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When the Gift came, people discovered all kinds of fascinating things that had been right under their noses.

Travel, for instance. The Kaleidoscope-spanning grid of access points and the ubiquitous five-koss1 footpaths that can be unlocked by anyone with an Industrious Nature is not some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon.

The Red Space, too, is a constructed thing, though in this case one could be forgiven for not realizing that. The Red Space is storage in spades, a crimson-lit firmament where there are a thousand koss between every inch of our world.

Equally impressive is the Superatmospheric Ley Grid, known less reverently as the Attic Lines. Mana is funneled upward by ancient henges and pyramids (mostly repaired by this time) into an enormous network of ley lines above the Basin's atmosphere. Here, apart from all the elements of the Basin, the grid flows in a manner immune to the Basin's weather, tectonics, and other constant changes.

Not all ancient technologies are Industry-oriented. Though some deny it, the Akashic Record shows definite signs of being artificial. Many nations and city-states are formed around Soul Hoards which keep the souls of the dead nearby rather than allowing them to pass into the Worlds Beyond. Certain regions of the Basin are Still Zones, where mana scarcely flows and no civilization claims territory. These are the result of intentional landscaping on a massive scale, certainly designed as a tactic of war.

Even the stars themselves are in patterns that enhance and enable divination. This would not be surprising, but that some have found exceptionally old star maps that show different patterns.

Some long-distant civilization moved the stars themselves for their own benefit.

Who did these things? Ancient families of magi? Invaders from the Kaleidoscope or from the Worlds Beyond? Perhaps the Gift that empowers humanity now is first. Will it fade some day, or be somehow rescinded? All of these are matters for intense discussion and research.

In Sorcerously Advanced, your soul is your shadow.

If you want to inscribe magical wards and protections on your soul, you can do it. You just need a steady light source or some way to pin your shadow in place, and and a steady hand with some fancy inks or reagents. This is a fairly standard thing at Soul 2+. Most people from Traditions involving runes, geometry, written spells, etc. will have things inscribed on their soul.

If someone has no shadow, they have no soul. Or there's an illusion involved. Also, just because it's noon doesn't mean your soul goes away. Even if you're in a room that is magically lit from all sides so there's no shadow, there's still shadow inside you. You can close your eyes and summon your power and it will call up the protections written on your soul so that you can see them, inspect them, activate them.

The soul is imperishable, but not indestructible. That is, you can split it up, sell it, steal it, trade it, damage it, tear it, something can gnaw on it, you can have it stretched thin like butter over too much bread, but it will never be completely destroyed. If it's damaged, but you haven't given any of it away or had any of it sorcerously stolen and preserved, it will eventually regrow. If someone steals it, it's still your soul and not theirs. If it's destroyed in their possession, it regrows on you, not them. If you sell or trade a piece, that's theirs now, and it regrows in their possession.

There are definitely afterlives in this game, and your soul goes there with an option for reincarnation. If you sold part of your soul, it's still part-sold when you reincarnate. If someone stole it, it's still stolen when you come back.

What does it actually do, though?

What are you like without it?

Why would someone want it?

This I'm not sure about yet.

I briefly considered having a soulless state as being equivalent to disconnecting from the Self-Nature, but then I remembered that I had based the repercussions of being disconnected from Self on real-world psychological conditions. Implying that everyone with a dissociative disorder is soulless is a terrible idea. We ain't gonna do that.

Traditionally, being soulless means being listless, insipid, without inspiration, gaining no joy from life. Basing the effects of soullessness on depression (or many people's idea of depression, anyway) doesn't sound great either.

I could have the soul be each person's connection to magic, the connection point to the Gift. There's plenty of support in "the literature" for that (and by "the literature" I mean "Mage: The Ascension"), but I feel like there's a more interesting story and setup if that's not the case. Having serious opponents who are soulless but still powerful is a common enough trope that I don't want to throw it away. Also, if you can keep someone from doing magic by stealing their soul, that would be everyone's first plan of attack against every enemy, and that's boring.

