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Even More WiP Than Normal - ignore below until told otherwise

However, everything below is heavily work in progress... also, I'm strongly considering borrowing some of CrownedSun's anima abilities for use here, so many props to him. His animas (which are also cool, but not quite right for me) can be found here

But anyway, the dawncaste one is once again far too weak. Not to mention useless fighting most demons and primordials etc. For first edition, I changed it to add +2 dicepools to anyone fighting on the same side as the dawn caste who either was aquainted with them and their supernatural nature, or who succeeded a valor roll.

Now, in 2nd, it still costs 10m... But, it costs 10m when 11+ peripheral will do it ANYWAY... so it's clearly overcosted, especially for such a naff effect. Even at essence 3, a fair number of opponents will have valor 4 or 5. My solution... keep that, and add on top the +2 external bonus to anyone else fighting with/under the dawn caste.

Zenith - Aww, I -liked- the holy bolt of destruction ability... Still, their main anima is much better now. Why are they all so expensive though?

Night - Actually, I like these. Weird, huh? Aside from the price of the lesser stealth. 10m is a LOT of essence!

Twilight - broken, broken, broken. Finally, I have decided on a wp cost reducer for 1st edition twilights, maybe with a mote or wp reducer at 11+ for 2nd. Still unsure as to costing, currently erring towards 6 or 7 motes. It should also cause a display similar to that from sorcery, whether this is personal or peripheral motes or anything.

Eclipse - why the wp cost? If you just spend 11 motes, you can do this for free, but without the willpower, you just have to flare a bit. Why should stealthy pacts require 1wp? Again, 10m is too much. Drop to 5m, 1w, and maybe, maybe.

In general, for first edition, a rework of the twilight anima and making many cheaper are appropriate.

Actual Animas

Essence 1

Glows are always on, and are more a function of the caste's essential nature rather than a -power-. They're also all lifted straight from CrownedSun. They have less flavour here at the moment, as I felt wrong stealing his flufftext too, but it's much better. Go and read it.

  • Dawn - Pay 1 less xp for every 5xp invested into a combo comprised solely of combat charms, minimum of 1xp discount on any combat combo.
  • Zenith - reduce the difficulty of all Divine Intervention rolls by 1, on top of any other modifiers from Sacrifices or abilities. In addition, Zeniths may recieve infrequent advice and lore from the Unconquered Sun (stroyteller discretion). Zenith castes may burn a body that they touch for 1 mote per body, as core.
  • Twilight - Get one extra success on any roll using memory, as long as you scored 1 or more successes naturally. Rolls relating to memory: Remembering something, copying a text from memory, -maybe- working from a plan held in memory (ST discretion), the lore/occult roll to see if you just -know- about a spirit's weakness or how to use some first age doohickey... stuff like that. Several rolls to resist/throw off mind-control may also count, especially those about remembering the true path of events if someone has 'changed' your mind.
  • Night - Reroll one failed or botched roll per story, must be pertinant to the direct survival of the night caste. This explicitly INCLUDES a botch from an eclipse-caste bargain or other effect. Only one though. They also get the improved anima suppression powers from 2nd ed, to whit - pay 1m extra to suppress use of peripheral for any non-obvious charm, or double to suppress peripheral use of an obvious charm.
  • Eclipse - can learn out of type charms, paying double xp and motecost.

Essence 2

  • Dawn - pay 5m, appear glorious/terrible for a scene. Very obvious, but you can add +2 dice to all dawncaste abilities for you, any of your underlings/companions in reasonable LOS (same battle and they can see your anima, stroyteller discretion, etc). People unfamiliar with the dawn caste's supernatural nature will have to make a valor roll to benefit from this, and anyone who acts unvalourously loses the bonus. This doesn't stack with other dawncaste animas, but doesn't count as a charm-given bonus for die caps either.
  • Zenith - 5 motes, take 1 less level of damage from any source. This cannot be done more than once per turn (or action in 2nd ed) and is doubled against the forces of darkness. (Demons, Undead, Abyssals, Infernals. NOT fae.)
  • Twilight - spend 5 motes to subtract 1wp from the cost of a charm (including sorcery charms). This cannot be done more than once per turn (or action in 2nd ed)
  • Night - pay 5 motes to add +1 difficulty to see, track, etc the night-caste, similar to core.
  • Eclipse - pay 5m to sanctify an oath made with the Eclipse touching all parties. Now, here's a thing... should this cost willpower? I also want 'verbal oathes made in presence' to be an option, should that be an Extra Cost mode of this one, or the Ess 4 expansion ability?

