Places of Power - Demesnes

A reminder of all the broken parts of the old world, and all the glories of the new one.
  Demesnes are places of raw magical power. In these places, energy bleeds into the very land and warps it, creating a landscape that echos the essence of the magic. They are wellsprings of life for all manners of mystical creatures in Ithekshem, and fought over by all who would harness that power for themselves. Those who do must be careful, as generations who live and die on the grounds of a demesne find themselves changing too.  

Description

A vibrant forest with a fecundity unmatched by the desert around it, a haunted battlefield where dying screams carry on the wind, a lake that always bubbles from an unseen heat - Demesnes are places of manifest energy and elemental power. The land of a demesne is marked by its essence, falling into one of the different kinds of elemental energies. They are places of strange magic and roiling energies, of subtle pollution and mutation.   Creatures who live and die in the Demesne's realm are through generations tainted with the same magic, irrevocably changing. Humans and other intelligent species are no more exempt from the process than animals, and locals often shun Demesnes - or incorporate them into celebration and sacrifice.   Across Ithekshem, as decades tick by past the End of All Things, life twists and turns ever further away from what once was in the old world.  

Anatomy

Hard to miss when the trees start screaming.
  Demesnes range in size from a single wellspring of energy to hundreds of yards across. The largest known Demesne is almost a mile across, an oasis of life within a wasteland of bones and hungry ghouls. Most fall somewhere in the middle, with three distinct parts of the Demesne.  

Borderlands

In the outskirts of a demesne, only the faint echoes of its true power linger, like the ends of a long wave. Any magical effect is greatly reduced, and only hints tell of the changes wrought on the land. The deeper into the Demesne someone travels, the more pronounced the effects become. Many pass the borderlands of a Demesne, unaware of the world they have just entered.  

Realm

In the Realm of a Demesne, its influence is felt in the air and seen in every shadow. Even faint demesnes are places unlike the world around them - powerful ones are alien landscapes of beauty or terror. Most of the Demesne falls into the realm, flowing out from its center.  

Heart

The center and core of the Demesne is its heart. It is the birthplace of the Demesne, the place from which all of its powers spring. Here, the elemental energies are so strong that even the most esoteric of them can be seen with the naked eye.  

A Demesnse Is Made

Demesnes happen naturally (usually) through a few different means.  

Confluence

A confluence is the point of overlapping Leylines, creating places where a Demesne could be born. If the leylines are of sufficient strength, their potential grows like a seed planted in the ground. The more leylines that converge on a single point, the more like it is to give birth to a Demesne, and the more powerful it will be. In reality, it is exceedingly rare for more than three leylines to overlap at any given point.  
The Crossroads is a rare Demesne of Astral power, where four leylines meet at straight angles. At the heart, thoughts become almost manifest, and mind-eating predators lurk in star-filled shadows.
 

Planar Shard

When the End of All Things shattered every plane and merged them into one whole, shards of once-mighty worlds were embedded into the landscape of Ithekshem. Some of these bleed power into the land, becoming demesnes almost on impact. Such celestial rain still happens today, decades after the end. Piece of Planes take years to reach Ithekshem from their place in the skies and may continue to rain down on the world for centuries to come.   Planar Shards are one of the most common genesis for Demesnes in Ithekshem.  
The tower of Bones is a Demesne of Necrotic energy, centered around a single femur of titanic size launched from a funeral-plane. The land around it is dry, and the only vegetation is bone-white, fragile grass. Those slain here have their skeleton slowly escape from their flesh and roll towards the tower.
 

Magic Components

Demesnes are rich in magic, and from such soil, mages can harvest a powerful crop. In powerful demesnes, starlight might grow on trees, or the bubbling tar unleashes the scream of undead gods, while others might grow wondrous fruit or magic mushrooms.   The more powerful the Demesne is, the more overt these manifestations of magic become. Such components grow according to the whims and inscrutable rules of the Demesne and never work on the mage's schedule, however.  
The Garden of Skulls is a Necrotic manse, blessed with rare plant life among the rotting vegetation and shriveled grass - squat, short roots that grow bleach-bone fruits that resemble skulls.   Once harvested and ground to a powder, they become a Necrotic component.
 

