The Winding Way is a spiraling path hewn from the living stone that winds through and up a small mountain. The narrow rune-inscribed way is never the same twice; a myriad possible, but mutually exclusive, ways lie before anyone who enters the manse.
They will never see more than one.
Each separate and individual path shares some common features however…
The path always begins with the Gate of the Earth at the mountains base, where the looming stony mass demands a fearful respect for it’s near-limitless geomantic power – and offers ways of tapping into that power to work unfailing wonders. .
It passes through the Cascading Falls, where the waters and essence flow over the rocks in patterns which – while always similar – are never the same twice, flooding the travelers spirit with the unfathomable energies of the world.
It emerges into a Verdant Ravine, where plants – rooted in the energies of the cascades below – teach the way of transforming wild power into serenity and growth. Here the traveler learns to let his magics flow from the world and it’s patterns, rather than inposing his or her will upon the world.
From the ravine it climbs towards the peak, becoming a narrow and perilous way, battered by Winds which force the traveler to cling to the rune-inscribed stones of the way – the better to look at how those runes rise from the very essence of the world, and spill out across it, deeply buried and full of secrets and power, to be drawn from the winds of the world to become shaping words.
At the peak itself is a smoldering volcanic vent, a basin of seething Essence-Fire, rising from the Depths of the Earth – a place where, if one is brave enough to accept the pain, one can sacrifice a portion of ones self to the earthfire, to forge oneself anew, and come forth – like the phoenix – remade and bearing the tokens of mastery.
At the peak is also where the Hearthstone forms…
- The Winding Way is Rank-4 for a base of 8 Manse Construction Points and has a Habitability-3 drawback – providing eleven manse construction points to spend.
- It’s Rank-4 Hearthstone is a Gem of Vision. Given an hours effort by the user and a D5 Occult check it can be used to let a would-be traveler walk the Winding Path in spirit just as effectively as he or she could in the body. More importantly, it allows the user to use Occult (albeit at +3 DC) in place of Investigation when performing physical searches or examining things directly. It won’t help the user search a library, but it is useful when searching for clues and such.
Note that an Abyssal or Lunar Manse **** will also work, as will any Manse-***** – where the +2 construction points and giving up a hearthstone level to keep it at Rank-4 will neatly counteract the increased cost of the three Wyld Revocation effects.
Major Magical Conveniences (2):
- Thaumic Anchor (Earth): Each resident (someone who is within the manse and has been recognized as a “resident” by the hearthstone bearer) may tie three thaumaturgic effects to the manse, giving them an indefinite duration. While they can be dispelled normally, the endless power reserves of a manse mean that they will re-establish themselves six ticks later.
- Thaumic Awakening (Water): Unenlightened mortal residents will – within a week – become Enlightened, with free access to their personal mote pools of (Essence x 10 + Willpower).
- Thaumic Mastery (Wood): Each resident gets seven free uses of thaumaturgy per day, ignoring the usual willpower cost.
- Thaumic Shaping (Air): Each resident may draw three motes from the manse to power Thaumaturgy or Sorcery with up to seven times per day. This does not count as an action; the motes are simply available when needed.
- Thaumic Weaving (Fire): Residents find it easy to use thaumaturgy to construct the Five Thaumaturgical Foci – although these versions will not work for anyone else.
The Five Thaumaturgical Foci
There are some slight variations from the versions that went with the Oberian Geomantic Academy – but anyone who’s read that article can probably skip past this box without missing much.
These wands are wrought of rare woods, capped with metals of occult significance, and polished with rare oils and powdered gems. They are usually made as perfect (+2 dice) tools for occultists, and then enchanted with their artifact properties of:
- Arcane Weaving; the user may spend motes to reduce the resource costs of thaumaturgic rituals on a one-to-one basis rather than at two-to-one. A ritual reduced to resources zero requires no components at all.
- Thaumaturgical Spell Storing; the user may store the effects of a thaumaturgical ritual or spell, ready to be released with a single word (two ticks, no defense penalties).
These sizeable amulets are engraved with many arcane runes, and serve to help mortals stabilize and maintain patterns of essence. They can also mount a Hearthstone – although this will require a one-mote essence commitment to activate – if the user is lucky enough to have one.
- Runebinding: a seal can maintain any two thaumaturgical effects with durations. If dispelled, the effects can be restored reflexively by the expenditure of three motes or one point of willpower.
- Runewright: Seals can be attuned to produce the effects of any one Major Talisman (one of the ones with “triple effect”), or of one Lesser (one of the ones with “double effect) and one Minor (one of the ones with the basic effect) Talismans, or of three Minor Talismans. Changing the attunement requires three Enchantment successes, rolling once per hour.
These ceremonial knives are intricately inscribed and ornamented, and are attuned to the mighty powers of the Elemental Dragons. Thanks to this affinity, they are functional geomantic compasses; given a few minutes of meditation upon the elemental forces, they will turn to point to any one of the elemental poles desired. As artifacts they are useful for…
- Cutting the Threads; the user may spend two motes to reduce the time required to enact a thaumaturgic effect by one level (months to days, days to hours, hours to minutes, or minutes to ticks) or five motes to reduce it by two levels.
