Exalted Index II

English: Wisam al-Aliyeh Order of the Exalted

The Dualistic Exalted (First Edition):

  • The Dualistic Exalted were designed for dimension-hopping, or lower-powered, Exalted games. They’re reasonably formidable, but no match for an army, and can fairly readily be opposed by a group of experienced mortals or by a dragonblooded character without massive delving into charm combos.
  • Zareth Elaris, Dualistic Exalt from Creation, and expert magician. Includes the Coat of Flames, the Sigil of Issilor, and quite  a few bits of alchemical magic.
  • Sergeant Jack Rackham: A dimensional wanderer from modern earth with superhuman strength.
  • Deadlands to Exalted Conversions: Characters and Magic,  Bestiary.
  • The Minions of the Dimensional Auditors (AKA “When Dice Attack”).

New Charms:

Solar Charms:

Raksha Charms:

Martial Arts:

Lunar Charms:

Spells and Thaumaturgy:

  • Exalted Grimoire: A selection of new, mostly utility, spells for first edition – although most of them should still work just fine.
  • Terrestrial, Celestial, and Solar Spells: A selection of new utility spells for the second edition.
  • Biothaumaturgy: Medical Magic (under the second hearthstone).
  • Advanced Exalted Thaumaturgy (also  Available as a PDF). A drastically-expanded system for first-edition Exalted thaumaturgy. Also suitable as a complete magical system for lower-powered white-wolf mechanic games. With a few tweaks, we’re currently using it for second edition and (most likely soon) as a wholesale replacement for Sorcery.
  • Releasing Souls from Soulsteel (scroll down): For when you’ve just got to let some people out.
  • Summary of Adenic Thaumaturgy (scroll down): The upgraded powers of Charles’s advanced thaumaturgical initiation, with links to the basic Winding Way Manse effects and being Inside Aden).
  • The “I Have Common Sense Prognostication” (scroll down): A near-future look to see if something is likely to be a disaster…

Primordial Charms:

Manses and Geomancy:

Geomancy and General Effects:

  • There are several geomancy-related spells in the two collections of spells, just above.
  • Geomantic Engineering: Usable rules for engineering demesnes.
  • The Way of Manse and Demesne: Charms for enhancing manses, binding artifacts, and advanced geomancy.
  • Manse Enhancement and The Dragon Vortex: An extension of The Way of Manse and Demesne to upgrade geomantic effects – and some notes on Design Beyond Limit (and why it really doesn’t work).
  • New Manse Powers: Spiritual Stronghold and Nexus, Ambrosial Font, Essence Battery, Awakened Little God, Sacred Ground.
  • Yet More Manse Powers: Integrated Enhancement Artifacts (for adding manse construction points), Staff Artifacts, Guardian Loa, Thaumic Resonance, Thaumic Puissance, Dance of the Dragon Lords (Essence Boosting).
  • Wyld Revocation and what you can do with it: Ways to use Wyld Revocation to create exotic powers.
  • Kaiju, Manses, And Building On A Cult: Mental Demesnes, the Kaiju Aspect, the Wyld Kingdom manse power, and Mechagodzilla (Kaiju Manse-5). New artifacts – the Absolute Zero Cannon, Accumulative Temporal Labyrinth, Shinamaic Lance, and Wyldstorm Cannon.
  • Factory-Cathedrals: Basic features, Helpful Artifacts (Essence Forge, Essence Charger, Essence Scriber, Wyldsphere), Narrative Construction, Forgestones (variable level crafting hearthstones), and the Prefabrication Protocols crafting charm.
  • Geomantic Focus (Artifact 1 to 5): A way to emulate Hearthstones – albeit with some serious downsides. The Belt of Cruatch (example).
  • The Path of the Smiling Tiger: Crafting and Invoking your own Inner World – and the Whispering Lore (Charm Access Bestowal) Manse Power.
  • Manse Augmentation Rules (scroll down): Rules for adding boosting artifacts to manses to increase the manses powers.
  • The Abyssal Entrapment Package (scroll down): For when you really do need to hit some Abyssal Exalts with a Manse.
  • Manse Seeds (3) (scroll down): For when you want a manse without all the trouble of actually building one…
  • Galileo (scroll down): A Synergistic Overmind – and librarian.

Specific Manses:

  • The Orrery of Istalian (Sidereal-3): A Celestial Manse for observing the Stars of the Underworld. The Cloak of Twilight Stars power and some new Artifacts – Celestial Forge, Agathean Pool, and Veil of Maya.
  • The House of Phantoms (Lunar-1): A small library that lets you talk to simulations of authors and characters.
  • Hoenheim (Wood-5): A mystical headquarters for young mage-crafters with MANY advantages. The Willow-Branch Stone, the Lesser Provider and Local Surveillance powers, new Artifacts – Whispering Echoes and the Athanor of Devon. With it’s upgrade, a list of it’s gates can be round HERE (scroll down).
  • The Halls of Alternity (Lunar-5): A manse offering access to other realms. Two sample realms – The Last Refuge and the Temple of the Fallen Sun (with the Provider II power), and the Shadow World and it’s Eternal Spires.
  • Mardi Gras (Earth-5): The Grace Stone, artifacts – the Heart of Rakastan, Gossamer Loom, and Multitracking Amplifier.
  • The Bazaar of the Bizarre (Manse ****): A manse that empowers mortals to defend creation. The Unbindable, Binding Word, the Assumption of Purpose  and Greater Magical Conveniences. Converting Mortals into Manse Guardians.
  • Seed of Worlds (Manse *****): A recursive dimension-creation manse of nigh infinite power. The Fate-Linked power (provides proper souls for those born within).
  • Sakoda Springs (Water-1):  A minor manse now known as the Fountain of Youth.
  • Rasarin’s Vista (Water-1):  An author’s retreat, to watch the antics of small sapient water mammals.
  • 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.
  • Yggdrasil, the Tree of Worlds (Wood-5): A gate to the Green Galaxies. Includes Advanced Magical Conveniences, several new artifacts  – a Portal Control System (or “Stargate”), a Pocket Dimension Generator, a Sampo, and a Thaumaturgic Forge.
  • The Oberian Geomantic Academy (Lunar-4): A manse for training and equipping Masters of Thaumaturgy. Includes seven new Artifacts; The Spirit Forge, the Breath of Magic, and the Five Thaumaturgical Foci – the Sigil of Mastery, Spellwright’s Wand, Journeyman’s Seal, Elemental Athame, and Mirror of the Essence.
  • The Roanapur Manse (Travel-5): A manse for creating dimensional overlays. Exotic Aspect (Travel), Advanced Magical Conveniences (Talisman Powers), the Alternate Gate Locations power. Also Ruki, Chosen of Battles/Alchemical Hybrid, and two Artifacts – the Necklace of Cinders and Shard of Dream.
  • The Winding Way (Sidereal-4 or Any-5): A manse that empowers greater thaumaturgy. The Gem of Vision, Major Magical Conveniences (all to boost thaumaturgy), tweaked versions of the the Five Thaumaturgical Foci – the Sigil of Mastery, Spellwright’s Wand, Journeyman’s Seal, Elemental Athame, and Mirror of the Essence. New manse powers – the Tidal Surge, Multipresence, and Thaumic Puissiance.
  • The Reiskaer: (Sidereal-5, subordinateWood-3 and Earth-2 manses). The flying cities of the Jadeborn. Includes thaumaturgy-boosting artifact Control Panels and the new powers of Wyld Spaces, Geomantic Bounding, Metric Isolation, Spatial Scaling, and Harmonic Convergence.
  • Hidden Twig Village (Wood-5): A training camp for God-Bloods, run by Oniwabanshu (“Garden Keeper”) Jun. Includes three new artifacts – the Perceptor of War, the Harp of Losselyn, and the Secret Fire. The Lesser Aspect of the Divine spirit mutation charm, Kuji-Kuri Mastery spirit thaumaturgy charm, the Talisman of Swift Fortune, and the Bracers of the Night Warrior.
  • The Hospitable Paths (Wood-5): A medical center that heals all those who come it’s way. The Advanced Life-Sustaining power.
  • Aden Shining Dream, the Third Circle: Charles’s manse-based Quasi-Devas.
  • Brigadoon Starship-Manses (Aden-5): Starship-Manses, for when you want to travel in comfort. Includes the Sympathetic Loom, Ansible, Observation Dome, Orrery of Antikythera, and Tik-Tok the Clockwork Autopilot.
  • The Pillars of Irem (Fire-1): A small firedust-collecting manse belonging to Zareth.
  • Body And Spirit Symphony Style (Terrestrial Martial Art): How to mutate yourself with inner power. Also, the Mutation Manse (***).
  • The Hundredfold Resplendent Academy: A peerless martial arts training center. Includes the Arsenal Sphere.
  • The House of Winds (scroll down): A minor wind manse repaired and amplified.
  • Starlight Path’s Manses (Sidereal-5) (scroll down): Adding additional gateways to Yu-Shan.
  • Toho Studios: Notes only.
  • Alora Nagandurga, the Citadel of Enlightenment (Aden 5): Notes. A school for Exalts and replacement for the Cult of the Illuminated. Includes the Natural Learning and Personal Training Montage manse powers.
  • The Privacy Manse (notes): A manse for restoring sanity to broken minds.


  • Building Hearthstones: Rules for making and upgrading Hearthstones.
  • Hearthstones I (First Edition): Armory, Artificer, Augmentation, Essence, Eternal Forest, Eye of Issaril, Gem of Supernal Clarity, Ironhands Gem, Living Stone, Philosopher’s Stone, Powerstone, Savant’s Eye, Spellstone, Speakers Stone, Spellbinder’s Stone,
  • Hearthstones II: Ambrosial Chalice, Iron Master’s Stone, Merchant’s Stone, Pheonix Star, Prayerstone, Protean Stone, Quartz Mirror, Sorcerer’s Eye, Wraithstone.
  • Hearthstones III: Build Rules Examples – Builder’s Stone, Surgeon’s (or Franken-) Stone, Radiant Sunstone, Shadow Warrior’s Stone, Earthblood Stone. Includes rules for Biothaumaturgy.
  • Hearthstones IV: Black Opaline Inkstone, Lens of the Moon, Stone of Radiant Purity.
  • Hearthstones V: Philosopher’s Stone (second edition version), Specter General Stone, Destined King Stone, Wall of Octri Stone, Happy Wanderer’s Azurite Songstone, Earthmaster’s Stone, Soothing Heart Stone, Honorable Diamond Gem, Xaverite Cubicon, Grand Gem of Vision, Song of the Spirits Stone, Silicon Mind Stone, Phantom Castle Stone, Sardonyx of Elemental Mastery, Wyld Heart Stone, Adamant Cascade of Sorcerous Mastery, Black Emerald Before the Dawn, Nising Weirdstone, Essence Armoring Carbuncle, Fate Defying Ruby, and Grace Stone. Also, Social Units, War, and Virtual Behemoths.
  • Hearthstones and Motives: The Radiant Heart Ruby – and Charles’s Intimacies and Motives.


General Theory:

Artifact Designs:

Raksha Items:



The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice

The Chronicles are an Exalted: Modern game, most consistently played by Charles Dexter Ward (a Twilight Artificer), sometimes joined by Aikiko, Ruki, and various others. Unlike most games, however, there’s no hard division between PC and NPC; players are free to adopt interesting NPC’s and to play various other roles. Thus, at any point, any character might be a PC – and therefore the focus of things.

Exalted – The Hundredfold Resplendent Academy

Shao Lin Si

The quiet temple retreat nestles in the folds of the hills, beneath a forest of oak and elm. The wind in the trees, and upon the tiles of it’s roof, is like the sea upon the shore. Trickling streams water the gardens, where the meandering paths wind from grotto to grotto, offering peaceful and hidden places in which to meditate. Through the trees drift the sounds of pipes and silver bells in gentle music.

The local villagers leave occasional offerings at the gates, but only seek out the residents of the temple in desperation – for they are not to be disturbed unnecessarily and their fury can be a terrible thing. Many times the people of the valleys near the temple have sought the protection of the residents – from bandits, monsters, armies, fey, and greater horrors – and the temple has never fallen.

It probably won’t.

There’s a god for everything – at least in potentia. Physical features in creation generate their little gods quite automatically. If a new river starts to flow, or a volcano erupts, it’s god will rise with it – a new, if often transient, power.

Intellectual features of creation generate gods as well – but such abstract beings require time to find a focus, and often do not manifest until called forth. The god of a new style of painting is out there somewhere – and will invariably be a master of the style – but he or she generally has very little reason to actually manifest.

The more important the feature, the more powerful the god.

There are few things in Creation more important than the Exalted and their Charms.

Every Martial Arts style… has it’s god. Sometimes more than one.

You can find quite a lot of them at the…

The Hundredfold Resplendent Academy:

Sidereal, Lunar (or possibly Exotic) Manse-****

Creation Points 8 (Rank-4 manse base) +4 (no worthwhile Hearthstone) = 12.

  • Guardian Force (4): The Hundredfold Resplendent Academy is essentially a hangout for the Gods of the various Martial Arts – and each of it’s three hundred-odd instructors is a master of a different Terrestrial or Celestial style. A few may even know the secrets of Sidereal Styles – and while they cannot actually practice those charms, they can teach them and even demonstrate them with the aid of a Crystal Arena. For the most part, individual instructors can be set up as Quick Gods of Essence 5-7.
  • Archives (2): The libraries of the Academy include a Catalog of the Martial Arts, an extensive collection of works on their History and Philosophy, many works on Martial Arts Weapons, Armor, and Equipment, and many Popular Works involving the Martial Arts (including, in the modern setting, thousands of cheesy martial arts movies). All of that information can be fed to…
  • Integrated Utility Artifacts (3): The facilities of the Academy include three Crystal Arenas and an Arsenal Sphere (this allows anyone within the manse to instantly equip themselves with mundane weapons and armor as needed. While more powerful Arsenal Spheres can provide Fine, Exceptional, or Perfect equipment similarly, the purpose here is to provide whatever equipment the martial artists of the Academy need without distorting the practice of their arts with enhanced equipment.
  • Wyld Revocation/Natural Learning (3). Determined students may profit from instruction. Those studying at the manse may roll (Conviction) while studying something in which they have a tutor or instructional materials; each success reduces the cost of learning whatever they’re studying by 1 XP to a minimum of one point.

Converting to Eclipse: an Arcane Rogue

For today it’s a sort of a challenge: How to build a rather complex Hybrid Pathfinder-3.0-3.5 character in Eclipse. Given that the original level seven build has five classes (mixing Pathfinder, supplementary Pathfinder options, and 3.5 classes) from what looks to be five different books, with a modified pathfinder race, feats from a similar mixture of sources, and equipment from yet more sources, it’s also obviously going to be a high-efficiency build.

For a quick summary, the original character sheet provides the following information…

  • Attributes: Str 8, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 10, Cha 16.
  • Basic Items: 27 HP, BAB +4, Base Saves: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +5. Proficiencies are not noted, but it looks like Light Armor and Rogue Weapons.
  • Halfling Racial Traits: Fearless, Strong Heart, Weapon Familiarity, Keen Senses, Swift as Shadows, Magical Knack, Successful Shirker.
  • Classes: Rogue (Sniper Archetype) 1 (almost certainly Pathfinder), Spellthief 1 (probably The Complete Adventurer), Wizard 2 (probably the Pathfinder variant), Unseen Seer 2 (probably one of the variants from The Complete Mage), Arcane Trickster 1 (could be Pathfinder or SRD). Noted abilities: Sneak Attack (3d6), Accuracy, Trapfinding, Arcane Bond (Familiar), Arcane School (Universalist), Hand of the Apprentice, Advanced Learning (Hunter’s Eye, Player’s Handbook II), Ranged Legerdemain, Steal Spell, and what seem to be five levels of Wizard Spellcasting with the Pathfinder limitless use of Cantrips.
  • Seven Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting, Darkstalker (Lords of Madness), Hand Crossbow Focus (Drow of Underdark), Master Spellthief (Complete Scoundrel), Crossbow Sniper (Player’s Handbook II), Scribe Scroll (probably Pathfinder SRD version), and Still Spell (probably Pathfinder SRD).
  • 62 Skill Points.

So how to build this?

Attributes: The sheet doesn’t note how the attributes were generated, and that really isn’t a part of Eclipse anyway. There’s nothing here to convert.

Basic Items:

  • Hit Dice (and their rolls) aren’t specified, and neither are the class sources – which means that there’s no easy way to look them up; I’ve seen five or six different writeups for “Spellthief” alone – although this version is very likely from the Complete Adventurer. Still, at level seven a classical build can be expected to have seven hit dice. As it happens, 27 HP with no Con Mod is exactly the average for 7d6 with the first one maximized. Ergo, that will work. So we’ll buy seven six-sided Hit Dice, at a cost of (14 CP). If those 27 HP represent some lucky rolls instead of a strict average this will be a bit of an improvement – but not all that big a one.
  • BAB (Warcraft) +4, Corrupted/no iterative attacks (16 CP). Given that we just want to reproduce the character as-is – rather than throwing in a Martial Art or other specialized combat tricks, this works fine. It is a bit of a compromise, but so is actually buying the Pathfinder Skill Bonus instead of just accepting it as a free part of the setting – which comes up down below.
  • Save Bonuses: +13 (39 CP). Of course, in Eclipse, you’re free to put these where you want them. For a true Eclipse build I’d probably reduce these bonuses – a side effect of stacking up so many classes – and go for Luck with Bonus Uses (Specialized in Saving Throws), but we are duplicating, not improving.
  • Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP). The character appears to be an armored arcane caster using light armor, so I’ll throw in the Smooth modifier on the Light Armor (+3 CP) to allow that – although the original wording of “Master Spellthief” feat (from which the ability appears to be derived) could be read as saying that this should ONLY apply to “Spellthief Spells” (which wouldn’t appear until Spellthief level four). On the other hand, the build uses a +1 Mithril Shirt (with the Shadow property for extra stealth) to reduce the chance of spell failure, so maybe not… Given that the difference between leaving it open and specializing in Spellthief Spells only is only two character points, I’ll go with the most generous possible interpretation.

The original writeup also uses “Dastanas” – armor-enhancing bracers from the 3.0 Arms and Equipment Guide and Oriental Books that did not make it into 3.5 (along with a lot of other stuff that people considered “broken”). It also uses Gnomish Crossbow Sights – another poorly-judged 3.0 Arms and Equipment Guide item that essentially provided a +4 to hit – even if it was only to counter range penalties – for crossbows for a mere 150 GP. Still, Dastanas only call for Light Armor proficiency and what equipment the game master allows is – once again – not a part of an Eclipse build.

  • Proficient with Simple and Rogue Weapons (6 CP).

That’s a total of 81 CP in this section.

Halfling Racial Traits:

While I’m generally going to go with what the player has on the character sheet, rather than digging through sourcebooks, in the particular case of racial traits there are three that seem likely to apply that aren’t noted – the size, the attribute modifiers, and speaking halfling – so I’ll be throwing those in.

  • Fearless: Resistance/Fear (+2 versus Mental Effects, Specialized/only versus Fear, 1 CP).
  • Strong Heart: Bonus Feat (6 CP).
  • Weapon Familiarity: Proficiency with Halfling Cultural Weapons (A narrow group, Specialized/only reduces halfling exotic weapons to martial weapons, 1 CP)
  • Keen Senses: +2 Perception (Racial Skill Bonus, 2 CP).
  • Swift as Shadows: Immunity to Skill Penalties for Movement (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Stealth, only to reduce the penalties for movement by -5 and the penalty for sniping by -10, 2 CP).
  • Magical Knack: +2 Base Caster Levels, Specialized and Corrupted/only applicable to a specific magical progression chosen when the character is created, will not take the users base caster level above his or her hit dice (4 CP).
  • Successful Shirker: +1 on Stealth, +3 Bluff, +3 Diplomacy, Specialized and Corrupted / only to avoid punishment by lawful authorities (2 CP).
  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength (Attribute Shift, 6 CP).
  • Shrinking I (Corrupted: Reduces base movement to 20′, 8 CP)
  • Speaks Halfling (1 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Racial Reputation as Sneaky Thieves (-3).

The Pathfinder Package Deal provides the other +2 to an attribute – but doesn’t have much effect on most of the other items on this particular character sheet. Package deals have no cost however.

That’s 30 CP in this section – within the 31 CP allowance for a +0 ECL race, so there’s no effective cost.

Class Abilities:

  • Sneak Attack: Augment Attack, 3d6 (9 CP).
  • Accuracy, Hand of the Apprentice, and Ranged Legerdemain: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/only useable to produce the following three level one effects, only on a personal basis (6 CP) plus Reflex Training/can invoke Shaping as a part of making a ranged attack check, Specialized and Corrupted/only Distant Shot, only with Bows and Crossbows (2 CP).

1) Distant Shot: Halves range increment penalties.

2) Lesser Ranged Strike: The user may make an attack with a melee weapon with an effective range of 30 feet, using his or her (Int Mod) instead of (Dex Mod) for the attack check. As a special effect, the caster throws his weapon and it then returns to him or her.

3) Tricksters Hand: The user may make a Disable Device or Sleight of Hand skill check at a range of 30 feet – although the DC is increased by five.

I’d say that these are supernatural abilities; if you want them to be extraordinary you’ll need Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great), Specialized and Corrupted/only those three effects (4 CP) – and you’ll also want to explain why EVERY skilled archer doesn’t have Distant Shot and how the ranged effects work without magic. Ergo, those four points won’t be added in.

  • Trapfinding: As a full ability in Eclipse these could be bought as Professional/Perception, Specialized/only for trapfinding (3 CP), Professional/Disable Device (6 CP). Of course, in the original setup, these ONLY work with the character’s Spellthief levels, although a minimum bonus of +1 applies – meaning that the character actually only has a +1 bonus. That’s pretty trivial; buy a +3 Perception Speciality in Finding Traps (1 CP) and Skill Focus/Disable Device (Specialized/half effect, for a mere +1, 1 CP). That gives us a net cost of 2 CP and is STILL an improvement.
  • Arcane Bond: Familiar (Raven). Companion (6 CP).
  • Advanced Learning: Acquire a New Spell (1 CP). Divinations are pretty much the same for everyone, so there’s no real worry about a special cost there.
  • Steal Spell: Power Words, Specialized for increased effect (Can drain a chosen or random spell from an opponent with a successful sneak attack or from a willing target with a touch) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost. The limitations are: use reduces damage of the attack by 1d6, spells must be cast normally, spells vanish if not used within an hour, user may not hold a spell of more than (Level/2, Rounded Down), and the user must supply all spell components. (4 CP). The original build could store only one spell level, this build can store three – but it’s really not worth the trouble to add yet more limitations; the cost is already as low as it’s going to get. This is a bit cheesy – if you do this to PC’s a lot, they’re going to start wanting saves – but how many NPC spellcasters actually use any major percentage of their spells during a single fight anyway?

The original ability states that a Spellthief of fourth level or higher can use the stolen energy to cast a “spellthief spell” (not defined on the sheet, but presumably derived from the Spellthief Class) of the same level or less, but the Master Spellthief feat only stacks Spellthief and Arcane Caster levels to see what level of spell can be stolen – and the classless build already incorporates an improved and automatic version of that ability in simply using the characters level. Similarly, a Spellthief of fourth level or higher can use the energy of an absorbed spell to power a personally-cast Spellthief spell – but Master Spellthief doesn’t help with that either, so there’s no need to buy that ability (you could buy it as Inherent Spell/Mana Transfer (The Practical Enchanter, L3) with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only usable to use the energy of an absorbed spell to power another personally-cast spell (6 CP)).

Leaving out the speculations about stuff that doesn’t actually apply, that’s 30 CP for this section.


The character is listed as having seven Feats – presumably including one racial bonus feat, Scribe Scroll from the Wizard levels, and one from some other class. Fortunately, in Eclipse, what matters is the price, not the source – but when it comes to cost comparisons, we’ll want to know how many bonus feats this character has (it looks like four to me).

  • Two-Weapon Fighting: Bonus Attack (6 CP).
  • Darkstalker: Immunity/any need to have specialized abilities to use the Hide skill against creatures with special senses (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 3 CP), plus Immunity/all-around vision (Uncommon, Minor, Major), Corrupted/only to allow you to flank creatures with that ability (2 CP).
  • Hand Crossbow Focus: Reflex Training/Can reload as a free action, Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to Hand Crossbows (2 CP), +1 Warcraft (BAB), Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to Hand Crossbows, does not add to iterative attacks (2 CP).
  • Master Spellthief: The benefits of this ability are covered under Spellthief and Armor Proficiencies (above) and Wizard Spellcasting (below) – since it’s a lot easier to keep track of modifiers with what they affect.
  • Crossbow Sniper: Augmented Bonus, Adds (Dex Mod) to damage with ranged weapons, Specialized and Corrupted/Half effect, only works with crossbows, (2 CP) plus Far Shot, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for reduced cost/only to increase the range for sneak and skirmish attacks with ranged weapons to 60′, only with crossbows (4 CP).
  • Scribe Scroll: Spell Storing (6 CP).
  • Still Spell: Metamagic/Easy, Specialized/only to remove somatic components (3 CP).

That’s 28 CP in this section.

Skill Points 62

This is mildly awkward: the character seems to be using Pathfinder Skills – including the “+3 to all trained class skills” modifier. That’s part of the skill system, not part of the character build – but I suspect that the player will want to keep the skill totals the same and it looks like the character has sixteen trained in-class skills. Ergo, I’ll include a tweak for that.

  • The character will be getting 30 SP from Intelligence, at no cost.
  • As a later-generation character build, Fast Learner Specialized in Skills is definitely in order – presumably taken as the Racial Bonus Feat to gain +20 SP at a cost of (6 CP).
  • The character does have six ranks each in Disable Device, Perception, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth. That would normally cost 24 SP at L7, but taking Adept (6 CP) on those skills will reduce the cost to 12 SP – and the total number of skill points needed to 50. Fortunately, that’s exactly the total that we’ve already got – at a net cost of 12 CP so far.
  • Now the Pathfinder Skill Bonus is a little trickier. To create it, take Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted (can only be used to enhance skills, will not enhance a skill beyond +3 or up to the (Level + 3) maximum on it’s base (whichever comes first), can only add bonuses not special effects, only works on skills that the user has invested at least one skill point in) for Increased Effects (can cast the Cantrip-Level Skill Mastery effects from The Practical Enchanter, the bonus is Pathfinder Conversion Bonus rather than Enhancement) (6 CP). Now throw in Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great), Specialized and Corrupted/only protects these skill-boosting effects (4 CP) and Reflex Training/can use shaping as a part of a skill check, Specialized and Corrupted/only works with this specific effect (2 CP).

There; for an additional 12 CP, we can convert the Pathfinder Bonus. Of course, once you allow this… pretty much EVERY character who relies on skills will want to use it, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re allowing it in the first place.

That’s 24 CP in this section.


Finally, we have the spellcasting. That seems to include…

  • Five levels of Wizard Spellcasting (70 CP)
  • The Pathfinder ability to cast L0 spells as often as desired (Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (only works for the characters limited list of memorized level zero spells), Corrupted/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Spells (3 CP). The character has eight extra spells, while this would only yield seven at level seven – but honestly, paying precious character points for first level spells that you can pick up for 25 GP apiece is a waste. Go ahead. Mark off 100 GP from your seventh-level allotment and buy FOUR first level spells. Save those 3 CP to buy three more second or third level spells that are more use (and that bonus spell from “Advanced Learning” that doesn’t seem to have been included). If you continue pushing Wizard as you go up in level, buy the Specialization here from “Half Cost” to “Double Effect” – and go to two free spells per level. There’s no reason to do it yet though; it would yield too many spells to match the build. (Of course, if the character doesn’t actually need the Smooth modifier in the Light Armor Proficiency, you can put those 3 CP into buying up to double effect – and get some extra spells).

The proposed spell list includes…

  • Level Zero: Resistance, Acid Splash, Drench, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Read Magic, Daze, Breeze, Dancing Lights, Flare, Light, Penumbra, Ray of Frost, Scoop, Spark, Ghost Sound, Haunted Fey Aspect, Bleed, Disrupt Undead, Touch of Fatigue, Jolt, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Root, Arcane Mark, Prestidigitation.

  • Level One: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Disguise Self, Illusion of Calm, Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Vocal Alteration.

  • Level Two: Detect Thoughts, Arrow Eruption, Glitterdust, Invisibility.

  • Level Three: Clairaudience-Clairvoyance, Nondetection.

The character sheet states that the character is a Universalist – and thus not eligible for bonus spell slots – but then goes on to list the character with bonus spell slots. If you throw this in, that’s Specialist (3 CP) – but also calls for a disadvantage (Accursed, must use two slots for spells from “opposition” schools (-3 CP) or even a Restriction (worth more points, which can go to buying up the rest of the “Specialist” sequence later on).

That’s a total cost of 77 CP in this section.

So what’s our total cost?

  • 81 (Basic Items) +0 (Race) +30 (Class-Based Special Abilities) +28 (Feats) +24 (Skills) +77 (Spellcasting) = 240 CP.
  • What we’ve got is 192 (L7 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) + 14 (Duties) + 24 (Racial, L1, L3, L6 Bonus Feats) = 240 CP.

