Ikselam's Level Two Artifacts
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Jade buff jacket
+4L/+5B, Mobility -1, Fatigue 0 (including material bonus)
Commitment: 4 (jade)
The first of these artifacts was created for V'need Pravised, a renowned hunter who travelled Creation in search of dangerous and exotic prey. Since then, a number of copies have been made, most of them for Wood-Aspected rangers and scouts.
Chameleon Coats resemble normal buff jackets, with the addition of a hood. The sturdy oilskin is decidely abrasive to the touch and has a characteristic mossy appearance, a result of the powdered green jade magically bonded to its surface. When active, the coat alters coloration to blend in with its surroundings, camouflaging its wearer.
Mechanically, if the character remains still, any attempts to spot her are at +3 difficulty. If she is moving at half her normal sprinting speed or less, the penalty decreases to +2. If she is moving faster than half sprinting speed, it decreases to +1. In addition, she receives a three-die bonus to any roll having to do with hiding herself from sight.
The coat's camouflage power can be turned on or off at will, as a reflexive action.
Commitment: 3 (orichalcum)
Leather and orichalcum belt
Commitment: 5 (orichalcum)
After Lord Vidal kidnapped the Sidereal seeress Citlalmina, demanding a ransom of ten thousand precious gems for her safe return, a hundred of Peruchotlo's greatest mortal heroes set out to fight the fairy Lord and rescue her. Vidal dined on the souls of the first twenty, broke the backs of the next thirty and crafted wind flutes out of their bones, and sent the remaining fifty back to the city naked and chained together in a line, a single character of a taunting poem branded on each of their backs. The mighty Lunar Exalted Tenoch and his Dragon-Blooded lover, Suleima of the Burning Spear, fought their way to the very gates of Lord Vidal's palace, but the fairy Lord met them in the courtyard and defeated them singlehanded, using his glamour to trap Tenoch in his gila-monster form and snapping the Burning Spear with his bare hands.
The governors of Peruchotlo were on the verge of giving in to Lord Vidal's demands when Solar hero Mahuizoh came to the city and issued a challenge, demanding that the Fey Lord face him in a wrestling match or forever brand himself a coward. The proud fairy appeared before the city gates at dawn the next day, bringing with him the Exalted he had already defeated. Tenoch he had fitted with a moonsilver collar and made to fight rats for his entertainment; Suleima wore the glass shackles of a Fair Folk slave, and was forced to dance for his entertainment and fan him with palm fronds. Citlalmina, too, was dressed as a slave, and made to serve Vidal grapes and spring water.
Mahuizoh's anger at the dishonor and shame that the fairy ruler had heaped on his brother and sister Exalted burned as hot as the Unconquered Sun, and it was only with an effort of will that he kept himself from breaching the terms of their agreement and attacking Vidal on the spot. At noon, Vidal and Mahuizoh met in Peruchotlo's arena, coming together with a crash that shook the very roots of the city. The fairy Lord's strength seemed endless, but Mahuizoh's heart shone with righteous fury, and after two days and two nights of ceaseless battle, his mighty arms caught Vidal in a hold he could not escape. The Fair Folk king, bound by his given word, released his captives and promised to never trouble Peruchotlo again.
In gratitude for freeing them from bondage in the fairy courts, Citlalmina, Tenoch and Suleima commissioned the artificer Choka Telu to forge an orichalcum laurel wreath and a puissant magical belt, which they presented to Mahuizoh in a great ceremony on the anniversary of his victory over Lord Vidal.
- The Champion's Wreath is a shining orichalcum circlet, wrought in the shape of a laurel wreath. When attuned, it grants a single automatic success on any Valor rolls, and a three-die bonus to any Presence or Performance rolls for giving speeches or inspiring crowds. The Champion's Wreath has a setting for a single hearthstone, and requires a commitment of three motes.
- The Champion's Belt is a wide yeddim-hide belt with a huge orichalcum buckle in the shape of the solar disc. When attuned at a cost of five motes, it increases the wearer's Strength and Stamina by one dot each, and increases his natural soak by 2L/2B.
Each of these artifacts is ranked as level 2.
