Ponies versus Physics, FIGHT!

Today we have a somewhat off-the-wall ponies question – and one that’s more about world setup than ponies themselves. Still, the “scientists trying to find an explanation” notion does pop up in a lot of settings. Given that that makes this pretty generally applicable, why not?

Lets say some people started turning into ponies in the real world or ponies just started appearing and – over the next few days – displayed their basic abilities. How would scientific explanations like “mutagen” or “biowarfare agent” hold up? How long could they be seen as natural creatures existing under normal physical laws?

In both cases, for an intellectually honest, competent, scientist… until a couple of minutes after they get a look at them.

A poor scientist might manage it for a few hours. To hold on to theories like THAT for longer than a few hours you’d need to be either utterly incompetent as a scientist or to have serious mental problems.

To start with, Mutagens – including radiation, metals and chemicals, atomic decay, retroviruses, and the uptake of random DNA fragments (whether originating from Transposons or from the environment) – are random. They get into some cells and not others, they may or may not be expressed, and they change the production of various proteins in random ways – often differently for each affected cell.

That won’t cause an existing human to turn into another creature. That’s possible in theory, but it would take a total understanding of the human body, carefully and individually tailored doses of thousands of different proteins, weeks or months for cells to multiply, migrate, and develop into new tissues, and would almost certainly go hideously wrong in the vast majority of cases. Even if it worked… it would have to include massively rewiring the victims brain. So much for most of their personality and memory.

Yes, some creatures do undergo metamorphosis – but it’s very specific, never changes them into a new kind of creature, involves all kinds of special adaptions, is only seen in much smaller and simpler organisms which already have the seed-structures for the parts they’re going to develop ready to go, they start off with the mechanisms for it built into every cell, it takes a rather long time, and has a substantial failure rate. “Mutagens” and such simply will not work outside of comic books.

Going with “Nanotech” sounds plausible for a few seconds – but these speculative nanites would have to be capable of storing all the information that goes into making a wide selection of both humans AND ponies, coordinating with each other, analyzing a human body, and basically dismantling and rebuilding it while its still alive (adding another level of even greater complexity to handle keeping it alive during all the stages of the process). If the new ponies are going to be functional, the nanites have to be capable of installing memories (of how to use their abilities at the least) and reflexes too. Even more importantly, they have to be capable of finding – from somewhere – the energy necessary to do all this from within the victim’s body without producing enough waste products or energy to kill the victim and while bypassing the immune system – in itself a formidable collection of micro-machines that normally stops such intrusions.

So these “nanites” have to be able to analyze their environment, manipulate materials, manufacture an immense variety of exotic chemicals, communicate and coordinate, store massive amounts of information, generate plenty of internal power without significant waste heat, and posses more computational power then any supercomputer that’s ever been built. All in a package the size of a bacterium.

You know, bacteria are amazingly sophisticated nanites, and they can’t do anything like this. They just don’t have room to pack all of those functions in. That neatly lets out biological agents too.

Fundamentally, if you can create “nanites” or “bioagents” that can do all of this they can do pretty much anything else (except possibly time travel and FTL) – and you’re already close enough to being God that you might as well just claim the title.

There really isn’t any way to make this kind of transformation work in reality without throwing out most of what we understand about the universe or making it an incredibly elaborate, externally-supported (via surgery, organ cloning, and so on), and seriously slow process. Once you do throw out most of what we’ve come to understand for several centuries – which is pretty awkward, since that tells us that most of our gadgets shouldn’t work and that everyone has been missing all the evidence of these forces for centuries – you’re left with “mysterious forces that, with no apparent causal link to the rest of the universe, do incredibly complex stuff in defiance of all prior observation of reality”.

Which is really just a complicated way to say “Magic!” After all… “Magic” is just a word for “a selective set of exemptions from normal physics”. It’s in disrepute with scientists because no such thing has ever been observed – but scientists LOVE new discoveries. If anything like that ever turns up… they’ll be all over it. For that matter, every even remotely sane organization on the planet would be trying to recruit ponies. New abilities means new ways to try and solve your most intractable problems – and if you don’t find them first, it means losing out to whatever you have in the way of competitors.

There would be more irrational actions too, but for any really large organization to react that way a lot of the people in it will need to be irrational. Even more importantly, people are rarely all irrational the same way – so I’d expect at least as much “we love them!” as “we hate them!” – and a lot more caution on the “we hate them!” side. Most people are cautions about new creatures with unknown capabilities anyway, and will be even more so if they think that they’re hostile.

OK, so we’re forgetting the “transformed human” part and are just going to watch ponies in action for a bit?

We’ll ignore the fact that their bones seem to be capable of stretching, and that they can pick up things with their hooves, store items somewhere around their bodies with no apparent sign of where, show massive resistance to injury, and so on for now. A lot of that COULD be explained physically, even if the explanation would need to be pretty convoluted. Lets just look at some of the more blatant pony capabilities.

Pegasi, with very tiny wings for their size, can easily hover in the air in enclosed areas, without even creating much of a disturbance. They can stand and walk on clouds, move them about, and can produce massive amounts of rain and even lightning from clouds that aren’t much bigger then they are.

Where are they getting their lift? For that matter… a cloud isn’t even an OBJECT. It’s am ill-delineated region where temperature and humidity conditions are sufficient to cause some of the water in the air to condense as tiny droplets. A nice dense cloud contains about half a gram of water per cubic meter (although some have been seen with up to six times that). A 20-ounce bottle of drinking water would suffice to make more than a thousand cubic meters of normal cloud (not very big by cloud standards, but impressive enough when brought down to ground level). Lightning is the result of a charge differential generated across several thousand feet of altitude.

So… after watching a Pegasus Pony for a few minutes we can say goodby to Newtons Second and Third Law of Motion (and, for that matter, to Conservation of Momentum, Conservation of Mass-Energy, and most of the rules about Electromagnetism), just to start.

The clouds can be moved or molded, dissipate or bounce as required, and provide traction. When a Pegasus gets to them they have clearly defined edges too. So we need to throw out most of the rules about gases, and about how small clouds should be see-through patches of mist, and more. As soon as we see a Pegasus pulling an aerial cart or executing one of those high-speed sharp turns they like to make even more physics goes out the window.

Honestly, this goes on and on. “Physics” isn’t something that happens in distant laboratories. It’s the UNIVERSE. There are demonstrations of its principles all around you if you look – and those blasted Pegasus Ponies are… just ignoring it.

Unicorn telekinesis creates quite a lot of the same problems for any scientist that sees it all by itself – and that’s not even counting more advanced spells and effects or the way that they’ve been known to burst into flames without hurting themselves.

Earth ponies… well, they might be able to pass for a little while. Applebucking, manipulating items with their tails, bouncing (much larger and heavier) buffalo away, and dragging a train for miles should still set off some serious warning bells in a scientists mind, but they don’t INSTANTLY say “I get to ignore the “laws of physics” whenever I want to!” the way that Pegasi and Unicorn antics do.

Unless, of course, they’re watching Pinkie Pie or Cheese Sandwich or some other “party pony”, or Maud Pie tossing boulders, or Big Macintosh towing a house, or watch the super-strong kids from Crusaders of the Lost Mark (the one lifting the seesaw by one end in his teeth and the girl lifting a building to retrieve a ball) ignore leverage and structural requirements. Those will sort of give things away.

As for Celestia and Luna. They takes us into things like casual and reliable time travel (think about speed of light delay versus the instant response to Celestia wanting to move the sun), dreams escaping into reality, and so on – right on top of all the existing problems with Pegasi, Unicorns, and Earth Ponies.

Now a genuine scientist will keep on studying whatever laws this mysterious new force obeys, and trying to come up with a good theory – but it certainly resembles a lot of the depictions of “magic”, so there’s no reason not to use the word.

Ponies make a good example for the “supernatural/psychic/unnatural monstrous beings on modern earth” genre simply because many of their abilities are blatantly obvious – but many or most “aliens”, “mythical creatures”, and “monsters” will give away their supernatural nature to an observant scientist almost as quickly. Scientists do not simply ignore apparently inexplicable observations. They discard their disproven theories and start trying to figure out what is going on. If you want irrationality… stick with the cult leaders and such. They’re good at it.

Eclipse d20 – The Founders. Mauric Wonderworker

Most d20 games use classes – but they never really consider where they came from, or how new classes develop. Who founded the traditions of magic, discovered the secrets of making magical devices, and stole fire from the primitive gods? Who forged the first blades of smelted bronze and fallen starmetal to replace stone and hammered native copper? Who invented all of the gear, developed the agricultural techniques, and learned the secrets of the world? Before written records, and great cities, when an item of power was an unheard-of work of wonder, before coins and mighty city walls, back when so much was yet to be discovered… it was the era of the Founders.

A “Founders” campaign has it’s points. There’s no magic item bloat, no coin-chasing, no “wealth by level”, no buying the “best” spells, no exotic weapons, no mighty temples to sophisticated gods who have not yet arisen, and no exotic things from obscure sourcebooks to chase. It is a time when the greatest city in the world might have only two hundred people – none of them “classed” – and when a handful of low-level characters can become epic heroes by defending it. It is a time when even the “standard” spells have not yet been developed. It is a time when a few player characters may leave a mighty legacy, and set the course of civilization for ages yet to come, without shattering the order of the world.