Some fantasy settings connect the soul with the conscience. As an atheist, I can't help but see parallels between this and the idea that only through religion do people gain morality. I could rant against that bullshit for months. History has given me enough material for months. However, in SsA, the soul is a literal fact of life that is physically present and basically undeniable, so that helps to cut out some of those connotations. Losing your Core Values when you lose your soul is a possibility. Having them shunted to the extremes is also a possibility: any CV at 3+ becomes a 5, anything 2- becomes a 0. You're instantly a zealot.

I feel like there should be a noticeable pain to having no soul. Maybe someone without a soul even picks up a Core Value, "Make the Pain Stop", that starts at 0 and rises to 5. Depends how creepy I want to get.

Vulnerability to possession? Definitely want that. Even if they can only influence rather than taking over, it's a big vulnerability.

It should be possible to regrow your soul, even if it's been completely stolen. I feel like it should be difficult. More quest material than just waiting and resting.

What would someone do with the pieces of it? Why would you trade for someone's soul? It would definitely count as a mystical connection, so they could work magic on you directly through it. Does it increase their own magical power? Can they command you? (No, that A: circumvents the Gift, and B: again makes soul-theft everyone's first plan of attack.) Ok well failing that can they influence your CVs? Can they bend the things you do to benefit them? (This one I like, I'm just not sure how to implement it yet.) Do they build real powerful magical shit out of it? If so… uh… how are you going to get it back now?

Suggestions welcome.

When you conjure objects, they come with only "inherent aspects" - that is, wood has aspects of growth, and iron has aspects of strength, and things have all the aspects they would normally have for their composition and shape. However, you can't conjure a Murder Knife, because the knife is just steel and it hasn't been forged by someone with murder in their heart. You can't conjure a Seed of Prosperity because that seed doesn't have the whole history of being planted and nourished by a skilled and industrious Earthpower adept. Its history says "I just got here." You need to make those by hand.

However, those aren't the only magic items.

You can make a Krait Dagger, because that needs mercury alloys and special runes and a shard of obsidian in just the right place and that you can conjure just fine. The history of the object doesn't matter - its composition and structure make it inherently poisonous and murderous.

You can't conjure every sort of magical object, but you can basically always conjure something that will get the job done. The Murder Knife will shelter you from observation and strike toward the heart, but the Krait Dagger will poison everyone it touches and let you wriggle through tiny openings as you escape, and that's a pretty good tradeoff.

There's still a demand for higher-end, hand-and-heart-made objects. After all, if someone made a Krait Dagger with murder in their heart - which is practically guaranteed, I mean, why the hell is someone making a Krait Dagger if not to murder with - it would be definitively better than one that had just been conjured.

The advantage of conjured goods is a: you can conjure a shitton of them and not break a sweat, and b: they're incredibly reliable. They are the exact same device, every single time. Every conjured Songstaff has the exact same resonances, which sucks if you need one tuned to experimental conditions but is great if you need to replace part of a complex system and know that the new component will work exactly like the old one.

Side note: You can't conjure mana at all.

I wrote up a bunch of ways that one can achieve the major desires of each Nature, using every different Fount that's currently in the game. Then I realized that half of what I was writing belonged with Paths instead of Founts. This was still a useful exercise for me, despite using up five pages, because it helped me make that division in my head a little stronger.

Here's an example.

Alchemy is a Fount. Founts have principles they're based on and manifestations in the world. Alchemy's principles are about the meaning of objects, their transmutation, and the transmutation of the self.

Alchemy is not a Path. The Path that most people associate with Alchemy is Relics and Reagents" which is all about potions, dusts, herbs, and distillation. However, one can also do Alchemy with a different Path. For instance, one could use Spells and Incantations or Runes and Patterns to transmute things and to reach into the Ideal Realm. Blood Magic would work well. The Path of Otherworldly Patrons would be pretty rare for Alchemy.

Likewise, the Path of Reagents can be used in many other Founts. It's common to see it used for Earthpower or Elementalism. It's pretty uncommon for Invocation.

Paths are causes.

Founts give you effects.

