Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle
Gnomish Power Crystals [Work in Progress]
Today they are used to power a variety of devices for a wide variety of reasons. Some are used to drive the massive mechs used for gnomish protection while others are used to pass messages along.
Each crystal has a very unique shape, look, color, feel, and size. Each can only be used for a specific size and type of elemental based on its size and cut/color. Each are listed below.
Basic description of all will be you can see into them but not through them. When empty, they are dark within the center. When an elemental is present, the crystal takes on a soft glow.
Fire: This is a jagged, sharp edged piece of crystal that is roughly round. The color is a deep translucent red with what seems like haphazard points and odd edges. When an elemental is present, the crystal glows with a red hue that seems to flicker. The gem itself could act as a torch for the amount of light it gives off. It will also be warm to the touch in a varying amount, depending on size. Some large ones have been known to burn if touched without protection.
Earth: This is a smooth, perfectly faceted, and dense crystal that is usually square or rectangular in shape. The color is green similar to an emerald or jade. Each edge is finely crafted with hard edges. When an elemental is present, the crystal is much heavier than normal, usually around three to five times as heavy as it started. Other than that, there is no outwardly signs. The weight difference is usually enough to tell.
Air: This is a long, thin, pointed crystal that is in the shape of a shard or spindle. When there is no elemental inside the crystal, it is perfectly clear. When an elemental is present, you can see moving or rolling mist and the weight of crystal drops to half the weight or greater. Some of the crystals have been said to almost ‘float’ if dropped. There is also a smell of fresh air that surrounds it and the slight feeling of moving air. The only time this is noticeable without actively looking for it is in the larger crystals.
Water: Water crystals are cut in a teardrop shape. When they have an elemental in them, there is movement within the crystal of currents, sometimes a whirlpool. The surface of the crystal also becomes slick as if constantly wet and is cool to the touch. Like fire, large versions have been known to cause damage to the unprotected touch.
Little is known outside of the gnomish communities on how this is accomplished. Those wishing to learn how to create the crystals must go through a very lengthy and rigorously intense process in order to get someone to teach them. Even once they learn, they are taught only how to bind small elementals. The principles and concepts to bind larger ones are simply too different to get by on the basic training alone. Needless to say, only gnomes are willing to go through the process to the end.
Other races may attempt, but most find that the process is even more drawn out than it is for a gnome. Not that they could ever prove that, due to the constantly changing process structure. Granted, much of that is due to the gnomes simply not convinced any other candidate is smart enough.
The process itself is relatively simple, just submerge/insert/hold the crystal inside the elemental while the arcane/alchemical process is performed. Usually the elemental is held inside a fairly small container while the process is done. As the process is done, the elemental is slowly drawn into the crystal until fully contained.
The crystal needed depends on the elemental to be used and the size to be contained. The larger the size category, the larger the crystal that will be needed.
[Insert table of crystal | size cat of elemental | cost]
It is possible to use a crystal to house any other elemental than what it was intended for but such crystals work at 70% power and have a 2%/size cat chance that the elemental may break free with each use. When this happens, the elemental is usually quite enraged and attacks anyone nearby. The power loss and chance of breaking the binding is because each crystal is as it is because it closely ties to the nature of the elemental itself. When you bind an elemental to a crystal that is not attuned to it, it struggles constantly to the change.
Despite the idea that you can put an elemental into any crystal, you can NEVER put them in an opposing crystal. Water will never go into fire, earth to wind, wind to earth, and fire to water. If it is ever tried, any number of things could result. The crystal could shatter, the elemental damaged, anyone unfortunate enough to be in the area damaged or killed. What happens varies based on the skills present and elemental to be bound.
It is also possible to bind a larger elemental to a smaller crystal. The power outage works for an elemental equal to the size, but there is a 5% chance per size difference per use that the crystal will shatter and free the elemental. Like using a different crystal, the elemental comes out enraged and attacks anyone nearby. This is purely because you are trying to contain more energy than what the crystal can handle.
You can always use a smaller elemental than the crystal can hold, but the power output is always based on the size of the elemental, not the size of the crystal. There are no adverse effects to this other than the crystal is larger than needed.
Each type of elemental has a series of things that it excels at, and things it is naturally bad at. Because of this, how you use each shard is very important. As a whole, each shard will do exactly what you need it too, but if the right type is used, it will perform much better. If the wrong one is used, it will be far less effective.
As a general rule of thumb, each crystal has a weakness to those of the opposing element. Fire will be weak to all sensory things and Earth to all movement based.
If you use a crystal with an affinity, it acts as a crystal of one size category larger than it is in terms of power outage. Size and required elemental for the crystal stay unchanged.
If an opposing crystal is used, it acts as two size categories smaller and increases the chances of a malfunction in the device. Size and required elemental for the crystal stay unchanged.
The following is in no way a complete list of everything that can be done.
Affinity: Power, Passion
Examples: Stat: Str, Stat: Cha, School: Evocation
Affinity: Structure, Determination
Examples: DR, Natural Armor, Shield Bonus, Armor Bonus, HP, Stat: Con, Hardness, Material (changes to it or affecting it), School: Transmutation, School: Abjuration
Affinity: Movement, Discovery
Examples: Dodge Bonus, Evasion, Mobility, Tumble, Stat: Dex, School: Illusion, School: Teleportation
Affinity: Sensory, Understanding
Examples: Perception, Sense Motive, Stat: Int, Stat: Wis, School: Conjuration, School: Divination
There are a variety of ways that the crystal can be used in any of the devices out there. Many are built into the machine itself as simply another component of it. A matrix of sorts is built within the device stemming from the crystal to power each part of the device.
As of recently, a new way of using the crystals is being tried, hot-swapping. The idea is that if they create a universal slot for each size of crystal, they can create a cage to house the crystal that will fit, there-by allowing them to swap crystals out on the fly. Since each crystal is a unique shape, a unique cage must be created for each crystal. Without this, installing a new crystal takes at least 8 hours and [x] gold.
Currently power crystals are only used for devices that are created to fill in the gaps of magical enchantments. It is possible to recreate normal enchantments with tech and power crystals, but due to the increased cost compared to the long used magical enchantments, it’s rarely done.