Wonderworker Mauric, Occult Founder

It was the youth of humanity. Men were new upon the land, existing as wandering tribes of hunter-gatherers and inhabiting a scattering of tiny neolithic villages and clusters of fields in hidden places and pockets of near-safety.

Mauric knew what he wanted from early on – and it wasn’t to work the fields like his father or hunt in the safer fringes of the forest like his uncle. He could FEEL the power blazing inside him, like a fire seeking a way out! He wanted to harness that power, to walk the lands and bend their wild magic to his will.

The shaman disapproved. Such powers were not for men, they were the province of the Gods, of Dragons, and of the Elder Beasts. Mere mortal men should not seek to compete with the old powers, lest they bring down their wrath upon their fragile settlements. Such small talents as the spirits granted on their own should suffice for men.

And, it wasn’t like there was a library full of mystic books around to study, or some elder master to learn from, or some convenient god or goddess of magic to reveal occult secrets to him. Such things were yet to come. Mauric would have to seek out those secrets for himself.

Mauric was right. He did, indeed, have power inside. Unfortunately, before most of the schools, “classes”, and traditions had even been founded… he would have to find his own way.

He did – but it wasn’t very sophisticated or well-organized.

Occult Discoverer Package (36 CP):

  • Knowledge / Arcana +1 SP (1 CP).
  • 3d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Doubly Specialized and Corrupted / only for reality editing, only to create opportunities to acquire occult lore and abilities, user has no control, the opportunities created have no theme or coherence, and the opportunities may involve various dangers and backfires (2 CP).
    • Double Specialization or Corruption – and especially both – is normally a pretty big red flag. On the other hand, all this power actually does is say that “the user will finds reasonably “level appropriate” adventures to go on, each with at least a chance for magical profit or to buy abilities without training, every week or two”. I’m not sure that most adventurers aren’t assumed to have this ability anyway. Regardless of that… this talent led Mauric to discover the basics of several different disciplines very early on.
  • Spell Researcher: Action Hero/Invention, Specialized (for increased effect) and Corrupted (for reduced cost) / only for Inventing Spells (at 2 AP per level of the spell, half that for “basic”, low-level, spells), only during downtime – a total of 2(Level+2) AP per level (4 CP).
    • “Basic” spells are – of necessity – a game master judgement call. In general though… things like “Monster Summoning” and “Benign Transposition” are complicated. Things like “Burning Hands” or “Feather Fall” are relatively simple. Mauric – lacking other sources of spells – will mostly draw his from the natural world and the creatures he encounters.
  • Immunity/having to create spell books or similar items to recall spells that he has personally developed (Uncommon, Major, Minor, covering effects of up to level three, 4 CP).
    • When a culture hasn’t even invented writing, it’s going to be hard to keep spell books. A well-exercised memory can make up for part of that with the simpler spells, but – eventually – Mauric will just have to start painting reminder-patterns for his spells on cave walls, or making fetishes, or some such.
  • 2d6 Mana as 4d4 (12) generic spell levels, Specialized and Corrupted/many only be used by being bound into prepared spells for which the user has personally developed the formula (4 CP).
    • Spell Progressions are generally far more efficient at the high end – but they’re a lot less versatile and, just as importantly… haven’t been invented yet. At this point Mauric has no “type of spell” restrictions; he can use both Arcane and Divine magic – provided that he can find the time to create the spells.
  • One caster level, Specialized/only for use with the spell level pool above (3 CP).
    • That’s a rather cheap Specialization given the versatility of that pool – but Mauric will have to invent all his own stuff. I’ll give him a small break here.
  • Innate Enchantment (At Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use, Use-Activated. 5000 GP total value; from the Trickster Mage spell list: Greater Prestidigitation (2000 GP), Manifestation of Ilium (2000 GP), and Detect Magic (1000 GP), 6 CP)
    • While many characters have gotten quite a long ways with Prestidigitation and Illusion Cantrips, in a world where mortal magic is almost unknown, this ability alone can get him a long ways. As for a justification… Mauric really does have a quite a lot of talent, and one of his little adventures early on showed him him to tap into and shape just a little ambient magic. As such, this represents the first glimmerings of the Path of the Dragon – the ability set that will later lead to Warlocks and Binders and similar classes.
  • Witchcraft III (Provides (Str + Dex + Con )/3 + 4 Power and the disciplines of The Adamant Will, Dreamfaring, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, Hyloka, Infliction, and Witchsight) and the Path of Light / Light of Truth (24 CP) with the Pacts of Service / Epic Quest (founding the major magical classes – Wizards, Clerics, and Psions) and Vow / Duties (assisting the villages and tribes in founding civilization) (-12 CP).
    • Witchcraft is likely the most intuitive, and easiest-to-develop, “magical” system in Eclipse. That means that even a few hints acquired during adventures may be enough to develop a few tricks. Just as importantly, in a “founders” game… Witchcraft represents the fundamentals of Psionics, “C’hi Powers”, Channeling, and of Shamanism. It’s about the only field that primitive hunter-gatherers are really likely to dabble in; even without a system of teaching, when every practitioner is a unique individual… a few encounters with nature spirits and such may allow a sensitive character to put a few points into Witchcraft.

At a total of 36 CP this gives Mauric a considerable variety of magical tricks to draw on – none of them very powerful, but all of them quite versatile. Just as importantly… he can teach others the basic principles behind psychic powers, several kinds of spellcasting, calling on the forces of light to repel undead and creatures of darkness, channeling external powers, and more. From those beginnings, his students can and will develop more specialized abilities – each according to their own talents – and go on to found the various orders, guilds, and schools that teach advanced abilities today.

The exact details of where the rest of his first-level point allotment goes isn’t very important. A few points on a larger hit die, knowing how to use a few primitive weapons and perhaps some light hide armor, a few basic skills, and a bonus on a save or two are in order – but what is important is that Mauric is a discoverer, wresting the secrets of magic from an uncaring world.

In ages to come, Mauric – who likely never actually achieved any great level of power thanks to the lack of system behind his magic – is likely to be remembered as a god, a towering figure who brought humanity the strength to stand on equal terms with the other, more naturally magical, creatures of the world. The scruffy little seeker of magic at the roots of those legends would not recognize what his tale has grown into, what his students have become, or what humanity has made of the world – but he would doubtless be proud to see the that tiny, fearful, carefully hidden, hamlets of his time have grown into secure and prosperous villages.

“Classes” may not be as versatile as point-buy – but suites of well-organized abilities are a lot easier for most people to study and develop. An exceptional few (mostly player characters) may do just fine creating their own personal class through pure point buy – but an awful lot of the NPC’s are likely to settle for doing it by some OTHER book than Eclipse.

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.

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.

Exalted Index IV

And it’s time to update this cumulative index again. There’s material here for first edition, second edition, and the 2.5 revision. Currently at well over 200 sessions (even if the log is a bit behind), I suspect the Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice to be a very long-lived Exalted game indeed.

The Dualistic Exalted:

  • The Dualistic Exalted (first edition) 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:

  • Dreaming Thunder Guardian: Summoning defenses from the Wyld.
  • Mysteries of the Raksha: The sorcery and thaumaturgy of the Raksha.
  • Dreaming Narrative Conquest: Includes a couple of new Raksha charms;  one for feeding and one for accessing universal dreams. See Raksha Charms II, below for an updated Harvest of the Winds.
  • Raksha Charms: Summoning better beasties, summoning yourself, the easy button, splitting your mind, material fantasies, adding mortals,  to yourself, private realities, and temporary abilities.
  • Raksha Charms II: Bypassing Charm prerequisites, incorporating hearthstones, producing temporary grace-copies, creating temporary grace-magics, updated Harvest of the Winds (for harvesting motes from Mortal populations), entering mortal dream-nexi (update for Continuum of Dreams), updated Forge of Dreams for making better fantasies and Wyld Stunts, Wyld Stunts per Session (not “story”), finding cheaper ways to use charms, drawing on the mythic traits of your assumptions, getting passive bonus dice, virtual artifact armor, defensive Wyld Stunts, gaining multiple health tracks, and mutating mundane animals/producing shaping weapons.
  • The Aspiring Ishvara: High-essence Raksha Charms – Boosting your Glorious Hero Forms, learning how to drop the Shaping keyword,  how to Respire in Creation, how to resist Iron and order-imposing charms, accessing spirit charms, engulfing others in your narrative, and empowering better freeholds.
  • In the Style of the Renaissance Masters: Lending your own perfection to your tools and items.
  • Veiling the God’s Eyes: Raksha Thaumaturgy, updated to fit with the Errata and Grace Magic (Scroll down).
  • Transmigration Of Mortality: How a Raksha can share his or her powers with a mortal host.

Martial Arts:

Lunar Charms:

Spells and Thaumaturgy:

Primordial Charms:

Sidereal Abilities:

Nocturnal Charms:

Abyssal 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.
  • Relocating Manses: When you really need your manse moved RIGHT NOW (Scroll Down).
  • Fantastic Freeholds: Revised rules for Freeholds – to make them actually worth bothering with. Includes several new freehold elements – the Treasury, Hedge, and Manse with revised rules for the usual ones.
  • Guardians, Gods, and Devas (Scroll Down): Improving Guardians and Guardian Forces, Creating “Devas”.

