The Movements of Creation - An Essence Elemental Overhaul

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Smoke And Honey
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Though the scholarship of the elemental inhabitants of Creation be confused and fragmented, here I shall describe them thusly:
 Those powers I name Serpents are that which have received the blessing of the dragon’s blood of the original Singer of Creation, and thus have ascended to that form. Of their number, most hold positions of divinity, as it is within the Bureaucracy of Heaven that the power of the Emerald Mother has been most preserved, but others have found their own ways to draconic shape.
 Those powers I name Singers are twofold: Either individuals I know of who have attained power, or elementals who propagate themselves in thinking form in numbers enough to be considered peoples of their own.

Finally, the Strains of Creation are those elementals which arise by natural processes from the Essence of the world, and for the most part subside once more into it when their task is done. Some few ascend beyond this level, however, to claim more permanent existence and greater thought, and these I have noted amongst the ranks of Singers.
The Elementals of Creation are a fascinating tool to show how Creation and its Essence-based structure of reality works. Powerful nature-spirits being borne from imbalances and fluxes in the world, dedicated in some part to re-establishing a harmony. Forces of nature given sentience--hurricanes that sing arias, the reclamation of moldering ruins, and far stranger can be counted amount the Elemental Courts. Yet in mechanical aspects, the Elementals are treated as the odd spirit out. The nature of their various Courts is rarely alluded to, let alone explained. Sorcerers who seek to summon and bind powerful spirits must achieve ever-higher Circles for ever-greater Demons and Dead, yet the Terrestrial Circle is all that is required to attempt to summon any Elemental, even the most powerful of Dragons.

With my partner-in-crime, QafianSage, we decided to attempt to overhaul the Elemental system to fit the structure of Demons and Dead, dividing Elementals into three key types, listed above, and began creating a series of homebrewed Elementals that can easily fit into various campaigns and act as intriguing story hooks on their own. We'll be posting them every so often as they're finished, and we welcome anyone who has any questions, concerns, comments, or who just wants to know more or say "Oh this was neat" to feel free to say hi!

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Kohara, Auspicious Director of Night-Fogs and Veiling Mist
Elemental Dragon of Air
Deity of the Third Rank
Serpent

Kohara is considered a strange one amongst the Heavenly Bureaucracy. Despite the high status of his portfolio, he keeps his home in Creation rather than the Celestial City. Despite his personal power, he refuses to accept advancement to the Fourth Rank. Despite his age, he persists in his association with mortals - and not only the Exalted; the dragon has been known to give sanctuary to entire mortal tribes within his manse-home of Gupt-Mahal. Kohara cares little for the gossip of his peers. He has found a place in life he enjoys and intends to stay there, exerting himself primarily to maintain his position - a task which is not too hard, as his utter lack of ambition makes him useful to his superiors.

As an elemental dragon, Kohara has a great and glorious shape, a sinuous five-clawed dragon with silver-grey scales whose pale mane has grown long enough that it seems almost a second tail, streaming out behind him. Mist sheds from his sides and spreads as a mantle about him, and when he rises in glory he is attended by marsh-lights and pale flames. Most, however, encounter him in the form of an old man with long white hair and beard, dressed as a vagabond and playing a haunting reed flute, or a beautiful youth in fine dress, carrying a curved daiklave of blue jade, trailing white ribbons which fade into trails of mist. It is whispered in some circles that the blade Mistweaver is but an imitation of this original weapon. In spite of his divine portfolio, in manner he is jovial, outgoing and occasionally mischievous, offering a drink - which may be a foul concoction barely fit for monkeys, or a fine rice wine depending on his mood - to any he considers in need of it. He is as free with his aid as with his criticism, particularly of hubris or cruelty, and spares little thought for the rank of its recipient; another reason that many within the Celestial Bureaucracy consider him an eccentric.

The dragon makes his home in an ancient manse named Gupt-Mahal, constructed in the High First Age, though in humble enough style - at least for that age of wonders - that in the present day it can seem merely a palatial temple carved of fine woods and dark stone. It is built upon an island in a lake in the Northeast at the base of a mist-wreathed valley and as such its climate is cool, deepening to a crisp chill in winter, when snow blankets the grounds and brings a hush upon the roofs. There is no bridge or boat to the island, but if Kohara so he can send out his will-o’-the-wisp servants to show one of the ever-shifting paths where the manse makes it possible to walk across the water. This is but the least of the manse’s miracles, however. The manse stands where mist creeps low over still water - and that place need not always be its accustomed location. Given guidance, such as by prayer or knowledge of the location, Kohara can cause the manse to appear in such places, so that he can easily travel across the breadth of Creation, though his reach is still limited. Nevertheless, Gupt-Mahal has been known to appear to those lost in fog, offering sanctuary for the night or longer, though many shun this strange hospitality in fear that the palace is a haunt of devils seeking to trick and devour them. Those who accept his hospitality, though, will be waited on by fox-fires and servants of mist, and find their time there most agreeable, disturbed only by the coming and going of Kohara’s subordinate gods, and whatever other guests are present at the same time. Fighting is permitted only in the duelling ring the dragon keeps, though he is often happy to hone his own skills in Coiling Mist Style and the Forgotten Vale Melody against those of his guests as accept his challenge.