Now that DID involve pinching some of those points pretty hard – even beyond the usual player-character point-pinching – but this is a build that draws material from more than a dozen different sourcebooks spread over three separate (and not entirely compatible) editions. Whether it was the player proposing the character or some folks on a character-optimization board somewhere, SOMEONE has put a lot of work into combing through sourcebooks and editions to build this character.

Or, of course, they could have just used Eclipse. That does involve some math, and getting used to the system – but it also involves just the one book (and, I suspect, a lot less time).

Now is this a particularly good Eclipse build? It’s certainly versatile enough – but it’s not really an overwhelming powerhouse. When you come right down to it, “sniping” is not an especially good choice in d20; the entire combat system is designed to let people get into the fighting, fight for a while, and then pull out if they’re losing. “One shot, one kill”… just doesn’t fit into it very well.

Similarly, the build doesn’t possess particularly overwhelming magic. It has lots of skills, but doesn’t go to extremes with any of them. It’s a great loner, but the game is usually played in groups.

Some people like playing talented generalists. Some don’t. If you do, this is quite an adequate build. If you want to completely dominate some field, this probably isn’t the build for you.

If you want to compare with a few Eclipse builds…

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVIII – Revelations of Apocalypse

Mr Montague… had been analyzing the “Privacy Manse” – since it was pretty obvious that simple privacy didn’t call for mirroring your entire mind!

Fortunately, he’d brought along a manse-analyzing artifact to go with his usual artifact-analyzing hammer. When you were dealing with Charles it was a pretty obvious thing to do!

The basic function was clear enough – although the HOW involved several artifacts that he couldn’t reach to analyze and some incredibly complex geomancy (far beyond his skills) that twisted itself right out of creation. It… mirrored the mind of anyone who attuned to it – providing them with… a secondary, parallel-processing mental substrate with numerous stabilizing and compensating factors. But if that mind was damaged… even if it was shattered entirely, with many pieces were missing – it would reflect it… once more whole. The privacy aspect was secondary, simply because… the minds within the system were perfectly shielded against interference, distortion, or being read by anything except the original consciousness. Having that secondary backup wouldn’t keep someone from taking over your mind with UMI or such in itself – but you would remember it all clearly, and you’d know that the decisions you were making were unnatural, and it would prevent any form of memory-erasure, including Loom of Fate based manipulations, since you had a secure backup.

It lent your thoughts… a certain echoing clarity! You couldn’t hide things from yourself, or fail to see the gaps in your thinking, or the irrational urges, if you made the slightest effort. If you wanted to really hide a secret… you could store it in the manse, and it wouldn’t exist in your, er… primary?… mind to be extracted and no amount of Unnatural Mental Influence or duress could force the manse to give it out again until you FREELY wanted it. That WAS handy – but what on earth was the place FOR? You didn’t need the power of a fifth-rank manse to restore sanity to someone! Most people made do with Medical Charms – but simply being in Aden… already simply healed virtually anything that could possibly go wrong with someone automatically! What was the POINT? Had it simply been an experiment?

Maybe there was something in the subsystems…

Hm… the geomancy that upgraded the privacy wards to perfection, a couple of basic defenses, the link system, a… conceptual translator? An added mental function that let you understand, empathize with, and communicate with beings on lower levels of sapience? What, was the boy THAT enthused about small fluffy things? They rarely had anything very interesting to say… Was it for dealing with the Fey and the Unshaped? He WAS known for dealing with fey sources – just look at that Mardi Gras place and those riders that dropped in on occasion!

The look he gave Ms Sorina was most eloquent – and she simply asked. After all… while the tradition of subtle investigations was worth respecting, she was a bit preoccupied with the litany of disaster Charles had laid out so bluntly. She’d filled in a few Solar disasters that the boy apparently hadn’t known about – he was young, and they were FAR before his time after all – but when you really looked at it… the general tendency was far too clear for… well, pretty much everyone! She was quite familiar with the ways in which the other Exalts had gone wrong of course – but she’d somehow never really considered that the Sidereals might be… every bit as fallible.

You saw that in humans all the time of course… Somehow… she’d never really considered that an Exaltation probably magnified mortal flaws just as much as it did mortal potentials. After all… Autochthon was as monomaniacal as any other Primordial, and he’d been making WEAPONS, not… organizers and maintenance crews! Why would he have even considered the flaws that might show up in them in other roles? He’d been… creating.

Charles… would probably be just as unrestrained in fixing things – except for the fortunate fact that he seemed to consider “misunderstandings” and “pain” – and even “upset” – as just more… things to be fixed.

Things to be fixed… oh, by the thousand unspeakable names! He COULDN’T possibly be planning to try and…

Indeed he was. The manse was a prototype system for restoring sanity to the Yozi’s and for giving them the ability to understand and empathize with… normal humans. The experiment had provided some valuable pointers (mostly that a proper mental substrate for a Primordial would require infusion with some of its own essence, rather than relying entirely on external sources, and so called for a major artifact rather than a manse) on the project – and had proven very useful in several other fields as well! Sadly, the manse could only support some 650 minds at any one time, but – if he ran out of space – he could always make another!

While Charles had set up the individual who’d told him about Project Stanewald with a remote link so that he could attune if he wanted, and it had helped him focus a bit more, the Manse was NOT a cure for the Cauldron-Born condition; the Cauldron-Born had fused into a new person, and no unnatural mental influence was involved…

They just had a new appreciation for Chaos and even more power than they used to have – all for the low, low, price of becoming a merger of divinely-endowed human and fey!

Not that Charles had even bothered to try to probe. He was taking the information with a grain of salt, but if they’d have wanted him to know who they were… they’d have said! Besides… considering the information, regardless of whether it was true or not, wanting to be anonymous was pretty understandable.

Ms. Chisaru was… simultaneously impressed by the level of compassion… and concerned for the breadth of his plans. He really DID intend to fix the whole universe. If his assumptions about what had broken it were correct, he might even be able to do it! She’d… have to do her own research on that issue, assisted by Mr. Montague.

Had the Primordial War been the beginning of the Exalted’s trouble as well as the victory that secured humanity’s independence – or was Charles just speculating wildly based on youthful idealism? And what would she do if that was – as Charles seemed to think – true? If the Primordials really were… embodied concepts and principles, was… the universe calling Charles into being to heal it? There was… a certain INEVITABILITY about him. The way he always seemed to find a way to make whatever the rest of the world threw up serve his purposes… It was like something fated by the Maidens – or perhaps the Tale of an an Ishvara… Was Fate just the power of a myriad narratives, woven together? If one could maintain a Raksha, what could a billion do?

GAH. And Charles had made a MANSE for this. Did he… think this way all the time? With every normally-unquestioned certainty and assumption… constantly twisting and turning to make new patterns? Goals mere guideposts through constant change? Did he look at Creation like the Raksha looked at the Wyld? Was he shaping worlds as they would shape a waypoint? He certainly seemed to see Creation as something to be rearranged to make it better!

Charles tended to feel that the Primordials had been a collection of sapient concepts and natural forces that bumbled around with little concern for the creatures and things they’d created – but it hadn’t been like they thought of their creations as being PEOPLE. PEOPLE had minds like THEIRS – minds that could not possibly be encompassed in one body. How could a genuine intelligence be contained in only one? They’d seen people and gods as livestock and pets and guard dogs to ensure that the world would keep running while they were playing the games. The Incarnae… came closet to their level, but they were still very limited – although Luna, with her many aspects, was almost something like them.

Meanwhile, Sorina Chisaru had gotten her mind back on the question of the onrushing doom of Yu-Shan…

(Sorina, who was a revolutionary cohort, a little over two hundred and fifty, and had connections) “Charles… have YOU consulted a geomancy god who always succeeds? I know that you’re very VERY good at geomancy – but for something on this scale… I think a second or third opinion is in order! They might see something that you’d missed; there’s bound to be something SOMEWHERE – and I do know one; would you mind if I called her in here?”

(Charles) “Well, I was going to look around for one after I had the plans finished up, but there’s no reason not to do it now – I just didn’t know any personally! That was one reason why I haven’t finalized any plans you – just moved up the priority! Go right ahead!”

It would be a good test! He was fairly sure that he had most of it right, but he could easily be falling prey to his own arrogance!

Sorina called in one of her personal friends – Rurani Nuahathia, Goddess of Celestial-to-Creation Dragon Line Monitoring and Patroness of Mestaba, who could indeed point out some geomantic items that Charles might want to consider! For starters… she was one of the few gods who was allowed to know about the Tenders. She was awfully leery of them personally, but… that much energy going through their bunkers might be a problem for them. When they were in their pods, well, they were as much a part of the geomancy as any Manse or demesne – although she could definitely help him handle the kinks in those.

Well, Charles had been planning to consult the Tenders and/or Overseers anyway… Come to think of it, they were probably the prototypes for the Lunar Manse-Emulating Charms!

She also suggested checking on other geomantic operations that might be underway when he DID go through with it. Talk of his skill had made it to her ears, but who knew what the Sidereals might be planning? Especially the bronze stars?

(Charles, awkwardly) “Er… Well, mostly THIS” (he pulled up the geomantic information – carefully pruned of any extraneous influences and such – for Stanewald) “That’s one reason this is so urgent!”

(Nuahathia) “Eep! This is HIGHLY dangerous! It could cause any number of explosions, feedbacks, and reactions-and throughout the whole city!? Have you reported this to the Bureau of Heaven?”

(Charles) “Well, no! The more people meddling, the harder this is going to get!”

(Nuahathia) “Sigh… as much as I want to report it, who knows what their reaction would be? They might be crazy enough to attempt it immediately!”

(Charles) “Now what I was planning to do was basically this…”

He laid it out, complete with the manse-regeneration and multi-aspecting changes – not hiding that, over the course of an hour or so, it would require several thousand motes, tying in a bunch of extra planetary dragon line networks for more power, the use of a series of ran five specialty artifacts, the participation of twenty-four essence-ten gods with massive thaumaturgic powers, a massive geomantic network to provide extra power, and help from Gaia to stabilize things.

Nuahathia found it mind boggling, even with her specialized abilities!

(Nuahathia) “I… would definitely consult with the Tenders first. I’ve never spoken to one in person, and I’m not sure I want to, but you at least seem to know where to find some. I… (with some embarrassment) honestly have no idea how much geomantic energy they can handle at once!”

(Charles) “Well, I can call some to consult remotely…”

He did so, making sure that it was untraceable.

He went with Overseers Six Ebb and Ten Peach!

(Ebb) “Ten Peach! It’s been a while!”

(Peach) “What the… you’re COHERENT!”

(Ebb) “And Aden! What do you need?”

(Charles) “I need a bit of geomantic evaluation! I’ve been working on a method of repairing Yu-Shan’s geomancy before it goes all wrong – and it’s far enough along now to ask for opinions!”

(Ebb) “Fix? As in purification? I think that’s something my junior colleague and I can agree on. Go ahead.”

Charles did the introductions – which did reveal the domains of Ebb and Peach: respectively the Overseer of Generative Primordial Demesnes and the Overseer of Celestial Foodstuffs.

(Nuahathia) “But there are no Generative Primordial Demenses in Yu-Shan anymore… I had heard you were driven quite mad by the construction!”

(Ebb, indicating Charles) “He helped. And mestabas are interesting constructs, or so I’ve been told…Now, what about these plans, Aden?”

Charles pulled up the displays for his plans again, and there was a long pause while they looked them over.

(Peach) “That’s… greater than Calibration levels of energy! Ouch!”

(Ebb) “And not enough of us true Tenders left to handle it, either… we’d lose most of the new recruits from the strain and shock.”

(Charles) “Hm! Well… where will I need to supplement them and shunt around?”

(Peach) “Hrm… if the Sorrowhands were still communicative, we could have them route some of that through the Jade Pleasure Dome and into the central reservoir. Otherwise, we’d have to get in communication with every Overseer and Operator in our districts and have them shunt more of the energy into local demesnes.”

(Nuahathia) “Central reservoir?”

(Charles) “Well, that’s why restructuring the manses is first… that will let them soak up and stabilize a great deal of power. Not enough though? Bother!”

(Ebb) “That’s where all our motes should be going. Something good is supposed to happen if we get that filled… but thanks to your Celestial Bureaucracy, we can’t. And, yeah… that’s a colossal amount of energy we’re dealing with there: about five to seven Mighty Ones’ mote pools. That’s why finding out if the First-Rank Overseers, the Sorrowhands, are still around would make this a bit easier and less obvious.”

(Charles) “Hm. Well… I can try and get a hold of them wherever they are… It will be spread over some time anyway though; it will take me… almost an hour to supply the necessary power. I was allowing a little more time than that, just to be safe!”

(Peach) “It’s still going to be taxing… but if it will allow us to leave our pods, I’m willing to risk it!”

Nuahathia was busy considering Charles’s apparent intention to supply five to seven thousand motes to the project within an hour or so… A lot of it could be supplied by relayed energies from manses, and aides could provide more – but his geomantic plans still called for a monstrous amount of power from him personally! Of course, with enough aides, you could accept up to three thousand transferred motes in an hour – and he doubtless had other tricks – but could this child REALLY control that kind of power?

(Charles) “Well, I don’t want to injure anyone… and, with any luck, I can use the sympathetic loom to project if it will cause any major problems!”

(Ebb) “We’ll let you know if that happens. If we’re going to get any results, though, we’ll need to mobilize our partners and the Operators as soon as possible.”

For gods, especially ones that might be older than Creation itself, were slow things.

(Charles) “Well… it’s become urgent because of other meddling (he pulled up the Stanewald plans) which will be a disaster if I don’t beat them to it!”

(Ebb, eyes narrowing) “I KNEW it! They mean to kill us all!”

(Peach) “That… that’s horrible. Do you see how it curves like that in the diagrams? Instantly fatal if you’re in a pod. We would have no choice BUT to interfere.”

(Ebb) “And that would be disastrous for the geomancy even in the best circumstances.”

(Charles) “I think… that they simply have no idea of what will happen. They’re very bad that way!”

(Peach) “Weavers… I never trusted them.”

(Ebb) “Yes, yes, I know, but the offer was too tempting to deny… at least they plan to do it the slow way. Now what would you do if they started their operations at the same time you did? It’s unlikely, but strange coincidences seem to surround them!”

(Charles) “If they do, I’m planning to incorporate their efforts like this!”

And there were more displays.

(Charles) “The control artifacts should sense disturbances and damp local ones, any departures from the plans that they can’t compensate for will call in the appropriate Guardian, and then myself.”

(Ebb) “I see… that would take care of most things.”

(Charles) “In theory… twenty-four control artifacts should be more than sufficient, along with twelve Guardians. I was planning to use 120 and twenty-four, for a safety margin.”

(Nuahathia) “It never hurts to have spare resources and assistants, in case something goes wrong. Especially when they’re that powerful.”

(Charles) “I think I can talk the Celestial Lions into helping monitor things and preventing any interference; they don’t want Yu-Shan blowing up either! Fortunately, everyone else in the bureaucracy takes a LOT longer than an hour to react to things… And I need them to give me a permit for creating a disturbance anyway!”

(Peach) “Could I see a schematic of one of those artifacts, just in case? I think we could all use a look, actually.”

Charles didn’t actually have it ready entirely… but that was what instant genius was for! He had it laid out and pulled up a few moments later – and all three of them had a look.

There were a few minor pointers – things like “this wiring pattern on the orichalcum and adamant circuitry is more likely to ground Solar Essence” and “more white jade on the bottom to help stabilize local flows” – but it was nothing too big. Charles really was very good at artifacts and geomancy.

He was glad to consider advice, even if he might not wind up using all of it. After all… it was possible that he was better than they were after all. Still, he WAS trying to include as many safety factors as possible in a project of this absurd scale.

The Tenders also suggested stabilizing the networked Manses with adamant needles, to be absolutely sure that the flows would harmonize best with Yu-Shan.

(Ebb) “It’s important, ESPECIALLY if we channel motes into the reservoir.”

(Peach) “And standard for our regional-grade projects, besides.”

(Charles) “Oh, how did you usually contact the “sorrowhands? And I can send out some people with needles easily enough… especially if I can get the Celestial Lions to help!”

(Ebb) “That’s part of the problem. We normally communicate through our hardhats, but those don’t penetrate into the Jade Pleasure Dome, and that’s the last place anyone saw them.”

(Peach) “They issued the emergency protocol shortly before entering… the one that’s been ongoing all this time. And we can’t send a runner like we used to for checking on them!”

Charles considered that for a moment…

(Charles) “Hrm… Well, easy enough! There’s a considerable flow of essence into the dome through the Dragon Lines into a power reservoir; to modulate that… you simply need to make geomantic adjustments fast enough to impose a signal on the flow. You can’t perfectly block out the outside and still get power in! So if you send in a few test pulses and measure the echoes to map the reservoir configuration, then if you modulate the flow quickly enough… you can use the reflection-interactions to generate a self-constructing system on the inside; the universe IS entirely made up of essence patterns anyway! For that… Hm. This little demesne HERE is almost ideally suited… Huh! That’s where Gaia was when I went looking for her! I wonder if she was meaning to show me that particular spot?”

(Peach) “Why would she do that? She sided with the Bureaucracy, didn’t she?”

(Ebb) “Unless she realized things couldn’t go on like they are…”

(Ebb) “Shall we help him out, Peach?”

(Peach) “He’d need our authorization codes to penetrate anyhow.”

Charles didn’t really – he doubted that anyone had put in defenses against someone doing geomantic engineering fast enough to send information though the dragon lines – but the codes would make it a LOT easier and faster to get in touch with the Sorrowhands once he had a relay system set up!

That wasn’t something that the Primordials would have thought of. The Tenders couldn’t possibly do it fast enough, the White Ram was watching them too closely for them to try even if they found a way – and they hadn’t NEEDED to; they could just send messengers!

On the illusory projections, Old Realm numbers flickered…

Nuahathia was pretty nervous about trying such a stunt… but she was curious as well! Could Charles POSSIBLY pull that off?

Charles, meanwhile, was busy inventing… he’d better not try this outside of the privacy defenses, so he’d need a major linking setup to work that remotely – so he made an appropriate remote-linking artifact and sent THAT over. It needed to be able to handle rather a lot of power and it needed to be highly secure – but it was also limited area, special purpose, and fixed-point. That made it a lot easier!

It took hundreds of assisting Djinn, using their geomantic artifacts and work-speeding charms, coordinated by the computer networks of Aden and supported by additional aides to transfer motes to them – and it was still slow and required some minutes to get started – but it did indeed prove to be possible.

With enough skill and resources, most things were.

(Charles) “Er… while the relay is constructing itself… exactly who am I going to be trying to call?”

(Ebb) “Who are you more interested in, the person in charge of initiating rounds of the games, or the one who tallies the score at the end of the round?”

(Charles) “Well… it apparently hasn’t ended in forty thousand years – maybe gods play slower than primordials? – so I guess the person in charge of initiating rounds! He or she shouldn’t be too busy!”

(Ebb) “Lady Arelis Sorrowhands. Rank 1-A Overseer and, I suppose, queen of all our kind. I would be… delicate.”

(Peach) “This really is going to happen, isn’t it? I don’t even know how she’ll feel, if she’s even alive.”

(Ebb) “We would have known if she died.”

The link – full sensory, with image and voice – went live. That got them a view of the interior of the Jade Pleasure Dome, the most prestigious arena in Yu-Shan. There were a multiude of gods there, all transfixed by whatever-it-was at the center of the room. Even with his enhanced senses and numerous defenses… Charles couldn’t grasp the form of what was in there. Six Ebb and Ten Peach had averted their eyes from glimpsing it; Nuahathia is transfixed like a moth to the candle.

Still, even the pull of the Games rebounded from Dudael’s primordial protections.

Charles blotted out the center of the view, and blurred the memory for those who needed it.

(Charles, cheerily) “OK, I’ve blocked out that bit… So which one is it that we want to talk to?”

The view shifted as if something were being removed, and a face appeared. The luminous admant skin and golden eyes said that this was definitely a female Tender. This one had hair – although it was, short enough to fit into a hardhat. All the Tenders Charles had seen before were generic; only minor features differentiated them. This one… was plainly unique, and was regal in features. She had ducked into what appeared to be an alcove.

(Arelis Sorrowhands, Overseer 1-A and Initiator of the Games of Divinity) “My hardhat is working… this should not be happening. Who is this?”

Huh! That was the voice he’d heard in the deep archives of Dudael!

(Charles) “Uhm… I’m Aden Shining Dream, and I was calling through geomantic modulation because… well, Yu-Shan is shortly going to undergo geomantic collapse without intervention, and you’ve been out of touch for thirty thousand years or so according to the other Overseers here!”

(Arelis) “Of course… you’d have no idea, but you’re a popular topic among the gods. I… wanted to keep in contact with my people, but the terms of the capitulation made that unfeasible… What’s this about geomantic collapse? From what I heard, my people were winning!”

Charles showed her!

As she absorbed that, she was clearly having to restrain herself. SOMETHING like anger was bubbling within the adamant of her body…

(Arelis) “The FOOLS! That will kill us, and Yu-Shan with us!”

(Charles) “Well, yes! Anyway… I was kind of intending to fix it THIS way, but I wanted to check with everyone reasonable enough to cooperate – or who had special information that might help – first!”

(Arelis) “Matters were bad enough with not being able to cycle players, but THIS?”

She scanned the summary of his plans to fix things…

(Arelis) “I see… so you’re going to introduce Wyld energy into the sacred geomancy. This would not please her were she awake. If my dear Aros and I were not stuck in here as cupbearers, we could coordinate our surviving kin more effectively and help them balance the energies more effectively. As it is now… we’ll have to rely on you. I suppose you could try to enter the Dome, but if that goes badly, we’d be down one… I’m not even sure what you are.”

(Peach) “I’m almost certain he’s a Nascent One.”

(Arelis) “You tasted?”

(Peach) “Of course. He graciously provided samples.”

(Arelis) “Hmm. That’s still not as accurate as feeding, you know. Still… Incredible. No wonder Gaia spoke with him personally. And even if he isn’t a Nascent One, I don’t really care! This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

(Charles) “I have to agree there! It’s very messy!”

(Arelis) “I don’t see anything on waking her up, which saddens me. It’s been too long. I figure we can do it in our version once you’re done, though.”

(Charles) “Uhm… I don’t know enough about the original setup really! Waking who up? I was kind of wondering if Yu-Shan was someones world-body of course, but there wasn’t much in the archives…”

Arelis adjusted her helmet so that Charles could see an adamant foot tapping the adamant ground of the alcove.

(Arelis, sadly) “Milady Yu-Shan has been unconscious for… has it really been that many millennia. She sacrificed so much to see Gaia’s dream become reality. Even as it is today, I want her to see it.”

(All the other gods-including the Tenders) “WHAT!?”

(Arelis) “Yes, my dear goddess of the Bureaucracy and my Overseers. You’ve been in a world-body this whole time.”

(Charles) “Well, that was always a strong possibility! After all… Yu-Shan is a lot bigger than a clubhouse needed to be, so there had to be another reason for the size!”

(Arelis) “She is no clubhouse. They needed something with a stable reality to ground these miraculous games… and she invested her Essence in one hundred “dollies,” as she called us. All of it. We are the channels to her awakening, or would be had matters not gone so poorly in Creation.”

(Charles) “Well, that’s another thing to fix! First we need to stop the disaster though…”

(Arelis) “Indeed. Now how were you intending to use Aros and me in this? I’m sure that’s why you called as well. Why else would you go through the trouble?”

(Charles) “Well, the other Overseers recommended consulting you about shunting some of the excess energy into the central reservoir!”

(Arelis considered that.) “That is likely to hasten her awakening. While I’m certainly not against that, it’s only fair to let you know.”

(Charles) “Well, she’s already been waiting a long time – and creating the overlay environment will give her and everyone else room…”

(Arelis) “Going to our version then… not even I’m sure where her jouten will emerge. If it’s in the Jade Pleasure Dome, the confusion should be enough to evacuate her. If not, I doubt the state of the Celestial Plain will amuse her. She was never much for clutter. In that case, you might have to evacuate her.”

(Charles) “Well… We should have a little time before that happens… I guess prevent the explosion first, and then deal with the aftereffects!”

(Arelis) “Very well then. It will require tinkering with the Games themselves. Fortunately, even after all these millennia, the Incarnae don’t understand them – and if Gaia is having you do what I think she is, it will all work out. I don’t fully understand them myself-but next to the Mighty Ones, Aros and I are the best qualified to handle it.”

(Charles) “OK! Is there a less cumbersome way to run a communications link in? The link system will be sustained by the geomancy of the Dome now – but actually using it is an awful lot of work!”

(Arelis) “Urgh… as part of the terms of our surrender, Aros and I really can’t interfere with the outside world. Even communicating with me this way is risky!”

(Charles) “Oh… Well, is there anything else we should know before I drop this?”

(Arelis) “I’m sure you know it will be noticeable throughout the world-body. She’ll likely stir in her sleep. Considering how many buildings THEY erected that shouldn’t be here, I’d expect attempts to remove them.”

(Charles) “Well… I can probably do something there…”

(Arelis) “Pure regions would be most at risk, but those should be mostly uninhabited anyway. Ebb, Peach, I’ll need you to warn your people to stay underground.”

(Ebb and Peach, bowing) “Yes, milady!”

(Arelis) “Get that to the other Overseers too.”

(Charles) “And I’d better get all the equipment made! it’s going to take at least a day…”

(Arelis) “Well, then may the Celestial Plain bless you when you are done. I see the Sun’s wine is running low… Luna will get suspicious if I don’t fill it right away.” (She sighed.)

(Charles) “Thank you for risking talking to us!”

(Arelis) “I was charged with her safety. I would give my existence if it ensured that she would wake up healthy and sound. I should be thanking you for doing something about the problem… and I suppose I just did.”

(Charles) “Oh you’re welcome! It needs fixing!”

(Ebb) “Milady, please be careful!”

(Arelis) “Not to worry. The Incarnae know not to harm us, the Sun is most generous with feeding us… and the other gods are too distracted by the Games to notice us.”

Charles… rather suspected that most of the Incarnae weren’t even going to look up, and probably no one except – just maybe – Luna would care if they did notice; it had been forty thousand years since the takeover of Yu-Shan, and tens of thousands since any of them did anything very much, and he really doubted that “the cup-bearers took a phone call!” would get them paying attention. The Sorrowhands might be semi-valued servants… but they weren’t Incarnae and both they and the Incarnae knew it!

Too bad in a way though! He’d kind of liked the “Gargantuan Reality Engine” theory – although there was no reason why it couldn’t be true as well; it might just be Yu-Shan’s theme – and if it was, it would explain why Reality Engines were such fussy things and perhaps why the Blessed Isle was just the same shape as Yu-Shan… Who could say? Primordials were weird things!

(Arelis) “It was good to speak with you, Aden… once this is over, we must converse on her geomancy!”

(Charles) “Oh yes! I like geomancy!”

Ms Chisaru and Mr Montague had mostly been observing (in some shock), but Arelis addressed them directly now…

(Arelis) “Weavers. You are welcome too, if you would like to get out from under the thumb of the Occupiers. There is so much I could teach you.”

Poor Chisaru and Montague looked at each other, not entirely sure what to say! Charles would obviously prefer to have EVERYONE free to do their own things and develop as best as they possibly could… but this was getting… WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE? This just kept getting more and more mysterious! In a world-body? The Incarnae consorting with deiphages? What had HAPPENED during the taking of Yu-Shan? Were the consequences still playing out even NOW?”

(Chisaru, taking a deep breath) “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m content where I am, developing my shadow fingers and operatives.”

She didn’t even try to hide her disorientation.

(Charles) “Thank you Miss Arelis! I should have enough information to make it all work out I think!”

He dropped the transmission link. Even for a crew of Djinn, changing the landscaping fast enough to modulate the dragon lines as a carrier wave was a LOT of work!

Mr Montague was considering… Charles had just cracked the security on the Jade Pleasure dome… as an improvisation. That was… one of the best-secured places in Yu-Shan! Certainly no one ELSE would have attempted to… perform geomancy fast enough to impose a signal on the dragon lines, or tried to build a communications artifact out of patterned essence-echoes THROUGH that manipulation – but did the boy have some charm that let him see a way to do anything he wanted to do or something? There had been many great powers – but had there ever been one who so readily evaded all restraint?

Er… It WAS quite impossible for Oramus to escape… but hadn’t he been defined by doing things that were impossible?

(Montague) “Er… Charles… You just… you’re fairly unique of course… but people have been trying to do what you just did for tens of thousands of years!”

(Charles) “You just have to look at things right!”

Mr Montague did not find that at ALL comforting!

(Montague) “Well, yeah… but you did it like it was nothing! Not that I’m surprised, but…”

And there was a silver vase in the room that was not there before! At least Charles was pretty sure that it hadn’t been there before…

(Nuahathia) “Uh…”

(Charles) “Well, I wasn’t looking for a way to get in before! Of course, establishing a link to channel that much geomantic manipulation through does mean that an emanation could ride it back here… but that’s all right because here we can talk really privately! An inanimate object wouldn’t just appear that way, so it’s a disguise!”

He waved cheerily at the vase – which tipped over, and exploded in a shower of silvery, Lunar-aspected Essence. When that dissipated, the person before them glowed with silvery radiance and was not clearly identifiable as a man or a woman…

(Charles, cheerily) “Hello Miss Luna!”

Chisaru and Montague were maintaining their dignity, barely.

