Legend of the Five Rings – The Timeless Wanderer Bushi School

   Next up we have a player-submitted school for Legend of the Five Rings – albeit with the usual selection of mechanical tweaks and a bit more description.

   The Path of the Timeless Wanderer is long – and perhaps truly without end. Once one has set forth upon the way, only in death will a single location truly claim the bones of the wayfarer again, and his or her spirit shall not be bound to them.

   The Timeless Wanderer school is a school for a wandering warrior-sage – focusing primarily on the “sage” part, secondarily on the “wandering”, and only in passing on the “warrior” part. While the school does include one or two offensive, and several defensive, talents, it primarily focuses on universal expertise. A Timeless Wanderer may – quite truthfully – claim on a moments notice to be an expert on “Lore/fourth century unicorn clan cake recipes”, or on any other specific lore skill that he or she cares to name.

   And any player character who takes this school will usually name a lot of them.

   The Timeless Wanderer (Bushi) School:

  • Basic Modifiers: Agility + 1, Glory 1, Status 1, Wealth 3, Honor 1.
  • School Skills: Athletics, Bow, Defense, Engineering, Etiquette, Hunting; Lore/Other Worlds, Meditation, Stealth, and any one weapon skill.

   School Techniques:

   First Technique/At the Threshold of Reality:

   One cannot travel the way of the Timeless Wanderer without becoming more aware. As the practitioner learns to sense the flow of the cosmos and the interconnections of all things, he or she begins to know without knowing. As might be expected, personal dangers along the user’s way are the easiest to learn to sense, but such things are merely a subset of the infinite knowledge of the multiverse and of the paths between worlds. The practitioner gains the ability to sense whether a path is dangerous and how dangerous it is (Sense Dangerous Paths, a second-level inherent, self-powered mystic sense, 6), +1KO on all Lore skills which counts as being skilled (8), the ability to step partially out of reality, adding the results of the user’s stealth checks to the TN of attempts to detect him or her via magic (the Undetection reflexive spell, level one, self-powered, inherent, 3), a pool of (Rank) free raises daily, usable with any one school skill (chosen when this technique is acquired), and the ability to fire missiles through the spaces between worlds – given a few moments to prepare (Innate L1 Darts of Unmaking spell, usable Void times per day; the user’s next three ranged attacks will ignore carapace, invulnerability, and abilities or techniques which would ignore or reduce damage, 3). Sadly, the nascent Timeless Wanderer will also begin experiencing the curse of this school as he or she learns the first technique; he or she will begin having difficulty finding familiar locations – such as his or her place of work and favorite teahouse as his or her studies progress (-5).

   Second Technique/The Opening of the Gate:

   The budding Timeless Wanderer increases his or her awareness of, and connections to, unfamiliar regions. He or she gains the Perception psychic power (an inherent, self-powered, second-level effect, 6), a further +2KO to all Lore skills (total +3K0, considered skilled, +8), the ability to use his or her free raise pool with all of his or her school skills, rather than only one of them (+5), and a translation psychic power that enables him or her to speak and read any language, although this takes an hour of trying to kick in (6 -5 for restriction = 1). Furthermore, being toughened by travel, the Timeless Wanderer may now add +2 wounds to each of his or her wound levels (5). Of course, at this point, the Curse of the Timeless Wanderer now extends to his or her very home (-5).

    Third Technique/Outside the Walls of Reality:

   The Timeless Wanderer is starting to come into his or her own, and will find that his or her body has begun to shed it’s mortal limitations. Continued travel continues to fortify the body; the Timeless Wanderer replaces the +2 bonus to each wound level with doubling the base wounds in each of his or her wound ranks (+10). More obviously, he or she will find that shifting between realms rejuvenates his or her body and equipment, making the Timeless Wanderer Immune to aging (5). He or she becomes Immune to the restrictions of terrain, able to run up walls, across water, and even onto clouds (5). By expending a Void point, he or she can even step briefly outside of time, gaining an extra action, completing some simple task (such as writing a long report), or avoiding the effects of a change in the past, in a mere instant (Immunity/Time, 10 – 5 = 5). Unfortunately, his or her curse also strengthens, making it impossible for him to find his home region (-5).

   Fourth Technique/Exploring the Realms Beyond:

   Having left ordinary life a long time ago, the Timeless Wanderer begins attuning himself or herself to other realities. He or she becomes immune to the ill-effects and control of malign extradimensional energies (including the ill effects of Taint, 10), and to the general hazards of realms hostile to human life (Immunity/Environmental Effects, 10, -5 for applying only to large-scale effects; the user may be protected from a forest fire or storm, but a small fire will still burn his or her hand and a lightning spell will still harm him or her – provided that he or she isn’t currently on a plane of storms). He or she also gains a final + 2KO to Lore skills, for a total of +5KO (8). Finally, as a figure rapidly becoming lost to his or her home dimension, the Timeless Wanderer adopts a certain slipperiness of identity; those trying to remember him or her suffer from a +5 TN modifier. Sadly, his or her curse will now prevent the Wanderer from returning to his or her native nation (-5).

   Fifth Technique/The Open and Barred Gate Koan:

   Dimensional boundaries, social and otherwise, are nearly negligible to the master of the Timeless Wanderer school. He or she is immune to physical dimensional boundaries, always being able to seek out a path that will allow him or her to travel between the worlds given time (10-point Immunity, -5 for time requirement = 5). By opening small gates, the Timeless Wanderer may call forth blasts of elemental material up to (school rank) times per day, using the relevant elemental ring to hit and rolling (Ring)K(Ring) damage (10). Finally, he or she has become supremely adaptable to the multiverse, doubling his or her pool of free raises on school skills (10). Ironically, however, his or her home dimension is forever closed to the Timeless Wanderer – hence the technique name (-5).

   OK, the Timeless Warrior is a superficially weak school; it’s got a few handy tricks and makes it easy to travel, but it’s biggest overt abilities are knowing a lot of obscure facts and being able to run around on blatantly insufficient surfaces. It does, however, pull at least one fast one there; it allows the user to take advantage of whatever benefits a realm may offer – say the combat boosts bestowed by the Realm of Slaughter – while remaining unaffected by it’s deleterious effects. That’s not bad, although the effective forced retirement at rank five definitely puts a damper on things. Still, if you don’t quite finish the fifth technique, the curse need never entirely take effect.

Traveller – The Wanderer

The Wanderer Orion-Class Surveyship

   Here’s a small starship that was originally assigned to a group of special agents. In that campaign the characters were all presumed to be 1) on active duty, 2) trained psionics using a notably extended psionics system, and 3) too eccentric to serve under any normal Captain, yet too valuable to be discharged. They were issued a very sophisticated – if rather small – starship, assigned the most laid-back player-character commander in history (“Your attention please… I have an announcement to make. So far there have been two armed mutinies on the bridge today. If there are any more armed mutinies on the bridge before dinner, there will be no dessert.”), and were sent on a wide variety of special missions. How to pull off said missions was entirely up to them.

   As for how the ship could make an appearance in your campaign… Who knows? Perhaps some idiot failed to check the secure part of the paperwork, and sent it off to be released under it’s cover information as a battered old scoutship. Perhaps Captain Aaron and his team have disappeared, leaving it to be salvaged. Perhaps there’s been a slipup and a few odd characters are escaping on it somehow.

   Regardless, if you do let your characters get a hold of the Wanderer without the disadvantages of the “active duty special agents” assignment, they’re going to have a good time explaining some of the stuff on board. Considering it’s history, and the crews penchant for setting up concealed storage compartments, that could be practically anything – most of it highly illegal.

   The “Wanderer”:

