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Fox
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« on: 27 April 2008, 20:06:43 »

Okay. Here's a biggie. This entry is attempting consolidate and explain things like staves (both the magical and purely focus variety), enchantments, magical familiars, and so on, based a bit on some of the ideas I expressed earlier as well as things I thought up while being an insomniac tonight.

Have at it. :) It might sound crazy or be completely wrong (or even right O.o), but at least it's a start for some of the more important things we've kept out of the limelight for awhile.

*Edit* I have some changes in mind but I'm leaving this in its original format for now in case Mina would like to get comments in on the original before changes are made.

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Magical Focuses

Magical focuses are items used by many magi of all skill levels to empower, stabilize, concentrate, create, or otherwise increase in effectiveness their own spell power. Staves are the most common of these focuses, but other objects such as wands, spell tomes, personal objects, and even weapons in the case of battlemagi, all can serve this purpose. Other items, such as enchanted objects, also come under the range of magical focuses.

Focuses come in several documented varieties. These include elemental focuses, stabilization focuses, creation focuses, and attunement focuses. It should be noted, however, that there are more focus-oriented materials than those listed here. These alternative methods of focus include reagents and magical formulas. Though similar in some respects to the enchantment focuses listed here, reagents and formulas have their own peculiarities that set them apart.

Most Focuses are specifically prepared as such by powerful magi, capable of performing Sphere III or even Xeuá magic. Only the very last focuses, those of Attunement, can be made by novice magi.

Elemental Focuses.
Elemental focuses are items, such as staves, that bestow an elemental trait upon the caster to aid in changing the effect of their spell. These focuses are specifically prepared by high-level magi of the elemental schools, using Sphere III magic to bind simple magical spells to the focus, which is then passively transferred to the wielder. These focuses will apply an elemental trait to the spell based on the element of the mage that cast it, and is one of the few ways for a single mage to utilize multiple elements at once by himself. The element itself determines what the likely effect will take hold on the spell.

  • Fire Elemental Focuses
    Fire Elemental Focuses often apply properties of passion for greatness or destruction upon spells cast by the caster. Any spell cast under the effect of this focus will exude a greater magnitude of power, allowing a mage to cast spells more powerful than he might be capable of, or to expend less effort than he would normally have to to achieve a desired effect. These focuses can be dangerous, however, as an unprepared mage might end up overdoing delicate spells.
  • Earth Elemental Focuses
    Earth Elemental Focuses often apply properties of stability and endurance upon spells cast by the caster. These spells will often greater withstand disruptions in concentration and have a much lower chance of fizzling. As such, Earth Elemental Focuses are one of the most common focuses used by magi. In addition, the property of permanence enacted by these focuses can allow a caster to expend less concentration to keep a spell going, a great boon for Sphere I spells which usually fade as soon as the caster stops casting—with an Earth Focus, these spells can actually last a short length of time after the caster has stopped focusing on it, allowing even low level magi to keep a few effects up at once with minimal concentration.
  • Wind Elemental Focuses
    Wind Elemental Focuses often apply properties of clarity and movement upon spells cast by the caster. These spells are usually much easier to imagine and realize, and can be created faster than usual. Wind Elemental Focuses are exceptional focuses for the learning mage, as they allow one to steady their mind and truly imagine and ‘see’ the aura they seek to control.
  • Water Elemental Focuses
    Water Elemental Focuses provide perhaps the least ‘focus’ of the Elemental Focuses. Due to Water’s chaotic nature, the properties applied by a Water Elemental Focus can shift and change without warning. Water Elemental Focuses primarily apply the property of fluidity on spells, thus these focuses make spells easier to cast. However, this property is very often slippery, and a mage can easily lose control of it. In effect, the spell becomes too easy, and can lead to catastrophic fizzles regularly. Therefore, these focuses are used in only one way—for the insane that wish to learn to harness catastrophic fizzles. Perhaps the most dangerous mage is the Fire Mage wielding a Water Elemental Focus, for he is set on creating extremely unreliable and explosive effects. Properly ‘controlled’, these fizzles can make a powerful spell even moreso. But the risks involved to the caster and his party (and the surrounding locale) makes experienced users of these focuses rare indeed. Ximax restricts Water Elemental Focuses to only highly disciplined and highly trained magi.

