Saturday, May 24, 2008

Magic: Channeling Senses

It occurs to me that in the Channeler Skills post, I forgot to list a very important ability almost all channelers share; heightened senses related to their element. Unlike many other channeler abilities and skills, this type of sensory input tends to vary wildly from element to element, so it would be best to look at what sensory abilities channelers develop depending on their element.

Air, Water, Earth, Metal: Channelers who belong to these four elements tend to develop the ability to sense the size and shape of something composed of their element that they are touching. If they develop this ability, they can sense the composition of something made of their element, including the particulates and impurities inside it, allowing an air channeler to sense humidity or pollutant contents, a water channeler to sense poison, or earth and metal channelers to sense gems or the type of ore that exists in a metal vein. Eventually the range for this sense increases dramatically, allowing an air channeler to sense the size and location of everything displacing air in a certain area (hidden passages, people, objects, you name it), a water channeler to do the same for underwater areas, an earth channeler to sense the layout of a building or cave system, or a metal channeler to determine the inner workings of a mechanical construct. Another way this ability can manifest is the ability for them to sense their element at range, which can prove very useful for trying to find water, or things buried in the earth, or veins of metal in a mine. If a channeler develops all of these abilities together, they can gain a startlingly accurate spacial sense of their surroundings, even if their other senses are impaired, with air being the most powerful, followed by water (people are water, afterall) then metal (armor and weapons) then earth.

Life: Perhaps the most versatile of the elements when it comes to sensory awareness, life channelers can not only sense the shape and composition of living things (allowing them to eerily diagnose medical problems) but they can also detect the location of living creatures nearby. Further, unlike any of the other channelers, they can enhance their own senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and even taste to levels that most people might find uncanny or disturbing.

Death: Death channelers share the ability of air, water, earth and metal channelers to sense the location and composition of dead things, but they can also sense ghosts and spirits who have trapped themselves in the inbetween, but have not left for the afterlife. Ironically, with all of their abilities, death channelers make extremely efficient hunters and exterminators of the undead.

Kanna: Kanna channelers develop an uncanny spacial awareness that borders on precognition. Individually their sensory powers are not as developed as any of the other physical elements (due to having mastery over all physical composition instead of a specialized selection), so their ability does not have a very large range. But within their immediate surroundings they may as well have 360 degree sight that is not limited by mundane things such as walls, barriers or illusions. Kanna channelers also have the ability to sense magical items, and intuit the general enchantments that such items possess.

Light and Shadow: These two elements give their channelers an immunity to being blinded, either by light that is too bright, or the darkest of darkness. This ability remains if their eyes are covered or even removed. Development of the ability allows them to sense the dancing patterns of light and shadow that exist beyond solid objects, which can prove extremely handy if these channelers have teleportation powers that require the exit and entrance to be equally dark or illuminated.

Heat and Cold: These two elements develop the ability to sense what is hot and what is cold at a distance. This quickly allows them to not only develop an infravision that works through walls, but it also allows them to develop a mental map of heat and cold for how an area is constructed. Even if two pieces of material are the same temperature, a heat or cold channeler can eventually learn to distinguish one material from another if the materials have different insular properties.

Electricity: The sensory abilities of an electricity channeler can seem like a joke compared to many of the other elements. Their ability to sense electricity at its most basic of levels is not very useful. Eventually an electricity channeler can develop a sixth sense about where people are located (due to the electromagnetic fields of their nervous systems). Practice might allow them to tell if someone is lying or not, though this might not work on all creatures (valdrex, for instance, are probably immune to such lie detection). Otherwise, this ability would probably just let them know if an electrical storm is coming. In a world where electricity is more of a novelty than a viable technology, electricity channelers do not find much use for their extra senses. The static electricity charge on a dry day combined with their ability to sense electrical reactions inside brains might let them develop a spacial awareness similar to the other channelers, but this ability would be vague, indistinct and unreliable at best.

Sound: Sound channelers are experts at detecting sound and vibration. They can use this ability to "see" what they hear, developing a spacial mental picture based on their hearing. Also, similar to light and shadow channelers, sound channelers cannot be deafened, so for the most part, they also cannot be "blinded." A sound channeler who fully develops their power will notice virtually everything there is to be heard, which can make them excellent spies, scouts and information peddlers.

Manna: Like kanna channelers, manna channelers can sense the location and general type of enchantment for magical objects. They can also, with practice, begin to sense the location of souls, be they living or dead. Developing this power to its fullest potential allows them to sense the auras of all physical things (regardless of how faint those auras are) which can give them a spacial awareness similar to that of the kanna channeler, but their ability to do this does not come as naturally as the spacial awareness of a kanna channeler.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Technology: Locks, Clocks, Springs and Gears

The principle behind the humble gear was originally discovered by the Satyrs with their inventions of the windmill and the waterwheel, although it was the Humans who took the principle and followed it to its logical conclusion. Gears made of magically-reinforced wood and metal make up the bulk of Cerenbaun mechanical creations, with most mechanical non-magical energy stored by springs and flywheels.

Cerenbaun society has access to a great many mechanical technologies that are not typically encountered in a fantasy setting. Clocks are perhaps the most obvious of such technology; clock making is a common and well-respected occupation, and even the most impoverished households have access to a clock tower in the middle of the town square, or a cuckoo clock in the kitchen. In a twist, it is non-magical clocks that are considered an expensive luxury, and magical clocks are more common and less expensive. Genuine non-magical pocket watches are considered an extravagant luxury, though cheaper hand-held time-pieces with magical components exist.