   Tech Level 15 (Modified) Orion-Class Military Surveyship

  • Mass: 360 Tons
  • Crew: Variable, nominally seven.
  • Dimensions: 62M Length, 42M Width, 13.5M Height
  • Acceleration: 6G sustained, normally operates at 2G
  • Jump: 3, with jump governor.
  • Primary Power Plant: Total rating-12, two 6-point fusion plants with hydrogen scavenger system (87.82% efficient).
    • Microgenerator backup of 120 pt-hrs, maximum yield of 3.
    • Fuel-Cell “Batteries”, 15 point-hour capacity, maximum yield of .25.
  • Engineering: Dual Helium-Ion reaction drives, contragravity lift system to allow nondestructive landings/liftoffs. Single jump drive.
  • Gravatics: Inertial compensators, variable floor fields of up to +/- 5 gravities.
  • Electronics:
    • Model/5 fiberoptic computer with two programmable neural interfaces (tech level d+, provides a +2 bonus on relevant operations), speech synthesizer, voiceprint analyzer, games circuitry, and minor peripherals. All weapons systems have integral fire control chips (Target, Gunner Interact, and Launch as appropriate) to reduce the load on the main system. Programs; Target (1), Multi-target 3 (2), Predict 5 (2), Gunner Interact (1), Select 3 (1), Launch (1), Maneuver-Evade 6 (3), Return Fire (1), Antimissile (2), ECM (3), Jump 1, 2, and 3 (6), Navigation (1), Generate (1), Anti-hijack (1), Library (1), Science Data (1), Translator (1), Watchdog (2), Planetary Survey (.6), Low Monitor (.2), Encrypt/Decrypt (.2), Medicaid 2 (2).
    • Geophysical and Astrophysical survey modules.
    • Passive sensors DM +2, Active DM +4.
  • Range:
    • Unlimited maneuver via bussard ramfield outsystem, insystem use cuts maneuver fuel consumption by 50%. 124 tons fuel tankage with fuel scoops and purifiers.
    • The genetically tailored hydroponic plants can support up to eight indefinitely, the galley holds one ton of supplies, enough for some 360 man-weeks.
  • Armament:
    • Two dorsal triple turrets, each with two pulse lasers and an autocannon (for use in ground-support operations and for close-in ship defense).
    • One ventral bay with particle cannon, autocannon, and subfloor missile rack (16 missile capacity, normally stocking two combination sand/window/flare, two ECM/Deception, and four each HE, nuclear, and sensor probes).
  • Screens: Langston field absorbs up to forty “Hits”, recovering four per turn until overloaded. The “Blackout” effect gives DM -4 to be detected unless the shields are currently recovering, which radiates enough to provide a +2 DM. If the screens are overloaded the energy release will do 1D6 additional hits beyond the effects of the attack. Screen Generators are taken from Expanding Universe, a series of articles on Traveler in White Dwarf magazine.
  • Configuration: Wedge, light armor, fully streamlined.
  • Capacity: Somewhat variable (see ship design), basic 36 tons cargo, 6 or 12 passengers. Concealed and shielded 6.5 ton secret stowage areas.
  • Ship Vehicles: a standard survey shuttle – basically a G-Carrier, modified with computer system, more instruments, cameras, and life support.
  • Special Features:
    • Miniature lab/shop facilities, DM +2.
    • Gravatic cargo/docking/etc grapples.
    • Psi-flux Enhancer (see notes).

Design Specifications

Tons

Cost

“Custom” Hull, 360 tons

360

36.0

Fuel, Cargo, and Ships Vehicle

   

Fuel Tankage, 124 Tons.

124

Cargo Holds (Main 36 tons, Concealed^ 6.5).

41

Ships Vehicle, Survey Shuttle Bay.

10

Drives and Engineering#

   

Jump Drive F (TL 10, Fuel -20%, Size -30%)*.

24

60.0

Dual Maneuver Drive F (TL 10, Ditto above)*.

15

48.0

Dual Power Plant F (TL 10, Size -50%)*.

19

96.0

Micro-generator (provides backup power).

5

12.0

Ramfield Generator.

2

12.0

Required Volume 65 Tons, Assigned Volume 65 including 3-ton Engineering Annex Area (Area 35).

   

Bridge, Controls, and Sensors

   

Bridge. Includes basic controls, communications, avionics, scanners, detectors, sensors, chairs, coffee maker, etcetera.

20

1.8

Ships Computer, Model/5 Fiber-optic (TL 11, Size -20%, capacity +20% for 14/30)* Two “tons” of computer represent terminals and such in staterooms, passengers may access games/library only.

4

5.0

Two neural interfaces (TL 15).

25.0

Turret controls (x3) (Located in Turrets).

3

Geophysical survey module.

1

1.0

Astrophysical Survey Module.

1

1.0

Required Volume 28 Tons, Assigned Volume 28 (Note 6)

   

Staterooms and Living Quarters

   

Staterooms and living quarters (10).

40

5.0

Low Berths (x2).

1

0.1

Other Features

   

Hardpoints (4, 2 single, one double).

0.4

Atmospheric Streamlining.

3.6

Screen Generators (.1 tons* value at TL 15).

4

4.0

2 Triple Turrets, w’ weapons and fire control.

4.0

Ventral Bay, with particle cannon and missiles.

10.0

Laboratory and Workshop facilities.

4.0

   Notes:

   *The Tech Level Change Factor rule allows certain older systems to be improved at higher tech levels. It provides a reduction of [10(TL of Item – Local TL)]% split as desired between mass, price, fuel consumption, or whatever the GM permits. No factor may be altered by more then 99%. This rule was originally found in Dragon Magazine #108.

   #The tonnage minimums for the drives, bridge, and power plant are assumed to include appropriate workshops, tool lockers, engineering spaces, and so on. Areas that help make up these volumes include the laboratory/workshop (split between engineering and unassigned volumes), the survey modules (part of the bridge sensor arrays), the hydroponics room (as “staterooms”/life support), and the mechanical life support section (as an engineering space).

   ^ The concealed hold is nominally fuel tankage, and can even be used that way. It’s heavily detection-screened though, and the access is carefully concealed behind the equipment storage cabinets. Mostly useful for smuggling.

   Ship Operations Notes:

   Fuel Usage: Jumping requires [29 x (Jump Number)] tons of fuel, the power plants use 120 tons/month or 4 tons/day to produce the maximum (12 power point) output. 2G operation takes 1 ton/day, the reserve is therefore (124-87) = 37 Days, extended to 74 days by ramfield generator.

   Power Usage: Maneuver Drives 1.5 per gravity, Weapons Systems 1.0, Lasers on Doublefire +0.5, Basic Life Support .1 (per 500 tons of ship or part thereof), Normal Operations .15.

  • Normal operations include communications, sensors, etc, and cost .15 for any size ship.
  • Firing weapons costs .25 per Hardpoint in use. Maneuver drives divide the power required by the maximum thrust to get the power required per gravity.
  • From the information under “drive failure” a ships batteries will supply basic life support for 1D6 days, implying a basic value of 15 pt-hrs and a peak output of .25 per 500 tons of ship or part thereof. The batteries are used to make up for small variations in ship power demands, avoiding constant adjustments to the fusion plant, so when called upon they will normally be (1D8*10)+20% charged.
  • The Emergency Microgenerator: A TL 15 power plant “A”. (TL 9, Size -20%, Fuel -40%) 3 tons, a month’s fuel is 6 tons, so 5 days or 120 pt-hrs worth is 1 ton. While the unit needs an overhaul after 120 pt-hours, it includes a 1-ton “overcharger” that boosts it’s output to 3 points for up to 4 hours before it must be throttled back to .1 points to cool for an equal period.

   The Psi-Flux Enhancer: This was a game-master plot device designed to give the characters a chance when they were assigned ridiculous missions and to let individual characters have a personal impact on ship-to-ship combat. It amplified psionic abilities enough to allow their use on a shipwide or even a limited orbital basis. The user could safely draw up to three psionic power points per point of his or her psionic strength rating from the system, but each power point drawn in excess of this limit would do 1d6 damage to him or her. Known applications included:

  • Teleportation: Evading attacks, by moving either the attack or the ship out of the way.
  • Warp Generation: Phasing the ship into jump-space, for a fuel savings of about 90%.
  • Telepathy: Rough evaluation-scans of planetary cultures, scanning nearby ships for life, and orbital-range communications.
  • Photon Manipulation: Making the ship briefly invisible, imposing a substantial DM against detection.
  • Perception: Expanding “passive” scans to cover a 500-Meter radius.
  • Empathy: Shipwide emergency treatments.
  • Mindscreen: Thought-shielding the ship.
  • Electrodirection: Electrifying portions of the ship or scanning it for power interruptions.
  • Psimechanical Engineering: Rapid repairs and minor alterations on a shipwide basis.

   Langston Field: This is a variant of the containment field used in fusion reactors, it absorbs all forms of energy, kinetic included. The energy is “stored” within the field and re-radiated as light and heat. Keeping the field intact takes power, as does keeping it from radiating inwards. It can re-radiate 10% of its storage capacity in “hits” each turn, but if it’s storage capacity is ever exceeded the field collapses and the energy release does 1D6 hits per 6 points of field to the main ship. Shield generators take up 4 tons and first become available at TL 15, the field can store up to 2*TL +10 Hits. The field density is limited, hence ships can only mount one set of generators per 500 tons of volume or a maximum of three sets. Any attack roll of a natural 11+ indicates a local “burn through”, doing 1-3 hits to the ship.

   Overcharger: This module can temporarily boost the output of a power plant by up to 2 points. Normally this would increase the mass by 6 tons, but due to their inherent limitations overchargers mass only one. The increased power output cannot exceed the maximum power output for the local tech level and cannot be sustained indefinitely like a normal plant. Increases of up to +1 can be sustained up to 16 hours, increases beyond that can only be sustained for 4. Afterwards the system output must be “throttled back” to 10% of normal for a similar cooling period. 4 MCr.

   Design Margin: The deck plans of a ship are considered acceptable if within 20% of the ships “real” size according to the rules. This margin exists because the design rules are highly abstracted, for example, “fuel tankage” volume assumes pumps, piping, modular tanks (QV “damage” under “starship combat”), and so on. Actual fuel is probably only 75-85% of this volume, “real” volume won’t match. Similarly, drives can share part of the listed volume, the actual drive is less then 50% of the size, the rest consists of workshops, component storage, access crawlways, and so on, some of which can be “shared”.

Glowstone Alchemy Part II – The Items

   In part II (part one is back HERE) we have a selection of the glowstone devices generally available on Shandar and their usual prices. Elsewhere, of course, the availability and price of such things is more a matter of the availability of glowstone. Off Shandar, some of these items may be considered priceless relics.

