Guidebook
Magic
Magic is a mystery to even learned scholars; even centuries of study by the brightest of minds have not managed to unlock all its secrets. It comes from places and forces which are technically unknown, but are most easily referred to as (and believed to be) the gods. Because of this, magic is considered a symbol of divinity and is associated closely with power and religion. The technical term for magic is thaumaturgy while the study of magic is thaumatology.

Please note that magic on Imperium is not meant to overpower anyone. We want magic to be a way to further character and plot development in interesting ways. If any use of magic seems too extreme, we will not allow it and reserve the right to change the description in the interest of keeping the game fair.

The Price of Magic

All magic has a price. For every action, there is a reaction: in its simplest form, this means that humans must use both mental (and sometimes physical) energy to perform magic. This is commonly referred to as the Divine/Thaumaturgic Scales, or simply the Scales. Many believe that luck, karma, and fate are similarly intertwined.

The presence of magic can trigger or worsen mental illnesses that already exist in the host, or cause them of their own accord. This is called thaumatomania, the madness born of magic. Scholars believe that this occurs because magic is divine and may overwhelm the mortal body. Some people believe that when this happens it is a sign from the gods that someone is undeserving of the abilities.

Origins of Magic

According to scholars, magic can be found in the following places.

  • The body and blood, carried through generations.
  • In the land. Some say that it seeps into the groundwater from the underworld and roots of the earth. Magic like this is found in hidden places, usually far from civilization. It is old, wild, and dangerously unpredictable, but may be harnessed with care and education.
  • In the sky, said to be a divine residence. Meteors are thought to carry magical properties.

Bloodgifts

Gifts are abilities which run in familial bloodlines. In many, it seems to lie dormant for years rather than being evident since birth. In this case it is triggered by emotional and extreme situations.

This is the most powerful magic known to emanate from humans, and also the most controlled. However, it does require energy: too much strain has been known to kill people in the past. It is believed that closely bonded twins, lovers, friends, and siblings produce stronger magic when physically closer or working together.

It has been observed that the more highly ranked a family is, the more likely they are to have multiple bloodgifts and individuals who are able to use them. Royal families have the most bloodgifts and usually have multiple users in each generation. Conversely, the lowest minor houses may only have one gift present in the bloodline, and only one user per several generations. They are so rare among commoners as to be considered legendary or nonexistent.

Thaumatomania is most likely to occur in individuals who overuse their bloodgifts, don't learn to control them properly, or who are born with multiple bloodgifts. Once triggered in an individual, there is a chance that a bloodgift will overwhelm its user. The chances of this happening are heightened if the individual in question is extremely stressed or unprepared/uninformed about the possible consequences. This is one of the factors that lead to the ban on forcible bloodgift triggering.

Click for Bloodgift Descriptions

Aura Reading. The ability to use the senses to glean things about objects which are not immediately obvious. Though not everything will be revealed, it may hint at other places the object has been, if it is intended for good or ill, and so on. This does not work on living things.

Bloodmagic. Similar but not the same as warging, bloodmagic enables humans to shapeshift into an animal form. This can be done at will or triggered involuntarily by emotions and high adrenaline. They do not retain their clothes during shifting. Those who stay in their animal forms for too long have been known to forget their human form. Bloodmagic users have only one form, such as wolfsblood or catsblood. It is not possible to shift into a mythical creature.

Dreamwalking. Dreamwalking enables the user to view other peoples' dreams, but not modify them. They can appear in the dream of anyone who they concentrate on before falling asleep, although emotional connections strengthen the bond — it's almost impossible to visit the dreams of anyone who is an acquaintance or less. The person whose dream is being visited may recognize the other presence and either further invite them in for interaction or push them away. Although things may seem realistic, everything is slightly off; the five senses may be skewed in different manners. This can be aided by the use of unicorn powder before sleep, which creates clearer, more lucid dreams. Dreamwalkers do not achieve as good a night of rest when dreamwalking as they would with their own dreams.

Enhanced Senses. Those with enhanced senses can see, hear, touch, smell, and feel to a greater degree than most people. However, they usually cannot do this to an extreme degree; anyone who can see over extended distances, feel everything at the slightest touch, etc. tends to go mad.

Glamour. Users of glamour have the ability to make things not as they seem, and are often regarded as more charming than the average person due to the ability. They tend to have an infectious energy and can create temporary illusions on themselves or their environments. It is possible to see through glamours for anyone who knows it is happening (those who can use it recognize it most easily), and the ability takes concentration.

Memory Keeping. Memory keepers, as the name implies, have an extraordinary memory where they can remember almost every detail. The drawback is that they also cannot forget anything, and may be easily haunted by the past. They are able to pass on glimpses of memories to people they are close with by touching them and concentrating.