Locksmithing is another occupation that has a large presence in Cerenbaun society. Locks in general can be quite complex, and 5-tumbler locks are not unheard of. Like clocks, the cheaper locks are usually magical, though these locks are susceptible to magical spells that might open them. Non-magical locks cannot be dispelled, but they are still susceptible to telekinesis or shaping spells that might damage them. The most expensive kinds of locks are both mechanically complex and have magical enchantments placed on them that make them resilient to damage, so a would-be thief needs to be quite resourceful with many different magical and non-magical lock-picking methods in order to successfully open the lock. Many of these locks also have magical fail-safes and life detection spells on them that will trigger alarms or traps if set off.

Chain-driven gearboxes like those in bicycles are a common component in machinary, though the gearboxes usually have a magical source of power. The "bicycle" design for translating human power into mechanical movement is available, but slow in catching on. Most people who want access to non-magical transportation have stuck by horses and coaches, and those with access to magical transportation wonder why anyone would do so all that exhausting pedaling in order to get from point A to point B.

The spring is further another important mechanical device that Cerenbaun smiths put into their mechanical designs, both magical and non-magical. Their ability to store energy and release them have made them invaluable in many complex devices, with springs being the second most popular method of storing energy; magic being the most popular, and flywheels being the third most popular. Steam power and electricity are unheard of, with magic more convenient and cheaper to harness for the same sorts of tasks.

Jennin may be the god of wizardry, but he is also the god of human technology and innovation. His holy symbol is a single-direction gear (connected to a spiral-spring latch) and even the colleges of mages and wizard guilds prominently display this symbol representing Jennin's influence on their art and science of wizardry.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Technology: Military

Aarn has always suffered from a massive poverty gap due to the low population density and high mortality rate. Arguably, this was at its worst at the height of the Jerol empire, when magical guilds kidnapped children who showed channeling potential, and where the science of wizardry was a closely guarded state secret. Most people did not have access to magic nor education, so while the aristocracy of the Jerol Empire flourished, the plebeians stayed trapped in the dark ages.

During this time it was fashionable for high-class adventurers and Jerol officers to use plate mail armor. It provided a decent protection against most threats the then-current environment presented, and also helped create an imposing psychological presence.

When the Empire collapsed, the channeling guilds collapsed with it, and the technology of magic began to spread throughout the realm. Five-and-a-half centuries later, plate mail has become obsolete. Monsters, magic and mayhem have made mobility in combat more important than an ability to absorb blows. While obsolete, plate mail as a technology is romanticized and it is still available. It is also a part of the military regalia of Cerenbaun, and worn by professional guards and mercenaries who do not have to do much traveling or who have little to no chance of combat. Plate mail armor is seen more as a romantic status symbol than as a genuine, practical method of protection in combat.

Most adventurers wear leather armor; anything heavier would hamper their mobility too much in dungeons, swamps and forests, where most of their violent encounters take place. There are also magical equivalents that help protect adventurers as much as plate mail would, but without hampering mobility. Common items are magically treated cloaks and amulets that provide a field of protection, absorbing blows.

The Cerenbaun army has come a long way since the knights and foot soldiers of Jerol. It's subdivided into smaller units that resemble adventuring parties, forces that are heavily enhanced by the ability to cast magic and the supply of magical items. A military unit usually has two wizards, two channelers and two healers, though these jobs often overlap allowing individuals who do or cannot use magic. Stealth and subterfuge are considered more important than direct combat, and the fighting unit is designed to hold their own or retreat in the face of overwhelming odds.

For battlefield combat, Cerenbaun foot soldiers are usually armed with medium armor, a shortsword, a wand of randomly selected ranged magic, and a short bow or crossbow with arrows. Standard equipment also includes an amulet of protection, a ring that cleans and provides hygiene, several healing potions and several grenade-like potions. Specialist units are armed with pole arms, longbows, tower shields and other similar items. Occasionally biomantic monsters are inserted into the ranks, but such units are usually used as expendable berserker units who are sent in to soften up and intimidate the enemy before the main force arrives.

Cerenbaun siege engines are animantic and usually their soul cores are attuned to the individual drivers and unit commanders who are well protected. Cerenbaun's tools of war resemble bipedal tanks, huge trebuchets, and mobile fortresses where the commanders of the battle can congregate and prepare their battle plans. Avian units are rare but not unheard of; they are usually relegated to scouting and fire support rolls.

Field battles usually take place with around one thousand soldiers on a side. During the age of the Jorel Empire, forces of 5,000 or more were common, but the low population density made recruiting that many soldiers difficult, even then. In contemporary times, Aarnian military has focussed more on the style and strength of the army's magical technology than the number of soldiers.

Flintlock and blunderbuss pistols are beginning to develop as a technology, but they've yet to fully catch on. People without magic usually do not have the education to create them or the gunpowder they require, and guns themselves are inferior to most magical items that do ranged damage. Hand cannons are usually used by ne'er-do-wells who typically use them as weapons of last resort that cannot be detected by magic.