   Using Alchemy in place of Glowstone Alchemy increased the listed DC’s by +20. There is no known effective substitute for Glowstone. As a rule, a Glowstone Alchemist can be assisted by up to five aides. Slaves are preferred on Shandar since they’re more readily disposed of if they should make a mistake and contaminate themselves with too much glowstone.

   Blazegems, Lightrods, and Firelances use a core of glowstone encased in crystal, and electrum with an optional focusing gem – although most of them have an outer casing of wood and steel to provide physical protection and support for the relatively fragile core. Like all items which mix glowstone and silver, they resonate with their user’s life force, allowing them to be triggered by mental command. They normally fire simple bolts of radiant energy as a ranged touch attack, but can be fitted with focusing gems to convert them to fire various types of elemental damage – but this requires about an hours skilled work IF an appropriately-cut and alchemically-treated gem is available. While their energy reserve is limited, they normally rebuild it at rate of roughly one shot per hour. If someone channels positive energy into them directly (usually by touch) they will regain charges as listed for “Recharge”. Negative energy will deplete the same number of charges. While excess positive energy is wasted, excess negative energy can reduce the number of charges below zero, resulting in a deficient which must be overcome to add more charges. If these items are exposed to a positive or negative energy burst use the “Burst Charge” listing. Finally, since these items are linked with their user’s, their damage increases somewhat as the user’s level increases.

Weapon

Blazegem

Lightrod

Firelance

Usage

One-Handed

Two-Handed

Mounted

Type

Simple

Martial

Exotic

Damage

2d6*, 4d6 Max

3d6*, 6d6 Max

4d6*, 8d6 Max

Increment

1d6/6 levels

1d6/4 levels

1d6/3 levels

Critical

20, x2

20,x3

19-20, x3

Range Inc.

40 feet

80 feet

120 feet

Charges

12

20

40

Recharge

3d4

2d4

1d4

Burst Charge

3

2

1

Tolerance

3

5

8

Weight

2 Lb

6 Lb

160 Lb

Cost

100 GP

200 GP

1800 GP

Craft DC

18

24

30

   Bloodshaping Talismans are usually made as knives or wristlets with a sharpened edge or decoration since, to use them, the user must shed his or her own blood with them. As the blood flows onto the surface of the talisman, the user may concentrate on the talisman (a standard action) to give that blood a temporary independent life – transforming it into a bloodwrought version of a normal animal or dire animal with DR 5/-, Darksight, a telepathic link to their creator, and complete loyalty to him or her. Sadly, this costs hit points – due to blood drain – equal to one-half the hits of the creature created and such creatures will revert to an inert splatter of blood in 4d6 hours. Tolerance 3, 800 GP, Craft DC 20.

   City Walls are a combination of large quantities of glowstone (which provides the power), of ceremonial magic (massive complexes of inlaid circles, carven inscriptions, and complex talismans which channel and transform that power), and of lesser enchantments which maintain, manipulate (to open gates and trigger active defenses), direct, and defend, the various ceremonial elements. City walls can be negated on a local level temporarily – enough for a gate, or for someone or something to slip inside – without attempting the massive task of breaking them down entirely. Mere physical walls are usually present too, but – thanks to the need to block flyers, tunnelers, teleporters, and magical attacks – are a far less important element than the magical barriers. On Shandar, where negative-energy tornadoes, massive disruptions, and powerful magical attacks are all too common, barriers incorporating the equivalent of a permanent wall of force, countermagical protection, and an effect which damages anyone who attacks or attempts to interfere with the wall are considered a bare minimum for long-term survival. Larger and more powerful cities prefer the equivalent of a Prismatic Sphere or some epic-level effect. Tolerance 4 (for operators, who generally come in crowds), prices are in the hundreds of thousands of GP, and the Craft DC is at least 5x the level of the spell being duplicated.

   Creodwar are small glowstone-glass flasks designed to infuse their contents with glowstone energies. While such “potions” are unstable – the magical charge for lasts less then an hour after the contents are decanted – their effects can equate to those of spells of up to the level (I-III) of the flask used with a casting level of 2/5/10. It normally requires 1d6 hours per level of the effect being produced for the contents to fully charge. Plain water will become equivalent to holy water (or multiple doses thereof at higher levels), more complex mixtures can be charged to produce a wide variety of specific magical and alchemical effects.

   Common concoctions produced in Creodwar include magical plant-growth fertilizers, formulas which purify water when added to it, healing mixtures, flaredrops (depending on the variant employed, these may emit blinding flashes or simply provide light for hours when exposed to air), spell powders (these provide the equivalent of +1 mana for spellcasting purposes one time per level of the flask being used), stimulants, and the equivalent of a wide variety of spells. Tolerance 1/2/3, 1250, 2500, and 5000 GP. Craft DC 15, 20, and 25.

   Deathbane weapons are simply the result applying a glowstone surface – whether temporary or permanent – to a weapon. Such weapons do an extra 2d6 points of damage to undead and count as magical weapons for the purposes of penetrating undead damage reduction if they are not already enchanted.

  • Banedrops are roughly equivalent to Blade Venom, although the effect lasts for an hour or so. Unfortunately, if the user accidently injures himself or herself with a weapon to which Banedrops have been applied, he or she will need no make a DC 25 fortitude save or pick up one point of glowstone contamination.
  • Permanently alchemically tempering a weapon with concentrated glowstone can give it this property permanently, albeit with a significant tolerance cost. Applying an even greater amount can give it the equivalent of the “Disruption” power – still without affecting any existing enchantment – but exposes the user to a great deal of glowstone energy.
  • Banedrops 40 GP/Dose, Craft DC 15, Deathbane Weapon 1200 GP, Tolerance 2, Craft DC 20, Disruption Weapon, 5000 GP, Tolerance 5, Craft DC 25.

   Draconic Resonance: At least on Shandar, monetary metals and magical devices – such as are to be found in many treasures – are almost invariably contaminated with trace quantities of glowstone. Those who claim such treasures tend to be affected by them. In small quantities, and over brief periods, this has no effect. If, however, one is foolish enough to amass a great horde of treasure without breaking it up and putting it to use, it’s accumulated energies are likely to begin gradually transforming its “owner”. The first effects are usually psychological, and often include an increasing bond with the horde – and an unwillingness to even consider removing anything from it. Simple physical enhancements will appear next, then magical powers related to the contents of the horde, and – finally – the physical mutations will begin. On Shandar, monsters don’t really have treasure hordes. Treasure hordes have monsters…

   Glowstone Engines channel and transform glowstone energy into mechanical power and a sort of quasi-life force. Fitting an appropriate construct, machine, or vehicle, with a glowstone engine of the appropriate size (larger engines can be constructed if you want to create a city power plant or some such) will provide endless energy – eliminating any need for fuel, ammunition, or maintenance, replacing any conventional engine, providing a +5 bonus on any rolls required to operate the device (including it’s weapons, if any), and allowing it to heal normally with minor assistance (thus a device powered by a glowstone engine can be repaired – if slowly – by an essentially unskilled individual). If used in the creation of a golem or other animated construct the costs – in both XP and Gold – are reduced by two-thirds. A pilot who operates a glowstone-powered vehicle or machine on a daily or near-daily basis will need to make a DC 15 Fortitude save monthly to avoid picking up a point of Glowstone Contamination. Casual users need only save once per year.

Size

Cost

Craft DC

Tiny

2500

25

Small

1250

20

Medium

2500

25

Large

5000

25

Huge

10,000

25

Gargantuan

20,000

20

Colossal

40,000

20

Power Plant

100,000

20

   Glowstone Tempering infuses an item with glowstone, but directs it’s energies towards protecting and preserving it – allowing the glowstone to bear the brunt of magical effects directed at destroying or disrupting the item. In Shandar, glowstone-tempered items are impervious to the corrosive effects of Balefire and exposure to the Cinghalum. Secondarily, if more importantly in less hostile realms, glowstone tempering also prevents the magical properties of an item from being affected by Dispelling and protects the item itself from negative-energy based attacks and Disintegration. Tempered items even receive a second save against Disjunction effects if the first save fails. 1200 GP, DC 15 for mundane items, 20 for magical ones. Tolerance 1 in either case.

   An equivalent effect can be produced by binding the life-force of an outsider into an item – a preferred alternative on Shandar, where life is cheap, but glowstone is an invaluable resource.

   Hearts of Light are glowstone-infused gems in settings of ithal, markhhan, and crystal, which accumulate positive energy and release it to augment the user’s positive-energy channeling efforts. Sadly, they are not cumulative; only the strongest Heart of Light of a particular type used in an effort counts. Hearts of Light may be used three times per hour. A given Heart of Light may add to the Intensity (maximum hit die affected) and/or to the Magnitude (“turning damage”) of a positive-energy channeling effect when used. They have a base DC of 10 to make and a base cost of 2000 GP

Magnitude

DC

Cost

Tolerance

 

Intensity

DC

Cost

Tolerance

+0d6

+0

+0 GP

+0

 

+0

+0

+0 GP

+0

+2d6

+5

+1000

+1

 

+2

+5

+100

+1

+4d6

+10

+3000

+2

 

+4

+10

+300

+2

+6d6

+15

+5000

+3

 

+6

+15

+5000

+3

   Ithal, a glowstone-silver alloy, is ductile, light, and faintly luminescent. It resonates with it’s user’s life energy and thus always – at least in the hands of a living creature – feels as natural and easy to use as it’s bearers own limbs. Making Ithal has a DC of 20.

