Quintessence, simply defined, is the raw material that composes all of reality. It has a variety of names: Primal Force, chi, mana, the 5th Element, and so on. It manifests in patterns through the interplay of archeypal Dynamism, Stasis, and Entropy (the werewolves know these as the Wyld, Weaver, and Wyrm): Force, Form, Destruction. The Tapestry is a metaphor for reality for the Awakened who find it easy to think of Quintessence as something they weave and unweave to alter or create Patterns. Quintessence flows through not just material reality, but thoughts, concepts and dreams. It tends to ebb and flow around living things especially people and the things or activities they mentally and/or emotionally invest themselves in. It is luminal, existing at the threshold of reality and transcending definition and understanding.
Quintessence and MagesEdit
Quintessence is generally invisible except to mages with Prime 1. Characters with Awareness, Intuition or other abilities related to metaphysical percetion can sense quintessence moving around them, especially when more 3+ points of it gets shifted, but they won't see what is going on the way a mage with Prime can. When more than 10+ points of Quintessence are moved, reality shifts in a way that signs of the disruption will be seen by Witnesses. Such Effects in the terrestrial world tear the fabric of the Tapestry and are always considered vulgar magick.
Mages and their Avatars rely upon Quintessence. Certámen duels, used by Tradition mages to formally resolve conflicts, often using quintessence as part of the stakes and the victor keeping any that they absorbed during the duel. The Virtual Adepts have their own version of this called Core War. (see Chapter Nine in M20 Core regarding mage duels).
Meditation (see the Meditation Skill) is useful for refreshing Quintessence ratings. The Legend background also enables a mage to recharge thier own Quintessence and even instill Quintessence (turning them into Tass)
The Spheres are a metaphor for the different energetic Patterns that a mage can learn to weave, or songs they learn to sing, colors they can paint with, and so on. Mages spend decades or even centuries obtaining true mastery of the Spheres, but they are in effect simply learning how to understand and control the different types of patterns quintessence can form. Prime is the Sphere for manipulating free Quintessence Energy- see the Quintessence Energy Effects chart and the Prime Sphere (pp 520-521 M20 Core) for specifics.
Nodes & TassEdit
Nodes are knots, founts, or pools of primal energy, where Quintessence gathers and some of it takes a more manifested form as Tass. The nature of a Node shapes the feel or flavor of its Quintessence. The shape that Quintessence manifests can be diverse and up to individual Storytellers. Nodes have Resonance that comes from the type of energy that formed the and Tass from that Node will likewise have that Resonance.
in M20, the Node Background provides for access to a node right from the start of a chronicle. In ECC, where new mages wake up as strangers in a strange land, no characters should have immediate access to a node. Storytellers may opt to allow players to buy the Node Background with freebie points or pre-spent experience points with the understanding that allowing the character or characters to find a Node will be a story thread in the early chronicle. Storytellers who use this method may also allow their players to pool their Node background points to obtain a larger Node they shall share.
The exact amount of Tass and free Quintessence that a Node produces can vary on chronicle (see p. 320 in M20 Core). In ECC, this should be 4 points per dot a week, half in Free Quintessence, half in Tass. This is significantly higher than the 2 dots per week in a normal industrial-era chronicle, the "home" that the player characters were ripped away from.
Quintessence in Wonders- and Night FolkEdit
Also known as devices, fetishes, talismans, etc., a Wonder is a mystical object imbued with power. Generally, these are made by mages for mages, but sorcerers and Night-Folk have objects of their own which can be obtained and used by mages- or treated like Tass. As with Nodes, Wonders can be purchased at character creation via the Wonders Background; they would be something the character would find on their person or close at hand when they woke up alone in Emerald City. Certain Wonders can recharge Quintessence, acting like shots of adrenaline or caffeine drinks.Wonders designed to simply store Quintessence for later use are known as Periapts to most factions and Matrices to the Technocracy. Some Wonders require the expediture of a mage's own Quintessece to be used.
Night-Folk cannot use Dynamic Magick like a mage, but they have thier own static powers which can be countermagicked. Shey can also be drained of Quintessence via Prime Effects (see p. 507 in M20 Core) - or, Storyteller permitting, their blood and body parts used as Tass. Even if your character would never do such things, but other mages have- and it has made the Night-Folk paranoid and hostile.
Beyond terrestrial reality, in the Penumbra and beyond, Quintessence is even more accessible and sublime. Domains are places of exceptional power that where Quintessence gathers and flows in abundance. Terrestrially accessible nodes form a domain in the nearby Penumbra.
Horizon Realms or Constructs are fueled by Quintessence, harnessed to nodes and connected to the terrestrial plane via aspects: pan-dimensional portals or anchors.
Quintessence and ParadoxEdit
Quintessence and Paradox are opposing Traits, the spectrum depicted by the Quintessence/Paradox Wheel. When Paradox crosses over and extends beyond Quintessence, the mage can no longer absorb additional Quintessence until Paradox is reduced. Mages can only absorb or expend a maximum of Quintessence per turn equal to their Avatar rating.
Game Effects of QuintessenceEdit
- Quintessence can be spent to reduce the difficulty of a magick casting roll by 1 for each dot spent, to a maximum reduction of -3, provided your Avatar Trait allows for that much expenditure per turn.
- Quintessence can be used to fuel countermagick and with Prime 5, counter Paradox.
- Personal Quintessence is that which is absorbed by the mage's Avatar. It cannot be taken away from them, only spent by the mage themselves. The maximum amount of Personal Quintessence a mage can possess is limited to their Avatar rating.
- Mages can cause Aggravated damage in any combative Effect that is charged with Prime 2 by spending a point of Quintessence.
- By spending a point of Quintessence per health level healed, a mage with Life 3 can heal aggravated damage.
- A mage with Prime 3 can channel Quintessence from a large fire as per the Base Damage or Duration chart.
- During Astral travel, a mage can create a body for themselves from Quintessence using the Astral Sojurn method.
- Mages can reinforce the Pattern of an object with Quintessence so that it resists or inflicts aggravated damage (requires Prime 2).
- Quintessence can be used in conjunction with Life, Forces, and Matter to create completely new Patterns.