Esoteric Botany – Death Aspected Plants

The Forest's Energy

Image by lrargerich via Flickr

   Some of the most exotic plants and animals of the Twilight isles grow in high-magic locations – places where the power of one of the Eight Thunders – Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Life, Death, Spirit, and Magic – is readily available in the environment.

   Plants and animals use their environments. It’s one of the things they’re noted for.

   There aren’t that many plants which use the Death Thunder though, and most of them are fairly unhealthy specimens. Unless they’ve been especially modified by a biomancer, quite a lot of the death-aspected plants are simply resistant enough to negative energy to survive in areas where its strong – a particularly unexciting effect. Many others simply make the people who come into contact with them (or, worse, eat them) ill. Still, there are a few interesting plants in this category.

   Riltshian (Shadowwood) is one of the most interesting negative-energy plants; it’s only tangible in dark places; when exposed to strong light it remains visible, but is no more substantial than a mist – except to demons and incorporeal undead, who find it solid. You can thus use it to create cells with solid walls that contain doorways when a guard brings a strong light. If you paint the center of a staff, that section will remain solid, but you can use the ends to hit incorporeal undead and demons as long as the area is otherwise well lit. Similarly, you can build floors that are only substantial as long as the lights are dim – an effect which at least one king used to good effect in his audience chamber; if he chose to put a spotlight on some irritant, said irritant would fall though the floor – and into the pit full of spikes beneath. If he was – say – assailed by a squad of assassins, or rebels, he could just light the place up.

   Milvorhas (Nightbane) is almost certainly artificial; it apparently draws power from the Maze of Souls in some fashion – which it uses to survive and to bind negative energy and pump it back into the demonic aspect of the Twilight Isles. Physically it’s a low wiry bush with a massive ball of tuberous roots. It propagates itself by runners, but is usually intentionally propagated by either transplanting young plants from the fringes of an older colony or by digging or pulling up a few roots and transplanting those. It’s commonly used to clear land of excessive negative-energy contamination – or to help contain powerful demons or undead with a penchant for returning; planting a nightbane root within the corpse, place of power, or whatever focus they use, will prevent them from building up enough negative energy to come back.

   Venomwood actually includes at least a dozen different species of trees and shrubs, all of which use necromantic energies to produce, or absorb and concentrate, various toxins. Gathering or handling the various species, or getting into contact with the sap, will produce results ranging from rashes and nausea on up through severe illness. Actually burning the wood will release its entire burden of toxins, and hence breathing the smoke or many of the species can be quickly fatal. Alchemists can extract a variety of nasty toxins from the various species of Venomwood, but few adventurer’s feel that poisons are worth the bother of dealing with the undead and demons that invariably infest any area where venomwood grows. There are plenty of other – and easier – sources for poison.

   Those same adventurers sometimes change their mind when they discover that negative-energy infused poisons are impervious to most magic – which makes them impossible to cure with conventional treatments; you need an actual antidote, as opposed to curative spells and effects. Perhaps fortunately, however, the market for such poisons is relatively limited.

   Arnsen (Deathgrass) is essentially vampire grass; it drains the life force of any other living thing which comes into contact with it. While the process is slow, it’s also insidious. Animals who come into contact with it – or, worse, eat it – will soon feel tired, then utterly exhausted, and then usually go to sleep – and then usually don’t wake up again. Luxuriant green patches of grass in the midst of patches of otherwise dead and sickly verdure are best avoided.

Exalted – Oniwabanshu (“Garden Keeper”) Jun and Hidden Twig Village

West Manse, Sanday, Orkney

Image via Wikipedia

   The weather is a big job – and the lesser spirits of the air are a capricious and undependable lot. Thus Ghataru, Shogun-Regent of the Seasons and Weather, has long, quite officially, employed a modest selection of God-Blooded offspring to monitor the weather from the viewpoint of the mortals subject to it. That viewpoint is occasionally surprising and informative – and their services are often useful in helping mortals prepare for a storm or other upcoming disaster. It is all very well to demonstrate the awesome majesty of the gods, but excessive casualties are bad for the prayer supply.

   Over the centuries, the institutional nature of Ghataru’s god-blooded priesthood began to serve another purpose: they could raise and train the god-blooded byblows of Ghataru’s allies – changing them from a disrupting random factor into a sensible (and sometimes even useful) faction of minor magical beings.

   That “training camp” role has also served as cover for one of Ghataru’s personal projects; the Terrestrial Exalted betrayed the Solars and Lunars and destroyed the first-age infrastructure that once supported them. If the Solars are to return to Creation, and the Lunars from the edges of the Wyld, they will need training, and they will need guardians, aides, and allies in their youth. His God-Blooded offspring are no match for even a Terrestrial Exalt of course – but the best amongst them know their duty, and will quietly train and aid young Solars and Lunars as best they can.

   Oniwabanshu (“Garden Keeper”) Jun runs the Hidden Twig Village – a training camp for youthful god-blooded based around his powerful Manse – and quietly works to train the God-blooded offspring of Ghataru’s allies, to advance his own agenda, to help to regulate the weather despite the random whims of the local air elementals, and (in secret) to assist any Lunar or Solar exalts who should happen to come his way.

   That hasn’t happened very often – but it’s not like he lacks for other projects.

   Hidden Twig Village is a rank-5 wood manse that produces a rank-0 hearthstone, and requires regular simple maintenance – giving it seventeen creation points to work with. Those have been used to buy Comfort Zone (1), Password Activations (1), Life-Sustaining (residents do not age, gain +5 bonus successes against poison and sickness effects, and heal in hours, 2), Limited Provider (1), Self-Stabilizing (2), Zone of Influence (3), Utility Artifacts (3), and Wyld Revocation (4).

   The Manse itself is a basic fort – but not much of one; it’s obviously primarily a training camp. It’s surrounded, however, by miles of wilderness, which exists in a pocket dimension of its own, outside of fate and normal reality, but linked to creation by several small, concealed, gateways hidden over a radius of roughly one mile. Inside the pocket realm, there’s fresh water, decent hunting, fruits, berries, and similar forest resources available, but it’s no more convenient than any other modest wilderness – and the landscape shifts to provide new training opportunities on a weekly basis. There are even several small villages and a variety of bears, wolves, and similar creatures to be found.

   The most important feature of the manse lies in it’s integrated artifacts.

  •    The various training halls and grounds of the area are subject – two or three times a day – to the effects of a Legendary Warrior Curriculum charm – and the Preceptor of War (a training artifact *****) is considered competent at teaching everything that charm covers plus (in Exalted Modern settings) Firearms, Pilot, Technology, and Drive. Students can train in anything, or everything, that charm offers.
  •    The Harp of Losselen (*****) is a massive standing instrument, set into the foundations of the fort. It channels dimensional energies, and can be used to seal off the gates and borders, to alter their locations with respect to creation, to reshape the environment of the dimensional pocket in which the manse exists, and to open temporary gates to elsewhere, both within and beyond the borders of creation. Sadly, major operations are a considerable drain on the operator – but minor changes (sealing the gates, opening a small one for a student pickup or shopping trip, and so on) are relatively easy.

   The manse is obviously an enormously useful facility. Fortunately, it has enough backers to avoid most trouble. Jun took all it’s courses as a child, and hence has quite an XP debt to pay off…

   Oniwabanshu Jun

  • God-Blooded Scion of Ghataru, the Shogun-Regent of the seasons and Weather and Master of the Aerial Legion.
  • Inheritance ***** (Free). +30 Bonus Points, may take up to (-20) points in negative mutations.
Physical (+0) Str 4 (7) Dex 4 Sta 4 (8)
Social (5) Chr 4 Man 2 App 2
Mental (9) Per 4 Int 4 Wit 4

   Virtues: Compassion 4, Temperance 4, Conviction 5, Valor 5. Will 10.

Dawn   Zenith   Twilight  
Archery 4 Integrity 5 Craft (Military) 4
Firearms 4 Performance   Investigation 1
Martial Arts 5 Pilot 4 Lore 1
Melee^+ 7 Presence 1 Medicine 1
Thrown 5 Resistance 5 Occult*^+ 7
War+ 4 Survival 1 (9) Technology 4

 

Night   Eclipse   Specialities  
Athletics 5 Bureaucracy 1 Sword 2
Awareness 4 Computer   Teaching 2
Dodge 5 Linguistics 1    
Drive 4 Ride 4    
Larceny 5 Sail 4    
Stealth^+ 7 (10) Socialize      

*Favored, ^Legendary, +Modified by Experienced Merit

   Basic Combat:

  • Join Battle: 8d
  • Lamellar Armor: +8L/9B, 5L/5B Hardness, Mobility -1, Fatigue 0, Attune 3.
    • Total Soak: +8A/8L/9B Armor, +14A/14L/18B Mutations, +6A/6L/6B force field = 28A/28L/33B. Reduce Ping damage by 6d.
  • Grand Daiklave Shadow of Night. Speed 5, Acc +2 (15d), Damage +12L/4 (19L/4), Defense +0, Rate 2, Attune 8, Two-Handed, Overwhelming, Piercing, Reach.
  • Special Notes: Additional health levels: -0x1, -1×2 and -2×2. -4 to be hit.

   Essence 2, Pool 32/16 (14 used for attunements).

   Flaws: Enemy (rivalry with other schools, -2), Obligation (-2), Code of Honor (-2), Oathbound (-3), and Ward (any of his students, -1)

   Merits and Backgrounds/Bonus Points (25 + 10 Flaws +30 Inheritance +10 Experienced +3 Diary + 6 Basic Background Allowance = 84, with at least 19 in Backgrounds):

  • Essence ** (10). Essence Pool (5 x Essence) + (2x Willpower) + (Virtue Sum) = 32/16
  • +2 Essence for the purpose of determining the effects of Charms, Mutations, and other essence-based powers (4)
  • Tattoo Artifact ***** (7): The Secret Fire.
  • Occult Dynasty (3): As a member of a magical lineage, Jun may buy two backgrounds of choice as a Dragon-Blooded might. In his case, he’s chosen Arsenal and Artifact.
  • Artifact *** (3): The Eye of the Gods and the Talisman of Swift Fortune.
  • Artifact ** (2): The Bracers of the Night Warrior and a two-dot artifact of choice.
  • Arsenal *** (3). Normally invested in a Grand Daiklaive (***) and Lamellar Armor (**).
  • Manse ***** (7): Hidden Twig Village Manse.
  • Hidden Manse (2)
  • Legendary Abilities (4): May select three abilities which may be raised to seven.
  • Luck *** (3)
  • Patron ***** (7). Ghataru of course.
  • Weather Sense (1)
  • Positive Mutation Balance (9)
  • Resources ***** (7)
  • Henchmen *** (3)
  • Spies *** (3)
  • +6 Virtues (6)

   Positive Mutations (27):

  • Stone Fist (1): The character may do lethal damage when unarmed.
  • Attribute Reallocation x3 (3): Transfer three attribute points from Physical to Social attributes, which – as a result – may reach six.
  • Night Eyes (1): The user may see in darkness as easily as in the light.
  • Gazelle’s Pace (2): +4 to Dexterity for movement purposes, +4 to Strength for Jumping purposes, +2d for competitive running, travel as quickly as a horse overland.
  • Elemental Rejuvenation (6): Regain one mote of essence or health level per six seconds – given full concentration.
  • Immortality (4): The character is impervious to aging and related effects.
  • Power Absorption (4): The character may absorb up to (Stamina + Essence) dots of artifacts into his or her mystical essence. Such items cannot be de-attuned or otherwise affected by any means short of the user’s death or a lengthy ritual requiring the user’s voluntary cooperation. (Jun has absorbed the Eye of the Gods, the Talisman of Swift Fortune, and the Bracers of the Night Warrior – eight dots worth of items. He can handle another two however).
  • Double Minded (4): The character may concentrate fully on two things at once – his or her normal activities and a mental task requiring anything up to full concentration which can be going on in the background.
  • Breed True (2) with Limited Manifestation. The Priest-Children of Ghataru normally pass on half of their inheritance bonuses to their offspring* – however, when one of them passes on (whether to ascend to true godhood, dying, or meeting some other final fate), one of the other loyal members of the clan will immediately receive the full benefits of the fallen priests five-dot inheritance, upgrading their abilities appropriately.
    • *Always including being considered God-Blooded, Longevity (1), and Dynastic Inheritance (1), until the benefits peter out with simple God-Blooded status and Longevity in the great-great grandchildren.

   Negative Mutations (-18):

  • Limited Manifestation (-1): As described under Breed True, above.
  • Diet (-2): For some arcane reason, Jun requires a great deal of honey (or derivatives, such as Mead) in his diet to maintain his health.
  • Aura of Power (-4): The character has an anima (In Jun’s case, a crackling aura of lightning and fire). Treat one-third of his or her essence pool as Peripheral Essence.
  • Delusions (-2): Jun has begun to believe that the God-Blooded – if properly trained – may eventually be capable of replacing the Dragon-Blooded, or possibly even of developing a similar style of “exaltation”.
  • Oathsworn (-2): If Jun gives his solemn word, he is bound by it – under the penalty of the same misfortunes as if an Eclipse Caste had sanctified a contract.
  • Natural Enmity (-4): Jun, as a formidable force of discipline and order, as well as a representative of the Aerial Legion of Heaven, just cannot get along socially with the Fair Folk. They just get on each other’s nerves…
  • Obsessions (-1 each, for a total of -3): Jun, as a master trainer, is an avid collector of new and exotic weapons, of new styles of mortal martial arts, and of new tomes and scrolls on tactics.