Summoning (3/7): As a god and an elemental dragon, Kohara can be summoned only with his consent, and even then only by sorcerers of the Celestial Circle, such is his power. He has not given such permission in long ages, though he is more diligent than most gods when it comes to answering prayers, and he may provide the services of his subordinate gods of mist and mystification for limited terms and specific purposes. He often wanders outside his manse, and may sometimes be encountered on lonely roads playing his flute or singing songs in languages no longer spoken. He may also be met by prayer, and frequently stops by his temples - invariably small places a little way away from mortal habitation, and often a slightly shabby look about them - to chat with his worshippers, who pray for travellers to find their way safely along roads at night, and for bandits and attackers to be misled.

And yet, for all his kindness and joviality, Kohara has his secrets. Beneath the rugs and carpets of Gupt-Mahal are seals of star-iron and black stone, beyond which are dark vaults which have not been breached in an age. Exactly what is kept down there is a closely-guarded secret, but some few ancient gods within the Bureau of Heaven recall that his appointment came in the earliest days of the High First Age, and his office is subordinate not to the Shogun-Regent of Seasons and Weather, but to the office of Nasri, the General of the Aerial Legion. Finally, there is a last peculiarity of the dragon’s manse: The mists which perpetually ring its hidden valley prevent any scrying or divine perception within - even prayers cannot travel out of the manse. Kohara is a pleasant fellow with no particular offensive qualities, beyond perhaps a distaste for an overabundance of tact - but was he always so? Is he truly so?
Last edited by Smoke And Honey on Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Yamagame, the Mountain Kings
Elementals of Earth
Singer

 Where a mountain’s roots reach deep into Creation and its slopes are untainted by the touch of death, demons or the fae, it will slowly grow sacred, becoming a sympathetic image of the Imperial Mountain; a Pole of Earth in miniature. Posts overseeing such mountains are highly sought-after in the Heavenly Bureaucracy, as the resonance of such a mountain makes it ideal for the building of a fine Sanctum - even Celestial gods may seek such a portfolio to add onto their own, for the sake of a vacation home in Creation. They often have competition, however, because such mountains can be parent-homes to the Yamagame.

 Over time, Essence gathers and condenses in the heart of the mountain, fed by pure waters from snowmelt and soothed by the deep motions of the earth. In a deep cave there forms an egg of stone, which hatches eventually into a Yamagame. These elementals have the form of tortoises with shells of stone drawn from their parent - a volcanic Yamagame will have basalt, while a Mountain King born from a low, wooded rise might be softer. They hatch at the size of a large dog, but grow quickly to the size of a horse or larger; though Yamagame are rare, among their number it is not uncommon for them to reach the size of yeddim, and the very greatest are larger still, seeming like living hills in their own right. Many also take on a secondary elemental aspect corresponding to their mountains - sea-mounts may hatch island-turtles, while verdant hills sprout plants from their backs and the blood of volcanic kings sears within them, withering the grass they walk upon.

 Besides their great size and fortitude, however, Yamagame have powers of their own. They are naturally attuned to the dragon lines of their parent-home, and can sense the balance of Essence within with a keenness almost unsurpassed. With meditation, they can sink deeper into the living web of the mountain, their consciousness spreading through stone, cloud and water, leaf, bird and beast, until they are almost omnipresent - and many spend a great deal of time this way, as their attitudes tend towards the ascetic, the meditative and the contemplative. They have few direct powers - besides the inherent potency of a hundred-ton stone tortoise - but with time they can exert their distributed will to shift the disposition of their mountain-home, cursing those who offend them with landslides, poor soil and animal attacks, or sculpting beautiful grottos from the living stone by the action of water and wind. That said, some may develop further powers, particularly those with a secondary elemental aspect. Volcanic Yamagame are sometimes called ‘dragon turtles’, for their searing ashen breath, while verdant Mountain Kings may be able to project clouds of healing or poisonous spores from their symbiotic growth. It is also far from unknown for these elementals to develop the ability to take on humanoid form - almost universally gigantic or at least notably large, and rarely comely, though many have a rugged charm or a relaxed, calming air of wisdom about them despite their craggy appearance.

 Summoning (2/4): Many - indeed, most - Yamagame either seek out or find themselves positions within the Terrestrial Bureaucracy, becoming the god of their mountain in name as well as in practical fact. Such Mountain Kings are exempt from summoning by sorcerers unless they willingly submit. It is also well-known that it is not uncommon for Yamagame to become Elemental Dragons. However, sorcerers of the terrestrial circle can still conjure lesser Mountain Kings, and do so for their prowess in geomancy and the rearranging of landscapes, as well as their potential as spies or surveyors - though each King can only claim a certain area as their own, and cannot move that claim thereafter. Those who fail to do so invariably dissolve once more into elemental Essence at the end of their term of service. 

 Greater Mountain Kings can be summoned by sorcerers who have attained the Celestial Circle, who do so for the same purposes, or for the sake of gigantic living weapons-platforms from which to besiege cities and wreak destruction. The very mightiest are only within the reach of Primordial Circle Sorcerers, though most Yamagame who reach this level of power become Elemental Dragons.

 
Last edited by Smoke And Honey on Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Eriyum, the Blazewalkers
Elementals of Fire
Strain

 A spark falls amidst dry leaves, and flames are kindled in the forest. They rise higher, embrace the trees, and before long the woods are aflame, columns of smoke rising to the heavens. Men and beasts flee - and behind them come the Eriyum, born from the outpouring of fire. They rise as colossi, crowned by smoke and swirling sparks, of a height with the trees, bodiless but taking form as great sheets of living flame. They are like children in the dawning of the world, their brief existences filled with wonder and curiosity. They cannot survive outside the blistering heat of the wildfire, and so they run onwards as fast as it can carry them, fling sparks ahead to speed its spread, and as they go they take on the forms of those that flee - birds with wings of flame, flame-stags with antlers of black smoke, and colossi with the shapes of men, running on eagerly to see what there is to see of the world.

