Thursday, November 20, 2008

Magic: Contramagery

By popular demand, this post is going to be a basic rundown of what happens when magical effects end, and how to cause such ends to happen artificially. This post is going to be filled to the brim with jargon, so proceed at your own risk!

As a refresher, these are all the different types of magic that exist on Aarn:

Spellweaves: A spell that either is an instant effect or has a timed duration, controlled and produced by wizards.

Manifestations: A spell that either is an instant effect or has a timed duration, controlled and expressed by divine casters.

Channeling: Raw magical energy directed by the intuitive will of a godtouched creature.

Infusions: The essence of a spellweave or a manifestation permanently bound to an object, which leaches magical fuel from the surrounding aether. Cannot be used on godtouched creatures, because the natural magical energy flowing in and around their bodies disrupts such magic.

Soul Links, Soul Bonds, and Soul Divisions: Semi-permanent effects that bend the rules of magic, blurring the lines between spellweaves, manifestations and channeling. These effects can provide semi-permanent magical abilities and traits not otherwise possible.

Potions: A deliberately unstable infusion of water, that is designed to release its infused effect when the water is scattered, metabolized, or absorbed through other means.

Boons: A type of manifestation that is a permanent effect granted to a godtouched creature.

Runecrafts: The raw "language" of magic, which provides a simple, yet semi-permanent effect borrowed from the channeling magic system to an object, animal or godtouched.

Spellrunes: Runes that are designed to release a single spellweave or manifestation effect, once, destroying/damaging whatever they are inscribed upon in the process.

Further, there are a number of different sorts of spell effects which can be produced using the above methods of magical casting.

Physical effects: Whenever a spell causes damage indirectly with a physical object, this is considered a physical effect. An example of a physical effect is lifting up a rock and telekinetically flinging it at a target. The telekinetic spell could in theory be dispelled, but the rock cannot, neither can the wound caused by the rock.

Semi-illusory effects: Most common in channeling and manifesting (wizards have great difficulty reproducing these effects because spellweaves cannot provide the intuitive manual control needed), semi-illusory effects include the processes of transmutation, liquification and solidification. When an object has changed its shape through these means, it stores a sort of magical "memory" of what it used to be for 1-2 months. After this period of time, the change becomes permanent and can no longer be dispelled, but during this time, a dispell effect will try to restore the object's original shape.

Instant effects: An instant effect is a spell effect such as a fireball or ray of energy, that only persists for a very short period of time. These effects do not have a duration, and the results of these effects cannot be dispelled, though the energy itself can be dispelled if the character doing the dispelling has very quick reflexes.

Persistant effects: Any spell effect with a duration is considered a persistant effect. These are spell effects that provide some change to something in the environment that requires a constant supply of magic. Once the supply of magic provided with the spell is extinguished, the effect ends. The effect can be prematurely ended through dispelling.

Most channeler abilities that need to be maintained by a constant amount of energy (read, everything except for the physical results of shaping) are considered persistent effects, though a channeler can always provide more energy and restart the effect if it is dispelled.

Enchantment: Any spell effect that is semi-permanent but not illusory is considered an enchantment. Most enchantments can be dispelled, though soul-related magic and boons repair themselves over time. Enchantments, despite being a type of magic, can produce their own secondary magical effects. When a wand fires an instant effect at a target, there are two magical effects in play, the instant effect itself, and the enchantment that grants the wand the ability to unleash the instant effect.

Of course, with so many types of spells, there's more than one way of getting rid of their effects. Primarily, divine casters and channelers focus on magic that protects against effects, and wizards tamper with the magic itself, removing the effect, though wizards also have access to protective spells

Spell Resistance: As stated above, all godtouched creatures (and most monsters) have turbulent magical energy flowing through them, whether they are a mage or not. This energy not only prevents godtouched creatures from normally being subject to permanent spell effects, but it can also block impermanent effects as well. Any mage must take spell resistance into account, because spells will affect a godtouched creature much less severely than an animal or an inanimate object. Inanimate objects that have infusions, runes or are potions also have spell resistance.

Barriers: The simplest method of blocking magical energy is a shield or barrier. These types of protection do not do much to the magical energy. Instead, barriers replace the energy's intended target with themselves. If a barrier is not sufficient to block all of the magical energy subjected to it at once, the barrier will usually be destroyed, and the rest of the energy will affect its intended target. Some more advanced barriers will simply buckle and fold, allowing the excess energy through, then re-form themselves. Barriers can protect against all different types of magical effects.

Reflection: Whenever a barrier has the ability to redirect a spell effect away from itself, the barrier is said to be a reflection effect. Reflection effects, like other sorts of barriers, can only redirect so much energy before buckling and failing. Basic reflection spells simply rebound magical energy in the direction it came from.

Advanced reflection effects can redirect magical energy in any direction the caster chooses. Still more advanced reflection effects can temporarily store magical energy that hits it. The person in control of the reflection effect can then release the energy at a time and direction of the caster's choosing. The more powerful the reflection effect, the longer the caster can wait before releasing the energy.

Reflection effects do not change anything about the fundamental nature of the spell energy they redirect, other than its direction. Reflection effects do not protect against indirect physical effects from magic. They also have difficulty protecting against enhanced objects or physical strikes that have been imbued with magical energy, like a sword that is on fire, or a punch enveloped by swirling winds.

