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Beggar's Token (TedPro)

 Water Aspected
 Manse •
 Trigger: Begging

This Hearthstone takes the form of a grey-brown translucent stone, as might be found on a riverbank. The bearer can beg for alms in any place where a crowd could be found, and some kind soul will take pity on him and share a commonly-available item requested. This need not be money, and the crowd need not be human; in the armories of Lookshy, it might allow the beggar to get his hands on a common sword, in the City of Yu-Shan, the beggar could gain a rare bit or two of Quintessence from a well-disposed god. The bearer must be consistent in his requests, asking many people over the course of an hour. Items in very low supply will never be made available, and the beggar is not protected in any way from harassment or censure.

Coin of Karma's Kindness (Shataina)

 Manse ••
 Trigger: Special

Appearing as a silvery coin-shaped object which shimmers blue in starlight, this Hearthstone functions by tapping vaguely into the ledgers of Fate and influencing them to notice its bearer at certain times: notably, whenever the bearer shows mercy. The deeds recorded in the files of the spirits of *karma frequently take lifetimes to update, reverse and repay, but in this case, the coin acts as a kind of *karmic bribe, expediting the process significantly. Whenever the character performs a deed of mercy, the coin brightens, holding that mercy on the "plus" side for the character's benefit; however, if the character withholds mercy, then the coin fades a little bit.

Mechanically, what this means is that as long as the character acts more mercifully than unmercifully, they will get an extra success on all attempts to garner mercy from others, sometimes even including abstract concepts or spirits of the world (mercy taking the form of a fount of water discovered while one is starving in the desert, for example). As noted, the character must act mercifully to retain this effect. If the character is amerciful -- not cruel, but simply neither merciful nor unmerciful -- then the Coin will have no effect at all. If the character begins to act significantly less merciful in general, then she will begin to lose a success to all rolls which involve mercy coming to her from outside herself.

At the Storyteller's discretion, if the character performs a truly stellar deed of mercy or withholds mercy in a really awful way, then this bonus or penalty may come to two successes. An example of a truly stellar deed of mercy would be sparing the life of the man who brutally tortured and killed one's lover and sending him freely on his way without redress (this would, of course, only count if he was at the mercy of the Coin's bearer in the first place). On the other hand, if the Coin's bearer were to, say, fight a duel against a man who was doing nothing but defending his family's honour from the bearer's horrendous insults, and then not only kill him but torture him horrendously before he died, then that would count as withholding mercy in a really awful way.

This effect specifically and only applies to merciful acts. Acts of general kindness and compassion do not count, and even help may not count, if it is motivated by something other than mercy. The mercy that affects the effects of this Hearthstone must be genuine mercy, and it should cost the bearer something. So, for example, if the bearer of this Hearthstone is an extremely rich man, and he begins giving a tiny amount of money to the poor in an attempt to make this Hearthstone glow bright, he will fail because he isn't actually being merciful -- he's just trying to help himself, at no cost to himself. However, if the bearer of this Hearthstone spares the life of a powerful enemy even though he knows that the enemy will come back and hunt him later, then the Coin will glow brighter, because although the bearer may have been partly motivated by the effects of this Hearthstone, his act is still genuinely merciful and probably against his best interests (should his best interests be calculated in mercenary terms).

Shard of the Merciful Edge (haren)

 Abyssal Aspected
 Manse •••
 Trigger: Concentration and Killing

This stone appears to be a sharp edged crystal of peaceful indigo. It shimmers with a muted light that brings a calm to those who see and touch it.

When the holder concentrates on executing or killing someone in a quick and painless manner, this stone's power is activated. The stone restores one use of Compassion for channeling for every such death that is granted. But, the need to focus means that it can not be used in combat, as the person must be willing or unable to defend themselves, though sending off the survivors would count. Also, such deaths are always perfectly painless, swift, and leave little to no damage on the body as the attack severs away the spirit from the body.

Generous Lender's Stone (EndlessChase)

 Sidereal Aspected
 Manse ••••
 Trigger: Lending Money or Things

This gem appears to be a perfectly cut diamond with a single blue-green flaw in the center. When held up to the light, it causes refractions like a crystal.

When the owner of this stone lends someone money or objects, fate will see that they are always repaid in a timely manner. The recipient of the loan will find good fortune enough to repay the bearer everything that is owed to them, regardless of the sum. If the owner of the stone gives the loan with no conditions, they too are rewarded for their generosity. The loan may take considerably longer to repay when there is no limit on the time allotted, but it will be repaid and there will be something in addition to the original loan with that payment. If Resources are loaned, the debtor will find good enough fortune to repay the original amount as well as an extra dot worth of Resources, and they will be happy to part with their extra fortune. If objects are lent, they will be returned in pristine condition, and an extra gift out of thanks will typically acompany them. This extra gift should be determined by the Storyteller.