 Their lives burn short and bright; as the fires begin to die with nothing more to burn, or they are fought back with sorcery or directed rivers, the Blazewalkers quickly begin to wither. The most cunning amongst them, though, who have seen and learned enough, may foresee their doom before it comes, and gather heat about them for the long wait ahead. By doing so they become pariahs amongst their short-lived kind, spoilsports and killjoys stealing all the heat and rejecting any kind of fun - but when the fires pass, their gleaming red pearls can be found in the leaf litter, flames banked against a long winter without fuel.

 There they remain, for the most part, little more than dull, reddish stones with a pretty sheen, notably warm to the touch. The spirit within slumbers and dreams of a glorious reawakening, parcelling out its gathered heat through its long hibernation. Often, they have failed to gather all they need to survive until the forest has re-grown enough to sustain them for another brief life of discovery, and their pearls fade to nothing in enough time. Sometimes they succeed, and years hence a pearl will spark beneath leaf-litter dried by a slow heat, and there will be another wildfire, and Eriyum will once again walk Creation. But often, if someone wise in the ways of spirits is nearby, men will be sent to comb the ashes for such pearls - both to prevent new fires, and because the pearls themselves are valuable. To sorcerers and occultists they are useful components in artifice and magical workings, though the Essence cannot be wrested from them so easily as a hearthstone, and there are many who will pay a pretty price for such resources. 

Summoning (3/4): Eriyum are not common, because great quantities of wood Essence must be present to fuel the outpouring of fire that is their birth. Thankfully, this means that they are almost unheard-of in cities or other urban area, though devastating fires can still sometimes birth a Blazewalker within a city’s walls. These are always occasions of tragedy. Sorcerers principally summon Blazewalkers for the sake of forcing them to transform into their pearl-forms, but some also use them as weapons of terror, casting them into bonfires to awaken them so that they rage and destroy through the holdings of their enemies. This can happen by accident as well, if an ignorant individual takes what they believe to be nothing more than a pretty stone as a souvenir, and happenstance pitches them into a hearth.
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Sifuku-Jira, the Tidal Harbingers
Elementals of Water
Strain

In the Age of Sorrows, ancient places of suffering can be found dotting the landscape--and beneath the waves, as well. Tragic shipwrecks, sights of great battles, or even stranger things such as elemental graveyards might begin to coalesce deathly Essence around themselves, threatening to form Shadowlands or even Abyssal demesnes. There are tales across Creation’s coasts of great spirits of strange waters, whose bones bring both bounty and death. The Sifuku-jira are a powerful water elemental, rarely formed and rarely seen, whose bones feed villages decades after their death.

Sifuku-jira coalesce in response to large amounts of deathly Essence coagulating deep below the ocean. As the deathly Essence attempts to solidify and gather into a proper Shadowlands or demesne, the currents of Water Essence it gathers can become one of the Tidal Harbingers. These great dragons take the form of the skeleton of a gigantic aquatic creature, often a whale but sometimes an enormous shark, fish or other drifting leviathan. When a Harbinger forms, it consumes the Essence that was coagulating, becoming a vessel for large amounts of water and necrotic Essence, which clouds the nearby sea with red or black, a stain of bold ink upon the deep. Once it has formed, the Harbinger will seek the shore, attempting to carry its great payload of Essence to land, where it stands less chance of polluting the currents. They are eyeless, but have an innate sense for both the dragon-lines of Creation, and the souls of the living, and it requires concentrations of both to complete its task.

The oncoming of a Harbinger is marked first by the great concentrations of fish and sea-birds which follow in its wake and scout ahead. It is through their eyes that it seeks its aim: Not a city, for there it would be but one concern amongst many, but a hamlet or fishing-town where its arrival is unlikely be made trivial by some other great happening. This, combined with its sense for dragon-lines, directs it towards a place where mortals gather near a confluence of Creation’s veins, often a sacred place in its own right. After the birds and the fish comes the black or red tide, and a stillness upon the face of the sea, and finally the emergence of the whale-creature itself, surging through the waves to cast itself upon the shore. Thus begins the next phase of its existence, as it draws the Essence it has gathered with it, and condenses it within its bones, collapsing upon the strand. The duty now falls to the inhabitants of the hamlet to seal this power away so it can slowly disperse into the veins of Creation without harm, usually by interring them within a sacred burial mound, or otherwise sanctifying the remains.

If this is not done, however, whether from ignorance, misfortune or greed - for the bones of a Sifuku-jira contain rare quantities of mingled water and necrotic Essence, and are of great value to sorcerers and thaumaturges alike - the bones will not rest easy. The spirit itself is gone, but the bones will call to the sea and to the darker waters of the Underworld, and those places surrounding the defiled bones of the Tidal Harbingers become cursed with flooding, tidal waves and Shadowlands. Still, though the Sifuku-jira are rare, the spectacular nature of their arrival is often enough to ensure reverence, and in time prayer and propitiation can cause a new spirit to arise from the Essence within. These ‘whalebone gods’ are neither elementals nor Dead, but form in the image of their worshippers with human thought and reason, and often seek responsibility for them within the local Terrestrial Courts - though this can itself bring trouble, if all vacant positions are currently filled, for a whalebone god inherits something of the pridefulness of its progenitor. It was born from a grand sacrifice for a worthy cause; how can this be said to be anything but the most notable of lineage?

