Created in the First Age after extensive study of the Gateways in and out of Yu-Shan along with the Labyrinth and the SpiritCharm Portal, Wayfaring Chalk was intended to revolutionize travel for individuals and small groups between distant locations. Its workings were fairly simple and anyone able to channel even the slightest amount of Essence could make use of it. It was cheap and easy to produce once a small original supply was created.
Using Wayfaring Chalk
Wayfaring Chalk is used to scribe circles of Old Realm characters and Essence-binding patterns onto a solid surface. A circle can have a radius of between 1 and 10 yards. The process of scribing a circle takes one minute per yard of the circle's radius. Once finished, the circle becomes far more resistant to damage then normal chalk, requiring concentrated effort to be erased or smudged. However if any concentrated effort is applied, the circle can be rendered useless in less then a minute.
Activating a completed circle requires only the expenditure of 10 motes by someone standing inside the circle and a successful roll of Intelligence + Occult by the same person who expended the motes. The difficulty of the activation roll is equal to the radius of the circle in yards. Once successfully activated the circle takes only one combat turn to transport everything inside its bounds. Botched activation rolls transport the contents of the circle to another circle, decided by the Storyteller. Generally botched rolls do not send the characters using the circle anywhere they would enjoy being. The destination of travellers inside a circle that was activated properly is determined by the circle itself. Part of the Old Realm characters included in the circle's construction consist of a description of another circle to which the users will be transported.
In most cases the use of a Wayfaring circle destroys the destination circle as well as the source circle as the chalk lines flare into the Essence used the power the transportation enchantments. Because of this most First Age cities and towns had large supplies of Wayfaring Chalk and regularly maintained courts of 'arrival' circles. Some of the wealthier and larger locations in the First Age used specially designed Artifact versions of the circles which were not destroyed by incoming travellers. It is likely that some examples of these devices remain within cities like Meru, Chiaroscuro, Nexus and Crystal. Most certainly the normal chalk circles would have been long destroyed by curious scavengers or uncaring travelers.
Learning the combination of Old Realm characters required to reach a particular location is not difficult. It requires only Lore 3 to know the Old Realm names for most large cities. For forgotten or lost cities or places the character simply does not know the name and description of, a roll is required to represent the research and study to come up with an acceptable name and description. This is generally an Intelligence + Lore roll with a difficulty set by the Storyteller based on the scarcity of information on the target. Trying to find out how to travel to Meru or Shining Reefs might be only difficulty 2, but travel to the Lost And Forgotten City of Avu-Mishi would be considerably more difficult.
Trying to create a circle to a destination where there is no circle to receive the travellers is impossible. The circle may be drawn, the motes expended, the roll made, but nothing will happen. Circles must have both a sending and receiving end in order to work. However demons and fair folk as well as certain unpleasant Exalted and gods from the First Age have been known to create circles similar to those of common or interesting destinations as traps for unwary travellers. A botched activation roll may well send the travellers to such an ambush.
Obtaining Wayfaring Chalk
Characters wishing to start play with Wayfaring Chalk may purchase a hunk too small to scribe a circle for Artifact 1 and use it to later create more.
The process of creating Wayfaring Chalk is simple as long as the character attempting to make some already has a sample. By grinding the Wayfaring chalk to dust, mixing it with the blood of a migratory bird, salt water taken directly from the ocean and some part of a being that knows the Portal Charm or has travelled the Labyrinth it is possible to create a liquid in which normal chalk can be soaked to transform it into Wayfaring Chalk. Creating this liquid properly takes a difficulty 3 Intelligence + Crafts roll. Each success allows the transformation of 1 pound of chalk, enough for 10 circles.
Large stocks of Wayfaring Chalk are often found in ruined First Age cities, towns and Manses. These would count as Artifact 3 supplies for the most part though it is possible to find even larger supplies which would count as multiple level 3 supplies. These stockpiles are often guarded by spells or bound guardians from either the First Age or the present day.