Exalted – Dudael, the Hierarchical Forge (Solar Celestial Manse *****)

Bas-relief depicting the tauroctony. Mithras i...

Secret Panel or Self Destruct Button?

And for today, it’s a complicated manse…

During the creation of Yu-Shan, in the incomprehensible ages before the Primordial War, the Great Maker walked the halls of the Primal Forge, supervising, and meddling with, the labors of the myriad lesser souls that constituted his self. Overseer, workforce, and forge in one being, the concept of artifice and technology incarnate.

And impatient, as all artificers have ever been, with the making of the smaller wonders that served as the components for their greater dreams.

Whether God, Deva, or Jouten, Za’el Viskarma, the Smith of Heroic Souls, who forged souls and panoplies as one, recognized both that the boss was a bother – and that his greater projects needed support. So he, and perhaps some of Authchthon’s other subordinates… became? merged with? constructed? Yu-Shan’s first generation of Factory-Cathedrals – freeing the Great Maker from the bother of overseeing the little details that they could handle for him.

For long ages, the great Nexial Lenses of Dudael drew upon the energies of the Deep Wyld, of Creation, of the Elemental Poles, and of sources stranger yet, spinning molten threads of aspected essence into the raw stuff of artifice and inspiration.

During the Primordial War Za’el merged with his beloved Factory-Cathedral (if it had, indeed, ever been a truly separate thing) – granting it, by virtue of his own version of The Dragon Vortex, Indestructibility, Independence from External Geomancy (via Wyld Revocation), and freedom from the demands of Maintenance. With it’s master thus imprisoned within his own impenetrable – but perfect – defenses, Dudael (despite the disruption of it’s supply lines) continued to turn out lesser wonders for the gods and heroes of Creation throughout the Primordial War and it’s aftermath.

Za’el has not been heard from since the departure of Autochthon – and a succession of lesser managers, political appointees unable to sustain the creative fire which once inspired great feats of craftsmanship, turned the ill-understood facilities of Dudael to lesser purposes. For millennia, many of it’s most advanced facilities have done little more than gather dust.

Finally, after centuries of near-total paralysis resulting from it’s last manager’s fruitless attempts to fulfill impossible – but high-priority – demands from the powerful, the position was dumped onto a young (apparent) god-blood – Charles Dexter Ward.

The boy was admittedly a talented thaumaturgist and artificer, but he had virtually no political awareness, no axes to grind, few apparent commitments to patrons, was (as an subcontractor and a child) both free to set his own priorities and partially immune to audits and pressure.

And he should be competent enough, while still aware enough of his own limitations, to get a few minor things done! Yu-Shan needed Ambrosia Cookers, Fivefold Harmonic Adapters, and a wide range of other one-dot artifacts which a Factory-Cathedral was ideal for turning out in quantity!

Political pressure and private demands DID put a number of nigh-impossible projects in the que of course – but the boy promptly (and quite properly!) filed those under “maybe someday” and got on with the practical stuff.

Dudael is a complex, twisted, spire, surmounted by the ever-shifting mechanical arms bearing the great Nexial Lenses – crystalline spheres of adamant and magical materials and solid nothing of infinite material strength which reach out into impossibility by defining a dimension linking themselves with the desired source of power that does not exist, and therefore offers no barrier to transverse – and flood the upper level of the structure with exotic essence. From there, the power is channeled down into the Essence Forge and the Essence Scriber with lesser essence channels running to the Veilward and other conveniences, descending through the spiral structure of the manse in an inverted tornado of magical power.

Dudael has Habitability-1 (it’s a factory; it really wasn’t designed for people to actually live in it), Maintenance -4 (like all Factory-Cathedrals, and a Hearthstone -0, for a grand total of 20 manse construction points. These are expended as follows:

Factory-Cathedral (5): Dudael is actually a bit… old-fashioned for a Factory-Cathedral. It isn’t nearly as technomagically-oriented as most of the Factory-Cathedrals of the first and second age; it does have some of the usual essence-machinery, but it also has plenty of workshops, magically-fueled furnaces, anvils, and similar items, where multiplying reality-mirrors absorb ingredients to produce near-perfect duplicates of an artisans works. While there is always a subtle difference – a differing decorative pattern, a slightly different style of wings, or perhaps a variation in the items “special effects” that uniquely identifies each individual artifact the Dudael produces, this has no effect on their functions.

Consecrated (Upgraded from the Temple Manse function inherent in Factory-Cathedral, 1): Dudael – oriented from the beginning towards shining heroes – falls naturally under the dominion of the Unconquered Sun, and it’s tendency to focus and concentrate energies floods its halls with his energies. Creatures opposed to the Unconquered sun are not only unable to regain motes or willpower within his walls, but will lose a point of willpower, and suffer a level of aggravated damage, every minute that they remain within its walls. Those reduced to zero willpower will begin to lose permanent willpower instead, then permanent essence, if they insist on remaining – or are unable to depart.