Summoning (3/5): Although the Sifuku-jira are far from common, their spectacular and singular nature means that they are quite well-known in tales along the coasts of Creation. Legends of their coming are passed down from generation to generation, and from village to village - though these tales lack much in terms of details on the true nature of the Harbingers. Sorcerers occasionally summon Sifuku-jira in wartime to geomantically sabotage key infrastructure, levy calamities upon their foes heads, or as weapons of terror and destruction at sea, for the elementals are powerful and can command their attendant fish and fowl to harry ships while the osseous leviathan smashes through their timbers. Some even summon them for the sake of killing them and making use of their bones. Such is their power, however, that the Celestial Circle is necessary to shape them whole cloth, though a Terrestrial sorcerer may catalyse the formation of a Tidal Harbinger if they discover an appropriate site where water and deathly Essence mingle.
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Jukai, the Final Guests
Elementals of Wood
Strain

There was an old temple, once, out in the forest. Then the Immaculates came and brought the god’s image to the shrine in town, the better to oversee its worship. But hunters and woodcutters say that a figure has been seen walking the overgrown path to the old temple, and movement within the sanctum. Some wonder whether a new priest has come, to take up worship in the old way. But the wise shake their heads - this is the last pilgrim to the temple, and a sign that it shall soon be gone.

When a building is abandoned and left to rot in a place of verdancy, a Jukai may arise. These spirits take a humanoid form, constructing bodies of vines and roots, hair of shoots and robes of leaves and moss. From out of deep woods and marshes they come like old, bent pilgrims, walking along old roads and pathways until they reach a house or other building which has been left to rot without care or maintenance. Often, these are abandoned places; the ruins of villages or broken temples. Sometimes, they may mistake an ill-maintained house for such a place, and make a visitation upon an inhabited place by accident, and then the residents must put on a great show of care, hospitality and action, often singing songs and telling raucous stories around ‘Grandfather’, so the elemental will realize that their home is not for the wild to claim. They have a gentle, if stubborn, demeanor and will rarely stay if they see their services are not required

If they are not driven out, however, Jukai quickly take up residence in whatever place they have found, and in their wake comes extraordinary fertility. Molds and mosses grow with incredible speed, while shoots and vines break up roads and pull down walls in a matter of weeks. During this time, the elemental will spend much of its time within or around the building, often either remaining still in a manner which often reminds observers of meditation, or play-acting scenes of mortal life - sitting beside a cold hearth growing green with lichens, or sweeping leaf-litter and dirt over the threshold. Eventually, though, the Jukai will consider its task complete, and find a corner or a quiet place. There it will sit or stand, and slowly transform, becoming the gnarled and twisted trunk of a new tree, rooted amidst what can scarcely be recognized as ruins.

Jukai are a relatively common sight in those parts of creation ravaged by war or other disasters, claiming for their own the dwelling-places of the dead or the absent. It is custom in many places to ensure that one’s house is swept and cleaned by neighbours if one must leave on long journeys, lest an elemental mistake it for an abandoned one. Occasionally, if a Guest’s new residence is close enough to habitation to receive semi-regular visitors of its own, it may slowly become more aware of the world around it, developing towards true sapience.

Such elementals sometimes choose to move on rather than rooting themselves when their task is complete, but others may remain as guardian spirits of a sort, often forming close bonds with a neighbouring community. Their sanguine temperaments suit them well to a hermit’s life, and many end up as companions or patrons to shamans and spirit-workers, offering their thoughts and, sometimes, their great physical might to their aid. Jukai grow larger and stronger with age, some reaching twice the height of a man - though such mighty spirits often become members of the Terrestrial Bureaucracy, or establish spiritual fiefdoms of their own. In times of crisis, they may even lend their powers of fertility to the growth of crops and other sustenance, though they can do nothing to combat drought and other such disasters at their source.

Summoning (Obscurity 2/4): The Final Guests are not often summoned by Sorcerers for their natural abilities, though occasionally they may send them to perform sapping, to weaken enemy fortifications, or to hasten the growth of plant life for one purpose or another. Some elementalists have experimented with training them as soldiers, taking advantage of their dense hardwood bodies and their great strength, and arming them with iron hammers and other such weapons. It is more common, though, for Jukai to act as allies, tutors and anchors for sorcerers - those who have grown wise and thoughtful are often ready conversationalists on the nature of Wood Essence, as their meditations give them insight into such things.

Sidebar: Grave Developments
It is far from unknown for Jukai to come to bring new growth to places depopulated by disaster, and if such tragedies have created shadowlands there are a few possibilities for what results. One is that the growth the Guests bring overrides the nascent Necrotic Essence of the shadowland, closing it before it can fully form. Another is that a ghost which arises might merge with the elemental, becoming a twisted creature of mingled death and life.

Finally, the Jukai may remain itself, but become corrupted by the Necrotic Essence, metastasizing into a spirit of rot and decay rather than new growth and renewal. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as such Guests most often simply seed molds and fungi around their charge, and collapse into fetid heaps of rotten wood when their task is complete. However, if efforts at restoration are made before this process is complete, the corrupted Jukai may become enraged, and lash out at workers or builders, spreading fungal diseases and cursing their creations to rot and decay - and if that fails, their strength often suffices to drive off any would-be resettlers.
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All of these elementals seem very cool. I especially like the Jukai - the imagery of the abandoned house given over to greenery is compelling.