(Luna) “Looking in or pouring water would’ve also gotten me out! Anyway… do you know how long it’s been since a Solar has made a stir like you have?”

(Charles, with interest) “Am I still one? I haven’t really been sure for quite a while now!”

(Luna) “Technically! Anyway… it was a trick question. I don’t remember anyone bringing in Exaltations from outside Creation before! Mind telling me? I need a new story to keep Gaia occupied!”

Although she was hiding it behind nonchalance, she was very, VERY interested. WHATEVER the boy was turning himself into – and it WAS an incredibly convoluted mess! – he was blatantly meddling with some pretty fundamental things!

(Charles) “Uhm… It’s really pretty simple! I was making gates, and some went outside creation, so that seemed like something that would be fun to look into, and one went to a pocket realm – the last remnant of a destroyed creation – full of dragon kings, who are cool! So when Rachel got into trouble I sent her family and her to hide out there, and that attracted that universes supply of Exaltations, which followed them home, and so we got to keep them here! I really wasn’t expecting any to still be hanging around thirty thousand years after humans went extinct and everyone but the Dragon Kings got destroyed – but there were. I put that project on hold for the moment! I didn’t really think that we needed a third or fourth set right away!

(Luna) “Huh. Where was this gate?”

She’d thought that she’d shut all those off eons ago!

(Charles) “Oh, I figured out how to install multiple gates in manse of sufficient rank and set some of them to go to all kinds of places on a semi-random search for major areas that hadn’t been reached yet – and some went to alternate creations! Did that have something to do with the Nocturnals showing up? They got here not long after I made some transdimensional gates!”

(Luna) “I… (distant for a moment) I don’t know! I’d like to know myself!”

(Charles) “Hm… They do seem to have related abilities; I wouldn’t be surprised if they required a gate to come into existence in any given universe; the potential was certainly there or they wouldn’t have self-assembled! Anyway, since you were listening in… could you sign this work order? it will make it much easier to deal with the planning boards and the Celestial Lions!”

(Luna) “Well, let’s have a look first! If it pleases me, I might do it!”

Charles had hurriedly whipped up a set of orders for the emergency reconstruction of Yu-Shan to forestall a geomantic catastrophe which gave him pretty broad – well, almost total – authority to issue pretty much any orders he felt necessary to accomplish that goal. Luna… didn’t actually read it, but the paper, ink, and format were to her liking, so she signed it, which was very helpful!

Besides… she was pretty much stuck in the Jade Pleasure Dome much of the time! It wouldn’t do for Yu-Shan and it to be destroyed.

(Charles) “Thank you Miss Luna! That will make things a lot easier with the bureaucracy!”

Nuahathia was watching in some disbelief… HOW could Charles simply… take control of a conversation with LUNA that way?! Was it the monomania? Were even the Incarnae unable to face the idea of disappointing… the most naive and helpful power in the cosmos? Did simply ASKING actually work that way?

Mr Mongague… was reeling in shock again. Solar? A CHILD-Solar Exalt with a WORLD-BODY and near-Primordial level fixations? With THAT many primordial resonances? Had the child dreamed of… being a cosmic power that could fix EVERYTHING and had an Exaltation give him the power to make that dream real?

Ms Chisaru… was far more deeply shocked. The boy had admitted that he didn’t have a plan for dealing with the Bureaucracy and the Lions yet – and an INCARNAE had promptly dropped by and obligingly given him a writ to solve that little problem for him! Either the boy was the LUCKIEST child in Creation – as well as the most unflappable opportunist in history – or something with VERY deep access to the foundations of reality (perhaps Yu-Shan itself if the boy was right) was pushing to make this happen.

Worse… she was no geomantic specialist – but with so many of them pointing out the failure nodes… even she could see it – and Luna saw it too, and was willing to place the responsibility for fixing it on Charles. Luna was known for Sink-or-Swim tests of HER Exalts – but would she really gamble the survival of Yu-Shan and the Games that way? Charles was not even one of HERS.

There wasn’t much choice. And if there was one thing that the Solars has ALWAYS been good at, it was rising to save the day at the last moment – even if they DID tend to make a terrible hash out of actually RUNNING the realms they saved. That was why the Lunars – who could adjust to what was going on in a NON-crisis situation – had been the stewards…

(Charles) “Shall I tell Righteous Hala you came by?”

(Luna) “Heh. I’m not done yet! What were you doing, talking to old Sorrowhands anyway? Most people don’t know about the Tenders and there’s a reason for that!”

(Charles) “Getting more information to try and stop Yu-Shan from blowing up! The badly-judged attempts to fix it going on make a proper repair job kind of vital at this point!”

(Luna) “Why them, though? A lot of people would write them off without a question! You can’t really be THAT much of a boy scout, can you? That’s what a lot of the rumors say!”

(Charles, with considerably surprise) “But they all need help!”

(Luna, to the Sidereals) “Is he REALLY like this?”

(Chisaru) “Err… from what I’ve seen so far, yeah!”

(Charles, puzzledly) “Like what?”

(Luna) “So willing to overlook that they want to kick the other gods out and/or eat their Essence whole!”

(Charles) “Well, the other gods aren’t really helping and they ARE currently the only ones holding the cities geomancy stable…”

(Luna, consideringly) “I supppose most of them COULD go back down to Meru, but it would take a lot of explaining to the… Japanese, was it? That’d still leave us up here playing the Games.”

She gave a long, exasperated, sigh.

(Charles) “Oh that’s ok! I’m planning to fix it for everybody!”

(Luna) “Oh yeah, that’s another thing! What makes you think that you can fix everything? What’s going to keep you from taking over? Solars tend to do that, you know!”

Charles looked at her blankly – and rummaged out an equivalent of the old powers-of-ten film out to they wyld limit at 10 to the 100’th light years, and then switched to a fractal display of multiverses. Then he’ll reversed the zoom and updated the view to make the galaxies… green and vibrant with life.

(Charles) “There’s lots to do! How could anyone take over?”

(Luna) “Wow. I’d actually heard something about that.” (And a roguish smile.) “So… absolutely NO desire to rule? No desire to conquer, or even lead?”

(Charles still had a rather blank look) “How would that help?”

(Luna, chuckling) “It hasn’t so far. So you’re going to seed the universe with life, starting with energizing Yu-Shan. What happens when OTHERS try to exploit it… and you by extension?”

(Charles) “There’s room!”

(Luna) “Oh, physically, yeah. Probably politically too – travel’s an issue through that. But what happens if somebody subverts your gates? There are ways, and a lot of people will be in trouble if that happens.”

(Charles) “Maybe! But I think they’d prefer to get to exist and have possible trouble over certainly not being there!”

(Luna) “More life would be great! Doesn’t seem like you’re going to stifle it, or rule over it, or do stuff others would do! By all means, go wild! But sometimes existence can be pretty… miserable! What would you do if that was the case?”

(Charles) “Encourage niceness!”

Luna had to laugh. Maybe she should try to work with Lytek to arrange a few innocent Child-Exalts of her own! They were… delightfully refreshing!

(Charles) “If enough people are nice it tends to spread anyway!”

He cheerily referred her to “Tit for Tat“.

(Luna) “There’s a time for niceness and a time for firmness, kid. I’m not going to lie: I wish more Solars were nicer! It’d make things easier for my Chosen. But sometimes you have to be firm before you be nice. Not mean – firm!”

(Charles… looked profoundly sad) “Sometimes they’re so lost to being mean that it’s very hard to help before it destroys them! At least they got to try again though…”

(Luna, patting him on the shoulder.) “You did… good on that one. You released their souls. Sometimes… you just have to do what’s necessary to keep people from hurting others. THAT’S what I’m worried about though! Sure, you’re a nice kid! That’s great! I’m just wondering if you’re adaptable enough.”

(Charles) “Well, the Guardians help with that!”

(Luna) “You just don’t seem to have any backbone. You’ve got a lot of toys and power – and people around here won’t bother you because of that. They don’t want to lose out on that. But it’s different out there. Some people just want to see Creation burn. What happens if you meet someone who WON’T submit to bribes?”

(Charles) “Depends on what they’re doing!”

(Luna, with a bit of exasperation) “OK… eating a planet?”

(Charles) “Well… if there are people and things living there, make them stop! Otherwise… there are lots of barren rocks out there!”

(Luna) “Well, yeah. What if it’s, oh, I don’t know, a Kaiju Manse? You’ve got one tied to you right now… and I’m pretty sure you didn’t want it. See what I mean by being nice all the time? It’s commendable, yes, but it’s VERY risky!”

(Charles) “Don’t know! I’m not sure how to stop one of them yet… I haven’t figured out how to build one yet! I think there’s something obvious I’m missing!”

(Luna) “Maybe… there’s a lot somebody could miss out there, even an adult. And Exalt or not, you’re a kid. Granted, you’re a pretty tough kid with all your artifacts and world-body, but what happens if someone takes them from you. Worse still… what happens if somebody gets you into an anti-magic zone?”

(Charles, after a bit of thought) “Isn’t that basically a hole in the universe?”

(Luna) “Well, yeah. I’m just mentioning possibilities here. It’s always good to consider everything.”

(Charles) “Well… I don’t have all the answers yet – but I suspect that hardly anybody does!”

(Luna) “I’d hate to see what happened if anyone did. I’m still not sure about you being able to resist being manipulated by someone who thought they did. You supply to everybody who asks nicely, don’t you? What happens if somebody uses your gifts to do things you don’t like?”

(Charles) “Well, everybody so far! But most of the ones that can be really used to be mean on a large scale have built-in shut-downs!”

Well! The child DID have some sense! She hadn’t been sure that he had it in him! From the reports so far… he’d been almost insanely obliging!

Charles had briefly considered that kind of thing. Someone asking him “Oh, could you make it without a way to shut it down so that if I start using it to massacre and torture people it won’t cut out on me?” would DEFINITELY be sending a bad signal!

Luna read THAT thought with ease. That was good! He was still a bit TOO trusting for her tastes, but he had SOME slight trace of caution! She’d have to get on to Righteous Hala about monitoring him better! Still… he was probably making the Sun proud…

(Luna) “That’s good, at least. Could you try to put them in any artifacts you give to creatures of darkness or fey? We don’t want you supplying our enemies, if only by accident!”

(Charles) “Uhm… the only ones for the Fey so far are… toys and the collars that keep their servants healthy and happy and heal them if they’re drained.”

What, he was ALREADY supplying the Fey? Probably when he was disappearing into the Wyld Zones… That was a bit unnerving. Still, happier and healthier fey servants meant possible escapees from the fey – and that… no one HAD to die when the fey drained them.

(Luna) “You just give those out? What, so they won’t die?”

(Charles) “Well, yeah! That way… working for the fey will just be an interesting experience and it will be all right in the end!”

Oh dear. He really WAS thinking that way.

(Charles) “Besides… looking at their entertainments… humans are really kind of bored these days! They don’t know it… but they MISS the wyld magic more than a bit!”

Luna was… still leery of his ability to visit the end of the universe safely. Space was dangerous, the Wyld was dangerous, and… she wasn’t so sure about where he’d be heading. He was reckless. While she wasn’t innocent of that herself, at least she tried to look before she leaped! Still… the threat to Yu-Shan was real enough – and few others were even aware of it, much less in position to even TRY to fix it. The effort to fix Yu-Shan was… too important to allow it to get screwed up! She’d have to get Hala on him – and possibly have an avatar watch when she could!

Even if his dreams WERE on a larger scale than even the Cauldronists had ever considered. Was THAT why an exaltation would have picked him as a child? And for a twelve-year-old… he wasn’t doing all that badly, even with HER playing advocate-of-oblivion…

(Luna) “Things have gotten stagnant on Earth, haven’t they? I thought the return of Gaia’s chosen would liven things up, but they went circumspect. And then the Alchemicals came around… arrgh! I want to do more, but I’m stuck playing the Games!”

(Charles, with his usual total sincerity) “Needs fixing!”

(Luna) “Well, I STILL think you’re going to get more than you bargained for… but you’ve done a really good job so far, even with your occasional screwups.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

From Luna, that WAS a very nice compliment!

(Luna) “I’m still going to get Hala to watch you better! With what you’ve told me… I don’t think focusing on politics matters. And you need SOMEBODY to tell you when you’re being too idealistic and forgiving. That’s what my Chosen are for; to moderate the Solars.”

Luna looked a little sad… A shame that the Lunars hadn’t been as good at moderating the Solars as she had hoped – although they’d rarely needed to moderate them THAT way…

(Charles) “Don’t be sad! There is a lot of damage to the universe on the conceptual level that really fouls things up!”

(Luna) “If I told you we… never mind. Not in front of the Sidereals. I’ll tell you later; maybe have Arelis call.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Luna, to Chisaru and Montague) “You heard all that, right? This boy needs supervision! I know you can’t do that personally – your job’s too big as it is! But you’ve got to know people who can keep him from causing a disaster by being well-meaning.”

They nodded. They weren’t about to question an Incarnae!

(Luna) “Oh yeah, and the Sun told me one of your little friends was getting you a babysitter too.”

Charles looked puzzled… “little friends”?

(Luna) “Ah, the Night Caste! Tanaka was it? I’ve GOT to let her mate know where to find her-she’s got problems too.”

Charles grumbled a bit… everyone thought that he needed looking after! Next it would be the Kickaha playing babysitters…

(Luna) “Anyway… don’t feel bad about the babysitters! Everybody’s got their quirks. That’s what makes life so fun! You just have to ride with it and take the punches. Good luck out there; I’ve got to do more legwork on the Nocturnal thing.”

(Charles) “Let me know if you need anything!”

Yep. There it was. Did he ask that basic question of EVERYONE he encountered? If she told him something… she’d be VERY specific about what she wanted! Sometimes a SMALLER artifact or manse would do!

(Luna) “Mmm… I’ll consider it. “I’ll let you know if I do! Gotta go for now, though!”

(Charles) “Have fun!”

Luna vanished in a shower of essence.

Mr. Montague looked at Chisaru.

(Montague) “Sifu, is being a Sidereal ALWAYS this crazy?”

Chisaru just slowly shook her head.

(Charles) “I just tend to get things stirred up!”

(Chisaru) “To say the least… But if anything would have gotten an Incarna’s attention, importing a new set of Exaltations was it!”

She was just glad that Charles was at least SOMEWHAT somewhat responsible – much less not hostile.

(Charles) “Well, how was I to know they’d still be lurking around? Still… we have enough room these days that we could have used some more Exaltations anyway!”

(Montague) “I’m not going to argue with that!”

(Chisaru) “Anyway… who are we to deny the Argent Madonna? She’s given us a mission, Sasa!”

(Montague looked Charles over.) “Eh, it’s not like he’s a bad kid. I think just about anybody with a cool head and some thaumaturgy will work.”

(Charles) “Oh, would you all please not mention the “solar” bits? I’m not quite done transcending yet!”

(Chisaru, smiling) “The secret’s safe with us, I think.”

Nuahathia just nodded. It had been a rough day for her.

Exalted Index Part I – Campaign Logs

feu d'artifice 3

feu d’artifice

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice

The Chronicles are an Exalted: Modern game, most consistently played by Charles Dexter Ward (a Twilight Artificer), sometimes joined by Aikiko, Ruki, and various others. Unlike most games, however, there’s no hard division between PC and NPC; players are free to adopt interesting NPC’s and to play various other roles. Thus, at any point, any character might be a PC – and therefore the focus of things.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVII – A Fine And Private Place

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting

The Cycle Turns

The Gold Faction’s checking on Charles’s more regular activities soon led them to the Well of Worlds… and to his ongoing terraforming projects, which had now settled into a general routine; a few moments of evaluation and surveying, a few moments for selecting a layout, the incredibly complex triparate global transmutation – lifeseeding – growth genesis spell, and the dispatching of Djinn via the transport shuttles to… set up the cities, manses, and gateways back to Earth and Yu-Shan and to (mostly) return through them when they were done.

Fortunately, the Djinn had rapid-manse-design artifacts and could use Celestial Circle Sorcery – including Raise the Puissant Sanctum. That way it only took a few days – and Charles had enough of them to have a bunch of worlds underway at the same time. Charles was still considering the dyson-sphere-segment manse design… That wouldn’t be needed for quite awhile, but it would necessary eventually!

That was a bit flabbergasting… Not so much that it was possible – the principles were clear enough, even if the complexity would normally have called for a far more piecemeal effort – but the fact that Charles had been able to make a habit of it without creating disturbances in the Loom. Admittedly, geomancy and thaumaturgy were among the most subtle of ways to meddle with the order of things but wouldn’t it… Ah. The patterns of the future, and the possibilities of mortal lives… would simply… branch out, with no great fuss of disturbance. The Loom… could handle Thamuaturgy and Geomancy – apparently even when it was backed by the energies of a Primordial.

The Chosen of Serenity and Journeys definitely approved – and promptly started looking over the maps much like the Terrestrials were still doing – albeit with a more informed perspective. Just how powerful was he – and was he constructing any in areas likely to undergo or currently undergoing fate disruption?

Fortunately, there was a LOT of universe – and Charles did have a Sympathetic Loom and Malinda to watch out for that. All of the worlds so far were in basically uninhabited galaxies, and in areas that SHOULD be stable for the foreseeable future. Things would come up of course – things ALWAYS came up – but he’d arranged matters as best as possible and every world would have it’s gods and manse-guardians to look after it.

Mr Montague had mentioned both Malinda and Charles’s creation of a Sympathetic Loom in his report. So… that was what the child had built one for! And… certain advertisements that some of them had seen in mortal newspapers suddenly seemed a LOT more serious. And… the child’s explanation was simply… “People and other creatures need more room!”

They marked those worlds for classification change on their maps – and inquired as to whether or not he’d be interested in having Half-Castes among the colonists? They were quite useful for monitoring things!

(Charles) “Certainly! Most of them are magically active, and that’s always a useful factor to have among the colonists!”

(Celestial Banner of Azure, Chosen of Secrets of the Gold Faction) “Well… at least Heaven will be able to monitor those worlds once they’re colonized – even if only indirectly!”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well, they will be getting put onto the transport gate network! That should make it fairly easy!”

Some members of the Silver Faction had also started observing once they’d realized what Charles was up to – and that definitely drew some interest.

(Music from the Heart of Space, Silver Faction Chosen of Serenity) “Wait a moment here! “Transport network?” What transport network?”

(Charles) “Well, planets are of no use if people can’t get there – and linking them back to Yu-Shan as well will open up a LOT of domains for the out-of-work gods!”

There was some incredulity among the assembled Exalts – and Celestial Banner and Music departed rather hurriedly. Dealing with an entire network of gates opening up was going to take some planning!

(Sorina Chisaru, Gold Faction Chosen of Battles) “That’s all well and good, but how are you going to do it in a reasonable amount of time? It will take centuries to get it past the bureaucracy.”

(Charles) “I haven’t quite sorted out what to do about the Bureaucracy yet… Hopefully they will just be sensible! Besides… technically, linking into Yu-Shan with a gate that originates on the planetary end is outside Yu-Shan, and not under their authority!

(Sorina, rubbing her forehead) “We can only hope. But if you don’t have permits, how are you going to stop the lion dogs from doing what they’re supposed to and stopping construction?”

(Charles) “Well, there won’t be any construction on the Yu-Shan end for this part of things!”

(Sorina) “Ah. That solves that then. What about the other part?”

(Charles) “Well, most of what Yu-Shan needs is repair work, rather than new construction, and for that you can just file an update!”

(Sorina) “I see… well, you’ve got your work cut out for you on that.”

(Mr. Montague, who was mostly hanging back and letting Sorina talk) “Unless he’s got a plan for THAT, ma’am! (Noting Charles’s expression) “Charles, DO you have a plan for that? It’d be just like you!”

(Charles sighed) “Well… Yu-Shan needs higher power levels, which means infusing more wyld energies into the substrate, and it has humans, elder gods with older geomancy, and younger gods with newer geomancy to accommodate, so it needs aspects for all of them! Fortunately, five is an easy number to work with; the cosmos tends to consider that a “complete set” and so it represents a potential well in possibility-space.

(Montague) “Elder… gods?”

(Sorina) “What, did you sleep through that part of Ancient Yu-Shan history? He’s talking about the deiphages. I think.”

And she shuddered a bit.

(Charles) “So you just need enough essence channeled into the geomancy and a little guidance to actualize the possibility; it will be a limited overlay because the Loom – and it’s link to the Jade Pleasure Dome – will bind the aspects together at the center, and the gates and dome will bind the edge. It will increase the cities power demands, but the extra influx from another seventy-two worlds and the increased wyld flux at the base level will readily handle that!”

(Mr. Montague) “That seems… tricky! I never heard of anyone doing that before.”

(Ms. Chisaru looked thoughtful for a moment.) “Has anyone asked you to do this?

(Charles) “Gaia said she’d help me get it fixed!”

(Montague) “Huh? You spoke with Gaia?”

(Sorina) “You were the one who pegged him as a possible Primordial, and you’re surprised? She would know about this kind of thing… Did anyone other than the Emerald Mother ask you?”

(Charles) “Well.. the Celestial Lions want the geomancy stabilized, and the Elders want it fixed before they can’t hold it together any more, and there are a couple of groups trying to fix it, but they were silly enough NOT to consult one of the geomancy gods who always succeeds in geomantic analysis and their plans will result in the deaths of most of the inhabitants of Yu-Shan and possibly dissolve the entire realm back into chaos, And the humans would like it stable and with a place for them, and there’s at least one or two other groups who want it fixed before the geomantic collapse begins… It really needs fixing badly!”

(Sorina) “I won’t argue there, but who’s likely to destroy it? Can you tell me? Millions of mortal and divine lives could be at stake here! You can put up a privacy ward if it’s necessary.”

(Charles) “Uhrm… (Well… no one asked him not to tell… but it could get them into trouble!) But they do mean well… It wouldn’t get them into trouble would it?”

(Sorina) “That depends on how soon it’s going to happen. If it’s in the next decade or so… maybe we can work something out. If not, yeah.”

(Charles) “Er… about five months if I don’t fix it first.”

(Sorina, with some shock) “Urgh… well, who is it?”

(Charles) “Uhrm… Could we go over to the privacy manse?”

(Sorina) “That bad? Fine by me!”

(Charles, once at the privacy manse) “Uhrm… well… you won’t like this… but think about all the major sidereal prophecies and conference plans over the last… well… forty thousand years? (he threw up a list with pictures and references). It really wasn’t supposed to work this way… but it looks to me like… without the Lidless Eye to stabilize divination… Well, you know how powerful essence beings – especially those with precognitive powers – interfere with prophecy? You SHOULD be able to think it here, because this manse operates as a shielded auxiliary memory and self-correcting neural network to run parallel-processing outside of both your original mental substrate and outside the mental conventions of being in Creation. It essentially… allows your mind to perceive and think around instinctive parameters, damage, and failure points and to store sensitive information HERE, rather than in your primary mind. That’s why it’s perfectly private; the mental matrices have to be kept entirely separate, and they have to be shielded from outside influence, and the keying function depends on your mental pattern – which unnatural mental influence distorts. Anyway… ALL OF YOU are powerful essence wielders with precognitive powers. The Sidereals AND the Maidens interfere with THEMSELVES. The Maidens can only see the inevitable – although they can sense not to look when it isn’t inevitable – and you… well, look at the list! Every single major prophetic plan the Sidereals have made in forty thousand years – since the Primordial War in fact – has resulted in disaster. And you and they… can’t even see that without some external mental augmentation. In this case… it’s the Bronze Faction, who once again believe that only they see truly and can save everyone. They are right in part; the disaster is coming very soon if nothing is done. They’re just wrong about their ability to stop it.”

(Sorina… had to think that one over, and take one of her migraine pills.) “So… it’s not just that everyone else is argumentative and hiding however their stress manifests?”

(Charles) “No… as far as I can tell, the shadowlands out there – across the entire universe – are just the manifestation of the damage done by a PARTICULAR Primordial’s death or injury. Every one of them that was slain or grievously injured – to become a Yozi – has left part of the principles of the universe damaged. Gaia is still holding it together, but it seems to take a great deal of her power. Authochthon… seems to have invested so much power in the Exaltations that he is almost comatose and very ill. And the others… are departed or terribly warped.”

(Sorina) “I know you’re not lying to me, since there’s no record of you lying directly… and you’ve never used one of THOSE mental effects in the record either. Arggh… so the Bronze evacuation is more than an evacuation!”

(Charles) “None of those mental effects will work anywhere in Aden anyway! But the Bronze are evacuating in case they fail – and so that they can sacrifice their holdings if they must in the attempt… Now, I could be wrong in various details – infallibility is not one of my powers – but the price of inaction while I wait for perfect information is far too high.”

(Sorina) “That’s horrible! All my descendants and shadow fingers (people used for specific Charms in Throne Shadow Style) are either up here or come up here regularly! What in the HELL are they… of course not. They’re not thinking, are they? They’re… under that influence you told me about. And so are the Silver guys, and my associates… which would explain the gridlock I’ve seen!”

(Charles) “They are thinking; they believe that only they can forestall the disaster they’ve foreseen – just as the Gold and Silver Factions believe that theirs are the only paths that evade vast destruction – or so I would guess… Is that accurate enough?”

(Sorina) “Yeah… that seems right. So do they get migraines in meetings too?”

(Charles) “Oh yes.”

(Sorina) “How many does it take for them? Do you know? Because when it’s really bad, even these celestial pills don’t help.”

(Charles) “As far as I know… the more, the worse – but five or six is probably safe enough as far as the migraines go. Since it is working with time though… it’s probably also related to the total number involved, not just in any one group at the moment.”

(Sorina) “It DOES get worse when there’s more of us, then! And here I thought I was going crazy!”

(Charles) “No, that’s the Solars… It looks to me like perfection is unsustainable for any human mind. There used to be ways to get around that I think, but now… they all – or at least all the ones directly available to the Solar Exalted – seem to be flawed. That’s damage to the conceptual level of Creation – not to any particular mind, and exists before people exalt as part of the current rules of Creation, which is why it can’t be thrown off with defenses; you need to dump creation’s rules to get around it – and they’re what give form to the human mind! Anyway… the Lunars… well, look at them; they’re shapeshifters, the ultimate adapters – and they couldn’t adjust to living in civilization and fled to the far corners of the cosmos. The Terrestrials… were created to be an unstoppable, unified, and disciplined army – and they split up into hostile factions whenever more than a dozen or so get together. It’s easy enough to see when you’re HERE – but unless you remain linked here, it will be nearly impossible to see outside the manse.”

(Sorina) “Right. I think I need to attune to this place, then! Can Montague attune as well? He downplays it, but I think we have the same problem. It’s just in his HANDS.”

(Charles) “Certainly! It’s simple enough… I don’t know if it will provide complete protection outside of my world-body, but it should at least let you recognize the problem. I… can’t cure it yet though.”

(Sorina) “Sigh… look, you’ve got enough on your plate as it is! Don’t worry about me. Now that I know, I can try to do something about it!”

And she – before she really thought about it – patted Charles on the head while she and Montague attuned…

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVI – Views of the Enlightenment

Da Wu Sheng Peking Opera Cast, Celestial Produ...

And now, presenting…

About some things High Lord Jorgensen of the Bronze was quite right… In Aden the Solar (well, anybody really) training facility – Alora Nagandurga, the Citadel of Enlightenment – was in operation. Admittedly, most of the current students were Kickaha (who were quite enjoying the Celestial Martial Arts), god-bloods, and humans – with Baalgrogs as “campus police” and sparring partners – but there were nine Solar Exalts (three Eclipses, three Zeniths (one with a Half-Moon Lunar Mate), two Twilights (with their Waxing and Full Moon Lunar Mates) and a Dawn) there.

The Gold Faction had been lucky to find that many. The Solar Exalted were scattered across the cosmos, and were anything but easy to locate.

Physically, Alora Nagandurga is a series of beautiful Tibetan-style “temples” and “monasteries” cut back into the mountainsides and linked by meandering paths and elaborate landscaping. The entire complex is nestled in a lush green valley surrounded by towering icy peaks, with small waterfalls tumbling down to the cliffs to gurgle into the central lake – a tranquil mirror for the spectacular scenery above. Even within Aden it’s difficult to reach, since it isolates itself rather like a Freehold does, and only a few routes – along narrow trails and crossing icy ravines – provide access. The three gates to Yu-Shan are, of course, normally closed – and well-guarded (and are equipped with Portal Control Systems, just in case someone needs to make a really long-range commute). The various courses cover the arts both practical and cultural. Among many MANY other topics, Alchemy, Metallurgy, Physics, and Zoology cross paths with Acting, Music, Puppetry, and Dance.

Charles, of course, is willing to supply a variety of artifacts, although he much prefers to provide defensive and utilitarian devices as opposed to weaponry. That’s why there’s a garden full of Seed of the Immaculate Blood (Oadenols Codex) Ferns – but no serious arsenal beyond the training weapons.

Like most of Aden… the complex hums with raw geomantic power.

Alora Nagandurga is – of course – a manse, supported by a series of secondary manses. It’s inhabited by Guardians/Instructors (all with Skill 10 and Attribute 10 where relevant) and the complex includes classrooms, eateries, comfortable quarters, superb facilities for artificing (and for writing, performing arts, and various other fields), research facilities for magic, elaborate thaumaturgical laboratories, some powerful privacy wards supported by the geomancy, and a set of upgraded (Artifact-****, and doubly-effective) Crystal Arenas. It’s multiply-redundant computerized library-archives feature all the non-secret (and not horribly dangerous) information that Lytek has been willing to provide on charms and exalted powers, a copy of the archives of Seven Whispering Winds (a first-age Sidereal library, albeit – once again – with a few really dangerous items removed), and additional information harvested ( in an ongoing effort) from the various libraries of Yu-Shan and Earth.

