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The thirtieth theme was... Education

Gold Star by Ikselam

Manse ••, Solar aspect
Trigger: Raising an Ability with experience.

This sky-blue stone resembles a very large star sapphire. When attuned, it magically increases the sense of achievement its bearer feels when he learns new things. Whenever he spends time and effort training his skills, the hearthstone's star marking begins to glow bright gold, suffusing him with confidence.

Mechanically, the stone activates when its owner raises an Ability with experience points. For a period of time equal to the actual amount of time spent training the Ability, the character will receive a single bonus die to any roll made with it. If he wishes, he can spend a Willpower point to release all of the Gold Star's power at once; this allows him to convert all the dice on a roll of the benefited Ability into automatic successes, but also causes the stone to break.

Once the Gold Star becomes active, it cannot benefit another Ability until it stops benefiting the first. Its effects end immediately if it breaks or becomes deattuned; its owner can also end the effect at will. Once deactivated, it cannot benefit the same Ability again until more experience is spent to raise it.

The Slave's Stone</b> - Scrollreader

<b>Manse ••, Sidereal aspect
Trigger: WP.

When the bearer of this stone accepts virtual slavery, fate itself conspires to bring the bearer a teacher. This slavery can be actual (toiling as a slave for the guild) metaphorical (taking a sifu who is tyrannical and cruel) or practical (being the whore of a vicious and controlling pimp). Whatever the circumstances, the bearer may choose to surrender themselves to this fate by concenting on what they wish to learn, and spending a WP. If they do so, circumstances and the fates will conspire to show them, though their master, and other slaves, the secrets to anything they wish to learn, as they are enslaved by the power of the stone. For as long as the bearer submits to this slavery, they may learn charms and abilities as if they had a qualified instructor. The stone offers no protections from the vagaries of their new master. Once they refuse to accept such slavery anymore, the bearer is freed from the power of the stone, until next they submit (though any partially learned traits are lost). The stone does not however, protect against the wrath of the former Master of the slave, or the consequences of this rebellion. The more intense the trait, the more likely the master is to be powerful. While learning the second dot of larceny will probably enslave one to a Nexus Pimp, using this stone to seek the secrets of Solar Circle sorcery will likely enslave the bearer to a deathlord or worse.

Shard of Talents</b> - IanPrice

<b>Manse •••, Lunar Aspect
Trigger: None.

Stones of this nature take the form of a jagged spike of diamond-like crystal. Often they are suitable for use as improvised weapons, using the statistics of a normal knife. When set in a Hearthstone setting, the shard will flow like moonsilver, altering its base to fit into the setting, but remaining sharp and pointed. Attuned users need not fear cutting themselves when removing this gem, however, as it alters itself again with a touch and a thought.

The benefit of this stone is Quite amazing, tapping into the fluid nature of Luna. By attuning this stone in an artifact related to the use of an ability, the user may increase that ability and buy charms related to that ability as if the ability were favored. If the attuned item could allow the increase of multiple abilities, such as a throwing dagger (related to Melee, Thrown, and some Martial Arts styles), the owner of the Shard must choose only one ability to learn until the Shard is removed and reattuned. These learned skills remain even if the stone changes settings or owners. This will allow Lunars to learn Martial Arts charms at the favored rate.

The Peerless Principal Pearl</b> - PassengerPigeon

<b>Manse ••••, Solar aspect
Trigger: Accepting students.

This glistening hearthstone, and others like it, once formed the basis for the public Exalted schooling system of the First Age. The manse producing this stone in doing so defines itself as a peerless academy or university, and the Exalt attuning to the stone becomes its head. This grants him the following administrative privileges: firstly, he becomes immediately and unquestioningly respected and feared by all who live or work within the manse; no student or teacher will defy him while they remain at the academy. He may set whatever rules he pleases for the occupants of the academy merely by deciding upon them; all those affected are immediately aware of them, and, although they may break them if they please, they will and must do absolutely anything in their power to ensure they do not get caught or leave any evidence, including any sort of permanent damage to the manse. Secondly, his knowledge and capabilities constantly resound within the walls of his institution, coloring the experiences of everyone occupying it. As long as he spends five hours a week within the academy's walls, all students studying and living within it who have seen him at least once may reduce their training times as though he were personally tutoring them for the entire week; their memories of him motivate and guide their practice, regardless of how skimpy and undistinguished they may be. He may further reduce the training time of one student of his choice by one step merely by publically observing his training for one hour a week; put on the spot, the student strives to excel and be worthy of such grand attention, finding talent within him he did not know he possessed. His job as principal requires that he be everywhere and know everything; whenever something disrupts the normal order of classes, he is immediately aware of exactly what has taken place, and as a simple action at any time, he may teleport himself from any point in the manse to any other point as long as neither point is observed. He is constantly aware of what points would be valid targets for this effect. Finally, within his academy, he may rely on the power of his office; he may substitute Bureaucracy, with any specialties he might possess in Academic Institutions, for any ability he would normally roll.

