty to an imaginary realm that she defines (Dexter has to use a pile of equipment, and still cannot make it work properly. Perhaps this explains why Dee-Dee cannot be kept out of Dexter’s Laboratory?).
  • Can casually inflict massive destruction on Dexter’s Lab, Mandark’s Lab, and various other locations.
  • Can manifest imaginary friends – and inflict them on other people.
  • Can trap Dexter in an invisible box via mime.
  • Told Dexter that if he kept scratching his chicken pox he would turn into a chicken. He did.
  • Usually beats Dexter even when he is using an invention and she is not (For example, video games, snowball fighting, and dodgeball, among many other episodes).
  • Can (accidentally?) cause perfectly normal systems – like old Video games – to exhibit abnormal behavior and overwhelm Dexter and his computer.
  • Tends to be treated well and admired by others – including radically different species, such as ants. In fact, she can easily tame dog-dinosaurs and other creatures and run Dungeons and Dragons games better than Dexter can.
  • Can use Dexter’s inventions – often more successfully than he can and with greater skill.
    Seems to be of relatively normal intelligence, if (quite appropriately) childish.

Well, that does tell us a lot about Dee-Dee. She’s either inherently magical or a natural reality-warper. What’s more, she apparently uses the same type of energy as Dexter does, since she can use his devices. She seems to have more of it than Dexter too, but is NOT using much of it to be hyper-intelligent.

So what about Mandark?

  • Mandark is basically an evil version of Dexter, and shows him up several times – mostly being defeated due to his desire for Dee-Dee. While his abilities and limitations seem to be much the same as Dexter’s (see above), he seems a bit stronger – possibly because he may be a bit older.
  • Mandark can spy on Dexter without Dexter knowing. Another indicator of being more powerful.
  • Mandark can pick up a spell book and use magic powerful enough to defeat Dexter, although it has side effects and his control is poor.
  • Mandark can use Dexter’s devices and his own.

So… the same kind of “Mental Energy” that Dexter uses lets Mandark use magic and Dexter’s devices. In Eclipse that pretty much screams “Mana” – Making Dee-Dee a full-scale Reality Editor and Mandark a limited Reality Editor (he has to channel his power through odd devices) and a user of Unskilled Magic.

These gifts seem to be hereditary; Dexter’s Grandfather has a very similar laboratory and created “technologies” surpassing Dexter’s works. Dexter’s parents… accomplish some pretty impossible things at times, without even seeming to be aware of it.

Dexter and Dee-Dee – and, for that matter, Mandark – are all kids. Ergo, they probably don’t have any levels. The do, however, obviously have Templates. Most likely the Cartoon Character Template

+1 ECL “Race”: Cartoon Human (63 CP)

  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills: +2 SP/1 CP (6 CP).
  • +2 to any one attribute (12 CP).
  • +2 to any one attribute (12 CP).
  • Immunity/Aging (can expect to live almost indefinitely, uncommon / minor / minor, 2 CP).
  • Grant of Aid: May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 6 CP), with both Regenerative options (6 CP) and +8 Bonus Uses (12 CP). In core, this requires several hours per use unless the user spends a magic point.
  • Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, requires abandoning all experience and benefits that might otherwise have been gained from a “death episode”) (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: All spells Personal Only: Rubber Fall (resembles Feather Fall, but you have to peel yourself off the ground, 1400 GP),
  • Regenerate Light Wounds (1/Round, up to 20 points/level/day maximum, 1400 GP), Cure Light Wounds (1d8+1 1/level/day as needed, 1400 GP), Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP, 1400 GP), and Void Sheathe (may store a single weapon in “nowhere” and pull it out as needed, half cost due to single weapon restriction, 350 GP). 5950 GP total, 7 CP.
  • Template Disadvantage: Insane (most toons are blasé, even bored, in even the most dangerous and deadly situations, -3 CP).

That will apply to pretty much everyone in their setting of course. It IS a cartoon universe.

As for their precise powers… another 32 CP will give them +2 level templates – which seems pretty reasonable. Throwing in 24 CP for level zero will allow some customization too.

For their basic template they’ll need…

  • 3d6 Mana with Reality Editing (18 CP). Mandark has this Corrupted for 1.5 times effect: his effects are quite unreliable unless focused through a “mad science” device – although he can throw those together quite quickly and easily. Dexter has the same problem plus a Specialization – his devices are terribly unreliable and troublesome.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/recovers only over the course of an hour (8 CP).
  • Empowerment, Specialized in “Mad Science” devices (6 CP).

For their personal abilities…

  • Dexter has Inherent Spell (Mana-Powered Variant) – a level three version of Fox’s Cunning with a multi-hour duration (6 CP). He probably also has a few skill points in math and scholastic skills – but if he actually knew anything about making things he could have fixed his glasses. They’re not that complicated. His base Intelligence apparently isn’t all that high, but he certainly survives enough explosions and disasters to indicate a high Constitution.
  • Mandark has the same ability as Dexter (6 CP), but also has the Unskilled Magic ability (6 CP). He does seem fairly alert, so he likely has a high wisdom.
  • Dee-Dee has about 3d6 extra mana (18 CP). That’s enough raw power for her to pull off several insane stunts in a row without much difficulty. She has a few skill points in Dance and a decent Charisma and Dexterity.