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.
  • The Okavango Springs Manse: A manse for rendering a region once more moist and fertile – and for helping out the local tribes. (Scroll Down).
  • The Preceptor Of Ancient Ways and the Preceptor Of Rising Minds: Two infernal manses – one for the Reclamation, one for founding colonies of animal-people. Includes the Forge and Lathe of Souls, the Metamorphoses Chamber, and the Molecular Assembler.
  • Nachdenken-Dammerung– Reflection on Falling Shadows: A sun-stalling manse (notes only).
  • Mechagodzilla: A Greater Kaiju Manse and how to build him.
  • Mothra Leo, a Greater Kaiju Manse.
  • The Hanging Gardens – a Raksha Freehold of immense power. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI. Includes the Forge Of Ways sub-manse (scroll down).
  • I AM / The Nebular Man-Of-War (Notes only).
  • The Primal Forge: How to build your own – and produce artifacts in minutes.
  • The Occluded Observatory (Celestial Manse ***, Sidereal *): A stronghold in the deserted quarters of Yu-Shan.
  • Thornhaven (Wood Manse ***): A terrestrial base in the Amazon.

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.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCIII – Bronze Edges

While the Sidereals did pay attention to the Carnival of Meeting, they rarely got directly involved any longer. They were much too busy these days, and normally delegated setting up booths, planning entertainment, and the like to their divine aides and – if they were really savvy – to their Half-Castes.

Which it why it SHOULD have been surprising that Valkith Vaskoda, that four-armed Chosen of Journeys who had showed such an interest in Charles’s space travel projects, had showed up just as Charles had finished up laying everything out! Even youngsters like him were busy, busy, busy!

Charles immediately sent any of them who needed it some help. He wouldn’t want quarrels to break out and possibly mess up his setup!

(Valkith) “Charles? (Looking around) Oh boy… This is big.”

(Charles, waving cheerfully) “Well, it will be a large performance! And a big audience too!”

(Valkith, over Telepathy for privacy) “Uh, Charles? The High Lord would really like to talk to you.”

(Charles, also telepathically) “Uhm… right away? Things are a bit busy… Anyplace in particular? Would a phone do? Is he having trouble?”

Valkith was somewhat shocked. The ENTIRE central pavilion and the area around it? It was worse than he’d thought! Just looking at what he could see… how much space and resources had the boy commandeered?! And essence-wards and channels attuned to all SORTS of creatures out in the seating areas? That mess ALONE would take days or weeks of study to figure out! And who or WHAT had been invited?

(Valkith, still telepathically) “He was really hot under the collar! Um… He said to get you to the Pinnacle as soon as possible! I WAS on a mission, but he told me to get my – oh, what’s the polite word? Oh yeah, my posterior. Anyway, He told me to get that back here and get you to the Pinnacle!”

(Charles) “Well, it is just for a scheduled performance… It’s on the program!”

(Valkith) “What program? Wait, are you actually performing for the Carnival? Surely you don’t need all THIS just for a musical performance!”

(Charles, still telepathically) “Well… OK! And it’s on the carnival program… towards the end, which is why all the arrangements will be shunted away to be pulled out for my slot! But I needed some setup time!”

(Valkith) “Whaa?! OK, I need to get you to the Pinnacle at once!”

(Charles cheerily handed him a program, pointing) “Here it is! “Symphony for the New Age“! Uhm… do we need to take the Canals, or is it really urgent?”

Now which was the Pinnacle again? Oh yes, where Harold and his siblings lived! Hmm… he’d better make sure that his other avatars were firmly anchored elsewhere. An Elder Sidereal could make a lot of trouble if he gets upset over something!

Valkith thought it was really urgent – so he used his transport amulet to pop over there with Mr Valkith! Just outside, so as not to upset any guards – despite the urgent objections from Gothmug!

(Gothmug) “Charles, this is a TERRIBLE idea! There’s no way he DOESN’T have some real understanding! And YOU’RE actually going!”

(Charles, to Gothmug) “Well… only a fraction! But if I trade out for a remote, I can’t do very much! And…. I doubt that he’d get directly hostile really! What does everyone else think?”

Malinda couldn’t see the High Lord actually ATTACKING Charles. Sure, he had a reputation as a behemoth slayer, but Charles was obviously more powerful than any behemoth at this point, and elder Sidereals wouldn’t be elders if they weren’t cautious.

Righteous Hala thought that he probably had some kind of psychological trick up his sleeve.

(Charles) “Well… that’s certainly possible. But better before the performance than during it!”

Oramus thought that he’d be delightful if Charles twisted him in on himself and let Yu-Shan play with him. She was probably bored senseless!

(Charles) “I think that would be both impolite and overkill!”

Wait… how did Oramus get on the private conference? Wasn’t that impossible? Oh yes, he’d let him get out a bit… Something told him that sooner or later he was going to regret that – but it would have been pretty mean not to do it!

(Oramus) “But he’s so lean! Wouldn’t he make a nice Möbius strip?”

(Charles, with some confusion) “For that you need to be literally flat! He can’t be a Mobius strip, he’s a multiply-pierced torus!”

(Oramus) “There are ways… Would you like to know them?”

(Charles) “Not right now! Perhaps later, when I have more time for topology?”

(Oramus, as Charles was being led in) “Spoilsport”.

(Charles) “Existential confusion can come later I think!”

The interior of the Pinnacle of Celestial Supremacy’s warded spaces were much as they were the last time – a small, orderly town in the midst of the abandoned regions. It was much, much less busy than before, though. The evacuation was probably nearly complete. The Manse tower itself loomed ahead, but this time it was nearly retracted into the ground and you had to enter through a hatch in the top.

Had they moved things up? Four years would be quite a jump, but it was almost inevitable that an overlap would occur and make things more difficult!

Well, unless they made things more difficult in some other way first, which was all too likely.

Valkith rushed him in too fast to do more than wave to the people on guard duty… They passed by Rosa Cress, Chosen of Serenity – but she seemed to be in a very big hurry herself, and she looked rather sad!

Charles waved to her too, and sent some happy flowers! She accepted them – but, rather oddly, looked sadder as she was heading off. He’d never seen her in obvious armor before either, although it looked quite light and flexible. She didn’t wait for him to improve it though!

There were a few other people around – mostly Ending Half-Castes. They were busily lading bags with thaumaturgic items. They got sack lunches in case they were too busy!

Which they looked at warily, and analyzed… and found that they were really very good, and with no potato chips of doom or anything, provided that you liked peanut butter cups for afterwards.

Meanwhile, Valkith was hustling Charles downstairs, to the same conference room where he’d spoken with Rosa before making the Brigadoons… It looked like the warding had been upgraded even further and there were a couple more red haired Half-Castes here. When they saw that Charles and Valkith had arrived, they headed off, presumably to get their father.

Charles upgraded the Wards some more, and then got bored and started making batches of adamant geomantic channeling pins while he was waiting. The more backup spares the better!

The High Lord of the Bronze, Kristoff Jorgensen, arrived quite shortly – before he’d had time for more than one or two batches! Charles had seen his picture in here before, and yes, he DID look almost completely like it – a lean, red-haired, bearded giant of a man in fine violet clothes (with a bit more fey ancestry then the average human most likely). He wasn’t nearly as red in the picture, though…

(Charles) “Allo! What’s up?”

(Jorgensen) “Boy! Do you have any idea how much interference the Gold Faction is running involving you?!”

(Charles) “Oh, it’s not so much on ME I think… but they wanted a school. Lots of other people are attending too though!”

(Jorgensen) “I’ve been struggling to contact you for the past few months! (He signed)… We need to talk about this ‘performance.’ Vaskoda, Rani, Othred, I’ll need you three to leave.”

(Valkith) “Sir?!”

Jorgensen just waved him away. Charles was a bit confused… Didn’t Mr Jorgensen have his phone number?

(Jorgensen) “Every time I try to call you, some OTHER Primodial energy blocks it! And the Gold interference hasn’t been helping either!”

(Charles) “Huh! That’s not very polite! I’m very sorry about that… I’ll have to set you up with a perfectly sealed link!”

(Jorgensen) “That’s not what’s bothering me. I have you here, and that’s what’s important. Milk? And . . . Peanut butter, is it?”

(Charles) “Uh-Huh! (Although he let Malinda check, and substitute if necessary – which it wasn’t). What do you need?”

(Jorgensen, thumping his palm on the table) “What in Malfeas are you doing with this performance, and WHY is no one saying anything about a boy your age doing this?! I know the Bureau of Geomancy is involved somehow! They couldn’t hide THAT from me!”

(Charles) “Mostly repair work for the Incarnae and Gaia!”

(Jorgensen) “That doesn’t answer the second question, boy… How old are you, again? Fourteen? Fifteen?”

(Charles, explanatorily) “See, Creation needs to be disconnected from Yu-Shan, and Yu-Shan needs some work, and we need a lot of new Yu-Shan gates installed, and the new planets need to be hooked up, and it’s been a lot of work! And fifteen last week! And no one is saying much since most people aren’t involved!”

(Jorgensen, looking horrified) “What the-in all my five and a quarter centuries… What gives you the right to meddle with the Celestial City in this way!?! What makes you think YOU can pull that off!?!”

(Charles) “Uhm… the Incarnae and Gaia! Didn’t I say that? I thought I did… And it’s pretty much ready now! I had the relevant sections checked by gods who never fail in their fields to make sure!”

(Jorgensen) “YOU’RE FIFTEEN! Where are your parents?! Do they know about this? Did you tell THEM you were doing this?”

