I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One, Among Others

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One, Among Others

Arms of the Chosen is the first book done by the new devs of Ex3, Eric Minton and Robert Vance. While Morke and Holden are credited as "additional development," this mostly means the book was begun under their watch and then they got fired before it was completed. The book is designed as an overview of artifacts and their place in the game, with a lot of examples. Artifacts in this edition are, after all, meant to have their own stories and legends. There are five chapters - first, a history of Exalted craftwork and the uses of the five magical materials, which overrides pretty much everything written in the Core about them, plus some (sadly vague and unhelpful) Evocation guidelines. Chapter 2 moves on to a list of weapons and their stories and powers, thapter 3 is armor, chapter 4 is miscellaneous artifact stuff, and chapter five is warstriders. (Read: Giant robots.)

We get a new list of suggested reading for this book's inspirations. From the Classics, we get Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel, which is a specific take on the Hindu Ramayana which is cited for Rama's use of a magic bow that fires universally destructive arrows against a trident that also has universe-ending power, and The Tain (Ciaran Carson translation) and Lady Gregory's Gods and Fighting Men to cite the insane superwepaons and other magic items of Irish literary mythology. From fiction, we get Elric by Michael Moorcock because of Stormbringer, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, which involves sci fi heroes pretending to be Hindu gods that use high tech superitems to enhance their already powerful abilities. Movies gives us Doctor Strange because of Strange's learning to use the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto. Comics goes with Witchblade for the titular Witchblade and its historic legacy. Then we get, from manga, Bleach by Tite Kubo, for obvious reasons, Fate/Zero by Gen Urobohi (for the legendary artifacts that the warrior servants carry) and Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi, for the way that the lost history of drama influences the legendary weapons, and the way the weapons don't always have to be killing ones. From anime, we get The Vision of Escaflowne, as the best example for how warstriders work and fit into a fantasy world.

So yeah, a lot more anime and manga in this list! I wouldn't pick Lord of Light myself, but that's really my only quibble. (Well, that and I don't know a damn thing about Witchblade.)

now, the history of crafting! The oldest artifacts in Creation come from the Dawn Time, before the birth of humanity. When the Primordials made the world, it was filled with all kinds of lesser being - elementals, gods, inhuman races - which made their own weapons and armor to hunt or make war or for whatever purpose. Most of these species had little resemblance to humanity, and most of their surviving ancient relics are barely recognizable as artifacts to all but the hugest fucking nerds. Stuff like twelve-fingered gauntlets made of vines, fractal crystal armatures, glowing purple gas that can be sung into the shape of a boat, immortal un-flames that glow with cold deathlight (whatever that means) or lances made of physical math. Those are literally all the examples. Most of these tools are so strange in their design that only a Lunar might use them, and only by mastery of shapeshifting. Even the relics of more humanoid species such as the Mountain Folk and the Dragon Kings were often of exotic materials and strange construction.

The first Exalts were quick to master the forging of the magical materials - at least, the non-soulsteel ones - and many legendary artifacts were born of the war against the Primordials, given shape by the necesseties of the battles. Among their greatest innovations was the invention of colossal weapons - daiklaves, goremauls and direlances, for example - whose sheer mass made their power devastating yet whose masters could lift them as easily as paper. They also learned the art of Evocations, bonding with their artifacts to draw forth their inner power. EVen today, some still recall the legend of Eternal Nova, the Sword Priest, whose master of blades was such that he could unlock another Exalt's weapon at a touch, releasing its Evocations for them. A few scholars have written of Feranth Dambresile, the Invisible, who stole the secret of Evocations from the prehuman Thau Irim, the Citiy in the Ruby, a long-lost inhuman species that was also a single stone.

In the First Age, the end of the Divine Revolution marked a new beginning. The world was new to the Exalts, as yet uncharted and full of strange people, untamed wilds and prehuman ruins. It was a time of adventure and exploration, as servitor races of the Primordials lingered in the dark, and the shadowlands unleashed by the war allowed dark Underworld beings to spawn as Fair Folk stalked the edges of the world. The Exalted Host were forced to battle many mighty peoples, such as the Niobraran League, an underwater confederation led by their own strange Chosen, or the Nine Foxfires, a band of witch-ogre siblings whose grew stronger with each defeat. Their crafters rose to the challenges, making new tools to tame the wild, from pages of Brigid's Atlas to the Singing Staves to the Compass of Mercury's Grace. They made regalia to show their authority over the world, like the Daiklove of Conquest or the cursed crown Vainglory. They made weapons and armor to defeat their foes, some revived and renewed from the Dawn Time, others siege engines and warstriders that were wholly new.

With the turn of centuries, the First Age crafters broke new ground. They integrated the results of sorcery, such as liquid light or crystallized music, into their works, drawing forth new and unnatural metals, plants and animals from the Wyld to use. They mixed artifice and gheomancy, tapping into the flows of Essencei n the world to empower their artifacts or fusing mystic devices with arcane architecture. They created superior prosthetic limbs, self-aware automata, flying ships - all manners of wonder. In the hight of the First Age, great artifacts were built with strange, even unfathomable powers. They made synthetic minds that outstripped their own intellects, metal dragons that drank Essence and oculd level cities, cornucopias of infinite wealth. The book Treatise on Wonders by Kesuth Amaldui speaks of the crucible of the sorcerer Tarim, which distilled spells into a liquid form, and the carvings in the ruins of Kingfisher Bastion depict the Seat of the Sun Ascendant, a great orichalcum throne that could unfold into a colossus the size of a city. Even today, the world fears the mighty power of the Sword of Creation, enshrined in the mountain-heart of the Realm Defense Grid.

Next time: Artifice in the Age of Sorrows.

Modern Magic

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Modern Magic

After the Usurpation and the establishment of the Shogunate, the Dragon-Blooded spent centuries fighting each other, Fair Folk, Lunars and many other foes. For centuries of Shogunate rule, Dragon-Blooded dynasties and their Lunar foes made weapons to pursue their eternal war with each other, primarily in jade and moonsilver respectively. The Sidereals continued to seek out starmetal and make it into artifacts for hteir own secretive purposes. Many of the greatest and most renowned weapons of the Time of Tumult were made under Shogunate rule. While the era's crafters could not match the peerless skills of the fallen Solars, and their supplies of First Age tools and infrastructure soon withered, their superlative skill could not be denied. The white jade wrackstaff Thundering Echo was used by Alac Mere to shatter the bridge at Archflame, ending the Gilt Tiger advance, while the black jade dagger Breathstealer was used by Otani Kensen to assassinate the Shogun Issen in order to earn her son's freedom from a god, while Slumbering Phoenix, a suit of red jade armor, was used to call down fire to defeat the cataphracts of the Hyacinth Court, and the moonsilver daiklave Disillusion was wielded by the Lunar Eyes-Like-Knives to flense the souls of the Velen daimyos.

Since the Great Contagion, things have gotten worse. Most First Age lore is entirely lost, and outside the Realm and the great domains of the Lunar elders, even the most potent civilizations of Creation, such as Whitewall or Randan or the cities of the Scavenger Lands, have few of the occult tools and ingredients required to awaken new artifacts. Obtaining these resources takes the aid of sorcerers, scavenger lords and Guild merchants. Even then, few artifacts can match those that came before - and even so, each is a wonder.

Artifacts have left great marks on the world. Creation itself still bars scars from the Empress' invocation of the Realm Defense Grid to defeat the Fair Folk invasion with massive elemental force. Ten thousand hobgoblins remain locked eternally in stone on the Plain of Statues, and the Persimmon Marshes are still red with rust where the storms of iron barbs rained from the skies. A dozen columns of prosmatic flame, each the size of a city, still burn in the Need-Fire Pergola, eight centuries after the fact. These are not the only scars, nor the Grid the only artifact of power to leave them. In the Hull Plain, near Jiara and the Tower of Vultures lie six ancient vessesl, their hulls intact, though vines have overgrown their oarlocks and trees grow on their decks. Legend has it that they were sailed against Gethra Lion-Skin, only to be left stranded on the plain when she used her Wave-Seizing Gauntlets to change the curse of the river Ondessics, pulling it out from under them and hurling it to the horizon.

In the heart-trees of the Hundredwood were born from the blade Viridian Branch. Telian Talebearer slew there the Beast That Was A Hundred with the weapon, and from its corpses rose many grotesque trees. Several still stand, and some say the Beast's shadow still devours those that would harvest their timber. Yu Sun, the prin of Tarry, lay dying from the venom of the Nightshade Wyrm when he pronounced a deep curse. Any would-be ruler of Tarry that could not don his armor, the Black Rose Panoply, would die - and yet the armor itself slew many princes, its soulsteel thorns tearing through them. Over centuries, the city has risen and fallen, but even now, iti s run by a council of regents in stead of a prince, for Yi Sun's curse lingers, and the armor has not yet submitted to a new master.

Twelve mile-long chasms cross the Highmoth Hills, left by the Solar Yelesta Litan, who once wielded the mighty powers of the grimcleaver Falling Star Chisel against the Iron-Hide Boar. Her final blow cast it into the depths of the ground, where the buried cities of the prehuman race the Yspra lay forgotten. Now, mortals mine out veins of precious metals from the chasms, and the vegeful Yspra, worms of black chitin that grow in communal pools, rise up from the deep to slay them and haunt the land. The Lunar Kasanje Brightmane attacked the Shogunate fortress Chiyemi armed with the direlance Silver Key, which he stabbed through the substance of the world itself to open a terrible wound into the Wyld. Today, chaos still sweels under the scar, making the land itself undulate and shift. Insects there fly on wings of glass and the flower growl like dogs. At the heart of the land rises the palace of the raksha queen Ankou Thousand-EYes, who each year sends a new champion into Creation to seek Silver Key.

The Eye of Autochthon, near omnipotent, is a pearlescent orb of black ebony, so large that a man could barely hold it. It has appeared in history many times, and each time, the one that discovered it transformed the world. Bagrash Kol raised an empire of towers so tall they touched the sky. The abhuman Aiun used it and her sorcery to raise a new continent in the Northwest for her people. Monsque Viridian led a nearly unstoppable rebellion against the Scarlet Empress. And yet, each time, the Eye turned against its master and destroyed them utterly, leaving only ruins where their empires lay. Artifacts leave marks.

Many substances can be used to make an artifact, but none are so good for this purpose as the magical materials. Each has a natural affinity for power and a set of distinctive if overlapping correspondances that flavor the Evocations that can be drawn out from them. Other factors also play major roles in an artifact's abilities, of course, such as subsidiary materials, exotic ingredients, method of manufacture, intent of the creator and history of use. However, the magical materials are still the foundation for an artifact's character. An artifact can have multiple materials, alloyed or used as inlay, wrapping or filigree. One material's Essence almost always predominates, but when the materials synergize in just the right way, they can harmonize to gain affinities broader than those that would be available to only a single material. We're going to get new correspondences for the materials, to override the ones from the core...next time.

Next time: The Five Magical Materials

Magic Metal

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Magic Metal

Orichalcum: still super-gold. It gleams at all times as if sunlight were shining on it, and it is more vibrant and richer in color than normal gold. Its nature resonates with the Solars and the Unconquered Sun, and it is primarily found high on mountain peaks and alpine plateaus, as if drawn to the sun. While ancient scholars knew how to distill it from gold using lava and sun-focusing mirrors, that knowledge has long since been lost, as have the tools to do it. Orichalcum's mystical powers draw largely from its associations with the sun. It is able to channel raw power, great strength, excellence of skill, light and shadow, revelation, healing, divine judgment, purity, majesty and glory. It channels Essence and sorcerous power more efficiently than any other material, and while it lacks in the elemental power of jade, it can harness the energies of powerful or vibrant natural events, such as floods, earthquakes or volcanos, and is able to channel, absorb and redirect elemental force, though it cannot create it. Most orichalcum artifacts are highly direct and unsubtle; its nature is not to be oblique. Pre-First Age orichalcum artifacts especially often have a greenish patina due to channeling overwhelming amounts of sorcerous Essence. Between this and its long association with the Solar Anathema, some Dragon-Bloods refer to it as "demon gold" and reject its use as tainted by infernal power. Dynastic military forces that work with the Wyld Hunt often guard known orichalcum deposits in the anticipation that Solars will attempt to gain access to them.

Moonsilver is harder than steel, never tarnishes, and is especially brilliant in moonlight. While it is the same color as normal silver, it reflects light in the same way rippling water does, its surface slowly shifting and pulsing as if alive. Lunars are attuned to it especially. Moonsilver is mopst often found at the edge of the world, on the border with the Wyld's chaos. Its ore is usually found at liminal places, where land and water meet - lake shores, sea craves, undersea chasms. Moonsilver lodes are rare of late, as the Realm has sealed off many of them, while others have been mined out. Moonsilver's nature is feral, and some artifacts of it bristle with barely restrained fury, while others are subtle and cool. As with the ever-changing Luna, the metal is associated with transformation and inconstant things - it is used for shapeshifting, malleability, cyclical changes, reflection, opposition, duality, purification, emotion, creativity, secrecy, wisdom, intuition, dreams, madness and otherworldly realms. Like Lunars, it also has affinity for beasts, predation, pair bonding, adaptation, strength, vitalty, trickery and witchcraft. Many of its effects manifest as internal changes to either the artifact or its wielder. Some moonsilver artifacts can modify their own shape or substance, usually subtly but not always. Its sorcerous power tends towards internal strength and transformation, of the self or others.

Starmetal is never found below the surface - it comes from the sky. Creation's own anima, formed from the Essence expenditures of gods, gathers in the constellations, like fish in a net. Masses of divine power fall from the sky as meteors, and while this meteoric ore appears identical to normal iron and is refied by the same techniques, it is not iron. Purified starmetal resembles polished steel, but harder and lighter, and it flashes with the colors of the Five Maidens when it catches the light. Starmetal is by far the scarcest of the magical materials, as the meteors fall rarely and their size is tiny compared to veins of ore. Sidereals claim most of it, led to it by their astrological predictions, and it is used sparingly, primarily in slim and undecorative designs or as inaly or filigree to other materials. Because it gathers in the constellations, starmetal has an affinity for the Loom of Fate and for Sidereal power. It is associated with fate, destiny, luck, time, knowledge, mysteries, foresight and esoteric or ephemeral things. Some meteors also retain qualities of the constellations they fell from, or the wider astrological Houses - Journeys, Serenity, Battles, Secrets or Endings. As it comes from the heavens, starmetal also holds influence over the gods and spirits, and some of its artifacts possess Evocations that greatly resemble or replicate spirit Charms.

Soulsteel does not appear naturally in Creation. It can be found sometimes in the depths of the Underworld, where many ghosts have sunk into oblivion or where necrotic energies naturally gather in Abyssal demesnes. Writings from the First Age, when a rare few Exalts made use of the metal, mention primeval soulsteel veins where the blood of dying foes of the gods seeped into the earth. However, most soulsteel is smelted in the soul-forges of the Underworld, made from alloys of shadow-ores of death with the souls of the tortured dead. While soulsteel resemble black iron, further examinatiuon will reveal the faces of the ghosts within, writhing and wailing. Battle and rituals intensify their torment, allowing their moans and screams to be heard. Abyssals have an affinity for soulsteel, and its power is associated with suffering, emptiness, endings, blood, silence, cold, darkness, death, disease, violence, weakness, pain, fear, despair, rage, greed and hate. Further, it is the foremost of all substances in commanding, banishing, binding or killing ghosts and other undead, due to its strong Underworld nature. Soulsteel is good for channeling sorcerous energies towards destruction, and is also an ideal focus for necromantic power.

Jade is the most common of the magical materials, though still far rarer than mundane metals like silver. It can be found throughout Creation, and it is tehcnically speaking stone, not metal, though powdered jade is usually alloyed with steel to make weapons and armor. It is a smooth, glossy stone in either alloyed or natural states, with rich and brilliant colors. The Realm uses jade both as currency and in artifact creation, and the Empress' foreign policy was heavily dedicated to controlling the jade mines of the Threshold. With her disapperarance, the Great Houses and other factions now squabble over control of jade. As with the Dragon-Blooded, it comes in feve elements. As a stone, it has endless patterns and gradations of shade, though jade-steel alloy loses many of these variations. Each color has its own character, rooted in one of the elements.

Black Jade is the color of sea at midnight, sometimes shot through shadowy swirls and whorls. It is most often found near rivers or coastlines, or on the sea floor. Its power is that of water, drawing on the subtle motion of currents, the ebb of tides and the pull of the depths. It has affinity for aquatic life, resilience, fluidity, elusiveness, deception, illusion, mystery, intuitiom, emotion, indirect force, change, adaptation, acid, corrosion, spirits and dissolution. Blue Jade is the color of the cloudless sky - sometimes pale as a winter's dawn, sometimes rich as a summer evening. It is lighter than other jade and cool to the touch, with veins appearing atop snowy mountains and in the frozen lands of the North. Its magic is that of air and winter, with affinities for wind, cold, ice, weather, lightning, flying things, speed, precision, intellect, understanding, memory, language, philosophy, music and silence. Green jade appears in all the colors of vegetation, even brown. (It's still technically called green.) Even when worked, it appears more grown than shaped, and can be found in forested hills, under jungles or in the roots of ancient trees. Its powers draw on the Essence of life, giving it affinity for plants, animals, wilderness, fertility, growth, vitality, interconnection, pleasure, nourishment, healing, drugs and poisons. Red Jade is blazing scarlet, often shot through with fiery orange or yellow, or sometimes smoky gray. Its colors shift in the light, and it is warm to the touch. It is usually found in places of great heat, like volcanic islands, lava tubes or under desert sands. It has affinity for flame, smoke, heat, light, illumination, revelation, warmth, passion, zeal, unpredictability, quick movement, violence, destruction, purification and renewal. White Jade is heavier and denser than others, most often ivory in color but sometimes the white of mutton fat or ash gray, especially if mined in the Underworld. It is found in mountains and deep underground, and it is associated with the bones of the earth, solid and stable in stillness, unstoppable in motion. Its affinities are for earth, stone, solidity, stability, harmony, strength, momentum, gravity, resistance, inertia, magnetism, stubbornness, tradition, history, passivity and sleep.

Other, more exotic materials may well be used to make artifacts, and while magical materials are usually the core ingredient, exotic materials and supernatural ingredients are often incorporated to draw on their distinctive affinities that can synergize will with the intended abilities of the artifact. The time-twisting wrackstaff Gnomon uses starmetal and celestial peachwood, while the moonsilver armor Ey ebright used seventy-seven star sappires to function as eyes for its blind wearer, Ophiune, while the core of the Tuysk of Galaech-Ma was behemoth-ivory. Most artifacts made by Exalts will use at least one magical material, however, as few non-Solars can resonate properly with exotic materials alone, leaving them unable to tap the deepest power of such artifacts. Spirits and other inhuman crafters will more often use exotic materials, such as Ligier's blade of demonic bronze, Siakal's armor of sharkskin or Ahlat's bow of lion bone and gold.

The Evocations of artifacts now have two unique keywords that only Evocations may have - Dissonant and Resonant. The Dissonant keyword restricts or limits the Charms' power for Exalts that do not resonate with the material of the artifact, while the Resonant keyword grants extra power to those that do. Solars are resonant with all materials, being masters of Evocation. Lunars are resonant with moonsilver and neutral towards all others. Sidereals and Getimians alike are resonant with starmetal and dissonant with all others. Dragon-blooded are resonant with jade, dissonant with soulsteel and neutral towards all others. Abyssals are resonant with soulsteel and neutral towards all others. Liminals are neutral towards soulsteel and dissonant with all other materials. Exigents are unique; some may resonate with a specific material or even multiple, while others are resonant with none, or with specific exotic materials only. Gods, demons and other non-Exalted beings are either neutral towards all materials (if powerful) or dissonant towards all materials (if weak). There are many exceptions, however, and the GM has final say.

All artifacts with 3+ dots may now have Evocations, not just weapons and armor. The Evocations draw on the affinities of the material it's made from, but also its history and purpose, especially the legends of past wielders and the actions of the current wielder. 3-dot artifacts typically channel their Evocations to enhance skills and allow supernatural feats of skill, and while they can be quite powerful, they are still feats of skill rather than raw expressions of supernatural might. They may have up to 10 Evocations. 4-dot artifacts typically create a unique playstyle for their wielder that redfines their abilities, and their capstone powers are incredible miracles, though usually of no greater scope than the current scene. They may have up to 15 Evocations. 5-dot artifacts have powers that define their legend and raise it beyond normal scope, with immense might that can be evoked in many ways. Capstone evocations are usually on the same immense scale or power as Solar Sorcery, and they can have any number of Evocations. Artifact N/A are plot devices that can do just about anything the GM allowes, and their Evocations allow for hte performance of feats nothing else can do, with the only limits being no true resurrection of the dead and no time travel.

As with normal Charms, PCs can have custom Evocations, as long as they fit the artifact's power level and legend. In theory, every Evocation is a custom power, unique to its wielder, but in practice, a published list can just be treated as the unique versions of the PC wielding it. Dissonant and Resonant keywords are needed only for artifacts intended for more than one character to wield, such as an artifact stolen from an antagonist. Evocations are, design-wise, broken into three types - Core, Charm Enhancement and Ulktimate. Core Evocations are the majority, function just as normal Charms and are used to define the main powers of the artifact. Many will be Simple Charms, but they don't have to be. They are typically less potent or more expensive than a similar Solar Charm would be, but the Resonant keyword can narrow that. Charm Enhancements upgrade or alter one or more of the wielder's native Charms in a way fitting to the theme, which can be used as prerequisites to gate off effects that would be disruptive in the hands of, say, a non-Solar. Ultimate powers are typically only the capstone Charms of the Evocation tree, which provide overwhelming advantages or narrative-defining powers. Typically, they are limited on how often they can be used.

We also get errata on two Solar Craft Charms, to fit the new Evocation rules. Design BEyond Limit now only lets you buy one free Evocation from the artifact per story but can extend a tree past its normal limits, and Celestial Reforging Technique lets you remove Charms from the tree to replace them with new ones.

Next time: Courante and Galliard

Sword Sisters

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Sword Sisters

Courante and Galliard are a pair of daiklaves, one orichalcum and the other moonsilver, which are together a 3-dot artifact. However, unlike most paired weapons, they are not intended to be wielded by the same person. In the early First Age, Ranika of the Joybringers forged the two swords for her comrades, Ciel Seratta of the Crowned Suns and Leynon Hundred-Wings. The pair were inseparable as they established trade routes across Creation and into the WYld on behalf of the Exalted, and Ranika wished for them to have weapons that would fit their unshakable trust. The blades were quenched and tempered beneath the constellation called the Pillar, the astrological sign of a partnership tested and found to be stable. The blades proved to be as true as the pair wielding them, and they were used to defeat countless threats, from the winged serpent plague of Zerit the Devouerer to the beastly forces of the Nine Foxfires to the ghost assassins of the Tower of Dust. When Leynon fell in battle, Ciel was inconsolable, and she buried both blades with her dear friend.

The blades remain entombed in the Threshold. Leynon's ghost wields Courante now, while Galliard is borne by the hungry ghost that rose from his corpse. Together, they await a pair of heroes worthy of the two swords. The bones of those who have failed their tests lie around them, dusty and cold. The two blades are identical in nearly every respect, each inlaid with a stylized solar eclipse, but Courante is orichalcum with moonsilver inlay, and Galliard is moonsilver with orichalcum inlay. Destiny draws them together if separated, so that their wielders may always be allied, as is their nature. Each has a single hearthstone slot.

The real power of Courante and Galliard can only be drawn forth by a pair of companions that treasure each other deeply. When each wielder has a positive Tie to the other, they are sword-siblings, and most Evocations of the blades only function when fighting alongside a sword-sibling. As long as the wielder of each blade is in Close range of their sword-sibling, they get a bonus to Parry and may ignore a small amount of onslaught penalty when defending against attacks from foes slower than the sword-sibling. Further, each wielder may use the bond of the swords to tell how the other is doing. For a single mote spent, the wielder knows if the sword-sibling is in pain or wounded, and may feel any inflamed passions or other strong emotions the other is feeling. If the sword-sibling dies, the wielder is instantly aware in the form of a pang of agony and grief. Once per story, the wielder may protect the sword-sibling from a Decisive attack while in Close range by intercepting the blow, taking its damage without a chance to defend, and must take a Crippling injury to reduce the damage, though doing so doesn't count against the normal limit of Crippling injuries per story. Together, the blades have 8 Evocations from Essence 1 to 4.

Galliard's first is Argent Defender, which lets you gain Initiative when you succesfully defend your sword-sibling with a Defend Other action, and if you are resonant with moonsilver, so does your sword-sibling. Courante's first Aureate Avenger, which lets you gain Initiative whenever you hit someone that attacked your sword-sibling since your last turn, and if you are resonant with orichalcum, so does your sword-sibling. From there, they both head for Shared Battle Instinct, which you learn for free when you uphold a Major or Defining Intimacy by defeating a significant foe with the aid of your sword-sibling. It lets you reduce failures on your Join Battle roll by piggy-backing on 10s on your sword-sibling's roll, or if resonant, just lets you set your Initiative to be equal to theirs if they're faster than everyone else.

From there, you can learn Together Triumphant, which lets you gain Initiative once per round when your sword-sibling Crashes a foe. However, you can't learn this if you're dissonant with the material that the blade you wield is made of. You can also learn Shining Eclipse Strike, which lets you make a Distract gambit to help your sword-sibling and make the target have a penalty to defend against your sword-sibling's attack. From Together Triumphant you can grab Sparks Fly Together, which allows you to, when your anima is at bonfire and your sword-sibling is in Medium range and gets targeted by an attack, jump into your anima and teleport to your sword-sibling, allowing you to use Defend Other on them. If your sword-sibling is also at bonfire, you can do this out to Extreme range, limited only by line of sight ot their anima. Courante, if resonante, lets you make a counterattack, while Galliard, if resonant, gives you bonus Parry against attacks on your sword-sibling.

Shining Eclipse Strike leads to Celestial Union of Blades, which allows you to link a conduit between your Essence and your sword-sibling's. As long as you remain in Long range of each other and at least at burning-level anima, you can draw on each others' anima banner level as a bonus to attack rolls and movement actions. The conduit is visible as a line of Essence as long as your animas are bright enough and you are in Long range. The ultimate ability is Electrum Divinity Fusion. This allows you and your sword-sibling to literally merge with each other as long as you both know the Charm and are at 10+ Initiative. You each dissolve into your animas and flow together, becoming a ten-foot-tall, four-armed warrior made of gold and silver that resembles both of you. This has a number of effects.

First, you each ratain your own Initiative, Essence pool and Willpower, and whenever one of your Initiatives comes up in the turn, the composite being gets to act, allowing each of you take your turn, but using the higher of any relevant ratings between the two of you and with access to all Charms, Evocations and other magic that either of you knows. Second, you treat each other as sword-siblings still when using Evocations to enhance your actions, and you may in fact still Defend Other each other against Withering attacks directed at the other's Initiative track or all Decisive attacks, effectively meaning your Parry is basically doubled. Each of you retains your own health track and damage, but these are temporarily set aside. The composite instead has its own health track, using the higher number of health levels of either member, plus a bunch of extras at -1 and -2. If the composite is incapacitated, all of its damage is divided among your pair's health tracks as you separate, rounding down. Withering attacks against you choose which Initiative track to target. If either Crashes, the composite ends immediately and you both go prone. Half of the damage in its health track, rounding down, is transferred to each of you. The two swords fuse into a single electrum blade coated in multi-colored light, becoming a massive moonsilver grand daiklave. Other artifacts you each wield combine into a single composite weapon or armor using the best traits of each artifact involved, typically in the form of spectacular and exotic combinations of each artifact's most striking features. Ongoing effects from active Charms, poison or other things applied to either character are applied to the composite. The GM may adjudicate other effects, such as shared Limit triggers or whether you can keep secrets from each other, at their discretion based on what makes for the better story. Electrum Divinity Fusion can only be used once per story, unless it's reset by upholding a Defining tie towards your sword-sibling by making a significant sacrifice to protect them.

Next time: The Distaff

Silk Sword

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Silk Sword

The Distaff is a 3-dot moonsilver daiklave blunted by silk. Stories speak of the ancient Prince Aridara of Cynosure, who was born with a knife in her hand. With it, she cut her way free of a breech birth, and as she grew, so too did her blade. At first she named the sword Dragonfly, and she used it for actions of grace and beauty. She cut flowers, trimmed goose feather quills. Then, war came to Cynosure, and she turned the blade towards battle, where it became as cruel as those it slew. At the end of the war, however, Aridara swore never again to take a mortal life. She wrapped the blade in silk, that it might no more draw blood, and she set out on a pilgrimage, traveling until she reached the Dreaming Sea. There, she gave up the works of the mighty and became a traveling peddler, aiding the locals with small gifts and subtle magics. Dragonfly swept in the silks it was swaddled in, learning gentle things anew as its mistress made it into a distaff, from which she wove many wonders. Only when the Prince of Fallen Fire personally begged her aid did Aridara return to Cynosure – and that doesn’t really matter to the tale of the Distaff. It has the shape of a blade, but it is tangled in silk complete, from hilt to tip. A moon-gray, shimmering outer layer is shot through with silver, as though it had leeched the moonsilver from the blade, and it conceals veins of many other brilliant colors of silk. When wielded, the silk moves like a thing alive, weaving itself into cloth or entangling foes. It has no hearthstone slots.

The silk of the Distaff is spun from its Essence, and its threads move as extensions of its wielder’s will. They may assume intricate patterns of any color without loom or needle, and so the weapon functions as an exceptional tool for weaving-based Craft or similar. Further, the threads wrap around the wielder’s wrist to prevent the blade from being taken. This gives a bonus to Parry against Disarm gambits and increases their difficulty when used against the wielder. The blade has 8 Evocations, from Essence 1 to 4. Also, unlike most daiklaves, it deals Bashing damage and can be used easily to disarm or grapple.

The first two are largely unrelated to the rest. Silkworm’s Nostrum allows you to use the Distaff with a number of Solar Medicine Charms by using its threads to make bandages, wound dressings and compresses, reducing the cost of the Charms, and allows you to use Wholeness-Restoring Meditation to weave a patient into a cocoon of silk, the Panchrest Chrysalis, that greatly increases healing speed by sending the patient within into a healing trance in which they need not eat, drink or breathe. Tinker’s Cobweb lets you spin Essence silk from the Distaff to reduce the cost and increase the power of a number of Craft Charms for repairing or strengthening objects. Fortunately for everyone, neither is a prerequisite for anything else on the Distaff.

Tarantula’s Grip lets you make a Disarm or Grapple gambit as a counterattack by catching the enemy’s limb or blade in the silk of the Distaff. Wrapped-Fly Atemi is usable when you’re in control of a grapple and it lets you entangle your victim in silk, inflicting the effects of a Flaw such as Blind, Amputee or Mute by rendering part of their body useless due to the bindings. However, it’s not a Crippling effect and the victim can break free as a feat of strength, with a bonus if they have something sharp to use.

Poppet-Knitting Practice can only be learned if you have Craft (Weaving) 3+. It allows you to weave a humanoid silhouette from silk, turning it into a fabric servant for you. It has the strength of a mortal human, needs no nourishment or sleep, and while it cannot speak, its gestures are extremely expressive. It is not creative or independent and it has no soul, but it can obey complex instructions. It takes a full scene to weave a fabric servant, but use of Craftsman Needs No Tools can reduce that to a single turn. The servant cannot fight, but you may choose some specific role that determines what it’s good at doing. It has a pool based on your Craft for that stuff, and 3 dice for anything else. A fabric servant is utterly loyal, and will obey anyone else you tell it to with equal loyalty unless your instructions override theirs. It will not accidentally destroy itself but has no particular self-preservation instinct. If you are resonant with moonsilver, you can spend some Gold XP to make the Charm Instant instead of Indefinite, allowing the servant to last until destroyed without any committed motes.

Snarled-Silk Pankratiast allows you to create a wiry, bipedal silk creature to entangle your foes. If you hit with a grapple, you can then roll this creature into combat, allowing it to handle the grapple for you. It uses your dicepools, but has its own Initiative, and can do nothing except take Savage, Restrain or Release actions. It’s not especially tough but is fairly dodgy. It lasts until killed or Crashed, or the grapple ends, whichever comes first, at which point it becomes a pile of unraveled thread. At Essence 4+, it can use Throw or Slam actions, and at Essence 5+ it can use Drag actions.

The Silken Army cannot be learned with XP. Instead, it is gained free when you encounter a crisis that threatens a person, group or place to which you have a positive Major or Defining Intimacy, as long as you aren’t dissonant with moonsilver. Once per story, for the duration of a crisis and its immediate aftermath, it removes the cost for Poppet-Knitting Practice and a number of Solar Medicine and Craft Charms as long as you are using those Charms to help fight the effects of the crisis. At the end of the crisis, all fabric servants created this way disintegrate.

The ultimate power is Quicksilver Rebirth. It cannot be bought with XP. To learn it, you must have wielded the Distaff for an entire story, and then you must confront an obstacle beyond the power of the Distaff, which only a true weapon can overcome. Also, you can’t use it without GM permission due to the work it entails. When the Charm is activated, the silk around the Distaff is ripped open, setting Dragonfly free. The sword is reborn as an Artifact 3 moonsilver daiklave, with new temperament, powers and Evocations based on how the wielder has used the Distaff. The old Evocations are gone, and all XP spent on them is refunded. Any or all of it may immediately be spent on Dragonfly’s Evocations; if the Distaff was used compassionately and with little violence, these will be beneficent, while if the Distaff was used to brutally beat people or choke them, they will be vicious and bloody.

Next time: Fist of Titans

Bringing the Hammer Down

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Bringing the Hammer Down

Fist of Titans is a white jade grand goremaul (read: giant fuckoff hammer), longer than most men are tall. Its massive head is in the shape of two enormous, symmetrically arranged fists, their fingers adorned with rune-carved rings and their wrists bearing jeweled bands at the point where they meet the handle. Legend speaks of the Nameless Hero of the Divine Revolution, how she fought the Cavern That Devours Cities, using the weapon to pound flat the hills that rose to devour her. It is said to have been forged by the nameless Exigent apprentice to the Elemental Dragon of Earth during the Divine Revolution, and in the modern age it was merely a legend until it was found by a Guild tomb raider and sold to the Realm as a treasure of the Immaculate Order, bringing in more silver than the local merchant prince’s entire caravan. None can say if the stories are true, and Realm versions claim the Nameless Hero was a Dragon-Blood, not an Exigent, but whatever the case, the hammer’s power is undeniable. It draws strength from the land under its wielder’s feet and can send that strength back to its source with devastating effects. It is dangerous to use indoors, as most of its Evocations will destroy mundane structures it is used in. The immense weapon has three hearthstone slots.

Fist of Titans has 9 Evocations. Once attuned, you get the first Evocation free at no charge. This is Chambered Fist Charge, which allows you to draw power from the ground as an Aim action, building one charge. Each charge you have increases your Withering damage, and you are limited by your Essence, plus one per Earth-aspect Hearthstone in the goremaul. If you are resonant with jade, you can repurchase this at Essence 3 to get 2 charges per use. From here, you can learn Mammoth Slam Quake, which lets you expend your charges to smash the hammer on the ground and cause an earthquake, which knocks down and removes Initiative from everyone in Short range – or Medium, if you’re resonant and spend at least 3 charges.

Unstoppable Hammering Blow is learned for free when you defeat a significant foe with a smash attack, as long as you aren’t dissonant with jade. It increases the accuracy of your smash attacks and removes their Defense penalty. Avalanche Hammer Attack improves the Solar Melee Charm Rising Sun Slash, allowing it to boost smash attacks at slightly extra cost without needing a full Melee excellency. (Fortunately for DBs, it is not a prerequisite for anything.) Bone-Crushing Strike lets you spend charges to reduce your damage to cause a Crippling effect that penalizes the target’s attacks and movement for the scene when you hit with a Decisive smash attack. Crater-Gouging Blow lets you make your Mammoth Slam Quake send chunks of earth upwards to strike victims, allowing for a withering attack after the quake knockdown.

Colossal Whirling Strike lets you spin around when making a smash attack, attacking twice in a row – either rolling damage twice for Withering or getting bonus damage for Decisive attacks. It also causes the smash to knock foe back twice as far. However, it can only be used once per scene unless reset by spending at least 3 charges on Mammoth Slam Quake and knocking down a significant foe with it. It cannot be learned by users dissonant with jade. Idol-Toppling Shockwave upgrades the Solar Charm Whirlwind-Tempest Deflection, allowing it to be used against Decisive attacks with damage under 17 by spending 2 charges. This, again, is not a prerequisite for any other Charms.