<i>Head of Distant Mimicry</i>
Sculpture (any material)
Commitment: powered by hearthstone
Heads of Distant Mimicry were invented in the First Age by the Twilight Caste strategos Liue val Ceias. Although a brilliant general, she did not share her Dawn brethren's penchant for leading from the front; she preferred to direct her troops from a distance, so she could devote all her concentration to coordinating her army's actions and analyzing the enemy's. Although this caused many other Solars to deride her as a coward, it was demonstrably effective; Liue fought hundreds of battles, most of them against the Faerie general Lord Unsar, and was never defeated. Other Solar generals tended to attribute her success to the tactical acumen of her field commander, the Full-Moon Lunar Sagian "the Sea Wolf," and Heads of Distant Mimicry never became widely used for their original military purpose.
The artifacts did, however, achieve popularity among spymasters, and were not uncommon by the end of the First Age. Today, they are mainly utilized by Sidereal Exalted and Deathlords to maintain contact with their field agents.
A Head of Distant Mimicry resembles nothing so much as a sculpted bust. The material the bust is composed of varies depending upon the subject's nature: clay for mortals, and the appropriate magical material for Exalts (Dragon-Blooded require the specific color of jade associated with their element). The bust also has a setting for a single hearthstone; when the socket is filled, the sculpture comes to life, perfectly reproducing the subject's words and expressions no matter where he may be.
The subject can hear any words addressed to the bust just as if the speaker was standing next to him, and is automatically aware that he is being eavesdropped upon even if the Head's user is totally silent. The bust's user can hear anything the subject speaks aloud; other sounds do not transmit through the Head.
Manufacturing a Head of Distant Mimicry requires the participation of the subject. The likeness must be of the highest quality, and even if the crafter is skilled enough to create a flawless representation without the subject posing for her, the final step requires the subject to exhale a single breath into the bust's mouth.
Most Heads of Distant Mimicry in use today are composed of either jade or soulsteel. The Heads require too much material to waste precious starmetal on their construction, any orichalcum busts from the First Age are obviously useless in the Second, and most Lunars are too independent-minded to give someone else an infallible method of bossing them around. By contrast, most Deathlords are extremely interested in keeping tabs on their Abyssal champions, and the Scarlet Dynasty also finds it useful to be able to instantly communicate with its agents abroad.
The cost of Artifact 2 is per Head.
Speed +3, Accuracy +1, Damage +2B, Defense +1 (no material bonus)
Requires: Brawl 2 or MA 3, Dexterity 3; Commitment: 3 (generic)
Retep the Red Trickster, the greatest thief ever to walk Creation, was motivated by neither greed nor altruism, but rather by boredom. The Night Caste had spent many centuries serving the Solar Deliberative at the height of the First Realm's power, but found no satisfaction in it; he longed for the days of old, when he had matched wits with demons and Behemoths, and stolen into the homes of the Primordials themselves to spy. Nothing in the new world could really offer the same excitement or challenge. Finally, desperate to escape his ennui, he abandoned his office, donned the crimson bandanna that was to become his trademark, and embarked on a life of swashbuckling crime.
Since Retep's only goal was challenge and adventure, he stole exclusively from other Solars, and was careful never to take life or damage property in the course of his exploits. Over the course of his hundred-year career as the Red Trickster, this made him something of a folk hero to the mortals and Dragon-Blooded of the Realm, who falsely assumed that his actions were designed to expose the foibles of the Solar Exalted and remind the common man that their godlike rulers were still, at heart, only human. Even some Solars came to believe this.
Retep employed a number of unusual artifacts in the service of his "cause," among them a magic rope capable of all manner of astonishing tricks. It was said to be made from the hair of a Behemoth, bound in threads of Essence and adamant lest its power escape and cause the entire beast to rise up, regenerated from its single hair.
The Living Rope looks like a normal length heavy rope, about five yards in length. However, it is unusually strong and resistant to fraying, and close inspection will reveal that it does not appear to be made of hemp, but of what resembles nothing so much as a single, gigantic strand of hair, laced with tiny threads of some sparkling, glassy material.