And really… that’s about all they need. To make them really playable you’d probably want to make them level one and get them a few more points of mana – but brief-minute cartoon segments really don’t call for all that big a power reserve. Of course, this is once again a splendid example of converting characters based on what they ACTUALLY do, rather than what it looks like they’re doing – or how they’re described.

And if at ALL possible I’m going to try to get to the question backlog and start posting here again – even if some articles need to be split into smaller pieces.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CLXXXVIII – Curious Visitations

And hopefully I can get things restarted here this time around…

Meanwhile, at Dudael, Charles had an aspect keeping up with his normal tasks. Once he’d gotten the trick figured out there was no reason not to use it – and there were the employees to look after, not to mention all those people bringing important orders to the door.

For good or ill, however, it had gotten around (at least in some circles) that you didn’t need to be purified before entering to avoid mucking things up. The occasional Sidereal dropping by with an order was proof enough of that; they didn’t have TIME for purification rituals!

At the moment, Charles and Catherine Wingates (the factory-cathedral’s Nocturnal) were working on a massive order of Celestial Coffee Carafes for the God of Caffeine!

Well, mostly Charles. Catherine was very, VERY, handy with metalworking stuff – but not nearly as good as Charles was. They weren’t really a very complex piece of magitech (Rating-**) and were well within Catherine’s abilities – but she simply wasn’t anywhere near as fast. The essence scriber flared with rainbows of both natural and indescribable colors as its energies arched across the metal and engraved essence-channeling runes into the structure of the bases, to bypass the need for a special component – as Charles used the facilities to produce a full batch!

Catherine happily inspected the runes and gave him pointers on how the engraving could possibly go wrong – one of her Charms. Very handy for quality control. She even found a couple of places where things could be better; Charles WAS very distracted at the moment.

Which was one of the reasons why she was the first to notice that they had a visitor.

(Catherine, talking to a goddess, who had magma spurting in great gouts from her headdress) “Hey, who are you? How did you get in?”

(Charles, after a brief pause) “Er… Can I help you? One moment while I shut this down…”

(Goddess) “You there! What have you done to my daughter!?”

Charles was busy checking… Ah! It was Red-Eyed Mahanja, goddess of tectonic activity in the southwestern United States. A fairly powerful deity in the part of the Bureau of Nature that dealt with North American geology! And right now… a bit eruptive! As for her Daughter… Urrm… not a schoolmate, so no lesser exaltation… of course he WAS being blamed for pretty much every little geomantic disruption in Yu-Shan these days, but that presumably wouldn’t include whatever was up with her daughter.

Oh dear! She wasn’t one of the ones who’d moved in on him was she?

Urp! She WAS… Still, at least she hadn’t been in his bed and wasn’t pregnant by anyone else either… It was a good thing that some of the Guardians had been keeping THAT peaceful…

Well, thank goodness she hadn’t opted for that! That would have made this even messier – because Red-Eyed Mahanja was advancing on him at the moment…

(Charles) “Hm… Nothing that I know of! Is something wrong?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “My Aya is demanding to move into Aden with you! I arranged a perfectly good marriage for her, with NORMAL people, and THIS is what she does to me?”

The gouts of magma were increasing in radius.

(Charles, quietly containing the magma) “Hm… I think she’s requesting refuge. I’d suspect that means that she doesn’t want that marriage… Did you get her input on it?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “She knows what her purpose is, and what she has been trained for. I admit she wasn’t cheery about it, but I explained that this was for her benefit as well! It is hard to marry a mortal to a magma god and have her live!”

Hrm… about equivalent to fifteen. Perfectly legal under Celestial law, sadly; God-Bloods were their parents, to use as intended.

(Charles) “I suspect that part of the trouble is that mortals tend to become extremely rebellious at about her age! This is a mechanism that gets them out of the household, finding their own mate, and establishing their own family. Coupled with the urge towards exogamy, as side benefits there’s genetic mixing and spread of genetic lines over much wider areas. Unfortunately, the intensity of that rebellion is distributed over the usual bell curve – but trying to ignore it is going to make problems, like ignoring any other part of an operating protocol… Why did you want her to marry a magma god anyway?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja):”Why, a political arrangement, of course… the groom has some contacts I would find very useful and dearly wants some God-Bloods of his own! And he is wealthy and quite handsome, too.”

(Charles) “Well… let me check on what her objections are!”

(Aya, over Charles’s link) “I don’t want to be married to a god! They have no idea what humans are like. But YOU… you actually understand. When are you coming back to Aden? I miss you!”

Oh dear. She WOULD be in his bed shortly if he didn’t do something about it. Not that that was an unpleasant prospect – but it would probably upset her mother. Oh well! He HAD offered a refuge to anyone who wanted it… He directed her to one of his manifestations in Aden – which made her quite happy.

(Charles, in Dudael) “Hm… her basic objection seems to be divine incomprehension of mortals. Given that her rebellion seems to have been unexpected, she may have a point. This IS awkward… As long as you get the connections and your daughter is happy, do the details matter?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja): “But… wait, is she in Aden THIS VERY MOMENT?”

(Charles) “She does seem to be… There are a number of gates available of course.”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “I want her out of there! She doesn’t need to be running around in someone else’s pocket dimension!”

