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Old 01-07-2019, 05:52 AM   #21
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
Thank you.

I suppose some instinct of sanity-preservation led me to Google only diamonds and gems, reading through the history of various famous ones, but avoiding any Googling of Hollywood engagements.

I can see that I must delve into these unsavory accounts of forbidden knowledge, however, if only to learn how to oppose such things.

Robert Mouawad, however, like the occult mastermind that he is (undoubtedly, at least in my campaign), bought a private residence in Beirut, where he was born, and took great care to keep the deeply significant house, belonging to a mysterious and esoteric figure, who was murdered in a very dramatic fashion (but not in this home) exactly as it was, to make it his Sanctum and have the protection of its Threshold, to protect his collection. He also has an occult library there.

See:

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The intricately painted, carved wooden panels depicting Islamic scenes still adorn the walls and ceilings and the two floors are punctuated with stone and marble carvings, which include numerous ancient funerary steles, roman pillars, clocks, carpets, metal work, Chinese pottery and Islamic pottery, as well as Mouawad’s own collection of jewelry and precious stones. Altogether they create a magnificent time capsule of the distant past. “There is so much to see from different eras,” says Abu Khalil.

The museum’s vast collection of books, possibly the oldest and rarest in the capital, are particularly captivating, along with the decorative 19th century narguileh that line the dividing wall of the central, first floor landing.
That is the sort of thing that players might call shenanigans on, as too cliche and implausible in a setting that's supposed to resemble the real world, except that it really exists.

In any case, however, the NPCs who were stealing diamonds were based on California, because they are not the sort of people who'd have any plausible way to travel the world on a globetrotting mission of derring-do and stylish villainy. I'll have to find some suitable gems for them to steal in vulgar Tinseltown and environs, as they are a rather shabby sort of villains.

Well, I suppose that the female of the pair is rather more elegant, significant and capable. With the right partners, she could no doubt rob any vault in the world, acquiring diamonds from a variety of private collections. But she was assigned to work with a magician valuable for his undoubted educated intellect and arcane ability, even though he is, in terms of personality, a pitiful dweeb.

A pitiful dweeb, moreover, who really only had the Cultural Familiarity, connections and language ability to operate in the United States, specifically, the California from whence he came. In fact, when the PCs encountered them, these villains were not actually carrying out the dark will of their distant masters, they were engaged in a bit of personal business on behalf of said dweeb, due to the relative proximity of Dallas, where they were on their real business, to Houston, where the dweeb had tracked someone he wants for personal reasons.

It's just that they were in possession of 34 diamonds, each of which was cartoonishly large, and which if real, would be worth something north of 100 million dollars. And their sad little freshman philosophy nihilist driver said that these had been 'fetched' from a bunch of houses, mostly around LA, the help of some South Americans, who sound like, frankly, gangsters.

Which may or may not check out, as the PCs recall a diamond heist or two in the news in the last months, but certainly not enough of them for so many awesomely expensive gems to be on the loose. Then again, the PCs did find out that a number of Hollywood people had approached one or more of the police, private security companies and their insurers because of something that might have been an attempt, successful or not, to steal from them, but that either the apparent victims or the police had successfully prevented the media from finding out.
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:20 PM   #22
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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I don't know about "well written" but the standards for this seem to be George Frederick Kunz _The Curious Lore of Precious Stones_ (a 19th century work that Dover keeps in print) and Scott Cunningham _Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic_ (a more modern work aimed at the Wiccan community).

But keep in mind that premodern gems are basically classified only by color and transparency, so the meanings assigned will typically be the same as the meanings assigned to the color in the same tradition, and the overlap with modern conceptions of what gems are which may not be very good.
Right, Cunningham was available in Kindle form and I'm in the process of learning modern stone magic.

I suppose I'll have diamonds be magical enhancers in general. Diamonds are different from other precious stones in being a highly unusual form of a pure element, which is also the element that makes up all life. Diamonds can be associated with projective energies or receiptive ones, depending on what we choose to emphasise. They're forged in fire and look and feel like ice.

Diamonds are colourless. Diamonds are all colours. Diamonds are life, the building blocs of it encased in crystalline matrix. Diamonds are death, composed of dead bodies buried for untold aeons and burned until none of the processes of life are possible any more.

