Disciplines of Magic

Magic is a thousand-faced beast, capable of producing a seemingly infinite number of different effects, and often the same effect can be produced through several different spellcasting methods. What follows is a basic overview of the types of magic that exist in the Ikosian magical tradition.

Projection: Spells that produce light, sound, heat, physical force, electricity and other forms of energy. A staple of the modern mage due to their extreme utility and ease of use. Mastery of projection is also necessary for advancement in many of the other magical disciplines, since production and manipulation of energies is the foundation which many other spells are based on.

Quite a few mages specialize in this type of magic, and even more have a solid grasp in it despite specializing elsewhere, which makes it easier to find qualified instructors and spellbooks but also makes it harder to earn money in the field.

Negation: Spells that dispel, disrupt or negate other spells. A must-have discipline for every mage, in part because authorities of most nations force mages to attain a certain level of skill in this field if they want to get certified. Mages with absolutely no negation skills cannot terminate their own spells if something goes wrong, cannot ensure proper safety if they try to teach someone magic and in general represent a headache that most authorities would rather not worry about.

With the explosion of mages in modern times, the demand for people capable of dealing with hostile magic and accidents also increased dramatically, which makes negation a relatively popular field of specialization.

Animation: Spells that infuse a portion of the caster’s mind into the target, allowing effects with a measure of autonomy and independence from the caster. Illusions, animated objects, conjured creatures and imperfect copies of the caster all draw heavily from this discipline. Animation spells rely on the caster’s skill and knowledge, and thus cannot perform actions that the caster is not capable of performing. Any time a spell acts on its own towards some goal (such as a magic missile homing in on a target), an element of this is almost certainly used. Animation is typically used on inanimate objects that have no will of their own, but can be used on living beings if the caster is powerful enough or the target doesn’t resist.

Animation is another magical field with many specialists, since it allows people to effectively conjure helpers and improve their productivity in various ways. That said, animation relies heavily on the caster’s base skills to be effective, so most animators also possess one or more mundane skills they work on side-by-side with their animation expertise.

Conjuration: Spells that create ectoplasmic constructs for some purpose. Spells that launch force projectiles, force fields, creation of tangible illusions, instant walls and floating discs are all examples of conjuration. How durable and realistic-looking the ectoplasmic constructs look depends on the skill of the caster. Conjured items and creatures aren’t real and will evaporate into nothing upon destruction, dissolving into a smoke-like form before gradually fading away. Severed parts will likewise evaporate once separated from the core of the conjuration. No one is quite sure what ectoplasm is, and its exact properties are being studied to this very day.

Conjuration is heavily used in combat magic, mostly due to its ability to easily shield against many forms of magic. As a general rule, an ectoplasmic barrier will stop every spell that would be stopped by a brick wall… which is most of them. Force projectiles will also affect targets like a real projectile would have, which is useful when the target is immune to more exotic forms of damage but can still be put down by a brick to the face. Real or ectoplasmic.

That said, conjuration has its peaceful uses. Historically, it has been often used during trickier constructions, allowing people to transport and handle massive stone blocks and other unwieldy things, and even today this is often the case. Fancy cranes are expensive; a conjured hand only costs mana.

Wards: Spells that envelop the entire area and enforce a particular effect on everything inside this domain. Usually protective in nature, hence the name, but some wards react rather violently when the right conditions are triggered. Alarm spells, magic inhibitor zones and spells that resist specific spells, types of magic, environmental extremes and other threats are an example of warding magic. Wards tend to have very long casting times, making them of limited use in combat situations if they had not been applied on the target beforehand. Additionally, different wards interfere with one another, making it tricky to stack multiple ones upon the same target. Most professional warders measure their skill in terms of how many different wards they can stack together and how smoothly they work together – a task that gets drastically more difficult as one adds each additional ward into the project.

Warding is both easy and hard. If one is only interested in casting temporary wards, the field is not too difficult. A fair amount of experimentation and experience is required to figure out how to make multiple wards work together smoothly, but this is nothing unmanageable. Many mages specialize in the field in such a manner, erecting temporary warding zones when employed to do so.

However, while this is a perfectly respectable way to make a living, it is not the most profitable one. The real money lies in the construction of permanent wards, and this requires considerable expertise in spell formula. Since spell formulas are notoriously difficult, this raises the difficulty of the job immensely. Though many professional warders dream of eventually transitioning into the field of permanent wards, very few actually have what it takes to pull it off. This makes this sort of warder extremely well paid, and often reluctant to help others enter the same field and lower the prices.

Divination: Spells that gather and organize information based on the caster’s query. Scrying, magical sight, mapping spells, tracking spells, forensic magic and magic designed to analyze things all fall under this discipline. Divinations require some kind of link to the target of the divination, either a physical object or some of the caster’s memories. They are range-limited – a caster cannot cast a divination on a target that is miles away from them, and the spells that seek a non-specific target will only scan a certain area around the caster before giving up. Divinations that aim to predict the future or reconstruct the past are only guesses based on the clues the spell was presented with, and tend to be unreliable – future prediction more so than past reconstruction.

Divination spells are extremely useful in many facets of life and not terribly difficult to cast. Moreover, divination is not a very mana intensive field, putting a greater emphasis on good shaping skills than the size of one’s mana reserves. Most divination spells are rather cheap for their level. This makes divinations a popular choice amongst those with below-average or average mana reserves. However, divination spells are somewhat unique in that being able to cast a divination spell is no guarantee that it will be useful to you. Interpreting information received from a divination spell can be fiendishly difficult, and can often result in a string of gibberish and a raging headache. Additionally, divination suffers from the so-called ‘garbage in, garbage out’ syndrome – if you feed improper information into your divination spell, or start with an ill-considered reference point, you will get a result that is incorrect or misleading.

None of this stops people from pursuing the field, of course, but it does mean that divination requires an uncommon amount of dedication and discipline from a mage. As such, most diviners are narrowly specialized in divination, neglecting other fields of magic to focus on their chosen discipline. Only the most talented of diviners, or very old ones who are already hitting the point of diminishing returns in their studies, can afford to invest some of their energies into other fields.

Alteration: Spells that restructure existing matter into other configurations. Terrain shaping spells, effects that let the caster warp materials into different shapes and fabrication magic all fall under this discipline. Changes are permanent and cannot be dispelled. Alteration can only shuffle atoms and molecules around, it cannot transmute them into different elements. The ability of the mage to use this type of magic is severely limited by the user’s knowledge of chemistry and material science (and engineering/architecture if sufficiently complex projects are attempted) so advanced transformations remain out of reach for most mages.

Alteration magic is similar to divination, in that it requires an uncommon degree of focus if one plans to specialize in it. This is due to the great deal of scientific and engineering knowledge that one must possess to use the ability effectively. As such, alteration specialists tend to be narrowly specialized in the field and eschew spreading themselves thin by studying other fields of magic in parallel to their primary one.

Dimensionalism: Spells that manipulate space and time. Teleportation, summoning, temporal dilation, phasing, dimensional gates and pocket dimensions all fall under this discipline. Dimensionalism is a notoriously difficult field of magic to practice. The spells require both great quantity of mana, excellent shaping skills and a great deal of complex theoretical knowledge to pull off.

Due to the high difficulty of the field, as well as the incredible potential for abuse many of its spells have, dimensionalism is not taught to beginning mages. Only by practicing other forms of magic may one eventually grow to a point where they can begin to tackle this field. Even then, access to dimensionalism is often restricted along political lines. All of this makes dimensionalism a fairly rare type of magic amongst mages and it’s vanishingly rare for someone to specialize in it – by the time a mage gains access to dimensionalism, they typically already have their primary specialty and are reluctant to change it. Most dimensionalists are mere dabblers.

Transformation Magic: Spells that transform the target into something else, in whole or in part. Shapeshifting and many augmentation spells belong in this discipline. Transformation magic works by applying the so called ‘transformation shell’ over the target’s soul, temporarily altering their form. Thus, it requires both the target and the source of the transformation shell to have a soul in order for it to work.

Transformation magic, although not terribly difficult, can have severe consequences if not done correctly. Additionally, a mage that transformed into a non-humanoid form will find it difficult to cast spells, which is a pretty big drawback no matter how impressive the other form is. As such, transformation is not taught to beginning students in most schools and most mages shy away from it. Thus, it is a rather rare form of magic – few mages dabble in it and specializing in it is not common. Most transformation specialists combine their expertise with alchemy, selling transformation potions to mages that need them for some purpose but don’t want to mess with a potentially dangerous field like that.

Mind Magic: Spells that target the mind. Focuses around manipulating people’s thoughts, emotions, memories, senses and perceptions. Mental illusions, compulsions, memory alteration, mental communication, emotion spells and various other mind-affecting spells fall under this discipline.

Mind magic is not terribly difficult to cast and, like divinations, it puts far greater emphasis on shaping skills than mana reserves. Mind magic is very mana efficient. However, except for the spells that target the minds of animals, mind magic is heavily restricted and has a very poor reputation among mages and civilians alike. Thus, mind magic specialists are very rare.

Soul Magic: Spells that affect the soul. This includes binding them (used to contain unruly spirits or animate the dead), modifying them, enforcing effects on them (curses and geas), connecting them to other souls, and even damaging them in various ways (souls are indestructible and cannot be truly destroyed, but they can be damaged and twisted in various ways). Often simply called necromancy, though technically necromancy refers only to the creation of undead.