Natures give you the results of those effects.

Founts help you express your Nature.

Paths let you access a Fount.

Side note: I think I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Because this is a non-scientific universe, the same cause will not always give you the same effect, and the same effect will not always yield the same result.

Imagine that you went through the process of forging a hammer with hate in your heart, and that hammer could never be used to build, only to strike and harm. Imagine that you forged a hammer with ambition and greed, and it would only build stores and never homes. That's what this world is like.

Our world doesn't care what you think. This one very much does.

I'm still writing a lot of the individual levels for these. I haven't gotten super-deep into the technologization of magic yet, and really knowing what people can do with each Nature will require that. However, I've got the general concept for each Nature down a lot better than when I started.

  • Communion: Connecting with others. This includes mind-sharing and telepathy (both short and long range), but also fast-learning, borrowing skills, and healing. (Except resurrection; that's an expression of Self because it involves soul-work.) It also covers ways to store information in public reservoirs like the Akashic Record or the Lettered Smoke.
  • Mystery: Hiding and discovering; concealing and revealing. Psychometry is pretty common, as are a wide range of divination techniques.
  • Industry: Building, crafting, and economics. Some Founts use Ideal Forms a lot (aka Platonic Ideals), and many of them can do quick-time stuff or call forth raw materials.
  • Self: Protection of the self, changing oneself, staying oneself through changes. Shapeshifting is an expression of Self, as is immortality (which is hella better than the immortality you get in SA). Soul-work also falls under Self, though that's more properly "Other" than Self.
  • War: Physical force, curses, strategy, all manners of harm. Warding and protection show up here as well.

While writing this I realized that I need to write a bunch more expressions for each Nature. There's not enough to build a flavorful Nature out of them yet. I need a whiteboard wall for this.

Honestly, writing this game is more like writing seven full sets of Capabilities, because each of the seven Founts lend themselves to expressing the Natures in very different ways and there are fairly few underlying principles that unite different Founts. I may give in and do exactly that, but I'd really rather not right now. We'll see.

I've also been working on a "What can't you do" list, which is sure to grow as I nail down the boundaries of magical power better. So far, it's…

  • Wish spells, because screw that.
  • Instantaneous teleportation, because that's what Travelling is for.
  • Mind control, because of The Gift.
  • Summoning and binding, because that's both instant teleportation and mind control.
  • Conjure something that has a specific origin other than "I just conjured it". For example, if you're an Alchemist you can call forth a manifestation of the Ideal Chair and have something to sit on, but you can't use the wood from it to connect to a forest spirit, because it was never in any forest.
  • Absolute effects (like "unbreakable" objects or perfect anti-magic areas), mostly because the system isn't built for it.

I'm ambivalent on whether rewinding time or retconning things is possible. As always, it's a can of worms. Plenty of other time-related stuff is just fine.

Resurrection, which is a no-no in a lot of high-magic games other than D&D, is perfectly ok here. The existing Existentialism rules handle it just fine.

For those objects that do have spirits, some answers to these:

  • Changing an object changes the spirit. Chopping down a tree, if that tree has a dryad, turns it from a tree spirit into a lumber spirit, which might become a house spirit (or part of one). How they react to that is up to them.
  • Changing a spirit-inhabited object with magic is not different from changing it without. Objects changed by magic do not necessarily slowly revert to their original forms.
  • The will of the spirit can alter the object. Weather spirits can bring storms, tree spirits can regrow lost limbs or have their tree pick up and move. This will often look like a magical effect (because spirits are inherently magical beings), so yes, you can sometimes skip magic by bargaining with spirits.
  • That will is awoken by interaction, but can stay awake for a long time afterward.
  • Spirits can be damaged by changes to which they do not consent. If a river spirit refuses to allow a dam to be built, but someone builds it anyway, the river spirit may be hurt. It can't necessarily heal itself, and may need help to return to normal.

Ooh, another good item:

  • The supernatural is distinguishable from the natural. In our world, there is no place where day-to-day experience stops and scientific laws pick up. The laws of gravity apply just the same everywhere. In the Great Basin, there is a bright line separating the magical from the nonmagical.

