Essence and Arcanists: An Overview

There are many kinds of arcane essences in Ma'rune, such as those that allow someone to bend the elements to their will, to create illusions and many others. These are commonly referred to as ‘arcane essences’. The opinions on each type of arcane essences varies depending on where in Ma’rune a person comes from and how much exposure they have to an arcane essence on a personal level.

People who can wield an arcane essence are grouped together and referred to as arcanists. Arcanists are only capable of wielding a single type of essence (from the list below).

Affinities

Lesser affinities that are uncommon in certain areas will garner more distrust from the public and been seen as more dangerous than their common counterparts. Arcanists with rarer forms of lesser affinities - such as magma, pressure, crystal, or mist affinities - will also be viewed with the same level of distrust. That said, there is no kingdom in which affinity practice is outlawed.

Affinity arcanists wield the ‘affinity essence’ - that is, the ability to manipulate the elements. Because of their connection to nature, affinity arcanists are the most widely accepted by the common folk and the arcane essence that they wield is seen as the most natural.

The overarching types of affinity essence are fire, earth, water, and air. Within these archetypes, affinities are broken down further into their independent natures (called lesser affinities). Most people can only wield one lesser affinity, though there are exceptions.

Daelin affinity arcanists are the most common. This is because daelin have a closer connection to the affinity essences of the world, making it easier for them to commune with the elements. This connection also means that they are quicker to master their affinities. However, the downside to this innate ability is that daelin can only ever connect with one affinity essence. This is usually the one they grow up surrounded by.

For example, daelin from the lush, green forests of Ca'astan may have the earth archetype and a lesser affinity for wood, rock, or grass. A daelin born within the mountains could have an archetype of earth or air depending on their everyday environment.

Human affinity arcanists and beastfolk affinity arcanists are a little less common than daelin affinity arcanists. Unlike the daelin, they are capable of wielding more than one lesser affinity. Beastfolk are the only species capable of wielding multiple lesser affinities in different archetypes. There have been a number of these cases reported throughout history, though a lot of people have questioned their validity.

Pulses

Pulse essence, used by pulse arcanists, is the extremely rare ability to manipulate time. Those with control over pulse essence that it takes immense displays of power in order to perform even the simplest of tasks.

The first use of pulse essence is the ability to slow or hasten time. This can affect either an individual or a small area. To apply an effect to an area, the arcanist must spend time imbuing pulse essence into an area. The time such a ritual takes is determined by how powerful the individual wants the arcane effect to be. Applying an effect to a person or object is instantaneous. The arcanist may also use incantations or hand gestures to apply a little flare to their effects, but this is not required.

The second use of pulse essence is the ability to stop time completely. This can also be applied to an individual or a specific area. Performing an incantation or creating a ward requires a lot more power and is a very draining process for the arcanist.

Theoretically, one could also use pulse essence in order to reverse time. However, the amount of power this would take would overwhelm even the strongest of pulse arcanists. Such a task would likely require a large group of very powerful pulse arcanists to succeed.

There s another, rarer ability derived from pulse essence that allows people to see visions. People with this ability are sometimes referred to as visionary arcanists. Visions are categorised into two types: divination - the ability to see the future - and reflection - the ability to view exact memories or events of the past. This ability is easiest to pull off when face to face with an individual. Visionary arcanists can also use their abilities on an area in order to view events that have long since passed in an area, or those that are yet to come.

He watches with a sudden panic as Catalyna keels over, screams tearing from her throat, high and piercing with no sign of stopping. A part of him wants to help. That young naivety that suggests he can prickles against the confines of his chest and he almost lurches forward, one arm outstretched, a hand reaching towards his sister.

Another hand stops him. Rakes across his torso and holds him tightly as a callous whisper flitters through his ears. “She has the gift. She must suffer it alone.”

Catalyna claws at her throat, her chest, her face. Leaves pink marks etched onto fair skin. Her eyes swirl an unfamiliar inky black, coalescing into deep pools until all is consumed, even the whites around her irises cannot escape the brutal consequences of pulse essence surging through her body.

Falling to her knees, Catalyna cries out again. More of a roar than her former screeches, but still Lorenzo wonders how much pain she must be in as he spies the tears streaming down her cheeks. Longs to help her as her movements stiffen, as her chest starts jerking up and down unnaturally.

But what is there for him to do? He is no lifeblood arcanist; cannot offer to take her pain as his own.

So, defeated, he relaxes into his mother's iron grip and simply watches, wishing there was something more that he could offer than his silence.

Lifeblood

Lifeblood arcanists are often seen as healers and protectors. They wield lifeblood essence to create wards and mend wounds, and most dedicate to themselves protecting people who are incapable of protecting themselves.

