Eclipse, the Ways of Dragons III

English: White dragon of England

Yep. Still on these guys.

Now here we have a young gold dragonness who’s managed to give her parents the slip to meld into the (fascinating!) human population.

Unfortunately, while her transmutation spells are capable of making her more human-shaped, they don’t really hide the fact that she’s draconic – although you might, if you’re generous, mistake her for a half-dragon.

For her race we’ll be using the basic Dragon Template – albeit with a few small tweaks to go from “white dragon” to “gold dragon” – even if that is a “Slayers”-inspired Golden Dragon.

  • Change “Enlarge Self” to “Reduce Self”; (-1 Size Category (-2 Str, +2 Dex, +1 Attack Modifier, +4 Skill Modifier).
  • Shaping is neither specialized nor corrupted; this small dragon can do Prestidigitation effect at will.
  • The Energy Infusion is Fire, not Cold.
  • Dragonfire is Specialized/only for cone and ray energy attacks (3 CP).
  • Breath of the Dragon is Specialized / only to change the blasts to Light (3 CP).
  • Heart of the Dragon is specialized in Transmutation magics instead of Conjuration..

Available Character Points: 48 (level one base) +10 (disadvantages) +12 (GM generosity in awarding L0 and L1 Bonus Feats) +2 (Duties) = 72 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 14 (14), Dex 11 (15), Con 13 (15), Int 15 (17), Wis 10 (12), Cha 17 (19).

Basics (39 CP):

  • Warcraft: +0 BAB (0 CP).
  • Hit Points: 20 (L1d20, 16 CP) + 12 (Immortal Vigor) +6 (3x Con Mod) = 38
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +1 (Size) +2 (Natural) +2 (Leather) +4 (Cha) = 21
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: Ground and Flight 60′.
  • Skill Points: 8 (CP spent) +12 (Int Mod x 4) = 20 SP. The player hasn’t decided where to spend these yet though. For the moment, I’ll go with the condensed skill list and take Arcana (+7), Heal (+5), Survival (+7), Perception (+8 with +3 Racial), and Persuasion (+8), all at a base of four ranks.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) +2 (Dex) = +2
    • Will: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Wis) = +3

Usual Weapons:

  • “Unarmed”: +3/+3 (+2 Str, +1 Size, Personal Haste), 1d8+2, Crit 20/x2.
  • Breath Weapon: Up to 3d6 Light (Fire) damage, 15′ Cone or double damage to a single target within 60′. Save DC Reflex 15 (Half).

Special Abilities (33 CP):

  • Journeyman/Path of the Dragon, Specialized in Dragonfire for Double Effect (ranges damage limit to (Level + 2)d6) (6 CP).
  • Heart of the Dragon II, Specialized in Transmutation to allow her to use first level transmutation effects via Shaping (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Excessive Cuteness: Adds (Cha Mod) to AC (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Treasure (Can detect treasure within 60′) (6 CP).
  • Berserker (Standard Barbarian, 6 CP).
  • Lore, Specialized in Dragons (3 CP).

Now this young dragoness is pretty formidable for an ECL 2 character – but the lower the total ECL, the more the template dominates things. If the party is reasonably high-powered for ECL 2 – and if it wasn’t, who’d be considering letting a dragon into play? – she should be a close enough match.

Eclipse, the Ways of Dragons II

Picture of a dragon

I say old bean! Do I have to get involved in this?

Now that we’ve got a standard dragon set up, it’s time to create one for a particular game. In this case, rather than a straight conversion, the player was interested in the Federation-Apocalypse Dragon Template. Unfortunately, the setting doesn’t allow more than 12 CP worth of innate enchantment – and being a supernatural being is not a big disadvantage in a setting where that doesn’t restrict your ability to visit large parts of it and isn’t at all remarkable. Just as importantly, the local dragons are born talking and with a few other tweaks and the player wants the basic youthful dragon to be Large, rather than Tiny. Ergo, this version is probably going to wind up as a +1 ECL race, rather than as a +0 ECL race. Given that the character is being created at ECL 5, that will leave several levels worth of abilities.

The Dragon Package:

  • +3 Spot (Or, in this particular game, “Perception”) (3 CP).
  • Speaks Draconic (1 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/120′ Darksight (12 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Blindsense 60′ (6 CP).
  • Martial Arts/1d8 Natural Weapons (9 CP). As before, we don’t really care what body parts our dragon uses – bite, claws, tail, wings, tail spike, body slam, whatever – or what sequence it uses them in. The player can simply describe what it does as he or she likes. After all, it’s a dragon, with talons, spikes, fangs, sharp tough scales, great strength, and iron-hard flesh. It’s entire body is a weapon one way or another.
  • Innate Enchantment: (12 CP): The local limit is 12 CP here – so we’ll have to settle for a few of the most vital ones.
    • +2 to Enhancement Bonus to all characteristics save Charisma (7000 GP). That’s convenient, especially at lower levels, but won’t stack with most attribute-boosting items.
    • +2d6 Hit Dice (Maximized) (1400 GP). Again, convenient at lower levels, but this will soon be swamped by level-based hit dice.
    • Enlarge Self (1400 GP): +1 Size Category (+8 Str, -2 Dex, +4 Con, -1 Attack Modifier, -4 Skill Modifier, +2 Natural armor, Reach 10). This is THE cheap way to be larger – and requires using the Practical Enchanter version of Enlarge Self rather than the SRD version. Of course, the game master should also feel free to play up the characters massive food demands, inability to use many magical devices, the impossibility of getting into many buildings or through most doors, and all the other limitations that go with being the size of a horse.
    • Personal Haste (1400 GP): +30′ Movement, +1 attack at full BAB when making a full attack. One of THE most helpful minor spells around. Fortunately, it’s short duration is offset by the use-activated aspect.
  • Immunity/The XP Cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP). This isn’t actually saving much – but having it in the racial template means that baby dragons are born with their natural magics, rather than having to pay XP to activate them later.
  • Immunity to Antimagic and Dispelling vrs Innate Enchantments (Uncommon / Minor / Epic, 9 CP).
  • Celerity/Additional Mode (Flight): Corrupted (Requires use of wings), Specialized: Poor Maneuverability (6 CP), 60′ total base (including the Personal Haste ability).
  • Defender [(Level/5)+1] Natural Armor bonus to AC (12 CP).
  • Universal DR 2/- (3 CP). “Universal” means that it applies to everything – energy and physical attacks alike. Dragons are just big and tough enough to ignore any number of minor scratches.
  • Energy Infusion (in this case Cold, 6 CP).
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon/Minor/Great, 3 CP: can expect to live for many centuries).
    • Shaping (6 CP). Dragons are presumed to be magical enough to pull prestidigitation-level effects off at will – or they can Corrupt and Specialize this ability to allow them to use some minor special trick at whim. Since the player still wants a White Dragon, we’ll do just that to turn this into the “Icewalking” ability.
    • Dragonfire, Specialized/only for cone energy attacks (3 CP). This gives us a base of a 30′ cone – although the user is welcome to spend a few more points to expand on that later on.
    • Breath of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted/only to change to Cold, must be used (2 CP).
    • Eye of the Dragon, Specialized/only to store energy from Pulse of the Dragon, only to power Dragonfire (3 CP). This ability allows a dragon to store a reserve of energy to power Dragonfire with – thus bypassing the usual 1d4 round delay on using their breath weapon. Sadly, the supply is limited, and requires days to recharge – but the trick can still be very VERY useful in a tight spot.
    • Pulse of the Dragon (6 CP). This may have more uses later on – but for the moment it’s principle use is to charge the Eye of the Dragon power reserve.
    • Heart of the Dragon (6 CP). This allows the user to shape cantrip-level effects from ambient magical energy – allowing the use of many small magical tricks. Of course, if you Specialize in a particular theme – in this case Conjuration – you can pull off level one effects.
    • Blood of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only to fuel Dragonfire, requires a wait of 1d4 rounds in between discharges (6 CP). Normally this is Charisma-based, but if the character has a lousy Charisma, Finesse (another 6 CP) may be used to substitute another attribute, such as Constitution.

With a total cost of 121 CP that would be a +3 ECL race – but fortunately, the entire package is Specialized; the user is a blatantly non-human dragon, is subject to powerful draconic instincts, craves treasure, has valuable magical body parts, has to deal with rivals and dragon-hunters, is vulnerable to anti-dragon weaponry, radiates magical power and an aura that disturbs people and animals, can’t wear most armor or use a lot of other magical devices, has automatic alignment tendencies, and has to deal with any other being-a-dragon problems that the game master feels like applying. That brings it down to 60 CP – and +1 ECL.

So that leaves us with four character levels – worth a base of 120 CP. Add +8 for Duties and +12 for L1 and L3 Bonus Feats for a total of 140 CP available. To stick with the Dragon theme, spend those on…

  • 4d12 Hit Dice (32 CP).
  • +6 BAB, Specialized/only with natural weapons and inherent magic (18 CP).
  • +24 Skill Points (24 CP).
  • Base Saves of +2 (18 CP).
  • Might of Dragons: Improved Augmented Bonus x3 (Str Mod to all saving throws), Specialized/Half Effect (18 CP).

That leaves 30 CP available for more special abilities. In this case the player picked two feats from the Monster Manual IV – Clinging Breath and Lingering Breath (twice), along with the Stoic (making the character resistant to massive damage, 6 CP), Ferocity (allowing the character to continue functioning until death, even if below zero hit points, 3 CP), and extended breath weapon (to 60′, discussed above, 3 CP) abilities

Clinging and Lingering Breath could both be translated into Eclipse as the Amplify Metamagic with four levels of Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted/only for boosting the “breath weapon”, boosted damage is delayed, cannot vary effects if used, delays additional breath weapon uses, etc, etc – but it’s easier to just use them as-is since, in general, feats from other books work just fine in Eclipse at 6 CP each. The few exceptions are things like “Spellfire”, which winds up costing more in Eclipse because, as written, it’s pretty overpowered for a single feat.