Constellation of Universal Kindness (FourWillowsWeeping)

Sidereal Aspected
Manse •••••
Trigger: Friendly Interactions

This Hearthstone takes the form of a set of nested spheres, bubbles of rainbow moonstone crazed with cracks. The bearer of the stone moves in a way that expresses his incompleteness, and those who encounter him realize how they may fill his void; they become instantly aware of his needs. The stone's effect takes a much more tangible effect if the bearer interacts with some other being for at least as many minutes as her permanent Essence. At this time, she gains an additional Caregiver Nature (see Impose Nature for a discussion on multiple Natures). She retains this Nature for as many days as the bearer's permanent Essence. Though the Constellation imposes no specific compulsion to fulfil the bearer's needs, those converted by it have access to a running tally of ways that they may help him, and this often means that it is easier to fulfil their imposed Caretaker Nature than one of their own.


Hmm. I think I made that overly complex, but I wasn't sure how else to do it.
~ Shataina

It seems like this is an effect which should be tied to Compassion. Possibly you get bonus dice whenever your Compassion forces you to do something inconvenient (i.e., you rolled to try and resist it). _Ikselam

Eh. I dunno. A Hearthstone that makes it bad to get help? What about when your Circle gets you out of a jam and you dont do anything instantly and then get thrown into combat? You get -5 dice on your roll to resist Soul Mastery and die. Bummer. Nah. A Hearthstone shouldn't have such externally-based negative consequences. An enemy could get you killed by BEING NICE to you. While interesting, this bothers me somewhat. I think you should get negative dice (if you must get them..) for successfully resisting a Compassion roll. - Telgar

Yeah, I agree with Telgar that I'm not totally happy with that mechanism, since it means that anyone with a relatively-compassionate Circle is always going to be running in the red if he doesn't do everything in his power not to be. I'm not necessarily disapproving of a Hearthstone that forces specific actions, but this has a lot of potential to really be much more of a liability than a strength. Maybe have dice subtract from the pool when one willingly forgoes an act of mercy or compassion that would easily be within one's power, just because one doesn't feel like it? -- AntiVehicleRocket

I also agree with this. Karma is about personal action. - willows

Re: the Shard of the Merciful Edge -- ooh, I like it. I'm not the best crunch-balancer, but the power seems useful, and I love the usage of Abyssal "Compassion" here -- AntiVehicleRocket

Maybe the following as a simpler version of Coin of Karma's Kindness?

The coin gives an extra success to any attempt to garner mercy, kindness or forgiveness from others. However, if the bearer accepts more mercy than he gives, withholds mercy, or otherwise spends more Karma than he uses, the coin grows less bright, and gives no benefit. In drastic cases, the coin will instead add 1 to the difficulty to any attempt to gain aid from others. This judgement is made by the Storyteller.

It seems like it would be simpler, require less book-keeping, and accomplish the same in-story effect. --TedPro

This is elegant, but it still doesn't solve the problem of being able to "kill somebody with kindness." A character shouldn't be able to lose Hearthstone benefits because of others' actions, and I don't like the idea of a character being penalized for having friends. -- AntiVehicleRocket
Oh, um, that's why it's "accepts" rather than "receives." Like, if your teammates help you and you help back, you're good. If you haven't done anything for them lately, it's probably best to refuse help until you can contribute. -- TedPro

Wow! Lots of comments.

One thing I thought I made clear but evidently didn't: the coin's shtick is meant to be about mercifulHearthstoneRelay/B> things, not <b>merely compassionate things. It's not about kindness, or forgiveness, or even about help. Just mercy. That means people don't automatically involve the coin when it's about being nice, they just involve the coin when they're showing mercy or being shown mercy. So a Solar's Circle getting him out of trouble doesn't count, because it isn't about mercy, it's about loyalty and fellow-feeling. However, if the person who has the Solar at his sword-tip chooses to spare his life, that's mercy. In other words, unless your Circle is in the habit of forcing you into positions where you are specifically at their mercy, it's never going to apply to them. It also specifically doesn't count for people who give help because they're required to, or because they're getting something out of it -- in fact, it simply doesn't count unless they are motivated purely (or at least mostly) by mercy. I know this is a sort of fuzzy distinction, maybe I should just get rid of it ... but that would make the thing too broad, I think.

Thus, Telgar, the only way an enemy could get you killed would be if they specifically were merciful without ulterior motive. Knowing about the coin counts as an ulterior motive if it's a strong enough motive, so if an enemy is about to kill you and they show you mercy specifically to screw with your karma, it's not going to work because then it's not about mercy.

