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.

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