And that pretty much spends all our points. Attributes were 32-point buy, which gives us…

Basic Attributes: Str 22, Dex 14, Con 22, Int 17, Wis 12, and Chr 10 – all but Charisma including a +2 enhancement bonus.

Equipment Allowance was 15,000 GP. That’s spent on…

  • Ring (Bracer) of Shielding: Shield Spell, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP = (2000 GP). +4 Shield Bonus to AC.
  • Studded Leather Dragon Barding (Large) +1, 1250 GP. +4 Armor Bonus to AC. You’re not proficient with this, but since it’s masterwork and has no armor check penalty, it doesn’t matter.
  • Bandana (Cloak) of Resistance +1 (1000 GP). +1 Resistance Bonus to Saves.
  • Hewards Handy Beltpouch (Haversack)(2000 GP).
  • Quaal’s Feather Token/Tree x2 (800 GP) – suitable for dropping on things from very high up.
  • Amulet of Natural Armor +1 (2000 GP). +1 Natural Armor.
  • Eyes of the Eagle (2500 GP). +5 Perception.
  • Ordinary Gear/Rations/Etc ~450 GP.
  • Healing Wristlet (Belt, 750 GP): +2 Competence Bonus to Healing Checks, 3 Charges per day, each heals 2d8 damage with a touch (included to let you heal yourself in a reasonable length of time).
  • That leaves about 2250 GP cash – not much of a hoard, but it’s a start!

Basics:

  • Hit Points: 42 (4d12) +12 (2d6 Max) +36 (6 x Con Mod) = 90. Reduce all damage by two.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +5 (Natural) +4 (Shield) +4 (Armor) +2 (Dex) -1 (Size) = 24
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 60′ (Ground and Flight). Has Icewalking.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased) +3 (Augmented Bonus) +6 (Con) +1 (Resistance) = +12
    • Reflex: +2 (Purchased) +3 (Augmented Bonus) +2 (Dex) +1 (Resistance) = +8
    • Will: +2 (Purchased) +3 (Augmented Bonus) +1 (Wis) +1 (Resistance) = +7

Usual Weapons:

  • Ice Breath: 60′ Cone, 4d6 (Clinging, Lingering x2, Save DC 19). May be used every 1d4 (plus one per clinging/lingering option used) rounds up to a limit of 21d6 per minute without cost. Reserve of 44d6 that may be used up to 4d6 at a time any time, but the reserve is only rechargable at a rate of 17d6 per day.
  • Natural Weapons: +12/+12/+7 (+6 BAB +6 Str, Personal Haste), 1d8+6, Crit 20/x2, 10′ Reach.

Skill Points: 24 (CP) +14 (Int) = 38

  • Arcana, Specialized in Knowing about Dragons: +10 (5 SP) +3 (Int) = +13
  • Athletics: +7 (SP) +6 (Str) = +13
  • Deception: +7 (SP) +0 (Cha) = +7
  • Perception: +7 (SP) +0 (Wis) +3 (Racial) = +10
  • Socialize: +7 (SP) +0 (Cha) = +7
  • Stealth: +7 (SP) +2 (Dex) -4 (Size) = +5
  • Specialties: +3 in Deception (Intimidation), +3 in Arcana (Dragons), +3 in Acrobatics (Aerial Maneuvering).

Special Notes

  • Senses: Low-Light Vision, 120′ Darksight, 60′ Blindsense, +3 Perception,
  • Immune to Cold, double damage from Fire.
  • May cast first level conjuration spells at will.

That’s a straightforward young dragon – formidable, if not exactly utterly overwhelming, which is just about right!

Eclipse – The Ways of Dragons I

White Dragon of Mercia

Why can’t I join your party?

There have been several requests for draconic characters recently. After all, standard d20 makes them rather difficult to play. That’s normal for a generalist – your typical dragon blasts, casts, scouts, evades, and tanks, and is thus capable of functioning as a one-character party – but it means that they have such high ECL adjustments that they’re less effective in any individual role than more specialized party members.

Most of the people who want to play a dragon want to play them as something more than the parties fifth wheel. Sure, you can fill in for many of the other characters in a pinch – but that’s not really what the players had in mind.

Fortunately, Eclipse will let you customize your dragon just like any other character – and there are a LOT of possible specialties out there.

Still, we do need something to work from – so here’s a breakdown for one of the earlier requests: the lowest ECL dragon character you can usually have – a standard White Dragon Hatchling broken down for Eclipse.

OK; Classically that’s a Tiny dragon. To build one of those we’ll need…

  • Two Levels of Shrinking (24 CP). That’s -4 Str,+4 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Armor Class and Attack Modifier, +8 to stealth skills, -8 to things like door-smashing, and reduces falling damage from d6’s to d2’s.
  • It has +2 Con and -4 Int overall. So in conjunction with the Shrinking we’ll need +4 Str and Con and -4 Dex and Int (Attribute Shift, 24 CP),
  • It breathes a 1d6 15 foot cone of cold every 1d4 rounds. That’s kind of pathetic actually, but it DOES expand well later – so it’s off to the Path of the Dragon to buy it.
    • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP).
    • Dragonfire, Specialized/only for cone energy attacks, Corrupted/upper limits determined by age (2 CP).
    • Breath of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted/only to change to Cold, must be used (2 CP).
    • Pulse and Heart of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (4 CP).
    • Blood of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only to fuel Dragonfire, requires a wait of 1d4 rounds in between discharges (6 CP). Normally this is Charisma-based, but if the character has a lousy Charisma, Finesse (another 6 CP) may be used to substitute another attribute, such as constitution.
  • Immunity to Sleep and Paralysis. Honestly… Sleep isn’t usually used on player characters much; it’s boring. Ergo, Uncommon, Major, Major on the Sleep (6 CP), and Common, Major, Major on the Paralysis (9 CP).
  • Like many dragons, it has Blindsense out to 60′ (6 CP), Low-Light Vision (6 CP), and 120′ Darkvision (12 CP).
  • At tiny size it has a 1d4 bite and two 1d3 claws (each only getting one-half the strength bonus). Just to simplify this, I’m buying it 1d8 Natural Weapons (Martial Arts, 9 CP) and +2 BAB, Specialized/only to add to iterative attacks (6 CP). That improves things a bit, opens things up for more attacks later on, and involves less rolling. Given that this IS a young dragon, we don’t really care what body parts it uses – bite, claws, tail, wings, tail spike, high-speed collision, whatever… the player can describe things as he or she likes.
  • It DOES have 30′ burrowing, the ability to “Spider Climb” on ice, and 150 flight (albeit with only average maneuverability). So… +30′ Move with Additional Movement Mode (Burrow) (24 CP), and +55′ move with Additional Movement Mode, Specialized for Double Effect and corrupted for two-thirds cost/only average maneuverability in the air, dependent on having space to spread and flap wings or on moving on an ice-covered surface, can be brought down by wing damage or entanglements (26 CP). (OK, yes, I could save a couple more points – but the notion of white dragons buzzing around on icy surfaces like gravity-defying figure-skaters amuses me).
  • It has +2 Natural Armor. That’s Defender (12 CP).
  • It’s immune to Cold and Vulnerable to Fire. That’s Energy Infusion/Cold (6 CP).

And… that’s about it for what really belongs in it’s “racial template” That adds up to… 189 CP. That’s quite a lot. Fortunately, the entire package is Specialized; the user is a blatantly non-human dragon, is subject to powerful draconic instincts, craves treasure, has valuable magical body parts, has to deal with rivals and dragon-hunters, is vulnerable to anti-dragon weaponry, radiates magical power and an aura that disturbs people and animals, can’t wear most armor or use a lot of other magical devices, has automatic alignment tendencies, and has to deal with any other being-a-dragon problems that the game master feels like applying.

That takes the cost down to 94 CP – just within the 95 CP allowance for a +2 ECL template.

That leaves us with three regular levels, providing a base of 96 CP and two bonus feats. So what else do we need to buy?

We need…

  • 3d12 Hit Dice. That’s (24 CP)
  • To speak Draconic That’s (1 CP). I suppose this could go in the racial template, but it doesn’t make a lot of difference – and it seems reasonable that some dragons might be raised to speak other languages. We could also assume that it’s simply it’s base language and not buy it at all, but I want to make sure that it has space to speak “common”, even if it winds up with an abysmal intelligence.
  • 20 Skill Points. Fortunately, in Eclipse you get bonus skill points for high intelligence, but – since you aren’t required to buy skills at all – there’s no low intelligence penalty. Therefore, to match the 20 SP that our tiny white dragon would normally have we need only spend (20 CP)
  • +3 BAB. That’s (18 CP). To get the secondary attacks, we’ll also want +1 BAB Specialized for Double Effect (Only to get iterative attacks, 6 CP).
  • Base Saves of Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3. That’s (27 CP).

That comes out to 96 CP – precisely what’s available. The two bonus feats are up to the player.

Now that’s actually pretty survivable; blindsense and burrowing can be a pretty effective defense, it has more than enough hit points and attacks – including a ranged energy weapon that will preserve meat quite effectively – to deal with the kind of prey that a tiny predator will want to eat, and it can easily fly away from most ground-based threats.

Of course, as a member of a party, it’s not all that effective, even if it DOES make a dandy little scout. Even it’s two unspent bonus feats won’t help that much.

