by Elizabeth McCoy
(This piece, despite being written by the In Nomine Line Editor, is not even remotely canon, nor likely to become so, as of this writing.)
In GURPS Places of Mystery, there's a section on ley lines. In the expanded description of David, Archangel of Stone (in Fall of the Malakim, p. 14, and Superiors 1, p. 8), there is a Servitor Attunement, Geomancy, which allows a celestial to position himself appropriately at dawn and gain extra Essence.
And then, in the Corporeal Player's Guide, there are sorcerers, who are able to accomplish things that celestials believe no mortal should be able to accomplish without the use of Ethereal or Celestial Songs -- or at all!
This can all be put together, of course.
According to Places of Mystery, ley lines were (re?) discovered in 1921, by a businessman named Alfred Watkins, in England. In 1922 and 1925, he published books about this, naming them "ley" lines because the ancient sites that stood atop them often had "-ley" in their name.
(Of course, "leigh" and "ley," often pronounced "lee," is a common component of English surnames. It means "meadow." And England is filled with enough ancient sites that you probably could make any number of lines between them. However, let us not debunk. We know ley lines of some sort exist in In Nomine!)
Ley lines were claimed to be many things, from mere "prehistoric roads" (marked with medieval churches and castles), to weak points in space-time where you could see the Loch Ness monster more easily (or get sucked in yourself), to lines of mystic power which UFOs could tap into to travel upon. Some dowsers claimed to be able to detect the ley lines. Groups of ley lines sometimes intersect, and are frequently called "nodes" in various fiction literature.
In the Liber Servitorum, we learn that at least two groups of ethereal spirits -- the Benevolent Space Brothers and the Greys -- have taken on the seemings of UFO creatures. (We won't ask if the ideas and forms they borrowed from humanity's beliefs are real or false. That would be another article.) And then there's Ofanim and Elohim, of course, or other sorts of ethereals.
Clearly, ley lines are lines of energy, Essence drawn primarily from the Earth, and perhaps even some sort of mutated Tether from the long-ago past when David was experimenting. Or perhaps they're the remains of many, many Tethers, ethereal and celestial, reaching out to each other . . . Individually, they've faded and are no longer Seneschal'ed, no longer funnel Essence to their masters. But if you can stand within the faint, collapsed web of them . . .
So why must a celestial with Geomancy reposition himself every time he wants to tap into this power, instead of being able to just stand at a previously established nexus point? This is simple, and has to do with the nature of celestials, and the fact that they are "out of place" on Earth. They must constantly rebalance themselves within the ever-changing Symphony to take advantage of ley lines and the Word of Stone. And indeed, ley lines on Earth probably change position slowly over time -- some ruins are merely ruins now. Between that, subtle shifts in the Earth's magnetic field, and solar flares, celestials have to make their daily Perception roll to find the currents. But once they are in that delicate, harmonious spot-of-the-day, they can access an extra point of Essence or two.
But humans have no such difficulties. Humans are native to Earth, and are thus naturally "in tune" with the Symphony. Once they find a "sweet spot," they can exploit it with varying degrees of success until it actually does move away -- which may take years, at least, if not centuries or millennia. Such a pity, that most of humanity has no way to take advantage of ley lines, except sorcerers . . .
Start with the ancient traditions, passed down from druids or witches, kept alive by hopeful ethereals and demons of Sorcery. Add a touch of insularity to keep them from getting out into general sorcerous knowledge. This isn't hard; most circles are convinced they've discovered the One True Way of Sorcery, and aren't inclined to risk themselves by experimenting with someone else's tradition. It's never a good idea to get experimental when you're playing with demons, after all.
Then add in a few variant rituals . . .
Tapping Lines for Essence
Ley sorcerers may use a variant of the Siphon Essence ritual (p. 41 of the Corporeal Player's Guide) to tap the energy of the ley lines. The sorcerer must be within 6 feet of the line. The ley line does not get a roll to resist having Essence drawn from it, but the variant ritual requires 1 hour per point of Essence drawn, up to a maximum of the check digit of the successful performance. (The 2 Essence to fuel the ritual is paid up front, with the initial 1 minute time to begin the tapping process.)
There are rumors of yet another variant, which allows near-instantaneous tapping of Essence -- and can be performed during such things as Will-Wars . . .
Rituals on a Line
At the GM's option, any attempt to summon an ethereal being (or dream-shade) may have a +1 bonus if done on a line, at a node, or while Walking the Road of Worlds (below). Or a bonus for each, at +1/+2/+3, respectively.
Also, nodes may be more effective places for Protective Wards; with a variant performance, even the lowest level Protective Ward may last indefinitely (until it has been broken down), as it can tap the node's Essence to maintain itself. Permanent Ward may also be renewed -- indefinitely, though a sorcerer must still muster up the Essence to refuel it.
