Exalted: the Inspired

[Rules for Sphere use in Creation for those emulating Sidereals who haven’t been nerfed by their Maidens, as well as plain old mages (called Inspired).]


Arcane Curse: Initially the almost impenetrable veil Ebon constructed to occlude Inspiration, he later used its remains as a counterstroke against humanity, ironically the least of the effects of the Great Curse. Spheres are literally arcane to normal humans, impossible for them to understand or even believe exist. Even many weaker spirits in the Bureau of Humanity are incapable of realizing that humans can in fact be Inspired. To teach prospective human apprentices, Inspired must use metaphor, symbology and mythology to fan the spark of Inspiration. The Arcane Curse also means that Inspired humans must hide their gifts "in plain sight," so to speak, by explaining them through devices, Obvious magical effects, Martial Arts and the like, or ensure the onset of Paradox. Dragon Kings and Kithain suffer only mildly from the Arcane Curse, as their Sphere uses manifest in innately Obvious ways (unless deliberately hidden), and they almost never have to worry about Paradox unless they botch. However, they are as incapable of explaining Spheres to humans as all other Inspired.

Arcane humans: Typically just called Arcanes, this term refers to humans who wield the power of the Spheres. This term explicitly includes all Sidereals, Scelesti and Tremere, as they are all under the effects of the Arcane Curse.

Inspiration: The power to alter reality through the artistic union of the Will and the Tapestry. There are many explanations for why this is possible, but all Inspired agree that any self-aware being is capable of being Inspired.

Inspired, the: Those capable of altering reality intuitively through becoming one with it, almost always through the Ten Glorious Spheres of the Dragon Kings. Sometimes, the term is used with a connotation meant to exclude those who have made Pacts with divine patrons. However, this division is usually used when making a specific distinction between the Sidereals (and occasionally, Scelesti and Tremere) and other Inspired.

Inspired Magic(k): This is the collective term for both Rotes (Sphere uses bought like Charms) and Spontaneous Inspiration (Sphere uses built "on the fly"). In writing, this is sometimes referred to with the "magick" spelling as a shorthand.

Investment: A Pact with a patron entity of a power equal to the Celestial Incarna. The Sidereals have been granted Celestial Investments by the Five Maidens that give them tremendous power in exchange for lifelong service in defense of the Tapestry. The only other Celestial Incarna known to have granted Celestial Investments is Autochthon. Most of the major Yozis have granted a handful each of Infernal Investments to their most favored Inspired servants, while the Neverborn have granted Entropic Investments in like manner. Entropic Arcanes are believed to exist in numbers greater than the Celestials and Infernals combined. Entropic Investments are, however, infamous for their side effects, ranging from the unpleasant to the horrific.

Pact: An arrangement with a god that grants an Inspired the power to use Charms in exchange for service, the nature of which varies tremendously.

Paradox: The reaction of the Arcane Curse to Inspired Magic. Pattern Spiders, contrary to common belief, do not cause Paradox, they merely attempt to bleed it off in a manner that will not harm the Tapestry. If the Pattern Spiders fail in their efforts, Paradox will damage the Tapestry, with extreme results permitting demons to escape from Malfeas or Outsider Things to enter Creation.

Rote: A carefully-learned Sphere technique that channels Inspiration through an art or science. This usually permits the Rote to be performed with greater skill than uses of Spontaneous Inspiration, and makes avoiding Paradox easier for Rotes designed with that end in mind.

Spontaneous Inspiration: An unrehearsed use of Sphere effects. Any application that is not channeled through a Rote.

Spheres: The Ten Glorious Spheres of Influence of the Dragon Kings, which make up all the fundamental facets of reality as it is understood in Creation. Theoretically, if one were to master all of the Ten Spheres, that Arch-Inspired personage would be all-powerful. The Dragon Kings believed that one such personage exists: the Unconquered Sun. There are a handful of rival systems, but no system is remotely as widespread as the Spheres, and its main rival is merely an adaptation of the ancient system. All other known methodologies are far less efficient than the Ten Spheres. The Dragon Kings’ system divides the Spheres into two classifications: the Forged (or Elemental) Spheres, which grant direct manipulation of an Element and its correspondences within the Tapestry, and the Divine Spheres, which are fundamental aspects of the Tapestry that transcend the Terrestrial Elements, though the Dragon Kings also linked them to the Elements by occult affinity.