  • When used by a living creature:
    • Ithal Weapons gain a +2 circumstance on attacks and damage. +2000 GP, +1 Tolerance.
    • Ithal Tools provide a +2 circumstance bonus on relevant skills. +500 GP, +1 Tolerance
    • Ithal Armor is treated as being one category lighter, has no armor check penalty, does not limit the user’s maximum dexterity bonus, and reduces arcane spell failure percentages by 15%.
  • Ithal has 50 hit points per inch of thickness, hardness 12, is immune to the corruption of the Cinghalum, and 50% resistant to Banefire. +3000 GP, +3 Tolerance.
  • Since it resonates with the user’s life force, Ithal will transfer all touch-based effects other than those based on negative energy, which are blocked by the glowstone that infuses it, to or from the user.

   Light Crystals consist of fine strands of highly refined glowstone embedded in crystal. Not too surprisingly, they glow constantly, illuminating a radius of twenty feet per level of the crystal and disrupting darkness-based effects of lower level within that area. Unfortunately, they also become hotter as they become larger, crystals of above level seven tend to melt down and severely contaminate the entire area. Crystals of level three and above will annoy light-sensitive creatures within the area they illuminate. DC of 10 + 3x the level of the crystal, 500 GP times the level of the crystal squared (primarily due to how vital they were in food production), Tolerance 1 if carried.

   Light Crystals feed a constant trickle of life-force into every creature within the area they illuminate. Plants grow (Level x Level) times faster, and yield some three times the amount normally expected – at that accelerated scale, allowing a relatively small cavern so illuminated to yield substantial amounts of food. Other creatures exposed to the light heal twice as quickly while so exposed, but also age twice as quickly.

  • Areas exposed to the radiance of a light crystal of level three or more for a week or more are treated as being Consecrated. Undead entering such areas will suffer one point of damage and will take one more point of damage for each hour they remain. Minor undead will not usually enter such as area unless compelled. Unfortunately, such areas also annoy light-sensitive creatures.

   On Shandar, where most attempts to “farm” outside the magical barriers which protect the cities would be relatively unproductive at best and suicidal at worst, Light Crystals with the Accelerate Plant Growth property are one of the major factors that make keeping a fair-sized population alive possible. Similarly, glowstone powers the barriers that keep the monsters of the wilds out and the weapons that the people of the cities use to defend themselves. Of course, it’s also what slowly poisons them – but the occasional death from glowstone-induced illness and degeneration is of small consequence compared to a horrific and agonized massacre at the hands of a horde of undead monstrosities.

   Sadly, competition for glowstone – and the survival it makes possible – also lies at the root of the endless conflicts between the cities of Shandar and the houses within them. Whether harvested from the monster-infested wilderness, obtained in trade from the Hin, or taken from another city, if you want your children and grandchildren to live, your city and your house’s stocks of glowstone must be maintained and increased. The fact that the cities of Shandar are almost entirely inhabited by long-lived elves, who may have a dozen or more children over the course of a generation, just makes things worse.

   Mana Batteries are made of glowstone, markhhan (see below), and the imprisoned soul of a sapient being. They have a capacity of 1d4+2 points of mana, regain one point of mana per day on their own, and may be recharged from external sources of mana. Given that – on Shandar – the practice of the higher magics requires a good deal of extra mana to make up for the energy drain of the Cinghalum, there are few mages (no matter how scrupulous) who do not occasionally resort to the use of a Mana Battery. 1500 GP, Tolerance 1, DC 18.

   Markhhan, an alloy of glowstone, gold, mercury, and copper, is soft, easily worked, and quasi-living as far as simple detection magic is concerned. While it’s simple physical properties are unimpressive, Markhhan can anchor and sustain a spirit as if it was a living body. If actually linked with a living body, it can be mentally directed and moved as if it was a part of that body within the limits of it’s jointing – although doing so will feel quite unnatural unless the Markhan is at least partially plated with Ithal. Markhhan is principally useful in the construction of simple replacement parts (and, with relatively minor additional enchantments, sensory organs), in the creation of SoulWards and related devices, and in the construction of quasi-animated chain weapons (equivalent to the Chain of Ki discipline with Entangle and Third Hand from Eclipse: The Codex Persona). DC 18 to make, the prices for replacement limbs usually start at about 1200 GP (since they’re mostly made of conventional materials) and a tolerance of 2. Sensory organ replacements usually run about 4000 GP and have a Tolerance of 3. Chain Weapons usually cost about 3000 GP extra and have a Tolerance of 2.

   Rings and Talismans of Fortitude channel extra life-force into the wearer’s body. While it does not become a part of their essence, it can still reinforce them on the physical side, granting them the potential for extra hit points. Sadly, that’s potential only; if a character with no constitution bonus has 28 out of 52 hits and puts on a level II (+16) Talisman of Fortitude, he or she will still have 28 hit points at the moment – but can now heal or be healed up to a total of (52 + 16) = 68. Such Talismans provide (8 + Con Mod) hit points per level, and do stack within limits: the most potent Talisman has it’s full effect, the effective level of the second most powerful is reduced by one, the effective level of the third by three and so on. Unfortunately, their impact on the user’s glowstone tolerance rating is not so reduced. DC of 10 + 5*Level, Cost of 500 GP for L1, 3000 GP for L2, 4500 GP for L3, 7500 GP for L4, 12,000 GP for L5, and so on. Tolerance of 1/Level.

   Seardan, a glowstone-iron alloy, is usually blue-black (since polishing it enough to achieve it’s potentially silver-blue state may require years of pointless labor or a high-level spell) and emits hot sparks when struck. In Seardan the energies of the glowstone go into enhancing the bonds between iron atoms, causing the molecular structure of the alloy to compact itself, becoming somewhat denser than lead and incredibly tough and hard. In general, working Seardan requires either a blast furnace and superhuman strength or a fairly powerful (usually level 4) specifically-designed spell to soften it. Additional similar spells designed to plate it over other metals (since items made entirely of Seardan are usually unmanageably heavy), and repair it are also in order. Making Seardan is fairly easy, it’s doing something with it after it hardens that’s hard. DC 15.

  • Seardan-Plated weapons ignore hardness of 20 or less. +2000 GP, Tolerance 2.
  • Tools plated with Seardan provide a +2 circumstance bonus on relevant skills but only if where properties such as sharpness, durability, and hardness play a notable role. A seardan-plated pen tip won’t do much for calligraphy. +750 GP, Tolerance 1.
  • Light/Medium/Heavy armor plated with Seardan grants DR of 2/3/4, which stacks with any innate DR the wearer possesses. +2000/4000/8000 GP, Tolerance of 2/3/4.
  • Seardan has 250 hit points per inch of thickness and hardness 25. It is not subject to rust, chemical corrosives, or most energies, and does not conduct electricity. It can be weakened by severe cold – but the temperatures required to achieve this result do not generally occur outside of cryogenic laboratories.

   Soulwards exploit the ability of Markhhan to contain and support spirits.

  • A Type I Spirit Ward simply absorbs assaults on the wearer’s psyche; attempts to possess, charm, dominate, or otherwise use enchantment/charm or enchantment/compulsion spells simply affect the amulet – which isn’t very useful.
  • A Type II Ward also diverts to itself ranged or area-effect attacks on the wearer’s life force, protecting the user from effects such as Circle of Death, Enervation, Finger of Death, Magic Jar, Power Word Kill, Trap the Soul,and similar monster powers.
  • A Type III Ward can also host the bearer’s spirit if he or she is slain; until the user gives it up and departs, he or she will be able to mentally communicate with anyone who touches the amulet and can possess any functioning, but currently-uninhabited, body with which the amulet comes in contact. Oddly enough, mindless undead corpses work just fine – but most spirits will prefer a properly-living body or having their original one repaired and restarted (which is much easier than recalling the soul). Sadly, a spirit trapped within an amulet will suffer the effects of attacks on the current bearer’s psyche or life force and a new spirit which attempts to displace the (or a) old one must engage in an opposed contest of wills.
  • A Type IV Ward can absorb the spirit of any being which dies within thirty feet, provided that it does not resist. Perhaps fortunately, such a Ward is effectively shielded – at least from other spirits – if it is embedded within living material.
  • A Type V Ward binds spirits so strongly that they must make a will save at DC 20 to avoid being entrapped by by it if they lose their bodies (whether by death, by engaging in astral projection, by attempting to use a magic jar effect, or by the use of some similar effect. Once entrapped within such an amulet, a spirit will remain trapped until it is released by an appropriate spell, by the destruction of the amulet, or by overloading the capacity of the Ward – in which case the loser in a contest of wills will be set free to pass onwards.
  • SoulWards normally have a capacity of one spirit – but can be upgraded to handle more.
  • Powerful enchanters – and individuals who can afford the process and are mad enough to want to undergo it – occasionally build constructs with a network of Markhhan control feeds, Glowstone Engines, and minor auxiliary enchantments, in which to mount their Type-III Soulwards after their physical death – allowing them to continue on in construct-bodies (although their minds and life forces remain just as normal, and vulnerable, as ever). Sadly, they usually go mad in fairly short order, but who said quasi-unlife was easy?