Soul magic is impossible to practice without obtaining soul sight, which is an extremely difficult and dangerous process for most people. It is also very, very illegal. Thus, only priests and criminals specialize in it, and it is rare to see mages capable of performing it.

Blood Magic: Magic that deals with the manipulation of a person’s life force, usually using the target’s blood as a proxy. Ritual sacrifice, powering spells through one’s own health, improved enhancement rituals and bloodline theft are all accomplished through blood magic.

Life force is a very potent form of mana, useful for a lot of things. Unlike spending mana, however, spending one’s life force is a pretty big deal – life force recovers extremely slowly and the body will not easily relinquish it to the caster. It must be coaxed or forced into allowing it, and no matter the method used it will result in lasting weakening and sickness that will persist for days or even weeks. Vertigo, exhaustion, lethargy and phantom pains are all typical consequences of life force depletion. Additionally, while losing a little life force from time to time will not permanently affect a person, dipping into one’s life force too deeply or too often will inflict permanent consequences… and it’s hard to know where exactly the limit lies.

All of this means that blood mages dislike using their own life force as a rule, and instead focus on stealing it from others. And this stolen life force is usually used for demon summoning. Because of that, blood magic is very, very illegal – easily on par with soul magic, if not worse. Most countries deliberately suppress information about blood magic, other than warning people that it’s bad and they should never use it. Despite that, the field refuses to die out.

Multi-Disciplinary Fields:

Illusionism: A multi-disciplinary magical discipline that deals with creation of highly realistic magical constructs, in order to deceive, distract or entertain the target. Most illusions are intangible ghosts made out of light and sound, but skilled illusionists can weave additional energies into the image in order to fool various exotic senses or employ conjuration in order to make their illusions tangible. Some illusions also employ mental compulsions to better fool the target, but the very presence of mind magic can alert certain mages that something is wrong, so illusions that use mind magic are not strictly better than those don’t. Some illusions are entirely mental in nature, and do not exist outside the target’s mind, but they are classified as illusions rather than mind magic due to requiring similar illusion-crafting skills to cast. Disbelieving an illusion, contrary to popular belief, does absolutely nothing – the image is real, just not what it appears to be. Most illusions are very delicate, however, and are easy to dispel with magic (and sometimes simple physical force).

Illusionism was once a very popular field of magic, with many practitioners and specialists. This was because mages were rarer in the past, and non-mages had a very fuzzy conception of what magic was and what its limits were. Thus, illusions were a lot more threatening and mysterious than they are today – even an obvious intangible phantom could potentially turn the tide of battle or cow a superstitious peasant into submission. These days, this is no longer true. Obvious illusions will be recognized as such, and even fairly realistic ones will often cause suspicions since people are more familiar with magic. This, along with the fact that illusionism isn’t at all easy to practice, has caused the number of illusionists to greatly decline. The field is unlikely to actually die out, and some illusionists have found great success in applying their skills to entertainment projects, but many mages with fondness for the field lament the current state of the discipline.

Medical Magic: Another multi-disciplinary field, one that deals with diagnosing illnesses via divination and then using a form of alteration to heal wounds, cure diseases and otherwise help the patient. Medical magic requires a great deal of knowledge about human anatomy and various biological processes in order to be effective. It is a very young magical discipline, having been founded only after the gods fell silent and stopped granting their priests healing spells, and even so it took many years for the field to gather sufficient reputation to be taken seriously and attract world-class experts to its banner. Recently it received a huge boost when the Weeping swept across Altazia, which caused many wealthy organizations and individuals to invest heavily into it. Even today, medical magic is used to supplement the more traditional alchemical treatments rather than as a cure for everything.

Medical magic is considered to be hands-down the hardest field of magic to pursue. It requires a massive amount of theoretical knowledge and impeccable shaping skills, its relative youth makes it hard to find qualified teachers and training in it requires living targets. It is almost unheard of for medical mages to practice any form of magic except ones that could somehow support their chosen specialization. It is a common opinion among people that medical magic requires absolutely everything from the practitioner.

That said, medical mages are extremely well paid, so there is never any shortage of candidates clamoring to become one.

Combat Magic: Probably the most well-known and popular field of study that draws upon multiple magical disciplines is combat magic. Conjuring defensive force fields, throwing around fireballs, telekinetically hurling objects at opponents and disintegrating obstacles are all examples of combat magic. Although virtually all magic has some sort of possible combat application, the term ‘combat magic’ normally refers to spells that focus on fast casting time, overcoming the opponent’s defences and which require little preparation to be made effective. Some disciplines are more conductive to this than others: projection, negation, animation and conjuration are the easiest fields to apply to these spellcasting principles, followed by alteration and dimensionalism.

Combat magic is deceptively simple. On one hand, most combat spells have rather modest shaping requirements and can be learned quite quickly by a dedicated mage. On the other hand, the very traits that make these spells so potent in combat inevitably come at the cost of mana efficiency and safety features. Combat magic places extreme demands on the mage’s mana reserves and getting it wrong is more likely to hurt the caster. This, along with the inherently lethal nature of fighting for a living, means that combat magic is considered quite hard to master. Many mages know how to cast a combat spell or two for use in emergencies, but they would not dare call themselves combat mages.

Despite this, combat magic is very common everywhere, and popular as a specialty. Even people who are not very suited for it often direct their energies into the field. Battle has always been the most glorious of occupations to many, and many more don’t get to choose whether they want to fight or not. Most states also enthusiastically encourage people to focus on this discipline, as there is always demand for more battlemages somewhere.

Artifice-Related Fields:

Spell Formula: Used in the creation of permanent wards and magical items, spell formulas anchor spells into a carefully-crafted diagram to make them persist indefinitely. The anchor must be able to withstand the mana being channelled through it and it should not disrupt the spell boundary as much as possible, which may necessitate the use of exotic materials in anchor construction. Spell formula require high knowledge of mathematics and magic theory to use well, though simply copying existing schematics is relatively easy if one is already available.

Spell formula are notoriously difficult. Even copying an existing spell formula can be challenging, requiring high manual dexterity, a lot of patience and an ability to cast and anchor all of the spells necessary to create the final product. Additionally, if a mage wants to modify the diagram even slightly, they need a lot of theoretical knowledge and mathematical expertise to pull it off. As such, spell formula experts tend to be very rare and well paid. A lot of people dabble in it, however, since high demand for spell formula experts makes their services too expensive for many.

Alchemy: One of the few magical disciplines that does not require any sort of shaping skills to use, alchemy is basically magical chemistry – gather the proper ingredients and follow the recipe in order to get a magical product. Medical elixirs and salves, temporary augmentation potions, powerful poisons, mind-affecting brews, exotic alloys and extra-durable construction materials are just some of the examples of what alchemy is capable of.

Alchemy is not a very difficult field to dabble in, but it is very expensive to seriously pursue. The materials for alchemy are not cheap, and neither is equipment. Additionally, alchemy is tightly regulated in most places, as well as already controlled by established alchemical workshops that usually have special access to valuable alchemical ingredients and knowledge of secret methods that make their products cheaper and/or better than any newcomer can possibly be. Thus, mages who decide to specialize in alchemy either come from families already involved with alchemical trade or are exceptionally wealthy and thus able to finance an attempt to break into the field.

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178 thoughts on “Disciplines of Magic

  1. Thank you for creating another fascinating article of World Building.

    I always really enjoy reading them and will probably reread it for the second time after posting this comment. I’ve also forwarded it to my younger brother who will enjoy it as well so thank you for sharing this.

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  2. So, my estimate of the current to projected post loop Zorian:

    Fields where he’s in the top 10 people alive:
    Mind Magic
    Dimensionalism
    Spell Formulae

    Fields where he’s, by most standards, a master:
    Negation
    Alchemy
    Animation
    Conjuration
    Wards
    Divination
    Alteration
    Transformation
    Soul Magic
    Blood Magic

    Fields he’s good at:
    Projection
    Illusionism

    Fields he’s dabbled in:
    Medical Magic

    This would make him a serious archmage, with a wide range of skills most mages have to specialise in to study. It also includes enough blatantly illegal skills and knowledge that he’s going to have a LOT of people watch him very carefully, even if he hides his Soul and Blood magic. (And I can’t imagine he won’t.)

    For someone who’s, effectively, still in his twenties, this is incredibly good.

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    • I would not put him in the top ten for either dimensionalism or spell formulae. His mind magic is only so impressive because specialists in the field are so rare, and he has the bloodline advantage.
      He is definitely very skilled, but probably only top 10 in his nation, not top 10 in the world when it comes to spell formulae and dimensionalism. But his skill is increasing quickly enough that he might be in the top ten in those two fields by the end of this story.

      Zorian is far from being a master in soul magic, blood magic, transformation, and alteration. As for blood magic, he isn’t even good at it. He is a dabbler at best.

      While Zorian is very skilled, you overestimate him. Or perhaps you merely underestimate the world he lives in. He has a lot of competition. The world is full of highly skilled specialists.

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      • I now feel foolish for not reading the first line carefully. Your estimate was of his post loop abilities. This brings things into perspective. Your estimate seems much more reasonable now.

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      • It’s a fairly reasonable complaint about my estimates. I should have clarified that I’m using Master to mean respected senior professional level, not Nobel prize winner.

        My estimate for dimensionalism is based on that Xvim, an archmage, has never SEEN a pocket dimension and that Zorian is learning to create them. For Spell Formulae, he’s repeatedly disassembling divine artifacts to learn how they’re constructed.