When attuned at a cost of three motes, the Living Rope becomes animate. Directed by its owner's mental commands, it can do virtually anything one might wish a rope to do. It has complete control over its movement and rigidity, behaving much like an extraordinarily flexible snake. It can quickly tie itself into any type of knot desired, wrap securely around objects at which it is thrown, and stiffen to the rigidity of an iron bar. Although it cannot actually levitate, it can hold itself out stiffly in any direction if one of its ends is securely anchored. The Living Rope can even slither about under its own power, moving with surprising rapidity and easily scaling any surface which offers extrusions for it to wrap around.
Particularly dexterous and skilled persons can employ the Living Rope as a weapon, using it as a whip or lasso, or tying a weight to one end and swinging it around. It can also be used to entangle and immobilize opponents, either by using it as a lariat or stringing it up as a trap. This is resolved as a hold attempt using the owner's Dexterity + Brawl or Martial Arts to both initiate and maintain the grapple (regardless of whether the rope is acting on its own). At its owner's option, the rope can also constrict the held victim, doing 4 dice of bashing damage each turn.
As long as the Living Rope is within 100 yards of its owner, he can silently command it to do anything he wants. This requires only slight concentration, and will not interfere with any other action he may be taking. If it is outside his field of view, he can only tell it to come to him; the rope will do the best it can to reach his position.
<i>Map of Avian Reconnaissance</i>
Commitment: 2 (generic)
Popular among Sidereal travellers, these elegant artifacts allow their users to quickly obtain accurate maps of the surrounding landscape.
A Map of Avian Reconnaisance is roughly one foot on each side, drawn in a spare but elegant hand on white rice paper. Although it appears fragile, the paper is magically fortified and is as durable as cured leather. As long as the bearer of the map commits two motes to it, her position will be marked with a small "x", redrawn as often as she commands. Depending on its user's wishes, the map can erase previous position marks as it draws a new one, or retain the previous marks (forming a plot of the bearer's route).
The map's real power is much more useful. A successful Dexterity + Craft(origami) roll allows the map's bearer to fold it into the shape of a small paper bird. As long as two motes are committed to the map, the origami bird will animate and fly off into the sky. A whistle will summon it back to the bearer's hand; when she unfolds it, she will find that the map has been redrawn to reflect what the bird saw while it was aloft. The map will not show the positions of people (even very large groups) but will note stationary landmarks and structures.
The area mapped depends on how long the bird remained aloft before being recalled. The bird flies in a spiral pattern, moving out from its launch point; the area mapped expands by roughly ten square miles per minute aloft. In theory, the bird could map the entirety of Creation if given enough time, but in practice, after about fifty hours (roughly, everything within a 100-mile radius of the origin point), the map's scale becomes too small to be legible.
The map's bird form can fly in foul weather, although its rate of mapping will slow to approximately five square miles every minute.
<i>Pen-Yen's Magic Staff</i>
Speed +0, Accuracy +0, Damage +2L, Defense +0 (including material bonus)
Commitment: 10 (orichalcum)
This tall staff was one of the last artifacts to be made by a Solar of the First Age. It was constructed by Jei Pen-Yen, a recently-Exalted Twilight, as part of her apprenticeship under the great sorceress White Dream Lotus. Not two days after Pen-Yen completed the project, the Dragon-Blooded rose up in revolt against the Solar Exalted. White Dream Lotus' Manse was levelled by a First Age superweapon; White Dream Lotus survived, and led her attackers on a month-long chase ending with her demise in the uttermost North, several thousand miles from her old home. No trace of her student was ever found, and it was assumed that Pen-Yen (and her staff) had been vaporized in the initial assault.
Pen-Yen's Magic Staff is just over six feet long, and is made of polished teak capped with orichalcum. The top cap is an elaborate, multi-pronged orichalcum head, which contains settings for two hearthstones. When attuned at a cost of 10 motes, the staff acts as a focus for manipulating raw Essence. At the wielder's option, she may reduce the cost of any Sorcery spell she casts by 10 motes (to a minimum of half its normal cost). However, the casting time for any spell whose cost is reduced in this way doubles; Terrestrial Circle spells take two turns of shaping, Celestial four, and Solar six. The staff cannot reduce the cost of spells whose casting involves extended rituals.
