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Hypnotism

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Image:Scroll2.png "The weak want what the strong want them to want."
- From the Treval Codex
Hypnotism
Personal magic
Full nameHypnotism
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptSuggesting and manipulating minds with presence and charisma
UsesMental conditioning, persuasion, hallucinations and more
RisksAlienation, serious personality disorders, somatic trauma


Hypnotism is a discipline of personal magic centered on the control and manipulation of others. The wizard unleashes their own Djed through their personal charisma and force of will; they use any means of expression such as eyes, voice, presence and mannerism, in order to induce effects in the minds of those around them. Closer contact with the victim grants more opportunities to affect them in various ways, ranging from simple subliminal suggestions to inducing emotional responses and even full-fledged mind control. Hypnotism is not as simple as controlling another, though; a Hypnotist who does not understand people will never be able to manipulate someone. The true Hypnotist has an intimate knowledge of how people's minds work, and what buttons need to pressed to cause the desired reaction.

Contents

Overview

Hypnotism is an ancient form of magic. It is sometimes said that the first city-states in the early historical era of humanity were born thanks to accomplished Hypnotists rallying the people under the command of chosen leaders. Hypnotism has certainly been a tool of control for millennia now, and one giving wizards a bad reputation. Not only are Hypnotists dangerous, but the very nature of this discipline calls for ambitious, charismatic and assertive practitioners. Of course, there have been Hypnotists using this magic for more selfless purposes, investigating ailing minds with hypnosis and discovering things buried deep in the souls of men.

From a theoretical point of view, Hypnotism expands the wizard's sphere of influence thanks to his Djed. All creatures have such a sphere around them, some kind of immediate personal territory as a consequence of their aura - a majority of their fellows will not enter this sphere willingly, and they will instinctively tend to reject things entering it without permission. A Hypnotist can extend and strengthen their influence well past these boundaries, by aiding himself with stares, words and actions. An individual finding himself surrounded by the Hypnotist's sphere of charisma is more likely to be influenced. Depending on how the Hypnotist wishes to be perceived, and what he does to accomplish this, others will be affected in different ways. Sometimes the manipulation is subtle, sometimes not; the best strategy depends largely on the target and the goal to be obtained.

Hypnotic power

The nature of Hypnotist control is often misunderstood by non-wizards, and sometimes by non-Hypnotist wizards as well. The mystique around the "unstoppable" powers of Hypnotism is mostly fueled by the Hypnotists themselves, who are by far the best wizards at promoting fear of their abilities. In truth, Hypnotism cannot turn just any mind around on a whim. It will not convert a steadfast Syliran Knight into a bloodthirsty follower of Rhysol on the spot, no matter how skilled the Hypnotist. It will not automatically turn a mother against her own child, or make people do what they do not want to do. People always do what they want (or they think they do). The Hypnotist, if he plays his cards right, can make people believe they want something different than what they thought they wanted. This is an amazing power, but only in the hands of the shrewd.

How they do so is the true art of Hypnotism. They are artists of the mind, trained to recognize its strengths and weaknesses. They know most people don armor around their true selves. People wear masks to hide their true feelings, desires and things they will not openly confess to. Hypnotists seek to slip through the gaps in the armor to get to someone's true nature. They play on people's weaknesses and fears, and entice their greed and secret cravings. They know that the moment someone believes you can give them what they want, they are your slaves. Hypnotists can make veiled suggestions charged with charisma, or attempt to overwhelm someone with the power of personality. Different targets will react differently; only experience can teach how a character type should be approached. A weak-willed man can be enslaved with a simple overwhelming display of charisma, but greater people will not be so easily impressed. Patience and information are the Hypnotist's best friends.

Hypnotists revel in the contact with people. More people means more opportunities for manipulation, as well as a greater chance of finding a weak link that is easier to manipulate. A skilled master Hypnotist could walk into a village one day, and leave a war zone behind the next day. He could do this by simply using his influence and saying the right things at the right time. He would play on the secret rivalries and grudges among the villagers, make innocent remarks on how someone looked at someone else funny, how someone's wife was smiling a lot at a certain someone, how someone's crop was taller than the others for some reason. Then he would pick off an invidual that he deemed weak-willed and convince him that all of his troubles were another villager's fault. All the Hypnotist would actually do is give this man a weapon and watch him carry out the murder, then talk the shocked villager into committing suicide. The next morning there would be two people dead, everyone a suspect. More of his craft unleashed, and the Hypnotist would just sit back and watch the mass hysteria unfold.

The downside of Hypnotism is that it becomes less effective the moment someone realizes they are being manipulated. Hypnotists do not try to control everyone, but only those that seem to be worth the time and effort. While most people have a weakness, no matter how well hidden, there are some who are just impossible to steer. When it comes to this, the best the Hypnotist can do is resort to more brutal methods such as inducing fear or even flashes and hallucinations with their presence. Even though these methods will probably not win a battle against a determined foe, they can give pause or at least distract an attacker. This method usually works best on animals and lesser creatures, as well.

The degrees of conditioning

The following is a list of Hypnotism techniques, ranging from the most subtle to the most obvious form. As it is easily seen, there are no techniques for directly controlling one's actions. The victim's actions can only be controlled by making them want what the Hypnotist wants them to want.