Objective Persuasion. The ability to move objects with the mind. This takes as much energy as it would doing it by hand, and the further one is from an object, the more difficult it becomes. This does not work on anything living, except for insects and plants. Tasks require a visible gesture; staring intently at something can only push it away marginally.

Silentspeaking. This is the ability to “speak” to others in their thoughts, though it is not a two-way connection unless both possess the ability. They cannot read thoughts, and the ability works best on those they know — though trained individuals can “eavesdrop” as if hearing a whisper. Those who use this too much have been known to lose their voices.

Spiritwalking. Spiritwalking is similar to dreamwalking in some ways, with the largest difference being that it takes place in the physical world. Individuals with this ability are able to remove their spirits from their bodies, which will appear to be sleeping to other people. This may enable them to witness other events unseen, and spiritwalkers can easily be mistaken for ghosts. However, this ability has many drawbacks: the spirit form cannot physically affect anything, can be detected in glints of light, and can easily be lost forever if they are not careful: wandering too far from one’s bodily form or into a strong draft may result in dire consequences.

Warging. Warging enables the user to place themselves within other bodies and control them. It is impossible to do this to humans and works best on less intelligent animals. Warging for extended periods of time will cause the user to forget their human form, and legends tell of some wargs becoming trapped in an animal body. It is not possible to warg into a mythical creature.

Harnessed Magic

The laws of magic are largely kept secret from the public, guarded jealously by a select few. It is believed to be unfit for public knowledge, but it is known that magic can be harnessed and performed in a way that is different than bloodgifts.

There is older magic that is known to originate from other sources: words, prayers, sacrifice, and other rituals. See below, "Desmios Haima," for the modern usage of this. Some may style themselves as witches though they have very little understanding of this small, natural magic. It is rarely powerful on its own and in truth tends to require the use of objects already inundated with magic, or harvested from magical creatures.

Click for Examples

Object. Available for use without being purchased.
Object.* Available if purchased from shop out of character.
Object. Unobtainable for personal ownership, or extremely limited.

Shadowhide.* Parchment made from shadowcat skin that comes in two pieces. Anything written on one piece will appear on the other regardless of distance. The parchment itself looks normal but has a slight sheen and feels very smooth. Shadowhide is both rare and expensive, and it is a restricted material that mostly highborns and very rich people use.

Two-Way Glass.* Looking glass which reflects the world around its mate rather than itself. It does not convey sound or smell, only what is visible.

Alethiometer. An alethiometer looks similar to a compass, with symbols lining the outer edge. If asked a question, the hand of the alethiometer will spin to touch various symbols, each of which has multiple meanings. Its great power is that it always tells the truth, but the difficulty is in interpreting the symbols, which require books and learned experts. There are only four known alethiometers in the empire, one at each of the universities, which are studied and consulted by scholars.

Memory jars. A memory jar can be employed by memory keepers in order to store their memories as a silvery, thick fluid within flasks. If done, the memory will be erased from that person’s mind forever, and is irreplaceable, but may be viewed by others.

Weather-glasses & pieces-of-sky. A small object within which a the current outside sky and weather is displayed, depending on where it was made. Wealthy people may have many from different places to know the conditions.

Life-imitating art. Paintings and drawings can be made to look so real that they actually move, though there is no ability to communicate with people or animals within the frame (in other words, it's not to the same degree as seen in the Harry Potter series).

Spirit-stones. This can be used to summon and commune with the dead. Only the person who has summoned a dead person is able to see them, and only as long as they are touching the stone. And, unfortunately, memories of the summoned spirits seem faded and unreliable. The dead cannot be controlled or compelled to communicate or do anything, nor can they accomplish physical tasks. Spirit summoners have been known to be driven mad if they become too attached to the dead, because it is only an imprint of what once existed. True ghosts, however, can be bound by specialized stones. All summoned spirits must be played by the Fate account.

Other Objects. Other magical objects are allowed for character possession within reason. If it can be used to control or significantly alter other characters and events, it must be purchased from the shop after receiving staff approval. However, you are welcome to give your character small bursts of magic in their daily lives: for example, candles that never flicker, books that have endless pages once opened, and so on. Note that powerful and rich characters have more access to these kinds of things, because they are rare, expensive, and status symbols.

Elixirs

Elixirs are developed for personal use, such as in the form of consumable draughts or ointments. They are most commonly medicinal (antibiotic equivalents being expensive but life-saving), though some have been developed for purposes such as recreational entertainment and performance-enhancing drugs.