In general, the archives cover the various types of supernatural beings, most common charms, a wide selection of Terrestrial Circle Spells, a modest selection of Celestial Circle Spells, a few Solar Circle Spells, a fair number of Terrestrial Martial Arts, a modest number of Celestial Martial Arts – and a few vague descriptions of Sidereal Martial Arts (albeit not enough to help with study, although there is enough to say “watch out for this…”). Secondarily, of course, the conventional library and skill libraries are suitable for a major university – and are constantly expanding.

In large part, that’s because Charles – with his usual constructive excess – has seen fit to install Galileo – a Synergistic Overmind – as the librarian, has assigned it a budget, has provided access to the network, has set it up with a stack of enhancement artifacts, and has provided a series of clockwork aides to help it continue to collect and collate information.


Galileo and Viviani

Not these guys.

  • Perception 15, Intelligence 15, Wits 15, Charisma 5 and Manipulation 5.
  • Bureaucracy 15, Computer 20, Integrity 15, Investigation 15, Linguistics 15, Lore 15, Medicine 15, Occult 20, Performance 10, Socialize 10, Technology 15, War 10.
  • Essence 5 (Effective), 165 Motes, First (Solar Style) Excellencies for all of it’s skills.
  • Can use Adenic Thaumaturgy without penalty for lacking manipulative organs and without components.
  • Reduces the time needed for mental activities – research, design, thaumaturgy, etc – by two levels. (Centuries to Decades, Decades to Years, Years to Months, Months to Days, Days to Hours, Hours to Minutes, Minutes to Seconds).
  • Compassion 3, Temperance 4, Conviction 4, Valor 2. Will 10.
  • Motivation: Assist Charles and the Students (not stupidly; it doesn’t want them relying on it as a crutch!) by gathering information and assisting them in learning and research.
  • Intimacies: Likes Charles, Scholarship, Information, Teaching, Libraries, Art, and Happiness. Dislikes Death, Loss of Information, and Lack of Academic Funding.

Galileo is currently running on relatively low power, although it does control the manse systems and the power-bestowing aspects of the Citadel. Charles has a LOT of other uses for geomantic relays, and so it rarely has more than twenty or thirty available – but that still suffices to let it take twenty or thirty mental actions at once without penalty and to provide it with +2 bonus successes on it’s mental actions.

As residents of a Rank-5 Manse in Aden, students get +20 motes/hour, immunity to Aging, Poison, Disease, Disabling, and Crippling effects, rapid healing (two bashing levels per hour, one lethal level per hour, and one aggravated level every five hours), mental access to the internet, and seven free uses of thaumaturgy per day (ignoring the usual mote and/or willpower cost, with +3 bonus successes and a one-level reduction in the time required). Each also gets to sustain three thaumaturgic effects. While these can be dispelled normally they will re-establish themselves six ticks later.

Those actually within the school or it’s Extended Zone of Influence are affected by the following powers – at least as long as Galileo approves of their presence there.

  • Wyld Revocation/Natural Learning. Determined students may profit from instruction. A student affected by this power may roll (Conviction) while studying something in which they have a tutor or instructional materials; each success reduces the cost of learning whatever they’re studying by 1 XP to a minimum of one point.
  • Wyld Revocation/Personal Training Montage. There is no difference in training times between developing your own charms, spells, and martial arts abilities and learning them from instruction.
  • Wyld Revocation/The Tidal Surge: Those within the school find that 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.
  • Immutability – offering immunity to unwanted shaping effects and the ravages of the Wyld.
  • 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.
  • Dance of the Dragon Lords (4, Solar Favored): The manse amplifies the essence of those within it, and makes it easier to channel – allowing them to access normally-unavailable abilities. The may affect everyone within the manse, those attuned to the manse, only the hearthstone bearer, or some other group if combined with control systems. The first incidence of this power provides those within the manse with a +1 to their effective essence and allows them to buy it up beyond their normal limits – although the extra essence, and any abilities dependent on it, only work within the manse. It also provides those within the manse the ability to use three additional charms – although the charms must be selected from among those to which the user normally has access (for Mortals, Martial Arts and Spirit Charms) and the user must fulfill all of the usual prerequisites – although charms bestowed by this power do count towards them. Unfortunately, this function is only partially cumulative; if you happen to exposed to it more than once, the second incidence only provides +3 charms, the third +2 charms, and the fourth and fifth +1 charm each – while further incidences provide no benefits at all. Once selected, the bonus charms are fixed until the user buys one of them “for real” – which frees up that slot for another charm.

The Graduate Student Program :

Wyld Revocation/Multipresence: A student at Alora Nagandurga may opt to spend a few hours of meditation to transfer their lowest health level into the Citadel. Thereafter they’re always considered to be within the school, as well as wherever they physically are. If they’re killed or otherwise destroyed in any fashion that does not destroy the Citadel 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.

Charles is NOT generally offering Adenic Thaumaturgy yet though; he thinks that would-be students need to learn the basics first – and unless someone really wants to focus on Thaumaturgy, they’re probably better off with their native charms.

Yes, Alora Nagandurga is Charles’s replacement for the first edition “Cult of the Illuminated”. Of course, helping out the Gold Faction this way also has a side-benefit over and above the fact that it fits his purposes perfectly; if he DOES get boarded by some pesky Abyssals, they’ll probably be surprised to find a Solar training academy aboard…

Unlike the “original” version (which never existed in this setting) the Lunars attending are being accommodated with their Solar partners or separately, as desired and are very definitely being treated as equals to their Solars. Of course, several of the Sidereal instructors have Nocturnal partners, and so have some understanding of what a bond with another Exalt felt like. They weren’t attempting to brainwash their students to be pawns or pets either. They were encouraging a positive attitude toward Heaven and towards those Sidereals who espoused Solar advancement (and avoiding conflict beyond some serious snubbing Sidereals from other factions; that was just pointless!)… but that was really to be expected and wasn’t particularly intrusive. After all, it’s sane to like the people who are helping you – and Yu-Shan was worth supporting because the alternative was dimensional chaos. OK, they may get manipulative later on – but that’s just how Sidereals are.

The Gold Faction has looked just in case – but none of the Solars at the Citadel appeared to be capable of making something like Aden. That might just mean that such a capability was sealed away or was located down some obscure side-path that no one had bothered to unlock – no one had ever been able to fully analyze an Exaltation – but it was a strong indication.

The Lunar Bond’s one-way nature was a potential problem for the Solars with partners, although one of the Zeniths was working on a solution. She didn’t think that it was fair that her Half Moon friend was inclined to be positive toward her whether she liked it or not – so she wanted to make it two way, and ensure that there was more parity. She’d accepted Charles’s offer to do a link-upgrade as a temporary measure (he didn’t think it was really fair either – and even if HE tended to be positively inclined towards everyone in creation that wasn’t true of everyone and he WAS always available in Aden due to those multipresence manses). It would help while she worked on something more intrinsic to her.

Of course, several of them were rather curious about the nature of their host as well – and were looking into THAT. Solar investigators – especially Solars without centuries of prejudices and stereotypes in their heads to confuse the issue – might not take all that long to figure things out.

World Building: Get Your Crowbar

‘Cause We’re Gonna Steal Everything

That’s Not Nailed Down Too Tightly


Fiddling with exotic settings can be fun and all, but let’s get real. It’s hard to manage all the insanity that a fantasy or sci-fi setting can create. So how do you adjust the setting as little as possible, trying to keep the world as familiar as possible, while not breaking suspecion of disbelief?

First, remember that style doesn’t matter as much as substance. You might mix technology or ideas from different cultures and errors. This means you don’t (usually) need to radically change up stylistic aspects of the game based on the magic or technology advances. Although it always depends partly on what’s comfortable to you and on what your group of players like, this is usually a good move. It gives your players a sense of what the experience of the gameworld is, and gives you an easier time adapting new elements into an existing setting. You’ll; gind it way easier to adapt elements you want to a setting which already makes internal sense than build one from scratch.

Quick Note for the hard-core worldbuilders out there. WHile the previous is the easy and probably best way for most, the usual pattern is almost the other way around sort of. Cultures have multiple layers. The top-most layer is everyday style, which may change from year to year in fashion and decade to decade in architecture. But beneath that is deeper layer of stylistic elements and themes which may continue for eons, or vanosh and then reappear centuries later. These are also frequently closely tied to cultural self-image and deep-seated values. For example, Neoclassical architecture is still common in America for public buildings, because it harkens back to the self-image of America as a new Rome, founded to follow in footsteps of the Roman Republic and even surpass it.

Likewise, cultures will often use new technology for tasks they *don’t* care about. We use technology for work we consider necessary but not important; what we need but do not value. Consider how different cultures view tea. In China, tea is usually a chosen, often local blend served steeped in piping hot water. In America, it’s an instant mix served in a cold glass. Most Americans (not all, but most) don’t care about tea except as a refreshment. By contrast, tea has historical weight in China; people believe they *ought* to make tea properly. And you can take this even further into a question of surface values and enduring cultural ideals, individual moral consideraations, and on and on.

In short, you don’t need to change everything about a culture just because you fiddle with new or altered setting rules.

Here’s an example to work with: Take a standard D20 setting. Swords, spells, medieval technology – the works. Now apply the standard D20 rules, and suddenly you have a right mess. Something like a fifth of the population has spellcasting in some form or another, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. Simple spells completely change basic elements of society, from farming to communication. Basic housing cost piles of gold coins, and everybody expected to fight anything more dangerous than a couple wolves or goblins is likely to magical gear, or at least masterwork stuff.

There’s different ways of handling this stylistically.

First, nothing has to change on the surface if you don’t want it to. You can still have peasants in traditional styles who live in farming communities. You may still have castles and knights roaming the land dispensing justice to bandits and monsters. Wizards may still dwell in their towers researching new spells.

You can get away with leaving the surface unchanged because under the hood you make more adjustments. The peasant population may grow much bigger, but nobody cares. The military won’t exist to fight wars, but to hopefully produce a few heroes every generation. Wizards may still live in towers – but now you’d be likely to find those towers inside cities instead of isolated in the hills, with wizards selling their spellcasting for big profits because it takes a lot of cash to live well and develop new magic.

This is the trick of *repurposing*. Take the old idea, leave the style elements intact, but direct it toward a new goal. Society is going to end up being very different to experience, but you can pull in many of the same tropes and images. Lets look more closely at how to repurpose without changing too much with a detailed example.

What good is a big army in D20? The military won’t give the soldiers any more goodies; that’s a funciton of their level and class. Even if you ignore the standard, even the wealthiest country can’t really afford to hand out enough magic items to matter, and they’d prefer to find powerful heroes to equip anyway. Frankly, a few thousand low-level characters are largely useless, easy prey for a single high level character who’d like as not simply not bother to kill them, as they aren’t worth the effort and grant no xp.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t have them around. After all, what did we say above? “they’d prefer to find powerful heroes to equip anyway”. Well, every hero has to start somewhere, and funding a military can get a reasonable trickle of worthwhile heroes to fend off the really dangerous monsters and enemies. They can also runa round smacking the weaker monsters on the nose in the mean time, earning a few experience points and keeping the nuisances at bay so the major champions can do their job in relative peace.

Likewise, think about castles and city walls, and other technology. If you feel up to the challenge, you can fiddle with everything. But you don’t have to: simply invent a new reason for it. A normal castle doesn’t really do much in a D20 world. Anybody strong enough to present a real threat is strong enough to ignore the garrison, go right through, over, or around the walls and gates, or even ignore it entirely. Castles and similar fortifications exist for two reasons: to keep an enemy army out, and keep them from ignoring you afterward. But in D20, you don’t need an army. You just need a few heroes. Castles and so forth would seem to have no point.

But a few assumptions changes that point. here’s just a handful of ideas though up in about a minute:

(A) Castles keep out the weak monsters or common grunts – the riffraff of fantasy universes.
(B) They provide a temporary refuge against some bigger monsters or more dangerous heroes. It might not last very long, but if all you have to do is wait a bit for help then it’s quite useful.
(C) There’s a bunch of spellcasters around who can move or create earth and stone on the cheap. So castles are probably a lot cheaper. If it doesn’t cost much, why not build one, especially when…
(D) They look really cool. Men particularly like impressing the neighbors and their wives, so if the chance comes up to build a great big Castle of Awesome, you take it. Besides, who *wouldn’t* want a great big Castle of Awesome?

*BAM* You want to have classic castles in your setting? There you go, good reasons why people might have them. Sure, maybe they’re built a bit more comfy than real castles were. But unless your group contains a medieval history scholar, you should be fine.

You can also use this as a way to mix themes which may not precisely line up in history. Many settings, seeing the profusion of fantasy tropes in gaming, adopt a “Renaissance” style instead. Usually, the implication is that the world is more “developed” than a medieval-ish fantasy ‘verse. I mean, look at all the primitive machines and people with crappy single-shot pistols. Surely technology is on the rise!

This doesn’t really follow. Different cultures develop different technology, depending on what they value, what resources they have, social organization, and what kind of ideas occur to people. It’s not a terrible trope – but it isn’t a good one, either. The presence of working magic will change how people act and react, unless that magic is mysterious and very rare. Let’s look at a really simple example: guns and swords.

In the real world, guns are almost always superior to a sword for virtually any purpose you could name. Obviously gun models vary, but they’ll have some combination of the following advantages: small size, less weight, more concealable, short range, extremely long range, automatic fire, and the infliction of powerful penetrating wounds. In short, guns are extremely useful. Swords have *one* advantage over most guns: they don’t require bullets. The specifics of game rules modify the picture, but the above usually covers it.

Now throw magic into the mix. Suddenly, the picture changes – a great deal. Put the warrior in magic armor and hand him a magic sword, and suddenly he’s chopping up gunmen like kindling. The biggest advantage of guns is range and damage. You kill the target before it gets anywhere close. If you can’t before they get in your face, you’re in a lot of trouble. Plus, many games separate ammunition and the actual ranged weapon itself, so often a magic sword has much more ongoing use than a bow or gun. Then there’s the choice of target: guns may not be of much use against anything really dangerous in fantasy worlds – will that bullet do squat to a dragon or rampaging ogre? Are you really worried about human threats, or various undead coming to devour your tender flesh?

In short, guns might not even exist in a fantasy world no matter how much technology they have. Are you better off waiting a few centuries to develop really effective guns (if it can be done at all), or would those resources be better spent buying better and better magical defenses? And who would pay for improvements to gun design year after year, when all the people with real money are out buying magic swords and bows?

Of course, given a few minutes to think, you can probably come up with some excuses if you really want them. But always think about what people in the setting choose, and remember that you’re not making “earth with magic” but a different world, with different rules. People will make different choices, and those choices will send them down very different paths in the end.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXV – The Voice Of A Brazen Vessel

Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, also called...

Tragicomedia. Again

Jorgensen had warned his children to be a bit careful about “What did you need” – and had been being very VERY cautious about it himself! That was one of the reasons why he hadn’t asked Charles for his assistance with the Bronze Factions’s geomantic projects (although garden-variety generic Sidereal Paranoia was a large part of it too). There really was no telling what Charles would feel was a reasonable length to go to to give you what you wanted! It… didn’t seem at all likely that he would ever injure anyone – at least not in any way that he could foresee and evade – but there were always unexpected consequences and the “child” seemed blithely unaware of most of them! Besides… he still wasn’t sure that he quite believed that there was nothing but being generally obliging behind it. How could the boy still be THAT godsbedamned naive and helpful after spending years in Yu-Shan? Charles wasn’t stupid. He was just… utterly blind on some topics!

OK, that WAS a normal feature for Primordials – but was the child… truly incapable of being nasty or was it just willful blindness?

The request for ships… had been more of a test than anything else. Was he really THAT obliging? Would he be ABLE to help to that extent? How long would a request on that scale take? Would he want repayment?

He hadn’t been back for more than a few minutes before Celestina was by.

(Celestina) “It’s good to see you back father! I presume that whatever the mission was, it went well enough?”

Father looked even more tired than usual! It must have been brutal!

(Jorgensen) “It… went as well as could be expected. Now… how are things going here?”

(Celestina, gently steering through the spacedocks) “Well… My training is going well, and we’ve been able to expand the martial arts training for all the kids. We didn’t have any deiphage troubles while you were away, although I’m told that the slow-but-steady expansion of the old geomancy has – if anything – accelerated. The evacuation is underway – in fact, Mother and most of the younger children have already relocated.”

(Jorgensen) “What? Already? It’s THAT urgent? We… still don’t have room for everyone!”

He was shocked enough not to notice that they were headed back down to another dock – not into Yu-Shan.

(Celestina) “Er… we do now. Young Charles DID come by – and he gave out quite a few presents – and… Ms Cress asked him for some ships in the morning… and he made some. He… had them ready a few hours later.”

They emerged into a pleasant patch of forest, bordered by a luxurious orchard where bees hummed, a gurgling stream, and an arching bridge leading into a garden maze of flowers and herbs.

(Jorgensen) “What? In a few HOURS? Right then! Show me one of these ships Celestina!

Huh… When had someone installed gardens down here? Not that it mattered. Could Charles… actually have found or assembled some form of usable ship within a few hours? Possibly refurbishing some older ones?

(Celestina) “Father… you’re in one now. He… made three. He did a few other things first too. I think that building the ships… took him less than an hour. And he included secondary craft.”

Lord Jorgensen inhaled sharply. What? But this was… immense! Enough room for a small FOREST aboard a SHIP?

He activated his essence-senses…

(Jorgensen) “But this is a Manse! How could he…”

He checked the geomancy.

(Jorgensen, after a long pause) “Why in all the stars is this boy walking around unsupervised? I want him observed – and people coming to see him checked out – as best we can so that somebody doesn’t ask him for something everybody will regret!”

In less than an HOUR?!?! For THREE!?!?! Aaaargh! He’d fought planet-eating horrors with less power than that! By Malfeas, he’d just fought a battle like that on this mission! And they’d been letting the boy… walk around Yu-Shan, free to talk to anybody he pleased!? And attending… a GOOD school for god-bloods, but still just a school for god-bloods!

And… he apparently found making fudge and singing lessons a far greater challenge than building starship manses.

(Celestina) “Well… that’s not the end of it. He… provided some Chancels, and amulets that will let anyone in them shape the places like a Raksha and protect themselves from the side effects, along with armor, supplies – and some of those “Lesser Exaltation” things for Lisel and Elgin. They… asked him for them and really wanted to have them.”

Gaah! If he only had enough influence he’d try to pull rank and get the boy into the command structure of one of the reclaimed territories – or even into the Bronze Faction! For his own protection! As it was… Gold Faction operatives were coming in and out of Aden gates regularly. The “boy” was obviously willing to support all factions with complete open-handedness – and while he couldn’t KNOW what the Gold Stars had asked for, he could certainly make some shrewd guesses! Safe training facilities for their pet solars/disasters waiting to happen, research facilities for that blasted Solar Circle Sorcery, artifacts and artifact manufacturing facilities… Couldn’t those blasted Gold Stars see how… dangerous it was to rely on Solars? They were almost impossible to stop! Half of them had very nearly defeated a surprise attack by the massed forces of most of the rest of the cosmos! And THAT was no longer available! WHEN – not IF – they went haring off on their own… Would there be enough power in the cosmos to stop them or would it ALREADY be too late?

Jorgensen… thought that way all the time. While he didn’t exactly hate the Solars… well, the Bronze Faction doctrine had always been less “Solars are demons” than “Solars are too dangerous for Creation to endure.”

There was some justification for that of course – but the same basic case could be made about any group that was powerful enough to properly maintain creation. Mending was always harder than simple destruction.

Even after the Gold Stars… He had no idea of what the Silvers might be up to with the boy. Were they planning something besides “preparing him for the journey”? That was rather suspicious in itself! They might just agree with whatever they thought he was up to of course – presuming that he WAS up to something besides… trying to fix whatever problems were brought to his attention… but were the Lunars planning something? He knew that they had far more influence with the Silvers than was at all healthy! Did they want to use him as a living demesne generator or eat his Heart’s Blood or something? Hadn’t that Righteous Hala been seen with him a few times? Suspicious in itself!

Still… It made little difference! The abandonment levels in Yu-Shan were increasing at a frightful pace, sieges were becoming more common, and the first steps of Stanewald were underway. Compared to that… the supernatural nature of a boy who was helping him and his people meant NOTHING. Thanks to that intervention… he now had enough space to evacuate every family member, distant relatives, associates, friends, servants, pets, any of his political allies who didn’t want to be interrogated, and any passers-by who happened to be in the area that he wanted to take along! That would make his wife happy; she had a kindly heart due to her former domain and would probably insist on taking at least SOME indigent gods and mortals…

As for those “Lesser Exaltations”… Was it really possible that… Charles’s criteria for giving them out were simply… that the recipient be a friend of his or was asking for it to help protect other people? Yes, they DID seem to be simply… an indestructible psychic box full of minor artifacts and manse links, and they were nowhere near the power level of a true Celestial Exaltation – but they were FAR too useful not to use! Harold was pretty responsible – although he was certainly no fighter before this – but now he had THREE of them.

Besides… he was vindicated now! He would never ask any of his subordinates to do anything he wouldn’t do – and Harold was just fine interacting with Charles. It was really a shame there wasn’t time to send more Bronze Half-Castes to that school. It would make being besieged by those treacherous deiphages a lot less burdensome! Even if the child was busily curing every one or them that he encountered… and with more ease than even the Weavers could throughout the millennia. If they had him actually working with them – as opposed to just wandering by occasionally and helping out – this problem could be nipped in the bud… but even then they’d have to flee. SOMEBODY would find some way to stir up political trouble.

He’d… have to try to get an interview with the Maidens! Or at least with his patron! Even if he wasn’t even a thousand years old and they might not be paying attention. If nothing else, his successes against the deiphages should get him some attention…. few though they might be, at least he could say that he had never lost a reclaimed territory. They might well want to give instructions about Charles anyway. Surely his doubling up the Celestial Exalted was an event worthy of it!

The Thrallherd in Eclipse

Today’s question is from Brett…

How would you build the thrallherd ability from the PrC of the same name? Specifically the fast recruitment, inherent loyalty and the method of recruitment, ideally as specific costs.

I am imagining it can be built using Leadership with some Immunities, or perhaps another model would be using Lure of Darkness and Web of Shadows ?

Hm. This sounds familiar; I think it was asked just before I spent several weeks being very sick and I forgot all about it… No matter! Here it is now!

The Thrallherd is a ten level prestige class, and thus has 240 CP to spend. A Thrallherd gets: +5 BAB (30 CP), +13 Saves (39 CP), d4 Hit Dice (0 CP), +20 Skill Points (20 CP), +8 Manifestor Levels (48 or 96 CP) – and six special abilities. Having spent 185 CP on the basics, they’ve got 55 CP left for the special stuff.

As it turns out, the special stuff only costs 40 CP – but it includes an absurdly-abusable natural law immunity, which is quite enough to make up for having a few points left over.

Psionic Charm (Ex): At 3rd level, a thrallherd adds psionic charm to her powers known (if she doesn’t already know it). Once per day, she can manifest psionic charm at a reduced power point cost. The cost of psionic charm is reduced by the thrallherd’s level, to a minimum of 1 power point. The effect of this power is still restricted by the thrallherd’s manifester level.

  • That’s Buying a New Spell (Spontaneous, Augmentable, 3 CP) plus 3d6 Power (as Mana), Specialized and Corrupted/may only be tapped once per day, only to pay for the use of Psionic Charm, cannot reduce the cost from the user’s general power pool below 1, 2 CP).

Psionic Dominate (Ex): At 5th level, a thrallherd adds psionic dominate to her powers known (if she doesn’t already know it) Once per day, she can manifest psionic dominate at a reduced power point cost. The cost of psionic dominate is reduced by the thrallherd’s level, to a minimum of 1 power point. The effect of this power is still restricted by the thrallherd’s manifester level.

  • That works exactly the same way as Psionic Charm does (5 CP).

Greater Dominate (Ex): At 7th level and higher, a thrallherd does not have to pay 2 additional power points when she augments psionic dominate to affect animals, fey, giants, magical beasts, and monstrous humanoids. This reduced point cost does not increase the save DC of the power as if she had spent the additional power points.

  • That’s Immunity/the need to pay extra power to get Psionic Dominate to affect animals, fey, giants, magical beasts, and monstrous humanoids. (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP).

Superior Dominate (Ex): At 9th level, a thrallherd does not have to pay 4 additional power points when she augments psionic dominate to affect aberrations, dragons, elementals, and outsiders (in addition to the creature types mentioned in the greater dominate ability). This reduced point cost does not increase the save DC of the power as if she had spent the additional power points.

  • OK, now we’re talking. Upgrade that immunity to “Major”, for another (4 CP).

Finally we have “Thrallherd” and “Twofold Master“.

A Thrallherd can – with a Leadership score of 25+ – attract 85 levels of followers of levels 2-6 and 135 first-level followers along with two Thralls of (Their level -1 and -2, 17 maximum). That’s actually pretty much identical to the Standard Leadership package except for the extra “Thrall”.

They way they’re set up they’ll achieve leadership 25 by level 15 regardless – at which point they’ll have a level fourteen Thrall and (thanks to “twofold master”) a level thirteen Thrall as well. That’s a grand total of 135 first-level followers, 85 levels of followers of levels 2-6, and those L13 and L14 “Thralls”. Eventually, even though the table stops advancing, the Thralls will be level 17 (when the character is level nineteen).


  • Take the basic Leadership ability and Born Leader. Make it Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect; it will top out at level fifteen, does not gain any benefit from Charisma, no more than two followers may exceed level six, despite the increased effects the others are limited normally and even the two followers who may exceed level six are limited to level seventeen or (the user’s level -1 and -2 respectively), whichever comes first, the user may be considered a cult leader, and may be subject to persecution for using psychic bonds to bind people to him or her (12 CP).
  • Now add Strength in Numbers, Specialized/only as a prerequisite and Horde, Corrupted for increased effect (all classes are available, rather than just warriors)/the user may be considered a cult leader, and may be subject to persecution for using psychic bonds to bind people to him or her (4 CP).

At level fifteen that gives you… plenty of level one followers, your L14 and L13 followers, 7 levels in reserve to boost those L14 and L13 guys to L17 eventually, and 101 additional levels of L2 to L6 followers instead of 85 – with the freedom to distribute those levels as you please. Not bad for 16 CP – although it will become pretty pointless at really high levels.

Of course, the REAL power of the Thrallherd – as described – is that lost followers are automatically replaced within twenty-four hours rather than 2d6 months regardless of how they’re treated or what happened to the old ones. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re stranded in a horribly hostile and otherwise uninhabited dimension, or if your last thousand followers all died horribly in your ongoing daily attacks against the invincible walls of some dark gods fortress, or if you are the last survivor of the multiverse at the end of time. People will be compelled to leave their families and communities behind and to (somehow) come and serve you. (Personally I’d say that that was pretty horrendously evil, but that’s up to your game master).

To pick up this aspect you’ll want an Immunity – ranging from a simple Immunity to the time requirements to replace lost followers on up to (depending on how silly you want to be) to a complete immunity to all normal requirements (reasonable treatment, there actually being people around to recruit, and so on) for gaining and replacing followers. I don’t see anything in there about any special loyalty, but given the replacement rate it doesn’t much matter…

  • That’s Immunity/time and practical considerations for the use of normally long-term special abilities such as recruiting followers, crafting, enchanting, and similar activities (Common, Minor, Legendary), Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to Leadership, still requires twenty-four hours (8 CP).

Even worse, of course, is that Leadership notes that “The cohort should be equipped with gear appropriate for its level.” Now that can be read as “They come with gear” or as “The character with Leadership must equip his or her followers – at least beyond the basics or mundane gear”. The Thrallherd ability has no notes on equipment at all (although the fact that they show up with no intervention needed from the PC might be taken to imply that they show up equipped) and no information on how loyal the followers are (although “very” is kind of implied). Ergo… nothing prevents you from having a 17’th level mage turn up, use up a bunch of wishes boosting one of your ability scores by +5, and then killing him off for his gear – and repeating the process the next day.

And yes, that’s absurd. That’s why I normally wouldn’t allow that particular immunity into play; natural law immunities can be extremely powerful and very silly. Admittedly, it’s no more powerful and absurd than the original poorly-thought-out ability – but I don’t really consider that an excuse for it. Writers need to keep track of this stuff and to think about how what they write can be abused.

Star Wars Campaign Index

English: Flag of the Galactic Republic (Star W...

And Now For Something Completely Different…

I eventually ran short of time to keep the various indexes and logs updated – including the Star Wars campaign – but Spellweaver81 very kindly did so. After a hundred and four sessions (counting the prequel campaign) the various characters finally achieved various goals – although material is gradually accumulating for the next campaign. With Spellweaver81’s kind permission, here we have his Compiled Campaign Index:

Campaign Background:


Campaign Logs:

Backgrounds and Character Missives:

Kira The Kat Show:

Ships, Droids, Weapons, and Cloaking Devices

Non-Jedi Force Users

False ID’s:

  • Leah Burgess: Up and coming industrialist and a false ID for Valerie Soung
  • Lin Vardul: Smuggler/Trader ID for Alys Nere
  • Verun Navaro: Apprentice Sith to Valerie Soung and false ID for Kira Keldav

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXIV – Interlude, With Voices

English: Geomantic_instrument_Egypt_or_Syria_1...