Of course, in Eclipse, you can eke out a few more points here and there – ten for disadvantages and six for duties. Spend those (and your bonus feats) on upgrading the Path of the Dragon and you can get some decent magical powers – enough to be a reasonably effective party member.

And that, of course, is the point; we don’t want to grossly overshadow everyone else in the party, but neither do we want to be grossly overshadowed – and this build should accomplish that just fine if the player makes halfway decent choices with those extra points and feats.

Exalted – Hand of the Ancestors Style (Terrestrial Martial Art)

Here we have another low-end Martial Art that’s probably best suited to Mortal characters. In fact, it may or may not be compatible with Exaltation; it’s entirely possible that an Exaltation pre-empts the kind of links that the style is designed to form.

Hand Of The Ancestors Style:

Your ancestors are always with you. Your flesh is of their flesh, your blood of their blood, in a stream that runs unbroken through the ages evan as it dallies in your veins. You may accept their ways or you may rebel against them – but they are your heritage, and are ever within you.

And with this art, you can make that even more literal.

  • Haunting Shadow Stance
  • |       The Tao of Life and Death
  • |       Shadow Fist Strike
  • Elder Mandarin Attitude
  • Strength of the Ancestors
  • Day Follows Night Approach
  • Ancestral Blessing Approach

Haunting Shadow Stance: Cost: —, Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence: 1, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent, Prerequisite Charms: None.

  • Stance, and form, and inner stillness… Balance – of spirit, essence, and body – lies at the core of the Martial Arts. Few arts, however, try to balance astride the worlds – between life and death. Haunting Shadow Stance does exactly that – allowing the user to act as a vessel for a ghost, granting it a safe refuge and allowing the wraith to once more experience life. The user benefits from unconscious access to the Wraith’s perception of reality, allowing him or her to use either their usual XP/Bonus Point charts or those for Wraiths – whichever they prefer for any given purchase.

The Tao of Life and Death: Cost: — (1M), Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence: 1, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent (one scene), Prerequisite Charms: Haunting Shadow Stance, the user must have a Ghostly Ally.

  • Continued practice of the stances and movements of the Haunting Shadow Stance – on both the user’s and the hosted wraith’s part – opens closer links between them. The user may spend one mote to fully open those links for the remainder of the scene, allowing him or her to perceive the spirit worlds, communicate with spirits, and even make direct contact with them – although this only extends to the user’s flesh, not to any weapons that he or she happens to be holding. The spirit remains fully aware of the user and his or her situation as long as it remains resident.

Shadow Fist Strike: Cost: — (2M), Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence: 2, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent (six ticks), Prerequisite Charms: The Tao of Life and Death.

  • The developing bond between the user and the spirit he or she hosts has reached the point where the user can briefly function as a bridge between the worlds, allowing his or her companion wraith to affect the physical world while remaining safely ensconced within the user and the underworld. The user may spend two motes at any time to allow his or her companion to contact the physical world anywhere within normal arms reach for the next six ticks – allowing it to strike to assist him or her, to open a door from the other side, and to pull off similar stunts.

Elder Mandarin Attitude: Cost: — (3M), Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence: 2, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent (one scene), Prerequisite Charms: Haunting Shadow Stance.

  • The ongoing communion with the user’s ghostly ally has reached the point either may spend three motes at will to draw on the other’s abilities for the remainder of the scene. If those skills are within one dot – perhaps Presence Three for one partner and Presence Four for the other – use the higher of the two plus one dot. In the case of our example, the partnership, working together, would have an effective Presence of Five.

Strength of the Ancestors: Cost: —, Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence: 2, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent, Prerequisite Charms: Elder Mandarin Attitude.

  • The user’s unity with his ancestors is now approaching the ultimate; as long as the user is acting as a host for his or her allied wraith, they combine their essence and willpower pools – and either may spend motes to activate Shadow Fist Strike. Both the user and his or her ally benefit from any experience the other gains, although they spend it independently.

Day Follows Night Approach: Cost: —, Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence: 2, Type: Permanent, Keywords: None, Duration: Permanent, Prerequisite Charms: Strength of the Ancestors, Shadow Fist Strike.

  • The user and his allied wraith may now act as one. The Wraith gains full access to the pleasures and sensations of life, while the User gains access to his allies Arcanoi.

Ancestral Blessing Approach: Cost: 6M, 2W, 3 XP, Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence: 3, Type: Simple, Keywords: Training, Duration: One Week, Prerequisite Charms: Day Follows Night Approach.

  • If the user dies, he or she may automatically become a ghost if he or she so desires – and, as a ghost, will retain this art in it’s entirety as a free addition to his or her new ghostly powers. In addition, he or she can – as a ghost – teach up to three charms from the Hand of the Ancestors style to a mortal target as a training effect. This does not result in an XP debt for the mortal target, but no single mortal may be granted more than three charms in total by the use of this technique.

Eclipse – The Basic Vampire

The Vampire Deutsch: Der Vampir

What do you mean you’ve gotten blessed and have holy blood?

Here we have a request for a +1 ECL Vampire template, so that people can play vampires in lower-level games. To do that, I’ll start off with a look at what a vampire is – and vampires are a bit hard to categorize. Looking at the stories…

  • A swamp dweller entangles it’s victim in animated reeds, and feeds on their flesh and blood.
  • A tree-dweller has hooks for feet, and pulls unwary hunters up into the branches before draining their blood through the injuries it inflicts.
  • An intangible spirit possesses people and animals and drains the life energy from nearby children and from the land itself.
  • A ghoulish creature takes quasi-canine form to devour the flesh and souls of the dead who have not had proper funerals.
  • A shapeshifter takes a wide variety of forms to rip out human throats and drink the blood.
  • A specter rests on the chests of sleepers, giving them horrible dreams and devouring their rest; they waken weakened instead of refreshed.
  • A village guardian occasionally takes its price – the life-essence of a village child.
  • A maiden dances with lonely travelers, inflicting unfelt wounds with her nails to drink from.
  • A mortal occultist fuels magic with blood, gaining strength, youth, and power from it.
  • A wraith spreads disease among children and the elderly and feeds off their dying breaths.
  • A dark spirit disrupts families, feeding both on their blood and on the misery and pain that comes of blighted lives, discord, and childish fear.
  • A bestial wanderer sucks both blood and internal organs from it’s victims – or, in yet another variant, it devours children yet in the womb.
  • A cursed man steals body fat, using it to sustain himself and to work evil magic.
  • A dead man fathers children, but the drained mothers invariably die in childbirth, leaving a half-vampire child for a grieving family to care for.
  • A spirit of death seeks to undermine and drain the life of the entire world, focusing on individuals only if it is discovered at its terrible tasks.

That makes creating a basic vampire a bit awkward; it’s pretty much impossible to say just what a “vampire” is in the first place. Still, MOST of them are spirits of the dead with physical bodies, have to feed on human blood or vitality to maintain their powers, are unnaturally strong and fast (especially for a corpse), are a bit tougher than a normal human (since many wounds won’t really hinder them much), have clawlike fingernails capable of inflicting nasty wounds, and they often have minor mystical powers – most commonly of illusion and mental influence.

OK: this is Eclipse after all. I can work with that.

The Basic Vampire (+1 ECL Template).

  • No Constitution Score. This is optional – there are living vampires after all – but it’s also (0 CP), so you can take it or not (to be a Dhampir, or evil occultist) without changing the cost.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized/not versus energy (3 CP). Basic vampires are fairly tough, but a determined man with a sword or axe can still chop one up.
  • Immunity to Cold (Common, Major, Trivial, 5 points of resistance, 3 CP).
  • Immunity to Electricity (Common, Major, Trivial, 5 points of resistance, 3 CP).
  • Martial Arts/Natural Weapons (1d4 clawlike fingernails, fangs, 3 CP).
  • A +2 bonus to Spot (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spell, Specialized for Double Effect (L6 spell, Create Undead)/only works on someone who’s been repeatedly drained over several days, only makes another minor vampire (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft II, Corrupted/will not work in direct sunlight or on holy ground (8 CP), +6d6 power, Specialized/can only be recharged by vampirism, Corrupted/will not work in direct sunlight or on holy ground (4 CP), with the Vampirism (of course!), Susceptibility, and Taboos pacts – albeit in slightly specialized versions:
    • Vampirism: While a vampire’s Power will not naturally recover, and the user must actually eat some portion of the victim (blood is usual) to make it work, when the user does so it will inflict 2d4 damage on the victim and restore the same amount of power to the vampire. Vampires tend to suffer terrible, compulsive, hunger when their power gets low as well as the usual penalties (-6 CP).
    • Susceptibility: A vampire is harmed by holy objects and sunlight (-12 CP).
    • Taboos: A vampire select at least three weaknesses – “flees from strongly-presented holy symbols”, “repulsed by garlic”, “must count each grain of spilled rice or wheat”, “cannot enter a home uninvited”, “prefers to go after relatives”, “only attacks children”, and so on. As a rule, the selection should include something that repels the vampire, something that can divert, delay, or occupy the vampire, and some other restriction (-6 CP).
  • Basic Witchcraft Abilities: Glamour and Advanced Glamour (4 CP), Shadowweave, and Witchsight.
  • Advanced Witchcraft Abilities: Flesh like Mist with Gaseous Form (8 CP), Wrath of the Sea (4 CP), Leaping Fire (4 CP), and Bones of Iron (4 CP).

At a net cost of 32 CP, that’s a +1 ECL acquired template. The user gains quite a few of the most common “vampire powers” – but suffers from a seriously limited power reserve. Still, he or she IS gaining access to a good many advanced witchcraft abilities very early on.

