Exalted – The Orrery of Istalian

Pleiades Star Cluster

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   There have always been shadows. Gathering, flowing together into wells of darkness within the earth. A tideless, silent ocean, a shapeless darkness lapping around the tombs of the Malfeans, offering concealment to everything which seeks to hide – whether it is a spirit which clings in futile passion to a life that has passed or a plot against creation itself.

   As foolish spirits among the dead chose to hide from Lethe within the sea of shadows, the darkness gained solidity of sorts, taking on the form of a tarnished and decaying reflection of the world above. Outside of fate, yet reflecting it, its cold stars sprang into being with Sutesh’s creation of the great Calender of the Dead – a counterpart to the great Loom of Fate, above.

   And the Sidereals grew nervous, as a realm beyond their sight, and beyond their astrological powers, began to touch upon the destiny of Creation. They sought the key to the stars of the underworld.

   The Orrery of Istilian was one attempt to find that key – a prototype of the later (and far more useful) Divine Observatories. Its central dome contains a whirling galaxy of miniature stars – a display which can reflect the stars of the heavens, of the underworld, or of both at once, as they are or as they once were. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much help to the Sidereals… It made mortal astrology easier, and shielded it against any form of detection or interference – but it was of no help at all in getting Sidereal Astrology, or Astrology-based Charms, to work in the Underworld.

   The Sidereals don’t like to dwell on failures, on the limits of their power, or on things they do not understand. Other projects were brought forward, there were wars and disasters, casualties were taken, files were dumped into inactive storage, forgetfulness occurred – and the Orrery was sealed and abandoned for millennia.

   Until a youthful exalted scaled it’s peak and replaced its long-decayed wards with his own.

   The Orrery of Istalian, Celestial (Sidereal) Manse III

   The core of the Orrery is a whirling mass of metal rings and crystalline spheres, driven by their arcane link with the moving celestial bodies themselves. Most of the magically-important rooms are sealed in the lower levels, leaving a selection of workrooms, offices, and similar rooms on the upper levels. The building itself is carved from the green and yellow jade of the mountain as pair of crossed wings surmounted by the central dome. The exterior is decorated with a series of small cascades, gardens, and reflecting pools.

   The manse itself is a first-age design and – as such – has no particular drawbacks. Of course, this means that it only has six creation points to spend. Still, it was a special-purpose design to begin with, and really doesn’t need more. It has….

  • The Sea of Heaven/Lesser Divine Observatory (Sidereal Favored, 1). The manses star display provides +(Manse Level) bonus success on mortal astrology due to the perfect clarity of the view and to the ability to magnify the display and shift viewpoints.
  • The Cloak of Twilight Stars/Special (1). Since the user is inspecting a mere reflection of the stars rather than the stars themselves, anyone using mortal astrology through the Orrery cannot be detected or interfered with by anyone outside the Manse.
  • The Arts of the First Age/Magical Conveniences (1). The Orrery offers cabinets which keep whatever is placed in them both fresh and either hot or cold, conveniently-drifting orbs of light which follow you about as needed, and the ability to place and receive the equivalent of “heavenly phone calls”.
  • Mysteries of the Artificier/Integrated Utility Artifacts (3). The Orrery has (Level x 2) dots of useful built-in artifacts – in it’s case, three two-dot devices:
    • A Celestial Forge – included in case any special parts were required for the experiments – grants the user access to the Creation of Perfection charm.
    • An Agathean Pool allows it’s user’s to evoke minor constructs, sparkling things of pure light and water and mist. Twice per day it automatically produces an aide, as per Research Assistant Invocation. Up to a dozen times per day – and more if someone pays the mote cost – it will invoke the Efficient Secretary Technique.
    • The Veil of Maia cloaks the manse in a thin veil of illusion; it is easy to overlook, to forget, and to dismiss as unimportant. While major spells, charms, and determined investigations will break through this defense, the collapse of the Veil will also serve to warn the inhabitants that someone is indeed spying on them.

   Hearthstones:

   Thanks to it’s peculiar (and failed) design, and to it’s schizoid purpose, the Orrery generates two separate Hearthstones – a level two Gem of Supernal Clarity and a level one Powerstone.

  • Gem Of Supernal Clarity (Sidereal **)
    • This delicate blue stone resembles a snowflake more than a conventional gem. It’s depths mirror the appearance of the sky outside it’s manse. It’s bearer enjoys incredible clarity of thought, gaining immunity to all mental effects that alter his or her attitude and behavior, or which cause him or her to spend willpower to undertake an action which is normally allowed without such restriction. The user is not protected from compulsions which reduce dice pools. 
  • Powerstone (Any Elemental Aspect, * to *****)
    • These massive opals hold a spinning wheel of energy within their depths and emit occasional sparks of essence from their edges. Unlike most Hearthstones, powerstones exist specifically to power artifacts, and are very good at it; they’re as effective at powering an artifact as a normal hearthstone two levels higher.
    • Powerstones are often linked to unlivable “manses” – geomantic foci sitting on volcanoes, in the middle of great whirlpools, or other power-rich but unwelcoming locales.
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