- Piercing the Veil: the user may use Occult to attempt effects that normally require Sciences, but must pay a one-mote surcharge per die of his or her Occult skill that he or she uses in the attempt.
Sigil of Mastery
These rings are channels and foci for essence, albeit relatively limited ones. When near powerful sources of essence (high-powered magical creatures, uncapped demesnes, and similar locations) or when a mote of essence is channeled into them, the runes inscribed on them will shimmer with a faint radiance.
- The Imperishable Flame: They provide the user with two motes per hour to replenish his or her essence pool. Sadly, they are not capable of augmenting an Exalts essence recovery.
- The Will of the Maker: They allow the user to spend 2 motes in place of a willpower point when working thaumaturgy.
Mirror of the Essence
These crystalline mirrors are extremely sensitive to the flows of essence and can be levitated about with a gesture or two by anyone with the Occult skill.
- Seeing Crystals: Such mirrors provide two bonus dice when used in conjunction with Astrology or Geomancy, and permit the use of divination by crystal-gazing rather than astrology without penalty.
- The Evocation of the Self: Such mirrors provide mortals (and ONLY mortals) with freely-accessible 12-point essence pools or a similar 12-point bonus on any existing essence pool they may have.
The five Thaumaturgical Foci all share the same basic artifact design. Since they are made using jade, they also share the usual properties of artifacts; they’re impervious to countermagic, normal wear and tear, and last forever.
- Powers: 2x Class-A (2). In other words, they’ve only got basic powers. In fact, since they’re designed to be made by thaumaturgists, they offer no charm-class effects at all.
- Self-Powered Class-A (1): Since no other power exceeds class-A, they have no mote or attunement cost.
- Usefulness: Occasional (2). These artifacts make characters better thaumaturgists. That can be handy, but it’s never going to match the impact of a charm or major artifact.
- Plot Impact: None (1). It’s thaumaturgy. It’s just not world-shaping.
- Script Immunity: Basic (1). If you bought them with background points, you can generally expect to get them back – or get or make replacements – fairly readily if they’re taken away, destroyed, or lost. Of course, since they can be readily made by a skilled thaumaturgist, that’s not too hard.
- Components: a scrap of Jade and an assortment of rare woods, valuable metals, gems, and herbs. As a resources-3 purchase, this has a net component value of (-2)
- Troublesome. They require regular skilled thaumaturgical maintenance (simple purification and re-consecration) and are only usable by skilled thaumaturgists with Occult 3+. By exalted standards those are pretty mild requirements, and so are only worth (-1).
- With a total build cost of four, each of the five items counts as a one-dot artifact. Given that they’re hardly earthshaking, a character can also simply purchase a complete set as a three-dot artifact.
Wyld Revocation x3 (9).
- The Tidal Surge: Those within the manse find all normal metabolic needs are met by pure essence. They need no longer eat, drink, or breathe (although they may do so if they wish). Since little details like “blood circulation” are no longer vital to them they are immune to bleeding and double up their base health levels.
- Multipresence: A resident of the manse may choose to spend a few hours of meditation to transfer their lowest health level into it. Thereafter they’re always considered to be within the manse, as well as wherever they physically are. If they’re killed or otherwise destroyed in any fashion that does not destroy the manse as well, they will reform at the manse as a spirit (unless they were already a ghost, in which case they will reform as a ghost). There is always some unique flaw which can prevent a character from reforming – but the nature of the flaw is usually very difficult to discover. Equally unfortunately, if all the health levels above the one you transferred are gone, your body will die immediately.
- Thaumic Puissance: The residents magic thaumaturgy is unnaturally potent.
- It requires an opposed essence check to dispel it with countermagic. The caster gains +3d against Terrestrial Circle Countermagic, but suffers a 3d penalty against Solar Circle Countermagic.
- Residents will find that they can stack one thaumaturgic effect with charms, artifacts, and other sources of power.
- It’s cast using the Advanced Thaumaturgy System, whether or not the character would normally have access to that system, and with a +(Conviction) die bonus.
Traveling the Winding Way – or being initiated by the Hearthstone Bearer – provides a major boost for a mortal thaumaturgist and a moderate one for ANY thaumaturgist. That’s rarely all that vital on Exalted-tier adventures – but it’s VERY useful to the mortals who will be getting the services of those newly-empowered thaumaturgists.
- Exalted – Seed of Worlds (Manse *****) (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Geomantic Focus (Artifact * to *****) (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXVII — Hints and Allegations (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – The Bazaar of the Bizarre (Manse ****) (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – New Manse Powers (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XVI – Thaumaturgic Challenges (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted: Aden, the World-Body (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XV – Darkness Rising (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Lunar Essence Arts I (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Exaltation Research (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Geomantic Engineering (ruscumag.wordpress.com)