EModern Alcatraz

Disclaimer: This is a work-in-progress for Exalted: Modern-1. It is not finished, nor was this reviewed by Blossom Rose or anyone else before I posted it. Yes, it is highly implausible in RAW Exalted for Dragon-Blooded to make an N/A anything so quickly. No, I don't really care, Dragon-Blooded should get to be awesome too. If you have suggestions/criticms that do NOT involve making it less awesome because Dragon-Blooded, please @mail Smiting Star, or feel free to discuss it on the +EMODERN mailing list.

A famous historic prison that was believed to be unescapable, ALCATRAZ ISLAND was reopened in 2007 as a prison for supernatural offenders. It has the dubious distinction of being the first (and currently, only) prison to be opened under the control and authority of the U.S. WYLD HUNT. What was for so long nothing more than a historic museum of a prison that had long since outlived its purpose has been wiped away, and replaced with one of the great and terrible wonders of the Fifth Age.


Demolition of Alcatraz Island's original structures and facilities began and ended in 2002, shortly after the return of the Terrestrial Exalted and the formation of the U.S. Wyld Hunt. In early 2003, construction of the artifact-manse that would later cover the majority of the island began. It was planned from the start as a regional headquarters combined with a prison for supernatural entities and "heroic" mortals, who historically have been much more difficult to keep imprisoned than their less fate-blessed counterparts among the world's population. The construction project itself was engineered by the largest assembly of Dragon Blooded craftsmen in living memory.

The project was headed by Nellens Eun Ae, a talented engineer with a strange passion for beautifying practical architecture. She was joined by a great number Dragon-Blooded and God-Blooded assistant directors and understudies, from all wakes and walks of life, all the world over. Construction of the new prison facility did not begin until late 2006, owing to the very specific geomantic and material requirements dictated by Eun Ae, which involved a sufficient combination of black, white, and (frustratingly enough), yellow jade to completely construct the prison's facilities.

Despite the elaborate construction required to achieve the effects desired, the prison was built on-schedule following a great deal of frustration relating to the capricious nature of yellow jade and its production. When finally the project was done, Alcatraz Island resembled a white-and-black petaled Lotus Flower, with its innermost buildings constructed entirely of the incredibly rare yellow jade to form its center. Alcatraz officially opened for "business" in July of 2007, following a brief scandal regarding worksite accidents and a number of deaths that occurred during the finishing stages of the construction project.

Unlike its predecessor, the modern Alcatraz does not claim to be inescapable. But as of yet, no one has done the impossible sufficiently to escape from it after being imprisoned there.

MANSE N/A, ARTIFACT N/A (Alcatraz Island)

There's a reason that no one has escaped from Alcatraz Island since its re-opening in 2007. It is a masterpiece of geomantic engineering and artifact construction, and it easily rivals the wonders brought into existence in the Age of Glory and the Age of Dreams. It is a gem the likes of which the Dragon Blooded would never have dreamed of accomplishing, and which the Celestial Exalted would never have believed them capable of. But the Dragon Blooded are more than the sum of their parts, and thousands of them working in active unison with one another, Gods, Demons, supernatural half-breeds, and mortal savants is a greater force than Earth, or the Creation that came before it, would like to admit.

Outer Fortifications: The White Petals

The outermost protections of Alcatraz Island begin along its rocky edges. White forts in the shape of petals ring the entire island, each of them manned by a small force of thaumaturgically enhanced mortals lead by a team of five Dragon-Blooded officers and god-blooded or otherwise half-breed lieutenants. They are often accompanied by Celestial Lions, whose roles as guardians of Yu-Shan have long since ended, and many of whom are not quite so honest as they were even during the Age of Sorrows. Each of these nigh-indestructible forts of white jade contains a massive Essence engine that taps into two incredible sources of power.

