Three small paragraphs in the rule set describe the power of Wayfinding for a Warden of the Stair.
Wayfinding. Wardens have an instinctual understanding of where a mundane door leads, or where one of the Doors of the Grand Stair opens to. This ability is like an internal compass, leading the character in a needed or desired direction. It can be countered through some of the disciplines used by Masters of the Grand Stair.
Wayfinding can be used in the Gossamer worlds, Domains, and within the Grand Stair’s entire span (though there are parts of the Grand Stair where it is possible to get lost, even with this ability).
With the Wayfinding ability, a Warden can find a specific place within the Gossamer worlds if the Warden has some idea about the nature of the place or even one specific part of it. Additionally, the Warden can find an ideal Gossamer world that suits a particular criteria, no matter how idiosyncratic that criteria may be. If the Gossamer world has Doors, the Grand Stair can open into it, and a Warden can find the way there.
This is much more powerful than shadow walking from the Amber Diceless, IMHO. However, Doors are the limiting filter. While Corwin can find a deserted tropical island paradise with plenty of food and water and rest up, a Warden can only find such a place with a working door, indicating past construction and people, that may now be gone.
Note explicitly the rules allow the Warden to find specific places inside the Gossamer world if they have information about the place they are searching for. (Whereas, sometimes returning to a specific place with shadow walking is problematic.) Wayfinding gives you a compass sense inside the world.
This is a very powerful narrative changing device. Examples follow, “GM I’d like to walk to a Door….”
- where the #1 bestseller is “Understanding and Working With Mnemon For Dummies”
- where the ubiquitous nanites in the air will interface with my mind and explain how to fully control my Dragon Powers!
- where there is a huge waterfall
- where I can find the person trying to kill the Dragon Empress
IMC, the first three examples are legit and the fourth fails. The first three exist somewhere, if not in the gossamer you are within. The fourth example imagines an indeterminate future where you will find some copy of a person from a specific set of events in a specific gossamer that has not happened yet. That does not work.
Why? Because of the Rule of Three. Because you have to imagine a baseline of three qualities to your search. Test each example above.
- You have met Mnemon so you can picture her, her world, and what sort of personality mystery she represents. You shall find something on the Stair.
- You know about Dragon Powers so you can imagine the Dragons, the nature of the powers, and what sort brain changes may be needed (such as neural pathways, rote practice, and additional sensory learning). You shall find something on the Stair.
- You’ve seen waterfalls, you’ve seen mountains, and you expect they have common patterns of gravity.
How long does the search take? Well, again, ask the PC what three filters are they applying to the search and rank them. Is the huge waterfall…
- huge, waterfall, near to me
- waterfall, huge, safe
- near to me, waterfall, huge
- waterfall, huge, fresh water
The Warden is juggling these factors, putting their own ‘spin’ on the culture/experience bias and seeking within Infinity. Something will come up, but how useful it is (IMHO) would be GM finesse. Certainly, the GM is allowed to ask a few clarifying questions of the three values chosen.
And, if the PC has high Psyche, and/or Good Stuff, this will affect the ease with which the destination is revealed.
Does this mean Wardens of low Psyche cannot find complicated things? No. It does mean there is a baseline of expertise given with the Warden attunement. So start with the Rule of Three. If the Warden is very experienced (certain region of the Stair is written into the PC background, or some years walking the Stair), the GM can help out a bit with easy answers. If the Warden has bad stuff, even the baseline three things may show adverse complications along the way. If the Warden has high Psyche, you can add some qualifiers to the Rule, ask for four things, or ask the PC if they wish to avoid seeking something that is already controlled or owned by someone powerful.
Let’s return for a moment to the ‘indeterminate example’. A murder. Can you solve mysteries with the Wayfinding power? I would say yes, only if you bring puzzle pieces together and seek the missing bits.
So the Empress has been assassinated, but no one can figure out who did it. The Warden seeks to find the person responsible for a determinate event that has happened.
The Warden knows, where it happened, how the victim died, perhaps knows the murder weapon. This would count as three things to narrow a search for the murderer, understanding that the assassin might know all about Warden powers, and have left bad clues to send you on a wild goose chase! Let’s say…
- the Empress did not die in that room, she was moved there
- the weapon found is not the murder weapon
- the body found is not the Empress
You can see how some mysteries will work much like other detective fiction, ie, disproving assumptions and finding the real evidence to trust.
Search times: consider the more rare or specific your search, the longer it takes for you to find what you seek. “GM, I’m going to look for a custom armor that fits me, it is invulnerable to damage, it is currently sitting in a broken abandoned castle without guards.” You’ll get a compass response, a direction, but it may take you a year to get to the gossamer world where this thing exists. And Wayfinding rules as written does not tell you how long to find the thing you seek.
The wilder your imagination, the longer you may be looking. Or not? Perhaps the PC’s wit will provide an interesting adventure?
So, rather than waste story time chasing stuff in the Infinite Stair, I shall tell the PC, yes, you sense the direction, it is very far away. Are you going after it?
Talk to your GM in session zero before the game starts about the baseline of such powers in play.