The ultimate power is Titanic Fist Devastation. This spends charges and causes the Fist to radiate the unstoppable gravity of the Omphalos, the Imperial Mountain itself, to make an unblockable Decisive smash attack without the normal Initiative cost. The attack also cannot be clashed, even with magic, because of the sheer power of the Fist. Any attempt to clash is instead delayed until after the attack happens. You get double 10s on the damage roll and if you deal at least 3 levels of damage (which is likely, the Fist hits like a train) you can reflexively use Mammoth Slam Quake at reduced cost, and all charges spent on Titanic Fist Devastation count towards the quake, too. However, you can only use this once per scene, unless reset by gaining at least 15 Initiative from a single Withering attack.

Next time: Frost-Thorn Knuckles

Ice Wolverine

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Ice Wolverine

Frost-Thorn Knuckles are a pair of 3-dot moonsilver razor claws. They take the form of gauntlets of moonsilver etched with runes, and have no blades. This is because talons of ice the hardness of diamond form when you attune to them. The Northern Lunar huntress Orphan-Maker forged them from the Essence of great beasts, tempering the moonsilver with the swiftness of a hawk, the endurance of a mammoth and the sinews of a tyrant lizard. Using the weapons, Orphan-Maker tore out the heart of the Many-Limbed Queen, slew and drank the heart’s blood of the sorcerer Yevash Jul and drove back an entire army of invading Winter Folk from the Wyld. Orphan-Maker was buried with her weapons in a mountain tomb carved out by her fellow elders of the Silver Pact. It went undisturbed until quite recently, when her newest reincarnation, Cat-Footed Jal, followed her past life memories to the tomb. There, she confronted Orphan-Maker’s hungry ghost and told of her own hunt against the Guild merchants whose heroin dealing had slain her lover. She was given the Frost-Thorn Knuckles with her predecessor’s blessing, leaving a trail of frozen corpses behind her. The final name on her list of revenge, the scavenger lord Lace of Thorn, has hidden herself away in the merchant city Koja, spending a massive fortune on Exigents, outcaste Dragon-Bloods and mercenary spirits to be her bodyguards. She will greatly reward anyone that can ensure she is not slain.

The Frost-Thorn Knuckles have two hearthstone slots, and the ice claws give it the Piercing tag. Further, the claws can be used with Thrown to attack out to Medium range by firing the ice talons like darts and reflexively growing new ones. When first attuned, they also give their first evocation free. The Knuckles have 6 Evocations from Essence 1 to 3. Rimebound Predator Endurance, the first, lets you numb yourself to pain and cold, ignoring cold-based penalties and environmental hazards and gaining soak if unarmored. If you have Survival 4+ or a Survival specialty in cold environments of some kind, you also ignore some wound penalties. At Essence 2, if resonant with moonsilver, you can make the Charm last longer, allowing it to be used as a survival tool more easily.

Glacial Beast Claw lets you knock foes prone with a Decisive attack and freezes them to the ground, giving a penalty to standing up and requiring a roll even if no foes are nearby. Tunder-Striding Stalker lets you use the Solar Charm Hardship-Surviving Mendicant Spirit for free in cold places, and you learn it free when you succeed at a Survival roll in a cold place. Fortunately for Lunars, it also is not a prerequisite of anything. Blood-Freezing Strike is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with moonsilver when you hunt and kill a man-eating predator, giant beast or other monster that poses a threat to nearby civilization. It lets you make a Decisive attack against a prone foe, freezing their blood into a razor to do extra damage and remove Initiative. Anyone Crashed by this is frozen in place and can’t move except to stand up until they recover from Crash.

Ravening Fimbulwinter Approach requires you to be at Initiative 10+ and successfully rush a foe. If you do, you can make a Decisive attack on the person you rushed, with the attack’s roll being based on your rush successes. If you incapacitate your foe with this, you can then reflexively rush someone else nearby. None of this counts as your combat action for the turn. This leads to the ultimate power, Blizzard Claw Swipe. Tis causes your ice talons to explode into spears when they pierce a foe, making a Withering attack more powerful or allowing Ravening Fimbulwinter Approach to be used with a Withering attack that deals Decisive damage if it Crashes the foe, and which can freeze and shatter the target’s limbs or organs as a Crippling effect. It cannot be learned by characters dissonant with moonsilver.

The Hawk’s Star Jess is a 3-dot starmetal sling of distant surprise. It is one of the oldest artifacts known to exist, dating all the way back to the Divine Revolution. Its Sidereal creator tamed the Hawk Star, binding part of its power into a fist-sized piece of starmetal that was spun into wire and woven into a sling. The Sidereal used the Hawk’s Star Jess to defeat many demons and behemoths that served the Primordials. It has been used many times since to face down foes that threatened the order of Creation – the gigantes of Dis, a Solar prince during the Usurpation, a mile-high wolfstag that invaded alongside the Raksha during the Contagion. It is a valued tool of the Sidereals, loaned out to various warriors of Heaven to defeat mighty foes. It has no hearthstone slots; it’s a sling.

When attuned, the Jess unlocks its first evocation free. Doom-Gathering Arc can be used at Initiative 10+ to make a Decisive attack that bears Doom based on your Essence. It reduces penalties and debuffs the target’s Defense and armor based on its Doom and has double 10s on damage. It can only be used once per scene, however, unless reset by taking out a non-trivial foe or routing a battle group. If resonant with starmetal and you have Occult 3+ or Occult 1+ and an astrology specialty, you may meditate with the Jess under the night sky to foresee an enemy’s death in the stars, causing the Charm to have extra Doom when used against that foe until the enxt sunset.

Falling Star Stone lets you reflexively aim before using Doom-Gathering Arc, and to spend Willpower to do so twice in a row when at Medium range or further if you are resonant with starmetal. Titan-Subduing Stone causes Doom-Gathering Arc to ignore Legendary Size’s damage restrictions and rerolls failed damage dice based on the attack’s Doom as long as you’re not dissonant with starmetal. Stone of the Corpse cannot be learned by those dissonant with starmetal, and it lets you spend Willpower to double 9s on Doom-Gathering Arc’s damage roll – or 8s, if resonant. Stone of the Sword lets you call on the constellation of death by illness, the Sword, to ensure that any wound left by Doom-Gathering Arc becomes infected, even if the target is an Exalt. The infection has morbidity based on the Doom and can’t be cured except by magic.

The ultimate power is Unleash the Hawk Star, and it can only be learned if you’re resonant with starmetal. Once per story while you are at bonfire anima when you use Doom-Gathering Arc, it lets you condense your anima into a fistful of light, which you hurl with the Jess. The light manifests the power of the Hawk Star, spreading radiant wings and shrieking at the foe as it comes down. This increases the attack’s Doom and adds automatic successes to the damage roll, as well as causing aggravated damage to creatures of darkness…which won’t be defined until the Dragon-Blooded book. It also reduces the cost of any other Evocations used with Doom-Gathering Arc. The usage limit can be reset by achieving a major character or story goal that involves defeating a powerful foe using the Jess.

Next time: Heartsong

Fire Bow, Because Fire Gun Was Insufficient

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Fire Bow, Because Fire Gun Was Insufficient

Heartsong is a 3-dot red jade powerbow. It dates back to the First Age, when the Dragon-Blood Arelys Turan forged it from the bodies and living Essence of two Fair Folk loreleis, Imban Dying-Light and the Orange Lily Chatelaine, twisting their desire together into a braid to serve as the weapon’s spine. The wielder may still feel the passions of the Raksha pulsing under the jade, locked together in an eternal mix of love and hate. There was no purpose in its creation but to make a thing of beauty, and Heartsong looks much more ornamental than practical, with every bit of it covered in decorative fluting and scrollwork. Turan was a passionate adventurer, dancer and poet, and by archery they inspired passion in others. Heartsong’s arrows terrified the Sky-Shouldering Bull and drove it from the land, enraged the aithon Ulta so that she left her protective circle, and stole the love of Usain of the Impenetrable Flesh by striking his soul rather than his body. The most recent wielder of Heartsong, the outcaste Nuja Starthrower, went into hermitage decades ago in the jungle north of the Dreaming Sea. She has used her arrows to gather beasts to her and to defeat the hobgoblins and other foes that have disturbed her solitude. It is unknown if she still lives or not, but either way, she probably still has Heartsong. It has a single hearthstone slot.

The wielder of Heartsong may use it to pour an emotion into an arrow, which turns into a blaze of light that flies for the target’s heart. This is a special gambit that has a difficulty based on the target’s Resolve. If it succeeds, it counts as an automatic Inspire action to create an emotion of the wielder’s choice as a Psyche effect. Magical emotion control arrows! They don’t hurt, but they can be quite handy. The first Evocation, Ardor-Sharing Technique, is gained free as long as you aren’t dissonant with jade when you uphold a Major or Defining Intimacy based on a strong emotion. It gives a bonus to inspire actions or the passion-inciting gambit of the bow. From there, one can learn Suitor-Punishing Shot, which makes your attack more accurate and damaging when you use it against someone with an Intimacy or Derangement focused on you or an inflamed passion focused on you.

You can also learn Lover’s Quarrel, which can be used to make Heartsong’s passion-inciting gambit create or strengthen a Tie of your choice, rather than inspiring an emotion. A Solar can also learn Radiant Sun-Heart Shot, which lets a passion-inciting gambit also deal damage. This doesn’t get in the way of learning any other Evocations, thankfully for DBs. Heart-Commanding Arrow lets you use the passion-inciting gambit to make persuade actions instead of inspiring emotions, and while they still need an appropriate Intimacy to leverage, they automatically succeed if you hit and have one of those to exploit. The ultimate power is Delirium’s Dart, which can’t be learned if you’re dissonant with jade. It causes a passion-inciting gambit to instill or strengthen a Derangement related to the inflamed emotion.

Heaven and Earth Gauntlets are a pair of 3-dot orichalcum smashfists (read: giant fuckoff knuckle gauntlets). The Sidereal Violet Pearl foresaw that her brother, the warrior-mendicant Ajni the Undying, would be surrounded by trouble. Thus, she forged the smashfists for him, mixing familial love into the orichalcum. Armed with this gift, Ajni wandered the land as a fist of justice, shattering the fortress of the Flying Devil Kings, defeating a sorcerous jade golem in a duel and diverting the path of the living mountain Mostath with a single blow to keep it from stepping on a village. The love that led Violet Pearl to make the gauntlets also led her to save her brother from the Usurpation, leading him on a path between seconds to a place of safety in the deep underground. He might have lived there forever, save that his heart could not abide injustice, and so he returned to the world to avenge the fallen Solars, eventually dying at the hands of the Wyld Hunt. Violet Pearl has kept a close watch over the gauntlets since her brother’s death. She intercepted his killers, stealing the gauntlets away along with their memories of the battle, and hid them in an obscure shrine to Venus, the Maiden of Serenity, to await a new wielder worthy of their power. They have two hearthstone slots.

The gauntlets have a larger than normal bonus to clashing. The first Evocation is Falling Star Fists, which removes the normal costs for making a smash attack and increases its damage. Mountain-Halting Might upgrades the Solar Charm Iron Battle Focus, making it cause an onslaught penalty when you block attacks with it from Close range. Comet-Diverting Guard lets you reflexively Clash attacks with a Withering attack that deals no damage (or, if resonant, deals damage but doesn’t gain you much Initiative) but still lets you gain a bit of Initiative and cause onslaught without being your action for the round.

From there you can gain Nova Breaker, which makes your arms glow with Essence that detonates in prismatic bursts when you strike. To use it, you must have hit a foe with a smash attack since your last turn and they must still be prone. You get to advance on them and make a Decisive attack that gets bonus damage and doesn’t count as your movement for the round. This can’t be learned by anyone dissonant with orichalcum. Meteor Fist Meditation upgrades the Solar Charm Adamantine Fists of Battle, making it compatible with the Gauntlets and letting you reflexively turn on the scene-long version of it when a fight starts.

The ultimate power is Legend-Forging Blow. This can only be used once per story and is reset by upholding a positive Defining Tie towards a community by defeating a powerful foe that threatens it. When used, it can do one of three effects. First, it can cause knockback to foes of Legendary Size as a Decisive attack, hurling them back three range bands. Second, it can smash through heavy fortifications in one blow, doubling your Strength for purposes of a feat of demolition and destroying the target instantly (usually) or requiring a few minutes to smash through (if you fail the roll). Lastly, it can be used to stunt any other application of strength, such as diverting a river’s course or stopping an avalanche with a punch. The ST should grant these stunts equivalent benefits to the other two things you can do.

Next time: Irenio’s Bell

A Bell Is A Shield

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: A Bell Is A Shield

Irenio’s Bell is a 3-dot orichalcum thunderbolt shield (read: magic shield). When Frey Irenio was making the blade Untimely Reprisal, he knew it needed 99 quenchings, but when he learned that a Circlemate was endangered, he took the blade out after only 98, riding to the rescue. He faced the Malignance of Castle Glass, whose cry shattered the not-quite-finished sword. Irenio remade half of the daiklave’s fragments into a new blade, long since lost. The rest he alloyed with the bronze of a demon prince’s temple bell to make a shield that contained the Essence of the Malignance’s terrible cry. He pulled forth the shield’s unique voice, harmonizing it with the alien musics of the demonic realm. Centuries after Irenio’s death, a scavenger prince of the South discovered the shield in the Wyld-warped, demon-haunted ruins of Ophlas. With no record of its true name, she called it Irenio’s Bell, and it has seen much use since, from service as a palace gong to the buckler of an immense Fair Folk. Currently, it sits in the workroom of the sorcerer Irenda White-Eyes as the centerpiece of a great working to call forth her patron from Malfeas. The shield is of a darker and redder color than most orichalcum, with a web of shallow grooves encircling its hearthstone socket on the boss. When it is struck, it rings with a pure, clear tone.

Every time Irenio’s Bell is struck, it rings out with an alien, shifting melody and produces 1 Vibration whenever it successfully blocks an attack, with a cap based on Performance. All Vibration goes away at the end of combat. If you are dissonant with orichalcum, it loses 1 Vibration at the end of any turn that you don’t gain Vibration. You can spend Vibration to boost your Parry or gain the Disarming or Smashing tag for one attack, using the vibration to ward off a foe or their weapon. Irenio’s Bell also reduces damage from sonic attacks such as the kiais of Silver-Voiced Nightingale Style or the shattering roar of a blood ape, and gains Vibration whenever this effect occurs. Particularly loud ambient noises such as earthquakes or cannonfire may also produce Vibration at the GM’s whim. However, you get a penalty to Stealth based on how much Vibration you have, because it’s…audible noise.

The first Evocation, Chiming Castigation, lets you give an attacker a penalty to attacks after you successfully block, especially attacks with weapons. If resonant, you can repurchase at Essence 3 to have this also shatter non-artifact weapons you block. Shield-and-Sword Harmony lets you spend Vibration to reduce enemy soak and Hardness against an attack. Sound and Fury cannot be learned if you’re dissonant with orichalcum and makes you gain Initiative whenever you gain Vibration from blocking. Singing Shield Technique lets you spend Vibration to have your shield maintain a few Solar Charms that require you to sing, and also gives a minor buff to rallying allied demonic battle groups while you do. Resounding Thunder Technique is usable when you use Heavenly Guardian Defense to drop an attack to 0 damage, and it lets you spend Vibration to give all foes in Short range a penalty to hearing-based Awareness checks due to the massive noise, knock them prone and knock them back. Also, allied demons in range gain Initiative based on the Vibration spent.

The ultimate technique is Demon-Calling Crescendo. You can only use it once per scene, when you have 15+ Initiative. You spend a bunch of Vibration to reflexively summon a First Circle Demon as if you’d used sorcery to summon and bind it for the task of aiding you in this battle. You have to make an Occult roll to get the kind of demon you want, but even if you fail, you get a demon – the GM just picks what kind. If the demon survives, it returns to Malfeas when the fight ends. A repurchase at Essence 4 lets you pay extra once per story to get a Second Circle Demon instead, and again, you get to roll but even if you fail, it’s bound unless you botch, you just get a different one than you intended.

Rainwalker is a 3-dot blue jade razor parasol – that is, a killer umbrella. The Amethyst Lord was a wicked Raksha noble, a seducer and deceiver who stole away many, charming them and taking their souls. The Lunar Seven Stars Glutton heard about this and sailed for 70 days and nights to reach the storm palace of the fae court, where they spoke for another 70 days and nights in a duel of diplomacy and lies. The Lunar convinced the Fair Folk prince of the terrible consequences he’d face if he stole another soul, and as a token of surrender, left the court with a beautiful umbrella made of solid mother of pearl that had been a fragment of the raksha’s own Essence. Seven Stars Glutton then layered it with moonsilver and blue jade, forging it into a shield. Rainwalker is usable as an umbrella still, but its jade handle and razor-sharp edges form a kaleidoscope of colors, etched in dream-runes and lined beneath in moonsilver. There is a single hearthstone slot.

In addition to blue jade, the moonsilver worked into Rainwalker means Lunars are resonant with it. The wielder may ignore all environmental penalties from rainfall and other weather. As long as you’re not dissonant with it, you also get the first Evocation free. Breeze-Catching Descent reduces falling damage for you and anyone you’re using Defend Other on. Because umbrella, obviously. Glamour-Sloughing Parasol reduces the cost of the Solar Charm Integrity-Protecting Prana; good news, it’s not actually a prereq for anything. Buoyant Guardian Aegis lets you make the parasol float next to you, letting you flurry a Full Defense action without penalties as long as you don’t attack, frees up one hand, lets you reflexively ready an object of your choice, and lets you Defend Other at Short range if you flurry it with a Full Defense.

Arrows Like Raindrops gives you a bonus to Parry against ranged attacks, especially if you used Full Defense last turn or are using Defend Other. Shelter from the Storm removes the Initiative cost of a Full Defense and gives a Parry bonus, and if you’re resonant, also drains the enemy’s Initiative when you parry while Full Defending. Rising Cyclone Deflection lets you redirect Withering attacks you successfully parry once per scene, making your foes attack each other. Really nice, and the enemy doesn’t even gain Initiative from it; of course, neither do you unless you’re resonant. If you’re dissonant with Rainwalker, you can’t learn this Charm.

The ultimate power is Laughing At Hailstones. Once per day, this sends a pulse of Essence out that disperses all non-magical weather conditions out to Long range, stopping all rain, slowing wind, preventing lightning strikes and so on for the rest of the scene. Further, you and all allies in that area get a Defense bonus and a bonus to all rolls to avoid environmental hazards. If you’re resonant, you can repurchase at Essence 4 to allow you to use it once per story to end storms or tempests out for several miles, which can even end magical weather effects such as the Rain of Doom spell.

Next time: Razor Dancer and Wise Steel, Summer Thunder

Kung Fu Lovers

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Kung Fu Lovers

Razor Dancer and Wise Steel are a pair of artifact 3 soulsteel short daiklaves. The heroes Adalin Razor-Dancer and Seren of the Wise Steel met in the city of Plenilune in the North; Adalin had come to destroy the Nine Red Chambers syndicate in fire and blood, while Seren had infiltrated them to destroy them from within. At first they fought, but eventually joined forces to defeat the criminals and fell in love, setting out to wipe out tyranny and crime in the Saltspires. However, the witch-queen of the wastes, the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears, witnessed their deeds. Contemptuous of their true love, she lured them to her crimson ice tower, where she tested their love, their trust and their skill. They passed all of the tests but one – they died in battle against her, their bond unbroken. In mocking honor, she bound their souls into a pair of blades, to let them fight at each other’s side for all time. The soulsteel blades, while paired, are not quite identical. Razor Dancer is longer and meant to strike, while Wise Steel is broader, for defense. The tortured faces of the two heroes can be dimly seen in the black blades, as though through a broken mirror. Drawn together in battle, their moaning is a duet of haunting regret and love. Each blade has a single hearthstone slot in it.

The blades each grant mastery of the fighting style of the hero within, which may be assumed as if they were martial arts forms. The Evocations of Razor Dancer and Wise Steel can be used with any martial arts style compatible with paired short daiklaves, and the blades themselves are compatible with light or medium armor, but not heavy. They are better than normal paired weapons on Clash attacks, too. The blades are less than a year old, so they have not had time to develop a full suite of Evocations yet – only three. This is meant as an example of a young artifact; these will generally have only a few Essence 1-2 Charms rooted in the intent of the crafter, with Evocations growing one at a time as the wielder develops the legend of the weapon or tool.

Razor Dancer Form grants you the speed and assurance of Adalin Razor-Dancer, increasing your effective Initiative for when you act in a round, making you more accurate against slower foes and giving a bonus to rushes against slower foes plus giving Initiative on a rush. It can be auto-activated whenever you move away from an ally to whom you have a Major or Defining positive Tie and then perform a rush before the start of your next term. Wise Steel Form gives the caution and grace of Seren of the Wise Steel, increasing your Parry and giving a bonus to disengage or resist rushes. You also do not pay Initiative to disengage and you gain Initiative whenever you disengage or resist a rush. You can autoactivate it whenever you use a disengage’s movement to move towards an ally to whom you have a Defining or Major positive tie.

The ultimate technique is Razor Steel Lovers Form, which gives a bonus to accuracy and Parry, all combat movement rolls and rolls to oppose enemy movement. It also removes the cost to disengage and gives Initiative whenever you win an opposed movement roll, as well as allowing you to act earlier in the round than your Initiative would indicate. It is, in fact, basically both Forms at once, and can be activated for free whenever either of the Forms could be activated for free.

Summer Thunder is a 3-dot orichalcum short powerbow. After the War of the Gods, the Solar Kestra Lightning-Hoof went home to lead her steppe people. However, they rejected her, as they were of the tribe of the god Hiparkes, and she was now of the Sun’s tribe. Thus, Kestra and her blessed steed hunted the horse god Hiparkes, forcing him to kneel and breaking him to her will. She shaved off his mane, twisting it into the string of a powerbow, and rode the god home in triumph to demand the fealty of her people. Summer Thunder was borne by Kestra and each of her heirs across the East, used to fight the Shadow-Riders of Wan, to hunt behemoths and Wyld terrors, and to rule the steppes and prairies. It was buried with its final Solar master in what would become Medo. One of that land’s massive walls is now built over the tomb. The bow has a single hearthstone slot.

A wielder that twists a strand from a willing steed’s mane or tail into Summer Thunder’s string may spend a Willpower. This causes the steed to become bonded, gaining a Resolve bonus for as long as the bow is attuned. Any mount summoned by Phantom Steed is always considered bonded. Summer Thunder’s Evocations only function while riding a bonded mount. Period. Hooves Like Sunlight increases your mount’s speed for one movement action based on the strength of your Intimacy towards it and, if resonant, you gain Initiative if it succeeds. Nock-and-Canter Unity lets you, once per scene, instantly and reflexively aim. You can reset it by Crashing, unhorsing or taking out a non-trivial foe. Laughing Stallion’s Escape lets you disengage without cost and anyone that tries to stop you loses some Initiative.

Skirmisher’s Piercing Deliverance lets you make a Decisive attack against a foe in Close range, then reflexively disengage, with the target taking a penalty to their roll if you hit. Squadron-Increasing Flare gives a bonus to rally actions, especially for mounted battle groups. Evoke the Equestrian Echo lets you, once per scene, summon a phantom warrior from an arrow. This warrior is a nomadic horse-archer that needs not eat, sleep, breathe or drink, never tires, and is completely loyal to you (as is his mount) and can’t be intimidated. This is not a ghost – rather, it is a memory drawn forth from your anima and Summer Thunder and given physical form. These may be your lovers or relations, or those who die in your service. Likewise, when you use Phantom Steed, you may now have the steed be the memory-phantom of mounts that have died in your service.

The ultimate power is Phantom Cavalry Cavalcade. You must be resonant with orichalcum to learn it. Once per story, it summons forth a phantom battle-group of at least a hundred horse-archers, with elite Drill, Might 2 and Size based on your Essence. The Charm’s cooldown can be reset by experiencing a major military victory or loss that is related to one of your Major or Defining Intimacies, such as surrendering to an enemy you despise or accepting the surrender of a foe in accord with a Principle of magnanimity in victory.

Next time: Sun’s Brush, Tusk of Galaech-Ma

Paint Axe

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Paint Axe

Sun’s Brush is a 3-dot orichalcum grimcleaver (read: axe). Legend says that once, the sun shone with a pure, stark white light, with neither yellow warmth nor the colors of sunset. It is said that the god of art, Arajati, fell in love with the Unconquered Sun, and so he painted the light of the sun with many colors in an effort to woo him. The Sun’s lover, whose identity changes depending on the telling, slew Arajati for his actions, sending his brush falling to Creation. There, the brush was found by a Twilight Caste philosopher, who forged it into a weapon in an effort to preserve Arajati’s passion. Specifically, the brush was made into a naginata that is also still a brush. The weapon is a teacher for its wielder, granting wisdom and revelation, and its true power can only be unlocked by a scholar. Sun’s Brush is currently guarded in a monastery of scholars that tend to one of the greatest of Creation’s libraries, hidden in the frozen depths of an ancient, ruined tower. It is said that they await the coming of one that can pass their trials of knowledge and claim the brush. It has 2 hearthstone slots.

Sun’s Brush is both a weapon and a writing implement, with an infinite supply of gold ink. Its blade-tip can write on any surface not warded by extremely potent magic, and it can be used to perform a foe-scribing gambit to write on an enemy. Any social influence written by such a gambit gets a bonus to its roll. Its markings can be washed away, but only after a few days. The first evocation, Filling Blank Pages, is gained for free if you aren’t dissonant when you get at least 5 successes on a roll to introduce or challenge a fact. It can be activated reflexively to introduce a fact, and any attack you make that turn that takes advantage of the fact gets a bonus, as can other actions at the GM’s whim. Radiant Brushstrokes Flourish lets you make a foe-scribing gambit to write a single word – Falsehood, Ignorance or Wickedness. It shines through your target’s disguises as if it were a Solar caste mark. Falsehood glows when the target lies, Ignorance glows when the target attacks or makes opposed rolls against people with a higher Int+Lore pool and gives a penalty when it does, and Wickedness can only be used on creatures of darkness (still undefined!!!) and deals aggravated damage when it is painted on. Also, anyone who sees it instinctively knows the bearer is a creature of darkness.

Battle-Scholar Sagacity upgrades Cloud-Wreathed Scholar to let it introduce a fact in mid-combat once per scene even if you’ve used your once-per-scene introduction already, even if you aren’t advancing any goals. It can be reset by successfully introducing a fact and making a Decisive attack via Filling Blank Pages in the same turn. Incomparable Savant Surety lets you, once per day when you succeed at introducing or challenging a fact with at least 5 successes, gain Willpower or 5 Initiative (as long as you aren’t in Crash).

The ultimate technique is Whirling Sunfire Calligraphy. Once per story, this lets you paint with the sun’s light, as Arajati did. Tongues of sunlight flow from the brush’s blade, and for the rest of the scene, when you roll to introduce a fact, the roll also serves as a social influence check to threaten all foes that can see you, intimidating them with your knowledge. Further, you get extra Withering and Decisive damage, and when you make a foe-scribing gambit, you can make a Decisive attack instead and apply the gambit as long as you deal enough damage. Also, anyone you deal Decisive damage to catches on fire.

Tusk of Galaech-Ma is a 3-dot moonsilver direlance. The story of Galaech-Ma and the Snow Hunter is well known. The Snow Hunter was a man, at least until the six-legged, massive beast that was Galaech-Ma came for his village. The Snow Hunter was the only survivor, swearing on the blood of his kin that he would take down the great behemoth or die trying. For ten years, he sought the monster in blizzard and Wyld alike, and on the day he finally tracked it down, Luna gave him the power to at last avenge his people. Given new life, the Snow Hunter forged Galaech-Ma’s tusk into the head of a terrifying lance, plated with moonsilver and cooled in the monster’s own blood. The moonsilver haft is shaped around one of its bones and ringed in braided grips of its fur. With the Tusk, the Snow Hunter slew countless beasts from the Wyld, awakening powers to slaughter giants and hunt monsters. Over centuries, his obsession with ridding the land of unnatural creatures made the weapon uncompromising and eternally dedicated. Today, it sits idle, an heirloom of a remote Northern tribe that has forgotten what it was made for. Each generation, it is wielded by a holy man or woman, but for centuries, none of them have had the power to actually use it. It has a single hearthstone slot.

The Tusk adores the chase. Its wielder, after making a successful roll to follow a foe’s tracks, lure a foe out of a place of safety or catch a foe in a (literal or figurative) trap, may declare that foe to be their quarry. Against its quarry, the Tusk has a bonus to accuracy and getting past armor. However, it may only have one quarry at a time. The first Evocation, Hide-Splitting Thrust, waives the Initiative cost of a piercing attack, allows it to pierce the natural soak of behemoths, animals and similar foes, and makes it ignore more soak against the Tusk’s quarry. Bloodthirsty Hunter’s Focus gives a bonus to Awareness, Investigation and Survival checks against the quarry, but not Join Battle rolls.

Giant-Felling Stroke is automatically learned if you’re not dissonant with moonsilver when you Join Battle against a non-trivial quarry after you track it to its lair or otherwise hunt it down. It lets you make a Decisive attack that seeks out the weak point of a foe larger than a human, ignoring a good chunk of Hardness and dealing extra damage – especially if they’re Legendary Size. Implacable Hunter Spirit gets rid of the cost to use Unshakeable Bloodhound Technique against your quarry and tracking them gives you Willpower once per session. (Fortunately for Lunars, this is not a prereq to anything. Unfortunately, all of the Charms from here are still branching off Solar Charms.) Flashing Spear Strike removes the Willpower cost of Godspeed Steps when used to rush your quarry and make a Decisive attack. Hunting Otherworldly Horrors makes Light of Judgment Stance always consider your quarry a creature of darkness, without any extra cost for hated creatures, and gives a bonus if they already were one. Legend-Slaying Strike lets you pay extra Willpower to use Hungry Tiger Technique against your quarry even if they’re not in Crash.

Next time: Asphodel and the start of the 4-dot weapons

Dead Hammer City

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Dead Hammer City

Asphodel is a 4-dot soulsteel goremaul. (Hammer.) Before the height of the First Age, Kesuth Amaldui bound the soul of the mortal sorcerer Shou Ren into a gemstone. In exchange for Shou Ren’s wisdom, he made a secret world inside the gem for the sorcerer to rule over. He then set the gem into the heart of a mace. Kesuth became an enigma, seeming to converse with his weapon or even vanishing into its depths for months at a time. From it, he drew forth ghostly soldiers to staff Hollow in the war against the Forty-Fourth Immortal, and within it he bound dark forces as he plumbed the Underworld’s depths. Centuries later, after the Dragon-Blooded slew Amaldui by burning him to death in his library, Asphodel came into the hands of the Eastern daimyos. From the prince of the jewel, they learned great secrets of magic and the location of First Age relics, but they lost the weapon and their lives to their rivals quite often. Asphodel last appeared in records dating to the Contagion, wielded by Merach Ivira as she led the forces of Samisen against the invading Raksha. Asphodel is a seven-flanged mace of soulsteel, airy and light, with each surface inlaid with white jade scrollwork. Where the flanges meet, they hold as a cage the fist-sized smoky gem that houses the city in its irregular facets. It has a single hearthstone slot.

Whenever the wielder is touching Asphodel, they may converse with Shou Ren, calling him for advice on lore, and he can also serve as a useful tutor for sorcery and any skills he knows; he knows a lot of occult lore and academic stuff in general, and he was alive in the First Age. Outside of his life in a grand city of carnelian and gold, ruled by the tyrannous Queen of Eyes, and his times in lost libraries of Beriah, most of his knowledge is secondhand, however. He knows a lot of Terrestrial Circle spells and can teach them, and he wears a soulsteel crown that grants him total authority in the hidden world of the gem, which cannot be taken from him unless he is destroyed. (Also he can’t leave the gem; the crown’s only purpose is to turn a powerful ghost into the prince of the jewel, unable to leave but able to rule.) The wielder can make bargain actions at Shou Ren to gain the support of his ghostly servants for a night in exchange for some lost lore, or possibly a new ghostly servant if the Evocation that allows the mace to capture ghosts is awakened, or a specific sort of mortal pleasure if the one to send stuff into the gem has been awakened. As your Essence increases, you can get the ghost servants for longer periods, or get entire battle groups. It should be noted that the game says that Shou Ren isn’t really meant to be hard to bargain with – his requests are mostly to push the game towards interesting places and stories, and it is highly likely that the wielder will eventually have the guy basically eating out of their hand. He will use his Willpower to resist intimidation, unreasonable persuasion or manipulation of his Intimacies, and he can and will cut off contact for a few days if he wants to regain Willpower or punish rudeness, but he’s generally happy to bargain if treated with the respect he feels he’s dude as king of the jewel. The GM determines the size of his ghostly retinue and household, and any ghost that gets destroyed in service is gone forever, leaving the place diminished until restocked with the Evocations.

Envoy to Stygia awakens free when you attune, as long as you’re not dissonant. It allows Spirit-Detecting Glance to spot ghosts even when it’s not turned on, and lets All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight detect deathly Essence flows, the magic of ghosts and other undead, and the borders of shadowlands even while not active, as long as you know the Charm. Non-Solars can instead have this Charm benefit any similar Charms they have; Dragon-Bloods, for example, can explicitly learn to to boost Spirit-Detecting Mirror Technique. Shade-Revealing Radiance causes Asphodel to glow, all nearby immaterial undead to become visible and material while the dark light touches them. They glow from within, reducing their Guile as their inner fire shines through. Shadow-World Snare lets you make a special gambit against undead whose Essence isn’t too high above yours, allowing you to banish them into Asphodel to be dealt with by Shou Ren (or whoever has replaced him). It should be noted that truly potent ghosts such as nephwracks might be able to fight and defeat Shou Ren, so be careful with that. Undead Exalts and Deathlords are immune to this, as are any undead that the GM rules are uniquely potent.

Psychopomp’s Specter lets you, whenever you kill a human, spend Willpower to draw their hun soul (that’s the part that’s mostly rational and intelligent) into Asphodel as a ghost, per Shadow-World Snare. You may also do this by touching Asphodel to someone who is on the brink of death. Midnight Jewel Mastery reduces several Solar Charm costs and lets you use them to send undead into the gem or allow them to possess people rather than the normal ways those Charms are used. The ultimate power is Enter the Hidden World, and it can only be learned if you’re resonant with soulsteel. It causes black fire to engulf you from Asphodel, along with any willing characters nearby. You all appear inside the jewel, vanishing from the normal world – as does Asphodel itself, because it can go inside itself. The city inside is a lifeless, beautiful place of cold mist and quicksilver, with high crystal spires. At its heart is the onyx and silver palace of Shou Ren, where he rules over hundreds of ghosts. The hidden world is secure against intrusion, but may be entered while you are in it as if it was a spirit’s sanctum, and makes for a good safe base for anything you feel like doing. When you want to leave, you and your companions reappear at the next midnight at the same location you entered the gem from. You may not use this in combat.

Burning Branch is a 4-dot green jade longfang (read: spear or trident). In the first war of conquest by the Scarlet Empress, the hero Shirazi Ako was slain by a Lunar. Ako’s daughter, Atena, planted her signature weapon, a javelin, by her memorial. After a century of being watered by the tears of mourning family, it become the core of a massive, unbreakable branch that grew up around it. Her descendants uprooted the branch, forging it into a longfang with vicious tines and blades extending from its head, vowing to wield it against the Anathema that slew Shirazi Ako. Their vow became a spark at the core of the weapon which blazes with flame, allowing it to defeat many foes. Burning Branch has, ever since, been passed from master to apprentice among the shikari of the Immaculate Order. Its last known wielder, Cathak Dimas of the Sisters of the Dragon’s Claw, has been missing for the last year. Her fate is unknown, and some theorize that the famous Anathema hunter has gone renegade or was perhaps finally slain by one of the creatures she hunted. The weapon has two hearthstone slots.