The first of these sources is, simply put, the powerful geomancy of Alcatraz Island itself. This is straightforward and needs no further explanation. The second is prayer — or more specifically, the prayers of those who are imprisoned within the facility. Each essence engine is outfitted with a small starmetal device called a PRAYER INTERCEPTOR, which is exactly what it sounds like. When the entire outer ring of white buildings are in full operation, no prayer may reach any individual inside Alcatraz Island. Their motonic contents are seized and used to help power the prison facilities, extra will is directed towards the God of Alcatraz itself, and the contents of such prayers are decoded and digitally stored for later review.

The reverse is also true. The prayers of those within Alcatraz Island simply serve to power the devices of their own imprisonment. Many of the prison's guards are aware of this, and make an active practice of praying to empower their own safety nets and defenses. Religious services within Alcatraz itself are prolific and encouraged, and everyone is expected to attend Sunday services are very minimal. The inmates don't know that this is solely for the purposes of harvesting their prayers as a power source, instead believing it to be a misguided attempt to make them born-again Immaculates.

Physically, the White Petals appear to provide a flimsy physical defense. There are gaps between them and it appears that they could simply be flown over or dug under. In truth, the White Petals and their power generators feed a large spherical Essence Dome which covers the entire facility, starting just outside their own walls. Attempting to simply fly over would result in a devastating impact with the field. It's possible for an individual to penetrate a small section of the field that has already been weakened, but a serious breach would require one or more of the Essence Engines powering the field to be brought offline.

If the unthinkable were to occur and all of the White Petals or their Essence Engines were brought offline or destroyed, the Essence Field would be rendered inactive and prayer circulation would resume. Given that each of them is guarded by several of the Terrestrial Exalted and thaumaturgically enhanced mortals and half-breeds, this is no small feat, even for one of the Celestial Exalted.

Inner Facility: The Black Petals

Constructed of black jade and making up the bulk of Alcatraz Island's inner facilities, the Black Petals are where the varied supernatural prisoners are kept. Each black petal is designed to house a different kind of supernatural entity, and with the sole exception of the Sidereal Exalted, all supernatural beings are represented here. Although some entities of similar "flavor" can be found together — for example, a Beastman is likely to be found in the cells for Lunar Exalted — they are generally divided up into distinct and specially-tailored areas suited to the suppression of their abilities. It goes without saying that the more supernatural beings and, in particular, Exalted have turned up, the more specialized certain areas of the Black Petals have become.

All of the cells of the Black Petals share a few things in common:

  • They are crafted out of the magical material most metaphysically antithetical to the being intended to be stored within them, with a few exceptions, and are practically indestructible. Although the elemental affinities of the Dragon Blooded often results in their opposing element's jade being used to contain them, the cells of the Lunar Exalted are made out of Moonsilver so that they may shapeshift to contain the prisoner based on their current shape. This may involve growing unnaturally huge for their apparent physical dimensions, but that is a part of the point.
  • They are motic respiratory null zones. Or put more simply, you cannot recover essence in them. Or through most of the prison, for that matter. The PRAYER INTERCEPTORS of the White Petals prevent illegal worship from ever reaching those inside, temporarily reducing the Cult ratings of all inmates to 0 for all purposes, re-routing the essence that would have gone to inmates to help power Alcatraz's expansive facilities.
  • As if that were not bad enough, every cell is laced with a small amount of green jade or, for the cells containing Wood-aspect Dragon Blooded, soulsteel. They passively leech (prisoner's Essence) motes every minute, starting with the character's personal essence pool. Although shaping defenses can stop this, they offer no protection against the lack of Essence respiration, and effects such as Chaos-Repelling Pattern (which would allow normal essence respiration) appear to be warded against. Rather as if the island itself is a living thing, defending against an unwanted shaping effect with its own shaping defense. It goes without saying, then, that to prisoners attempting to escape or outsiders attempting to intrude, Essence is a precious resource.
  • There are no cell locks to step through or pick, and every cell is equally effective at containing material and immaterial entities. Dragon-Blooded Officers in possession of one of Alcatraz Island's hearthstones are capable of commanding the magical materials that compose the cells to temporarily yield, allowing a prisoner to be pushed through the bars as if they were intangible, and then re-solidify them reflexively.


