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Pathfinding

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Image:Scroll2.png "You can always tell an Iraso Guild Member by their eyes. They have sunbursts of opposing color around their pupils. It isn't necessarily obvious until you meet their gaze. But once you have looked them in the eyes you'll never forget them. They look through you, seeing you less as a creature of the physical and more of a living manifestation of djed. A mundane magicless person might not feel it, but to a wizard, it can strike a deep disquiet throughout their soul.”
- Lafiska, from the Book of The Iraso
Pathfinding
Personal magic
Full namePathfinding
AvailabilityRare
Learned fromVery few users
Key conceptReveals Djed Trails
UsesEnables mages to track djed trails over short and long distances.
RisksOvergiving


Pathfinding is a discipline of personal magic involving the ability to physically see the individual djed of a person, animal or item and track that remnant djed trail through all kinds of environments. Once prevalent throughout Mizahar before the Valterrian, Pathfinding (if acknowledged at all) is currently considered a Lost Discipline that perished pre-Valterrian. Because it was controlled exclusively by the powerful and widespread Iraso Guild in The Suvan Empire, training in Pathfinding was not easily acquired. Very little evidence remains to prove the actual existence of Pathfinding other than brief references and writings found in pre-Valterrian documents. These notations only hint at the once powerful Iraso Guild and outline very little of its original structure or purpose.

Contents

History

Almost unheard of in Alahea, Pathfinding was considered a guild specific magic more common in The Suvan Empire due to that empire’s expansive guild system. Pathfinders operated in Alahea but were never trained or based there. Exclusively from The Suvan Empire, Pathfinders took work throughout Mizahar, but always returned home to their Iraso Strongholds.

Pathfinding is a niche magic that most true wizards historically tended to scoff at. They thought it was far easier (and cheaper time-wise) to hire a Pathfinder to discretely hunt someone or something down than it was to invest in learning this personal magic which was heavily guild controlled. Closer to the truth perhaps was that because of its guild exclusivity, it was not easily accessible to learn. The Iraso Guild heavily regulated who learned this magical art and who was allowed to teach it. Violators went missing as did the people that stumbled upon the knowledge of Pathfinding and perhaps even became initiated into it without the Guild Sanctioning it.

Delegated to the same class of ‘basic’ albeit secret magic as glyphing and auristics, Pathfinding was almost universally useful throughout Mizahar. Pathfinders with solid reputations were affluent, wealthy, and in high demand. As a consequence, Pathfinders went to great lengths to make their reputations and increase their renown by locating big profile items and heavily bountied individuals. Pathfinders also went to great lengths to protect their reputations by rarely giving up on a search and by showing zero tolerance to another Pathfinder stealing their bounty.

Low level Iraso Mages might see broken or fragmented trails.
Pathfinding also lends the ability for its practitioners to transform mundane companion animals and mounts into Pathfinding (Iraso) Creatures. These creatures gain increased intelligence (by borrowing some from their creator) and the ability to track their targets much like a Pathfinding mage could. Iraso animals were sold for anywhere from ten to a hundred times their more mundane costs if they could be persuaded to leave their creators at all. The most powerful Pathfinders tended to hunt with packs of Iraso canines or ride Iraso Mounts. Loyal to the core, Iraso creatures tended to stay with their creators until sold or until the death of the creator. The more powerful the Pathfinder who created the Iraso, the more powerful the Iraso. Incredibly powerful Irasos often bred true and produced Iraso offspring. These strongly magical animals are also said to be able to initiate non-Iraso wielders into the discipline of Pathfinding upon the occasion when they find a person they like enough to be decide to become loyal too.

Iraso animals can never surpass their creators in the Pathfinding Skill. This holds true even if the animal doesn't stay with its creator. Iraso animals created by Pathfinders are always created at one level lower than the mage himself enjoys. Iraso animals can grow and learn only to a level equal to their creators if they stay with their creators. If they are sold for profit (and agree to the transfer) then they must remain at the level they were created at unless their new owner somehow gains Pathfinding and grows above the animals skill level, thus allowing the animal to grow in level as well.

Pathfinding was used mainly by scouts of all kinds, explorers, woodsman, law enforcers, and bounty hunters. Pathfinders were also known as Iraso Trackers (or just Irasos) and held an aloft mysterious reputation. Their services could be bought at a high cost and they had a reputation of always finding their targets. Mostly lost during the Valterrian, a select few of the tougher remnant members of the Iraso Guild survived as did their Iraso Creatures. These scattered individuals will hopefully ensure the survival of the discipline itself and perhaps return it to prominence once more. Only time will tell if the Pathfinding Mages will come together by resurrecting the old guild in present. Perhaps they may even form another type of organization or remain individuals on their own paths.