Lifeblood essence is the core of the Rite of Aegis. Both the Blessing of Van-Hael and the Blessing of Eternity, as well as the respective rituals designed to obtain them, were originally created by a lifeblood arcanist.

In order to heal wounds, a lifeblood arcanist must agree to shoulder the burden of the injured party. This means taking a fraction of the wound - its pain, scars, and lingering effects - for themselves. The extent of this and the arcanist's healing depends on how strong the individual is. Some lifeblood arcanists are capable of healing near fatal wounds and gaining only a small fraction of the price, whilst some struggle to heal minor cuts and bruises. A lot of it depends on the willpower of the lifeblood arcanist - the more willing they are to heal and shoulder that burden, the more capable they become as a healer.

Their other ability, often seen as minor in comparison to the healing, but no less useful in the proper context, is their ability to create protective wards. This means creating shields and barriers, or enhancing the strength of barriers that already exist. To do this, they must be touching the object or area in question in order to create the ward. Until the ward is broken, a barrier will form or a pre-existing barrier will become a number of times stronger. The strength of the seal depends on the lifeblood arcanist. Some are required to remain in close proximity to the ward in order to maintain its effects, whilst others can travel great distances and still maintain the ward.

Mutations

Mutations come in two forms: prova and mevis. Prova mutations results in temporary changes to physical or mental characteristics, whilst mevis mutations results in permanent changes. When it comes to mutation arcanists, their raw essence will determine whether they can create prova or mevis mutations.

Every mutation, regardless of whether it is prova or mevis, is categorised into one of the following: minor, moderate or major. Some mutations can occur naturally. These are categorised as either minor or moderate mutations and are always found in the mevis form.

Minor mutations are those that only alter physical appearances. An unnatural skin tone, eye colour, or hair colour are common examples for humans, daelin and beastfolk. For creatures, they come in the form of unusual fur, feather and scale colours, elongated fangs and claws, and other such physical alterations.

Moderate and major mutations both have effects on the physical or mental capabilities of the individual. They are categorised depending on how much of a change the mutation causes - so smaller changes would be classed as moderate mutations, whilst larger changes would be classed as major mutations. These can include heightened senses, increased physical attributes such as strength, endurance and dexterity, or increased mental attributes like memory or how quickly one can think.

Mutations that cause detrimental effects to ones health - either physical or mental - are classified as major mutations.

Deathtrance

Arcanists with the ability to wield deathtrance essence can do two things: they can steal the life of one person to gift to another, or they can use a piece of their own life to animate the dead.

The latter is rather self explanatory and is limited only by the arcanist's own lifespan. As long as they still have a life left to live, and therefore their own stores of raw essence, then they can reanimate a dead creature. They need only give up an initial piece of their own life in order to do so - maintaining the creature does not require the use of additional raw essence. Should a deathtranced creature be destroyed, the arcanist will not regain the spent raw essence and may in fact lose extra as the link between the arcanist and the creature is severed.

Stealing life from another requires a bit more precision and control. It also requires the receiver of the extra life force to be a willing participant in the act - a deathtrance arcanist cannot force extra life upon someone who does not wish for it. This is done by taken the raw essence from one creature and passing it on to another.

Life stolen is given back in equal measure. If an arcanist takes 5 years from one man, they can give 5 years to themselves or another willing person. The additional raw essence stops the affects of aging for the duration and illnesses caught will be weaker or completely ineffective. Physical wounds can also be 'healed', in a sense. The person whose raw essence is being used to heal another agrees to take on the wound themselves, much like a lifeblood arcanist would. The only difference here is that it is a transfer of the whole wound.

As life is given back in equal measure, an arcanist does have the option to use plants or creatures rather than people, but it will translate as less raw essence when given to a willing person. So one could take 10 years from a plant, but depending on the species of plant, it could only result in the arcanist or willing person receiving 2 years worth of extra raw essence.

It is more difficult to give someone else life - not just because they must be willing to receive it, but because the arcanist is expending extra essence that will not result in direct benefits for the health of themselves. It is also extremely difficult for an arcanist to give their own life to someone else, no matter how willing either party is.

“No, no, my love,” Elise says, chuckling softly as she reaches out to take Percival’s hands in her own. The boy is so young, barely seven winters old, but his curiosity is lit with a fire that blazes just as brightly as her own.

With his studies, it is usually a good thing. But when it comes to his powers, that curiosity strays just shy of being a nuisance. For the staff at least.

She finds it endearing. That he wants to learn more about what he can do is a positive in her eyes, if only she had been there when he first discovered them. She could have helped sooner and perhaps then her husband would have been more receptive to them. Oh well, she thinks, smiling down at her son, we can’t change the past.