Inner Facility: The Perfected Lotus


The Warden's Gemstones

The central manse of Alcatraz Island does have a singular master hearthstone, but this is not the hearthstone of Alcatraz that most people — even its inmates — are aware of. It was designed to produce many lesser hearthstones to act as keys to the prison's security systems… moreover, it was specifically designed with the Terrestrial Exalted in mind. Only the Terrestrial Exalted may benefit from the use of these hearthstones — no one, not even one of the Infernal Exalted transformed by means of Black Mirror Shintai or similar charms, will be recognized as a valid hearthstone bearer.

These lesser hearthstones are called Warden's Gemstones, and have the appearance of a smooth sphere of glass, with a tiny skeleton key concealed within them. The confer the following benefits to their barrier:

  • Firstly, they confer the benefits of Righteous Lion Defense on their bearer, with an intimacy of loyalty towards Alcatraz. In effect, this immunizes them against mental influence that would cause them to betray the prison. (For example, being mind controlled or otherwise talked into handing over their Warden's Gemstone.)
  • Secondly, they are able to recover essence normally within prison grounds, and receive prayers despite the PRAYER INTERCEPTORS in the White Petals.
  • Thirdly, they gain reflexive control over the prison's many security systems. They may initiate emergency lockdowns, cancel emergency lockdowns, or freely open and close all cells in the facility, including solitary confinement. It is noteworthy that while this does grant individuals great control over Alcatraz, there are multiple officers in possession of Warden's Gemstones, and a "majority vote" determines whether or not large-scale security measures can be activated. Or, more likely, disabled. In other words, simply having a single Warden's Gemstone will not allow someone to bypass every obstacle Alcatraz might pose, though it would still be a useful tool.

Dirty Secrets of the Wyld Hunt

Solitary Confinement

Nellens Eun Ae was brutally dedicated to the perfection of the Wyld Hunt's prison. What was disguised publicly as the accidental deaths of an inordinate amount of the laborers involved in Alcatraz's reconstruction, was in fact an elaborate ploy to produce sufficient soulsteel to create a number of special solitary confinement cells in the very heart of the Perfected Lotus facility. Cut off from the cycle of reincarnation and sorcerously compelled to return as ghosts, the workers were slowly and lovingly hammered into soulsteel. A mixed-materials cage crafted of behemoth bones, soulsteel, and orichalcum have been combined to produce artifacts that are… in effect… monstrances of celestial portion.

The Wyld Hunt has no idea what it has accidentally created, and though many exceptionally volatile prisoners are placed in these disturbing "Isolation Cells", none have been left in so long as to be completely broken or compelled to seek out transformation into something darker than themselves. It remains to be seen if any of the Exalted save the Solar Exalted could become Abyssals in this fashion, though the Infernal Exalted are proof against these compelled transformations owing to the bizarre nature of their own transformation.

Gods & Exalted of Alcatraz


The Dragon Legion of Alcatraz

Although there are many Dragon-Blooded and other supernatural entities guarding Alcatraz Island, the bulk of its forces are composed of Heroic Mortals who have been thoroughly trained using From Eggs to (Element) Dragons. Though not quite so versatile and thoroughly trained as the Tiger-Warriors the Solar Exalted are capable of grooming, they are the next best thing, and they are equipped with every supernatural advantage that money can buy. There are no "extras" among the mortal officers of Alcatraz — the least of them are equipped with Gunzosha Commando Armor and weapons of yellow jade. The best of them are enlightened mortals that sit upon the cusp of godhood, wielding supernatural martial arts and more potent artifacts. <WORK IN PROGRESS.>

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