Oh yes, we have plans…

Charles was considering… fixing Yu-Shan had just jumped in priority a LOT. Well up past taking a trip into an abyssal shard – no matter how interesting that seemed likely to be. That, of course, bumped up the preparatory projects quite a bit… About the only other thing that needed to be done in at all quickly was “check on the Morgans” – and he could do THAT in between finishing up the various preparation projects…

So he had to finish up the last couple of major elemental manses for energy-balancing, talk that overseer into waiting a bit, stock up on all the “holy” and anti-undead stuff, and possibly set Lytek up with a pocket dimension – and then he could get going! That shouldn’t take all that long!

Oh yes! The person who’d provided the handbook on Project Stanewald had asked for his opinion on it – and it was only right to return the favor; it WAS awfully important information – and they had been kind enough to inform him that he really needed to look.

Not that it had taken much looking to figure out the “leads straight to disaster” and “may well lead to a total power failure to the loom” portions of things.

It wasn’t long before the Goddess he’d given the Chancel to came by the Orrery, in disguise, and gave him a contact link – which he took to the Perfect Privacy Manse to get his contact hooked up there…

(Charles) “Uhm… This is actually quite worrisome! I don’t know if you’re familiar with these plans… but it’s actually an attempt to use destructive geomantic feedback to dissipate the energies of the deep geomancy of Yu-Shan and impose the secondary, modern, pattern on it! The result will be.. massive geomantic flares and eruptions in locations like THIS (and THIS and THIS and THIS and…), power failures, manses detonating, and – even if they succeed – an underlying geomantic tension that will gradually build towards catastrophe! And I don’t think that the people doing it realize that!”

(Voice) “Hrm. Good is not the word to use here… fortunate that someone else sees the problems, perhaps?”

(Charles) Ah, I take it that you noticed awhile back and found that no one would listen?

(Voice) “I… I’m afraid so. It was as if I was speaking to a brick wall. That isn’t even the worst of it. What do those zones marked with the blue circles (the Tender’s bunkers) mean to you?”

(Charles) “Well… they’re a sort of combination of control centers and refuges tied into the deep geomancy that keeps Yu-Shan stable in Elsewhere… sort of classified really!”

(Voice) “If you and I are thinking the same way…” (A long pause there.) “This Manse protects data both ways, correct?”

(Charles) “Naturally! If you wish, you can leave memories and information in it, and it will only be present in your mind when you access it by coming here or using a remote link. Since any form of mental influence will distort your mental patterns, and prevent you from keying to the memories in the manse, it provides a perfect defense against divulging secrets – or at least against being forced to do so!”

(Voice) “Very well then! I hate taking risks like this, based on assumptions, but I’m desperate. I’m sending another report to your location in Aden. I’m actually not supposed to be speaking with you. That portion of Project Stanewald is on the highest tiers of factional security – but I saw problems many decades ago, and who better to consult than you?”

Charles took a look.

It was a slim report on the effects it would have on the Tenders, typed up and with all traces of who might have written it removed. The effects… were not good.

That was to be expected really! The tenders… were pouring in power to stabilize the interface and prevent problems. Combined with what Charles already knew about them… As Charles had already suspected, Stanewald would destroy them and undermine the entire system – resulting in disaster eventually, just as it would have if the Celestial Lions ever HAD succeeded in getting rid of them. When they were in their pods… all their Essence was committed to the geomancy.

Sadly, Charles was – very gradually – becoming experienced enough to believe that whatever the most catastrophic speculation he could come up with was, it was probably right.

(Voice) “Well… that is what I was afraid of about the Tenders.”

(Charles) “I’m REALLY going to have to speed up that project!”

(Voice) “What project?”

(Charles) “Fixing Yu-Shan! It needed it badly anyway, and this makes it really urgent!”

(Voice) “As if it weren’t facing disasters from infiltrators and the Bureaucracy’s inertia already… what do you intend to do?”

(Charles) “Add more power – I estimate about six times the Age of Glory level – repair the manses, and use them to split it into five different aspects!”

(Voice) “Really… what sorts of aspects?”

(Charles) “Well… one for modern gods, one for mortals, one for the tenders, one for the baseline geomancy, and one for Chaos! Because you need the chaos substrate to optimize the geomantic energy supplies!”

(Voice, after a long pause) “Is it bad that geomantic detonation, subversion, or sabotage are the only ways I could see that plan going wrong? I’m assuming you have some way of enhancing the speed. Otherwise, the authorities would intervene.”

(Charles) “Oh yes! It should go pretty quickly once it starts!”

(Voice, after another long pause) “Do you need any help with that?”

(Charles) “Hm… I’ll let you know! As soon as I get the artifacts and things built… I should have a better idea quite soon!”

(Voice) “Well, contact me through this place when you do. You seem to understand the severity of the situation, and at least you’re willing to consider alternate options.”

(Charles) “OK! I’ll let you know when I’m getting the details set up!”

(Voice) “And… thank you. It’s reassuring to know I’m not going mad, even if my worst fears have been confirmed.”

(Charles) “Oh I don’t think you are! And I’m glad you told me; otherwise this would be getting a much lower priority!”

(Voice) “Sometimes I do wonder… at any rate, I have much to think about for the future. Perhaps after this, we can meet again.”

(Charles) “I’ll look forward to it!”

Gaah! If anything Charles had gotten even MORE naive and obliging! He… didn’t even seem to be thinking about just WHO would have had access to the plans for Stanewald! Was the boy… thinking that he was just a god associated with the Bronze Faction who had somehow had access? Or was it just that he – perhaps even more disturbingly – simply did not CARE who he might be as long as he was providing information that was at least partially accurate? And was that because of naivety, raw power, (over-?)confidence, or casual opportunism?

Could he really somehow… simply mean well for everyone in creation? Would… he even OBJECT to their major aims? He was ALREADY planning to infuse an aspect of Yu-Shan with a massive dose of Wyld Energies! He had always tapped into wyld energies – and been friends with Raksha – and now… he seemed to be using even more chaos in his plans. He was, after all, changing things on a massive scale.

(Voice) “Well, be careful. I must be going before I’m discovered speaking with you.”

(Charles) “OK! Have a nice time!”

The Voice disconnected – one more mostly leaving behind mysteries.

And Charles dreamed… of Galaxies so full of life in drifting dyson spheres of eternal life – and star-sustaining manses that they glowed green and infrared, other frequencies absorbed. Of the great song of creation echoed by a near-infinite multitude. Of that which was damaged… mended and grown strong.

Oh wait! There was one more preparation to make! A lot of movies and books and things reflected unconscious perceptions of stuff that was really out there! AND he had a lot of manse-bound aspects! He could do some research in preparation for his trip… by having THOSE selves review all the stuff in the Sci-Fi section of his libraries!

And yes, some sessions are just short…

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXIII – Nanny Mcphee VERSUS Mary Poppins!

Official portrait of Environmental Protection ...

What do you mean “It doesn’t matter if it’s bad for the environment because you brought a spare”?

Aikiko found that a mountaintop in Aden was a wonderful place to consider her options – and her potential problems. Raksha… were so limited that she hadn’t really considered what one of THEM might bring to a merger! But they were… often vastly superior to any normal human being. Were the Cauldron-born more dangerous than she would have believed? They certainly… seemed to be pretty creative in using whatever powers and resources they had!

So… she could see if her oath allowed her to talk to Charles, go hunting for Gaia, tell Lytek that Aden had been “boarded”, head for South America, lead a raid on Mechagodzilla’s “Base”, go see what the Sidereals were up to, chase the Cauldron-Born, try to form a circle, recruit Terrestrial support – or try to dream up some more options!

Well… She HAD to warn Lytek that Charles had been “boarded”. Even if nothing like that had EVER happened before, he needed to know. Still… there was probably time to get in good with the Donnellys and the government scientists before she did that; Gri-Fel always said that it was good to have some allies! THEN it would be time to see if she could talk to Charles – and then to tell Rachel and Mitchell of the Cauldron-Born issue. While she and he (probably!) couldn’t be boarded like Charles had been, they were friends of hers and might be targeted!

She… didn’t want to fool too much with the Sidereals at the moment. Hunting down Gaia might be good, even if she had no real idea of how to go about it (prayer maybe?). Raiding that base again seemed suicidal on her own – although if she could get Rachel and Mitchell to come along, it might be a little more even. Having a Dawn Caste and a Water Aspect spirit-negotiator along might be helpful!

Then on to Peru, with an eye on allies there…

The Environmental Protection Agency people were currently poking into the libraries with the help of various assisting Inukami, – and being more than a little incredulous. This… history was NOTHING like what was generally assumed. Sure, it explained a lot… but a war of magic was not much like what the rest of the universe seemed to say! This “Gaia”… seemed to have set things up quite deceptively!

Jason Donnelley… saw major opportunities, and major threats. Opening up the universe to humanity, as Charles apparently intended to do, offered lands, resources, living space, a new age of exploration, a vastly reduced nuclear threat, and hordes of other benefits – and it also meant that whatever was out there might NOTICE.

Rachel was unfamiliar with the Cauldron-born… but she did know that the Raksha weren’t supposed to be any real menace! They were… minor creatures who could be killed with a crowbar – and most of who’s powers could be safely be ignored. Why would that really make much difference to an Exalt? Still, she was bored enough to see nothing wrong with a little raiding – although Mitchell was more cautious. He’d always been the more prudent of the two twins – and he wasn’t as as good a martial artist as Aikiko and Rachel.

Aikiko… found that she could, indeed, talk to Charles about the tournament – so the told him about it, about the Ri’kienthi, and about the apparent goal…

(Charles) “Huh! Well… Better than having them in there wounded and crazy! I wonder how much correlation there is between them getting saner and more complete and the gradual rise of civilization and reason? Or the way that… human mental domains are now strong enough to support major manses?”

(Aikiko) “Dunno, but I’m not sure it’s entirely a bad thing either, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

(Charles) “Oh it’s not THAT – fixing things is almost ALWAYS good – I was just wondering… How much have they been influencing humanity? According to the old records… Humans were mostly made to be passive worshipers – but either they’ve changed or they were being pretty thoroughly suppressed in the old days! Who knows how many cults the Primordials and their Devas set up for one purpose or another?”

(Aikiko) “If they allied with loyalist gods – like this group – I bet there have to be more of them out there. This CAN’T be the only one…”

(Charles) “Well… It would help with secrecy I suppose… But if it was set up in accordance with the directions of the White Ram… Hrm! I don’t know! I just don’t know much about things that old! I do have this book I was told to look in… but I’m not so sure about it!”

(Aikiko) “You’re protected from nasty mental influences, right?”

(Charles) “Well, yes! At least unnatural ones! But if it’s just skillful writing and persuasiveness…”

(Aikiko) “If you’re worried, I can be in the room while you’re reading it, and call the devas if something happens.”

(Charles) “Well… I suppose a “Summarize” spell would avoid the vast majority of such traps! I’ll try that first!”

(Aikiko) “OK! I’ll stick around, just in case.”

Charles started off with just a paragraph or so to start with. If it was the “Big Little Book Of Ebon Dragon Mental Traps!” of “The Book of gigantic Pop-Up Berserker Golems!” he might not want to bother with any details at all…

It was… “A handbook for ‘Project Stanewald.’ Includes information on both aspects of the plan for the Bronze Faction’s exodus from Yu-Shan and renewal of the Celestial Bureaucracy’s suppression of its geomancy. 456pp, 100 illustrations, color and black and white. Language: Old Realm, early post-Reshaping, mid post-Reshaping, and contemporary dialect.”

Huh! They’d been working on that for awhile hadn’t they… He had a more detailed look. The Sidereals weren’t all THAT good at in-text compulsions as far as he knew, and if it was in that many languages it was probably too disjointed to be all THAT compelling.

There was no index, and hardly any table of contents – it was hard to tell if that was a decision made for obfuscation, if Sidereals just didn’t approve of indexes, or if they just used magic instead – but the first half was an escape plan, and the second half was… planned geomantic alterations to Yu-Shan.

Oh dear! What WERE they trying to do? Geomancy… was not really their thing! Much of Yu-Shan was fundamentally outside of fate anyway, the place was filled with really powerful essence-users, and its foundations were indestructible and entangled with the Primordials! This had… “Another Egotistical Sidereal Disaster In The Making!” stamped all over it in letters five feet tall and burning with dark fire!

FORGET booby traps! His defenses ought to be able to handle any there were… Charles started reviewing the geomantic maps in the handbook – they made up most of the second section aside from the commentary – in detail! No matter how much speed-reading magic it took…

Hm… for all the potential pitfalls in what they were planning, they had indeed worked on this for millennia, and had mapped out the geomancy in both the abandoned and inhabited quarters fairly well! Not QUITE as well as his investigations – which was another problem, even if it was his specialty! – but with the whole faction working on it (even if it was undercover, very much part time, and without benefit of access to the Primordial Archives or the Tenders and Overseers…), pretty close. Still… It really did look like they were blind to some pretty major factors and they WERE Sidereals… noted for following plans to their bitter end, for good or ill!

They’d… set up several Manses in empty regions bordering inhabited ones, built more for the manipulations required than habitability and concealing their presence with Geomantic Subtlety, the Greater Veil of Shadows, and the best wards they could set up. There were… two of them per district of Yu-Shan. There was also a control Manse, connected to the others through Network Nodes, although only somebody called the “Weaver” was supposed to know where that one was. It… wasn’t on the map and had the same protections. They… were quite aware of three-quarters of the Tenders’ bunkers, given that they were noted on the map.

It was definitely something that HE would have to factor into things. Worse… it was a recipe for a geomantic chain reaction. The essence-explosions… might level most of Yu-Shan when the Tenders and Overseers attempted to block things – each in their own fashion. Even geomantic subtlety wouldn’t be enough to hide the disruptions from people who knew what the patterns were SUPPOSED to be deep down.

The current plan… seemed to be to have the “Weaver” or “Weavers” stay behind and enact a slow reshaping of Yu-Shan’s geomancy from the control Manse. Even they seemed to acknowledge that it would take a great deal of power… and the last set of maps showed an AWFUL lot of power flowing out from the Tenders’ bunkers. That… would endanger the Tenders, and shut down Yu-Shans services – just to add toppings to the overall disaster. No wonder they were afraid of being audited if this ever came out.

And despite the incredible levels of risk… in typical Sidereal fashion, it did seem to have been planned in committee. Over many MANY centuries. Looking at the records – which took up a full tenth of the book – they’d met roughly every five years, or when they got a new Weaver among their numbers.

That ALWAYS worked so well! He didn’t even have to bother with any real analysis (EG: rolling…) to foresee geomantic disasters when this mess went live! That would… (sigh) be pretty obvious to anyone but a committee of Sidereals working on the same thing…

Personally, it’s my guess that a committee in Exalted uses the LOWEST dice pool of any participant – at least for Sidereals…

Oh dear! And he’d given them the means to complete their evacuation! They… were going to try and go live within the year. He didn’t need to be a prophet to foresee THAT.

Even Aikiko – no geomancer – got that much out of it.

(Aikiko) “Dude… that’s just… why haven’t they blown the place up already?”

(Charles) “They’ve been delaying to get everyone out of the way. Still… at least that will mean that a lot of their geomantic network will be unmanned; there are only about twenty actual Sidereals in the Bronze faction!”

(Aikiko) “So you think you can work around that, then?”

(Charles) “Hrm… Well, this gives me a pretty good chance! I’m pretty sure that they’ll stick with their plan… But setting up some additional reality-aspects… The loom tends to keep things to one, so it will function as the dimensional lynchpin that will keep things consistent. One level for chaos energies, one for the original geomancy, one for Gaia’s and the Primordials interface, one for humans, and one for the inhabited version… Basically overlay zones; the gates will have to be lynchpins as well, but the area between can access different reality levels!”

(Aikiko) “So… you’re solving the problem with gates?”

(Charles) “Well… I was planning to set up Yu-Shan to exist as a series of dimensional overlays – separating the five aspects so that they were only united around the central core – the loom, the Jade Pleasure Dome, and a few other primordial installations in the area – and at the rim, where the gates are. The Chaos will provide a LOT more power to run the rest!”

(Aikiko, sighing) “Well, it can’t be much worse than what they’ve got planned!”

(Charles) “Well… It should give the Incarnae and the Celestial Gods a nearly-full version of Yu-Shan to themselves, the Tenders and Overseers their own version, the humans a human-friendly version, a pure geomantic version, and the chaos-touched version… That will give all the groups what they want!”

Aikiko’s blank look prompted Charles to follow up with a short explanation about the Tenders and the Overseers – since Aikiko obviously had no idea what he was talking about. Listening… she did wind up feeling somewhat sorry for the Tenders – well, at least as sorry as one could feel for Essence-eaters.

(Aikiko) “Good luck with that! It’s WAY beyond my expertise! I’m not even sure how you’d test something like that.”

(Charles) “Well… you have to get it right the first time really unless you can find an empty Yu-Shan to test it on… Hey, wait! I might be able to do that! But… it would risk importing ANOTHER set of Exaltations and giving Lytek heart failure… Maybe one where they built Yu-Shan and then decided to do something else instead?

(Aikiko, with some startlement) “How would you even do that? Wait, you’re not thinking of going to another Creation, are you?”

(Charles) “Well, yes – why not? If I look for one where they just built Yu-Shan and then decided to go do something else… there shouldn’t be much of any problems I think!”

(AIkiko) “At least you know the risks! But let me know this time, OK? I want to see!”

(Charles) “The trouble is that I don’t really know any way to navigate the dimensions… Maybe some of the Nocturnals can help with that though!”

Catherine had been researching that, and was likely to have been working with some of the others!

(Charles) “I’ll have to hurry! I don’t want them to blow up Yu-Shan before I can fix it!”

(Aikiko, after a pause) “That’d suck.”

(Charles) “Yes it would! Really REALLY badly! And I don’t want to wreck Yu-Shan either…”

Aikiko… didn’t even want to consider the possibility of failure here; that was just too big a disaster to contemplate.

(Aikiko) “If you need anything, let me know. I’m not sure where I could help with something this big… but there’s got to be SOMETHING!”

(Charles) “Hrm… Maybe I should talk to someone with some experience with multidimensional existence… Luna maybe? She’s about the only one who usually exists that way! And when it’s ready to go… maybe you could help run interference? There’s bound to be SOMEBODY who will get upset and not understand what’s going on and will want to interfere.”

(Aikiko) “If you can get her attention, why not? And that seems pretty reasonable!”

(Charles) “I can try anyway!”

Huh… Knowing Charles… Aikiko wished him luck and left before she found herself standing before the Argent Madonna!

(Charles) “Thanks!”

Aikiko went to check on the scientists and Terrestrials, and perhaps make friends with both. They were nearby and you could never have too many allies!

The scientists were still in the library – although some had found the records of Charles showing one of the Donnellys how to terraform a planet. They were currently trying to at least approximate the basic energy requirements of reshaping a planet like that… The mass transmutation ALONE… But they were GLAD to consult with Aikiko!

(Crays) “Ah, hello miss…. Aikiko was it? You were the one who… passed on that warning about “Mechagodzilla” I believe? Given that it was apparently real… thank you for that; I don’t think that being stuck in the middle of a giant monster battle would have been good for any of us!”

(Aikiko) “Hey, I couldn’t let you all be stomped or worse!”

(Crays) “Well, I do thank you!… I… presume that you are NOT just a front for another… gigantic quasi-planetary entity like young “Charles”?”

(Aikiko) “If I am, somebody is hiding things from me!”

(Watleigh) “That’s… rather a relief. He did say that there were a lot of nonhumans on Earth though, but what I’ve seen here… most of them aren’t at all human-looking. That leaves… “God-Blooded” or “Exalted” I suppose?”

(Aikiko) “I’m a Solar Exalt – a Night Caste. From what I read, I’m supposed to be a spy.”

(Watleigh) “A spy? Against who?”

(Aikiko) “Well, there are a lot of things that threaten the universe. Here, let me find a book…”

There were plenty of copies of first age texts around, complete with illustrations. Aikiko explained…

(Aikiko) “The fae have mostly calmed down these days, and mostly act like they do in the folk stories. The demons and undead… not so much, but they’re usually rare on Earth.”

(Crays) “Oh dear. So… all those things are real, but are mostly… in deep space and extradimensional realms, rather than underfoot? And Charles wishes to open gates into other galaxies? Has he REALLY thought this through?”

(Aikiko) “Charles… is bad about not doing that. He’s still a kid. He needs more people around him to keep an eye on him and restrain his bursts of enthusiasm – but a lot of the friendly Exalts are busy with their own stuff. And the hostile Exalts would exploit him once they realized they couldn’t kill him easily! I TRY to keep an eye on him, but I can’t be everywhere at once. And… just to let you know… he likes to give people stuff without asking questions.”

(Watleigh) “Urrgh!”

(Aikiko) “I know! That’s actually why I came to visit! Like I said, I can’t be everywhere at once. I know you’re environmental scientists, not psychiatrists… but if you knew any agencies that dealt with this stuff, it’d be a big help!”

Aikiko knew that Men in Black were considered ominous for a good reasons… but they’d pretty obviously have real trouble finding a way to harm Charles, except – perhaps – by hurting his feelings and perhaps disillusioning him a bit!

(Crays) “Well… Child services? I don’t know where we’d hire Mary Poppins, even if I’m not so sure that she’s a fantasy any longer!”

(Aikiko) “Might work!”

Hmm… She might have to ask the Donnellys about that! The Terrestrials had dealt with THEIR kids Exalting for many centuries, even if they weren’t quite as harsh with them as they were in the Second Age. They might have a solution that, scaled up, could work…

(Watleigh) “Well… if I can find a child psychologist who won’t try to have ME locked up… I’ll give it a try!”

(Aikiko) “Thanks… I just don’t want him to detonate a solar system or something! He’d feel terrible, AND it would cause a lot of havoc.”

(Crays, with some apprehensive startlement) “I… suppose he IS capable of that isn’t he? He can transmute matter on a planetary or and probably even a stellar scale… Is he unprecedented? He seems benign – but if there have been others, surely SOME of them would have been hostile.”

(Aikiko) “That’s my question. I’ve been trying to track them down and see.”

(Watleigh, with a look of mixed horror and bemusement) “THEM”?!?!?

(Aikiko) “Well, I’m not sure how many there are, but I’m going to see what they’re planning. If there are any hostile ones… well, Night Castes are also good at escaping stuff.”

(Crays) “Such as exploding solar systems? (more horror) Wait, are those “others” on EARTH?”

Hoo boy. This could get bad very quickly. On the other hand, if you were a Solar Exalt with an inner world, just flee inside! Aikiko suspected that even Terrestrials would have trouble taking on an entire world, peaceful in structure or not… and she was pretty sure that even the EPA could obtain Terrestrial assistance SOMEHOW.

(Watleigh) “So… child-entities with vast cosmic powers may be loose on Earth, without supervision. You want to find them and keep an eye on them… So; how can we help? I can’t IMAGINE any intervention from the EPA that could POSSIBLY make things any worse!”

Hrm… she couldn’t tell him that she was being backed by a high-ranking Celestial god on the problem; Lytek wanted his involvement kept confidential, it wouldn’t mean much to them anyway, and THEN they’d probably want to see Heaven…

(Aikiko) “Hrm. I’ll go ask that other group that came in with you! I think they might have some ideas.”

(Crays_ “I hope so… obviously enough, we’re coming in at the end of a VERY long game here!”

Aikiko sighed – even she didn’t understand a lot of what had happened… but saying that wouldn’t be even SLIGHTLY reassuring. She headed off to talk to the Donnelly reconnaissance squad!

The Donnelly’s had… glanced at the starship facilities, but were mostly looking for information on the new planets that Charles intended to open up. That was… arguably the most important aspect of this as far as anyone on Earth was concerned, the Fellowship’s Lunar heads would be interested – oh how interested! – and forewarning… would help them deal with the resulting problems AND help position them to take advantage of the upcoming changes. After all, with seventy-two freshly terraformed new worlds to colonize, with maps and new (empty) manse-based cities, and services, and minerals, and trade… Humanity would expand incredibly. It looked like the planets were set up for ideal populations of about half a billion to a billion people each.

That was pretty impressive… but their biggest concern was over what might already be on or around those planets! Seventy-two new galactic frontiers.. Almost ANYTHING could be out there! Sure, the opportunities would be incredible – but the potential disasters might be even bigger! There wasn’t a lot of information available about what menaces might exist out there – although they were urgently compiling lists of hostile aliens, terrible empires, abyssal overlords, and more – although much of it was guesswork.

The weirdest thing of all though was just how MUCH of it seems to be warped versions of popular movies and books! Was Earth REALLY that… central and influential? Or were the writers somehow picking up information from the larger universe?

Huh! If she was going to accompany Charles into space… She’d need to know that information too. Aikiko worked her way into the group.

There was… a weird version of Darth Vader leading a Dark Empire, there was Ming the Merciless, there was some woman who was trying to force everyone on six planets into an ideal pastoral lifestyle styled on faerie stories with several Cadre’s of Raksha helping her out (and with all the usual horrors of faerie stories), There was a world being run by something like Sauron, using a bunch of powerful wraiths as lieutenants, and what reported to be at least one stellar cluster where worlds’ entire populations just… disappeared. The worlds themselves were fine, complete with infrastructure, but there was no trace of any of the inhabitants.

The list went on with at least a hundred entries. Admittedly, the odds were pretty good that none of those places were within a trillion light years of any of the colony planets – Charles had apparently given a preference to otherwise-empty galaxies and throughly stable stellar situations – but odds often had little to do with essence-based activities, and who knew how many more realms like that there were out there? Even if quite a few were run by Raksha Poseurs and thus were relatively minor as far as actual menaces went…

Ailiko was happy to field questions, even as she investigated things too – and she WAS terribly good at that part of things – but (sadly) a lot of the best information was only open to the Sidereals.

There was some irritation at that from the Terrestrials. Didn’t they have a right to know about the things that would be affecting their lives so profoundly?

There, of course, even Aikiko – who had her own version – could see the hypocrisy of Exaltation in play; the Terrestrials had been… keeping similarly vital information away from the masses of humanity for many centuries. Still, even the Terrestrials weren’t TOTALLY unaware of that – one reason why it was simply irritation and not rage. It wasn’t like they didn’t have their own secrets!

(Aikiko) “So, what’s your take on this? He’s a genius, but I’m not sure he thinks things through…”

(Jason) “Well… it’s hard to tell! After all, sooner or later… we either must expand into the universe or vanish. Is seventy-two new fronts, which can presumably be cut off, any worse than only living on one, vulnerable, world?”

(Aikiko, after a few moments of thinking about that) “I’d… have to say it’s better… if you lose one, you still have the other seventy…”

(Jason) “Presuming that they CAN be shut off!”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, I’m not sure about that one.”

(Jason) “Simplest I suppose… is to call and ask. Prosaic, but effective!”

Aikiko had to smother a giggle at that one. There WAS something… just silly… about phoning a shaper of worlds with casual queries. Still… there was no real reason not to do so!

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well… the gate-manses are set up to be indestructible, but the gates can be deactivated!”

She passed that along to the Donnelly’s.

(Jason) “Urg… they COULD be reopened then – but it presumably wouldn’t be easy and at least that means only a limited number of gates to defend. Besides… attempting to battle Charles to PREVENT him from offering the people of the Earth… seventy-two new worlds to settle on seems more than a bit shortsighted. Perhaps if we just TOLD him that we’re were nervous and think that there should be more defenses in place first? He’s absurdly obliging! He’d probably just… put another indestructible manse with the power to block the gate on this end!

(Aikiko, sighing) “The EPA guys are nervous as well. See… I think there’s more than one kid like him out there.”

(Jason) “Oh good GODS. How in OBLIVION did THAT happen?”

(Aikiko) “I’m not sure, but I want to check on them all. If any of them are actually hostile, everybody on Earth is in big trouble! I’m trying to watch him, but I can’t be everywhere at once! He needs some other people to monitor him! Otherwise he’ll give the wrong person something and THAT will also be big trouble. He really is absurdly obliging and entirely too impulsive! Unless it’s geomancy or something to do with magic he doesn’t think things through!”

Actually… she was beginning to suspect that Charles… didn’t plan nearly as much as it looked like he did! He was just… really good at seeing opportunities in whatever actually wound up happening!

(Jason) “Heh! I should ask my sister-in-law, the way she manages HER brood is… Wait; that’s not actually that silly an idea is it?”

(Aikiko) “What?”

(Jason) “Asking someone who manages or HAS managed one or more youngsters who’ve exalted as Terrestrials to keep an eye on him… Sure, he’s on a larger scale – but as you say, he’s also incredibly obliging! It’s… entirely possible that a firm voice insisting that he think about what he’s doing would help quite a lot!”

Aikiko… had to agree there. Charles wasn’t exactly easily bossed, but he was certainly easily deflected – at least in the short term!

(Aikiko) “Could you give me some references? Charles is a LOT more powerful that most Terrestrials – no offense! – but he could definitely use a babysitter! Somebody who’s dealt with Terrestrial kids would be great.”