Central Control Room (2): Dudael’s primary controls are located in the managers workshop-office, where the reality-mirrors are thickest, eager to reflect the managers skills and techniques into the production of a multitude of artifacts. Unusually, the controls here include a “mothball” option – allowing the operator to take the various functions of the Factory-Cathedral offline, thus obviating the need for Maintenance – at the cost of having to perform such Maintenance before the system can be started up again.

Integrated Utility Artifacts (3): Dudael, using a spark of power drawn from the Primal Forge itself, includes several artifacts designed by Autochthon himself

  • The Veilward (Artifact *****) is distantly related to the Loom of Fate. When it’s active, the manse is hidden in a maze of harmless, useless, and irrelevant, alternate realities – but only for those attempting to intrude upon it without the permission of the Hearthstone bearer. Any and all such intrusions – whether direct (in person) or indirect (in the form of spells, scrying, or dispatching automatons) require an opposed essence roll against the Hearthstone Bearer – who gains a +3d bonus successes against direct intrusions and a +6d bonus against indirect intrusions (reduced to +2d and +4d against Sidereals and anyone else who is used to working with the Loom of Fate) – a unique flaw in an otherwise perfect defense. The Hearthstone bearer is also automatically alerted to such intrusions. Intruders who lose may – at the whim of the Hearthstone bearer – simply find empty rooms, see the people they’re scrying on doing taking a break or doing boring things, or be allowed to smash up all the unresisting machinery and such they want (or even destroy the entire manse and leave to celebrate their “victory”) – all of which accomplishes absolutely nothing. Fortunately, all such intruders have to do to get back to normal reality is to leave again – but only one roll is allowed per week; repeat attempts will simply get the same effect.
  • The Essence Scriber (Artifact *****) is, perhaps, the greatest secret of the manse, and is one of the items that makes it superior to earthly Factory-Cathedrals; it inscribes runic channels for essence into the very essence of an artifact while it’s being made – giving purpose and function to the raw essence-affinity of the materials being used. While it requires a serious master of artifice (Occult + Relevant Speciality Dice totaling 10+) to activate and use the Essence Scriber, it can be used to replace any one exotic component of level *** or less that a given production run happens to call for.

Narrative Construction (Wyld Revocation, 4) is another primordial legacy, a useful relic of the forces of the Deep Wyld. Within the walls of Dudael, giving an artifact a name and an identity of it’s own, giving it a ritual blessing, and weaving it into the artificers own tale is as vital a part of making it as any other component – and, in fact, always counts as one of the exotic components needed to make a given artifact. On a less dramatic basis, this allows Dudael to transmute the energies drawn from the Nexial Lenses – and perhaps bits of Quintessence as well – into mundane materials whenever they are named and called for, so that Dudael, and those working there, will never run short of stone, timber, iron, crystal, and similar basic materials.

Unbindable (2): This close relative of Immutable renders the manse, and everyone currently in it, impervious to Unnatural Mental Influence – albeit not to natural mental influence or to political, economic, or physical threats and pressure. As a side effect, Exalts accumulate Limit – or Clarity (or whatever) at only one-half the normal rate within the manse. Za’el was no stranger to the problems involved in having powerful individuals making special demands, wanting their own projects worked on to the exclusion of others, and otherwise interfering with his schedule – and he wanted none of that in HIS facility.

Advanced Magical Conveniences (2): Dudael provides a host of minor services to aid it’s residents – services far more versatile and effective than the simple one-point version of this power. Dudael’s effects include:

  • Kinetic Aides. Dudael swarms with minor knots of telekinetic energy which will rush to assist the (authorized) residents – holding lights, drinks, and books, accomplishing seemingly simple tasks in tight or dangerous situations, helping to carry heavy objects, and otherwise making life – and work – just a little easier. Unfortunately, they aren’t up to errands; if they get more than ten or fifteen feet away from the person providing directions they lose contact and will either come back or wander off to assist someone else. Notably, however, the Hearthstone Bearer can direct the kinetic aides anywhere within the manse.
  • Utilities. Dudael has excellent (if impersonal) lighting, plumbing, air conditioning, and similar functions – mostly courtesy of the fact that it sustains thaumaturgy-level effects wherever they’re handy for its workers and director, allowing anyone with a little Occult knowledge to readily personalize their working space and arrange things for the maximum possible comfort and convenience.
  • Fast Transport. Dudael allows it’s authorized residents to move about at high speed – opening and closing doors, sliding sections of flooring to move people along faster, negating inconvenient gravity (allowing the kinetic aides to move you around with ease without bothersome stairs), and opening hatchways to allow anyone so inclined to simply slide between floors.
  • Communications. Dudael provides excellent internal communications, surveillance (reporting to the Control Room / Directors Office of course), and fault-detection, reporting problems either with the assembly process, with the staff, or with the structure and systems theemselves.
  • Arcane Assistance. Dudael is, quite simply, incredibly convenient to work in. Anything that the Hearthstone Bearer, or one of the workers, attempts to do within the manse gains a +1d bonus – in part due to this power, in part due to the cumulative effects of the Kinetic Aides and Utilities powers.

