Anyone who has been in Yu-Shan for more than a few weeks knows about deiphages: unemployed gods who’ve lost their sapience and hunger for Essence. Most are no more powerful than Celestial functionaries. Their ringleaders, however, are as intelligent and potent as any senior member of the Celestial Bureaucracy, their minds unaffected by whatever causes deiphagy. The Bronze Faction knows they can jump from body to body and have a grudge against Heaven’s order. There are very good reasons for these characteristics. These “greater deiphages” are a separate species from gods of the Bureaucracy. Indeed, they’re the prototypes for the other gods.
Greater deiphages prefer to be called Tenders. Before Charles Dexter Ward managed to communicate with their leaders, they knew that they had the Primordial-mandated duties of protecting Yu-Shan and maintaining the geomancy of what the Bureaucracy calls empty quarters and they call pure quarters. They knew they were older than the Bureaucracy. After Charles reestablished communication with the Jade Pleasure Dome, the Tenders learned the full truth.
Yu-Shan, the Low-Hanging Star, needed protectors while she and her devas slept and regulated the Essence flows of what would become Creation. Za’el Viskarma, Autochthon’s Smith of Heroic Souls, and her tenth soul Fayuandi, the Adamant Womb, created a hundred beings that would feed her through regular involuntary contributions of Essence. They linked these entities in male-female pairs. These were the Tenders. Yu-Shan herself customized fifteen of the Tenders to be Overseers of the entire species and awakened two afterwards. These became the Rank 1-A and Rank 1-BA Overseers, Arelis and Auros Sorrowhands. They served Yu-Shan until it was time to shape Creation, whereupon she quickly awakened the others. For whatever reason, the Low-Hanging Star told the Sorrowhands to keep her true identity secret from their subordinates. They kept this promise until very recently.
Those who know how Tenders lived before the Primordial War-information found in the Book of First Days-aren’t talking. The Tenders themselves say only that they were loyal to the Primordials and held the Exalted off so their beloved Mighty Ones could escape Yu-Shan. This was at great cost. Only sixty or so Tenders are alive today, and because of their losses and the suppressive geomancy imposed on Yu-Shan by the Celestial lions, they have been stuck in their emergency geomantic monitoring pods ever since, trying to keep things together. They despise the Incarnae’s “Occupation.” While they fought back, their tactics did not bear fruit until the Usurpation and Balorian Crusade caused the mass emergence of deiphages,
The Bureau of Heaven and the Bronze Faction know these tactics all too well. Secure in their bunkers, Tenders remotely possess the bodies of powerful deiphages and use their abilities to grant sapience to other deiphages. They then attack inhabited quarters and reclaimed territories alike. Contrary to popular belief, feeding and killing are not these raids’ primary goals. Tenders would much rather frighten the inhabitants into fleeing elsewhere. Since the suppressive geomancy imposed upon Yu-Shan was dependent on its buildings and streets being inhabited, the residents’ absence allows Yu-Shan’s actual geomancy to remanifest. That this geomancy is baleful to gods not intended to handle being Yu-Shan’s life support system helps the Tenders spread it.
The Tenders have reclaimed seventy-one percent of Yu-Shan’s world-body simply by being patient and aiming raids strategically. Had Charles not intervened, they would have continued their slow reconquest. His support has given them hope of their own space. While they’re too pragmatic to trust that the Celestial Bureaucracy won’t try to attack them, they’ve waited a very long time to walk Yu-Shan’s streets again. Anything that can make that happen faster is good!
Description: All Tenders are tall, adamant-skinned beings with orichalcum eyes and sharp obsidian nails; Overseers have adamant “hair” and individualized features. They wear simple white trousers and tunics when in their pods. On the off chance one is forced out, it immediately dons its operator’s vestments and attempts to drive the intruders out. All but the Sorrowhands have titles rather than names: a number followed by a word. Western Tenders receive pairings of opposites, one per partnership. Northern Tenders are titled after gemstones, Southern ones after animals, and Eastern ones after plant materials. The few remaining Central Tenders’ titles are based on precious metals.
All Tenders are also forbidden gods, though for whatever reason, the Sun has not declared them creatures of darkness. This is a source of constant frustration for the Bronze Faction and other residents of Yu-Shan who know about them.