Initiation

Pathfinders are physically recognizable by their unique eyes.
Pathfinders, in order to be created, need to be initiated into Iraso Magic itself. This is done through the eyes. A blind Pathfinder is a useless pathfinder. They need their vision for their initiation and for the use of the discipline later.

Pathfinders are initiated by being infused with Iraso magic through locking gazes with an already well established Pathfinder who is actively attempting to initiate them. This is a particularly dangerous initiation because it can lead to blindness or insanity if the Iraso Gaze is held too long or too much djed is exchanged. Just looking into a Pathfinders eyes will not automatically initiate you into Pathfinding. Instead, a Pathfinder has to lock gazes with an initiate and consciously form a link via djed to the recipient of the gaze. This usually requires sitting with legs folded under them, knee to knee, facing each other on a solid surface in a location with little distraction. Once their gazes are locked, the Pathfinder consciously sends its djed (thus the participants must be close) directly into the eyes of the initiate forming a link and a bridge between the two individuals.

Once this djed is exchanged during the locking of their gazes, outside observers will be able - briefly - to physically see a glowing bridge of illuminated djed between the two individuals. At this point, the eyes of the initiate are changed by the Iraso magic and the djed around them becomes visible. If the djed is exchanged correctly, the ability can be controlled - either turned on or turned off - based on the initiate's desires.

Oddly enough, Iraso Mages in full Pathfinding mode can see the djed body of an individual and can also see the djed limbs involved in Projection.

Iraso Creatures can initiate other creatures and people alike. There's a lesser chance of finesse and subtly from creature initiations, but they have been known to be successful. Like normal initiations, creature initiations can also go horribly wrong and do so more frequently than they do with mage to mage. Blindness or insanity, as mentioned above, are the most common setbacks. Only those competent in Pathfinding can begin to initiate others into Pathfinding.

Once a mage has been properly initiated, their eyes visibly show the signs. A sunburst pattern of contrasting color rims their pupils and can glow prominently when their Iraso Vision is in use. Iraso animals show the same sunburst patterns in their eyes.

Pathfinding In Practice

Pathfinders see the actual djed in individuals, including the djed body itself. They can see the level of djed in a person and how strong they are magically. Pathfinders automatically, upon initiation, gain Iraso Vision. This is a concentration of specialized purposed djed in their eyes that reveals additional information of the surrounding environment to their brain. They don't need to do more than concentrate lightly to switch from their normal vision to their Iraso Vision which overlays their normal vision. Iraso Vision reveals to the Pathfinder each and every individuals unique djed signature which emanates from their physical djed body and trails behind them much like a persons individual scent can. This 'trail' lingers in the environment and can be tracked for hours or even days or months depending upon the skill level of the Pathfinder.

Every individual has a unique 'djed signature' which cannot be faked, duplicated, or concealed. Even through shapeshifting, morphing, or other sorts of obfuscation, this djed signature cannot be concealed. One might hypothesize a shielded mage could conceal their djed trail. However shields require djed to cast and are formed of the 'signature djed' of the mage who cast them. Thus if a mage casts a shield blocking djed around themselves, those shields as they passed through an environment will still leave a trail. A mage might cast a shield over another individual or item which blocks djed. This will then cause the shielded individual or item to leave a djed trail from the original caster rather than the individual themselves.

Everyone leaves a unique djed signature.
Due to the rarity of Pathfinding, many mages simply do not understand the fact that all living things leave djed trails in their movements so it would be rare to find a mage with the knowledge to shield another or themselves against djed trails to knowingly conceal their comings and goings.

Pathfinding is primarily a vision orientated magic so if a Pathfinder becomes blinded, they in essence become useless. No other magics can augment the loss of a Pathfinder's Vision, not even Auristics. Also, Pathfinding does not allow one to read auras.

Please note that Pathfinding is most easily practiced linearly, meaning when a target moves from point A to point B. However, when a target is trying to be tracked around a city, their djed trails might overlap each other consistently and confusingly, making a Pathfinder's job a bit harder. Think of it as a brightly colored long ribbon. The ribbon is much easier to follow from one end to another if it is stretched out in a relatively straight line. But when a ribbon is tangled into knots, wadded up, and overlapping itself, its much harder to find the ends or follow its path.