Trying to get a sense of the homebrew summoning rules from the references to them in Elementals - it sounds like it switches elemental summoning from creating new elementals to summoning existing ones, adds power limits to first/second circle summoning, and provides some rules for elementals with setting weight to avoid being summoned?

For some reason my brain got attached to the reference to Coiling Mist Style. Do you have any thoughts on it's mechanics or did you just come up with the name, and where would you fall on the spectrum of offended to excited if I tried to write rules for it?
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AutXAutY wrote: Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:43 pm Trying to get a sense of the homebrew summoning rules from the references to them in Elementals - it sounds like it switches elemental summoning from creating new elementals to summoning existing ones, adds power limits to first/second circle summoning, and provides some rules for elementals with setting weight to avoid being summoned?
So, the idea is that Strains are created with a summoning, generally, while any elemental can be summoned from elsewhere in Creation - provided that the elemental in question has consented to being summoned and/or bound (these are separate permissions). They don't have to be entirely willing (e.g. you can beat it out of them or win a certain term of service from them in a game of chance or a contest), but they can't be forced by, say, a psyche effect to agree. Elementals with authority over other elementals can consent on their behalf (e.g. the leader of an Ifrit mercenary company could consent to the whole company being summoned).
AutXAutY wrote: Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:43 pm For some reason my brain got attached to the reference to Coiling Mist Style. Do you have any thoughts on it's mechanics or did you just come up with the name, and where would you fall on the spectrum of offended to excited if I tried to write rules for it?
So, I've written up Coiling Mist Style for 3e, and I've been planning to update it to Essence for a little while now. If you're interested, though, I'd be happy to sling a link to the document your way and let you at it - though I don't promise I won't offer commentary! :D
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There are a lot of charms in Coiling Mist Style, so I had to cut several, and combine a few. Also do 5 instead of the 4 most Essence martial arts use.
I ask for know promise to avoid commentary, and would rather ask for a promise to provide commentary.

Coiling Mists Style
Weapons: Coiling Mists Style may be used with any light or medium melee weapon that does not have the smashing tag. While using Coiling Mists Style, the martial artist may ignore penalties from fog or smoke.
Armor: Coiling Mists Style is compatible with Light armor. Its practitioners make use of a special garment known as a mistcloak; a cloak of many flowing strips of light, gauzy material colored in many pale shades, from grey to almost-white to faint blues. It provides Soak as a set of light armor due to distraction and the breaking-up of the user’s outline, provided that the wearer is actively using Coiling Mist Style.
Complementary Abilities: Stealth, Occult

Blades In Fog
Prerequisites: Close Combat 2, Complementary Abilities 3
Commit 1m for the scene. Targets of your Withering attacks must calculate their Defense with the lower of Awareness and their usual ability. If the attack hits, they suffer a -1 penalty to Defense until their next turn
Mastery (Celestial): You may make Withering (but not Decisive) attacks out to short range.

Sea of Clouds and Haze
Prerequisites: Close Combat 2, Complementary Abilities 5, Blades in the Fog
Take a simple action costing 1m to generate a cloud of fog out to short range. This fog imposes a −3 penalty on visual Awareness checks and a −1 penalty on other relevant Awareness checks.
Gale winds or noonday desert heat can disperse this supernatural fog in as little as (Enlightenment) turns. Even more powerful effects, such as hurricanes and volcanic heat, can disperse the fog instantly, while stunted area-effect Charms and spells can carve gaps and paths through it. Otherwise it stays in place until the end of the scene.
The practitioner may spend a mote on each subsequent turn without using an action to spread the mist. Each subsequent activation either extends the blanket of fog out an additional range band — up to a maximum of (Essence/2, rounding up) additional range bands — or fills in all carved-away sections (wielder’s choice).
Mastery (Celestial): The penalty on Awareness rolls also applies to attacks against the martial artist. For enemies reliant on sight this is the -3 penalty, but for those with other senses beyond human (dogs, bats, any Exalt with a charm specifically enhancing a non-sight sense), they suffer the lesser -1 penalty. If another source is applying a penalty to Awareness, use the highest penalty

Coiling Mist Form
Prerequisites: Close Combat 3, Complementary Abilities 5, Sea of Clouds and Haze
Commit 1m for the scene on step 1. Add +1 to Defense. Blades in the Fog now costs 0m (Refund the cost if already activated), and gives an additional +1 accuracy to Withering attacks. Additionally, she may attempt stealth even without cover, so long as any observers are suffering at least a -1 visual penalty.
Finally, if she is slain while in Coiling Mist Form she may choose to cause her body to dissipate into fading mist and fog, leaving no physical remains behind, though her possessions linger.

Shadows In Mist
Prerequisites: Close Combat 4, Complementary Abilities 6, Coiling Mist Form, Essence 2
Commit 1 mote as an action. This Charm can only be used when within mist, fog or smoke which inflicts at least a -2 visual penalty. The practitioner weaves that mist into a simulacrum of herself or another character she is familiar with. This duplicate cannot take actions, but can appear to, and can avoid attacks using the martial artist’s Defense. Attempting to tell the duplicate from the original requires a fortitude+awareness roll at a difficulty of (Finesse). If successfully struck, the duplicate vanishes. However, the duplicate can be used as the origin of Withering attacks the martial artist makes with Blades in the Fog. When she creates a duplicate, the martial artist may reflexively Outmaneuver her foe to Build Power. The martial artist may spend additional motes to summon additional duplicates at a rate of two per mote spent, up to a maximum of her Essence + 5 total duplicates.
Mastery (Celestial): You may spend 2m on step 2 of an attack against you to swap places with a duplicate. This causes the attack to miss, but destroys the duplicate.