Sanctum: Hundreds of feet beneath Yu-Shan’s streets, there are gates to extradimensional pockets. Half these pockets sit between Celestial gates. They lead to the Tenders’ homes: geomantic monitoring stations transformed into heavily-warded bunkers. These boltholes are roughly equivalent in size to Third Rank gods’ residences. Overseers’ bunkers are equivalent to Fourth Rank gods’ residences. Hordes of lesser deiphages often haunt the passages surrounding them, protecting . The Bronze Faction has actually cleared some bunkers out, but it cannot hope to take, much less hold, all of them.
The below statistics represent ordinary Tenders: those with a number greater than 14. The Sorrowhands both have Essence 9. Their subordinate Overseers have Essence 7 to 8, depending on how badly their directions were hit during the Primordial War; what is now the Fulgent Administrative District was the hardest hit and its Overseer pair was weakened to near-madness.
Motivation: To protect Yu-Shan from harm, with all that emphasis entails. Yes, this is identical to the average celestial lion’s Motivation; the difference is in which parts of the Celestial City they protect.
Intimacies: Yu-Shan (Loving Reverence), Primordials (Awe), Supervising Overseer (Loyalty), Sidereal Exalted (Disappointment or Bitter Hatred), Solar and Lunar Exalted (Terror), Celestial Bureaucracy (Cold Hatred), Celestial Incarnae (Grudging Respect), Lesser Deiphages (Mingled Pity and Annoyance)
Physical*: Strength 8, Dexterity 8, Stamina 7
Social: Charisma 4, Manipulation 4, Appearance 4
Mental: Perception 7, Intelligence 7, Wits 7
* All +1 from deiphagy.
Compassion 3, Conviction 5, Temperance 3, Valor 4
Athletics 3, Awareness 4, Bureaucracy 3, Craft 7 (Free Specialty: Earth), Dodge 3, Integrity 4, Investigation 3, Lore 7, Martial Arts 6, Occult 7, Performance 6, Presence 3, Resistance 4, Socialize 3, Stealth 4, War 4
A Tender’s panoply always includes the following items:
Operator’s Vestments (Artifact ****)
When Za’el Viskarma and Fayuandi began constructing the Tenders, both of them agreed that the new gods needed additional protection. The dangers of the Wyld were many. Thus, Za’el forged utility clothing for each of them alongside their spirits.
An operator’s vestments always look the same: coveralls, a hooded jacket, and split toed boots of darkened adamant and a hard hat made of jade matching the appropriate direction in Creation. The Tender’s number is carved onto the back of the jacket and coveralls. Both have pockets for tools. Overseers’ vestments are identical to their subordinates’ protective garments; in most situations, their lower numbers suffice as indicators of rank.
Hardened Safety Clothing: This item’s base is exceptional superheavy plate (+12L/12B, Mobility -3, Fatigue 2) with the following modifiers.
- Adamantine Dominance: Despite its hybrid construction, this item grants adamant’s Magical Material bonus: +3L Soak and -1 to the Mobility penalty (Class A)
- Skin of Bronze: -2 to the Mobility penalty (Class B)
- Skin of Iron: -2 to the Fatigue penalty (Class B)
- Hardness equal to half its soak (Class A)
- The wearer has secure access to Yu-Shan’s entertainment and communication services, but only in the pure quarters (Class A)
- The wearer has secure access to all geomantic monitoring stations in the pure quarters (Class A)
Hooded Jacket and Coveralls:
- Any Crippling, Desecration, Shaping, Sickness, or Poison effect which an attack or flurry would normally inflict may be converted to the loss of two motes – even if it would normally take effect more than once due to a flurry or involves more than one of those keywords (Class B)
- The wearer is immune to general environmental damage, but not directed effects. This ability serves mostly as backup for a Tender that has broken its Destiny Sponsorship’s terms (Class B)
- The wearer can carry up to 100 lbs of gear in these items’ pockets (Class B)
- At the wearer’s command, the numbers embroidered on these items glow, serving as light sources (Class A)
- The wearer blends perfectly into adamant as desired, adding +3 to Stealth against it or a similarly colored background (Class A)
- Double ground movement speed (Class B)
- The wearer can fly at its base Move and Dash speeds (Class B)
Components: Adamant, ambrosia and the appropriate color of jade (-5)
Power 8 (Class Ax7, Class Bx6), Usefulness 4, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity 1
Total: 15 (-5 to create)/4. This item is Rank 4 to purchase, but only Rank 3 to create.
