Next up for today, it’s part four of the Modular Cyberware Rules for Shadowrun- Cyberdisguises. These systems cover everything from having your nose worked on up through modifying your fingerprints, retina patterns, and other identifying features at the low end. At the middle of the spectrum there are full-body modifications for those with odd notions and systems which let you alter your various features at will. On the high end – if the game master rules that they’re technically feasible – there are systems that allow the user to shapeshift pretty much at will.

Stone Magic Part Three: The Geomancer Courtier School

   For the third part of the series on Stone Magic in Legend of the Five Rings (parts I and II can be found HERE and HERE), here’s the Ivory Kingdom Geomancer “Courtier” School. Like many Gaijin schools, this one revolves more around practical matters than around warfare or finding yet another way to manipulate people.

The Ivory Kingdom Geomancer Courtier School

   This minor school revolves around crafting, building, and comprehending and tapping into the subtle magical forces of the natural world. While it isn’t especially combative, within its focus – the creation and tuning of stone talismans and using Fung Shui to enhance buildings and engines, and lives – it can be remarkably effective. Secondarily, it can allow its users to call on a wide variety of minor talismans and the occasional major effect. While it’s a rare primary speciality for a player-character, it makes an excellent secondary one. A skilled geomancer will have access to funds, numerous useful talismans, the ability to improve holdings, the occasional spell, the ability to produce high-quality gifts (and possibly equipment), and many other useful talents. While no match for a Shugenja, or any other dedicated mage, and certainly no match for a more dedicated warrior, they can be a definite benefit to any group.

  • School Skills: Commerce, Craft; Gemcutting, Craft; Jeweler, Divination, Engineering, Etiquette, Lore; Earth, Lore; Gem Magic, Traps, and any three High or Merchant Skills.
  • Trait Bonus: +1 Willpower

First Technique: The Lesser Initiate of the Earth.

   The user gains (School Rank) Free Raises with his or her school skills (5), Immunity to Honor Losses for conducting Trade (after all, this is a crafter’s school, and most geomancers have to support themselves; there is no shame in practicing their craft, 5), and Favors using the skills Engineering, Lore; Gem Magic and Commerce (10).

  • Engineering “favors” are geomantic effects which can be used to enhance various works, shaping destiny to favor the desired results. In practice, most “Commerce Favors” may be presumed to represent the sale of geomantic services. A geomancer may upgrade the effects of appropriate holding assets and of some Army Enhancements (such as Siegecraft and Morale), as well as provide minor bonuses to engines and groups of warriors.
  • Lore; Gem Magic favors allow the user to call forth magical effects/spells from appropriate gems. This is limited both by the favor rank as usual and by the quality of the stone used (Poor, Low, Average, Excellent, and Legendary for favor levels 1-5), and uses a roll of Willpower/Lore: Gem Magic to determine the relevant effects.
  • Commerce favors allow the user to obtain sums of money, in this case by practicing his or her skills.

Second Technique: The Greater Mastery of Qi.

   At this point the geomancer is so attuned to the flows of energy that he or she gains a pool of (Void) free raises per day for use with his or her school skills. In addition, he or she can fully appreciate the subtleties of individual stones: the gems he or she uses for stone magic are treated as if they were two quality ranks higher than they actually are (10)

Third Technique: The Crystal Seer

   At this point the geomancer can actually produce ordinary crystal with relative ease, and can even create durable crystal weapons (10). The stones he or she uses for Stone Magic are treated as if they were three quality ranks higher than they actually are (5), and he or she may double the Style bonuses he or she receives from the Lore: Gem Magic skill.

Stone Magic: Part Two

   First up for today, it’s a few additional stones for Stone Magic in Legend of the Five Rings:

   Amber is a relatively weak crystal, mostly because much of its structure is made up of elemental Air and Fire, with a minimum of Earth – and thus a minimum of extradimensional extensions. Still, it’s unique attunements, relatively wide distribution, and the unusual ease of combining smaller pieces to make larger ones, make it a common adornment – even if most of its wearers and users have no idea of what it is that makes it so attractive.

   Amber is a resonant amplifier for emotional energies and the subtle interactions which underlie “charisma”. Those who carry enough of it seem subtly more persuasive, more attractive, and more powerful. Of course, they also tend to be slightly more emotional, more irrational, and more noticeable – whether for good or ill. Secondarily, amber takes psychic impressions easily – whether those are emotional impressions which affect those who handle it, memories, or the stored energies of Nymic Magic.

   Tuned pieces of Amber can boost social manipulations, inspire irrational actions in those who handle them, store and direct nymic spells, and influence psychic powers.

   Jade, as is well known, is associated with life energy, the elemental kami, and the balance of the elemental forces of Ningen-Do. As such, it is a bane to those spirits which damage Ningen-Do by their presence, and can usually penetrate defenses based on otherworldly energies when used within Ningen-Do. In fact, it tends to absorb such energies, binding them in the same way that Ningen-Do binds spirits. Jade thus provides temporary protection against otherworldly energies within Ningen-Do, but not elsewhere – at least until it can absorb no more. Jade saturated with otherworldly energies is commonly known as “Corrupted Jade” since only extra-dimensional energy normally found in substantial quantities within Ningen-Do is the Taint of Jigoku (a few powerful shapechangers have found that their own auras will transform jade if they carry it for too long, but this is extremely rare).

