(Continuing to post stuff here I originally posted on social media, sometimes with updates)
Exalted have a presence in the Netherworld as well as the mortal one. The emotional or symbolic connections Exalted make to people, places, or even objects can form very real corresponding links in the fabric of the Nether. For instance, a mother has a connection to her child, or a ruler to their kingdom; close friends, spouses, and even mortal enemies might form ties in the Nether.
These naturally forming channels are usually tenuous wisps, not strong enough to support a flow of magic. However, some circumstances can reinforce such a connection, strengthening and stabilizing it into a Nether Link. Circumstances that might create a full Nether Link include (but are not limited to):
- Some people form a connection so deep and strong that a Nether Link forms naturally, on its own. This is unusual, but not unheard of.
- Two Exalted who already share a connection (friendship, kinship, an oath between them, etc) can agree to form a Nether Link with each other, usually performing a simple rite to seal the link. Both participants must be willing to form such a link.
- Some powerful beings, spirits, or even items or places may create a Nether Link unilaterally. For instance, you might unintentionally gain a Nether Link to a cursed item when you pick it up, or a Fae lord might bind you with a Nether Link if you promised him a favor.
- Bindings (Bound headers & other magical effects) often involve a Nether Link. A Binding is basically a structured Nether Link defined for a particular purpose.
Nether Links may never come to anything, or they may wind up having plot effects. Some ritual magic and other powerful beings or forces may be able to act upon or exploit Nether Links. On an OOG level, Nether Links are also a great way to show Plot what your character cares most about. You can roleplay feeling a strong magical connection to people with whom you form a Nether Link.
All Nether Links flow both ways. Forming a voluntary Nether Link with someone is a profound sign of trust. Despite the risks involved, most Exalted consider it a good idea to have at least one or two Nether Links as a sort of precaution or anchor; having trusted friends or kin with Nether Links to you can prove invaluable if you fall under some malign effect on your mind or spirit, become lost in the Netherworld, etc.
Each PC can start out with X pre-existing Nether Links based on their character history (Where X is a number to be defined, probably around 3-ish?). You can also forge X new Nether Links per event (Where X is a smaller number, probably 1?). If a plot effect gives you a Nether Link, it will usually not count toward this total.
Voluntary Nether Links between two PCs do not generally require Plot approval so long as you have a preexisting connection. Links to NPCs, places, etc. do require Plot approval; you can attempt the link in game, and assume it takes time to determine whether it worked (ask in your PEL).
Less formal-sounding notes:
I will probably have some kind of Google form where you can enter your (old and new) Nether Links so I can have them in a spreadsheet for easy reference. Uh, no reason. I just…like spreadsheets.
Note that character history Nether Links to NPCs (even ones you make up) will require approval, while ones to fellow PCs won’t so long as they are mutually agreed on. If you have a Nether Link with another PC, it will take a slot for both of you.
The main reason I’m putting a limit on Nether Links is so we don’t wind up with some people going completely Nether Link crazy and linking to everybody they meet and their dog and every tree on the campsite and…yeah. It may or may not wind up being a hard limit; there is a chance it will be more of a guideline (unless things start getting out of hand). Not yet decided.
Nether Links that are required parts of PC skills (like Bound headers) will not count towards your limit.