        For soul magic, he’s using his mind magic to steal the skills of Sumovir, who is a master and for blood magic I was basing my estimates on that it’s such a supressed field that there aren’t that many practicitioners and they’re mostly screwups looking for a quick route to power, so you don’t have to be very good to be a comparative master.

        While we don’t see much transformation and alteration on screen, he’s defintely above average on transformation (i.e. he can actually use it) and he must be using some high level alteration to mass produce his Golems. IIRC, he took 80 into a battle to capture the gate, so, with the other demands on his time, he must be producing them faster than 1 an hour.

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      • Just gonna note that he’s good enough at dimensionalism to craft a custom gate spell that Silverlake wants. Given her skill, that’s pretty damn impressive. He’s probably already considered a master by most people.

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    • With enough expertise in divination, dimensionalism, and spell formulae, Zorian could perhaps begin to step upon the path of recreating the time dialation chambers. I do so hope he finds some way to improve his sensory abilities. Better mana sense and soul sight are good progress, but he still seem quite far from what Xvim seems to be able to sense with seemingly no effort at all.

      Better senses are crucial for one who wishes to excell in precise and intricate spellcraft. I look forward to the day Zorian’s senses exceed Xvim. Perhaps Zorian might request Silverlake to produce a permanent version of the potion that gave him the senses of a grey hunter. If anyone can figure out how to make a permanent version, it’s her.

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    • I agree with most of this, but there are a few I don’t think he actually plans to get great at. Alchemy in particular is something that he never seems to spend much time in, mostly just buying potions if he needs them. He made a few transformation potions, but even by the end of the time loop I doubt that he could be considered much of a master. He’s certainly good, but I don’t think it ranks with his other skills.

      I don’t believe he’s actually cast any transformation spells so far, and he isn’t spending much time getting better at them. This would fit better in “fields he dabbled in”.

      I know this is just your opinion of how good he will be by the time he exits the loop, but I doubt he will get very good at blood magic. He may keep the books around, and learning to draw on his life force could be useful, but just from moral concerns I don’t think he will get practiced in it. Somewhat similar for soul magic, but more in that I think he will be simply “good” as opposed to a master.

      In contrast to the above fields, I think you’re underselling him when it comes to projection. Projection seems to be the main field to specialize in for combat magic, and he’s no slouch there with Zach as a teacher. It doesn’t come up all that much, as his combat is not usually focused on a battle mage, but his assessment was that he could hold off that Hydra from the chapter Green Hell for at least some time. It just doesn’t come up that much because Zach is such a monster in combat that Zorian doesn’t need to spend Mana on things like that.

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      • I second you on alchemy. If anything he’s likely to outsource that to Kael once he’s outside the loop. They could even go into business together, between the two of them they have every permanent/crafting school of magic thoroughly covered.

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    • I do find myself wondering, on occasion, just how good Zorian is at mind magic. It’s hard to judge him against human mind mages since they’re so rare, but it’s hard not to think that he might just be the most skilled human mind mage in existence.

      After all, he’s at least on par with an average aranea, and given his attempt to learn mental enhancements- an ability reserved for matriarchs and elders- he might just be considered skilled even by aranean standards. And presumably, “skilled” by aranean standards is “god-tier” by human standards.

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    • The more I think about this, the more unpredictable it seems to me. It really depends on how soon zorian can aquire the mental enhancement magic. The mental enhancement along with the cranium-rat/hydra style mind connection would enhance his learning curve to speeds that are beyond anything we have seen he would progress in a single restart what would otherwise take at least 10 restarts.

      So if he accomplishes the mental enhancements soon, it is likely he will actually achieve mastery in a very many fields and trully achieve top-ten status in dimensionalism, spell formulae, and probably animation and warding as well.
      But if he only manages to achieve the mental enhancements near the end, then he likely won’t have quite so many fields mastered.

      So his rate of development in other fields is highly dependant on the rate of develpoment for his own mind.

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  3. The end of the blood magic section seems to just cut off.

    Combat magic seems like it would be another inter-disciplinary field, as to be even ok at it you need a solid foundation in projection and conjuration at the very least, and almost all fields can contribute to combat magic in some way.

    One question that I’ve had for a little while but haven’t had a good opportunity to ask: why do so many spells, especially combat spells, take the shape of animals? In your post describing how spellcasting works, you described how it’s rather mechanistic, and it’s possible to rearrange the individual parts of spells to make new effects, but that you still need to describe how the spell functions. For combat, where every second counts, why are people spending time making their animated fire spells look like birds or tigers? Or making lightning rope look like a snake?

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    • Yeah, combat magic definitely should have been there as an inter-disciplinary field. I just kind of forgot to add it in. I’ll see about correcting that.

      You will notice not everyone does that – only a few, mostly Ibasans, use spells like that. This is because these spells work captured spirits into the spell to enhance it. And spirits like to take form of animals, among other things. This is a rather dangerous move, as these spirits can run amok or turn on the caster, but Ibasans have a lot fewer compunctions about using risky magics than most Altazian mages. But even mages of other groups sometimes do this.

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      • Two of the examples I mentioned, the bird made of fire and the electric snake, we’re done by Alanic and Zach, respectively. Alanic made that huge fire bird in the fight to get to the Hole, and I remember Zach using an electric snake when Z&Z were subduing the Aranea for mind magic practice. And now that I think of it, I believe Zorian practiced weaving animation spells into fire spells when he was fire practicing with Alanic.

        Two more minor questions:

        Is a human’s Mana sense tied to their field of view at all? Or can they sense Mana in any direction, regardless of where they’re looking?

        I think you’ve answer this before, although it might have been some other story, but have mages hit upon the idea of using coherent light as a weapon? It seems like basically all defensive barriers are transparent, as otherwise the mage wouldn’t be able to see their opponent, but that allows an attack vector open.

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      • Ho hum… yeah, that’s a bit of a mechanics failure on my part. I guess I got swept away by the coolness of the scene and just put it in without considering practicality. Animation can create these kind of animal shapes, absolutely, but you’re right in the sense that mages really shouldn’t waste their time and mana with this in the middle of a heated battle.

        It was, um, intimidation. Yeah, intimidation! Totally what was going on, yup, yup. Also, Zach is totally someone who would show off like that to an enemy that can’t really hurt him (the aranea in your example).

        Mana sense is completely divorced from their field of view – they can sense it anywhere around them.

        No, they haven’t. At most they use the light for flashbangs and the like.

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      • I’ve been thinking about it some more. While adding animation just to make your spells look like animals is a bit of a waste, imbuing one’s spell with a measure of consciousness and ability to make independent choices in where and how to strike isn’t. It might be that making spells look like animals, items and so on is just something to give familiar aesthetic to something that was going to get added into the spell anyway: a large measure of autonomy. Compared to a complex animation function, a rough animal shape might be a relatively minor thing. The spell was going to behave ‘alive’ either way, this defines the behavior in a way that is more familiar to the caster.

        Huh, look at me, analyzing my own setting and choices like an outsider… bad author! You should have pretended to have planned it all that way right from the start!

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      • Ah, messed up my comment. I meant to say Zorian practiced with animation and fire spells by making them look like birds. Or it was something like that.

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    • On the topic of animated or elemental bound projection spells, Zorian really needs a better missile spell.

      If not a better automated mana missile, then there ought to be a spell which concentrates force much more precisely and launches it much more quickly than what we have been seeing. I imagine Zorian, if anyone, should have the needed shaping skills and knowledge of spell formula (or at least access to those with the right spell formula knowledge) to create such a bullet spell. It would not even cost very much mana. It just takes much more precise control, which Zorian seems to possess.

      Ideally Zorian would have a spell which is both better automated AND faster and more precise. Homing mana bullets!

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      • I see your homing mana bullets and raise you a homing mana needle. Throw in the divination homing technique and you can easily put it through someone’s eyeball or inner ear. Either will ruin anyone’s day even if it doesn’t penetrate all the way to the brain.

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  4. Should golem making fall under interdisciplinary, or is that just assumed as the primary function under animation? This seems more like an interdisciplinary thing.

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    • Hmm…I was going to say that it’s basically just one aspect of spell formulas, but it also has a strong animation component, doesn’t it? Depending on the golem, it might also involve alchemy (like the artificial skin solution Zorian has used before).

      Of course, he’s also tied in mind magic for remote control, and I don’t even know what kind of magic binds his simulacra to golem bodies, but both of those are far from normal.

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      • Simulacra fall under soul magic, it’s why they’re so heavily restricted.

        Also most crafters take the opportunity offered by a massive moving piece of metal to engrave it with all kinds of wards, at least if they intend to make it fight. Overall I think golems always use animation and spell formulae, but as for what other magic you can add, the sky’s the limit.

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    • Golems are under spell formula. It’s mentioned early in the story, but golems are basically spell formula that have a core spell formula with all of the animation spells bound to it. Spell formula is basically the name of the field of magic item creation, and golems can be considered items.

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    • Demons are just powerful, simple-to-acquire minions with very little moral standards. They accept life force and souls as payment, which may be easier to get than money or exotic merchandise needed to hire a mage, and they are a lot less reluctant to risk their lives because they don’t really die when their vessel on the material plane is destroyed. Aside from that, some demons have been alive for a long time and have interacted with many summoners – they know secrets that many mages badly want to acquire, and can show you spells that the state would otherwise want to stay restricted or lost…

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      • Are they picky about the origin of life force/soul? (it should be less risky for a mage to get souls/life force from animals than from humans) Is there a difference (in relation to quality/quantity) for a human mage to use the life force of another species (magic or not) to feed the blood magic?