When a Fire-aspect Hearthstone is set into Burning Branch, its wielder may spend a mote to ignite the weapon’s head for a scene, making it better at getting past armor. Further, any weapon disarmed while Burning Branch is ignited overheats, dealing minor Decisive damage to the first person to touch it during the scene. Blade-Seizing Defense lets you make a disarm as a counterattack after you parry an attack at Close range, as the spear entangles weapons and, if ignited, also makes the attacker lose Initiative in a shower of sparks. Conflagration Lance Technique lets you boost the damage of a Decisive attack on the turn you ignite the Branch. It is also gained free if you aren’t dissonant with jade when you first put a Fire-aspect hearthstone in Burning Branch. Cleansing the Blood’s Bane lets you touch someone willing with the spear, burning them for minor damage in order to remove poisons. Impenetrable Bramble Snare can be used whenever you successfully disarm someone, causing Burning Branch to latch onto their weapon and forcing foes to make a gambit to get them back, and if ignited, the superheated weapons deal extra damage when touched.

Sweeping Firebrand Attack can be used whenever the spear is ignited. It fires off a giant firestorm at battle groups as a Decisive attack, setting the enemy fighters on fire as a recurring environmental hazard and reducing its Drill or making it have to check for rout each round if its Drill already sucked. The enemy’s commander can make a special rally action to get the battle group to put out the fire, lowering its damage each time they do until it goes out, and magic can also put out the fire. Otherwise, though, it keeps going until the scene ends or the battle group dissolves. Torch-in-Gloom Inspiration lets you, once per scene, raise the ignited spear, causing you and all allies in Short range to gain Initiative at the start of each round, as well as giving you a bonus to commanding battle groups and increasing the Drill or Might of any battle groups you command. This ends if you get Crashed. It cannot be learned if you are dissonant with jade.

The ultimate ability is Blazing Dragon-Ancestor Exhalation. To use this, unless you are resonant with jade, Torch-in-Gloom Inspiration must be active. Once per story (unless reset by upholding a Major or Defining positive Tie towards a family member by defeating a formidable foe) you can boost a disarm gambit to make it set the target weapon on fire, harming the wielder as you disarm them. Mundane weapons are utterly destroyed, and artifacts take enough damage to render them unusable and breaking their attunement. Artifacts require repair as a superior project. This is actually pretty dang powerful if you can pull it off – taking out an enemy’s artifact weapon from a fight can mean a huge reduction in their ability.

Next time: Flying Silver Dream, Gnomon

Self-Wielding Silver Surfboard

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Self-Wielding Silver Surfboard

Flying Silver Dream is a 4-dot moonsilver daiklave. When Leynon Hundred-Wings died, Ciel Seratta (of Courante and Galliard, before) was inconsolable. She would accept no replacement as guard or companion, and instead traveled alone no matter the danger, suffering terribly for it. Frey Irenio, the sorcerer-smith that made Irenio’s Bell, refused to allow his friend be so imperiled, so he made her a sword that would wield itself, a companion who could not die and leave her. Seratta named it Flying Silver Dream, putting her trust in it and slowly losing her pain in place of joy as she crossed the Plain of Wings and Fangs and had a legendary duel with Etar of the Endless Ride. She eventually did rejoin society – just in time, in fact, to attend the Calibration Feast that marked the start of the Usurpation. Flying Silver Dream fought on for three days after she fell before it finally allowed the rebels to place it in her dead hand. Seratta’s tomb was looted in the Shogunate period, and Flying Silver Dream passed between various hands for a thousand years. Daimyo Meraj of Senedin wielded it against the waspfolk hordes, while Wyra Moondrinker used it to defeat and claim a boon from the dragon Threefold Emerald, and Finder-of-Folly wielded it when he survived the gauntlet of Mad Queen Raksi of Mahalanka. The weapon was then seized in a Wyld Hunt and claimed by House Ledaal, being wielded by many of its members. Rumor has it, though, that the blade was recently stolen, and its whereabouts are currently unknown. It has one hearthstone slot.

Flying Silver Dream is extremely close to its wielder and has a sixth sense for danger, which gives a bonus when it is incorporated into stunts for Awareness rolls. The wielder always knows the sword’s location if it’s within a few miles of them and may spend a mote to know what direction it’s in if it’s anywhere in the same realm of existence, or a Willpower to get a vision of its surroundings. There is no Defense penalty to draw or ready Flying Silver Dream, as it actively leaps to hand, and it can be drawn reflexively even against a surprise attack. Arise, Moonlight Blade allows the blade to fight independently, flying through the air on its own, though its Decisive attacks use the lower of its or the wielder’s Initiative for damage. It can fly freely, but its range from the wielder is limited and if forced out of range it will do nothing but try to get back. It can be reflexively called back to hand without ending the charm. It has no health; Decisive damage to it lowers its Initiative instead, and if Crashed, it flies back to the wielder’s hand and the Charm ends but it is not damaged.

Winged Argent Guardian lets the blade use the Solar Charm War Lion Stance for free on its turn to protect you or someone you have a Major or Defining positive Tie to, and doesn’t require you to know War Lion Stance yourself. Furious Dream-Sword Assault lets the blade use the Solar Charm Excellent Strike for free against any foe that has done Decisive damage to you this combat or against any foe you have a Major or Defining negative Tie to, and you don’t need to know Excellent Strike yourself. Flickering Lunar Protector allows it to spend Willpower to use the Charm Solar Counterattack when someone it is using Defend Other on is attacked (again, you don’t have to know it), to spend Willpower to use Unassailable Guardian Posture (same) and it is permanently under the effects of Calm and Ready Focus (same).

Moonbeam Razor Flash lets the sword spend Willpower to use Sandstorm-Wind Attack (same as the others) against anyone that has done at least 1 level of damage to you this combat or against anyone that you have a negative Major or Defining Tie to, and it regains the Willpower if it does damage this way. Sword-Soul Unbinding lets you activate Glorious Solar Saber for free if you know it when you activate Arise, Moonlight Blade, drawing your solar saber from its shadow. The ultimate power is Eternal Moonsilver Champion, which you can’t learn if not resonant with moonsilver and which you get free when you become Incapacitated. Once per story, it causes Arise, Moonlight Blade to activate for free whenever you become Incapacitated if it isn’t active, and for the rest of the scene, the blade can’t be Crashed or sent below Initiative 1. It resets to 10 Willpower, gets a full Peripheral Essence pool equal to yours, and gets access to any of your Charms that could enhance an action it is capable of taking as a flying sword. If you die, it remains active for as long as the GM deems appropriate.

Gnomon is a 4-dot starmetal wrackstaff. Heaven speaks with both anger and reverence about the Solar Seven-Finger Wu, the only thief that ever got into Yu-Shan and stole the peaches of immortality. He cut off a single branch and fled with enough of the sacred fruits to survive for a long, long time indeed. He then carved the branch into a walking stick, disguising himself as a hermit and breaking into Heaven a second time. Using his great nerve and cunning, he disguised himself as an elder Sidereal and tricked a young Exalt into banding the wooden staff in starmetal, completing the artifact for him before he got away again. This was Gnomon, and with it, Seven-Finger Wu cheated time itself. He stole the ruby eye of Hesiesh from a Solar’s wedding band as it was being put on her mate’s finger. He broke into the private offices of Anys Syn to leave a poem praising her efforts in chasing him on her desk. When the Ichneumon Aeon came from the Wyld, he worked together with his pursuers to destroy this monster of time, sacrificing his own life to save Anys Syn from a century-blow that would have destroyed her. Out of respect, she had Gnomon buried in Wu’s tomb, its location lost to all but her. However, legends of the peach tree of immortality taking root in Creation have caught the interest of both scholars and scavengers now seeking Gnomon. It has a single hearthstone slot.

Due to Wu’s trickery, Gnomon has the illusion of celestial legitimacy. Any Sidereal or god working for the Bureau of Destiny believes that the wielder is a legitimate agent of Heaven, with the effect of treating them with a Minor Tie of trust. Step Between Seconds slows the flow of time, giving the wielder a single moment in which to act when none other can. To use it, you have to win Join Battle and activate this on your first turn, but you can then take a single action in frozen time, as long as it is not to activate a Simple Charm. Once time restarts, you then get your turn as normal, and your time-frozen action doesn’t count as your action for the turn even if you attacked or moved during it. Outside of combat, you can activate this to take a single action in frozen time. If you attack during frozen time, time starts just a split second before your attack lands, making it a surprise attack but not an ambush. If you make an opposed roll, similarly, the opponent gets a -3 penalty but still gets to roll as time resumes just as you act. Also, some stuff, like social influence, isn’t really usable in frozen time because no one can actually perceive you doing it. If resonant with starmetal, an Essence 4 repurchase lets you make a Decisive attack during frozen time without resetting to base Initiative.

Heaven-Defying Trickster’s Staff can’t be learned if dissonant with starmetal, and it lets you use your time-frozen action to reflexively activate any Martial Arts Form Charm you know. Final Hour Hastening lets you slow down time for yourself so that you can unleash a blur of attacks against a foe, treated as a single unblockable attack against slower foes and giving a Parry penalty to foes of equal or greater Initiative, plus doing extra onslaught penalties. It is free if used as your time-frozen action via Step Between Seconds. Moment-Stealing Rapacity lets you slow time as you make a disarm gambit, making it count as a surprise attack and letting you reflexively move into range and back if they’re at Short range from you without counting as movement. You can also use it outside of combat when making a Larceny check to steal or pickpocket to give the target a penalty to notice and get the same movement trick. Tilting Eternity’s Axis lets you, once per day, stop time and reflexively clash any action with a custom gambit that gets a free full Excellency on its attack roll, allowing you to do stuff like put manacles on a brawler or throw dirt at a speaker or so on to interrupt their action; it won’t do damage but it will do whatever effects the GM allows otherwise, and it doesn’t count as your action for the turn.

Sealed in the Frozen World lets you make a Decisive attack against someone slower than you, and the more damage you do, the more you delay their next action. If you drop them past tick 0, they lose their turn for the round entirely. You can’t use this against the same target two turns in a row. Aeon Wheel Turning can only be used once per scene, either during Step Between Seconds or while at Initiative 15+, letting you make two rolls for Decisive attack or gambit and keep the better one, though you only have to pay Charm costs once for any Charm that’d enhance your attack. Drowning in Moments can’t be learned unless you’re resonant with starmetal, and it lets you use Step Between Seconds on the turn after you land any Decisive attack with Initiatve 15+.

The ultimate ability is Eternity-Reaping Renewal. It can only be learned if you are resonant with starmetal, and it causes the staff’s head to bud and blossom, then grow a single peach of immortality. You can do whatever you want with it. Once it has grown a peach, Gnomon requires a full decade to grow a new one. You can make this go faster by accomplishing a legendary social goal via an epic heist, legendary crime or similar. Each time you do this, you reduce the time needed for the next peach to grow by one year. A peach of immortality takes 3 bites to eat. For mortals, Dragon-Blooded and similar, each bite undoes ten years of aging, and eating an entire peach restores you to your physical prime. For Lunars, Solars and Sidereals, a single bite undoes a century of aging, and a full peach undoes a thousand years, but no matter what, a peach will never send you back to before the physical prime of your life. Sidereals cannot use this to live beyond their allotted lifespan – it merely reverts them to physical youth.

Next time: Mistweaver, Nightmare Shard


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Fogsword

Mistweaver is a 4-dot black jade reaver daiklave (read: cutlass). In the end years of the Shogunate, the looter Kaito Owari sought to plunder the fallen Valley of Golden Needles, whose kingdom had died under a curse of endless mist. He commissioned the blade to help with that, and it worked well. He returned from his first two adventures there with priceless, ancient relics and great trophies, but he never returned from the third expedition. Historians believe he may have run into No Key, the Mushroom King, and died in battle. After his disappearance, the blade reappeared centuries later, during the Contagion. It was wielded by Lady Ermine, a powerful warrior of the North, who used it to control the freezing fogs of the White Sea. She terrorized ships and cities across the sea until slain by the dragonlord Peleps Mizu, who has wielded Mistweaver ever since. The sword is jet black but for the edge, which is a deep blue due to blue jade mixed in the alloy. Coils of fog flow from it perpetually. In hot, dry areas, these are thing, but in cold or wet places like the sea air, the blade is essentially invisible under the mists. It has three hearthstone slots.

The wielder of Mistweaver can see through all fog and water. They can hear through rainfall, see through fog and sense danger even in a turbulent sea. Many of its evocations grow stronger when in watery concealment, defined as any kind of water-based obscurement (such as fog or clouded seas) enough to cause Awareness penalties. Further, the wielder is immune to those penalties. Once per turn, reflexively, the wielder may carve an opening in watery concealment, either a clear spot in Close range or a path out to Short range. The cut edges remain intact until the end of their next turn, after which the vapor, clouded water or weather flows back in at a natural rate. For clouded water, only the obscurement gets cut, not the water itself. At Essence 3 or higher, the borders instead remain intact for the entire scene as long as the wielder isn’t dissonant with jade. Also, the first Evocation is gained free on attunement, as long as you’re not dissonant with jade.

Fog-Raising Gesture lets you call forth a fog blanket out to Short range, which gives a penalty to Awareness checks, especially vision-based ones. Gale-force winds or desert heat can disperse this over a few turns, and hurricanes or volcano heat can disperse it instantly, and stunted area-effect powers can carve gaps or paths. Otherwise, it remains in place all scene. You may reactivate the power on further turns to keep growing the fog blanket or refill carved-out sections. Cloud-Warrior Stance gives some of your Solar Melee Charms the Mute keyword while in watery concealment (meaning they don’t add to your anima banner). Essence 2 is all Essence 1 Charms, Essence 3 adds Essence 2 Charms and Essence 5 adds Essence 3 Charms. I see no reason not to allow this to work for other Exalt types, either. Sea-Smoke Veil penalizes foes trying to attack you or detect you in stealth while you’re in watery concealment, and if resonant also adds damage to your unexpected attacks from watery concealment. Death in the Mist increases the Defense penalty of surprise attacks you make from watery concealment, and if resonant, also increases ambush damage. Brumous Entanglement lets you ensnare a foe in fog, making them count watery concealment as difficult terrain and, if resonant, gives them a penalty to actions in it. Cloud-Gathering Practice is gained free if you’re not dissonant with jade when you uphold a Major or Defining Intimacy by defeating a non-trivial foe within the daiklave’s fogs. It lets you activate Fog-Raising Gesture reflexively when you win Join Battle.

The ultimate power is Mist-Weaving Mastery. It can’t be learned if dissonant, and can only be used once per story. It creates a blanket of unnatural fog that can extend up to 100 miles in radius, lasting for weeks or months depending on the climate. Crops spoil in it, predators stalk the streets of towns, people travel unseen and armies can march openly without being spotted. Most magical wind or weather powers can’t disperse the fog, though it can be ended with an Ambition 2+ Celestial sorcerous working, and a city-sized region can be cleared within it via an Ambition 2+ Terrestrial working. If resonant, you may instead make a magical mist of the type that’d be native to the region, such as freezing fog in the North, Wyld-mists in a bordermarch or blood-drenched brume at Calibration. These phenomena are smaller in scale and duration, usually no more than a few square miles and lasting only a few days.

Nightmare Shard is a 4-dot moonsilver skycutter (recall, a boomerang). It was made by the Lunar shaman Soul Orchid as a weapon against the Gentry of Autumn’s End, a Raksha court who trapped entire cities in illusionary paradises that fattened them up for the slaughter. She went into the Wyld to steal an incomprehensible truth that could not exist elsewhere, forging it with moonsilver to create a weapon that could cut through dreams and illusion. Nightmare Shard’s edge is elegantly made, but its mirrored surface shows a warped and grotesque reflection, born of Soul Orchid’s fears and nightmares. This allows the blade to cut happiness as easily as flesh, and while Soul Orchid was able to free the people from the Fair Folk, she could not bear wielding the weapon any longer and abandoned it. Nellens Radagar has recently returned to the Blessed Isle from the conquered satrapy of Salt bearing the blade as a trophy. Since his return, he has been troubled by its dark power, though his family hails him as a hero. He takes qat and opium to balm his conscience, taking counsel with the masked sage that came with him from the provinces. It has a single hearthstone slot.

The wielder of Nightmare Shard gains its first Evocation free on attunement. Cracked Mirror Blight lets you infect someone you hit with a Decisive attack with a nightmare disease, also called cracked mirror blight, with power based on your Manipulation and resisted by Integrity rather than Resistance. Medical treatment does not work on it unless enhanced by magic. As a Minor symptom, the victim occasionally has surreal, vivid daydreams that show their nightmares, causing a Minor Madness Derangement as well as the normal effects. As a Major symptom, this becomes a Major Derangement, as the hallucinations happen daily. As a Defining symptom, the Derangement is also Defining, as the hallucination becomes essentially constant. Cracked mirror blight never kills its victims. Truth in Silvered Reflections is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with moonsilver when you defeat a non-trivial foe that has a Derangement or a non-trivial creature of the Wyld. It lets you detect derangements with an Occult-based read intentions action. Nightmare-Drinking Thirst allows you to use the Solar Charms Spirit-Drinking Stance and Breath-Drinker Method on victims of cracked mirror blight and creatures of the Wyld as if they were spirits. It doesn’t gate any other Charms, so that’s nice.

Primal Horror Fang makes your attacks deal Aggravated damage against victims of cracked mirror blight and creatures of the Wyld, and increases your damage against them based on the disease’s strength. (All creatures of the Wyld are considered to have it at Defining level.) Watcher at the Gates of Chaos cannot be purchased, but is gained for free when you willingly expose yourself to cracked mirror blight and allow it to rise to Defining level. It permanently increases your Resolve against fear-based influence and gives a bonus on Willpower rolls to resist Derangements. Dream-Rending Strike allows the Solar Charm Order-Affirming Blow to be delivered via a Thrown-based gambit that gets a free full Excellency applied to it. Again, it doesn’t gate anything off. Night of Endless Horrors lets you make a Withering attack against a victim of cracked mirror blight or a creature of the Wyld, with a bonus on the damage roll. If you Crash the target this way, their cracked mirror blight is worsened one step and they must immediately make a Willpower roll against it. If you Crash someone with Defining symptoms or a creature of the Wyld, they instead just lose a Willpower, which you gain if resonant.

The ultimate power is Cobweb Glamours Torn Asunder. Once per story, this may be used to cut a Derangement or a Psyche-keyworded effect out of a target’s mind in one blow. The target suffers Decisive damage based on its intensity or the Essence of the character that put the keyworded effect in place, ignoring Hardness. (This may require a Decisive attack if the target is not willing – a willing target just takes the damage automatically.) This may also be used to nullify wide-scale unnatural influence that affects many characters. The mechanics for that are ‘the player and GM work together to determine how you do that, making a task that is difficult in relation to the scale and power of the effect,’ such as killing a Raksha to flee its victims from a nightmare plague, defacing an idol to free a town from a sorcerous working imbued in it or so on.

Next time: Sekhem, Shipbreaker


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: FIRE GUN

Sekhem is a 4-dot red jade dragon sigh wand. That’d be a magic flamethrower rifle. When the elemental courts beyond Dazra Province rejected the authority of Daimyo Sirisun, he had the artificer Open Hand forge a weapon to demonstrate his power over them. The core was a brilliant dragon scale unearthed in a vault under Chiaroscuro, said to come from the Elemental Dragon of Fire itself, and fine red jade. Open Hand made a weapon of such might that even fire elementals would burn in its flames. Sirisun sent his champion, Keiken Mai, to conquer the ifrit lords. She did so quickly and well, but while she succeeded, she was sickened at killing immortal beings for the pride of an old man. When he abused the lords of Dazra, Mai led them in rebellion, and she ended up burning the daimyo alive in his palace, even though he was a Fire Aspect, and set a young, idealistic Dragon-Blooded officer in his place. After, she gave Sekhem to the ifrit lords as an apology. Sekhem is mostly red jade, with orichalcum fittings and the carving of a dragon along its muzzle, with the dragon’s long tongue serving as a bayonet. The weapon is always hot enough to sear flesh and char wood, burning anyone that touches it as per its charm Smoldering Steel Ignition unless they are wearing the accompanying pair of red jade gauntlets to protect themselves; attuning to the weapon also attunes the gauntlets free. It has two hearthstone slots.

Sekhem’s flames burn hotter than even it can contain. It has a Heat rating that begins at 0 and rises by 1 each time it is fired, to a max of 10. Its Heat falls by one after any round in which it is not fired, and drops to 0 at the end of the scene. Withering attacks add Heat to their damage, including attacks with the bayonet, as fire rolls along the blade. At the start of each turn, you roll dice based on the Heat reduced by your Essence, to a minimum of 0. If any of the dice rolls a 1, Sekhem’s barrel cracks. While the barrel is cracked, all attacks and damage rolls get a penalty, Heat no longer increases and all Evocations cannot be activated. Repairing it as a Major project that takes a few hours and cannot be sped up. Certain Evocations require Heat to be at a certain level or higher before they can be used, and most get better as Heat increases.

Dragon’s Scorching Breath is gained free when you attune as long as you aren’t dissonant with jade. It lets you reload the gun without ammo, and gets cheaper as Heat rises. Fire That Burns Flame lets an attack ignore some armor and any effects that would reduce damage from heat or flame, and fire elementals or other spirits of fire take Aggravated damage from the attack. It also gets cheaper as Heat rises. Smoldering Steel Ignition lets you make a gambit to superheat the target’s weapon. If successful, an artifact gets too hot to hold for the rest of the scene and a mundane weapon is destroyed. The opponent has to make a roll to drop the weapon or get burned (dealing damage and taking a penalty to all actions with that hand until it heals). Heat must be at least 1.

Incandescent Exhalation makes a Decisive attack that gets extra damage from Heat and has Fire That Burns Flame on it for free. If blocked or if it loses a clash against a close-range weapon, it superheats the weapon as per Smoldering Steel Ignition. Heat must be at least 2. Stone Cannot Endure, once per scene, lets you burn or melt nearly any non-magical substance, affecting an area ten feet in diameter within Close range, up to three feet thick. It can cut holes in walls, vaporize cage bars or melt stone into lava. Anyone caught in or beneath a wash of molten stone takes a one-time nasty environmental hazard. In combat, Heat must be at least 3; outside combat, this is waived. Stronger Than Fire is gained free when you are Crashed by a powerful foe while acting in service to a Major or Definining Intimacy, but can’t be learned if dissonant with jade. It lets you ignore the penalties of cracking the barrel of Sekhem for the scene, holding it together with your anima, and makes you gain Initiative when your turn starts for the rest of the scene. When the scene ends, Sekhem breaks entirely and must be repaired per the normal artifact repair rules.

The ultimate power, Phoenix-Immolating Conflagration, can only be learned if resonant with jade. It is gained free when you face a powerful fiery foe while Stronger Than Fire is active. Once per scene, while Stronger Than Fire is active and Heat is at least 5, you can make an unblockable Decisive attack that automatically and at no cost as Fire That Burns Flame applied. Its damage is increased based on Heat and ignores Hardness. It does not include your Initiative in the damage roll and does not reset your Initiative. Any enemy damaged by it is set on fire, taking continuous damage until the end of the scene, which is Aggravated if vulnerable to the Aggravated damage of Fire That Burns Flame. Extinguishing the fire without magic is a miscellaneous action that costs 5 Initiative, sends the person doing it prone and can’t be flurried. As long as the victim is a fire elemental or other fiery being, if they become Incapacitated while on fire, they are permanently dead.

Shipbreaker is a 4-dot black jade siege crossbow. In ancient times, when the undersea nations of the West formed the Niobraran League to oppose the Exalted, the Solar Ianthe of Nengur Deep sided with them against the other Exalts, seeing herself as one of the sea peoples first and Solar second. She descended into the pre-human abyss, studying with the spirits there and using their arts to forge Shipbreaker, a terrible weapon she wielded against the fleets of the Exalted Host. Together, they sent many warships to the depths. Even when the tide of battle shifted against the Niobrarans, Ianthe remained loyal. However, when a Lunar came to offer clemency not only to her but for all of Nengur Deep, she saw that it was the only option. She surrendered the secrets of the Niobraran forces, leading Nengur Deep in ambush against their reserves at the Battle of Saffron Wave, where the Niobraran will was broken. When Ianthe died in the last days of the war, Shipbreaker was taken up by Dragon-Blooded heroes, whose descendants wielded it against the Solars in the Usurpation. After the Contagion, it fell into the hands of the Exigent god-admirals of Cabochon, and has since come into the control of the Lintha Family, whose demon-blooded pirate captains use it to terrible effect. It is a black jade crossbow with orichalcum fittings and string, and orichalcum inlay in the stock showing a kraken destroying ships. It has 2 hearthstone slots.

Shipbreaker ignores all penalties for being fired into or out from water, and if a Water-aspect hearthstone is slotted, it lets the wielder breathe underwater and swim freely while wielding it. As long as the wielder isn’t dissonant with jade, they get the first Evocation free when they attune. Draw to the Deep lets you fire off a bolt powered by the pull of the depths. It can only be used against vehicles, warstriders, things of Legendary Size or other large-scale targets, and it embeds a cumbrous bolt into the target. In combat, this is a gambit, while in naval combat it is a broadside that also has its normal effects. Encumbered targets get a penalty to movement, Sail and Ride checks to avoid hazards and naval combat stats. Cumbrous bolts lose their power when the scene ends or if removed, which requires a feat of strength of great difficulty. Flying Fish Method reduces the cost of a number of Solar Athletics Charms when traveling through, over or across water and lets them be used to run or jump on water. It doesn’t gate anything off.

Kraken’s Unseen Arm gives a bonus in naval combat based on how many cumbrous bolts you’ve shot into the target, and in normal combat, it gives a bonus to rush or disengage based on that instead. Crushing Force of the Depths lets you, once per scene, detonate your cumbrous bolts in a massive shockwave, automatically damaging one foe that they’re embedded in without need for a Decisive attack roll or reset of Initiative. Thousand-League-Current Pursuit can’t be learned if dissonant with jade. It makes Draw to the Deep’s power indefinite, allowing you to keep your motes committed to prevent the cumbrous bolts from losing power and increasing the Strength required to remove them, as well as giving you a bonus to track anything that has your cumbrous bolts embedded.

The ultimate power, Maelstrom-Summoning Shot, also can’t be learned if dissonant with jade. Once per story, it lets you fire a bolt twisted with water Essence, which creates a whirlpool where it strikes water. This is a special attack that does not target an enemy, but a location, where the whirlpool centers on and extends out to Medium range. Anyone that is caught in or enters it must make an Athletics roll or be dragged inward and lose some Initiative to the user. Anyone at the center starts to drown and must roll Athletics to escape, which can’t be flurried. Uncrewed ships and other scenery caught in it takes arbitrary damage at the GM’s whim and may become an environmental hazard as debris fills the whirlpool. In naval combat, this lets you make a custom stratagem that holds a target ship in place and forces the ship to make an opposed roll or be destroyed, killing all trivial characters aboard. (Non-trivial NPCs and all PCs get a chance to escape.) Alternatively, you can use it to boost an attempt to escape naval combat or pursuit by trapping the pursuer in the whirlpool, which also does the whole ‘make a roll to not have your boat instantly die.’ (Because this doesn't actually give an exception for artifact boats, it is perhaps the most powerful naval combat trick in the game.)

Next time: Sirrush, Strife’s Crucible


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: SMALL FIRE GUN

Sirrush is a 4-dot blue jade devil caster – that is, a fire pistol. The Solar Vaznia basically collected artifacts and barely used most of them. Sirrush and Anshar were a paired set of flamepieces she had made in blue jade to match the eyes of a favorite concubine. She ended up handing them to her lieutenant, Rylo Stormsong, without ever using them in battle. Rylo was a thrill-seeker that went looking for trouble, doing battle wwith many criminals and going on many adventures. To get herself out of the trouble she got into, she wielded Anshar and Sirrush to terrifying effect. Eventually, however, she was outmatched by the sea-demons of a sorcerer she’d offended, and while she lept from the top of the Crescent Temple into the sea to escape, she never resurfaced. A thousand years later, the mud-sifters of Wu Jian found Sirrush. It managed to make its way through a number of deals and thefts until one of the now-destroyed Lords Criminal traded it to the outcaste pirate Storm Mother’s Son in exchange for several crates of firedust. Anshar remains lost. There are no hearthstone slots. Were Anshar to be rediscovered, it is possible the pair would unlock new Evocations together, but Sirrush functions alone as a single weapon just fine.

Firedust-Gathering Practice is gained for free when you attune as long as you aren’t dissonant with jade. It lets you reload the gun without an action. Lightning Draw Method is gained free when you win Join Battle against at least one non-trivial foe. It lets you treat your Initiative as higher for purposes of when you act during the first round of combat, but you must use the action to attack. Storm-Dueling Method lets you clash with a surprise attack (but not an ambush) at Close or Short range, reflexively drawing Sirrush if it wasn’t ready. This does not count as your action for the turn. Fiery Gale Barrage lets your attack double as a feat of strength to smash a piece of cover, and if you destroy it, it provides no protection to your target. Forked-Lightning Flame Attack lets you, once per scene, make a single Decisive attack that can target multiple foes in front of you, as long as they aren’t behind cover. Damage has to be split between them, though, except for battle groups, which take extra damage. After using this, you must make an ammunition check.

Devil’s Last Gasp lets you, if you haven’t reloaded after attacking, make a gambit to knock an opponent back and down with a blast of hot air and reflexively aim at them if you hit. Inferno-Drinking Stance is gained free if you aren’t dissonant with jade when you fail an ammunition roll while fighting to uphold an Intimacy. It lets you, whenever you would have to make an ammunition check while using one of its Evocations, have Sirrush completely consume all nonmagical fire within Short range to reload instead.

The ultimate power, Wind-Fire Twister, can only be learned if you aren’t dissonant with jade. Once per day, you can turn your bonfire-level anima to a tornado of fire that becomes an environmental hazard against anyone in Close range of you. It sets anything flammable it touches on fire, and you can move it around as a miscellaneous action. After activating this, you must make an ammunition check. The whirl lasts until you are Crashed, at which point it vanishes and the Charm ends.

Strife’s Crucible is a pair of 4-dot starmetal slayer khatars. The pair were forged to be a dueling weapon by Iron Temper, a Sidereal who saw the Usurpation as a failure of all Exalts. He thought that they were not ready, and so he asked the Maidens for starmetal with fragments of Mars’ own power, forging it with an alloy from a melted-down red jade daiklave once wielded by a Solar. Thus, he made a pair of khatars with which to test the Exalted. Each blade is two feet long, one foot wide and thin as a finger. The gauntlets of red jade wrapped in starmetal wire are engraved with depictions of the constellation named the Gauntlet, and the weapon adores battle and makes it easier to spur others to duel while ensuring they survive. Iron Temper continues to wield Strife’s Crucible even today, traveling Creation to challenge Exalts of all types. He has sworn a sacred oath on the weapon – when he finds the destined one worthy to take on his role, even more dedicated than he to bettering the Exalted, then he will hand over both the job and the khatars. Until then, he will guide the weapon in its holy purpose. There are two hearthstone slots.

When the wielder Joins Battle, they may declare one non-trivial foe to be their chosen opponent. If they beat that target on the Join Battle roll, they gain extra Initiative and act first in that round no matter who has the highest Initiative. However, they cannot attack anyone but the chosen opponent in that turn. The chosen opponent gains the same benefits but in reverse if they beat the user on Join Battle. When the wielder defeats the chosen opponent, they may offer to give them one Willpower, pushing them to never accept defeat. If the target accepts, they form a Major Intimacy chosen by their player to reflect the lesson learned in the battle.

Gleaming Dagger Dissent is gained free as long as you aren’t dissonant with starmetal when you see someone else use strength or martial skill in a way that offends one of your Major or Defining Principles. It enhances social influence designed to piss people off by issuing a challenge while pointing the weapon at someone or performing a kata. If the influence lands, the target forms a Major Intimacy of their player’s choice that will encourage them to fight the wielder (now or later), on top of the normal effects. If resonant with starmetal and the target starts a fight, and you designate them your chosen opponent, you can reflexively clash their first attack against you with a Decisive attack that doesn’t count as your action for the round. First Blood Poise gives Strife’s Crucible a special Willpower pool that gains Willpower whenever the wielder Crashes or incapacitates their chosen opponent, to a cap of 10. The wielder may spend Willpower from this pool to resist social influence, boost their Parry, pay Evocation costs for Strife’s Crucible or give Willpower to defeated foes. Any Willpower in the artifact fades at the end of each story.

Truth in Strife Repose lets you, when you parry an attack successfully, read your attacker’s intentions with a bonus based on your Brawl. Success reveals the Intimacy that is the primary reason the target fights in general. If resonant and you uncover an Intimacy of your chosen opponent this way, you may commit the Charm’s cost to get a bonus to Withering attacks against the chosen opponent, with a greater bonus the less powerful the revealed Intimacy was. Shining Duelist’s Challenge boosts the Solar Charm Majestic Radiant Presence. The chosen opponent is immune to its effects but all other foes must pay 3 Willpower instead of 1 to resist it, unless you attack someone other than your chosen opponent. This does not gate anything off. Final Blood Sanction cannot be bought; instead, it is gained free when you form or strengthen a Positive Tie towards your chosen opponent in battle. You can use it once per story. To use this, your chosen opponent must be the most potent foe in the battle (or one of them, if multiple are roughly equivalent and tied for most powerful), and you must Crash them. You then roll your Initiative as an influence roll against all foes present, ignoring the penalties for group influence. Your chosen opponent cannot apply Resolve against this roll. If you beat all foes’ Resolve, the fight ends. Everyone becomes apathetic about the outcome of the fight, no longer certain why they were fighting. Anyone, friend or foe, other than your chosen opponent, may enter a Decision Point to restart hostilities, but must invoke a Major or stronger Intimacy and spend 1 Willpower. Once they do, anyone else can rejoin battle without need to resist, and if they do, you re-enter at whatever Initiative you were at when you ended the fight, while your chosen opponent re-enters Crashed at -10 Initiative. If resonant, the fight can’t be restarted by anyone of lower Essence than you and they must use a Defining Intimacy in the Decision Point.

The ultimate power, Terms of the Spear, lets you pray to Mars once per story to sanctify a duel. Red stars of the Spear constellation etch onto the gauntlets, charging it with destiny and consecrating the rules of the duel or terms of engagement for the battle. If either you or your chosen opponent breaks the rules agreed to, the khatar blades glow red and destiny imposes a punishment that fits the crime, as if the rulebreaker had broken an oath consecrated with the Eclipse anima. At the least, the curse will render the rulebreaker incapable of legitimately winning the duel. If you win a battle sanctified this way, you gain 2 Willpower and lose some Limit. If you lose, you gain a Major Intimacy reflecting what you learned from the duel and gain one Charm or Evocation that fits this Intimacy. You must meet all of its prerequisites as normal but spend no XP on it. However, if you do not maintain the gained Intimacy at Major or higher, you lose the Charm unless you buy with actual XP. Once you learn a Charm this way, you must pay for it with XP before you can learn another through this Evocation.

Next time: Sunflash, Talion

Prayer Chakram

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Prayer Chakram

Sunflash is a 4-dot orichalcum infinite chakram, simultaneously a weapon and a prayer to Kiragaru, the god of killing at a distance. It is a two-foot-wide monster of orichalcum with a hundred razor-sharp blades lining its rim, inlaid with red jade in the form of a prayer for swift flight. When thrown, it spins like a prayer wheel, tracing out an invocation to Kiragaru and tapping into divine anima. It was made by the Solar priest Merciful Akiva, who wanted to attract the god’s attention. There are no records of if the pair ever got together, though. After the Usurpation, it was stolen by a Dragon-Blood that swiftly got killed by Kiragaru, who instructed the Sidereals to inter it with Akiva’s remains. When the scavenger lord Mogu looted the tomb a thousand years later, Kiragaru appeared to test his morals with parables and wisdom – a test he has repeated with every inheritor of the weapon. Sometimes, Sunflash is held in temples or shrines to Kiragaru as a relic, but the god ensures via dreams and omens that the priests always find a suitable candidate to wield the mighty weapon. Like every infinite chakram, it returns to the hand after any throw. It has no hearthstone slots.

Sunflash, like an Exalt, has an anima banner. Its totemic form is a shining image of Kiragaru, and it goes up one stage whenever the wielder Joins Battle or incapacitates a non-trivial foe with it. For each level of its anima, its Decisive attacks ignore a bit of Hardness. At the end of every scene, it resets back to dim. Burning Faith Arc lets you reset its anima to dim to get a bonus to a Decisive attack and bonus damage. Blinding Noonday Sun Attack lets you use part of the anima to make a Decisive attack that produces a blinding flash of light, giving the target (and anyone at Short range that doesn’t make a Dodge check) a penalty to sight-based action, as long as it does any damage. Horizon-Darkening Dawn is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum and successfully ambush someone from Medium range or further with Sunflash. It makes a Withering attack do more damage the higher Sunflash’s anima is, puts out all mundane light sources nearby and siphons some of the target’s anima banner into Sunflash’s, if they have one.