   The Secret Fire (“Tattoo Artifact” *****):

   The Secret Fire is a mighty infusion of divine power that Ghataru sometimes grants to especially favored offspring and agents. Unfortunately, to bestow The Secret Fire, he has to find an artificer – in Yu-Shan, where such a non-physical relic has form and substance so that it can be worked – and get it “built”. Even though he does have the design, and even has stockpiles of some of the immaterial qualities needed, that’s still something of a project. Relatively few of his offspring – fewer, in fact, than he’d like – are ever granted such a gift; he chooses them carefully.

  • Artifact Design: Power 10 (8x Class-B Powers), Usefulness 5, Plot Impact 4, Script Immunity +1. Net Rating = 20/4 = 5.
  • Powers:
    • Lesser Aspect of the Divine (six times).
    • Self-Powered B. This reduces the permanent attunement cost to zero – effectively one mote as a “Tattoo Artifact”.
    • Homeward Bound: If and when a wielder of the Secret Fire would finally be truly slain or destroyed, his or her spirit will be absorbed into the Secret Fire and carried back to Yu-Shan to become a minor functionary for the Aerial Legion. This is somewhat arbitrarily classified as a Class-B power, since it really has very little in-game effect.

   Lesser Aspect of the Divine

  • Cost: —. Minimums: Essence 2, Occult 4. Type: Permanent.
  • Keywords: Obvious, Stackable.
  • Duration: Special. See description.
  • Prerequisite Charms: None.

   Description: The God-Blooded user of this charm can invoke additional aspects of the divine power inherent in his or her bloodline. Each time this charm is learned, the user selects (Essence + 4) points of mutations that the character can invoke at the cost of two motes each (or per set of linked abilities) and then make go away when he or she doesn’t need them any more. Any negative aspects of such mutations are ignored. The user does not have to invoke every ability when using this effect, and the charm can be taken more than once, with cumulative effects.

   In Jun’s case, with his effective Essence of four for such purposes, this gives him a pool of forty-eight mutation points to spend and draw upon. These have been spent as follows:

  • Permanently Active:
    • Storm Master: May use Essence Attack/Lightning, with a +2 Augmentation Option (Jun may opt to either spend two fewer points to generate a blast or to target an area up to ten yards across). Four motes base, attack at up to ten yards with (Essence + Dexterity + Athletics) for (Stamina + Essence)L (8).
    • Giant (4): +3 dots of Strength and Stamina, as well as additional health levels: -0x1, -1×2 and -2×2.
    • Minuscule (4): Any attempts to hit the user suffer a -4 external penalty (immobility reduces this to -2). All Stealth rolls gain a +3 bonus.
      • While the actual size modifiers neatly cancel out, the fact that the Charm ignores the penalties allows both sets of benefits to actually take effect. Yes, that’s a bit odd – but it is a Charm.
    • Stone Body (6+2 Augmented): Gains one dot of Stamina, +6L/+6B soak and four bonus dice to Survival rolls. As an augmentation, the character is immune to poisons and disease.
    • The Unquenched Fire (2): The character may soak lethal and aggravated damage with Sta/2 and bashing damage with his or her full stamina.
    • Spirit Shift with two Augmentations – negating the Mote and Willpower cost (8). As a reflexive action the user may become immaterial for up to (Essence + Willpower + Stamina) ticks, but suffers a level of bashing damage per portion of such a period that’s gone by on returning to his or her normal state.
    • Hide of the Dragon (Armored Hide, 4): +4B/L/A Soak and +4d to Survival.
    • Natural Immunity (6): Jun is immune to natural air and fire and related effects and gains three bonus dice of soak/resistance against to supernatural effects related to those elements (including illusions, divinations, and transformations). He may spend 3 Motes or one Willpower to become completely immune for an entire scene to supernatural effects from any creature whose Essence rating is equal to or less than his. Powers and effects from creatures with greater Essence still work, but he receives six bonus/soak dice against such opponents for the rest of the scene.
  • Activated when needed:
    • Eyes of the Gods (Lidless Demon Eye, 4): The user’s eyes glow with unearthly elemental energy. +1 Awareness, can see motes, essence-fueled effects, and power. These things become valid targets for the character’s visual Awareness rolls, including reflexive visual Awareness rolls. All Charms are treated as Obvious with respect to the character. Dematerialized and invisible creatures and effects are considered visible. The character recognizes all artifacts, manses and demesnes as such. The character can automatically recognize a creature with Essence 4+ as a supernatural creature. Characters using Stealth to avoid detection are not automatically revealed by their Charms, Essence trait or carried artifacts—for the same reason that colorful clothing does not automatically void mundane attempts at stealth. Instead, add the target’s Essence in dice to any attempt by the character to pierce mundane or magical Stealth. If the character makes a conscious attempt to analyze what he sees, this ability allows an (Intelligence + Occult) roll to do so. Identifying the exact effects of an unknown Charm or spell is difficulty 5. Gauging the rating of a person’s Essence trait, a demesne, a manse or an artifact has difficulty 2.

   The Eye of the Gods

   The Gods don’t need to dabble in Thaumaturgy; they ARE Thaumaturgy, and they direct the flows of essence by natural right. Their offspring can’t normally do that – unless they either learn a charm to copy a small portion of their parent’s puissance or possess some other way to access that power.

   The Eye of the Gods bestows a modest portion of that divine right on it’s bearer. It’s still weak as dishwater of course – it’s still mortal thaumaturgy, even if it is being invoked via a minor charm – but it’s reasonably versatile and can be very useful to a resourceful god-blooded (or to any mortal who manages to get a hold of such a charm).

   Kuji-Kiri Mastery (Spirit Charm)

  • Cost: 6 Motes. Minimums: Essence 2, Occult 4. Type: Simple.
  • Keywords: Combo-OK (Not normally necessary for Spirit Charms).
  • Duration: Special.
  • Prerequisite Charms: None.

   Description: The God-Blooded user of this charm can select a single Thaumaturgic art when this charm is chosen. Thereafter, he or she may use this speed-6 charm to invoke the effects of any ritual within that art without need for components and with (Stamina) bonus dice on the roll – although the bonus dice cannot more than double the basic roll. If he or she actually knows the ritual in question, he or she gains an additional +3 speciality dice.

   Power 5, Usefulness 4, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity +1. Net Rating = 12/4 = 3.

   It’s powers include Class-B Self-Powering, Class-B Spell Sustaining (may maintain two thaumaturgic effects), and twelve Class-A Powers – in this case, access to Kuji-Kuri Mastery for the arts of Alchemy, Death, Elemental Summoning, Enchantment, Geomancy, Healing, Illusion, Shapeshifting, Spirit Beckoning, Telekinesis, Warding/Exorcism, and Weather-Working. Kuji-Kuri charms would normally be Class-B effects, but these are reduced to Class-A since the user must supply half (three motes) of the required power.

   He usually has it sustaining a Telekinetic Force Shield (+6A/6L/6B soak, reduces ping damage) and an illusion that covers up his blatant supernatural nature.

   The Talisman of Swift Fortune

   This a simple carved-jade pocket-piece designed to bring good luck. Unlike most such items it really works – at least in the hands of a good thaumaturgist. The bearer may:

  • Spend three motes to roll (Wits + Occult) as a reflex action. 1/3/5 successes adds 1/2/3 dice to an action which is not enhanced by another artifact or charm.
  • Spend three motes to roll (Wit s+ Occult) as a reflex action. 3/5/8 successes negates 1/2/3 levels of damage. This is not cumulative with the effects of a “walkaway” talisman.
  • It stores 21 motes, but only for use with it’s abilities. If this reserve is exhausted, the user may either pay directly or replenish the reserve by spending 2 motes to add 1 to it.
  • Finally, the Talisman automatically replenishes it’s mote reserve at 4 motes per hour.

   Power 3 (4x Class-A effects), Usefulness 5, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity +2. Net artifact rating = 12/4 = 3

   The Bracers of The Night Warrior (Artifact **).

   These bracers cost three motes to attune and allow the user to simply “pull out” items which cost at least two dots less than his or her current resources. The user need never be without some rope, a good luncheon, or a supply of arrows again.

   OK, I’m not bothering with a formal design for these… they’re a simple utility artifact.

Esoteric Botany – Life Thunder Plants

   Some of the most exotic plants and animals of the Twilight isles grow in high-magic locations – places where the power of one of the Eight Thunders – Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Life, Death, Spirit, and Magic – is readily available in the environment.

   Plants and animals use their environments. It’s one of the things they’re noted for.

   Life-magic using plants tend to be persistent – fast-growing, weedy, quick to heal injuries, able to tolerate otherwise-poor growing conditions, resistant to toxins (although diseases tend to partake of the same life-enhancement as the plants, making them as persistent as the host plants), and prolific. They’re rarely poisonous (unless growing in something toxic) or directly dangerous; such mechanisms are of little value when everything else in the area can be expected to share a similar resistance.

   Rakphin Gourds are probably the most familiar life-magic plant: the vines grow quickly and – with enough life magic – will produce bountiful crops overnight. Yes, the gourds are watery, fibrous, and relatively poor in protein, and the seeds are covered in enough fiber to make them quite indigestible – but the flesh of the gourds is carbohydrate and mineral-rich, the seeds pass through the gut harmlessly, the preparation is easy, and the blandness is readily buried under any of a wide variety of other flavors. They keep well – remaining fresh for months even when separated from the vine – and are a cheap, common, and reliable food.

   Chorell Root grows easily, and – unusually for a life-aspected plant – only yields a really good crop when planted in good, well-watered, and well-fertilized soil, in which case it grows into luxurious bushes. The sap is sweet and richly aromatic, well-suited to use in a wide variety of drinks, confections, and candies. It’s also a mild stimulant, and makes users feel bright, energetic, cheerful, and happy. (The pollen is stronger, but is hard to produce in quantity, although chorell root honey is sometimes available). It’s psychologically, not physically, addictive. Farmers growing it tend to be enthusiastic users, and to grow more and more of it. Where it’s not banned it tends to be widely used – and to be grown on quite a lot of the best land.

   Borphion or “woundwort” is a fleshy vegetable notable for the extraordinary speed with which it can recover from injuries; the entire above-ground leaf structure can regenerate from the roots in less than a day. Those healing powers are concentrated in the sap, which can heal small cuts and induce low-level regeneration, such as fingertips and neural injuries. Unfortunately, unless extreme care is taken, Borphion tends to cause scarring, misgrowth, and even cancers. It’s a useful component in healing potions and alchemists can produce powerful healing extracts from the plant – but they’re dangerous to use without magic to guide the resulting healing and tissue growth.

   Sandistyre Trees regenerate – or, more correctly, generate a massive (up to eight feet across) wooden knot – almost instantly when damaged. Hit one with an axe, and you will be lucky to escape being swallowed up by the resulting expanding knot of wood (large knots, with their internal lumps of fertilizer, tend to be shed and to roll off to sprout into new Sandistyre trees). Worse, the knots absorb and store life energy just like the rest of the tree, and will tend to absorb the life force of any creatures so entrapped – and to anchor and entrap the associated spirit. While there are obvious difficulties in harvesting the wood, and such a project often claims the lives of several slaves, it’s very useful in the creation of spirit-binding or spirit-powered devices – including stakes designed to bind vampires.

   Deaththorn is a supple thorny tree of relatively modest size. Its touch disrupts other life forces – albeit only superficially – and the tree absorbs the energies so released, an effect which allows it to get along on very little light and will keep the wood alive for a long time after it’s been cut – indefinitely with care. Deaththorn is not especially dangerous; a brief contact produces severe pain, but no real injury. Longer contacts can produce injuries resembling sunburns – but they’re still fairly negligible for an otherwise healthy victim. Deaththorn wood is occasionally used in arrows and wooden weapons (despite the special handling it requires) since it tends to distract opponents. It’s also occasionally used to build torture racks, stocks, and similar implements. Magically-treated Deaththorn can disrupt the activities of the central nervous system, and so can be used to construct paralyzing manacles or mage-restraints designed to inhibit spellcasting.

   Urmas resembles a huge fern, with relatively light and – when dry – brittle wood. It flourishes in extremely wet conditions, and during magical storms, accumulating and storing life (or positive energy) magic, which it uses to restore itself to flourishing life (often as a grove) even if reduced to no more than a scattering of broken fragments during a dry period. Properly cut and cured, it can be used to store healing and positive energy magics, and so makes an excellent component in wands, rods, and staves designed for such purposes.

   Zram is a pithy reed which uses ambient life magic to accelerate its metabolism, to the point where a plant can sprout and grow to full maturity within an hour or two. It is very unwise to swallow the seeds; they actually can take root in the stomach or intestine and kill you. The pithy interior can be dried, powdered, and alchemically treated to produce an extremely powerful metabolic accelerator – capable of providing brief bursts of extraordinarily accelerated activity, allowing users to move and act at at least twice the normal rate. Unfortunately, user’s will run a high fever, place enormous strains on their heart, accelerate their aging process drastically, and risk other serious complications.

