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Malediction

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Image:Scroll2.png "Man, what about those eyeballs hanging from… wait, I don't want to know."
- Aurelius Dootsby, adventurer
Malediction
World magic
Full nameMalediction
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, laboratories
Key conceptCreating items and talismans from a creature's remains
UsesCharms, amulets, weapons and more
RisksAcquiring the parts, cursed items


Malediction (sometimes known as the Legacy) is a branch of world magic that deals with the remains and body parts of creatures both living and dead. The Maledictor can transform such parts into items variously called talismans, fetishes, charms and idols. When used on the living, these items grant some amount of power over the creature they were made from; when used on the remains of dead creatures, items may inherit some qualities from that being and bestow them upon the wielder.

Contents

History

Malediction is the dark sister of Magecraft. The feud between the two disciplines has very deep roots. While Magecraft is the refined science and craft of making magical items, Malediction is quite simply the opposite, stealing bones and organs from the dead, or hairs and nail clippings from the living. Indeed, the fact that Malediction makes magical items, and that certain creatures can be used as reagents in Magecraft, seems to indicate that there was a split at some point, and one magic form became the two we know today.

Malediction used to be called Zapatl in the ancient tongue (meaning the Legacy) and its practitioners were also called Legates. Throughout history, there have been times and places in which Magecraft was preferred over Malediction, as well as the other way around. The last few centuries before the Valterrian saw the triumph of Magecraft in both Suvan and Alahea, with Maledictors marginalized among wizards and forced to practice their craft in humble villages and towns, far from the centers of political power. Because of propaganda, the very name of the craft changed into "Malediction", a word with negative connotations. It had not always been that way. Thousands of years ago, the roles were inverted: Malediction was rough and brutal, but the powerful economies required to practice super-expensive high-level Magecraft had not existed on Mizahar.

Post-Valterrian times have seen a new surge in Malediction. Unlike Magecraft, Malediction is relatively cheap to perform. Of course, the flip side is that it lacks the sophistication of Magecraft, and the Maledictor can never fully predict the end result of his creative effort.

Overview

Malediction is based on the simple remark that a body is Djed and therefore holds power. The more powerful the body's owner, the more powerful the Djed. While a Magecrafter might see a body as a reagent at most, to be used in the making of, say, a sword, to a Maledictor the body or body part is the item itself. The Maledictor must craft the item out of what is available, for example turning a large bone into a sword hilt, or a fang and a hair into a necklace. For the very best effect, every single part of the fetish must be organic. Beginners are best off sticking with just one creature per item, but better Maledictors can combine more for higher benefits. It is allowed to use mundane skills on the parts to make them more practical or pleasant to the eye.

The first task in Malediction is to get a hold of the raw materials. Some wizards hunt for the relics themselves, others commission the work to killers, tomb raiders or adventurers. It is always best for the Maledictor to be on site when the body is found, but it is not necessary. The Maledictor should select the best parts for the task at hand, should he have the luxury of choosing. For example, skulls contained the brain in the life and would work better than a tibia in granting intellectual gifts. Conversely, a tibia would work better if one wished to acquire some of the speed or agility of the dead creature. Once selected, the part should be used whole, or as whole as it was found. Breaking it, for example to make multiple items out of it, will split the power accordingly.

When the materials are ready, they will be assembled into items as required. This can require art or craft depending on what the item is going to be. Turning them into bracelets and necklaces is the most common choice, though better Maledictors can embed a talisman into a larger item.

The third and final major task is the creation of malediction circles on the item. These actually bring forth the latent power of the item, and are quite similar to circles as seen in Animation and Summoning (once again hinting at the way all world magic seems to be connected). However, more so than in the two cited disciplines, these Malediction circles require a lot of accuracy in their making. This makes them longer to draw, carve or etch on the item's surface. As with the other disciplines, the user must activate the circle with a drop of his blood once it is complete. While activating the circle may have visible results, it does not have to. Malediction is not necessarily a flashy discipline.

Once the item is finally ready, it can be tested. Malediction is unlike Magecraft in many respects, among which the unpredictability of its results. There is no way to know if an item will work until it is finished, and while the exact nature of the effect will reflect the creature the item was made from, it can only be discovered afterwards. It is not uncommon for Maledicted items to carry negative penalties, as implied in the name itself. They can be blessings, curses, or both things at the same time. Care should be taken before buying or wearing one of these items. Many centuries ago, "Legacy Tester" was a job in itself, and a well-paid one due to the risks involved. Cursed items are not considered failures in Malediction - items that do nothing are.

Malediction circles

Malediction requires the user to be able to place circles upon the surface of the item. Depending on the medium, this could be by Drawing, Painting, Carving or more. It is essential that the circles be permanent, as the item will lose its properties should the circles fade away. For this reason, carving and etching are more popular for items that are going to be worn outside and exposed to the elements, though drawing allows to fit a circle in a smaller area and is best for tiny items.