(Charles) “Well, there are only about sixteen million people there at the moment… But it is important… do the details matter much?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “I MUST have those connections!”

(Charles) “Ah. The girl is more or less a means to that end then?”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “Well, yes – and it ensures she has some use, too!”

(Charles) “Well, then… Would you step this way? This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes!”

He took her to the shores of the Sea of Chaos – and produced an identical-twin level duplicate with similar memories, abilities, and essence-readings, but who was willing and eager to marry the gentlegod in question!

(Red-Eyed Mahanja, after a moment of shock): “Does that go all the way down to Essence-sense?”

(Charles) “Naturally!”

That calmed her down – somewhat.

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “I still don’t approve of my daughter dating a… whatever you are, you know!”

(Charles) “Well, she isn’t! She just came over to dodge the wedding… which probably would not have gone well if her objections are that strong!”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “Oh, come now… I think we both know how this will go once she’s there!”

(Charles) “I don’t know! Teenage girls can be quite hysterical and irrational at times!”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja) “So frustrating! But I have what I need now!”

(Charles) “Well, I’m glad I could help out all three of you!”

(Red-Eyed Mahanja, to her new daughter): “Come along, dear…”

And just a few hours later… Charles started receiving similar offers / requests – perhaps best summarized as “take my god-blooded teenager and provide a more compliant version”. Alas! Many gods produced God-Blooded offspring, not realizing just what it took to raise a mortal child.

Well… it was a bit WEIRD, but the originals could be free, the new ones would not have gotten to exist otherwise, and they were created so as to be happy with the situations they were in… He’d have to try to keep that one quiet though!

Which would work until somebody and their duplicate were seen in the same place. Still… there was an entire universe for them to be out of the way in – and he could help out the rebellious originals! New clothing styles, tattoos, body sculpting (with magic) and so on, all free! And… it was pretty much inevitable that most of them would go for the LEAST Yu-Shan look that they could manage – which pretty much meant avoiding Asian themes. That should patch most of that for the time being!

He had to admit that Red-Eyed Mahanja had been quite right about what would shortly happen once her daughter moved into Aden – but that wasn’t really a big deal. He had plenty of room and several aspects there and she’d traded away her interests in the girl readily enough.

OK, maybe that was throwing huge gobs of power at minor personal problems – but at the moment he had a LOT more power than time!

Getting back to work, Charles finished up with the Celestial Coffee Carafes – Catherine had been called away while he was working with the Red-Eyed one – just as she came back from the lobby with some LEGITIMATE visitors!

(Catherine) “Hey, Boss! While you were doing… whatever it was you did in there… um, I forget how the one looked, but the other looked like she just finished a really good run. I think it might be urgent.”

(Charles) “Is something up?”

(Catherine) “They kind of invited themselves in. The credentials were good, though.”

And she pointed him towards the “waiting room” – the first floor entry chambers, the last spot for unpurified visitors. Beyond that point were the purification chambers, the main facility, and a few rooms for quick naps during long projects.

There were only two visitors at the moment – two women. One was wearing a lovely short yellow dress and boots and looked like she’d been on a long run. The other… even Dudael was straining to get through THAT level of cloaking, but it was a veiled, violet-eyed woman with a sad look on her face. Somehow she had managed to get a blade through security, although it was currently sheathed and peace-bonded.

And radiating enormous power. Mercury and Saturn. Journeys and Endings…

Well no wonder the person manning the desk was in shock; one Maiden alone was considered a mind-boggling visitor to have in Heaven. Of course… Charles HAD just meddled big-time with their purview!

(Charles, bowing slightly) “My ladies of Journeys and Endings… I am honored to have you visit! Would you like some peanut butter chocolates?

He still had some boxes about, including a few of ambrosial ones.

(Mercury) “Haha! I hear you make good ones. That’d be nice before we get to business – maybe a tour of the place too. We could see how Za’el is doing… What do you say, sister?”

Saturn nodded.

(Charles) “Certainly!”

The chocolates arrived courtesy of Dudael’s telekinetic “assistance”.

(Mercury) “Seriously, though, kid, you’re… meddling in things that predate shaped existence.”

And her table manners were impeccable – but it seemed that the Maiden of Journeys ate like a bird.

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Well… there doesn’t seem to be a lot of choice. SOMEBODY has to do it – and no one else seems to be prepared to. So… I guess it’s me.”

(Saturn) “But do you fully understand the interaction between the Loom and Nox?”

Even with Dudael’s defenses, it was a struggle to remember her words.

(Charles) “Probably not! The loom seems to set reality exclusion parameters – and I’d guess that Nox acts to help it avoid overlap with other probability-trees, thus avoiding universe-intersections. Secondarily, it acts to integrate the limited selection of probability lines it allows to exist within its purview into a single – far more “real” and stable – universe. I can’t really guarantee that though! I haven’t had enough time to talk to it and Nox!”

(Mercury, fidgeting) “Hey, show us around while we talk! We know you’ve made some alterations to the place, and it’d be fun to see those!”

Charles stepped up the pace – and showed them that all of the facilities – and the boosts – were in full operation now!