Click for Elixirs

Elixir. Available for use without being purchased.
Elixir.* Available if purchased from shop out of character.
Elixir. Unobtainable for personal ownership, or extremely limited.

Blood elixirs.* Blood elixirs give the user bloodgifts for limited periods of time. They are extremely coveted, rare, and expensive, and are said to be a darker form of magic: it's not for nothing that they refer to blood. They leave the user feeling drained of energy and have even been known to cause death.

Healing draughts.* Healing draughts exist in various forms and strengths. You do not have to buy one for your character if it would do something accomplished by a natural remedy, such as herbs (for example, slow bleeding). However, stronger draughts can be used to accelerate healing significantly. These must be bought. Healing draughts cannot cure old injuries that healed wrong or anything a character was naturally born with.

Draining Draughts.* Draining draughts were initially developed to drain someone of energy or put them to sleep, until it was discovered they could be made to temporarily disable magic when ingested.

Bloodwrath.* Bloodwrath induces the user into an adrenaline-fueled frenzy or berserker state. It is often used before fights, because it renders the user almost unstoppable while they temporarily forget pain. However, it is highly dangerous because in its aftermath it causes exhaustion, illness, and sometimes even death.

Veritaserum.* Veritaserum is extremely rare and whoever drinks it will be compelled to answer any question without lying. Thus, it can be used in interrogations.

Recreational drugs. Concoctions may be produced to have various effects on the user. They may be desirable because they can have stronger and more definitive effects than natural substances, or easily disguised as drinks.

Charms

The most accessible form of magic to most people comes in the form of tokens or charms. Charms are objects, usually worn somewhere on the person (jewelry being the most common), which have properties similar to elixirs, albeit watered down. Some people are so superstitious that they may wear enough charms to cause noise when they move.

Most charms are fake: they're very easy to produce, and people are gullible. Many of them are really more of a placebo effect, though some seem to really work. These are made from objects obtained from sources of magic: earthly locations (such as O Asterismós), animals, and even people. In fact, there is a very popular market for relics of holy and powerful people, from strands of hair to bones (bones are believed to be the most powerful). They usually have specific uses, like assuring the user's food will always be of good quality, or prevention of bad dreams.

Your character may own any number of fake charms, but true working ones must be purchased from the shop.

The Desmios Haima: Blood-binding

Blood-binding is the practice of invoking the gods while shedding and exchanging blood between at least two people in order to achieve magical/divine contracts. More blood being shed is considered to indicate a stronger bond, which has resulted in incidents where people have shed too much blood too quickly. The blood of all parties must be mixed and consumed and is often used to mark each other as well.

The most common use of blood-binding is during weddings, to strengthen the bond between the couple and fuse the bloodline. It is especially important to noble families; without it their descendants may have too many bloodgifts or mix magical bloodlines and thus be more susceptible to thaumatomania.

Blood-binding makes an oath so completely binding that to break it would mean certain and unavoidable death by an unpleasant form of magic. Sometimes the manner of death is specified in the oath. It is said that another version of this will kill all remaining family members instead of or in addition to the subject, wiping their bloodline from the face of the earth.

It is for this reason that Ilian wedding vows rarely state that the couple can only be separated by death. Instead, it is said that their marriage can be broken by the will or interference of the gods, so that Desmios Haima will not have terrible effects in the event of a divorce or unexpected separation.

To force someone to make Desmios Haima is considered extremely insulting because it implies a lack of trust, but it is not unheard of: for example, a duke may force a baron to make Desmios Haima if they have rebelled, rather than executing them. However, forced oaths are considered less reliable and more volatile than if made with free will.

The cost of undergoing Desmios Haima is high. It effectively bonds a pair or group together and may cause parties to have the same dreams or feel impacted when other parties experience very strong emotions: even moreso if the bond was made between people who feel strongly about each other, whether positive or negative. Making multiple blood bonds is dangerous: it can induce thaumatomania or have other physical effects.

Most people would not bloodbind without a priest or priestess; doing so is said to invite danger, like divine entities and spirits with ill will. Additionally, priests and priestesses can assist with the careful consideration of vows spoken so that there are no loopholes or misinterpretations due to wording.

Desmios Haima can be undone or cancelled before conditional completion in one of two ways: the deaths of all involved, or a reversal ritual. The reversal ritual is essentially the original vows rewritten. It is said that the gods frown upon this because it is a form of oathbreaking, and people believe that doing so, especially more than once, may bring bad luck. It is also considered risky because, in rare cases, it may be interpreted as failure to keep the original oath and thus kill or harm those involved.

Latest Shouts In The Shoutbox -- View The Shoutbox · Rules