Ykinde: Magic & Technology

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Magic

Ykindean magic is a science to Avan mages, who are by far the group who studies this natural phenomenon most intensely. While each of the four races uses a unique and often drastically different approach to magic, the concepts and rules of magic that underlay this use are the same.

The Concept

There are many kinds of magical energy. Avanic scholars believe that Beauty, their goddess, is the ultimate source of unrealized magical potential; all new souls come from Her, but they have always existed within Her, as parts of Her. No one can tap into the energy of Beauty to use it as magical fuel; She is the only "pool" of magic that cannot be touched. From Her comes soul-energy: the driving life-force that animates all living things.

Every other kind of magical energy, except for soul-energy, can be tapped and used to fuel spells. Most of these kinds are based in the natural world: shadow, fire, ice, water, wind, earth, rock, tree, blood, bone, metal, light, and crystal. Everything that exists, both living and inanimate, has a pool of magical energy behind it that can be drawn out or supplemented to change it. Drawing fire energy from a torch into a block of ice will result in water, without the torch ever having to go near the ice; however, the torch would be extinguished in the process.

Most spells involve the movement of magical energy from its natural home to another place. Pulling blood energy from an enemy's body can kill them if the spell is strong enough; infusing a magically-emptied crystal with sunlight energy will make it glow. Occasionally, spells will exchange energies equally, such as swapping the metal energy in a broken sword with the metal energy in a sturdy mace, thus repairing the sword but greatly weakening or outright destroying the mace.

The Rules of Magic

…according to Avanic scholars and mages.

  1. Magic energy cannot be created from nothing, nor ever truly destroyed.
    • 1a. Soul-energy does not dissipate when a creature dies. It can be embodied into an object, like a scroll or a talisman, or, rarely, it will remain as a bodiless but coherent spirit. Religious individuals believe that the soul-energy of a worthy individual will join Beauty in the joy of unified, eternal existence. (Other races have other beliefs.)
    • 1b. The soul-energy which animates a new life has always existed within Beauty (or the other races' gods) and is only now manifested into a body. There is no reincarnation (in Avan belief).
    • 1c. If a living thing is drained of its inherent magic, it withers and dies. If a non-living thing is drained of its inherent magic, it must be destroyed, or it will absorb some of the magic in the things around it over time to become balanced again.
  2. It takes knowledge, intent, and willpower to use magic.
    • 2a. Knowledge is required to know how to accomplish what you are trying to do.
    • 2b. Intent is required to show the magic energy which you manipulate what to do and where to go.
    • 2c. Willpower is the force that moves the magic energy from where it is now to where you want it to be.
  3. Tools or imagined intermediaries are, ultimately, unnecessary.
    • 3a. Some spells require reagents, from whence the magical energy to power the spell will come.
    • 3b. Some mages use tools, such as wands or symbols; these are only in order to aid in the mage's intention, to help show the magical energy where to go and what to do.
    • 3c. Some mages use intermediaries, such as spirits or personified elements; much like tools, these are only mental delusions to help the mage establish his/her intention and shape the spell.
  4. Magic is destructive.
    • 4a. Even healing magic that knits the flesh and seals the bone is destructive, for the magical energy that enacts these miracles must come from somewhere, and in being drained from something else, the something else is destroyed.
    • 4b. "Trading spirits," or the act of exchanging one pool of magical energy for another equal pool, is still destructive; you are changing and thus destroying each object's innate nature.
  5. The use of magic requires a price to be paid.
    • 5a. Oftentimes, the price is a lifetime spent studying and preparing the body, mind, and spirit to use magic. Magic can be used in relative safely if used by such a studious expert, and sufficient care and rest will mostly negate the wearying effects of magic use.
    • 5b. Magic can also be used by the inept, if the individual has a very strong intent and immense willpower to force the spell to work, despite a lack of in-depth knowledge of 'how.' This often exacts a great price upon the inept mage, ranging between exhaustion to physical damage to death. On rare occasion, the objects around the inept mage will be decimated instead, their magical energies rather than the caster's own soul-energy suffering the taxing effort.

Magical Systems

Avanic mages study the rules of magic all their lives, undergoing never-ending training to prepare themselves to handle the strain of magic-use. As a result, they are the most efficient mages of all the races' magic-users, rarely suffering any negative effects unless forced to perform magic for prolonged periods of time without rest. They also know the many ways to avoid damage even then, instead expending the magical energy of the inanimate objects around them in order to protect their own soul-energy from the backlash of extensive magic-use.

Lupos shamans call upon their gods and the elements to perform magic. Like Avans, young shamans will train most of their lives to become master shamans; unlike Avans, their ableness to use magic without suffering for it is gained in spurts, almost like an inoculation. Apprentice shamans will undergo quest that require them to speak to the spirits and do many things in a short amount of time, thus exhausting and draining them. As they recover, they become stronger and more enduring, and expending the same amount of energy to repeat the series of tasks becomes easier. Those shamans who do not recover easily are encouraged to seek another lifepath that does not require magic-use, such as brave or ranger. Shamans at the peak of their power are as powerful, if not as esoterically knowledgeable, as Avan mages; but, where an Avan would drain the things around it to avoid exhaustion or death, a shaman would typically sacrifice its own soul-energy, rather than harm the world. Lupos healers call upon the gods or nearby friendly spirits instead of the elements, but the end result is much the same.