Essence 3

At essence 3, all of the essence 2 abilities activate automatically and for free any time the Solar is showing 11+ motes of anima banner. Night castes DO get the +1 difficulty, but it really only applies to tracking rolls since seeing them is so blatantly obvious. However, the 2nd ed trick of masking their identity fits quite nicely here.

Another note, the Eclipse caste does not need to touch participants anymore, but they must be close enough to be affected by the Eclipse's anima banner. It's still nearly impossible to have oaths sanctified accidentally, but people should be wary of saying things they'd not like to be held to in close quarters with a flaring Eclipse.

Twilights may choose which charm per turn/action they reduce the willpower cost of, they're not limited to the first.

Zenith caste may automatically burn any body within Essence yards for free at 11+ anima expenditure. If done against a zombie, this costs 1m, and inflicts 1 autolevel of Agg damage (or instantly kills 1 extra), but can't be done more than once per turn. Works only on mindless undead with a body, or the ridden bodies of nemissaries/similar.

Essence 4 (Still very much prototypes, not finished yet)

These may only be activated once a scene. But they're still reflexive, non-charm actions. They all cost 10 motes of essence and 1 point of willpower, and none of these costs may ever be reduced.

  • Dawn - Drawing upon the untold combat-mastery of the unconquered sun, the Dawn caste overcomes their innate restrictions, and for the rest of the turn they may use reflexive and supplemental charms at any time, without using up their charmslot for the turn, charm following charm in a scintillating display of fluid prowess. Even charms from multiple different abilities can be used together, although the limit of one simple charm per turn remains.
  • Zenith - A pillar of light descends from the sky and surrounds the Zenith in a holy aura. For this turn, the Zenith is inviolate - None who are not trusted comrades can come within Essence yards, any already within this radius are harmlessly pushed back. No attacks which are not counted as immaterial will pass through this barrier in either direction, and for the duration of the effect, the Zenith may not leave the area. In addition, all solars within Essence miles will know this power has been used, and whether it was used specifically as a beacon or for its protective effects. Of course, in most places, the tower of light will be visible to everyone for much further than this.
  • Twilight - With a flash of celestial insight and the power to know the truth of things, the Twilight caste can examine what they percieve and make the best possible use of it. When used to investigate/decipher knowledge, this ability removes all penalties for unfamiliarity and adds Ess sux to any Twilight caste ability, but only for one roll. It grants information equivalent to knowledge of the relevant pools of a target; the user may also perceive natures, penetrate illusions and disguises, and learn weaknesses and strengths. The storyteller is expected to be generous but broad.
  • Night - Anima-flush. You were iconic, now it's GONE. As it explodes outwards in a spiral of (highly distracting) solar light, you get to make a stealth roll to hide. Considering +Essence autosuccesses on said stealth roll
  • Eclipse - sanctify any verbal oath or swearing made in their presence, even if not truly intended as such. Watch out, constructive eclipses can be really nasty with this.

When used on any device or secret that needs to be explained or deciphered, their innate perception of what things are and what they are used for will remove any penalties for not knowing enough about it (use penalties for strange devices, language penalties, etc) and add +Essence successes to any twilight caste ability made regarding that one item. In addition, this supernal awareness of the core of things lets them see not fate itself, but the way things interact with the world. They may percieve the nature of a being, looking through any illusions or maskings of identity to the truth at the heart of the matter, and learn any weaknesses and strengths the storyteller specifically designed for that creature. This grants them information equivalent to knowledge of relevant pools and also they should be informed of any particularly strong points of a particular character/creature as well as any weak ones. It doesn't grant explicit knowledge of secret powers, but might give such things as: "And he has several effects available to avoid surprise, so it would be useless to try and ambush him". (Full text for Twilight above)