Eclipse and Infernal Children

English: The demon Belphegor

English: The demon Belphegor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lets get this straight. D20 demons and devils generally don’t have kids because they want someone to love. They’re not big on happy family life. They don’t need to relive their youth through their children because they don’t get old. They generally don’t understand “cute”. They’re immortal, and have no need for heirs. For a demon or devil, having an heir is having someone waiting in the wings to backstab you and take over. For that matter, they don’t usually have “childhoods”; they tend to spring into existence full-grown.

They exist to spread pain, and misery, and hatred. The live to extinguish all hope, to wipe out kindness and mercy, and to destroy whatever opposes those goals. Sure, there may be special cases – the infernal entity trying to rise, one that was once a mortal and still recalls some old emotions and loyalties, or some such – but for the most part you won’t find a single positive feature in them save, perhaps, obedience to orders (if you count that as “positive” considering what their orders are likely to be). That’s what makes them an easy opponent; even most evil mortals will agree that they don’t need any demons or devils on the loose anywhere near THEM.

Yet demons and devils do sometimes have children by mortals. If an infernal child is lucky, his or her existence is the result of some random demonic rape or demonologist’s whims. If less lucky, it’s the result of a demon attempting to create a mortal tool or focus.

If an infernal child is VERY unlucky, he or she is the product of a demon that thinks it understands love, is engaged in some forbidden cross-planar romance that may involve actual affection, or is (perhaps worst of all) the result of an experiment by a demon who is attempting to understand love.

Most infernal children show traces of their mortal heritage. In d20 game terms, they have an appropriate template applied to their base species. Others simply show traces of their infernal bloodline – modifying their racial template or si

mply buying appropriate “natural” abilities as they grow.

Only a few infernal entities are so powerful that their terrible essence overwhelms all traces of the other parent. The children of such beings have no basic racial characteristics beyond being of small or medium size, and simply use the relevant template as their race (although, as usual in Eclipse, with the ECL penalty reduced by one).

Those in whom the power awakens early usually do not survive. It is the nature of unfocused and uncontrolled infernal power to torment and destroy the innocent who cannot be broken to it’s service – and when it awakens in a child too young, there is a target all too close at hand. Such children die in agony or run amuck, spawning terrible tales of demon children, psychopaths without pity, remorse, or any other trace of humanity. A fortunate few will be taken to hallowed ground, or under the wing of powerful holy men, and have the infernal power suppressed until they are old enough to deal with it.

Those who are old enough to have at least SOME control when the power awakens will be tormented by their power until they do bring it under control. Many break under the strain, becoming psychotic horrors like their infernal parents – purchasing peace for themselves at the cost of ruining other lives. A rare few endure, rejecting the darkness to remain mortal – or even, on rare occasions, to become heroes. Such rare individuals will not have peaceful, or particularly happy, lives – but they will certainly be eventful.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXX – The Wine Of Chaos

Peach, grape and pears

Are you REALLY claiming that the Primordial War was fought over a FRUIT BASKET?!?!

Meanwhile, Charles had decided what was most urgent… slowing up the spread of the “Pure” areas would delay the initiation of Project Stanewald, and that would buy him more time to prepare – and that meant that talking to Overseer Nine Grape about that geomantic accelerator that he’d traded to get Terapishim back without a fuss. A good thing that he already knew where to go!

Fortunately, it wasn’t one of the WORST slums – such as where the Daiklaive-wielding god-gangers with domains like Racial Discord hung out, drawing on KKK types, Skinheads, and Militant Black Gangers alike… You didn’t want to mess with them OR with their half-castes… they were sort of anti-paladins, only with less necromancy. They fathered a lot of them by rape, just to stir up more discord on Earth – and often with people of the race they hated, just to really mess with things. The self-hatred and resentment could be deadly!

Ten Peach – Nine Grape’s partner – offered to send a body along. He’d like to know why Nine Grape had been uncommunicative for so long! Tenders got really worried when that happened. Well, he was quite welcome!

As it happened, the location was “rural” – surrounded by fields with the occasional dusty palace – and in SEVERE disrepair. The fields were barren, and the area directly above Overseer Nine Grape’s geomantic monitoring palace was a simple ruined, circular plaza. Bits of glass and metal, suggestive of one of the domes for Celestial Peach orchards, littered the pavement.

That was dreadful! Charles undertook cleanup and renovations while looking for the way down. Even if Celestial Peaches took FOREVER to grow, restoring the building was easy and he could mix in Celestial Apples which didn’t really take all that long; they were just really tasty and cosmetically rejuvenating!

(Ten Peach) “If you want to be truly accurate… potatoes, wheat… actually, make that every crop humanity and gods have used for alcohol.”

He was more than happy to consult on the renovations as he helped Charles look.

(Charles) “Oh! I thought it was for growing peaches… but OK: those go in the fields outside?”

(Ten Peach) “An understandable misunderstanding… peaches are the only things grown in domes these days.”

He happily showed Charles where everything went – and very shortly it was all fixed up, planted, and set up with some minor servant-constructs to monitor and care for it and to greet any small gods who felt their domains being restored and showed up. Ten Peach left a note on a nearby blue jade pillar for the Operators; this place was not to be disturbed!

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well of course not! It’s part of the original setup I think, isn’t it?”

(Ten Peach) “Yes… but I have a long-standing policy of trying to claim any new orchards the Bureaucracy attempts to construct, and this setup looks like them.”

(Charles) “Oh! Well, that should work out! This area is… pretty well abandoned anyway! So now that we’re cleaned up and reconstructed…. where’s the way down?”

Charles looked around… after all, part of the point of fixing the place up was that someone might well turn up that they could ask!

There was indeed someone watching them, in the black robes typical of greater deiphages who don’t have access to Operator’s vestments or were just too paranoid to stick them on a controlled body like some of them. The god appeared to be made of hardened bread, and was standing in the celestial wheat field.

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Operator Ninety-One Orange) “Ah, I see Aden has finally come over here. And… Overseer Ten Peach!? Oh, oh boy…”

That body looked awfully nervous!

(Charles) “What’s up? And why so nervous?”

(Ten Peach) “Is there something the matter with the senior Overseer, Operator? She hasn’t been to a meeting for… many months now! You can tell me!”

The Operator… turned and fled into one of the nearby buildings, using Essence-based speed!

(Ten Peach) “Hey! You come back here!”

(Charles) “Huh! That’s not so good!”

Ten Peach WAS one of the Overseers of this portion of Yu-Shan’s world-body, and could get a good bead on the fellow!

(Ten Peach) “Just… sank into the floor in the back.”

(Charles) “Is that the way down?”

(Ten Peach) “One way to find out; there must be a tunnel they’ve hidden somewhere.”

Ten Peach headed in; he was wearing his Operator’s vestments on this body, so he was pretty well-protected. Charles headed on in too… the building was once some minor merchant god’s palace, judging from the storefront and long-decayed Quintessence goods. There was a spot of bare adamant in one of the rooms – and essence sight revealed a very recent deiphagic presence there. It looked like… if you were deiphagic, you could just pass through the pavement and into the tunnels below. Otherwise it was pretty solidly warded! Oddly though, the Sidereal and Deiphagic warding conditions did not deny entry if they were present in the same person; it had been specifically set up that way.

(Charles) “Hrm! That says some potentially quite unpleasant things! I’m not at ALL sure how that might interact! And it looks like the wards block teleporting and scrying up to the Celestial Level too! I may have to break them!”

(Ten Peach) “Shall I stand back then?”

(Charles, musingly…) “Unless… it’s a common thing… are they focused on the door, or do they cover the area around it? Aw! It’s an area setup, for security! Still… it’s surprising how many people ward the doors and forget about the walls… Oh well! Unweaving it is!”

He took a couple of minutes on it; there was no need to expend extra power on speeding things up that much… Besides, he wanted to unravel it gently, rather than blasting things!

There was… resistance; the adamant became fluid beneath his feet as he concentrated on his magic and glowed with a harsh light. Still… it had no hope of stopping him.

(Ten Peach, with a bit less worry in his voice) “She’s still able to act, at least… though I’d rather not imagine why she’s being so stubborn.”

(Charles) “Hello! What’s the big fuss about?”

As the ward broke… the sound of someone running echoed from far below – and the area turned into an illusion-covered hatch, opening to a ladder leading down.

WAY down.

For a moment he was tempted to simply jump and rely on defenses – but that would make it awfully easy to miss something! Better to levitate.

Ten Peach already was, using a function of the Operator’s vestments.

It was many hundreds of feet down… Charles kept an eye out for cross-connections; it would be simple but effective to put in a side-route, camouflage it, and continue the shaft down to some bothersome maze of substructure tunnels – and there were plenty of clearly-visible cross-connections and several other simple thaumaturgic wards – not as powerful as the first one, but the setup remained the same.

(Charles) “Bother! Mr Ten Peach? To you know the route?”

(Ten Peach) “Seventh connection down, but mind the effigies once we get out of the crawlspaces.”

(Charles) “On we go then! Effigies?”

(Ten Peach) “Ah yes… we might have to worry about those once we get near! They’re standard with Overseer tier security; made of adamant, resistant to raksha powers, and hard-hitting.”

(Charles) “Oh! I can probably manage that… and I don’t use Raksha powers all that often, even if they ARE handy for gates and things!”

(Ten Peach) “A distraction, I suspect… hmm, to the left.”

The crawlspaces were all but totally dark, stiflingly dry, and cramped even for Charles. Ten Peach would have had to really squeeze through some of the passages if Charles hadn’t used a bit of Travel Thaumaturgy to make the spaces effectively taller and wider… and to speed up the trip; this much effort on stalling implied a reason for it!