(Mercury) “Anyway… yeah, that’s pretty much what Ayuji does for Heaven and Creation. Now NOX, on the other hand – hoo… Yeah, he kind of does that… and binds those probability lines together, and makes universes interact when they need to. I think. Nox was… weird.”

(Saturn) “And THAT’S why we want to make sure you know what you’re meddling with! You’re not working on just one universe when you’re working on Nox.”

(Charles) “I did know that! There are LOTS of him all tangled together there…”

(Mercury) “Quick question for you, kid: how many of those were bound into the Loom?”

(Charles) “Hm… I’m not sure that the answer is meaningful in what may be an infinite number… Given that it’s a binary decision in an infinite plenum, it should be half – and will remain so, no matter how many are loosed or bound UNLESS that can be done in a sequence that sums to an infinite total within a finite time. What I could see… tended to confirm that.”

(Mercury handing Saturn a fairly large quantity of Ambrosial Chocolates) “Aw… I thought that we’d been more successful than that. Maybe we could have you check.”

(Saturn) “Those unbound Noxes can feel what you are doing – and we can’t guarantee all of them will agree with it.”

(Mercury) “Yeah, he and Luna… both pretty mercurial, which I bet you knew already!”

(Charles) “Well, yes – but it’s a probability thing; if 10% of the Nox’s that are not bound disapprove of others being unbound, and half of them move to interfere… on the average, they may each wind up being opposed by a fraction of a Charles-Nox combo, by one, or by many. It’s hard to say without actual observations to try and get a basis from!”

(Mercury) “So you see our problem… unlike him, we can’t see into any universe but our own without GOING there. While that would be a fun vacation, we had a hard enough time doing well enough in the Games to get time for you!”

(Saturn) “Though if your plans DO work, we might not have to worry about that so much. Our stars are ascending at the moment.”

(Charles) “Well… as I said… at this point I don’t think there’s a lot of choice!”

(Mercury, chuckling) “Not really, no. The cycle is changing. I’m not sure how much of that is you and how much of that is Yu-Shan herself. But you’ve made things more interesting!”

(Charles) “That’s a good thing I think… otherwise the eons would get boring!”

(Saturn) “Even if you are messing with things even the Solar Deliberative stayed well away from. I am NOT looking forward to the weaving from this. Oh, yeah! You do realize if you free Nox, HER (indicating Catherine, and allowing her to remember) powers are going to be affected by that?”

(Catherine) “What!?”

(Mercury) “Don’t look so astonished! You hear him talking to you.”

(Charles) “That did seem likely… although the usual voice was female that’s not a big deal for a god on your level.”

(Mercury) “Nah, that was Ayuji talking to her… And that fellow who came out was a Nocturnal alternate of somebody here. Hey, Saturn, wasn’t the signature linked to one of Nox’s equivalents to yours?”

(Saturn, nodding) “He’s… meddling with YOUR powers too, dear.”

(Catherine, bowing) “Boss, who’s Ayuji? Why are INCARNAE taking an interest in me?”

(Charles, to Catherine) “Uhrm… well, I will need you to promise not to pass the information around for six weeks!”

(Catherine) “Oooh boy… um. Lady Mercury, if I can be so bold… just how dangerous is this information?’

(Mercury) “Pretty! You’d better swear that oath.”

(Catherine, doing so – even if the way that the meaning of words that she’d never heard before forced their way into consciousness was more than a bit unnerving… What kind of language FORCED you to understand it when spoken?) “Okay, done!”

(Charles) “Well… Much of Gaia’s energies are tied into Creation to maintain it’s physical reality. She had help however… Yu-Shan is Gaia’s “sister” – and she is unconscious because HER energies are tied into creation to maintain it’s mental and destiny structures. Ayuji, the Weaver Who Is Her Own Thread is Yu-Shan’s Feitch soul – and is better known as the Loom of Fate. The basic problem is that Yu-Shan is dying; attempting to alter her geomancy was probably not really a good idea – and there are several other factors and overstrain. Thus… I am constructing a stabilization system for Creation to relieve the strain on Yu-Shan and allow her to detach without destroying the universe and working on healing her. If she is not healed… all too soon she will die, and become a new Neverborn. The city will be sucked into the Labyrinth, the gods will be thrown into oblivion or – at best – become monsters of the underworld and Creation – deprived of half it’s support and tied to a Neverborn at it’s core – will be in a race between collapsing into the Labyrinth and dissolving into the Wyld. (He paused briefly) There are a lot of things to fix!”

(Catherine, trying to process all the implications) “Wait, WHAT?”

(Charles) “ know that’s quite a chunk of exposition… but you did ask!”

(Saturn) “Altering her geomancy… was the best option out of an assortment of bad ones.”

(Mercury) “Let’s see… there was the supercharger array, the dispersal Manse network, the “just feed him to a shinma” plan… By the way, that one would have made him very cross in the other shards!”

(Saturn) “It would have put him out of his misery, you must admit.”

(Charles) “Ah well! I haven’t seen what the other options were, so…”

(Mercury) “But yeah… I get the feeling you want to fix Nox, right? (her gaze went unfocused for a few moments)… Scratch that, you already have. A good start, anyway.”

(Charles) “Well, amongst other things; I’ve restored sanity to OUR version and a few hundred others, but that’s going to be a long-term thing – depending on how many other versions of me get involved of course.”

