Pathstones Item in The Broken Path | World Anvil


Across the world, the most important resource are the crystals filled with magical energy that power society. They take the form of crystals such as emeralds or quartz that are charged with energy - vesanmer - given off by ghosts travelling toward the afterlife.

Breakdown of a Pathstone

Excerpt from Introduction to Crystalogy by Sophie de France  
    The first step to creating a pathstone is, of course, to acquire the crystal. Many types of crystals can be used, although emeralds are the most classic. You can cut a cyrstal into a refined gem or even place it into jewellery, although this isn't necessary for stones that will be used on an industrial level. After acquiring the crystal, you engrave it with a formula


    A charged pathstone is ready for a formula. A formula is, simply put, a description of what you want the pathstone to do. While you could write it in basic French with the Latin script, formulas are much stronger and more reliable when written in Babelian. Simple tasks, such as "produce energy to move these gears" can be written in short formulas that are well known by anyone with alzamastric training.   As a beginning alzamaster, you can acquire books with long-established formulas to fulfill any of the generic functions you might want a pathstone for. The creation of new formulas is a branch of alzamastry known as linguistic crystalogy, and is a highly specialized field. Most alzamasters only use established formulas.   A variety of styli can be used to engrave pathstone based on the hardness of the crystal. Most are made from hardened steel, but the best are made with a diamond tip to ensure it can groove any other crystal (consult the table in the back of this book for more information on what tools are needed for which types of crystals).   Formulas can be divided into two types.

    Stable Formulas

    These are the formulas most often used for functional pathstones. A stable formula is written once, and then continues working until it runs out of energy and needs to be charged again. These are used to power machinery, as they give out a specific amount of energy on a consistent basis. Because their formulas are stable, they cannot be turned of.   Devices powered by pathstones with stable formulas (i.e., most industrial technology in common use) mount the stone on a movable platform that can be pulled away from the machinery in order to stop its movement. The stone will continue to give out energy while the machine is off.   The most complex of stable formulas include timing instructions. Street lights, for instance, include a timing command in the formula telling the stone to emit light for a certain amount of time and then repeat after a set number of hours.

    Dynamic Formulas

    Vesanmer is life energy, as seen in its Latin name, vis animārum. We all have it inside of us; it just isn't exposed to the world so long as it is trapped within our corporeal bodies. With concentration and training, though, a person can will a pathstone to react using their own internal supply of vesanmer. You have probably done this without even realizing what you were doing, for example grabbing a fading stone and willing it to produce just enough more light to let you finish your work.   A well-trained alzamaster can do more than urge a little power out of a stone. The most complex formulas are written with active participation of an alzamaster in mind. They include instructions to, for example, create a certain effect only when a precise amount of vesanmer is introduced to spark it. They might be instructed to respond to other formulas in a certain radius, so that effects move along a chain, or to produce a result whenever they are touched by living flesh.   Writing a dynamic formula is very challenging, and using one requires training and practice in order to generate the precise amount of vesanmer on command to control it. Some even require new instructions to be written mid-process... and some weren't designed that way, but required it when the effect for out of hand. In the hands of a master, dynamic formulas have changed the tide of war by inducing storms or creating and controlling the blaze of a wildfire.

    Charging Pathstones

    As discussed, vesanmer is the inside of us that is then given off by ghosts. Animalogists, those who study ghosts and the etheric realm believe vesanmer to be the substance souls - and everything else in the etheric realm - are made of. Any ghost could charge a pathstone, but a single ghost would take a long time. Empty crystals are hung in nets from poles standing along especially trafficked pathways of the dead.   The Grand Couloir in France is one of the busiest ghost highways in Europe and is where most of France's pathstones are charged. Empty crystals are hung in nets from poles lining the path and left for about one week (precisely how long it takes to fully-charge a pathstone depends on its size). La Société Royale de l'Alzamastrie in France owns and maintains 90% of the charging poles along the highway, and keeps guards stationed along its length.


    After a stone has used up all its energy, it can be charged up again the same way it was the first time around. Alternatively, the formula on it can be removed by cutting and polishing the stone. This will, obviously, wear the stone down over time so it is avoided unless necessary.


Since the first century, the power of pathways of the dead has been harnessed by mankind. The traditional method for doing this was to lay cords of copper or silver across the path, which transmits vesanmer to the other end of the cord. This traditionally limited where vesanmer could be utilized, because devices that use it could only be so far from a large enough path.   In the late 900s, renown surgeon Al-Zahrawi discovered that vesnamer could be contained in pieces of emerald, which could then be attached to the copper wires. Al-Zahrawi used this to bring light into his surgeries and, later, used their heat-giving properties to perfect cauterization. Pathstones - which are also called Abulcasis crystals in formal writing from the Latinization of Al-Zahrawi's name - spread throughout Al-Andalus and, eventually, the rest of Europe and the world.   Al-Zahrawi originally worked with emerald, but subsequent discoveries over the years revealed that a variety of gems can also contain vesnamer. Currently, the relation between the gems that allows them to function as pathstones but not others is not known.


For 500 years in the Old World, pathstone control was basic. They could give off light, or eat, or power machines. They were controlled by writing commands into the crystals, but only basic commands were possible. For example, 'light' or 'heat'. The light or heat given off could not be controlled any further, so heat crystals tended to either pick a temperature at random and stay there, or else get progressively hotter until the stone had to be destroyed less it start fires.   Around 1500, Europeans encountering civilizations in the New World discovered that a more advanced way of controlling pathstones was available. Many of these civilzations had discovered a handful of words and phrases in an unknown language that gave them an increased control over the stones' functions.   In 1519, Francesco Melzi received a transcript of Fate's notebook. This was a gift from Leonardo da Vinci, his master, who had stolen it from Fate upon his death. Melzi and his wife, Angiola di Landriani, translated the book and compiled the language therein. This language, which they named Babelian, could be used to control pathstones with unprecedented precision. By writing detailed instructions with Babelian, they could control specific patterns of energy.   For the next 300 years, Babelian became increasingly understood and formulas for controlling pathstones became more advanced. Today, they are used for everything from lighting streets to treating illnesses.

Pathstone Jewellery

Although made originally for function, wealthy people of the world have been unable to resist the temptation of magical jewellery. Gems are cut for pendants, rings, or earrings before being engraved with a formula to make it glow, for example, or to produce an illusion upon being touched.   Alzamasters are the most guilty in this respect, as many of them wear pathstones engraved with dynamic formulas in order to show off. A darker example, however, includes an alzamaster in Genoa who used the formula originally written to create Venetian walls (a form of hard light barrier) in order to ensnare victims to murder. The culprit was never caught, but is believed to have died sometime in the 1760s.

Crystals Used as Pathstones

These are the original pathstones and still the most popular for wealthy individuals.
These are the preferred pathstones of the Arbitrium Church. Blue light has come to be associated with Arbitriumism, and the Roman Catholic Church refuses to use aquamarine in their properties.
The most common, run of the mill type pathstone. Often found powerful machinery.
Popularly used by royals for its strong purple colour, but in the past century it has also come to be associated with silversmiths, who import amethysts from Brazil along with silver
Red beryl
Not found in Europe, but favoured by nations in Terre Ternguiré for its bold red colour. Highly valuable trade good in Europe.
The preferred lighting used in noble and royal households. It gives out a pure white light, but is shinier and more expensive than the common quartz.


Crystals come in many sizes. The bigger the crystal, the more vesanmer it can hold. Some formulas require stones be of a certain minimum size in order to have enough power to work. Crystalogists categorize pathstones by size.
Any crystal smaller than 1 ligne at its maximum diameter. Usually used in small jewellery with very simple formulas.
Any crystal larger than 1 ligne but smaller than 1 pouce at its maximum diameter
The maximum size of a Standard was originally meant to be roughly the size of a man's closed fist. This was later standardized at 3 pouces at the largest in diameter. This is the most frequently used size because it is large enough to hold a decent amount of vesanmer and fit a detailed formula.
Anything larger than a Standard and smaller than 6 pouces at maximum diameter
Anything larger than a Jeroboam and smaller than 12 pouces at maximum diameter
Anything larger than a Methuselah. These stones are very rare.
Used by

Further Reading:

Tradition / Ritual | Dec 18, 2018

The study of magic

Language | Jan 7, 2019

The Language of God, or at least the language used to control magic.

Physical / Metaphysical Law | Dec 8, 2018

Magical energy generated by ghosts

Condition | Dec 27, 2018

The final phase of life

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