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      • Animals souls and life force are less potent than human ones as a rule. Particularly powerful magical creatures may have equally good or better ones, though. So yes, demons are kind of picky about what they accept.

        Yes, there is a difference between life forces of other species.

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  5. A couple questions: How old is the field of alchemy? Per Silverlake, Ikosian settlers took potion-brewing and refined it into alchemy, but did they have a similar field before that?

    Is alchemy the only way to obtain immortality (other than lichdom)? Silverlake seemed to imply so, but, well. Silverlake. I could imagine medical magic achieving some form of immortality, although I suppose if it’s such a young field that’s unlikely.

    Follow up to the above: If alchemy is the only way to obtain immortality, does that mean there weren’t any immortals before Altazia was settled? Or is that something the gods handed out on occasion?

    Is Zorian good at permanent warding, or does he mostly just use the temporary kind? I know he has the prerequisite skills for permanent warding, but depending on how long temporaries can last (i.e., up to a month), permanent wards might not be much use to him.

    (This question isn’t really related to the article but) Since the primordial housing the time loop is a universe of its own, if the restarts and temporal acceleration were stopped, would the loop still collapse? Or could it continue to exist on its own?

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    • Ikosians did have an alchemy-like field before encountering witches and their craft, but it was unpopular, being quite weak in terms of effects and often seen as a domain of charlatans. Also, Ikosian mages were inherently dismissive of a field that did not require any shaping skill or mana to practice, considering it to be below them to invest research into such things. It was only once they saw Altazian potion making and how potent it was that they changed their minds about it.

      Pretty much. There are myths and rumors of plants and animals that could grant one immortality if eaten or kept close, but the only reliable was to obtain immortality in the modern era is to create a method through alchemy. As for immortals before the time of alchemy… well, they existed somehow, but were always rare. Ikosian’s things it was something related to the gods, even though the gods claimed they don’t hand out immortality to mortals, for any reason. (They were know to restore a mortal’s youth, though, effectively prolonging their life so long as the person in question was in their good graces.) Other think those mythical plants and animals weren’t so mythical once upon the time, or point to stories of secret lands that could rejuvenate people or halt their aging entirely if they stay there long enough.

      Zorian is good at permanent warding. Temporary spells cannot last for more than a day or so, which isn’t enough for Zorian’s purposes.

      Unknown. The deep mechanics of the time loop and the primordials are not known to anyone.

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      • Thanks very much for the response! I’m curious, now: why did the gods not hand out immortality? Like, did they consider it bad for some reason? Does the modern church condemn the pursuit of immortality?

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  6. So I had this thought completely unrelated to anything here. That eye-beast/beholder that insta-killed Zorian so mant chapters ago, knowing what we know now, it most likely killed Zorian with the use of natural soul magic. That seems the most simple explanation.

    If Zorian were to face such a creature again, would he emerge victorious, or would he simply last a bit longer before being defeated?

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  7. What would summoning a demon or communing with an angel fall under? Does Dimensionalism have any rules about the creation or destruction of space (similar to the rule about no time travel)?

    Several fields of magic use some sort of input data for spells. Are there hard rules about where this data has to come from? Alteration blueprints transfer well between people, but golems need the creator to possess combat skills themselves. Is there an underlying rule? When someone makes an animation core, where is the data about their competencies stored?

    Does a transformation shell depend on the targets natural form? Does the spell ‘turn a human into a cat’ or does it ‘turn the target into a cat?’ If the latter, does the spell contain the same data needed to recreate a cat with Alteration?

    What could go wrong with an improperly cast negation? Say you’re trying to dispel a seal, but you kind of screw it up because you don’t realize you’re ‘inside’ the seal instead of ‘outside.’ Could this lead to a worse outcome than just properly carrying out the negation from the ‘outside?’

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    • Summoning is a sub-set of dimensionalism. I deliberately did not dwell on it in the article. I did not think about destruction of space, so I can’t give you an answer now.

      Not sure how to answer this. Alteration blueprints concern a fixed product that always has the same raw materials and gives an identical result, hence sharing them is doable. Just like a technical book or an engineering schematic can be shared. Skills imprinted into a golem are complex things that people are having trouble programming into robots to this very day, so I think it’s perfectly logical you can’t share them the way you could a blueprint. Oh right – a golem’s competencies are stored in the animation spells that comprise the animation core.

      Yes, a transformation shell is turning ‘a human into a cat’, not ‘anything into a cat’. No, the spell contains none of the information that one would need to create a cat with alteration. It basically depends on mysterious soul interactions that no one fully understands.

      Many spells, especially powerful ones, do not fail gracefully. They involve a large amount of energy, and can interact destructively with their environment if they are carelessly disrupted. So what can go wrong depends more what spell you’re trying to counter than the negation itself. In the example you chose, the seal might implode and crush you into paste, or start radiating large amounts of heat in all directions, or do some crazy spatial inversion thing and leave you scattered in chunks across the region… depending on the exact mechanics of the seal itself and what you were trying to go to it.

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      • Transformation affect a simulacrum as if it were the original, despite their ectoplasmic body. Yeah, I know. Transformation magic is weird. A lot of people seem really interested in how exactly it works, which is a kind of awkward because I can’t really provide that. It’s the type of magic I was having the most trouble with when designing the system, to the point where I seriously considered not including it at all. I intend to write an article about it eventually but don’t expect much: like soul magic, a lot of it boils down to a fairly unsatisfying ‘it’s very mysterious, yup, yup’.

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      • Does this mean that Zorian’s golem-clones could become apparent humans through transformation? Do transformations require mana to maintain?

        Does the difference between Zorian’s apparent and actual age mean anything magically? Could he be “restored” to a 30 year old so that his body matches his soul?

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      • Thanks for the answers. I was just wondering about creation/destruction of space because it seemed like pockets dimensions specifically didn’t create new space, which triggered my “there’s more to this” radar.

        So the seal on Panaxeth in-loop is the same one that exists outside the loop. Some cultists in the loop are trying to dispel it, and we know they did *something* on at least one occasion (when Zorian accidentally got the church to siege Sudomir). At first I thought the world shattered because of some safety system in the Gate, but now I’m thinking that the Cult screwed up because they didn’t adjust their Negation and the seal is different on the inside. This negation probably caused the loop-world to implode, and had unknown consequence for the outside world. I’m thinking that once Zorian escapes the loop, he’ll need to make sure the Cult succeeds in properly dispelling the seal, because an improperly-negated seal will destroy the city.

        This would be payoff for the foreshadowing in Book 1 about negations. Dispelling the seal would also require Panaxeth’s blood, which offers payoff for the foreshadowing about the Silver One (to avoid murdering children in the outside world).

        If summoning magic falls under dimensionalism, and you’re avoiding discussing it, then I guess Summoning is related to how Zorian leaves the loop.

        Future prediction is interesting partly because no one in-loop can look forward past the loop. Does the spell look forward and identify that there is no future, or does at look backwards and project based on input data that there isn’t going to be a future? Maybe we’ll learn details about this when we meet the Sulrothum.

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  8. So I had a couple (admittedly fairly tangential) thoughts while rereading the article:

    Do illusions see any use in combat magic? Like, as a Mirror Image thing or as adding additional fake magic missiles to a volley? Or are they usually too ineffective or inefficient for combat magic use?

    Has Zorian ever tried his hand at past or future divination? I mean, obviously it’s not a whole lot of use at the moment, but the time loop does seem to provide the perfect learning opportunity, in some ways.

    How common are mages these days? Like, what percent of the population are mages? What was the percentage before the modern increase in mages?

    Thanks always for all this really great worldbuilding! I really love the intricacy of the world you’ve created.

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    • Illusions are not typically used in combat. Realistic ones are not easy to pull off, and even they they tend to be underwhelming it terms of results.

      No, Zorian hasn’t bothered with future divinations. It’s a hard field and not too useful in its current state, and he doesn’t have the time to mess with it.

      I never settled on an actual number, so I can’t tell you how common they are exactly. Becoming a mage is about as difficult as graduating from a university, so there aren’t too many of them walking around.

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  9. I recently re-read (again) the story from the beginning and stumbled across this conversation here:
    “Isn’t summoning pretty mana intensive, though?” Zorian asked.
    “Not if you’re summoning your familiar,” Briam said. “We’re bound together, he and I. Connected through the soul. It’s a lot easier and a lot less taxing to cast certain spells where they concern him.”

    Doesn’t that mean, that Zorian could instantly recall his simulacra if he were in a pinch? Being able to recall his simulacrum golems when he is, e.g., ambushed seems pretty useful. (I guess he can add some pretty powerful wards to them and they can coordinate their mind magic)

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    • Fascinating! This seems very close to Ilsa’s dream of creating matter. It is more just solidified magic like a mana crystal, but with a less dense mana concentration. It would be spectacular if someone created an entire dwelling out of such permanent ectoplasm.

      It would be even more interesting if one could create enchanted tools and weapons purely out of ectoplasm and spell formula. I do hope Zorian learns to do this, perhaps not in the time loop since he is under time constraint but definitely once he is out and has the luxury to study whatever he wants without threat of dimensional colapse.