This is also a good example of a definition that's unique to this world. In other magical settings, one could imagine magic as part of the natural world as opposed to something distinct from it. In some settings there's no difference between natural and supernatural. In the Basin, magic literally flows from outside the world. The world would continue on just fine without magic, and magic is supernatural in a literal sense: something overlaid on top of the natural world.

Note also: different worlds in the Kaleidoscope may have spirits that work differently, so that GMs who want to explore a particular situation have the space to do that.

After much cogitation and discussion, I'm leaning toward "individual things do not have spirits, but can be conduits to greater spirits." So if you have a vial of sand from a desert, you could use that to talk to the spirit of that desert or the Sultan of the Dunes (hypothetical god of all deserts). If you have a vial with a grain of sand from every desert, you could use it to talk to the Sultan more easily, but not contact individual desert spirits very well.

It's a bit of a sidestep, but it fixes the problem where every character is either a murderer, a slaver, or the magical equivalent of a vegan.

This also provides some good trade items, because sand is conjurable, but sand from a particular desert is not.

Nature. That's what I'm going to rename Capability to. They are your Natures. The Communion-Nature, the Self-Nature, the War-Nature.

Domain and Drive are still runners-up. Expression will probably be the generic term for "thing that you do with you nature." Like, shapeshifting is an expression of Self.

Animism: the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.

Oh god so many questions. We're gonna refer to plants, objects, and phenomena all as "objects" below.

Connection questions:

  • Do changes to objects change the spirits? If I use magic to make a tornado, does that change the air spirit? Generate a new tornado spirit? Have I made a strange void that has no spirit until one enters it and is transformed?
  • How do spirits react to their objects being changed? Do they change? Do they get angry? Do some change and others not? Do they not change but their reaction depends on the individual?
  • Do spirits make their objects slowly return to their original forms after magic changes them? Does a mountain destroyed via magic thousands of years ago eventually regrow?
  • If so, is that a way to tell magical from non-magical effects? If I build a castle with magic, does it turn back into air or dirt or revert to its original plane, whereas things built by hand do not?
  • Do existing spirits divide (e.g. so that one can enter a newly formed or vacated object), or do they appear via spontaneous genesis?

Autonomy questions:

  • Is all magic really spirit coercion? (Hint: this does not go with the themes of SsA, so no. I will be intentionally setting up the game to avoid this.)
  • Can you skip magic by bargaining with spirits?
  • Do spirits have free will?
  • Can spirits choose to make their objects act? Can an air spirit say "You bother me, Captain Ahab. I will not blow you toward the white whale."
  • Is that will only brought forth during their interactions with others? Do spirits just sit and do their thing until someone with the Gift talks to them?
  • Does the existence of will depend on the complexity of the spirit? Do spirits that just do one thing (like gravity spirits who only hold things down) not have free will, while those for forests and species do?

Reality questions:

  • Do these spirits exist, or are they really just bad analogies used by certain Traditions? (This is my solution of last resort if I cannot answer the rest of these questions satisfactorily.)
  • Does changing objects wipe out and recreate spirits? If I transmute a tree into a fire, do I erase a tree spirit and make a fire spirit? Is that functionally different from me just nonmagically lighting the tree on fire?

Potential inspirations:

  • Spirits in Exalted
  • Spren in the Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson)
  • Our Spirits Are Different ⚠️ Warning: TVTropes link. Metatech hazard. ⚠️
  • The entire Mythic World in Nobilis

What makes magic different from science?

