Cultivation Realms (Seven Mortal Realms):
- Energy Gathering
- Essence Condensation
- Aligned Adept
- Primal Spirit
- Inspired Aura
- Dao Echo
- Divine Spirit
Expanded Details of the Energy Gathering Realm:
- Forming the Dantian
- Awakening the Meridians
- Fueling the Dantian
- Expanding the Meridians
- Opening External Energy Channels
- Cultivating Spiritual Sense.
- Opening Internal Energy Channels
- Strengthening the Aura
- Connecting Mind and Body
- Attuning the Soul
- Half-Step to Essence Condensation
Some Details on Higher Realms:
- Essence Condensation: flight is possible, as well as crafting magical artifacts.
- Aligned Realm: align your spiritual energy with heaven and earth. Spatial teleportation is possible. Touch of the Dao is only the beginning here.
Magical Artifacts: Grades and Qualities.
Magical artifacts have three basic qualities: low, middle, and high, depending on the skill with which they are made. These are within each grade (see below).
The quality mostly has to do with the skill of the craftsman (cultivation, talent, control, etc), and the artifact's resulting abilities. It's possible for a skilled craftsman to make whichever quality they want, if they are able to control it.
Seven Artifact Grades:
- Unranked. (Made by an Energy Gathering craftsman.)
- Essence Grade / Standard Grade. Mass-produced artifacts.
- Aligned Grade
- Primal Grade
- Inspired Grade
- Dao Grade
The grade is a result of both the materials used and the skill of the craftsman. A Divine craftsman could make an unranked weapon, for example, if he used materials equivalent to the Energy Gathering realm.
The major source of materials for artifacts are beast parts, elemental and mineral components, spiritual essences extracted from herbs and ores, and so on. E.g. a divine-grade artifact needs the right divine-level materials for the base, a divine craftsman to control the process, and divine-level inscriptions laid into it.
Inscriptions laid into an artifact are also part of its grade—a Divine-grade inscription is needed to make a Divine-grade artifact.
Having the correct skill, getting enough materials, and keeping everything at the right level all has to come together to create a good artifact. And then it still has to be a success. Crafting this type of item is primarily limited by rarity of materials and skill.
*It requires a near-equivalent cultivation level to use an artifact of a particular grade. The most you can do is drop down about two quality ranks (0.66 grade) due to having a strong soul. E.g.: Verse has a strong soul and can use up to a median-grade Essence artifact even when he is at the seventh rank. This is relatively common for talented cultivators with good potential.
**Remember that Verse's improved soul and other talents primarily lead to easier breakthroughs and a deeper connection with the Dao, which is seen in his techniques and hastened advancement, rather than in pure mechanical power.
Inscriptions are runes, sigils, individual characters of power, and inlaid runic enchantments, sometimes separate or sometimes linked together. They're usually found on artifacts, but sometimes independently on smaller objects or as runic symbols on a door or passageway, etc.
Formations, on the other hand, are area-level inscriptions, which are often held up by flags, cores/gems, inlaid ritual designs, etc. The strongest ones are usually immovable and permanent, like a sect-guarding formation, but there are movable ones that need to be set up with portable formation flags, linked amulets, or similar.
Talismans are single-use (generally) inscriptions on infused paper. They come in varying strengths. Basically magical scrolls, but a bit faster to use.
- Uncharged talismans require the user's qi to infuse them before they can be used. They are the cheaper and more common variety of talismans.
- Charged talismans have been prepared and infused by the maker, requiring a cost in their qi that is difficult to recover, since it doesn't return as easily as other expenditures of their cultivation base until the talisman is used. These are rare and expensive. Imperial War Talismans are an example of charged talismans, as are life-protecting treasures.
Seals are a slightly different thing—they refer to the character or the sigil itself, and they can be on paper, stone, the air, created from one or many symbols, etc. The term is used somewhat generically, similar to spell form.
Alchemist’s pills use a similar pattern to the magical artifacts above, with three qualities and seven grades.