Eclipsed Star Feint upgrades the Solar Charm Observer-Deceiving Attack, making it help ignore penalties for stealth from Sunflash’s anima, if the anima is bright enough, have it confuse people to make their Awareness checks harder to determine where you are. Darkest Before Dawn cannot be learned if you are dissonant with orichalcum, and it makes Sunflash jump all the way to iconic if you win Join Battle at the start of combat. Whirling Starfall Volley upgrades the Solar Charm Swarm-Culling Technique, making it allow more reflexive attacks based on Sunflash’s anima level. Incandescent Sunfire Technique cannot be bought with XP, and instead is learned when Kiragaru blesses you, either personally or by omen. While he can be convinced to do this as a serious task, he prefers instead to sneak around and observe how people use Sunflash and either judge them worthy or make them face a trial of atonement. It causes Sunflash to gain a level of anima whenever it Crashes a foe or reduces the Size of a battle group. Killing Hand of Kiragaru is learned at no cost when you raise a positive Tie towards Kiragaru to Major or higher, and you lose use of it if your Intimacy ever drops below Major. It upgrades the Solar Charm Triple Distance Attack Technique to extend its range past Extreme based on Sunflash’s anima level. Blazing Sundog Strike upgrades Fiery Solar Chakram to let you combine your anima and Sunflash’s for how many anima levels you can spend on it and resets Sunflash’s anima to dim when you do so.

The ultimate power, Revolutionary Sun Mandala, is gained free once you meet its prerequisites if you’re a Solar. Which you have to be to meet its prerequisites, since it takes like three Solar charms to do. Once per story, you can make Sunflash’s banner go iconic and summon Kiragaru to appear before you and speak to you. Once the conversation, whatever it is, is over, if Kiragaru finds you worthy he gives a miraculous boon. If not, he’ll give you a test first. There are a few options for what his boon is. He can hand you a Thrown Charm, Evocation or other appropriately useful combat Charm, which you count as 1 Essence higher for prereq purposes to learn. He can imbue one of his own spirit Charms into Sunflash, letting you use it as an Evocation except that it can be related to anything to do with killing at a distance and Sunflash must be at iconic to use it. He can give a combat blessing for the scene, which prevents Sunflash from falling below Bonfire no matter what and makes you gain 5 motes to use that turn whenever it’d normally gain anima. Kiragaru can, alternatively do various favors for you in Yu-Shan, being a powerful and high-ranking god. If none of these are appropriate, you should work with the GM to figure out what Kiragaru’s blessing is this story.

Talion is a 4-dot orichalcum wrackstaff. Near the end of Old Man Kai’s life, he angered a Dragon-Blood and was beaten to within an inch of death. Finding no justice nearby, he traveled ten thousand miles to Meru, the center of the Old Realm, to seek justice from Ambrani Rao, the high priest of the Sun. Rao would not meet with an old peasant pilgrim, however. Offended beyond measure, Old Man Kai exalted from sheer fury and burst into the priest’s sanctum, berating the Unconquered Sun’s own priest for being too proud. Kai forged Talion as the vessel for his righteous anger, and with it he first beat the Dragon-Blood that offended him, then went out to fight anyone he deemed unjust, no matter who they were. Today, the staff is the central relic of a Southern cult that claim it shows them the sin in mortal hearts…though it never seems to disagree with their decisions, which is convenient. It is a plain orichalcum shaft worked to resemble wood grain. A thin starmetal band circles each end, and squares of starmetal inlaid on the shaft say ‘Talion’ in Old Realm lettering. It has a single hearthstone slot.

Talion’s wielder may devote themselves to pursuing a grievance against someone, called the offender, who has wronged them in a way defined by a Major or Defining Intimacy. Any wrongs done by the offender’s employees or done at their behest are as viable a reason as direct actions, incidentally. The wielder’s desire for justice against the offender becomes a Defining Principle that cannot be altered or diminished while they remain attuned to Talion, or until the end of the story after attunement ends. If the wielder must roll Limit for violating this Intimacy, it is with double 9s. While pursuing the grievance, the wielder gets a bonus to track the offender, survive environmental hazards that obstruct them or to do feats of strength or demolition against obstructions. When the wielder satisfactorily concludes the grievance, such as by punishing the offender, gaining compensation or forcing penitence, the associated Principle goes away and the wielder gains 1 Willpower per session the pursuit lasted, and the first time a grievance is concluded each story, also loses 1 Limit. You can have only one grievance at a time, and once it ends or becomes impossible to pursue, you can pick a new one, though only once per session, tops. You can choose to abandon a grievance when a new story starts.

Humble the Wicked can be used at Initiative 10+ to boost an attack against an offender or one of their minions, and if it hits, they go prone and you can reflexively target them with a social action to intimidate, cause shame, guilt or remorse, or read intentions to tell if they’re penitent. Staff of Fury is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum when you take up a grievance that appeals to one of your Defining Intimacies. Talion gains a Willpower pool, which you can spend as if it was your own to oppose the offender or their minions. Once per scene, when the offender wrongs you further or you learn of a new wrong they have done to someone else, Talion gains 1 Willpower. Ending or abandoning a grievance empties Talion’s pool entirely. Path of the Nemesis lets you reroll failed dice when attacking, pursuing or contesting the escape of an offender or attacking or threatening their minions. Further, you can ignore Difficult Terrain when moving towards an offender or their minion, and can ignore any cover they have that is less than full cover. Contrition-Appraising Stare lets you reduce an offender (or their minion)’s Guile when using read intentions actions to tell if they have repented.

Way of 10,000 Indignations can only be used when you are pursuing a grievance. When someone offends one of your Major or Defining Intimacies, if no offender is present, you can activate it to consider them an offender for purposes of Talion’s Evocations for the rest of the scene. If you activate this against another target, it ends against the original, and it ends early if an actual offender appears. Rise Up, Penitent! is learned for free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum and you defeat an offender in combat. When you successfully compel an offender to submit to your authority, you can activate this to make them gain a Major Principle of their player’s choice that stands in opposition to their actions in the original grievance. This Principle cannot be altered or reduced below Major until the story ends. If you are resonant, you also gain 3 Willpower and lose Limit as long as they aren’t a temporary offender selected by Way of 10,000 Indignations.

The ultimate power, Curse of Talion, cannot be learned if you are dissonant with orichalcum. It cannot be used against temporary offenders via Way of 10,000 Indignations. It lets you make a gambit against offenders only which imposes a poetic doom of the GM’s choice based on a curse you speak to them and the nature of the grievance, as if they had broken an oath sanctified by the Eclipse anima power. You may remove the curse with a touch and a spoken word.

Next time: Vainglory, Zelator

The Idiot Hat

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: The Idiot Hat

Vainglory is a 4-dot orichalcum infinite chakram. It is also a hat. When one of the ancient, beautiful foes of the gods was slain, its blood fell to earth in a stream of unnatural gems. The Solar that struck the deathblow was enthralled by them, gathering them as trophies, and had them set in a crown as a sign of her power. However, the pride and hate of the ancient creature lingered in the gems and corrupted her. Her reign became a terror, and eventually even her own kin despised her. When she died, the crown was stolen before it could be interred with her. Many have worn it since, each rising to great power only to fall to disaster. Vainglory takes the form of a heavy coronet of orichalcum, its band set with a dozen cabochon gems the size of eyes and of unearthly color found nowhere else. The crown is shockingly aerodynamic, and despite being cool, smooth stones, the gems cut like daggers and burn like flame. It has no hearthstone slots.

Vainglory feeds on arrogance and vanity. Its Evocations rely on the wielder’s Conceit, the level of their strongest Intimacy of pride, in the sense of ambition or satisfaction with their own abilities, wealth, influence and so on, including disdain for those that fail to match them. You get a bonus based on your Conceit’s level on any rolls to instill a Tie towards you and it adds to your Resolve to resist any influence that would make you doubt or reject yourself or your actions. A mortal with a Defining Intimacy that’d qualify as a Conceit may spend 5 Willpower to attune to Vainglory, as it wants to be wielded. This grants the power to use Vainglory as a weapon and its innate Conceit bonus, but mortals cannot learn any of its Evocations.

Subjugation Strike lets you enhance an attack with Vainglory, making it cause a penalty to the target’s Resolve against the next social influence aimed at them. You can stack this a number of times based on your Conceit. Burning Demiurge Halo enhances the Solar Charms Joint-Wounding Attack, Mist on Water Attack and Fiery Solar Chakram. The first can manifest the wounds it leaves in the form of your personal insignia, which mortals cannot heal without magic and which lets you reflexively threaten them or inspire them towards fear, anger or hate. The second lets you make the death you cause as obvious as possible to gain a bonus to an inspire, instill or threaten action using the death as an object lesson. The third lets you deal bonus damage to people you have a Tie of hatred towards. Wounded Enmity’s Grace lets you gain Initiative when you take Decisive damage from an attacker you have a negative Tie towards. Commanding Solar Corona boosts the Solar Charms Majestic Radiant Presence (the first time you Crash someone while it’s active, they have to pay its cost to speak to you or attack again, even if they already have), Enemy-Castigating Solar Judgment (you treat anyone you have a Defining tie of hatred towards as a creature of darkness with it) and Terrifying Apparition of Glory (Vainglory’s bonus dice become bonus successes when used with threaten actions it generates). Crowned By Nightmares can be used while you are at Bonfire anima, causing anyone that can see you to take a penalty to Defense against your attacks based on how high your negative Intimacy is towards them.

The ultimate power, Heart-Fettering Glory, can be used once per scene. It lets you attack someone you know has a negative Defining Intimacy towards you as a gambit. If you succeed, the crown enters their chest and encircles their heart before it reappears in your hand. A band of Essence remains wrapped around their heart, binding them to your will. Their negative Defining Intimacy is inverted into a positive one that can’t be eroded or altered for the rest of the story.

Zelator is a 4-dot orichalcum direlance. Ostra Luka, author of In the Shadow of the Deliberative, wielded it in a legendary campaign against the Hexmanse, a cabal of blood sorcerers and infernalists who rebelled against the Deliberative. Luka was trapped by them for a decade in a devil-world, and took ten years after to forge the lance in order to pierce their magics and kill them. Another ten years were spent raising an alliance against the Hexmanse and gathering an army. The narrow blade of the lance bears an Old Realm character meaning ‘divine retribution.’ And its heavy orichalcum shaft bears the inscription ‘End transgression against the celestial order through harmonious action.’ The tassels are horsehair taken from Luka’s steed, preserved for millenia by the warrior’s magic. It has two hearthstone slots.

Zelator’s attacks are baneful against sorcerers, sorcerous constructs, sorcerously transformed foes and summoned spirits. Its Decisive attacks against such foes deal extra damage and are Aggravated. If the target is a sorcerer who has gathered sorcerous motes, they lose 3 of the gathered motes as well. When attempting to counter or distort any spell, the wielder is considered to know the spell. Whenever they Crash an opponent, they may reflexively attempt to distort an active spell on them or counter a spell they were casting. If the wielder senses a sorcerous working in the region, they may commit one mote to have Zelator guide them to the site it is being enacted on.

Spell-Piercing Strike gives a bonus to a baneful attack and lets it ignore some armor. Sunstrike Steed is gained free if you’re not dissonant with orichalcum when you Join Battle against any foe Zelator is baneful against while mounted. Your mount gains the power to make baneful attacks while you’re mounted, and whenever you can perceive an immaterial foe, your mount can both see and touch it. Golden Deviltry Mirror is gained free when you incapacitate a non-trivial foe with a baneful Decisive attack. It can only be activated when you become the sole target of a non-physical ranged attack, such as Sandstorm-Wind Attack or Flight of the Brilliant Raptor. If you successfully parry that attack, you can reflect it back at the source, no matter what the range, and if it was Withering, you get the Initiative and the enemy loses it. If you’re resonant, you can activate it after the attack gets rolled rather than before, which is nice for not wasting a few motes and then failing the parry.

Hell-War Veteran’s Benison lets you boost a command action aimed at a friendly Might 0 battle group engaged with at least one supernatural foe. They gain Might 1 for the rest of the scene, or Might 2 if resonant. Goetic Condemnation can be used when you incapacitate a foe with a baneful attack. You can activate it to knock their body back one or two range bands and make veins of Solar Essence flow through them and explode in golden fire as a Decisive attack against all enemies in Close range of the body, with damage based on how much damage was dealt to the original incapacitated enemy with the killing blow. Sorcerer-Cataphract Style can be activated to let you, for the rest of the scene, flurry attacks and shape sorcery actions together once you start to shape a spell. Dawnfire Radiance upgrades the Solar Charm Corona of Radiance, causing it to apply to any baneful attacks you make even if they aren’t against creatures of darkness, and also makes Corona of Radiance, Element-Resisting Prana and Nine Specters Ban extend their effects to any mount you may have. This gates off nothing. Devil-Trouncing Charge is used in strategic warfare when facing an enemy general that relies on sorcery, geomantic power, spirits or other overtly supernatural power. It lets you use a stratagem where you lead from the front with Zelator glowing like the sun. If it succeeds, your army gains Might 1 and can make baneful attacks for the scene, and all allies get the benefits of Spell-Piercing Strike to their first impaling attack that scene. It gates off nothing and requires you to know the Solar Charm League of Iron Preparation.

The ultimate power, Breaking the Hexmanse, can only be used once per story, and only when you either have 15+ Initiative or it is the turn right after activating Goetic Condemnation. You unleash your iconic anima through Zelator as a blast of spiritual power that extends out for several miles, distorting all spells, dispersing all sorcerous motes and banishing all summoned spirits in its area of effect. Any sorcerous workings caught in the pulse are disrupted for several days and suffer complications as if they’d rolled several botches during their creation, based on your Essence.

Next time: Five-dot weapons.

Question Marks

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Question Marks

The Forgotten Blade, also called the Sword of Forgetfulness, is a 5-dot daiklave of unknown materials. Its history is lost entirely, and its name is a legend of failing memory. Few know that the Forgotten Blade is anything but a metaphor for the pains and joys of remembrance and forgetfulness. Almost everything about has been forgotten by time, and the very few books and legends that describe it and its actions agree on little beyond its mysterious nature, its power to destroy memories, and its tendency to vanish from the world when its owner dies. Scholars' records of its appearances are cryptic, contradictory things, and even its physical descriptions never much up. The most accessible First Age source, Facet Raven's Twelve Murders in Meru, claims it was a weapon of pure starmetal, a great extravagance, with a bonded edge of black soulsteel. However, the book is also a novel. The sword has two hearthstone slots.

The Forgotten Blade may cut away memories as a memor-excising gambit. This is a Psyche effect, and if it hits, the target loses all memory of a specific person, place or thing of the wielder's choice, which can be "a random subject picked by the GM" if you wanted for some reason. The target loses no stats or Intimacies - even if they don't remember why they feel that way, the meotion remains. Specialties relevant to a lost memory may be unusable until the memory is restored, however. Lost memories do not return naturally, and this amnesia is treated as a Major Derangement for purposes of healing magic. Memory-excising gambits cause no pain and shed no blood, but do leave a fine, pale scar that the victim cannot recall getting. Only the attuned user may remember what the Forgotten Blade looks like when it is not directly in sight, and while it is unattuned, everyone who sees it forgets its existence entirely when it leaves their sight, as per the Evocation To Fall Unmourned.

Faceless Warrior Method reduces the cost of the Solar Charms Easily-Overlooked Presence Method, Mental Invisibility Technique and Vanishing from Mind's EYe Method, and also makes it so the blade is never obtrusive for purposes of Easily-Overlooked Presence Method. It gates nothing off, fortunately. Elegant Fugue Strike can be activated to bless a Decisive attack, making it so that if it hits, the victim loses all memory of the user's technique, giving a Defense penalty against the wielder's Decisive attacks until the next time one hits without using this Charm, which can be stacked a few times. Memory-excising gambits and normal Decisive attacks are interchangeable for this Charm's purposes; if used for another gambit, the penalty applies only against that specific gambit. Death of the Past lets you automatically succeed on a memory-excising gambit whenever you use the wepaon to Crash a foe.

Winds of Lethe allows you to use a memory-excising gambit at a bonus whenever you use a Charm that would normally cause a Decisive attack. If you do so with Iron Raptor Technique, Sandstorm-Wind Attack or Blazing Solar Bolt, you also get a discount to those Charms, but you don't need to know them to learn this. (Or any Solar Charms.) Technique-Dissociating Stroke can be used whenever you successfully block an attack with Forgotten Blade. When activated, you pick an instant-duration Charm, Evocation or spell used in the attack; for the rest of the scene, the attacker forgets they had that power at all, and can no longer use it, though it remains valid as a prerequisite. You can stack this a few times in a scene, but each use must be against a different attacker. It also cannot be used against Excellencies, and it ends if you get Crashed.

Amnestic Desolation lets you make a special gambit that is quite difficult unless you've been stacking Elegant Fugue Strike - like, 'same difficulty as just instantly murdering most people.' If it hits, the target falls unconscious but takes no physical damage. Instead, they suffer total retrograde amnesia of all episodic memory of their entire life. They lose no stats or Intimacies, but may forget they have them unless reminded by circumstance, and all Specialties related to individual places, people, things or ideas are lost until the amnesia is cured. Broader Specialties remain. The victim awakens if they take any damage. Lost memories do not return naturally, and this amnesia is treated as a Defining Derangement for purposes of healing magic. To Fall Unmourned is gained free when you kill an enemy you have a negative Defining Tie towards, and also reduces the cost to use it against that specific foe. This can be used whenever you kill a foe. It causes all memory of that foe to be lost. Theiry body cannot be recognized even by those closest to them, and they fade from the thoughts and memories of all they have ever met, leaving only a nameless gap of memory. Only the wielder is immune to this, and any attempt by anyone else to remember the character in any way fails, period, unless they have an Intimaciy towards the victim or have great Resolve. Even then, they must spend 1 WP to remember for a scene, and can only ignore the power indefinitely if they spend more Willpower than your Manipulation.

Lacunar Mantle lets you use Mental Invisibility Technique at no cost the first time you draw the Forgotten Blade each scene. The ultimate power, Amnesia's Razor, is gated by it, so is effectively Solar-only. It may be used only once per story, and only when you are either at Initiative 15+ or have just used Amnestic Desolation. For the rest of the scene, you get a bonus to attack rolls and several bonuses when you hit people. First, any attack that hits also automatically causes a successful memory-excising gambit. Second, anyone you Incapacitate may have Amnestic Desolation used against them free and without a roll instead of them dying. Third, you can use To Fall Unmourned free whenever you kill someone. You may also strike an inanimate object, structure or location to render it totally unrecognizable and unmemorable as per To Fall Unmourned. However, this ends the Charm's effects. Further, it cannot be used on truly gigantic natural features, like mountains or seas, and against potent magical objects such as N/A-level Artifacts or Manses, though the GM is encouraged to let interesting ideas stretch that.

Gorgon is a five-dot white jade reaver daiklave. It contains an ancient monster, not a god or demon, that once wandered the deep Underworld. Its undying hate for all life was restrained only by its intense laziness, and it was bound by an ancient race of beings, sealed into a weapon where its evil might have some use. That was long, long ago, and its creators, victims and even its name have long since been lost, as has the name of the crafter who remade the weapon into a daiklave. While legendary in the Underworld, it appears in only a few stories in Creation proper, such as when Prince Oye returned from death to turn her seven daughters to stone, only for the youngest to sing the blade to sleep once more. Most recently, it has been wielded by Shards of Basalt, an Abyssal in service to the Walker in DArkness. Her will drives the weapon to action, and with it she has left a trail of petrified corpses. The white jade blade was mined in the shadowy lands of Nhur, and it is the color of wood ash. Blood cannot stain it, for it absorbs and devours all blood, growing paler and brighter with each drop until it turns a bright and unnatural white. While the sword sleeps, its hate is confined, and only violence and blood can stir it. As it wakes, its eye slowly opens, allowing its evil to flow outward. It has two hearthstone slots.

Abyssals are resonant with Gorgon even though it is made of jade. Anyone it kills immediately turns to stone, and the Essence of immortal beings such as spirits are trpaped in the stone until it is broken, as are the ghosts and hungry ghosts of mortal victims. The sword's devil only stirs with the taste of blode, and most of its abilities can only be used at certain Wakefulness levels. Successful Withering attacks while the eye is open get a bonus to damage based on its Wakefullness. When it deals Decisive damage or deals Magnitude damage to a battle group, it gains one step of Wakefulness as long as you roll at least as many tens as the next step's Wakefulness rating, which starts at 0 for closed, and goes up by 1 at each step, from Slitted to Half-Open to Wide Open. Those dissonant with the weapon cannot get it past Half-Open. While the eye is shut, you can spend 1 Willpower to raise it to Slitted, which you can do even if you are unaware of the danger it would be responding to. It can only gain 1 Wakefulness per turn, and it may or may not gain any at the GM's discretion against lifeless foes such as zombies or automata. All Wakefulness is lost at the end of each scene. Further, a sufficiently good Performance extended action can drop Gorgon's Wakefulness or even send it to sleep entirely. If sent wholly to sleep, it cannot be woken for the rest of the scene, but if the attempt fails, it is immediately awakened to its highest past state of Wakefulness in the scene and cannot be sent to sleep for the rest of the day.

Stone-Sinew Offensive causes a Withering attack it boosts to curse the victim with a penalty to all attack rolls, movement and Defense until the wielder's next turn, and it can be stacked to extend and worsen the penalty, though it will always reset back if you don't keep hitting the foe with it. If Resonant, victims cannot take movement actions while suffering the penalty if Crashed. Shackles of Lassitude curses a victim's disengage roll based on Wakefulness, reducing its successes. If this causes a botch for a non-trivial foe, it gains one step of Wakefulness. Granite Venom Strike lets you make a Decisive attack that, if it hits, poisons the victim with a curse that turns their blood to stone. The poison's duration can be increased with Stone-Sinew Offensive. The poison itself has no base penalty, but causes a penalty to all Dexterity-based checks as it does more damage and increases the victim's soak in equal amounts, as they slowly petrify. These penalties and bonuses only go away as the damage heals, and mortals cannot heal the damage naturally. Any Crippling injury to reduce damage from this attack will involve partial petrification.

Life-Devouring Hellion Blade boosts a Decisive attack's damage based on Wakefulness, and if resonant and your attack incapacitates a non-trivial foe, Gorgon gains 1 Wakefulness. Ever-Hungry Devil Sword lets you, when you kill someone with a Decisive attack, boost your Initiative based on Wakefulness after your reset to base. Baleful Gaze: The Dead Eye Opens cannot be learned if dissonant with Gorgon. It can only be used when Wakefulness is at least at Half-Open. The eye stares down a foe as a gambit to catch their gaze, usable out to Short (or Medium, if resonant) range. If it hits, the target becomes paralyzed and can take no physical or social actions, even reflexive ones, except to defend themselves. They get a Defense penalty, too. To maintain the paralysis, you need to keep making gambit checks each turn, but you do not need to land an attack to do so, and they cost less Initiative. The paralysis ends if the view of the eye is blocked for a full turn, if you take any combat action besides moving or maintaining control of the gaze, if either you or your victim are hit by an attack or otherwise harmed, or if you go past the Charm's maximum range from your victim.

Baleful Gaze: Unblinking Eye of Nightmare can only be learned if resonant. For the scene, when you are at Bonfire and Wakefulness is Fully Open, and you get a bonus to all threaten actions, enemy battle groups get a penalty to rally and rout checks. Also, you can use The Dead Eye Opens out to Long range and may flurry other combat actions with maintaining the paralysis, and Granite Venom Strike's damage increases against paralyzed foes. If you drop below Bonfire or Gorgon loses Wakefulness, the Charm's effects end until you get both conditions back in place. The ultimate power is Baleful Gaze: Apocalypse in Onyx. It also can only be learned if resonant. Once per story, while at 15+ Initiative and Unblinking Eye of Nightmare is active, you can unleash Gorgon's full hate. For the rest of the scene, it cannot lose Wakefulness. Regardless of your anima level, you can make ranged Melee attacks out to Extreme range, can use The Dead Eye Opens out to Extreme range and pay no costs to use Stone-Sinew Offensive and Granite Venom Strike for the rest of the scene. Whenever oyu make a ranged Melee attack, you petrify all trivial foes, all battle groups without Might whose individual members would be trivial foes, and all non-magical inanimate objects within Medium range of the target - rain becomes pebbles, snow becomes ash, clouds and fog become dust, rivers become sand, soil becomes stone. At the GM's whim, a dramatic and narratively meaningful botch while using this power may allow the monster in the sword to escape into the world.

Next time: Soulfarer, Stormcaller

Soul Train

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Soul Train

Soulfarer is a five-dot soulsteel grand grimcleaver - that is, giant-ass battle axe. It is a two-headed axe with grooves traced into it that lead to its twin hearthstone sockets, designed to channel the blood it spills. The haft is carved of the dread bones of Locus Moon, a hekatonkhire of terrible power - that is, a behemoth of the Underworld. The weapon is said to be the last relic of a necromantic empire that warred with the Exalted during the First Age. After the rebel ghost-princes were defeated, Soulfarer was claimed by the sorcere Yasha Vol. She soon found it hungered for blood. Every battle, it emanded ever more of her life essence, even as she became renowned for both her mystic and martial prowess. In the early years, she used it for noble causes - slaying vicious criminals and great beasts, enemies of Creation. As time went on, however, she grew more indiscriminate, joining wars of conquest or even murders of passion, as Soulfarer whittled away her resolve and made her its tool. At last, Yasha Vol was ultimately killed by her own Circle, who had become horrified at what she became. They decided the cause was the weapon, and they sealed it in the depths of the Underworld. Just five years ago, the axe returned to Creation in the hands of the Abyssal Daughter of Wisps Unremembered, who swears loyalty to no Deathlord and instead pledges her victories to the Unconquered Sun.

The wielder learns the first Evocation free on attunement: Soul-Drinking Hunger, which gives a bonus to Decisive damage for a scene and, if used on the instant that you land a Decisive attack that deals Lethal damage to an enemy with blood, requires no health level cost, as the axe accepts the victim's blood in place of the user's. The Evocation ends after you go more than a single round without dealing DEcisive damage. If dissonant, the health level cost increases with each subsequent use each day, regardless of who ends up paying it - the user or their victims. Blood-Stained Secrets Imitation causes the user to gain sorcerous motes for the Decisive damage dealt while Soul-Drinking Hunger is action, which last until the scene ends or they are used. Further, using Shape Sorcery actions is considered to count as dealing Decisive damage for purposes of maintaining Soul-Drinking Hunger. If resonant, you also learn a free Terrestrial Circle spell when you learn this, which you can use as long as you wield Soulfarer. If you pay XP for that spell, you may learn a new free spell through the axe.

Sorcerer's Reaving Strike lets you flurry an attack with a Shape Sorcery action. It cannot be learned if dissonant with soulsteel. Soul-Devouring Axe upgrades the Solar Charms Ghost-Eating Technique and Breath-Drinking Method, allowing them to produce sorcerous motes if used while shaping a spell. It doesn't gate anything off, not that this helps most people anyway. Pain-Eating Empowerment cannot be bought with XP. It is instead gained when you kill someone you have a positive MJajor or Defining Tie towards, accidentally or deliberately. This can be used once per scene, and enhances Decisive damage and causes Soulfarer to absorb the soul of any mortal enemy slain by the attack, denying them any chance to either become a ghost or reincarnate. Spirits slain with this attack are permanently destroyed. Gaining a new soul for the axe in this way causes a surge of power, allowing you to roll Join Battle after resetting to base Initiative.

Soul Reaper Enlightenment grants power whenever you incapacitate a non-trivial enemy, allowing you to gain sorcerous motes based on their Essence, which last until used or the scene ends. If resonant, it also lets you get a free Celestial Circle spell through the axe, as per Blood-Stained Secrets Imitation, but casting the spell costs you 1 lethal health level on top of its normal cost. Agony Mandala Meditation can be used when you incapacitate a non-trivial enemy with a Decisive attack, and it lets you take another action for the turn, but that action may only be used to begin shaping either a spell you know through Soulfarer or one of your control spells. If resonant, you can also do this when you Crash a foe.

The ultimate ability is Void Rite Awakening. Whenever you take Decisive damage, you also gain sorcerous motes based on the wound penalty each damaged health level has. These last for the rest of the scene or until used. Further, you gain one free Solar Circle spell through Soulfarer, as per Blood-Stained Secrets Initiation. However, casting it costs an additional Aggravated health level on top of its normal cost.

Stormcaller is a five-dot Orichalcum reaper daiklave. One of the greatest foes of the Exalted during the Divine Revolution was the storm demon Akavadra, who trampled entire armies with dancing feet of lightning and slew even Exalted with her lightning spear. Stone Leaf Kon, however, walked her storms unscathed, for her terrible fury could not harm him as his heart was too pure. He could not slay her, for he had sworn to never kill, but instead bound her in a sealing circle and spoke to her. He could not convince her to follow his own path, but he convinced her to allow herself to be bound into a blade, that she might witness the deeds of heroes over the many years and finally make a decision. Broken Thunder, one of Kon's Circle, folded layers of orichalcum around the Essence of Akavadra, perfecting the weapon's composition to seal her away. The blade was slender and elegant, yet far heavier than it should be, even in the hands of its attuned master, thanks to the pressure of Akavadra's malice. To handle this, Broken Thunder made a scabbard of white jade to contain Stormcaller and ground it. Even so, the blade must still be purified with rice wine at every new moon to prevent the demon's wrath. Stone Leaf Kon himself never drew the blade. Instead, he passed it to the reincarnation of one of his Circlemates, Rusal Ji, in the hopes that the two might learn from each other. Rusal became one of Akavadra's favorites, for he used her power indiscriminately to satisfy his own fury. He once burned a sacred grove of Jupiter to the ground to drive out a foe of the gods that hid there, cut down the armies of two nations in one battle to win the heart of a lover, and drove the six-eyed Karsi mystics to extinction to satisfy his fury at being rejected. He died at the hands of one of his own Circle, who could no longer stand his atrocities. Heartbroken and feeling guilty, Kon sealed Stormcaller inside a one-ton puzzlebox of white jade, buried in a dungeon of death traps, wards and bound demons. The Sidereals hunted for the weapon frantically before the Usurpation, but they never found it. They still keep an eye out for signs of the seals being broken and Stormcaller returning. It has three hearthstone slots.

Stormcaller can be wielded while sheathed, dealing Bashing instead of Lethal damage if so. Anyone attuned to it is immune to environmental penalties from wind, rain and other weather. Further, only they can draw the blade from its scabbard, and when they do, the sky grows dark in seconds, and the wind and rain begain to fall out to four range bands around it. The storm's Intensity starts at 0, rising by 1 each time the wielder lands a Decisive attack while at Initiative 15+. Some of its Evocations also generate Intensity. Anyone not resonant with orichalcum is limited in how high they can get Intensity, based on their Essence+3, and dissonant users are capped at their Essence. Intensity 0 is a weak rainstorm, giving a minor penalty to all sight-based rolls and ranged attacks. Intensity 1-3 is heavy rainfall, increasing both of those penalties. Intensity 4-6 is a downpour, increasing the penalties and making all ground count as Difficult Terrain. Intensity 7-9 is gale-force winds, causing all aerial creatures to treat flying through the air as Difficult Terrain. At Intensity 10+, the winds are hurricane-force and flight is impossible. Sheathing the blade causes the tempest to disperse in a final blast of lightning. Intensity drops to 0 and the wielder makes a special unblockable Decisive attack with a free full Excellency against everyone within 1 range band per point of Intesnity, with a cap of Essence+3 range bands, including allies. The attack's damage is based on its Intensity and is devided evenly among all characters that get hit, rounding up. It ignores Hardness. Trivial foes and battle groups automatically just take damage based on Intensity. The wielder's Initiative is not included in the damage and does not resert to base, and no magic can be used to enhance the blast. Every new moon, Stormcaller must be ritually cleansed with rice wine in a ritual requiring OCcult 3+, or 1+ and a demon-related specialty. The ritual takes a scene and an Occult roll, and while Stormcaller is properly purified, the sheath blast will not harm allies or anyone the wielder has a positive Tie towards.

Fulminating Edge Flash can be used once per scene. It boosts Withering damage and, if the attack hits, lets you gain Intensity, but you do not gain any Initiative the victim loses. Storm Binding: Lightning Cleaves the Heavens lets you sheathe the blade to concentrate the storm's fury into a single bolt of lightning you control. Rather than the normal sheath effect, you make an unblockable Decisive attack at a foe out to Medium range, with bonus damage based on Intensity. You can only use this once, then must successfully purify Stormcaller under the new moon to use it again. If resonant, you can instead reset it with a scene in meditation with the bound demon, spending Willpower and rolling Presence to try and subdue it by will alone. If you fail, you can't try again until after purifying the weapon. Sleeping Devil, Wake! gives a bonus to a Decisive attack, and if it deals any damage, you get +1 Intensity - or more, if resonant and you roll 10s.

Divine Tempest Blade lets you use Hungry Tiger Technique against foes not in Crash as long as the storm is at least Intensity 6. Storm Binding: Falling Sky Strike can only be used if at Intiative 15+ and Intensity 6+. You sheathe the sword, but instead of the normal effects, you send out a barrage of lightning, making a number of unblockable Decisive attacks based on Intensity at one or more foes out to Extreme range with a single attakc roll. You dividedamage evenly among all foes hit, rounding up, to determine raw damage, and you ignore Hardness, and you inmcrease damage based on how well you hit. This Evocation may only be used once before purification, following the same rules as Storm Binding: Lightning Cleaves the Heavens. Once once is used, neither can be until purified, one way or the other.

The ultimate power is Storm Binding: Tempest of 10,000 Hells. It can only be learned if you prove your will superior to Akavadra's and get her to admit you are her master. This is typically done by succeed on the pruification roll for every new moon over an entire year, though other narrative conditions may allow it as well. Akavadra may, alternatively, grant use of this power to someone that earns her favor via great and heartless violence. To use this Charm ,you must spend a full scene in meditation, honing your intentions, then draw the blade. You unleash an ultimate, devastating storm on the area, which the GM may use Rain of Doom's effects for or make a unique effect. As long as you have succesfully purified the blade every new moon for the past year, you may ensure the storm will not harm your Circle or anyone you have a positive Tie towards. However, if you have failed in the purifications, have an Intimacy formed by interaction with Akavadra or are in Limit Break, the storm goes entirely out of control and often does terrible collateral damage. This can only be used once per story, but can be reset by upholing a Major or Defining Intimacy via the monthly purifiaction, or by spending a scene in communion with Akavadra and accepting a Major Intimacy reflecting her corrupting influence.

Next time: Armor Chapter

Mount Baldy

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Mount Baldy

Baldaquin is a 3-dot orichalcum lamellar armor. It was forged by Broken Thunder as a gift for Shadow-of-Mars, to protect her on the Eight Directions Embassy, a mission in which she would travel all the land as an emissary of the Exalted. It was worn to treat with the Western Fair Folk in order to gain their endorsement of the Formless Concordance and as she sailed ot Old Stygia to offer her respect to the Dual Monarchs and even across the Endless Desert to seek audience with the princes of Malfeas. Through it all, no matter what, Shadow-of-Mars was loyal to her mission, and the armor was always true. Centuries later, she set aside her travels to live in Asmay, on the Isle of Nine Cities, near Luthe. She passed the armor on to a new generation, that they too might be protected as they sailed the Great Western Ocean and beyond in service to the newly made Deliberative. Each rondel and plate bears the insignia of the Eight Directions Embassy - eight arrows radiating from the Imperial Mountain. It has a single hearthstone slot.