Hundred Devils Labyrinth
Prerequisites: Close Combat 4, Complementary Abilities 8, Shadows in the Mist, Essence 3
Spend 1m on step 1 of a social influence action against someone suffering a visual penalty of at least -2. She may affect all characters within the fog or only some, according to her whims.
Characters whose Resolve she exceeds perceive shapes and hallucinations in the fog reflecting the social influence - he might perceive the half-seen forms of demons and monsters, or the face of a loved one. By default hallucinations are generated by the mind and Intimacies of the target, not the practitioner’s knowledge, but if she so desires she may produce specific illusions instead.
If any target turns their eyes from these visions, they also turn their eyes away from combat. The bonus dice the martial artist gains may apply to all attacks made against anyone who ignores the influence for the rest of the scene
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QafianSage
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AutXAutY wrote: Wed Aug 25, 2021 11:21 pm snip
So, I think it's probably best to move this to a new thread, rather than derail this one. That said, I think if I were porting Coiling Mist Style over to Essence, I'd focus on 'feints' as Build Power actions, rather than doing the slightly-clunky 'sort of Withering attacks but not quite' thing.
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Smoke And Honey
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Yukiuso, the Laughing Cold
Elementals of Air
 
On a winter’s night, a man prays in his house for deliverance from the cold. The snow has fallen thick and heavy, and blocked his doors, and if he were to climb from a window he would sink so deep into it he would never see the sun again. The wind howls above his roof, and his food is running out. He prays, and the wind takes his prayer and twists it into soft, mocking laughter. A yukiuso is born.

 They are cruel creatures, not by habit or choice, but by nature, formed of the response of elemental Air to human desperation. Often mistaken for ghosts, they are formless, at most appearing as a sinuous gust of wind-borne mist, and unlike most elementals they are shunned by the Sun, being listed not amongst the wholesome creatures of Creation, but amongst the creatures of darkness. Therefore they hide in the day, lairing in abandoned homes, caves or beneath the snow and ice, only to emerge at night, especially when storms and blizzards rage overhead. They cannot stand warm temperatures, and abhor fire of all kinds, but their desire is always to lead or trick mortal beings out into their embrace.
 
To this end, the yukiuso have devised many tricks. One of the most common is mimicry of voices; many a Northern family has heard the begging of a desperate traveller at their doors, and have had to make the hard choice between honoring hospitality and risking their own lives, for opening the door might allow the yukiuso to steal all the warmth of the fire and lay them bare to its malign attentions. At other times, the laughing cold may use its wind-body to shape figures from snow, deceiving people with the shapes of people or animals requiring aid, only to come upon them and consume their life. Finally, there is the weapon for which the yukiuso is named; its laughter. One who hears its strange cackling finds that their thoughts and actions become slow and sluggish, and over time they begin to succumb to exhaustion and sleepiness, as if in the later stages of hypothermia.
 
Once a victim is in the yukiuso’s power, they can normally expect little mercy. The elemental is a spirit of killing cold, and they wield this as a weapon, draining their victims of all warmth until their corpses fall in the snow. Sometimes, the yukiuso may instead force itself down a victim’s throat and freeze them from the inside. This possession is short-lived and provides no particular control of the host, but having learned the shape of their tongue and breath, the yukiuso will forever after be able to perfectly imitate the victim’s voice. What drives the creatures to these extremes is something of a mystery. Yukiuso do not speak, save to imitate voices for the sake of mocking their captors or deceiving their prey, and there has been no observed need for them to feed or consume to survive - though elementals with more victims do tend to grow stronger. The general consensus is that this is simply their nature - and the yukiuso laugh on.
 
Summoning (1/4 in the North, 3/5 elsewhere): Yukiuso are reviled by the proper-thinking courts of gods and elementals alike, though in some places they are employed under the table as assassins and killers. They fall in readily with Raksha princedoms, and frequently become Raksha or Wyld-beasts themselves. Wicked sorcerers summon them for much the same purposes, sending them out to assault and deceive their enemies. They have particular use in warfare, as tents offer little shelter against their predations, though the roaring fires of army camps can repel them until they burn low. 

 Fortunately, Yukiuso are practically unknown outside the North, where the cold and the long winters can shelter them from the sun’s rays, and in such cold climates defenses against these monsters are well-known: Fire repels them, wind-chimes and wind-flutes drive them away, and in a pinch strong alcohol can serve as a defense as well - the latent fire within can harm the immaterial creatures if thrown at them, and if drunk it provides a defense against the yukiuso’s possession; for a time, at least.
 