Ten Peach did appreciate it; perhaps too optimistically, he HAD hoped that his actual presence would get Nine Grape to open the main doors! Otherwise he would have used a smaller body for these passages as he usually did!

The descent ended in a faintly glowing chamber. The ceiling was high, and sculpted with the curved organic designs he’d noticed around ancient Yu-Shan geomantic sites before. A pit split the chamber, spanned by a “natural” adamant bridge. A pair of statues stood at each end, facing each other. They were about fourteen feet tall, made of adamant, in the shapes of Tenders, and bore studded clubs. At the opposite end of the bridge there was a door marked “9” in Old Realm. The statues weren’t moving… from Ten Peach’s previous statements, yet.

(Charles, cheerily) “Hello!”

Ten Peach frowned – but there still wasn’t any answer.

(Charles) “Well… If the bridge is real, I suppose it’s just trot over and look at the doors!”

The statues made one-handed grabs for him as he approached – but Charles just erected some indestructible walls, turning the bridge into a sort of tunnel…

(Charles) “Hey! Stop that!”

(Ten Peach, flying behind Charles) “Why are you doing this? He’s trying to HELP!”

The statues attempted to get around the walls to block their path ahead and pursue behind – but a bit of space-warping – the old “Traveling Manse” effect – to create an obstacle-free path dealt with THAT. A few big, tough, animated statues… were not really a menace!

Growling became audible from the darkness in the pit – and Ten Peach was looking more and more dismayed; it was all too clear to him that something was BADLY amiss, even if simply bludgeoning statues were of little threat… Not that he hadn’t thought that something was wrong before, but this level of interference…

Charles cheerily strolled up to the doors and knocked while Ten Peach invoked his Divine Authority over the Lesser Deiphages to hold them back…

(Charles) “Hello! Nine Grape? Can we talk? It’s about the geomancy!”

There was no response from Nine Grape – but the setup was pretty much like Ninety-Six Lotus’s though; an extradimensional space, well-warded against scrying and teleportation.

Charles sighed and – as the effigies tried to approach – forced the wards. The portal opened up to an antechamber with a mosaic on the left wall depicting the production of Celestial beverages, from sparkling water to celestial wine, culminating in presenting the products to what is clearly Arelis Sorrowhands at the Jade Pleasure Dome’s entryway. Nine Grape featured prominently, in both supervisory and manufacturing capacities. Other than that… it was as plain as the previous palace.

(Charles) “Hello!”

There was no response – so he went looking around for people. Nine Grape would probably be in the chamber where he wasn’t supposed to go last time – most likely the pod room. The place was big though… there were several chambers full of lesser deiphages (who promptly got cured), preserved through the Chrysalis of Perfection and stored lovingly in warded chambers. There were guestrooms too – but the decor remained rather spartan.

With his horde of confused and frightened former deiphages behind him, and a rather bemused Ten Peach providing some explanations, Charles finally came upon Ninety-One Orange, blocking a heavily sealed and warded room.

(Ninety-One Orange) “Sir, please stop! You don’t want to go in there!”

(Charles, with some puzzlement) “Why not?”

(Ten Peach) “Why, Operator? Surely the senior Overseer has nothing she wants to hide from me or Aden. Who, I might remind you, restored her beloved fields a little while ago? I would have thought that that alone would get her attention!”

(Ninety-One Orange) “Sigh… you all look awfully familiar.”

(Charles) “So what’s the problem?”

(Ten Peach) “You had better speak up, Operator. I’m sure Aden is capable of unmaking you on the spot.”

Ten Peach gave Charles a quick look: he didn’t actually think that Charles would do that, but if it got them in… Charles did look very nonplused and upset at that thought – but the funny look was apparently enough to pass for anger in the eyes of a VERY nervous Ninety-One Orange…

(Ninety-One Orange, frightened) “Well, we had visitors a while back… Exalted, even! The Overseer was so excited when she saw one of them was a Sidereal.”

(Charles) “Oh dear!”

(Ninety-One Orange) “She met with them for several days, keeping the rest of us out, and when they departed, she told us to get her a geomantic spread enhancer through whatever means we could. Ninety-Six Lotus found one, though he STILL won’t tell me how.”

(Charles) “I made it for him! Hmm… (thoughtfully) Perhaps I should have thought about that more or asked why he wanted it – but it was such a simple thing!”

(Ninety-One Orange) “That was you? Thank you! The Overseer was so happy… But that’s really all I know… you’ll have to ask her, and she told me not to let anyone in. E-even you sir.”

Ten Peach was NOT looking happy.

(Ten Peach) “Why would she not tell me she contacted a Sidereal? She’s wanted to do that for some time!”

(Ninety-One Orange) “I don’t know!”

(Charles) “Well… Here’s… a chair, and a table, and a cooler with drinks, and some sandwich makings, and a couple of good books, and a player and a movie library… That should be enough for a couple of hours I think! This way you won’t get into trouble with your boss because you couldn’t have stopped us anyway!”

And he caught Ninety-One Orange in one of Gothmugs elsewhere-boxes for a bit and started checking the wards on the door…

That was the breaking point for Nine Grape… poor Operator, scared because he was having to defy one boss and obey the other…

(Nine Grape, from the other room) “Okay, okay! Let him out! You’re obviously not going to let up!”

She opened the door. Inside there was a chamber with many tubes leading to the pod and down into the ground. Both the Overseer herself and a controlled body, wearing the vestments, were there. She was as withered within the pod as Peach was.

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Nine Grape, in the body) “Sit, you two. Peach, Aden, I’m sorry for delaying you… and what I’m about to tell you.”

She motioned towards a table with chairs. Gothmug took a quick look to see if there was some sort of trap there – but they were just very comfortable ambrosial chairs with no other magic…

(Ten Peach) “What is the meaning of all this? The orders of the Rank 1-Overseers were clear-we’re supposed to stay in regular communication.”

(Nine Grape) “It’s been over forty thousand years of (pointing to herself in the pod) THAT. I… got impatient.”

(Charles) “Ah! Trying to rush a bit? It should be less than six months now I think!”

(Nine Grape) “Five months, fourteen days, seven hours, eighteen minutes, and forty-nine seconds before I see if this has the intended result… or hoped to see.”

(Ten Peach) “But why not TELL me? This affects the entirety of Yu-Shan! We’re supposed to consult with each other on this!”

(Charles) “Oh not that! I have a large geomantic fix underway!”

Ten Peach filled her in… and told her that the Rank 1-Overseers were confirmed alive and that she was in a Primordial – and Charles happily called forth his incredibly complex geomantic planning holograms…

(Charles) “Now this will take some cooperation though! Because the Sidereals are planning to put THIS plan into operation when the Pure Zones hit 75%”

(Nine Grape) “That poor Weaver made to do that…” (She looked very sad) Have they really stepped so far off the proper path that they would do THAT to Yu-Shan?”

(Charles) “Oh, they think it will work! Surely you’ve seen it… the more of them get together to plan something, the surer they become that they’re doing the only possible thing to avoid a disaster, and the worse the outcome – which they will firmly believe is better than if they hadn’t done whatever-it-was!”

(Nine Grape) “Peach, have you told him about the way they were?”

(Ten Peach) “No… I didn’t want to worry him.” (He sighs.) “You would be better anyhow. You were so determined that they would be GOOD for her.”

Ooh, another (doubtless contradictory!) viewpoint! Charles listened eagerly!

(Nine Grape) “Yes, I have noticed the … change. I have no idea what caused it, but when they returned here after the war, they were so contentious! Bad enough that whatever those lions did to the geomancy erased their ability to help us, but that… I was so certain something broke in them. I… I wanted to fix it.”

And they suddenly had Charles’s FULL attention!

(Nine Grape) “Aden, how much contact have you had with the Bronze Faction? I assume some.”

(Charles) “Superficial really! They’re the ones with the unworkable plan to “fix” the geomancy though!”

(Nine Grape) “Mighty Ones preserve us… did they mention anything about people who could sever deiphages’ ties with Yu-Shan?”

(Charles) “They said there were a few!”

Ten Peach was also listening closely.

(Charles) “Not much about them… I do that, but mostly to ship them back to Earth where they really belong!”

(Nine Grape) “Then somewhere in Yu-Shan, there is at least one Weaver defending a Manse against us… removing the connections that are her price for occupying her, and…” (She took a deep breath.) “That person, or those people, will commit a murder-suicide – and I was pushing them toward that!”

The guilt on her face was palpable.

(Nine Grape) “I… I didn’t know!”

(Charles) “Now that’s not good! Why a murder-suicide?”

(Nine Grape) “They still tell the Weavers in academy that the Maidens had them up here as assistants, right?”

(Charles) “Yep!”

(Nine Grape) “They helped us, too. Even with the most important duty of all… supplying her with Essence. We were divided on letting them in… it was ultimately up to the Ram, but he was indulgent enough to ask for our opinion. And since they were originally human… well, how many deiphagic humans have you seen up there, Aden?”

(Charles) “None I think! There might be a similar thing going on with some, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not the same!”

(Nine Grape) “So, we stipulated that the bearers of those Exaltations share our bond with Yu-Shan’s geomancy. I think the Maker complained about it, but the Ram’s master had words with him. And thanks to that… I think that might have factored in what happened after the occupation.”

(Charles) “What did happen?”

(Nine Grape)”We waited for the Sidereal Essence to flow in. It never happened. Until seven thousand years ago… but I’ve never been successful at catching one when she took her price. That was when we reached about 60% purity.”

She shook her head.

(Nine Grape) “I was only trying to get them back. They don’t need to be afraid! I could teach them! And to know that these Bronze want them to do – gah!”

(Charles) “Well, they really have no idea you know! Their foresight… always leads them down a path of disaster when it’s used for something big enough!”