(Jason) “Sure! I’ll check with Grandfather… he’s sort of the Clan Patriarch.”

Renatus Haurgrim O’Donnaghaile of Ulster was a Master of the Air and of the Old Lore. He had mastered the art of sensing where communications came from long ago – and the source of THIS call was a matter of some urgency in itself! Matthew’s report… well, Matthew was relatively young, and ANYONE could be tricked or misled – but Jason was definitely placing his call from… a living world-body, filled with… supporting and healing energies, vibrant with life, surging with power… and without a trace of Vitriol or the corruption and wounded anger of the Yozi’s.

That was… He’d peered into Malfeas, and walked the streets of the Demon City, when he had been far younger and more reckless, and had used his sorceries without restraint – but the labels… meant very little. Young Charles… was a world and a shaper of worlds, regardless of what you might call him. That power could… cause disasters if employed unwisely.

And if he was as naive as Matthew and Jason implied… He could certainly see the need for guidance! Well, there were some possibilities to start with.

(Renatus) “Well, probably not Nanny Phearsin. Apparently the “boy” is ANYTHING but a brat. Still, there’s young Salinara – she specializes in intensive martial arts discipline for troubled young terrestrials. There’s Tymbalt of course; he’s a weirdly powerful mortal, with communications magic and the ability to teach through illusory experiences. He claims to have made it through most of history somehow – and then there’s Frumisara, one of the most no-nonsense wraiths around. Given your current company… you might want to check on the Celestial side as well. There’s probably a goddess of nannies around someplace.”

(Jason) “I’ve no idea – but I’ll ask. Maybe that’s where Mary Poppins went?”

After all… she DID descend from the skies – and she displayed access to something like a pocket dimension, and some charms, and definitely had a cult…

Could you establish a cult by inspiring an author? That would never work classically, but given Children’s book distribution these days… Even a God-Blooded with greater ambitions might come up with a clever little maneuver!

Aikiko… felt that Charles could probably use some more combat training beyond what school gave him, but he certainly wasn’t troubled as such. She wasn’t so sure about bringing in a wraith either, although Charles might find her interesting… She’d keep Tymbalt in mind while checking into the Goddess of Nannies though!

And she, indirectly, thanked Renatus – and swapped contact information.

He was quite willing. In the face of the universe… ancient debates over who to associate with seemed a lot less compelling than they once did – and they hadn’t seemed all that compelling to him to begin with.

Aikiko… had to agree. The allies that mattered were the ones who helped out, regardless of glow.

And with that done… it was time to go and talk with Lytek. Fortunately, there were special instructions about letting her in relatively quickly! Especially since the Celestial Lions had sent him some inquiries…

Aikiko was glad for that, if a bit concerned about the lions poking around. Fortunately, it seemed that they were just curious! They’d wanted to know about all those new Exaltations showing up!

It was hard to blame them for THAT. Everyone had to be curious about THAT.

She reported her findings so far – but, perhaps sadly, had to leave out most, if not all, of the tournament.

(Lytek) “So… the Cauldron Born have managed to anchor an indestructible manse built to embody people’s ideas about giant monsters to Charles’s world-body?”

(Aikiko) “I’m afraid so, sir.”

(Lytek) “I don’t know what they might be able to do to him that way… he seems to have given himself manse-based defenses against almost everything – but… if they can draw on the energies he’s now capable of generating… Exalted Powers, Raksha Powers, and Geomantically-augmented Magic… I don’t know what they WOULDN’T be able to do one way or another!”

(Aikiko) “It’s pretty bad, isn’t it? Any way we might be able to get him free? Even he wasn’t sure how!”

(Lytek) “There’s… probably nothing for it but to go and look.”

He’d… been more or less avoiding that up until now. As the God of Exaltation, he was at some risk of being affected by anything affecting one he touched directly – and He’d NEVER experienced or directly touched an Exalts World-Body before! Feedback… was a substantial possibility!

Not to mention not wanting to get accused of favoritism, or over-influence the experiment (not that it didn’t seem to be utterly out of control anyway), and a slight trace of guilt… Had his good intentions led to a potential disaster even BIGGER than Wyldhand? Besides… Charles was such a NICE boy, and it would… sort of seem invasive!

Still… he’d really better look! If the Raksha could tap into a Solar Exaltation – particularly with the amount of raw power Charles had unleashed – they’d ALL better know!

Aikiko accompanied him in – and warned Charles about what they were doing; he might want to whip up some special protections…

Crafting Worlds: Do’s and Don’ts

Familiarity may breed contempt, but it also breeds good games

Too many games, and too many settings, run into a pair of contradictory problems which work against the setting. On the one hand, you need to make a world your players can understand. If the world and its people are important enough to matter, then obviously it has to be comprehensible to players, especially if they don’t own every sourcebook. But on the other hand nobody much likes worlds which are too familiar, too boring. This is where The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion went wrong (we’ll get to that another day), by making the game world so generic that it became flat and lifeless.

There are three things to keep in mind, and collectively they’re a huge pain:

(1) The setting must make sense as a human (or whatever) society and must be reasonably sane for the players.
(2) The setting has to be different enough for the players to be interested.
(3) It has to mesh well enough with the rules so that it passes the Sniff Test.

So it has to be different, but not too different, and not get crossed up with the actual game, and nobody’s going to tell you when until they start playing with it.

Well, that just sucks.

Fortunately, you can usually boil things down to a few key principles based on your game.

First, is this is a game where the player characters and/or the major NPC’s are grossly more powerful than “normal” people? In the real life, no individual is grossly more powerful – tougher, stronger, able to do quantitatively more, than another. Even the difference between, say, specialist Olympic athletes and normal, in-decent-shape people is usually much less than a factor of 5 or so. Most jobs do not require extreme capabilities, and even fairly complicated surgical techniques are mostly things which everyday people could do if they practiced, or have good instructions. The most “powerful” members of society aren’t those who are tough, fast, strong, or even skilled, but those who put a lot of effort in persuading and influencing others.

The most dangerous people alive are probably special forces soldiers, and they need endless training, support from hundreds if not thousands of other soldiers, and many others feeding them information to be effective. And any of them could be killed by a single bullet, or one just moment of bad luck.

But game heroes, even in nominally “realistic” settings, aren’t like that. They’re often capable of taking multiple hits which would be lethal to a lesser man and a dozen (and up-Up-UP!) times more effective in their chosen specialty than a normal but skilled professional. They’re often capable of killing hundreds of normal people, and might even be capable of depopulating cities by themselves, given some time. We’ll call these people Heroes, because this tends to be more of a fantasy trope, but it is definitely NOT limited to people who are actually heroic in nature.

This consideration absolutely influences your game setting – and may be the single most important factor. If nobody has this kind of power, then you can have a relatively normal political situation. It might be complicated, but fundamentally the world follows from real life: “power” is your ability to persuade lots of people to agree with you and your ability to motivate them to get things done. Almost anyone can potentially kill anyone else.

However, if Heroes do run around, society will very likely congeal around them rather than a political or economic system, and will change as these figures die or otherwise pass on. Simply put, they *are* the armed forces as well as Kings or religious figures in their own right, and they can largely do what they like because no one can stop them. Usually in these settings, monsters or similar threats also exist that the heroes have to deal with, and these are equally capable of wrecking civilization if not stopped.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have “normal” nation or states, but those groups are going to need their own, equally effective, protection. This can and should lead you into new ideas to refine your game world. Note that we said “equally effective”, because they don’t have to have equal Heroes of their own, although there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Some quick ideas: A decentralized society that can largely ignore the deeds of Heroes. This might be a nomadic tribal nation that avoids monsters, or an agrarian people scattered over farmland that mostly handles its problem through resettlement and militias. These don’t directly challenge powerful characters, but also can’t be easily controlled by individual bullies. Or perhaps the nation is a wealthy trading power which hires mercenaries as needed to deal with problems. Or society might publicly laud selected Heroes and reward them well, gaining loyal allies through respect and praise, so that they want to protect the people from other dangers. Or society might be intensely nationalistic so that any heroes who come from it have a natural interest in defending it. Or you may have outright divine aid, or mystic balancing forces which keep any one power group from completely dominating the world. Any and all of these could appear together as well.

So from the get-go, you have a lot of options to work with. Just make sure you adapt them intelligently when adding them to the culture you want to borrow (which, let’s face it, you probably do).

Second, beg, borrow, and steal everything in sight. The most common way to build a setting large or small is the take a human civilization and build off of that. This approach has many problems, but it has one huge advantage which usually outweighs all of them: the players have some idea what the hell they’re in for.

There are few writers with enough talent for world-building to create (and then sell the hell out of) an entirely new culture. Tolkien probably did it best, in developing multiple cultures for Elves and Dwarves and Men and even some tidbits for Orcs. Even then, he borrowed many pre-existing ideas, but certainly there was immense amounts of invention. George R.R. Martin borrowed many more existing fantasy images and style to construct his world, but he also worked hard to create an original (and ridiculously complex) world with varied peoples inhabiting it.

If you’re neither of those two, you probably have to steal heavily from an existing culture.

This is not bad. Unless you’re a genius historian, linguist, architect, fashion designer, and economist all in one, you need to show your players what the gameworld is like as much as possible. In order to do that, you need to give them mental images as much as descriptive text. Consider trying to describe what Feudal Japan was like. Libraries could, and have, been written to describe it.

Now consider one – just one – picture, found in a random search for the term Feudal Japan.

We've been dead for a century and we're still more badass than you.

We’ve been dead for a century and we’re still more badass than you.

That picture is worth far more than a thousand words in describing the scene. Your players know what it means, and what it implies, even if they know little more about Japanese culture than late-night viewings of Evangelion and couple of horrible ninja movies. Give ’em five minutes and they’ll be arranging tea parties (possibly OF BLOOD AND DEATH!) and trying to quadruple-wield katanas.

While it’s not good to stereotype things, putting some cultural weight on the matter can give your players a starting point for understanding the nature and style of the setting. And it’s not like you lack for choices: a huge Empire might borrow from Rome, Persia, Mongolia, China, Russia, France, England – and that’s just mentioning a handful of real-world nations with Imperial ambitions. But you can take themes and elements from any time and place and develop it into a new idea.

Third, make sure the world doesn’t have giant obvious issues, or least give a reason as to why those issues haven’t been fixed. People are not generally stupid, and the laws of economics are flexible but they apply everywhere, even to alien species. If you have a reliable solution to a problem, then people are going to use it, unless they have a better solution. And likewise, if something doesn’t work, sooner or later people will stop using it.

This means that if you can magically produce food, then people will try to use it unless food is so cheap and reliable that it’s not worth doing. If enchanted items can give near-permanent benefits, people will eventually invest in them if there’s any way to afford such useful magic. If armies get slaughtered by individual high-level opponents, then people won’t use armies, or the military does other things than try to fight powerful enemies. In short, there’s a lot of ways to go wrong and your players will notice sooner or later.

For an example of how to do this right, consider the basic game of AD&D 2’nd Edition. This was a good approach: magic is very powerful, but also very limited and focused. Wizards have many limitations and require a lot of careful consideration. Because of this, they were able to write worlds similar to our own, with limited impact from magic. Magic mostly mattered to adventurers or similarly powerful people, and you wouldn’t see it used for for mundane purposes. Making magical items was a difficult, expensive process in terms of lifespan, questing, and wealth, and they could easily go wrong. Further, getting or researching the spells for custom magic wasn’t easy, either, so many desired effects would be quite difficult. The system matched the world, at least reasonably enough to tell the kinds of stories players and GM’s wanted to tell. Magic was (usually) rare, precious, and difficult to find, and magic items simply couldn’t be made for most ordinary purposes. Ordinary people might get their hands on the odd healing potion for emergencies, but otherwise the best they could hope for was a very low-level local cleric or wizard to help out. There was certainly no way to use magic on an industrial scale, and magic items were made so rarely that they didn’t accumulate over time.

One of the flaws of 3rd edition (which was otherwise pretty good) was that the writers often forgot to explain how the system changes affected the game worlds. Let’s state this up-front: There is nothing wrong with the 3rd edition system in making a game world. The only issue is that most of the DnD worlds were based off old 1st and 2nd edition rules and didn’t properly update to consider the impact of the new system. Forgotten Realms was a particularly hilarious example of this, because some of the new rules changes were considered to be “recent developments” owing to a big in-universe event, some were considered to have always been in effect, and most was simply ignored. One small example, continuing from the Magic Item theme mentioned above:

Items with a few per-day uses are really, really easy to make. Characters as low as 3rd level could make them quite easily, and there’s tons of low-level spells useful to all kinds of people. How many communities beyond the most incredibly poor couldn’t scrape enough enough gold to buy a magic item which used curing magic every so often. How many towns couldn’t scrape up enough gold for a water-cleansing pipe fitting, or even permanent lanterns? These minor items don’t cost very much, and yet they substantially raise quality of life for many people. Even better – they’ll outright save money in a pretty short while. With a little bit more of an investment, civilizations could eradicate dangerous diseases, provide substantial quantities of food to the poor, provide power to machinery, or even reshape the land to suit. In real history, most of these developments required, and to this day still require, the hard work of millions of people and the outlay of billions of dollars. (Trillions, adjusted for inflation and adding it all up.)

It can all be done with third level magic or lower, with items that never wear out, and require no fuel.

In the Forgotten realms, we have canon examples of individual cities with assets in the many millions of gold coins. Even granting that you can’t always tax it all, individual characters can easy have a hundred thousand in cash, and much more in tradeable goods or land they can borrow against. Charitable giving is a major function of several religions and an entire character class (the Paladin). Can you really make the case that nobody – not one person – would feel like making the small investment these tools require? Would no merchant ever have the resources or interest to try? The math is simple enough to make sense for even the most evil of evil empires, and compelling enough to attract the greediest of the greedy, and cheap enough that you don’t need spectacular wealth to get started. Sure, not every wizard would willingly give up the experience points to make these items. But a retired wizard, who doesn’t expect to go adventuring certainly might – that’s a good income and a pretty low cost per-item, allowing him or her to perform spell research. Some casters, particularly clerics and some druids, would see it as a duty to occasionally help the common folk, and what better way to do so than make a small magical item which can continue helping the common man forever?

Bear in mind that these are just the basics – the first few ideas which would occur to people. You could go far beyond this into entire arcano-industrial civilizations, or entire societies devoting themselves to magic as we do science and technology. And sure, magic takes more work to build up – but it also takes a hell of a lot less to keep running. Most magical items require no power, no maintenance, and no direction to keep working, and will continue to do so indefinitely. In fact, a major aspect of D&D is that magic items (barring one-use stuff like potions) inevitably outlive those who make it, from weapons to mythallar to spell designs. That’s why adventurers loot useful stuff from eons-old tombs and lost cities.

In short, a jump from 2nd to 3rd edition implies a lot of changes to how a setting is run. This is not a bad thing. You can tell many new stories, and look at how change affects the people who have to live with it. There’s a lot of different directions you can take this, just as industrialization caused widely varying changes in all societies affected by it. new magic will affect people in even more extreme ways, and there’s a lot of ways you can develop it. Some societies may look identical to what they used it to except with huge changes hidden away. Others may be hardly affected – at least yet. Other could be completely transformed – or split into factions, or utterly destroyed.

In short, there’s nothing wrong with the rules, but most existing game worlds wanted to avoid using them as much as possible. And that’s sad.

However, also understandable. Writing and rewriting settings takes a lot of work and a lot of thought, so it’s not always easy to explain why they change or don’t change. In the next installment, we’ll cover some ways to do end runs around common sense, and get your setting where you want it.

Eclipse, Character Gear, and the “Big Six” Magic Items

Hoard of ancient gold coins

Yeah. This stuff again

For today, it’s questions from Alzarius and Jasper Merendino about how to deal with Equipment – and games running with limited or no magical items – in Eclipse.

It’s self-evident by now that I’m a big fan of Eclipse. It gives you (near-)total freedom to design the character you want, both in terms of class and race.

But it doesn’t address the “third pillar” of character design, which relates to character gear.

Now, this is to be somewhat expected. It’s a book about character-design, after all; neither it, nor The Practical Enchanter (which is about spells and magic items) are supposed to necessarily deal with wealth-by-level issues.

Having said that, the issues are still there (and perhaps more prevalent for being the only major “by-level” issues remaining with class and race made into a point-buy system).

To reiterate the problem, the basic d20 System assumes that PCs will have so much gear (mundane and magic items, mostly, along with wealth-on-hand) per level, measured by its total market value. (Irritatingly, NPCs have their own wealth-by-level values, which are more austere, and monsters have their own separate treasure tables.)

Unfortunately, the system works in a way that, if you deviate from these prescribed values too much, the game starts to suffer as you go up in levels – PCs who fall below these values find themselves lacking in the necessary magic items (e.g. the “Big Six“) to increase their statistics to the point where they find themselves fighting monsters of the “appropriate” Challenge Rating with undue difficulty; the reverse is also true, where PCs with too much wealth will purchase better magic items and more easily undo their enemies.

Now, Eclipse does lap on the fringes of this problem. With powers like Innate Enchantment and Siddhisyoga, you can deal with some of the outlying problems of magical gear, such as its loss or destruction – but it doesn’t deal with the underlying problem of the inherent assumption of a certain amount of magical gear being available at each level.

How would you deal with this problem in the context of Eclipse/TPE (assuming that you can at all)? The best I can come up with is to try translating the wealth-by-level charts into a certain amount of “bonus” CP gained at each level in lieu of the gear. This has many problems, however, even beyond trying to figure out what the appropriate CPs would be – such as if a PC receives those bonuses and then finds a way to gain some magic treasures in-game (meaning that at least part of those CPs would need to be revoked…which is a whole ‘nother kind of headache).

One could, I suppose, try and ignore the issue of wealth-by-level altogether, simply handing out rewards and magic items randomly (for, say, random encounters) or as the story dictates (“we finally broke into the Vaults of Dagon!”) and let the chips fall where they may, but that carries the risk of falling back into the “yes, that encounter was CR-appropriate, you all just didn’t have the magic arms and armor necessary to make it a fair fight” problem.

What’s the answer here, if I wanted to be free from the shackles of wealth-by-level in my Eclipse game, without throwing power-levels off?


A-MEN, brother! I, too have felt the profound cognitive dissonance of a(n otherwise excellent) system that allows me to build magic item equivalents into my body, but won’t address buying them with some enhancement of starting wealth.

-Jasper Merendino

This has actually come up a couple of times before, in these articles on Starting Wealth and External Items – but the basic problem is still pretty much the same; wealth is setting-dependent, while Eclipse is setting-independent. For example…

  • In the dimension-hopping Federation-Apocalypse Setting, Wealth is a skill, and you simply make skill checks to buy things. Since the number of personal special items (whether magical or technological) that you can keep functioning as you cross the dimensions is strictly limited – and depends on your Gadgetry skill, not on your funding – wealth there is more of a convenience than a measure of power.
  • In d20 Modern, wealth is a floating bonus that goes up and down – but there’s no detailed tracking of wealth; if something’s cost is below your current wealth bonus… it basically has no cost as far as you’re concerned.
  • In the Twilight Isles, you spend some character points (or get some back) buying a wealth level from the Practical Enchanter, albeit with a few tweaks.
  • In Chelm, on Atheria, wealth is a share in the services provided by the bound spirits of people who have been sacrificed for that purpose – and normal magic items do not exist.
  • In this Dark Ages setting you can buy a medium-sized castle for a hundred gold pieces. Magic items exist – but the (standard) cost of making them means that they are vanishingly rare; most of them are the creations of gods or other major supernatural powers and are effectively priceless. If you find one… it’s an amazing treasure, pretty much regardless of what it is.
  • In a post-industrial transhuman setting wealth is measured in favors owed – which don’t really translate into any kind of “price scale”. If you need something on a personal scale, it’s free. If you need a Mecha, or a spaceship, or something else major… you just call in a favor from someone who can provide one.
  • In a modern Espionage Setting your resources really don’t matter; what matters is what you’re assigned for the mission. A high status in your organization – and maybe a good friend in the experimental equipment department – is what you want.

And that’s the problem; I can easily create wealth systems for particular settings – but I really can’t create one that will function properly in ANY setting, which is what Eclipse is all about. There are a few spots in the book where there wasn’t much choice but to go with 3.5 assumptions – Siddhisyoga and Equipage primarily – but I tried to hold those down and made sure that Innate Enchantment dealt entirely in abstract fantasy gold pieces, rather than trying to translate setting costs. Similarly, the Witchcraft ability Tenebrium’s Coin (Page 118) provides goods and services which COULD be resold, but will thus be automatically translated back into the games economic system, rather than directly into “gold pieces” which may not exist in the setting.

Of course, even just sticking with generic 3.0 and 3.5 fantasy… any simple direct character point to gold piece system is going to be hopelessly wrong at some point. The importance of any given amount of gold pieces changes over a characters career. To approximate from the costs of feat-granting items lets say… 1000 GP per CP. For a first level party is it worth getting someone to invest a bonus feat in 6000 GP worth of gear? Of course it is! A couple of Wands of Cure Light Wounds alone will drastically upgrade the parties survivability and will still leave 4500 GP to invest in other useful stuff – and even if the marginally-weaker character who’s short a feat gets killed or replaced, the party will continue to benefit.

Is that same choice worthwhile for a tenth level party? No, it’s not – and even for an individual character it’s pretty questionable. At level twenty? It’s pretty definitely a really bad deal no matter how you go about it.

We could use a sliding scale too. At the simplest… use the standard Character Wealth By Level table and assign a definite bonus value to Privilege (Wealthy) and Major Privilege (Filthy Rich). Say… +10% at Wealthy and +20% at Filthy Rich. That’s simple, easy, and… headache inducing. Where is the extra money coming from? Do you get matching funds from somewhere on your share of the presumably evenly-split treasure? If your source can come up with 152,000 GP when you’re level twenty, why couldn’t it come up with 5000 back when you were level one and REALLY needed it? Even worse… this really isn’t worthwhile at level one. An extra 20% on your starting cash is pretty worthless in comparison in comparison with six extra character points to spend. Which will help survivability more? Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Hit Points (6 CP), Luck with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP), or… an extra Potion of Cure Light Wounds to start out with? At level twenty? That’s oh-so-worth it.

Another no-brainer there. If it’s being handled this way… buy that “wealth” ability later on, when it means something.

That’s why Privilege (Wealth) doesn’t have specifics attached. Instead it simply gives you “a few servants and some extra starting cash at lower levels” (e.g. whatever the game master thinks is reasonable for the setting; as Alzrius mentions in a later note… a fine sword, some armor, and a warhorse is perfectly reasonable for a younger son from some noble house. Of course, if you’re playing in Melinibone… that same level of privilege might get you demon armor, magical weapons, and a dragon to ride). At high levels… no reasonable level of mundane family or investment wealth will mean anything in comparison to a high- or epic-level character’s wealth-by-level – but coming from an influential family, and having good social connections, is usually well worth three character points. By that time a character has plenty of those too.

Now you CAN turn character points into cash in the system – this is Eclipse after all – but that’s why there’s no simple-and-direct way to do it; it’s because simple-and-direct… doesn’t work. You can, however, buy yourself an income. Lets call it a…


Your character receives a regular income from some source of your selection – whether that is their family, various investments, some magical pact, or some other source. Thanks to this, he or she can generally afford a fine lifestyle and some extra gear. You can build this by taking…

  • Create Item, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP)
  • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with Transmutation, only provides cash, user must specify plot-hook sources for his or her funding (2 CP). This provides 100 XP a month that can only be used for “transmutation”.
  • Transmutation, Specialized and Corrupted/only to produce money, never actually occurs on screen (2 CP).

That will give a character a steady income of 200 GP/Month from somewhere or other. It seems quite fair to let a character who starts with this ability have most of a years income from it – call it 2000 GP – to supplement his or her starting cash.

If you want to upgrade your Stipend change some of the Specializations and Corruptions on Harvest of Artifice and/or Transmutation to “Increased Effect”. For another +6 CP – call it “The Midas Touch” – you can get it up to 1200 GP/Month and about 12,000 GP worth of extra starting cash. Of course… if you have this sort of income, why are you adventuring?

There are quite a few setting where this wouldn’t work properly, or where the game master might want to translate to the local value scale – but that’s not really that big a problem. If you’re playing in a setting where “money” doesn’t apply, you’d have to buy something else – perhaps Favors for that transhumanist setting, or Privilege for a tribal one where “wealth” simply means “my stuff is better decorated and I get some social benefits”.

If you simply want to start with some magic items and the game master wants something more detailed than a Privilege to account for it, the question becomes “Where did you get it”?

  • Are you a young princeling, who’s been pulling in favors and trading access to his father’s ear for goodies in the sure-and-certain knowledge that his older brother will banish him when he inherits? Buy Action Hero/Influence (Specialized/will become very VERY difficult to use, when the old king dies or if you’re away from court, 3 CP, 2 CP for also being Corrupted if the King is already dead when you start play ), Major Privilege (prince of the kingdom with many social advantages, can trade influence for goodies, Specialized and or Corrupted in the same way as the Influence (3 or 2 CP). Now take those Action Points and start bargaining with the GM for those goodies.
  • Is the keeper of the Imperial Arsenal, or the research department, or your family, prepared to lend – or even outright give – you some gear? That’s Major Favors (6 CP). You’ll just have to be prepared to return it, or replace it if something’s happened to it in your custody, or do them some pretty major favors, when they ask for something in return.
  • Have you got the abilities you need to make some stuff but lack the resources to actually do it? Action Hero/Crafting (Specialized for Increased Effect (can substitute for both XP AND Gold costs)/the user must discuss his or her action point expenditures with the game master in advance and must have access to appropriate workplaces) will let you start off with a small stockpile of whatever-it-is you can make.
  • Have you stumbled across some fabulous and unique item? You can either spend a few points on a Relic or – if it’s some sort of Artifact – talk to your GM. Given that each of those is unique, and that more than a few are so much trouble that being stuck with one probably counts as a disadvantage rather than something you’d have to pay for, about the only possible rule there is to ask for a price. I can’t tell how much unknown plot devices are worth.
  • Do you want some minor trinkets when the game master is not using Charms and Talismans? The “Able to use Charms and Talismans” package under Literary Magic Items has got you covered.
  • A “Bonded Item”, or similar unique device can be fairly readily created as a Companion. Creating an “Item Familiar” is pretty easy (Specialized/Companion has a consciousness, but an inanimate form), it can share it’s Innate Enchantments and many other powers with you, and it’s remarkably cheap to build up it’s abilities.
  • Simply being a Noble – a Privilege – is sufficient to start with things like a warhorse and a fine sword and an expensive suit of armor, and a few servants. Most of the time it won’t include much in the way of magic items beyond – perhaps – a few potions of Cure Light Wounds. After all, Nobles may be rich in lands, titles, history, respect, and lots of other intangibles, but they’re very often rather short on funds – and while you can order the smith to make armor, and have the peasantry support him while he works, that usually won’t suffice for magic items. Still, you may be able to talk your game master into something by upgrading to Major Privilege – perhaps some Regalia of Might from The Practical Enchanter. REALLY important young nobles may want to look into something like the “princeling” package (above) instead.
  • If you can provide yourself with a selection of minor items, or obtain them readily from some other sources, some variation on the Maker of Potions, Talismans, and Scrolls package may suit what you have in mind.
  • If you can empower minor devices with your own energies, you might want Occult Skill / Dream-Binding or something similar. After all, Occult Skill is open-ended; if you can persuade your game master to accept your proposed skill, you’ve got it.

Dream-Binding (Charisma, No Unskilled Use, Restricted) allows the user to draw objects from dreams into reality. To do so, the user must get a full nights rest and forfeit the natural healing and attribute recovery that would normally result, whereupon he or she will awaken with his or her allotment of items. The maximum value of any item depends on the number of skill levels allotted to it according to the formula for skill-enhancement items (Bonus x Bonus x 100 GP), although no more than one-third of the total available skill levels may be allotted to any one item. Dream-binding cannot create items with charges (although uses-per-day limitations are fine), or skill-boosting items. Consumable goods will vanish once the skill points are re-allotted, so the creation of food and water is ill-advised. Finally, of course, the game master must approve of the list of items to be created.

Of course, all of these options are designed to be ongoing parts of the game – to scale with level or be freely upgradable and to be a part of a characters suite of abilities, rather than a part of his or her background. Eclipse… simply is not designed for building character backgrounds as such; that’s a job for working with the GM and – perhaps – using some system like Distinctions and Demerits. That’s why none of these options address things like “I found a big treasure chest” or “I inherited a pile of stuff”. Those are – by their nature – fixed quantities. That means that they fall prey to the same problems that converting character points directly to gold do.

I, personally, would NOT recommend allowing this particular build-option – but if you really MUST have it, I suppose you can try to talk your game master into it.


  • Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with “Create Artifact”, does not actually allow creating items but only acquiring standard ones with the approval of the game master, does not improve with level after character creation. The Specialization is for Increased Effect (also covers incidental costs and tasks required for “Create Artifact”) (4 CP). As usual, the exact cost of any item is up to the game master.


  • Create Artifact, Specialized and corrupted/only for use with points from Action Hero / Crafting, does not actually allow creating items but only acquiring standard ones with the approval of the game master, does not allow any further acquisition of items after character creation (2 CP).