  • Suggestion. This is entirely subliminal and will usually not be picked up on a conscious level. Depending on how they are conveyed, suggestions can be verbal or nonverbal, and will usually consist of a very simple concept. "You can trust me." "Don't go." "That man is your enemy." Their effects are usually minor unless a series of well-designed suggestions start to pile up over time. It is the safest avenue for a Hypnotist not wishing to be found out.
  • Emotional response. The Hypnotist elicits the rise of a feeling into the victim's mind. This feeling is extremely vague and can be resisted or crushed by any but the most unintelligent brute, however its purpose is not to overwhelm the victim. Most Hypnotists think of it as mood-setting for more advanced manipulation.
  • Sudden thought. The Hypnotist can generate a single, brief, piercing thought in the target's mind. This thought will be imagined in the target's own voice, as if they had thought of it spontaneously. This is a more advanced technique and needs to be used with care. At the right time, it can sway someone's train of thought in the direction of choice, but if the thought is obviously out of character (as in "I want to kill them all" implanted in a kind priest's mind) the victim will be startled and wonder how they could have such a strange or horrible idea - an observant person may also start to harbor suspicion.
  • Flash. The same as a sudden thought, but acting upon the senses. The victim experiences a "flash", a moment of hallucination. Very similar to recalling a vivid memory, except one that does not necessarily exist. Good knowledge of psychology and guesswork can bring up something that the victim would mistake for their own memories, though.
  • Emotional surge. A stronger and more brutal form of emotional response. This is akin to telling the victim how they should feel, and will not immediately stop even after the victim tries to shake it off. This does not stop the victim from realizing the feeling is artificial, if they are intelligent enough. Reactions vary depending on the wizard, target and conditioned feeling. In many cases, this techniques is the final push after the Hypnotist has finished weaving his web. It is quite taxing in terms of Djed usage, and should be only used in short bursts.
  • Hallucination. A flash that lasts longer and tells a story instead of just one frame of it. A lesser man will be sucked into the vision helplessly, whereas a determined one will not take the full effect and will maintain partial awareness of reality. If a hallucination hits a sensitive spot in the victim's mind, its effects can be devastating and lead to a breakdown. This requires close proximity, usually through eye contact or exceptional verbal skills, but hallucinations can be created with nonverbal actions such as mesmerizing dances. It is the second most brutal tool a Hypnotist can learn.
  • Obsession. There is no stronger form of conditioning. The victim's mind is bombarded with a message repeated over and over again in various forms that are impossible to ignore. This manipulation is so strong that some people could be driven insane from its application. Lesser minds will not stop obsessing over this thought well after the actual magic effect is over - sometimes permanently. Physical consequences such as horrible headaches, nausea, and vertigo are common, even among those who do resist the effect. There are two downsides, the first being Djed drain and second being that even an idiot would realize they were being manipulated at this point. The question is whether there is still enough of themselves left to care about it.

Depending on his skill level, the Hypnotist can affect several targets at the same time. This is a double-edged sword for the Hypnotist, in that more targets means more victims, but also a higher chance of someone being able to resist and denounce the wizard for what he is.

Hypnotic trance

Competent Hypnotists may send someone into a hypnotic trance. However, this requires the target to be willing (whether or not their desire to do so has been previously instigated by the Hypnotist). In this state of trance, the target is suspended between sleep and consciousness and is much more susceptible to Hypnotic techniques. Usually unable to move, the target will be much more likely to talk about things they do not want to admit even to themselves, or remember things buried deep down. If the Hypnotist is good enough, the victim may sometimes even recall things from previous lives.

Overgiving

The first consequence of Overgiving in Hypnotism is that the organs used to perform the conditioning may take damage when too much power is channeled through them. This usually translates into bleeding from the eyes and mouth, but is actually the less dangerous kind of Overgiving.

The second, and more serious kind, is of a psychological nature. A common theme in personal magic is "the snake is not immune to its own poison". This also applies to Hypnotism. There comes a point when the wizard applies so much pressure that he starts being affected by his own conditioning - sometimes consciously, sometimes not, sometimes temporarily, sometimes not. Several Alahean studies reported that Hypnotists had the highest incidence of insanity among all practiced disciplines (which is saying something).

Learning

Hypnotism is more of an art than a science. In addition, it depends so much on the wizard's personality and mindset that no unified teaching methods ever existed. The ability, much like other personal magics, is first unlocked via meditation, often talking or staring at oneself in the mirror for days on end, until the action loses all significance. Hypnotism is special among disciplines for not being used with gestures or incantations, even by lesser wizards. This is because it works on a very instinctive level. Strange gestures and words can be used to convey a meaning through conditioning, though.

Progression

Novice (1-25)
The novice can only perform minor techniques such as suggestions and emotional responses on a single target at a time within close proximity. They are limited in their options, but they can still accomplish much with what they have.
Competent (26-50)
Now better versed in the ways of the mind, the Hypnotist can induce flashes and piercing thoughts in the target's mind. He can also manipulate a few targets at a time with lesser effects. He can make a willing subject enter a hypnotic trance for various purposes.
Expert (51-75)
Being able to elicit emotional surges and hallucinations, the Hypnotist is a fearsome manipulator. His sphere of influence is expanded and he would be able to work his magic across a town square except for his most powerful tools.
Master (76-100)
The master Hypnotist can toy with human wills on a whim. He knows them inside and out, and he can torment them with obsessive thoughts that will utterly crush the weak-willed or turn them into unthinking thralls under his command. He radiates an incredible aura of authority and would be capable of sending a pack of wild predators into panic with a stare.


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