This Hell-dwelling Dragon-Blood was originally mentioned in passing in Roll of Glorious Divinity V. I put him in my outline for Compass of Celestial Directions: Malfeas along with a handful of other non-demon antagonists, but only got partway through his write-up before I realized that I wouldn’t have room to fit him in. (I wrote way too much for that book, on the principle that I could then cut the weakest antagonists from the chapter for a stronger result.) Later, I worked on finishing him up so he could go up on the Ink Monkeys blog, only for the blog to close up shop before I was quite done. Here he is in all his 2011 glory!
I’d like to give a special thanks to Richard Hughes, also known as Kukla on the Onyx Paths forums, for helping me polish off Gemstone Ocean Hero’s combat stats. (Now that I’m working on 3e, the 2e combat rules have become a distant memory for me.) Thanks, Richard!
Gemstone Ocean Hero
The Dancing Stranger, Water Aspect
As a small child, Gemstone Ocean Hero was found on the shore of the Western isle of Orchid after a storm, a precious jewel cast up by the sea. Priests of the Western fertility-god Gomata took him in and raised him as a temple dancer. The child became ever more beautiful and graceful as he grew older, enthralling all who encountered him. Gomata himself favored the boy, taking him as a lover when he came of age.
At the age of eighteen, Gemstone Exalted while defending the temple from marauding Lintha. Instead of staying on Orchid or joining the Realm as a legionnaire or a monk, he chose to wander the Threshold and taste civilization on his own terms. He spent years immersing himself in new cultures and experiences while pursuing his fascination with dance and its ancillary disciplines—music, acting and the martial arts. Within a decade he was the most celebrated dancer in the Threshold, and his repute stretched as far as the Blessed Isle.
For all his finely-honed skill and supernatural puissance, Gemstone craved earthly things: wealth, lovers and powerful patrons. He cut a romantic swath through every city he visited, bedding many prominent men—and a few equally prominent women—in the wake of each performance. He likewise accepted offers from Threshold lords to spy on their rivals, and eventually entered the service of the All-Seeing Eye. In time, his path led him to a prolonged liaison with the wealthiest and most powerful man in the world: Ragara, eldest son of the Scarlet Empress.
By this time, the Empress had become aware of Gemstone’s skills. Perhaps to separate her son—whose ambitions she still scrutinized, despite his ostensible withdrawal from Dynastic politics—from such a gifted intelligence asset, she personally offered Gemstone the assignment of a lifetime: to act as her personal agent in Malfeas. As vulnerable as ever to the blandishments of the mighty, he agreed. As the All-Seeing Eye’s agents spread word of his retirement into anonymous seclusion, Gemstone crossed the threshold into the Demon City.
Gemstone Ocean Hero never lacks for patrons or lovers among the jaded aristocracy of Hell, for he dances so brilliantly, so beguilingly, that demons of the Second Circle view him as a peer. Meanwhile, he practices the spy’s trade for demons willing to purchase the services of an outsider—and conveys what he learns to certain oft-conjured demons to pass along to their Iselsi summoners.
For the moment, Makarios serves as Gemstone’s Infernal sponsor. Alas, the Sigil’s Dreamer is a jealous paramour who parades the Dragon-Blood around as a living ornament. In spare moments, Gemstone indulges in affairs with more free-spirited demons, such as Florivet, Janequin and certain First Circle ingénues. When Makarios discovers this infidelity—as he inevitably will—the consequences may prove dire.
Motivation: To master the arts of dance and desire. Gemstone’s Intimacies include dancing, beauty, fame, triumph, lovers, strong benefactors and the sea.
Anima Banner: Luminous sea creatures whirling in intricate patterns through streamers of sea-green water. Due to his prolonged stay in Malfeas, the sea creatures have a distinctly alien cast.