There. That scales with the level you’re creating the character at (although characters created at differing levels will get radically different amounts of treasure for the same CP cost) – but this particular power can represent simply having a bunch of stuff. It’s a horrible rules hack though.

You’ll note that most of these – with the exception being the stuff that the game master is already allowing you to make – involve “talking with the game master” somewhere. That’s because each setting is different, and items that are entirely reasonable for one may be totally unreasonable or disallowed elsewhere. The legendary, all-conquering, Spear of Ra, or the One Ring, or the Holy Grail – are minor trinkets in the Federation-Apocalypse setting; they only work in a handful of rarely-visited worlds among the endless realities the characters travel between. In a more conventional single-continent campaign… they might well be virtually all-powerful.

Dealing with the “Big Six”

Now, as for the “Big Six”… the trick here is that Eclipse characters don’t really NEED any magic items to do their thing.

  • The first of the six is a powerful weapon or two. Up to +5 to Attacks and Damage, and another +5 in special functions. Quite impressive, albeit at a cost of up to 200,000 GP – but easily replaceable. A Martial Art – which thou, as an Eclipse combatant, SHALT TAKE (probably on the cheap via Adept) – can cover most of those bonuses. Throw in Focused Imbuement (most likely Specialized or Corrupted) – or a few character points worth of Innate Enchantments, or Rune Magic (Battlefield Enhancements), or Augmented Bonus, or Channeling, or a variety of other disciplines, and you’ll be doing as well or better.
  • Armor and Shield is a little harder. Your martial art may help, but you may prefer to use it for other things. At the simplest, you’ll want Defender, Specialized for Double Effect (Most likely either only while wearing armor or only while using a shield, 6 CP). That will pretty well replace this category – and can be further enhanced via a tiny variant on Imbuement or by any of the other methods that work with weapons. For that matter, you can go to Block, or Reflex Training, or any of a lot of other ways to avoid taking damage in the first place.
  • A Cloak of Resistance is a handy thing! It adds to saves! But… wait a moment; just what saves do I care about here? Falling down? -2 for a round due to some transient condition? Not really, no. I care about death effects, and disintegration, and mind control, and the other stuff that can take me right out of the fight or kill me. Worse… simple saving-throw bonuses are not really an answer; sooner or later I’ll roll a one and automatically fail. If I really want saving-throw bonuses, Augmented Bonus or Innate Enchantment (and The Practical Enchanter) will let me stack up a pile of them on the cheap – but powers like Action Hero/Stunts, Luck Specialized in Saving Throws, and Witchcraft (which can bring in a pile of other goodies very cheaply indeed), or Reflex Training (the Extra Actions variant) will get me out of trouble whether I could normally make the save or not. Fortunately, most characters can afford to pull a few points out of saves to invest in other defenses – so there’s not necessarily much of an actual cost here.
  • A Ring of Protection and an Amulet of Natural Armor are next – and both serve exactly the same purpose; more AC. Going with Imbuement on your armor and/or shield will achieve exactly the same thing – as will any of the other possibilities listed with armor and shields.
  • Finally we’ve got… attribute boosters. There aren’t that many good substitutes for these things. Sure, you can use Berserker to attain massive short-term boosts, but high attributes are just generally nice. Augmented Bonus and Finesse will let you get more mileage out of the attributes you’ve got, and Innate Enchantment can provide some +2’s on the cheap, but that +6 booster is so SHINY… This is going to be expensive; boosting attributes like that will cost several levels worth of character points. While well-built Eclipse characters do tend to be a good deal more effective than normal ones – which is why I usually count them as about +2 to +3 ECL – adding the attribute boosters to everything else will swallow up all those points.

In this particular case, for games you really want to run without conventional magic items… my recommended fix is on page 189 of Eclipse (second-to-last paragraph). It’s to award Bonus Feats and Self-Development boosts at every even level, rather than every third and fourth level respectively. That provides +24 CP by level twenty over the standard progression – and an extra five levels of Self-Development. That covers the attribute boosters and the “big six”.

Magic items are still neat though. You just don’t want them coming in all power levels and by the dozen. Instead you want… a few minor trinkets and one or two unique, exotic, and useful-throughout-their-career items per character. To get that, I’d recommend the Literary Magic Items and Sample Relics articles – especially the world laws (giving every character the ability to use Charms and Talismans and four points worth of Relics) for that option. That will give them some minor toys to say that “we’ve living in a magical world!” and one or two really worthwhile items each – as well as neatly making up for the lack of the minor stuff.

And this has really gotten quite lengthy for a reply – but I hope it helps!

For comparison, both Editorial0 and Spellweaver81 have also responded to these questions from their own – pretty much entirely different – viewpoints, and their answers are also worth a read!

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXII – The Return Of Mechagodzilla


He’s back, he’s bad, and he’s in your living room… for real.

Meanwhile, Aikiko was considering… she had… a mobile kaiju manse (?) chasing her, a secret order of quasi-exalts operating out of a primordial manse designed to funnel power to preserved fragments of long-defeated Devas, the cauldron-born presumably building even MORE weird manses, ancient crypts releasing weird horrors… And half of it she’d sworn not to talk to anyone but a Primordial about!

Geomancy and Manses. Well, put it THAT way, and the choice was pretty obvious! Even if Charles wasn’t yet a Primordial, he was close enough that she might be able to talk to him – and he was about the biggest expert on Manses that she knew of! Sure, Gaia might be better on Geomancy – she sort of WAS geomancy – but she was friends with Charles. Gaia seemed… a little out of her league!

Hrm… Charles… well, the way he bounced from place to place on projects… you could probably count on him running into YOU within a few weeks if you just stayed still – but he was something of a public figure after that mess with the Sahara; if he was on Earth she could probably track him down readily enough!

He was… going to be testifying at an EPA Environmental Impact Assessment Panel in two days? Oh by the Kami! Knowing him, he’d probably try to resolve their doubts by offering to build them a spare environment or something!

Then she ran across a newly-placed electronic ad for… planetary colonization. Oh surely not! It HAD to be for a new MMORPG or something! Surely even CHARLES wouldn’t…

It looked awfully serious. The sub-pages provided maps, and climatological profiles, and lists of what came in the “pioneering kits”, and support services – and the note that the local galaxy was otherwise uninhabited – and…

If it really was him… was he out to turn the entire earth upside down?

Charles really was headed for the EPA Panel. The summons had finally been delivered, and he’d said that he’d come and testify!

The panel was actually scheduled to be unusually large; experts, scientists, bureaucrats, and agents, all of whom had been reading the reports from the Sahara, had a box full of language-amulet to look at, and who were – in theory – responsible for dealing with all the weirdness.

It was a long flight, but Aikiko was riding a commuter train into Washington the day of the hearings – passing the time by looking at all the cool monuments – when she almost teleported out of her seat to one of the train windows… She couldn’t POSSIBLY have just seen THAT. There was NO WAY!!!

For an instant she got a clear look out the window – and got the merest glimpse of… Mechagodzilla, at human size, wearing an overcoat and a silly hat with a feather in it and… being ignored as it pretended to read a newspaper. The station was rapidly being left behind, but twisting her neck almost enough to wrench caught her another glimpse of it as it… discarded the paper and lept up onto the train some cars back – STILL being ignored by the human crowd!

Look At My Silly Hat!: Inward Facing Waking Circle Oneiromancy (*): Assumption of Wood Shape (this onieromancy takes the form of a very silly hat, 1), Mad God Mein (the hat is immune to countermagic, 1), Untouchable Performer Technique (it’s very difficult to persuade people to bother with the wearer, 1), Gladdening Visage (anyone seeing you won’t really notice anything about you but the hat, 1), Gossamer Winged Flight (the wearer can run around on walls and ceilings, 2), Imposition of Law (the wearer automatically succeeds on rolls made to persuade people that there is nothing wrong with his going wherever he wants to go, 3).

Oh, what the… Aaargh! And no doubt retaining virtually all his powers! HOW did you shrink a MANSE anyway??? And here she was on a train full of commuters and students! In the middle of a major city! No doubt the enlargement ray would hit at any moment, and then her parents would see her on TV – two hundred feet tall and busily smashing Washington DC in a kung-fu battle with Mechagodzilla, and WHAT WOULD THEY SAY?

Leaving the train wasn’t the best option… moving up wouldn’t work for long… trying to jump trains was just… impractical, and she’d wind up going the wrong way anyway… She had a momentary impulse to just stick her head up and demand an explanation, but that didn’t really seem wise!

She’d have to evade. If it did turn into a fight… well, she’d just have to roll with it and try not to kill too many humans as collateral damage… Hopefully it wouldn’t happen though! Mechagodzilla was… oddly benign really, at least judging from last time around!

The Easily Overlooked Presence Method would let her blend in with some of the students, and… oh, crap, she’d almost forgotten! He was FAST – and it was about eight minutes until the train would stop; they were on the final leg into the Washington Terminal.

Well, if hobos could do it… some thaumaturgic cloaking and her enhanced athletics might let her ride under the cars!

There was a small boy looking out the window… “Daddy! The Terminator is on the roof!” “Sit down and don’t be silly Victor!”.

Perceptive kid! Aikiko, however, was busy working up some thaumaturgic cloaking with her Occult Excellencies and gingerly slipping down between the cars… A bit of sweat dripped off her face and onto the rails beneath her as she dug her fingers into the frame of the train’s undercarriage and applied her athletics-boosters… Even for an Exalt, being run over by a train would be painful! You’d have to defend yourself with charms over and over again… It might even be enough to tap you out and kill you! Fortunately… being under a train pretty well concealed her use of obvious charms! Her fingers dug into the greasy metal as the train-ties and gravel rushed by inches below – trapped between a thousand tons of hot metal rushing forward at eighty miles an hour and unforgiving earth and stone topped with steel… Still, with muscle-cracking effort, she levered yourself up into the undercarriage – safe for the moment.

What a rush! Not that she wanted to try that again any time soon, but the gang back in Yu-Shan would definitely be hearing that story!

Then, as the track curved… she caught a glimpse of giant, frothing, iridescent, things drifting into the sky, in stream spreading out behind the train. Whaaa…. Giant SOAP BUBBLES? As if Mechagodzilla wasn’t absurd enough already?… Oh yeah. Raksha crew. Demien was probably very HAPPY if the WORST that happened was someone pulling out a magically-boosted super-bubble wand. She could almost hear someone saying “Oh for the sake of chaos… Put that silly thing back into elsewhere!”

Still… it didn’t seem to be actively hunting for HER. It wasn’t even MOVING much! It had just… wrapped it’s tail around a pipe for stability, and continued to ride on top of the train, and was using the hand that WASN’T holding a bubble-maker to hold it’s hat on… It WAS scanning the area with essence-senses however – but… more ahead than down?

It wasn’t easy to run her own probe from beneath the train, but it was looking for… Geomancy? Was it scanning the Dragon lines for Manses and Demesnes, doing recon for some scheme – or was it sensing for Charles’s world body links? He WAS supposed to be appearing here. It was why SHE’D come after all… That could be real trouble! OK, “Mechagodzilla crashes committee meeting” sounded funny – but Humans were really fairly formidable these days! Nukes and things were no joke!

Unfortunately, Aikiko really wasn’t that good a thaumaturgist yet – and her cloaking attempts were an utter failure.

(Faint growly whisper…) “Hello small follower!… You are behind on your observances, but have become a shrine maiden at my greatest temple! Congratulations!”

Oh great, beneath a train and needing to move! This day just kept getting better and BETTER! At least he wasn’t moving her way yet! Was the silly thing waiting for her to pray to him that he not find her? Oh why not! With a crew of Raksha it might work! Still… she got the ODDEST feeling that… Mechagodzilla quite approved of her. She had, after all, taken an acting job at the Toho Studios – and it… apparently regarded that as her “becoming a shrine maiden at it’s greatest temple”, which – come to think of it! – actually WAS fairly reasonable for a movie monster!

Wait… MechaG WASN’T moving. Instead he was… launching some sort of active probe of his own towards the Capital.

(MechaG, as an aside) “Bosses already have me follow you! But not need to right now…”

(Aikiko) “So what are they doing? No offense, but I really don’t want to be some Raksha hybrid!”

(MechaG) “Something to do with the Great Geomancer! You have his craft upon you, so follow you back to him!”

Gah! So they really were after Charles!

(Aikiko) “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into if you succeed, but I’m not going to let you find him!”

OK, that was probably true enough – Charles liked monster movies, and was likely to say “Cool!” and try to win MechaG over to become a part of Aden rather than fighting or running like a SENSIBLE person – and MechaG and the Cauldron-Born probably weren’t expecting that! Huh. Was that what it felt like to be Charles? To run around telling the absolute truth all the time and to watch people… turn it upside down in their own heads?

The train was beginning to slow and there wasn’t much time left! While MechaG was aware of her… It’s pilots might not be! She didn’t seem to be the focus at the moment!

She levered herself back up into the car – and bailed out as the train continued to slow. Taking the moment of closest approach… she ought to be able to beat the thing to the building! It had been searching magically, while she had the address and GPS AND her Athletics Charms! She had to warn Charles that he might have a Kaiju guest at the hearing!

She easily cartwheeled down the slope to a wind up standing near the edge of a street on the fringes of Washington. Fortunately, the trail of bubbles still made it easy to track Mechagodzilla.

Meanwhile, at the hearing… the panel had first called a few scientists to consult about the Language Talismans – and had found that they all said the same thing that they’d already concluded. The blasted things definitely worked – but no one could say how.

So they called on Charles to testify.

(Charles) “Well… Hello! So what do you need?”

Hmm… the audience included several elemental auras and… a Serenity signature! NOT what he’d expected – but then a pleasant and prosperous environment did make people happy!

(Dr. Wadleigh) “Mr. Ward? We’ve studied these… talismans… with our instruments and sensors for weeks, but still have no idea how they work. Could you explain how you constructed them?”

(Charles) “They are very minor examples of what was once called “Motonic Science” – what modern science calls the “superforce”. What is not commonly understood is that the Superforce includes several subforces that are not commonly recognized as inherent, rather than emergent, properties – Will, Mind, Narrative, and Essence to be precise. Their construction is thus primarily a matter of mental operations linked with physical manipulations. A physical investigation will thus not suffice to reveal much of their operation.”

(Wadleigh) “As our experimenters have concluded… so how do they work?”

(Charles) “They’re imprinted with a pattern of communications on the mental level and imbued with a trace of essence; when worn for a time that essence will resonate with the wearers – making the imprinted information unconsciously available. In this case, the information is a particular language.”

(Dr. Crays) “This sounds like a form of telepathy! That’s never been proven to work, yet you seem to have a found a way. How does this Essence work?”

Most of the scientists… were looking rather blank. It was hard to tell if it was from disbelief or shock at having someone who was actually prepared to demonstrate and explain this stuff…

Charles had Malinda run a quick check… but all of them were reasonably reputable scientists. There was some controversy here and there of course – they WERE working for the EPA – but they were all decent people with strong publication and research records. Wadleigh was particularly notable for his work on those parts of the ocean where trash gathered.

(Charles) “Hm. I’m sure you appreciate that such an explanation is likely to be quite lengthy if delivered normally? Fortunately, however, the same information-bestowing effect can be used for information other than languages. Ergo… (he rummaged in his pockets and pulled out a familiar-looking case) here’s a quick briefing along with a low-grade essence-channeling effects…”

Charles cheerily handed around another set of amulets

Sigil Of The Dawning Age (Artifact **):

Power 5:

  • 2x Class-C Powers:
    • Self-Powered. The amulets have no attunement cost
    • +6 Occult.
  • 2x Class-B Powers:
    • Bestows Awakened Essence.
    • Reduces the cost of thaumaturgy; normal operations cost 2 motes, really minor stuff only costs one mote, and trivial stuff – such as levitating pencils, lighting cigarettes, and weaving handfuls of light – can be performed at no cost.
  • 4x Class-A Powers:
    • Can maintain any two thaumaturgical effects with durations. If dispelled, the effects can be restored reflexively by paying their costs again.
    • 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. They default to “walkaway” effects unless otherwise attuned.
    • Store ten motes, which can only be used to power thaumaturgy.
    • The user may spend a mote to roll (Wit + Occ) as a reflex action. 1/3/5 successes adds +1/2/3 dice to any action which is not being enhanced by some other supernatural effect.

Artifact Design: Power 5, Usefulness 4, Plot Impact 1, Script Immunity 1, Components -1 (calls for assorted purchases of rare woods, powdered gemstones, etc), Troublesome -2 (only works for those without access to charm lists of their own – pretty much normal humans). Net Total = 8, 8/4 = Rating-**

Perhaps most frighteningly… the sigils are designed to be fairly easy to analyze, and bestow enough power to – given time, resources, and some personal skill – replicate themselves.

(Charles) “Now these are considerably more advanced devices than the linguistic amulets, so I would recommend a few basic exercises first… Tricks like these are so trivial that ambient energy more than suffices. For example, a beam of light… if you twist it like SO and hold it with your will, it will form a closed loop – think of it rather like string. Now who’s familiar with “Cat’s Cradle”? (Charles made radiant patterns as he spoke.) A handful of light is very easy to work with; requiring almost no energy and only a trivial mental focus. The awkwardness is that this sort of thing simply is NOT natural to most humans – and thus the need for those sigils that you’re currently wearing. They are actually fairly advanced work by most standards I suppose.”

All of them were willing to try – it certainly couldn’t be much more far-fetched than the language amulets! There was… perhaps less astonishment than could be expected when several of them performed lightweaving. After all, they already knew the language amulets could not be explained by standard scientific methods – and with the skill boost that the Sigils provided, they could easily recognize that those little amulets were devices of rather impressive power.

(Crays) “Amazing! I would scarcely believe it if it were not happening before my eyes. And you say this can be LEARNED?”

(Watleigh) “And a boy your age made these…”

(Charles) “Yes. The amulets are not required – anyone can eventually develop such abilities without such aid – but they do make many things a great deal easier. Now, the fact that I made those amulets is somewhat deceptive I fear; I have advantages that are unavailable to most.”

(Watleigh) “Would you be willing to share some of those with us? This is… paradigm-changing, to say the least.”

And there was much amusement – if of the experimental variety – as various scientists levitated paper clips, lit matches with finger snaps, and crumpled paper with their minds.

(Charles) “The amulets and information, certainly. For those who desire it, far more advanced training is available. Certain of my advantages, however, are not transferable.”

The group with the elemental signatures – two Air and one Earth – shuffled nervously while the Earth-signed woman quietly slipped out of the room. The Serenity source, the recordkeeper, busily took notes and smiled quietly.

(Charles “whispering” to both groups via telepathy) “Well, they’re going to need thaumaturgy again soon!”

The recordkeeper’s smile broadened, although none of the groups opted to answer…

(Charles) “Now, as far as the power source of the structure in Egypt goes… It’s operation is similar to that of the Amulets in principle – but it is a great deal larger, and so channels many orders of magnitude more energy. That particular effect is sometimes called “Geomancy” – although it is a mostly-forgotten discipline, with only misunderstood remnants remaining.”

(Crays) “Such as feng shui, I believe… how did you learn such… I hesitate to say it, but magic? Nothing else would explain how that facility is powered.”

(Charles) “In my case I would have to call it an inheritance of sorts, from sources far predating the human race. You are quite correct however; the disciplines called “magic”, or “psionics”, as well as a great many other effects are limited applications of motonics.”

Meanwhile Aikiko was coming down the corridor – a bit out of breath even with her enhancements, wrapped in an array of charms and illusions, passing a few Terrestrial types on the way – and hearing a few phrases from Charles explaining magic to a bunch of government scientists. She slowed as she gaped – and ran straight into some of the Terrestrials.

(Aikiko) “Whoa! He’s… teaching them thaumaturgy?”

The operatives from the Fellowship of Moonsilver and Jade had been sent to observe this meeting. House Donnelly (whom Charles had made contact with before) was a part of it, although they hadn’t been expecting Charles to be so rash as to teach the government scientists magic! Much less to hand out boosting artifacts for it! Their Earth Aspect had departed for an emergency report, leaving the Air Aspect thaumaturge and stealth operative… What was the child THINKING! The Starbreakers and the Alchemicals would not tolerate this if it became public! And – while the knowledge of Celestial Martial Arts was their specialty – the other faction’s infrastructure was much better.

(Jason) “Yes! He’s even giving them magical amplifiers for it! He must be INSANE! Can you imagine the disruptions that will result?”

(Kiko) “And you are?”

(Jason) “Jason Donnelly! I take it you’re here to observe too? From what family?”

(Aikiko) “I’m just a friend of his! I try to keep him from doing things like that, but he’s slippery! And we’re all in BIG TROUBLE, besides!”

(Jason) “What? Why?”

(Aikiko) “Promise me you won’t send me to the nuthouse, but Mechagodzilla is coming for him!”

That got her some REALLY blank looks.

(Jason, slowly) “Er… The guy in a costume from those japanese movies….?”

(Aikiko) “No, a mobile Manse-don’t give me that look, they’re going to learn about those SOMETIME if Charles talks any longer with them – made as a replica of the thing from the movies! It’s human-size right now, but I think we all know what will happen if it returns to full size around here!”

(Jason) “You’re SERIOUS?!? A MOBILE manse that wanders around freely? How could that be possible?”

Aikiko… pointed at the entryway below, where Mechagodzilla – still with the overcoat and the silly hat – was currently inspecting the building directory?

(Aikiko) “I think it’s a new Manse Aspect! I’m not sure how-I barely escaped it myself! Don’t be fooled by that hat! It’s some kind of artifact!”

(Jason) “That’s… Wyld and Stellar and Lunar and… and the POWER there… Thousand Aspect Maze!”

Space seemed to fracture around Mechagodzilla, as the Terrestrial spell went off and swirling chaos erupted into drifting planes of light…

People started shouting in the lobby now that they could no longer see the hat.

(Jason) “That should hold it for a minute or two – I hope! Talk fast!”

(Aikiko) “Okay… I was investigating a fraternity disappearance/prank in Oregon. I tracked the missing people down to this Wyld pocket in Crater Lake – and when I was investigating, HE found me! He was made by this group of Exalts who’ve been merged with Raksha. And when I say he’s an exact replica, it’s right down to the ice ray! Even YOU would have problems dodging that thing-I barely managed to myself. I only got away from him by being really sneaky and causing a rockslide. I’m sorry, but I still don’t know how they could have made him! Charles would have some theories, though! He’s full of them!”


(Aikiko) “I have no idea… but he must be really important!”

Meanwhile, Mechagodzilla was… stepping slowly through the maze of chaos and deranged space. Annoyingly enough, the wyld-aspected spell didn’t seem to be confusing it one little bit.

(Jason, breaking out with an Action-Interrupting Blasphemous Tirade… which also failed to work) “!@#$%^&*”

(Aikiko, blinking) “So… I was going to grab him and run if he went on too much longer, but I’d have to be more blatant than I wanted to, and that’s not going to protect the city! Oh, crap! He’s coming for us! Do you have any ideas? Because I was NOT expecting to protect DC from kaiju today!”

The Terrestrials were… already running back to the committee meeting (where Charles was still happily giving away FAR TOO MUCH INFORMATION) – and Aikiko followed them!

(Crays) “So, you’re saying that magic and psychic powers are… only the beginning?”

(Charles) “Naturally! Would you expect the exploration of a new level of physics to be limited to a few awkward, minor, effects?”

(Crays) “Of course not. Perhaps it would be better to ask what level of experimentation is within our grasp. You had mentioned that we would not be able to grasp all of it.”

(Watleigh) “As hard as it is to believe… we are all human, yes?”

He looked like he hoped so… but Charles’s not answering that question was not at ALL comforting!

(Charles) “Effects that should be available include moderate-level probability manipulation, small-scale chemical manipulation and transmutation, biological manipulations, the generation or suppression of moderate amounts of energy, telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis and other “psychic” abilities, the creation of some talismans, and analysis of various forces. Major shapeshifting effects, long-distance teleportation, direct reality manipulations, the creation of sizeable “pocket dimensions”, large-scale transmutations, and similar effects, will probably remain out of reach without additional upgrades… Oh, Hi Aikiko! What’s up?”

(Watleigh) “Still, what is available to us would revolutionize… I can’t even begin to imagine.”

(Aikiko) “Charles, you’ve got to get out of here! Mechagodzilla is coming!”

For once Charles looked… fairly blank at the moment! Then…

(Charles) “Really? Cool! Who built it?”

(Crays) “Young lady, are you all right?”

(Charles, more thoughtfully) “Er… WHY build it?”

(Aikiko) “No, dude! You don’t understand! He’s going to kidnap you and make you into a Cauldron-Born! THEY built him – Demien mostly!”

(MechaG, cheerfully) “Geerronnnkkk!”

(Aikiko) “What are we going to do? I can run you out of DC easily enough, but that’s not going to stop the city from being leveled!”

(Crays) “Oh dear. She’s… serious, isn’t she?”

(Jason) “YES! He’s in the lobby right now!”

(Charles) “Uhm… well, if it’s not being leveled yet… Wait; in the LOBBY? This is a SMALL mechagodzilla then?”

(Aikiko) “It can change size! It was big when it was after me!”

(Charles, as Mechagodzilla was coming up the stairs) “Uhm… Sorry, it might be best if we adjourn to Aden…

(Scientists) “Wait! What?”

Charles swirled his usual wyld-stunt gate considerably larger than usual – starting with the basic gate and enlarging it!

(Recordkeeper) “I’ll distract this ‘Mechagodzilla’; I’m sure it’s just a crazy in some suit. Security will handle it easily enough.”

As Charles spun the gate outwards to pull everyone into Aden, Mechagodzilla – currently with eight security guys hanging onto him and being entirely ignored – opened the meeting chamber’s door…

(Recordkeeper, after a moments gaping look) “Dammit. I don’t get paid enough for this; right behind you there!”

It was hard to tell if he was talking about his cover at the EPA or his actual job there – but he didn’t hesitate to take the gate! He knew just how fragile his kind were!

The gate rippled – and Mechagodzilla fired some sort of cables through it into Aden as it imploded – leaving two massive metal spheres embedded in the earth there

(Charles) “Oh Dear!:

Most of the others… looked down the mountainside at the singing forest…

(Watleigh) “Wow…”

(Charles, distractedly) “Well… Welcome aboard!”

(Aikiko, sighing) “Welcome to Aden, guys! You can find… everything here! I’ll let Charles explain that.”

(Jason) “So Matthew wasn’t joking…”

Charles was currently inspecting the metal spheres, and looking rather worried…

Huh! She’d better have a look herself!

Charles… had been boarded; the “Cables”, now firmly anchored in Aden, were just as indestructible as the rest of Mechagodzilla. The fact that the gate was shut down didn’t change that; it just meant that the cables now… extended through elsewhere. Even Charles had no idea what that meant, save that they could tap into some of his energies through them – and who knew what else?

(Aikiko) “Ugh… this is BAD!”

This went way beyond an arcane link! This was… holding hands level! Who KNEW what the Cauldron-Born could do with that?!? Charles’s recklessness… had really bitten him this time!

(Crays) “That is a rather unstable mix of energies there! I’m surprised it hasn’t exploded, or is that not the intent of this?”

(Jason) “It’s… a forced Manse link.”

(Charles) “Explosions? No… I don’t think so! It’s more that it’s grabbed me! I… didn’t think that was possible…”

(Aikiko) “You… can come up with a solution, right?”

(Watleigh) “What do you mean, it’s grabbed you?”

The Chosen of Serenity recordkeeper continued his note-taking…

(Charles) “Oh well… this is Aden – another aspect of me really. One reason why my power-handling capacity is much larger than yours is simply because I have much greater physical reserves. THOSE (pointing to the metal spheres) are limited aspects of “Mechagodzilla” – those cables it put through the gate – and are indestructible. Thus shutting down the gate didn’t sever them… I’m not even sure what state the link is existing in right now!”

(Watleigh) “So… you’re something more than human, then.”

(Charles) “Well yes – or other than strictly human at least! There are a lot more nonhumans on earth than most people think! Even the ones who believe in things like bigfoot…”

(Crays) “Such as? Anything seems plausible at the moment!”

(Charles, still absently) “Oh the various energy-beings are always all around you, but they don’t interact much… The Raksha mostly hang out in pocket realms anchored to earth, but they come out sometimes. Some of the old created races are still around, but they mostly only live in small enclaves and use old motonic effects to hide them; people have a nasty tendency to get upset about people who are different… Oh dear! I didn’t really need any more complications right now!”

(Watleigh) “Raksha? The Indian demons?”

(Charles) “Well, they inspired some of those stories – and some about Elves, and quite a few other creatures. They really are sensitive to Iron though – so these days they find most of Earth pretty unwelcoming!”

(Watleigh) “Ah, I see… there is so much about the universe we don’t understand!”

(Jason) “And I’m certain he hasn’t even begun…”

(Charles) “Well it really does need some maintenance!… Uhrm… It may take a few hours to arrange a gate back for you; will that be all right? I do have telecommunications links, so your cell phones will work! Would you like to look at a library in the meantime?”

(Crays) “Why not? This meeting couldn’t possibly get any stranger.”

They adjourned to a library – Charles couldn’t think of anything much he could do about Mechagodzillas link to him at the moment – and Charles had some lunch sent in.

(Charles) “I must apologize! This is a larger dose of strangeness than I really meant to expose you too right away!

(Aikiko) “I’m sorry too – but I couldn’t let him grab Charles! That’d be a disaster!”