(Nine Grape) “I just feel sorry for the Weavers-the ones who DO have the connection. I don’t even know what they’ve been told about it. The Bronze have to know SOMETHING is up with that.”

(Charles) “They think it’s some sort of special gift that’s tied to the exaltations I think!”

(Nine Grape) “I hope you’re right. I had feared reprisals.”

(Ten Peach) “I think I know what you were trying for, though… But why would that require you to hide?”

Nine Grape got very solemn.

(Nine Grape) “If I tell you, will you promise to ask for leniency from the Sorrowhands and Yu-Shan?”

Ten Peach agreed – and so did Charles.

(Charles) “I got a link through to them anyway!”

(Nine Grape took a deep breath) “Ninety-One Orange told you about those Exalted. I… agreed to let them do some Wyld-based tinkering.”

(Ten Peach) “WHAT? Oh… Grape, no . .”

(Nine Grape) “I was desperate and impatient! And they said they would make sure the Wyld influx on Earth was controlled. You KNOW it needs more of those energies.”

(Charles) “Well yes, it does! But Sidereals… normally have almost no way to do THAT. Not normal ones anyway!”

(Nine Grape) “This young man was different. He and his friends were full of Wyld energies. He said he wanted to see more of that in Creation… and to see what would happen if we DID purify Yu-Shan. He thought she was alive too, and if she was sapient… well, he wanted to parley if she did wake up.”

(Charles) “Huh! Is THAT all they’re up to? Stirring things up a bit? Of course that IS pretty grandiose on the current scale of the universe, but still….”

(Nine Grape) “You know them?”

(Charles) “Some of them I think! They sort of got melded with some Raksha!”

(Ten Peach) “That’s not good… we’re not supposed to let Wyld creatures into Yu-Shan.”

(Charles) “Well, they aren’t exactly wyld creatures… They’re Exalted Human Raksha Hybrids!”

(Nine Grape) “I didn’t even realize it until they agreed to provide a taste of their Essence. But they were so friendly, and we shared similar goals.”

(Charles) “Well… I’ll just have to get things set up! Fortunately I can bring the Lions and Geomancer-Gods in on if I need them!”

(Nine Grape, sighing) “Aden, I can’t allow harm to come to Yu-Shan, but I would like to meet a genuine Weaver. If you find one for me, and allow me to speak with that person, I’ll turn off the spreader. Deal?”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Nine Grape) “That easily? Does he realize I’m asking him to bring a functionary of the Occupiers deep into enemy territory?”

(Ten Peach) “He is ridiculously obliging.”

Nine Grape smiled.

(Charles) “I presume you’d like ot meet up at ground level?

(Nine Grape) “I would like to take them into the tunnels for at least a bit. They’re quite important for the geomantic layout.”

(Charles) “I’ll see if I can arrange it then!”

(Nine Grape) “Thank you. They need to know. At the rate purification is proceeding, they’ll have to unless they want to stay in an alternate Yu-Shan.”

(Charles) “Well, my plan did include setting up five aspects!”

(Nine Grape) “Which I did see… how strange to contemplate a raksha oriented Yu-Shan.”

(Ten Peach) “A madhouse, but if they stay out of our Yu-Shan, I’m fine with it. The Lady Sorrowhands was… Shall we go, Aden? I think I can be quiet about my partner’s indiscretion.”

(Charles) “OK! When and where would you like the meeting?”

(Nine Grape) “Well, since you restored my personal farm plots, why not there? The occupiers will try to investigate some time anyhow.”

(Charles) “OK!”

Nine Grape made a mental note to ensure that her remaining lesser deiphages were posted nearby in case something went amiss – a sad reality of how bad Tender-Weaver relations had become.

Exalted: The Wyld Tides

English: A personalized Indian greeting card f...

And welcome to Our Creation Sir!

Once upon a time, the default fate of the Exalted universe – back before the multiple world-ending threats period and presuming that the PC’s didn’t stop it – was dissolution into the Wyld. After all… the forces of the Wyld were endless. Rather a lot of players took that to say that the Raksha would swarm over Creation, and were a world-ending threat.

There were some cheesy ways in the first and (un-errataed) second edition book that let you make individual Raksha who operated on the level of the Celestial Exalted – which seemed to bear out that opinion. Sure, only the most exceptionally cheesy builds could do that – but wasn’t that what being a PC was all about?

And then the errata hit, and Raksha became… rather minor annoyances even WITH cheese.

That is, of course, the way that they’re supposed to be in the setting. Sure, the Ishvara and the greatest of the Unshaped were somewhat menacing – but there weren’t really any rules for that; they were far outside the normal range of play.

What really makes the Wyld menacing hasn’t changed though.

It’s the simple fact that anything you can describe, and lots of things that you can’t, can rise up from it at any moment – even if they’re so powerful and complex that the odds say that they shouldn’t appear for ten to the fiftieth years.

For example, I can easily write up…

The Iconic Wyld

  • All Abilities and Characteristics, including Graces: 1000
  • Essence: 100
  • Essence Pool: One Billion Motes
  • Health Levels: One million each -0. -1. -2. -3. -4. -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, Incapacitated.
  • Will: 10,000
  • Mutations: Up to 100 points. These may be freely rearranged at the start of any tick.

Charms:

  • All charms suitable for any type of creature with minimum essence requirements of 60 or less save for Fate keyworded charms. For this purpose Solar charms have their essence requirements doubled, Lunar and Sidereal Charms have their essence requirements multiplied by 1.5 (rounded up),

Panapoly Charms:

  • Trending Towards Perfection: Recovers 1% per tick of any core value (Ability, Characteristic, Essence, Essence Pool, Health Levels, Will, Graces) that is currently reduced.
  • Illimitable Chaotic Mastery: May combo its charms at will without cost provided that the total essence requirements of the charms involved is below it’s essence. If above, it must pay a point of temporary willpower to combo whatever it likes.
  • Problems of Scale: Unwanted Shaping, Crippling, Poison, Disease, and other keyworded effects, as well as unkeyworded effects other than damage, may simply be ignored at a cost of ten motes. This is a perfect defense that does not work against any creature with higher essence. Against creatures with higher essence the Iconic Wyld must actively deploy charms.
  • Overwhelming Smiting: The Iconic Wyld may attack areas of up to twenty miles across without the use of charms. It’s just that big and powerful.
  • Shinma Slaying Meditation: The Iconic Wyld may unmake, modify, and remake the Shinma at will at the cost of one million motes and 100 temporary will. (Creating and transforming primordials, or it’s own Exalts, is a far lesser act).
  • The True Grace of the Infinite Revolving Spheres: The Iconic Wyld may split itself up into up to 1000 independent entities. These divide up it’s essence pool, health levels, and the effects of Trending Towards Perfection, but it’s other abilities remain the same for all of them.

Strange Sense Of Humor: The Iconic Wyld thinks Raksha are cute and funny. If a dozen or more Raksha can be convinced to tell it jokes and perform monty-python style skits for it for at least a day, it will wander off beyond the influence of the Shinma once again and will not reappear for 1d10 hundred thousand years.

Soak: 1000B/500L/200A, Hardness 100.

But wait! Doesn’t this violate the notion that the PC’s are ALWAYS the protagonists, and that their actions are always vital?

No, it doesn’t. PC’s are always central in pretty much EVERY game – but that doesn’t mean that they have to have the most power. Remember; you can play a mortals game in Exalted, and the PC’s remain the central, most important, people in the setting. In a game with mortal protagonists… Exalts are powerful background scenery and resources for the PC’s. If you ever do want to use something like the Iconic Wyld… you just have to ensure that it’s either a backdrop for the PC’s adventures or that it has some weakness they can exploit. Figuring out that you need to recruit some Raksha entertainers and getting them to amuse the Iconic Wyld until it goes away is just as much a PC victory as punching it out of existence – and a much more interesting one.

More Minor Rituals

Vajrayogini Empowerment Torma, (Ritual Offerin...

Do you really want to carry all this stuff?

Here we have a few more minor rituals – so classified because, while their effects are sometimes quite useful, in game terms their results are less then overwhelming. They’re set up according to the ritual system in Legends of High Fantasy – but they should be easy enough to adapt to other systems.

What keeps rituals under control in the game is that the special components required are normally entirely up to the game master. Of course, in the case of memorized rituals… the GM has already ruled. In the case of minor rituals… their effects are small enough that they’re generally self-controlling – ergo they don’t generally call for anything too awkward to get a hold of. Thus, here we have another five minor rituals.

Song of Calling

At the edge of death, as the silver cord frays and awareness of the body and it’s frailty fades, the senses of the spirit open – and the song of creation, and the voices of those awaiting, are heard. Some find in that a final bit of strength to say farewell as they embark upon their journey.

This ritual simply grants a slightly enhanced sensitivity; those who accept it will begin to hear the call of the spirit world at least one day in advance of their natural death – whether by illness, age, or any other progressive effect – although it will fade if such a condition is healed. That whisper will bring them clarity of mind, freedom from pain, an easy passage – and even enough strength to set things in order. The call will fade if they get themselves cured – although, (unfortunately) any effects of over-exertion while they were feeling no pain will then catch up with them.

  • Area: Single Living Target (+0), Duration: Years (+10), Effect: Minor (+5), Range: Target Present and Willing (-5). Clerical (God of Light, Truth, Death or other related field). Base DC 10, Requires the use of a properly-blessed holy symbol, a sacred tome, a drop of blessed oil, and a first-level “light” spell. The base time requirement is eight hours and it would be detectable within a radius of about a hundred feet.
  • OK, in game terms… this is basically just an “I am a nice guy” credential for a priestly ritualist. There’s nothing wrong with that though.