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Primary Pool (8-12): Attempting to lure or trick victims through misdirection or mimicry, resist social influence based in mercy or kindness, hide themselves in blizzards and snowdrifts
Secondary Pool (4-7): Seek shelter from the Sun, seek new victims
Tertiary Pool (2-4): To pass through barriers protected only by minor banes (wind-chimes, wind-flutes)

Resolve: 4
Health Levels: 5
Defense: 3
Hardness: 2(7)
Soak: 1(3)
Enlightenment: 1-4
Motes: (Enlightenment + 3)
 
Qualities and Charms
Elemental (Cold, Wind)
Incorporeal 5
Domain’s Curse (Cold)
Durable 4

 
Frost’s Laughing Bite: The Yukiuso laughs, and silence rings in its wake. Commit 2 motes. The area around the elemental out to Short range is treated as an environmental hazard with the following stats:
 1/round, Difficulty Enlightenment + 2, -2 penalty to all actions
 The body of a creature killed by this environmental hazard transforms to ice and snow. If a yidak arises then from the victim, it will often have power over this icy remnant, and seek out the warmth of fires to smother them--or, lacking fires, the blood-warmth of living beings.

Only The Wind: The Yukiuso has an uncanny ability to mimic the sound of human voice, the better to lure out its favorite prey. Spend 1 mote on Step 3 of social influence while doing so. The influence treats any Virtues or Principles based in Compassion as one tier higher in intensity. If the Yukiuso does this by mimicking the voice of someone a character has a Major Principle towards, once per story per person it may make it impossible to ignore the influence; characters must take a hard bargain to refuse it.

 When a Yukiuso kills a human, it is forevermore able to perfectly mimic its voice; not even magic can distinguish a difference between the two, save by context.
Last edited by Smoke And Honey on Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Zidari, the Stone-Herds
Elementals of Earth
 
They are seen by night, great shadows on the hills and moors, each the height of two strong men and rolling stones as large or larger than themselves. Some say this is because they are enemies of the Sun, that he hates them as he hates demons and the unhallowed Dead, but this is not the case. Rather, the zidari are born from caves beneath the earth, and it is only in their adulthood that they emerge into daylight, and so their eyes are unaccustomed to its light. They love better the moon, with her softer radiance, and more than her the stars, which shine distantly overhead like the glint of light on crystal. By day, they sit themselves down and curl in upon themselves, taking the appearance of great stones as they sleep, the better to spare their sensitive eyes.
 
For all their brutish appearance, the Zidari have a keen sense of aesthetics. Their mission above-ground is one of beautification and cultivation, and it is for this purpose that they carry great stones across the landscape. Though they cannot see the dragon-lines, with the aid of great staves they shape from tree-trunks they can sound them out, thumping their way across a landscape for days and listening to the reverberations with their keen ears. Then, they bring the stones, carrying them if they can or rolling them if they cannot, and place them at points where the flows of Essence intersect, or where they should split, planting great menhirs as dams and building henges and dolmens to refract and redistribute the natural energies, the better to accord with their aesthetic desires. They are instinctive geomancers, but their prowess is not always appreciated.

 Firstly, their appearance rarely endears them to mortals. A three-meter giant of craggy stone and bulging muscle is not an endearing sight, especially when it is rarely willing to explain itself, and tends to reply to interruption with the threat or strike of a club taller than most men. Secondly, their boulders and stones are placed according to the designs of geomancy and their own aesthetic sense, rather than practical use. Sometimes, their works can create regions of astounding bounty - by filling fields with boulders and causing that fertility to arouse within the streets of a town. And thirdly, despite all their skill as geomancers, their schema rarely accord with those of mortal geomancers, as they tend to disperse and balance rather than concentrate the power of Creation. Zidari can be a plague to a manse-builder, stemming the flow of power to his work. They cannot even be bribed away, partly because they have little use for riches, fine food or drink, being hermits by disposition and gaining their sustenance from the dragon lines themselves, and partly because their work is motivated not by greed, but by an artistic sensibility.

 Summoning (3/4): Zidari are usually solitary beings, but sometimes gather into convocations of around three to a dozen to pursue greater designs, or after having emerged from underground together. They have a loose grasp of time, often spending extended periods merely ruminating on new designs from some high place as they look out over the landscape. Sorcerers summon and bind the stone-herds for the sake of their skill in geomancy - though they often struggle with their aesthetic sense - or for their great strength, or simply to prevent them from interfering with their own works. They can be kept as bodyguards, shock-troops or as brute laborers, though this will make them both dissatisfied and cut them off from the dragon lines, such that their need for sustenance will grow.

Primary Pool (8-12): Geomancy, feats of strength, dealing with interruptions with blunt force
Secondary Pool (4-7): Ignoring critiques of their artistry, stonemasonry.
Tertiary Pool (2-4)


Resolve: 3
Health Levels: 9
Defense: 3
Hardness: Enlightenment
Soak: 4
Enlightenment: 2-5
Motes: (Enlightenment + 3)

 Qualities and Charms
Enormous Size
Murderous Blow
Elemental (Earth)
Durant Aegis
Measure the Wind:
Requires the Zidari to see the target interact with geomancy; e.g. by attuning to a manse.
Trans-Sacral Body: Can only negate poison, drugs or diseases, and only while touching the bare earth.
 
Earth’s Bones Navigation: Zidari add 3 successes on any roll to locate or navigate to or along the nearest dragon line. Additionally, if a Zidari makes a roll related to geomancy and botches, roll an additional die. If that die does not roll a 1, the botch is negated, though the roll is still a failure.

 Build Like Mountains: The Zidari doubles its effective Strength and Physique for the purpose of Feats of Strength. Additionally, Zidari add two health levels for each Enlightenment over 2.