Operator’s vestments have the following statistics: +15L/12B, 8L/6B Hardness, Mobility -0, Fatigue 0. They do not count as armor for martial arts, cap incoming damage at three levels, and grant their wearers two purchases of Ox-Body Technique.
Implements of Geomantic Stimulation
Tenders, and most other greater deiphages, carry a small pouch resembling a mortal acupuncturist’s kit. It shames those made by humans. The adamant needles are inhumanly fine and the ambrosial moxa sticks burn with perfect evenness and musk. This superb medical kit also includes tools ordinarily used in geomantic surveys. Their presence indicates the kit’s true purpose: tinkering with Yu-Shan’s geomancy.
Acupuncture: An attuned user may substitute Occult for Medicine when caring for a living being (Class A)
- +2 Craft, Lore, and Occult (Class Bx3)
- -2 TN to Occult rolls involving Yu-Shan’s geomancy (Class A)
Components: Ambrosia and adamant (-4)
Power 4 (Class Ax2, Class Bx3), Usefulness 3, Plot Impact 3, Script Immunity 1
Total: 11 (-4 to create)/4 = 3. This item is Rank 3 to purchase, but only Rank 2 to create.
All Tenders also have at least a two-dot artifact associated with their secondary domain. Overseers have an additional dot of Artifact to represent their more powerful secondary domain items, and the Rank 1 Overseers each have Artifact 5 to represent their powerful Sorrowhands.
Merits and Flaws
Artificer (2), Bio-luminescence (1), Claws (1), Skin Color/Adamant (1)
Permanent Essence: 6
Essence Pool: 110
1st-Craft, Martial Arts, Occult
Divine Ability Subordination-Craft, Martial Arts and Occult, used in preservation of the pure quarters
Bread of Weak Spirit-All-Encompassing
Chrysalis of Preservation-Lesser deiphages
Creation of Perfection-Shaping the pure quarters’ geomancy
Destiny Sponsorship-Safe in the pure quarters of a specific region of Yu-Shan
-Do not reveal the nature of your link to Yu-Shan.
-Grant hospitality to any unknown Primordial that enters Yu-Shan.
-Keep an empty dreamstone on your person at all times.
-Do not cross spilled wine or scattered peach seeds.
-Dance in honor of Yu-Shan at dawn every day.
-Make no alterations to Yu-Shan that you cannot repair.
Divine Decree-Pure quarters in a specific region of Yu-Shan
Dreamscape-Against targets in the pure quarters
Endowment-Grants only Control and Swaying the Famished Occupiers
Geas-Defend the pure quarters against tampering
Hand of Destiny-Protecting the pure quarters
Hurry Home-Pure quarters in a specific region of Yu-Shan
Intrusion-Sensing Method-Pure quarters in a specific region of Yu-Shan
Meat of Broken Flesh-All-Encompassing
Measure the Wind
Melodious Diagnostic Report-Pure quarters in a specific region of Yu-Shan
Principle of Motion
Regalia of Divine Authority-Individuals tampering with Yu-Shan’s geomancy
Sense Domain-Pure quarters in a specific region of Yu-Shan
Symbol of Invincible Authority-Lesser deiphages
Touch of Saturn-All-Encompassing
New Spirit Charm
Cost: 12m, 1wp; Mins: Essence 2
Keywords: Obvious, Touch
Duration: One scene
This Charm functions as Possession, but the spirit using it does not need to be immaterial. Instead, it enters a spiritual trance and dominates its target’s mind. Its original body is Inactive while the Charm is in effect, and must be hidden or protected. On the other hand, it works in Yu-Shan and on other spirits.
Actually using this Charm in Yu-Shan is illegal without very good reason and prior approval. (Not that it ever stops gods from trying . . .) Control is most common among ancient gods, forbidden gods, and, of course, greater deiphages. Tenders originally used it to march interloping gods out of Yu-Shan; not even the White Ram could be everywhere at once.
Swaying the Famished Occupiers (Temperance)
Cost: 18m, 1wp; Mins: Essence 6
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious, Social, War
This Charm is why the Bronze Faction calls deiphages the Maddened Bureau. Granted to the remaining Tenders by She Who Lives in Her Name, who appreciated their dedication to their modest hierarchy, it allows Yu-Shan’s custodians to add non-Tenders to that hierarchy.