Creatures of Demesnes

Two types of creatures spring from Demesnes; living being tainted by generations spent in its shadow and those spawned from its primal energies.   Though the latter is superficially similar to Elementals of the Old World, they have little in common. Even those birthed from an elemental manse of Fire or Earth are creatures entirely of its own, something every Elemental Court must struggle with how to reconcile. When they meet, conflict usually follows.   The former take a thousand different forms, as almost anything that lives long enough within a Demesne will begin to change - and even the same type of creature will become something different, depending on the exact nature of the Demesne.  
The once-skittish deer who have lived for generations within the Bloody Monolith's influence has become hulking, fearless creatures with sharp teeth and a taste for flesh.
 

Marks of Divinity

Though now reduced, gods and arch-fiends were the mightiest creatures in existence. When they bled out in the battles of the End of All Things, were reduced to furious cinders, or otherwise marked the world with their passing, they left marks of this power in their wake. Most such Demesnes carry the essence of the divinity, but some rare few are of the Divine energy - raw fonts of quintessence.   Other creatures of immense power can also create a demesne - such as elemental dragons, demon lords, avatars, and many more. Doing so invariably seems the death or maiming of them however, and few are willing to make that sacrifice.  
Adventurers are certainly willing to make that sacrifice for them, though.
 

Artificial

The rarest of their kind, artificial Demesnes have been made, either by design or accident. The field of magical geomancy is still in its infancy in Ithekshem, but there's been no lack of magical disaster or horrible atrocity. Anywhere magic power pools in sufficient quantity, there is a minuscule chance that something in the land will ignite, and turn into a Demense. A particularly deadly battlefield might leak necrotic energy into the soil, or a magic dual might poison the earth.   Geomancers still develop their craft and seek to unlock means to guide the principle - less careful mages are content to try brute force solutions.  

Elements & Types

All magic comes in one of several types, usually based on what Plane it might have originated from or what foul sorcery has since tainted it. In the Old World, most magical theories used the classical elements, but that has proven woefully inadequate after the End of All Things, and new types of magic energy are discovered every day.   Demesnes may come in the following, incomplete list of elements and magical energies.  

Astral

Astral Demesnes are places of starlight and subtle tricks of the mind. In some, plants might grow tall and slender, or to an ideal version of themselves, water runs clear, and pools of darkness glitter with stars. In others, the changes might be entirely within the mind, allowing thoughts and dreams to take physical shape.   Every aspect of the celestial, of stars, of thoughts and souls, can be part of an Astral Demesnes.

Blood

Foul and twisted, Blood Demesnes are never pleasant. There is a tainted quality to their land; wild animals there are feral and hungry for flesh, its plants look bloated and cancerous, and any water there carries a tang of iron.   Such demesnes are shrouded in the colors of blood, of abyssal realms, and devilish contract, of bloody sacrificed carried out under red moons.

Necrotic

Necrotic Demesnes are desolate, lonely places - bone-parched wastelands or swamps of perpetual decay. Any who die within them seldom remain still for long.   Rot, death, bones, and undead are elements of a Necrotic demesne, as well as sickness and spectral terrors. Trees grow gnarled and skeletal, grass turns a rot-colored grey, and disease festers with terrible intensity here.
 
Metal mined within a Necrotic demesne carry the taint of death with them and are easy to forge into dreadful weapons, such as Baneblades.
 

Earth

Solid, stoic places of metal, stone, and crystal, Earth demesnes are more commonly found beneath the earth than above it. Creatures who live for generations here become as tough and unyielding as the stone itself, their hides studded with metal or fangs like crystals.   These places often resist change but provide a bounty for those who can crack the rock open.

Fire

Like fire, these demesnes consume all they touch. Lakes boil from the constant heat or become covered in burning oil. Wildfires rage, even when everything there has already been devoured by the hungry flame and reduced to ash.   Lesser demesnes are still places of heat and fire, even if the world around them is shrouded in ice.

Air

Air Demesne can be as subtle as a summer's breeze or as obvious as a hurricane. Many are areas of constant wind, where gales dance in frenzied wildness, shrouded by lightning and thunder. Most attracted winged creatures of all type, who revel in the wild surges of power.   In some Air Demesnes, plants or even the soil are granted flight - in powerful demesnes, entire islands hover in the air, miles above the surface.
 
Even untamed, Demesnes are prized possessions. Even to those without any magic, the Demesne might be all that makes life possible in an otherwise miserable wasteland.
 

Water

More often than not, Water Demesnes are formed within bodies of water, deep within oceans, or becoming entire lakes. Any Water Demesne will have a heart submerged in water or locked in ice, often taking the shape of water radically different from that around it.   If there is no water, the Demesne will create it - a pooling oasis in the center of a wasteland.

