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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

The New Era # 3 - The Essences of Life Magik


This post hopes to give more information about the new magik forces that will be found upon Althéa in the new era. They take the form of essences and reflect the various types of magic/magiks available. In the last post, I explained that the Colours that make the Light are more than magikal colours, they are “Life” itself. Now, I will explain in more detail what Life Magik is comprised of and how it differs from Soul Magik.

Life Magik

Definition: Life Magik is a term used to recognise and explain how all magic stems from life and the force that was once called Soul Magik. However, Life Magik (like all systems that came after Soul magik) is a "fragmented" form of Soul Magik, from which its "magic" stems. Therefore, the term "Life Magik" pays tribute to the overall "force of life" by spelling "magik" with a "k", but its own magics that come from the fragmented form are spelt with a "c" in reverence to the fact that its form is a paler reflection of what it once was. (E.g. A spell cast would be called magic, like a "magic missile", but it is part of Life Magik.)

Down To Earth: Alchemy from ages past always demonstrated that "essences" could be distilled from certain objects of the world, but their immediate connection with "Life Magik" would not be clearly known until the new age began. Since "Colour Magik" was withdrawn from the world, more attention was given to these objects and the foci that once aided spells. Gone are the days when "Moon Rock" enabled the caster with the power to cast spells. Now, the caster has to learn to understand the world about them and the relationship between the forces of magic and life once more. In this new age, the would-be wizard must build a sympathetic relationship with the world and learn how to unlock the hidden energies for their spells.

Magic Spells v Magik Items: Various coloured "Moon Rock" used to be the source of energy to help power spells for wizards. Now, the connection with energy within the colour (rather than the rock itself) has become more noticeable and to this end, alchemists and those searching for a means to power various magic practises have come to recognise that these different coloured essences can be distilled from various objects. The degree to how much a wizard makes use of this knowledge is reflected in their skills. Some will only learn enough about the "Life Magik" to cast spells, whereas others will delve deeper to learn more about the individual essences and practices to enable them to make or empower magik items. Spells cast by spell-casters are referred to as "magic" because they empower the spell through knowledge of manipulating fragmented essences, whereas items constructed using magic and pure essences are referred to as "magik" because its as if they hold their own "life". While these definitions have generally been accepted in the new age, there is still some debate about their accuracy, as determining exactly when a "life essence" is being used is still in question. (See next.)

Is Magic Still Magik?: There is much debate among the schools of wizards about what constitutes a full use of "life" in any form of casting, be it for personal usage or when constructing a magik item. The problem has arisen since recognising that any magic cast is actually a paler usage of the Life Magik since the time of Soul Magik: Whereas Soul Magik is recognised as the "single and complete" power, there is now debate as to whether magic cast from any single aspect of the Life Magik (the fragmented essences) is still a casting of the original Soul Magik, all be it in one form or another. Like all things with wizards, this debate is likely to continue until the next age, when maybe things will become clearer ... or they recognise that such things are moot.

Life Magik Essences

The Essences of Life: One thing is quite clear and agreed upon though: Life Magik is what remains of the fragmented Soul Magik, and the following essences have been recognised by the School of Wizards upon Althéa:

  • The Colour (or Elemental) Essences.
  • The Power Essence.
  • The Life Essence.
The first two essences are very well recognised on all worlds, and come in four various strengths: Faint, Weak, Glowing and Radiant. These essences are collected by those with the skills to help make magik items. (See NWN2 rules.) The "Life Essence", however, is something that currently remains unique to Althéa, and was due to an event that took place that brought the new age upon the world when Colour Magik was lost. Whereas the first two forms of essences are restricted to the realms of those skilled in magik manipulation, the "Life Essence" is an unusual part of Life Magik that can be used by all. In some ways, it is a reminder of or the part of the original Soul Magik that was gifted to all peoples. It does not give the ability to cast spells or manipulate magik like pure Soul Magik used to, but it does bring new abilities into the world.

The Life Essence: The Life Essence is the finest gift that could have come from the loss of Colour Magik. Before, it was tied into the fabric of Colour Magik, allowing wizards the freedom to cast spells from across the Colours. Since "The Changing", however, this essence has been stripped from the magik, forcing the wizard to consider their spells once again. However, now that the essence has been freed, it can now be gathered in other ways and can be used in other walks of life. But what is "The Life Essence"? It is the force that can bind all the other essences together. It is the creative intelligence of life. It gives knowledge, guides, and can be used to revive, rebuild, create or restore. It is also the essence we are forced to relinquish with each breath we take, and is why it is the most important of the essences.

Acquiring The Life Essence

Whereas only those with the skills (normally wizards) can work with the other essences, the Life Essence is, by nature, more flexible and can be collected and used by anyone. The normal process of collection, however, will come across as morbid to most people of Althéa, and will therefore, generally be reserved to the realm of adventurers or those with evil intent. This is because most of the time, the Life Essence must be gathered from the recent dead, either through combat or murder. A life that has been cut short this way has its Life Essence released upon death, which has the chance of being intercepted before it can enter the spirit world.

When a recently killed body is examined, the examiner may now notice the Life Essence still around the body. (Most of the time, the essence will escape to the spirit world before it is found, but at other times, it may have become trapped.) Depending upon the moral nature of the finder will determine what they do next. If they are good-natured, then they will help the Life Essence continue on to its final resting place. Doing this will have the helper rewarded with a portion of the Life Essence that they helped to free and move their alignment a step toward good. If the finder is of an evil alignment, then they will choose to capture the entire Life Essence for themselves. This moves an alignment fifty points towards evil, which, if they were not evil already, will definitely make them so. It is assumed a PC will play to there alignment, but an option will be in place to allow a PC to make a choice. NB: Alignment changes can affect your influence with others. The reason I mention this, is because Life Essence collected is used by the PC as they adventure. Therefore, at times they may be more "hungry" for Life Essence than at other times.

I decided that I don't want to say much more than I said last time (by going into mechanics details) because I don't want to spoil some of the mysticism and excitement of discovery when you begin the new era. Therefore, I will only say what I said last time and this about the Life Essence:

  • It acts as a protecting force.
  • It can act as a restorative force.
  • It can act as a creative force.
There will be some limitations of what you can achieve with it according to the PC class, but all PCs will gain some benefits for having collected Life Essence. Furthermore, not all the benefits will become available until you have reached higher levels.

  • 1st Level (All PCs) - Soul Protection. (The PC is protected against untimely death.)
  • 2nd Level (Craft Skill PCs) - Maintain Equipment. (The PC with the crafting skills can also maintain their equipment if they are damaged.)
  • 2nd Level (Wizard PCs) - Arcaene Lore. (PC can create "Arcaene Lore Scrolls" enabling powers similar to earlier Colour Magik.)
  • 3rd Level (All PCs) - Empower Attributes. (PC can recover lost or increase attributes. Scaling cost per point.)
  • 4th Level (All PCs) - Enhance Life. (PC can trade Life Essence for real experiences - Increase XP.)

That is all I am going to say about this list, which may change as time goes by. Hopefully, however, you are beginning to understand how "The Changing" will affect your play in the new era.

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