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27 October 2014 @ 02:06 pm
Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom: Crystals  
Also occasionally called hearthstones or magicite, Crystals are natural distillations of elemental Essence into a solid form. They appear in lonely places where Essence flows strongest and the spirits are most active--in the depths of the woods, on the tops of mountains, on the bottoms of lakes, and so on. The Kappa Waste and the Shifting Sands in Pithek are known for their Fire Crystals, the leaves of the Forest of Shadows provide shade to glittering Wood Crystals, and divers descend the Lake of Dreams searching for the Water Crystals that form closer to shore.

Crystals require certain geomantic characteristics to form at all, and these characteristics are rarely, if ever, found close to civilization, despite the best efforts of practitioners of the Art of Geomancy to manipulate the Essence of more accessible locations. As such, Crystals require travel to remote locations and are very expensive because of the hazard, expense, and dependence on conditions of the local dragon lines.

There are three main uses that Crystals are put to in Agarica. The first is that each Crystal's particular Essence is slightly different, and someone who holds the Crystal in hand and crushes it can draw on that Essence for a particular effect. Such effects are incredibly varied and nearly anything is possible, from an Air Crystal that allows the bearer to hold their breath for hours to an Earth Crystal that makes all blows bounce from the bearer's skin, from a Fire Crystal that can turn an enemy's blood to living flame to a Water Crystal that allows the bearer to slip easily into a dreamless sleep or a Wood Crystal that can change the bearer's coloration to match the surrounding terrain. The Essence is temporary, however, and always fades. Some effects last for a week, some for a month, some only for a moment, but none are permanent.

The second is that a sorcerer can draw on the Essence to replenish their reserves directly after evoking a spell. To do so, they must forgo any other beneficial effects the Crystal would normally have, but as sorcery is so energy-intensive, the results are often worth it and rare is the sorcerer of any power who does not have a few Crystals with them for emergencies.

The third is as a power source for artificia. The artifex of the Scarlet City are a nearly-inexhaustible market for fresh Crystals for their experiments, and even the simple bob-ombs used by Muskalan grenadiers function far more efficiently if powered by a Fire Crystal rather than a crude fuse. The Essence within doesn't last forever, though, and the weaker Crystals are used up almost immediately. Artifex across Agarica have searched for a means to extend Crystals' usefulness for lifetimes, but so far with no results for their efforts.

While most Crystals are influenced by the elements, not all of them are. There are some Crystals that form in unhallowed places with unsavory powers, from speaking with corpses to imbuing weapons with the icy touch of the grave, and some Crystals that draw on aspects of the sun, moon, or Star Road. While it is possible to deliberate manipulate the geomancy of an area to create the former--and some of the Circle of Xhamekh have started creating such areas within the Dragon Empire--the latter are far more random, making them much more valuable.

System
For the first and second uses, it works as stated. Crushing the Crystal is a diceless Miscellaneous Action with Speed 2 if it's already in hand and Speed 5 if it has to be dug out of a pouch, and provides either the stated effect or five times its rating in motes. For the third use, a Crystal powers an artifact for one hour (•), one day (••), one week (•••), one month (••••), or six months (•••••).


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There. That works out as a homage to Final Fantasy I, a way to make some of the more problematic hearthstones like the Gem of Adamant Skin usable without breaking the game in half, and a reason for adventurers to head out into wild places far from civilization in search of loot to sell other than endless dungeon-delving. It also means I can get a lot more use out of the published hearthstones, since there are dozens and dozens of them, but in canon Exalted the average character is unlikely to have more than one or two, and be tied to their manses to defend them.

I'm pretty proud how much of Exalted I've been able to pull in and reuse for WotMK. It's saved me an enormous amount of prep time, even with how much work I've put into this.
 
 
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