   Khos is a “symbiotic” lichen-like moss that attunes itself to the hosts bioenergy field, and so shares his or her defenses – making it rather difficult to remove save by lengthy – and extremely painful – process of scraping and applying caustic chemicals. It’s rather ugly, although it is fairly good camouflage in natural woodland surroundings and bestows a modest resistance to fire.

Charles Dexter Ward – Basic Background

玉山 / Yushan - 回程沿路風景

Image by Blowing Puffer Fish via Flickr

   Charles – a Twilight Caste Solar Exalted – was set up for Exalted Modern – but a few name-changes and the transfer of three ability points (the one point in Technology to Ride and the two points in Computer to Bureaucracy) are generally enough to make him work in an age of sorrows game.

   Musings in Yu-Shan:

   The war threatened to continue near-endlessly. Worse, it was only too likely that it would distract the Champions of Creation until some primordial, wyld, or underworld menace found a chance to destroy them all. Almost as dangerously, even if no such menace appeared, the battles would continue to spread destruction until someone – through the fortunes of war – pulled off a minor miracle and shattered what little organization was left on the Sidereal and Lunar sides. That too would eventually lead to catastrophe.

   A chance for reconciliation -for the fragile seeds of hope, trust, and acceptance to take root among the chaos – was needed. Perhaps this time he could find a way around the limitations of the Great Curse, even if his charges could not see it for what it was.

   Lytek, Lord of Exaltation, the Awakener of Heroes and Tuner of Paths, began to look for a few individuals with different possibilities. A few… experiments… to slip in amongst the usual run of candidates for those few Solar Exaltations that remained to him. Someone who could grow into their full power quietly. Someone more subtle than the usual hero. A child of Creation who might find a way around the trap that had seemed inescapable for millennia.

   A child of Creation who… time to grow… a knack for keeping hidden and being overlooked… an actual child perhaps? He’d never had much to do with one of THEM of course – but weren’t they notorious for finding a way to bend ANY kind of adult restriction?

   It was worth a few small adjustments and a few tries.

   Charles Dexter Ward, Age Seven:

   That had been a really weird feeling. Ever since he fell in the lake and there’d been that bright flash he’d been seeing all those neat spirits and things. Still, the cat-bus was really fun. It went to LOTS of neat places. He could do without that pesky Lytek who kept dropping by to pinch his cheek and pat his head though. Even worse than Aunt Telera.

   He was handy sometimes though! A god’s power-aura was good for a lot of stuff and made the BEST popcorn!

   Charles, Age Eight:

   Yay! Disney-World! Then Hawaii! Round-the-world! But why aren’t Mom and Dad coming?

   Charles, now in the custody of his busy patriarchal Grandfather after the disappearance of his parents, got casually towed along on some rather extensive travel – starting with a special treat. It took him quite some time to realize that – this time – his parents apparently wouldn’t be coming back.

   Charles, Age Nine:

   Charles wished the spirits would use a real roof instead of pretending with illusions… Every time he played with them and got wet like this he caught another cold. His head and his throat hurt and he couldn’t even eat his lunch. Still, at least spirits never went away on you… He stumbled miserably back to the house, but the servants found him collapsed just outside – and brought him to his grandfather.

 Lord Richof had fathered a lot of children, and had acknowledged – and indulged – a hundred grandchildren. What made one small, frail, grandson so important? Was it just that the sickly child needed his help so badly? Even for a human, he wasn’t well.

   It was a bad fever this time. He put a healing spell on him, but… Well it couldn’t hurt. He tucked the child in with the hearthstone that channeled healing energies. He didn’t need it any more anyway, and its unfocused energies might help the boy a bit even if he couldn’t actually attune it. Who knew?

   In the morning the boy was sleeping comfortably – and the hearthstone pulsed in time with his heart. That simply wasn’t possible.

   Evidently the feeling that there was something special about this grandchild meant more than that he was bright, ill, and well-behaved. He was what, nine? A bit young to start teaching him magic – or to be showing him the Manse he’d just inherited – but he really wanted to see how much the boy could learn.

   For someone who was apparently a normal human it was quite a lot. More than was strictly believable really – and more than enough to serve as a valuable aide at times.

   Charles, Age Ten:

   The Libram of Fallen Stars had been a lot of trouble to get. He’d had to get past the monster in the lake, get the seal on the tunnel open, solve the lock, break the ward around it, and then get out again. Still, it had been calling for him to come and get it for weeks on end. Presumably it was good for something – even if it was going to take a week to puzzle out the script.

   As it turned out, that took a little help from the Hoenheim Manse Guardian – and it showed him quite a lot. How to open and use the secondary aspects of the Manse, how to work more powerful spells, and how to read the Manse archives… an inheritance greater than he had ever dreamed, and yet – somehow – he knew that Devon’s way was not quite the path that he would follow in the end.

   Charles, Age Eleven:

   Well, Gorim seems to feel that I’ve grown up a bit, and lets me go anywhere I want to go now! Avalon, odd pocket-realms, wyld outposts, even Yu-Shan – although Yu-Shan seems sort of run-down for heaven though.

   Hey! There’s Grandpa!

   How did I get here? I took the bus from school, why?

   Lord Richof was startled for a moment, and then sighed. The boy was getting a lift from one of those minor gods he hung around with of course. Still, being the guest of a minor godling would only go so far in Yu-Shan; he added protocol lessons and his personal protection to his grandson’s guest-rights and enrolled him in one of Yu-Shan’s schools… There were a few classes available for the younger Sidereals and various half-bloods. The boy would probably fit right in.

   He was mildly surprised when Lytek took a small interest. It might just be a passing whim – but it might indicate something rather more important.

   Charles, Age Twelve:

   Charles was… quietly appalled when he studied the origins of Starmetal and Soulsteel. Forging either from Ambrosia was just fine of course, and a temporary voluntary transformation was reasonable enough. Using the body of some permanently-slain godling to make Starmetal was acceptable, if just barely so – as was the confinement of some irredeemable menace to make Soulsteel – but the unjust imprisonment or condemnation of innocent beings, was right out! If anyone ever brought him any of that stuff he’d have to see what could be done about it!

   While Yu-Shan has no labor shortage, an obliging – and apparently reasonably-powerful – magical artificer with no apparent factional axe to grind and no time in which to have developed any influence to use if he did have an agenda was a valuable resource, even if he did happen to look pretty young. Gods, and their god-blooded offspring, often looked a great deal odder than that. There was some speculation as to just who was pulling strings on his behalf of course – but the boy did seem reasonably well-qualified for being appointed to operate a modest artificing facility. No one entrusted him with anything major of course, but he seemed competent enough at working on minor trinkets. That would change only slowly – but the fact that Charles was willing to make room in his schedule for the requests of younger exalts, rather than leaving them to the apparently endless que that resulted from their elders butting into the lines, eventually began to be noticed – as did the fact that he was often willing to obtain his own mystical components.

   What Lytek noticed was that this child – and a few of the other promising experiments – refused to take command or to seriously influence other minds save by example. They were… Guardians, not Lawgivers. Amiable heroes and supporters of humanity, rather than burning inspirations and natural overlords. Creatures who reminded him of tales that were old indeed, of the creation of the Exalted in the morning of the world before the vengeful Primordials laid their curse.

   What could that mean? Had he made adjustments – or removed them?

   Charles, Age Thirteen:

   With his Talisman of Vigor completed at last, Charles was took a few days off – and looked around for another project. He’d only made a few friends since he’d started working in Yu-Shan. There weren’t too many likely candidates THERE, and his frequent absences were awkward to explain at home… It had been bad enough when he’d just spent a lot of his time hanging out in a pocket realm. Explaining being away for days at a time made it really awkward.

   At least one young Sidereal Exalt, however – Demion, the Amethyst Fury – had noticed that Charles had been knocking around Creation pretty widely in search of odd ingredients, and that he seemed to have both fairly substantial power and considerable expertise in his fields. Those might be very useful attributes when so few other Exalts were available – and, while his elders might look down on the god-blooded, they were not nearly so helpless as all that – at least in comparison to a less-experienced exalt such as himself.

   And it would help the youngster make a few useful contacts, and earn a few favors, around Yu-Shan. That would probably be good for him later.

   Demion recruited Charles to help him on a series of missions – investigating (and repairing) an ancient Manse, dealing with an eruption of ghosts and the energies of the underworld, and the trip into the Pyramid-Temple of Arnmalariss which led to the creation of the Cauldron-Born. Up until then his presence had been surprisingly useful…

   After that little disaster, from which only Charles and Kiko escaped, the follow-up debriefing by some annoyed older sidereals didn’t improve Charles’s mood a bit (seeing a bunch of people, some of whom he’d started to like, being semi-possessed by weird chaos things had not gone down well).

   He retrenched a bit for some time afterwards, although discovering that some of the Pattern Spiders did indeed seem to like him lightened things up a bit; those things were pretty cool.

   Still, he needed to figure out what could be done about restoring the Cauldron-Born to sanity, and it looked like he was just going to have to have some real training – and probably some allies – for that. He’d have to take more classes. Maybe even some of the non-theory ones.

   As this IS a character conversion/update, this is where most of the events of the first-edition Exalted Modern campaign fit in. Some of the results of those games have been subsumed into his second edition character setup, while a lot of the more peripheral stuff has been discarded. There’s only so much that you can pack into a starting character after all.

   Contemplations of Exaltation, Part II…

   Meditating in his chambers, Lytek wondered. That ancient malediction, that terrible power… The Primordials had laid their curse upon their enemies. Upon those who had stolen their dominion. Upon the Sidereal manipulators, upon the Lunar experimenters, upon the Solar lawgivers, and upon the Terrestrial legions who had carried the celestial banner across the world.

   Upon the usurpers who ruled Creation in their place.

   Was the Creation-Ruling Mandate itself, as handed down by the Incarnae, simply the final ironic component of a monkey-pot trap? Could freedom truly be as simple as THAT? As simple – and as difficult – as accepting and letting go?

   Even if it was… could he bear to follow where the children of exaltation led? To renounce the radiant hero-lords of the Primordial War that he had loved across the ages in favor of something new? He’d found it hard enough to try even a few small experiments on those few Solar Exaltations that remained to him…

   Still, the child-exalts did have a certain appealing quality all their own.

   Would it be easier or harder now that so many had returned?

Exalted – Charles Dexter Ward, Twilight Artificer

   For today we have an Exalted Modern character, along with his high-powered collection of artifacts, assorted new charms, his allies and contacts, and equipment.

Know then the laws: At the core and at the beginning is the Wyld. Infinite chaos, a boundless well of possibility.

Yet for life and meaning to exist, there must be form and order. Of the things which arose within chaos, some possessed the power to bind it, maintaining their own existence from moment to moment.

Some could hold little more than themselves; such are the fey. Their forms may shift and change, but they hold their souls and minds intact.

Some could hold much more; such are the primordials.

Yet chaos is only bound and limited, not banished. It lies at the heart of all things. From it are woven the threads of fate, the core of matter, and the hearts of men.

Thaumaturgy is the art of manipulating that core of chaos, the energies of the Wyld that underlie our world. It is limited in duration because mortals do not have the key to the unbinding; always the order of the primordials and gods reasserts itself at last.

Glamour draws on the well of chaos beyond the borders of the world. But for all it’s power, it’s energies are soon absorbed into the ancient bindings. In the end, it is little more than an illusion.

To force lasting change upon the world one must unlock the ancient bindings to set their pattern anew.

And to the bindings there are three keys, Emerald, of Sapphire, and of Adamant, entrusted to the Exalted.

And this alone is the law.

                                       -Charles’s personal mantra.

   Character Creation Modifications (for all character types):

  • Abilities may be raised to five without spending bonus points and characters get four free specialties.
  • Virtues may be purchased for one bonus point per +1.
  • Willpower may be increased at a cost of one bonus point per +1.
  • Characters may start with (Willpower + Compassion) Intimacies without spending bonus points.
  • When selecting Charms, characters may pick any charms they meet the prerequisites for, without respect to their other -or favored – abilities. In addition, the cost of additional Charms is reduced by one bonus point.
  • Bonus Points are increased by 20%.
  • Sorcery enjoys two special benefits:
    • Anyone who learns a Sorcery charm automatically learns the appropriate Countermagic spell with the basic charm. If you know how to weave magic, you know how to unweave it.
    • As implied in first edition, if you take the time and effort to research a spell from the basics you don’t need to pay any XP to learn it. This is why elder sorcerers were feared: a five-hundred-year-old dedicated sorcerer might know a hundred different spells – and still have his or her XP to spend on other things.