Essence 5

These are all states of being (henceforth referred to as stances) that the exalt learns to assume. Whenever the exalt is at an iconic anima banner level, they may reflexively assume the stance at no cost. However, there is always a drawback, and to end the stance requires a cost of 1 willpower point and 1 aggravated health level (and, due to the effects of the great curse, 1 limit point, although this is not 'normal'). While they have assumed the stance the swirling flows of shard-channeled essence prevent them from regaining essence through respiration, and any essence or willpower gains from other sources are halved (round up). The exalt remains in their inconic splendour for the entire duration of this state, however long it might be. There is no default duration for these, they must be specifically deactivated. If they are not deactivated, then attempting to sleep whilst performing a stance is a harrowing experience - although physically restful, the indescribable dreams brought on by the focussed essence prove unsettling to the mind, and instead of a virtue roll to regain willpower, the exalt loses 1 temporary willpower instead. Note that this only happens if the exalt chooses to sleep, and so extended use can be possible if the user is willing to forego sleep for the duration. If an exalt at 0 temporary willpower and under one of these stances ever falls into sleep, they may never awake, mind devoured by the pure swirling power of their unlocked shard, forever dreaming of the flows of essence around them. In the end, this is ST's discretion, but the consequences should always be dire. This is not a charm, and it is a rather untested expression of some of the most powerful essences ever known.

These powers are innately solar, as much as lunar shapeshifting or sidereal astrology. They can never be assumed by someone who is not a solar of the appropriate caste, no matter the charms or effects used. The incarna may (or may not) be able to circumvent this restriction, and it is likely (although by no means certain) that the Unconquered Sun can assume any (or all!) of these, should he wish to. The exact mechanics of that are left up to the storyteller.