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  10. Is it possible for Zorian to recreate the cranium rats hive mind with his simulcuram?

    Also, you mentioned in chapter 77 that Zach was overtaking Zorian in their pocket dimension training due to his larger mana reserves. However you mentioned in an earlier chapter that Zorian, when in a dense magical environment can recover his mana in approximately three minutes. I don’t so is it possible for Zorian to just practice his magic in areas with a lot of ambient magic, especially since he can teleport to and fro from Silverlake’s location, using spells.

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      • Having a total hive mind going would probably be an uncomfortable experience cor humans who are not naturally predisposed to such, but the utility during a battle and during certain training exercises is obvious. I could see Zorian maintaining the hivemind temporarily to do specific tasks and then going back to the lesser hydra-esque connection or some other customized variant for more regular day-to-day functionality.

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      • How long does it normally take for him to regenerate his mana if his has no simulacrums and isn’t in a mana dense area?

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      • Alright and you say 3 hours when in Cyoria, I’m assuming this is his natural regeneration rate? How about when he’s actively trying to top himself off? And if 3 hours is when he’s actively concentrating how long is it when he’s not focusing on it?

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      • I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly, so I’ll give you a general answer: It takes about 9 hours for a person to regenerate all of their mana from zero to full if they do not assimilate any ambient mana or they are in a completely mana-free zone. It takes about 3 hours if they have all the ambient mana they could want and they are well practiced in ambient mana assimilation. Zorian has pretty much hit the limit in this regard, meaning he can already top himself off in about 3 hours if no spell is siphoning off any of his mana, and he has little room to improve there.

        If a mage is not focusing at all on assimilating ambient mana, then this is no different than being in a mana-free area.

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      • I was under the impression that it was possible for a mage to regenerate mana much faster if they focused solely on gathering ambient mana.

        From this bit in chapter 23: “Eventually, Zorian ran out of mana and had to stop. What kind of shaping exercise was so mana intensive you can actually run out as you practice? The Xvim kind, apparently. Instead of simply sending him away, though, Xvim then proceeded to lecture him about the proper way of gathering ambient mana. Apparently there was a way to assimilate ambient mana faster if you sat completely still and focused on doing absolutely nothing else. So not very useful, all things considered, but probably crucial if he intended to complete Xvim’s newest exercise in any sort of reasonable time-frame.”

        But if it still took hours to regenerate his small reserves from back then, wouldn’t it make the technique kinda worthless for its intended use? Especially since it wasn’t like Zorian wasn’t absorbing ambient mana already without using the technique, albeit not quite as much.

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      • Yes, this is possible. However, the gains from doing this are much more dramatic for beginners (like Zorian back then) than for experienced mages (like the current Zorian). Also, yes, it still took hours for Zorian to recover his mana back then, and he does note that this isn’t very useful. There is a reason why the academy doesn’t bother teaching it to all students right from the start. It basically allows beginners to shave off a few hours of their recovery time so they could train longer, and experts to push their recovery rate to the very limit of their ability, in exchange for not doing anything fun or productive.

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      • So does not gain anything from doing it anymore? Is 3 hours the absolute limit using the current technique?

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      • He does gain from it, but it’s a marginal gain at this point.

        Three hours is not a hard cap, but trying to get close to it and beyond it becomes increasingly hard, giving ever more marginal gains for constantly escalating efforts. Think of it as a soft cap, I guess.

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      • Seems like he’d be well served by studying magical creatures who are good at regenerating their mana, since ultimately the amount of mana he can make use of is what caps his capacity to grow faster.

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      • I stumbled upon an older post of yours:

        “It takes anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours for a mage to regenerate their mana reserves from total zero to full if ambient mana levels are sufficiently plentiful, depending on their personal skill and willingness to risk mana poisoning. It takes about 9 hours to do the same if they’re in one of the rare ‘dead magic zones’ that have no ambient mana whatsoever. Most places have at least a little ambient mana floating around, however.”

        So I’m somehow confused, because 30 minutes seems to be a lot more in line with what was shown in the story, be it when Zorian trained with Xvim and had to focus (since him needing taking 3 hours would effectively end their session) or him taking a couple of minutes when to top himself off when he was training with his schoolmates (since even casting a dozen magical missiles would reduce his max by about a quarter). Not to mention that it makes long lasting fights actually possible with how much, else I couldn’t see how Quatach-Ichl would be able to keep up for the whole invasion, even with Zach level of mana.

        So was the 3 hours figure a misunderstanding?

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      • Ho-hum… I guess things have gotten muddled in my head somewhat. Well, for now I will consider the actual article to trump my later comments, since I had put greater amount of thought into the issue when writing the article than I did in my replies.

        So yes, it appears that my earlier ‘3 hours’ thing was a misunderstanding. Or, more accurately, me being flat-out wrong and misremembering my own words. Well. That’s kind of embarrassing…

        The basic information given above is still correct, though – Zorian has hit his (soft) cap in regards to mana regeneration speed and the ‘total focus’ method Xvim taught him had been far more useful when he was a beginner than it is now.

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      • It happens, no need to be embarrassed. Though I’m wondering how that affects the story itself, since things like if the number of simulacrums Zorian can keep up were based on the 3 hours regen or 30 minutes one (and how much more important it is to be in a mana rich environment to keep them going). It also makes Zorian difficulties at keeping up with Zach in pocket dimension making a little more strange.

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      • I generally don’t do detailed calculations when deciding how the story progresses, so doesn’t really affect it. I just consider the general rules and decide what values are reasonable within their boundaries. Zorian can support his current amount of simulacrums because that number seemed reasonable to me when eyeballing it, not because I sat down and tried to calculate things based on things like his max recovery time and the like.

        And I’m not sure why it makes Zorian’s inability to keep up with Zach strange. Dimensionalism is very mana intensive and it takes only a couple of attempts for Zorian to exhaust himself. No matter how fast he can recover, Zach can recover just as fast. Unless he has a vastly superior work ethic or a dimensionalism-specific gift, a mage is almost certain to ‘lose’ in such a situation. Zorian has neither, just somewhat better general shaping skills, so he is gradually being overtaken by Zach.

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      • Ah makes sense, I might have slightly underestimated how mana intensive creating pocket dimensions is, I thought he could practice it for 1-2 hours and then had to take a break. In which case 30 min wouldn’t a significant resting period, but it’s true that if Zorian has to maintain simulacrums and that the mana cost for it is extreme than I’d see why he wouldn’t be able to keep up in the short term.

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  11. With all his learning of spell formula and dimensionalism, I do hope there is an eventuall culmination of experience that allows Zorian to create his own black room. That would be a true test of how much he has learned throughout the time loop. It would also mark him as one of the greatest spell-formula and dimensionalism experts alive.

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  12. How much does this world know about nuclear physics? The alteration segment implies they know about atoms and molecules, but do they know anything about the structure of the atom itself? I can’t imagine it would be completely impossible to transmute elements if they knew how protons and neutrons work.

    Speaking of which, can divination be used as a microscope or telescope?

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      • I don’t know, I could see them knowing a lot but not being able to do anything with it. Mana might be just plain unable to interact with things on that small a level, for example. Or doing magic like that could require an impossible degree of shaping ability.

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      • That said, I am inclined to think that you’re probably right about limited physics knowledge. Particularly since the alteration section mentions they use chemistry and engineering knowledge.

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    • As you say, they know about atoms and molecules but aren’t aware of the atom’s internal structure. They suspect it has one, and have some theories about how it could work, but that’s it.

      Yes, you can use divination to achieve that. However, this will be an extrapolation of a bigger image based on what you can see, rather than a 100% faithful display of what you’re looking it. Still useful, but it does mean there is a limit to how small/far you can look.

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    • No, liches have no life force. Vampires are the only undead that do. Liches (and other undead) can only make use of bloodlines if they are strictly soul/magic-based. Otherwise, any bloodlines they had in life are rendered inactive. An undead troll cannot regenerate, for instance.

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  13. I don’t know of a better place to ask this, but I’m curious about a potential soul magic hack Zorian might want to try for after he leaves the time loop. Basically, Zorian is in a unique position to obtain the sort of knowledge of/mastery over his own soul that ordinarily only liches could obtain (Liches don’t have to worry about life force damage). I think he might be able to devise an immortality ritual based upon that. He knows enough about his soul now to create a “common” simulacrum.

    from chapter 70:
    “the spell was tapping into the caster’s soul to create the copy, it was tapping into something that described a creature of flesh and blood and trying to translate it into a form made out of magical fields and ectoplasm.”

    Would it be possible for Zorian to devise a ritual that reads from that same part of his soul as an alteration blueprint? What about a ritual that ‘marks’ a current version of the body in the soul for later access?

    Doing alteration like that on your own body would be obscenely risky. However, Zorian both has the opportunity to achieve more mastery of his own soul than any other (non-undead) mage and to experiment with such a ritual a few times without permanent consequences.

    I was just brain storming ideas for how Zorain could try to make it to the next planar alignment to take advantage of all of this again. This idea seemed most likely (now Silverlake is most likely, so I’m just enquiring if this could work).

    Sorry about the wall of text.

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    • I think something like repairing telomeres would be more in line with what we’ve seen from him instead of soul magic. Silverlake achieves supernatural longevity through through alchemy, so he might be able to do it through medical magic, spell formula etc.