   Charles Dexter Ward, Modern Solar Exalt

  • Caste: Solar Exalted, Twilight Caste.
  • Motivation: Restore magic to its proper place as a basic part of life. He usually regains will whenever he uses magic to help resolve a situation.
  • Virtues: Compassion 3, Temperance 4, Conviction 1, Valor 1. Will 7.
  • Limit Flaw: Overindulgence (RPG’s and Sci-fi movie festivals).
  •  Anima: Charles’s anima is rarely (never so far) seen, but – if it ever does show up – is a whirling cascade of blue, green, and gold runes and gemlike sparkles.
Physical (6) Str 1 (5) Dex 4 (8) Sta 3 (7)
Social (4) Chr 2 Man 3 App 2
Mental (8) Per 5 Int 4 (8) Wit 2

 

Dawn   Zenith   Twilight*  
Archery 0 Integrity* 2 Craft (Items) 5
Firearms 0 Performance 0 Investigation 3
Martial Arts 0 Pilot 0 Lore 5
Melee 0 Presence 0 Medicine 0
Thrown 0 Resistance 1 Occult 5 (11)
War 0 Survival* 1 Technology 1

 

Night   Eclipse   Specialities  
Athletics 1 Bureaucracy 0 Spellcraft 3
Awareness* 2 Computer 2 Artifacts 2
Dodge* 1 Linguistics* 1    
Drive 0 Ride 0    
Larceny 0 Sail 0    
Stealth 1 Socialize 0 * Favored  
  • Essence: 2 (6) (8). Motes: Personal 69, Peripheral 34.
    • Regain/Hr: 4 casually, 8 resting, +24 Heartstones, +20 in primary Manse or when linked to it. Committed: Libram of Fallen Stars (3), Orb of the Archmage (5), Talisman of Vigor (10), Seal of High Sorcery (1), Courier’s Belt (1), and Internal Hearthstones (6).
  • Dodge DV: 8 (Dex + Dodge +Essence)/2, rounded up.
  • Parry DV: 12 (Dex + Occult + Javelin’s 4)/2) = 12.
  • Soak: 21L/22B (3L/7B Sta +12L/9B Armor +6L/6B TK Force Field. Reduces Ping by 6d).

    Merits (18 + 10 Flaws): Artificer (2), Conservation Principle, Diary (+3 Backgrounds), Essence Aptitudes [+2 Essence for Purchasing Occult Charms (1), Calculating Twilight Caste Effects (1), and Essence Motes (2)], Essence Master (1), Experienced (+6 Abilities, +8 Backgrounds, 1), Mystic Knack (Breath of Life, Video Game Supremacy, and Your Table Sir, 1), Twilight Warding (2), Veiled Exaltation (1), +14 Backgrounds (14), and Hidden Manse (2). Net 28. The unusual merits can be found HERE.

   Flaws: Enemies/The Cauldron-Born (-5), Sickly (-3), Oath of Renewal (-3, pays for Celestial Allies and one point of Influence), Diminished Physical Attribute (-3), Obligation (GM’s option, -1), and Youngster (suffers a -2d penalty on when trying to get adults to take him seriously, -1). Net -15 (Only -10 count). He’s mildly nearsighted, but not enough to actually count for anything.

    Backgrounds: (7+14+11) = 32

Allies 3
-Celestial Allies 2
Artifact 5
Contacts 2
Cult 1
Manse 5 (7)
Manse 1
-Celestial Manse 3
Mentor 3
Resources 4 (5)

   Charles, thanks to his “Employed” Merit, is a young Solar – working part time in Yu-Shan managing an artificing facility for Lytek. Now, admittedly, he’s really good at concealing the nature of his abilities, and actually is qualified for the job, and thus is generally accepted as a youthful god-blooded for whom someone is pulling a few nepotistic strings – but that’s still more than a bit precarious, and sucks him into various missions and all kinds of celestial politics. As long as he keeps that job, he gets Salary-3, as well as relatively easy access to Yu-Shan, information, and materials.

   Image: Charles is about 13, has black hair and green eyes, is 4’10, and weighs 98 pounds. He is lightly built, slightly short for his age, and manages to look quite uncoordinated. He’s unlikely to ever be very tall or large and seems to be half-hidden behind his glasses when he has them on. He usually wears comfortable, loose, durable, clothing with lots of pockets and uses a bit of thaumaturgy to look his proper age; otherwise he’d be a lot younger.

   Personal Notes: Charles is irreverent, a star trek nut (the original series), has no idea what happened to his parents (and would like to know), occasionally does occult troubleshooting for the government, is over-obliging, likes to go camping, and tends to experiment before really considering consequences. If anything, he’s over-helpful.

   Usual Equipment:

  • In Pockets: large swiss army knife, cash, fishing line and hooks, compass and watch, his library card (and other ID), asprin, notepad and pencils, radio transceiver, sewing kit, bandages, silk trunks and a t-shirt, comb, pocket toolkit, super glue, gum, credit card(s), cell phone, and a fireproof “space blanket”. All in all, only about four pounds. (He keeps duplicate gear stored in his Courier’s Belt).
  • Mage’s Pouch: Alchemical Catalysts (Cost 2), Rowan Wand (Transcendent gear, +4 dice Occult), 2 Oz packets of chalk, beeswax candles, incense, rock salt, origami paper, bone dust, matches, vials of ink, oil, holy water, fingerpaint, glue, wormwood, salve, and 6 empty vials, tarot cards, spare wand, quill pens, 2 small bowls/ bells/cups/burners (silver and gold) and stand, silk cloth, small silver mirror, small iron and silver knives, tongs, flute, iron key, string, a pendulum bob, and a crystal lens. About five pounds.
  • Tailored Kevlar (Worn), Transcendent (+4 soak, no penalties) and with earth imbuement (+3 Soak). Net total 12L/9B.
  • Usual Talismans: Penultimate Darkness Powder (Super smoke powder), Chicory Wand (Occult + Int to open locks – given a few minutes), Talisman of Clear Thought (Negates three mental botches per scene), Good Luck Charm (Negates three Botches per scene), and Walkaway (Negates three levels of damage three times per scene).
  • When Camping: camp kit, hunting knife, coil of rope, tarp, binoculars, hatchet, basic first aid kit, flashlight, freeze dried supplies, and a laptop computer.

   Background Notes

   Allies 3

   Gorim Naku, Wind-That-Blows-Between-The-Worlds, God of Public Transportation, usually takes the form of a cat-bus. It’s friendly, obliging, and has free passage almost everywhere since so many travelers owe it favors. In “climbing aboard” you enter the spirit world, and can get off almost anywhere, including Tir-Nan-Og, Yu-Shan, Avalon, the Wyld, and a large variety of other destinations. Of course, unless you need a lift, Gorim Naku can’t be of much assistance. He does occasionally need some help pulling passengers out of dangerous otherworldly situations; he has lots of friends.

   Ixiah is a professional familiar and messenger spirit. He likes to hang around with magi, live in their manses, play video games, and read comics. He usually takes the form of a fox-boy and likes to “play ninja”. He can be quite a pest at times since he acts like he’s about 8 years old.

  • Attributes: Str 2, Dex 5, Sta 4, Cha 4, Man 3, App 3, Per 5, Int 3, Wit 4.
  • Virtues: Com 4, Con 2, Tem 2, Val 4
  • Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 4, M. Arts 5, Dodge 4, Endurance 4, Lore 3, Occult 4, Resistance 4, and Stealth 5.
  • Charms: Touch of Grace, Host of Spirits, Principle of Motion, Materialize (Cost 35), Psychokinesis, Essence Bond (may share up to half his essence pool with another), and Spirit Messenger (may “place calls” to other spirits).
  • Willpower 8, Essence 3, Essence Pool 78.
  • Merits: Spirit Emissary (As per Charles), Video Game Supremacy (As per Charles).
  • Backgrounds: Backing 4, (Spirit) Contacts 5, Sanctum 2.

    Kaernock Jagua, commander of the border reaches, is a noble fey who – with his small band of faerie warriors – acts as guardians of the remaining places of wilderness (and parks) in and around Atlanta. Thanks to his subtle glamour, there are still numerous hidden pockets of forest wilderness – and a few sizable reaches of forest – which exist unmolested, untrod, and unseen by man to this day.

   While Kaernock is one of the most benign of fey, he can still be wild, unreasonable, and quite vicious if he feels that someone is not showing the proper respect to the wilds. Oddly enough, he’s always allowed Charles to wander through his realms and swore an oath of friendship with him when he retrieved the Libram Of Fallen Stars from the depths of lake Starmere at age 10. He’s never said why.

   Kaernock’s abilities include the usual faerie glamours, control over the woods and parks, and control of the resources of several strongholds. Sadly, his ideas about what is “helpful” rarely match anyone else’s.

   Celestial Allies 2

   Some of the Pattern Spiders remembered Devon – and his passion for finding law and order in everything – quite fondly. Two of their groups have taken an interest in what his new incarnation is up to – and so can be called upon via Mortal Astrology to produce Sidereal Astrology effects. In his case, that gives him access to the functions of the Sorcerer and the Quiver.

  • Quiver Effects: 1) Add dice equal to relevant attribute to a social check, may be used after the roll is made, 2) Instant Genius, make a roll of Int + Lore, Occ, or Bur instantly, and 3) Create three Arrows of Reason.
  • Sorcerer Effects: 1) Block loss of essence, charms, spells, combos, abilities, 2) add +3d to all social rolls with non-exalts, and 3) aid other people using Sidereal Astrology.

   Artifacts (-5, -4, -4, -2 and -1)

   Charles has quite a few artifacts. This is mostly due to the fact that he made all but one of them – and could have made that one. 

   Libram Of Fallen Stars (Artifact V)

  • The crystalline covers of this ancient tome swirl with eternally-imprisoned crimson fires, the energies of the universe transmuted into the lifeblood of enchantment. It requires Linguistics 1 (Old Realm) and Occult 4 simply to decipher the lore within it’s hammered Orichalcum pages. Activating its remaining powers requires Int 4, Lore 3, Ess 2, and the commitment of 3 motes of essence to link with the book – one mote for each spell it can bestow or store. It has one Hearthstone socket set into the front cover.
  • The book is an Enormous arcane library all by itself. It provides +2d on research related checks and initially holds five terrestrial spells, two celestial spells, and dozens of thaumaturgical rites, (Oddly, no matter how many spells a user puts into the book, the next user will only this many; it only reveals a limited set of them at a time). Finally, the self-taught training times for lore and occult are not doubled.
  • It’s owner may expend 4 motes of essence to gain a +4 bonus to his or her effective base essence rating for a scene. A dedicated L2 Hearthstone will maintain the essence boost (and allow the accumulation of larger mote reserves). A dedicated L3 stone will maintain the essence boost and reduce the attunement cost to one mote. Sadly, this boost won’t allow the user to learn high-essence effects – a universal flaw of essence boosting.
  • It can bestow the knowledge of three spells from among those recorded within on it’s owner. No more than two may be Celestial and only one may be Solar. A bestowed spell may be traded for another given eight hours in which to study.
  • It allows it’s owner to absorb an incoming Terrestrial or Celestial spell by expending a point of willpower. If the spell is new to the Libram it promptly records it in it’s pages and index. If not, the owner can release it again under his or her own control. Unfortunately, no more than 3 such spells may be stored at any one time and if those slots are filled new spells cannot be absorbed.

   The Orb of the Archmage (Artifact IV)

  • This obsidian sphere is traced with jade and gemstone sigils of the five elemental dragons. It is warm to the touch and, if held to the ear, whispers continuously of occult secrets in the tongue of the first age. When there are spells stored within it the surface occasionally erupts with an incandescent tracery of orichalcum lines, as if some terrible explosion was about to escape it. Attuning the Orb requires Occult 5, Intelligence 4, Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, and 5 motes of essence. An attuned wielder can mystically “merge” a Hearthstone with the Orb (in other words the Orb has one “Socket”). A dedicated L2 Hearthstone will reduce the attunement cost to 1 mote.
  • Occult Mastery: The Orb grants it’s wielder +4 Int, +6 Occult, and a -2 on Occult target numbers (L3, L3, L1)
  • Spell Storing: The Orb stores 3 “levels” of spells of up to the Celestial level. That could be 1 Celestial Spell and 1 Terrestrial, 3 Terrestrial Spells, 6 Thaumaturgic Spells (counted as level ½) or any other combination totaling up to 6. (3x Class-C).

   Talisman of Vigor (Artifact IV)

  • This massive golden broach or buckle crackles with the bioelectrical energy of its user’s life, creating a tangled knotwork of gold, rubies, and strands of electricity surrounding the hearthstone socket in the center of the twin-dragon design. It costs 10 motes of essence to attune the Talisman of Vigor. It’s designed to focus and amplify it’s bearer’s life energy. A dedicated L3 Hearthstone will reduce the attunement cost to 1 mote however.
  • Vigor: The Talisman provides it’s user with a +4 bonus on each physical attribute (3x Class-C)
  • Donation: The user may transfer a portion of his life force to someone else by touching them and willing the energies of the Talisman to focus on them. The user will lose one health level while the target gains one, although this cannot cause a target to rise above their natural level of health. The user can, however, drain their own health levels to death if they so desire. (C)

   Courier’s Belt or Money Belt (Artifact I)

  • This soft leather belt has numerous pockets capable of holding up to about 20 lbs. When worn the belt, and anything in it, melds with the user’s flesh until he or she decides to open a pocket. Items in the belt can’t be lost, stolen, or damaged – and belt cannot be made to appear while the user is under duress or compulsion. It costs 1 mote of essence to attune. Although one pocket acts as a Hearthstone Socket, this will not reduce the attunement cost.