  1. Intent matters. Science doesn't care why you're doing something; it'll work regardless. Magic cares. You can't take the earth-moving spell you have for Industry and easily turn it into a moving wall of rocky death for War. The inner intent that says "I want to excavate a foundation to help build this building" does not match the intent for "I want to crush my foes with a wave of earth." You need to do a bunch of extra work to adapt the spell, and possibly reconceptualize it from the beginning. Sometimes you can't do it at all.
  2. Science is prosaic. Magic is poetic. Science is only about the story. Magic is also about the embellishments. Magic works through karmic reward, dramatic irony, and archetypes. Both can use formulae (e.g. alchemy, mystic geometry), both have cause-and-effect chains (usually), but science never did something to you just because you deserved it.
  3. Form matters as much as function. Science is independent of representation. It might be easier to understand if you present your work in certain ways, but in the end, whether you show your data as a graph or a table of numbers, it means the same thing. Magic, on the other hand, is representation-dependent. If you translate your spell to a new language, it stops working. You need to rewrite it from the ground up.
  4. A sentient world. Our universe is dangerous but not malicious. A magical universe has some parts that are malicious. It also has some parts that are benevolent. The vacuum of deep space is dangerous to us, but not because it's angry at us. The Elemental Plane of Fire is similar - it's not mad at you, it just burns everything equally. The Dream World of Khai'gholam, on the other hand, actively wants to kill you. "Sentient" might not be the right world, maybe just "opinionated"?

I'll probably have more to add later.

Note that this is specifically for the world of Sorcerously Advanced. I'm not trying to say that these guidelines are the universal constants separating magic and science in all creative works, just in this one game here.

Note also that I'm not posing this as "magic vs. technology". In this game, magic has been technologized in many ways.

A common agreement when people talk about fictional magic is "all magic has a cost." It's sort of the basis of a lot of tropes. Like, a lot. (Though some of those tropes are more about limitations than costs, and that falls under your Path.)

You see this in a ton of systems. Some are pure mana-point-oriented (Rifts, Exalted, D&D psionics), though sometimes you have to do weird stuff to get those MP and they're limited in weird ways (Unknown Armies, standard D&D spellcasting). Others allow free use below a certain level, but cost you when you're trying to push your skills (Mage, Ars Magica, Nobilis, Mutants & Masterminds). Others have costs that are tied into other parts of the system (Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Hero, Shadowrun). In fairy tales, magic's price is more often something bizarre or dangerous. When you look at RPGs, though, this tends to be limited to really specific characters in a handful of games (Exalted's Sidereal paradox, the Wasteland effect in Promethean, Dark Sun defilers) because it can get real wacky real fast if you're expecting to throw spells around like a D&D wizard but you need to take the equivalent of a Moderate Complication every time.

In SsA, it feels like costs could most easily be described in game terms as Complications. Certain Paths will definitely be tying into Complications a LOT - wild magic, for example. (I'm certainly not going to bolt magic points onto SA.) But before we start charging Complications for magic on the regular, what are some alternatives?

  • Power-limited. You can do anything up to a certain power level and there's no pushing it.
  • Skill-limites. You have the power for anything, but not the skill for it. This can easily become a "pay for overcasting" setup if the raw power screws you over when it exceeds your skill.
  • There's a cosmic arbiter who accepts or refuses each spell as it's cast. (This might seem like a game of Mother May I with the GM, but remember that prayers, as described in several game systems and by religious believers in real life, basically work this way.)
  • The cost might be a Plot-Driving Weakness. It doesn't necessarily cost you, but it makes it easier for someone to exact a cost from you. Think of Morpheus (from Sandman) losing his tools before the story begins and needing to recover them later, or a lich hiding their phylactery because if someone gets their hands on it they're no longer immortal. Or Sauron's ring.

I certainly don't want to have characters pay for every damn time they use magic. That doesn't fit the feel of the game. I'm likely to have some mixture of things, with most actions not requiring a cost but things on the Infrastructure level or that push your own Capabilities invoking some sort of Complication. However, I'm not even sure that a transactional view of magic in general is appropriate to SsA, and for certain Aum will have paid many costs to begin with. Still considering.

Side note: magic in books and fairy tales is done without price all the time by characters that would be classified as NPCs in most games. The transactional view of magic is only reliably applied to main characters. We'll be doing away with that conceit, thank you very much.

This is has been the place where my own brain has backslid most reliably:

Capabilities are not unified fields of knowledge. They are intents. Hell, I may rename them to Intentions or Drives or Ambitions or Desires or Objectives or whatever.