(Mercury) “Well, YOU’RE the one who’s going to deal with them! I’m pretty sure not all versions of you are all sweetness and light.”

(Saturn) “And we have enough headaches dealing with ONE of you.”

(Charles) “I’m sorry about that!”

(Mercury) “Yeah… if you start messing with us directly, that’s going to be a problem! For one thing… you weren’t on the list.”

Saturn gave Mercury SUCH a LOOK.

(Charles) “Well… elsewhere various other combinations of Incarnae are probably in charge… What list?”

(Mercury) “Nothing too important. Hey, do you know the spot where Za’el merged with the Manse? Because I do!”

(Charles) “Nope! Where is it?”

(Mercury) “Let me have some more of those sweets, and I’ll show you!”

Charles passed her another box!

(Mercury) “Tasty! And… it’s the center of the factory floor. See, from this rumor I heard back when we lived in Meru, he got fed up with how much Autochthon was changing his soul structure…”

That was quite an involved story – although it could be summarized as “Za’el got worried that Autochthon was going to replace him and merged with the Manse.”

Charles – thanks to having incorporated a Synergistic Overmind operating outside of fate into his own mind and to the Privacy Manse – was still, despite the distraction attempt, wondering about “the list”. Hm… it looked like even his deductive powers didn’t extend to pre-creation material that had been concealed by Jupiter or the other Maidens…

Well, that wasn’t that much of a surprise!

There were always ways around though! Grandfather Richof probably wouldn’t do – but he DID have a link and a gate to Great-Grandmother (?) Gauderis! He could ask her!

(Gauderis) “Aden? Have you completed those artifacts yet?”

(Charles) “Not quite! I’ve got the manses I’ll need ready though, and the artifacts, and plans, and most other things… For yours I need to get some ingredients from the Hannya!”

(Gauderis, with a vague rumbling and grinding of internal components) “Well! That was… insanely fast.”

(Charles) “Not that fast! I’m not done yet… But I was referred to you for a question about a list!” (and he explained).

(Gauderis) “Grr… Fates. How frustrating! They appeared when we started interacting with each other, and none of us could remember who actually made them! Surely at least two of us were involved, so we compared subselves, and mythoses, and geomancies – but none of us could determine who made them, or what combinations! What a breach in our vigilance! And… they were INCOMPLETE. At least with Nox, Rametheus knew who was responsible! And Oramus, Isidoros, and the Dragon’s Shadow FINISHED the job! For the Fates, all we had was… a list of speculations.”

(Charles) “Ah, the list of possible origins then! Did you finish them up?”

(Gauderis) “Hrm… we rediscovered Yu-Shan before that happened, and then we got distracted by what she had eaten.”

Ah, that would be the Games of Divinity!

(Gauderis) “I was never a high possibility, anyway… But what do you need the list FOR?”

Charles had to think about that for a moment… After all, he’d described how it had come up – but what DID he need it for?

Well, it would be a VERY interesting ingredient in a loom-supplement artifact, and he might well need one of those!

He explained.

(Charles) “Had Yu-Shan wandered off or something?”

(Gauderis) “Why yes! She had no interest in the games of kings and swords and left to find her own things to do. Then Adrian found her floating in the far darkness, told us, and we packed up to retrieve our wayward baby sister. We were bored anyway.”

(Charles) “Hm… so no one knows who made the fates, they arrived incomplete… sort of… tenuous? I’ve seen that with an item I’ll be making in about four and a half years now, but which showed up in someone’s possession already.”

(Gauderis) “Exactly. Now I’m told they became more distinct from one another when Creation was finished-and their agents in me seem to show that – but I’ll always know them as those five stony sisters who confused us so much!”

(Charles, once again leaping to conclusions) “So… they most likely arrived from a possible future – and their nature is to guide the course of history towards a particular goal; almost certainly the one that creates and sends them back since other futures will not be unique. Their arrival – first (whatever that means) would automatically cut off other possible futures from doing the same thing by decreasing their probability until they’re too tenuous to have an effect. Thus they will know that some events are NECESSARY (and will force them), but others may be irrelevant. Nox… would be a counterpart, existing to unify the remaining possibility lines. Before Nox was created… a sheaf of possible universes would have branched off. The ones we’re in contact with are those which also produced a version of Nox. I wonder it it’s a transfinite set or not? And… they’ve become more complete as they near the time of their creation and their existence becomes more certain. Once that time is passed, and they’ve been created and sent back… they should be complete.”

(Gauderis) “When my devas have spoken to their agents, they say time doesn’t flow the same for us as it does gods and mortals. Is this true?”

(Charles) “Yes… Each world-body has it’s own timestream. I would guess that yours is relatively slow since stability is one of your aspects. Since Devas and Primordials are naturally outside of fate… time need not be quite so linear for them; thus the Broken-Winged Crane and the fates themselves.”

(Gauderis) “The King tried to put controls on that when we made Creation. He was successful… mostly. Less so these days, it seems – but that is what happens when you expel the creators!”

(Charles) “Well, it does make things a lot simpler to keep time more or less linear… someone is meddling with it though; that may be possible simply because Ayuji and Nox are able to act more effectively now – and can probably choose to permit exemptions.”

(Gauderis) “I miss Ayuji… all she wanted was for things to MAKE SENSE.”