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    • The simulacrum spell already reads from the soul as a sort of blueprint… the problem is that alteration requires the caster the understand the structure of what they’re trying to create/change, and mages aren’t even close to understanding the way a human body works. Or any living being, for that matter. And no, they can’t mark a current version of the body and access it later – the soul may store that kind of thing, but human mages cannot access it. When one reaches into a soul for a blueprint of the body, the soul automatically supplies what it thinks is the appropriate version – the caster can just grit their teeth and accept it.

      In general, the sort of soul magic you’re talking about is the sort of thing necromancers have been dreaming about for centuries. They’ve ran countless experiments and mutilated countless captive souls in an attempt to figure it out and failed.

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      • Wouldn’t it be doable for things like muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and the like? Those are about as simple as it gets when it comes to the body, most organs are obviously out of the question since they’re pretty complex (especially the brain), but even with the limited knowledge mages have getting to keep the more mundane physical gains seems possible from my PoV.

        Not to mention it’d be a big plus with how often Zorian has noted that his poor physique was very limiting for adventuring and combat.

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      • Considering all those things you mentioned contain living cells and are clearly shrouded in a lot of unknowns even today, I don’t think they can be described as ‘simple’ by any definition.

        You’re basically suggesting Zorian should master medical magic – a novel, notoriously complex branch of study – to an extremely high level and then invest into speculative research too. He’d probably eventually do this if he had decades of looping on his disposal, but as it is he feels this isn’t the best use of his time.

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    • Why would understanding of the cells themselves be required? They’re lower level than what’s being dealt with, it’s not like he’d be trying to make a new type of cell, just push his body toward an outcome he’d have already achieved in a previous loop (when it came to his musculature anyway). Same way he doesn’t need to know about photons to produce light, I don’t see why knowing about the inner function of the cell would be necessary for this. How do mages even use medical magic in the first place otherwise?

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      • I mention living cells to emphasize how not-simple the whole thing is, not to suggest an understanding of cellular structure would be required. Basically, I think any violent/discontinuous alteration of the bones/muscles/ligaments would have unforeseen consequences due tot he convoluted, interdependent, messy way the bodies of living beings are built. It might be just my personal bias, and that the issue is much easier to deal with than what I assume, but that is generally a presumption upon which I’m operating on.

        Medical mages make smaller operations focused on dealing with specific damage or other undesirable characteristic. They would balk at the idea of changing someone’s entire skeletal/muscle structure… well, the ethical ones, at least.

        Also, in order to ‘just push his body toward an outcome he’d have already achieved in a previous loop’, Zorian would first need a way to store and access a detailed-enough recording of his body for him to use. Since there is no such spell combination on the market, and Zorian can only tap into his soul for a blueprint that his soul deigns to give him rather than what he wants, that would require a great deal of original research on his part. There just isn’t the time.

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      • The reason for my assumption is that increasing the amount of muscles/making stronger bones isn’t actually a complex task for the body, all the parts affected are almost the simplest kind of tissues to create, the easiest being the creation of fat. Plus it’s a natural process of the body, unlike say healing an organ which I assume medical magic can do. So my understanding is that the problem isn’t so much one of complexity, but of scale since changing the whole body that way is still a major undertaking.

        Normally I’d agree that trying to build a better musculoskeletal system (really needed to find the proper term for that would be a hard task since actually doing it in a way that makes sense and fits your body type would be quite complex (though healing to make much quicker gains than normally possible would give the expected growth at a faster pace), but actually knowing exactly what your body should be like from the get go removes most of the variables that are normally unknown.

        As for creating the spell that would save the state of the body? Yes it would have to be created, but it’s not like Zorian can’t hire others to help him create the spell and honestly I don’t see why it would be that complex in the first place, we already know he can store complex things in his mind and a spell like the Simulacrum one is able to copy a mind of all things, even if we forget everything else the spell does, that’s a a hundred trillion connections and it’s able to reproduce all of them and even if the spell isn’t perfect it still creates functional copies (with differences in personality). That’s insanely complex, many MANY orders of magnitude more complex than something like the musculoskeletal system. So yeah sure it’s not easy, but neither is it something that would require decades of work in my opinion, judging from what we’ve seen until now.

        As for the time needed to learn medical magic, yes it would take time, but it would be very worth it and he kinda needs it for enhancement rituals anyway. Plus him having simulacrums and a mind mage with perfect memory means that an enormous part of what makes medicine so long to learn becomes almost a non-factor, plus black rooms are kinda ideal for that kind of learning, it’s not him and his simulacrums can do that many things in the first place while they’re stuck in there (I assume he brings them or at least create a few, otherwise that’s a huge loss in training potential).

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  14. hello!:)
    i don’t know where i must post that question given i just discovered that site^^

    in the chapter 16 taiven said oganj the dragon killed two of the immortal eleven.
    we never got any new information about that group of people.i guess they are the top fighters of eldemar…or even altasia and all are immortals? will we learn more about them in this story?

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  15. One of the disciplines of magic which was not touched is… divine magic. By assuming it is not mentioned in here, it is not accessible for non divine entities? (e.g., gods, their designated support staff a la angels, possibly primordials)?
    It is very interesting topic and so far we I don’t recall someone mentioning the random obvious fact/knowledge about accessibility of divine magic. One may even guess that disappearance of gods is directly related to that. Will we learn more details about this in the novel? Is there anything that can be put into this article?

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  16. In your latest chapter you mentioned a way for divine beings to double someones magic reserves, is it possible for non-divine beings like Zorian to do this as well?

    You also mentioned earlier that it was impossible to store personalized magic but the crown can, can this be replicated by mortals?

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    • Mages do not know of any method to artificially increase their mana reserves without any negative consequences (such as severe shaping skill degradation) not do they possess the ability to build mana storage items that can hold personal mana in its attuned state. So no and no – there is no way for mortals to replicate the blessings or the crown.

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      • What are the gods in your universe? Are they omnipotent? Can they have kids? Where did they come from? Are there any stories about there actions?

        These topics aren’t really explored in the story, but I was hoping you could discuss their nature here a little bit.

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      • Nobody knows what the gods are or where they come from. They are neither omnipotent not omniscient, but still much more powerful and knowing than mortals. They can have kids. There are plenty of stories about them, but most are fabrications – the difficulty is picking out the truth from the pile of folklore, mythology and religious dogma surrounding them.

        In general, the gods were based on the actual ancient gods like those from the Greek, Norse and Egyptian pantheons. As such, they’re a lot less abstract and impersonal than many other setting gods, but they’re also kind of jerks who toy with mortals all the time. Much like gods of those pantheons. Their true nature is deliberately left a mystery, but they’re more very powerful people with their own goals and hangups than an embodiment of some abstract concept like in some other settings.

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      • I like the Greek gods’ paradigm but how do angels and demons fit here? On Earth they are usually present in monotheistic religions, so I can’t guess it by analogy. If angels are created by gods to do their bidding – where did demons come from? Are they created by primordials?

        How symmetric is gods-primordials power balance? Do primordials wield divine magic or they have their own brand of magic? Or do they use regular magic like the rest of creation? Do they have souls and life force?

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      • Angels and demons (and fey and elementals) are fundamentally the same thing – spirits. Angels are spirits that serve the gods as part of the angelic hierarchy. They are bound with a multitude of rules about what they can, and have duties they must attend to, but in return they live a relatively comfortable and safe life. Demons are spirits that have rejected the gods and their hierarchy, due to being unable to stomach the many rules that bind the angels. They live in the ‘wilderness’ of the spirit realm, which a a sort of dog-eat-dog world of constant competition and strife. Demons aren’t necessarily raging sadists, but they tend to be aggressive, deceptive, and opportunistic – those that aren’t tend to be weeded out very quickly.

        Officially, angels (and other spirits) were created by the gods. Unofficially, people in the know wonder if that’s really true. No currently living spirit actually remembers the creation of the world, and it’s a bit baffling why the god set up the situation as it currently is if they created the spiritual worlds and the spirits that inhabit it. Some claim that gods merely found the spirits and co-opted some of them as their servants, though the angels and most mortals find this heretical.

        Gods were stronger than the primordials, or else the primordials wouldn’t lose. Primordials wield their own brand of magic, which is roughly equal in sophistication to that of gods, but excels in different things and is based on different principles. Their internal makeup in unknown, but it is highly unlikely they have a soul and life force in a human/animal sense – the fact they can spawn lesser copies of themselves upon death is ample proof of that.

        Liked by 3 people

      • 1, How do “various native spirits” fit here? Are they neutral? Are they too weak and insignificant for the conflict between good and evil? Did they appear after the Silence of Gods and simply weren’t recruited?

        2. Where are elementals in this scheme?

        3. How the Silence affected relationships between angels and demons? Church and demons? Did it create more demon summoners?

        Like

      • Native spirits are elementals and fey. They also originate from the spirit world, but they have since then descended into the material world and decided to settle there permanently. They’ve become ‘native’. You might say they are demons that colonized the material world, except that they left the spirit so long ago and are so different from modern demons that most people assigned them to their own categories.

        Since they no longer live in the spirit realm, they are not involved in the conflicts between angels and demons. They were very powerful and influential in ancient past, but their reach and territories have since then been chipped away by human expansion and they are currently rather weak and withdrawn.

        Elementals and fey have already been long native to the material plane by the time humans started building civilizations.

        The Silence weakened angels, but they inherited considerable infrastructure from their divine masters and eventually learned how to deal with it. Their current situation can be considered stable. Their reach in the spiritual realm has shrunk considerably, but their stronghold still remain essentially unassailable. Modern demons are bolder and more more aggressive when dealing with angels, but since angels are mostly united and demons are constantly fighting among themselves, this hasn’t result in some huge loss for the angels.

