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Magecraft

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Image:Scroll2.png "My only true regret is that I have no means of destroying that which I have created. I recently discovered with horror something that only a few years back would have filled me with pride - my artifacts are of such quality that they can withstand any new magic I try on them. And now that the gods have shown me a glimpse of the terrible mistakes people can make with my creations, all I can do is stare at them and weep. As my final will, I shall hide them where only the worthy might ever find them."
- Areesa Tallshade, the White Enchantress
Magecraft
World magic
Full nameMagecraft
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, laboratories
Key conceptCreating unique magic items
UsesAlmost any magic items
RisksReagent gathering, hazardous crafting


Magecraft is one of the most famous and difficult disciplines of world magic. It allows the wizard to create magic items whose power is proportional to the reagents and components used in their construction. These items have many things in common with living beings, and can even receive Gnosis marks that will let them tap into divine powers. There is no theoretical limit to the level of Magecraft items, provided that enough power and reagents go into them; in this regard, Magecraft is unmatched among all disciplines of magic. However, the resources needed for crafting an item are just as large and hard to come by as the effect it is meant to provide. Magecraft is also a notoriously dangerous discipline, and one that has claimed the lives of quite a few practitioners.

Contents

Overview

In Mizahar, there are several crafts that produce "magical" items. In fact, it could be said that most world magic makes items that could be called magic. Nowadays, a majority of magic items on the market are low-cost products of Glyphing; these store a pre-made magical effect inside a graphical nexus, only to release it when a trigger is activated. Once released, the power is exhausted, making these magical items temporary. While this principle is most often applied to scrolls, it has been used on a variety of weapons, armor and household items, as well.

Even though Glyphing is an invaluable discipline in many ways, Magecraft is in a totally different league as far as magical items go. A Magesmith can make permanent items with unique effects whose powers are only limited by his skill and available resources. The swords of kings, the armor of demigods, the staves of great wizards, most of these have been created through Magecraft. In the east, the craft was mostly practiced by individual, Alahea-sponsored wizards and has largely falled out of use after the Valterrian. In the west, the Isur are the undisputed masters of this discipline, which they combine with their unmatched metalsmithing skills.

It is said that many of the gods opposed those who wanted to teach Magecraft to the people of Mizahar, deeming it too dangerous to let mortals play with it. In the end, however, some of the more meddling gods passed the knowledge down to the Protohuman civilization. As expected, they immediately employed the new techniques to forge deadly weapons to slaughter their enemies (and each other) with. Since high-level Magecraft items are virtually eternal, some of the early artifacts are still somewhere around the world, perhaps buried under layers of dust and ruins. Still, Magecraft items are rare: for every twenty or thirty Glyphing-made items there is maybe one Magecraft item, if that much. They are rare enough that most of them have a name given to them by their creator. The lower-end items might be for sale at exorbitant prices, whereas the truly powerful ones are utterly unavailable on the market and will have to be seized, stolen from their hiding places or crafted anew.

Principles of Magecraft

The Magecrafting process is the sum of a number of modular steps that are more or less independent of each other. The number of enhancement steps determines the cost and power of the resulting artifact. This can be expressed with a number, the Magecraft Coefficient (MC). The minimum MC is 1, and there is no theoretical maximum. A MC is convenient because it is a good estimate of how powerful an item is, and how much time and money the Magesmith will need to craft it. Items with MC greater than 10 are very rare, and the most potent ever created by mortals were in the low 20's. The production cost of an item rises exponentially with its MC, because applying more enhancements on top of the existing ones becomes progressively harder. Production time also grows, though not as steeply.

A step can enhance one of the following five traits.