(Charles) “Well, she’s doing better now!”

(Gauderis) “Ah! You had better be careful with her! If she dies, all your hard work will be for naught!”

(Charles) “I try to make sure that nobody gets hurt!”

(Gauderis) “Now, your list… if you’re wanting a physical copy, He Who Bleeds the Unknown Word had a copy, though I THINK he was one of the ones who suffered feitch death. I have no idea who he might be.”

(Charles) “Hm… He’s now Elloge, the Sphere of Silence – and a female Yozi”.

Information on what they used to be like would probably help fix them! And Gauderis would want to know what had happened to all her friends.

(Gauderis) “He… he would eat the knowledge we had accumulated and let us cut him open when we needed it again. Thus, He Who Bleeds the Unknown Word. I see that fetich death took away his voice as well as his manhood.”

Hm… Given that Yozi’s current form, he might have to pay Elloge a visit when he went to Malfeas. Everything in Elloge was iconography.

(Charles) “Well… more fixing!”

(Gauderis) “I’ll hold you to that!”

Gauderis broke contact just in time for Mercury to finish the story; she’d happily gone into an explanation of Za’el’s journeys across Creation to find the components for certain gods. Of particular interest, Lytek…

Charles found that very interesting! Even if he’d thought that Lytek had been a later replacement!

(Mercury, nudging his shoulder) “See, kid, your god Lytek was originally just a god of reflected light. He just wound up with a field promotion!”

Charles considered that fair enough – and rather appropriate symbolically!

(Mercury) “But Za’el made him from high-quality materials, and that’s why he has the position he does today!”

(Charles) “Well, I like him! Za’el did a really good job!”

(Saturn) “Of course you do, kid. Speaking of jobs… how would you feel about an official position with the Bureaucracy?”

(Charles) “Er… I’m sort of busy right now… What sort of job? And maybe later?”

Aaagh! Audits!

(Mercury) “The Bureau of Heaven could use a straight-shooter like you to shake the place up. I’d have to talk about it with the Sun, of course, but we could get you a position in the Division of Infrastructure. And maybe in a few months. Years? We’d have to get another pair of avatars out.”

(Charles) “Oh! Well, that will be long after this project is over… it should work out; otherwise that sword from the future probably wouldn’t have arrived..”.

He finished up the tour. Catherine needed the time to think anyway! It was fairly obvious that she was more than a little freaked out by all this – and was suddenly putting a LOT more urgency on the “WHAT are YOU!?!?!?” question!

Well, to be fair, virtually everyone else had already asked him that at this point.

(Saturn) “Thank you for hosting us, Charles.”

Well, really… it was sort of required if you were in heaven and they came to visit! Turning on the Veilward would have given him about a 60% chance of diverting them into another universe in theory – but that would have made a HORRIBLE mess!

(Charles) “You’re quite welcome! I’m sorry it’s so much trouble for you to get out and about these days… I’ll have to think about ways to make that easier… perhaps an avatar-making booster artifact?”

(Mercury) “Ooh! More avatars to get to more places at once… it would be nice to get the solar system fully mapped.”

(Charles) “Oh! That I should be able to get for you… (he pulled a map from I AM) Here you are! Is that what you wanted?”

(Mercury, who was not at all surprised by that) “I thought it was running around somewhere! I’ll have to catch up to it.”

(Saturn) “Oh, and Charles, a small favor?”

(Charles) “What do you need?”

(Saturn) “Your Song of Creation will overlap with Calibration. Could you delay its completion until my annual contest with the Sun begins?”

Every year, at the Carnival of Meeting – the third day of Calibration – the Sun and Saturn had a contest. It could be anything. She had always lost the contest, and no one knew what would happen if she won!

Personally, Charles doubted that it would be anything much. Despite the mythology about the “Unconquered Sun” and it being a part of his nature… he was a god with attributes and charms, not a defining part of reality. If he got beaten… well, he got beaten! Better luck next time!

Did they have some enormous bet riding on it?

(Charles) “Hm… I don’t know! I can try – but if it comes to a choice between finishing and inviting some disaster while waiting, I’ll have to finish!”

(Saturn) “We shall see.”

(Mercury) “Hey, come on! I want to visit Venus’s baths before the Games need us again!”

(Charles) “I can give you a quick lift if you can use it!”

(Mercury, producing a giant kite out of nowhere) “Nah, we’re good. I just need a high enough takeoff point, and I can fly us both there!”

Charles cheerfully assembled a giant launch-pad catapult on the roof – and they flew off, somehow going unnoticed thanks to Saturn’s cloaking.

(Catherine, watching them go) “Okay, Boss… WHAT IN MALFEAS ARE YOU?”

(Charles, switching things back to the perfect privacy wards) “Well… I seem to have started off Deva-Blooded – but that didn’t have much effect before I exalted as a Solar when I was eight. Lytek and probably Devon had been doing a bit of tinkering with things though, and these days I probably qualify as a Primordial too. I needed to do a lot of expanding to get enough capacity to fix things!”

That didn’t really help.

(Catherine) “WHAT? Deva-Blooded – which shouldn’t be possible. Solar, probably Twilight, MAYBE Zenith. But PRIMORDIAL?”