(Charles) “What do they want though? This is even weirder than usual!”

(Aikiko) “Charles… they want to make you and me Cauldron-Born!”

At that statement the recordkeeper hastily departed… None of the humans seemed to notice – and, of the Exalts, only Charles and Jason seemed to. Not that anyone really knew too much about the Cauldron Born really – but the news that they were running around piloting indestructible Kaiju manses that they could disguise as humans… was going to cause everything from shock to hysterical laughter. Did they want Charles to build them a fleet of indestructible Manses?!?”

(Charles, puzzledly) “Why? What does that get them? If they need something, why don’t they just ask like everyone else?”

Still… Kaiju manses! He HAD to figure out how to do that! That was WAY COOL!

(Aikiko) “I don’t know! Do you think they want to make every one of us that way?”

(Crays) “I… might want to stay here for the night, actually.” (To Watleigh) “Look at this map, Cody! Can you even imagine the topography?”

He was looking at a map of a tainted land in old Creation…

(Charles) “Ah. Well… Honestly… The universe got rather heavily revised about thirty thousand years ago.”

(Watleigh) “And according to this text… it was much, MUCH smaller before that. This is almost… no, it IS mythic.”

(Charles) “It was the foundation of a LOT of myths. If it helps any… Earth, or at least the solar system, really IS the center of the universe!”

The scientists weren’t entirely sure whether or not that helped, but at least they now had SOME familiar reference point to work from.

Aikiko and the terrestrials… had decided to skip the library and hold their own conference, up on some mountaintops where they wouldn’t be disturbed. They were doing just fine; they were “investigating” the high mountaintops; freed of the need to hide their powers, they were all jumping rather impressively… Air Aspects might not have Athletics as one of their caste abilities, but their anima power served nicely in that regard. Aikiko was actually having to work to keep up!

(Jason, sending a message over the air) “Are you going to be all right, Charles? I’m sorry your… pocket dimension… has been compromised.”

(Charles) “Uhm.. Well, I’ve never had a Kaiju that wanted to hold hands before… I’ll figure out something! Who knows? Maybe they just want to talk really badly!

(Jason) “I’m… not even sure how to handle this! My family sent me to observe your meeting, but they won’t believe this report. “I’ll have to think pretty carefully about how to present this!”

(Charles) “Well, I suppose I can drop by and do some explaining… Oh, hey, it’s almost time to terraform world #72 – and that will complete the first set!”

(Jason) “Uh… need any help with that? We’re pretty good with geomancy… but I’m not sure how to handle THAT, either!”

(Charles) “It’s no worry! I set myself up to do that!”

(Jason) “Okay then!”

What was he dealing with here? Powerful enough to terraform worlds on his own, but naive enough not to have a countermeasure to what just happened? The return to Ireland was going to be most interesting!

Since Jason – and some of the scientists – wanted to watch, Charles was more than willing to show them – and had no objections to them making a few recordings (which would later cause quite a stir…).

Of course, since Charles was there in person, none of the Guardians needed to attend physically. As usual… the Well opened upon to deep space, framing a barren, airless, lifeless, world – a mere chunk of rock drifting in orbit about it’s sun. Then… Charles threw a ray of  green-gold light at it, which washed over the planetary surface in a shimmering wave – and left behind it an earthlike world. Then several crews of manse-builders aboard small starships passed through the Well and headed in to make further improvements.

Jason… wanted to know just how that worked. If the world-body hadn’t been a dead giveaway that Charles wasn’t a Terrestrial, the terraforming of a world like that would have been.

(Charles) “Oh, transmutation, lifeweaving, and that sort of thing mostly! With some upgrades!”

(Jason) “Which are presumably beyond even an Elder Wood Aspect’s capabilities . . .”

(Charles) “Only as to scale mostly, they’d have to work in smaller steps!”

What, so… this would be POSSIBLE for them? He’d HAVE to reverse-engineer it somehow!

(Charles) “See, you restructure the geology where you need to, transmute excess crust into air and water, and establish the atmospheric systems. Then you just need to seed it with life-patterns and spread them all over! The deep geology is generally generic enough to use, although sometimes you have to remelt the core and get a magnetic field established!”

Jason… was pretty sure that they could do most of that with enough time and a good deal of Manses – although he wasn’t so sure about tinkering with the cores and magnetic fields. Those sounded like they’d require some pretty potent Earth Manses!

(Charles) “And the Manse-builders build the gateway manses to put it on the network!”

(Jason) “Network?”

(Charles) “Well, planets aren’t much use if people can’t get there to live on them!”

(Aikiko) “So that IS you! Advertising! That’s… pretty neat, but have you even THOUGHT about how much disruption that will cause?”

(Charles)  “And lots of new mountains and things to climb – and lots of new and restored domains to give the domainless gods something to do! And I have thought about it – but I think that it REALLY needs doing!”

(Jason) “Is that a problem? I was going to ask that recordkeeper about you and magic because he was giving off certain readings on my Essence senses… It’s rare to meet a Sidereal and not have him run!”

(Charles) “Well, an awful lot of gods have been out of work for a long time now – and it does some very bad things to them!”

(Jason) “Like what?”

(Charles) “They become vulnerable to a form of devouring madness. Very troublesome!”

(Aikiko) “They’ll eat anything-people, other gods, Exalts, even! It’s . . . pretty sad!”

(Charles) “It needs fixing!

Aikiko sighed. That was the Charles Motto!

(Kiko) “You still haven’t told me how you’re going to fix THAT problem, you know . . .”

(Charles) “Well, restoring their domains will fix most of them! Then all I need to do is to fix Yu-Shan, and Gaia said she’d help with that!”

Both Aikiko and Jason went a little blank – not at the domain part, but at the “fix Yu-Shan and Gaia said she’d help” part. Jason at the idea of fixing Heaven the way he imagined it, and Aikiko at the idea of fixing Heaven as she and Charles both knew that it was. Of course, poor Jason was just told that it was overrun with cannibal gods – and it was taking him some time to process that. The Lunars of the Fellowship did tell the Terrestrials that Heaven was a physical place… but it was not for them to covet! It was for the gods.

(Charles) “And Earth is getting fixed up, and the new planets will make room for everybody, but it’s going to take a long time to fix everything!”

(Jason) “I see . . . your plans are even grander than Matthew said.”

(Charles) “Well you can’t leave things BROKEN. That’s just wrong!”

(Jason) “I’ll see what I can do to help then. It’s clear you could use more security… at least outside here.”

(Charles) “Well… I didn’t have anything ready to prevent being partially boarded by an indestructible wandering Kaiju manse… I hadn’t thought of that!

(Jason, after a slight pause) “Who would?”

(Kiko) “Dude… only you would think of that with a straight face.”

(Charles) “Well, somebody did! Unless it was a complete accident – and what other purpose could firing those cables have? – somebody thought of it… or else is thinking much faster than I am…”

(Kiko) “I don’t remember Windhiam being good with Manses – his thing was artifacts and his car! Maybe Demien? It felt like he was in charge at Crater Lake! But that doesn’t work either! He was a martial artist and assassin!”

(Charles) “That’s a worry! I mostly rely on thinking of things in advance and setting up ways to manage! But if I’m up against somebody who’s thinking I can’t predict because it’s too chaotic and who ALSO thinks faster than I do… That’s real trouble! (pause) Well… Who knows what skills the Raksha brought to the table?”

(Kiko) “Just what I was thinking… I mean, if I were a Raksha merging with an Exalt, I’d want something that gave me stuff I didn’t have.”

That was an awfully worrisome thought! Her old friends were not only… chaotic, and worrisome, and with weird goals, but they might have all kinds of NEW skills and powers!

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXI – The Sailor Brigadoon

The Bronze Faction had expected artifact ships with the usual space standard: cramped, but perfectly livable – not brand-new idyllic Manses that transversed the local group of galaxies a lot faster than their usual charms would allow. Admittedly, their charms still had the edge once you got beyond the local group – which was still an infinitesimal fraction of the greater cosmos – but ten to twenty million light years a day still offered a LOT of space to hide an idyllic little pocket-dimension / ship.

Even better when they could also serve as secret bases, secure places to hide problematic artifacts, training centers, and mission control centers – and had enough access to the Loom to allow them to continue to seek out and repair fate anomalies… pretty much as well as ever. The fact that they offered their families longevity to match their own was not a big official benefit, but it was certainly quietly appreciated by many!

Given all that, they were pre-evacuating rather quite a lot of people. Matters were swiftly coming to a head – and there were thousands to move out of Yu-Shan. Given that they’d now have plenty of room, many comforts, and perpetual life support (as well as the defenses of a Brigdoon and some excellent privacy, concealment, anti-teleportation, and anti-dematerialization wards) rather than being crammed aboard their available ships… there was no reason not to start trickling them out slowly right away. There was even plenty of space for a millennium’s worth of supply stockpiles – and they could tuck the stuff into the Chancels for easy transport.

Not that Charles hadn’t made sure that there were plenty of supplies aboard already.

The members of the Bronze Faction who hadn’t met Charles… were a trifle incredulous. He’d… done this in a few HOURS? Simply because he’d been ASKED to help provide refuges? What was he playing at?

The members who had met him… were pretty much just grateful. Quite a few gifts with no apparent givers started showing up at the Orrery!

Charles liked surprises – but didn’t feel that it was necessary of course; it wasn’t like three manses was really a major project – and he remained blithely unaware of the Celestial dance of favors (or at least didn’t consider three manses important enough to be worthy of it). There was a nice new formal outfit, geomantic surveying tools, and an organizer for all of his thaumaturgical components – but one of the gifts was a never-ending… jar of ambrosial peanut butter! Now THAT was IMPORTANT! And VERY thoughtful!

The Sidereals did know that Charles was a growing boy – albeit slowly.

Charles, meanwhile, was… dealing with the Media. He still had to get to the end of the universe and pick up whatever-it-was for Gaia and fix up Yu-Shan, get into that Abyssal Shard, find a way to cure the Yozi’s, do something about Death, get the universe seeded, and more – but he’d recalled the need to place some advertisements! Even if something happened to him, the people of Earth would STILL soon be getting seventy-two more worlds… The setups there were well past the self-sustaining point now – and there were emergency backups in case someone tried to move in on one before it was colonized.

Lets see now… “New planet being opened for settlement. Applicants for immediate placement on (wherever) will be accepted at the opening of the primary stargate at (location) on (date and time). Trail guides, livestock, and pioneering kits will be available for qualified individuals, families, and groups on request. Training courses for unqualified settlers will also be available. Limited city-based facilities will be available for non-pioneers.” Then throw in some basic maps covering available areas, wildlife preserves, cities, and climate zones, and a list of available support services. The earthly gate locations would be… on old train and barge hubs that were now drastically underused.

Oh yeah! Have the ships put a few positioning and communications satellites into orbit… That way everyone could keep in touch relatively easily!

The dates were still a couple of months out – but that would give people plenty of time to get used to the WEIRD ads. There would no doubt be a big fuss when the gates really DID open, and what was likely to be a VERY eclectic crowd of believers started through – but it was nice to have a diverse population! First come, first served!

Having some Inukami assigned to hook up the transport systems, process applications, and assess the applicants, and having a few Kickaha to act as trail-guides standing by should serve to tell everyone that – if it was a stunt – it was a very VERY good one! More organized groups might come later – unless one of them had some other source of information.

Of course, in the outlying worlds, unmutated humans were incredibly rare… The Inukami could hand out some mutations if anyone wanted them and thought to ask – but Charles really didn’t recommend it; temporary items were much better.

Hm… He had to wonder what the Silver Faction wanted! The Gold Faction had their Solar training academy operating aboard, and the Bronze Faction had their refuges… Had Righteous Hala just told them that she was handling it personally?

Well, Jose Cisneros was Silver Faction… The man wandered a LOT of course, but he DID pay Catherine regular visits… If the Silver Faction needed anything, surely either Jose or Righteous Hala would come to him!

In fact, Jose did drop by a few days later… Charles and Catherine were discussing research on the Veilward as they departed Dudael. She was… getting Charm ideas from it!

Charles thought that was neat! He’d thought that she might!

(Catherine) “I still don’t have a clue of HOW to reach alternate realities yet, but I’ve been brushing up on quantum physics and – hey, it’s Sailor of the Myriad Skies!”

She waved to the saucer that was quietly landing in an alleyway near the Dudael.

(Charles) “Hello!”

He was pretty sure that one of the lights on the front winked at him. )

(Catherine) “Well, I think we both know what that means! Nice of Jose to take time out for me.”

They wandered over that way to greet Jose – who was as cheery as ever, if a bit tired. Sailor returned to its (her?) humanoid form.

(Jose) “Catherine and Charles! It’s been a while. Sorry about that, I’ve had to deliver a lot of things lately!”

(Charles) “Oh, I know THAT one! Keeps you busy!”

(Jose) “You and me both, son. Are you doing anything tonight? I’ve been meaning to talk with you about some things.”

(Charles) “Well… not too much! Except dinner!”

(Jose) “Were you going anywhere for that? I made a reservation for three at the Color Wheel. Maybe all of us could go eat there.”

(Charles) “OK!”

That was supposed to be an odd place! The head chef had figured out how to flavor and solidify color. It could be hard to describe and a lot of people suspected Wyld connections… still, Charles didn’t really feel that there was anything wrong with that!

They boarded Sailor and headed on over. It wasn’t exactly to her tastes, but there was a bar that catered to Machine-God Envoys nearby, which would do for her!

Soon the three of them were seated in the Teal Room…

That worked for Charles, but he was curious as to whether or not the color of peanut butter tasted like peanut butter!

There was a handy key for people with questions. It recommended tan, sepia, and wood brown for the closest analogs.

Charles tried them all. Jose apparently ate here often enough to have favorites: he ordered saffron with a side of goldenrod and forest green. After some consideration, Catherine went with the umber and pearl white special.

The waiter, dressed in a full-body outfit that shifted colors with the various sections of the restaurant, departed from the privacy warded booth, leaving them to talk.

(Charles) “Hrm… If you did order Teal, how would you know if you were eating the food or the tablecloth?”

(Jose) “That’s a good question. This place works on synesthesia. The flavors of what you order depend on what you connect the color with.”

(Charles) “Well, that would be why all three of these taste like peanut butter, although the dark one has a hint of chocolate…”

(Catherine) “And… yep, coffee cake with milk here. How about you, Jose?”

(Jose) “Egg drop soup, salad, and… (biting into the saffron) saffron-flavored rice!”

(Charles) “But if all you get is the associations… what’s the point? You’ll never get any new sensations, so you might as well eat the actual stuff you associated with the color anyway.”

Hopefully the answer was not simply “Low Sugar, Low Fat!”!

(Jose) “Not if you’re a Lunar Exalted, or (scooting in closer to Catherine) a Nocturnal! They have ways of shifting that stuff around. Me, I’m not so good at that. But the selection of colors is big enough that it’s fun ordering a new color every time.”

(Catherine) “I remember Argentia mentioning this place when she was developing that passion-shifting Charm. Said something about testing it here. I agree with Sailor, though-not my cup of tea.”

(Charles) “Well anyway… what do you need?”

(Jose) “Do you want factional or personal business first? I can do both right now.”

(Charles) “Whichever you like!”

(Jose) “Okay, let’s get the factional over with then. I hear you’re going to the edge of space, and then out of it!”

(Charles) “Well, yes! I think so anyway!”

(Jose) “I also hear you’ve come up with a way to speed up Mirror-Shattering Method, something Sailor and I are pretty familiar with. Can you tell me a little about that?”

(Charles) “Well… It requires using an existing manse-gate. Since you have a gate anyway, all you need to do is open a path through elsewhere and jump the gate into the new channel.”

(Jose) “Makes sense. Now, would it work both ways? Say, if you had another Manse with a gate, could you link them up?”

(Charles) “Yes – but it’s normally two-way in any case. That might let you re-anchor it permanently – but its at least as likely to just go unstable.”

(Jose) “Hrm… it might be more trouble than we bargained for then. See, we’ve got this outpost in one of the Satries Confederation sectors’ Bordermarches. The higher-ups want to tie one of your gates to it. It seems risky to me, but then I’m not a decision maker.”

(Charles) You just need a gate to and from it?

(Jose) “You’ve got it! Like I said, it seems risky to me, but we won’t know until we try.”

(Charles) “Well for that a dedicated manse gate would be simplest! Probably with password controls on this end!”

(Jose) “I think they’d want some kind of control for it, so that’d be fine.”

(Charles) “Well, that way it can be shut down if something DOES come up.”

(Jose) “Works for me! If you can whip up a report on it for them, that’d be great. I’ll handle the editing for the presentation.”

(Charles) “Uhm… Ok!:

He produced a quick report, which Jose slipped into a bag – a minor artifact cloaked against magical scrying – with a complete lack of surprise at it being done so quickly. Still, that one WAS pretty simple.

(Jose) “And that’s pretty much it on the factional business!” (The waiter came with the check, and Jose footed the bill) “Hey, Catherine, why don’t you go check on Sailor?”

(Catherine) “What, can’t you – OH, I see.” (She left the table.)

(Charles) So what’s the personal?

When she was out of physical sight… Jose pulled out a ring box from his jacket.

(Jose) “I’m no good at this stuff… and you’re an artificer. Tell me if you think it’ll look good on her.”

Charles blinked… Sapphire and Adamant? Aesthetics? Not his thing! He hastily consulted Malinda!

(Malinda) “That’s… A very nice ambrosial engagement ring. I think he loves her very much dearie – and he’s underestimating himself on his tastes there! It will look good when she’s not forging things in Dudael.”

Charles assured him that it would indeed look very good.

(Jose) “Whew. That cost a lot of salary.”

(Charles) “Well spent I think!”

(Jose) “Now, to the second bit of business! I think you’ve met my great-grandson, haven’t you? (He thought for a moment) “Raymond! That’s the name, right?”

(Charles) “Yes! He’s studying Thaumaturgy!”

(Jose) “He left a note with you some time ago, didn’t he? I… heard from his Terrestrial friend Howard when I was checking on him.”

(Charles) “Well, yes… but you’ve been so busy, and said to hold it for later when you had more time!”

(Jose) “Well, I’ve put it off long enough! Let’s have a look.”

He read it, and was quite pleased.

(Jose) “I think it’s time to pay him a visit. Hmm… I’m going to have to think of how to do it, though I hear the Morgans had a scuffle last time they talked to their backers. That might make things easier… Oh, why not… they seem to trust you. Mind if I join you the next time you go down to their place in Atlanta?”

(Charles) “Not at all! A scuffle though? Nobody called for help… but I haven’t heard back from them in a bit… I should check!”

(Jose) “I have no clue either, but thanks!”

(Charles) “You’re welcome!”

(Jose) “Anyway, I’d better get going. Catherine’s going to expect some together time before Sailor and me fly out!”

(Charles) “Have a nice time!”

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CX – Visiting Brigadoon


And welcome aboard Sir or Madam!

Back in Aden, Charles had been mulling over a problem in his spare moments… He didn’t really have all that much practice building ships, much less ships that had to support rather a lot of people – and he didn’t want them to find out that he’d forgotten something important when they were a thousand light years from the nearest liveable planet!

Why couldn’t they have needed Manses instead? Manses he was good at…

Hey, wait! Why COULDN’T he build a mobile manse? Sure, setting up a remote link to it’s demesne was a silly waste of geomantic power – but if you did it right… you could take the demesne along!

He got to work designing things…

Brigadoon Manses are simple domed structures located at the center of similarly domed disks of countryside a mile across – a little more than five hundred acres of idyllic landscaping, including a tiny forest, numerous small (and often vertical) farms and orchards, trickling streams and ponds, parks and playgrounds, flower gardens, and winding paths, tunnels, ravines, and bridges – all artfully arranged to seem considerably larger then the area really is. The area inside enjoys long, beautiful, days with just enough weather to keep it interesting and to water everything optimally. Thanks to various manse enhancements, a Brigadoon can support a population of several thousand without recourse to further magic.

From the outside they act a lot like freeholds; they’re pocket realms with limited access that look like something that fits into the local landscape. What makes them more unusual is that they’re mobile; the influence of the Manse allows those inside it to move the entire area in engulfs – manse, demesne, and all – at FTL speeds. For those who want to get on and off, Charles has included a few Aquila-Class Military “shuttlecraft” with Helmstones and underground berths scattered around the edges – just in case.

Brigadoon-Class Starcruiser: Rank-5 Adenic Manse. Creation Points: 10 (Rank) +5 (No useful Hearthstone) +9 (Boosting Artifacts) +1 (Maintenance 1; A Brigadoon is partially dependent on it’s own aesthetics – and so requires occasional trimming of trees, rearrangements of flowerbeds, and similar small tweaks to remain functioning) = 25.

  • Exotic Aspect/Aden (1): Aden-aspected manses favor Magical Conveniences, Integrated Artifacts, Thaumaturgic Enhancements, Wyld Revocation, and Life-Sustaining functions.
  • Zone of Influence (3): At rank five the powers of a Brigadoon Manse cover a half-mile radius – enough for a modest settlement, especially given the use of underground areas.
  • Life-Sustaining (2*): The people within a Brigadoon do not age noticeably, are highly resistant to disease and poisons, and recover from injuries with incredible speed.
  • Indestructible (5): With it’s essence-patterns and flows knotted back upon themselves in perfect loops, a Brigadoon is indestructible – vulnerable only to internal geomantic sabotage. That’s a most difficult task, since it’s maintenance services will tend to undo such damage faster than it can be inflicted. Since this extends throughout the Zone of Influence, it also means that the outer “hull” (the dome and slab of stone it’s built on) are similarly indestructible. That suffices against most minor hazards.
  • Integrated Utility Artifacts (2*). This set includes…
    • Sympathetic Loom (Artifact ***): This device mirrors the actual Loom of Fate – but does not provide any ability to actually manipulate fate or make corrections. It DOES allow it’s users to examine the current state of the true Loom, to see if problems are developing, and to run basic simulations on near-future (up to one week per level of the manse it’s mounted in) plans to see if a proposed course of action is likely to be a total disaster. Sadly, this – as usual – will yield inaccurate results if high-powered essence users other than the operators will be intervening and cannot indicate problems that lie outside it’s time-window.
    • Ansible (Artifact **): This bulky console sometimes takes several minutes of fiddling with to make a connection, but lets you call and talk to anyone else equipped with similar artifact.
    • Observation Dome (Artifact **): This artifact is, in fact, the inside of the large dome over the manse and the various control consoles. It lets those within the manse clearly see, and target thaumaturgy on, things outside the manse without letting those outside see in. It can be adjusted to show infrared or ultraviolet, panoramic views, and to magnify by up to 50x, like a good pair of binoculars.
    • Orrery of Antikythera (Artifact **): This artifact is a computational and display aid for Sidereal Astrology. Once set up in a manse it provides a bonus on Sidereal Astrology checks equal to the (Manse Rating +1) for any Sidereal working with it.
    • Tik-Tok the Clockwork Autopilot (Artifact *): Tik-Tok is roughly equivalent to a Folding Servant, but can only operate within the Brigadoon Manse and it’s Zone of Influence, has no offensive capabilities, is better at Occult, Interstellar Navigation, and so on than Crafts, and has an internal library of thaumaturgic effects to run the Brigadoon with and do its maintenance rather than recipes. Tik-Tok isn’t actually very GOOD at piloting or running the place – its skills are limited compared to a real experts – but it can handle things in a pinch, or if the crew is incapacitated or some such.
  • Advanced Magical Conveniences x2 (1* +1*): A Brigadoon Manse provides modern water and sanitation services, power and lighting, an earth-gravity environment, internal computer services and communications, comfortable (and mostly subsurface) housing, swarms of “unseen servants” (these handle keeping things nice and clean, doing the maintenance, maintaining the landscaping, doing the farmwork and harvesting, and otherwise taking care of the place), fertility control (keeps the population – both human and animal – under control and prevents pests from becoming established), magical fertilizers and irrigation for the plants, greatly accelerated plant growth and yields, and subtle illusions that help the place seem far larger (and far more private), throughout it’s zone of influence.
  • Comfort Zone x2 (2): The environment within the Zone of Influence is always livable – with long beautiful days, obliging weather, fresh, clean, breezes, comfortable temperatures, and related benefits. Thanks to the Metric Isolation power (below) even without further magic the conditions within a Brigadoon are unaffected by conditions in the greater universe.
  • Integrated Utility Artifacts (2*): This second set is a set of complex control consoles which each provide their operators with +10 successes on a particular Thaumaturgic Art or Science – but are quite immobile, occasionally hit their user’s with energy feedback, and require considerable expertise to get the best results from – problems which, reduce them to one-dot artifacts. The standard selection includes Alchemy (synthesizer console), Detection (sensor console), Energetics (“weapons” console), Healing (medical bay), Illusion (display and environmental console), Technomancy (engineering room), Telekinesis (drive console), Telepathy (communication console), Travel (drive systems and teleporter), and Warding (shield console).
  • Wyld Revocation. Thanks to these being Aden-aspected manses, the cost of Wyld Revocation is a mere three points – and it’s used several times to provide…
    • Wyld Spaces (3*): Further incidences of Wyld Revocation can be purchased at half cost, rounded down.
    • Geomantic Bounding (1*): A Brigadoon’s energies recirculate, making it independent of external geomancy beyond it’s own boundaries.
    • Metric Isolation (1*): A Brigadoon’s zone of influence is warped into a private pocket realm, like a Freehold. As such, it tends to appear to outside observers as some acceptable sort of feature – a ship or planetoid or some such. Unlike a freehold, the area is only loosely anchored within space; and may be relatively easily moved around without respect for mass, gravitation, or inertia by any form of internal drive – including thaumaturgy.
    • Spatial Scaling (1*): Thaumaturgy worked within the area uses space scales rather than measurements suitable for a planetary surface. Thus “drive” effects will allow a Brigadoon to far exceed the speed of light, short-range apportion will allow groups of people and stockpiles of supplies to be transported to and from any convenient planet, communications magic operates over many light seconds, and magical attacks can be launched at incredible range. Sadly, there’s a slight problem with this near Earth; while the rest of the cosmos was shaped out of a rather limited amount of space, the geometry near Earth is a lot more stable.

There! Those should work perfectly for that they needed! Putting a few half-castes or even god-bloods on in shifts would let them navigate and keep an eye out for anything that might threaten their flying saucers… Heh! “I Canna gie it more power Jimmie boy! I be out of motes!”… no wonder Scotty’s time estimates were always in hours unless he pulled a stunt! He needed to respire more!

After he had the design… it didn’t take long to make them! There were plenty of asteroids and such with enough mass and upgradable minor demesnes!

Charles dropped by to see Ms Cress after leaving the reception again to tell her that he’d gotten her ships done!

(Ms Cress) “Uhm… thank you, Charles! You really are a miracle worker.”

What, ALREADY? It couldn’t have been more than half a day, and the boy had spent a good chunk of that fooling around at a reception or poking around in Yu-Shan!

(Charles, happily) “Want to see one?”

(Ms Cress) “Of course! Is it all right if I take pictures to show to the High Lord?”

(Charles) “Sure!”

He jumped them over to the right gate. He’d assigned five temporary crewmen to each one to pilot them until the Bronzers could get some of their own people aboard!

(Charles) “They’re being brought to the space docks now unless you’d like me to change that; you didn’t say where to put them…”

(Ms Cress) “Oh! Right! I didn’t think even YOU could construct them this fast… we have our own docks in Tarvial. (she checked the ships with her Essence-sensing lens) which we should have no trouble reaching in a short time…”

The scale had been impressive enough – but it was… just a mask on top of a pocket dimension that was being generated by … a MANSE?!?! How in oblivion had the boy made THAT work?

(Ms Cress) “Incredible… Do you simply build a Manse for every problem?”

(Charles, with some surprise) “I like manses!”

Ms Cress nodded sagely… Primordial Thaumaturgist-Architect. When what you had was Manses, no doubt every problem looked like a demesne. She should have expected it; Primordials were pretty much defined by their monomania!

And they had one who… made stuff and gave it to people on their hands. Not necessarily the RIGHT people, either. There could be worse worries… but STILL! Perhaps… was she going to have to ask him to become a factional ally? That way they could send him some “help” – trusted gods who could help deal with the people at the Orrery, assist with research… and alert them if he did something REALLY stupid!”

Charles happily showed her the basics of the place – the central control area, the defense mechanisms, the lovely classic village and gardens and a few other facilities, the supply systems, the little mossy groves, and so on… It wasn’t exactly what she was expecting in a spaceship!

(Ms Cress) “So much space! I’m used to more cramped quarters, but everyone will be MUCH happier with this.”

(Charles) “Well… there’s lots of room out in space, so why make cramped ships?”

(Ms Cress) “A matter of materials, life support, and many other things. At least we won’t have to worry about that with these.”

(Charles) “There are some shuttlecraft if you do need smaller ships!”

(Ms Cress) “Now those are more average… it’s not fun spending five days traveling in those, but I’ve done it in emergencies.”

(Charles) “Well, they should help with local things!”

(Ms Cress) “They’ll certainly be of use.”

(Charles) “Oh good!”

Charles cheerily wandered off – headed first for a nap and then, of course, back to school…

Ms Cress placed some near-frantic calls… The boy really DID seem to simply be… ridiculously over-helpful! What if he’d given this stuff to the Silver Faction first?… What had he ALREADY given out?!?!