(Charles) “I only found them recently, but they know now… they were outside creation, so it took a while to locate them!”

(Jorgensen, sighing) “No doubt Haldane’s work! And why haven’t they stopped you?””

(Charles) “Why would they?… Oh, I made ponies! They’re really neat!”

(Jorgensen, with exasperation) “You’re a good boy, right? You always give others what they want. Everyone should get want they want, right?”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Mostly! Some people want bad things! Like the Arbiter of Games End… He’s very mean, and rather crazy, and I don’t talk to him any more… Couldn’t anyway; he tried to threaten me by smashing the communications drone, so I redecorated his planet with pretty colors!”

There was a brief pause.

(Jorgensen, after deciding to ignore that bit) “What about the other enemies of Creation you’re working with? Oh yes, I managed to learn about a few. I KNOW you’re working with (the venom is palpable) deiphages, boy! Do you seriously trust them?”

(Charles) “As much as the Celestial Lions do, or maybe just a bit more… They are working together on things! Most of them will be cured when the gates open up anyway; their domains will be restored.”

(Jorgensen) “How can we trust YOU, for that matter? You deal with enemies of Creation, you’re SOMETHING… Oh, you are joking. You have to be…”

(Charles) “Why? That sort of thing is why Luna gave me a writ. You can ask the Celestial Lions if you like. Surely you’ve noticed that there haven’t been any Deiphage attacks in quite some time? It needed fixing!”

(Jorgensen) “Yes, because you’re giving them support! At this rate, they’ll walk into central Yu-Shan and make it a banquet! And you still haven’t answered my questions! Do you trust those (counting) Deathlords, Raksha, Unshaped, Demons, and (more venom) deiphages you work with? How can you expect us to trust you?”

(Charles) “Because Sol and the other Incarnae do? And why would they want to make central Yu-Shan a banquet when they have the energy they need? I’m not actually working with any Deathlords though; I’ve only met two, one was crazy and hostile, so I set up defenses against what he’s doing, the other just wanted to know if I’d be eliminating death, which (and his tone went sad) I can’t… The Unshaped I contacted have taken jobs defending Creation, the Raksha took creations side during the reshaping and are a part of it now, and the Demons are just watching. Really… this is authorized by Gaia and the Incarnae and I’ve made the plans available to them. I haven’t asked you to trust me – but do you trust THEM? And if you don’t… is there any point in trying to convince you to trust ANYONE? What would it take to reassure you? Is it actually possible?”

(Jorgensen) “I know what I’ve seen. The deiphages might be playing nice for now, boy, but their ultimate aim is to destroy the Celestial Bureaucracy. They’ve admitted as much when interrogated. I can’t allow that to happen!”

(Charles, patiently) “And who’s the head of the Celestial Bureaucracy?”

(Jorgensen, sighing) “The Most High, the Unconquered Sun, of course… What are you getting at?”

(Charles) “The Incarnae have approved of this! (He produced some writs and records). Do you really think that I – at fifteen – have convinced them that they need to self-destruct? Or the Celestial Lions?”

Hm! There was something very wrong here… Poor Mr Jorgensen was a lot less than SANE on the subject of Deiphages! And it seemed to be oddly focused… Compulsion? But those would never last very long on an experienced Sidereal… Self-inflicted? People did that sometimes, but it wasn’t always – or even USUALLY – a very good idea. Was it that “Unhesitating Dedication” thing? Had he made it his personal mission to fight, or eradicate, or expel them or something?

(Charles) “Now, restoring their domains will restore the Lesser Deiphages to sanity – eliminating them as a threat. The Elder Deiphages will no longer need to drain essence once repairs are made – and so will no longer be deiphages. What’s wrong with eliminating deiphagy?”

(Jorgensen) “But… What in Malfeas! Is everyone in Heaven playing a joke on me? This isn’t funny! (More plaintively) “This isn’t funny…”

(Charles) “That would be awfully elaborate. Seriously though… would you like to attune to the privacy manse? That will let you know if something is messing with your head, and it IS just a manse attunement. You can drop it if you don’t like it.”

(Jorgensen, shaking his head) “How can I trust you!? (still very red, and now sweating.) You’re working with them!”

(Charles, calmly) “You have to start somewhere. After all, I already asked how I could demonstrate good faith – and you didn’t answer. If you don’t know what you believe in or what it would take for you to trust someone, how am I supposed to figure it out? Would you like to talk to the Celestial Lions? An Incarnae will be hard to arrange at short notice, but I could try.”

And there were voices outside. “My lord, are you all right? You seem to be under considerable stress! He’s… Not doing anything, is he, sir? It would be out of character.”

(Jorgensen) “Fine! I’ll talk to a lion! They need to explain WHY to me!”

(Charles, to those outside) “Perhaps he could use a backrub? Those are supposed to be very good for stress!”

(Voice outside) “I’ll get Mother!”

(Charles, to Jorgensen) “Are there any particular lions you’d like to talk to?”

(Jorgensen) “Implacable Shining Barrator is supposedly incorruptible. Seriously… If this is a prank, you are in so much trouble, Primordial or not!”

(Charles) “I’ll ask him to come over then – or would you prefer to send the message? That way you can sure that I’m not interfering”.

(Jorgensen, placing the call) “Oh no, if I let children do my business…”

It didn’t take too long to convince Implacable Shining Barrator to come over. Mr Jorgensen was head of the Bronze Faction – and at the moment anything involving Charles had a very high priority indeed.

And while they were waiting for an influential Celestial lion to clear out his schedule due to a matter of Heavenly Geomancy, the High Lord’s storm goddess wife gave him a backrub… Charles hoped that it would help!

(Ardent Wave) “Charles, what did you do to him?!”

(Charles) “Well… unexpected information! But he did ask! He’s worried about my current projects.”

(Ardent wave) “But why… Oh. That.” (Her hair stopped moving) “You know about it.”

(Charles) “Well, it’s my current projects, not his…”

(Ardent Wave) “Well. Let’s continue with your back massage before you get… stabby.”

That worked to some extent!

Barrator took his time – but arrived eventually.

(Charles) “It was kind of a giveaway that you were expecting major problems when you asked for ships to take refuge in. Problems need fixing!… Hello Mr Barrator!”

Implacable Shining Barrator was a truly massive Celestial lion, with even more jade ornamentation than usual.

(Barrator) “Hail and well met, Charles, or Aden. Whichever – we must resolve this issue before it gets out of hand. The safety of Yu-Shan depends on it.”

Mr Kristoff had quite a few questions ready to go!

(Jorgensen) “Milord… Thank you for granting me this meeting on such short notice. This must be a matter of great import. Please, is it true that the Incarnae authorized young (with quite some stress on that word!) Charles here to do – whatever-it-is that he is doing – with little or no supervision? Are the Celestial Lions really working with him and the deiphages with the intent to restore them to sanity? And… do you actually believe that this has even a gnat’s chance against Oblivion of WORKING?

Oooh! No shouting! Just some doubt and strong emphasis! The backrub was really working! Maybe he should try one sometime; he certainly had enough companions who’d be willing to give it a go!

(Barrator, smiling enigmatically) “Yes, the Silver Lady and the Most High have both authorized this project, and you know even I cannot gainsay them. They and the other Incarnae have judged him as competent. Yes, we are working with the deiphages. We… are responsible for their condition in some ways, and with Charles-Aden fixing it, we can double the city’s guardians. I cannot tell you more unless you accept a non-disclosure oath, which will expire in five days’ time.”

(Jorgensen, with considerable shock) “What do you mean, responsible?!”

(Barrator) “I cannot elaborate without the oath. Even at your rank, it is a matter of celestial security… I think we have gotten as far as we can. There is much I cannot say. Please. Won’t you consider it, Mr. Jorgensen? I would hate to see you even more stressed. Do think about it!”

And, after a few comments and small pleasantries, Barrator really had to go! He was helping plan the security for the concert…

(Charles after a few minutes of silent waiting) “Uhm… Would you like the oath or privacy manse link? Neither one hurts anything at all!”

(Jorgensen) “What did he mean by responsible? I don’t like what he was implying there!”

(Charles, looking a bit sad) “I can’t tell you without the oath… It’s only for five days though!”

(Jorgensen) “Can I look at your plans? I don’t have those either-no, really! My Chosen of Secrets can’t get them. Please?”

(Charles) “Well… I can show you some of the manse designs and things. For the full thing… It’s not all my secrets!”

He produced about a thousand pages worth of the non-critical information.

(Charles) “I’m sorry… the full briefing uses a LOT of compression!”

Fortunately, Jorgensen did read very quickly indeed.

Of course, an awful lot of it was manse designs for elsewhere in the universe, artifact designs, geomantic maps, and all kinds of other stuff – with little or no indication of how it all fitted together. Not that that would be easy to make out anyway given the level of compression involved!

(Jorgensen) “You ARE trusting… Okay, be honest with me. How many of my people are leaking information to you?… Oh. You can’t tell me, can you! They’ve taken that damnable oath!”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Huh… Honestly, I don’t think any. Several people in your faction have taken the non-disclosure oath to get information, but they didn’t need to give me any for the most part – well, except for some about personal problems that I might be able to help with, and I’m not sure that counts – but most of what I got came anonymously, and I think from an ex-member of your faction. I got more of what I needed from direct examination, Primordials, the records of the Forbidden Manse of Ivy, Luna, the Primordial Archives, the Tenders, and lots of other sources! And some of the other Incarnae helped fill in bits!

