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[White Elephant for BrilliantRain] To His Honor, Sesus Otilin

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  • [White Elephant for BrilliantRain] To His Honor, Sesus Otilin

    I'm aware that this one is quite late, almost actually late. I'm still not really happy with the amount - or lack - of detail, but I'm out of time to polish it any more. All I can say in my defense is that it's fought me every inch of the way. Mea culpa.

    To His Honor Sesus Otilin, Magistrate by Her Majesty's Warrant,

    Boss -

    Broke into the Ledaal’s villa like you said. Nothing to speak of out of place belowstairs; pantries’d been emptied but receipts were marked with the names of the staff. No points for guessing why they didn’t mention that, but odds are it won’t matter. Jewelry, books, etc, all still in place. Most interesting thing around in the apartments was some pretty cute lingerie in her size; just goes to show you can’t judge a bird by her feathers.

    Workshop, though, had something interesting. Looked to me like all the experiments’d been shut down or put in storage for the long term - sealed jars, that kind of thing. Everything spic and span there, but it looked like she’d done some work in the office AFTER cleaning up there. Copies of her notes enclosed and why you’re getting a brick rather than a letter; You’ll wanna have the King of Resting Bitchface take a look at them for the spellside uptake, but I’ll bet another six months on my sentence the keystones are gonna be the bundle of old letters. Couldn’t read ‘em all, but the three that were in dialects I can make out look like a pattern to me:

    First letter was a report from some junior Monk up north, talkin’ about a battle she’d been in ‘suppressing heresy’. Early part of the letter is about the battle itself, mentions of sorcerer-shamans casting lightning, opening voids in the earth, summoning weapons of flame, but real clear that they didn’t have any kind of Exalted might aside from that. ‘Moving like mortals to earth bound’, as Baldie had it.

    Second part talks about seeing a bit between one of the shamans and a dying tribal fighter, after Baldie had caught a pair of broken legs and sat down for a while. Fighter called the shaman over, talking like he wanted to give her something. Fighter’s buddy got all ‘nooo don’t do it man it’s not worth it’, but fighter insists. Shaman lays two fingers on the fighter’s brow, says something in a language Baldie didn’t have, and fighter dissolves into red sparks that pour themselves into some kind of little charm he’d been carrying. Shaman picks it up, says something too quiet to catch, and all of a sudden he’s holding a glowing red sword, just like the one fighter’d been carrying.

    Second letter is a journal, a travelogue of a husband escorting his wife to the shrines of Faxai province. Seems he was some kind of natural philosopher, or liked to think of himself as one, and noticed that the natives of an island he visited on the way there all had tentacles growing out of the back of their neck, and could do what he called ‘spirit magic’. Pretty gruesome details about going back once the kid was off to school and cutting a few open to see how they ticked.

    If this guy’s still alive, we’ll want to keep an eye on him. He gets way too loving and tender about the screams.

    What he found for all his torture was that the tentacles didn’t just pop out of the back of the neck, they were all through the body like tree roots in the ground. The tentacles and the natives they were in both felt what the other did, but he says he managed to keep them alive separate ‘long enough to establish the principle’. He thought that the tentacles were what was actually doing the magic, and the natives were just hosts they were growing on, like moss.

    Third letter is an envoy making excuses to Her Redness for a failed negotiation, trying to leverage a new satrapy. Bits and pieces about bribes, blackmail, spying, etc. Swearing blind every which way but up that he’d poured every ounce of power he could into them, every dirty trick he had, and it all just bounced off.

    His best guess, or at least what he was trying to sell as his best guess to save his tender lily bottom from a Cynis Reformatorium, was that the magic springwater the place was famous for didn’t just let people see through the magic kind of illusion, it worked on lies and fancy wordwork, too, so everytime he tried to do anything the local yokel he was talking to knew exactly what he was trying to pull.

