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Lavinia in Adastra
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"Summoned Heroes are known for their uncanny luck, but it's not actually luck. They make the right choices to make themselves lucky. That this is technically a power that transcends time rather than minor probability manipulation is a subtle enough distinction that's only normally of interest to scholars."

"While you can't change the past, this Exception lets you maintain a 'link' to it, and on some level stop something from becoming 'past.' While you can't change what was, you can backdate."

"Essentially, this exception creates a mark on your soul, like the rings of a tree. You can find the 'you' at the first Ascension, and help them develop an aspect. This won't change the world around you, but it will change you. You can essentially go back and develop aspects you skipped over, 'filling in' what you didn't do."

"Interestingly enough, this 'backdating' lets you target individual icons in an interesting way. I think you'll be able to raise any future Icons you gain to your current ascension, rather than having them always lag behind. This is very much an Exception that will show its value in the long run."

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"I got most of that from your initial description; what I mean is, is 'backdating' icons like that as incredibly useful as it sounds, because it sounds incredibly useful."

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"Yes. Tree of Possibility is an Exception which wouldn't help you much early on, but would become steadily more of an advantage the further you grow."

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"I want Tree of Possibility. What else is especially good in the long term?"

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"Aspected will enable you to develop twice as many Aspects by pulling Potential from your Icons into your Level of Existence. At low Ascension, a Pinnacle's Aspects are so broad, you might have trouble leveraging multiple ones at the same time, and early Outsider Aspects are potent but quirky. But as you grow, Aspected is pretty much the definition of a long term Exception. Once it matures, it represents overwhelming might."

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Nod nod. 

"Is this my only chance to gain control over one of the elements that were at the end of the list?"

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"No. If you bind a suitable Icon, such as the Wizard or Druid, you will be able to create Aspects for elemental powers. It is also possible to study the control of a higher element without access to an appropriate Aspect, but the results will take longer and be less impressive."

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"What's the practical difference between getting it as an Aspect and getting it as an Exception?"

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"An elementalism Exception would instantly grant a level of power and skill that it would take years to develop as an Aspect, as well as a permanent boost to the speed with which you would be able to grow further in your use of that element."

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Hmmmm. Sounds nice, but not uniquely advantageous like Tree of Possibility and Aspected. 

"Is killing people something that Heroes are definitely going to have to do?"

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"Heroes can walk nearly any path in life they choose, but as their powers grow, many seek to change the world, and many possible changes to the world draw opposition, and many possible forms of that opposition lead inevitably to those Heroes either killing or dying."

"Growing in power requires overcoming challenges. For some Icons, those may be intellectual, scientific, or diplomatic; for others, they must be intelligent opponents defeated by strength or cunning."

"People start retreating from the world at higher ascensions. I don't know too much about it, but it usually starts around the seventeenth ascension.They become involved in matters outside this plane, taking on duties beyond Adastra. I do not know the nature of those duties, or whether they involve killing--only that they are important."

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There is the sensation, for a moment, that the void is very large, and contains things other than Lavinia and the spell-ghost, and some of them are paying attention. 

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WOW OMINOUS. 

...On the one hand, if she takes Resurrection, that introduces obvious incentive problems vis-a-vis killing people. On the other hand, if she's going to have children, she would really really like to make sure nothing happens to them. 

"Can you tell me more about Resurrection?"

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"It is a strange thing, this Exception; it twists the rules of Karma. Karma is a subtle force, mostly used by the gods to gently nudge the direction of nations more in line with their vision. It's an immaterial, invisible force that barely exists on the level of the individual, despite the words of priests and mystics."

"The Resurrection Exception is a corruption of the natural flow of Karma, reversing cause and effect. It would let you harvest the Karmic weight of those you destroy, forging them into Life Threads - the very threads of Destiny and Karma that inform the universe that someone is alive and exists."

"By granting someone a thread, you could assert that they are alive and still exist. You could bring back the dead and command them to live!"