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 5, Stamina 3; Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 5; Perception 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
Virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 3, Temperance 2, Valor 4
Abilities: Athletics 3, Awareness 3 (Patterns of Movement +2), Bureaucracy 2, Dodge 4 (While Unarmed +2), Integrity 2, Investigation 3, Larceny 3, Linguistics (Native: Seatongue, Other: Flametongue, High Realm, Old Realm, Riverspeak, Skytongue) 5, Lore 3, Martial Arts 4 (While Immaculately Well-Dressed and Well-Groomed +2), Occult 3 (Malfeas +1), Performance 5 (Dancing +3), Presence 3, Resistance 3 (Prolonged Exertion +3), Ride 1, Sail 2, Socialize 5 (Seduction +1), Stealth 3
Backgrounds: Allies 2, Artifact 4 (Bracers of Silver Flame), Artifact 2 (Silken Armor), Backing 1 (Makarios), Contacts 1, Cult 1 (venerated by mortal dancers in the Threshold), Mentor 2, Resources 4
Athletics: Effortlessly Rising Flame
Dodge: Third Dodge Excellency, Threshold Warding Stance, Hopping Firecracker Evasion, Safety Among Enemies
Larceny: First Larceny Excellency
Martial Arts: First Martial Arts Excellency
Performance: First Performance Excellency, Hidden Petal Aria Method, Soul-Stirring Performance Method
Presence: Auspicious First Meeting Attitude
Resistance: Ox-Body Technique, Third Resistance Excellency, Strength of Stone Technique, Impervious Skin of Stone Meditation, Vitriol Protection Form
Socialize: First Socialize Excellency, Sweeten-the-Tap Method, Jade Defense, Warm-Faced Seduction Style, Wary Yellow Dog Attitude
Golden Janissary Style: All Charms
Terrestrial Hero Style: Currents Sweep to Sea, Pounding Surf Style, Flow from the Rocks, Terrestrial Hero Form
White Veil Style: Alehouse Memory Stance
Join Battle: 6 (Applicable Charm: Wary Yellow Dog Attitude)
Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy +1, Damage 3B, Parry DV 6, Rate 3
Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy +0, Damage 6B, Parry DV 4, Rate 2
Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy +0, Damage 3B, Parry DV —, Rate 1, Tags P
Soak: 7L/6B (Silken armor, 5L/3B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 9 (8 if armed) Willpower: 8
Personal Essence: 12 Peripheral Essence: 31
Committed Essence: 6
Other Notes: Despite his youthful countenance, Gemstone Ocean Hero is well over two hundred old and possesses a wide range of abilities. Decades of residence in Hell have left him jaded; little in Creation could shock him now.
Gemstone wears silken armor and a pair of hearthstone bracers forged from blue and green jade. His home contains all manner of valuables, including a sizable library containing works on infernal history and culture, texts on Malfean dances and martial arts training manuals.
Four gilmyne serve Gemstone Ocean Hero. Sharing their master’s flying copper house, they serve as both bodyguards and tutors, educating him in the thousands of dances known to their race.
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Vitriol Protection Form
This variant of the (Element) Protection Form Charm (see Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded, p. 147) provides a soak bonus against vitriol-based elemental attacks, including hellwands, and attacks with vitriol-tainted jade weapons. The Dragon-Blood adds his Essence to his (Stamina + Resistance) pool to resist immersion in vitriol, Malfean flame and other baneful substances native to Hell. When this Charm is in effect, it turns the user’s skin the sickly ocher hue of tainted jade.
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Harmonious Silver Sentinel (Artifact ***, Sapience ***)
This hovering orb of Malfean silver emits music akin to a harp strung with bells. It contains the Essence of a neomah-crafted First Circle demon, a hybrid of angyalka and gilmyne. The orb provides all of the normal benefits of an Ever Vigilant Guardian (see Wonders of the Lost Age, p.104-105), although its attacks take the form of blasts of congealed music and silver fire rather than bolts of raw Essence. It also provides its owner access to a handful of Spirit Charms. The orb is always warm to the touch; wisps of fragrant smoke trail from it when it moves. (For more details on hellforged wonders, see The Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals, pp.196-199.)
Ordinarily, a hellforged wonder may not use its Charms independently. Automatons such as the Harmonious Silver Sentinel lack this restriction; like hellstriders, they have full access to their own Charms.
Urge: Express the splendor of the world through music and/or dance.
Attributes: Strength 1, Dexterity 5, Stamina 5; Charisma 5, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3; Perception 5, Intelligence 3, Wits 5
Virtues: Automaton: Never fails Valor checks, never makes others
Abilities: Archery 5, Awareness 5, Dodge 5, Integrity 5, Performance 5, War 5
Essence Bite—Silver flames enshroud the sentinel (4L damage)
Hoodwink—Emits mesmerizing lights and tones
Natural Prognostication—The sentinel’s music indicates the incipience of peril, opportunity and moments of change
First (Ability) Excellency—Awareness, Dodge, Performance
Join Battle: 10
Beam: Speed 4, Accuracy 11, Damage 14B or 10L, Range 50, Rate 3
Soak: 10L/13B (Hardness: 3L/3B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 5 + (half the user’s Essence) Willpower: 10 (0 against its owner)
Essence: 3 Essence Pool: 30
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