The most powerful Elemental Focuses are the Eleven Staffs of Ximax. These staves have purportedly also had their powers increased by the efforts of Xeuá magi, and are supposedly capable of a wide range of effects beyond simple focusing. In fact, the Eleven Staffs may be Elemental Focuses as well as Stabilization and Creation Focuses (see below), thus extending the possible powers of these items immensely.

Stabilization Focuses.
These are more powerful focuses that use Xeuá enchantments instead of elemental ones to increase the stabilization of spells cast. The stabilization provided by these powerful focuses can nearly remove the threat of fizzling even in times of great stress. Focuses utilizing these Xeuá enchantments automatically strengthen the links between ounía and Cár’áll. In practice, this allows a mage to become exceedingly disoriented and yet keep a spell together. For instance, a fire mage casting a fireball who is hit in the side and knocked over would normally be very likely lose control of the spell, causing it to disappear or explode. If he were to be carrying a stabilization focus, however, the spell would in fact remain for some time. It would dissipate slightly from the lack of the mage’s focus, but if the mage were to regather his concentration and refocus on the spell, he would be able to pick it up straight where he left it, as most of the links he has created are still in effect.

Many battlemagi use stabilization focuses in combat, as these focuses allow them to avoid fatal catastrophic fizzles that are very likely to occur in the chaotic nature of melee combat. These stabilization focuses allow these battlemagi to begin casting a spell, pause it in order to defend himself or dodge an attack, and then return to finish casting it, without any negative effect.

These focuses are, obviously, very expensive, but the aid they provide is monumental.

Creation Focuses.
Creation Focuses are more often used by advanced magi, though minor ones and passively enchanted objects may be found for sale at high prices—in fact, Creation Focuses are the items most often thought of when one thinks of enchantments. Essentially, creation focuses are focuses that have been enchanted by powerful elemental and Xeuá magics to possess a minor elemental will. This will, extremely basic and primitive, is oriented towards the element used (for instance, passionate and aggressive in the case of fire), and is imbued with the capability of willing minor spell effects into existence without the need of an actual mage’s will. The mage only has to provide a minor push (usually through a small Sphere I nudge in the focus) to cause the focus to will its programmed spell into existence. In case of Fire enchantments, this is usually a fireball. Some more advanced focuses can store the ability to cast multiple types of spells. Others have been enchanted with basic senses, allowing them to subconsciously alert their owner to danger. The latter and similar passive enchantment objects (such as flaming weapons or magical bags) tend to be the most common that will be found among the non-mage population, as these are often enchanted to keep their effect up at all times without need of a mage’s prodding. These items however are exorbitantly expensive, and most need consistent maintenance and care due to their always-active effect.

The Xeuá links holding these wills together, like the links holding together any living being, must be nourished in order for the will to persist. Therefore, after some months or years of inactivity or multiple uses, these focuses will need to be brought to a Xeuá mage to rebuild the active soór links. Even then, however, many of these focuses will eventually fade away—only the most powerfully built will last centuries, as is the case of rare artifacts from eras long gone.

The weakest of these focuses are simple scrolls or potions. These items have been given the bare minimum of necessary links for their primitive will to cast a single spell, once, through a very simple trigger mechanism (most often verbal in the case of scrolls and digestion in the case of potions), which will then cast their spell. The links holding the magic will together are unable to persist long, and a single release of this spell, or only a few months of inactivity, will cause them to fade and the enchantment to become worthless.