Swaying the Famished Occupier affects up to Magnitude [(Permanent Essence/2)+1] lesser deiphages, who must be able to hear the god. Individuals have different methods of gathering audiences. Actual Tenders keep hordes in subterranean pits, with talismanic collars to keep them from feeding on each other. Recruited allies gather their lessers as a shepherd does sheep. Regardless, the use of this Charm is simple: the greater deiphage makes a (usually Performance-based) social attack. This attack must include the project it wants to enact, and is unnatural mental influence with a base cost of 4 Willpower to resist. Considering most lesser deiphages realize when there is an opportunity to consume Essence, and most greater deiphages tailor their orders to their needs, resistance is rare.
For the next (Temperance) days, or until the project is complete-whichever comes first-affected lesser deiphages gain sapience as a unit. Members of the unit gain a Motivation appropriate to the project. This Motivation becomes the unit’s Policy in mass social combat. Members of the unit also regain their full Social and Mental Attributes and Abilities, usable only in pursuit of the project’s goal. Groups of war deiphages affected by this Charm make excellent siege forces. Its only drawback is that the greater deiphage must lead the unit. Fortunately for it, controlling a lesser deiphage’s body suffices.
Knowing this Charm prevents deiphagy from damaging the wielder’s psyche. That information doesn’t matter for Tenders, but if they endow it upon a deiphagic god with Permanent Essence 6+, that god regains its sapience for good.
Invoking the Low-Hanging Star’s Vengeance: Tenders have considerable control over Yu-Shan’s geomancy, at least in the pure quarters, and can wield it against their enemies. None have dared to do so since the Incarnae’s occupation. This is a good thing, both for the Tenders and Yu-Shan.
Invoking the destructive qualities of Yu-Shan’s geomancy is a Speed 6, DV -2 Simple action costing 20 motes and 1 Willpower. The Tender must be physically present at the geomantic center of a demesne or Manse located in the empty quarters; a controlled body will not suffice. Additionally, the Tender must be attuned to the site. After a brief prayer of apology to Yu-Shan, the Tender strikes the geomantic site’s center. This action causes incredibly rapid Essence buildup, detonating the site within the next hour. The Tender adds (Permanent Essence) to all Essence calculations. It doesn’t control whether further explosions or Power Failure occurs; that’s up to Yu-Shan.
Additionally, the geomantic site’s dominant aspect influences the blast’s nature. Solar, Lunar, and Sidereal sites add the Holy keyword. Elemental sites inflict an additional +(site’s rating)A damage and add the Elemental keyword. Tenders know what enhancements sites associated with Primordials would grant; that’s part of their nature. None have ever spoken about it outside their ranks.
In his anger at having to evacuate Yu-Shan, Theion enhanced Invoking the Low-Hanging Star’s Vengeance. By spending an additional 20 motes and suffering a lethal health level, the Tender may further hasten geomantic buildup. The explosion occurs at the end of its action.
Oath of the Adamant Womb: The Tenders will not be stymied in their Essence gathering. When targeted by an effect made to resist or cure deiphagy, a Tender may spend one mote as a Reflexive action to make it, and any additional related effects, Obvious for the rest of the scene. Then it may spend motes to counter the effect. Countering thaumaturgic effects costs 5 motes. Emerald Circle spells cost 10 motes, while Sapphire Circle spells require 20 motes. Charms that cure or resist deiphagy need twice their mote cost in motes to counter. If the effect has a duration longer than “Instant,” the Operator is protected for (Permanent Essence) actions. It may extend this protection to lesser deiphages within (Permanent Essence) yards for an additional 5 motes per use.
This ability has a special cost if the Tender is out of motes. By suffering a lethal health level of damage, it can use any one of the effects listed above. Tenders have used this special function to commit suicide when captured.
Join Battle: 11
Dodge DV: 10
Soak: 23A/26L/27B (Insulating Robes, +8L/8B, Operator’s Vestments, +15L/12B). With Destiny Sponsorship active, 23A/36L/37B.
Health Levels: 0/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-4/I/Dyingx7
Claws: Speed 4, Accuracy 15, Damage 11L, Defense 16 (Parry DV 8), Rate 3
Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 15, Damage 11B, Defense nil, Rate 1, Tags C, M, N, P
Join Debate: 11
Dodge MDV: 10