All types of races exist in this world, from dwarves to dragons, but no elves. There are some forest sylphs. They generally use different cultivation paths that are not available to humans and we won’t see too much of them in the storyline for the first arc.
They will definitely be in the background and you can expect some to be important. Kegga Redstone is a dwarven smith in the city that Verse encounters early in the story and his initial entrance into the city shows quite a few other races around. Non-humans are a common sight around Whitestone City in general.
Details on Cultivation Speed:
Cultivators accelerate to their adult cultivation speed and get a major early growth spurt from 14-20, since it's around 14 that their major meridians finish developing and they can use standard cultivation methods. Thus the focus on cultivating young talents. Anyone further along than rank 2 or 3 at a young age would be an insane talent.
Talent is a combination of intelligence, soul strength (for dao insight, etc), qi quality, and cultivation speed. Those are some of the major things tested at the Sect Trials, although they can't actually test the soul (too advanced for them), so they just look at technique usage to try and guess. I've added some more notes in the chapters leading up to that.
It's possible to break through the entire Energy Gathering realm in a year and it happens frequently near the center of the Empire, even for young children who are given the right resources. It's about the right method and resources rather than spiritual barriers at this stage.
Basically no one is capable of it around Whitestone, due to lacking talent, dedication, resources, or a good cultivation method that won't injure them.
Verse's breakthroughs are quick, but not out of bounds for this world. He just has several parts of the requirements in the bag, especially talent and the method.
Spiritual Bodies and Spiritual Natures:
These are uncommon to rare, usually seen when a cultivator reaches a deep dao insight into a particular element or essence and somehow infuses their body or soul with it. They'll be more common at higher realms.
Some Notes on the World:
- The Empire lies in the "heart lands" to the east of Whitestone City where natural energy is denser, since there are more spirit veins in the ground there.
- The Eastern Continent is not part of the Empire. It's even older and perhaps more powerful. It's where the oldest sects on this world are located, at least that Verse has heard about so far.
The Seven Sects in Whitestone City:
- Seven Sects and Seven Patriarchs.
- Because it stands like a sword in the stream, breaking all around it, grows best in difficulty, and dies in peace.
- Matriarch Whitewater Bamboo. Tall, long white hair.
- Master Kiel, Seven Sages Sect Patriarch. Yellow robe, white beard, thin bamboo staff.
- Patriarch Five Fury: enormous man, red skin tone. Aura of mountains and fire.
- Matriarch Autea. Black hair with white streaks, emotionless face except for a slight smile.
- Whitewater Bamboo Sect.
- Fire Mountain Sect. Fire and spear techniques.
- Dark Illusion Sect: soul and mental magic.
- Green Dragon School: armor techniques and group maneuver formations. Beholden to the City Lord. City guards train there.
- Seven Sages Sect: scholars. Oldest sect in the city and the only one of the schools that focuses on the education of its students as much as their cultivation and battle strength. Founded three thousand years ago by seven scholars who retired to the city.
- Five Fury Sect: unarmed and large weapons, body cultivators.
- Curved Dagger Sect: Gilded Stem training ground. Shadow techniques and blood spells. Flying daggers.
Other Cities and Places That Have Been Mentioned:
- Dragonwell City: To the north of Whitestone. Ruled by City Lady Mella.
- Dark Sky City: Where the Greencastle Clan is potentially from, perhaps closer to the center of the Empire.
- Starfall Mountains: This is the name of the mountain range to the west of Whitestone City, where many events take place.
- Haeran City: A regional city in the middle ring of provinces surrounding the Empire's heart lands. Larger and more powerful than Whitestone City.
- Ebongate Province: Where the Ebon Seal Sect originates.
Other Important Organizations:
- Azurewind Guards: a semi-official guard force sponsored by the regional city lords of the middle provinces. They were originally an adventuring company that expanded into their current state. The minimum level to join is the Aligned realm.
- Ebon Seal Sect: A powerful sect from the middle provinces that specializes in shadows, dark spells, formations, and seals.