Human witches use a great number of reagents for their spells, typically herbs and crystals. They are the most tool-oriented of the magic-users on Ykinde, not only utilizing reagents to provide raw magical energy, but also using a wide variety of tools to prepare the reagents and enact the spell. Oftentimes, they will encapsulate a spell's finished power in a potion or similar concoction, making it simple for non-witches to use bursts of magical power when necessary. This magic-preservation method is what makes the majority of human technology possible, especially the steamwheelers and even some of their firearms.

Panthera spiritwalkers are very similar to Lupos shamans in that they call upon the spirits and the elements to perform magic. However, the magic that they use is almost exclusively energy-exchange, the less-used method. Unlike other magic-users, spiritwalkers will often exchange pieces of their own soul-energy with pieces from other magic pools, drastically affecting their physical form to the point of spiritual shapeshifting in order to travel swiftly. They exist attuned to the magic around them, found within the elements and other living things, and cannot usually attain the raw power of a Lupos shaman or Avan mage. Panthera lifewalkers, who were trained in manual healing (bandaging, salves, herbs, etc) by Lupos, also practice exchange-magic as their only magical way of healing. Where a Lupos healer will use elemental energy to facilitate the healing process, a Pantheran lifewalker will exchange part of its soul-energy with a wounded individual, thus taking the wound upon itself, and then healing it by exchanging that piece of soul-energy with something nearby, often a tree that will heal in time. Lifewalkers are beginning to realize the inherent power in their method; despite the risk, some are exploring how much they can exchange between bodies without permanently damaging the individual spirit, throwing wounds from their kinsmen to the spirits of their enemies during a battle.


Technology

Ykindean technology, often supplemented with magic, is still not terribly advanced. While Avans will use technology if it doesn't require them to get filthy with oil and reek of fumes, the research, development, and improvement of technology is solely in the hands of humans. Lupos and Panthera will not use anything of the sort, barring their primitive and natural-based animal-traps; the most advanced systems they have are of leather- and metal-working.

Humans have a knack for technology; they are curious, observant, and inventive. Although Avans had perfected the art of smithing long before humans had the chance, humans have since stolen the scene with their various enchanted gadgets and radically different forms of locomotion. Although individual human towns or trading ports are not very technological, coastal cities and other human-only lands play host to their research and experimentation.

One of the most major inventions in the past decade has been the steam engine. Primitive trains transport large amounts of resources from town to coastal town at the speed of a very fast horse, but without any need for rest or feeding. Moreover, engineers and witches have combined their expertises to craft an individual form of locomotion called the steamwheeler. This device is similar to a primitive motorcycle; it has two thick wheels, a small steam engine, a long and narrow seat for one or two people, wide handlebars (often called the gripbar), and a frame made of hardwood and sturdy metal. Many of these steamwheelers have magic-powered lights mounted on the gripbar; the engines, while small, are supplied with unlimited water via enchantment (provided there is a natural source of water within a mile or two of the engine when it runs low) and can propel the steamwheeler up to 60 miles per hour on smooth, dry terrain. Speed is not truly the purpose of these vehicles, however; they are built to take a beating and still function, as well as maneuver through dense woods and rocky areas. Versatility and durability tops sheer speed, in this case, especially considering the relative scarcity of good racing terrain on Ykinde. Steamwheelers are fast replacing horses as the best way to get around, and modified 'wheelers have been used to pull carts or wagons.

Another fairly recent advance in technology is the refinement of gunpowder and other explosives, and new implementations. Humans have had primitive firearms for over half a century, and in the past fifteen or so years, they have begun to specialize in this ranged weaponry, honing the science used to craft guns. They are developing semi-automatics, which will fire all the ammunition in a round without having to reload, and they have even begun to make a gun that has three different rounds so that you can fire three rounds of five to ten shots each before having to reload. Accuracy, sights, and ammunition are all being improved upon rapidly. Humans have also developed more destructive, less long-ranged explosives that resemble grenades; usually called handbooms, these metal spheres can be hurled into the midst of battle and will explode upon contact with a hard surface, incinerating those nearby and sending shrapnel flying for several meters.

Other types of technology include wind-powered gliders, small hot-air balloons, small boats powered by steam engines, new metal alloys for weaponry and machinery, more efficient forges, portable fireplaces, scopes and seeing glasses, magnifying glasses, more durable books, rubber (difficult to make and rarely used so far), looms, and primitive indoor plumbing. Most of this technology is poor at best, but still supplemented with magic enough to be feasible and even useful.

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