Inspiration and the Spheres:

The Inspired (aside from those with Pacts) can only learn two Excellency types. Most notably, they can use Fate to use/emulate Auspicious (Ability) Alignment at Fate 3, and each Ability is a different Charm/Rote. The Target Number for a die can only be lowered by (Fate – 2), with an absolute minimum TN of 4 — under no circumstances may an Inspired either convert dice to successes or purchase successes directly. All Sidereals, regardless of Caste, are expected to have learned Fate to at least Journeyman level by the end of their training (i.e. when replacing Astrology with Inspiration, Sidereals automatically apply three of their starting dots to the Fate Sphere).

The Inspired can also buy Excellency Rotes that add the Sphere rank in dice to Ability rolls that correspond to that Element among the Dragon-Blooded. Either Forged or Divine Spheres can be used for this purpose, but the Rote cannot be reapplied if the other Sphere corresponding to that Element is raised to a higher rank — a new Rote must be purchased at full price to take advantage of the higher rating. Both Excellency Rotes can be used together without a Combo. Inspired Excellencies can be used without spending Essence, as with most magick, but the Rote must either then become Obvious or the Inspired gains one point of Paradox per turn, as per the usual magick rules. Also, botching any roll that uses an Inspired Excellency inflicts Paradox on the character just like any other Sphere working, regardless of Essence expenditure.

Inspired humans have very limited Essence pools — (3 x Essence) + (2 x Prime) — and cannot purchase Spirit Charms like Essence Plethora or Reserve of Will under any circumstances. Only an Investment can increase an Inspired’s Essence pool. On the other hand, they rarely need to spend their Essence to wield their unique magick. The Arcane Curse affects only humans, though Kithain and Dragon Kings are unable to pierce this veil to explain their powers to mortal humans. The Exalted and Enlightened alike are unaffected by the Arcane Curse. Inspired do not suffer from Limit Break, since they are not technically Exalted.

The only Charms Inspired may learn without divine intervention are those in Martial Arts styles. Inspired may learn Terrestrial and Celestial Martial Arts as Dragon-Blooded, but in addition to Enlightenment Charms, they have the further prerequisite of Prime (or the appropriate Forged Element for the Immaculate Dragon styles) at the same level as the Charm’s Permanent Essence requirement. This adds to the Essence prerequisite rather than replacing it. Gods below the Celestial Incarna in power can grant Spirit Charms to Inspired as they can to any others; as described in the lexicon, these arrangements are called Pacts, and can be quite beneficial to the Inspired as normal Charms do not acquire Paradox.

Under no circumstances can any deities below the Celestial Incarna in power grant the Inspired any Perfect effects whatsoever. This limitation applies to Sphere Magick and Martial Arts Charms as well, though they can learn Perfect Charms in Martial Arts trees to serve as prerequisites if necessary. Inspired can mimic Perfect Defenses with Sphere Magick, but this requires the Rote or effect to be rolled and enough successes acquired. The difficulty will typically be either the number of successes applied to the attack, or the attacking character’s Permanent Essence if no attack roll is necessary. This effect is generally only applicable as a defense against powers that cannot be blocked or dodged, or miscellaneous Shaping attacks that might otherwise have no defense. In all cases, this requires at least Adept level in the Sphere being used, and may require Prime ****, either by itself or conjunctionally at the GM’s discretion.

Finally, the Inspired can no more learn Sorcery or Necromancy Charms than they can Perfect ones; the Awakening of Inspiration is a completely separate method of Shaping Creation from Exalted spellcasting, and the two are utterly incompatible without the aid of the most powerful divinities. Only the Celestial Incarna, Primordials/Yozis and Neverborn can grant the ability to use Sorcery or Necromancy. The most famous examples are the Sidereals, of course (which is also why they cannot develop Charms of their own), but there are others, including the infamous Scelesti infernalists and the half-dead liches known as the Tremere.