   Jade normally cannot be tuned; since its power lies in its balance of forces, attempts to tune it simply weaken or destroy it. Corrupted Jade can be tuned, directing the energies within it or simply unleashing them upon the world by powdering the stone – but its balance will have been irretrievably destroyed; releasing the forces bound within it will not restore the potency of the original jade. Restoring that balance would essentially involve creating new jade.

   Given the thousand-year war against the Shadowlands in Rokugan, jade has become associated with purity, longevity, and protection as well, but these are associations only, not actual properties of the stone other than as noted above.

   Moonstone is linked with Sakkaku, the Realm of Mischief – which may be a clue to the entire history of the cosmos of Rokugan. While technically transparent, the opalescent silver sheen of a moonstone distorts everything viewed through it, or interpreted with its aid. Popular belief states that moonstone grants insight, that reading a text by light shining through a moonstone will reveal hidden meanings and intents, and that such a procedure can even help in translating an unknown text. While this is true to some extent – such insights always reflect a twisted version of reality rather than outright falsification – caution is definitely in order. Those who carry moonstones tend to be at the center of wild coincidences, whether those favor their plans or not. Tuned moonstones can provide powers of luck and chaos, as well as minor powers of transformation – but are never particularly reliable.

   Obsidian is derived from the Blood of the Moon – and perhaps from the blood of other celestial beings – and has a poor reputation: it’s basic nature is to store magical and/or physical energies. Breaking a piece of obsidian will unleash a portion of whatever is stored within it. Thus attempting to work with obsidian, or even carrying it around, is asking for weird things to happen to you. Even worse, most of the Obsidian in Rokugan is found in the lands of the Crab or even CLOSER to the Festering Pit which marks the Fall of Fu Leng – and thus is all too often charged with Taint. If it’s not, it might have absorbed some stray spell, been exposed for hours or days to volcanic heat, or be perilous in some other fashion. Almost as annoyingly, attempting to purge traces of unsuitable energies from the stone is a lengthy project.

   In the raw state, stored energies can be drawn from obsidian either via a fairly simple spell (L1 Air for a basic tap, L2 for more control over the amount of energy drawn off, L3 to direct the power to an external target) or by chipping or breaking it. Unfortunately, untuned obsidian can be easily overloaded, which tends to shatter the stone explosively. Tuned obsidian can be used to discharge energies in a more controlled fashion, but tends to degrade: either eventually becoming useless or detonating. By it’s very nature, obsidian is inherently flawed; the dimensional spaces within it which allow it to store energy are also weaknesses in its structure.

   It’s worth noting that obsidian shares the multidimensional nature of other crystals, and can be used to attack entities which are otherwise difficult to injure due to their transdimensional nature. Sadly, the effects of obsidian weapons are unreliable: they may drain energies from the target or fracture and release unpredictable energies at any time.

   Opals are linked to Yume-Do, the realm of Dreams. Unsurprisingly, opals are supposed to bring visions and revelatory dreams (of a nature dependent on the fundamental color of the stone), to possess hypnotic properties, and to bring clarity to erratic minds, temporarily taking on the madness of their owner. Properly tuned opals can indeed function in these ways or they can be used to build up complex visions and even to temporarily manifest those visions in the material world. Powdered opal is a powerful drug, capable of inducing truly exceptional visions, turning the user into a temporary gateway to the realm of dreams, or even of allowing the spirit to be lost in that realm in large doses. In small ones, it is a powerful hallucinogen and narcotic. While opals, like all other stones with extradimensional links, expose their users to the energies of their realm, the energies of the dream realm have relatively little effect on most people. A few may be susceptible to becoming lost in their own fantasies, but few are that vulnerable. After all, most people pay a visit to the borders of the realm of dreams every night.

   Spinels are supernatural parasites – or possibly symbionts – which absorb small amounts of their wearer’s physical energies, but yield some portion of those reserves back if and when the survival of their “host” is imperiled. Wearers will find themselves tiring more quickly, needing more sleep, eating more, being fractionally weaker, slightly slower, and getting less done – although they will enjoy a small boost in an emergency. Since the negative effects are subtle, and more evenly spread than the more noticeable positive boosts, Spinels have a good reputation despite their net negative impact. Tuned spinels are considerably more powerful: while they will cause a noticeable drain (translating to a -1K1 penalty several times per day), they can yield substantial bonuses to strength, speed, and the ability to remain awake and alert in a true emergency.

   Sunstone is linked with Tengoku, the Celestial Heavens. Perhaps unfortunately, the Celestial Heavens are “distant” from Ningen-Do – separated by powerful barriers. This means that true sunstone is both rare and essentially inactive unless intentionally infused with holy energies to activate the link or is worn by someone who spends a great deal of time in service to others and upholding the peaceful virtues. Activated sunstone is associated with light, purity, healing, and the intellect, but – while it can give back the energies it has accumulated – it can supply very little power of its own. In recompense, it’s powers are unusually great, and rarely need to be tightly tuned to specific purposes. Of course, one a Sunstone has discharged its power accumulation, it must be recharged – whether by doing more good deeds or by finding a source of holy energy to tap into.