Exalted – Geomantic Engineering


Do you even know how to work this thing?!

The basic Exalted rules for Geomancy can be found in Oadenol’s Codex. Sadly, they’re painful to read and don’t cover a fair number of things that our characters keep wanting to do. Ergo…

Geomantic Surveying is fairly simple; all you need is a thaumaturgic ritual to attune and extend your senses. The essence-flows of Creation are blazing rivers of power, strong enough to warp the landscape, spew spontaneous enchantments, empower mighty heroes, and mutate living creatures who linger too long upon their shores. They really aren’t that hard to find or map; all you’re really looking for is a look down from above. Just use the ritual of…

Thoughts Ride the Dragon Lines (1, Perception + Occult + Geomancy, d2 to get compass bearings to uncapped demesnes within [2 x Successes] miles, manses within [successes] miles, and potential demesnes within [Successes/3] miles. +2d to get the aspects of the manses, demesnes, and potential demesnes you detect, +2d to get a basic geomantic map of the area with those items marked within range, and +2d to get the ratings of the active manses and demesnes. Also to look for the points in a particular manse or demesne (d3) where geomantic sabotage may best be carried out. 5 minutes).

This basic geomantic ritual is used to locate major geomantic power nexi – or places that could become such. It will not, in general, penetrate the defenses of Hidden Manses or those built with concealment powers unless the user is very good indeed – and devotes extra successes to penetrating such defenses rather than to expanding the area covered. It also tends to be a lot more limited in peering into the depths of the earth; every hundred feet of depth counts as another mile of distance.

You can also attempt to use such a roll to figure out where a particular set of geomantic conditions might be found – but that’s the equivalent of a modern geologist trying to predict where oil might be found; you can make some good guesses, but sometimes you can’t find a good site – or what you want simply isn’t there no matter how good the site looks. In general, this has a difficulty set by the game master – normally at least (2 + twice the desired rating + GM modifiers for additional conditions). This will take at least a week if good records of an area are available to study, a month if records are sketchy and what you want is rare, and at least a year if you’re proceeding from pure theory and a general knowledge of creation.

The original white wolf version of a geomantic survey had a basic problem; rather than having the character survey an area and having the GM tell him or her what there was to be found in it, the character defined what he or she was looking for – and if he or she could roll enough dice, he or she was guaranteed to find what he or she wanted.

So if the character wanted “A rank-5 solar demesne somewhere in the two-acre fishpond in the private gardens of the Scarlet Empress in the Imperial Capital” he or she might be subject to a +10 difficulty for two +5 conditions (solar and in the fishpond) and require 10 successes to get a rank-5 demesne – but if he or she was good enough to handle the difficulty, and looked for long enough to build up the requisite number of successes, there it would be.

Even for Exalted, this makes no sense. There’s “saying yes” and then there’s “letting the player characters walk over the universe like a carpet”. Guess which one this is?

The fact that a five-minute thaumaturgic ritual in the same book would let anyone detect nearby manses and demesnes, while the system that Exalts were expected to use required a month even if you kept the difficulty low by just looking for “a demesne”, didn’t make a lot of sense either of course.

Geomantic Engineering:

Modifying a Demesne includes increasing or decreasing its rank (by one step at a time) and altering it’s aspect. The process involved moving earth and stone, building walls, sculpting the landscape, redirecting streams, planting trees, and performing rituals.

  • Requires: (Lore+Geomancy) and (Occult+Geomancy) totals of (demesne’s new rating + 3). It’s an extended (Intelligence + Occult + Geomancy Degree) check.
  • Period: Requires one ten year task per dot of the new rating. (Accelerated: Ten Years – One Year – One Season – One Month – One Week – One Day – One Hour – Scene – Round). Geomantic Sabotage requires a base time of only one week; it’s always easier to break things than it is to make them.
  • Difficulty: (New Level +2, additional + 1-3 if working against the local tendencies). Requires (New Rank x 10) total successes. A botch sets you back one year if working with an inactive demesne and triggers essence buildup in an active one. Sabotage is easier; it’s only d3 and requires only (5 + Rank x 5) accumulated successes to trigger essence buildup. Repairs work in exactly the same way.


  • Efficiency: Reduce the time interval by 1/2/3 steps at +10/25/50 difficulty.
  • Earth-Moving/Construction Crew/Charms/Artifacts: One step (Crew is usually Resources 3/4/5 monthly/seasonally/yearly). Two steps if you have suitable experts to direct your crew or with personal access to earth-moving charms and/or artifacts – but arranging for this is up to you.
  • Direct Essence-Flow Sensing/Manipulation: 1/2/3 steps for Minor/Major/Grandiose Charms and/or Artifacts.

In other words, if you’re stomping around with a garden hoe trying to engineer a demesne, it’s going to take you ten years per roll.

If you accept a +10 difficulty to look for shortcuts and subtle manipulations, bring in a crew of geomantic experts equipped with some equivalent of Singing Staves, and have a charm that allows you to directly sense and map geomantic essence flows, that reduces your time interval by four steps – from ten years per roll to one week per roll.

Roll Bonuses and Penalties:

  • Aid or Opposition from spirits: Up to +/-1 successes for aid from summoned spirits, 2 for local spirits, 3 for spirit courts, 4 for the elemental dragons, and 5 for Incarnae.
  • Massive, repeated, expenditures of aspected essence or large-scale infusions of appropriate magical materials: Up to +/-5 successes when altering a demesne’s aspect only.

Finally, we have the one item which only needs minor reworking:

Activating a potential, but unawakened demesne calls for another simple thaumaturgical ritual – Awaken the Coiling Dragon. This requires (Potential Demesnes Rating) Hours, a successful (Intelligence+Lore+Geomancy) check at a difficulty of (Potential Demesnes Rating), and either (Potential Demesnes Rating x 20 Motes) or the use of some similar power source (relayed power from manses, major artifacts, etc). A success activates the Demesne, a botch starts essence buildup. Multiple characters can contribute essence, but each rolls independently.

In theory it’s possible to drain a demesne or manse temporarily, or even to force one back into dormancy – but the process would require draining away tens of thousands of essence motes. In practice, it’s generally far easier to damp down and – if necessary – rebuild the demesne later than it is to find a way to drain it.

3 Responses

  1. […] Geomantic Engineering: Usable rules for engineering demesnes. […]

  2. […] Geomantic Engineering: Usable rules for engineering demesnes. […]

  3. […] Geomantic Engineering: Usable rules for engineering demesnes. […]

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