(Jorgensen) “Ergh… Traitors everywhere! But… Are the Incarnae really helping you? None of these writs are forged.”

(Charles) “Yes; they know that it needs doing – very urgently – and are too busy to do it themselves.”

(Jorgensen, rather slowly) “And if I take this oath… I can still pursue my plans as usual.”

(Charles) “You can.”

And for all his probing… that was a simple truth. Save, perhaps, in defense… the boy would take nothing – not even choices – but only give.

(Jorgensen) “Even if they’re opposed to yours.”

(Charles) “You can. The Oath covers non-disclosure, not participation. Now, if you want the privacy manse link that will help you store the information and it helps with logical processing and mental stability.

(Jorgensen) “I’m perfectly fine!” (Even Ardent Wave, behind him, rolled her eyes at that one.)

(Jorgensen) “What? Just because I have a temper doesn’t make me crazy!”

(Charles) “That’s quite true – but the full briefing is about sixty thousand pages of information even with the compression. Getting it all in a fairly brief time can be quite a strain.”

(Jorgensen) “Sixty thousand… Okay, which Primordial told you your information? Since you didn’t say Yozi, a new one?”

Well… the Silver Faction Sidereals know of Gauderis, although the other factions certainly suspected that they were Primordial backed. Still, the name alone wouldn’t mean much.

(Charles) “Gaia, Gauderis, indirectly Autochthon – through one of his Devas – and another I’m not free to discuss without the Oath. The Yozi’s have not contributed; I suspect that they’d be pretty unreliable anyway. I AM may qualify as a primordial now, but I’m not too sure. It’s been very helpful anyway.”

(Jorgensen) “Never heard of Gauderis. (He sighed again)… Fine, I’ll take the oath. If other people have taken it under my nose, I need to know what they know. But no tricks!”

(Charles) “Uhm… Tricks are bad! People make poor decisions when their information is bad!”

And one Oath, and the privacy manse link (Jorgensen took it, if only so that he could absorb the full briefing in time) – and the full briefing, courtesy of the briefing manse. For good or ill… once he was linked to the privacy manse even the “add a motivation” compulsion that he’d put on himself was notably artificial, and could be easily ignored!

(Jorgensen, after some hours) “Soo… Heaven is a baby Primordial who ate something she shouldn’t have, the adult Primordials used her to power and make reality, and the deiphages are her life support system. Why would you make a life support system that EATS PEOPLE? That’s why we started the project in the first place, you know!”

(Charles) “It wasn’t supposed to; when the Incarnae took over Yu-Shan, they were forced to contain the Games of Divinity – and more and more motes have been diverted from her to powering city services and such. She’s dying – and when she dies she will become a Neverborn, the city will collapse into the Labyrinth, the lucky gods will fall into oblivion, the unlucky will become twisted creatures of the underworld, her links to Creation will drag the elemental poles after her, and it will become a race between Creation falling into the underworld and dissolving into the wyld. Rather than see the Cosmos destroyed… the Incarnae have supported my efforts to fix it.”

(Jorgensen) “And now that I look at OUR plans without certain ‘aids,’ they look like a great plan for killing a Primordial. Sure, we were expecting the deiphages to resist, but… Oh gods. How much do you know about Stanewald?”

(Charles) “Well, I have a reasonably recent copy of the project data. That’s why there are provisions for incorporating it if it goes live before my own renovations are complete.”

(Jorgensen) “Heh. You probably won’t have to worry about that anymore. But you intended that all along. Right?”

(Charles) “Well… I try to make all my projects advantageous for everyone I possibly can. It makes it much easier to gather support for them!

(Jorgensen, consideringly) “Somebody’s going to backstab you with that someday.”

(Charles, more seriously than usual) “Yes, I suppose so… but it would be far worse to stop looking for help, and friends, and to improve the universe. Giving up… is far worse than being betrayed.”

(Jorgensen) “Heh. Can’t stop being the idealist, can you?…”

(Charles) “ Probably not! And… I can’t see any reason to want to.”

(Jorgensen) “I guess it’s better than destroying the universe by accident, after someone’s been telling you that was going to happen for fifty years.”

(Charles) “I think so! There are some billions of inhabited worlds out there now. Whatever it requires of me… I will not let them die.”

(Jorgensen) “The universe wears on you after a lifetime, Charles. After SEVERAL mortal lifetimes… well, you saw how I was acting!”

(Charles) “I have set that up already. Eventually I will fall – all things do, although it is possible that the universe will go first – but I have set things up so that I can still answer those who call for help.”

(Jorgensen) “That’s a big trick. I thought you said you couldn’t conquer death.”

(Charles) “I can’t – but there are ways to work around it!”

(Jorgensen) “Teachable?”

(Charles) “I installed the necessary channels in the conceptual framework of creation for that – and yes, some ways are teachable and others can be bestowed. Do you need some?”

(Jorgensen) “You probably handed it out to my people. Yes, I would. I can’t be the top man if others are hiding power from me!”

(Charles) “Well, what I usually give out is a thaumaturgic upgrade with a lot of subfunctions: there are several other methods, but that’s the best general boost! If you want to try that, it’s basically another manse attunement; you can visionquest it – and if you want to stay remotely attuned, you envision leaving a blood droplet at the final stage to maintain the link. There’s a charm series that also works, but I’d have to bestow access to the set – which will block off other avenues of development and might not be your think anyway.”

Jorgensen) “So this is that powerful stuff Harold – or at least that toy of his – can throw around, then? Please tell me that it’s restricted somehow and can be turned off? You’ve got to have that much sense!”

(Charles) “Well, yes… Some of the early testers wanted me to be sure to!”

(Jorgensen) “Huh. Well, okay then. You know why they wanted that, right?”

(Charles) “Well, yes. They noted that someone could misuse it!”

He was already deep in manse-attunements… What was one more? He took it – and spent a few minutes considering what it included.

(Jorgensen) “Well, this should be handy against the Gold Council if they try to push me around again – if we survive the next six days. Are you REALLY sure you can pull this off? I mean, you’re still a kid, and not even a worldly one.”

(Charles) “Well… the Maidens see a future. I cannot guarantee a total success – but I have apparently taken enough precautions to ensure some level of it!”

(Jorgensen) “I hope you don’t warp Creation too much, or accidentally merge Sidereals with Devas. I… didn’t even realize we were merging Sidereals with Devas.”

(Charles) “Well… there are a lot of things going on out there! And I will do my best!”

(Jorgensen) “Argh… I have to apologize to some people now. I hate apologizing!”

(Charles) “Well… It can wait a bit if you need to! And there’s Gustav and Astrid to talk with for a start! Uhm… I’m glad you’re feeling better about things; they were kind of worried about you!

It was SO nice that the privacy manse helped a lot with not doing silly things under stress! No one will be killing themselves to destroy the universe or threatening other people’s lives to make them do it!

There were some inquiries on the way out – mostly about how he’d gotten the High Lord to calm down. He was pretty temperamental!

(Charles) “Mostly I gave him the information he wanted!”

Well… they were glad that the High Lord hadn’t drawn the reaver daiklave on him. That could have gotten ugly.

Charles had to agree that that would have been unpleasant.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCII – The Primal Forge, Manse-Spirits And Guardians

There were still many minor gods trying to set up arrangements for the Carnival of Meeting outside – and one of those, some sort of technological god dotted with LED lights, was watching Charles’s work with some interest. Charles, unsurprisingly, didn’t mind a bit – although it was obvious that the guards were keeping an eye out while he single-mindedly adjusted things. He did notice eventually though – and opened up a line to find out if the god needed something!

(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Hello, Charles. You’re busily working as usual, I see.”

(Charles) “Lots to do! Did you need something?”

(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Yes… What did you find in the Primal Forge? I’m dying to know!”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Oh! Well, the principle is fairly straightforward really… the basic design is an optimized factory-cathedral, but it taps into the wyld through wyld revocation and an adjustable gate (more wyld revocation and some dynamic architecture there). It establishes an identity-link, and reality overlay, with the most perfectly possible optimum situation and setup for whatever task you happen to be working on right now, complete with assistants and appropriate materials. If that ideal location happens to exist in Creation, someone could open their shop and find that Autochthon – or the manse consciousness – was working in it. If it’s in the Wyld, then Creation won’t notice of course.”

Illuminating Cryptic Radiance managed to hold a poker face – but it wasn’t easy! The boy was both ABLE and WILLING to talk about how the PRIMAL FORGE actually OPERATED?! No one had ever been able to read deeply enough into it to get that much information! Attempts always gave insane results, like you were trying to… trying to analyze the structure of the Deep Wyld… The Primal Forge was designed to reach into the Wyld and pull structure out it? Did it actually date back to before there had been anything else to work with?

Oh of COURSE Autochthon operated by pulling structure out of the Wyld! He long predated Creation and had helped to build it! Was the Forge basically a quasi-independent fragment of Autochthon rather than – or perhaps as well as – a manse-artifact? And a quasi-independent fragment of a Primordial was… a Deva. Was that why it was so heavily guarded and why no one was allowed to interact with it? Was it doing little or nothing simply because Autochthon was occupied elsewhere?

