On Virtue Gems

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Jan 12, 2019
East Coast USA
On Gems

There was a peculiar science to the socketing and gemming of weapons and wands. All that was really necessary for a gem to influence a weapon was that it was in physical contact with the weapon in some way, and in fact gems seemed to naturally adhere to weapon-like shapes, as if attracted by magnetism.

Sockets were typically ground into a weapon's hilt or pommel in order to provide a more secure space for the gem to sit, so that it would not get knocked out as the weapon was used. For example; a sword might have two sockets that had clearly been drilled into the hilt on either side of the blade, right where the fullers began.

In a pinch, though, a gem could be merely held against the weapon, or lashed to it with a piece of fabric. Such in the case of a wand, where it was too small for there to be any natural cracks or hollows to exploit. A gem held in place by a ribbon of fabric would not be quite as secure as if it were in a manufactured socket, but on the other hand wands were not subject to the same physical stresses as melee weapons, and so it was not so vital that gems be securely fitted.

The principles for applying gems to weapons shared some aspects in common with atomic nuclei. Skill gems tended to repel one another, so they could not be placed in sockets that were too close together. Support gems, however, formed attractive bonds with skill gems, pulling on them with a weak magical force. For this reason, sockets were usually drilled in pairs, at opposite sides of a weapon's cross section, so that a skill gem and support gem could be fitted together where they would pull one another against the weapon's main body. Some weapons would have three sockets in a triangle formation, where a single skill gem could bond with two support gems. This was a more unstable arrangement, however, and so it was not as commonly used.

Finally, if the weapon was large enough to support it, it could have sockets for two skill gems, each with one or two associated support gems, for a total of between four and six sockets. These configurations required at least 12 inches of space between skill gems, and so they usually placed the two socket groups at the hilt and pommel, in the case of swords, or under the striking head and the pommel, in the case of maces and other haft-based weapons, or above and below the grip in the case of spears, staves, and polearms, and on bows as well.
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