Inspired use the space and time charts for Astrology in MoEP: Sidereals for purposes of determining the area and duration of ritually cast Inspired effects, using the Sphere rank for maximum area and duration. The Water Sphere can be added to an effect to add its rank to area and the Fire Sphere can be added to extend time, with all the conjunctional rules applying. Neither total can exceed ten. Rituals permit no more than one roll per scene, and no power, not even that of the Celestials, Yozis or Neverborn, can increase this.

When using Spheres as immediate actions, whether as Rotes or for Inspired effects, maximum range (or “domain,” as appropriate for each Sphere) is line of sight, though mundane obstacles to vision do not impair this range when Inspired senses are in play. If there is any question regarding this definition, or the GM wishes to have more clearly defined limits, Inspired effects have a range increment of (50 x Essence) in yards, with range penalties applying to all magickal effects. Use the Number of Targets or Advanced Area-Effect Radius charts on page 118 of Mage: the Awakening when determining groups or area affected, but halve the relevant penalty to the roll. Ignore the Size of Largest Target chart. Duration is only as long as the magick is directly applied, which requires the Inspired to use one of three options. Alternately, extra successes can be applied from the corresponding charts on page 120 of Awakening as written.

Active effects require one reflexive action to maintain, which imposes the usual multi-action penalty. (This replaces the Concentration rules in Awakening.). There are also two ways to maintain Inspired Magic passively. Fire can be added to an effect as a conjunctional Sphere, though in the case of Rotes this requires the Fire Sphere to be included in its design. Use a combination of the Transitory and Prolonged charts to determine how long the effect remains passive, starting with 5 turns having a dice penalty of None. One scene/hour counts as two lines down from that point, with penalties halved as per other charts, but use of extra successes applied normally. Finally, the effect can be maintained passively for one scene by spending a number of motes equal to the highest Sphere rank used in an effect. These motes are committed for the scene, but further motes may be spent to continue maintaining the effect in succeeding scenes.

Inspired can have a maximum number of active Sphere effects of (Wits + Essence), and a maximum total number of active Sphere effects of (Intelligence + Integrity + Essence). Active effects explicitly apply to the total limit, but enchantments explicitly do not. Charms (not Rotes) do not apply to this limit regardless of origin.

The Forged Spheres (Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Wood) use a largely identical Charm tree architecture, with each bulleted function of a broader Charm being a separate Rote unless stated otherwise. Divine Spheres (Mind, Prime, Fate, Death and Spirit) are somewhat more unique in application, but follow the same rank and relative power structure. Inspired of all types may explicitly use the following Abilities to create Rotes other than for Excellencies: Athletics, Craft, Lore, Martial Arts, Occult and Performance. Any other Abilities desired for Rote creation (again, aside from Excellencies) must be extensively researched or learned through an existing faction, either method requiring the GM’s approval. Sidereals may explicitly create Rotes that use any Ability if the GM determines they are thematically appropriate for that Ability, a determination to be judged as if the character were creating a Charm.

When a Sphere effect is not specified, assume that it functions as the related Sphere in Mage: the Ascension, 2nd Edition, except for Fate and Death, which use the Awakening rules. The primary exception is the Air Sphere as it relates to Forces. Obviously, fire is controlled by the Fire Sphere, as is the creation of light. However, the alteration of light falls under Air, from illusions to invisibility to sensory enhancement. Heat, as it travels through air, can be controlled by Air as well as Fire, while cold can be created by Air alone. Curiously, gravity falls under the Water Sphere, not Earth. Earth can also be used to mimic the lodestone’s power to attract metal (aka magnetism), but so can Air with the correct application of lightning (an Inspired must have Lore ** to use this ability effectively). However, Air has the added advantages of allowing the Sphere wielder to purify and alter the structure of gases, permitting even an apprentice to breathe comfortably in any environment, protect herself from external conditions in any environment, affect air elementals, and generate and manipulate ice (which also falls under the Sphere of Water, though only Air can animate ice as if it were pliable).