Hm… She’d never been to Aden had she? He’d had over… a few demons, a couple of gods from school, various Sidereals and Solars, some random young women, Righteous Hala, a few ghosts, some Raksha, some Dragon-Blooded, some Scientists and Bureaucrats, and lots of refugees – but no Nocturnals that he knew of! Even Astrid hadn’t been over…

(Charles) “Well… if you’d like a look, the world-body is just through here at the moment!”

(Catherine) “Gah! But it shouldn’t be possible for a Solar to be a Primordial…”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “I don’t really see why not… Once you really start working on a world-body most of it comes naturally. Pursue that path far enough, and, well…”

(Catherine) “Surely SOME record would have been left of this happening. That’s… that’s unprecedented!”

(Charles) “Oh well! There seems to be some precedent… the Solar Exaltations have a lot of potentials that are normally latent, but they can be reset to use those instead of the usual set. Thus the current Deathlords are distinguished by possessing Tomb-Bodies, which are pocket worlds for the dead, while Infernals can develop them. It’s just not one of the usual accessible ability sets – but, as I mentioned, Lytek and probably Devon were doing some tinkering!”

(Catherine) “Wha… wow. Let’s see what you’ve done with the place, then.”

Charles – as cheerily as usual – had this aspect play tour guide for a bit while he worked elsewhere. Catherine was quite impressed with the place and asked many, many questions – notably “Can I do this? It looks really useful to have your own internal facilities!”.

(Charles) “I don’t really know! Given the nature of your abilities though… it SHOULD be possible for you to develop a charm which gives entry to a realm that you could learn to generate by some means – but you’d likely have to share with other versions of yourself… want to check? You can drop it if you don’t like it!”

(Catherine) “Wait, you can just GIVE people complex Charms like that?”

(Charles) “Well, it takes a little work! See… this area is undeveloped, so first a demesne, then a manse designed to provide you with a boost to your charm selection with that one in particular! Since the pattern spiders are cranky at the moment – (being reminded, he sent more artifact presents to help out!) but I have more than enough computational capacity available to design it directly now anyway. So… one appropriate Manse… and now you just need to attune to it!”

(Catherine) “You just built a Manse in seconds! Why do you need to work at a factory-cathedral?”

(Charles) “Every tool helps – and Factory-Cathedrals are very good ones once you can tap into them remotely!”

(Catherine) “Huh. Why not just build your own in here, then? You’d be much less likely to get audited when the Bureaucracy finally wakes up!”

(Charles) “I made a couple of dozen – but Dudael is the current incarnation of one of Autochthons second circles and has some very interesting archives!”

(Catherine) “Oookay then… that’s pretty unique.”

She gingerly attuned to the place as Charles waited to see the results of yet another one of his incredibly reckless experiments!

Shortly thereafter… two people came out of the manse! Catherine and a similarly-attired man!

(Charles) “Allo!”

(Catherine) “Ha! Boss, it worked… a little too well. Meet Christopher Wingates.”

(Christopher) “Aw, man, Ajulf warned me about this. Does this happen a lot in your shard – um, what’s the male name for Charlotte?”

(Charles) “Charlie? Although that might cause confusion too…”

(Christopher) “Charlie works. Let me guess, you built a Manse so she could pick up another Charm.”

(Charles) “Yep! And the most likely method of accessing that, er… meeting hall – is for a somewhat similar version of myself to have built a similar manse? Ergo, a strong selection pressure!”

(Christopher) “Well, this is going to suck… I was going to meet my fiancee for dinner. If you’re anything like MY Boss, though…”

(Charles) “Well… I don’t see why you can’t just go back through – unless the actual result of the charm was not at all what I intended!”

(Christopher) “Huh. Well, I’ll check… Okay, yeah, it’s still open. Whew! Now I won’t have to listen to my girl rant like poor Ajulf did!”

He waved goodbye and left.

(Catherine) “Huh, that was weird . . could’ve gotten something weirder than a gender swap, though.”

(Charles) “Bye!… I take it that – on emerging into this reality in company – your alternate got swapped into a male form?”

(Catherine) “Yeah, I think so. Maybe there always has to be a difference…”

(Charles) “Oh yes; Pattern Exclusion is built into the universe; I think it’s to avoid possible infinite loops; it’s why people cannot be resurrected… that pattern has been excluded. Since you were already here, normally your alternate could not enter – but your powers are based on bending reality a bit; ergo the pattern shifted to make it different enough to come in!”

(Catherine) “Hmm… I wonder how small that difference can be.”

(Charles) “Nonetheless, while the “crossroads” realm will be a resource for many versions of yourself, you can also cooperate with yourself in adding facilities even if it WILL be on time-share… it should be quite handy and comes with free advice!”

(Catherine) “Well, thanks, Boss. Um… still not wanting anything in return for all this stuff?”

(Charles) “I don’t really need much of anything! I suppose if you pick up any interesting insights from alternates they might be nice to hear about though!”

(Catherine) “Well, okay, then. I just expected a Primordial to be more… demanding.”

(Charles) “Why? I can make the vast majority of the things I need, and still have lots of capacity to spare. I might as well put it to use helping out!”

Huh… was her boss actually building a personal mythos around being benevolent and helpful? Sure, that was NICE – but he must have been pretty sheltered! He could walk into all KINDS of trouble acting like that – or get exploited mercilessly!

