Jitters and time quakes Physical / Metaphysical Law in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Jitters and time quakes

Content warning: This article describes (un)natural disaster impacts.
  Ever since The Destruction, seismic activity across Shadowfire has been an ever present reality for all. It provides much needed power and heat to those living Shadowside, but the instability in the earth comes at a price.   The many eruptions are only the physical risk that can occur. Far more disruptive are the glitches and chaotic surges in magical activity that accompany them. The presence of the Uhd in the molten rocks so close to the surface acts as a catalyst for magical energies and even the unconscious desires of those within the field of influence.   This can trigger unwanted and uncontrolled manifestations of Blood magic, which can have impacts both great and small.  
The Motu tell us that the crystal rocks that fall from the heavens are the tears of Wala. The Faceless tell us they are a focus for the will of the Preserver. The Deepkin tell us they are frozen droplets of the blood that flows through the veins of the earth beneath our feet, and that it is this blood that is the source of all power. Whatever the truth, we can agree that when the blood of the earth rises it brings chaos with it.


The minor levels of impact are commonly referred to as Soul jitters and are the result of relatively minor tremors in the ground, or a temporary surge in thermal activity.   This can have a variety of results, depending on the mental fortitude of the people it impacts, and the context of their thoughts, feelings, and training.   These events can last anything between a few seconds, to a few hours.  

Physical energy

An increase or decrease in personal energy levels beyond what might be considered natural. People have been known to experience extreme lethargy, or even fall asleep without warning. Conversely, they may become possessed by intense strength or speed.

Mental energy

Dreams, visions or hallucinations may have strong prescience or telepathic components. Many people report having shared dreams, or being able to hear each other's thoughts. Some will have moments where they cannot express themselves at all, forgetting language altogether, while others will be unable to stop talking and sharing their thoughts without filters.

Environmental effects

Small objects of sentiment, need or desire can spontaneously appear or disappear without warning. Clothing and other materials can suddenly age beyond their years, new clothes become frayed, food can suddenly spoil, or crops can grow and fruit in moments

Time effects

People will often experience very brief moments of frozen time, or pauses, where everything about them stands still for a few seconds. The opposite can also be true, where everyone else notices someone frozen in time for a moment.

Magical and mechanical effects

Blood magic, stone magic and more mundane chemical reactions and alchemy can either stop working, or their effects be greatly increased. Machines or tools can mysteriously break, or simply stop working for no apparent reason.
  Often times, these effects are temporary and only minor nuisances. But depending on the context and longevity, the types of impacts these behaviours can have can be quite intense.  

Time Quakes

The most serious impacts accompany the larger and more destructive quakes and volcanic eruptions. As well as the physical damage caused by these events, the resulting surge in magical energies can be extreme and have far lasting impacts.   The Time Quakes get their name from the extreme time-related disruptions that can occur, but these are not the only impacts.   Unlike the relatively benign Jitters, a time quake's effects can last weeks, months or even remain permanently. Time quakes are often tragic for anyone caught in them.  

Physical impacts

The changes in physicality to those impacted can be extreme, or even permanent. Strength and speed may be accompanied by deformities as body parts grow and shrink at different rates. Sleep may become permanent, or lethargy so chronic as to result in death unless the afflicted can be cared for.

Mental energy

The mental hallucinations and dreams can manifest themselves physically. Creatures of nightmares emerge as real monsters that stalk their creators. Many will go insane from the trauma of their shared mental connections, and the cacophony of inner voices that they cannot control.

Environmental effects

Landscapes and the physical objects within can be completely altered based on the visualisations of the people affected by the quake. Entire towns can become ruins, or be overgrown by rampant growth. Still, small areas within the chaos of the quake can be transformed into personal utopias, while others turned to surreal fantasies.

Time effects

The warping of time within a serious quake can be extreme. Victims can become frozen for years, or age and die within moments. Young couples, standing mere metres apart can suddenly find themselves a lifetime apart in ages. Others can simply disappear entirely, to reappear years later in the same spot.

Magical and mechanical effects

Practising of any kind of magic with an area impacted by a time quake can be disasterous. The energies can multiply exponentially. Uncontrolled chain reactions of explosive power are commonplace. Equally problematic can be the total suppression of the magics being attempted.

The Ostfen Displacement

Only seven years ago, an unexpected eruption of the dormant caldera near Ostfen caused one of the most disastrous time quakes in modern history.
The eruption was preceded by minor tremors the day before, which was not unusual. The people of Ostfen were accustomed to regular tremors and so did not head the warning signs.   When the caldera itself erupted, the explosive fumes and rain of fiery rocks destroyed much of the town, and many were physically injured as a result. but as the lava flows approached the town, the impacts of the time quake came with it.  
by Midjourney
Many hundreds or people died in the event, and survivors who speak of their experiences at all tell harrowed tales. Some describe demons walking the streets, or people's bodies bubbling into monstrosities, of buildings fracturing and floating in the sky, of loved ones freezing into statues, or evaporating into lightning and pure energy.    


Those who managed to flee have become a diaspora of refugees living in camps at other Protectorate cities, in particular on the outskirts of Helton, while some have travelled further a field to the newer settlements at Timesdawn and Omberstad. Most survivors are still struggling with the trauma of the event itself, and many carry permanent disfigurements as a result. Most are not willing to talk in much detail about their experience.   There have been a few attempts at investigating the ruins at Ostfen, but even seven years later, the impacts of the quake are still being felt, and the risks to any entering the area are too great for any but the most intrepid.

Cover image: by Midjourney


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9 Jul, 2023 14:26

I love this! I love the thought and effort that went into listing all of the various effects of the disastrous force. Really awesome!

love, jyliet & maddy & teresa
14 Aug, 2023 20:34

Thank you. I'm glad you liked... I've been wanting to explore these for a while, and the prompt was a good chance. :)