AntiVehicleRocket and Willows, that makes sense, and I can totally understand how karma would be about personal action, and I'll have to think about it more sometime when I have more time to devote to this. The problem with karma being about personal action, though, is that karma is granted by personal action, but outside effects are what "balance" it. If someone's granting you mercy, then hypothetically it does have something to do with your mercy-granting at a past time, which is what this artifact is all about. So I do think at first consideration that outside actions should affect the coin, but I also think that personal action should affect it ... so maybe I'll make it both.

Ah, almost missed Ikselam, but there he is. I'm not comfortable tying this effect to a Virtue because I want it to be independent of Virtues (except inasmuch as the motivation of a hypothetically-merciful party will be shaped by their Virtues). As I read it, the ledgers of karma would be primarily balanced by actions rather than feelings.

TedPro, your refinement seems like a pretty good summation of what I was trying to do (obviously I'd have to edit it for the points I've made here); I originally thought that it would be better to have a flat mechanical effect, but I guess that really is just too complicated.

I'll work on this sometime, I promise.
~ Shataina

So. Let's talk about karma some more! I'm not going to say that your view of it is totally off-the-wall and invalid, but I want to make it clear that the whole "karma is when your actions have unforeseeable, non-causal consequences" thing is basically a pop mysticism thing, and has little to do with karma in the classical Buddhist and late Hindu sense. In these religions, karma is strictly a record of your personal actions and spiritual purity. As you act with virtue, your soul becomes purer and you become eligible for increasingly exalted existences in the ascending cascade of heavens.

When things happen to you, it's got nothing to do with your karma; it's just a fact about living on whatever plane you do live on. And the way you deal with things happenning to you is what determines your future context.

Shataina, I changed your <br>s into hard blank-line paragraph breaks because I find jammed-up paragraphs very eyestraining to read. Hope you don't mind.- willows

Of course you're right, and I should have chosen a better word for it that wouldn't aid and abet the pop-mysticism movement, but "karma" was the best term for what I was trying to get across ... maybe I should just rename it "The Stone of Mercy's Consequences" or something like that .... I don't know. Do you think I should rename it?
~ Shataina
PS: Of course it's fine to change my formatting if it bugs you, as long as it's not on my pages, naturally. :)

One problem is though, if the enemies motives apply to whether it's truly mercy or not, how is this going to effect the character himself? I mean, at one point does it become obvious that he's sparing enemies just to boost his karma a bit? Even if it was a character who was merciful before, how do you tell if he's doing it slightly more often just because he has this magic coin?.. Plus, why is it that this incredibly merciless assassin somehow doesn't have a negative merciful karma pool .. .. until the actions of a completely unrelated sidereal.. doesn't seem to make much sense to me.. surely he'd have a huge negative karma pool just by his own merciless actions FluffySquirrel

The first bit: this is why I emphasize that the bearer of the coin has to have negative drawbacks to their merciful actions, etc -- I meant for that to make sure that people wouldn't be being merciful just to get good "karma" or whatever, but because they really were, well, being merciful. You're right, though, I should note that in the description more clearly. As to the second bit, I originally intended the negative effects of the coin to only be caused by outsiders. In other words, I wanted it to work in such a way that you could give yourself positive consequences, but that negative consequences would come from outside -- firstly, as part of the whole the-world-is-balancing-you thing I was talking about above, but also because I wanted the coin to have more positive effects than negative effects. And if you not only gained negativity from outsiders but from yourself, that wouldn't balance the positivity very well. But on the whole, now that I've considered, I think I'm going to make the entire Hearthstone ruled only by personal action anyway.
~ Shataina

Wow, this seems like it's gotten into some really rich and juicy ethical philosophy questions. Is your karma affected by your situation, or only your actions? Are altruistic actions made for the sake of improving one's karma truly altruistic? What is mercy, and how is it different from compassion or kindness? I'm loving it. I think the Hearthstone text should be slimmed down a lot and the system streamlined, so the stone can focus on these kinds of questions and not the complexities of the mechanical system. Thanks for bring such great questions into the Relay, Shataina! --TedPro

Mwahaha. You're welcome, although I didn't mean to make it into such a big thing. What do you think of my attempt to slim it down?
~ Shataina
I like it a lot better. I'd drop the examples, though, since there's already a lot of text.

Also, I have a suggestion for the definition of mercy. "Unrequired kindness from a position of power." --TedPro

Hmm. On the one hand I kind of don't like it, because I figure you can be unrequiredly kind and not be merciful ... like a slaver who enslaves a bunch of barbarians but doesn't treat them too badly. But your definition lines up perfectly with the dictionary ("1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency"), so I guess I can't disagree too much. <grin> Anyway, we'll have to trust STs to not allow ridiculous "acts of mercy" like that one. Do you really think the examples are unnecessary? I'm kind of attached to them ... oh, well, I guess I can get rid of them. I just like an excuse to be pretentious and quote Shakespeare.
~ Shataina

I'll put up a new theme presently. - w