Why hadn’t that – rather obvious! – thought ever occurred to him before? He’d been studying the Primal Forge and Autochthon for YEARS, bringing illumination into dark and hidden places as was his nature! Was it something to do with young Charles? The boy seemed to carry something with him… a breath of freedom, that loosened all constraints whether of the body, of the mind, or of destiny itself. Like the Wyld, but not of it.

(Charles) “The trouble is that, while interruptions wouldn’t be optimum when someone IS working, and so there won’t be any while a project is underway, when they’re not working or are just seeking inspiration the place can act as an uncontrolled gate to anywhere in the Wyld – and thus could let almost anything in. Thus the need to have it powered down and under heavy guard when no one is working there – and the varying reports; if someone without enough focus and control goes in, it will look for the optimum workspace for any project they have in their unconscious, which can get quite weird! Plus, of course, most people expect traps – so they get them!”

That seemed like enough detail. That much had been pretty obvious if you knew how to look – but he didn’t want to violate the Primal Forge’s privacy!

(Charles) “I thought about building one for myself – but since I don’t spend ALL my time crafting things, it isn’t really required and would be more than a bit hazardous! Slightly below perfect optimization is generally quite enough!”

Charles didn’t bother to mention that the manse consciousness was a Deva – not that he saw much of any difference between a Deva and a manse spirit. Perhaps there really wasn’t any if you just made them with the right modifiers in primordial demesnes? Certainly he’d cheated quite a lot while he was making his own – but it did seem like there were likely to be simpler ways; he’d actually gone quite overboard on empowering his Guardians! Now that he’d studied deva-demons a bit more… rather a lot of third circle types weren’t all THAT powerful. Hm… Were Primordials so focused because they created their Devas as expressions of particular interests, and wound up locked into those? If so, he’d been lucky! Patterning his after the various fields of Thaumaturgy did mean that they were just as magic-focused as he was, but the twenty-four fields of Thaumaturgy – of course – covered pretty much EVERYTHING.

Illuminating Cryptic Radiance was rather more interested in “building one for himself”. Was that really within the boy’s capabilities? Or was it just that… Wait. Nothing in what he’d mentioned – which DID seem to account for the properties the place was supposed to have AND for having it so well guarded – was necessarily beyond the capacity of a relatively modest network of fairly normal manses. Yes, you’d have to be a brilliant designer of manses to fit all the pieces together and you’d have to be able to design and build a Factory-Cathedral, but you didn’t HAVE to have a legendary manse or demesne to work with. That would just make it easier to keep all the pieces in one place. Had Autochthon simply been… being tidy?

On Manse Spirits and Guardians

  • Awakened Little God (1): The manse’s little god is an awakened ally of the hearthstone bearers. Such a god cannot be truly slain while the manse endures, and can usually be constructed as an Essence-3 spirit if the manse is rated at *** or less, essence 4 if it’s rated at **** or higher.
  • Awakened Guardian God (Variant on Guardian, 3): The Manse’s “little” god has essence (Manse Rating +2), but this is otherwise similar to Awakened Little God. This means that it’s a bit less powerful than a standard guardian, but comes back if it’s destroyed more quickly.
    • Improving on this is actually pretty awkward: Buying a Guardian gets you a second circle demon or creature of equivalent power – an essence range of 5 to 8, most commonly around 6-7. Adding +1 point for a Guardian Force gets you hundreds of them. That’s a lot of power and it’s hard for a single entity to improve on it much. Ergo lets just use a modifier.
  • Greater Guardian / Guardian Force (Requires Guardian or Guardian Force): For +1 point added to the base cost of Guardian you may increase the Guardians essence rating by +2 and add up to (Essence) panoply charms or abilities. Such a guardian cannot be truly slain while the manse endures. If you increase the cost of a Guardian Force one of it’s members gets those benefits and an additional seven linked to the first get +1 Essence and (Essence/2)+1 panoply charms or abilities. In either case, Greater Guardians cannot be truly slain while their manse endures.

On The Primal Forge:

The Greater Guardian of the Primal Forge is Muquinas, The Weave of Mothers and Maker – and it is through his power that the Forge produces wonders so quickly and easily. The Manse’s Gate and Overlay functions let Muquinas go Wyld-Questing in the Deep Wyld without ever leaving his chair – and he’s very good at it.

Muquinas: Ess 9, Per 13, Occult 12, Occult Speciality / Wyld-Questing 3, Madwands Lens (This Artifact-5 provides continuous Essence Sight, Spirit-Sight, +6 Perception, +6 Occult, and – due to the dazzling visions it grants – counts as using hallucinogens when the user is Wyld-Questing, reducing the time required to two intervals rather than three).

This gives Muquinas a forty-die Wyld Questing roll with a time requirement of two minutes. At Difficulty 12 he can pull Artifact-*****’s directly out of the Wyld in two minutes apiece. He mostly employs his other astounding skills to assemble groups of tailored Artifact-V’s into Artifact N/A’s – using Wyld Time to speed the assembly.

Plus, of course, there are the efforts of the seven secondary consciousness and the rest of the “Guardian Force” of Crafter-golems.

During the construction of Creation Muquinas and his minions were very busy indeed, forging intangible – but very real – artifact-links between Yu-Shan’s various aspects and Deva’s and Creation – a task that has continued (if on a far smaller and occasional scale) to this day. The splendor of his craftsmanship is evident in that those links have endured despite many tens of thousands of years and the Reshaping of Creation.

Charles, who is young, and over-enthused about making even minor artifacts with his own skills, shaping, and wyld-questing, hasn’t actually thought about the true power of Muquinas and the Primal Forge. He is thinking of it as a slightly upgraded version of Dudael – a facility that helps you work and arranges some mass-production, rather than an independent font of artifacts.

Illuminating Cryptic Radiance tapped a finger to his face, which caused some of the lights on his cheek to change color.

(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Were there REALLY no guardians?”

(Charles) “Oh some! But they’re associated with the consciousness of the installation, so they weren’t deployed! If it had wanted to optimize for traps, that would have been very awkward!’

(ICR) “So if you come to it with no expectation of traps…”

(Charles) “Then there wouldn’t be any as long as the Forge accepted your presence. If it objected… it would pull the most perfectly optimized possible set of trap-tools to expel, capture, or kill you (depending on it’s judgement) out of the wyld.”

(ICR) “Hmm . . . hmm . . . if I wanted to talk to the Primal Forge, what would I need to do to get on its good side?”

(Charles) “Well, it was transferred to Yu-Shan to help create the links between it and Creation and to forge artifacts. Plans along those lines might engage it’s interests! You might want to wait a while though… at the moment access is quite restricted and – honestly – a slightly lesser facility suffices for most things!”

(ICR) “Oh… how disappointing. I was wondering if it would want an arrangement of LED lights in its honor, since it was sapient and everything.”

(Charles) “Well, it certainly has it’s own moods and ideas… it’s grand purpose is one thing, it’s personal desires are quite another – and they aren’t something I really had much time to explore.”

(ICR) “Sigh… it must be fascinating to talk to…”

(Charles) “Well, maybe I can arrange an introduction later on! At the moment… I can talk while I work, but doing two tasks at once is considerably harder!”

Illuminating Cryptic Radiance decided to be satisfied with that for the time being. It was more than he’d really expected to get after all!

Plus, of course, he had some REALLY juicy speculation to chew on.

Meanwhile Charles had – finally! – completed the layout, even if the section for the third circles was full of thaumaturgic essence-baffles designed to compensate for him not being sure who would actually come. Unfortunately… A lot of them were simply very awkward and a LOT of the rest were a bit too crazy (he wasn’t inviting anyone who was too likely to run amuck). He’d been more or less forced to limit invitations to the saner ones with reasonable manifestations (although he’d made dimensional-fold viewing space available for the ones who were just too big and such), and less than half of THOSE had responded (or even given evidence that they’d been reached and understood). Hard to blame them of course! Coming would mean setting aside a great many old arguments for the moment – and would mean putting a good deal of faith in the Occupying forces in Yu-Shan to do the same. A bit tricky for some even if it WAS guaranteed by the Unconquered Sun.

That left out a depressing number of souls – but it should be more than enough to spread the word, which was the real point. Even better, Ligier, Ninsei, Jacint, Demirkol, Michio, Orabillis, and Kochige had all RSVP’d… They might even be inclined to help! And even if they weren’t… they would be witnesses that repairs were indeed under way. Going to Malfeas to fix the Yozi’s was going to offer more than enough challenges anyway.

Meanwhile, Aikiko was considering her upcoming role as Ultraman. Finally, a major lead role! Too bad it was not going to be stunts and special effects, but real danger! Still, direct battle with the Neverborn Kaiju would provide some GREAT footage! And, unlike the Primordial War, it would be somewhat comprehensible, mostly in one dimension, and properly recorded… perfect for future newsreels!

Even if the Neverborn were pretty lovecraftian and might drive viewers a bit crazy. After the changes that are likely to hit the universe, that would just be one bizarre phenomenon among many. Despite Charles’s obvious hopes, breaking Creation free from Yu-Shan, opening hundreds of gates and erecting hundreds of major manses, along with the echoes of the song of creation rolling across a hundred or so worlds was not going to pass without a LOT of special effects. Hopefully he had enough allies and helpers to keep those effects down to “annoying” rather than “reality-shattering”.