Type

GP Cost

DC

Tolerance

Type I

800

15

1

Type II

1200

20

2

Type III

2000

25

3

Type IV

3000

30

4

Type V

6000

35

5

+1 Spirit

+1000

+2

+0

   Spell Talismans feed power into a specific spell but are not “used up” in doing so. They provide the equivalent of one point of many when used in casting the appropriate spell, “+2” if the user exhausts their power for 2D4 days. DC of 10 + (2x the level of the spell to be affected), 1500 GP, Tolerance 1. In Shandar, where powerful spells needed extra mana to work in the face of the drain from the Cinghalum, these were vital. In other worlds, spell talismans reduce the effective level of a particular spell, allowing it to be used more easily.

   Some of those prices may not be quite right; it’s been years since the Shander setting was all that active, and I’ve mislaid the original pricing notes. Glowstone item were relatively cheap there, however, simply because the environment was so lethal and because the limitations of glowstone tolerance and poisoning were substantial. Even relatively low-level characters could afford to use glowstone gear – and hopefully they would bring back more than enough glowstone from their adventures to make up for it. Most such items will be unique in most other settings anyway.

Amber – Advanced Trump II, Virtual Creation, Morphic Resonance, and Psychomancy

   Here we have part II of the series on advanced powers for the Amber Diceless RPG. Given that the last Amber game that I actually got to play in closed up rather a long time ago, some of the notes for research that was ongoing at that time may not be complete enough to bother with – but at the moment there are a lot more left.

   Virtual Creation is possibly the highest form of trump artistry – tapping the creative power of trump to give reality to creations of the imagination. Sadly, making such creations truly real and stable requires practice and specialization (IE, a create (x) power word), virtually limitless raw power, or an infusion of pattern energy. Keeping an object stable otherwise is a massive strain on the users personal energy. Simple energy fields are easier, and can be created quickly, but still represent a considerable drain. As a rule, the simpler the thing created, the easier it is to make and sustain.

  • Illusion Generation is the least draining approach, requiring very little of the users energies. Illusions can even be fed additional energy, allowing a static illusion to persist independently for a considerable period. The major difficulty is that the user needs to be able to fully envision his illusion, in detail, and in a 360oview. This is a major pain. In practice this usually requires that the user have a drawing or model to concentrate on, although a few users have developed the appropriate mental “trick” (a special power word). Using a trump image for a focus makes the envisionment part easy, but wastes vast amounts of energy since the card channels most of it through to whatever the image depicts. Such an approach is rather self-defeating on any large scale.
  • Energy Generation is more draining then crafting an illusion, but is far easier than creating the enormous rest-energy inherent in solid matter. It is simply the direct creation of pure energy, whether in the form of beams, spheres, walls, or whatever the user wants. As a rule the effort required to generate any substantial quantity of energy restricts things to relatively easy forms. You may manage basic AC current, but a symphony broadcast will be beyond you – unless you have special talents in the field (once again, some appropriate power words).
  • Force Fields are merely intense, structured, fields of energy. As such, they are more draining then simple energy generation, but are still relatively easy. They can be either stationary or reshaped at will. The field can be “tuned” to restrain or pass particular things, with time and effort or an appropriate power word. They can also be “charged” with various energies through Trump Tapping or related powers.
  • Matter Generation is the most power-intensive usage of trump energies, a vast drain on the user. Even with appropriate power words such objects usually fade in a few hours unless they remain in contact with the user. Maintaining any creation temporarily reduces the users Strength and/or Endurance. Living things and artifacts of power can’t be created without a link to the real item, whether in the form of having paid for it or through the use of a trump image. This limit can be bypassed in some cases, but only with the special permission of the GM.

   Morphic Resonance taps into the power of “archetypes”, the resonance fields shaped by large groups of similar creatures. Expressions of synchronicity, these fields act to bring things closer to their “ideal” (average?) form – operating through subtle guidance, coincidence, and gently molding developing creatures. In Amber terms, they are “broadcast” fields of trump energy, strongest where the creatures generating them are common, weaker in nearby shadows – and fading below background levels further out. Morphic fields are subconsciously tapped by shapeshifters to guide the millions of tiny changes involved in even a simple shift – but can be tapped on the conscious level by those sufficiently sensitive to trump energies. As they allow the user to tap into and manipulate the forms, powers, and structures of beings of shadow, this can be quite useful.

  • Animal Powers are gained by tapping the morphogenic fields associated with some type of local animal, such as a cheetah, hawk, or dolphin. Unlike a shapeshifters powers, no physical changes are involved. The effects are purely energy-based results of attunement to the field. Also unlike a shapeshifters powers, there is a significant mental impact. The thought-patterns of the creature have a strong influence on the user. Multiple attunement is possible – but requires practice, a high psyche, and considerable tolerance for confusion. This does have the useful side effect of negating the usual shapechangers need for practicing with a forms powers.
  • Formshifting is possible thru allowing the field to override your natural form. This has many limitations. The mental effects are powerful and the shift is limited to general forms, specific people are impossible. As a rule, this is an emergency tactic only. It is possible to force such links on others, Influencing their minds is fairly simple, overriding them requires a consider- able psychic advantage, and forcing a shift requires a massive one. A trump image can be used as a crutch to help single out the desired resonance, but this wastes a great deal of power, transmitting it to the creature depicted rather than using it to shift forms.
  • Adaption is a minor variant on the techniques given above, wherein the user attunes himself to the morphogenic field generated by the local intelligent species – or by the biosphere itself if no such species exists. The effect is to adapt the user to the local environment and culture (if any). This usually involves both mental and physical shifts, although rarely to any extreme degree. You may be able to grow scales, adjust to a higher gravity, and adjust the general conformation of your body – but if you want to visit a shadow with a chlorine/fluorine atmosphere, liquid oxygen seas, and crystalline, dolphin- like natives you’ll want to make other arrangements.
  • Environmental Awareness involves scanning the local fields and extracting an evaluation of what’s “normal” for the area. The flip side of this is the ability to detect things which are abnormal, such as the presence of odd creatures, or the influence of any of the major powers. While fairly crude – “Someone is using pattern power over that way” – this can locate alien creatures or powers anywhere in a shadow. In general, the amount of information gained depends on the users psyche.
  • Aura Shifting is the most subtle application of the morphogenic techniques, attuning the outer levels of the users aura to those of some type of local being. Unless penetrated by a direct active probe, this acts as an effective disguise against psychic investigation or things like pattern or logrus sight.
  • Worldshaping doesn’t actually tap into morphogenic fields, instead the user attempts to manipulate and feed power into them. While this allows the user to control the fields associated with things, as well as those of creatures, the effect tends to spread. This resembles the ability of the logrus to manipulate shadow, but is weaker on the local level while having more widespread effects. Unless the user is very careful his tinkering can affect many shadows. Even with caution it usually affects the entire local shadow. On a practical basis, using this technique normally involves “learning” some special techniques (power words) to restrict is effect to the immediate area.
  • Accelerated Healing is based on pouring trump energy into a beings personal morphogenic field – reinforcing it and him. As this greatly enhances the bodies tendency to return to its natural form, it generally allows the patient to regenerate any “missing pieces” in a week or two – or heal most ordinary injuries in an hour or so. This technique can also be used to return shapeshifted beings to their true forms or to “toughen” a creature, making it resistant to conventional injury.
  • Anchoring is setting up a resonant link between the user or target and the natural fields of the surrounding area. The net effect is to make the being affected an integral part of the area, so that any attempt to move thru shadow, trump out, teleport, etc has to transport the entire area to move the creature affected. In most cases this isn’t practical, leaving the being anchored to the one shadow. If the user anchors himself, he has the additional option of “spreading” energies directed against him across the immediate area – making himself almost immoveable and highly resistant to energy attacks
  • Ionization allows the user to channel energies into his targets (or his own) “personal” morphogenic field. The exact effects depend on what type of energy it is, as well whether the user is attempting to pour it into the targets field or through it into his body. Pouring it into the targets personal field automatically makes it a “natural” part of it, resulting in a being who is “charged” with said energy. This is dramatic and showy, but harmless to the being. Using trump energy this way gives the being a form of trump defense. Channeling it into a targets physical body is a basic energy attack, albeit one that is hard to block.

   Psychomancy deals with the amplification and projection, via local low-level trump links, of the users personal energies. While this effect resembles true psionics in a variety of ways, it is still limited by the wielders personal energies – even amplified and as considerable as these may be in an amberite. The amplification does have the side effect of boosting any psionic potential the user actually does have into operation, but unless he or she makes the effort (IE: spends the points) to develop them, such “powers” will remain minor at best. A major advantage of psychomancy lies in the fact that it can be projected “through” a trump image, to affect the subject or his immediate vicinity. “Tracing” such effects merely leads back to the image, not the user.