Ignore the charts on page 80 of Mage: the Awakening for Sphere rank maximums. Instead, each Inspired may take one Sphere as Favored, and that Sphere may be one rank above the character’s Essence. All other Spheres have a maximum rank equal to the character’s Essence. Also ignore the Paths; each Inspired is Aspected towards an element based on his favored Sphere, and chooses three of that Aspect’s abilities as per Dragon-Blooded. The character then gets four other favored abilities which may be chosen freely. Note that there is no mote surcharge on "out-of-Aspect" magick. Likewise, Inspired have no Wisdom trait (as proven by many Scelesti and Tremere who are all too sane). Experience costs for Spheres and Rotes are as per Mage: the Awakening, pg. 340, with the elementally favored Spheres qualifying as Ruling Arcana and all others serving as Common. Essence has the same experience cost as Gnosis. Inspired can build Rotes freely, paying the same experience cost for but still benefit from a teacher on learning times, encouraging many to learn their mentors’ Rotes rather than developing many of their own.

Finally, use the Paradox rules from Mage: the Awakened, but reverse the function of Paradox on vulgar and coincidental effects. In Creation, people expect magic to be flashy and do fantastic things. It’s when creepy, supernatural effects take place without an obvious source that they, and reality, object. As long as there are glowing sigils, starmetal prayer strips, wondrous humming devices or strangely echoing sutras involved — in other words, if the effect is Obvious as with the Keyword — the Inspired only acquires Paradox on a botch. Only when the Inspired attempt to be subtle does Paradox take a hand.

Sidereals hate this. On the other hand, they have the ability to "bank" Paradox, forcing it into abeyance as long as they have less than ten total successes on Paradox rolls, and can work it off as per the rules in MoEP: Sidereals. However, should they hit ten banked Paradox points, roll ten dice; if the Sidereal gains more than five successes, increasingly large tears in the Tapestry result, and the Storyteller should apply increasingly ugly glitches to reality. Eight successes could result in the appearance of a Second Circle demon; ten might even result in a Third Circle demon’s escape. If the demon doesn’t kill so unfortunate a Sidereal, the audit just might.

Forged Element Ranks:

* (Novice): The Inspired can now Touch the Element on a metaphoric level. This grants the equivalent of Sense Domain, with the Element and its Portfolio as the domain, within range limits as above. They can also manipulate up to (Essence) pounds of the material for a scene by spending a number of motes equal to the weight in pounds (minimum one). This reduces the need for tools when working the substance. Treat this rank as having crude tools for a -4 external penalty; alternately, the savant gains a one-die bonus when supplementing existing tools with the Sphere. Such Sphere use only reduces the creation time if the final product weighs no more than the Inspired can manipulate with a single use of the magick/Rote, in which case days of work can be done in scenes, and scenes can be reduced to actions.

Novices can also emulate the following Charms: Measure the Wind can be used to analyze elementals or Dragon-Blooded of the same Element as the Sphere (ignore the part of the Charm that detects whether the target has a power that can kill the observer). Benefaction and Malediction can be used to affect abilities related to the Element (i.e. Aspect abilities for Dragon-Blooded of that Element) and Craft rolls made to work the Element. Wood Novices may purchase a Rote that mimics the Sidereal version of Ox-Body, with the only change being that the Permanent Essence requirement is replaced by the rank in the Wood Sphere.

** (Apprentice): Inspired Apprentices can now Wield the Element. This grants access to the following Affinity (Element) Control powers: Elemental Damage, Elemental Hazard, Elemental Resistance and Elemental Weapon. As stated above, each function is a separate Rote, though all applications of the function are available through the Rote; for example, Elemental Weapon allows the Apprentice to use it to grapple, disarm, and for ranged Athletics actions. Apprentices have (Sphere – 1)^2 Barrels of power available to each Rote (i.e. one Barrel for an Apprentice, four at Journeyman, nine at Adept, 16 at Master, etc). If using Spontaneous Inspiration to mimic an Affinity (Element) Control power, the Inspired instead wields one Barrel of strength per success. Wielding an Element eliminates the need for tools; treat as a basic workshop for a -2 external penalty when working a related substance, or provides a +2 bonus when using tools. Such Sphere use reduces the creation time by one step (years to seasons, seasons to months, etc).

Apprentices can also emulate the following Charms: Calculated Order of Immediate Action on that Element as if the Inspired had an Essence level equal to the Sphere rating; Landscape Travel through the given Element; Foretell the Future can be used with Fire, though the Inspired must gaze into a flame.