Whenever the wearer travels in order to be an intermediary or advocate for another, they get a bonus to all rolls to endure or bypass hostile environments and hazards. Austere Ambassadorial Mien is gained free as long as you aren't dissonant with orichalcum when you successfully influence or read the intentions of a spirit or raksha. It boosts the wearer's Resolve and Guile and those of their allies for a scene, as long as they are guests of or guided by spirits or Fair Folk. Further, the host and their retinue cannot attack the party without just cause unless they pay Willpower. Upright Nautical Envoy enhances the Solar Charms Fathom-Fed Spirit, Tide-Cutting Essence Infusion and Tide-Carried Omens. The first can be used more times per day, the second increases a ship's speed when traveling as an intermediary, and the third makes bonus dice into bonus successes. It isn't a gate of anything. Faultless Emissary Method lets you reroll failures on a bargain or read intentions roll made while being an intermediary.

Iron-Compass Soul lets you gain Initiative and motes whenever you resist influence used by demons, undead or Wyld-born creatures or energies. Part the Winds of Chaos reduces the cost of Integrity-Protecting Prana, Wyld-Dispelling Prana, Chaos-REplling Pattern or Chaos-Cutting Galley a few times per day. It doesn't gate anything off. Golden Negotiators Voice boosts the use of Enlightened Discourse Method and Semantic Argument Technique when you are acting as an intermediary, and gives extra Willpower from Empowered Barter Stance while acting as an intermediary.

The ultimate power is Celestial Safe-Passage Compact. Obce per story, it allows you to forge a pact between any two rulers or governments. Once such a pact is made, all envoys and their entourages traveling on official business from one ruler's court to the other's get the benefits of diplomatic immunity provided by the Eclipse anima power. This pact will persist through succession, usurpation or civil war as long as some continuity of government remains. Once either ruler or ruling body officially forswears the pact or once either government ceases to exist in tis current form, the benefits are lost for all future envoys, though any out on official business retain its protection for the duration of their embassy.

Heartsbalm is a 3-dot orichalcum reinforced breastplate. Its tale is the love story of Laughing Sky and Oak Ring Prince, a romance still told of millenia beyond their deaths. It's a long and storied cycle, but the seventh part tells of how Oak Ring Prince sustained a terrible wound defending his husband from the venomous talons of a behemoth. Laughing Sky swore not to rest until he'd made armor that could protect his beloved and return the beauty the scar of the wound removed. From then on, Oak Ring Prince always wore Heartsbalm into battle, making him invincible as his love. Their stories speak of the perils he withstood for love, ranging from singlehandedly fighting off the legions of the Chatoyant Sovereignty to diving into the Thousand Razors Labyrinth to rescue Laughing Sky from Malfeas. After Oak Ring Prince's final battle against the Usurpation forces, Laughing Sky took up the armor to go on a vengeance-fuled rampage against the killers. The armor has two hearthstone slots.

To attune to hearthstone, you must have a positive Tie of love towards someone else. From then on, that person is your beloved. Romantic, familial or other forms of love all work, as long as the relationship is emotionally significant. If your beloved is killed or the reciprocal love between you ends, you may designate a new beloved at the start of the next story. Until then, you lose access to all of Heartsbalm's Evocations. You can spend 2 XP to designate a beloved early, getting them back when the next story begins. When you use a defend other action to protect your beloved, or your beloved uses a defend other action to protect you, whoever is being protected gets a Defense bonus.

Heart-Forged Aegis increases your soak and the defend other boost based on the strength of your Intimacy towards your beloved. Furious Guardian Reprisal makes it so you can use Essence-Gathering Temper, Willpower-Enhcancing Spirit and Fury-Fed Ardor in response to damage you witness being done to your beloved as if it were being done to you. It doesn't gate anything off. Indomitable Guardian Ardor is gained free if you aren't dissonant with orichalcum when you and your beloved defeat a powerful foe together. It increases your Resolve in combat and if you're fighting to protect your beloved or your relationship with them, it gives a bonus to Hardness and to resisting environmental hazards based on the strength of your Intimacy.

Orichalcum Hero's Heart can be used once per day, and only while fighting to protect your beloved or your relationship with them. After you get hit with a Decisive attack, you can roll a pool based on your Willpower and the strength of your Intimacy to oppose the damage roll; if you win, you take no damage and your attacker resets to base. If resonant, you can force the enemy to have to roll damage against themselves if you negate their attack and their attack roll beat their own Defense. All-Conquering Love upgrades the Solar Charm Strength From Conviction Stance, so that in a Decision Point, you can call on the sacrifices you've made to protect your beloved or your relationship, even without a supporting Principle. Once per story, you can also lose Limit when you use this to resist a life-changing task. This does not gate anything.

Divine Tempest Blade lets you use Hungry Tiger Technique against foes not in Crash as long as the storm is at least Intensity 6. Storm Binding: Falling Sky Strike can only be used if at Intiative 15+ and Intensity 6+. You sheathe the sword, but instead of the normal effects, you send out a barrage of lightning, making a number of unblockable Decisive attacks based on Intensity at one or more foes out to Extreme range with a single attakc roll. You dividedamage evenly among all foes hit, rounding up, to determine raw damage, and you ignore Hardness, and you inmcrease damage based on how well you hit. This Evocation may only be used once before purification, following the same rules as Storm Binding: Lightning Cleaves the Heavens. Once once is used, neither can be until purified, one way or the other.

The ultimate power is Trust Beyond Doubt, which upgrades the Solar Charm Transcendent Hero's Meditation, reducing its cost based on the strength of your Intimacy when invoked in response to influence that opposes your Tie to your beloved. If the influence would cause you to harm or endanger your beloved, you may break free of it instantly, without any need for time in meditation.

Next time: Kaijin, Midnight Thorn

Green Power

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Green Power

Kaijin is a three-dot starmetal reinforced buff jacket. Most of it is green leather, made from a patchwork of hides from over a dozen God-Blooded monsters, reinforced with starmetal plates and epaulettes, held in place by opal rivets from the bottom of the Great Western Ocean. The starmetal was excavated from the seabed by a deep-sea diver and archaeologist named Ebony Maelstrom, a Sidereal who used an ancient wonder of Yu-Shan to explore the ocean floors across Creation. In the depths of the West, he found a gigantic meteor that contained the Essence of so many spirits that the only distinct power he could extract from it safely was their shared immateriality. He brought this unprecedented metal back to the workshops of Heaven to be made into an artifact, and to this day, it is still occasionally requisitioned by Sidereals heading into dangerous areas. The armor can trick the Loom of Fate into seeing the wearer as a spirit – and thus allowing them to become as immaterial as a spirit. It has two hearthstone slots.

The wearer of Kaijin gets its first Evocation free on attunement. Hazy Mirage Edge lets you become slightly immaterial, giving a small boost to Defense and soak against an attack that can’t hit dematerialized targets. Flying Phantom Leap upgrades the Solar Charm Leaping Dodge Technique, so that when it’s used after dodging an attack via Hazy Mirage Edge, you teleport to your new location, ignoring obstacles such as walls or difficult terrain that would otherwise prevent your movement. It doesn’t gate anything off. Silver-Tongued Blasphemies upgrades the Solar Charm Ancient Tongue Understanding, so that while speaking in Old Realm you get a bonus to Manipulation-based influence rolls to convince people you’re a spirit. It doesn’t gate anything off, either. Immanent Mantle of Divinity reduces the TN of a roll to oppose a grapple, disengage or withdraw from a foe, or to otherwise escape by 1, to a minimum of 4. If resonant, it also increases the TN of any opposed rolls by 1, to a max of 9. Fateful Shift Evasion can be used when attacked in Close range to clash with a Dodge-based gambit. If it succeeds, you can either reflexively move away from the attacker or cause them to move one range band past you, as well as stealing some of their Initiative. This doesn’t count as your action for the turn.

The ultimate power, Donning the Ethereal Form, cannot be bought with XP. Instead, it is gained free if you’re not dissonant with starmetal when you achieve a major character or story goal by convincing someone significant or an entire society that you are a god. It lets you dematerialize, rendering you unable to interact with the physical world without use of special magic. Unlike most dematerialized beings, you remain visible, though you appear to be a divine spirit rather than a mortal being unless they make a very hard Occult roll.

Midnight Thorn is a 3-dot green jade chain shirt. Its green jade links are all treated with mystic inks used by some far Eastern tribes to camouflage themselves via occult tattoos. It is worn on top of a hooded tunic of black velvet made from the silk spun by rare silkworms found underground below the Imperial Mountain. To complete it are a pair of bracers made from the stripped bark of ironwood trees, carved with symbols of Sextes Jylis and Mela, with a single hearthstone socket in the left bracer. Midnight Thorn was made by the Dragon-Blooded crafter Iselsi Uja, and it was among the arsenal used in House Iselsi’s ill-fated rebellion against the Scarlet Empress. She took it from them and gave it to her elite spies, the All-Seeing Eye. Its last known bearer, sent by the Empress personally to infiltrate Lunar bases in the Caul, wore it to conceal himself in the jungles. However, he never returned with his findings and the armor was presumed lost.

Midnight Thorn gives a bonus to all Stealth rolls made while concealed in forests, jungles or other plant-based concealment. Leaf-Sussurus Mimicry is gained free if you’re not dissonant with jade when you successfully ambush a non-trivial foe. It reduces penalties to Stealth rolls while in plant-based concealment. Razor Bloom Barrier can be used once per round on your turn to grow a flower from the Sextes Jylis bracer, then throw it out to Close range, where it will instantly grow into a bush or shrub that provides light cover. Once the scene ends, the plants fade to nothing. If resonant, you can reflexively take cover behind it with a bonus based on Stealth or Survival, whichever is higher. At Essence 3, you can repurchase this to make the flower grow into a briar wall that gives heavy cover and damages enemies that try to take cover behind It or use it for concealment.

Unseen Dryad Concealment upgrades the Charm Invisible Statue Spirit, making it free to use while in plant-based concealment. It gates nothing off. Blood Thorn Technique can be used whenever you take non-Bashing Decisive damage, allowing you to reflexively activate Razor Bloom Barrier. If the attacker is in Close range, they must make an Athletics roll to avoid being knocked prone by the rapid growth and taking minor Decisive bashing damage. Elusive Forest Shadow can only be used while stealthed behind plant-based concealment and no enemy that is aware of you is within Short range or closer. This causes a layer of bark to grow over the armor, improving its soak and Hardness for the scene. Embrace of Thorns upgrades the Solar Charm Dark Sentinel’s Way, allowing you to reflexively use Razor Bloom Barrier when you use Dark Sentinel’s Way to protect an ally, giving your ward cover. This gates nothing off.

Wilderness-Stalking Wraith upgrades the Solar Charm Traceless Passage, making it even better when concealing tracks in forest, jungle or other vegetation-rich areas. The ultimate power is Shadow Hunter Ambuscade, which can boost any unexpected attack, causing the armor to fire razor blooms and steal the target’s Initiative on a hit, giving them either to you or to an ally within Short range. If resonant it also gives a minor damage boost to the attack.

Next time: 4 dots: Five Edicts Dominion, The Quincunx

The Armor of Being A Giant Asshole

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: The Armor of Being A Giant Asshole

Five Edicts Dominion is 4-dot soulsteel articulated palte. Legend has it that it was the first soulsteel artifact ever made, dating all the way back to the Divine Revolution. Whether it was first or not, it’s certainly ancient. It was forged from the laws of the ancients, as they tumbled from the lips of dying titans. Indistinct wraiths of long-extinct races shift across its black surface, and wicked spikes protrude from its great pauldrons and crown-helm. It was worn into battle only one time by the Solar assassin Khour-Rudjek before he sealed it under a mountain for several millenia, fearing what its corruptive influence might do. The mountain is now in the midst of a shadowland, and the dark agents of a mysterious necromancer-king have been seen delving into its ruins. Over the millenia, the restless dreams of the Old Laws have woken something in the artifact. The dying breaths of beings that were never meant to die are far too potent to be silent, and they have formed a strange consciousness over time. The armor itself is sentient and may speak to its attuned Exalt even when not worn – or anyone nearby, when unattuned. What it wants is unclear, but the wise are wary of its promises. It has two hearthstone slots.

When Five Edicts Dominion is unattuned, it makes a 10-die bargain attempt at anyone within Long range capable of attuning to it as soon as they see it, attempting to convince them to attune. Once attuned, it fills the wearer’s head with the words of the ancient dead, giving a bonus to all Occult rolls about the undead or the Underworld and to all Linguistics rolls to understand archaic or dead languages. On Your Knees is gained free when you exploit a Major or Defining Tie towards you that takes the form of subordination or inferiority in order to lower someone’s Resolve, or when you discover such a tie with a read intentions roll. This may include a soldier’s loyalty to a commander, a peasant’s awe towards a warrior or the hateful fury of the oppressed against a tyrant. When you are hit by an attack but take no damage, you may activate this to channel the whispers of the dead gods into a single incomprehensible word that knocks the attacker prone as invisible weight forces them to their knees (or, if resonant, you may knock them back one range band first). You then gain or strengthen a Minor Tie of contempt towards the attacker.

10,000 Years Humiliation lets you speak a word of denial when an enemy within Short range attempts to rise from prone, reflexively rolling a Presence-based threaten action against their Resolve. If you succeed, they do not dare to rise from prone until their next turn. Beyond Your Reach increases your Defense against an attacker you have a Tie of contempt towards or who is prone, and increases it further if both are true. Even if the attack hits, its damage is reduced. Absolute Terror Mantle improves the Solar Charm Majestic Radiant Presence, reducing its cost and making prone enemies unable to resist it with Willpower. It gates nothing off. Dread Majesty Command is gained for free if you aren’t dissonant with soulsteel when you defeat a character you have a Major or Defining Tie of contempt for. It lets you shout an ancient word, sending forth a torrent of anima and force. All enemies within Short range must roll Resistance with a difficulty based on your Linguistics or be knocked back one range band and sent prone. If resonant, you also reduce their Initiative (but don’t gain it).

On a Pedestal of Your Bones can’t be learned if dissonant with soulsteel. It can be used when a prone foe or one whom you have a Tie of contempt towards hits you with a Withering attack, allowing you to make a Presence-based threaten action as a counterattack. If you succeed, the attacker gains no Initiative from their attack. If resonant, it also reduces the damage. You Groveling Fools upgrades the Solar Charm Worshipful Lackey Acquisition, allowing it to trigger whenever you achieve a goal by defeating your enemies in battle, and making it harder to resist if you have a Tie of contempt for a target. It gates nothing off.

The ultimate power, Covenant of the Old Laws, can only be learned if resonant with soulsteel. It can only be used once per story, and only by spending at least five minutes meditating in the Underworld, a shadowland or an Abyssal-aspect demesne or manse. The world crumbles around you to reveal the all-devouring void beneath Creation, where you may bargain with the ancient dead. Anything gained through this Evocation has a GM-defined price. It may be a Minor, Major or Defining Pact. Minor Pacts are relatively simple to accomplish within at most the next session. Major Pacts require effort equivalent to a major character or story goal. Defining Pacts require effort comparable to a legendary social goal. If you fail to uphold your end of the bargain or renege on it, you suffer the curse of the void, as if you had broken an Eclipse-consecrated oath. You can learn the location of an artifact that is free to claim, no more than 5 dots, with the pact level based on how many dots it has. You can gain the favor of a specific undead, treating them as having a Defining positive Tie in a context of the GM’s choice towards you as they see the bloody mark of the void on you, and a Major Tie from their retinue, for the duration of the next scene you’re in with them. This is usually a Major Pact, but may be Defining for very powerful characters such as Deathlords or undead Exalts. You may call forth an Abyssal manse from the void, raising it as a lesser manse if in the Underworld or a lesser Abyssal demesne, or a greater manse if in a greater Demesne. This is a Major Pact. You can gain any kind of Story-tag Merit that could be drawn forth from the Underworld, such as an undead army, lost wealth of the grave or so on, with a pact level based on how many dots the Merit you’re gaining is. You may call forth any Charm the GM allows, as well, ranging from custom Evocations for Five Edicts Dominion to any native Charm that resonates with its themes to spirit Charms with the Eclipse keyword known by undead. You must meet all prerequisites, but spend no XP. This is a Major Pact, or Defining if the power is particularly strong.

The Quincunx is a 4-dot orichalcum breastplate. It was made in the First Age by the sorcerer Devon, who believed that all secrets of the universe could be understood by careful math. When Devon’s Circlemate Kati dived into Malfeas alone to fight a demon lord, Devon saw no choice but to ready himself for battle and follow, wearing the Quincunx as a sorcerous defense against the alien powers and geometries of the Demon City. The breastplate was buried alongside Devon, and it remains in his tomb, awaiting its next wearer. It consists of two perfectly symmetrical pentagonal plates of orichalcum, both inlaid with crystals aligned to occult patterns and inscribed with runes. The front plate has a single hearthstone slot in the center of the large quincunx pattern the armor takes its name from. It is worn over a long, high-collared tunic with flared sleeves, lined with the fur and mystic power of five haruka. It allows a sorcerer that wears it to calculate their foe’s next move and capture their occult energies.

Anyone attuned to the Quincunx gets a bonus to Defense while shaping sorcery, attempting countermagic or distorting a spell. A Twilight at bonfire anima may pay 6 motes and 1 Willpower to harmonize their anima with the armor, causing both to stack their Hardness for the rest of the scene. Aegis of Geometric Perfection allows you to spend Essence to reduce the damage of an incoming attack, with a higher cap if you’re shaping a spell at the time. Harmonic Crystal Vessel boosts a countermagic attempt, allowing you to steal the motes you disperse and store them for the rest of the scene, to be spent on your own spells or on Evocations of the Quincunx. If not used before the scene ends, any motes left over are lost. Resonance of Sorcerous Essence improves the Solar Charm Supernal Control Method, allowing it to generate sorcerous motes in the armor as per Harmonic Crystal Vessel for every 10 on an enhanced Occult roll. It gates nothing off.

Sorcerer’s Crystal Aegis lets you reflexively use Occult to clash an attack against you. If you succeed, you deal no damage but you bank sorcerous motes in the armor based on your roll instead. This doesn’t count as your action for the turn. If resonant, you also drain some of the attacker’s Initiative if you win the clash. Brilliant Backlash Cascade lets you, once per scene, make an unblockable Withering attack via Occult against all foes in Short range, with damage based on your Intelligence and Essence. Any enemy that takes damage is also knocked back one range band and sent prone. If they are Crashed, they are knocked back an additional range band. Creatures of darkness (still undefined, ) cannot apply soak against the damage. However, you only gain Initiative from the highest damage in the blast.

The ultimate power, Celestial Anima Harmony, upgrades the Solar Charm Spirit-Drawing Oculus. Whenever you gain motes from it, you also bank that many sorcerous motes in the Quincunx.

Next time: Sozen and Mela’s Coil

Key Armor

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Key Armor

Sozen, the Cataphract of Keys is 4-dot orichalcum articulated plate. The name Sozen is spoken in a whisper in Malfeas, for even Hell has laws and locks, and the Cataphract of Keys is the mistress of breaking them. She is the queen of the Malfean underworld, a thief and legend. And she doesn’t exist. When the first Solar Deliberative collapsed, its embassy to Malfeas vanished entirely. Thousand-Named Orphan pledged to search Malfeas for his lover, who was lost with the embassy, and so he went to Zakhar of the Yellow Lamp for help, as the old drunk was said to be the greatest crafter of the age. Zakhar made for Orphan a suit of armor containing the Essence of a demon that never existed, forging it with such skill that the world itself forgot there was no Sozen. Thus armored, Orphan stalked Malfeas for seven years, undetected. The armor is a mass of spiked orichalcum plates, tarnished green with demonic Essence. It covers the wearer entirely, and each plate’s underside is coated in a filigree of occult glyphs in starmetal and black jade. The faceplate is an exaggerated demonic mask, and even when worn, its eye and mouth slits appear empty. While worn, it renders the wearer’s anima colors unnatural, full of greens and purples and demonic shades, with only the iconic manifestation left normal. It has one hearthstone slot.

While wearing the armor, the wearer appears to be Sozen in all ways. No one can distinguish your true identity while wearing it short of perfect magic such as Eye of the Unconquered Sun, and any power that reveals creatures of darkness will detect you as one, though any other magic does not treat you as a creature of darkness. While in Malfeas, you get access to the familiarity effect of the Solar Charm Seasoned Criminal Method, even if you don’t have that charm. If you do know it, it also gives the benefits of a Major Intimacy. Sozen also generates ominous phenomena. Shadows twist and writhe around you, and where you walk, vegetation rustles and standing water bubbles as if it flowed. When you speak, the strings of musical instruments vibrate in tangled echoes. At your touch, tarnish spreads across mirrors like frost.

Hell-Soul Masquerade veils you in the identity of the Cataphract of Keys. While this is active, you get a bonus to Guile, and anyone that fails a roll to read your intentions or Intimacies sees only Sozen. Sozen’s intentions are always mercenary, and her Intimacies are a Defining Principle of “I am the greatest thief that Hell will ever know,” a Defining Tie of Vanity towards herself, a Major Principle of “I will abide no disrespect for my skills and achievements,” a Major Principle of “I take what I desire,” and a Major Tie of covetousness towards precious things. Further, you are considered to have a specialty of demons and the Demon City in every Ability. A repurchase at Essence 3 lets you spend Willpower to use Sozen’s Intimacies to boost your Resolve or in a Decision Point, but doing so causes you to gain that Intimacy at Minor or increase it if you already had it, capped at the intensity Sozen has it. You may not voluntarily diminish it for the rest of the session.

Infernal Omen Shroud intensifies your ominous phenomena. It may be used when anyone attempts a Perception roll against you or anything in arm’s reach of you, and it lets you turn their successes into failures based on how many 1s they rolled, as long as the environment allows for your phenomena at all. The Orphan’s Key boosts the Solar Charms Lock-Opening Touch (it makes it easier to pick magical locks and reduces the cost for picking mundane locks), Master Plan Meditation (it gives a bonus to the roll) and Door-Evading Technique (it reduces the cost once per day). Evanescent Omen Body lets you dissolve into the ominous manifestations around you, increasing your Evasion against an attack and then reforming back in your normal location. If resonant, you may instead reform anywhere in Short range that has an appropriate environment for your ominous phenomena, as long as you successfully dodge, without it being your movement for the round. Ever-Thieving Demon Hand is gained free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum when you successfully steal a useful or valuable treasure from a demon or other being of Malfeas. It boosts a Withering attack, allowing you to reflexively make a pickpocket roll against your target as well, and you may choose not to gain any amount of Initiative from the attack to get an equivalent bonus on the pickpocket roll. Empty Scabbard Portent upgrades Ever-Thieving Demon Hand so that whenever you successfully dodge via Evanescent Omen Body while at Initiative 10+, you can spend 4 motes to counterattack with a Larceny-based disarm. If you hit, the target’s weapon dissolves into your ominous phenomena, and you can have it reappear in your hand or anywhere Evanescent Omen Body would let you reform. If nonmagical, you may leave it dispersed and gone forever. If you know Summoning the Loyal Steel, you may instead banish a mundane weapon to Elsewhere and recall it to your hand later via that Charm.

The ultimate power, Heart-Seizing Legerdemain, can only be used once per story and taps into Sozen’s legend as a master musician and lover, able to steal any heart. It can only be used in a place conducive to your ominous phenomena. You dissolve momentarily into chiaroscuro and music, your hand flickering into an opponent’s chest to steal their physical, actual heart as a difficulty 7 gambit. If the target has a Tie to someone or something that they think you’ve stolen from them or vice versa, the difficulty is reduced based on that Tie’s strength (or just the highest, if multiple qualify). A stolen heart still functions and beats and somehow keeps its owner alive, but there is a constant ache of its absence, causing a -4 wound penalty instead of whatever penalty they’d normally have for their current damage. If you wish, you may crush the heart. This is treated as an unarmed attack against a trivial foe, dealing all damage to the heart’s owner directly. When you end this Charm or die, the heart returns to its proper place in the owner’s chest if they are still alive. Creatures that have no hearts are immune, and those that have multiple hearts or whose heart is not useful (such as a zombie) may take lessened consequences at the GM’s whim. Additional restrictions may apply in some cases – for example, you may need to be able to touch immaterial beings to steal an immaterial being’s heart, while the heart of the behemoth Mostath, the Living Mountain, may be too large to steal without use of magic similar to Nine Aeons Throw.

Mela’s Coil is five-dot blue jade articulated plate. It was made during the earliest days of the Shogunate, a period rife with short-lived Immaculate heresies. The smith Aulan Kevia was an adherent of Mela Ascendant, and she made Mela’s Coil together with a Sidereal to celebrate this idea of a martial dragon, wearing it in battle against many during the Five-Dragon Crusade. Despite the armor’s power, however, Kevia was slain by the crusader Righteous Fire, who took the armor to the Pagoda of Pasiap’s Footstep as a prize. It has since been used by many Immaculate champions of the Wyld Hunt to face all kinds of foes, from insect-winged devils to Raksha storm-riders to flying Lunars. When Righteous Fire died in battle against the vulture-headed Devourer of Graves, his killer deliberately enraged his ghost by casting the armor into the sea, and the legend of the lost armor is still spoken of by Immaculates in the Realm and Lookshy, with many pilgrimages attempting to reclaim it. The armor is crafted to resemble a dragon coiled around the wearer’s torso, with the vambraces and gauntlets serving as its forelimbs and the helmet as its head. The dragon’s eyes are each a hearthstone socket.

Air Essence suffused the Coil, and despite its being heavy armor, it has no mobility penalty whatsoever, and its wearer is as buoyant in water as someone unarmored. Further, it produces a thin layer of fresh, clean air at all times, rendering the wearer immune to drowning, airborne poisons and diseases, and environmental hazards based on corrosive agents such as acid. The armor can also extend dragon-like claws from its gauntlets, which have the stats of razor claws. Wind-Rider Swiftness can be used to dive forward at a foe out to Medium range, causing the wearer to advance one range band towards them and then make a reflexive roll to rush them. This counts as your movement for the turn, and if you attack that foe before the end of your next turn, you get a bonus to damage. Clutching Dragon Coil causes blue jade coils to unwind from you and hold an opponent close, giving a bonus to a grapple control roll when you start a grapple. If used on the turn after rushing with Wind-Rider Swiftness, it also gives a bonus to the grapple’s Initiative roll.

Spread the Dragon’s Wings is learned free if you know the Solar Charm Eagle-Wing Style. It causes a pair of blue jade wings to unfold from the armor, 20 feet in wingspan. As long as you have enough clearance for them to spread, you fly as swiftly as a horse can run, functioning as per the five-dot Wings merit in all ways, but with a bonus to movement rolls while flying. If dissonant with jade, it is as per the three-dot Wings merit, and if resonant, it ignores the penalty to aerial actions caused by the Wings merit. If the wearer is Crashed, this Evocation ends. If this happens in the air, you plummet to the ground, but suffer no falling damage. Prince-of-Clouds Descent lets you, once per scene, swoop down one range band vertically and two range bands horizontally. If this puts you in Close range of a foe, you may make a Decisive attack with a bonus to attack and damage. This counts as your movement for the turn. Thousand Storms Exhalation lets you, once per fight, breathe out a typhoon-force wind, making a Withering attack based on Athletics, Brawl or Performance against all foes in a 90-degree arc in front of you out to Medium range. Typically this means one Close foe, three Short range foes and five Medium foes at maximum. All targets hit take a ton of Withering damage, but you only gain Initiative from the one that loses the most. Anyone that takes at least 5 damage is knocked back one range band and sent prone. At Essence 4 you can repurchase to be able to spend 2 anima levels to fill your breath attack with lightning, which means all foes hit also suffer a one-time nasty environmental hazard.

The ultimate power, One with the Blue Jade Dragon, can only be learned if resonant with jade, and only used once per story, while at 15+ Initiative and both hearthstone slots are full. You vanish in a sphere of wind and debris shot through with lances of blue light, which disperses to reveal a massive dragon made of blue jade, as you merge with the armor. This uses most of your stats, but replaces your health track and dicepools with those of a lesser elemental dragon, as well as gaining all of the dragon’s Charms (even those that lack the Eclipse keyword) and its Legendary Size and Soaring Dragon Flight merits. For any action the dragon has no listed pool for, you roll dice based on your Essence. You use your base traits for maximum dice from Charms and any other Charm calculations. Any items incompatible with your dragon form (like armor or weapons) are sent Elsewhere for the duration, but you may still use any Evocations of Mela’s Coil. You use the stats for Fakharu, but without his Censor’s Geas, Clothed with Humanity, Dematerialize, Measure the Wind or Seven Venoms Exhalation Charms, and all water-themed effects become air-themed. Also, you gain a Defining Principle of “I am the storm, raining destruction on my enemies” while in dragon form, and when the Evocation ends, you gain this at Minor, or increase it if you already had it. Damage to the dragon is not applied to your health when this Charm ends, but instead becomes battle damage on the armor, requiring a Major Project to repair. If not repaired, any damage persists to the next time you become the dragon. If the dragon is Incapacitated, this Charm abruptly ends, and the dragon carving is mangled beyond use, rendering all Evocations unusable until repaired as a Superior Project via the artifact repair rules.

Next time: Unison

Fashion Armor

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Fashion Armor

Unison is a five-dot moonsilver reinforced buff jacket. At first glance it appears as ordinary stylish black clothes. Only when charged with Essence does it assume its true shape. It is, however, no mere accessory – it is an extension of the self, made by the defeated Lunar queen Kirka of the Empty Palace, whose terrifying Simhata Legions were slaughtered by the endless Raksha hordes. For decades, she labored alone in her underground fortress to make a suit of armor that would be part of her very being, and she seethed for vengeance against the Wyld. She made Unison so it could never be taken from her without killing her, and together, she and the armor slew thousands of Fair Folk before finally falling. The dormant artifact still sits on her rotten corpse in the entry hall to her manse, now trapped out in miles of bordermarches and forgotten by time. The armor layers black silk and thin leather under a hauberk of knit chain that glimmers subtly. The chainmail is form-fitting and made from a dark gray alloy of moonsilver, steel and liquid mercury, infused with Kirka’s own blood. Fingerless chain gloves and sleek greaves complete the set. However, as its true power is unlocked, it transforms both itself and its wearer into a growing synchronization of form. After being attuned to it for a while, its master will start to think of it as part of their being, even when not wearing it. It has a single hearthstone socket.

Unison has three stages of transformation, called miens, which draw it ever closer to its master. When shifting from one mien to another, all motes committed to the old one are transferred towards the cost of the new one. For 3m, you can get the Argent Handshake Mien, which transforms the clothing into battle armor. On rolling Join Battle, you can activate this mien to give the armor extra soak and Hardness, as Unison sends its Essence through your chakras. Quicksilver Host Mien costs 5m, 2i and can be activated as a miscellaneous action while in Argent Handshake Mien. The armor becomes a skintight suit of compact, scale-like rings that conform to your body, removing the armor’s mobility penalty and boosting your Evasion. You may revert back to Argent Handshake Mien as a miscellaneous action. Final Unity Mien costs 7m, 3i and causes the armor to merge with your body, coating you in moonsilver and showing cosmetic characteristics of your anima banner or spirit shape. You can shift into this as a miscellaneous action while in Quicksilver Host Mien, increasing the armor’s Hardness and your unarmed attack Decisive damage, as well as making you immune to being knocked back or prone by smash attacks. You weigh twice as much as normal and automatically sink in water. You may revert to Quicksilver Host Mien as a miscellaneous action, and if you are dissonant with moonsivler, you can’t enter Final Unity Mien.

Evolving Quicksilver Body gives a bonus to actions upholding a Defining Intimacy. In Quicksilver Host Mien it can also boost actions supporting Major Intimacies, and in Final Unity Mien it can even boost actions supporting Minor Intimacies. Fluid Battle Evolution upgrades the Solar Charm Increasing Strength Exercise, allowing you to use it reflexively when entering either Quicksilver Host Mien or Final Unity Mien. It gates nothing off. Shared Passion Outburst is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with Moonsilver when you uphold a Major or Defining Intimacy while in any of the three miens. To use it, you must be in Quicksilver Host Mien or Final Unity Mien, and you pick an Intimacy that represents why you are fighting, gaining a boost to your Withering attacks for the rest of the scene based on its rating. Indestructible Body Adaptation reduces the cost of Adamant Skin Technique based on which mien you’re in. It does not gate anything off. Unleashed Fury Mantle upgrades Steel Heart Stance to let you use it cheaper when overturning influence that would stop you from fighting, and doing so doesn’t count as your once per story use. It doesn’t gate anything off.

The ultimate power is Soul Fusion Arsenal can’t be learned if dissonant with moonsilver. When you enter Final Unity Mien, you fuse your weapons with your armor-body. You cannot be disarmed, and the armor’s bonus to unarmed attack damage applies to your weapons. If resonant, you can also fuse a two-handed weapon with a single limb, allowing you to use it one-handed for as long as you are in Final Unity Mien.

That ends the armor chapter, and moves us into the miscellaneous magic shit chapter. First we get a bunch of stuff you can buy with Resources because it exists in natural form. Bright Morning (Resources 3) is also called vision dust, a purple powder made from a mixture of exotic Eastern herbs, including skullweed, which is found only in shadowlands. When smoked, it causes euphoria and hallucinations, but also allows you to perceive Essence flows and the immaterial. However, you get a penalty to all Perception- or Wits-based actions. One dose lasts about three hours. Overdose allows you to touch and be touched by immaterial beings for eight hours, but also poisons you for eight hours and causes the drug’s normal effects for the rest of the week. Using the drug more than once a week or taking an overdose also requires a Resistance roll to avoid becoming addicted; breaking the addiction takes a full month of abstinence from the drug, which probably requires an Integrity roll.

Dawnflower is Resources 3 in the far East, Resources 4 anywhere else. It is also called firstflower or eastern gift, and it is a golden flower said by the Ixcoatli to come from a single tree a mile tall, the first thing the sun touches each morning. It is hard to get even in the East. Fresh dawnflower withers quickly, but even dried, it is still potent. If crushed to powder it can be used to make lines on the ground that bar the passage of all creatures of darkness, in the same way salt blocks ghosts. If burned as incense, it gives a bonus to exorcism thaumaturgical rituals. If made into an oily paste to coat a weapon, it is a poison that only harms creatures of darkness. Still not defined.

Dreamstone is Resources 3 for a small one or Resources 4 for a big one. These are rare green opals primarily from the pit mines near Gem. If held while sleeping, they store and preserve your dreams. Small stones are about the size of an acorn and will catch the first dream of each night. Large gems are about the size of an apricot and can capture all dreams in a night. Anyone can then take the stone and touch it to their forehead to experience the stored dreams the next time they sleep, or may hold it for a time in a peaceful place to see the dreams as visions. The stone will hold the dreams until purged via a special meditative technique.

Seven Bounties Paste is Resources 4 and is the greatest remedy known to Creation. It is made from the roots of seven medicinal plants mixed together with alcohol to form a spicy and bitter red paste. Typically, this is mixed with rice and broth to make it not taste like shit. When administered by a trained physician, it is able to cure any mundane illness except leprosy. The remedy requires seven days to work, and it gives a boost to disease recovery rolls.

Sweet Cordial is Resources 4. It is a syrupy, sweet purple elixir made from the glands of a deep sea fish from the far West, tubers from the Imperial Mountain and orchids from the jungles near the Dreaming Sea. It is a very potent narcotic that leaves its user in a haze for half a day, but also serves as a potent cure for physical damage. It requires an easy Resistance or Medicine roll, but if it succeeds, you heal from any infected wounds and, if you get enough successes, heal 1B. It remains in the body for a full month, and if taken again before that ends, it becomes a toxin that sends its victim into 12 hours of maddening hallucination and deals damage if you fail a very hard Resistance roll.

Next time: Artifacts

Stuff That Doesn’t Get Made

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Stuff That Doesn’t Get Made

First, a note on First Age Artifice – these are artifacts that utilize sorcery and infrastructure that is not replicable in the modern world of Exalted. Most Artifacts, even those dating all the way back to the First Age, are not First Age Artifice, in the sense that they are still able to be produced with modern techniques. First Age Artifice is mostly things like powered armor, warstriders, airships, linked portals, automata with human intellect, sophisticated siege weapons and…well, anything that, out of game, would render the setting too advanced and outside of what the devs desire it to be if they were able to be produced with relative ease and frequency. You can still make ‘em, but it’s much harder and requires more resources and knowledge, especially if you lack the special infrastructure for them. Anyway, now for our artifacts.