The most potent creation focuses are those that have been the work of multiple magi to create more than just a basic will. Such works can even reach sentience. Perhaps the most well-known example of such a creation focus is the Orb of Bluestride, the last remnants of the former Archmage of Ximax, Xarl Bluestride. Through the efforts of a host of elemental and Xeua archmagi, as well as the Elemental Staffs of their towers, a true sentient will, taking after Xarl himself, was enchanted unto the crystal orb. Unlike other wills, the Orb is not any individual mage’s focus item (unless it is still somehow linked to a still somehow living Xarl Bluestride), and thus does not cast spells at will for any random mage. Instead, the willpower is kept as both an advisor and as an example of some of the great acts accomplishable by magic, for it is indeed the very representation of the fact that powerful magi can create essentially living beings through their magic. The Orb of Bluestride represents the ability of the world’s most powerful individuals to act as gods.

Attunement Focuses.
Attunement Focuses are the cheapest focus, but are very powerful for the many magi who choose to use them. In essence, an attunement focus is a focus that the caster has trained or otherwise become bonded to. These focuses have no true magical properties of their own, but instead rely on molding the caster’s mind with them. Most magical schools offer several classes involving attunement, and it is a popular class for younger magi. Through intensive training and meditation, the classes gradually attune the mage to their focus, often a staff or rod or spell tome, but sometimes a weapon or other personal item, even a familiar (these attuned familiars are where many of the stories of magical animals in the aid of wizards come from, and is perhaps how Ximax Rats and Cats came into being). Through this attunement, the mage learns to cast all of their spells through the focus item.

At first, this may not seem like it has any benefit over casting without such a focus. However, on closer inspection, these special focuses are in fact extremely valuable. In essence, it gives the mage something to focus on when he has nothing else. The willpower involved in conjuring an unnatural effect from, often, mere air, requires an extremely potent imagination in the caster. Slipping even a little can cause the spell to fail, or worse, catastrophically fizzle, especially in chaotic minds. Through the deeply personal process involved with attuning the caster to their focus, the caster learns to channel every spell through their focus. In technical terms, the links between the caster’s Cár’áll and the focus’ Cár’áll are made active with each other, causing the two Cár’állia to essentially become one at the point of casting a spell—perhaps the earliest a mage will touch on the basics of Sphere III, though only indirectly (this bond happens on its own through meditation, the mage does not control these links directly). This essentially provides the mage with an anchor. The focus has a firmly set Cár’áll, which changes very little, while the caster’s is much more vibrant and active. By the linking of the two Cár’állia, the focus’ Cár’áll in essence steadies the caster’s own aura. This often has a calming effect, both on the caster as well as in the spell itself. Therefore, the caster essentially gains the benefits of multiple elemental focuses at once, albeit indirectly and with much less intensity. This joining of auras can help clear the caster’s mind, increase the power of a spell, and decrease the chance of it fizzling while casting. None of these effects are as pronounced as when using an individually enchanted elemental focus, but are still a great boon especially for the beginning mage—in fact, there are some magi who are completely incapable of casting without such a focus.

In the relatively rare event of a living attunement focus (such as a familiar), the effect is slightly different. Instead of steadying the mage’s Cár’áll, the joining of wills adds the familiar’s own willpower to the caster’s. A very minor form of will-joining or circle magic, this joint willpower can conjure and stabilize spells simply from pure force of focus, though this requires a very powerful emotional bond between the caster and the familiar—if the familiar has been treated badly by its master, it can in fact destabilize the caster. In addition, in exceptional circumstances, the mage can in fact cast spells from the viewpoint of the familiar, instead of from his own body. Extensive training is needed to perform such a feat, however.

Learning to attune to a focus is something many casters train for in specific classes, though once they have learned once many magi can repeat the process if they ever choose to reattune to a new focus. However, these kinds of bonds can happen on their own in rare circumstances, rather than just from training. There are some who believe that the powers of the Gifted is in fact triggered by these kind of bonds—for instance, when an otherwise mundane parent displays extraordinary magical power in defending their child, as the disruption of the bond triggers a magical backlash effect, similar to how the death of an attuned familiar or the destruction of an attuned focus can deeply affect the mage himself. A family heirloom passed down for generations can also cause such minor attunements, evidenced by how such items often seem to have a near mystical quality after generations upon generations of life.