  • Dawn - Stance of the Bronze Tiger - Submersing their intellect beneath the auspices of the Bronze Tiger's monumental martial skill, exalts of the dawn caste become a death-dealing whirlwind of amazing talent. All rolls of a dawn-caste ability gain 2 automatic successes (in addition to iconic anima benefits) and they instantly know all combat-relevant die-pools of any opponent that faces them. The exalt becomes immune to fear effects, both mundane and supernatural, and can ignore all wound penalties, continuing to fight even if reduced below incapacitated. Indeed, even if all of their post-incapacitated levels are removed, they fight on, with any further health levels of damage reducing temporary willpower by 1. Only when the bronze tiger's reserves of willpower are exhausted will they finally fall, bodies exploding into golden fire as they burn to dust in the wind. Finally, their instinctive mastery of combative essence flows allows them to use an extra independant action per turn, solely for dawn-caste charms or attacks. (It may be used for defensive charms, but not defensive actions. Their standard action can of course be interleaved for defensive actions as desired.). The bronze tigers are brave, but sometimes this virtue can be a downside. For the duration of the stance, while the user's mind is not dulled, it is focussed solely on combat. They cannot speak, gesture, or perform complex tasks not related to fighting. They are welcome to retreat, or in other way go against valor but must suppress their valor (however low) with a point of willpower and limit to do so. Their choice of actions is their own, and they need not attack unless they desire to, but their focus is always directed towards combat.
  • Zenith - Stance of the Golden Bull - Assuming the stance of the Golden Bull, a zenith caste becomes even more of an exemplar than ever before. They add 1 automatic success to all zenith cast rolls and... can use level 3 (-1dam succ) twice per turn, people must make diff2 conviction rolls to oppose their glory (combat or social, etc), any creatre-of-darkness extras within 10 yards are fried, also, any successful attack against exalt causes immediate non-attack infliction of 1 HL in return, or full HLs in the case of creatures-of-darkness's attacks (can be soaked with perfect soak charms or other things which directly affect levels of damage, but not normal soaks) - same with social attacks.
  • Twilight - Stance of the Copper Spider - drawing the web of essence about them, and placing their touch upon it much as the pattern spiders weave the fabric of existance, the Copper Spider waits at the centre of all things, knowing from the tug on the strands how and where to best spend their limited resources. All costs of any action (essence, health levels and willpower) are halved, rounded down, before any further cost-breaks are applied. The minimum cost for something that originally had a cost at all is 1 mote, 0 willpower, and 0 health levels. This applies equally to sorcery, combos, charms, activation costs of artifacts (although not commitment) and potentially many other things, at the storyteller's discretion. In addition, one automatic success is added to all rolls made using a twilight caste ability. Spiders that plan badly, however, or those which are utterly surprised on a scale they did not anticipate, often find themselves outmatched and exhausted. No effect whatsoever can permit the twilight caste to regain or heal any motes, willpower, or health levels, while under the effects of this stance.
  • Night - Stance of the Iron Wolf - Taking on the mantle of the lone wolf, darting in to strike and then retreating beyond range, the Iron Wolves learn to mesh their being with non-being, their action with inaction, and to straddle the boundries of all things. They become half immaterial, half material, not suffering attacks or restraints from either condition unless they can affect the other (an immaterial ghost using an attack that could strike the material world, or a material attacker using some ability to strike immaterial, could both hit the exalt, but people/things confined to affecting one plane could not.) Anything closed which could be opened is treated as open to the exalt (doors, chests, windows, etc) but they cannot move through solid objects or those gaps too small for them to fit. Anything which is visible to either the mortal eye or essence sight is visible to the exalt, and they gain perfect vision in both utter darkness and blinding light. The night caste themselves remains visible for the duration, although flares of evanescent essence will surround them if they intersect with a closed object. In addition, all rolls of a night-caste skill gain 1 bonus success. There is of course a downside... straddling all phases of existance, the exalt is not part of any of them. Their actions cannot effect anything without similar effects as those which effect them (so for example, they must use a charm which affects immaterial targets to attack). Open doors and other objects, representing a boundry negated, are anathema to them, and are treated as if they were closed (charms can still be used to bypass them). Items cannot be picked up without an appropriate charm that would pick up the item from a distance, and nothing can be easily dropped without ending the stance. Without essence, the iron wolves will be forced to watch as existance passes them by, impossible to touch or influence. This power functions in places which are purely spiritual realms as it does elsewhere, and is one of the few methods of becoming 'immaterial' in Yu Shan.
  • Eclipse - Stance of the Quicksilver Falcon - As the eclipse caste assumes this stance, their mind becomes faster than a shooting star, and dances like the most cunning of raptors. Their grasp of essence extends far into the realm of instinct, and their perceptions sharpen until they can pick out the cause of actions almost before they are begun. Any out of type charms that the exalt have learned no longer have a doubled cost, and can be used with any special abilities the charm originally possessed, such as a dragonblooded's ability to use their charms reflexively. Furthermore, any charm witnessed by the exalt (and it need not be obvious, quicksilver falcons will instinctively recognize each and any charm use in their range of perception) can be duplicated at normal cost until the stance ends. Even sorcery or necromancy can be mirrored in this way, although only if the exalt already has the capability (read, the sorcery charm) for the corresponding level of magic. In addition, any restrictions on the use of those charms is waived, so that a charm which needs the maiden's approval is approved automatically, and certain lunar charms are made available. Finally, 1 success is added to all rolls of an eclipse-caste ability. However, swept up in the instinctual dance of a thousand shining feathers, their own skills are more difficult to access. The cost for using a charm which has not been separately witnessed or learned out of type is doubled, for both willpower and essence costs. The cost for sorcery is not changed. The exalt cannot mirror effects which are beyond charms, such as a lunar's ability to shapeshift into one of their various forms, or a sidereal's astrological workings, even if these are directly observed.
Comments on a *Brain*storm Page - Orz go to your *House* and have *Parties*

It's good you've play-tested the animas to make sure they are in need of tweaking. --UncleChu

If you mean: It would be good if I had, or, it's good that I have (I havn't), then, yes, I know, tweaking is usually better after a playtest. But I'm mainly tweaking for 1st edition, with words on my opinions of 2nd. I've most certainly tested first, and twilight was broken. It's since got worse... lots of OTHER people have playtested it a little and it sure looks broken from every extent. Since, as I said, I havn't got and won't be playing the 2nd edition yet, if it turns out to actually be fine, I can always change it back. Only I don't think I will, since I don't like the IDEA of the twilight anima being defensive.
-- Darloth readies the ferrets and strawberries to respond to this ^_^

Random twilight caste anima idea that came to me this morning - It may be too powerfull. Or not powerfull enough. Dunno; Either way, I thought I'd pass it on, or at least find out what your opinion is..