Diamonds store, focus and enhance magical energies. They are batteries for mystical workings and whether good or evil depends on the flavour of the energies collected.

Sound about right?
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:39 PM   #23
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Sound about right?
Sounds about the best reasoning I ever heard.
Most sources are primarily based on color alone.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:33 AM   #24
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Sounds about the best reasoning I ever heard.
Most sources are primarily based on color alone.
Well, feature 34 gigantic diamonds that are fairly glowing with arcane energy, and you'll find yourself having to justify a lot.

Like where they came from and how they work. Not to mention what they were actually meant to be used for, because the PCs, even in their most narcissist moods, don't really believe that what might be over $100 million in magical tools was meant to be used against them, by some cult they've never heard of. One villainous caster did start to draw on the diamonds, but only after they'd invaded the Bad Place where he kept his spellcasting sanctum, and he even apologized to his sacrifice/victim that this was not how it was supposed to go.

As best the PCs can tell, such a concentration of magical energy must have been intended for an absolutely huge ritual, the sort you'd perform at a carefully chosen place and time to maximize your potential bonuses. And, well, it's currently the 28th of December in play. Midnight on New Year's Eve sounds like a pretty good time to cast any ritual that brings in something from Outside, like the villainous occultist tried to do with his panicked drawing on the gemstones.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:29 AM   #25
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

How do artificial gems work? I mean, you can pull a flawless ruby crystal the size of a trash can out of a melt of aluminum oxide and a bit of chromium. We can even produce artificial diamonds using carbon vapor deposition; this is more challenging, but 10 carat cut diamond gems have been made from synthetic stock and the upper limit is only going to grow as interest in bulk diamond for industrial applications grows.

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Old 01-09-2019, 10:24 AM   #26
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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How do artificial gems work? I mean, you can pull a flawless ruby crystal the size of a trash can out of a melt of aluminum oxide and a bit of chromium. We can even produce artificial diamonds using carbon vapor deposition; this is more challenging, but 10 carat cut diamond gems have been made from synthetic stock and the upper limit is only going to grow as interest in bulk diamond for industrial applications grows.

Luke
They don't, obviously.

They might be able to hold magical energy the way any ordinary Charm object might, but mystical potency is strongly correlated with whatever intangibles that cause humans to value certain stones far above others.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:32 AM   #27
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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They might be able to hold magical energy the way any ordinary Charm object might, but mystical potency is strongly correlated with whatever intangibles that cause humans to value certain stones far above others.
So what happens if a fake, manufactured gem is passed off as real, and believed to be so?
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:21 PM   #28
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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So what happens if a fake, manufactured gem is passed off as real, and believed to be so?
Either something anti-climactic, when the gem fails to produce any effect, or something very dramatic, if, say, massive amounts of magic energy are focused through it and the inauthentic stone proves utterly unable to handle even a fraction of that power, exploding into a terrible magical botch and/or razor sharp shards of manufactured diamond.
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:41 AM   #29
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Either something anti-climactic, when the gem fails to produce any effect, or something very dramatic, if, say, massive amounts of magic energy are focused through it and the inauthentic stone proves utterly unable to handle even a fraction of that power, exploding into a terrible magical botch and/or razor sharp shards of manufactured diamond.
So what if it's a *valuable* fake? I can't imagine there aren't fakes out there that were worn by famous film star A in award winning film B, or were part of the crown jewels of nation N for three centuries before being discovered to be polished glass, or decorated the favorite dildo of adult magazine mogul X, that would go for quite a lot of money if put up for auction even though everybody knew they weren't real gems.
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Old 01-15-2019, 10:16 AM   #30
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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So what if it's a *valuable* fake? I can't imagine there aren't fakes out there that were worn by famous film star A in award winning film B, or were part of the crown jewels of nation N for three centuries before being discovered to be polished glass, or decorated the favorite dildo of adult magazine mogul X, that would go for quite a lot of money if put up for auction even though everybody knew they weren't real gems.
I should imagine that could be a very useful tool for magical workings in the field of illusion or anything to do with surface impressions, faking status, etc.

But it probably wouldn't be useful as the setting equivalent of a 'manastone', however.
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