« Last Edit: 08 May 2008, 13:39:48 by Fox » Logged
Mina
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« Reply #1 on: 27 April 2008, 23:38:39 »

I only looked over it briefly, but it seems you have some interesting ideas here.  Might be a week or so before I have time to examine them properly though; hope you don't mind too much. 
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Fox
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« Reply #2 on: 28 April 2008, 02:19:52 »

I only looked over it briefly, but it seems you have some interesting ideas here.  Might be a week or so before I have time to examine them properly though; hope you don't mind too much. 

Sure. I'll just do some spells in the mean time.  thumbup
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« Reply #3 on: 29 April 2008, 03:35:36 »

That looks like an enormous work Fox, unfortunately I don't have the time to look through - nor the knowledge to add something valuable ;)
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« Reply #4 on: 29 April 2008, 05:02:36 »

Well I think the lengthy discussion Fox, Silfer and I had concerning this topic brought up some interesting ideas regarding this entry. Hopefully they were helpful and if you want some more input from me, you always know where I am Fox. heart
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Mina
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« Reply #5 on: 24 May 2008, 02:32:56 »

Well, I don't know what changes you have in mind, but hopefully my comments aren't too redundant at this point.  

Elemental Focuses:
I find this quite a cool idea, actually.  But I'm not sure how exactly it's supposed to work.  You mention that the focus contain simple spells which are transferred to the wielder, which seems to say that they are somehow affecting the way the mage casts spells, leading to the spells having slightly different effects.  On the other hand, it sometimes sounds like the focus item directly affects the spell.  Not sure how exactly that would work though.  I was thinking maybe they could have been enchanted in such a way that if certain parts of it (eg. the tip of a wand or staff) is used as the spell focus, it would car'all there might interfere with the effect the mage is trying to create in a way that is somehow beneficial.  Might not work for all of them though.  And it also means that it won't work for all spells.  Then again maybe we could have both types for each element.  

Stabilisation Focuses:
These don't sound very different from Earth focus items to me, and I also don't really get how they are supposed to work.  Do they cause the mage to make the xeua links stronger while casting, or do they somehow do it to the spell directly?  

Creation Focuses:
It's certainly about time we got around to explaining spell scrolls and stuff like that.  It seems like they would mostly still need a mage, or at least special training, to use, though I don't really mind.  Better than having such items be easily available.  

Quote
The weakest of these focuses are simple scrolls or potions. These items have been given the bare minimum of necessary links for their primitive will to cast a single spell, once, through a very simple trigger mechanism (most often verbal in the case of scrolls and digestion in the case of potions), which will then cast their spell. The links holding the magic will together are unable to persist long, and a single release of this spell, or only a few months of inactivity, will cause them to fade and the enchantment to become worthless.
I'm thinking that such triggers, which don't require any training to use, would be pretty complex, and probably won't be wasted on single-use items.  I think they'd probably have triggers that are simpler to set, such as Fire ounia gathered in such a way that 'a small Sphere 1 nudge' as you say will turn them into a fireball, and incidentally use up the ounia.  

It also seems to me that items that create effects (eg. fireball-makers, but not things like flaming swords that can be turned on or off at will) will only be able to do so a small number of times at most, which I don't really mind either.  

The Orb of Bluestride...quite a fantastic item, but I guess that's how it's meant to be.  It reminds me of how Birni life magic was supposed to have been able to give life to inanimate objects, something that I figured would be viewed quite skeptically, but that could be changed.  

Attunement Focuses:
I'm not sure how well such a focus item can calm the caster, given that it's not enchanted to do so.  I can see how getting used to using it might help with spellcasting though.  Also, what does it mean to channel a spell through a focus item?  

I like how magical familiars are explained; I didn't even think of them.  I'm not sure how your theory for Gifted works though.  I can understand how one can sort of unconsciously become attuned, but what is this backlash effect you mention?  
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