  • Strength Projection manifests as psychokinesis, the ability to mentally manipulate matter and energy. This isn’t a creative discipline, its basic forte is moving things around or holding them still. As a rule, whatever the user can sense can be manipulated – hence the range of possible applications is limited by the users senses, psyche, and reaction time.
  • Endurance Projection allows the user to channel and direct his own energies, manifesting them in a wide variety of ways. While personal energies are fairly weak compared to external sources, the exceptional fine control this ability offers usually makes up for the lack. This has a curious use in generating disruptive “vibrations”, a technique sometimes referred to as “exorcism”.
  • Psychic Projection normally manifests as telepathy, especially projective telepathy. This discipline lets the user generate “fast” mindlinks, psychic illusions, and emotional projections, dominate people, and “hurl mental bolts”, among other things.
  • Sympathetic Links are based on the users warfare as a measure of his reflexes and fine control of his body and nervous system. The user simply sets up a resonant link between his own body and that of his targets, using biofeedback effects to attempt to usurp control of his opponents physical processes. The major advantage here is that the user need not succeed in his attempt to be a major hindrance
  • Extended Senses are essentially just clairsentience in a variety of styles, extending and displacing the users natural physical and psychic senses. The only real additions are the ability to adjust for scale (large and small), and the ability to “feel” internal structures by projected tactile senses.
  • Sendings are trump energy constructs – animated and given “life” by an infusion of their creators personal energies. While only quasi-tangible at best, these are otherwise closely related to Creatures of Blood. These can be given more “extensive” or selective portions of the users energies, allowing him to project avatars or cast “shadows” for use as decoys or psychic weapons.

   Psionics are, as noted above, a “minor” side effect of amplifying the users personal energies. Psionic powers include a wide variety of psychic senses, apportion, and astral projection. Sadly, such abilities are usually trivial, unreliable, or take minutes of concentration. Still, they’re useful sometimes; the common application is looking for information… “Sir Kay never touched this bottle! It bears the imprint of an aura, yes – but not his”.

   Amplification is, as noted above, a basic component of psychomancy. Where relevant, such as for the first four, attribute-based, talents, this can be assumed to boost the effective level of the appropriate attribute by (Points in trump/5, maximum 24) points.

Glowstone Alchemy Part I – The Basics

   Here we have a special request from a player who’d like to have a bit more information on one of the sample “Occult Skills” listed in Eclipse: The Codex Persona – in this case, Glowstone Alchemy, one of the features of the Shandar setting.

   Glowstone Alchemyis classified as an “occult skill” not because it involves anything more arcane or deeply hidden than normal alchemy, but simply because glowstone is very rare, and – since glowstone is extremely dangerous – glowstone alchemists are even rarer and have to study their art with great caution.

   Glowstone can be viewed as bits of the positive material plane trapped inside of atoms, as atoms that each contain a tiny portal to the positive material plane, or as matter that exists on both the positive material plane and the prime material plane at the same time. The proportions heavily favor the positive material plane part of the equation; a few specks of Glowstone occupy, embody – or perhaps “use up” – a considerable volume of the positive material plane.

   This only seems to be possible with a limited selection of heavy, and normally radioactive, elements, although their simultaneous existence in two planes stabilizes them – or at least allows them to emit both radiation and positive energy indefinitely without decaying. It is possible to create Glowstone artificially, but doing so requires both an especially researched high-level arcane spell and a massive infusion of “experience points”.

   In any case, there are a variety of subtly different glowstone ores corresponding to the various base elements and isotopes thereof. Unsurprisingly, given it’s structure, the magical properties of glowstone tend to dominate the underlying chemical and physical properties of the various base elements involved – giving rise to enormous difficulties in obtaining pure samples of the various variants. That generally doesn’t matter for glowstone alchemy however, since all the variants are similar enough magically to serve the same purposes. It does matter a bit in glowstone poisoning however, since it contributes the wide variety of symptoms observed.

   All of the subtle glowstone variants are virulently poisonous, both due to their chemical properties, due to their radioactivity, and due to their constant emission of excessive amounts of positive energy. Worse, since glowstone is difficult to affect with magic and tends to bond with the life force of the creature affected, glowstone poisoning is almost impossible to treat either magically or physically. The best that can usually be done is to compensate for the ongoing degeneration.

   On the environmental side, glowstone tends to emit heat, is mildly disruptive of existing magics and can even – in large quantities – destabilize extra-dimensional spaces. If you’re going to carry it, an airtight, reinforced container with plenty of iron, lead, and magical shielding is best.

   Why mess with something so dangerous at all? It’s because glowstone is an astoundingly powerful and versatile substance. It’s a continuous source of both physical, magical, and life energies. Alloyed with other substances and/or magical effects to channel and transmute those energies, it’s a tremendous source of power – and people have always been willing to take a lot of risks for power.

   Physically glowstone is usually found as dense, hard, blue-black or green-black ores, although a reddish variant is nearly as common. It is easily identified by it’s faint bluish-purple radiance and warmth. On Shandar – one of the few known worlds where glowstone apparently occurs “naturally” – it’s often found associated with veins of quartz crystal, which seems to amplify, refract, and soften it’s light according to it’s own color. Larger masses of glowstone produce heat as well as light; both radiations increase rapidly with the size and purity of the sample.

   When alchemically refined, glowstone is a vital component in spellpowders, magical tempering rituals, blazestones, lightrods and firelances, magical inks, spell talismans, glowstone engines, rings of fortitude, (magical) city walls, magical alloys, and many other devices. On Shandar, the extensive use of refined glowstone is widely considered a fundamental mark of a civilized people

   Glowstone Toleranceis fairly simple: living creatures can handle a limited amount of exposure to glowstone and its energies. For game purposes, this is measured by a creature’s Constitution. Simply add the tolerance ratings of whatever glowstone devices the creature is using to whatever level of contamination it may have and compare it to the creatures constitution. Check once per month, or whenever a creature is exposed to additional glowstone.

  • Con-4 or less: No symptoms.
  • Con-3 to Con: Minor symptoms appear at this level and higher. Such symptoms include occasional twitching, listlessness, and bouts of nausea, a tendency towards minor illnesses, and accelerated symptoms of age – graying hair, wrinkles, and so on. Unless the character reduces his or her level of contamination or use of glowstone energies he or she will die upon reaching Venerable age, rather than somewhat later as usual. Anyone who dies while infused with glowstone energies at this level or higher cannot rise as an undead.
  • Con+1 to Con+3: -2 to a random attribute. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per month thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim will be obviously ill.
  • Con+4 to Con+10: -2 to two random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per week thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim is obviously terribly ill.
  • Con+11 to Con+18: -4 to two random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per day thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim looks to be dying.
  • Con+19 or more: -6 to three random attributes. Roll on the glowstone damage table whenever the victims total hits this level and once per hour thereafter while it remains at this level. The victim will be visibly decaying, sloughing off flesh, and mutating as observers watch, and obviously OUGHT to be dead.

Glowstone Damage Table(roll 1d20):

  • 1) Blindness. This can be cured normally.
  • 2) Deafness. This can be cured normally.
  • 3-6) Develop a random disease. Magical cures will offer a new chance to resist, but cannot instantly cure it.
  • 7) Develop a random insanity. This can be countered with a Heal spell.
  • 8-11) Two points of drain to a random attribute. These can be restored via appropriate spells and abilities.
  • 12-13) Reduce maximum hit points by three. This can be restored as per drained attributes.
  • 14) Develop an immunity to supernatural healing for the next month.
  • 15-16) Age one year.
  • 17) Develop noxious growths. This has no immediate penalty other than social, but the victim will die sometime between the Old and Venerable age brackets unless a limited wish, wish, or miracle is used to repair the damage.
  • 18) Take +2 damage from all physical wounds for the next month. This can be countered with a Heal spell.
  • 19) Made a DC 18 Fortitude save or die. This is considered a death by natural causes.
  • 20) Become pallid, lose hair, and obviously ill. No direct game effect however, lucky you.

   Treating glowstone poisoning:

  • Treating poisoning resulting from the excessive use of devices is relatively simple: remove the excess devices and wait. The victim’s energy-infection will wane at one point per week – or 1d4 points if he or she removes all glowstone devices rather than simply reducing the number to get back to safe levels.
  • Treating glowstone contamination is far more difficult. A steady regimen of special food and drink, sweat treatments, purgatives, and medical attention can reduce the contamination by one point every 1d6 months. Throwing in the regular use of specialized magics or Heal spells can get this up to one point per month. A Wish or Miracle can reduce the contamination by 1d4 points immediately.

   Glowstone Contamination Benefits:

   As might be expected from an infusion of excess energy, glowstone contamination has it’s benefits as well. Every point of glowstone contamination provides one of the following benefits, all of which stack with themselves. If the contamination is intentional, and acquired with the assistance of a glowstone alchemist with skill 5+, the character may select his or her own benefit. If it’s accidental, a character will normally gain mana first, and thereafter it’s random, rolling 1d8:

  • 1-2) +1/2 point to Strength, Dexterity, or Charisma. If this comes up at random, the next point of contamination will automatically go towards the remaining half-point.
  • 3) +1d6 Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option.
  • 4) +2d4 Generic Spell Levels.
  • 5) +3d6 Power.
  • 6) +1/2 of a d8 Hit Die. If this comes up at random, the next point of contamination will automatically go to purchasing the hit die.
  • 7) Gain Grant of Aid or +4 Bonus Uses if already possessed of Grant of Aid.
  • 8) +4 on all saves against Negative Energy Effects.