   The Seal of High Sorcery, Sigil of Raistlin (Artifact II)

  • This orichalcum ring is inlaid with moonsilver and forged in the form of the five elemental dragons, intertwining , and with the details picked out in a delicate dusting of tiny rubies (fire), sapphires (air), emeralds (water), yellow beryls, and wood opals. When it’s attuned, occasionally the tiny eyes seem to watch the possessor. If inspected under a magnifying glass, each of the dragons is carrying one of the sigils of elemental sorcery. It can mount one Hearthstone.
  • When attuned at a cost of one mote, the Seal provides:
    • A continually-active Essence Gathering Temper effect.
    • The ability to attack and parry with Occult, using various cool-looking (but otherwise unimportant) special effects. This is otherwise equivalent to using a “perfect” Javelin. If the user is a Solar Exalt, the bonuses for an Orichalcum weapon apply.

 Artifact Breakdowns

    Given that second edition has not yet provided a satisfactory artifact-design system, these are simply slightly cut-down versions of his first edition artifacts. That will have to do until we get around to updating the Artifact Design System.

   The Libram Of Fallen Stars

  • The Mystical Library ability is a Class-C power, equivalent to the Archive function of a Manse. Note that the user can record many other spells in the tome, and read them normally; it just only shows a few spells – chosen by the game master – to a new user.
  • +4 Essence: A standard class-D function. I am now assuming that essence-boosting devices are always flawed – usually by not allowing the study of higher-essence powers.
  • Bestows spell knowledge: This is a version of the Sorcery- Conferring Contemplation charm (Lore 6, Essence 6), giving this a class-E power base. Unlike that charm, this requires eight hours of study, can only confer three spells in total from among those recorded in the book, and the recipient must pay the essence and will costs for using them. In addition, the study costs 4 essence per hour (fed to the book), reducing recovery during that period to the “light activity” rate. Furthermore, no more than two may be celestial and no more than one may be solar (even after such spells are recorded in the book). While there is no duration limit, these limitations still reduce the bestowal power to a class-C power.
  • Spell Absorption: Normally Class-D to absorb Celestial spells and below, reduced to Class-C by requiring a point of willpower. Unknown spells are automatically recorded in the book, known spells are stored.
  • Spell Storing: 3 Class-C slots to store three spells of up to the Celestial level.
    • The design systems spell storing and absorbing functions are somewhat less powerful than the standard Sorcery-Capturing Cords from the Twilight caste book. On inspection, those were obviously overpowered. Ergo this power has been reduced.

    Design: Power 10 (1x Class-D and 6x Class-C powers), Usefulness 5, Plot Impact 5, Script Immunity 5 (free), Troublesome: High ability requirements (Occult 4, Int 4, Lore 3, Old Realm, Ess 2, net -2), Power Hungry (-2, effectively +2 levels) = 20. 20/4 = L5. The standard cost would be 10 committed motes for continuous operation or 5 to activate it for a scene. This has been split into 3 committed essence for everything but the essence boost and 4 motes to activate that for a scene. A dedicated L2 hearthstone will suffice to maintain the essence boost however. L3 or better will reduce the commitment cost to 1 mote.

   The Orb of the Archmage

  • +6 Occult: Standard Class-C
  • +4 Intelligence: Standard Class-C
  • Spell Storing: Three total “levels” (Thaumaturgy = 1/2, Terrestrial = 1, and Celestial = 2). One Class-C and one Class-B power.
  • -2 on Occult Target Numbers: Standard Class-B.

   Design: Power 8 (3x Class-C, 1x Class-B, 2x Class-A powers), Usefulness 4, Plot Impact 4, Script Immunity 4 (free), Troublesome (High ability requirements, Occu   t 5, Int 4, Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, -2), Power Hungry (-2, effectively +2 levels). Total = 16, 16/4 = L4. 5 Motes to attune for continuous activation, although a dedicated L2 Hearthstone will reduce this to 1 mote.

   The Talisman of Vigor

  • +4 to Str, Dex, and Sta: 3x Standard Class-C.
  • Vitality Transfer: The user can assume other people’s wounds, up to the point of killing yourself if you so desire. Estimated as a Class-C power.

   Design: Power 8 (4x Class-C powers), Usefulness 5, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity 4 (free), Power Hungry (-1, effectively a +1 advantage) = 16. 16/4 = 4. 10 motes of essence to attune for continuous activation. A dedicated L3 Hearth-stone will reduce this to 1 mote however.

   The Courier’s Belt

  • Storage: Lets the user securely, and unsearchably, store 20 pounds of gear. Estimated as a Class-A power.
  • Design: Power 1 (1 Class-A power), Usefulness 2, Plot Impact 1, Script Immunity 1 (free) = 4. 4/4 = 1.

   The Seal of High Sorcery

  • One continually-active Essence-I Charm. A standard Class-A power.
  • Another – somewhat arbitrary – Class-A power. Skill substitution by itself is isn’t too important, since it won’t give you access to the advanced charms that make the skills really useful.

   Design: Power 2 (2x Class-A powers), Usefulness 3, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity +2 (2 Base), and Troublesome -1 (Requires Occult 4+, Int 3+, and occasional “recharging” with mystic substances and rituals). Total = 8, dividing by four gives it an Artifact Rating of 2. Requires one mote to attune, has script immunity 4 in total.

   Contacts 2

   Charles has a fair array of contacts in two specialized areas – the local nonhumans (Spirits and Fey) and the local thaumaturgists, psychics, and other mystical dabblers. He doesn’t really have many contacts with human society. As a “neutral party” he does quite a lot of hosting, negotiating for, and relaying of messages for, the various nonhumans of Atlanta. His notable contacts include:

  • Daniel Clane, state department, prior US ambassador to England. Thanks to an incident in England about a year ago Daniel knows that Charles is a powerful Thaumaturge and is skilled in negotiating with magical beings. Daniel is generally willing to exchange a few favors; Charles may be underage, but his talents have come in useful several times.
  • Korbase. Charles doesn’t know what Korbase is, or just what his abilities are – but he (she? it?) seems to have major magical abilities of his or her own as well as rather impressive resources and great combat skills. He’s a bit worried that he might be a major demon or something. He certainly looks the part.

   Cult 1

   Charles’s “Cult” actually consists of a few mortal thaumaturgists whom he’s been training, and providing some enhancements and minor artifacts for. While this is a much smaller group than the usual “cult”, their active support is equivalent to the unfocused prayers of a much larger number.

   Sorcerer-Summoner (No Rating)

  •  Demon Bodyguards: Charles normally keeps about six first-circle demon bodyguards “on call”, using thaumaturgy to open a link and let them appear when needed. After all, they’re easy enough to summon and bind. He usually gets leg-breaker thug types who like video games. They aren’t tremendously powerful, but they are capable of really annoying a basic dragon-blooded type, particularly when popping in and out by surprise.

   Mentor 3

   Charles’s Mentor is his Grandfather, Richof Haldane. The old man (actually middle aged for whatever-he-is, but Charles naturally sees him as old) is a powerful sorcerer, controls enough manses to have no problems in turning a couple of them over to a kid, and has quite a few servants and allies of his own, as well as wealth and influence. He had a rather bitter divorce from his wife, Tameris Aldalae, some time ago and tends to refer to her as “that demon hag from hell”. There were some indications that he didn’t get along all that well with the Fey either (even the relatively “tame” inhabitants of Atlanta), which may be why he was so willing to let Charles take charge of everything in the faerie wood.

   Since a Mentor is likely to be a major plot element, any further development is pending game-master input.  

   Resources 4

   While Charles does have a fair amount of money of his own since he’s been producing charms and talismans for years now, his upper-end funding is derived from his Grandfather. His personal resources are only about level three; he has to explain level four purchases to his grandfather – who has Resources-5 – and generally isn’t allowed to make level five purchases at all; those would have a noticeable impact on his grandfather’s finances.

   Charles has been trying to get his personal resources up to level five in his own right for some time now, but has been having some trouble convincing people with that kind of money to part with it in exchange for magical talismans. It hasn’t yet occurred to him to simply resort to alchemy and make gold and such. He’s been good at thaumaturgy for so long that he doesn’t really think of such things as being valuable.

   Creating or Buying Superior Items

  • Exceptional Items: 1 Year base time to make (divided by the creators extra successes squared). Weapons get three +1’s, armor gets two +1’s, other items add one die to pool. Cost +1.
  • Perfect Items: 5 Years base time to make. Weapons 2x +1’s and a +2, armor reduces mobility and fatigue by 1 each and gets two +1’s, other items add two dice. Cost +2.
  • Transcendent Items: 20 years base time to make. Weapons get a +1, a +2, and a +3. Armor reduces mobility and fatigue by 1 each and gets two +2’s. Other items get +4 dice.
  • Thaumaturgically Enchanted Items (5): Treat these as Perfect. They get another 2x +1 adds or another die if they’re already Perfect, but such additions do not stack with Artifact qualities.

 

   Manses (total of 9)

   Charles’s Charms:

  • Terrestrial Circle Sorcery
  • Celestial Circle Sorcery
  • The First Occult Excellency
  • Spirit-Detecting Glance

   The Laborer’s Word

  • Cost: 2 Motes; Minimum Occult 3, Essence 1, Type Supplemental.
  • Duration: Instant
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any Occult Excellency.
  • Effect: The user may accomplish tasks by magic, rather than by hand. Such tasks must be unopposed: if a horde of zombies is shambling towards the deserted farmhouse, you can use The Laborer’s Word to nail the windows shut or pile furniture against the door. If they’re already trying to get in, it’s too late. Roll (Int + Occult). Each success accomplishes ten minutes worth of work, just as if you’d done it yourself. The special effects are up to the user; at it’s most basic the area immediately around you just jerks a bit and you’re a bit further along on some task. Most user’s go in for various occult displays; it looks neater.

   The Engines of Creation

  • Cost: —; Minimum: Occult 3, Essence 3; Type: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Terrestrial Circle Sorcery.
  • Effect: The user has learned to tap the deep energies of creation, the forces that Autochthon used to construct the basis of the world. He or she may use the Advanced Thaumaturgy Rules rather than the basic rules from the Exalted rulebooks.

   Awaking the Sleeping Serpent

  • Cost: —; Minimum: Occult 4, Essence 3; Type: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: The Engines of Creation.
  • Effect: The user has come to understand the chaos at the center of the world, and may use the basic Occult skill to use the Advanced Thaumaturgic Sciences without penalty.

   The Radiant Indulgence of Gaia

  • Cost: —; Minimum Occult 4, Essence 3, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None.
  • Prerequisite Charms: The Engines of Creation, Terrestrial Circle Sorcery.
  • Effect: The user may spend 6 Motes and 1 Will to weave an Advanced Thaumaturgy effect with six bonus successes and treat the result as Terrestrial Circle Sorcery.

   Invoking the Hidden Stars

  • Cost: —; Minimum Occult 4, Essence 4, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisite Charms: The Radiant Indulgence of Gaia, Celestial Circle Sorcery.
  • Effect: The user may spend 12 Motes and 2 Will to weave an Advanced Thaumaturgy effect with twelve bonus successes and treat the result as Celestial Circle Sorcery.

   The Alchemist’s Inner Fire

  • Cost 12 Motes, 1 Will; Minimum Occult 5, Essence 4, Type: Simple.
  • Duration: Indefinite. A new use cancels the old one.
  • Keywords: None.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Awaken the Sleeping Serpent.
  • Effect: Over an hour of meditation the user generates an internal hearthstone or stones with a total rating of up to (Essence-2). The stone or stones will remain active as long as the user keeps 1 mote per level of the stone(s) created committed to the stones. Mote recovery is boosted normally.

   Charles’s Available Spells:

   The exotic spells on this list can be found HERE.

   Personally Known Spells:

  • Terrestrial:
    • Emerald Countermagic: Reflexive, 0 Ticks. Protects the user for (10), breaks a terrestrial nearby for (20). Main book, page 253.
  • Celestial:
    • Sapphire Countermagic: Reflexive, 0 Ticks. 15 or 20 Motes for personal/area. Blocks Thaumaturgy, Terrestrial, and Celestial spells. Celestial. Main book, page 256.