The Eightfold Breath of Serenity

One of the more dramatic minor rituals, the Eightfold Breath of Serenity can be used to cast a protective sphere of force – quite impervious to energy and physical violence – about a target and anything up to a fifteen foot radius anywhere within line of sight. Unfortunately, while the sphere moves with the target, it only lasts for the space of a few breaths – a single combat round. Given that invoking the ritual normally requires having it memorized (that faith in it seems to be a vital component of the effect), drawing a magical circle, lighting seven candles, and spending an hour chanting (although a sufficiently skilled ritualist can cut that down to a minute), it’s utility is rather limited. The vast majority of the time – unless you’re in bomb disposal – if you have that kind of time to prepare for a precisely-timed problem you can just get out of the way. Still, even without some method of storing ritual effects, it makes an impressive demonstration for would-be students of ritual magic and has occasional used for things like drawing fire, or permitting a safe dash across an exposed position.

  • Small Area (+0), Duration; Moments (-5), Effect Severe (+5), Range; Line of Sight (+5). Base DC 5. Requires the use of seven candles, drawing a magical circle, and – oddly enough – having the ritual memorized. The base time requirement is one hour, and the energies of the ritual are automatically detectable by those with mystical powers within a radius of fifty feet.
  • Now this sounds impressive – but it’s pretty hard to actually take real advantage of this particular ritual. Even rushing it, it just takes too long.

Thousandfold Winged Words

This ritual transforms a spoken message of up to ten minutes or so duration into a fountaining swarm of thousands of beautiful butterfly-constructs which will travel to a designated city-sized location on the same plane, seek out a named target there – and then fling themselves at any handy solid surface, impacting in swirls of glittering dust that will spell out the message. A single butterfly will accomplish that task, but the more that make it, the more easily the message can be read. Unfortunately, while the butterflies are capable of traveling roughly a hundred miles a day, and can slip past any barrier that isn’t entirely air- AND light-tight, a dozen or so Fireballs, or a few summoned swarms of birds, or similar countermeasures can destroy the swarm handily. Even if they get through, the recipient has no easy way to reply or even to acknowledge the message – although it does leave them with a lovely (if transitory unless coated with something to preserve it) work of art. As a minor side effect, no one will be able to hear what the messenger-sender says since his or her words come out as butterflies.

  • Living Target (+0 DC), Several Days Duration (+0 DC), Minor Effect (-5 DC), Sympathetic Link (Name and Location of Target, +15 DC) = DC 10. Base time of eight hours (may be reduced to a minimum of a few minutes plus the speaking time by a sufficiently skillful ritualist), requires a pinch each of silver, copper, and gold dust, at least five colors of ink, and a folded paper butterfly. Normally easily detectable within a radius of a hundred feet.
  • This is dramatic and very pretty – but it’s not really that much better than Whispering Wind for most practical purposes, can be interfered with, and is pretty obvious – and it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other ways to send messages.

Chalice of Truth

Peering into the future is always an uncertain affair, filled with uncertainties and portents – yet it has ever been a preoccupation of magic. This ritual is, however, surprisingly reliable – mostly because it seeks mere hints and clues to things that might be overlooked in a few hours to come. Pouring the ink and oil into the waters of the chalice, and meditating upon the swirling depths will vouchsafe the user with enough information about some future event to aid in understanding it when it actually occurs – but no more. In game terms, the seer may opt to either reroll, or to “take 20″ (in advance), on an appropriate roll (Gather Information, Spot, Listen, Investigation, Search, Sense Motive and so on), made within the next twenty-four hours.

  • Living target (DC 0 base), Duration in Days (+0 DC), Minor Effect (+0 DC), Precognitive Effect (+10 DC) = DC 10. The ritual normally requires some eight hours – and is easily detectable within a radius of a hundred feet. Obviously enough, it requires a chalice (of gold or silver), a vial of rare oil (GMO as to difficulty to acquire or refine), and ink. A skillful ritualist can bring the time down to ten minutes or so, but this is often something of a strain.
  • Again, this can be useful – but a single, prepared-in-advance reroll for a very limited set of rolls isn’t all that impressive. Even more importantly… information is rarely all that vital. If the GM wants you to have it, you’ll almost certainly wind up with it somehow – and if he doesn’t want you to have it, a single good roll isn’t going to get it for you.

The Narrative of Days

This simple ritual is designed for hurried record-keepers, diarists, and similar folk with more to record than they have time to do it in. With the Narrative of Days they need merely spend a few moments focusing on recalling the information they wish to record, touch a drop of ink to their tongues and breath out across the target tome – and the pages will fill with the details of a day, meeting, or tale, complete with well-executed illustrations and decent calligraphy. Sadly, spells and similar magical information carry enough potency – even in written form – to disrupt the magic of this small ritual; it cannot be used for such writings. Just as bothersomely, unless the rite is committed to memory, it will not work.

  • Small Area (pages, DC 0 Base), Instant Duration (+10 DC), Minor Effect (+0 DC), Target Present (+0 DC), Special Modifier (exceptionally trivial, -5 DC), always Rushed (to a mere few seconds, +10 DC) = DC 15, requires that the ritual have been memorized, but otherwise only calls for a drop of ink and a surface to write upon.
  • Yes, if you’re a ritualist, and wish to commit this particular ritual to memory… you can regularly save a few minutes. Again, this isn’t going to break the game, even if a lot of people in real life would really LOVE to have it.

The Nightwind Voyager – Seagoing Ships in the Manifold

English: Sailing Ship in New England

When it comes to the Manifold, the vast majority of seagoing trading, raiding, and fighting ships are designed to work in the widest possible array of dimensions, with little reliable support, and a wide assortment of cargos. They trade in ambrosia and adamant, pirate treasures, magical goods, dragon bones, gryphon eggs, and a thousand other cargos – most small, tremendously valuable, and well worth taking to the routes between worlds to obtain, rather than sticking to the mundane trade of normal space.

Unfortunately, designing a ship to work – and to be repairable – in as many realms as possible means sticking to primitive technologies and materials as much as possible.

Thus the shipyards of the bustling Core Worlds turn out mighty fusion-powered spacecraft, equipped with bussard-fusion and jump drives, laser cannon, advanced computers, antimatter torpedoes, and negative-energy shields, for exploration and trade in normal space – and small, light, wooden sailing ships with shallow drafts (so as to allow them a reasonable choice of ports), copper or alloy sheathing, and black-powder muzzle loading cannon (or even ballista for the REALLY deep traders) for self-defense.

Sure, some of those ships will have supplementary steam (works most places) or fusion (works near Core) engines, or also use psionics or magic (good some places), or use breech-loaders instead of muzzle-loaders if they expect to have access to regular supplies of the appropriate munitions – but it’s wise to have your crew trained to work with sails and black powder; those work in the vast majority of worlds, and you may find more advanced systems taking those forms if you venture into a world that adapts you and your vessel to suit itself – which isn’t at ALL uncommon.

In terms of the Naval Combat Rules, most vessels in the setting are either Level One or Level Four.

The Nightwind Voyager is a three-masted light frigate – about as large as most seagoing ships of the Manifold get. Since Kevin can afford to spare no expense in pursuit of his whims (and has the raw, reality-warping power to force his ship to function even in the depths of the Manifold if he wants to make the effort), he’s equipped it with rather a lot of stuff – and is sailing a dedicated warship, rather than a trader-raider like most Manifold captains. That would normally cut into the cargo space pretty drastically – but he makes up for that by storing a lot of stuff in the crew quarters (and by not CARING if he makes a profit). The crew quarters would be pretty cramped for normal people, but with a crew of shapeshifting (and VERY obedient) Thralls with their own magic to adapt spaces as needed, that’s rarely an issue. That leaves him with plenty of room for his captain’s cabin and concubines…

The Nightwind Voyager: Augmented Light Frigate. 135 x 30 feet at the waterline, Draft 10 feet (unloaded) up to 14 feet (loaded). Level-I Military Vessel: Alloy-Sheathed Dense Hardwood (genetically modified farmed oak) Hull with Witchfire-Tempering (Universal DR 10), 450 Structural Hit Points, AC 14 (Base 20, size modifier of -6). Cargo Capacity 240 Tons, Cabin Space for up to 15 Officers and Passengers, Draft 10 feet (empty) 14 feet (fully loaded).

  • Speed: Superior/+2 (Astounding/+5 if boosted with Coretech engines).
  • Maneuver: Superior/+2
  • Crew: Astounding/+5 (it’s VERY hard to improve on a crew of 125 well-trained, boundlessly loyal and enthusiastic, inhumanely tough and fast, telekinetic Thralls).

Drive Systems:

  • Low-Tech Mode: Wind, three masts, requires 24 crewmen in combat conditions. Standard iron anchor and sea anchor.
  • Mid-Tech Mode: Steam, light boiler (the tank of fuel oil is good for about twenty-four hours at full steam, can burn coal or wood with minor adjustments), crew 8 (12 if burning wood or coal). Average (+0) speed if relying on this system.
  • High-Tech Mode: Fusion generator, rating-II force-field generator (+10 AC vrs physical attacks, +10 DR versus physical attacks, manipulate up to 50 tons of material, crew 2. Astounding (+5) Speed if operating on this drive system.

Instrumentation:

  • Low- and Mid-Tech Mode: Lookout and Spyglass, Sounding Line, Compass, Sextant.
  • High-Tech Mode: Radar, Sonar, IR/UV, Chemical, and various other systems, generally with a base range of about a mile (or to the horizon for radar). Computer piloting and force-construct assistance is available. Twelve probe/light-combat crew-support drones.