    Put them all together and I think our missing sorceress must’ve been trying to put together some kind of way to empower mortals, since all three of her main notes are one way or the other about somebody getting a supernatural ability without a divine blessing or the Dragons’ favor. The way everything was shut down, I expect we’re just looking at a research trip that she didn’t wanna talk about, but given how many fanatics walk around with shaved heads, and how many more don’t, that’s not a guarantee.

    Anyway, I’ll stick around at the inn I sent this from until you know if you want something else from the place.
    - Slowfinger Lo

    "It seems clear, then, that these barbarous heretics draw their power from these tokens, the tormented and stolen souls they have tricked from their fallen brothers..."

    Soul-tokens are created when an individual possessing the correct thaumaturgical gift is present at the death of another. With the dying person's willing knowledge and consent, the thaumaturge can condense their soul into a small object of personal significance upon their person, transforming it into a soulsteel vessel that holds their higher soul in much the same fashion as a ysal crystal. An single charm appropriate to the dead person's skills and personality is selected, and a condition determined by the dead soul is set, such as reading from the love-letter that they had carried by their heart. When the condition is met, the thaumaturge may call on that ability, with the mote costs of the charm paid by the ghost and the willpower costs, if any, by the thaumaturge. If a fatigue system of some sort is being houseruled, charm activations should also impose fatigue costs. At the storyteller's discretion, some charms may be supercharged to the level of offensive sorcery by paying one or more health-levels per activation.

    This trick breaks the not-quite-explicit ban on having thaumaturgy be anything but an insignificant confidence game that happens to actually be magic rather than just sleight of hand, but it does give mortals a relatively non-rare way of hitting above their dictated weight class. All it really takes is courage and self-sacrifice from the dying, their being willing to give up Lethe, and cynicism aside, courage has never been a rare virtue.

    Inspired by the functioning of sorcery from the comic The Red Star.

    "Fibers run along spine. Integrated at each vertebra. Mingled fluids. Sensory response continues. Full reaction to hot poker, long, loud, little breathy rattle at the end. Beautiful."

    'Tendril-selves', as they're known to the tribes that host them, are minor elementals of water. Of considerably less than human intelligence, they still possess basic spirit magics, including the ability to infiltrate the bodies of ordinary animals and bond with their spirits. While bonded sharks and the like are even less strong-willed and the bonded pair is almost always directed by the elemental component, bonded humans tend to predominate in their pairings.

    'Tend to' is important language; the additional set of instincts does alter the priorities of the combined gestalt.

    Take a magic version of Sacculina and cross it with Star Trek's Trill. Surprisingly, not evil. Not much more to say than that.

    Inspired by the Ijad from Mobile Frame Zero.

    "The tales told of the matter in this land are thus: That when Rhaus Wondermaker came to the city he found it full of lies and deception, with ten thousand illusions lying cloaked around the great dry crag of the acropolis. Thence he took himself to the top of the rock and there began to carve a spring..."

    The Well of Truth is a spring of clear water welling from solid stone, enchanted in a long-ago sorcerous working. Illusions of any kind fall away under it; a Raksha sprinkled with its waters will be forced into something like a true form, to evanesce into nothing in a world that finds him impossible. The transformed victim of a witch's curse, immersed, will be restored to his natural form.

    And those who drink of it regularly cannot lie to themselves, and are immune to charms that would seek to pressure them into doing so. Since this includes most social influence charms, the default rule should be that arguments made against them cannot be augmented by excellencies and other dice effects, nor by charms which simply introduce reactions.

    As a GM, I tended to find that the factor that made it hardest for mortals to resist the will of Exalts wasn't in combat, but socially. In a fight, teamwork and action economy could make a big difference, but in a debate, there was no defense that was really possible. Dicewomp was just too much. Thus, no-sale. Make the players actually make arguments.

    Not inspired by anything in particular, but probably a good example of a larger class of 'magic widget grants a local effect' cases.
    Last edited by Valles; 01-10-2018, 07:16 PM.

    Iä! Iä! Moe fthagn!

  • #2
    I think you did a good job with these. Thanks!