Elsewhere, the Bronze Faction leadership was considering. The question of what Charles might be – even if it was a Solar! – paled next to the question of what he was up to. It had to be more than a concert; the INCARNAE, and only-the-Maidens knew WHAT else was coming!

It was time to ask the “boy” some hard questions!

Earthmaster Gedion, Wardforger

Atheria is not a world for men, but merely a place of refuge.
It’s ways are old beyond measure, the presence of men yet young upon it.
It’s magic runs it’s own way, it’s depths beyond men’s mastery.
In each great domain one power holds sway, binding with each new life.
A Birthright that shapes the region, and the life within it, in it’s own image.
The realms of Order, of the Sun, of Blood and Shadow, of Life – and of Death.
Men trespass upon antiquity, challenging the order of things.
They press beyond the ancient boundaries, seek to shape the world to their will.
What course shall you set? What legacy shall you leave?

Long ages past, mankind fled some terrible enemy. Their defenses broken, their lore lost, their heroes, mages, priests, and gods themselves slain, and their world fallen. They fled across the myriad worlds, the Thousand Scales of the Dragon, and sought refuge at the end – or perhaps the beginning – of creation, in Atheria. There, in the domains of the Realm Lords – powers far, far, greater than their now-forgotten original realms fallen gods had ever been – they sealed the paths between the worlds behind them with mighty barriers and, knowing that it was easier to seek forgiveness than to ask permission, begged for shelter.

And their plea was granted. If the world-slayer battered at the gates of Atheria, the barriers and the Realm-Lords barred its path – and men found new strength, healing old wounds and learning to tap into the powers that sheltered them.

But nothing lasts forever. The ancient barriers have fallen, and the ways between the worlds are once more open. The wild power of the Dragon’s Breath – the primordial Chaos between the worlds – is flowing into Atheria once more, grounding itself in the earth and stone of the world, and rising again as pools and fonts of geomantic power.

Whether or not the ancient enemy still awaits to complete its work… mankind will be visiting the realms beyond once more, finding worlds which men may shape to their will rather than being mere guests of the Realm Lords.

Gedion has seen the hints among the stars and in the coils of time – and feels the swelling power of the Dragon’s Breath flowing in, ready for those with the lore to tap. It is greatest, or course, in the realm of Dimensional Magic – where intrusions from the beyond, and expeditions into it, will soon be a common thing.

Gedion has spent years studying the art of coaxing such power into the flower of a Ward Major – and now intends to harness that geomancy. With the aid of mystic architecture he intends to build structures to focus that power and channel it outwards, to allow others to draw on it wherever they may be. If humanity is to face the unknown dangers of other worlds and the spaces between them, he will see those who go forth as well-equipped to meet the challenges to come as he can arrange. Already he has sacrificed much for his personal power, for such a goal… he would willingly sacrifice far more.

Earthmaster Gedion, Barbarian Wardforger

Atherian Bear Barbarian: +6 Constitution (12 CP), +6 Strength (12 CP), +1 Natural Armor (Defender, 4 CP), d4 Claws (Martial Arts, 2 CP), and +3 Survival. All bear barbarians have the Incompetent (-3 penalty on social skills) disadvantage, for +3 CP.

Note that Atheria uses the half-price attributes rule and that the Barbarian animalistic racial templates are Corrupted: they include obvious animalistic features and powerful animal instincts. Combined with the price break for having attributes in a Template, this means that they get some very high attribute bonuses indeed for a +0 ECL race – not that the other Atherian “Races” are weak…

Available Character Points: 132 (L4 Base +16 points towards L5) + 18 (L1, L2, L4 Bonus Feats) +8 (Duties/Preparing the Ways) +10 (Disadvantages: Blocked/Mystic Artist abilities, Poor Reputation/known Blood of The Dragon user, and History) = 172 CP.

Basic Attributes: 28 Point Buy / Purchased Str 8 (0), Int 16 (10), Wis 12 (4), Con 14 (6), Dex 10 (2), Chr 14 (6). Self-Development +1 Str (L2), +1 Chr (L4). Blood of the Dragon (-5 Str), Racial +6 Str, +6 Con.

Net Attributes: Str 10 (+0), Int 16 (22 for Skill Purposes) (+3 / +6), Wis 12 (+1), Con 20 (+5), Dex 10 (+0), Chr 15 (+2).

Basic Abilities (49 CP).

  • Hit Points: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +17 (L2-L4: d6, 6 CP) +20 (Con Mod x 4) = 43 HP.
  • Skill Points: 8 SP (Purchased, 8 CP) +42 (Int Mod x 7) +4 (Wealth Level) = 54 SP.
  • BAB: +2 (12 CP)
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +5 (Con) = +7
    • Reflex: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +0 (Dex) = +2
    • Will: +0 (Purchased, CP) +1 (Wis) = +1
  • Combat Information:
    • Proficiencies: All simple weapons (3 CP), Light Armor with the Smooth modifier (6 CP).
    • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
    • Move: 30′
    • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +1 (Natural Armor) +5 (Breastplate) +1 (Martial Art) = 17

Other Abilities:

Adept of the College of Celestial Magics (60 CP).

  • 5 Caster Levels, Specialized in Adept Spellcasting (15 CP).
  • 6 Levels of the Spontaneous Adept Spellcasting Progression with no Caster Levels, Specialized for Double Effect / Provides spells known only, with no spell slots (18 CP). (10 Cantrips, 6L1 Spells, 4 L2 Spells: L0: Create Water, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Guidance, Light, Mending, Purify Food and Drink, Read Magic, Stabilize, Touch of Fatigue, L1 Cause Fear, Comprehend Languages, Cure Light Wounds, Obscuring Mist, Protection from “Evil”, Sleep. L2 Cure Moderate Wounds, Invisibility, Mirror Image, Scorching Ray. Most of these have geomantic or astrological special effects, but function normally).
  • 6 Levels of the Spontaneous Adept Spellcasting Progression with no Caster Levels, Specialized for double effect / Provides spells known only, with no spell slots, Corrupted for Reduced Cost; Astrological Magic / Spells known are determined by the GM according to the current state of the night sky – although they will always include “Read The Stars” (L1), which gives vague hints as to whatever the GM feels like giving out information about today. Currently this provides 10 Cantrips, 5 other L1 spells, and 4 L2 spells) (12 CP).
  • Five dice of Mana as 10d4 (33) Generic Spell Levels, Specialized/only to fuel spontaneous adept spellcasting (15 CP).

Geomantic Mastery (36 CP):

  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (L1 spells): Earth Magic only, only his Earthshaping spell (6 CP).

Gedion has infused himself with the Blood of the Dragon – giving up five points of Strength to forever be able to cast a Sixth Level Greater Invocation (Earthshaping) as a first level spell – producing Earthshaping effects of up to level four. Unfortunately, this is a trick that only works on Atheria (or any world that allows the use of the Blood of the Dragon) – but you can do much the same thing in superheroic worlds with Mana, essentially creating various types of elemental superheroes.

Earthshaping (Produces effects of up to two levels below the level of the Invocation used. A Greater Invocation from The Practical Enchanter.

Earthshaping covers moving and shaping Earth and Stone – opening pits, raising or crumbling walls, hurling boulders, digging trenches, faceting gems, creating bridges, raising spikes, parting avalanches, building structures, and many similar tasks. At it’s fringes, it can be used to make bricks, melt or solidify rock, smelt metal, mend flaws in crystals, turn clay into pottery, and sand into shaped glass. It’s effects on refined metal are, however, greatly reduced (-3 levels) and it cannot transmute materials at all. Thus it cannot turn one kind of crystal into another, cause (or reverse) petrification, alter the properties of earth or stone, or otherwise change the nature of earth and stone beyond what applying or removing heat will do.

  • Occult Sense / Geology and Geomancy. Gedion can sense mineral deposits, ley lines, caverns, how far he is below the surface, the likelihood of avalanches, earthquakes, and collapses, and similar things (6 CP).
  • Leadership, Exotic, Constructs: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the Ward Rank may equal the User’s Level, and the total number of available levels is 4 x (Level + Cha Mod)) / Wards Major Only, Wards must be called into being at magical power nexi through the construction of massive (small-castle sized at a minimum) stone structures designed by a Mystic Architect – although only the construction of the structure is required. The resulting Wards have a strong tendency to bestow Distant Gifts, but their powers will also be flavored by the designs of the Mystic Architect (12 CP).
  • Adept (Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering, Geography, History, and Nature) (6 CP).
  • Ritual Magic (Atherian Knowledge-Based Rituals version) (6 CP).

Other Special Talents (27 CP):

  • +6 Int for Skill Purposes Only (18 CP).
  • Luck, Specialized in Saving Throws (3 CP).
  • Affluent Wealth Level (6 CP). The benefits here include…
    • Armor, Shields, and Weapons are treated as “Masterwork”.
    • Exotic pets, warbeasts, and packtrains are available. Gedion’s personal steed is, of course, from the Barbarian Lands – and so is an impressively powerful beast.
    • Five Charms and two Talismans (Commonly a Lens of Memory, Traveler’s Bedroll, Vanishing Cloak, and Weave of Light for Charms, and Endless Rope and Rubydraught for Talismans).
    • Retainers: A couple of competent guards, a small entourage, and various employees. Most of them are horse-barbarian slaves, but there are a scattering of other barbarian types among them.
    • +2 Wealth Bonus to Diplomacy and Ride
    • +1 Skill Point per Level.