Audient Brushes are 2-dot artifacts that were mainly used by calligraphers in the First Age and remain in use by Dynastic bureaucrats, poets and scholars now. The brush hairs are silver, and the shaft may be wood, ivory, metal or jade, always around an orichalcum core. It takes only one mote to attune to, and doing so renders the silver brush-hairs soft as rabbit fur yet tough as metal. An attuned brush produces ink of any color the user desires, always of the finest quality, and may change color between strokes at its master’s whim. It is considered exceptional equipment for relevant Craft and Linguistics checks. For 3 motes, it can be brought to life, functioning as a scribe for a scene. It will hover over a page, transcribing all speech in the immediate area, using different handwriting and colors to distinguish speakers. It can even pull fresh sheets or open blank pages of a book as needed for more space. Its master may instruct it to ignore specific speakers or to strike specific statements from the record.

Clockwork Birds are 2 or 3 dots, but the 3 dot version is First Age Artifice. They are blue jade automata that resemble songbirds, small enough to sit in the palm of your hand. They only take one mote to attune and once attuned, they move as if alive. Most can sing and flit about as entertainment, but their more common use is as couriers. Given the name of a person and their location in the same realm of existence, the bird will fly unerringly to that person at 100 mph to deliver any message no more than a minute long and can also carry a small, light object such as a paper or necklace. The bird will then land near the recipient and deliver the message in its master’s voice, complete with any social influence, though it cannot convey any Charms. It will repeat itself twice if needed, and will listen for a return message. The rarer 3-dot version is banded in orichalcum around its feathers and were made solely in the current age by the god Vanileth, Shogun of Artificial Flight; all others were made by Solars in the First Age, as the infrastructure for them has been lost. This version of the clockwork bird has human-level intellect, making them unusual but effective envoys and secretaries. Their clockworks are made of sorcerously hardened ice, kept frozen by rarefied air Essence, which also makes them buoyant. These birds are most commonly known as Vanileth’s Birds, and can speak all major languages plus several dead First Age ones. They have two Intimacies – a Defining Tie of loyalty to their owner and a Major Principle of “The beauty and power of speech is exceeded only by that of music.” These cannot be altered in any way by social influence, and they cannot raise any new intimacies above Minor, as for all their intellect, they are still robots.

Lorestones are 2-dot artifacts, fist-sized aquamarine orbs. Each contains the knowledge of a First Age scholar on a highly specific subject, such as math, geology, First Age cuisine or so on. Their manufacture is largely a lost art, but they are not actually First Age Artifice. It’s just that they’re primarily made via sorcerous workings. Spending 3 motes lets you access their knowledge by closing your eyes and mentally moving through clouds of mental imagery and knowledge. For one scene, you gain a temporary specialty in the stone’s particular subject and treat it as exceptional equipment for relevant rolls.

Lotus-Blossom Cups are 2-dot artifacts. They are chalices of pure white jade carved to resemble lotus flowers, each with a peach-sized mystic pearl from the deep Western oceans fused to their inner surface. These pearls are known for their ability to change salt water to fresh water, and similarly, the cup has powers of purification. Any mundane poisons or drugs placed into it turn into pure water, and any liquid put in it is likewise purified of disease. It is, however, less useful with supernatural poisons or diseases. It halves the duration of magical poisons and drugs, and halves the virulence and morbidity of magical diseases rather than getting rid of them outright.

Solar Seals are 2-dot artifacts. They are meant to protect communications, and each takes the form of an orichalcum signet ring or seal, blank unless attuned for a mote. If attuned, the owner’s name appears in Old Realm, but can be changed at will to any insignia the owner can rightfully claim as theirs. When using it to seal a document, the user may select a specific person, either by name or unique title. If anyone but that person breaks the seal, the document’s contents vanish before they can be read. There are jade variants of the seal favored by a few Dynasts and Lookshyan magistrates. Most are blue jade, but House Iselsi preferred black jade seals which turned their writing into water, while the hero Cathak herself used a red jade seal that set the tampered document on fire. Seals recognize the reincarnation of an Exaltation as the same person as their past life, allowing them to open their past life’s correspondence safely.

Stoneheart Coffers are 2-dot artifacts. They are white jade boxes, used by merchant princes to transport fragile goods. Scavenger lords love discovering them in ruins, because they often contain First Age riches. The boxes are lined with the rainbow skins of immortal seven-colored serpents of the East, and each is practically indestructible – as is anything they contain, no matter how fragile normally. While the coffers are closed, even the roughest treatment and most extreme temperature do not harm the contents, and breaking them is a very, very difficult feat of strength that requires effective Strength 10+ to even attempt – harder, if you want to break them with one blow rather than slow crushing. The magic does not, however, stop the flow of time – you can’t put fruit in them and expect it to stay fresh. It just won’t bruise. Coffers range in size from ‘jewelery box’ to ‘sea chest.’ Each is opened with a jade key, though First Age keys are usually long lost. Picking a coffer’s lock is fairly difficult, and making a new key requires a Major Project and Craft (Artifact).

Ultimately Useful Tubes are 2-dot artifacts. Normally, they look like foot-long wooden tubes about the width of a finger, but with one end rimmed in red jade and the other in blue. The shaft itself is actually cut from the Liar’s Tree near Lake Greyglass and inscribed with extremely tiny sigils in a language that does not exist. They do not require attunement, and can be used in many ways. If used as a snorkel, they automatically adjust length between 1 and 6 feet to match your depth, avoiding waves and spray. Used as a straw or breathing tube, it halves the duration of any airborne or ingested toxins. You can even twist it around to produce holes that make it usable as an exceptional flute. The tube may also be used as a weapon, as a simple tug will extend it to six feet in length, letting it serve as a mundane staff. At three feet, it can be used as a mundane blowgun, which you can spend 1 mote on to create and fire a poisoned needle. If blown from the blue end, the darts are poisoned with curare, and from the red end, arrow frog venom.

Winterbreath Jars are 2-dot artifacts. They are jugs, casks, trunks or amphorae made from blue jade, with sealed compartments containing supernatural sources of cold, usually sorcerously condensed freezing fog from the White Sea or unmelting ice from the Pole of Air. Master artisans then carve hundreds of hair’s-width channels in the jade, to confine and circulate the cold. These artifacts chill and preserve any perishable contents at a constant temperature of just above freezing. The average jar is big enough to hold around 3 gallons of liquid or one large melon or meat haunch. Some have a hearthstone socket, and slotting an air hearthstone into one will drop its temperature to well below freezing. They require no attunement.

Next time: Arete, the magical prosthetic.

Magic Hands

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Magic Hands

Artifact prosthetics often represent the best option to handle missing limbs for Exalts that lack access to either sorcery or miraculously skilled doctors. In the First Age, there were a few times and places that having an artifact prosthesis was even considered to be highly fashionable. Artifact prostheses allow movement and sensation equivalent to flesh and blood, whether held in place by straps and buckles or by mystic pins or by surgical graft. Punches and kicks with them are considered to be normal unarmed attacks. Prostheses that allow for martial enhancements such as extending claws or fiery fists do so by offering these as Evocations or powers. Those that incorporate moonsilver or particularly sophisticated designs may reshape themselves, but most prosthetic artifacts are bespoke creations meant only for one person and only fitting them. Refitting such a prosthetic is a Superior repair project. Lunar shapeshifters primarily rely on moonsilver prosthetics, as these are able to naturally change form to match whatever shape they take. Others are not compatible with inhuman forms and vanish into Elsewhere unless they possess a power or Evocation that allows them to shift with their master, as Arete does. These powers are often possessed by black and green jade prosthetics as well.

Arete is a 3-dot orichalcum right hand. It was made for Bleys Morning Sky after he lost his hand in the Sunstrife Wars. Its creator, the sorceress Fireborn, had always loved Bleys, though it was not requited, and she saw this as her chance to earn his favor. She made Arete in a mountain meadow full of sunlight and flowers, infusing it with grace and beauty to match what she saw in Bleys. That way, even if they were never together, a piece of her would be with him always. However, by the time Arete was completed, Bleys had visited Achim of the Thousand Herbs, the greatest doctor of the era, who regrew his hand. Thus, Firethorn decided to chop off her own hand and replace it with Arete. It served her well through the Interregnum as she guarded her domain without any help, and First Age scholars found her perfection in calligraphy remarkable, as well as her uncanny grace in battle. She trained many students, but never married nor named any heir, and she took Arete to her grave along with the rest of her treasures.

Arete may be attuned for 3 motes, and functions in all ways as a normal right hand, with full sensitivity and range of motion. While attuned to an artifact weapon, you can link its attunement to Arete, reducing its attunement cost by 1 mote and allowing you to reflexively ready it with Arete. Arete can be linked to only one weapon at a time. Arete also grants self-sufficiency, providing a bonus to Resolve against all instill actions that would make or strengthen an Intimacy focused on someone or something other than yourself and against all inspire actions to inflame emotions of loneliness or yearning. Because of its affinity for truth to yourself, it will also shapeshift with a Lunar wearer.

Mudra of Perfected Skill is gained for free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum and roll 5+ successes on an action in support of a Major or Defining Intimacy and enhances the rolled ability. Whenever you do this for an ability it does not yet enhance, it enhances that ability as well from then on. Once per scene, you can use it to reroll a number of failed dice on any Ability the Charm has access to, as long as Arete’s movements are essential to success – so yes on playing instruments, no on leaping chasms. It also can never enhance rolls to make Artifacts or sorcerous workings or to cast spells. If dissonant, you select a single Ability when you buy the charm and have to buy access to others at 2 XP per Ability. If resonant, you get access to all Caste and Favored Abilities free as well as the rolled ability, and the Charm can reroll 1s as well as normal failures.

Composure in Excellence is gained free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum and roll 10+ threshold successes on a roll enhanced by Mudra of Perfected Skill. It lets you gain Willpower when you roll 10+ threshold successes on a roll enhanced by Mudra of Perfected Skill, and if resonant, it can once per day be triggered by a slightly worse roll. Grasp the Self is used once per story when you enter a Decision Point against social influence that was supported by a Major or Defining Intimacy focused one someone or something other than yourself. You may reject the influence by abandoning that Intimacy instead of calling on another one to oppose it, though you must still pay the Willpower cost to resist if not resonant.

Carnelian Phoenix is 3-dot red jade barding for a horse. It was made for the legendary Dragon-Blooded soldier Eldra in the early First Age. Most of her exploits are now lost, but the Realm still sings of her fiery charge against the Shadow-Riders of Wan, whose unholy steeds shied from her attack, or of her crossing of the Burning Sands to gain the aid of the Swan Dragon, when she traveled the Pole of Fire and returned unharmed. The barding is made from overlapping red jade plates with no ornamentation, and they reveal little of their origins. It functions as medium artifact armor for whatever steed wears it, and the rider must commit six motes to attune to it, making it as light as a feather for their mount. It has no hearthstone slots. Horses don’t need those.

Any mount wearing Carnelian Phoenix is immune to any problems from extreme climate, cold or hot. Further, any Charm that protects the rider from environmental effects will be extended to the mount. Fire-Spurning Jade Carnelian is gained free if not dissonant with jade when you attune. It increases both your and your mount’s soak and Hardness against fire-based attacks and reduces the damage of fire-based environmental hazards. Bonfire Hoof Assault empowers your mount’s kicks with fiery Essence, increasing their Withering and Decisive damage. The ultimate power is Carnelian Phoenix Strews Feathers in Her Wake, which causes your mount to leave a trail of flame as an environmental hazard when used to boost a move, rush or disengage action. It also gives a penalty to contesting disengage, and anyone who tries suffers the environmental hazard of the fire as if they’d moved through it. It also applies this effect when using the disengage penalty and damage if you use the 4 mote version of the Solar Charm Coursing Firebolt Flash as a minor bonus.

Dragon Tear Tiaras are 3-dot artifacts, black jade and starmetal circlets with a single hearthstone slot placed over the forehead. The name is because the use of dragon’s tears is required in their crafting – specifically, they must use a mix of tears of anger, sorrow and joy. They cost 3 motes to attune, and grant the wearer extreme sensitivity to Essence flows. This gives a bonus to all non-sorcerous Occult rolls and gives any Occult or Perception Charms that enhance your ability to perceive the unnatural the Mute keyword. It also extends the duration of such charms if they are scene-long, allowing you to use them for as long as you wear the tiara, unless they have Willpower or anima costs.

Next time: Magic shoes and fighting robots.

Magic Shoes

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Magic Shoes

The Golden Hounds are 3-dot orichalcum boots. When Joyous Lance was young, raiders attacked her village, and she was unable to do much of anything as her family died around her except to grab her little brother, Sand, and run for safety. She fled and dodged beyond the limits of her endurance, and as a result, she Exalted, leaving her mounted pursuers far behind. Years later, when she learned that her brother’s caravan was raided by the Fair Folk, she raced a thousand miles to rescue him, but lost the trail in the Wyld. From then on, she convinced Ruvia, the god of roads, to give her his magic sandals, which she used as the soles of a pair of orichalcum boots that could outrace anything. Armed with these, she went into the Wyld to rescue Sand. The boots are sleek and aerodynamic, made of orichalcum and simhata leather, and they gleam brighter in motion, eventually throwing up red sparks when going fast enough. They cost 3 motes to attune to.

The Hounds rely on speed. Every time the wearer moves a range band, they gain +1 Celerity, capped by Athletics. Celerity is added as a bonus to all combat movement rolls. At the start of each turn, Celerity resets to 0 if you haven’t moved any ranged bands since the start of your last turn. Making a non-gambit attack also resets Celerity to 0 when the attack is ended. The Hounds also remember the Wyld. If you know Integrity-Protecting Prana, you gain its effects for free as long as you are running and taking no other actions except occasional Perception- or Wits-based ones.

Flashing Bloodhound Pursuit gives a bonus to tracking checks and Awareness rolls to oppose Stealth based on Celerity and removes all penalties from moving at great speed. Out of Death’s Jaws can be used when you move into Close range of an ally and lets you reflexively take a defend other action towards them, but using your Evasion plus Celerity instead of Parry. If you successfully defend your ward, both you and they may reflexively move one range band in the same direction, which doesn’t count as either of your movement action for the round. Outrace Steel and Stone focuses your speed. At Celerity 2+, you can flurry movement actions without penalty, and at Celerity 3+, using a drag action in a grapple only uses one round of control. You can also spend Initiative to add Celerity to your Evasion against one attack – unless resonant, in which case you just do so at all times while the Charm is active. Violent Lightning Practice lets you gain extra Initiative from the Charm One With Violence based on your Celerity and lets you regain Willpower when you incapacitate someone with the Charm Lightning Strikes Twice.

The Illusion-Shattering Mirror is a 3-dot mirror, made from a polished orichalcum surface set in a moonsilver frame. If attuned to with five motes, its reflection reveals truth. This automatically sees through all mundane disguises and gives a bonus against magical disguises and illusions. If an effect has no roll to see through it, it allows a Perception roll to do so. A bearer can spend 5m and 1WP to confront a disguises character with their reflection, making a Presence roll against their Guile. If successful, any illusion magic on the target shatters immediately, mundane disguises melt away and personas or similar alternate selves are sent dormant for the rest of the scene. If any of the target’s Principles go against something they know to be true, they are inescapable revealed as false and may be discarded immediately if the target chooses. The mirror can only be used this way once per scene against any given character. The mirror neither reveals nor gets rid of physical shapeshifting, as that is ‘true’ – it’s not a false shape, it’s just a changed one. It also cannot pierce or end the resplendent destinies of Sidereal astrology.

Jade Steeds are 3-dot jade statues of horses, life-sized. They are perfect in all details, and if attuned for 4 motes, they come to life as an animate mount that needs no sustenance, no air, no water and no sleep. It is fearless, has near-human intellect and can understand and obey spoken commands. It has a horse’s stats, but with better soak and Hardness, and its attacks are better at getting past Hardness. It weighs nearly a ton, sinks in water and may break things it walks over such as wooden planks. Clockwork mounts of moonsilver springs and gears under orichalcum outer plates have been discovered in First Age ruins, and function identically to the jade versions.

Resplendent Satchels of Healing are 3-dot bags. While originally made in the First Age, most of them still in existence date back to the Shogunate. Each is a green jade case inlaid with orichalcum, about a foot long, a foot wide and three inches deep, engraved either with the Twilight Caste Mark or the sigil of Sextes Jylis. All have the same contents: moonsilver and orichalcum acupuncture needles, starmetal diagnostic tools, jade surgical instruments, wood spider silk bandages, vials of medicine and so on. When using the contents, you get a bonus to Medicine rolls that use these tools, reduce the cost of all non-Excellency Medicine Charms, never get penalties for inadequate equipment and may staunch and sterilize a wound without rolling. Attunement is 1 mote. At the end of each story, you must make a Medicine roll to refill any supplies the bag is running short on and purge it of dangerous Essence. A failure means you need to restock it with a roll of an appropriate Ability before it can be used again.

Second-Shadow Drum is a 3-dot soulsteel hourglass drum, made long ago by the sorcerer Ash of Buyan as a tool to command hungry ghosts. Its intricate frame was carved under the waning moon from yew wood held in place by nails of soulsteel, and its leather heads are made from Ash’s twin brother’s skin. When pounded, the drum’s music exerts terrible sway over hungry ghosts and the po, or lower soul, from which they derive.

It costs 2 motes to attune to Second-Shadow Drum, and it can be played with either Occult 3+ (or a specialty in the undead) and Performance 3+ (or a specialty in drums). For as long as you play, hungry ghosts are treated as having a Minor Tie of obedience towards you, and you suffer no penalties on influence rolls to target multiple ghosts. Its Evocations function only in the Underworld or at night in Creation. Shadow-Soul Enthrallment Rhythm lets you make a single chosen human feel the drum in their lower soul. They are treated as having a Minor Tie of obedience towards you for purposes of social influence rolls that promote feelings or actions tied to base passions such as gluttony, greed or jealousy. Sleepwalker Drumming Method lets you make a persuade roll against a sleeping human as if they had a Major Tie of obedience towards you, and if you succeed, their po takes control of them and they sleepwalk to you, then listen to a single spoken persuade action. Any of their Intimacies that has no emotional content is suppressed for this action, as the po is the seat of unreasoning passion. If possible, they will attempt to fulfill any task you succeed on persuading them of before waking. Taking damage or entering life-threatening circumstances wakes them. They remember nothing of their actions under this Charm’s influence.

The ultimate power is Soul-Disgorging Syncopation, which lets you roll Performance against a willing, restrained or unconscious human in Short range. On a failure, you can’t try again that night. On a success, their po exits their mouth as a hungry ghost, which obeys any command you give that does not conflict with the target’s Major or Defining Intimacies and doesn’t prevent it from returning to the target before sunrise. It remembers sensory data but not abstract ideas, as it has no reason, so it’s not necessarily useful to interrogate. The target remains comatose until the hungry ghost returns. Mortals die if their hungry ghost is destroyed, and more powerful humans such as Exalts or sorcerers instead take a bunch of Aggravated damage that ignores Hardness, as the dispersed lower soul reforms inside them.

Next time: The Brass Legion


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: ROBOT ARMY

Brass Legionnaires are 3-dot artifacts. In the late First Age, Mizhra Starshaper made five legions of brass soldiers for the Southern ruler Her Blazing Majesty. They were made without hearts, and they brutally crushed rebellions and served as cold, clinical police. They had no personal loyalty, however, obeying any that knew their command codes. When Her Blazing Majesty tried to rely on them as protection against the Usurpation, her own Dragon-Blooded lieutenants slew her by ordering the automata to murder her in her sleep. Afterwards, the Brass Legions were disbanded and ordered destroyed, for fear that their creator had, as many others, left a mechanism for revenge in them. However, certain ambitious Dragon-Bloods quietly refused to destroy some of them and instead held the surviving Brass Legionnaires in reserve for future battles. Most were cached in secret places across the South, used only very rarely. In the Contagion, the Legionnaires proved vital, as they were immune to both disease and fae glamour, and they held the line – but at great cost. Of the few that survived, some sought Dragon-Blooded commanders that knew their command codes to serve, others remained forever doing their last assigned tasks as best as possible, and the rest hid themselves and shut down until maintenance and repairs could be performed. At most, a few hundred of the Brass Legionnaires remain in one piece and active. The Realm and Lookshy each control dozens of them, while a few princes of the Threshold and sorcerers maintain small retinues of them. One is rumored to be working as a mercenary warrior in exchange for maintenance, repairs and hints about the location of officers that know its command codes.

The Legionnaires are skilled but mechanical soldiers. They obey orders, fight in formation and have a library of tactical and strategic maneuvers to allow independence in the field. However, while their intellect is the pinnacle for automata not augmented by sorcerous artifice, is limited, as is their memory. Most have forgotten more than any modern soldier ever learns, but they retain less than the average soldier actually knows. Further, they are highly lacking in initiative, and without orders they default to looking for an officer that knows their command codes. However, a few Legionnaires break their limits due to some combination of sorcerous meddling, spirit magic or Wyld influence. These are free-willed individuals rather than tools, appropriate as 2-dot Retainers rather than Artifacts. They must still be maintained and repaired normally, but their mental evolution may not survive if they are damaged to the point of Incapacitation, at the GM’s discretion. The earliest of the Brass Legionnaires appear as perfect replicas of human anatomy, distinguished only by metal skin and hematite eyes, but each successive wave was cruder in appearance and more abstract, such that the final wave had minimalist metal armatures. It is not clear why this was the case, but each generation is equally effective. They wield mortal weapons, but their armor is innate.

Brass Legionnaires have three Intimacies innately – a Defining Principle of ‘A Brass Legionnaire exists to serve its commander,’ a Minor Principle of ‘Creation is a strange place, full of constant change,’ and a Minor tie of loyalty to their fellow Brass Legionnaires. Social influence cannot alter their Defining or Major Intimacies, and they cannot raise new Intimacies to Major or higher, as they are robots. A battle group of them has Might 2, as they are built to be armies. They will automatically obey the orders of anyone that knows their unit’s original command codes, which are elaborate Old Realm passwords, and anyone that doesn’t know them gets a large penalty to all social influence and command actions towards them. Any influence that directly contradicts orders issued via command codes is considered unacceptable influence. Brass Legionnaires are immune to any Fair Folk powers that target Resolve or have the Psyche tag, and resist Wyld taint as per the Charm Chaos-Resistance Preparation. For every week of strenuous or combat operation, a Brass Legionnaire requires maintenance via a Craft check, with difficulty varying by how damaged it is, which takes a scene. On a failure, you can either choose to have to wait a day to try again or deal Decisive damage to the Legionnaire. Damage done to a Legionnaire can only be removed by a repair project, and each level is a Major Project to repair, with difficulty and time requirement based on the wound penalty of that level. An incapacitated Legionnaire is a Superior Project to repair.

The Collars of Dutiful Submission are 4-dot artifacts. They are torcs carved of white jade and starmetal with an internal mesh of god’s hair and demon’s sinew. The owner doesn’t wear them – instead, they are put on other people, which can be done as a pretty hard gambit in combat, and then lock in place. They tighten painfully on command of the owner or whenever the wearer attacks or disobeys the owner. This requires a Resistance roll each round to avoid Bashing damage, which must be flurried with any other action you want to do that round. The collar will only stop when ordered by the owner or the wearer falls unconscious. While attuned, only the owner may remove the collar – well, that or a Solar Circle sorcerous working. Attuning to the collar is 3 motes, and it ends if the wearer ever goes beyond two dozen or so miles from the owner.

The Shadow-Casting Jewel is a 4-dot artifact, a black Underworld diamond the size of a hen’s egg caged in moonsilver and soulsteel rings. It was cut under a lunar eclipse, and its bearer may pay 10 motes and 1 WP, spending the whole turn reciting an incantation carved on the rings. This calls forth a flare of light which makes the shadows of all other beings in Short range come to life and attack their owners. Shadows have their owner’s stats, but no magical powers or Charms, and only a few health levels based on your Essence. Their only Intimacy is an unbreakable and unchangeable Defining Tie of bloodthirsty rage towards their owner, and they consider any social influence that would prevent them from attacking their owner to be unacceptable. They lose their unnatural power of form if they or their owner is slain. After one use, the jewel must spend a full night exposed to the new moon to recharge.

Sorcery-Capturing Cords are 4-dot artifacts, slender ropes about a yard long threaded with orichalcum and moonsilver. They are very strong and resilient, but their true power is that any sorcerer that stands in the path of a non-ritual sorcery spell may bind the spell’s Essence into a knot on the rope, trapping it until the knot is untied. The wielder must be initiated into the same circle as the trapped spell, and they must make a reflexive Occult roll against the sorcerer that cast the spell’s casting roll. If successful, the spell is swallowed into the knot. Untying a knot unleashes the spell within as if shaping it normally, but it uses the lower of Dexterity or Intelligence for the Occult rolls. If you attempt to release a spell of a circle higher than you can cast, it is either distorted or botches, GM’s choice. A cord may hold only one spell at a time, and you can tell what circle spell is bound in a knot with an Occult roll, or what specific spell with a harder one or use of a Charm such as All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight. Destroying the cord will release a distorted or botched version of the stored spell in a random direction.

Wings of the Raptor are 4-dot moonsilver cloaks. The first were said to be made by Teremi Salo out of a wind dragon’s skin, but most are actually made from moonsilver thread and the skins of hybroc or strix, with a moonsilver clasp that has a single hearthstone socket. Attunement is one mote. If you aren’t dissonant with moonsilver, you get the first Evocation free on attunement. This is Raptor Takes Flight, which makes the cloak unfurl into a 20-foot wingspan pair of feathered wings. You can fly as per 5-dot wings if you have enough clearance, and the cost to use the Charm is reduced if you have other Charms about flying or are a Lunar with a flying form. It also counts as Eagle-Wing Style for purposes of using Bonfire Anima Wings. If dissonant, the wings are 3-dot.

Wind-and-Falcon Unity is learned free when you have been attuned for at least one story and, while flying and engaged with a dangerous foe, defeat them or emerge from Crash. It removes the precision penalty from the Wings merit provided by Raptor Takes Flight. The ultimate power, God-Eagle Rules the Sky, can only be learned if resonant with moonsilver. It boosts your Evasion and gives a bonus to combat movement while flying with Raptor Takes Flight, and lets you automatically launch a range band into the air when you activate that Charm.

Next time: Murder Snake and siege weapons


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: ROBOT SNEK

The Golden Viper is a 5-dot Artifact that is also First Age Artifice. The techniques by which First Age crafters brought life to the inanimate are largely lost now, and while modern crafters can produce golems, homunculi and other simulacra animated by Essence or bound spirits, these automata tend to either be of animal intellect or dangerously free-willed. Of the few intelligent, fully sapient automata that survive to the current era, the most infamous is surely the Golden Viper, a lifelike serpent four feet long and two inches thick. Its scales are jeweled orichalcum, its bones starmetal, its muscles moonsilver and its ichor condensed from the radiance of the dark side of the moon. The Viper acts of its own will, needing neither Essence nor attunement. It accepts as its master the first person to speak to it after the death of its last master, and it is in all ways identical to a less robotic familiar in the way it acts towards its master. It is of service both as an advisor and an assassin. While it looks rather more spectacular than most snakes, it is no less subtle, and its bite is far deadlier, turning its victims into golden statues. It drinks the knowledge and experiences of everyone it kills, and there is only one gap in its prodigious library of experience. It remembers nothing at all of the First Age – or so it claims, anyway. It is far smarter than any mortal, but it is cruel and cynical, and none of its masters has long remained innocent once taking command of it.

The Viper has three Intimacies – a Defining Principle of “The ends justify the means,” a Defining Tie of dispassionate loyalty to its owner, and a Major Principle of “Compassion is weakness, as is mercy.” It’s not a nice snake, and like past robots, you can’t really change its intimacies much at all. It can poison people by spending Willpower on a Decisive bite, and its poison is pretty nasty, especially against mortals. It turns dead victims to gold and gains their memories. It treats any question about the First Age as unacceptable influence, and it gets a bonus to scent-based rolls, especially those involving assassination targets it’s smelled before. It can speak all languages, basically, and is considered to have all relevant specialties and backgrounds of everyone it’s ever killed for purposes of introducing facts. So, effectively, all of them, given how long it’s been around and how much murder it’s done.

The Veil That Holds Back Time is a 5-dot artifact, a sheet of gauzy fabric about three yards square that is nearly transparent. It is said to have been woven from the cocoon of what would become the Butterfly Star, and its fabric is so delicate that even an infant could tear it. The veil has only one ability: anything it covers is locked outside the flow of time. It will not age or decay, at all, period. A living creature under it is frozen between breaths, unmoving and unthinking, until uncovered. Lifting or moving the veil returns what it covers to the natural flow of time. For it to be put over a living creature, that creature must be willing, paralyzed or unconscious – it is otherwise far too easy for their struggles to tear the veil and destroy its power.

Siege weapons! We get stats for both mundane and artifact siege weapons, and they’re some of the few weapons that actually get worse at close range – their ideal range is Medium to Extreme, and they have penalties attacking things nearby. They all have the Siege tag, but otherwise use the same stats and tags as normal weapons. Particularly slow and heavy siege weapons have the Bombard tag, which gives them a penalty against any enemy that isn’t a battle group or Legendary Size, but a bonus when used for feats of demolition. Siege weapon attacks are rolled with mental stats and War, and Strength has no benefit for their Withering damage, obviously. Also, they can only be boosted by Charms that improve War rolls, add dice to firing rolls such as the Solar Charm Immortal Commander’s Presence, or are compatible with ranged attacks with any Ability. A siege weapon also requires a battle group to operate it, and aiming, reloading or attacking with it takes their entire turn. Using a siege weapon on your lonesome is possible, but you have to pay 2 Initiative each time you attack and you get a large penalty to attack rolls. If the weapon has the Slow tag, a single person cannot flurry reloading it with any action. Siege engines are also normally too large to move in combat, and trying requires a feat of strength that requires Strength 7+ to attempt and can’t be flurried. Success lets you move one range band and the action is your movement for the turn, too. However, you only have to make the roll once per scene – after that, you can heft the thing around slowly without needing a roll.

Your mundane siege weapons are stuff like catapults, ballistae, fire projectors (large, fire-barreled flamethrower cannons, usually mounted on a ship’s bow or caravan for short-range defense, and too short-range to be used in broadsides), fire cannons (massive flamethrower cannons), and harbor cannons (heavy siege cannons exclusive to the Southern satrapies, the Realm and Lookshy, exclusively mounted on fixed shore batteries and too large for any non-First Age vessel, which fire huge cannonballs of stone or brass).

Lightning Ballistae are 4-dot artifacts that are also First Age Artifice. These were some of the greatest weapons of the First Age, engines of brass and silver with inner workings of orichalcum and blue jade. When fired, they launch a giant blast of lightning that can melt steel or stone. To operate the machine, it must have a hearthstone to power it, or, in the case of a very rare few, a willingly bound air elemental. A hearthstone used to power a lightning ballista provides no increased mote recovery to its master but retains all other effects. Without any evocations, the weapon may only be used for feats of demolition. Fortunately, the thing only has one evocation.

Stormblast Barrage is gained free when you attune to the ballista. After spending a turn aiming, you may use it to launch an unblockable Withering or Decisive attack against everyone in a line out to Long range, friend or foe. Withering attacks get a flat minor accuracy bonus, and you make a separate damage roll for each target, but are limited strictly in how much Initiative you can gain from each one. Decisive attacks divide your damage evenly among all targets hit, rounding up, but ignore Hardness. Battle groups take greatly increased damage and do not count for purposes of dividing up your damage. After any scene in which this Charm is used, a lightning ballista must receive maintenance before it can be used again, which is a simple Craft (First Age Artifacts) check or a difficult Craft (ArtifactS) one. If you fail, you can’t try again until the next day.

Implosion Bows are 5-dot artifacts that are also First Age Artifice. These First Age weapons are beyond the full theoretical understanding of pretty much all modern savants. They resemble a ballista mounted on a heavy, machined pedestal and seem to be made of a glossy, wine-colored wood with elaborate fittings and inlay in all five magical materials and the diamond-like material adamant. They fire a spherical pulse of space-warping Essence that collapses whatever it hits into itself on impact, creating…well, a tiny black hole vortex. Implosion bows require a hearthstone to power them, and as with the lightning ballista, the stone provides no mote regeneration but retains all other benefits. Also, as with the lightning ballista, it can only be used for feats of demolition without use of its single evocation.

Collapsing Point of Destruction is gained for free when you attune to an implosion bow. After a turn spent aiming, you may use it to fire an unblockable Decisive attack at any point out to Long range. The attack targets everyone within Short range of the impact point, ally or enemy, and battle groups and trivial targets are automatically hit, no matter what, as long as you don’t botch. Each character takes base Decisive damage based on your attack roll, plus your Initiative divided up evenly between them, rounding up. Anyone that takes any damage is knocked prone and dragged one range band towards the center of the vortex. Anyone that dodges by 3 successes or less still takes Withering damage as they are forced into tactical disadvantage, and you gain all Initiative they lose. As long as anyone at all is hit, you reset to base before gaining that Initiative. Anyone incapacitated by the blast has their body utterly destroyed, drawn into the collapsing vortex and disintegrating. All that gets left behind are artifacts and indestructible items. Sorcery, mundane structures and any unattended objects in range are drawn into the vortex, suffering uncountable damage and leaving behind difficult terrain. This can only be used once per scene unless recharged by taking no movement actions for three rounds to let the thing recharge, and if you are Crashed, all charge is lost and you have to wait another three rounds without moving. After any scene in which this Charm is used, the implosion bow requires maintenance before it can be used again, similar to the lightning ballista.

Next time: Vehicles


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: BOTES

Vehicles! Horizon Endeavor is a 4-dot orichalcum warship that is also First Age Artifice. It is one of the greatest sailing vessels ever made, even in the First Age, and it has appeared in naval wars and stories of travel throughout history, generally vanishing shortly after. The pirate empress Zala Firemane sailed it against the hell-leviathan Rahabaris, called forth by the Lintha to terrorize the West. Laughing Mirror rewrote Fate and reshaped the landscape of Diamond Grass Province to let him sail it up the rivers to the Battle of the Five Suns. Most recently, legend says the Lunar Leviathan or perhaps the Scarlet Empress herself piloted it against the fae prince Balor, though these legends are generally considered pure fiction, along with the claims that Horizon Endeavor dates back to the Niobraran War. The ship is a triple-master ship of the line, though far grander than any modern vessel. Its hull is clad in orichalcum yet light enough to float, and its masts are carved of indestructible wood from the distant East, near the Pole of Wood, while its sails are cloth-of-jade. The lower decks house a device that can draw water through a spiral of black jade blades to propel it even in a dead calm, and hatches along the hull can open to reveal red jade dragon cannons that are able to set entire fleets aflame as well as powerful tidecutter bolts that can be fired underwater into enemy ships.

Horizon Endeavor is simply better than any ship. Period. It has four to five times their speed, as good maneuverability as any mundane vessel, and 3 to 4 times as much health as the toughest mundane ship. It can carry up to 300 people in its barracks and several thousand tons of cargo without appreciable loss of speed, and some legends claim it can carry literally anything you can fit inside it. The Red Jade Dragon Cannons are massive jade statues of dragons that, when you recite the prayers carved on them, spew massive flames. There are three on each side, plus one on the bow, and their broadsides will set ships on fire and damage them over time, with fires that take a special stratagem to put out and therefore waste the enemy’s time and Momentum. In normal combat, they are artifact siege engines. The Tidecutter Bolts are spiraled steel bolts that drill through the water when fired out of pressurized orichalcum-baned torpedo tubes on the bow, and their broadsides do large damage and get a boost if fired from concealment because they’re almost invisible beneath the surface and totally silent. Their only real weakness is there’s a finite number of them, so the GM may require a Major repair project to replace them if you use them in multiple battles without any chance to restock. The Horizon Endeavor just wins, period, in any naval battle except one where, I guess, you have the anti-naval crossbow that can instakill ships.

Chariot of Aerial Conquest is a 5-dot orichalcum airship that is also First Age Artifice. It’s a battle-airship from a time when sky warfare was common and the Exalted ruled by terror and force. It looks a lot like a five-sided howdah large enough to bear two dozen, but is plated in orichalcum and jade armor that makes it immune to most attacks. It requires a hearthstone be slotted into its control crystals at the fore to provide it with geomantic power, and using a hearthstone to power the Chariot prevents it from granting mote regen, though it retains all other powers. Once powered, a blue jade screen at the fore turns transparent to allow the pilot to see. The ship may fly up to 30 yards off the ground, or in combat out to Long range, using Sail rolls to make movement actions. Everyone inside benefits from total cover, though enemies may use custom gambits to disable or breach the ship. Each of the Chariot’s four other sides can be lowered to allow boarding or disembarking while it’s landed, and also have armored arrow-slits that may be opened while in flight, providing heavy cover for anyone using them. Once the Chariot has lifted off, its propulsion is silent, and blue jade alloyed into the hull camouflages it by blending with the sky, making it very hard to notice until it starts landing.