(Catherine) “Do any of the others like me know about all THIS?”

(Charles) “Well… not at the moment! I’m trying to keep complications down for the next six weeks or so though!”

(Catherine) “I guess you’ve got a lot on your plate. Need any help with that?”

(Charles) “Help is always handy! If you want to look at the plans… well, I made a coordination and planning manse for it!”

She took a look…

The plans were more complex than ever, what with the Deva inputs – but Charles had, of course, made a manse and special systems to track it and to explain it to people. That way he didn’t have to keep doing it manually!

(Christine) “This is REALLY BIG. Can you really protect all that at once while you’re working on it?”

(Charles) “Well… I do have a fair amount of forces available – but interference is certain and the balance of hidden allies and opponents is uncertain. I can’t be SURE – but I think the odds are much better than not trying!”

(Catherine) “I might have to see what we can do to help out. Subtly, so I don’t break that oath… gah!”

(Charles) “Well… if you think people really need to know, it’s not breaking it to bring them to me OR to give them jobs without telling them why. Or you could bring them to any of the Devas!”

(Catherine) “I’ll see if I can get everyone gathered!”

(Charles) “Oh, if you want to check… Astrid has the information too!”

(Catherine) “Okay then… might as well start working with her, then. Mind if I take some time off? This is going to be like herding cats in some ways!”

(Charles) “Go right ahead! We’re way ahead on the order schedule anyway!”

Aurora Ward Index II

Session Logs:

  • Session I: Team formation, the arrival of Ahmik, a Cultist, a Powerstone, and introducing the Imaginal Wars.
  • Session II: Settling into the Silverhold, the arrival of Syphon, Training Exercises, Demonic Attacks, and a Flower Exhibition.
  • Session III: Imp Amulets, the departure of Syphon and the arrival of Mini-Max, the Book of Niberius, and Invocation Magic.
  • Session IV: Captain Thunder, Candyland, The Auction, Night Templar gets Possessed, Demon Summonings, and Sapphire Star.
  • Session V: The Mandate and the Wyrm Crown, the Night Auction, encounters with Plunder, Fear, Destruction, and Wraith Sword.
  • Session VI: Fear, Destruction, and Vengeance. Entering and Leaving the Realm of Opposites. Considering the Archmage and Chi’an Lung.
  • Session VII: The Wrath of the Wendigo, the Transformation of Antiquity.
  • Session VIII: Visiting Children, Niberius and Godzilla, Weaponizing Love, and the Demon Amulets.
  • Session IX: Investigating the Demon Amulets, Landscaping with Belial, Demonic Ensoulment Rituals,
  • Session X: Disabling the Rite, Boreas, Belial, and Mini-Max. Blood and Souls, the Counterspell, seeking the Archmage.
  • Session XI: Through the Chinese Hells, the Pool of Life, the Archmage Besieged.
  • Session XII: Relief Forces, the Dragons of the East,
  • Session XIII: Entrapment, Meeting the Archmage, Encountering the Orb.
  • Session XIV: A dinner, some history, the Orb – and into the Heart of Darkness.
  • Session XV: Departing the Archmage, a curious device indeed, Ameobro and the Animal Spirits, the Gates of Faerie.
  • Session XVI: Encounters with the Fey, Encountering Malwyn, Illusions and Reality, rescuing Samuel.
  • Session XVII: Ceara and Samuel, Malwyn shows his ire, investigating disappearances, magical contractors, the dangerous room, bumping heads with Belial.
  • Session XVIII: A dealing with demons, the Wendigo Camp, Bearageddon, a dealing with the dead, news of the assault.
  • Session XIX: Battle at the Silverhold, the Black Summons and the Light of Luathon, Driving with the Dead.
  • Session XX: Discussions with the Wind, Captain Massacre Attacks, Ameobrat fails to evade the Sniper, Dimensional Incursions, the Crimes of Captain Mayhem, Night Templar versus the Dark Knight and his Imps, Funniest Home Videos.
  • Session XXI: Tracing Malwyn, Murders in the Darkness, Discussions with the Seelie and Unseelie Fey, Encounters with the Orthallen.
  • Session XXII: Near Space Defense, Battles with Malwyn and the Battered Women, Belial’s Press Conference, Tracing NSD.
  • Session XXIII: My Evil Twin Skippy lives in My Evil Mirror House, the river rising, battles with the alternates, the escape of the Dark Knight and Munchkin, false equipment.
  • Session XXIV: Zantu Deliberations, visiting Saturn, the Archives of the Arith Vaya, the Glacial Guardian, into the frozen depths, debating with Darvian.
  • Session XXV:
  • Session XXVI:
  • Session XXVII:
  • Session XXVIII:
  • Session XXIX:
  • Session XL:
    • It’s worth noting that these logs are 1) summarized in places (especially conversations) and 2) from a particular characters viewpoint; they don’t tend to get into much detail on what the other characters are up to.

Background Materials:

The Cast:

    • The Villains:
      • Fear: A Lord of Nightmares.
      • Dread Wraiths: Spectral Warriors and Servants of Death.
      • Destruction: An avatar of annihilation.
      • The Wendigo: Ancient undead shamen who wish to return mankind to it’s tribal past.

 

  • T

 

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