   Available Terrestrial Formula (25):

  • Aura of Facilitation: 15 Motes. For the next 2 x (Int + Occ) hours the user has a base target number of six, rather than seven.
  • The Autochthonian Invocation: 15 Motes. Effectively upgrades a workshop by one level for (Int + Occ) days.
  • Blessings of the Shadows: 20 Motes. Adds the user’s (Essence) to his or her Perception and +4 each to Awareness and Perception for twenty-four hours. A variant of Unbreakable Bones of Stone.
  • Breath Of Seven Thunders: 15 Motes. This creates a storm of electrical arcs throughout the area, but has the same game statistics as Death Of Obsidian Butterflies. Main book, page 252.
  • Casting the Circle: 15 Motes. Allows up to three volunteers participating in the circle to contribute motes and willpower to the caster.
  • Conjuring the Azure Chariot: 15 Motes. Summons a chariot that can travel at 200 MPH until sunset. White Treatise, page 41.
  • Demon of the First Circle: 20+ Motes. Summons and binds a first circle demon servant for a year and a day. Main book, page 252.
  • Emerald Circle Banishment: 10+ Motes. Reflexive, 0 Ticks, banishes a first circle demon. White Treatise, page 44.
  • Fiery Incandescent Spirit: 25 Motes. Adds (Essence) to Wits and Cha for twenty-four hours. Variant of Unbreakable Bones of Stone.
  • Flight Of The Brilliant Raptor:10 Motes. (Wits + Occ + Ess) to hit, dodge no parry, damage (perception + occult + extra successes + essence) plus explosion. White Treatise, page 46.
  • Focus of the Faithful: 10 Motes. Binds an ongoing spell effect with a base duration of at least four hours affecting a voluntary target to their Cult. A Cult-1 can sustain two thaumaturgic effects or one terrestrial spell. A Cult-2 can sustain both. A Cult-3 can sustain a celestial spell. A Cult-4 can sustain a celestial spell and either two thaumaturgic effects or a terrestrial spell. A Cult-5 can sustain a celestial, a terrestrial, and two thaumaturgic spells. While such spells cannot be dispelled, the benefits of the levels of Cult that are sustaining them are lost to the user while they remain active. The user may drop the effect at any time.
  • Impenetrable Frost Barrier: 20 Motes. +2x the user’s essence difficulty on missile attacks on the user and near allies for 20 minutes. Main book, page 253.
  • Peacock Shadow Eyes: 10 Motes. (Wits + Occult) versus target’s Dodge MDV, success hypnotizes to believe anything you say. White Treatise, page 55.
  • Perfection Of The Ideal Form: 25 Motes. Mystically recreates an item. Roll [Int + Occult]. 5 successes results in a full repair of any damage provided that you possess more then half of the remains, 10 makes it Exceptional, and 15 results in Perfection.
  • Race the Lightning: 20 Motes. Roll (Dex + Occ) to generate a pool of extra actions; the user may spend one to act normally on any tick where he or she would not already be acting, completing any prior actions. Unfortunately, only three extra actions may be used per scene, the spell may only be cast once per week, and the new pool replaces any remaining extra actions in the old one.
  • Raising the Earth’s Bones: 25 Motes. Massive earthshaping. White Treatise, page 56.
  • Sandals of the Wind: 15 Motes. Multiplies the user’s movement – including that produced by other magical effects – by (Essence) for (Sta + Occult) hours. Any vehicle the user pilots or drives, and any beast he drives, gets half this bonus.
  • Song of the Loa: 15 Motes. The user opens the way for a willing spirit to bond with a willing host for up to twenty-four hours. While the host remains physically in charge, the spirit may lend the host its abilities (although it’s quite free to lie about what a particular power does) – but is in no way obliged to do so and may depart at any time. Most spirits will want something in exchange for the use of their powers. Ghosts, for example, are notorious for wanting to taste the pleasures of life, while little gods usually want worship and offerings.
  • Sphere of Purity: 20 Motes. Provides perfect protection for a radius of (Essence) yards for (Sta+Occ) hours against toxins, lack of air, and diseases, as well as natural extremes of environmental temperature and pressure.
  • Sprouting Shackles Of Doom: 10 Motes. Binds a target and squeezes them into unconsciousness. The White Treatise, page 62.
  • Summons of the Earth’s Heart: 20 Motes. Transforms air to stone in a radius of (2x Essence) yards for up to one hour. Roll (Per + Occ) to shape things. Neither blockable nor dodgeable as long as you leave a foot or so around living creatures (1 per success, others may dodge).
  • Thunder Wolf’s Howl: 10 Motes, 10 yard radius takes (Int+Occ) + (Essence Automatic) bashing damage. Dodge, parry, and armor do not apply. Deafens and disorients. White Treatise, page 66.
  • Unbreakable Bones of Stone: 20 Motes. Adds (Essence) to Str and Sta for twenty-four hours. White Treatise, page 66.
  • Viridion Mantle of Underwater Journeys: 20 Motes. Group water breathing. White Treatise, page 68.
  • Virtuous Guardian of Flame: 25 Motes, 5 Committed. Provides an independent parry DV of (Wits + Occult + Essence)/2 that is very rarely reduced. White Treatise, page 68.

   Available Celestial Formula (6):

  • Greater Elemental Empowerment: Imbues a mundane item with elemental energy, see The White Treatise, page 57, This Celestial Circle version multiplies the effects by 1.5 and requires mere moments to cast. (Original).
  • Imbue Amalgam: Creates empowered servants. Celestial, see book for description. White Treatise, page 74.
  • Incomparable Body Arsenal: 30 Motes. +10L/10B Soak, +2 Str, +2 Sta, (Str+8)L in a clinch for (Ess) hours. Main book, page 255.
  • Magma Kraken: 35 Motes. Creates tentacles of molten rock. White and Black Treatise, page 76.
  • Outside Worlds Within: 25 Motes. Turns a room into another place. White Treatise, page 77.
  • Travel Without Distance: 25 Motes. Teleportation (Exx x 10) miles. Can affect groups. Main book, page 256.

   Normally Stored Spells:

  • Libram: Travel Without Distance and Magma Kraken. He leaves the third slot open in case he needs to absorb a spell.
  • Orb: Flight Of The Brilliant Raptor (Terrestrial), Impenetrable Frost Barrier (Terrestrial), and Thunder Wolf’s Howl (Terrestrial).

   Charles isn’t especially combative, but those are the kind of spells you often need in an emergency, so…

   Usual Bestowed Spells:

  • Perfection of the Ideal Form, Greater Elemental Empowerment, Song of the Loa

   Optionally – given game master agreement – Charles may have the Virtue Flaw and Limit Break he was actually originally played with. IN this case, Charles is actually in permanent limit break; he’s a Solar Exalted, a Lawgiver of the Unconquered Sun – and he refuses to give orders or to take command outside of practical emergencies. “Orders” like “Shut it off before it explodes!” are about his limit. He’s not about to exert unnatural mental influences (or even excessive natural ones), and thinks that it’s his job to repair things, help other people, and defend humanity as it rules itself. Rather than be a glorious solar ruler, he’s content to be an amiable superhero.

   Is that “beating the great curse”?

   Not exactly. Fundamentally, it’s reverting to the most ancient template of the Solar Exaltation – the Alchemical Orichalcum Exalted – and accepting the letter of the great curse while evading its spirit though that acceptance. If Charles ever does encounter the Alchemical Exalted, he’s likely to get along with them very very well indeed.

Exalted – Terrestrial, Celestial, and Solar Spells

An example of the magick circle and triangle o...

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   Aura of Facilitation (Terrestrial): 15 Motes. For the next 2 x (Int + Occ) hours the user has a base target number of six, rather than seven, as well as a +1 bonus to the user’s defense scores. For truly extended projects, this may be applied to any one roll, no matter how long it takes to make it, rather than expend it’s force over a duration.

   The Celestial Version – Aura of the Maiden’s Grace – costs 20 motes and works for (4 x Int + Occ) hours, and provides a target number of five rather than seven as well as a +2 bonus to the user’s defense scores. For truly extended, but definite, projects, this may be applied to any four rolls that are directly related to the project, no matter how long it takes to make them, rather then expend it’s force over a duration. Note that “definite projects” have known rolls, standard times, and similar limitations. “Design and build a Manse” or “Research a new Spell” are definite projects. “Take over the Realm” is not – and even for the Manse project, you could only gain the benefit on a research check, not on an attempt to acquire raw materials you think might be useful.

   The Solar Version – Cloak of the Triumphant Spider’s Weave – costs 30 motes but works for (8 x Int + Occ) hours and provides a target number of four, rather than seven, as well as a +3 bonus to the user’s defense scores. This may be applied to a particular project rather than over a duration, in which case it’s benefits apply to every roll involved – but the limitations of Aura of the Maiden’s Grace continue to apply.

   The Autochthonian Invocation (Terrestrial): 15 Motes. Effectively upgrades a workshop by one level for (Int + Occ) days.

   The Celestial version – The Harmonious Study of Jade – effectively upgrades all the workshops of a facility – a single large structure or group of structures operated by a particular group and located within a radius of one thousand feet – by one level for (Int + Occ) days.

   The Solar version – The Shadow of the Great Maker – effectively upgrades all the workshops of a facility (again, a single large structure or group of structures operated by a particular group and located within a radius of one thousand feet) by two levels for a year and a day. Alternatively, it can be applied to an entire village or city, although this reduces the upgrade to a single level.

   Blessings of the Shadows (Terrestrial): 20 Motes. Adds the user’s (Essence) to his or her Perception and +4 each to his or her Awareness and Perception for twenty-four hours.

   This appears to be the limit of this particular effect, although the Celestial version (Orison of the Lunar Rabbit) costs 30 motes and lasts for until the next new moon and the Solar version (All-Seeing Gaze of the Sun) costs 40 motes and lasts until the next winter solstice.

   Casting the Circle (Terrestrial): 15 Motes. Allows up to three volunteers participating in a ritual circle – which must be ceremonially laid out – to contribute motes and willpower to whoever is acting as the focus of the spell as long as the circle remains unbroken or until a full day passes. Sadly, such donations cannot be used to refresh the user’s personal reserves; they must be expended on sorcery or other magical effects.

   The Celestial version – The Harmony of the Spheres – works on a group of up to six volunteers and does not require a formally-laid out circle. It can thus be invoked in the field, and can remain in effect as long as the focus character and his or her aides move and operate as a group or until a full day passes.

   The Solar version – The Unity of Heavens and Earth – works on a group of up to eleven volunteers, but is otherwise similar to the Celestial version, save for allowing the aides to take over the preliminary shaping actions of whatever other spells the focus character casts, reducing the effective requirements for casting a celestial, or even solar, circle spell to a single shaping action.

   Fiery Incandescent Spirit (Terrestrial): 25 Motes. Adds (Essence) to Wits and Cha for twenty-four hours.

   As with the similar Blessings of the Shadows (or the Unbreakable Bones of Stone, to which a similar set of upgrades apply) this appears to be the limit of this particular effect, although the Celestial version (Incomparable Blaze of Essence) costs 30 motes and lasts for until the next full moon and the Solar version (Unquenchable Glory of the Dawn) costs 40 motes and lasts until the next summer solstice.

   Focus of the Faithful (Terrestrial): 10 Motes. Binds an ongoing spell effect with a base duration of at least four hours affecting a voluntary target or an unresisting area where he, she, or it spends a great deal of time, to the target’s Cult. A spell being sustained by a Cult cannot be dispelled, and will continue in effect until the target either opts to reclaim the benefits of his, her, or it’s Cult (which he, she, or it may do at any time) or until something happens to said Cult – such as being reduced below the required level through social manipulation or suppression. Unfortunately, the benefits of the levels of the Cult that are sustaining the spell or spells are lost to the target for the duration.

  • One dot of Cult can sustain two thaumaturgic effects or one terrestrial spell.
  • Two dots of Cult can sustain two thaumaturgic effects and one terrestrial spell.
  • Three dots of Cult can sustain a celestial spell.
  • Four dots of Cult can sustain a celestial spell and either two thaumaturgic effects or a terrestrial spell.
  • Five dots of Cult can sustain a celestial spell, a terrestrial spell, and two thaumaturgic spells.
  • In theory, six dots of Cult could sustain a solar spell. In practice, this has never been attempted.

   The Celestial version – The Unyielding Dedication of the Stone – costs 20 motes and binds a spell or group of spells to a Hearthstone currently in the casters possession. This version is, however, rarely researched or used. Hearthstones are fundamentally less adaptable than Cults are, and hence the spell must remain focused on the Hearthstone and/or the area it occupies – or on whoever is carrying it if they’re attuned to it. Sustaining a spell requires one more dot of Hearthstone than of Cult, so a one-dot Hearthstone can only sustain a single thaumaturgic effect. Perhaps worst of all, the only way to end the effect being sustained is to destroy the Hearthstone – whether by attacking it directly or by sabotaging its supporting geomancy. Once something’s been imprinted upon the geomantic structure of a Hearthstone, there just isn’t any way to get rid of the impression. The effect has been used at times for things like sustaining a cities Wards against the Wyld or against Ghosts – where dedicating a single one-dot Heartstone to sustaining a single thaumaturgic effect is of great benefit to tens of thousands of inhabitants – but most Exalts hesitate to commit scarce geomantic resources (even resources as minor as a one-dot Hearthstone) to sustaining cheap mortal magic.

   The original Solar version – The Paean of Exaltation – costs 40 motes, ten health levels, and ten XP. It links a single celestial spell or two terrestrial spells to a particular celestial exaltation. This costs the recipient a permanent point of Essence, which also reduces his or her permanent maximum essence, and makes the affected spell or spells quite permanent – although the recipient can turn them on and off at will. Unfortunately, the effect makes Lytek’s life rather difficult; even between lifetimes it takes him a great deal of time and effort to remove the affected spells – and unless it’s done, a new Exalt would start off down a point of essence.

   The current Solar version – The Solar Seal of Years – merely costs 40 motes. It extends the duration of a two Terrestrial spells or a single Celestial spell and renders the spells affected unbreakable by anything short of Adamant Countermagic (and even that requires an opposed essence roll against the caster), the death of the character who enacted the Solar Seal, or by being voluntarily dismissed by the character who cast the Seal. Such spells are, however, sustained by the caster’s virtues; each enactment of the Solar Seal of Years must be attached to a particular virtue rated at 4+ – so even the greatest of Sorcerers are unable to maintain many spells in this fashion.

   Race the Lightning (Terrestrial): 20 Motes. Roll (Dex + Occ) to generate a pool of extra actions; the user may spend one to act normally on any tick where he or she would not already be acting, completing any prior actions. Unfortunately, only three extra actions may be used per scene, the spell may only be cast once per week, and the new pool replaces any remaining extra actions in the old one.