Nullification: Nullification effects, such as "Dispell" spells, are one of the most common forms of magical defense. These effects overwhelm magical energy, canceling it out with an equal and opposite amount of energy. Sometimes dispell effects are single-cast spells, other times they are advanced barriers with a reserve of energy available to block and overwhelm other magical effects. Still other times an object can be given a nullification effect with an infusion. These objects then work similarly to dispel effects that have a duration, using their magical charge to overwhelm and remove spell effects.

Absorbtion: Absorbtion effects are an advanced form of nullification. Instead of overwhelming the opposing magical energy, an absorbtion effect steals it away. Most absorbtion effects then use that stolen energy to fuel a new, different magical effect. Many absorbtion effects can be turned against their wielders by overwhelming them with too much energy at once. Mages who use absorbtion effects in their spells or their infusions must be careful with how they use them, or they will instead experience horrible backlash when all the energy absorbed is released at once.

Importantly, nullification and absorbtion effects only deal with a spell effect's energy, and not the spell effect itself. If a spell effect is self-sustaining, such as an infusion, a runecrafted object, a channeler's abilities, a divine caster's boon or a soul effect, the magical effect in question will return over time. Most spellweaves, manifestations, potions and spellrunes do not self-sustain their energy, so these magical effects can be completely eliminated through nullification and absorbtion.

Disruption: This is a fancy term for "physically breaking an enchanted object." Infusions, runecrafted items and spellrunes can all be disrupted through physical damage. Doing so will release all the energy stored in the objects in an unrefined magical explosion with no specific effect other than raw damage. Such explosions can further disrupt other magical effects in the area, effectively starting a chain reaction of magical explosions while giving everything in its radius an extreme amount of spell resistance (while at the same time severely harming whatever's in its radius.)

Potions cannot be disrupted, because they are designed to release and create new magical effects -when- disrupted. Drinking a potion, applying a salve or throwing a grenade potion will all disrupt the effect in the potion water, creating the desired magical effect.

Counterweaving: Counterweaving is perhaps the most flexible and useful way to eliminate spell effects. A counterweaver is a wizard who uses his or her ability to weave spells to un-weave spells. Without specifically using any magical energy or spells effects, a counterweaver can directly manipulate the cords involved in any non-instant spell effect. Counterweavers must either have manual access to the spell they wish to tinker with, or have access to a telekinesis effect so they can do it from range.

Counterweaving takes time. The more complex or powerful the spell effect, the longer it takes the counterweaver to do their stuff. Counterweavers do not need to learn how to cast spells - simply how to manipulate the strands of energy that make up magical effects. In essence, while all wizards have potential counterweaving skills, not all counterweavers are wizards.

The three effects that counterweavers have at their disposal are activating, venting, and spellbreaking. Of course, there are spells that emulate these effects, but counteweaving is magically "free," and only requires skill and expertise that are usually also required to cast the spells that ape counterweaving's effects.

Activating: A counterweaver can prematurely activate the effect of a spellweave that is being stored in another wizard's aura, an infused object, or a collection of spellrunes. In many cases, counterweaving is the only way to activate spellrunes, though there are some spellrune objects designed to be activated through other means.

Venting: Similar to activating, venting is the ability for a counterweaver to release the raw, magical energy stored in a spell effect in a desired direction (usually away from the counterweaver). The raw energy is released in a stream that can be used offensively, and like the results of a magical disruption, the energy has no specific magical effect other than raw damage. A skilled counterweaver can take a magical item with a peaceful use and turn it into a weapon of war by venting its stored magic. The final results of a completely vented magical effect is the same as a completely nullified or absorbed effect.

Spellbreaking: If a mage wishes to permanently remove a self-sustaining magical effect, he or she must find some way to sever the magical cords that cause the effect to take the shape it does. Doing so without first nullifying, absorbing or venting the energy surrounding such cords is dangerous, because when a spell effect is broken, raw magical energy is released.

Spellbreaking is usually used against infusions and runecrafted items, but unlike disruption, it can also be used against spellweaves, manifestations, and the effects of channelers who use shaping skills. Trying to spellbreak these effects releases energy the same way as spellbreaking an improperly drained infusion or runecrafted item. Because draining one of these effects will remove it as well, spellbreaking is almost never used on these effects, due to how undesireable magical explosions are.

Unfortunately, for a poorly-understood reason, the cords that sustain channelers themselves, soul-magic, and boons self-heal if severed, so spellbreaking is not effective against these types of magic.

Spellbreaking can further be effective against the -effects- of spellrunes and potions if one does not mind the resulting release of raw energy. Against the water of a potion or the object a spellrune is inscribed upon, spellbreaking is completely useless, and will in fact simply activate the potion or spellrune's effect. This is because these two methods of enchantment are specifically designed to create their intended effects when the cords storing their magical energy is broken, like a trigger.

The reason why disruption is effective against spellrunes but spellbreaking is not is because disrupting spellrunes involves changing the shapes of the runes until the runes are useless. The actual cords of energy in a spellrune-inscribed object are designed to flower and produce a new spell effect upon being broken/activated, the same way potion water is designed to create its effect when disrupted. Destroying the runes physically will disable this flowering, but spellbreaking the runes will not, and will simply cause the flowering to take place.

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