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Auristics

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Image:Scroll2.png "The arrogance of the soul is to believe it can dominate the body. The arrogance of the body is to believe it can contain the soul."
- From the Trevor Codex
Auristics
Personal magic
Full nameAuristics
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptReading and manipulating auras
UsesDetection, intelligence, deceit
RisksSensory overload, paranoia


Auristics is a discipline of personal magic that allows the wizard to read - and, at higher levels, interact with - auras. Everything that exists possesses an aura, but sentient creatures have the largest and most complex of all. An aura contains precious information for the Aurist to read; for example, he may be able to establish whether an object is cold or hot without having to touch it. Auristics can be used to find out if someone recently entered a room, or if someone is wounded underneath their clothing. More advanced Aurists can capture the subtle nuances in people's auras, figuring out emotions, worries, expectations. Aurists are also the best at detecting other forms of magic through the auras left by Djed usage.

Contents

Overview

The hypothesis that Auristics was a gift of Avalis, goddess of visions, has largely fallen out of credit in most educated circles. For one, it is not divination into the future, and secondly, it is unlikely that the goddess would have granted a way for mortals to freely see into things; Avalis makes sure that only those strong enough to bear the gift of vision can do so. Scholars tend to propose the idea that Auristics was one of those later disciplines that mortals figured out on their own, and at their own risk.

Just like fire creates smoke, everything creates an aura around itself. Regular items usually have a thin aura that extends around one inch around their outermost boundaries. Magical items have variable auras whose size depends on their power. Unintelligent animals have a few inches' worth of aura, whereas a Human or another sentient creature possesses auras that reach several feet around them. Gods have incredible auras that span dozens of meters, though they can suppress them at will as even a normal person would be able to perceive such energy.

Aurists can sense auras, and by looking at the smoke they can infer certain things about the fire. By far the vast majority of Aurists work primarily with their eyesight, but all five senses can perceive an aura if the user has been properly trained. For example, an Aurist may realize they are in the presence of an unsettling aura simply as it brushed against their skin. Vague information such as this is basically a passive ability - a rare case in personal magic - but in order to fully express their potential the Aurist needs to "focus" on a specific aura, which is akin to shifting eye focus from a far away object to a closer one. This is the actual ability that can drain and damage the user if abused, especially if one tries to keep many auras under focus at the same time.

Focus happens as the wizard consumes Djed to synchronize his mind with the aura he is trying to understand. There is no specific moment at which one is "done" focusing; the longer one keeps doing it, the more details surface, more and more subtle as one continues to concentrate. Getting the big picture about an aura is usually a matter of a few seconds, but truly understanding the shades and their meaning can require minutes or even hours of inspection.

Auras look and feel different to each practitioner. The mind adapts the information into a format that the user can understand and is familiar with. Sometimes, the Aurist himself will be surprised at how he perceives a new aura. Colors, shapes, smells, motions and swirls; there is an endless repertoires of ways to interpret an aura reading. Clearly, more proficient Aurists will usually receive more accurate information than a beginner.

Particularly strong Aurists can manipulate their own aura almost at will. They can suppress it just like gods can, or they can modify it to send false signals to lesser Aurists. They can even overwhelm the auras of nearby objects for a duration, causing them to give out false readings, as well.

Things that auras can tell

There are limits to what an aura can reveal. For example, Aurists cannot read minds, though they have a certain reputation for being able to. In truth, they can perceive slight aura variations and use them to direct a conversation. Clever questioning, possibly some interrogation skills, and logic may allow a good Aurist to guess what is on someone's mind as they speak. Likewise, an Aurist will not know which cards their opponents hold in a game of poker, though they can pick up their confidence level through their auras. People who have higher control over their emotions also leave smaller and less accurate aura signals, though normally only a machine or a construct will be utterly devoid of emotion. There are artificial ways to negate or suppress emotion (and its aura reading), such as the Gnosis of Severing.