   The next installment in this series will look at some of the devices produced by glowstone alchemy.

Amber – Advanced trump I, Tapping and Shunting

   Here are a couple of advanced trump techniques – or collections thereof – for the Amber Diceless RPG. In the original game quite a few of these were commonly accessed via a combination of (Very) Advanced Trump Powers and Power Words – allowing the user to access effects very very quickly.  

   Advanced Trump Powers were originally one of Arvon’s major research projects – not that he was all that advanced in the use of Trump himself, but because he was using his research as a lure for Jean, another player character…

   Trump Tapping is a technique for using trump energy to draw on energies, minds, and materials, out in shadow, channeling them “through” the user. While this limits the raw power available, it allows the user to control and shape the energies he taps – at least within limits. The users peak output is limited by his basic physical durability (strength or resistances), his total output is limited by his endurance, his “range” across shadow by his trump powers – and his speed and control by his psyche. The basic process is easy; the user envisions what he wants, “feeds” trump energies into the “image” to create a link, and taps the source. Psyche comes into play here as well, since it controls the users ability to visualize the pattern of what he wants. Things that can be tapped include:

  • Skills and Knowledges: These are available from a wide variety of minds out in shadow, and are gained by a slightly more “in depth” trump link then usual. This is easier if searching for common, local, information, harder if searching for something esoteric, tricky, or extremely specific. Users should be careful to specify exactly what they’re fishing for; variants abound out in shadow.
  • Physical Energies: This includes things like hard radiation, electricity, and solar energies. This kind of power is usually easy to get hold of, but difficult to handle. Most people prefer to bring this stuff through as much as possible outside of themselves. This limits their control, but allows them to pull off some fairly spectacular stunts.
  • Mystic Energies: While trump masters can tap such energies, without a sorcerer’s skills they can only use them in the crudest of fashions. Such “spells” as they can construct rely almost exclusively on raw power and are limited to the simplest of effects. If actually in a contest of magic with a mage, their effective skills are about equal to their (points in trump)/10.
  • Psychic Energies: Are easily available, but are of limited use. The problem is that it’s very very stupid to tap into the mind of anything that has more psychic power then you do – and if it has less, why bother? As a rule, tapping psychic energies is only useful if you value disguising your mental “signature” more than you mind the drastic loss in power. It is an excellent way to disguise your “aura” however.
  • Matter: Is usually actually pulled through outside of the user, and is easy to get if you just want a piece of rock or something. Blasts of water or magma, plates of food, and simple objects are fairly easy. A decent sword is harder, fitted armor is harder yet, and special items are nearly impossible without a preexisting link of some sort. Envisioning the trump image of a complex magical sword or something will probably take days and requires a psyche of at least three times an artifacts point cost. “Unique” items may also have to be “pulled away” from their owners, while anything which contains pattern or logrus energies can’t be summoned this way.
  • Spirits: While “spirits” of various sorts can be summoned via trump, the psychic link it creates allows or forces them to automatically, if temporarily, merge with the user. The resulting fusion may have a variety of useful powers or enhancements but will also display a variety of the spirits mental and physical traits. It can be a very disconcerting experience, resembling the effects of shapeshifting in many ways. The “fusion” is also vulnerable to anything that would normally affect wither of its components. This “technique” can also be used to draw on less personified spiritual forces, but the precise effects of such attempts are individual to each user.
  • Creatures: This application closely resembles the effects of a normal trump card – if you have a willing subject or a great advantage in psyche (or power), you can drag creatures through to you. Since creatures are pretty complicated “things” this takes anywhere from a few minutes to weeks.
  • Counterforces: This technique involves “inverting the pattern” of what you observe, and using that image to pull through an equal and opposite force, hopefully canceling out them both. Sadly, this takes more and more time as the complexity of the force(s) to be countered increases, is limited as usual, and can sometimes make things worse. Some forces feed on each other, nullify each other explosively, or even complement each other, such as tapping an immense positive charge to cancel a lightning bolt.
  • Psychic Backup: Like counterforces above, this is a specific, rather than a general, technique, allowing the user to draw on the minds out in shadow which have a natural resonance with his own – his shadows. While this does nothing to boost the users psychic potential or offensive powers, it does allow him to “spread” the effects of psychic attacks, drastically reducing their effects. While the user, as main focus, still carries the brunt of the assault, this will enable him to hold out a great deal longer – or even indefinitely against psyches no more than (trump/4) points above his own.
  • Reality: Is probably the most abstract thing that can be tapped via this technique. Drawing on a shadows “reality” allows the user to project a “bubble” of the shadows natural laws and forces around himself, creating a zone where the tools, implements, and powers of that shadow can operate. While this does not supersede the local natural laws, it does offer an alternative. More ambitious users should recall that any forces they tap are being channeled through themselves. This is most difficult near Amber or the Courts, but will work. It also requires a special attunement to the shadow which is tapped, usually either in the form of having bought and described it, or in the form of a unique power word.

   Trump Shunting is a technique used to transfer impinging energies, forces, and matter, out into shadow. While this can be done fairly quickly with practice, it does take time to establish the link and begin transferring whatever it is, thus its use as an emergency technique is a bit limited. It’s much more effective if the user has an appropriate set of power words. Like trump tap- ping, shunting involves the use of a one-way link, and isn’t available to characters who have not yet learned to create such links. The applications usually depend on what the link is designed to transmit.

  • Warp Screensare the most “general” class of shunt, a broad-spectrum field around the user which transfers anything and everything which attempts to enter. While this is a very effective defense, it also cuts off the users sensory input. This is a pain. Tuning the shield so the user can see offers “windows” for attack, while “damping it down” reduces it to weakening, rather than eliminating attacks. Even full-coverage shields aren’t invincible, trump-resistant effects can cause feedback effects against the user or penetrate them.
  • Energy Shunting allows the user to transfer out any impinging energies at or above the damaging level. The technique is extremely useful in evading injury. While it can be maintained, it’s most commonly used to block the effects of things like laser beams. Maintaining it is usually only necessary in exceptionally hostile environments.
  • Mass Transfer applies to incoming matter instead of energy. Unlike Energy Shunting, this effect is usually maintained over time, and can be attuned to particular types or states of matter. A field attuned to “plasma” will transfer out flames, but not rocks. This can even be used as a sort of filter, transferring away, say, the chlorine contaminating the air around the user. As useful as this can be, Mass Transfer is very difficult to maintain over a long period.
  • Auric Disguiseapplies to psychic energies. Unlike most of the previous techniques, this is a two-way, if intangible, link. It is usually used to divert psychic probes to something out in shadow, yielding false data for the prober. It’s not of much use as a defense, the psychic link is too delicate to maintain when the user is under psychic attack.
  • Kinetic Shunting is another two-way shunt – in this case, due to the relative nature of momentum and kinetic energy. Due to this same relative quality, this shunt can also be applied to the users person or to anything in his immediate environment, either removing or adding kinetic energy and momentum as the user desires. Sadly, imbuing momentum requires shunting the energy directly through the user to allow him to control it, and so is limited by the users basic strength and endurance. This effect does allow the user to fly, but this requires a good deal of practice and some attention to maintain.

Awakened and Mages (not necessarily) Monte’s Way

   There are still a couple of options left in Monte Cooks d20 version of the White Wolf – so as to finish up with that request, here are the last two conversions to Eclipse d20; the Awakened and the Magi. In this case, the Awakened are easy enough – but the original White Wolf-style magic had a lot more flavor, so I’m going to take things back that way a bit with the Magi.

   The Awakened:

  • Two Bonus d8 Hit Dice, Specialized for Double Effect/can be bypassed to do damage to constitution by critical hits and special attacks, Corrupted/are rolled rather than taken as the maximum since they’re available at level one (16 CP). That covers the basics of the wounds-and-vitality style systems, wherein a characters basic hits are considered to equal his or her constitution. You can buy that in Eclipse too, and fairly cheaply, but – in this case – it’s a world law that applies to everyone, and individual characters don’t have to.
  • Self-Development/+2 to any one attribute (12 CP)
  • +2 floating attribute bonus, purchased as per Enthusiast, Specialized for double effect/Self-Development only, can only be changed at a new level (18 CP).
  • +8 Skill Points (8 CP)
  • Action Hero/Stunts, Specialized/only gets one Action Point per level automatically, the rest are doled out when the character does especially heroic, noble, or humanitarian things (3 CP).
  • +1 Bonus Feat (6 CP).

   At a total of 63 CP, that’s a +1 ECL Race or a +2 ECL Template if applied to an existing race. Unlike the monstrous inhabitants of this system, Awakened characters are more or less normal. They have no special enemies, weaknesses, or other difficulties except for being a bit better than human.

   It’s worth nothing that d20 offers a lot more viable options for developing a character than the various White Wolf games do. In White Wolf you can develop your Werewolf’s attributes, skills, rites, and gifts – but skills and attributes only go so far and your special powers are going to be limited to rites and gifts. You won’t find any werewolves commanding legions of enhanced followers, mighty magics of other types, mountain-shattering martial arts, having mutant powers of invulnerability, flight, and heat vision, combat skills which could handily defeat a dozen other werewolves with a stick, vast political power, or weird technology and powered battle armor, for powers – yet all of those are perfectly viable options for a d20 character.