Certain types of magic, especially those that are cross-cuttingly useful, are also not unified fields of knowledge. This is one of the ways in which magic is not science. Not all time dilation effects have the same cause. If you research them as if they were related, you get nowhere, because they are not, sometimes not even within the same Fount. The Earthpower effect that grows an acorn into a tree in minutes is not related to the Earthpower effect that lets you run fast and snatch birds out of the air.

All these things do exist. People make illusions, they shift time, they call creatures from the Worlds Beyond to do their bidding. If you want to make a character focused around these entirely, talk to your GM about making a new Fount and a Tradition to go with it. But there's no answer to "What Capability do I use to do time magic" because there are bits of it in every Capability.

Some of the particular items here may eventually get stuffed into a particular Capability. Shapeshifting, for example, is currently sitting under Self. However, it really feels to me like there would be a fair amount of it used for War, so I'm waffling between leaving it in Self and having it be more of a visual effect for the magic you do in various Capabilities. Think think think.

It's very important to me that any racism in Sorcerously Advanced be intentional. I know, it's a weird thing to say. What I mean is that I want to be able to decide whether or not any particular civilization shows bias toward others, and not have it happen accidentally as I write things. If I decide that it's not part of the game, I want to have that be true and not be accidentally creating a bunch of fantasy bigots. I also don't want to have part of the game or the setting inherently use discriminatory rhetoric to justify something.

Let me give you an example of where this could pop up that you might not expect. Let's say I want to have heavens and hells in my cosmology. (Angels and demons did not receive the Gift because they're already inherently magical.) Given how vast the Great Basin is, there's got to be one civilization with their newfound magical powers who would find their heavens, help their angels, and tip the balance of their war with hell. Now there are a bunch of angels that are…

  • …free to go around solving every problem, deprotagonizing the player characters, and making the game less fun?
  • …free to help but don't, for reasons that are as inscrutable as the Transcendentals, which I don't want to overuse?
  • …free to help but choose not to because humanity should do it for themselves, in which case, sucky angels?
  • …free but turn out to be overly authoritarian, in which case, sucky angels?
  • …not actually free because creatures in the Worlds Beyond are not genuinely free-willed, and they either keep repeating the same actions as before or just break down when their ancient enemies disappear?

That last item seems, at first, to fix many potential problems with the Worlds Beyond. The more broad solutions we have and the fewer "spot rules" we need, the better. However, it uses the language of discrimination. "Those people" aren't smart. They're not free-willed. They don't even really feel pain. They're basically just animals that look like angels, only not even as good as animals, because an animal will stop fighting eventually when you take away things to fight. And that's awful language. If I decided I wanted sucky angels, this is maybe the worst way to do it.

The easy solution here is removing heavens and hells from the catalogue of the Worlds Beyond, but that runs counter to my desire to make the setting represent as broad a swath of fantasy stories as possible. There are things I'm willing to cut from the canon (and some I already have), but I don't want to cut without need. I want to have a well-considered world that has room for heavens and hells without ruining the setting or using the language of racism.

This is just one of many places this can pop up. Much like with the Gift itself, if I leave this to individual GMs, it's a real recipe for games that make people leave groups.

It's ok for some roleplaying games to have slaves in them. It's ok for that fact to be a major issue in the game, or to be treated however the GM and their group want it. (For instance, I've never seen an Exalted game that didn't involve the PCs freeing large numbers of slaves.) It's not ok to use the language that was used to justify slave-holding in real life to explain why someone didn't get the Gift, or to explain why they're not able to be helpful despite vast power. I'd rather make a cosmos with finite heavens and infinite hells than go down that road.

To put it more simply: The Gift didn't elevate humanity above everyone else. It leveled the playing field. Humanity is not a master race and I'm not going to treat them like they are, or talk about other beings as if they're inherently lesser.

Fantasy's near-marriage to the "Chosen One" narrative makes this endeavor a minefield. I will no doubt step on some mines. Feel free to let me know when you think I'm headed toward one, because I'd really rather not.