  • Structural - one of the item's physical properties is improved. This can be durability, sharpness, weight, or more, depending on the type of item. Given the costs involved, it is usually a good idea to invest on durability.
  • Behavioral - either the item acquires a new behavior, or an existing behavior is enhanced. This is a broad category, ranging from a blade swinging faster to an item becoming capable of moving on its own, or a torch lighting itself, etc. Behavior encompasses all active abilities but this behavior must be compatible with the item's other enhancements. For example, an item will not be able to emit poison unless it has a reason for doing so, such as a Gnosis mark from Siku. The source of a behavior does not have to be Magecrafted; it can even be provided by a separate skill applied to the item.
  • Intellectual - the item acquires greater awareness, intelligence, and ability to interact and communicate. A more intelligent item can adapt its own powers to the situation without the need for an order from its wielder.
  • Magical - the item becomes capable of wielding personal magic just like a wizard. Most items can only perform a few effects hard-wired by the Magesmith through Behavioral steps, but more intelligent items have more freedom. This requires a wizard that is of equal or higher level in the desired magic discipline.
  • Gnosis - the item can receive a Gnosis mark by a deity, and use it as if it had been bestowed on a living person. Only one mark (positive or negative) can be bestowed on a given item, and the gods only rarely deign to do so. The item must therefore have clear purpose and advantage to the god as opposed to being a mere trinket: such items will generally have a name and a fascinating story behind them. The mark will empower the item with a gift that is obviously related to the god, but needs not be identical to Gnosis given to the living. The kind of power bestowed depends entirely on the god's will. The mark is usually asked for after the item has been completed, and the slot is not specific to a single deity, meaning that anyone can mark the item. [Please note that, due to the far-reaching consequences of these divine items, Help Desk permission is required for a Storyteller to create such items or have gods imbue one. In the former case, a suitable backstory is needed and, if approved, must be added to the Artifact list.]

The sum of all Magecraft steps in these categories is the item's MC. For example, a Shield of Light could be a Magecraft item designed as follows.

Effect Effect type Steps required
Sturdiness (Moderate) Structural 2
Weight (Minor) Structural 1
Color change (Minor) Behavioral 1
Vocal activation Intellectual 1
Gnosis mark (Priskil) Gnosis 1
Total 6

This shield is moderately sturdier than the original item, slightly less heavy to carry and it can change color upon some vocal command thanks to the Gnosis mark of Priskil, goddess of light. With a total MC of 6, this item would fetch a considerable price on the market, and would have been crafted by a mid-level Magesmith or better.

The process

A variety of tools are used in Magecrafting; many are themselves low-level Magecraft tools. The typical layout of a Magecrafting project is the following.

  • The item is collected from its maker. New items are highly preferred, and since the resulting quality depends on the original product, the Magesmith will want to obtain as good an item as possible.
  • The item is placed inside on a pedestal, with the working area possibly isolated and stabilized with Glyphing runes and circles. The item is usually surrounded by instruments such as special lenses and mirrors that can inspect the item's aura. It may help if the Magesmith is a proficient Auristics user. Disturbances in the aura are the most reliable signal that something is wrong.
  • Magecrafting is initiated by first hitting the item with specially charged tools like hammers and tongs. These tools have no visible effect on the item, but they slowly charge its internal Djed with new pathways.
  • The item should never removed from its pedestal until it is finished. Incomplete Magecraft creations tend to be ruined rather easily, becoming useless for magical purposes.
  • The item will not display any magical property until it is finished by letting it "cool down" in special charged water. At this point, however, it will no longer be possible to perform further Magecraft on it at a later time.

Reagents

Catalysts

Complex items require reagents to aid the crafting process. Any item with 3 or more enhancements in any single area needs a reagent to act as a catalyst in its stabilization. If multiple areas have 3 or more enhancements, then one reagent is required for each area. For example, the hypothetical Shield of Light discussed in the previous section has 3 Structural steps, and thus required a reagent during its construction. Some catalyst reagents include:

  • Metagold, a rare precious metal created by the compression of gold ore at very high pressures
  • well-preserved remains of a Relic or Fragment monster (HD Permission required to acquire.)
  • a Magecrafted item of equal or higher level to the one being created
  • Infinitite, an ultra-rare gemstone (HD Permission required to acquire.)
  • stable materials from another world or dimension
  • a live creature from another world or dimension trapped inside the item
  • the Magesmith's own life (equivalent to 3 normal catalysts, cannot be offered if they are already dead; the user bleeds to death over the item, thus completing it in a final act of creation.)
  • about 50 sentient lives sacrificed over the item

(Storytellers are welcome to suggest more reagents, provided they are about as difficult to acquire as those listed above).