Auras can reveal, among other things:

  • Physical properties. This is the easiest thing to tell by barely focusing on it. The aura acts as a proxy for the wizard's five senses. They can know if a man has a fever, or what a food would taste like if eaten.
  • Internal structure. Auras can be perceived even through other objects covering them (unless they are made of special antimagic materials). As such, they can be used as some sort of much weaker see-through vision. Clothes are relatively simple to bypass, but walls pose a bigger challenge, depending on their thickness. Still, the Aurist might be able to know that there was a person waiting on the other side of a door and thus avoid an ambush.
  • Feelings. It is easy to perceive that there are feelings, but pinpointing what they are is not as simple - especially if the person is trying to conceal them. In general, straightforward feelings such as physical pain are the easiest to sense. Clearly, someone who feels very strongly about something is much more likely to be detected.
  • Magical activity. While all wizards have a basic sixth sense when it comes to magic, an Aurist is the most apt at detecting hidden spells, magical traps, as well as identifying magic items.
  • Residual activity. An advanced power. The user can infer things about the past of an object or person. Things tend to stick on auras much longer than they do on physical objects, which allows the Aurist to detect them. For example, if someone killed in the recent past (or many people over a long time), the Aurist might get the impression that their aura "reeks of blood". At very high levels, an Aurist might even get glimpses or flashbacks of things happened in the past.
  • Intent. Another difficult power, the Aurist can track someone's attention focus over time. They can tell what they are paying attention to, and where their gaze might shift next. A very useful ability to have in combat.

These things are not unlocked one after another, but rather they develop simultaneously. Even a beginner can try to perceive all of them, however he should not expect much from difficult techniques. Moreover, advanced aura reading can take a novice a very long time as well as considerable Djed drain.

Risks and consequences

When used in moderation, Auristics is among the safer and more scholarly disciplines of magic. Of course, there is always someone who will not use it in moderation. The gift of sight is a precious one, but to look straight into the sun can turn one blind. The main risk factors in Auristics are an excessive focus on a single aura, or focus on too many auras at the same time (that is, without letting go of other auras first). The third, rarer, risk factor, lies in focusing on an extremely strong aura such as a fully manifested god's. Overgiving in Auristics is almost never deadly, but it carries its own risks. In mild cases, the user will get away with fatigue, dilated pupils, incoherent speech, and temporary loss of his physical senses. Serious overgiving may lead to permanent consequences, however. In particular, there are tales of wizards whose powers awakened against their will, showing them (possibly false) things they did not wish to see. Mental scarring is much more frequent than physical scarring in this discipline.

Progression

Novice (1-25)
A novice Aurist can focus on one aura at a time, discovering only basic facts about it. The process requires almost all of his concentration, has a short range and leaves him tired.
Competent (26-50)
The Aurist has gained confidence in his abilities and can use his power to reliably find hidden things and identify magical objects. Facts about people tend to remain basic, though there is a definite improvement in that area, as well. He can focus on a couple auras and keep track of them at the same time even if they are outside his field of vision.
Expert (51-75)
An expert can reliably use every domain of aura reading, though advanced uses still take some time and effort. Range and number of controlled auras increase steadily, and he can pick up basic facts without any conscious effort.
Master (76-100)
In addition to being able to squeeze every bit of reading power out of an aura, a master has learned how to alter or suppress his own aura. Altered auras will easily mislead other Aurists, and only fellow masters might suspect something was wrong. Masters can follow dozens of auras at the same time, and will recognize any aura after meeting it once.


Informative Threads

Information threads
Tarot's Soapbox Episode 2- Auristics Part IMore information on Auristics.
Part of a series of articles on Magic
Concepts Magic · Magic list · Djed · Personal magic · Gnosis · World magic
Personal magic Auristics · Familiary · Flux · Hypnotism · Leeching · Morphing · Projection · Reimancy · Voiding · Shielding
Gnosis Gnosis · Gnosis list· Gnosis Marks · Religion
World magic Alchemy · Animation · Glyphing · Magecraft · Malediction · Summoning · Spiritism · Webbing
Magic in Society Magic academies · Magic factions · Famous wizards
Lost Disciplines Architectrix · Dominion · Pathfinding · Static · Sensing
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology