Various types of crystals are featured throughout the Shadow World books: Lords of Essaence crystals, the mindstones of the Warlocks of Itanis, Zirix crystals, Sun Crystals–the list goes on. I’ve tried to consolidate them HERE., but depending on which SW book you read there seems to be some variations that defy a “unified theory” around crystals and their associated powers.
So, it was with a bit of surprise when I read about “Jewel Wells” and “Jewel Slim” when Xa’ar was released. This was something new and my reaction wasn’t exactly positive. Now, it may be that Jewel Wells were introduced in the Bladeland settings and Terry merely ported the concept over to the broader setting in Xa’ar. If anyone is familiar with the BL setting, please weigh in.
Jewel Wells are mentioned 28 times in the supplement and the description starts on page 28:
“These magical sites were virtually unknown in recent
history outside of Folenn and the East before Ondoval
took the Northern Eye and disrupted the Flows. The
last time any were seen on Jaiman was during the Wars
of Dominion over six thousand years ago.
All Jewel Wells are Essænce Foci (see the Shadow
World Master Atlas 3rd or 4th edition); some are even
a Greater Focus (they can fluctuate), and can cause
Dimensional Rifts and other magical effects, as described
in the Atlas. Jewel Wells appear spontaneously and can
remain for a day, a month, or a hundred years before
vanishing just as quickly, leaving no evidence of their
presence except remnants of crystallized Jewel Slime.
They are among the most strange manifestations of the
Essænce, like some kind of magical, interdimensional
lava eruptions. The Jewel Slime that intermittently spews from Jewel Wells is a concentrated physical focus of Essænce, but Alchemists disagree about its true
nature. Different wells produce Jewel Slime of different
hues and viscosity, and the color can even change in
the same well. This may be a clue to the attributes of
the slime, but few have the ability to fully understand
this volatile material. Some Loremasters believe that the
Earthwardens actually summoned the first Jewel Wells
as a potential source of power to use against the dark
forces. (While there is little evidence to support this,
it is in fact true: the Earthwardens summoned/created
the first Jewel Wells, but these manifestations proved
difficult to control, even by those as powerful as the
What I take away from this are the following:
- Jewel Wells were created by the Earthwardens
- They were originally seen in Folenn (Bladelands)
- The manifested elsewhere until the Northern Eye was removed.
- The produce Jewel Slime.
Xa’ar presents the first real material on the Earthwardens, who had only been mentioned in passing in previous SW books, so introducing a new element like Jewel Wells, related to the Earthwardens and the loss of the Eye seems viable. For me however, after running years of SW campaigns, Jewel Wells felt like they came out of left field! Did I want to incorporate them into my campaign? So far I haven’t.
The product of the Wells is Jewel Slime, also a new element. It is described as cold viscous material that casts a prismatic light. It can harden into jagged crystals and has magical properties. Once hardened only a powerful Alchemist can re-shape it.
There is something whimsical about Wells and Slime. For me the flavor of this is more anime or Miyazaki–elements that Terry freely admitted inspired Shadow World. Does it feel ubiquitous and appropriate for SW. Certainly if you are of the position that anything Terry wrote in SW books should be considered “canon”. But Jewel Wells are rarely mentioned again in subsequent books. No mention of Jewel Wells in Haestra, nothing in Emer II and a single mention in Emer III:
GM Note: It should be noted that the mined piezocrysytals of the Jinteni are not the same as the Earthwarden magical crystals created from jewel slime as described in the Xa-ar sourcebook; these are of a completely difeferent nature.
It’s not until Tales of the Green Gryphon Inn that we get another mention of Jewel Slime:
Earthwardencrystals look like quartz crystals, are crystallized læn
(solidified Jewel Well slime), come in various colors, and
are of the same nature as K’ta’viir crystal technology.
This was VERY interesting and feels like a bit of ret-con or clarification by Terry. Here he implies that laen is actually solidified jewel slime and are the same as Ka’ta’viir crystal technology. This is kind of big given laens prominence in Shadow World!
Generally, it feels like Jewel Wells/Slime was a prominent new feature in Xa’ar but relegated to the back shelf afterwards. I haven’t used Jewel Wells or Slime in my campaigns, what about you?