*** (Journeyman): While most Inspired consider themselves students of magick throughout their lives, this rank in a Sphere represents a graduation of sorts. From this point on, an Inspired can purchase further ranks and Rotes in this Sphere as if she had a teacher. Appropriately, at this level the Journeyman can Transform the Element. A snowstorm can become a sandstorm, salt water can be turned into fresh, leaves changed into bread and coal into diamonds. All the powers of Affinity (Element) Control are now available to the Inspired, though Elemental Hazard is limited to the Sphere rank in barrels. Treat Craft actions with this rank as a complete workshop, allowing the Inspired to work the Element with no penalty, or grant a +3 bonus when using tools. Sphere use reduces the creation time by two steps.

Journeymen can also emulate the following Charms: Intrusion-Sensing Method, for areas dominated by that Element; Essence Bite, though no Forged Sphere can do aggravated damage without a conjunctional effect except as noted in later rank descriptions; Air permits Weather Control; Fire permits the Principle of Motion rote, with a maximum number of stored actions equal to the character’s Sphere rank in Fire; Water permits the Loom Stride ability, with the Rote Ability replacing Conviction — as improvised Inspiration, range is reduced to Essence yards; Wood grants the Shapechange ability, though the new form cannot have a higher mutation total than the Inspired’s rank in Wood (negative mutations reduce the value total).

**** (Adept): At this rank, Inspired approach mastery of their domain. They can Remake the very nature of an Element, causing such things as liquid rock (at normal temperatures) or steel-strong skin to exist. Fire and lightning can be made solid, trees can be given the ability to move, and water can flow uphill. The Adept can also summon and control elementals, though they are not automatically bound to obey as with sorcerers, and the wise Adept remembers that. Adepts can also free elementals from Abcissic bindings, something that endears the heroic Inspired to the servants of Creation. Treat Craft actions with this rank as equivalent to an Atelier-Manse, allowing the Inspired to work the Element at a +2 bonus, or grant a +4 bonus when using existing tools. Sphere use reduces the creation time by three steps.

Adepts can also emulate the following Charms: Shatter can be used with the Air and Fire Spheres; the Water Sphere grants the use of Portal to travel [Essence x Water x 5] miles within the Inspired’s realm of existence; (Element) Dragon’s Embrace, with each effect being a separate Rote; and Touch of Grace on the appropriate Element. The Sphere variation of Touch of Grace can perform partial healings, but can be used only once per target per scene regardless of how many damage levels any given application repairs. Wood Adepts can heal other sentients, but such healing has a difficulty equal to (4 + wound penalty), with each success healing one level of bashing or lethal damage, and this costs one mote per level healed. Aggravated damage can only be healed with Wood *****/Prime ***** at an additional +3 difficulty, costing three motes and one temporary Willpower per level of aggravated damage healed. None of these limitations apply to ritually applied healing, which requires one scene per level healed but does not require an expenditure of motes, and only has a difficulty of (2 + wound penalty) per scene. Aggravated damage can be ritually healed with Wood ***** alone, though the time increases to one hour per level and the difficulty increases to (3 + wound penalty) per hour.

***** (Master): An Inspired Master is capable of dealing with many Terrestrial gods on an even footing, and even younger Dragon-Blooded must beware the Master’s power. The primary abilities of the Master are to conjure the raw, pure forms of the Element’s various facets from Essence (creating any other form of the Element from Essence still requires Prime ***), and reduce any non-enchanted type of the Element back into Essence, in quantities determined by the character’s Barrels assigned to Elemental Weapon. Elemental destruction does aggravated damage to elementals of that Sphere and Dragon-Blooded of that Aspect, though Dragon-Blooded are explicitly permitted to dodge or parry this effect with any Charm that enhances a relevant Ability’s defensive effects. Treat Craft actions with this rank as equivalent to a Factory-Cathedral, allowing the Inspired to work the Element at a +4 bonus, or grant a +5 bonus when using existing tools. Sphere use reduces the creation time by four steps, as the Master all but wills the desired object into existence.