Most of Zenninfall follows in Cerenbaun's footsteps when it comes to military technology, especially the areas that were a part of the now-fallen Jerol Empire. Other areas are not so similar. The environment of Western Habruk is harsh and unforgiving, making large-scale combat both impractical and costly, so Western Habrukkan wars are usually fought with war bands of 80 people or less. Igakari's military focuses more on police action than invasion, forgoing seige engines and foot soldiers for state-sponsored guards and constables who have a defensive role in mind militarily, keeping the outlaws from the Eastern Border region from invading Igakari. Igakari also has a powerful navy which they use to influence and keep in check the Kaipu peoples from the Eastern Islands.

The isolation of the Kaipu races that live in Eastern Habruk has allowed them to develop a somewhat unique military style. The mainland Kaipu forgo magic in combat as dishonorable and sacrilegious, preferring to use magic for household tasks and religious ceremonies. Their military instead focuses on foot soldiers armed with long pole arms, spears, and longbows. Despite living in the mainland, the snaking rivers of Eastern Habruk have made a navy quite important, and the Kaipu forces will often fight with one force on land and the other force in the river, the pole arms allowing the units to attack one another despite the short distance between the almost-beached river-boats and the units on foot on the shoreline.

The isolation of the Rensvaja have also allowed them to develop a military style that would be strikingly alien to Cerenbaun forces. When war breaks out between the various Rensvaja kingdoms, the kings themselves go to the battlefield and fight one another directly, using their channeling magic. Disputes are thus settled by these champion kings proving their might through magical combat, which is part of which what makes their massive soul-linked collectives so important to their culture. The fights may be superficially one-on-one, but the kings' families, retainers and spiritual advisers are all aiding the fight by lending their magic to the king through the soul-link.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Magic: Channeling Effects

To further help flesh out channeling, this post will simply be a list of what physical effects can be provided by a weapon charged with channeled magic based on which elements. This is certainly not a complete list, but it gives an idea of the sorts of damaging effects that certain elements can cause.

Wind: Suffocation, buffeting, larger-than-normal-wounds, inhaled poisons, slashing

Water: Extra bleeding, poisons, drugs, acids, bases, minor infections, explosive hemorrhaging, dessication

Earth: moderate infections, contaminants, blunt trauma, entombment

Metal: Slashing, piercing, blunt trauma, heavy metal poisonings

Life: Cancers, uncontrollable bleeding, major infections, paralysis, incontinence, blindness, deafness, numbness, severe allergic reactions, crippling pain, hallucinations, other biological effects limited only by creativity and sadism

Death: Necrosis and gangrene, numbness, paralysis, crippling pain, decay, rot

Kanna: All of the above to lesser extents, plus to normal extents, sensory mental effects such as confusion, headaches, reliving of unwanted memories, hallucinations

Light: Moderate burning, blindness, distractive visual effects

Shadow: Blindness, slashing, numbness, hallucinations

Cold: Numbness, freeze burns, shattering of flesh

Heat: Severe burns, ignition

Electricity: Seizures, system shock, paralysis, minor burns,

Sound: Deafness, numbness, confusion, daze, muteness

Manna: All energy effects to lesser effects, plus emotional mental effects to normal extents like unwanted emotions, exhaustion, loss of motivation, panic, fear, temporary insanity

Monday, May 12, 2008

Magic: Channeling Skills

The following post is going to be quite long, but it's been a while coming. In this post I have created a list of most channeling magical skills and how they work with the various elements. Because of the post's length, I invite you to skim until you find an ability that's interesting, instead of reading the entire post completely. To make this easier to do, I am going to bold the title of each paragraph.

Basics: Channeling is mostly built around the manipulation of one of the 12 magical elements or 2 all-encompassing elements. The methods in which characters can manipulate these elements are grouped into skills that can be learned, and it is encouraged that characters develop aptitudes for certain skills, deciding how their magic will behave ahead of time.

Although almost all skills can be learned and used by all elemental styles, certain elements have limitations with certain skills, and certain elements have bonuses with certain skills. These limitations and bonuses will be listed with each skill type.

Some skills are basic and generally belong to all channelers to one degree or another.

Element manifestation: Perhaps the most basic channeler ability, this allows channelers to call their element into being if it is an energy element (light, shadow, cold, heat, sound, electricity, manna) or create a magical connection with their already-existing element if it is physical (air, water, earth, metal, life, death, kanna.) Energy channelers can create their element from nothing, but physical channelers can only use their element if they already have an existing supply.

Basic element transmutation: This channeler ability is not universal, and is only availible to the physical element channelers. It is still an essential skill for physical channelers however; it allows them to take a basic supply of their element and either expand or contract it. Such changes to its shape, as all channeling transmutation effects, are illusory and can be dispelled. Once dispelled the transmuted object will return to its original form, unless so much time has passed that the object is now "used to" its new form.

Element solidification: For fluid elements, such as all the energy based elements and the fluid physical elements (air, water) this is an essential skill. It allows channelers to change their element into temporary solids for the purposes of shields, barriers, weapons and projectiles, as discussed in more depth in the Advanced Object Shaping paragraph. Importantly, if a channeler ceases touching or being in contact with the solidified element in some way, it returns to its fluid state.