The Chariot is actually less terrifying than Horizon Endeavor. It’s super fast, sure, faster than any other ship, and it still has like three times as much HP as any other ship, but it doesn’t actually have any…weapons. It’s just highly maneuverable and able to handle up to two tons of cargo or forty standing passengers that don’t mind being squeezed in tight. Yes, it’s a nearly invisible flying bunker. Yes, that’s really good. But it’s still possible to beat in a fight, assuming you have long range weapons and good skill, whereas Horizon Endeavor just wins all naval engagements by force of stat numbers.

Crosswind Stone (Air, Standard): A gray-streaked blue gem that, when socketed in an artifact, lets it call up short blasts of wind to obstruct projectiles for one scene as a miscellaneous action, causing a small penalty on ranged attacks against the user. Unexpected attacks ignore this penalty. The winds may also be called on to blow out candles, scatter papers and so on.
Eiderdown Gem (Air, Standard): A striated gray-and-white stone that feels light as a bubble. When socketed into an artifact, it reduces gravity’s grip on you, giving a bonus to movement rolls when flying or gliding and reducing falling damage.
Gem of the Wind-Blade (Air, Standard): An orange-streaked blue stone that, when socketed into a melee or thrown artifact weapon, increases its maximum throwing range by one range band, to a max of Long. For non-thrown weapons, it gives them the Thrown (Short) tag.
Purifying Mercy Stone (Air, Standard, Steady): A clear jewel that purifies the air within Short range of its bearer, filtering out mist, smoke, poison and bad odors. Visible vapors show the edge of this globe. This only functions in a gaseous atmosphere – it doesn’t create air underwater or underground.
Far-Seeing Stone (Air, Greater, Dependent): A cat’s-eye gem that lets the bearer call forth an glowing electric blue eye from within it. The eye moves as directed, and the bearer may see through it. The magic eye is immaterial and cannot attack, uses the bearer’s Join Battle, movement pools and Evasion, and has soak and Hardness based on the bearer’s Essence, plus a single health level. It cannot go more than a mile from the stone.
Gem of Sapphire and Emerald (Air, Greater, Dependent, Linked): A gemstone that, depending on the angle, is blue or green, bright or dull and clear or opaque. It gives access to two Evocations – the first lets you freeze a just-cast Terrestrial Spell in place once per scene, then try to shatter it with an Occult roll to counter it even though it’s been cast. If you don’t counter it by the next turn, the spell thaws and goes off. The second lets you do the same to a Celestial Spell, but it’s harder and can only be used once per story.

Root-of-the-Earth Gemstone (Earth, Standard): A dark blue stone that, when slotted into an artifact, causes it to become insanely heavy outside the bearer’s hands, requiring a Feat of Strength to even move it at all or prey out the stone. If a foe is prone, you can drop the artifact on them to pin them down as a gambit.
Stone of the Ram’s Horn (Earth, Standard): A furrowed brown sphere that, when socketed into a non-ranged artifact weapon gives it the Smashing tag. If it already had that, it reduces the Initiative cost of smashing attacks.
Caryatid Orb (Earth, Standard): A white cabochon that, when socketed into an artifact, lets you learn an Evocation that grows a marble skin on you, increasing soak and Hardness until you take Decisive damage, once per scene.
Gem of Crushing Might (Earth, Greater): A piebald sphere that, when socketed into an artifact weapon and charged for one mote, causes the weapon’s Decisve attacks to ignore some Hardness.
Spirit-Grounding Stone (Earth, Greater, Wild-Born): A gold-speckled brown rock that forces all spirits within a mile of it to become material at no cost and become unable to dematerialize, though Essence 4+ spirits can spend Willpower to resist its effects.

Ardor-Igniting Gemstone (Fire, Standard): An orange jewel that glows brighter when the bearer tries to share their passions. While socketed into an artifact, it gives a bonus to inspire actions meant to evoke the same emotion the bearer is currently feeling.
Gemstone of Shattering Force (Fire, Standard): A gray-brown gem bisected by a vermilion line. When socketed into an artifact, it gives a bonus to feats of destruction, and if set into a weapon used to stunt a feat of destruction, the bonus gets larger.
Jewel of Swift-Strike (Fire, Standard): A yellow gem that, when socketed into an artifact weapon, lets it reroll one failed die on attacks if you moved at least one range band immediately before attacking.
Passion-Unbinding Stone (Fire, Standard, Steady): A sparkling amber gem that stirs passions in everyone within a mile of it. People break oaths more easily, fall in and out of love more easily and start fights or parties more quickly. All inspire rolls get a bonus and Guile gets a penalty when used to conceal emotions.
Trance-Scorching Sardonyx (Fire, Standard, Dependent): A striped red-and-black sphere that, when socketed into an artifact, can burn away lethargy, giving its bearer a bonus to Resolve against any effect that would induce sleep, apathy, forgetfulness or other passive mental or emotional states.
Gem of Perfect Mobility (Fire, Greater, Dependent): A coruscating red jewel with tiny lights throughout. When socketed into an artifact, it gives access to two Evocations. The first lets you treat your Initiative as higher than it is for purposes of when you act and gives a bonus to rush, disengage, or oppose rush and disengage rolls. The second lets you reflexively take any Dexterity-based non-attack action you want, preempting Initiative order, once per scene.

Sapphire Duck Stone (Water, Standard, Steady): A blue gem with feathery white striations. Within a two mile radius, non-aquatic mortals and animals can float easily on any water, and even non-swimmers are unlikely to drown, while divers require heavy ballast to get far. Within the area, all attempts to swim downwards get a penalty and all attempts to swim upwards get a bonus. Restrain or drag actions to hold someone underwater cost an extra turn of control.
Stone of Aquatic Prowess (Water, Standard): A colorless, slick gemstone that is invisible when immersed in water. When socketed into an artifact, it gives access to two Evocations. The first gives a bonus to aquatic movement rolls and extends how long you can hold your breath to minutes rather than rounds, and makes an armor the stone is socketed in gain the Bouyant tag. The second extends how long you can hold your breath to hours and prevents all penalties and harm from the cold or pressure of the depths. Also, whenever you successfully dodge an attack while underwater, you can spend 3m1i to move a single range band down.
Stone of the Vanisher (Water, Standard, Steady): A cloudy gray stone that, when socketed into an artifact, makes you hard to remember, giving a penalty to rolls to investigate, track or contest attempts to go to ground.
Bloodstone (Water, Greater, Dependent, Manse-Born): A red-speckled green gem that, when socketed, gives the Natural Immunity and Toxin Resistance merits and gives a bonus against nonmagical disease and poison even beyond that. Further, the bearer’s wounds cannot get infected and never bleed, even if a limb is severed. (Not that Exalts can get infected wounds to begin with.)
Fighting-the-Tide Gemstone (Water, Greater): A sea-green stone streaked with pale lines. When socketed into an artifact weapon, it prevents onslaught penalties once per round when you successfully parry an attack.

Faerie-Ring Jewel (Wood, Standard, Wild-Born): A many-colored pastel stone that, within a two-mile radius, causes fungi to grow faster and stronger than normal. Mushrooms and toadstools grow thickly anywhere they can and rot comes extremely quickly. Rolls to forage for fungi, for any purpose, get a bonus.
Gem of the Shield-Sister Tree (Wood, Standard): A green orb dappled with gray that, when socketed, causes living plants to bend to protect the bearer. Whenever they take cover behind living vegetation, light cover protects as if it were heavy and heavy cover as if it were full.
Ivy-Hilt Gemstone (Wood, Standard): A black stone shot with interwoven green lines. When socketed into an artifact weapon it lets the bearer charge it with a mote to make vines grow from the weapon and cling to their hand, making disarming harder.
Stone of the Emerald Rooster (Wood, Standard, Steady): A green jewel that shines with rainbows in sunlight. When traveling on a task related to a Major or Defining Intimacy, you don’t need to rest to regain Willpower each night.
Stone of Resilient Bamboo (Wood, Standard): A stone the color of young bamboo leaves. When socketed into an artifact and charged with a mote, it increases soak, lets you parry Lethal attacks while unarmed without a stunt and halves healing time for Bashing damage.
Gem of Incomparable Wellness (Wood, Greater, Dependent, Linked): A cluster of emerald crystals that changes shape continuously by budding and absorbing its own crystals. If you charge it with 3 motes, it makes you heal significantly faster – 1 Bashing per 10 minutes, 1 Lethal per hour and 1 Agg per day. It also prevents fatal diseases or lethal deprivation like starvation, dehydration or drowning from doing more than knocking you out, and you can recover even from dismemberment and cremation. This ends only when you lose attunement (and committed motes) from the stone or if it becomes inert or is destroyed.

Next time: More Hearthstones and giant robots.

Giant Robots

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Giant Robots

More hearthstones.
Jewel of the Shining Heart (Solar, Standard): A golden stone that lets you pick a Defining Intimacy and treat it as a relevant specialty for any action that upholds it, for as long as it remains Defining. Once per story, you can swap this benefit to a different Defining Intimacy.
Lantern-Soul Diamond (Solar, Standard, Manse-born): A clear, colorless hearthstone that, when socketed, lets you meditate for five minutes to charge it with your bonfire anima. While charged, it glows with the colors of your anima as brightly as a lantern. At any time, you can expend the charge to either raise your anima one level or pay one level of anima as part of a Charm cost.
Jewel of Hero’s Panoply (Solar, Greater, Dependent, Linked): A glittering white gem that reduces the attunement cost of an artifact it is socketed into.
Key of Mastery (Solar, Greater, Dependent, Linked): A diamond jewel that, when socketed by a sorcerer, gives access to an Evocation that lets you imprint a Terrestrial Circle spell you know into it (or Celestial, at Essence 3+, or Solar at Essence 5+), treating it as a control spell for as long as it is imprinted. You can swap spells once per story.

Blood-Drinking Jewel (Abyssal, Greater, Dependent): A crimson gemstone fueled by blood. When socketed into an artifact weapon, if you have any Evocations for that weapon or any hearthstone in it, this stone gains a pool of 5 motes spendable only on those Evocations. The pool begins empty and gains 1 mote each time you deal a level of Decisive damage to a non-trivial foe with the weapon.
Stone of Hatred (Abyssal, Greater): An icy-cold red and black stone. It turns unbearably hot when you think of an enemy. When socketed into an artifact weapon, it causes the weapon to deal Aggravated damage to any foe whom you hold a Major or Defining Tie of hatred for.

Key to the Dream Palace (Lunar, Standard, Linked): A black opal, one side rounded and smooth and the other covered in tiny, tiny turrets, domes and spires. All who have touched the stone in the past day share a collective dream when they sleep – a fabulous black opal palace, where they live lives of great opulence with no ties to the real world. These dreams are lucid and recalled as clearly as waking life after awakening. The palace and anyone in it cannot be affected by any dream-influencing magic less powerful than Celestial or Solar spells or sorcerous workings.
Mount-and-Rider Onyx (Lunar, Standard): A stone of interwoven black and white. When socketed, it increases your Withering damage bonus from being mounted and makes unhorsing you harder.
Twin Crescent Stone (Lunar, Standard): A moonstone that, when socketed into a one-handed artifact weapon, lets you create a duplicate of it out of moonlight and shadow as a miscellaneous action. The duplicate shares all traits with the original and gives the benefits of dual wielding, but has none of its magical effects. It dissolves if either it or the original is wielded by anyone but the bearer.

Jewel of the Rabbit’s Sword (Sidereal, Standard, Wild-born): A chartreuse gem whose facets seem to change number and shape whenever you look away. Once per day, you can spend a Willpower to reroll all 1s on a single non-extended action until no 1s remain.
Exorcist’s Jewel (Sidereal, Greater): A white stone speckled with red, gold and black. When socketed, it lets you prevent anything from possessing your body or soul by spending a Willpower, and also lets you learn an Evocation that lets you make a gambit with the weapon it’s socketed in to free someone else from possession and cause a penalty to the possessor’s next action.
Seven Leaping Dragons Stone (Sidereal, Greater, Manse-born): A gold-tinted orange jewel that gives an innate understanding of martial arts katas and their Essence flow. While socketed, it causes you to gain Initiative whenever you use a Form Charm’s special reflexive activation trigger to assume the Form.
Stone of One Voice (Sidereal, Greater, Steady): A milky blue stone with many glimmering lines and arcs. All humans within 4 miles of the stone can speak and understand Old Realm, even if they lack the Lore or Occult prerequisite. This is unconscious and automatic, though those that make an effort can learn the language permanently over time, as can children raised in the area.

Now, let’s talk warstriders. Warstriders are some of the most potent weapons ever made, immense armors piloted by Exalts. They stand at least 30 feet tall and are made from the magical materials, making them exceptionally expensive. Even in their own time they were considered great wonders, allowing their pilots to go toe-to-toe with behemoths on an equal level and to smash entire armies underfoot. Only a scant few were ever made after the First Age’s end, as they typically required the cooperation of the Solars, Dragon-Blooded and other Exalts to create them. Most warstriders fielded in the modern age are Artifact 5, termed ‘noble warstriders’ by scholars. The greatest, though, are Artifact N/A – ‘royal warstriders’ of world-shaking power. All warstriders are First Age Artifice. A pilot must attune to a warstrider like any other artifact by committing 15 motes to it – at least. More potent ones may require more. Further, a warstrider requires a Greater hearthstone placed in one of its sockets to power it. Such a hearthstone does not grant any mote regen, but all of its other effects remain active.

While a warstrider is powerful on its own, their true might is in their Evocations. As with daiklaves, every warstrider is a unique and singular weapon of legend, armed with potent Evocation that express its nature and story. Learning them is the same as for any artifact, but they tend to operate on a larger scale than normal weapon or armor Evocations. They may manifest the metaphysical power of the warstrider’s Essence, as most Evocations do, or they may represent learning to awaken and wield the ancillary systems of the machine, such as mounted lightning ballistae, active camouflage systems or wings able to fly.

A warstrider’s pilot operates from the thing’s torso fuselage. In most still-operational warstriders, they must wear a harness connected to the frame by leather straps. This causes the warstrider to mimic their movements in the arms and legs. Ancient warstriders from the height of the First Age may have more elegant control mechanisms, such as levitating crystals, complex light-based control interfaces or suits of liquid metal, but all operate on the principle of emulating the pilot’s movements. Thus, acting in a warstrider is essentially identical to acting normally. You use your own stats and Charms. The exception to this is the traits the warstrider itself has – a Strength score, soak, Hardness and damage track. These are used in place of yours, and you cannot directly enhance them with your magic, though you may still use any powers that enhance Strength-based rolls or defend against damage – you just can’t directly increase your Strength, soak or Hardness, or get any bonus health levels. You use your own Strength to determine maximum dice added from Charms still and for any Charm calculations.

Operating a warstrider is complex and difficult. You need to tug and pull at the harness for all actions, giving -3 to all physical actions. This penalty can be removed by taking both an Athletics specialty in operating warstriders and a Lore specialty in warstriders, representing the specialized training needed to be an ace pilot. All warstriders count as heavy armor for purposes of Martial Arts or other Charms that care about that. Strapping into or leaving the fuselage is a lengthy process, requiring at least one person’s help and ten minutes to get into and at least five minutes (but no help) to get out of. Both can be rushed, with the same rules as rushing putting on armor, and magic that decreases the time to don armor also works for warstriders, reducing the time to either one minute or ten rounds in combat. You can still reduce damage by accepting a Crippling injury while piloting, and it counts against your per-story limit. This disables a limb, sensors or major ancillary system on the warstrider, requiring a Superior repair project to fix.

Warstriders require at least Strength 2 to operate, and accessing their full power requires at least Strength 4 and the two specialties noted before. The higher your Strength, until you hit 4, the higher your Warstrider’s Strength, and being trained increases it further. A Strength 4 trained pilot gets the full ability, making their warstrider count as Strength 7 normally and Strength 15 for feats of strength. (Warstriders otherwise range from Strength 5-6 normally, and 10-12 for feats of strength.) You use your own Initiative when piloting, but all warstriders have their own soak and Hardness – usually 15 and 10 respectively, but this may vary. Warstriders typically have 30 health levels total – five -0, five -1, ten -2 and ten -4. You cannot target a warstrider’s pilot with Decisive attacks, and pilots take no damage from environmental hazards, area of effect attacks and so on – those all damage the warstrider. A special breach frame gambit must be used to open a gap to target the pilot through. Warstriders are, naturally, immune to poison, disease and non-magical environmental hazards. Also, they are Legendary Size.


Lesbian Gigant Robits

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Lesbian Gigant Robits

Warstriders require specially sized weapons – twenty-foot blades, bows made of entire trees, that kind of thing. They are unblockable unless using an artifact weapon, defensive magic or you also are Legendary Size. While they are usually not made from magical materials, their sheer scale means they use the artifact weapon stats. They have no attunement cost, but also lack any hearthstone slots or special powers, which are in the warstrider itself rather than its weapons. Warstrider-scale artifact weapons are exceptionally rare, as they require vast amounts of magical materials to make and have limited utility. They use the same traits as normal artifacts, with their Evocations being their primary benefit. Warstrider fists are not considered unarmed for purposes of Charms. On each turn, a warstrider may also make a special reflexive action, called a devastating action. This is a reflexive attack against either an enemy battle group or all trivial foes in range of your weapon. It doesn’t count as your combat action for the round, and your devastation action may be a Simple charm that creates an attack, as long as it still targets the same things as just swinging your sword would.

Warstriders have long legs, making them able to cover ground very efficiently, and thus they all get a bonus on combat movement rolls from speed – usually +2, but a warstrider designed for mobility or scouting might go as high as +5, while a heavy model might not even have a bonus. Warstriders never need to make a disengage action to move away from human-scale foes, except for battle groups. Outside of combat, if range bands are being used, a warstrider may move 3 range bands per round, and for overland travel may move at least 50 miles in ten hours, usually more.

It's not all bonuses, though. Unlike most Legendary Scale stuff, being big has penalties for warstriders. They get a penalty to any physical action targeting an object or character that is human-sized or smaller, or when attempting a feat of strength requiring precision without collateral damage, such as forcing open a door and not breaking the surrounding walls. This also applies to any Awareness-based rolls to notice things of human size or smaller. Warstriders can essentially not attempt Stealth in most circumstances, getting a huge penalty to attempts to do so, though warstriders designed for assassination or other stealth pursuits may well have Evocations that mitigate this or special features that get around it. Even the lightest warstrider weighs thousands of pounds, sinking in any soft surface (like mud). They may well be unable to cross many bridges without breaking them or face other complications, which can usually be bypassed by use of Charms such as Graceful Crane Stance.

A warstrider that operates in the field also requires upkeep. To perform maintenance or repairs, you need to know Craft (First Age Artifacts) if you want reasonable rolls – Craft (Artifacts) can do it, but the difficulties are rather higher. The specialized tools and materials needed for warstrider upkeep and repair cost Resources 4 and are large enough to fill a two-horse wagon or a medium workshop. For every 10 hours of operation, a warstrider requires a maintenance check that takes a single scene, and it’s harder if it’s damaged. If the check isn’t made or fails, the warstrider takes damage if you attempt to use it before a successful maintenance check. Damage cannot heal on its own, and must be repaired. Each level of damage is a Major project, but only costs silver points. The higher the wound penalty, the longer it takes and the harder the repairs are. A warstrider that has been Incapacitated by damage is inoperable until repaired, which is a Superior project for 5-dot warstriders and a Legendary project for N/A warstriders. This only clears the Incapacitated damage level, not any of the other damage, which will also need fixing. However, unlike most First Age Artifice, repairing a warstrider does not require a sorcerous working if merely damaged. Restoring one to operational condition from a ruin still does, however.

The game offers a number of special gambits that characters on foot can take to try and even the playing field against warstriders. Legendary Size, after all, is a huge pain in the ass to deal with, and warstriders are extremely tough foes. For example, you can use a Block Vision gambit to fuck up a warstrider’s sensors (or, in less advanced models, the holes that you see through), giving a penalty to all vision-dependent actions until the pilot takes a miscellaneous action to clear things. A Disable Arm gambit can temporarily disable a warstrider’s arm somehow, making it drop whatever it was holding, preventing use of the arm, and giving a penalty to anything that takes both hands. Restoring the arm is a miscellaneous action that costs 5 Initiative. A Disable Leg gambit is similar, but knocks the thing off-balance or renders the leg unusable, forcing an Athletics check to not fall prone and giving a penalty to movement rolls until the pilot pays 2 Initiative on their turn, which counts as a movement action. If all of a warstrider’s legs are disabled, it automatically falls prone and can’t take any move actions until the pilot spends 5 Initiative and their whole turn to get it upright and working again. A Breach Frame gambit is very difficult, but probably still easier than trying to hurt the warstrider directly with infantry weapons – it pries open the warstrider’s fuselage or otherwise breaches it, creating an opening to allow the pilot to be directly attacked for the rest of the scene. However, any Decisive attack targeting the pilot directly costs 1 Initiative to make before you roll.

Now, specific ones! All-Conquering Colossus is a 5-dot orichalcum warstrider. Mirshaan the Immortal Chrysanthemum was one of the greatest warriors of the Divine Revolution, but was unhappy in the peace that followed. She wanted to fight, and she swore to never stay in one place until she’d slain every peril that remained in existence. Many of the world’s finest lovers tried to win her heart, for she was fiercely beautiful, but none could dissuade her. She laughed at love poems from Arahant Ikal Orinya, she slapped Intemperate Mongoose into a mountain when he tried to impress her by stealing her kill, and in the end, it took her Circle’s scholar, UIyana Thunder-Daughter, to win her heart by creating the ultimate gift: All-Conquering Colossus. It is a walking fortress of orichalcum, its lighter segments reinforced with red jade, and every inch covered in Old Realm calligraphy forming prayers to Venus and Mars to protect Mirshaan. The warstrider was completed with the black ichor drawn from the tomb of one of the Primordials Mirshaan had slain, tempering its armor with invincibility. It took decades to create, and decades more to find and present the thing to Mirshaan. However, Mirshaan did not recognize her circlemate behind the armor’s helm, thinking it some new terror, and the two fought. Mirshaan was shocked to find she could not win, knowing it by the second blow. By the third, she recognized Ulyana’s work, and the battle ended in an embrace. Shortly after, the pair got married. The warstrider has since fought behemoths, god-kings and more. Mirshaan’s urge to fight is seen in its Evocations, and Ulyana’s devotion can be found in its defensive power. The weapon was lost in the Fair Folk invasion, when a lone Exalt piloted in a doomed last stand against an endless horde of nightmare. The Realm has sought it out in the Wyld, but have yet to rediscover it. It has 3 hearthstone slots. It typically goes into battle with a greatsword and two paired short swords.

All-Conquering Colossus’ pilot gains 1 Initiative whenever its Hardness prevents all damage from a Decisive attack, and it gets +3 Overwhelming to its Withering attacks against battle groups and foes with Legendary Size. Unstoppable Sun-Fire Puissance can be used when it gets hit by a Decisive attack, allowing the pilot to make a roll based on Initiative, with a bonus against Legendary Size foes, and increase its Hardness based on the roll’s successes by spending Initiative. If resonant and you take no damage from the attack, you gain Willpower. Heaven-Forged Titan Attack lets you make a Decisive attack while at Initiative 12+. It deals double damage against battle groups or foes of Legendary Size and forces them back one range band. Further, it shatters the ground under the target, creating difficult terrain. Against smaller foes, this instead targets all foes in Close range of some point in your weapon’s range, making one attack roll but different damage rolls per enemy, with base damage of threshold successes and then Initiative split evenly among all attacks, rounding up. Initiative does not reset until all attacks are completed. The shockwave turns the entire range band targeted into difficult terrain. If resonant and this is your devastation action for the turn, the cost is reduced and your Initiative doesn’t reset after the attack.

Star-Seizing Grasp is used to boost a grapple against a foe with either Legendary Size or higher Strength than the warstrider, giving a bonus to the control roll and forcing the target to pay the grapple’s Initiative cost if hit. If resonant, it also prevents loss of rounds of control from attacks by non-battle group foes without Legendary Size. Behemoth-Breaker Might upgrades Dragon Coil Technique when used to grapple foes of Legendary Size or higher Strength than the warstrider. With it, any foe that takes damage from a Decisive savaging attack or is Crashed by a Withering savaging attack loses the benefits of Legendary Size until your next turn, you make difficult terrain when you restrain foes and leave a trail of it when you drag them, or deal damage instead when you do other where there’s already difficult terrain, and deal extra damage when you throw or slam the foe into another foe, or cause a feat of demolition with a bonus when you throw or slam someone into an object.

Crashing Meteor Impact improved the Solar Charm Shockwave Technique, letting you use it to throw a foe of Legendary Size out to Extreme range and make an impact shockwave out to Medium range from that point, or cause damage as per falling if they hit an object or structure before that point (and still make a shockwave). Crushing Hand of the Colossus lets you pay Initiative to make your devastating action against a foe of Legendary Size rather than a battle group or trivial targets. Indomitable Eternal Nova lets you clash a Decisive attack with Resistance, and if you win the target loses a bunch of Initiative (but you don’t gain it) and is disarmed. If their weapon isn’t an artifact, it is destroyed by the impact. God-Metal Fortress Stance lets you, once per scene, blaze your anima through the armor to shift it into a defensive configuration, getting a bonus to Defense and Hardness which increases each time you defend against an attack successfully or take no damage from an attack. If you start your next turn without having taken any Withering or Decisive damage, you pop back to bonfire anima for free and make a Resistance roll to gain a bunch of Initiative. Embrace of the Celestial Aegis causes the armor to shine red and blue along the prayers carved into it and makes the sign of Mars appear in red on its right hand and the sign of Venus in blue on its left. For the rest of the scene, your Decisive attacks get a bonus to damage and you gain Initiative for each 10 rolled on them when you reset to base. Even if a Decisive attack on you gets past your Hardness, you reduce the damage based on Hardness, with a bonus against foes of Legendary Size. This ends if you are Crashed.

The ultimate power is Starfall Eschaton Hammer. It is learned free by Solars when they clinch a foe with Legendary Size that threatens one of their Major or Defining Ties. It can only be used once per season, and to use it, you must be grappling a Legendary Size foe with at least 6 rounds of control and be within several miles of a manse, airship or other magical structure to throw them into with a Decisive throw. At the GM’s discretion, appropriately dramatic scenery may also work, it just has to recall when Mirshaan hurled the Vritra of Infinite Coils through the aerial war-palace of Teshim Umbereyes – so throwing them into a volcano that erupts when they hit it would, for example, work. You may forfeit any number of rounds of control for this throw and get a bonus to the damage roll. If you deal at least 5 levels of damage, the impact releases a shockwave that destroys whatever you threw them at – though for, say, the Imperial Manse or an Artifact N/A warship, it may just end up badly damaged and in need of significant repair. The shockwave extends out to Long range of the point of impact and four range bands up. Anyone caught in it has to roll against an environmental hazard with damage based on your throw’s damage, and trivial targets, mundane objects and mundane structures (as well as the surrounding landscape) take as much collateral damage as the GM likes. If you have a positive Tie towards a person, object or other thing caught in the blast, it takes no damage.

Next time: The Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation

Murderous Giganti Rabits

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Murderous Giganti Rabitsa

Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation is a 5-dot orichalcum warstrider. It was developed to handle the threats that even in the First Age remained potent, things from the Wyld and strange monsters from the depths below Creation. Specifically, it was built to face the face-snaked legions of the Scorpion Empire. (Not a typo.) The marksman Seres Ebonheart fought them to protect his kingdom, but ultimately he was forced into retreat and his dominion was destroyed. He did not swear vengeance, however, for his rage was only for himself. He set about making the warstrider as an act of punishment and purification, rededicating himself to the protection of Creation with each effort. In completion, the Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation marched on the invaders as heaven’s judgment, driving them from the field in a sustained fury of sunfire weapons. It is as much a siege platform as a warstrider, bristling with thunderbolt ballistae, implosion bows and other ancient siege weapons. It is boxy and dense compared to most other warstriders, to better accommodate its many weapons and the autonomous systems that maintain them, but moonsilver gyros in the joints make it no less graceful than others of its kind and no less precise in battle. However, accessing its full power is not simple. Its Evocations only slowly unlock the full power of its weapons platform. It has two hearthstone slots and is armed conventionally only with a large crossbow and a firedust cannon. Everything else is Evocations.

Whenever the pilot of Cathedral of Sublime Annihilation takes an Aim action to make an attack out to Medium range or longer, they retain the normal Aim bonus without need for another round of aiming. Further, the warstrider may ready weapons reflexively due to its complex weapon-preparation mechanisms, which also reflexively reload weapons with the Slow tag, thus allowing them to be used in concert with Charms that create multiple attacks in one turn. God’s Eye Reticule activates the warstrider’s long-range sensors – a dozen eye-like spheres of starmetal and blue jade. They give a bonus to vision-based Awareness rolls and extend the range of warstrider-scale Archery weapons the pilot uses by one range band, to a max of Extreme. They also give Extreme-range attacks an accuracy bonus rather than their normal penalty. Blazing Eyes of Annihilation is learned free if you aren’t dissonant with orichalcum when you Join Battle against a battle group or foe of Legendary Size that has caused harm or destruction to one of your Major or Defining Intimacies or beaten you before in battle. It causes light to shine from the Cathedral’s sensors, converging on a single point. This can be used to reflexively Aim at a battle group or foe of Legendary Size, and if this enhances a Decisive attack that incapacitates a non-trivial foe or does enough damage to drop a battle group’s Size, you reset to a higher Initiative than normal. If resonant, it also increases damage of attacks it’s used on.

Far-Reaching Sunfire Fury upgrades the Solar Charms Force Without Fire, Revolving Bow Discipline and Heavens Crash Down, allowing you to pay Willpower to extend the range of attacks they enhance to Long, or Extreme if God’s Eye Reticule is active. Iron Shrikes Take Flight allows the armored plates on the Cathedral’s arms to retract, revealing a storm of flechettes. This is a Decisive attack against all foes in one range band within Short range, enemy or ally. If God’s Eye Reticule is active, this can be out to Medium range instead. You make one attack roll, but roll damage separately against each target hit, which ignores Hardness and does extra damage to battle groups. It doesn’t reset your Initiative. An Essence 3 repurchase lets you reflexively use this as a counterattack against any foe within range of it, with a bonus to your attack roll and your damage roll against specifically that target based on how many 1s they roll. Guarding Star Interception upgrades the Solar Charm Searing Sunfire Interdiction, letting you pay Initiative to use it reflexively as your devastating action for the turn, which can target a foe besides a battle group or trivial target. It also reduces the cost to use it against battle groups and trivial targets, both normally and as a devastating action.

Lighting Ballista Fusillade activates the Cathedral’s lighting ballistae under the pauldrons, which pivot and unfold. These make an unblockable Withering or Decisive attack with both ballistae that hits a line out to Long range, striking everyone in that line. Withering attacks use the stats of an artifact siege weapon with a flat accuracy bonus not dependent on range and separate damage rolls against each target, but you can’t gain much Initiative from any single target. Decisive attacks split your Initiative equally (rounding up) among all targets hit to determine damage, ignoring Hardness, and dealing extra to battle groups, which don’t count for purposes of splitting the Initiative. If resonant, you can use this reflexively as your devastating action as long as your attack includes at least one battle group, trivial foe or enemy with Legendary Size, and explicitly this can attack nontrivial foes.

All-Consuming Implosion Bow lets you, once per scene, unfold an implosion bow out of the Cathedral’s right forearm. You must spend a turn aiming at a point out to Long range, or Extreme if God’s Eye Reticule is active, and then you fire a black hole at that point as an unblockable Decisive attack on everyone within Short range of it. Battle groups and trivial foes are automatically hit on anything but a botch. It deals damage as per an implosion bow, breaks terrain and objects as per an implosion bow, and so on. It’s an implosion bow. It even resets the same way. If resonant, you can use this reflexively as your devastating action as long as your attack targets at least one battle group, trivial foe or enemy with Legendary Size, and it has reduced cost if it only targets trivial foes, battle groups and/or enemies with Legendary Size. Reality-Stabilizing Cannonade is learned free when you kill a powerful Wyld creature, and if you do in the Wyld, this Evocation’s stabilizing effect occurs for free when you learn it. The Charm lights up a solid-light targeting display that overlays the pilot’s vision, with each reticule spinning as a prayer wheel to sustain the natural order. This increases Overwhelming on Withering attacks against Wyld creatures and Fair Folk and makes Decisive attacks deal Aggravated to them. If you incapacitate a foe that is a meaningful challenge to you while in the Wyld, you impose order on reality out to Short range, turning bordermarches and middlemarches into Creation proper and the deep Wyld into a middlemarch. As long as you or another native of Creation remains present to observe these patches, they remain stable indefinitely, and fade after a few days once left unobserved. If you know Chaos-Repelling Pattern or Order-Affirming Blow, they are improved while piloting even while this isn’t active, causing the former to extend out to Medium range and have no mote cost, while the latter can be used cheaper and fired through the warstrider’s ranged attacks.

The ultimate power is Godsigh of Noonday Triumph. It can’t be learned if dissonant, and it can only be used once per story, and it makes eight wing-like blades unfurl from the Cathedral’s armor, locking into place in a ring behind it, which draws in Essence. A halo of Essence shines around it, strobing through the spectrum as it builds charge until it is at last unleashed in a single sunfire blast that can devastate entire battlefields. The world around the warstrider dims as the Evocation charges, light itself being absorbed by the machine. To use this, you must be at Initiative 20+ and have spent three consecutive rounds aiming – or two rounds, if using Blazing Eyes of Annihilation or similar magic. You then make an unblockable Decisive attack out to long range, or extreme range with God’s Eye Reticule active – or several miles, if resonant. The blast rises two vertical range bands and three horizontal range bands – so out to Medium range up and Long range around from the point of impact. Every foe that gets hit takes damage, more if they’re trivial or a battle group. All scenery and structures are levelled, and the blast causes a fire as an environmental hazard that lasts the rest of the scene, or longer if terrain and weather allow it to spread.

Next time: Crusading Spear of the Depths

Swimming Gigantic Rabbits

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Swimming Gigantic Rabbits

Crusading Spear of the Depths is a 5-dot black jade warstrider. It was built in the years of the Niobraran War, when the Exalted needed weapons and vehicles that could confront their undersea foes at their heart. The weapon was forged by the Sidereal master crafter Oadenol, who gave it to the Dragon-Blooded hero Karesha Coral-Breaker. Karesha and Spear fought together against the benthic monsters and the Niobraran armies, staining the sea red with blood. She died in honorable combat, outnumbered on all sides by the Spoken, and with her final breath she drew on the warstrider’s ultimate power, twisting the seas themselves to destroy her foes along with her. Crusading Spear of the Depths was lost after Karesha’s death, eventually drifting through the Undersea and into a reef, where coral covered it over. It was discovered by the Jade Lion Dynasty of the Shogunate, but it was irreparably damaged by the internal wars that toppled the dynasty. To this day, it sits entombed in a Shogunate ruin. Some in Yu-Shan claim that Oadenol spoke a secret prophecy about one worthy of inheriting the Crusading Spear, and that anyone else who tries is doomed to die like their predecessors. The warstrider’s primary armament is a trident and it has three hearthstone slots.

Crusading Spear is able to operate underwater and suffers no environmental penalties or difficulties for doing so or being partially submerged. It increases its Speed bonus to +3 (from +2) while underwater, and the pilot may use their reflexive move to swim one range band horizontally or vertically without need for a roll. Blue jade filtration systems in the fuselage draw breathable air out of the waters, allowing the pilot to remain submerged indefinitely. Depth-Plumbing Descent is gained free if you aren’t dissonant with jade when you enter the water in Crusading Spear to pursue a foe. It allows your reflexive move to be used to descend two range bands vertically, and can be activated when you successfully defend against an attack while underwater to descend one range band away from your attacker reflexively. Dark Depths Hunter lets you draw on the fluid grace of black jade, which makes Crusading Spear a much sneakier warstrider than most. It reduces the warstrider stealth penalty, or eliminates it entirely if underwater, and if resonant, it also gives a bonus to any movement actions while underwater.