Weaponry and Defenses:

  • Low–Tech Mode: Light Artillery/Four light catapults and four light ballista, two of each starboard-forward and port-forward arcs mounted near the bows (6d6, Minimal Batteries, x1). In general, this is symbolic; in actual low-tech (and sometimes to supplement higher-tech) combat situations the ship generally relies on a “battery” of fireball throwing Thralls, rather than relying on barrels of “greek fire”, rocks, and pointy sticks.
  • Mid-Tech Mode: Light Artillery (black powder muzzle-loading cannon), Forward and Aft each 4x Light Chasers (Minimal Batteries, x1), Right and Left Broadsides each 12x Cannon (Military Batteries, x3).
  • High-Tech Mode: 2x Capital-Class Microfusion missile launcher batteries (Port, Forward, and Starboard Arcs, x5), Rating-II Force-Field Generator and Casamir Negative-Energy Generator (+10 AC vrs physical attacks, +10 DR versus physical attacks that also protects passengers from external attacks, energy-absorption capacity of 150 points recharging at ten points per round).

In terms of the Manifold… the Nightwind Voyager is one of the most powerful general-purpose oceanic warcraft that you could expect to see out and wandering around the Manifold, even if it doesn’t really look it. If it comes to fighting a few dimension-roaming pirates, or a swift raid in some low-tech world, or something like that… it’s ideal.

Of course, it’s still a Level I wooden ship. If you sail it into World War II, or into any other setting with dedicated Level II or Level III warships adapted to a specific local reality – or even take it up against a first-rate ship of the line from the age of sail – you can easily get into MAJOR trouble. Worse, even if you can warp reality enough to power up the Coretech shields, they may not be enough to get you out of it.

Kevin is still very pleased with his toy though.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXIX – Technical Opinions

Portrait of Charles A. May

Is it THAT hard to get the right Charles?

Lytek… actually prepared for his inspection-trip on the spot! For a deity of HIS age to do something right away… he must really consider it urgent! Even if he did… have a pile of new protective artifacts to use? Ah. Charles of course, looking after “Uncle Lytek”. Still, taking him and his bodyguards to Aden was easy enough…

Once there… Aikiko went to check on what Charles was up to! The kid pretty obviously needed a LOT more supervision than he was getting!

Unfortunately, she’d missed the geomantic conference – but the EPA guys had worked their way up to asking Charles to terraform a world for them. It was something they’d only read about in speculations, and those certainly didn’t factor in magic. Charles, of course, had seen no reason not to oblige them while he thought about the work he’d need to do in Yu-Shan.

Aikiko… wanted to see that too! Sure, she’d seen it done in Star Trek – but seeing it done for real… would be quite an experience!

Charles cheerily focused the Well of Worlds on another barren lump of rock in yet another distant galaxy… and blazed brilliantly green-gold wiht the channeled energies of his Devas and Manses as he threw his bolt of thaumaturgic might at it and transformed it into a living world.

Aikiko had a hard time not laughing! That WAS the “Genesis Wave” effect! That had to be how Charles envisioned it…

(Charles, happily) “That makes it a much nicer place! It will take the construction specialists a few weeks to get things ready for people to start moving in and get the gates ready to go, but I have enough crews to work on a couple of dozen planets at a time, so it’s not much of a bottleneck!”

There was a general silence.

While the EPA scientists had been reading in the libraries of Aden, the reality of “magic” had still been rather hard to believe – until they saw their host terraform a world with little more than his will and the “Well of Worlds” to let him see it.

(Charles, a bit absently) “Really, the power requirements are not that high… it’s the complexity that will limit most people! Fortunately, I have lots of extra memory-storage space.”

(Watleigh) “So I take it this is a more advanced application of… thaumaturgy, right?”

(Charles) “Pretty much!”

(Crays, with some incredulity) “And even human beings who can’t channel these ‘motes’ can use it.”

(Charles) “Oh yes – although it will take them much more time and effort to accomplish tasks, and their powers are far more limited. Most people – even if quite skilled – will be hard pressed to transmute more than a few pounds of material at a time.”

(Crays, sighing) “Even then, I can understand why those Terrestrials would want to suppress knowledge of this. In the wrong hands, it could cause problems.”

(Charles) “That’s certainly true – but most conflicts are ultimately traceable to a shortage of space, and I’m making sure that there’s plenty of that!”

(Crays) “I see…”

(Aikiko) “Charles wants to fix everything. I’d say war’s a big one!”

(Charles) “Lots of things need fixing, but that’s definitely urgent! I’ve got quite a lot of war-refugees aboard already!”

They had indeed noticed that – and the diversity – when they’d looked at the population figures.

(Watleigh) “That must have been a big operation as well…”

(Charles) “I had one of my aspects do it! Having many makes it a LOT easier to get things done!”

(Crays) “Aspects…”

(Aikiko) “I don’t think you mean the Terrestrial ones, do you…”

(Charles) “Well no! I think some of you met Elzeard during the conference he gave? He’s one.”

(Crays) “He was a supernatural being… he must have been capable of hiding it very well!”

(Charles) “Well, shapeshifting isn’t really that hard! Well… it’s harder if you don’t have enhanced abilities.”

Crays and Watleigh decided to talk to Elzeard… supernatural being or not, he’d shown an excellent grasp of technical principles, how to summarize and explain, and how to reduce things to their basics. Charles… obviously meant well, but he kept assuming far more information than his listeners actually had available. Elzeard, on the other hand, had been very enlightening – and he’d be free to share the supernatural aspects in Aden, which was obviously what he’d been concealing.

Besides… Elzeard took on students. If they could learn to do just a tiny fraction of what Charles had just done…

(Charles) “Well… Elzeard usually lectures at the Primordial Forest Pavilion! It’s right over this way!”

Elzeard was, indeed, lecturing – and was quite definitely a supernatural entity – and one who could help them! They sat in!

Elzeard greeted them – and cheerily answered questions, both during and after the lecture.

(Crays) “Mr. Elzeard? Charles said you were an aspect of himself. How did you come to exist? Were you always around, or did he have to awaken that part of himself to make you?”

(Elzeard) “Charles… is more than human of course, but he has been growing! Everyone has a spark of an internal world and may “argue with themselves” – a relic of poor neural integration in most cases. In his case, as his power grew, he made his dreams solid and actual – expanding this dimension as the embodiment of his inner self. As his inner self became more accessible, Charles awakened aspects of himself – myself and the others – to a quasi-independent existence. While we remain aspects of him, we are focused on our particular fields and specialities, and can handle tasks for him. When we unite our powers in him – as we do to reshape worlds – our power is quite impressive. Even working alone we can accomplish a good deal, and may do so while Charles’s primary consciousness is occupied elsewhere.”

(Watleigh) “So… we are currently in his world of imagination, with you, Gothmug, and the others as independent aspects of that world?”

(Elzeard) “Yes – but with his power level, the world of his imagination – is as (or sometimes more) real and solid as the universe you are used to!”

(Watleigh) “What does it take to create such a place? Charles is clearly more than a normal human being!”

(Elzeard) “You need to have direct access to the primal energies of the cosmos. That potential… can appear in several ways; entities can arise from what you would call the “quantum flux” – what was once known as the “Wyld” or “Primal Chaos”. Most such entities are weak and limited, but the process IS fundamentally random. There are devices that can bestow that kind of power, dating back to the early days of this universe and tied into it’s structure – but there are only a few hundred of those, scattered across the galaxies. It is even possible for humans to transcend their physical forms to become beings of pure primal energy – but that too is very rare and has it’s own limits.

(Crays) “I see… so this would be difficult to casually replicate. That’s somewhat of a relief, actually. While Charles is unbelievably benevolent, I have a hard time believing everyone with such power would be.”

(Elzeard, sighing) “Most… were a little uncaring! They simply didn’t pay much attention to life at levels less complex than their own. As powers go… you’re quite correct; Charles is extraordinarily benevolent and helpful. Fortunately that is at least partially a consequence of his growing into his power within the cosmos, rather than in the chaos beyond. There are other factors as well of course, but he does deserve some privacy I think!”

(Watleigh – although Crays looked dubious) “Everyone deserves some of that… and I’m not sure we could understand some of those factors anyhow. It seems it would take a good deal of study!”

(Elzeard) “Well, my opinion is – of course – biased, but I think that the results so far are very good!”

(Watleigh) “It seems that way. Err… is there any way we could help? I’m speaking only for myself, but this ‘Essence’ has considerable promise for scientific applications.”

(Elzeard) “Charles has been making a fairly high level of power available for those who wish to assist with the spread of life throughout the universe. Simple sensible advice is also useful; he has a tendency to be over-generous and over-trusting. For simple studies… The libraries here are set up to allow remote access.”

(Crays) “We’ll have to look over those materials, then. I suspect we won’t have trouble connecting with our computers.”

(Elzeard) “None at all I suspect… Charles’s computer systems are almost as obliging as he is.”

(Watleigh) “And he obviously does need someone monitoring him, his obvious distaste for the idea aside.”

(Elzeard) “Unfortunately so. While we – his aspects – possess a great deal of power, we are indeed rather focused, and we share many of his blind spots.”

(Crays) “Ms Aikiko? You’re familiar with all this… any ideas?”

(Aikiko) “I asked those guys you came in with! They gave me a few referrals for people to monitor him.”

Aikiko provided the Terrestrial’s recommendations to both the Sidereals and the scientists. If Charles needed babysitters… then he’d better have them!

She made her excuses before the Gold Faction people started asking her where she’d been all this time, accepted sandwiches and hobbit ale from a passing cheetah-child, and – after eating, toking up, and running around for a bit to relieve some steam (and to stall until Lytek let her know that he was back in Yu-Shan) – she headed for South America! She still had four impossibly powerful kids to find!