Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Intermission: The basics of Elemancy

I've mentioned it several times so far without explaining it, and I appreciate your patience whenever I've mentioned elemancy in the past. However, while dragons are next on the list of "godtouched races to detail" there are 14 subraces of dragons, with each subrace corresponding to an element of elemancy.

Because of that, I figured that it would be best for me to explain just what elemancy is, so it would be easier for you to understand dragons when I present them in the next post.

Elemancy is the magic of living things - while divine magic is granted through the power of dreams and prayer, elemancy is a natural magic that certain godtouched can do without much effort. It was created by Kennerin, and is available to all godtouched races in various capacities. It cannot be learned, and a character must be born with the potential to be an elemancer in order to become one later in life. Also, those who have the potential to be elemancers almost always realize this potential, with their magic surfacing almost as a reflexive action as they mature.

All godtouched races have individuals who can use elemancy, with the rates of manifestation differing from race to race. Elemancy in races such as ardlins and ghrok manifests in about 1 out of every 100 individuals, while it manifests in humans and harpies in 1 out of every 20. Elemancy manifests in every individual in some races, like dragons and spirit animals. Other races, like phoenixes and salamanders, have elemancy manifest in every individual, but the element types that do manifest are limited. (You will never find a salamander who is a cryomancer, for instance.)

There are fourteen elements in elemancy, each element represented by one of Kennerin's fourteen faces. Seven of these elements are considered physical, and seven of them are considered energy. The seven physical elements are air, earth, water, metal, life, death, and kanna. The seven energy elements are light, dark, heat, cold, electricity, sound, and manna.

Manna and kanna are the magical elements that represent the potential of magic itself, one for physical magic and one for energy magic. Manna is the magic of the astral sea, and is more ephemeral, spiritual and psychic. Kanna is the magic of the material realm, and those attuned to it are masters of time and space.

When someone has the potential to be an elemancer, the method by which the element manifests is just as important as the element itself. Not all elemancers of the same element are considered equal, and there are many different effects that elemancers as a whole can do. Each individual elemancer will only ever have access to a handful of these effects. Which specific effects an elemancer can develop and which they can't are chosen at character creation. As a general rule however, the more effects an elemancer has access to, the weaker that character is physically. (This is more of a fluke of how character creation behaves than a hard and fast rule.)

Methods of manifestation include effects that cause raw damage, such as energy attacks or telekinesis, transmutational effects which can warp or shape either physical objects or energy constructs, more powerful transmutational effects which can literally change the elemancer into a raw elemental construct of their type, and slightly different transmutational effects that can change the physical properties of an element - such as changing metal into another kind of metal, or creating poisons or acids in a water tendril.

Even more effects that are possible are teleportation effects, psychic effects that give the elemancer special knowledge or control over others, effects that can increase the speed or strength of the elemancer, effects that allow the element to be channeled into a weapon or melee attack, shield effects, or even effects that allow the elemancer to heal themselves and others. A full listing of elemantic effects will come in a later post, but hopefully this is enough to give you an idea of what elemancers in general are capable of.

Which effects an elemancer can have access to is slightly limited by their element, but most effects can be learned by most elemental types, and how that effect manifests depends on the element of the elemancer.

Elemancers are usually named after their element, and while I have had much difficulty coming up with a coherent naming scheme, one will most likely be provided in the future. As a general rule however, elemancers are usually named after their element and not their abilities. The exception to this is when the elemancer's element is "colorless" - manna and kanna, in which case the elemancer is named after their primary ability. For instance, a fire elemancer might be called an infernomancer, while a kanna elemancer who specializes in telekinesis might be called a gravimancer.

Elemancy can also be combined with wizardry. Wizards who have an elemantic potential in the elements of life, death, manna and kanna can become special elemancers that can create and control pets by using material components and specialized wizard spells. They have different names than their other elemantic brothers and sisters - for instance, a life elemancer will most likely be called an ecomancer and behave as a druid, while a life elemancer who has studied wizardry and keeps pets will be called a biomancer and behave as a mad scientist who creates monsters.

As a side note, the most prominent thing preventing me from coming up with a coherent naming scheme is the lack of greek and latin synonyms for death that do not sound incredibly silly when combined with "mancy" - until I can come up with two different words for necromancers, any naming schemes I have will remain up in the air.

The powers of an elemancer are not limited in the traditional way. Instead of having "spells per day" or power points that are exhausted with casting, an elemancer can create and maintain a small bolt of lightning as easily as he can walk, and maintain that bolt as long as he wants. There are still some limits however - an elemancer can only channel so much power at once, and attempting to maintain too many effects at once can cause the elemancer to tire. Elemancers can also "sprint" with their powers using an ability called overchanneling. An elemancer who overchannels gets a brief burst of extra power they can use for a limited time, but once that burst fades, the amount of power they have access to is drastically reduced from normal, and takes time to recover.

Compared to wizards and divine spellcasters, elemancers can cause much less damage in a single burst. However, they can continue to use magic limitlessly, and can deal much more damage over a longer period of time. Also, elemancers must continuously maintain their buffs and their protection effects (which have no duration otherwise) and this will further reduce the amount of offensive power they have. An elemancer who wishes to go all out and deal as much damage as possible will have to "lower his shields" so to speak, and only provide fuel for the attack.

In the future there will be specific posts about the types of elemancers that exist and their roles in society. In the meantime, I hope this has been enough information for you to become familiar with this magical ability and help you understand whenever I mention it casually.

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