Symphonic Awakenings and Sorcerous Initiations may be easier on lines or at nodes (such as Stonehenge, say). Give Awakenings a bonus of +1 to the check digit, and Initiations a bonus of the initiate's Celestial Forces to Will, if the ritual is performed entirely upon a line or node.
Standing stones often mark ley lines -- and may be handy spirit anchors. Normally, they won't be much use against an ethereal spirit -- but if you can use them against an ethereal while Walking the Road of Worlds (below), one could likely be trapped that way, and would remain even after the ritual were ended.
Necromantic rituals are unlikely to gain much benefit from being performed on a ley line, unless the line is being used to tap Essence.
Special Ley Line Rituals
(For the most part, these rituals have been based on, and translated/heavily mutated from, spells in GURPS Places of Mystery. One ritual, Walking the Road of Worlds, is not based upon these spells, but is instead inspired by Barbara Hambly's novel, The Silicon Mage.)
Each of the following is a ritual based on the sorcerous skill of Ley Dowsing, also referred to as "Dowsing." Ley Dowsing requires the dowser to have 6 Forces, as it is a way of listening to the Symphony, but Sorcerous Initiation or Symphonic Awakening is unnecessary for the base skill. At the GM's option, some prophets may also be able to sense the lines, despite having fewer than 6 Forces. The rituals themselves do require Sorcerous Initiation.
This skill permits the user to sense ley lines. Some use branches or pendulums, others feel the tingling in their bare feet (or a tugging of their entire bodies) as they get closer to the line. An experienced dowser can also make a simple Perception roll without invoking his skill, and see if a place is a likely candidate for ley lines from the way the trees grow, or placement of standing stones or ruins. (This is something the GM could roll privately.)
The Glowing Road (Sense Leys) (Dowsing/1)
To the performer's eyes, nearby (within his total Forces in yards) ley lines will glow, and even illuminate other objects! Stronger lines will be brighter, and weaker ones dimmer. Corrupted ones (see below) glow with a sickly, diseased purple-green-black. The performer -- and he alone -- may even be able to read by the light of the strongest lines.
To allow others to see the glow, double the time to perform, and add 1 Essence per additional viewer (who must participate in the ritual).
Time to Perform: 1 hour
Duration: check digit minutes
Essence Cost: 1
Purify the Road (Dowsing/2)
A corrupted ley line (see below) can be purified by hammering angle-irons into the ground at certain points -- with this accompanying ritual, which points out the exact point of grounding required. (A mundane or dowser without this ritual may attempt to do the same by trial and error. Sometimes it works, and could be considered time spent learning this ritual, even without a teacher.)
Time to Perform: 15 minutes
Essence Cost: 3
Whisper Down the Road (Ley Communication) (Dowsing/3)
This ritual allows the performer to speak mind-to-mind with someone else upon the same ley line. (Use the mechanics of the Ethereal Song of Tongues, except for the vastly expanded range.) The speaker must know the other being well enough to visualize him or her (and is at a -3 to skill if he can only recall the sound of the target's voice). If the other being is several nodes away, but on a line that is connected to the line or node the performer is on, use the check digit to determine how many nodes the message can traverse before losing coherency.
Needless to say, if either performer or recipient move off the ley line, the communication is instantly broken.
Time to Perform: 10 minutes
Duration: (CD x Essence spent) minutes
Essence Cost: 2 (minimum)
Walk the Road of Air (Ley Flight) (Dowsing/4)
The performer(s) may fly along the ley line, at up to 50 feet above it or to either side, as if with the Corporeal Song of Motion. Moving too far from the line will cause a crash, as the power runs out. When the duration runs out, the performer(s) will drift quickly to the ground.
Time to Perform: 2 hours
Duration: 10 + CD minutes, plus one minute per additional Essence spent
Essence Cost: 10
Mark the Road (Ley Telekinesis) (Dowsing/5)
This functions like the Ethereal Song of Motion, and ley sorcerers believe this ritual was used to move standing stones to mark nodes and otherwise keep flying sorcerers from meeting a messy ending. The subject may be a giant stone, or a living creature -- if someone will hold still long enough. It's subject to the same restrictions as Walking the Road of Air, and if someone manages to never learn the simpler rituals to perceive the ley lines, he can always just float large boulders to the sides until they fall.
The weight which can be lifted is 100 pounds per Essence spent. (And a performer can ride along on one of the lifted things, if it's twice his own weight, for free.)
Time to Perform: 1 hour
Duration: (CD x Performer's skill) minutes
Essence Cost: 1 per 100 pounds
Walk the Road of Worlds (Dowsing/6)
With enough Essence, one may start from one node -- intersection of 3 or more ley lines -- or an endpoint with no other connections . . . and get to any other node or endpoint connected to it, in a single night. Many traditions say that the ritual must be started at sundown, or midnight, or it will not work. Others only require that the sun be down. The ritual must be performed at a node or endpoint, and leaving the road before reaching another one is not advised. (People tend to . . . vanish.)
