Blood magic Physical / Metaphysical Law in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Blood magic

The oldest of the magical traditions is powered by the Uhd that is contained in the very rocks and earth, and in the flesh, blood and sap within all living things. Blood magic is one of the primary manifestations of Uhd on Shadowfire, and powers the oldest of the magic traditions. Uhd is a primary element born within the core of the planet, and present to varying degrees within the chemical structures of living things.   At it's core, Blood Magic is used by attuned individuals to channel their desire through the Uhd consumed and stored in their own bodies. It enables the transformation of energy and matter into new forms, guided by the practitioner's clarity of desire. The Uhd itself is a catalyst, which is made inert by the use of the Blood Magic, which both limits its use, and also presents potentially dangerous side effects for the unwary wielder.  
Very few understand the nature of magic in the world. They chant, or mediate, dance or scribble their complex algorithms.   All of it boils down to this: Hunger. It is your hunger made manifest.   A hunger for experience, for survival. A hunger for pleasure, revenge, safety or joy. For power.   But beware. This hunger comes at a price, for something must always be consumed to satiate it. It could be the blood that runs through your own veins, or those of your neighbours, or those of your enemies.   Be wary of this hunger and choose wisely what it feeds upon.
- Malazar Kyzen, Shadow Empress of Novalucca

Defining and focussing desire

Uhd responds to and channels desire, and if there are conflicting, unclear or confused desires expressed by the hopeful practitioner of the magic, then the result will more often than not fail to manifest. In rare cases, the magic may respond to the true unconscious desires of the wielder of Blood Magic, to humorous, embarrassing, and potentially disastrous outcomes.   The most simple of the blood magics simply rely on the expression of base physical desires, like hunger, fear, hatred or lust. This unfortunately bring easy power to the most common and thoughtless of desires, and is the reason for deep distrust of blood magics across many cultures and peoples. It is the root of the magics employed by devils, demons, elder god avatars and the more mundane of selfish and petty evils found everywhere.   To ensure clarity of desire, more refined practitioners will employ a variety of techniques. Some traditions focus on long periods of training, therapy and rigorous mental exercises to improve the discipline of mind and the ability to express a focussed desire. Others use prayer or meditation to empty the mind of all but the focussed desire. Monasteries, religious orders like the Trinity, the Order of Salvitas or the Mothers of Motu.   The appearance of these techniques can vary wildly, and in many cases, the basis for why it works is not known. For instance, the Motu base their focus on quiet meditation and kinetic movement of martial arts and believe their powers are granted them by their deity, while the Academics of the Protectorates will centre their desire through the chanting of complex lyrical incantations and the scribing of diagrams and call it science.   More extreme traditions have even involved the physical alteration of practitioners' brains. This has included targeted lobotomies and surgical implants to suppress and prevent emotions or disunity of thought from intruding on the magic. While largely frowned upon, this practice is still openly employed by the Lords of Fire, and is the secret behind the discipline and power of the legions of bloodmages that form the shock troops of the Disciples of the Flaming Brand.  

Transforming matter into energy

The first of the manifestations of Blood magic, is the transformation of matter into energy. This is most commonly seen as the release of explosive or damaging energies. This enables the Disciples of the Flaming Brand to send bolts and walls of flame to consume their enemies, and the holy warriors of the Trinity to smite their foes in two with their blades of shimmering light. Warlocks will cast waves of destructive thunder, turn living things into steaming offal, or play with the forces of gravity to crush the very rocks of the earth and send them flying. Myths tell of masters of this form of transformation during the Godling Wars that were able to disintegrate entire legions of foes - turning their bodies into pure light in an instant.   With much greater finesse of desire however, the transformation of energy can be far more subtle. Some can manipulate matter at the finest of levels. Assassins can slice the internal organs of their enemies with a thought, killing them with no externally visible signs. With equal finesse, blood magic healers can cleanse infections, and remove foreign objects, poisons and diseases with the power of their minds.   The height of transforming matter into energy is to take a fully formed sentient being, and convert them into pure energy while maintaining their structure, identity and mental characteristics. Known as Ghosting, this formed the basis for many of the wonders in long-range transportation and longevity known in the Age of Ascendancy before the Destruction. None know if the techniques of the ancient masters is known or practiced by any in the modern Age.  

