Thursday, March 19, 2015

Magic on Yaghan

Yaghan is a very magical place. There are two reasons for it. First, the influence of the Twin Suns do seem to play a role in the ambient "energy" in the air. But second, reality is extremely malleable. The reason for this is up for debate, but people are starting to realize that the fact that there is so little sentient means reality is not fixed by the collective culture of society. It also as a reinforcing effect: when people started to see magical acts, they started believing... And reinforced the idea that magic was possible.

That said, there are very few real magicians on Yaghan.

The collective beliefs of humanity seem to direct evolution, in a Lamarckist sense: people wish they had such and such adaptation, and their offspring are born with them. They then get selected or not through normal Darwinist evolution, of course. This explains countries such as the Living Cities of the Great Rainforest, where people are almost not human anymore (tails, short oily fur...), and places like the Magiocracy of Callista where mutations are shunned,  and mutant babies killed at birth. As a result there is far fewer mutant babies to start with.

The real magicians are called Shapers, because they "Shape" reality to their will; The greater the effect, and the less likely it is in the first place, the greater the Drain, fatigue that occurs after the effect takes place. As a result, a lot of Shapers practice what could be called "spells", effects they know and have rehearsed, of which they more or less know the drain involved. Improvised magic is tricky and can get you killed very quickly.

A Shaper is distinctive in the Astral Plane because his soul shines brightly: it's called and Awoken Anima. All Shapers share the same distinctive trait, golden sparks somewhere on their bodies, usually the eyes, but not always. Most of them have a limited perimeter of thing they can affect, an affinity with an element, or with some kind of magic, and mostly can't do anything else. It could be an affinity with metal, with water, with the human body... They are sometimes called "Water Wielders", or "Wind Wielders", and so on, but it's an approximation, and they should not be mistaken for the other types of magicians of Yaghan, those with innate powers but a sleeping Anima. Essentially, the Shapers do what other sleepers do consciously through an alteration of reality, whereas sleepers do so in the same way that they breathe or run.

Most Shapers are limited by their beliefs (lifting a ton should be impossible, so they can't really picture themselves doing so), by an unknown factor where they can't control some things (they can affect only water for example, everything else is static to them),  by their magical training, and by the innate strength of their Anima.

So far, Erg, the hero of the novel, is the only one able to affect reality globally and on a much larger scale.

There seems to be a link between the "elements" involved and the abilities of shapers: each Shaper has abilities to modify the outside world, but also their own self. Water Shapers often have mind powers, Earth Shapers can modify their strength, Wood Shapers their healing abilities, Fire Wielders their stamina and Metal wielders their speed. These are general considerations though and there are many exceptions based on the beliefs of each individual Shapers.

Most Shapers, if conbat able, are seen as Elite Soldiers in the War against morlocks. When they are too old to fight, they retire and become "City Pillars", people that help wherever their talents are more helpful. The fact that reality is more static in cities still really encourages Shapers to travel, and it is also seen by officials as a way to control them and make sure their abilities don't give them too many ideas.

A few example of Shapers: the crew of the Veronica.
- Erg's able to do anything but his favorite elements are Wind, Metal and Fire. He fights by making his blades impossibly sharp, moving at an incredible speed, and if he can get his hands on something that burns (like buckets of coals provided by the crew) he creates fireballs and explosions.
- Ogden is an Earth Shaper, and is impossibly strong. There are actually no limit to his strength, but he does not realize it. He wields gigantic weapons that he only can carry.
- Jason manipulates the ambient moisture to cripple his enemies (drying their eyes and so on), and is also a gifted Wood Wielder. In a jungle environment, he can direct the growth of trees to entangle you and so on. He is also a gifted swordsman.
- Karyn is also a Water wielder, and has the power to blend with her surroundings.
- Isabella is a potent Wind Wielder and can create gusts of wind to disorient her opponents.

Mundane magic is very different. It's abilities that are innate, usually that can't evolve much through practice (although, training always helps), and is very cultural. As the people on Yaghan start to differentiate, more types of mundane magic appears.

A few examples?

  • The Wind Wielders of the Great Plains. An ability that has evolved because of the threat of constant tornadoes, Wind Wielders can modify the weather and even create gusts of winds that are focused enough to knock back an opponent
  • Healers are common in every community, people that can help the body regenerate, that instinctively feel what is wrong, that can help the blood clot and so on. 
  • Skinchangers of the Lower Rainforest: these people live a symbiotic life with small animals that they use for combat and hunting. Some people are starting to show the ability to morph portions (or all) of their bodies in animal form.
  • Musicians: A rare ability, exhibited only by Lany so far, to change emotions profoundly on the people hearing the music played by the magician. He can lull somebody to sleep, literally. 
  • Psionic powers are common in the Magiocracy, with more and more people able to astral project, and to confuse people. Mind reading is so far impossible, or if it is, it's not known, but the psionics are able to influence behavior, help a body or a mind heal and so on
  • Spirit Magic: Spirits are a real thing and some shamans are able to communicate with them and ask them to lend them their powers, thereby enabling them to do real "Shaping" even though their Anima is asleep
  • Tree Magic is an essential of the Living Cities, with people able to communicate with trees, direct their growth and so on.
  • Dreamers believe they can change the world through their dreams. They are taken as lunatics, but careful inspection would show that cities where a Dreamer dwell actually do better than other... Are more "lucky" in a way... So maybe they do change reality, after all. 
  • Some inhabitants of the jungle can create electrostatic fields, an ability that appeared to zap insects but that has numerous combat and technical abilities. 
  • In mountainous environments, more and more people acquire an innate relationship with Earth and can feel metal veins, can discern the weakness of a rock and so on. 
  • The darians are people that hid underground and who forsake the use of their eyes. They use a sonar to echolocate. Some of them can also blend in shadows. 
  • Some tribes of the Desert have evolved the practice of henna tattoos. Their beliefs that the tattos have magical powers actually do empower them.
  • The Tribes of the Plains have a special relationship with their horses, that can communicate telepathically, also, many of them have a gift called The Eyes of the Eagle, that enable them to see many times farther than normal people. In the northern plains, where there is a lot of Blade Grass, a type of grass that is coated in sharp metal, the inhabitants have evolved metal skin, their skin can turn metallic and resistant to cuts.

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