Optional reagents

These reagents are not required in any item and do not consume steps, but they provide additional properties and are highly sought after.

  • Obsidian Pearl: it can continuously store energy that the item can release at any time (HD Permission required to acquire.)
  • Blood (1): makes the item very effective on or against the type of creature the blood belongs to
  • Blood (2): binds the item to a specific person, making it unusable by anyone else (this effect could be replicated with a high Intellectual value)

(Again, Storytellers are welcome to come up with more optional reagents).

Tables

This section provides cost, time, and effect tables serving as references for Magecrafted items.

Cost table

This table indicates overall production costs for an item with a given Coefficient. These values include a large number of low-level reagents and materials that would be required throughout construction, but are common enough that their availability can be assumed without a problem. They do not include the cost of the base item, which must be created or acquired separately.

This table can be used to estimate an item's market price, for example by tripling the listed prices; however, the sheer rarity of high-level items means that truly powerful products are virtually priceless. It would be highly unusual to see an item with a MC greater than 5 for public sale.

All prices are listed in gold-rimmed Mizas. Should the table ever have to be expanded to higher levels, prices triple every other step.

MC Cost MC Cost MC Cost
1 1,000 2 1,700 3 3,000
4 5,000 5 9,000 6 15,000
7 27,000 8 45,000 9 81,000
10 135,000 11 240,000 12 400,000
13 720,000 14 1,200,000 15 2,150,000
16 3,600,000 17 6,400,000 18 10,800,000
19 19,000,000 20 30,000,000 21 57,000,000
22 90,000,000 23 170,000,000 24 270,000,000

Time table

This table lists the times required to craft an item. It assumes a Magesmith devoting most of his time to the project, with a little spare time for his personal life but definitely not enough time to travel around. It also assumes a laboratory that is adequate to the task to be accomplished. Skill is an important modifier, so there is a column for each skill level. All times are listed in days.

Having assistants can lower production times significantly, and it is the only way an epic project can be completed in reasonable times. In general, the presence of X Magesmiths of the main crafter's level will make the project proceed about X times faster, whereas lower-level assistants may improve performance by a small amount.

MC Novice Competent Expert Master
1 5 3 2 1
2 10 6 4 2
3 / 10 6 3
4 / 15 9 4
5 / 30 15 5
6 / / 25 8
7 / / 40 12
8 / / 60 20
9 / / 90 30
10 / / 180 60
11 / / / 90
12 / / / 120
13 / / / 150
14 / / / 180
15 / / / 220
16 / / / 270
17 / / / 330
18 / / / 400
19 / / / 500
20 / / / 700
21 / / / 1000
22 / / / 1500
23 / / / 2500
24 / / / 4000

Effect tables

These tables list the magnitude of effects that the item can display after a certain number of enhancement steps. The same characteristic can be upgraded several times, becoming more and more exceptional.

Structural

This table refers to the effects of Structural enhancements.

Number of steps Modifier Description
1 Minor The improvement is noticeable to the wielder but others will likely not notice unless they are observant or highly skilled in the use of such an item.
2 Moderate Seeing this item in action will make quite a few people suspect it has been magically enhanced, e.g. a sword that "slices too easily".
3 Greater The item quite clearly has supernatural properties, and it shows.
4 Major The item will leave most people completely baffled, for example a leather vest being able to absorb a good deal of damage from a warhammer.
5 Superior The item totally defies the laws of nature as far as this property is concerned.
6+ Legendary Very few items ever display such improvement levels; these matter when they clash with other Magecrafted items, but they offer relatively little on top of a Superior enhancement in most situations.