Element liquification: For solid elements, such as earth, metal, life, death, and kanna, this is the core of their abilities. In order to use and manipulate their element properly through shaping, they must have access to this ability in order to allow them to bend and twist their element more easily. Like solidification, if a channeler ceases touching the liquidifed element, it returns to a solid state. Otherwise their shaping is limited to solid particulates that they group together such as sand, metal shavings, leaves, and bone fragments.

Element shaping: Essential for all channelers, this is the ability that actually allows them to control their element. It is what allows them to use all advanced skills, whether it is obvious (in the case of physical elements) or not (in the case of energy elements.) Solid elements that have changed their shape retain their shape, but dispelling them returns them to their original shape unless creating the shape damaged or severed the raw element in some way, in which case dispelling the object will cause it to crumble.

Combining these basic skills can create some of the more common channeler techniques. By combining solidification and liquification with shaping and basic transmutation, a common channeler technique is to create flailing tendrils of their element around them in battle. Combinations of these techniques can also be used to create weapons, tools, artwork or in some cases even food or drink, though these sorts of uses fall into the advanced skills categories.

Advanced Skills:

Telekinesis: Telekinesis is a skill that allows a channeler to project their essence at range and manipulate distant objects as if their hands were directly there. It allows them to carry, push, twist, fiddle, and use all sorts of hand-related activities. Energy element channelers must surround the object being manipulated with an illusory representation of their element, which normally prevents the manipulation from being done stealthfully. Physical element channelers can use stealth, but they have a specific limitation; they can only use their telekinesis skill on something whose weight and volume makes up at least 50% of their element. Air and water have the best of both worlds: because their elements are fluid, they can follow the 50% composition rule, or they can use their telekinesis on an object by lifting up a grouping of water or air and manipulating the object with that grouping of their element. Kanna channelers have the best options availible; all physical objects fall under their magical jurisdiction, so they can use telekinesis on all physical objects. A special case for telekinesis is that channelers with this ability can still shape, control, transmute and maintain the magical effects of their elemental targets if they are currently grasping said targets with telekinesis instead. This makes this skill invaluable for fluid and energy elemental channelers who usually have to remain in physical contact with their elements in order to maintain their shape and effects.

Levitation: Levitation is a skill similar to telekinesis, but where telekinesis focuses on finesse, levitation focuses on strength. Levitation is generally controlled the same way and has the same element limitations and advantages as telekinesis, with energy elements being flashy, and physical elements being more stealthy and suffering from the same 50% composition by weight or volume rule. Levitation generally functions by way of gravity manipulation, and its influence manifests in sphere-shaped areas. Low skill users can typically just make people lighter or heavier, higher skilled users can make people or things neutrally buoyant, or "force push" them in various directions or trip them up with sudden changes in local gravity. High level users can fly as fast as they can fall in any direction by first making themselves neutrally buoyant, and then changing their own direction of gravity. Slower speeds are easier to achieve by making the local field of gravity weaker than normal; the lower acceleration from the gravity will cause the channeler or a target to reach a lower terminal velocity.

Elemental Attraction: This skill allows a channelers to either "stick" to their element, or pull their element that already exists in the environment to them. This is very handy for water channelers, who can use this skill to seemingly produce water for their skills out of thin air, though it is useful for all physical channelers. Advanced users can use this ability to walk up walls and objects irrespective of gravity, or anchor themselves to an object. Energy element channelers also have access to this skill, though only shadow and light can use it to walk up walls, by walking in shadow or illuminated places, respectively.

Rapid movement: Channelers who use this skill can propell themselves at high speed using their element. At low levels they simply run faster, enveloped with a manifestation of their element, which makes this skill superficially resemble ability enhancement. At higher levels they begin to hover, supported by a collumn of their element. At the highest levels they can fly very quickly with a great deal of aeral control, supported by a swirling cloud of their element (Sand usually, in the case of earth.)

Flashsteps: Flashstepping is an energy-intensive skill. It allows channelers to instantaneously blink out of existence and then blink back into existence a short distance away after creating a burst of their element. Physical element channelers must have enough of their element in the surrounding environment in order to do this effectively. It is mainly used to reach inaccessible places and avoid incoming attacks and life-threatening situations. Appearing from a flashstep leaves the channeler slightly dazed and vulnerable.

Portals: A powerful skill that allows channelers to create passages to near or distant locations. Manna, kanna and air element channelers can make these portals invisible, effectively allowing them to use a true form of teleportation more advanced than flashstepping. All other elemental channelers must make their portal visible and primarily composed of their element. Life chanelers can teleport through trees, death through corpses, shadow through dark areas, water through rivers lakes and oceans, etc. The more skilled the channeler, the larger the portal can be made and the more distance can be covered through travelling.

Pocketspace: Similar to portals, pocketspacing an item is a separate skill that involves storing a item directly in the inbetween, the realm of ghosts and spirits. Like portals, such objects can only be pulled out of pocketspace or put into pocketspace through an object or manifestation of that channeler's particular element. Air, manna and kanna channelers have few limitations in this regard.