The Loremasters of the Unconquored sun are the unparalelled masters of knowledge in all forms, not only for their mastery of their Caste abilities, but for their simple existance. Lit by the glory of their fadeing anima, the best and worst aspects of all that they survey were immediately obvious to their eyes: That which is great lit by the last rays of the setting sun, while that which is weak or unclean was cast into shadow. Darloth/Flavor Text)

The Twilight may spend 10 motes and immediately learn the general nature of the most powerfull skill and greatest weakness of anything within sight for the entire sceene. For creatures, this will be the most powerfull charm or combo, or their highest attribute+ability pool (but not it's size) and their greatest weakness(Lowest pool); For things, spells and writings this will be their greatest strength or best use and greatest flaw - used to aid in any caste ability rolls, this allows the Exalt to negate up to their essence in dice of penalties from any source *or* add one automatic success. Gamlain

Two questions: (1) Regarding the Dawn Caste boost to combat abilities for everyone around them, on their side, etc. The question starts like this... "25 Dawn Caste walk into a bar, and flare their animas...". How does it end? And for (2) How is the Essence 3 Twilight ability any better? You spend 5m, and save a WP each round. Not a big difference if you choose where it comes from. Now automagically saving one per round, that's a big deal. Alternately, reducing the cost to 3m per WP (still at once per round) is mucho nice. -- GreenLantern, poking his head in

I think the essence 3 one does indeed just give you a free willpower point each round.. that I could see. FluffySquirrel

Yes, it is indeed a big deal. But only one from -charms- every round. If you're using a wp costing charm every round, that's kinda expensive in other things, and it really does limit your choices as to charmpicks. You can't throw a combo for free(that's not a charm-cost) you can't channel for free(ditto), you CAN use sorcery, but it's only 1 discount... It's a very nice ability, but so are (hopefully) all the rest. Night-castes are slightly disadvantaged in 11+, but they have other nice benefits, such as a hanging reroll all the way back at Ess 1. Thanks for your critique anyway though, and yeah, a clarification on the dawncaste ability is needed. They do not stack ^_^
-- Darloth

Awww, why not? 25 Dawn Castes in one place, leading armies of their own, is exactly the kind of thing that killed the Primordials...DeathBySurfeit

With regards the new Essence 4 Dawn Caste ideas, I like the suggestion of being able to block perfect attacks as though they were normal ones; this is especially balanced if paid on a by-attack basis when anima banners aren't showing. It'd also be a good idea to consider mirrorability for the Dusk Caste - being able to perfectify attacks without Charm use is a nice variant...DeathBySurfeit

Gak no! Perfect-ifying attacks is like uber uber. That's two ubers - at once! That means that I can launch a flurry (or multi attack) at you. I enhance the first one with, say, Excellent Strike, for 2 motes. Recognizing that I've just used my charm action, sans combo (no giant flashie), you decide to reflexively activate a reflexive scene-long charm, or perhaps a relatively weak defensive charm, such as GEB, since you'll be 'safe' this turn. On my second and subsequent attacks, I perfect-ify them, and kill you. Oh well, you lose. -- GreenLantern, on why making something perfect after a charm usage without a combo is the deadliest trick in the book.

The level 4 abilities will not trigger automatically on anima-flare. Yes, perfectifying attacks is indeed deadly. I had considered unblockable instead, and either way, if I have an offensive ability for dawn/dusk, I think it will need to be incompatible with charms, or people will be unleashing horrible 16-perfect-attacks-of-doom for 2wp and 50 motes.
-- Darloth hopes people keep talking, more ideas always good!

I had several more ideas for the Ess 4 animas, and they're looking not too bad. Suggestions are welcome, please give me critique!
-- Darloth

I may adapt Gamlain's idea at a higher powerlevel for Ess 4 twilight, so that it isn't combat limited. Actually, that sounds very good. Thanks for the idea... it's looking very possible ^_^
-- Darloth

My suggestion for Twilight 4 anima - Essence shows you the way. When you fire it off, you get an extra dice action. This action is above and beyond the normal turn, so you can roll a second dodge/parry if you like against an attack; it may not be split and extra-action items have no effect. For this action, all your abilities are at Ess dots (yes, all of them) and if you had dots to begin with, those are converted into autosuccesses. Dar feels it isn't cool enough, but I think the sheer versatility of the option both inside and outside combat trumps the relatively minor special effects.
-- Veav