   The Magi:

  • Two Bonus d6 Hit Dice, Specialized for Double Effect/can be bypassed to do damage to constitution by critical hits and special attacks, Corrupted/are rolled rather than taken as the maximum since they’re available at level one (14 CP).
  • +2 to any one attribute (12 CP)

   That takes us to buying the “Magic” part.

   The original White Wolf mage-style magic system (as opposed to the mechanics) was fairly simple.

  1. Magic was divided into a number of schools or “spheres” – depending on your edition and inclination, either nine or ten. Between them, they were supposed to cover everything.
  2. A given effect might require elements from several different schools at varying levels. To produce it, you had to have all the relevant schools at the appropriate levels.
  3. Your maximum level in any given school was limited by your Arete (or “Level”)
  4. Spellcasting was originally limited only by backlash, rather than to a certain amount per day. Later editions greatly reduced the backlash but threw in a magic point cost on every spell – and they were a limited resource.
  5. You could use magic points to make effects easier to pull off.
  6. Well-practiced magical effects were easier to produce.
  7. Subtle magic caused less backlash.
  8. Ritual magic let you do bigger things.
  9. You could get minor bonuses for using props and mundane skills. Classical props – such as a lock of someone’s hair or some of their blood – were especially useful.
  10. Having too many active spells on you made it harder to use other magic.
  11. Mages could sense supernatural energies.
  12. Each tradition had some minor advantages within their schools.

   Now that’s not especially complicated. It’s also the same basic kind of magic system found in TORG, in Ars Magica (which was something of a precursor), and quite a few other games.

   Unfortunately, Monte kept the complicated tables for generating effects and pretty much dumped the interesting part – the sphere system. I’ll be dumping the tables and putting the Spheres back in.

   One of the big strengths of d20 is the enormous list of spells and magical effects – a ton in the SRD and – if you count the Spell Templates in The Practical Enchanter – literally tens of millions of spells in other sources. Most d20 gamers will already be familiar with hundreds of spells, so we can simply use the d20 list for benchmarks for improvised spells. Given that body of information, we won’t be needing any complicated tables; most spells are likely to be pretty similar to the existing ones.

   So; what will we need to buy?

  • We’ll want Rune Casting and Rune Magic for each school or sphere of magic a particular mage can use. Since those are skills, they’re automatically limited by the characters level. They’ll also provide the casting level and limit the levels of spells usable. They aren’t part of the racial template though; the character can buy them as needed.
    • We can, but do not have, to use the White Wolf “spheres” of Correspondence, Entropy, Forces, Life, Mind Matter, Prime, Spirit, Time, and – at least in theory – one that covered the stuff that most mages couldn’t handle – a “sphere” most often called Balance, Judgement, or Paradox.
    • There’s no reason why you couldn’t go with Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation – and perhaps Universal and Destiny.
    • How about Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Void, Life, Death, Mind, Time, and Magic? They’ll all work. Just pick a set, or make up your own, and go with it.
  • To provide the power, and allow it to be used to further boost spells in an emergency, we’ll want 4d6 Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option (16* CP). That makes the power available – but keeps it as a rather limited resource.
  • To get the power back, we’ll want Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only works when sleeping at a rate of 1d6/hour (6* CP).
  • To cover the use of components, rituals, and invocations, we’ll want Runic Ritual (4* CP).
  • To cover the use of minor spells without tiring the user, we’ll want Magician (4* CP).
  • To innately sense magical energies, we’ll want Occult Sense/Magical Energies (6 CP).
  • To establish a theme for each character, we’ll want Adept (select two sets of Rune Casting and Rune Mastery skills to fit the character’s primary theme. He or she can buy them at half cost, 6 CP).
  • The character can buy well-practiced bits of magic – “rotes” – as Specialities (1* CP each – in their case Corrupted for Increased Effect to provide a +5 bonus when a roll is required due to casting difficulties) – but the character can buy them later.

   Now, that leaves us with the “subtle is easier” and “backlash” parts. Since most d20 settings have no objection to blatant magic, that’s pretty obviously a Corruption. Ergo, we can count the items marked with an “*” as being Corrupted – and we can probably count the Skills as being corrupted as well, reducing their cost. The character must have appropriate secondary fields at appropriate levels to produce a given effect – instead of only being limited by the primary skill in use – and must roll 3d6 on the following chart whenever he or she casts a rune magic spell. Spells cast as “Rotes” gain a +1 bonus on the roll.

  • 3: The spell goes wildly wrong. A subtle spell backlashes in a related spell effect one level higher than the spell attempted. A questionable spell – one that could have an explanation other than magic, although it would really be pushing it – backlashes in a related spell effect two levels higher than the spell attempted. A grossly blatant spell backlashes in a related spell effect three levels higher than the spell attempted
  • 4: A subtle spell backlashes as a related spell effect of the same level as the spell attempted. A questionable spell – one that could have an explanation other than magic, although it would really be pushing it – backlashes in a related spell effect one level higher than the spell attempted. A grossly blatant spell backlashes in a related spell effect two levels higher than the spell attempted
  • 5: A subtle spell backlashes as a related spell effect of two levels below the level of the spell attempted. If this reduces the backlash below level zero, the spell simply fails. A questionable spell – one that could have an explanation other than magic, although it would really be pushing it – backlashes in a related spell effect of one level lower than the spell attempted. If this reduces the backlash level below zero, the spell simply fails. A grossly blatant spell backlashes in a related spell effect equal to the level of the spell attempted
  • 6: The spell fails.
  • 7-16: No special effect.
  • 17: The spell costs one less mana than it normally would.
  • 18: the spell is cast without mana cost. Lucky you.

   What happens on a backlash? It’s up to the game master – but often it’s simply some minor curse or bizarre effect for low-level stuff. As the levels go up, you’re more likely to get some damage, then some long-term disability, than insanity, summoned creatures which stick around to cause trouble for you until you deal with them, and then being plane-shifted to some sort of puzzle-realm. Fortunately, subtle magic is much easier.

   Optionally, you can have an alternate version of the Corruption. In the case of “Marauders” substitute “the use of your magic drives you quite mad, leaving you inhabiting your own warped delusions”.

   All that comes out to 68 CP. That’s quite a bit. Magi do suffer from a few disadvantages though – although they’re nothing like the problems that afflict Demons, Vampires, and Werewolves.

  • Blocked: A mage can only master nine of the ten fields that would make up their complete view of the world. They must select one which will remain forever beyond their reach.
  • Dependent: Magi require special talismans to use their weaker magics. They must select at least three of their Spheres to require some sort of special prop. Without such an item, those fields cannot be used.

   That reduces the net cost to 62 CP – a +1 ECL “Race” or a +2 ECL Template.

   Now, if you want to create a weird-scientist technomage, or some other form of specialist, you’ll want to take a Restriction – (can only work magic through technological devices or whatever). If you want to make an evil demon-serving dark mage, you’ll want to take Duties (to your evil masters).

   Obviously enough, a mage will usually want to invest heavily in Skill Points – and most will want to buy more Mana as quickly as possible and perhaps find some quicker way than sleep to regain part of it.

   There’s a basic problem with using White Wolf material as a background for games using more general systems. The games are good fun, they have plenty of background material, and the game statistics generally aren’t difficult to translate, it’s just that White Wolf games tend to be very focused.

   It’s not just that they’re always focused on a particular type of character. OK, if you’re playing in a Mage game, the vast majority of the player characters are going to be mages. The major routes to real accomplishment and advancement are all going to involve magic.

   But wait! Couldn’t you also get the storytellers permission to play a vampire or a werewolf or another type of character? It’s not as limited as you’re making out!

   Oh yes it is – it’s just far more subtle than “everyone plays a mage”. More importantly, virtually all the characters are going to be humans, and the vast majority won’t deviate much from the norm except by virtue of a supernatural power package. Can you readily play a dolphin-mage? A golem? A blind mage who uses a different set of Spheres? Would that require a bunch of house rules?

   Most importantly, they’re all earth-centric. In a normal Mage chronicle, there’s a magical view of the universe tailored around human perceptions, human meddling has distorted the entire structure of the universe, and the rest of the cosmos exists simply as a backdrop.

   The six-billion-year-old galactic civilization of GC17-R would disagree; their people use a vastly different range of senses and attributes, and their mages explored the mystic arts before the solar system formed. They find the notion that the inhabitants of one tiny planet could upset the mystic order of the entire cosmos utterly laughable. If that was possible, it would have happened billions of years ago; humans are hardly the first race to meddle with magic. A hundred billion races and more have done incredibly bizarre things with magic for eons before humans came along – they’ve seen several million such civilizations themselves – and the universe is still working just fine.

   Right there – in focusing on the Earth – you’re throwing out 99.999999999999% of the observable universe. Then you focus on minor variations on a single species during a small percentage – less than a million years – of the available timeline of Earth. It makes for a vivid and familiar setting, lets the game cover chunks of the setting in fair detail, and conveniently fills in the blank bits with common knowledge, but general it’s not.