One way I might fix this: Angels have no damn idea how to operate once they're out of their eternal war and are learning the hard way. That makes them more human, which can be good or bad, but I'm ok with that. This isn't SA where nonhuman intelligences need to be alien.

Another possible option: Some Worlds Beyond are balanced against one another. You can only quench the Plane of Fire by using up the Plane of Water. Kill a demon and you kill an angel.

It actually took me quite a lot of writing to come up with these. As always, feel free to spitball, and know that if I call out an idea as problematic that doesn't mean I'm calling you a racist.

No problem. I'm doing SO much better now - I only have a little trouble when my blood sugar is low.

I thought I'd set this up to monitor, but I guess I flubbed it.
I'm so sorry about this. All I can do is send some vibes and hope for your recovery.

Re: What Happened to Colin? by PilgrimPilgrim, 31 Jan 2018 03:17

If you can turn into literally anything, it's a problem.
If you can move from place to place instantly at all times, it's a problem.
If you can summon any number of things, or if summoned things can do magic for you, it's a problem.
If you can make completely believable illusions of anything, it's a problem.

So you can't.

You can turn into a pretty specific set of things, as a Self 4 ability, depending on your Tradition. The forms come from your Fount, and the way you do it comes from your Path. You might keep animal skins to change into animals, or walk into a bonfire to become an elemental, or drink a potion that converts you to metal until the sun next crosses the horizon.

You don't teleport, you capital-T Travel, as an Industry 3 effect, in a manner currently very much stolen from The Wheel of Time. (More detail later will make it less stolen.) You open up an extradimensional pathway between your current location and your destination. It is seven miles long. Always. You can run or fly to get down it faster, but it's still a seven-mile walkway.

I'm not sure about summoning and illusion yet. I'm leaning toward having summoning be mostly a special effect that explains how certain Traditions do their magic, and Illusion be a War effect, but I'm not 100% decided yet. Suggestions are welcome.

While Neuroform has paired items, Earthly Form often has more than two in each category. Baseline is all the left-hand items below.

Physical / Energy Being / Phased Out
Balanced / Aspected / Manavore
Single / Swarm
Born / Sprung Full-Grown / Constructed
Biped / Animal / Dragon
Embodied / Possessing

"Balanced" means you're overall balanced when it comes to magical flow. Aspected means you've got some kind of serious distinctive touch, like water or death or runes, that goes beyond just cosmetic. Manavores eat magic. It's occasionally useful, but mostly a fairly serious disadvantage.

"Biped" means you've got fine manipulators. Animal means you don't. "Dragon" also counts other large inherently-magical creatures like Sphinxes and such (and has fine manipulators). I'll figure out better names for this set later.

As an example, if you want to play a ghost, you're Phased Out, Aspected (toward death), Single, Born, Biped. You're Embodied if you can take on a ghostly shape, and Possessing if you have to jump from host to host.

Note that this game has no Sovereign/Slaved pairing. That's intentional, and it's part of the Gift. Autonomous/Parasitic is also not on this list. Embodied/Possessing is similar, but not quite the same thing, partially because you can't possess without someone's permission (again, part of the Gift).

The current age of the current cosmos is about 4.3 billion years. Humanity was born not long after the cosmos itself, at the dawn of the world.

About six hundred years ago, the Great God Aum breathed The Gift into all free-willed beings. Magic, previously a talent for those of lucky birth, became the birthright of all.

There were immediately a good many wars, and a greater number of rebellions. They ended, time passed, people forgot, and the wars began again. The Great Basin is immensely wide, over one million Koss1, yet still after a short age there were few places untouched by this All-Devouring Cycle. Nations and their monuments alike were destroyed. During this time there were many who retreated to distant and uninhabited places. The peaceful and the strange, especially, found that they preferred to live at a distance from their intolerant and warlike cousins.

In time, the All-Devouring Cycle ended.

People returned to the Basin. New nations have been born. Research thrives. The Dream Worlds open up and the hands of Aum move in new patterns.

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