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.

Hearthstones:

  • 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.

Artifacts:

General Theory:

Artifact Designs:

Raksha Items:

Setting:

Characters:

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.

Advertisements

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.

Feats:

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.

Spellcasting:

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:

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.