Transforming energy into matter

Another manifestation of Blood Magic is the reverse if the standard transformation, where energy is converted into matter of varying kinds.   This requires an energy source - sometimes as simple as sunlight, the heat from a furnace, a strong wind, or the electrical energies of a lightning storm. Even kinetic energy captured through mundane means, such as windmills, or physical exertion of exercise or manual labour can sometimes be enough.   The practitioner of the magic can convert the energy captured into physical form. The quality of the physical matter produced is entirely dependant upon the amount of energy captured, and the clarity of the end-product being visualised into being by the practitioner. In most cases this will be very simple substances, like rocks, sand or water.   With greater finesse and skill, the practitioners can make more complex things, such as pure metals or even organic materials. Con artists can trick the most cynical with their illusions, healers from the Order of Salvitas stitch mortal wounds together, The singing warriors of the Dawncrag Goblins turn soundwaves into avalanches of snow, and the Defenders of the Grove transform themselves into beasts.   Myths tell of the masters from the age of Ascendancy who could manufacture objects with moving parts out of thin air, and even others who could create permanent changes to living things. It is through these methods that many of the Bloodforged species were created by the ancient masters of Blood Magic, including sentient fungus, the aquatic races, and the great dragons of myth.   It is rumoured that the Deepkin from Novalucca still practice some of these more advanced techniques of manifestation and organic control, but if so the secret is closely guarded.  

Chaining transformations

While none have managed to repeat these feats, due to the sheer amount of Uhd that is required as catalyst. Academics from the Protectorates have found records of techniques used by the ancients during the Age of Ascendancy which invlved the chaining of transformations, where matter can be turned into energy and back again, or vice versa.   Scholars believe this was the secret behind the ancient transportation magics, which enabled people to tranpsort goods and even people long distances in an instant. It is also believed to be the source of the immense magics that created Refuge, which was believed to be a hidden pocket of the world that Zurghasta created by forming a closed loop of matter and energy transforming into each other. These things are pure congecture, and while many schoalars attempt to understand these things, none have been able to replicate them.  

Limitations and dangers

One of the greatest limitations to the use of Blood Magic is that it requires Uhd as a catalyst, and the Uhd is made inert in the process.  

Individual use - high control, low impact

The most common and simplest of magics is performed by individuals, who use the Uhd in their own bodies as a catalyst. The benefits of this is that the clarity of desire which guides the Blood Magic transformations is much easier to define and maintain by an individual. The outputs are limited by the amount of Uhd present in the practitioner's body, and in most cases can result in only the most basic of magical effects. The energies released or transformed are not of a scale that can be maintained, and the impacts are usually limited.   The personal store of Uhd can be replenished through the natural ingestion of foods as Uhd is present throughout the food-chain. In some cases, such as with the Zikiti Crabs, the Uhd is far stronger and ingesting this can increase the normal levels.   Uhd can also be augmented by collecting external sources. The rarest and most potent of these can be found in crystaline form deep within the earth, or from the rare meteorites that fall from the Nightbridge. These sources are hotly contested and can result in much conflict to secure access and control. These external sources can be implanted or ingested, but they must be used almost immediately to avoid the risk of severe poisoning and death for the practitioner.  

Collective use - low control, high impact

It is possible for groups of people to combine their efforts to a common transformation. This means that the amount of Uhd available as catalyst can be far greater, but the ability to define and maintain a clear desire to guide the manifestation is much harder the more people are involved. Without a clear agreement the collective magic is far more prone to failure and unintended side effects.   Different cultures and species have arrived at multiple methods for helping improve magical control when performing in groups. These techniques range from harmonious to oppressive. In the case of harmonious, this is exemplified by the hive minds of species such as Spore Minds, where collective agreement is essential for their existiance. in other cases, deep collective worship can result in harmonious circles of Bloodmages.   On the other end of the scale, domination and thralldom is known, where powerful warlocks keep batteries of mind-controlled and imprisoned peoples as their sources of stolen Uhd. These poor souls are known as Blood Thralls.   In between, are the subtleties of propaganda and subterfuge, where magical harmony can be tricked and large numbers of people fooled into giving their Uh through ceremony or other methods. Many have accused the Church of the Trinity from engaging in such behaviour.  


The very real danger of depleting a personal store of Uhd is the loss of all desire and hunger in the individual. The soul itself becomes inert, and while the body remains alive, it cannot think or feel, lacks emotions and all creativity is lost. A soulhusk is akin to a Bodyservant, but where Bodyservants need to be infused with magics after a natural death in order to operate, a soulhusk is already operational upon the death of the soul.   There is no way of telling the difference between a Soulhusk and a Bodyservant after their creation, and many believe this is the dark secret behind the increased production of bodyservants by the Usokufa in their factories within the Gleaming City.
Metaphysical, Arcane

Articles under Blood magic

Cover image: by Anni Roenkae


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