Mage stone, slang for quarite, is a rare man made crystal. The crystal is created by artificers from common quartz crystal. No one knows for certain which artificer, Mannix or Shorbaum, discovered the process for its manufacture, since both claimed credit, but it was discovered over 200 years ago, in the Suul Council of Science. This discovery came shortly after the discovery of black powder(gun powder), and no doubt used the same research knowledge base.
The creation of the crystal takes a long time, as the crystal must age for at least 3 years, absorbing the enchantment placed upon it. The cost for legal crystals range from 100 - 500 gp(suns) per pulse(basic unit of measure, explained below). On the black market it can go for twice that. The council, or its extenuation in Drakes kingdom, keeps the mage crystal in storage for emergency use by the empire, it is illegal for anyone to possess it without the emperors permission. Punishment is severe for violators. However, as it is with black powder, also restricted, mage crystal is beginning to be distributed in large amounts through the black market.
It is the channelers, and a small faction of sorcerers, see Kits page for details, whose demand keeps the crystal available on the black market in spite of the strong crackdown on its distribution by the Councils forces. The sorcerers in their quest for power at any cost or consequence, are the prime users of the illegal crystal, thus the name mage stone eventually developed. This name might mislead the ignorant, as some of these can be used by priests and psionicists as well, though the latter have their own way to store power for their use.
Each crystal holds a certain amount of power(spell points/ PSP) depending on its size. Each pulse holds 1 spell point or 5 psp, and weighs 1/50 th of a pound. The crystals are infused with this power by the artificer at creation, thus, the artificer must either have psionic or priestly powers or have cooperation from one with such powers to store those types of power in the crystals. Those crystals made with all 3 power sources involved, can be used by mages, priests and psionicists. Those made with only some of the power sources involved can only be used by those who use those powers. A true mage stone has all 3 sources in it, yielding 1 spell point or 5 psp points per pulse. Lesser mage stones can be detected as their glow is dimmer(1/2 as bright if 2 sources were used, 1/3 if only 1 source was used). The glow of the stones increases linearly with points stored, and every 5 spell points(25 psp) glows as a light spell. Those with only 2 of the 3 sources invested within can yield 1 spell point or 5 psp points, depending on which 2 sources are involved, per 2 pulses. Those with only 1 source can yield the base amount of power per 4 pulses. These are usually sold at cheaper rates than the true stones, but ignorant buyers beware.
Those who can use the stones will know upon contact what powers the stone holds. Retrieving the power is very easy, and using the stones does not slow or hinder spell use or psionic power use in any way. The drawback of these stones is that once the power channel is opened, all power is released at once, thus the stones cannot be partially used, all their power comes forth the first use. Another drawback is only 1 stone can be used at a time. The stones power is absorbed by the user, and must be used that round, during which time no other stone can be used. Any left over power not used in the round goes to 1 of 2 places. If the user has less than his full spell/psp point amount, the extra points go to fill up this lack. Thus, users can re-charge in this way, and many use the stones in this way. If the user is filled up to his max. storage capacity, the extra points are added anyway, pushing the user above his normal limit. These extra points remain until used, causing the user to glow, the glow is stronger the more extra points held reaching a light spell in intensity after 5 extra spell points(25 psp points). This glow can blind him as does a light spell cast at another. This over storage places much stress on the users body, and every turn these extra points are held causes 1 hp damage per spell point(5 psp) over the limit.
The final drawback of the stones is the most severe, addiction. The stones link with the user every use and can eventually make the user dependent on them. Whether this drawback was a natural consequence of the crystals or the artificers purposely incorporated it is unknown.
Every time a stone is used, the user has a 2% chance per spell point(5 psp points) of either acquiring the addiction, or intensifying his existing one. The check is made for each stone used, with a successful check indicating the addiction is acquired at level 1 or the existing level goes up 1 point. A cure disease spell can reduce the addiction 1 level per spell, but the recipient must save vs death for each level, with failure indicating that level is not removed and is permanent. Heal spell will remove all existing levels, but a save vs death must be made for each level removed or it is not removed and becomes permanent. Permanent levels cannot be removed by the above 2 methods, only a limited wish(removes 1 permanent level) or a wish(removes 2d4 permanent levels) will be able to remove them. Permanent levels will never go away naturally, but other levels can be removed naturally, by going through withdrawal. Every week of withdrawal allows a save vs death, success removes 1 level, but failure means the level is not removed and becomes permanent.
There are 12 levels of addiction. Each level has an associated withdrawal effect and minimum dosage to satisfy the addiction. If the minimum dosage is taken each day, the withdrawal effects do not occur. But these doses have the regular chance to increase the addictions level. Thus, once addicted, a viscous circle develops.
Minimum dose is equal to the level of addiction in spell points(5 psp) per day. Thus, a level 5 addict must consume 5 spell points(25 psp points) per day to avoid withdrawal. If the minimum dosage is not taken, then withdrawal affects the user the next full day. Each days withdrawal effect is determined by the previous days dosage taken. If some but not all the dosage was taken, the withdrawal is reduced 1 level per spell point(5psp) taken. Thus, a level 5 addict requires 5 spell points(25 psp points) to meet the minimum dose. But, if he only takes 3, then his next days withdrawal will be that of a level 2 addicts. The withdrawal effects are a -2 on all ability scores per level of the withdrawal effect. Thus, a level 5 addict who uses none of the stone, suffers -10 to all abilities the next day! If he took 3 spell points(15 psp points) then he suffers -4 on all abilities the next day. If an ability drops to 0 or less, the user falls into a coma until the ability can be raised above 0. Charisma can go to 0 or beyond without throwing the user into a coma, he just becomes a very nasty person to be around.
Every week in a row the user suffers withdrawal(even if he still uses the stone, but at a dose below the minimum required for his level of addiction, allowing him to break the addiction a step at a time) he makes the save vs death to see if a level is removed or made permanent. This save is made by those in a coma also, if somehow kept alive with magical nourishment. Note that a mage or priest whose INT or WIS respectively drops below 9 cannot use spells! Psionicists whose abilities fall below the minimum can still use their powers, however.