Etherial Projection: Using this skill, channelers can separate their soul from their body and explore the inbetween as a spirit. In this state, channelers are immune to physical attacks and many magical attacks. Doing so will leave the channeler's body behind, vulnerable. This skill can be quite useful for scouting an area without being detected, though all creatures with souls appear as indistinct blurs from the inbetween. At advanced levels, a channeler can pull other creatures into the inbetween with him, or even pull their physical bodies into the inbetween directly in order to use this skill as a method of covert transport. Doing so is dangerous; it is much easier for ghosts to attack in the inbetween, and if one's physical body is in the inbetween, one can easily die or be lost forever - the death of a physical body in the inbetween guarantees the victim will raise as a ghost and slowly go insane, trapped there completely. Manna, kanna and death gain a bonus to this skill.

Astral Projection: Similar to etherial projection, this can project the channeler's spirit directly into the astral sea. Once there, the channeler can visit the hells or spy on the dreams of mortals. Like etherial projection, channelers can pull others with them into the astral sea, or even pull their bodies with them. Pulling their bodies directly into the astral sea can be dangerous as well, but for different reasons than ethereial projection; channelers who have brought their physical bodies with them may become stuck in one of the hells or in a mortal's dream pocket. Astral projection, unlike etherial projection, cannot be used as a form of transportation through the real world. Manna gains a bonus to this skill.

Scrying: A channeler who holds an object belonging to a target can scry on the target and view what the target is currently doing. The longer the object was in the possession of the target the more effective this scrying can be, with severed body parts of the target being the most effective. Low level channelers can usually only sense the location of the target, though higher level channelers can see, hear, and even feel the thoughts of the target. There is a risk of the target sensing that he or she is being scryed on, so channelers with this skill must use it cautiously. Manna and Kanna channelers gain significant boosts to this skill and can perform it simply by holding the object. All other channelers must carefully prepare an environment of their element in order to scry properly.

Object/location reading: A channeler with this ability can flare with their element in order to read the aura of physical objects. Once done, a channeler can use this skill to view past events for which the object was present. Daggers, corpses, statues, even rocks and the ground can be used with this ability. Like scrying, the more advanced the channelers' skill, the more clear the visions are. Manna and Kanna share a bonus with this skill.

Future sight: A channeler with this ability can glimpse pieces of the future. Most channelers must use this skill similar to scrying and prepare to recieve the vision with some construct made of their element. Channelers with attuned to either manna or kanna can have this skill always active, which allows them to use it to avoid traps and danger in melee combat, or make their own blows in combat hit more often or be more damaging.

Empathy/Sympathy: Empathy and sympathy are the abilities of a channeler to read the emotions of something with a soul, and force something with a soul to feel that channeler's emotions. It can be useful for diplomacy or subtly influencing the behavior and feelings of others. Channelers of the life, death, kanna and manna elements have significant bonuses to this skill; they can use it as an impromptu detection tool, allowing the channeler to feel the presence of living creatures in the case of life, dead creatures in the case of death, or all creatures with souls in the case of manna and kanna, and whether or not these creatures have hostile intent. Other channelers must make a visible connection between themselves and their target with a tendril of their element in order to use this skill.

Mind Reading/Domination: Similar to Empathy/Sympathy, Mind Reading/Domination is a skill that allows channelers to read the thoughts and memories of creatures with souls, and influence those creatures' thoughts and memories. Doing so can force the target to behave against his or her wishes and do what the channeler wishes them to do. Elements who have advantages with Mind Reading/Domination are the same as with Empathy/Sympathy.

Sensory manipulation: This skill also falls under the same category of abilities as empathy/sympathy and mind reading/domination. In this case, channelers can experience the sensory inputs of their targets, can force their targets to experience the channeler's sensory experiences (such as sight or pain) or can even force the target to experience something entirely illusory, thus influencing the target's behavior. Life has bonuses to this skill with living creatures, death has a bonus to this skill for dead creatures, and manna and kanna have a general bonus to this ability regardless of the target.

Tendril Combat: A channeler with shaping ability can develop this skill, which is a fighting style more than a channeler ability. Using this fighting style, channelers spawn several tendrils of their element and use these tendrils as sharpened extra limbs, greatly increasing their ability to parry, defend and attack. The tendrils also allow the channelers to use their magical abilities that require touch on the channelers' targets, High level channelers can even launch these tendrils as projectiles that travel so fast they can do damage before they decay and are dispelled from lack of contact with the channeler.

Chaos shield: Unlike a barrier or shield, a chaos shield is a field of rapdily swirling element surrounding the channeler. These whirlwinds can be quite damaging in melee combat both to those the channeler is attacking and those who attempt to attack the channeler.

Element embodiment: This skill allows a channeler to change their own body into a living embodiment of their element. Needless to say, this skill is extremely powerful because it allows channelers to use their own bodies as fuel for their physical abilities, and also allows them to heal damage suffered to them with their normal shaping abilities. This skill is high risk-reward however, because if the effect is dispelled while the channeler is in a curious shape, the channeler's body will return to its original form in that same shape, often killing or crippling the channeler. At low levels, channelers begin by changing a fist or foot into the element, and eventually progress to the entire body. Life channelers gain a very large advantage to this ability, even though technically they are already an embodiment of their element. Life channelers can use this skill to grow additional body parts, shape-shift themselves into animals or creatures, or even develop huge biological organs of death and acid and destruction on their limbs. Dispelling a life channeler's effects will simply turn the channeler back to normal, so life channelers do not suffer from the same risk as other elemental types. Death channelers also have an advantage with this skill, and all death channelers without exception have access to this skill in an involuntary way. They all slowly turn into near-immortal deathless creatures who resemble undead creatures, but are not undead. Like life channelers, dispelling a death channeler's embodiment effect will simply turn the death channeler back into his or her preferred, default shape. Another special case is light and shadow, who can use this ability to make themselves invisible or disguise themselves.