Nature

Nature Demenses are places of wild, ferocious growth and unrestrained life. They are always places of wilderness; the deep and dark forest, the feral swamp, the overgrown cavern. No matter where they are, life springs from the magic that spills from the Demesne.   While many seem inviting, they are places of primordial nature, and civilized thought is a quaint concept there.

Divine

The rarest of all, Divine demesnes are fonts of raw quintessence, the power of pure creation. Most are powerful; all are influenced by the aspect of whatever divinity that helped spawn it.   Such might is dangerous to the unwary, and those who drink too deeply from a Divine demesne can suffer strange curses or mutations if they don't explode.
 
Abadhar's Skull is all that remains of a once-powerful god, slain during the End of All Things. His hollow head is now home to giant spiders who have become... Something else, after centuries living within the divine Demesne and feasting on scraps of the deities rotting flesh.
 

Magical Power

 
Rating Description
0 - Slumbering These are places where a demesne could be - magic slumbers and pulses just beneath the surface, awaiting circumstance or design.
1 - Faint Faint Demesnes change little around them. Plants grow strange colors but remain the same. The temperature rises and falls within its immediate domain, but not to great effect.
2 - Weak Weak Demesnes begin to turn the land to its elemental aspect with more force. One or two particular aspects of the land might have a severe magical taint to them.
3 - Moderate Moderate Demesnes are places of obvious power. Some life here is outlandish or blatantly magical, though not all. The land is different - an oasis in a desert, a wasteland within a forest - and often strange.
4 - Strong Strong Demesnes exhibit strange magic phenomena or twist the land with its pollution. The creatures here are different, often dangerous.
5 - Overwhelming Entering an Overwhelming Demesne is like entering another world. Here, the rules of the magical element reigns. Stark magic phenomena crackle in the air, the land becomes the embodiment of the Demesne's aspect.
 

Magic In Demesnes

Spells cast within a Demesne change. Those of the same aspect is easier to cast, their effects more powerful, while those of competing aspects suffer. Others are tainted by the peculiarities of the Demesne, changing in either effect or appearance. None is entirely predictable, but such power makes them sought after by both mages and magical creatures.  
Any Fire spell cast within the Dancing Flames Demesne twist and pirouettes through the air, not always striking its intended target.
 

Related

Tome of Magic After The End
Document | Dec 28, 2020

The work of a freshfaced ambitious new wizardess, hoping to document all the strange new kinds of magic now possible within Ithekshem.



Cover image: by Sebastian Wagner

Comments

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Dec 17, 2020 15:06 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I think you missed some heading tags where you've got 'creatures of demesnes'.   This is a really interesting article. I love the description of the different types of demesne depending on magic, and also the specific examples you give of demesnes that have been created. The one from the skull of the god where spiders live is D: .   I also really like how you've thought about all the different ways demesnes can be formed. Really good job! :D

Dec 17, 2020 16:23

Whoops, I sure did! Thanks for catching it!   Thank you! It's a big part of the setting, so they're important to tinker with :)


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 19, 2020 03:46 by Diane Morrison

This would be a kick-*ss world to adventure in :D Love it, Q

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga. Mother of Bunnies, Eater of Pickles, Friend of Nerds, First of her Name.
Dec 19, 2020 16:34

AWwww! Thank you very much!!


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 19, 2020 13:16 by Angantyr

A lot to chew on, the setting is sweetly complex. I am wondering, is it possible to steal the heart of Demesne, or is it just to powerful, even in smaller ones?   The fact that the border is not sharp, makes for a nice trap for the carefree.   I think the Magical Power table would be better received with the "rating" a bit wider, enough to house the word without splitting it apart.   Lastly, a question of horror. Do some sacrifice creatures, slaves, etc. by filling them with magic so to create a demesne? I think you hinted it as the "brute force" solution performed by the geomancers, but I want to be sure. :]   Thanks for a good read!

Playing around with words and worlds
Dec 19, 2020 16:34

Thank you for reading and commenting!   Yeah - going to fiddle about with the CSS of that after WE. :)   On stealing hearts - not really, as they are geographic anchorpoints. No more than you could steal a mountain. Wizards will definitely try, though.   And yes, they definitely try that. Magical geomancy is in its infancy, so success hasn't really been there. There's been the occasional mass-grave leading to a necrotic demesne but... Still not a reliable procedure. Doesn't stop people from trying :)


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Dec 19, 2020 18:22 by Angantyr

Oh, by diffused borders I meant the demesne, not the article. :)

Playing around with words and worlds