<i>Steel Dragon Sash</i>
Orichalcum, moonsilver and silk sash
Commitment: 3 (orichalcum)
The Steel Dragon Sash was one of a number of artifacts created by the First Age Dawn swordswoman Hue Yanwen "Nine Swords Maiden." She practiced a fighting style which emphasized freedom of movement, and thus desired a defensive system which would protect her without offering the encumbrance of a suit of armor. This sash was one of her first successful attempts at creating such a device.
The Steel Dragon Sash, as its name implies, is a long silk sash embroidered in orichalcum and moonsilver thread with the image of a celestial dragon. When its wearer is threatened, the sash has the power to magically unwind from her waist and spring into the air, swirling about under its own power. It is unnaturally strong, and attempts to knock blows aside as well as distracting attackers. This power can be activated reflexively at a cost of one mote, and lasts for a scene. During this time, all melee attacks against the character are at +3 difficulty; missile attacks are at only +1. The Steel Dragon Sash requires a commitment of 3 motes.
<i>Virtuous Ghost-Hunter's Staff</i>
Speed +0, Accuracy +0, Damage +2L, Defense +3 (excluding material bonus)
Requires: MA 3; Commitment: 5 (jade)
Immaculate monks who travel the Threshold opposing the Hundred Gods Heresy often carry staves such as these. Approximately the size of a normal quarterstaff, the Virtuous Ghost-Hunter's Staff is topped with a large jade ring, from which depend several smaller rings; when the staff is in motion, the small rings produce a distinctive jingling sound, said to discomfort evil spirits. This is not actually true, but the staff does possess magical powers sufficient to make any god or elemental think twice before molesting its owner.
First, the staff can strike immaterial spirits. If a spirit suffers damage from such an attack, it must make an Essence roll at a difficulty of the number of health levels inflicted, or immediately materialize. If it does not have enough motes to activate its Materialize Charm, it loses all its motes and materializes anyway. The staff does not confer the ability to perceive immaterial beings.
Second, if the staff is planted in the ground, no immaterial spirit with an Essence score below that of the staff's wielder may approach closer than five yards. Materialized spirits may approach, but take a -2 penalty to all dice pools while within five yards of the staff. This effect ends immediately if the staff is uprooted.
Although most Virtuous Ghost-Hunter's Staves are made with jade, starmetal and moonsilver versions are known to exist, and it is certainly conceivable that soulsteel or orichalcum versions might also be constructed.
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These artifacts rock, first off. I can't wait to read your Level 3-5s! These are so cool! <rhapsodizes> Okay, now I'm done.
Well, not quite. I have a few questions (and one little comment) first.
Head of Distant Mimicry. It says that if someone is eavesdropping on you by standing next to your statue, you know that you're being eavesdropped on. Is that *all* you know? Do you know if the Head is moved? What if the person standing next to the statue is deaf -- do you still register the "eavesdrop" thing? What if the person can read lips and is watching your statue from across the room -- do you still register the eavesdropping? Also: if someone somehow manages to make a statue of you without your knowledge (reweaves your memory with Memory-Reweaving Discipline, for example), are there any special effects on the statue or anything? I guess the question here is, if someone is eavesdropping via the statue and you don't know that the statue exists, what do you get -- a creepy sort of "someone is listening" feeling, or "Someone is definitely listening to me by standing next to a magical statue of me"?
Right then, onwards.
Map of Avian Reconnaissance. This records stationary objects, but not people. Do stationary warstriders with people in them get recorded? How "stationary" does an object have to be?
Virtuous Ghost-Hunter's Staff. This seems a little overpowered to me -- I might venture to say that one of its powers might make it a level 2 artifact, but both of them together are too powerful. Also, I was under the strong impression that it was basically impossible to make a spirit Materialize without enough Essence. The Dragon-Blooded Charm Spirit-Grounding Shout (183) and the Lunar Charm Devil-Restraining Grip (192) both allow the user to force spirits to Materialize, but if the spirit doesn't have the Essence, then it is drained from the Exalt's reserves, and if both of them together don't have the Essence, then the Materialize fails. This leads me to believe that Materialize is physically (or magically, whatever) impossible if there isn't enough Essence to power it. Perhaps you could impose a similar limit on the staff?