   The Celestial version – the Flash Step Sutra – costs 30 motes, and is effectively identical to the Terrestrial version, save for the fact that it can be cast every three days if necessary and each extra action includes (3 x Essence) yards of effectively-instant movement which may be through the air.

   The Solar version – Between the Lightning and the Thunder – costs 40 Motes and is effectively identical to the Celestial version – except that the user can insert his bonus actions outside of the flow of time, thus bypassing physical defense values and preventing anyone from activating charms or other abilities, no matter how reflexive. They simply have not time in which to do anything whatsoever. Anything triggered by the user’s actions – such as, say, a trap or spell which goes off when disturbed – will go off during the beginning of the next normal tick.

   Sandals of the Wind (Terrestrial): 15 Motes. Multiplies the user’s movement – including that produced by other magical effects – by (Essence) for (Sta + Occult) hours. Any vehicle the user pilots or drives, and any beast he drives, gets half this bonus.

   As with several other spells, this appears to be the limits of the effect – and higher-circle versions have not been reported. Apparently, as a rule, if you’re capable of casting celestial or solar level spells to begin with, you’re essence is high enough to make this version all you need.

   Song of the Loa (Terrestrial): 15 Motes. The user opens the way for a willing spirit to bond with a willing host for up to twenty-four hours. While the host remains physically in charge, the spirit may lend the host its abilities (although it’s quite free to lie about what a particular power does) – but is in no way obliged to do so and may depart at any time. Most spirits will want something in exchange for the use of their powers. Ghosts, for example, are notorious for wanting to taste the pleasures of life, while little gods usually want worship and offerings. If it should become relevant – such as an Eclipse caste studying a Spirit Charm – one day spent with a charm available due to the use of Song of the Loa counts as a week of study towards learning it later on.

   The Celestial version – The Invocation of the Heart’s Bond – costs 25 motes, lasts for up to twelve hours, and allows two willing participants with essence ratings of two or more to share motes, willpower points, and up to eight of each others charms (eight from one donor and eight from the other) – although this does not bypass any of the usual prerequisites for the actual use of those charms; sharing an essence-four charm with an essence two character is of little use to him or her. Again, if it should matter, any day in which a character has access to a charm through this spell counts as a week of study time towards learning it later on.

   The Solar version is rumored to produce a permanent fusion of the participants, creating a vastly-powerful abomination possessing the sum of all their abilities. It was supposedly used once during the primordial war by a mighty solar-lunar pair – but while the resulting horror easily shredded the primordial it was in conflict with, the sheer side effects of its power, and of such close bonding of two exaltations, threatened to destroy all creation. Fortunately, the entity tore its way free of the fabric of space and time by its own raw power and passed into the deep wild – from where the two Exaltations returned moments later, once again separate – but apparently vastly older. Since then no Solar has ever successfully learned this spell.

   Sphere of Purity (Terrestrial): 20 Motes. Provides perfect protection for a radius of (Essence) yards for (Sta+Occ) hours against toxins, lack of air, and diseases, as well as natural extremes of environmental temperature and pressure.

   The Celestial version – Thaumin’s Lesser Geomancy – costs 30 motes and creates a flourishing oasis, filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, and water. Such an oasis covers a radius of (10 x Caster’s Essence) yards, enjoys perfect protection from all environmental effects, and will endure for one lunar month.

   The Solar version – Thaumin’s Greater Geomancy – costs 60 motes and creates a private pocket universe. Unfortunately, no one who has cast this version of the spell has ever returned to provide further commentary on the effects.

   Summons of the Earth’s Heart (Terrestrial): 20 Motes. Transforms air to stone in a radius of (2x Essence) yards for up to one hour. Roll (Per + Occ) to shape things. Neither blockable nor dodgeable as long as you leave a foot or so around living creatures (1 per success, others may dodge).

   The Celestial version – The Dominions of the Earth – costs 30 motes and creates permanent stone.

   The Solar version – The Mountain-Sculpturs Art – affects a radius of up to (20 x Essence) yards and is both permanent and easily sculpted – allowing the immediate creation of massive structures.

Bruce Damien “I Am Not the Prince of Darkness!” De La Vega

English: A 18th century engraving depicting a ...

How not to make friends and influence people.

   Here we have a curious character from Editorial-0, who was recently digging through some of his old books and ran across Werewolf the Apocalypse… Given his fondness for misfit characters, it is no surprise that this particular character probably won’t be able to fit in anywhere at all.

   Bruce Damien I.A.N.T.P.O.D. De La Vega

Built as 2nd Edition Werewolf: The Apocalypse character

  • Character Type: Werewolf (kinda sorta not-really)
  • Breed: Homid
  • Auspice: None
  • Tribe: None
  • Nature:
  • Demeanor:
  • Totem:
  • Age 37 (15 physically)
  • Sex: Male
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
Physical   Mental   Social
Strength 1 Intelligence 4 Charisma 3
Dexterity 2 Wits 5 Manipulation 4
Stamina 3 Perception 1 Appearance 1
Talents   Skills   Knowledges
Alertness Animal Ken Computer
Athletics Drive 3 Enigmas 4
Brawl Etiquette 3 Investigation
Dodge Firearms Law
Empathy 3 Melee Linguistics
Expression Leadership Medicine 1
Intimidation Performance 3 Occult 5
Primal-Urge Repair Politics
Streetwise 2 Stealth Rituals 3
Subterfuge Survival Science

   Special Traits

  • Gnosis ** (Starting at 1 for a base)
  • Willpower **** (Starting at 1 for a base)
  • Gifts
    • Has access to Homid, Ragabash, and Black Fury lists
      • Persuasion (1) Cha+Subterfuge DC 6, reduces Social DC’s by 1, no cost
      • Sense of the Prey (2) Perception + Enigmas if target is actively hiding, no cost
      • Thieving Talons of the Magpie (5) Wits + Stealth DC Willpower, 1 Gnosis/turn to use

   Backgrounds

  • Ally *
  • Contacts **
  • Resources *
  • Totem ***:

   Ally: Local Camarilla Kindred generally. They are considered friendly to Bruce, although he has no claim on their services and cannot get in touch directly. They would well-disposed if he needed to make a trade or contact someone, but that’s the limits of his association. This is a 1-point background because the benefit is small and diffuse, offering limited help, and liable to vanish.

   Contacts

  • Richard Duggan, Children of Gaia Elder. As the most important Children of Gaia leader around (though he doesn’t control the Caern), Richard has been a handy person to know for Bruce. They don’t really owe each other anything, but Richard has asked Bruce to help on many an occasion, and Bruce does so eagerly. Oddly, it’s easier for Bruce to get in touch with him than many werewolves, and Richard lets everyone know Bruce can be trusted if the Garou need something done.
  • Erin Larimore, shop owner. Erin deals in the usual weird occult supplies: candles, tarot decks, and other conveniences for the New Age crowd or Wiccans. But she has the real thing in the back: animal blood for “people with iron deficiency”, quality ritual supplies for people who use them, custom orders an other special items for those who ask. She doesn’t own a great deal, but it’s real enough. The prices are high, but she closes long after midnight. Bruce is one of her infrequent customers, and if he needed something rare or even a place to hide, he might go see her.

   Freebies

  • +2 Gifts (14)
  • +2 Backgrounds (2)
  • +1 Gnosis (2)
  • +3 Willpower (3)

   Merits and Flaws

  • Flaw: No Transformation: Cannot shapeshift out of human form and cannot revert from another form if externally altered. The character has no regeneration and will die from normal damage. Of course, life’s not all bad: he doesn’t have to fear aggravated damage more than usual. Then again, anything likely to cause aggro damage would kill him faster than the plague. (-8)
    • >>> This is not only a bigger flaw than the Jedi-Garou’s version, it effectively makes him far weaker than any other werewolf or Vampire character. Granted, most enemies are not going to worry about Bruce when a werewolf shows up, but still.
  • Flaw: No Place in Society: The character has no natural place in his “normal” society and cannot really advance in status among them. He may be loved or hated, but is always an outsider. He isn’t automatically invited to gatherings, and cannot gain social status. (-5)
    • >>> This would be -3 for most characters, but as a “werewolf” (ha!) he normally needs ranks to advance. Even worse, this would cripple his magical abilities since he could never buy advanced Gifts. This Flaw doesn’t normaly apply to Sabbat or Anarch vampires, because they could still haul off and join the Camarilla if they chose, and most Camarilla rejects would be able to hang with Anarchs or prove themselves to the Sabbat, etc. It might apply to a Thin-Blood character, but they don’t get the additional bonus because they’re not dependent on social standing for power.
  • Flaw: Moonblind: The character has no lunar auspice, gifts, auspice gift list, and no inherent Rage. On the upside, he has no Rage and no associated problems. (-7)
    • >>> While the value of the Rage would vary by the specific chosen auspice, we can use the Philodox as an average. That’s 3 Rage (6), a gift list (1), and a Gift (7). Getting only 7 points from it is extremely conservative.
  • Flaw: Tribeless: The character has no tribe and no free Willpower, gifts, or tribal gift list. But life’s not all bad: he has no background limitations. (-5)
    • >>> Again, there’s no easy answers here. We’ll take an average of 3 Willpower (3), a gift list (1), Gift (7). As with Moonblind, getting only 5 points is the conservative option – but this isn’t a godlike master of magic, but a hardworking neophyte character.
  • Merit: Gifted Path: You have access to a whole gift list (breed, auspice, or tribe) or your choice. This may be taken multiple times. (+1) [Taken twice]
    • >>> This could cost much more, but it’s possible to learn gifts directly from spirits, or change tribe or auspice, and you still have to find someone to teach you the gift. If you absolutely must have a certain gift, you can always jsut grab that, and with no more difficulty than otherwise. This is really a favor owed by a spirit, Garou, and represents your investment of time and energy into that path.
  • Merit: Bargainer: You can access Gifts one rank higher than usual, but must stack up bribes for the spirits to do so. This may be taken multiple times. (+5 for the first rank, +3 thereafter) [Taken five times]
    • >>> This is a biggie, but you have to buy the more expensive first rank, which gets you nothing at character creation, and then find the points to invest elsewhere. If that still seems overpowered, rememebr that buying two ranks of this nets you access to second-rank Gifts but you still have to buy them out of freebie points or experience and it costs as much as losing access to all shapeshifting! Plus, high-rank disciplines are often much more expensive in terms of Gnosis and Willpower – which you can’t easily afford. The spirits will ask for anything they like to let you use your magic, and in a fight you don’t have time to argue, either. They allow you to pay later, if only because they recognize that a battle to the death isn’t the place for burning incense offerings. And you don’t have to bargain for any Gift your rank allows you access to normally.

   Because Bruce is built as a Werewolf (even without their normal abilities), he does not need to pay for Immunity to Delirium, or purchase a Kinfolk background. Presumably his spirit interactions no doubt greatly eased the normal Delirium, so he is not subject to it. He can also bind fetishes or talens and step into the Umbra, although his experience there is limited.

   He has a total of 25 extra backgrounds from flaws. He has taken merits worth 19 points, leaving 6 points free for freebies.

———————————————————————————————-

   Bruce is a student of the spirits, studying how to bargain and cajole them into doing what he desires. This is roughly the same as tribal shamanism, but unlike shaman, Bruce lacks any kind of ongoing credit or codified rituals to get the job done. He can’t get a dozen tribal warriors to routinely offer their kills to the gods or carry on elaborate dances to please the wind.

   Fortunately, his ambitions lie less in controlling the weather or altering the fertility of the earth and more in personal amusement and wealth. This isn’t to say he’s selfish: to him, bargaining with the spirits is a job, and he expects to get paid. He delivers things they want, and he in return obtains magic from them. He uses this to get wealth to live on.

   Bruce wants to learn, but he treasures the knowledge more than the actual power. While he loves to use his abilities, it’s a matter of enjoying the fruits of the skills he worked long and hard to learn, not reveling in his personal might. He’s like an engineer, who loves the creation more than the fact he created it, but always crafting with a purpose.

   Of course, the magic is fun as well as useful. Bruce is well-known around local circles of occultists and hedge wizards. With time, he can contact the Camarilla, make contact with a Mage, or find a skilled Sorcerer. He has rough but accurate ideas of what any given creature or spellcaster can do, although he can’t easily tell the differences between the various clans, traditions, and or similar organizations. He works with Garou whenever possible, since they are among the few who could teach him more Gifts.

   He certainly envies other supernatural manipulators. To some local occultists dabbling with Oijia boards and Tarot cards, Bruce might sound powerful, but to a professional Sorcerer, he’s a pitiful child. And a Mage or Tremere would laugh at him for even calling himself a magician. The Garou certainly do, and most of them aren’t half as good as he.

   However, Garou also recognize that he’s very useful and pay him off in various (non-financial) ways. They are deeply disturbed by the fact that he’s mastered Gifts far beyond almost any werewolf, but for this very reason don’t feel like they can afford to dismiss him. A Homid he might be, but he’s painfully eager to help and apparently commands the respect of powerful spirits. The Garou keep him from any deep lore or their Rituals, but they hand him a few tidbits now and then. This has led Bruce to writing down a great deal of Garou knowledge, including things they’d rather not let anyone else learn.