        Triumvirate Church has always been strongly against demons and demon summoning, both due to their ties with the angels and due to their dogma stating that demons are essentially rebels against the gods. Demons hate them back as a result, thought from their perspective the Church is just a lackey for the angels.

        Yes, the Silence definitely created more demon summoners.

        Liked by 3 people

  17. Is it possible for mortals to become gods, or at least blur the lines between divinity and mortality? An example being someone like a million year old mage, who’s mastered magic to such an extent that you can’t even classify him as a mage anymore.

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    • If it is, nobody knows of any, nor of any methods to do so. Also, human civilization as a whole isn’t a million years long, so a mage like that would be literally older than history. Suffice to say such people are well outside the scope of my worldbuilding.

      Some of the religions that arose after the Silence of the Gods claim their (mortal) founders ascended to godhood, but the Ikosian Church and other old religions scoff at this.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Yeah, the milion year old was supposed to be an hyperbole, sorry for not making that clear. Anyway I’m loving this story so far. By any chance, is this story based off of, or inspired by Time Braid by ShaperV? Because I have noticed some similarities between the two stories.

    Like

  19. Is it possible to fool soul sight or mind sense? Like when Silverlake can immediately tell how Zorian’s using a golem with the simulacrum, or how aranea/psychics can identify a person’s complexity of thought and gender.

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  20. What’s up with Neolu? There’s something really suspicious about her, but you never really address it in the book. All you do is make her stand out from time to time. It was my belief that she was Redhood, but apparently he left the loop. With that in mind would you mind explaining her character a little more in depth.

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  21. I was wondering why Zorian – since he can make simulacrums – do not make them train mana shaping, it seems to me like ultimate cheat, shaping mana has something to do with souls, not the mind, so whatever progress they could made should transfer across restarts, he can basically speed up his progress x6 (current number of simulacrums), only limiter is his mana capacity, which, admittedly isn’t that great, still x6 progress speed is x6 progress speed, however, it is also x6 active recovery speed, and beside simulacrum can basically overcharge recovery speed since there is no real body that could be harmed, and if the simulacrum’s mind deteriorate he can dispose of it and cast a simulacrum spell again.

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    • Zorian doesn’t use simulacrums for shaping exercises because he feels they are better used elsewhere – his shaping skills are already better than most and not his main limiter at all.

      Although Zorian’s simulacrums are willing to sacrifice their lives for his safe, they would never agree to drive themselves insane in that fashion. And it would be rather dangerous if they did, since that would result with a hostile master mind mage that has a constant link to you through your soul.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Still, if nothing else he could recover mana really fast, it would be of immense benefit to him, since he have low mana capacity.
        What is the problem then, with his pocket dimension training? I though it was special shaping exercises that took time and since Zach have more mana he was progressing faster.

        Like

      • Uh, Zorian’s simulacrums don’t help him recover mana faster. Quite the opposite, they slow his recover down. Looking at the earlier comment, I’m guessing your relying on the idea of simulacrums speeding up ambient mana assimilation, but this doesn’t work. A person’s ability to assimilate ambient mana is limited to what their soul can process, no matter how many simulacrums they have. A single simulacrums focusing on mana assimilation is enough to max Zorian’s recovery rate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Better focused to do what? I mean I’m sure that a good part of them are focused on research, but even then Zorian made a big point on how important shaping exercices were:

        “Every improvement of my shaping skills, no matter how minor, means I spend less mana on my spells,” Zorian said. “For a low-mana guy like me, every drop of mana is precious. We can’t all be inexhaustible mana monsters like you, Zach.”

        So why wouldn’t he have a simulacrum who’s entirely dedicated to say raw mana shaping and another on the more specialized kind, heck the more specialized kind should probably focus on the parts that are related to maintaining the simulacrum spell active since they’re such a huge mana drain for Zorian and any improvement on that front would be hugely beneficial.

        Beyond that though, even if they’re better used on the surface doing other tasks, when they’re spending time in black rooms wouldn’t a lot of those tasks be unavailable and a lot of those 47 extra days be well spent doing those shaping exercices?

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      • Research, arranging deals with experts, building things, gathering materials and so on. He has a lot to accomplish in every restart. He feels that researching new spells & golems, commissioning expensive works from various experts and tracking down obscure tidbits about primordials and such will do more for him than having those simulacrums spend their time and mana doing shaping exercises.

        Yes, and Zorian does work on his shaping skills constantly… he just prefers to do that himself. Simulacrums performing shaping exercises improves his soul’s ability to shape mana, but they cannot transfer the mental experience and instincts that come with it. At most they can point out important tricks and details to Zorian, but this is not the same as doing the exercises yourself. On top of that, doing shaping exercises means a a constant drain on one’s mana over the training period, so Zorian would likely have to dismiss a simulacrum or two in order to allow one of the remaining ones to do them.

        When they’re in black rooms, Zorian is also there. It would be primarily him doing the shaping exercises there and his simulacrums would get comparatively more boring jobs like sifting through documents and such. Though yes, if he has some extra mana while in there he might assign a simulacrum or two to work on some low-consumption shaping exercises as well.

        Liked by 2 people

  22. One thing I have noticed about this story is that in your more recent chapters you’ve been glossing over a lot of the more technical details, and in turn focusing on more plot related matters, which I like a lot. I personally find that it detracts from the story when some authors release a new ten thousand word chapter, and the plot doesn’t progress, especially if there is a long wait between chapters. That being said, this I feel is a really good platform for discussing things that are happening off screen in the story. With that in mind, will you be willing to give us a time line of events. Nothing too in depth, just something that gives us a rough idea of what Zorian has been doing, and what milestones he has reached with his magical skills. Maybe something like a timer, for how much time he has left in the loop and what he still need to do, as I lost track of some of the things he’s been doing. For example, until I read your last comment, I had no idea that he was still using the black rooms.

    That being said, this is definitely one of the better books i’ve read period. I just wish that i found it when it was complete so I could read it in one go.

    Like

  23. Early on in the book, you mentioned that demons and angels are both outsider spirits, and can only come to earth when summoned by mages. In your last chapter, you also mentioned that angels can grant divine blessings. My question is that, are demons able to grant blessings as well?

    Also, suppose someone summons an angel, is there any way to exert control on the summoned being. An example being, a mage summoning an angel, and coercing it to grant him a divine blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, demons are pretty much defined by their refusal to accept being underlings of the gods. As such, they have no blessings to give – unlike the angels, the gods left them nothing.

      There is no easy way to coerce a spirit to do anything. Their minds are alien and they are extremely proficient in matters of the soul. You could bind it and torture it until it relents and does what you say, but the sort of angels that have authority to grant blessings are not ones that are very vulnerable to such things. As an aside, simply summoning an angel is hard to pull off for someone who isn’t a high-ranking priest – they do not answer the summons of just about anyone, and more powerful ones will require repeated proof of your loyalty and trustworthiness before they are willing to grant you the honor of being able to summon them.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Is it possible to store attuned mana in a time dilated pocket dimension? However, instead of speeding up time in the dimension, you slow it down, to say a nano second passes in a million years.

    Like

    • That kind of extreme time dilation isn’t really possible for mortals. But I suppose it’s theoretically possible if you could somehow pull it off. Just keep in mind the actual reason why time dilation is easier to pull off in pocket dimensions – because they are easier to thoroughly isolate from the outside world. For this reason, using such a mana storage is probably going to be awkward and not something that can be tapped into at whim.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s not an anagram? Damn. I noticed immediately that “Ichl” was an anagram for “lich” and have been trying ever since to figure out what “Quatach” was supposed to be.

        Like

      • It’s not an anagram? Damn. I noticed immediately that “Ichl” was an anagram for “lich” and it’s been bugging me ever since that I can’t figure out anything for “Quatach.”

        Thank you for putting my mind at ease.

        Like

  25. In terms of reading Spear of Resolve’s memory packet, did Zorian really gain any benefit from all of those months assaulting Arania?

    It seems like the one thing that the matriarch wanted him to understand, he could probably have retrieved and understood back when he learned to repair memory packets, and everything else was completely beyond his comprehension despite all of his “research.”

    I understand that there have been other benefits from gaining that experience, but would he have understood any less of the message had he tried to open that packet months earlier?

    Like

      • Wouldn’t he have been unable to detect some of the unique mental alterations that the matriarch had? Like her mental calculator or her ability to seamlessly integrate the current stream of mind of multiple Araneas?

        Liked by 1 person

      • He would have definitely had a much poorer grasp on her capabilities, and may have even failed to grasp any of her other thoughts at all. But that wasn’t what nimelennar asked. He asked if he would he have understood any less of the message the matriarch left for him if he opened the package sooner, and the answer is no… because the matriarch specifically wanted him to hear that message and made sure it was in the form that was understandable to his mind.