Anyway, again, these are awesome artifacts. Fantastic work.
PS: I corrected one typo on the Head (you spelled "eavesdropped" with three "p"s). Hope I didn't overstep my bounds.
PPS: What happened to Pen-Yen?
As far as the Heads go, you probably only get a sense of being listened to. That's all the information you get. You don't get the feeling if you're not actually being listened to; i.e., if a deaf person is standing near the bust (but not reading its lips), if someone's near it but not listening, &c.
What the Map of Avian Reconnaisance actually shows is left as an exercise to the reader. I would probably rule that anything which doesn't move for the entire time the paper bird is in the air shows up.
In my opinion, the Ghost-Hunter's staff isn't actually that great. It has fairly crappy stats for an artifact weapon (pretty much the only thing to recommend it is the good defense bonus), the dice-penalty power isn't really all that strong, and the forced-materialization requires you to hit <i>and do damage. It also doesn't have a hearthstone setting.
Sorry, think I was unclear here too. My point about forced-materialization is that I get the impression from the text that it's simply not possible to force a spirit to Materialize if there isn't enough Essence to power the Charm. Sort of like you can't force an Essence-requiring weapon to work if it has no Essence. That is, it seems as though if it were possible to force a spirit to Materialize without actually having enough Essence to Materialize, then there would be Charms for it, but there aren't. So this implies to me that Materialize needs Essence to happen, and that it's just as impossible for Materialize to be "forced" without Essence to power it as it is for, say, Mute Requiem to work without a devoted Hearthstone or Excellent Strike to cost less than 1mote/die.
This also can be chalked up to a difference in opinion, and I'm sure you've already thought of the minmaxing "hit the spirit ally, do 1 health level which they can later heal with Touch of Grace, and save them 100 motes of Essence" approach.
As for its power ... I just think that a staff that encompasses roughly the power of two Solar Charms should be a bit higher than level 2, but this could be same usefulness vs. raw power disagreement that we appear to have with Mute Requiem.
You can interpret that as an intelligently targeted Essence-Gathering Temper effect; you hit the ghost hard enough, you power its materialization with the energy of its pain. Though, under that interpretation, you might have to hit the ghost really damn hard for it to work. - willows
Hmm. That's an interesting interpretation, and certainly one that I hadn't thought of. But in that case, shouldn't you have to hit the spirit harder, the more Essence it needs to Materialize? Since all amounts of pain are not equal, as has been demonstrated with Essence-Gathering Temper, shouldn't it take more pain to force, say, Octavian of the Second Circle to Materialize than it takes to force a huraka to Materialize?
I guess you could just say that if the spirit doesn't have enough motes to materialize, it loses all its motes and nothing happens. But really, the idea behind this isn't so much that you're forcing the spirit to use a Charm; you're literally clobbering it so hard it pops into the material world.
As for this power allowing spirit allies to materialize cheaply, I don't think such a tactic would really work. It would only save motes if your incorporeal pal had already spent too much to materialize normally, and it'd lose all the rest, anyway. I doubt that a lot of spirits would be really stoked about materializing with zero motes in their pools. And if you bonked an ally who had sufficient motes to power its materialization, it would just materialize at normal cost. Pretty much the only time I can think of where the forced-materialization would actually be highly useful would be if the spirit was immaterial, had very few motes, and was about to be killed by someone using a power which only affects incorporeal beings (e.g., Ghost-Eating Technique).
I don't know, man ... there are lots of spirits whose main weakness is that they can't Materialize twice. Take Octavian (one of the most hardcore Second Circle Demons ever!), for example. His cost to Materialize is 110. If Octavian has an ally with that staff, then he can either (a) choose to wreak havoc in the spirit world using as much Essence as he wants, and then Materialize, or (b) be capable of coming back right away even if he's forced to dematerialize. Octavian does not need any motes to kick everyone's ass. Neither does, say, Sondok. One of the major weaknesses of powerful combat spirits is that if they dematerialize, they have to wait until they get their Essence back to Materialize again, and I'm not sure if that's offset by saying that they have to take a health level to Materialize again immediately. I mean, seriously, does Octavian really care about taking one health level?
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