Also, one must keep moving, and keep awake. Small creatures (like babies) can be carried, but those who stop and take a nap upon the Road of Worlds might never return -- at the least, it will end the trip right there, and "right there" may be anywhere the GM thinks . . . amusing.
If all goes well, the performer and any companions will find themselves on a slightly neglected path of Roman-like paving stones, walking between large standing stones. No matter what they pass through (cities, walls, oceans . . .), they see only fields and forests beyond the stones, lit by whatever moon- or starlight they started with. Nodes appear to be cross-roads. No machines powered by anything but human power can be taken on the Road -- cars and motorcycles just don't work, though bicycles will, as will Walking the Road of Air.
Time spent on the Road of Worlds is . . . odd. Dallying until subjective sunrise is another thing that is ill-advised, but so long as you keep walking, you wind up at the end-node at sunrise, or the amount of time you took to get there -- whichever is less. Essence regenerates at perceived time rates.
You can follow someone on the Road, but unless you leave within sight of them, you won't catch up, though you might see evidence of their passing. (Discarded candy wrappers, etc.) From the outside, the travelers will simply seem to fade from sight in a "natural" way -- a mist obscures them, or the shadows swallow them up.
Some sorcerers speculate that the Road of Worlds runs through the Marches itself, and that the Wild Hunt of legend uses it -- either exclusively, or to get to Earth and back again . . .
Time to Perform: 5 minutes, walking and meditating quietly, to start; 1 round of concentration at each node passed
Duration: 1 night
Essence Cost: 5 to start the journey, +1 per companion. 1 per traveler at each node passed, until the final, destination node. If the performer(s) cannot muster up enough Essence, the journey ends there.
Corrupted Ley Lines
Since ley lines are things of the corporeal realm, they can be affected by the corporeal realm. If too much "negative energy" is around them, they will become dark and poisonous, dangerous to use. Celestials with the appropriate attunement will simply "route around" such lines, usually unaware of their presence. Sorcerers who don't know better may tap them for Essence, with consequences as unpleasant as the GM wishes. Ley rituals performed upon a corrupted line are also likely to be twisted, again, as amusingly as the GM desires. (Walking the Road of Worlds through a corrupted stretch of line is probably survivable, but there's no telling what might appear.)
Those living near a corrupted line may suffer accidents and sickness, and growing things will become stunted or die; pure lines allegedly aid in plant growth.
It's up to the GM to decide what corrupts a ley line. Too much technology in an area might disrupt the delicate energies, or something that might otherwise cause a demonic Tether could contaminate the existing lines of Essence. Too much Symphonic disturbance could also contribute to the poisoning of a ley line! (Which would make it necessary for ley sorcerers to cleanse their lines periodically, after summonings -- if they cared.)
One interesting variation is to have a ghost (see the Corporeal Player's Guide or the Pyramid Lost Souls article) attach itself to a ley line as its focus, perhaps being able to move along any connected line as well. This might only extend its range vastly, or it might actually be easier for a ghost to anchor itself, giving a +2 or higher bonus to the soul's Will roll. Even if the anchoring doesn't get a bonus, the GM might want a ghost anchored to a ley line or node to be able to tap the lines for Essence, much like the Seneschal of a Tether. (The GM will have to assign an Essence flow to the anchoring ley line, probably following the guidelines in the Liber Castellorum, to determine how much Essence the ghost could tap.)
Ley Lines in the Campaign
Ley lines are most commonly associated with foggy English hills, but they are undoubtedly all over the world. If there aren't too many nodes underwater, a ley sorcerer could Walk the Road of Worlds from one continent to another, confounding celestials who are used to humans being stuck with airplanes while they can make use of handy Tethers to move from one country to another quickly.
GMs will (probably) not want to give unlimited power to sorcerers who control a line or node. The Essence flow rules for Tethers, from the Liber Castellorum, p. 14, can help determine how much energy is available to any given sorcerers at a given time. If someone attempts to tap a line for Essence it does not have, the ritual will either fail, or work more slowly. (Wards will need large amounts of Essence to stay up.) Since this makes Essence back into a scarce resource, sorcerous circles will not want to share their knowledge too freely -- lest other circles be using their nodes when they need the energy!
Naturally, this will make ley sorcerers rare, and powerful! With more energy than usual available to them (and without animal or human sacrifice, even!), as well as esoteric rituals, they can exert quite a bit of influence -- ley sorcerers are likely to fit the bill for Illuminati-style secret societies, or perhaps even the Dozen.
Of course, the Dozen are a myth. Any demon knows that.
Just don't hang around chanting humans in stone circles. Better safe than sorry.
Article publication date: December 8, 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to email@example.com.