 Polite Artist’s Refusal: When the Zidari makes a Knockback gambit, they may spend 3 extra successes to knock the target back a further range band, up to twice. If the Zidari so chooses, such knockback may not deal any damage, even from second-hand sources, such as falling a great distance.
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 Dhura, the Sanctuary Serpents
Elementals of Fire

 Observe the temple, its sanctuaries and holy places filled to the brim with the fragrant smoke of incense, offered up to the gods. It curls upwards in slow, blue gyrations, filling the air with the scent of sacredness. And yet, it is still smoke, born from fire, and so under certain circumstances it can give rise to the peculiar beings known amongst the learned as the Sanctuary Serpents.

 Dhura are blessed creatures, born when a subtle essence of Fire is made sacred and basks in the aura of holiness. They arise from the incense of temples, finally coiling free of the rising heat and taking on an independent existence. In temperament, Sanctuary Serpents are not entirely unlike cats; they are territorial, generally unwilling to leave their home, but are altogether more gregarious, often welcoming new Dhura happily, so long as they are born from the same temple. They eat nothing, and spend the majority of their time lazily wafting around the rafters of their home, which the wise often watch and interpret; as holy beings the Sanctuary Serpents hold a connection to destiny and the will of Heaven. Though this is largely an unconscious link, their idle movements can be replete with prophetic insights, and there is less difficulty in observing them compared to interpreting the movements of the stars, or other less reliable omens. Apart from anything else, it is generally a great deal easier to go to the temple in daylight than it is to stay up and wait for a clear night, or to cast one’s eyes here and there for any signs that might appear in the world at large.

 All in all, the presence of Dhura within a temple is seen as an auspicious sign in itself, both because of the sincerity it implies about the worship within, and the fact that the Serpents are notable guardian spirits. The smoke of their bodies and which trails in their wake is blessed, exerting a repellant influence upon creatures of darkness, and the elementals’ territorial nature means that they will often rouse themselves to the defense of that territory, hurling themselves upon demons or evil ghosts with purging smoke, choking and weakening them. They are not, as a rule, sapient, generally existing with a cognisance around the level of a clever cat, but can grow into greater power and awareness, particularly if they are adopted as familiars by a god - which they often are. Ascending to this level, Sanctuary Serpents often acquire a small retinue of Need Fires, which hover around them like eager pets, as well as greater powers over smoke and visions, and a growing awareness of their own nature as channels of prophecy. Such Dhura can become prophets in their own right, and frequently take on divine mantles as guardian deities or messengers of the Bureau of Destiny.

 Summoning (2/3): Sorcerers conjure Sanctuary Serpents from rare incenses for the sake of protection against evil powers, for prophecy and for companionship, because for all their aloof nature the creatures are often benevolent and affectionate. They are intolerant of impiety, and have a reputation for turning against their summoners - for the Five Stations have a habit of selecting for those unlikely to have much liking for putting others’ wills before their own - but they make good familiars, so long as a sorcerer does not expect to travel too much. They can become dangerous, however, if a temple begins to lose attendants and popularity, and offerings are no longer burned before its altar. Under such circumstances a Dhura may leave its home and take it upon itself to gather worshippers via their own abilities, creating omens or cursing fires so that they give off only smoke. They see a lack of piety as a moral failing, often refusing to acknowledge material conditions which might prevent worshippers from attending their home, and as a result the exorcists of the Immaculate Faith are well-acquainted with the duty of destroying these elementals, when they cannot be convinced to relocate to a new temple where worship can be better regulated.
 
Primary Pool (7-12): Keeping watch for intruding spirits, defending their territory, napping despite mundane interruptions from temple-goers
Secondary Pool (4-7): Sinuous acrobatics, disguising themselves as mere smoke, understanding divinations, omens, and prophecies.
Tertiary Pool (2-4): Resisting social influence that manipulates their pride

Resolve: 2
Health Levels: 6
Defense: 3
Hardness: Enlightenment
Soak: 2
Enlightenment: 1-4
Motes: (Enlightenment + 3)
 
Qualities and Charms
Incorporeal 3
Talismans and Wards


 Smoke and Stars: A character may choose a topic and attempt an Intellect + Lore or Occult roll, against a Difficulty of 3. On a success, she receives some insight into the will of Heaven regarding that topic, which by default is to do with the next month, and is very vague. Extra successes may be spent to increase the duration of the insight, and its precision. This divination takes three hours to perform.
 
If a Dhura has reached sapience, it may make this roll itself, using its secondary pool. If it is a deity, this divination can be performed instantly at the cost of 3 motes.
 
  Unwelcome Guest’s Punishment: When the Dhura makes a decisive attack as part of a grapple, it may spend 1 mote on Step 7 to fill its victim’s throat with smoke. This is represented as a poison with the following traits:
 
2/round, (levels of damage) rounds, Difficulty 3, -1 penalty to physical actions

 Against Creatures of Darkness, this damage is Aggravated, and the penalty increases to -2.

 
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I like the idea of dividing up elementals into the broader categories like you have. The idea of a species that forms and then dissipates as they complete their purpose, compared with those who have the agelessness and free will, compared again to the more singular beings they evolve into as time progresses.
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BogMod wrote: Tue Sep 21, 2021 9:07 am I like the idea of dividing up elementals into the broader categories like you have. The idea of a species that forms and then dissipates as they complete their purpose, compared with those who have the agelessness and free will, compared again to the more singular beings they evolve into as time progresses.

Thanks! It's always nice to hear that people like our ideas.
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