Deep-Sea Echo Sense is gained free if you’re not dissonant with jade when you descend into a body of water in the warstrider as part of making progress towards a major character or story goal. It allows the warstrider to send out sonar pulses, which are interpreted by intricate starmetal wiring in the fuselage, allowing you to ignore all penalties from darkness, blindness or other visual obstructions while underwater and also gives a bonus to hearing-based rolls while underwater. Riptide Trident Attack lets you make a Thrown attack and extend a tentacle of water out from the Spear’s arm. Whether the attack hits or misses, the weapon is returned to its hand, and if you deal any Decisive or Withering damage, it drags the target with it into Close range. If you’re resonant, this also increases your attack’s range by one band while underwater, potentially out to a max of Extreme. Crashing Wave Assault can be used once per scene to go into a flurry of flowing hits. You must first use Riptide Trident Attack to draw a foe in from at least Short range. On your next turn, you can then use this Charm to make a Decisive attack that gets a bonus to its damage and, if resonant, knocks the foe back one range band and prone if it does at least 3 damage. If they are knocked from land into water, they move two range bands instead before going prone.

Hunting Siaka God-Armor causes black jade fins to unfold from the warstrider, channeling water Essence into a current. For the rest of the scene, you get a bonus to all movement actions while swimming and can rush from Medium range while underwater. On a successful rush through water, you automatically move one range band closer to your foe on each of your next two turns on top of your normal movement. If resonant, this extends to an hour duration and increases overland speed greatly while underwater (swimming or walking), and reduces the cost to keep using it each hour. Sevenfold Tidal Binding is gained once for free if you aren’t dissonant when you use Riptide Trident Attack to grab a non-trivial foe and incapacitate them with a Decisive attack the next turn. It upgrades Riptide Trident Attack. When it is used to make a Decisive attack and both you and the foe are underwater, if the attack does damage, you can pay 1i1WP to anchor the chain of tidal force to the foe, locking them in place rather than dragging them to you but tethering them to the warstrider. For as long as they are bound, they get a penalty to all movement actions and must disengage to move in any direction but towards you, and you gain any Initiative paid to disengage. Further, when you move, you can make an Athletics roll to drag them with you, and even on a failure the chain just lengthens and they stay bound. The tidal chain can be destroyed as a gambit with an artifact weapon or a stunt using offensive magic, or by moving out of the water entirely or out to Long range and then making a miscellaneous action to make an Athletics check that counts as their movement for the turn. An Essence 4 repurchase makes this Stackable, allowing you to have multiple foes chained at once. When you drag them, you only roll Athletics once for all of them.

Tide-Spun Steel Aegis causes blue water Essence to shine from the Spear’s hand as it makes a mudra of ocean-shaping. This hardens existing water into an impenetrable barrier out within Medium range, one range band high and one wide, which gives total cover to those behind it. Anyone wanting to move into the walled-off band must first go one range band vertically or horizontally to go around the barrier, then take another movement action to get behind it. You can position this barrier vertically or horizontally as you like in a body of water, so others may use it as a solid surface to walk on if you place it right. If you want, it can be permeable in one direction but not the other. Forcing through the barrier is a difficult Strength 5+ feat of strength and destroying it is a very difficult Strength 10+ one. Magical Decisive attacks may, at the GM’s whim, be able to destroy it if they are area of effect and include the barrier or if they are magic that specifically manipulates and controls water. Barriers may block ships, requiring a Sail roll to go around or else they take damage. If resonant, this is Stackable, letting you make multiple barriers as long as each segment is connected to an existing one. As long as at least one barrier is intact, you can use this reflexively on your turn, and activations after the first have slightly reduced cost. Barriers last an entire scene, resonant or not.

Depths-Sealed Vault Technique can be used once per scene to send a current of mystic flow from the warstrider’s hands into water around or near a foe, shaping into a prison-sphere. This is an unblockable gambit against a foe in Short range that is either submerged or within Short range of enough water to fully contain them, with success causing it to solidify around the foe as a solid globe of water. The imprisoned character must hold their breath or drown, and the sphere functions identically to the barriers of Tide-Spun Steel Aegis, except that it cannot be passed through with a feat of strength. Instead, the target or their allies can attempt a gambit at close range to destroy it, or a very difficult Strength 10+ feat of destruction. If used against an enemy chained by Seven-Fold Tidal Binding, the enemy remains bound and the sphere moves with them when they are dragged, which the foe cannot prevent by any means as long as they remain in the sphere. If resonant, you (and only you) can attack through the sphere as if it weren’t solid.

Ocean-Parting Blow is learned free if not dissonant when you use Crusading Spear to defeat an aquatic foe that is a significant challenge to you and the warstrider in combat. It lets you draw on the water Essence around you to unleash a burst of violence. Once per scene while underwater, you can spend 3m1WP to make your devastating action be a Decisive attack on all underwater foes that are within Close range of a single point, even if that includes non-trivial foes, dividing your Initiative between them evenly, rounding up, for damage. You do not allocate any to battle groups or trivial foes, who just take a bunch of damage. This attack ignores Hardness, and you reset to base when it’s done. If resonant, you also gain Willpower if at least one non-trivial foe is incapacitated by it. Slaying the Seven Leviathans is learned free if you aren’t dissonant when you have at least 3 non-trivial foes bound by Sevenfold Tidal Binding at once and have higher Initiative than all of them. This causes the warstrider’s gauntlets to shine with dark water Essence as you retract your tidal chains to destroy all foes in one blow. To use this, you must have higher Initiative than all foes bound by tidal chains and you must have at least one foe chained. You draw all bound foes to Close range and make a Decisive attack against all of them, dealing about half the damage of a single normal Decisive attack to all of them. If there’s an obstacle in the way of dragging them like a shipwreck, they instead take falling damage for smashing into it. If you use Ocean-Parting Blow, you may reflexively use this as your devastating action instead of the normal Decisive attack it allows. If resonant, you also get an Initiative boost after resetting if you take out any non-trivial foes with this.

The ultimate power is Ocean-Twisting Maelstrom. It cannot be learned if dissonant. This Charm draws on Karesha Coral-Breaker’s sacrifice, for Crusading Spear is empowered with self-sacrifice and the ocean’s fury. It must be underwater to use this and you must have at least 20 Initiative. You cause a spherical whirlpool centered on you out to Medium range (or Long, if resonant). The Evocation is ended prematurely if you take a move action, are Crashed or take any Decisive damage before your next turn. On your next turn, if none of those happened, the spherical vortex collapses in on itself, causing a one-time environmental hazard targeting everyone within it, including Crusading Spear. Its difficulty is based on your Essence and its damage is based on your Initiative, so it’s pretty powerful. Battle groups, trivial foes and foes in Crash cannot roll to resist it. As long as anyone other than you fails the roll, you reset to base Initiative, unless you are resonant, in which case you don’t reset if any non-trivial foe is incapacitated by the hazard.

Next time: Emerald Chevalier

Giant Robot Horse

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Giant Robot Horse

Emerald Chevalier is a 5-dot green jade warstrider. It is one of the very few Shogunate-era warstriders, made after the fall of the First Age. The daimyo Ghasara Steel-Petal sought the greatest savants to find remnants of the fallen past, and she command her court’s crafters to make for her a new weapon from these scavenged wonders. They built a mighty warstrider, that she might trample her foes. She was, after all, unmatched in skill on horseback with a lance, and so they made a weapon in the shape of a woman riding a horse. While Emerald Chevalier’s upper body is human-shaped, like most warstriders, its lower body is equine and has four legs. Ghasara rode the Emerald Chevalier against her foes, smashing through their armies and fortifications and forcing them to kneel before her. In the end, it was only her own victory that destroyed her. The rival daimyos of the period had been able to guard their borders, but Ghasara found herself unable to handle their combined domain defensively. She eventually died in a futile resistance to coalition of invading nomads. Emerald Chevalier was pushed beyond its limits and denied maintenance too many times, and it finally collapsed under her and allowed a nomad to kill her as she struggled out of the fuselage. When word of her death spread, the Dragon-Bloods of the Shogunate fought bitterly for control of the warstrider, both against the nomads and each other. Legends and history do not agree on who eventually came to own it, but it doesn’t really matter. The damage dealt to the Emerald Chevalier was beyond their ability to repair, and the artifacts that had been destroyed to make it were likely irreplaceable. It is believed that the warstrider currently remains in some Shogunate ruin, waiting for someone that can actually repair it and return it to battle. It has a single hearthstone slot and its customary arms are a lance and shortbow.

Because Emerald Chevalier is quadrupedal, it is faster than most warstriders and further is able to add its Speed bonus to any rolls to keep its balance. Further, it is more difficult to knock over with Disable Leg gambits, because it has four of them you’d need to take out. It can wield lances one-handed and may make impaling attacks, thanks to its design as a horsewoman. Its pilot learns ]i]Eternal Cataphract Empowerment[/i] on attunement if not dissonant with jade. Emerald Chevalier pulses with Wood Essence, and this charm prevents the pilot from gaining fatigue penalties or growing tired while using it even for extended periods. Any time spent piloting is treated as if it were time spent sleeping, giving all benefits of rest. If resonant, it also gives a bonus to resist poison, disease, fatigue and other physical ailments. Lance of Flourishing Triumphs enhances an impaling attack, increasing both Withering and Decisive damage. If the foe is Crashed or takes 3+ levels of Decisive damage, they also get knocked back one range band and go prone. If resonant, there is no cost to use this to enhance your devastating action.

Indomitable Charger Focus lets you flurry a rush and an aim action together if they target the same character, ignoring the normal restriction on aiming and moving in the same turn and with no flurry penalties. If resonant, your aim dice become successes if you succeed on the rush, as well. Legendary Armor-Rider Invocation enhances the Solar Charms Coursing Firebolt Flash, Sometimes Horses Fly Approach and Soaring Pegasus Style, allowing them to enhance Emerald Chevalier’s movements even if they use Athletics. It gates nothing off. Swift-Blossoming Aegis gives a bonus to Defense and soak for the scene, but ends if you don’t move at least one range band each turn. Shimmering Wind-Strewn Petals Stride causes your anima to unfurl behind the Chevalier, spreading petals in its wake. You rush a foe within Long range, with a bonus to the roll, and on a success, you move one range band towards that enemy on each of your next 3 turns without it counting as your normal movement. If Thousand-League Charge is active, you can rush from up to Extreme range and the free movement lasts four turns. You may also activate Indomitable Charger Focus to reflexively aim at the target, and unlike normal, this lasts until you reach Close range and applies to your first attack against them. If you don’t attack the turn you reach Close range or you attack someone else before then, the aim bonus is lost.

Thousand League Charge causes the Chevalier’s legs to glow with a beryl shine of Wood Essence, improving its speed. Its Speed bonus dice are now successes, and whenever you succeed on a rush or reflexively move towards a foe as part of a rush, you drain the foe of some Initiative. While this is scene-long, you must move at least one range band each turn or it turns off. If resonant, this can be used indefinitely as long as you maintain constant movement, which greatly increases the warstrider’s overland speed. Might of the August Colossus causes the Chevalier’s arms to ripple with Essence as it builds speed. It gets a Strength increase, plus a bonus to Decisive damage based on that increase. At the start of each turn, its Strength continues to increase, to a cap based on your Essence, but to keep the charm going you must move at least one range band each turn. If you don’t, it ends. Soul of Living Armor allows you to, when the Chevalier takes Decisive damage, transfer some of it to your own body to reduce the damage dealt to the warstrider. You cannot reduce transferred damage in any way. If resonant, you gain Willpower if doing this makes Chevalier take no damage. Stampeding Titan Devastation upgrades Chevalier to let you, once per scene, pay 5m1wp to have your devastating action trample a range band as you cross it, which counts as your movement for the round. This is an unblockable Decisive attack against everyone in the range band, with a separate Bashing damage roll against each target hit that does extra damage to battle groups and trivial foes. The damage does not use your Initiative or reset you to base, and it doesn’t count as your combat action for the round. If resonant, you can trample across two range bands when you use this rather than one.

The ultimate power is Creation-Piercing Lance. This is learned free if you aren’t dissonant when you Join Battle against a foe of Legendary Size or a battlegroup that you have a negative Defining Tie towards that is a significant threat to you in battle. It can’t be learned if dissonant. You pour your own life force into the Chevalier to overload its geomantic core. Once per story, after you land a Decisive impaling attack against a battlegroup or foe of Legendary Size, you can boost the damage roll. If you do, it gets a bonus and the force of your blow extends out as a lance of spiritual power, extending one range band per 5 Initiative you had when you made the attack, even across multiple Extreme bands. Anyone caught in the pulse whose Evasion would not have stopped the original attack takes Bashing damage based on the damage the original attack dealt. If resonant, you can choose not to launch the pulse in a straight line but instead in a shockwave that hits everyone in a 180-degree arc out through one range band, plus one per 10 Initiative you had when you attacked.

Next time: Godspeed Vanguard

Giant Robot Sprinter

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Giant Robot Sprinter

Godspeed Vanguard is a 5-dot orichalcum warstrider. In the early days of the rule of the Exalted, they fought each other often to establish new nations. Godspeed Vanguard dates back to these ancient wars, made in the jungle-manse of the devil-eating queen Yamira before it was stolen from her by Kaleidoscopic Dog. It was made as a long-range scout and covert combat unit, so its armor is rather lighter than most warstriders, allowing increased speed and mobility. Dog and her Circle used it as an assassination tool, performing blitz attacks on rival Solars’ bases or using sorcery to do aerial drops into the middle of battles. In the end, however, they surrendered Godspeed Vanguard as part of negotiations to bring peace among the Solars. For the rest of the First Age, the warstrider was used as a monument to peace, though it was deployed a few times when needed. The last of its deployments came in the Usurpation, when the Dragon-Blooded rose up in rebellion. Six Lightning Hokh was one of the few Solar survivors, having Exalted a scant nine days before the uprising and thus not been invited to the ill-fated Calibration Banquet. He survived the killings by hiding inside Godspeed Vanguard and used it to flee to the edge of the world, vanishing from historic records with his subtle arts. The warstrider remains lost, though the Shogunate’s heroes sought it many times. It has two hearthstone slots and is armed with short swords and a boomerang.

The pilot of Godspeed Vanguard gets an Evasion boost while in it. Fleeting Shadow Scout gives a bonus based on Speed to Stealth checks to establish concealment in combat, as Godspeed Vanguard shrouds itself in light and shadow, and reduces the penalty for warstrider stealth. It is also able to be used with Transluminal Stride, allowing the user to take their next turn at any point in the next round if they beat all opposed rolls to their stealth check. Transluminal Stride causes armored hatches in the legs to retract, revealing sunfire Essence jets. These turn the Speed bonus into successes and, if you succeed on an opposed roll that Speed gives a bonus to, defeating all opposed rolls, you may take your next turn on any tick next round, regardless of Initiative order. If resonant, you also gain 1 Willpower on a successful opposed roll this way. Horizon-Attaining Pace upgrades the Solar Charm Racing Hare Method. As long as you have Initiative 15+, you get an increased bonus to rushes, and if movement is being tracked in range bands outside combat, you can cross even more than usual per round. If you use Racing Hare Method for long-term travel, it greatly increases Godspeed Vanguard’s overland speed.

Aegis of Light and Shadow distorts the light around Godspeed Vanguard, making it nearly invisible. It removes all Stealth penalties for being a warstrider and allows Stealth checks even outside concealment. Midnight Sun Vanishing upgrades Shadow-Crossing Leap Technique, letting you use it to move up to three range bands to enter a new hiding spot, and if Aegis of Light and Shadow is active, you can use it to go to places that have no cover by relying on the light-warping Essence. Shimmering Afterimage Refraction can be used once per scene when you are targeted by a Decisive attack with at least 12 dice. If you successfully dodge, you move so fast you leave an afterimage, which has a single health level for each success by which the attack failed to hit your Evasion. From then on, any time a Decisive attack hits you but has more 1s than 10s, it damages the afterimage instead of Godspeed Vanguard, and you treat the attack as having been dodged. Once the afterimage takes enough damage, it vanishes, and any overflow damage is wasted on the attack that destroyed it, not applied to Godspeed Vanguard. A foe that is using Eye of the Unconquered Sun or similarly potent illusion-piercing magics can target Godspeed Vanguard directly still. If resonant, you can wait to use this Charm until after you dodge rather than before the attack is rolled.

Shooting Star Technique upgrades the Solar Charm Mountain-Crossing Leap Technique. It causes your warstrider leap to generate a shockwave out to Short range from both the spot where you jump and the one where you land. Both range bands – the one you leave and the one you land in – become difficult terrain, but do not impede your own movement. Enemies in Close range of either point must roll against an environmental hazard or take some Bashing damage, be knocked back one range band and fall prone. Trivial foes and battle groups automatically take damage, no resistance roll. You do not need to disengage from Close-range foes to use the Charm unless they have Legendary Size. You may also use Mountain-Crossing Leap Technique as your devastating action for a turn, but must use it before you do anything else that turn, even movement.

Shadow Nova Flare can’t be learned if dissonant with orichalcum and can only be used once per scene. It causes Godspeed Vanguard to glow with your anima, growing in brightness until it is like a second sun. Anyone in Long range that can see the warstrider must make an Awareness check to avert their eyes or be blinded for the rest of the scene. Trivial foes and anyone that botches are blinded permanently unless they receive treatment. Anyone blinded also takes some Withering damage, but you only gain 1 Initiative for each of them, no matter how much damage they take. If resonant, the warstrider vanishes into shadow as the light recedes, making a Stealth check with a bonus to establish concealment. Blinded characters do not get an opposed roll and automatically have concealment established against them. Illimitable Lightspeed Advance upgrades the Solar Charm Living Wind Approach, allowing you to reset it by succeeding on a rush or test of speed with more successes than dice you rolled.

Next time: Ascendant Nova Phoenix

Giant Robot God

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: Giant Robot God

Ascendant Nova Phoenix is an N/A-level orichalcum warstrider. It was built at the greatest height of the First Age, a winged warstrider to command the skies with its awe-inspiring power. It was made by a conspiracy of three Exalts, each brilliant: the sorcerer-queen Alesh Rabiya, who studied under the Unconquered Sun himself, Architect of the House of Tomes, a renegade and solipsistic Sidereal philosopher, and Vicious Saint, who drank the dreams of the gods’ enemies and learned their secrets. They made the warstrider in secret atop Alesh’s starspire, using world-twisting sorcery and calling on the names of potent gods with each fall of their hammers. Their hubristic ambition was such that it should have taken them forever, but they grew false millenia from the Wyld in which to complete the work. It was the greatest of the aerial warstriders of the First Age, a full sixty feet tall – twice as large as most warstriders. Its delicately ornamented wings unfurl from its back, made from blue jade but with each individual feather hand-crafted from orichalcum. Its fuselage is an adamant sphere, with a gyroscopic harness of intricate design to allow control of the thing with simple motions and gestures even while performing complex aerial maneuvers. The sphere’s inner surface relays data from the warstrider’s eyes for the pilot to see. Of the three creators, one betrayed the other two in an attempt to seize the Phoenix, one died horrified at what they had made, and one flew away with Heaven-shaking power. It is unclear which was which. While it is not in active use, Ascendant Nova Phoenix’s legend flows across its crystal fuselage, as if the warstrider itself were dreaming of its battles against the Five Directions Navy’s skyships, its duel with the Brass Seraph that was made by the demon Ligier to corrupt the Exalted, or its defeat of the renegade devil-stars and driving them back into the firmament. It is unused in the modern age, though many have sought it, even the Division of Battles in Yu-Shan. Ever since the Usurpation’s final battle and the death of its Solar pilot, the machine has rejected all attunements. Perhaps the return of the Solars may change that. It has 4 hearthstone slots and primarily wields a single sword and bow.

Ascendant Nova Phoenix can fly, using ordinary movement actions to ascend and descend, and it can hover in place if you want. Outside of combat, it can fly up to six range bands per turn, and its long-distance flight speed is identical to its overland speed unless at Extreme range from the ground and from any potential obstacles that might block its flight path. At such a height, it moves at extremely high speed. Like, multiples of 500 mph. The fuselage may hold up to four human-sized passengers plus the pilot. While airborne, the pilot can make a Diving Charge while at Medium range above a foe, getting a bonus to the Withering or Decisive damage of the first non-ranged attack made against that foe once at Close range. If you go a turn without moving closer to the target, don’t attack them the turn you enter Close range or attack anyone else, this benefit is lost. You can make a Flyby Strike when you move into Close range of a foe and make a non-ranged attack against them in the same turn, reflexively ascending one range band away from them without a disengage check. You can Lift Off when you Join Battle, reflexively ascending two range bands before anyone can act, unless you are ambushed. While at Medium range or higher from the ground, you get a huge bonus to vision-based Awareness checks on anything below or far away. You can make a Winged Rush, rushing a target on the ground from out to Long range. On a success, you move one range band closer to them every turn for the next three turns, in addition to normal movement. You can rush aerial foes from Medium range and get the same benefit, but only for two turns.

Starfallen Blade Strike lets you, once per scene, make a Decisive diving charge that targets everyone within Close range of a point on the ground. At the end of each turn spent descending into range, the warstrider burns with a halo of fiery Essence. Once in range, you make a single attack roll against all the targets, with a bonus for each fire halo and damage based on the attack roll and fire halos, plus Initiative divided evenly between all targets hit, rounding up. You reset to base once all that is done. Battle groups and trivial targets take extra damage and don’t count for dividing up Initiative. If resonant, you also shatter and ignite the terrain in the target range band, all damaged foes go prone, and the range band becomes difficult terrain that also burns as an environmental hazard for the rest of the scene. Horizon Guardian Aegis upgrades the Solar Charm Heavenly Guardian Defense. When it is used against a Charm or other attack targeting multiple characters, whether multiple attacks or an area of effect attack, you can use your Parry to defend all targeted allies in Close range as if you had used a Defend Other action, giving them the benefits of the Charm as well. Blocking a source of uncountable damage this way gives you Willpower. At Essence 3, you can do this out to Short range. This gates nothing off.

Rising Phoenix Glory can be used after making a successful flyby attack to rise an additional number of range bands based on the damage dealt. If you used Starfallen Blade Strike to enhance the attack, you may also release your fire halos as you ascend, leaving a pillar of fire that runs through the range band you start in and each you climb through as a one-time environmental hazard with damage based on the number of halos. Awe-Inspiring God Armor upgrades the Solar Charm Terrifying Apparition of Glory, reducing its cost while airborne and extending its effects out to Extreme range targeting anyone who can see or hear the warstrider. Resisting its influence requires entering a Decision Point and using a Major or better Intimacy that supports staying and fighting, plus spending Willpower and some Initiative, which you gain. This gates nothing off.

Tempest of Foretold Victory can only be used once per scene. You perform a wingbeat that unleashes a divine tempest as a Withering attack while airborne, targeting everything in a 180 degree arc in front of you out to Medium range. It is unblockable and undodgeable without defensive magic, an artifact weapon or a stunt. Damage is rolled separately against each target, and battle groups and Legendary Size foes take extra. You gain none of the Initiative lost. Anyone that takes damage is blown back one range band and knocked prone, while Crashed foes are blown back an additional range band. Crashed aerial foes instead fall from the sky, landing prone and taking falling damage. If resonant, you can use this as your devastating action and can use it to target non-trivial foes when you do. Sunfire Seraph Conflagration cannot be bought with XP; you learn it when you Crash a foe at least two range bands beneath you with Tempest of Foretold Victory. It causes the warstrider to shed its feathers in a shower of sunfire blades. You must be at least Long range above the ground and at least two range bands higher than any enemy to use this, and it makes an unblockable Decisive attack out to Long range horizontally against all foes below you with a full Excellency, dealing a bunch of damage that ignores Hardness and then resets you to base. Anyone that takes damage is set on fire with unquenchable sunfire, taking additional damage each turn for the rest of the scene unless put out by magic. Creatures of darkness take aggravated from both parts of this. (Still undefined!!) Once this has been used once, it cannot be used again until the warstrider receives maintenance to restock its feathers. If resonant, this can be used as your devastating action and can target non-trivial foes when you do.

Wings of Heaven is gained free when you use Eagle-Wing Style, and it upgrades that charm, allowing it to be used while flying to make Ascendant Nova Phoenix’s Speed bonus into auto-successes, and while it’s active, you can use your devastating action to fly one range band in any direction instead of attacking, which doesn’t count as your movement for the turn. Also, you can use motes from the Solar Charm Bonfire Anima Wings to pay for Nova Phoenix’s Evocations. Infinite Sunlight Shrike lets you commune with the warstrider’s god-consciousness and rush any non-trivial target in line of sight, out to Extreme range, with a bonus. On a success, you immediately fly to close range and make a non-ranged Decisive attack, with a bonus to damage based on your rush. This is both your movement and combat action for the turn. If your target is a battle group or has Legendary Size, you may use this as your devastating action instead and it doesn’t count as either your movement or combat action. If you cross more than six range bands, you also cause a sonic boom that forces anyone within Long range of your stopping point to roll Resistance or be knocked prone and defeaned for the scene.

Blazing God-Sight Revelation upgrades the Solar Charm Eye of the Unconquered Sun, reducing its cost while airborne and extending its effects out to Extreme range – or as far as you can see, period, if you have Unsurpassed Sight Discipline. Daystar Smites the Heavens causes the warstrider’s eyes to burn with your anima and fire off a light beam as you spin in mid-air. This can only be used once per scene while in flight and is an unblockable Decisive attack against all flying foes within Medium range, splitting your Initiative between them evenly (rounding up) for damage and ignoring Hardness. Creatures of darkness () take Aggravated. Battle groups and trivial foes take extra damage and don’t count for dividing up Initiative. You do not reset to base after. Enemies that take at least 3 damage fall out of the sky and land prone, taking falling damage. The Sword That Conquers Five Directions upgrades the Solar Charm Heaven Sword Flash, reducing its cost while airborne and extending its range based on your elevation. If you also know Circle of Bright Reaving, it has reduced cost while airborne and has its range extended as well.

The ultimate power is Phoenix Surpasses the Sun Meditation, which causes your bonfire anima to flow into Ascendant Nova Phoenix’s wings as pinions of light, accelerating you massively. You must have a specific destination in mind to use this, and can only use it once per story. The warstrider becomes a streak of light, moving fast enough to reach anywhere in Creation in a single hour or less, no matter how distant. It can fly to other realms at a comparable pace, with the exception of Malfeas – the endless desert still requires five days to cross, period. While maintaining this flight, the Phoenix shines with your bonfire anima, making it obvious to anyone that sees it. You may still act and see while moving at this speed, but you get a penalty to all Awareness-based checks due to the speed, and to stop or Join Battle at any point before you arrive at your destination, you must end this prematurely.

Next time: Karvara, the Walking Devil Tower

EVA-01, But She’s Not Your Mom

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Arms of the Chosen: EVA-01, But She’s Not Your Mom

Karvara, the Walking Devil Tower, is the incarnation of a principle antithetical to the mere existence of Creation, and it is a god-monster older than the world itself. For most of the First Age, it slept in the depths of ruined Zen-Mu until it was one day awakened by Feng Huang Morningstar, a Solar who sold his soul to the princes of Malfeas. Karvara could not exist in Creation, so where it went, Creation wasn’t. The behemoth might well have destroyed the Loom of Fate entirely were it not for the Lunar Hundred Sinners King and his famous army, the Ninety-Nine Dragons. Hundred Sinners King fought the behemoth in many shapes, withstanding its reality-destroying touch in order to wrestle it down. The Ninety-Nine Dragons pierced it with direlances of jade, using an ancient, invincible formation that was lost with the turning of the Age. Together, they defeated Karvara, but they could not kill it, for it was immortal and bore the lifeblood of the ancients. Thus, Hundred Sinners King turned to his Solar bondmate, the crafter Taitalos. With the monster pinned under ninety-nine jade spears, they set about to make a prison it could not escape, even though it was a monster that could not exist. Each day, Taitalos doused the creature in liquid moonsilver, sculpting it into the form of armor that would constrain and command it. The devil tried to unmake its cage, yet moonsilver is of an otherworldly and wild Essence, and so it bridged Creation and the unreality of Karvara, creating the Walking Devil Tower. While Taitalos built the structure, Hundred Sinners King moved within the behemoth as a tapeworm and botfly, hollowing out its flesh and carving its spine into a fuselage, its controls woven with the monster’s nerves.

In its dormant state, Karvara is confined in the Walking Devil Tower with unbreakable force. Only when the warstrider is attuned and powered are its restraints released, allowing it to act at its master’s command. Imprisoned thus, Karvara was forced to accept and perceive Creation for the first time, experiencing the flux of its master’s emotions. It learned to rage against its prison and to hate its masters, and with each new understanding of humans, it learned to communicate a bit better with its pilots via projected sense-impulse and god-language. The chains that fetter it go in both directions, and it learned to corrupt its pilots with its alien fury, believing its freedom inevitable. It was robbed of any chance by the Usurpation, however. Taitalos and Hundred Sinners King died in battle together, standing with the Ninety-Nine Dragons, who remained loyal when the rest of the Dragon-Blooded betrayed the Solars. Their killers laid them away in a palace-tomb to assuage their ghosts, sealing Karvara with them as an offering. The binding of the tomb is silk of pattern spider and sinew of elemental dragon, woven together with a piece of the Silent Wind of Malfeas. The Solars’ return has caused the Sidereals to send someone to check on the seal. However, she has not sent back a report in the last five years, and is believed to be dead or renegade. Karvara has 4 hearthstone slots, fights with its claws and bite, and cannot be piloted by any being without a Limit track. (So no Dragon-Bloods.)

Karvara is a fully sapient being as well as a warstrider, communicating with the pilot via synesthesia and alien speech that the pilot instinctively understands. The pilot can attempt social influence on Karvara by talking to it, but it has really high Resolve and Guile, 10 Willpower, and 12 dice for any influence it attempts. It regains 1 Willpower per day. Its Intimacies are a Defining Tie of loyalty to its master (enforced by sorcery and unable to be changed or weakened), a Defining Principle of “I will be free of my imprisonment, even if the world must end,” (which it may treat anything that erodes or alters it as unacceptable), a Defining Tie of hatred towards those who confine it, a Major Tie of fear towards Exalts and a Minor Tie of acceptance towards Creation. It the GM decides you suffer Limit Break while piloting, instead of a Virtue Flaw, Karvara takes over your body for the scene, and you play as Karvara usurping your will based on its current Intimacies, using your stats and Charms. This ends if Karvara is Incapacitated.

Eat the Heart of God is gained for free on attunement. When it stands over a fallen foe, Karvara’s mouth plate slides back to reveal its fanged maw, allowing it to devour the blood and Essence of its foes. This can be used once per scene and counts as your devastating action for the turn, and it lets Karvara feast on a significant foe at Close range that is Incapacitated, gnawing at the body of a Legendary Size foe or devouring smaller ones whole. You gain Initiative based on the victim’s Essence. Alternately, you may slaughter a routed battle group with this, gaining Initiative based on its original Size and Might. Spirits devoured this way are permanently slain. If resonant, you gain Willpower when Karvara eats a behemoth, a battle group with Might or another powerful foe whose Essence is at least equal to yours. Berserker Fury Blitz cannot be bought with XP. It is gained free when you Limit Break while piloting. You get a bonus to a Strength-based roll based on your Limit, which can be a Withering attack. If you are in Limit Break, the bonus is much larger. Each time you use this, you roll a die and gain Limit equal to the successes. If resonant, this can also enhance Decisive damage.

God-Monster Apotheosis upgrades the Solar Charm Carnal Spirit Rending, allowing you to use it for free when Karvara eats a spirit using Eat the Heart of God, and letting you spend XP to permanently add absorbed Charms to Karvara as Evocations, which cannot be awoken by other pilots. Devil-Mind Gestalt Meditation cannot be bought with XP. It is gained free when you either instill one of your Defining Intimacies in Karvara and raise it to Defining, or when you Limit Break while piloting. You may use Karvara’s Intimacies in your Decision Points, but when you do, you gain that Intimacy at Minor or strengthen it, and can’t voluntarily weaken it this session. Further, once per scene, you can drain 1 Willpower from Karvara, gaining it yourself. Whenever you do either, you roll a die and gain Limit equal to successes. Also, for every point of Willpower you draw from Karvara, it can resist one of your social influence rolls for free this session. If resonant, there is no limit on how much Willpower you can gain from Karvara per scene.

Roaring God-Monster Fury lets you, once per story, make a Presence-based threaten roll by having Karvara let loose a roar. This ignores the group influence penalty, gets a bonus based on your Limit and works on all bystandards and enemies out for several miles. In Limit Break, you get a larger bonus. Battle groups whose Resolve is beaten must check for rout at higher difficulty than normal, and characters must spend 3 Willpower or flee the area where they heard the roar. Even if they pay, they get a fear-based penalty to all actions taken against Karvara for the combat. If resonant, you may use this as your devastating action. Torn From This World is gained free if not dissonant with moonsilver when Karvara uses Eat the Heart of God to eat a foe you have a Major or Defining Tie towards. When it eats a foe with that Charm, you may spend 1 Willpower to dissolve that foe in Karvara’s unreality. This permanently destroys mortal souls, preventing reincarnation or ghosts, and there is no cost to do so against trivial foes. Devoured characters are removed from the memory of all who ever knew them, and all physical signs of their existence vanish, unmade. This doesn’t actually change the past, but it makes it as if that character never existed. Their accomplishments remain, but are not recognized as theirs. This is not social influence or a Psyche effect – it is a fiat-level alteration of destiny, and may be resisted via Destiny-Manifesting Method, Invincible Solar Aegis or similar. If resonant, the cost is also waived against targets that you have a Major or Defining Tie towards.

Solipsistic Dreaming God-Beast lets you channel your anima through Karvara, empowering its rejection of Creation as a reality-negating shining defense barrier. For one tick, any attack made by a mundane weapon against the warstrider is negated as the weapon or projectile is unmade through the barrier. Unarmed attacks not enhanced by magic fail in gruesome and spectacular ways that are probably Crippling injuries but not called out as such. Attacks with artifacts, magically enhanced unarmed strikes or purely magical attacks such as Blazing Solar Bolt get through but have their damage reduced based on your Limit – or quite a lot, in Limit Break. Rage Beyond Constraint draws on Karvara’s hatred of constraint to protect your mind. Once per story, when you suffer a Psyche effect, sorcerous mind control or similar unnatural magical influence, you can instantly end it, then roll dice based on the Essence of the user of the power and gain Limit equal to successes.

Undying Behemoth Rebirth cannot be learned with XP. It is gained free when you use Eat the Heart of God to have Karvara eat a potent spiritual being, such as a powerful Exalt, god or elemental, a Second or Third Circle Demon, a behemoth or similar. It causes Karvara’s body and moonsilver armor to flow and regenerate, healing damage or lost limbs. Once per story, as your devastating action, you can roll your Initiative to heal Bashing or Lethal based on successes, or heal body parts damaged or severed by crippling attacks with some of the successes. Any effects of anti-warstrider gambits are also regenerated for free. You reset to base after that unless resonant. Final Fury Resolve can only be used once per story, and only when the warstrider becomes Incapacitated. Karvara offers its pilot a bargain: let it take over, and it will win. You immediately enter Limit Break without resetting your Limit. The moonsilver armoring fails temporarily, revealing Karvara to the world, unlike anything that exists. It heals all non-Aggravated damage and its commitment cost is returned to your mote pool, maintaining the bond by sheer fury. You get 2 Initiative per turn for the rest of the scene. Once the scene ends, Karvara goes dormant again and the moonsilver flows back into place. It cannot be attuned to again until receives maintenance.

The ultimate power is Voice of the Apocalypse. It cannot be learned if dissonant with moonsilver. Once per story at Initiative 20+, Karvara speaks a single word of the sealed language of Zen-Mu, creating a counter-harmony to Creation that nullifies existence. This is a Decisive attack based on your Presence and Limit against all characters within a 180 degree arc in front of you out to four range bands of Extreme range. In Limit Break, it is massively boosted. This cannot be dodged or parried except with defensive magic or an artifact weapon. All targets hit take Aggravated damage based on your Initiative and Limit, with battle groups and trivial foes instead taking uncountable damage. You do not reset to base after this. Anyone incapacitated by this attack is unmade as per Torn From This World, and terrain and mundane structures take uncountable damage, erasing them from existence and replacing them with alien vistas unlike any in Creation. If resonant, the attack’s range is extended one range band per 5 Initiative over 20, and the damage is increased.

The End!

Join me next time for the DBs book!