A Malediction circle is basically a way to tap into the item's Djed and pull out its potential. It could be imagined as a drill digging into the item's inner essence, reaching for the precious core. The actual shape of the circle or circles varies from one wizard to another and is also a matter of personal style. What they do have in common is that they contain and provide meaning to the object. This is where magic fuses with art, as meaning can be bestowed in a variety of ways. Meaning is usually related to the creature whose remains form the talisman, and Maledictors are most often very familiar with the biography of the ones whose relics they work with. This is best explained with a few examples.

Example 1. A man is killed, and a Maledictor makes a bone dagger out of his remains. He etches the story of that man on the hilt inside several circles, and the way he was backstabbed by his best friend. The dagger might become sharper against those who committed betrayal, or it might become deadly poisonous to the man's killer. Many more effects are possible.

Example 2. A necklace with an old Konti woman's teeth. Each tooth carries a letter of the word 'wisdom' in a circle as the woman was a just and fair advisor to a ruler. The necklace might offer wisdom to those wearing it, or even the occasional vision at times of great emotional stress. It could just as well conflict with the owner's personality and try to force choices on them. These effects are not even mutually exclusive.

Example 3. The Maledicted corpse of a follower of Rhysol is laid upon the foundations of a house during construction. Depending on how the Maledictor goes about making the circles, this setup may bring drastically different effects to the house, once built. If the circles speak of how the man was killed and the pain and suffering he endured, the house may emanate a feeling of dread, making the servants of Rhysols less willing to approach or enter and weakening them while inside. On the other hand, if the circles are a praise of the man's life and the chaos he brought into the world, then the Maledictor may well achieve the opposite effect and boost the confidence and reflexes of any follower of Rhysol in the building.

Circles need not contain words, though both prose and poetry are acceptable. Images and pictures work just as well. Interesting things will happen if the Maledictor misjudges the one he is writing or drawing about. Suppose he is making the hand of a great hero into a Malediction item, and sings great praise of this person's deeds. If the hero was really an imposter who did none of those deeds, instead taking credit for someone else's actions, then the item will probably display the same tendencies to scam its wielder.

Malediction products

The following should be noted about the products of Malediction:

  • They require no monetary investment aside from the costs involved in obtaining the remains and adding the circles.
  • The magnitude of the effect depends on the user's skill and the quality of the source material. A legendary hero's relic will do much better things than the remains of just any veteran fighter, but it may take a master Maledictor to bring out its full potential.
  • While the Maledictor may steer the effect in the direction of choice with a wise selection of circles, ultimately the effect is never guaranteed.
  • Even though they are almost never sentient, many people report Maledicted items to have a personality of their own.
  • They may attach to the wearer and refuse to let go.
  • They stop working upon destruction, though particularly powerful items will keep functioning when split into shards.
  • Crafting an item's circles may take hours or many days, depending on the surface.
  • When trying to guess the nature of an item, Auristics performs better than Gnosis such as Divination.
  • The market value of a Maledicted item is difficult to estimate. It could be worth nothing, or millions. They are quite difficult to sell due to people's mistrust of them, though.
  • Preserved body parts are better than decayed ones.

Malediction on living creatures

A Maledictor can craft an item from the body parts of a still living being. In this case, the item's abilities are greatly reduced, however the resulting item may have special properties that will only affect this creature. Commonly, these items work like a compass pointing to the current location of the person or creature. When made into weapons, these may be more effective against them, or bypass some protections of theirs, etc.

Skill progression

Novice (1-25)
The Maledictor is mostly limited to working on animal and monster bones. The Djed of sentient creatures is too advanced for him to take advantage of at the current stage. Effects are minor and usually only felt by the wearer himself.
Competent (26-50)
A competent Maledictor can make relics and talismans out of people, and will seek the remains of outstanding individuals for better results. He can use any body part comfortably now, and he can embed them in larger items though the effect may not be as pure in this case.
Expert (51-75)
The expert can craft items of significant power, capable of miraculous feats if made from the remains of great people and creatures. They can combine several sources into a single item, making the result more powerful, if more unpredictable, as well. They are always roaming Mizahar for the corpses of great figures from the past. They are able to further increase the effect of their items if they can paint the circles in the victim's own blood.
Master (76-100)
Once a Maledictor has reached this stage, they can craft items from the bodies of the gods themselves, immensely powerful even while they are still alive. Aside from this, the Maledictor can make items of any size and shape and from any number of creatures. His items can grant the knowledge of anything the victim knew in life, and their effects tend to be major and permanent, for better or for worse.


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


Malediction-related Threads

Initiation
heightThe LegacySiiri learns the art of Malediction from Baba.