Dynamic Architecture (1): This power is incomplete – and so is ONLY accessible by someone who is both aware of it’s (carefully-hidden) existence and capable of using The Dragon Vortex or some similar ability to access it. To access this feature’s full power, such an individual will also need to give the manse the Network Node and Geomantic Nexus functions. If this is done, however… Completing, and expanding on, the Dynamic Architecture power allows the user to access an apparently-endless series of alternate manse configurations – each discarding the nine points worth of Factory-Cathedral and Narrative Construction functions in favor of Magical Conveniences (1) (Universal Indexing, Universal Search, Access/copying, Recording, and Filing functions on the Archives) and Archives x4 (8 – to cover enormous amounts of information). Unfortunately, there’s a flaw: making archives essence-based allows some of the things they describe – including the bizarre nightmares the Primordials considered creating, but didn’t actually make – to occasionally manifest deep within their endless depths. Worse, while simple spells and designs for artifacts generally aren’t buried too deeply, things the game master wants to make exceptionally difficult – or entirely unavailable – may be buried at an arbitrary depth. If you need to access Archive 14,215 to get that elder secret, you’ll need to find 14,217 energy points from geomantic relays to access it.

You could simply achieve the same result by adding an Otherworld Gate (5) to Terry Pratchet’s “L-Space”, where you can find anything that has ever been, or might ever be, written – but that brings up the entire “other dimensions” can of worms and is entirely too simple for access to all possible knowledge.

Oh, as far as “Other Dimensions” go, all other dimensions have a Perfect Defense against interacting with the residents, energies, materials, and powers of differing dimensions – with the usual mandatory flaw; it doesn’t work if the visitors accept the rules of the dimension and operate under them, adapting their own natures and abilities as required.

Are you free to reject that requirement with some special power? Of course you are! At which point the dimensions perfect defense once again applies to you, that dimension no longer exists as far as you’re concerned, and you’ll find yourself in some random point in pure chaos – just as if you were resident in a Chancel that was destroyed.

Charles despite his continued efforts to decipher the geomantic secrets of Dudael, has not yet become fully aware of this ability – but he’s certainly begun to suspect it. On the other hand… even with the Veilward now in full operation again, he’d be most reluctant to try to pour enough geomantic power into the place to probe too deeply into the Primordial Archives. That might well attract some very unwelcome attention indeed.

A workshift at Dudael normally lasts about nine hours – although that includes breaks and lunch – and several hours of boot-up, cool-down, maintenance, and instruction-reading for which the “boss” (and most, if not all, of the workers) need not be around. Overall, that comes to about twelve hours a day, so it is possible – if the system is running on automatic or you have multiple competent bosses – to run two shifts; you just use the statistics of the less-competent of the two shift bosses to make the required rolls OR to work on separate projects.

Given the difficulty of finding ONE really competent manager, Dudael usually only runs one shift.

3 Responses

  1. […] Dudael, the Hierarchical Forge (Solar Celestial Manse-5): A primordial Factory-Cathedral in Yu-Shan, New Artifacts – the Veilward and Essence Scriber. New Powers – Narrative Construction, Unbindable, Advanced Magical Conveniences, the Primordial Archives, notes on Other Dimensions and their Perfect Defenses. […]

  2. […] Dudael, the Hierarchical Forge (Solar Celestial Manse-5): A primordial Factory-Cathedral in Yu-Shan, New Artifacts – the Veilward and Essence Scriber. New Powers – Narrative Construction, Unbindable, Advanced Magical Conveniences, the Primordial Archives, notes on Other Dimensions and their Perfect Defenses. […]

  3. […] Dudael, the Hierarchical Forge (Solar Celestial Manse-5): A primordial Factory-Cathedral in Yu-Shan, New Artifacts – the Veilward and Essence Scriber. New Powers – Narrative Construction, Unbindable, Advanced Magical Conveniences, the Primordial Archives, notes on Other Dimensions and their Perfect Defenses. […]

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