"You must 'stretch' these forged lifelines backwards from the moment of someone's death to the present, and this appears to follow an inverse cube law. The more recently someone died, the easier they are to restore. It also seems that targeting can create inefficiencies - without a strong link (like a body), it becomes much more expensive to restore someone, measured in multiple deaths for each such resurrection."

"You would auto-restore yourself if you die. You wouldn't have to resurrect yourself where you fell, either, but may take advantage of an Outsider's Living Nexus nature to reappear anywhere you have a strong connection."

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That is a reeeeaaaaaally tempting power. 

"...Are there other ways to resurrect people?"

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"If you bind a chained spirit later in the templating process, you will be able to reassert their existence should they be destroyed, and vice versa if you die while they live. Some mages become undead, at varying costs to their mental stability. There may be other methods unknown to me, but none both reliably learnable and lacking in major drawbacks, for such a thing would have become famous even if only as a legend."

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“Bind a chained spirit” is such a concerning phrase, but.

“If I were to…bind a chained spirit…could I kill them to fuel the Resurrection power, and then reassert their existence afterwards?”

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"I have no memory of such a thing being attempted and can only speculate. Killing your own chained spirit would likely not produce a useable life-thread, as their life would simply respool back into yourself as the ability to remanifest them. However, with skill and practice it might be possible to do something similar by killing the chained spirit of another summoned Hero, who would then be able to reassert their existence without affecting your access to the life thread."

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"...I'll take Resurrection as my third exception," she decides. Even if she can't manage a positive-sum number of lives saved versus taken, she can at least protect her own children. Which is deeply, deeply important. Ideally it would never come up! But if it does, she'll be ready. 

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"Exceptions: Aspected, Tree of Possibility, and Resurrection."

"The next step is to choose your third Icon. Before I list your options there, it may be helpful to become more familiar with the Pinnacle and Native Outsider icons and their starting Aspects, and with the paths of power in Adastra which you may wish to walk: magic, glamour, orgone, and psionics."

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Orgone? She realizes this is some kind of translation effect, but she's pretty sure she's seen that on the internet as sex energy. Okay, well, this'll be interesting. "Hit me." 

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"The Pinnacle Icon represents the impossible peak that can never be reached. As such, one can only arrive at it via Miracle. It was the Icon given to the greatest champions of the gods, and to rare beings born under impossible paradoxical circumstances, until wizards figured out a way to cheat someone inside it through the Hero Summoning Ritual."

"Feeding Potential into the Pinnacle Icon tends to cause overall growth in all areas, mentally, physically, and spiritually, but potential fed to the Pinnacle Icon can not be focused. If the Pinnacle has a weakness, it's their inability to focus. Pinnacles have trouble focusing their potential into focused, limited abilities."

"All of a Pinnacle's starting Aspects are fixed. The Pinnacle can be used to develop additional Aspects within one's own Level of Existence, like all Icons. The Pinnacle loathes tightly focused abilities and cannot be used to develop them, but easily develops broad flexible masteries."

"The starting Pinnacle aspects are:

Input Idealisation, which transforms your inputs into any process to produce outcomes better than naturally possible;

Outcome Enforcement, which makes the effects of your actions more favorable, more extreme, and longer-lasting;

Cthonic Will, which grants unlimited strength of will against all attempts at coercion, magical or mundane,

and Becoming Light, a link between past and future that nudges you towards choices you will approve of having made."

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Oooooh. Ooh. Oooooooooooooh. 

"What kind of impossible paradoxical circumstances?"

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"Such cases are more in the realm of legends than of known facts, but I can tell you what I know. There are tales of a Pinnacle who bent Time to become her own mother. There are tales of a Bard who created a Pinnacle child, not by conceiving him but by composing him as a great song-cycle that attained both humanity and something greater. There are tales that the gods created a Pinnacle to be the foremother of all Elves.

"It was once believed that Demigods were Pinnacles, though the research that went into creating the summoning spell showed that the Demigod is a different Icon, the only one that rivals the Pinnacle for power and glory."

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Hmm. If there were something slightly less impossible among those examples, Lavinia could aspire to have children who were both Pinnacles and Demigods, but she supposes only the latter will have to do, absent further research. 

"I see. Thank you."

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