        Liked by 4 people

      • I’m glad that you had it work out like that. It would be somewhat bad writing if Zorian only ever did things that directly furthered the plot, even if he didn’t have the information necessary to choose those things and only those things. Somewhat like the primordial/pocket dimension research and the Key quest: one of them will probably end up being unnecessary, but the characters don’t have the information to say which one.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. Typos:

    produced though
    produced through

    foundation on which many other spells are based on
    Double “on”

    A must have
    A must-have

    rely on caster’s
    rely on the caster’s

    objects that have no will of its own
    objects that have no will of their own

    it’s exact properties
    its exact properties

    it’s peaceful uses
    its peaceful uses

    expensive, a conjured hand
    expensive; a conjured hand

    some of caster’s
    some of the caster’s

    don’t want mess with
    don’t want to mess with

    memory alternation
    memory alteration

    is extremely difficult and dangerous process
    is an extremely difficult and dangerous process

    powering spells though
    powering spells through

    is very potent form
    is a very potent form

    made out light
    made out of light

    an obvious intangible phantom
    an obviously intangible phantom

    clamouring
    You’ve normally used US spelling, so this would be “clamoring”

    if one if already
    if one is already

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  27. Some questions:
    1- About power armors (technically correct name would be powered exoskeleton), has any mage ever tried to do something like that? Is the concept never came up, or the concept *does* exists but it was like the Alchemy in Pre-Cataclysm Ikosian (i.e. not seen as worth investing)? Note that in our world, the concept is only considered impractical because there is no energy-storage dense enough that can accompany the consumption of the device. And a magic power armor would, in concept, be just a golem with a human inside, though probably more complex (or, more like, a different kind of complexity).

    2- Is there any merit/demerit in making non-humanoid golens? Which are?

    3- I may have forgotten since the last time I read the story, but has Zorian ever thought of selling golens (humanoids) that can be controlled telepathically to the Aranean Webs?

    4- During the 2 arc, Zorian comments that he is creating a teaching plan optimized for Kirielle (and later, Taiven). Is he still doing this? How good in teaching, in general, is he by this point?

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      • A shift towards a more carnivorous diet. Small animals like cats and dogs would look tastier and less cute. A greater urge to flee and back off from fights in favor of ambushing threats later. More tolerance towards standing completely still and staying quiet for large stretches of time. An instinct to bite and use teeth more often during physical struggles. Spiders would start looking aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and bugs in general would appear less alien and terrifying. A greater need to touch things and creatures when investigating them. A nosier attitude towards the private lives of others around you.

        Liked by 2 people

      • What if a aranea succeeded to become a human shifter (like the Silver One that Sudomir created)? The exact opposite of the changes for a human becoming an aranea shifter, or something more/less?

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    • 1. The thing about golems is that most people cannot command them telepathically like Zorian can. Even if they know telepathy-related spells, these are not as innate to them as they are to psychics like Zorian. Most golems are directed through verbal commands, and even if mental commands are implemented they tend to be fairly simple: ‘attack this person’, ‘go there’, ‘don’t step on the dog’ and so on. A power armor would require a user to spend a lot of time on specialized skills if they want to use it like a part of their bodies. Additionally, the golem maker would also need to posses such skills in order to make it all work, which puts aditional demands to an already demanding field.

      All in all, I’d say the idea has been tried, but that it is currently considered impractical. Golem makers are probably still tinkering with the idea, and haven’t completely given up on it.

      2. The problem with non-humanoid golems is that they are a product of animation magic, which means the golem maker must have experience with said non-humanoid form to make a golem in that shape. Thus, they need to be either a shifter or use a lot of transformation magic to get a good feel for the desired form. That’s a lot of effort for something that brings very little benefit. I don’t think non-humanoid golems would have any real advantages over humanoid ones. I guess quardupedal ones may be better runners than humanoid ones? Snake-like ones might be able to slip in through entrances that would otherwise stop humanoid ones. Most golems are too heavy to really swim, but a carefully designed fish golem might allow the construct to operate in water in a manner that normal humanoid golems cannot. The same is true for bird-like golems and flight. Though I doubt fish golems and bird golems would be useful for much, except maybe being animated bombs. Anyway, that’s all I can think of.

      3. That’s a pretty interesting idea. I haven’t considering it, but it should be plausible.

      4. He’s still doing that. As for Zorian’s teaching skills, well… it’s not something he really enjoys, but he would probably make a decent magical teacher. He has a very diverse set of skills and is pretty patient by now. His current expertise is narrowly focused to teaching specific people like Kirielle and Taiven, but it’s better than nothing.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks for answering. 😀
        About golens non-humanoids: The thing about the humanoid form is that it is not optimized for anything other than manual dexterity (i.e. crafting tools) and *perhaps* stability/balance. If the golem-maker is not going to make war-golems, I agree that non-humanoid forms would be of little use, but otherwise the golems that the maker would build would be very suboptimal. I was thinking more insect-like forms instead of quadrupeds.

        Anyway, did Zorian make some other spell get reflective in the same way as magic missile? Considering how much he uses teleportation spells and Zorian’s ability in dimensionalism, how much faster in casting this spell would you say Zorian is compared to a mage who just learned the spell?

        Like

      • Manual dexterity is important for most work, since it allows tool use and means the golem can use the same methods human workers do. That makes organization simpler, since it means golem users don’t have reinvent the wheel when pointing golems at something and that work doesn’t have to be designed specifically with golems in mind. Or at least those are my thoughts on the topic.

        I did not think too much about how many spells Zorian has turned reflexive. A fair number of really simple ones, definitely. Teleportation magic is very difficult so no one is really capable of using it reflexively, Zach and Zorian included. Especially since they’re actually not using a single spell, but multiple related ones, each meant for slightly different use. Anyway, Zorian is much, much better than a mage who just learned the spell. Such beginner mages may take a minute or several just to cast the spell, while Zorian can do so in a handful of seconds.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I was talking about combat golem (those that will be used as slaughter machines) would benefit more from forms that are already more optimized for combat (i.e. non-humanoid forms), but thank you anyway.

        Just checking my theories.
        Is the increase in the efficiency of dimensional spells during planar alignment because of the planets of the material plane lining up, or is it because the boundaries between the material and spiritual planes get closer? Asked because, if it is the latter, within the current Loop dimensional spells have the same efficiency as the first of ~30 days before planar alignment for the month whole (instead of normal that is it would have to slowly increase efficiency over the course of days to a pinnacle). And taking the time to ask, how big can Zorian make the Dimensional Gate?

        Empathy/Psychic/Openness may manifest differently for each bearer, as seen with Zorian and Daimen (with the former having a much more sensitive sense of empathy than the latter, and the latter possibly having a greater ease with divination than the first). Is it possible that some characteristics of the bloodline manifest even in those with the dormant bloodline (like Kirielle’s *perhaps* eidetic memory)? And speaking of mind magic, has Zorian ever considered using memory stones as a means of facilitating the writing of that guide book for inborn mind mages?

        Like

      • I never really worked up the actual mechanics of planar alignment, but the reason the dimensional spells don’t improve as time goes on is that they have to be specifically designed to tap into the mechanism of the alignment in order to take advantage of the boost. That makes the whole thing more useful for large-scale rituals than quick structured spells meant for individuals.

        I also never worked out the limits of the gate spell, but not terribly big. On casual thought, I’d say Zach and Zorian can at most inflate the dimensional gate to the size of a 4-meter diameter sphere. And it would take it a while to get it that big, at least 15 minutes of work.

        It’s possible, yes. Many children of bloodline users will posses physical tells that they possess it, even before they actually awaken their abilities.

        Using memory stones to write a book for people like Zorian would be pretty silly – the people he is trying to help with that stuff probably don’t have enough control over their ability to access instructions recorded in this sort of format. In order to interact with the memory stones, they would need the very skills those stones aim to teach. Catch 22, I think it’s called. Better to just write an actual book… though I suppose the memory stones could be used for some kind of advanced manual.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Well, it’s explained why there’s a Bakora Gate in the depths of Cyoria. That would be like having a nuclear power plant anywhere you need it.

        Like

  28. It was mentioned in the story that it is not feasible to make pocket dimensions in bags, backpacks and pockets, because the fabric makes the spell formula last for only few years. The Filigree Sages’s webcraft could be able to make this kind of pocket dimensions feasible?

    Like

    • It wasn’t said it’s infeasible, just that it’s rarely done. And I suppose you’re right – their webcraft would be far more suited for anchoring spell formula in fabrics than the Ikosian methods are, so it would probably reduce the strain on the fabric and make creation easier. The items would still have limited lifespan, though, unless the fabric was made out of some incredibly tough thread.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I had a few things I’ve been wondering about:

    1. Dragons, 2 legs or 4?

    2. Between golems, ectoplasm, and necromancy skeletons, are prosthetics too impractical? (Zorian’s missing arm, Taiven’s one-legged mentor from ch44).

    Like

    • 1. Four.

      2. First of all, necromancy is right out for any sort of widespread prosthetic. Golems are also out, for the same reason power armor is – most people cannot mentally communicate with a golem and control it’s actions as if it was a peice of their body, so a golem prosthetic would be very difficult to actually control. So that leaves ectoplasm limbs, which have to be periodically re-cast and can be dispelled by hostile influences at any time. Also, they have to be animated with animation magic, which means they have a limited range of movements and actions, and cannot be controlled as precisely as your own real limbs – especially if you’re not an animation expert. They’re still pretty practical, but only for really important tasks, and most of the time people won’t have them active.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wouldn’t someone who’s both an expert in medical magic and golem making be able to interface the limb directly with the nerves where the golem part meets the body?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not really. Medical magic isn’t sophisticated enough to let them do something like this yet. They would have to understand exactly how nerve signals work and how to translate that into mechanical movements of the prosthetic limb before that can happen.

        Liked by 2 people

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