Seekers of Lore
Metaphysics Through History
All beings have some mode or manner of effect on the world, the ability to cause change. The scope and nature of the change may be limited, but any thing that cannot enact change is not a creature, but merely a thing.
In almost all cases the changes are physical, brought about through direct effort and physical transformation. Build a wall, kill a man, dig a hole, all are physical changes caused by physical effort.
Through the Ages, however, there have been ways to enact physical and other changes through more metaphysical means. The mechanisms for doing so have changed.
Metaphysics in the Age of Gods
During the Age of Gods mortals were granted power by the gods, and only the power the gods wished to grant. For almost all, this was limited to purely physical means. It was possible for mortals to petition a god to act in ways the mortals might wish. If the god agreed, almost anything could be done. if the god did not agree, however, it was entirely possible that the presumptuous mortal could find himself destroyed… or worse.
Later, the gods started creating jesophs by granting power to favored mortals. These jesophs were granted longevity and usually certain powers to be used in ways aligning with the goals of their patrons. These could be manifested in many ways but all involved invocation of the patron god. I will identify magic of this sort as ‘divine magic’.
Finally, near the end of the Age of Gods, some mortals learned to harness the power of amorphia. It took near-unshakable will and confidence, and each such mortal mastered only narrow application of this power, but within its limits the power could be immense. Any who drew too deeply from this well risked obliteration by the forces they called on. I identify magic of this sort as ‘primal magic’.
Gods, strangely, could not make use of amorphia in the Prime Plane. It seems that gods risked fundamental transformation, or even obliteration, if they tried to use amorphia themselves. Yorolaeth, Whisperer of the Damned is a case in point — when Hrundal was forced from his temple by Tahibi into the amorphic storm, he tried to channel amorphia to protect himself and his followers. The backlash transformed him into his current form, and his followers into the Silent Whispers1.
Metaphysics in the Age of Upheaval
As might be expected, the departure of the gods during the Age of Upheaval made it impossible to petition them directly. This was a mixed blessing, if you will — the gods were no longer available to perform greater miracles, and mortals were unlikely to draw their ire and cause their cities to be destroyed. Because of their enhanced relationships with their gods, the jesophs still were able to invoke their patrons and continue to use their granted powers. Over time this led to cults forming to worship the jesophs, and the secrets of invocation, divine magic, being shared with the jesophs’ disciples.
The use of primal magic exploded, both figuratively and literally, for the unfortunate. The increasingly fluctuating effects of amorphia could be felt by many, and while the jesoph Anuless was among the first to harness primal magic she was not the only one. Many mortals became attuned to amorphia, after a fashion, and were able to channel it. Most eventually, through need or foolishness, overreached their ability, or were simply misfortunate enough to draw on primal magic during a fluctuation and have things go poorly. Many great and wondrous things happened during this time of guided amorphia, and many horrible things. At times, a single event or consequence could qualify as both.
As the Age of Upheaval passed and the amorphic maelstrom subsided, amorphia became less accessible. However, this in itself was something of a blessing. The scope of effect became more limited, and the sheer force of will and personality previously required to survive the use of primal magic could be replaced by finesse and knowledge of arcane processes to evoke the power. I identify such processes as ‘arcane magic’.
In some places and among some peoples, invocation of the gods was replaced by forming allegiances and covenants with spirits, called ‘tami’ by the Kreshtar who follow this practice, who call it ‘shamanism’ or ‘spirit magic’. There any many such spirits, better enumerated by Andruidael the Elder in Kreshtar Religion; i defer to his works on the subject.
Age of Rediscovery
The current age is a curious mix of metaphysical capability.
The use of ‘arcane magic’ is increasing. The body of knowledge is small, but the greater control combined with the decreased power (compared to primal magic) suggests that experimentation may no longer be as suicidal as trying to learn new applications of primal power. Arcane magic is largely knowledge-driven, it seems2, and does not necessarily require the same covenants and alignment to others’ goals that divine magic or shamanism do.
The use of ‘primal magic’ has largely fallen out of favor, in large part due to the sheer self-destructiveness of it. The abatement of amorphia means that greater effort, and thus greater risk, must be made to channel this power. However, should a reliable means of easily channeling amorphia, or some reserve of amorphia were found, I dare say primal magic could still be used to great effect by one willing to take the chance.
Divine magic is somewhat common, in that there are many practitioners, but they mostly are members of cults who align themselves with the goals of their patrons. That some of the greater religious figures of the last century have been heard to invoke the power of several such patrons indicates that it is possible to form covenants with several such patrons.
Shamanism is still practiced, but practioners seem limited to the Kreshtar and those who would follow their ways.
Direct petitioning of the gods appears to no longer be possible the way it used to be, but some believe that in places of power3 it may be possible to do so. The establishment of a cult to a lost god may be illuminating.
2 No, I have not tried it myself… but should I find a means of learning it safely, I might.
3 These seem similar to Nexuses of History, but that such places are identified as ‘lost’ or in need of rediscovery and ‘reconsecration’ suggests they are not in fact the same thing. Perhaps they are, but nothing of well-known historical interest has happened there?