The Syphon of Stars
The Syphon of Stars is a very powerful ritual tool attuned to the raw power of magic itself. While some are crafted in the shape of a metal or glass orb they most often take the form of a chunk of irregular crystal shot through with strands of the magical materials, bound in tempest jade and dragonbone. Very occasionally, they are crafted in the form of great tomes bound in rare hides with their covers intricately decorated; twisted ceremonial staves or rods; or small portable monoliths of dark stone engraved with depictions of various constellations and runes, especially The Phoenix - the latter are sometimes called Phoenix Stones and are popular with Urizen and Freeborn magicians of an experimental nature.
The Syphon of Stars has four main purposes. First, it can be invaluable to a coven that wishes to perform a 'formulaic' ritual that some of its members have not mastered, allowing them to reach the threshold of lore required. This is often a costly endeavour, as those coven-members still perform the ritual without the benefit of mastery, meaning that it requires more crystal mana, but without the Syphon the ritual would often be impossible to perform.
In a similar vein, it allows a coven to spontaneously invoke a ritual that none of them have mastered, again with a commensurate cost in mana crystals, In emergencies, however, this extra flexibility can prove absolutely invaluable. For example, a coven of Summer magicians might draw on the Syphon to allow them to perform Renewed Strength of the New Day on their entire coven after receiving a potent curse, or a mixed coven might allow all their members to more readily benefit from a ritual such as Signs and Portents or Hearthfire Circle that takes effect only on those who contribute to the ritual.
Finally - and this use causes some cautious magicians to look askance at any coven that relies on it - is to allow magicians more flexibility in creating ritual effects 'on-the-fly' as it were. Experimental and theoretical magicians, especially those associated with the Unfettered Mind order, have used it to great effect when improvising magical effects. As they sometimes say, the Syphon of Stars is at its most powerful - and most valuable - when it applies its power to everyone and when better to get this benefit than when performing a ritual that nobody knows?
- Form: Paraphernalia. Takes the form of a piece of ritual paraphernalia. The item must be present in the ritual to use its magical properties.
- Effect: Once per day when the coven performs a ritual, all members of the coven who have not mastered that ritual gain an additional effective rank in the appropriate lore for purposes of performing that ritual, subject to the normal rules for effective skill.
- Materials: Crafting the Syphon of Stars requires eleven ingots of tempest jade, nine measures of dragonbone, five measures of ambergelt, five ingots of weltsilver, five measures of beggar's lye, five measures of iridescent gloaming, five ingots of orichalcum and five ingots of green iron. It takes one month to make one of these items.
The normal rules mean that each contributor must posses at least one innate skill rank of the appropriate realm lore. The additional rank does not grant any additional mastered rituals, and a character's total effective rank can never be more than three times their innate skill (the number of ranks of the appropriate Realm Lore they have gained by spending experience points).