Intellectual

This table refers to the effects of Intellectual enhancements. Please note that Magecrafted intelligences are no match for high-level Animation constructs. These minds are simply centered on making the item work correctly and, unlike an Animated mind, have no personality to speak of. Moreover, they cannot learn or grow.

Number of steps Modifier Description
1 Minor The item can react to simple stimuli, usually vocal, by triggering one of its Behaviors.
2 Moderate The item can perform slight variations on its behaviors depending on which commands it receives.
3 Greater The item can be activated through willpower alone, with no need for stimuli, allowing more finesse in its effects (for example, regulating their intensity).
4 Major The item exhibits semi-aware consciousness devoid of personality that can communicate telepathically with the wielder through simple sentences. It can react to events without orders, to a degree.
5 Superior The item can carry out a full conversation, has a working memory and has very fine control over all of its powers and behaviors.

Magic

This table refers to the effects of Magic enhancements, which allow the item to wield the power of one or more personal magics. These enhancements require the presence of a wizard of the same discipline and equal or higher level to what is to be injected into the item. For example, if the item is to possess Competent Voiding powers, a Competent or better Voider will have to attend its crafting. The wizard, be it the Magesmith or someone else, will have to be present throughout the creation process to impart his knowledge and fix problems as they crop up.

Magic items can go into overgiving just like flesh-and-blood wizards if their powers are abused. In milder cases, they will just temporarily stop working; in more serious scenarios, consequences might be much more destructive. For this reason, high magic levels should always come with high Intellectual levels, so that the item can shut itself down before it is too late.

Number of steps Proficiency
1 Novice
3 Competent
6 Expert
10 Master

Additional notes

Magecraft does not mix very reliably with other world magic, including Magecraft itself. This is why attempts at replicating a high-level item with several low-level items working in unison will most often fail.

Although items produced through Magecraft can be sold for roughly triple the listed prices, all will be difficult to sell regardless of their MC value. Magic is not commonplace in Mizahar and the general NPC populace is distrustful and fearful of magic. In addition, the average NPC does not possess the disposable wealth required to purchase even the lowest MC item. Such wealth is only found in governments, city leaders, wealthy merchants and some PCs. Said individuals, if they wish to purchase an item, will usually contract a specific item with a specific use to be made and won't just buy any random item from any random magesmith. Finding a buyer for Magecraft items can be quite difficult which makes getting into the business of selling these items even more difficult, perhaps even impossible. In other words, do not expect to become a traveling magesmith who peddles their wares to anyone they encounter.

Although market prices for items are estimated at triple the cost to make them, the final value may be influenced by any number of factors; what kind of item it is (clothing, tool, sword, etc.), what does it do, who is the potential buyer, what are they looking for, what can they use, where do they live, what are their views on magic or what are the views of the people around them? Just because someone has an item to sell doesn't mean someone will buy it.

Due to the potential involved with this magic, items produced through Magecraft must have both Storyteller Approval, Help Desk Approval AND be added to Storyteller Secrets to be valid. (Storyteller Approval and Storyteller Secrets required without Help Desk for beginning Magecraft tools only)

Progression

Novice (1-25)
A novice is limited to absolutely minor items (max MC is 2) and will usually work in the laboratory of a more accomplished Magesmith.
Competent (26-50)
At this level, the Magesmith can craft items whose MC is 5 or less. He also knows about catalysts and reagents, and can employ them effectively.
Expert (51-75)
An expert Magesmith is rather rare in modern-day Mizahar. They can craft a broad range of advanced items with MC 10 or less.
Master (76-100)
The ultimate maker of dreams, a master is utterly unlimited in the scope of items he can build. Only time and resources constrain his impressive creative power.


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