   He adds to his mystical talents a willingness to allow any peaceful traveler a brief stay in his home. He declared it Neutral Ground where any magical being or magic-user is welcome. Thus far the local Children of Gaia have chosen to pretend the place doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be harboring unholy Wyrm-tainted Vampires or filthy magic-stealing Mages. Bruce assumes they’ve just opted to ignore the issue, but they place a deeper game: it’s damn useful to observe such travelers. Watchful visitors might note an oddly observant and wild-looking ‘dog’ hanging around the woods facing the house. Bruce is oblivious, as usual.

   Bruce has also been very ill lately, a sickness he recently came down with. He’s pale and shivers all the time, and hasn’t been able to focus as easily. He feels weak all the time, particularly in the day, and tires more quickly than normal.

    The following is for bog-standard WoD games, where the world sucks and everyone is a dick, endlessly moaning about their miserable fate. It would be greatly muted in most games.

   Bruce isn’t very perceptive. But he’s not socially reclusive and knows he’s not respected. He’s surrendered a great deal of time and hard work to get his magical powers, and yet they are still very limited. Everyone seems to treat him as either a fool, a tool, or an object, not worthy of any recognition in his own right. So far, he’s not realized, and would be crushed to learn, that supernaturals consider him a nuisance even when well-disposed towards him. He tries to maintain his ongoing enthusiasm and helpfulness, as his deep-seated loneliness slowly emerges.

   What Bruce thinks of…

   Werewolves: He really admires them (they are very skilled in spiritualism), but fears them at the same time. Despite their Rage, they could live a reasonably normal life, but they actively encourage it to boil over. He recognizes that the Children of Gaia do so less often and tolerate him much more. He’s learning the differences between the breeds, auspices, tribes, and wants to collect their history and wisdom (such as it is) into a single volume. It never occurred to him that the Garou might not want such a thing, and may be surprised (fatally) when he finally finishes it and triumphantly gifts them back copies.

  • Children of Gaia: These are the closest thing to friends Bruce has among the Garou. They at least don’t automatically hold their noses at his presence, and even invite him to help at times. They’re the most willing to exchange lore, and have fewer problems with Rage. While Bruce isn’t sure if he can trust them, he’s always willing to hear them out on anything they need.
  • Red Talons: Bruce’s one meeting with a traveling Red Talon was not pleasant. He got the (correct) impression that the Talon wanted desperately to kill someone. This proved very much correct. He’d very much prefer not to meet another. Ever.
  • Get of Fenris: Bruce thinks they are much friendlier than they really are, mostly because his interactions with them have taken place mostly while both parties are drunk. They’ve had some wild hangovers together even if the Get considers him a freak who should be ignored.
  • Silent Striders: These uncommon guests cause no trouble and always thank him. He’s very pleased to have them, and they always leave swiftly in the morning.
  • Stargazers: The lone local Stargazer Bruce met was very friendly and shared a great deal of lore. Though withdrawn, he was gentle and seemed much more controlled than other Garou. That said, Bruce didn’t understand half of what he was saying and felt rather inadequate next to the werewolf’s considerable spiritual might.

 Vampires: Bruce realizes intellectually they are predatory no less than Garou, but that’s not what bothers him (they avoid killing as much as possible). Instead, his major problem is that nearly every vampire he’s met is a callous jackass for no reason. This partly the nature of the ones he’s met, but not entirely.

  • Brujah: The Brujah don’t come around as often as the Gangrel, but the have caused trouble and are the only Kindred he’s had to ask to leave. They were sufficiently rowdy as to attract police attention on a nuisance charge. They had all the manners of a rabid pit bull, but only about half the charm.
  • Gangrel: The Gangrel are Bruce’s most common visitor. He rolls out a welcome, with hot showers and a nice basement bedroom protected from the sun. They, in fact, are the ones responsible for bringing him to the attention of the Camarilla. They seem very unpleasant and hardly talk to him. Instead they simply show up unannounced (often at very late or very early hours) and expect a stay.
  • Toreador: The one Toreador Bruce met was very odd, and could not shut up about ballet the entire night. Bruce doesn’t entirely understand the clan divisions, but has a vague idea they are the “artist” clan or something. He’s rather leery of meeting any more, because the idea of blood-crazed art majors disturbs him greatly.
  • Ventrue: Bruce met a Ventrue investigating his home and person. This one at least didn’t remotely hide his reasons for coming and approached in a very businesslike manner, and gave the general impression it was a very bad idea to cross him. There was some honesty and surprising straightforwardness in that. Bruce didn’t trust the vampire, but he did feel safer around that one than any other supernatural. And it was only partly the result of Presence.

   Mages: Bruce greatly admires Mages, especially the way they effortlessly go far beyond the powers he has, without even having to try. To him, it’s downright incredible. He’d do almost anything for Mages or Sorcerers – they’re his heroes, able to play with reality itself like modeling clay. Of course, he doesn’t realize the true difficulty and cost of such things, nor the conflicts between the wielders of true magic. The divisions between them are fairly opaque.

 What they think of Bruce

   Kindred: The Kindred nearby consider Bruce a very handy resource, and one worth protecting as long as he doesn’t talk. They know that a traveling vampire is most vulnerable, and Bruce greatly eases that risk. As such, they’d prefer to keep him an ally at arm’s length. They haven’t shared any of their lore the way the lupines have. Note that only the Camarilla really knows who he is and how to use his services. The Sabbat, Giovanni, and Setites have only a vague idea he might exist, and the Anarchs stay away from the area.

  • Brujah: The Brujah enjoyed Bruce’s help much more than they let on, and might argue in his favor if it came down to that. They think it’s funny that he asked ancient undead predators of the night to not disturb the neighbors.
  • Gangrel: They think he’s not long for this world, although they appreciate his hospitality. They don’t realize their gruff demeanor is driving him away, because he always seems very friendly. They take advantage of his openness most often. They also don’t really comprehend how interested he is in their past and knowledge, simply because nobody else cares.
  • Tremere: They certainly watch the occult community for good prospects, but decided he’s vastly too limited to be of use. His talents lie in an area they rarely touch and which doesn’t greatly affect them, so as far as they are concerned he’s a waste. They don’t even want to associate with him, paranoid as they are about anyone learning their mystic secrets.
  • Ventrue: The nearby Camarilla prince decided Bruce has his uses and suggested the local Kindred leave him alone. Any Vampire who casually or pointlessly hurt Bruce would probably be punished for wasting a resource, but could easily persuade the Prince to drop the protection if needed. It’s only a matter of convenience for traveling Camarilla.
  • The Prince even considered Embracing Bruce himself to keep the Masquerade intact since the Tremere declined, but is not sure whether Bruce would adapt well. He also knows Bruce’s useful magic would likely be lost permanently. In any case, having a friendly (if not very discrete) and willing daytime assistant is very handy. The Prince wants him kept at arm’s length and has, through intermediaries, warned him about being too public.

 Garou: The local Garou generally consider Bruce a nuisance, tolerated for his usefulness and his willingness to help. Many assume he’s Kinfolk (which might even be true) and try to ignore his incredible spiritual talent. That doesn’t stop them from asking for favors or ‘borrowing’ money they don’t intend to repay in exchange for sharing stories and tidbits of lore, and they fail to realize just how knowledgeable he’s becoming. He can probably match even the best Garou loremasters already – a fact which would shock them if they learned of it.

  • Children of Gaia: The Children’s Elder is the most favorable to Bruce of the local Garou, and wants to keep the status quo for the moment. They are displeased by his contacts with the Vampires, but don’t wish to risk provoking a confrontation. The Children of Gaia know the Prince’s protection was recently bestowed and fear that killing a vampire in Bruce’s home, or allowing another Garou to hurt Bruce, would spark a horrible fight they might well lose.
  • Get of Fenris: It’s a good thing that Bruce doesn’t realize that the Get despise him, or worse. Some of their members actively think he is a threat, though not enough to anger the Children of Gaia. They dislike him because of his involvement with Vampires and Mages, which they fear may lead to attacks on the Caern.
  • Glass Walkers: They really don’t care. He’s not their concern, and he’s not remotely important. to them. If they are even aware of his existence, it is dim at best and probably consists of a few notes on noteworthy occultists in the city.
  • Shadow Lords: If the Get worry Bruce may cause trouble, the Shadow Lords enjoy the thought. Of course, they very much want to kill Bruce – the idea of a human competing with Garou for spiritual mastery disturbs them on levels they are unwilling to admit. It’s not what he’s done, but what he is, which undermines their view of the world. And being werewolves, their first instinct upon encountering contrary evidence is to destroy it. They want to make sure any such reprisal falls entirely upon the Children of Gaia and the Get, leaving them in a position to take over. Thankfully, they don’t know how connected Bruce is to the Mages and vampires, or things would get messy, fast.
  • Silent Striders: Since a hot meal and a warm bed are always welcomed by the Striders, they politely enjoy his hospitality and don’t stretch more than a day or two. They’re used to trading entertainment for a place to live, and are always free with him.
  • Stargazers: The Stargazer living around has plans for Bruce, although he hasn’t shared it. If a human can achieve such spiritual mastery (in his own unusual fashion), then perhaps there is hope for the Garou, too. Even more importantly, He realizes that Bruce’s Gift mastery may already be above that of the local Garou. If there is any way to use this to save his people, he very much wants to do so. And perhaps if the Garou are saved from themselves, then even his dwindling tribe has hope.
  • Uktena: Though the Uktena have few members nearby, they do keep tabs on Bruce, simply because they don’t entirely understand how a human can use this magic. He has never met them, but they know all about him, and watch for whatever spirits he might inadvertently pull down from the Umbra.

 Mages: The general lack of organization which prevails among the Mage traditions and sorcerers mostly prevents them from having any very specific opinions. While they recognize he has some unusual talents and great enthusiasm, they sneer privately at the narrow focus and pathetic range he displays. Sure, he can do some very potent things – but even a new-born mage or a half-trained sorcerer can do much, much more. To them, he’s another monotalent with little potential. Dozens of similar people harass them for advice and training, and none of them can possibly measure up. Bruce is no different than the rest.

  • Verbena: One Verbena in particular has an unusual interest in Bruce, although he (she? it?) remains extremely subtle about it. Having heard about Bruce’s talent and wanting to investigate the Garou anyway, this shape-shifting master of life even invited Bruce to borrow his talents. Bruce did so, and with a passing wish to be younger nearly de-aged himself back into childhood. The Mage had to act quickly to keep Bruce from going back to nursery school. As it is, Bruce is twenty years younger and could easily go back to high school. The ability to copy an Avatar’s enlightenment, however temporary, is nothing to sneeze at, and the Verbena wants to see just how far Bruce can go with his talents.
  • Order of Hermes (Sorcerers): These masters of traditional magic are the majority, and probably the biggest power bloc, in the Order of Hermes. The Mages have almost entirely withdrawn to the spirit realms, leaving the real power in the hands of paradox-immune Sorcerers. They are aware of Bruce, and think of him as a sad case of what happens with a talented individual has no training or assistance. To them, he’s wasted his ability on attempting to re-invent the wheel. He did well in his own way, but the effort he invested can never produce the same results of learning from others.

 hat should be enough hooks to run a campaign on. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what could possibly be short of his own novella. Note that these notes are not character advantages: Bruce doesn’t get to use these elements at his whim. They’re just giving dozens of hundreds of ways to involve him or build stories big and small about.

   The player could easily drive hooks forward, too, focusing on magical research. After all, the major differences vampires and humans are that vampires are undead – and must face off against their own internal Rage which animates them. And isn’t it very interesting that a vampire, even a deeply spiritual and enlightened one who constantly does good, always triggers Wyrm-sensing talents by Garou? This notion might not appeal to werewolves if they realized their Rage might be a poisoned gift, tainted at its true source (and some sourcebooks support this idea).

   Major projects mostly include continuing to rebuilding his business for detective work, finding people is very easy for him. Following his rejuvenation, he lost most of his assets. It was all he could do to get a new legal ID, claiming a computer error crossed him up with an older relative with the same name. He wants his damn house back – the bank is too busy with other foreclosures to get around to claiming it, but that won’t last long.

   He’s working on creating the aforementioned book of Garou lore, and would like to continue with a vampire lore book as well. God help the world if he decides to start looking for Caine or other Antediluvians – he’d probably find them!

   Bruce is planning to contact a pack totem and attempt to to persuade it to adopt him as the whole “pack”. He’s chosen a Bear sprit. While a totem of War, its gifts are oriented more towards healing the scars of battle. The Gift of Mother’s Touch is invaluable to Garou, and the medicine bonus would help as well. Sadly, he doesn’t have sufficient backgrounds devoted to it yet, but will work hard to improve this.

   His sickness could be a hook or just a tidbit explaining his very off-balance attributes. Who knows where it might lead – perhaps he’s somehow picked up a bit of harmful Rage or lunar association from spirits confusing him with a Garou. Or, perhaps someone has been dosing him with vampire blood intermittently (to Bloodbind him?), leading him to go in and out of ghoulhood. It might be some kind of Umbral sickness a werewolf can’t contract, or an attempt by the Wyrm or some other evil spirit to harm or control him. Could the rejuvenation somehow be killing him?]