Advanced Object Shaping: The most fundamental advanced skill, advanced shaping allows a channeler to change their element into another form, as if the element were clay. This can be used to create armor, weapons, shields, barriers, tools and other equipment with little to no effort or resources, though the quality of such items depends on the crafting skill of the character using the ability. Non-fluid physical element channelers can use this ability to create permanent items that will return to their original shape if their effect is dispelled. Life and kanna channelers for instance can use this ability to horrible horrible horrible things to their opponents. Fluid element and energy element channelers cannot create permanent changes to objects, and any objects they create out of their element will dissapear if they cease touching it, but they can use this ability to easily create force fields, shields and defensive barriers. Metal element channelers have a large boost to this skill, being able to use metal almost as if it were a fluid, yet the objects they create are semi-permanent. Sound and light channelers have a special ability related to this skill; they can use it to create auditory and visual hallucinations.

Aura Focussing: Channelers can use this skill to focus their aura into themselves or their equipment. Doing so with physical elements will cause the object to glow softly and deal extra damage, be sharper, hit harder, defend better. Doing so with energy elements will cause the object to flare with the energy and deal extra damage related to the element. This skill is similar to object creation, but can be performed with any object, even if the object is not of the channeler's element. Object creation and aura focusing can be combined into the same object to create a channeler's version of entirely magical weapons and equipment.

Aura suppression: Using this skill, a channeler can focus and then disperse their own magical aura, effectively hiding themselves from magical detection. All channelers can learn this skill, although manna element channelers have a bonus while using it.

Advanced element transmutation: This ability is only available to physical element channelers, and it allows them to change something of their element into a different material, as long as the new material falls also counts as the channeler's element. This ability is quite powerful for kanna channelers, who can essentially use it to change anything physical into anything else physical. Many uses of this skill have been made illegal, especially for counterfeiting coins or gems, or creating poisons. Banks and most shops usually have a magical device in their counter that can detect if any things of value are genuine or transmuted magically, which helps prevent this skill from being abused. Those who use this skill to create poisons usually are not caught, because the poison metabolizes and dispels after the death of the victim.

Physical elemental projectiles: This skill is related to levitation or telekinesis, but instead of focusing on strength or finesse, this skill focuses on speed. It creates a burst acceleration that forces the element in question to launch forward as a damaging projectile. Earth and metal have advantages with this skill, earth more so because raw material is everywhere. Fluid physical channelers can use this skill in two ways: the first way is if they solidify the projectile and keep the projectile connected to themselves with a tendril until the time of impact in order to maintain the object's solidity. The second way is if they create a stream of air or water that can bowl people over and push them around, but do less damage than they otherwise would if the element was solid. Physical elemental channelers can emulate this less powerful attack by using a swarm of particulates of their element. Life elemental channelers can have a great deal of fun with this ability, causing their enemies to rocket off into walls and trees at high speeds with a single touch.

Energy elemental projectiles: Perhaps one of the most complex skills a channeler has access to, these skills are only available to energy elements. Using this skill, channelers can manifest a pure destructive embodiment of their element. This destructive potential can be unleashed in a stream, in a cone, in a penetrating, piercing ray, in a sphere, in a bomb, and in many other ways. The more power put into the attack, the more damage it deals, and the more people the attack can hit.

Disruption: A destructive talent similar to energy elemental projection, this skill is more subtle and can be used by physical elemental types. Using this ability, a channeler can disrupt, damage, and break apart something by touching it. Life, water and air channelers can use this skill to damage people. Earth can use this ability to create earthquakes and landslides. Death can use this ability to damage the undead, and so on. A variant of this skill is available to sound channelers, who can use the vibrations of their attacks to disrupt any target at range.

Ability enhancement: This skill allows an energy element channeler to flare with their element and increase their basic abilities such as strength, agility and finesse. Higher level channelers can also increase wisdom, intelligence, and charm with this skill. Even higher level channelers can increase willpower and vitality. Physical element channelers can only increase the physical skills - strength, agility and finesse, and they do so by wrapping their body in a suit of their element that helps their body become stronger, more agile, and more deft with tools.

Ability Damage: The opposite of ability enhancement, ability damage is the non-lethal take down method of choice for many channelers, because it enfeebles a character with very little physical damage. It can easily be used to disable targets, and for the most part it is painless and recovery from it can be done naturally by even the most enfeebled of enemies.

Ability Drain: This skill allows a channeler to do the same as ability enhancement and ability drained combined, by absorbing the relevant ability from another creature. This ability is notable because it is the only magical effect in channeling that has a duration; the increase to the channeler's skills last as long as it takes for the damaged creature to heal, or until the damaged creature dies. Life has a bonus to this skill with living things, and death has a bonus to this skill with dead things.

Purification: A subtle ability, purification allows a physical channeler to selectively purify their element, adjusting its physical makeup and causing unwanted contents to precipetate out of the element. This skill can be invaluable for increasing the concentration of an element or extracting the element out of the area, such as pulling metal ore out of rock and refining the ore on the fly. Water, life and kanna channelers can use this ability to heal as well as harm living creatures by treating infection, isolating poisons or adjusting the contents of blood to make a creature's own blood toxic.