Unfortunately, this power is matched by a crippling social reserve. The wearer of the hearthstone finds himself awkwardly distant and uncomfortable with all those who work or study at his academy; they find him terrifying and impressive. Under these conditions, conversation is impossible; in one-on-one social interactions, he may communicate no more than five words a month to each student or teacher at the academy. This injunction applies to all forms of communication. He may give speeches or circulate memorandums that reach more than one student or teacher without a restriction on verbosity; however, his words must either be meaningless platitudes or pertain to the administrative business of the academy.

Brain-eating Eye</b> - Telgar

<b>Manse •••••, Water aspect
Trigger: Being given away.

Unusually small for a HearthStone, the Brain-eating Eye is a cabochon-cut stone of blue-veined black. When the item the stone is set in is given away, willingly or unwillingly, the stone's power activates. The Brain-eating Eye whispers to its new holder, who need not be attuned to the Manse from which it came, and slowly breaks down their mental defenses. Every night the Brain-eating Eye is in the posession of someone other then its true owner it forces the holder to roll their Willpower against a difficulty of 1 + the number of nights they have held the stone. Each time the stone wins, the holder's willpower is reduced by 1 for purposes of the contest. When the holder's willpower reaches 0 they are "brain-eaten" by the stone. The stone then ceases its whispering and things seem to return to normal for the holder.
After eating the brain of its holder, the Brain-eating Eye makes its true owner aware that it has completed its task. For as long as the Brain-eating Eye is in the possession of a brain-eaten person any experience earned by the brain-eaten person can be spent by the owner of the stone on whatever traits the holder can normally learn.
Brain-eaten victims of the stone can be communicated with by the true owner of the gem. Whenever the owner wishes, he may enter a light trance and send his thoughts into the mind of the holder of his HearthStone. If he chooses to issue commands in this manner then the victim is at +4 difficulty to resist them and must make a Difficulty 3 Int + Awareness roll to even remember the orders.

Two Cents

Both very interesting stones. I'm glad this theme is getting underway. ~ Seiraryu

I'm really tempted to see a stone here that either actively reduces XP cost of things, or, more potently, actually gives you XP over time. A dream-stone that plays out events while you sleep. You wake up without the usual conviction roll for WP, but you gain XP much faster, as each dream is an adventure and learning-packed dream, to the brim. Thing is, it'd break the game, no matter how much sense it makes. Any ideas on how to deal with this problem, and still get a good stone? -- GregLink

Have it reduce one of the other aspects of learning (one of the actual IC ones) like training time, or needing a tutor. XP is an out of game concept. If you have a stone which removes training times, because you constantly train in your dreams, or whatever, that would be fine. But messing with OOC qualities with IC items is uh ... bad.  :P - Scrollreader
On the other hand, access to training with the Cult of the Illuminated gives you an XP discount, as does the Prodigy Merit, and the Library background. The Dragon Kings have a charm at the pinnacle of one of their paths which repairs an Artifact at the cost of 1 XP. So certain forms of IC abilities do affect this aspect of the rules. However, it's not a simple matter of training harder or gaining more knowledge. The paradigm for affecting XP cost is more a matter of fate and significance than it is of training or knowledge.
If you do such an effect, I recommend several things:
    • Make it a high-level Manse. It shouldn't be within easy reach of all the characters, or it loses its significance.
    • Keep it small. CotI gives a 2 XP discount on some charms, and a 1 XP discount on each level of some abilities. Prodigy does the same for one ability at a time. Library gives a 1 XP discount on all mystical traits, but only at level 5. Before that it just reduces training times.
    • Theme it around Fate, the Games of Divinity, and/or other measures of personal significance. "Script Immunity" is very nearly an IC concept in Exalted when dealing with Fate, and this is what XP deals with: how fast the "story pace" allows characters to improve in certain areas, regardless of how much they train. Or, perhaps more appropriately, determining at what point in the story it is necessary for them to go train and thus improve again.
Your opinion on the function of XP may vary. Mainly, I bring this up because of the existant examples of things which mess with XP in canon. - IanPrice
GregLink, while trying to think up a good hearthstone for the Relay I think I may have come up with a decent mechanic to maybe satiate your desire for an XP discount effect. The attuned user of the stone can discount a student's xp cost to learn his teachings by paying XP of his own. e.g. I'm teaching you the uber kung fu combo. This will cost you 35 xp. If I invest 8 xp into teaching you, then the cost is reduced to 27 xp. It's kinda loose right now and could use some tightening, but it's a start, yeah?- Ambisinister
As written, if I put this hearthstone in say, a dagger. Did you intend for me to be able to use it to learn VBoS, CMoS, Thrown, and Melee charms all at a discount? - Scrollreader Who also did not write this fine artifact, and wonders who did.
Oops. It was late, and I forgot to change the name when I copied the apparatus. Anyway, I have added clarification: one ability at a time, your choice if multiples. However, Martial Arts is still one ability. - IanPrice