Skills (54 SP):

Languages: Ikunn, Illerian, Havril, Chordath, Draconic, and Varalung (Local languages of the Atheria setting).

  • Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering, Geography, History, and Nature. All +7 (3 SP each due to Adept, 12 SP total), +6 (Int) = +13
  • Knowledge: Arcana, Local, Nobility and Royalty, Religion, and Planes. All +1 (1 SP each, 5 SP total) +6 (Int) = +7
  • Rolling Earth Martial Art +7 (7 SP) +5 (Con) = +12. Known Techniques: Toughness IV, Defenses I and Blind-Fight.
  • Diplomacy +7 (7 SP) +2 (Cha) -3 (Race) +2 (Wealth) = +8.
  • Spot +7 (7 SP) +0 (Wis) = +7
  • Survival +7 (7 SP) +
  • Intimidate +7 (3 SP for Tier 2 Skill) +2 (Cha) = +9
  • Profession/Astrologer +7 (3 SP for Tier 2 Skill) +6 (Int) = +13
  • Ride +7 (3 SP for Tier 2 Skill) +0 (Dex) +4 (Wealth Bonus) = +11

Note that all Knowledges provide related magical rituals on Atheria. You can find a lost of examples HERE. The setting also uses Tiered Skills – making the less commonly used skills correspondingly cheaper.

Gedion… isn’t an enormously powerful adventurer. He’s a visionary, a builder, and a potential world-changer. If he picks up some levels and fulfills his goals he could easily leave behind a half-dozen to a dozen Epic Wards – capable of protecting cities, supporting magical industries, bestowing major powers on tens of thousands, guarding the gates between the dimensions, and of having a major impact on the development of all Atheria. Building infrastructure isn’t exactly the usual way that d20 characters make an impact – but it’s certainly a practical approach and one that’s less likely to get you killed than most.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice Session CCI – Mortal Voices

Charles was beginning to wonder if something was orchestrating interruptions… A strong destiny charm or good astrological manipulation could arrange it easily enough. That wouldn’t cover the latest one – which was coming from inside Aden, and thus was out of reach of astrology. Still, it was also minor enough to let an aspect cover it – which pretty much put it off the list. This one was probably just random.

Besides… it was just a whole bunch of people complaining on top of a few of the young women who’d moved in on him wanting his attention. A sub-process should be sufficient to deal with it!

At least it wasn’t the Kickaha again.

Not directly anyway.

It was a bunch of human and near-human adults, at one of his residential Manses.

(Charles) “Er… Do you need something? Is this about your “true inner selves”? Those letters were WEIRD! Or is this the Jyhad? I was told that there was one coming!”

(Mother) “what are you doing with our children?!”

(Charles) “Er, what? What children? Aden should be very safe!”

(Middle-aged man) “The ones you turned into wolves!”

(Charles) “Oh! The Kickaha have been recruiting again! That’s kind of naughty there… at least without permission! Well, they aren’t hurt any, but I’d better get them in here!”

(Mother) “So that’s what you call them!”

(Charles) “Well, the kids they recruit get a variety of powers, life spans of several millennia, enhanced personal attributes, extremely rapid regeneration, shapeshifting – at least to wolf-forms – and quite a few other benefits, like sensory boosts, so it’s not like they’re doing anything harmful. It’s still naughty to do it without permission though!”

He sent for the kids, and the (likely) kids who had recruited them, and the pack alphas! It was a lot of kids!

(Charles) “Hrm… Human forms please!… Now, who has parents here?”

More than a few of them did of course. That was why he’d sent for them!

(Charles) “Now then! Did you kids tell your parents what you were up to?”

Unsurprisingly, not all of them did!

(Charles) “I take it that you just ran away to play with the Kickaha packs?”

Some of them, at least… Others wanted to help out with the colonization projects.

The general babbling and child-versus-parents arguments went on for some time. Eventually, however, Charles opted to interrupt it.

(Charles, to everyone) “Now honestly… I don’t have a lot of power over this! I have some authority over the first generation – but I have no idea how many generations they’re up to now and even the first generation were and are free-willed people! Now YOUR children have run away to accept a power-imbuement, and – in at least some cases – to be pioneers, or heroes, or some such. The ones who gave it to them to them are kind of naughty here – but they certainly were entitled to take in runaways, orphans, refugees, and other kids on their own. So you Alphas… I expect you to insist that prospective recruits with reachable families at least get into touch with them and communicate about this first! You kids who have already been taken in, but have accepting families… I expect you to at least spend some time with them regularly! Staying here is a privilege you know, not a right!”

There was some complaining from some of the kids, and some grousing from some of the pack members – but the Alphas could readily deal with that. The parental complaining, however, had more of a point…

(Mother) “You would just give them all this power without knowing how they would use it?”

(Charles) “The older-generation Kickaha kids did actually. But they will make their own choices; yes, they now have more personal power than most humans do – but the Kickaha will never organize themselves to build atomic weapons or such; their natural unit is the pack. Between the two… The Kichaka are likely safer, both personally and for the universe.”

(Father) “How can you be so sure?”

(Charles) “I can be sure that they are personally safer since they are regenerative, can recover from most forms of “death”, and are superhumanly strong and durable. For the universe… they will not tend to build destructive technologies, mass armies, or similar things. The power of tooth and claw – even backed with midrange supernatural powers – cannot cause destruction on that scale. Their creation was more or less an accident of research. I think, however, that it was a fortuitous one. What with the new planets to settle… pathfinders, guides, guardians, and healers will be of great benefit – and they are ideally suited for the job. Finally, of course… I cannot take from them what has been given. It was not my gift to them, and removing it is not within my power.”

(Appalled Mother) “Wait, an accident?”

(Charles) “I had not expected the four original test subjects – all older volunteers in desperate need of transformation – to be able to pass on their new abilities.”

(Father) “Oh. So this was deliberate.”

(Charles) “When it became apparent that they could, the initial tests indicated that it should stop when they reached the limits of the original power source – some six hundred and fifty individuals. They found a way to bypass that on their own.”

(Chorus) “What? How?”

(Charles) “They found a way to make a somewhat more limited set of their basic powers self-generating. That was something of a surprise; entities with such abilities may normally pass on a small part of their abilities to their children, they cannot normally simply bestow them. I wasn’t really watching for that since it’s kind of unprecedented!”

He really had thought that they’d stop at the six hundred and fifty the manse would support. How had they done that anyway? He’d been so busy that it had never really occurred to him to look into it…

Wait. Had they just asked some of the Djinn to help them build a few more Kickaha manses? That would be a lot more limited than them turning into a major magical species on their own and it would make more sense – even most magical species started off at far lower essence levels than the Kickaha seemed to – but it would almost be a little disappointing… it wouldn’t be a major new breakthrough to look into later!

Oh well, still no time. He’d just have to check later on.

(Charles) “They went completely independent!

(Various) “We INSIST on Regular Visits!/Schooling!/Some Discipline!/Doing something about the nonhuman appearance! (That was mostly parents from earth; the extraterrestrial ones had few or no problems with THAT bit).

Charles sighed and held a discussion with the Alphas. Most of them were first generation, and should listen! Regular visits was CERTAINLY reasonable enough – even if the parents had been abusive the kids could appeal and humans attempting to abuse a Kickaha would be hard on the humans at best – and schooling was for EVERY kid in Aden! That was easy enough! And some extra instructions on a bit of Thaumaturgic Shapeshifting would let even the ones who were having a bit of trouble with their shapeshifting easily cover up the more obvious traces. And it wasn’t like they couldn’t get all the training they wanted; Aden was full of tutors.

Later on most of the parents were pleased to find out how much more useful their kids were to have around – but that would take a while.

Meanwhile… Probes were very much an ongoing thing these days, and not just from Yu-Shan and Creation. There were two from the Underworld today alone, four from Malfeas, and one from Oramus. There had been hostile shaping attempts sent from some of the Underworld ones. Of course, Adenic shaping defenses being what they were those remained attempts only, but they would have had nasty effects if they could have worked – raining the Essence from the land and setting up underworld overlay zones.

Charles promptly set up a department of answers, sneding out polite form letters, brochures, and so on to the “friendly” (or at least passive) ones, but allowing the actively hostile ones to “pass unnoticed”. No underworld overlays outside the underworld communications manse boundaries though!

Huh… Weird… At least one of the attempts to set up an underworld overlay came from Yu-Shan. Perhaps that had been the guy who handled Lethe?

Charles called Zanjaras to see if it had been – and if it had been, what he wanted or needed!

(Zanjaras) “Er… No, I would just ask through Cangha. Is there anything YOU need?”

(Charles) “Not really right now… you did get your invitation didn’t you? Unless, maybe, unbinding Yu-Shan from Creation will interrupt your work; you indicated that it wouldn’t, but the plans weren’t quite finalized then.”

(Zanjaras) “Of course. How is that proceeding?”

(Charles) “Well, it should be underway in five days now!”

(Zanjaras) “I see.”

(Charles) “Well, I don’t know who else might have been trying to set up an underworld overlay zone from Yu-Shan… but there’s not enough time for any major investigation at the moment! Maybe afterwards!”

(Zanjaras) “Hmm… Yu-Shan be with you, then.”

(Charles) “Well, thank you!”

There were thousands of last-minute checks to perform! He’d… have to delegate additional interruptions from now on for the most part!

And a very short session this time. Ah well!