Healing: This is a quite flexible skill - all channelers can use it to heal themselves. All channelers can also use this ability to heal or repair objects made of their own element. Life, Kanna and Manna elemental channelers can use this ability to heal other creatures as well as themselves. Death channelers can use this ability to heal the undead.

Leeching: A skill similar to healing and ability draining, this skill allows a channeler to absorb the physical health of a target by touching it. This skill can be used to damage opponenes of life, death, manna and kanna channelers. This skill is also one of the few defensive abilities that allows channelers to avoid damage from their own element - activating it will allow energy channelers to absorb health from their element if the element is occurring naturally in the environment or being produced by another channeler. Sound channelers can use this skill to heal in a concert hall, fire channelers can use this skill to heal in a blaze, etc. Using this skill to absorb an energy element for health will cause the energy to grow less in intensity; a fire channeler will make it colder, a cold channeler will make it warmer, and a shadow channeler will actually produce light. Physical element channelers who use this ability will simply damage, crack and break apart whatever they are touching to use this ability, water will boil away from a water channeler and wind will rush towards an air channeler.

Energy Shields: A defensive ability available to energy channelers, this skill can create a soft cushion of a barrier that helps prevent the channeler from being damaged. This cushion will usually resemble a non-damaging visual representation of their element.

Other Skills: Some other channeler skills that may or may not be included will depend on the final mechanics of the game. If the current endurance points system is retained, there will be skills designed to recovery from endurance damage and provide more physical energy, to damage that physical energy, and also to leech that physical energy and steal one person's vigor for the channeler's own.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Magic: Which Magical Elements Govern What Materials

Channelers with ties to the physical elements, air, water, earth, metal, life, and death can only use their powers on or with materials of their particular element. There can be confusion over just what exactly each element can control, and this post will try to clear some of that up. This is especially important because when transmuting a material, a channeler can only change what he or she is manipulating into something else he or she can manipulate. Transmutations with channeling magic are partially illusory: the material remembers its original material composition, size, and shape, which causes it to revert to its original form if its magic is dispelled. This can be dangerous - a party of adventurers who subsist entirely on artificially created food or water can wind up starving to death or dehydrating instantly if they have a particularly powerful dispel magic cast on them. If given enough time, such transmuted materials will eventually become "real" but this usually takes weeks or months before they can no longer be dispelled to their original form, and their magical nature will still register on detection spells.

What Air governs: Gases, aerosols, clouds, steam, smoke from a pipe or a cigarette, and particulates in air such as dust or sand. Air channelers can produce poisonous gases, aerosols that are microscopic water droplets suspended in the air, or even create particulates of physical earth like dust and smoke. Air channelers have an easy time manipulating and controlling gases and things suspended in air, although if they attempt to make an aerosol too concentrated it can begin to precipitate out of their control. Particulates transmuted into air that become too heavy for the air to hold will vanish upon precipitation, their half-illusory existence becoming dispelled. What Air does not govern: supercooled gases that have condensed to liquid or solid form, superheated liquids or solids that have become a gas significantly hotter than water's boiling point. Fires or plasma.

What Water governs: Most fluids, such as liquid water, alcohols, acids, bases, solutions, oils, poisons, blood and bile, and even mercury. What water does not govern: Super-dense solutions such as syrups, gelatins or puddings. Water also does not govern ice or steam. Water does not govern super-hot fluids like magma, nor supercooled fluids such as liquid nitrogen. The "water" element can more accurately be described as a "fluid" element, and like air, it can produce illusory quantities of materials that do not normally fall under its influence, such as the living cells in blood or the minerals in many solutions or poisons. Like air, attempting to create excess amount of these particulates and solutions cause the excess particulates to precipitate and vanish.

What Earth governs: Mud, clay, minerals, stone, soil, feces, compost that has decayed past the point of identifying what it was in life, plastics, rubbers, crystals, gems, glass, and chemical combinations of metal and minerals that are no longer metallic nor conduct electricity. Ice and snow also fall under the category of earth, but only if the ambient temperature is cold enough for such materials to form naturally. What earth does not cover: Magma is far too hot for an earth channeler to shape or control, though a channeler with the right skill can "liquefy" earth into a magma-like substance that doesn't have the extreme heat, but can still smother and envelop and prove quite deadly.

What Metal governs: All metals, alloys and metallic substances, including mercury and precious metals such as gold, silver and copper. What metal does not govern: chemical combinations of metal and minerals which do not conduct electricity, such as bone or many biological substances.

What Life governs: All living things, such as animals, plants, fungus, bacteria, viral contagions, etc. Life channelers can also control and create blood, organs, sperm, and other such things. What life does not govern: Anything that has died, or anything that was never alive. What life partially governs: As an exception to the normal rule, a life channeler can create oils, mucuses, gelatins, puddings, resins, plastics, rubbers, excreted waste, poisons and other substances created from biological processes but are not themselves alive. Such things keep their illusory transmutation until dispelled, but until dispelled the channeler loses the ability to manipulate such things anymore.

