Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
The Copper Spider's Web
Attunement Cost: 5m
Activation Cost: Varies
Alloying the magical materials is a little known and even more rarely practiced technique, but the Copper Spider’s Web is an example of the extraordinary results it can produce. A complex biomagitech device, crafted from an alloy of red jade and orichalcum – a radiant copper in color – it consists of a network of thin alloy prayer strips laid in under the skin of the user’s limbs and body, and faintly visible as a glowing web-work whenever the user channels his peripheral essence or employs the artifact’s powers.
The Web is designed to protect its user from both mundane and essence empowered attacks. It operates on advanced principles of essence dynamics, which recognize that the energy, matter, and indeed even the intent of an attack can ultimately be reduced to their component motes and redirected. This is easiest to accomplish with raw essence based attacks, which are inherently somewhat fluid and easy to manipulate compared to mundane feats of martial prowess, but is in fact possible for attacks of any sort.
Mechanically, the Web’s disruptive essence field blunts the physical and metaphysical force of an attack, acting like armor and providing an armored Bashing, Lethal, and Aggravated soak of 14 plus the user’s permanent essence, with a hardness equal to half its soak. This explicitly does not stack with any other type of armor, including Spider Silk Armor and any other artifacts which normally stack with other armor. In addition to this constant protection, the Web also includes several other important features:
Hearth Stone Sockets – The Web includes three hearth stone sockets, which function as Skin Mount Amulets (Books of Sorcery: Wonders of the Lost Age, Page 72). When a hearth stone is placed in a socket, the user counts as being in contact with it, respires an extra mote of essence each hour, and adds twice the stone’s rating to his peripheral essence pool capacity. One of these sockets is located on the user’s chest, over the heart, and the other two on his back, along the spine.
Essence Capturing Field – The Web is a network for channeling and storing essence, and can capture some essence from any attack directed at it. The user gains a 15 mote Overdrive pool, and gains one offensive mote each time the user is attacked, or three offensive motes if the attack was created or enhanced by the use of essence. Like any Overdrive pool, it is emptied at the end of each scene.
Essence Nullifying Pattern – When an attack simply must be stopped, the Web’s power can reduce it to its component motes then absorb it’s essence completely. This is a perfect defense identical in all respects to the Resistance charm Adamant Skin Technique (Exalted, Page 207), except that it bears a special flaw of invulnerability rather than a standard Solar flaw: an opponent can spend a point of willpower to reinforce his attack, allowing it to bypass this defense. Note however that this flaw is no more obvious than any other flaw of invulnerability, and must be discovered to be taken advantage of.
Reality Affirming Matrix – The essence flows coursing through the user’s body, conducted by the Web’s sanctified patterns, naturally reinforce and reaffirm the fundamental nature of his being. This power has effects identical to those of the Integrity charm Integrity-Protecting Prana (Exalted, Page 199), and may be activated reflexively (in step one, where combat sequence is relevant) at the cost of 3m.
Transcendent Essence Infusion – The Web infuses it’s user with quantities of essence that can barely be contained, and conducts it throughout his being on both the physical and spiritual levels. Releasing this power can drive the user’s natural talents to superhuman extremes, but doing so is terribly taxing and dangerous. By spending one willpower and all remaining motes in his Overdrive pool, the user can gain a scene long bonus to all attributes from a single category of his choice (physical, social, or mental), weapon rate, and movement (in yards) equal to one fifth (rounded up) the motes expended. Activating this power inflicts one level of unsoakable aggravated damage upon the user, burning him from the inside.
The Copper Spider’s Web must be implanted under the user’s skin and attuned by that user to function in any way. Once installed (70 total successes, 1 hour surgery cycle, difficulty 3, minimum Medicine 5), the artifact cannot be unattuned without surgically removing it (requiring the same surgery as installation). Either surgery inflicts five levels of unsoakable, aggravated damage on the subject, from the wide spread trauma of the process.
The Web also requires occasional maintenance – typically in the form of short ritual prayers or patterned anointment with oils and unguents – to maintain maximum efficiency. Usually performed on an ongoing basis, if the artifact goes more than a month without this upkeep, its powers begin to fail over time, at the rate of one for each month without maintenance. The order of the power failure is decided by the storyteller, but even complete power failure never poses a direct hazard to the artifact’s user.
Design Commentary: This artifact is, in most respects, a conglomeration of low end artifact effects. The basic protection provided by this artifact is comparable to a combination of two dot artifact armor, and two dot spider silk armor. The hearth stone sockets, as their description states, are two dot skin mount amulets. It’s abilities are based on low essence charms, and could reasonably be found on three dot artifacts.
Put together however, particularly with the Overdrive mechanic employed as it is described here, they amount to a formidable defense against the most threatening enemies a solar is likely to encounter. The implant and maintenance requirements help offset the artifact’s attunement cost, but it remains an overwhelmingly powerful defensive tool, and is therefore clearly a five dot artifact.
The Web’s properties are considerably narrower in theme than, for example, Armor of the Immaculate Dragons (Artifact 4-5, Books of Sorcery: Wonders of the Lost Age, Pages 84-87), and Celestial Battle Armor (Artifact 5, Books of Sorcery: Wonders of the Lost Age, Pages 88-91), offering none of their stealth, strength, environmental protection, or ancillary systems. The powers it does offer however are potent enough to put it in the same league.