Masters can also emulate the following Charms: Blessed (Element) Body, though the Master can only have one instance of the effect active at a time, regardless of how many Spheres the Inspired has mastered; Symbol of Invincible Authority, granting protection against the Element;

Each Forged Element also controls a concept of Creation, corresponding to one of the traditional Spheres from Mage (either version): Air corresponds roughly to Forces, Earth to Matter, Fire to Time, Water to Correspondence/Space and Wood to Life. These correspondences are reflected in the spirit Charms referenced above. Sample spirit Charms for each of the Divine Spheres are provided below; except where noted, refer to Mage: the Ascension or Awakening for further rules, using the greater power level where applicable.

Divine Element ranks:

Mind is Divine Air, and Spirit is Divine Wood; the other three Divine Spheres are debated. The two most common versions make the following equations: The majority of humans and Kithain connect Prime with Earth (geomancy), Death with Water, and Fate with Fire; most Dragon Kings connected Prime with Fire, Death with Earth, and Fate with Water. (During the Primordial Time and the earliest portion of the First Age, the Dragon King system was ascendant, but humanity’s rise and population explosion ensured that the Dragon Kings’ correspondences would fade into relative obscurity.)

Mind: * — Call, with the character’s species (human, Kithain, Dragon King) qualifying as similar beings and range limited to the character’s Sphere rank; ** — Dreamscape, Stoke the Flame (provides dice, not successes), Subtle Whisper; *** — Divine Prerogative/Righteous Lion, Eye of Inspiration; Harrow the Mind (lesser); **** — Harrow the Mind (greater), Hoodwink, Possession (special rules), Regalia of Authority; ***** — Hollow Out the Soul, Mind-Knife Sacrament.

Prime: * — Amethyst Awareness (aka All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight, but only to see Charm and spell use), Measure the Wind, Signet of Authority (only provides ancillary benefits if the Inspired has a position in the Divine Bureaucracy); ** — Emerald Countermagic, Meat of Broken Flesh, Tracking; *** — Claws of the Angry Dragon (Essence only), Fruit of Living Essence, Host of Spirits, Paper Tiger Arrangement, Touch of Divinity (Essence only); ***** — Bane Weapon (each Rote is limited precisely as the Charm), Dreaded Embrace of Mundanity, Sapphire Countermagic. Solar Countermagic is Prime TEN. Derived Arts of Thaumaturgy: Enchantment, Geomancy, Warding (Prime can mimic Procedures of each Art with a Sphere rank equal to the Procedure rating).

Fate: * — Benefaction, Malediction, Natural Prognostication; ** — Intrusion-Sensing Method (“danger” and “creatures from outside Fate” are separate Rotes), Sheathing the Material Form; *** — Divine Decree (requires a Fate rank of two higher than the desired Power Level); **** — Destiny Sponsorship (not affected by Calibration, but the Inspired must take the required taboos/restrictions, totalling Flaws equal to the character’s Permanent Essence, or risk Paradox every time the effect protects the character), Melodious Diagnostic Report; ***** — Hand of Destiny. At Fate ****, an Inspired can also use Dramatic Editing from Adventure!, using motes for the listed costs in that book.

SPECIAL NOTE: Resplendent Destinies are Prime ***, Mind *** effects, with each individual Destiny effect from Sidereals as a unique Rote.

Spirit: * — Spirit-Detecting Glance (as the Solar Charm); ** — Spirit Cutting; *** — Portal; **** — Dematerialize, Materialize; ***** — Capture, Material Tribulation Divestment. Masters can do aggravated damage to spirits with Spirit Cutting at a cost of one mote for every two dice of damage.

Death: *** — Shadowlands Countermagic; **** — Bane Weapon (All-Encompassing), Labyrinth Countermagic; ***** — Void Countermagic. Death is the only Sphere that can do aggravated damage to any target, with a minimum rank of Adept. Most Death effects are either handled in a manner similar to Spirit Charms, or derived from Charms of the Dead. Spirits destroyed by Bane Weapon are truly slain, as if reduced to below Incapacitated by Ghost-Eating Technique.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the way Excellencies work for Inspired, they can be used as Rotes, because Abilities are never rolled for Spontaneous Inspiration.

© 2008 Peter Flanaganhalve

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