The elder Sidereals aren’t the only ones who object to trivial use of Sidereal astrology. The pattern spiders themselves resent constant orders to veer from their normal weaving. Their discontent with a given Sidereal is called Paradox because it is a measure of how much the pattern spiders feel the Exalt’s actions run directly against the natural course of destiny.
There are two ways Sidereals gain Paradox: by using Sidereal astrology at all and by using it in ways that displease the pattern spiders. The first is simple to understand: As far as the spiders are concerned, the best amount of use for Sidereal astrology is “none,” and so, they penalize all Sidereals merely for invoking it. Every time the Sidereal invokes an astrological effect, her player must roll a die. For every success rolled, the Sidereal gains a single point of Paradox. 10s count as two successes on this roll, and so, Sidereals may get more Paradox than they expect from a given effect.
In addition to this, there are certain well-known criteria that affect the spiders’ feelings toward a character. These are included in the Paradox Table and the Duration and Scope tables on pages XX-XX. Certain resplendent destiny effects generate Paradox when invoked. In general, the longer the Sidereal effect and the more individuals it affects, the less the spiders like it. For each point of disfavor the Sidereal incurs, roll an additional die. As with the die his player must roll for invoking the effect at all, 10s add two points of Paradox, so Sidereals incur the especial anger of the pattern spiders at their own risk.
Paradox is more than just a tally of displeasure - when the pattern spiders have been sufficiently displeased, they make their consternation known in more concrete ways, called pattern bite.
The instant a Sidereal accumulates 10 or more points of Paradox, the furious spiders call out to their brothers, who jab at the Exalt’s thread with their fangs. The venom causes a variety of negative effects to the Sidereal, with the intent of persuading her toward greater discretion in her manipulations of destiny. Roll 1d10, and consult the Pattern Bite table below for details.
- Power-Neutralizing Venom: The Sidereal loses all her temporary Essence as her player makes the effect roll and cannot regain Essence for 1-10 days.
- Blunted Mind Venom: The Sidereal loses all her Willpower as her player makes the effect roll and cannot regain Willpower for 1-10 days afterward.
- Burning Muscle Venom: -3 wound penalty for 1-10 weeks. Cannot be neutralized or modified.
- Divine Anaesthetic Venom: -1 to permanent Essence for 1-10 weeks. Cannot raise Essence during this period.
- Resolve-Decaying Venom: The character loses all remaining temporary Virtue points for the remainder of the story.
- Essence-Weeping Venom: +1 mote to the cost of all Charms for 1-10 days, and the character cannot activate Combos or sorcery. The penalty must be paid on each activation of every Charm.
- Visage-Twisting Venom: The character is reduced to Appearance 0 for 1-10 months.
- Black Voyage Venom: The character sleeps for 1-10 days, dreaming terrible nightmares of toil at the Loom of Fate. Nothing can awaken him until then.
- Essence Venom: Take 1-10 dice of aggravated damage.
- Dead Wife Venom: Some living person or creature the character loves dies horribly. The victim must have Essence 1. If the character does not love anyone of Essence 1, the venom lies in wait until the moment the character does love such a thing, then slays it instantly. This is the only pattern spider venom that one can become immune to through repeated exposure.
The spiders are completely incorrigible in their collective pressure tactics, which are an immutable part of their nature. This behavior of the pattern spiders is the most convincing argument that the Maidens used the creation of the pattern spiders as an excuse to stifle the power of their own Exalted. Fortunately, the pattern spiders’ anger goes out with their venom: When a Sidereal suffers pattern bite, immediately decrease her Paradox to 0.