Guiding Percival’s hand to hover just above the dead crow, she wills essence to her own fingertips. “Like this,” she says.

A moment later, light green wisps extend from her fingers, reaching down to wrap around the crow and reset broken, fractured bones with a series of quiet cracks. Seconds pass with the two of them just watching. Percival fascinated, Elise contemplative. Then the crow hops up, neck craning upwards so that it can peck at the tiny fingers hovering above it, to which Percival giggles. He pats the crow gently, a single finger stroking over the ruffled tuft of feathers on its head. She knows he will learn eventually, that a gentle touch and patient mind provides a better outcome when it comes to the deathtrance essence they both wield. She just hopes he will learn that lesson soon, before the staff are harassed by anymore half mangled, reanimated rats.

Phantasms

Phantasm arcanists have the ability to create illusions and alter the thoughts and feelings of another person. The former is more common amongst phantasm arcanists, whilst the latter power is quite rare.

Most phantasm arcanists will flaunt their ability to create illusions. Those who are capable of altering mental characteristics of another person tend to hide that side of their abilities as a lot of people throughout Ma'rune are fearful of them, for obvious reasons of course. They see it as unnatural and unlawful, though only one kingdom has outright outlawed the practice of phantasm magic - Vigne. Even this was a recent development, the law having only passed in 1468 AL.

As far as creating illusions is concerned, the arcane essence of the arcanist will determine the following things:

  • How realistic the illusion appears to others - those with low levels of arcane essence will create transluscent illusions, whilst those with greater levels of arcane essence will be able to create illusions that look solid. The same logic extends to other things such as sound (no sound, distorted, or normal) and movement (no movement, limited or jerky movement, or normal movement).
  • The physicality of the illusion - those with high levels of arcane essence will be able to create solid or nearly solid illusions, preventing objects from moving through them and breaking the illusion altogther.
  • The scale of the illusion - whether something is created on a small scale (clothes, weapons, other small objects or creatures) or a larger scale (large creatures, houses, towns or whole landscapes).

Most phantasm arcanists are limited to copying what they have already seen and only true masters are capable of creating an illusion that has no real life reference. Adding a lot of finer details to the illusion (patterns on objects, for example) is also a lot more difficult to succeed in. Phantasm arcanists have to be careful when creating their illusions - trying to go beyond their skill set can break the illusion (or worse), whilst more generic illusions can be easier for the common folk to spot.

Their second ability - altering mental characteristics - can be utilised in a number of different ways. Memories can be altered or even outright created if the arcanist is powerful enough. Emotions can be enhanced, muted, or altered (very helpful for getting people to like you), as can feelings. Pain is a common example of the latter and some arcanists have used their abilities to enhance a person's pain as a form of punishment or torture. Finally, and perhaps the rarest of all phantasm abilities, is the soul link. Soul links can be formed between an arcanist and an individual, allowing the arcanist to see, feel, or hear what the individual does, and even relive memories as though they were the individual. Such a link makes it easier for the arcanist to alter mental characteristics, but only if the link is stable. In instances where the arcanist is forcing themselves into another's mind, the individual will try to fight back.

Rifts

Rift arcanists are the rarest of all. Their powers come from a mixture of phantasm and pulse essence, solidifying them as the most powerful arcanists. They are so rare that there have only ever been five rift arcanists recorded throughout history - though this is a widely debated fact amongst arcanists, some of whom argue that if the rift arcanist was powerful enough, they could alter reality to make the people forget they even existed.

Many believe their powers to be limitless. Rift arcanists would tell you otherwise. Their powers stem from two things: the arcanist's raw essence and their willpower. If the former is high, but the latter is low, they will be consumed by their own essence. A brutal process that tears the arcanist apart slowly, over and over again as they become trapped in a constantly resetting reality of their own making. If their levels of raw essence are low, but their willpower is high, they can effectively burn themselves out by trying to create a reality beyond their capabilty. If this happens, their essence will seep out of their bodies, leaving them a husk of their former selves.

As far as the world is concerned, no rift arcanist has ever managed to change reality for an area greater than 5 miles in diameter.

Common Terminology

Core essence types:

  • arcane essence
  • natural essence
  • raw essence

The seven different types of arcane essence:

  • affinity essence
  • deathtrance essence
  • lifeblood essence
  • mutation essence
  • phantasm essence
  • pulse essence
  • rift essence

General terms used by arcanists:

  • arcane spell
  • enchantment
  • Incantation
  • rune
  • ward

Related Articles

Affinities
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Pulses
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Lifeblood
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Mutations
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Deathtrance
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Phantasms
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Rifts
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Cover image: Arcane Banner by SunlanceXIII

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