What Death governs: Dead and dried leaves, objects made of wood, anything dead but not yet fully decayed such as bone, organs or meat. Many food products also fall under the element of death. What Death does not govern: bacterial or viral contageons, things that have recently died but whose cells are still alive, dead things that have decompsed enough that earth channelers can control such things, nor non-living things created from life processes such as oils, mucouses, resins, plastics, rubbers, excreted wastes or poisons.

What Kanna governs: Kanna governs all physical things which are not too hot, because excess heat has been known to destabilize a channeler's ability to control materials. It can govern many things that are supercooled that normal channelers cannot, though kanna channelers cannot supercool the substances themselves. As a rule, the only channelers that can significantly change the temperature of something are cold channelers and fire channelers .

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Magic: Soul-linking (familiars)

Soul-linking is a magical technique that is similar to a divine caster's ability to create soulbonded artifacts. The difference is that instead of the caster binding himself or a target to an inanimate object, soul-linking involves binding together two or more souls. Both wizards and divine casters can soul-link, and none of the targets for the linking need to have any kind of magical aptitude, though the creatures being linked together must be willing subjects. Once linked, the souls involved are bonded together in a semi-permanent gestalt of a mind. All participants retain their individual identities and personalities, but they all share their pain, their experiences, their knowledge and their skills. There is no range to the shared abilities in a soul-link; it does not matter if one member of the link is in Habruk and the other is Rensvaja; the link is still as strong as if the partners were standing directly next to one another. Magical ability is also shared in the following ways:

Channeling: All soul linked partners can use any channeling ability that any member of the group has access to. If the partners are also channelers, the amount of magic the group can channel increases. One member can effectively have double her normal amount of power by siphoning away her soul-linked partner's power reserves. Of course while doing this, the partner cannot use his magic, because his power reserve is currently in use by his soul-linked companion. If two channelers with different elemental affinities are linked together, any effect available to the group can be combined with any element, though a single effect cannot be given the attributes of multiple elements at once. The channelers must decide which elements to tie to which magical effects at the time of using the effects.

Divine Magic: Like channeling, all divine magic abilities and spells are shared amongst all soul-linked partners. The power reserve is also pooled and then shared. Characters in the link who do not have divine ability also add an additional small amount of power to the reserve, as if that person had only just begun to learn divine magic casting.

Wizardry: Wizards who are soul-linked together can use any spell prepared by any partner. The wizard who possesses the spell catalysts must still prepare the spells requiring those catalysts himself, however. A soul-link does not allow one wizard to prepare spells using materials in his partner's possession, though he can use his partners' spell books if the partners are literally looking at the required material in the book at that particular moment in time. Like divine casting, a non-wizard who is in such a link can cast spells already prepared and slightly increases the capacity for the group to store spells. If two wizards and a normal person soul-linked, the group would collectively be able to store more spells than the two wizards would be able to separately.

Soul-linking does not need to be done only with godtouched races. In fact, in many areas, soul-links between fellow godtouched is illegal due to the large amount of magical power that can be pooled and then unleashed by a single individual. Soul-links can be made with animals or even plants; any living creature large enough to be the target of the spell can be included in the link, although the animal or plant must be a companion or pet of at least one of the members in the link in order for the non-sentient creature to consent to the spell. When a non-sentient or semi-sentient creature joins a soul-link, that creature gains full sentience, any magical ability available to the godtouched member in the link, and all experiences and memories are shared. The godtouched also gains any heightened senses that might belong to the non-sentient creature. When wizards or divine casters link themselves to animals, they gain a small boost in the number of spells they can store or the reserve of power available to him, as if linking with a normal person. The animals can also cast any spells available to the wizard or divine caster, and while they cannot vocalize themselves, they can be understood as fully sentient creatures by anyone who shares the link. Usually, soul-linked non-sentients are called familiars, and their use is quite common.

A downside of soul-linking is that if one member of the group dies, all members in the link share excrutiating pain as the bond is forcefully broken as the dead creature goes to the afterlife. This pain can even be fatal to infirm or unhealthy members of the link, creating a chain reaction that risks killing all members. Any skills or abilities "owned" by the dead members of the link are permanently lost by all other members of the link. The recovery time from this pain can be decreased with magic or a particularly strong willpower or vitality, but often the unprepared severing of a soul-link can leave permanent damage.

Soul-linking with a spirit animal or unicorn does not have this problem, as neither of those creatures ever go to the afterlife. Granted, it is extremely hard to convince a spirit animal or unicorn to agree to a soul-link, because those creatures will still feel the pain of other members of the group dying, unless all members of the group are spirit animals or unicorns. If the soul-link is broken by a method destined to turn the dead or dying member into a spirit or ghost ghost, the pain also does not happen. But with ghosts, all members in the soul link might go insane alongside the ghostly member of the group. There are methods to safely break a soul link without such trauma, though the process usually takes several weeks of fasting, meditation and magical aid.

In Cerenbaun, soul-linking with anything other than a plant or animal is illegal, as is soul-links that have more than two members. In Igakari, anyone can soul link, including two godtouched, though similar to Cerenbaun, soul-links with more than two members are illegal. In the Rensvaja kingdoms, soul-links of thirty members or more are not uncommon. The channeler-kings of that realm will often pay divine casters and wizards to soul-link them together in order to more easily make consensus decisions, and also to solidify their channeling power and dominance over their kingdoms.