As a Pathfinder increases in skill level, they will begin to be able to pick up information from the djed trails they track. This is not dependent upon foreknowledge. But as a pathfinder tracks, they can learn facts about the person or item they track. This information may include things like age, sex, race, and attitude. For example, a pathfinder tracking a lost old warrior who's wandered off from the old warriors home might determine the warrior was an elder, male, and slightly cranky. As they increase in skill level, they might gain the information of a name, or even some additional traits off the djed trails. They can for sure tell, at expert, if the trail is from a mage or not since mages tend to have actively used djed that has a different quality than a mundane individual with little or no djed use. See skill levels for more information. It is important to remember that Pathfinding is not a substitute for Auristics. It is a focused use of one's vision for tracking. While it does offer some information about a target, it doesn't provide the potential depth of knowledge that Auristics can.

Pathfinding’s Limitations & Hazards

Stronger mages leave stronger djed trails.
On the surface, it appears that all a Pathfinder need do is follow a target trail to its source. Pathfinders can see the way. Whether they can follow it certainly depends on their other skills. Pathfinding may require the use of other skills such as wilderness survival or land navigation. A Pathfinder mage might even have to scale cliffs, traverse inhospitable deserts, or navigate complex cities. Hence 'additional skills' are important. Just because a Pathfinding mage can see a trail doesn't mean they can follow it. Following it often requires other skill sets. The 'trail' will get stronger the closer to the origin it is and of course it will become brighter the shorter the period of time it was shed from its owner. Hence faded and faint trails grow brighter and stronger closer to the individuals which leave them.

Related Skills

One would be hard pressed to identify each and every skill that would help a Pathfinder succeed. There are obviously different types of tasks for Iraso Mage. Pathfinders can seek lost children, track dangerous criminals, or even look for stolen items. Each of those tasks might required not only the ability to see the trail, but the skills needed to follow it. And if, for instance, they seek to capture a dangerous criminal or slay a rogue animal at the end of the trail, they will need the physical training in combat to do so. Each trail has a different circumstance and will require a wide variety of skill sets.

Pathfinding Items

In incredibly rare circumstances, Pathfinding Powers have been infused into items through Magecrafting and can duplicate the effects of a Pathfinder in action. These are normally incredibly powerful items that require Help Desk Permission to create or incorporate into the story. Pathfinders who team up with Magecrafters to create said items in game are far more likely to gain these permissions than individuals (be they storytellers or pcs) that want to insert already created items into the game. These items are almost always vision related, such as a set of lenses or visor, and never work into other items that do not touch the head or cover the eyes to enhance vision.

Additional Notes

The application of Pathfinding in Mizahar is virtually limitless. On the surface this ability allows a Iraso mage to follow all sorts of djed trails. However, that is just the beginning of the applications of this kind of magic within the framework of Mizahar. Pathfinders that utilize this magic in creative and unique ways will certainly rise in power and fortune because they will be in high demand. The world is huge, the population is small, and people and items are easily parted from each other.


Skill progression

Novice (1-25)
The novice has been successfully initiated into Pathfinding and can quiet their mind, concentrate, and sink into Iraso Vision. They can see djed trails laid recently and close to them, though they always appear patchy as if the trail skips along, vanishing completely and reappearing strongly further on. They can usually track these trails as long as they are less than day old and they have the skill set to navigate the particular environment the trail leads across. They cannot initiate new Pathfinders or turn ordinary animals into Iraso animals. They spend their novice stage mastering the turning of their vision off and on and learning to follow the fresh trails relatively easily. There is a ten mile distance limitation on being able to follow said trail Novice pathfinders can follow djed trails from items, but they are patchy and indistinct. This makes the item trails very hard to follow. Novice Pathfinders can learn virtually nothing of their targets via following or examining djed trails.
Competent (26-50)
At the competent level a Pathfinder can initiate others into the arcane world of Pathfinding. Initiations can still be dangerous of djed exchange isn't regulated carefully. Competent Pathfinders can switch effortlessly from normal to their Iraso Vision overlay and back. Their time frame to pick up old 'trails' gets much longer and they able to follow trails that are weeks old. Their distance at detecting a djed trail increases to right around a hundred miles from the target before they begin to loose it completely. Competent mages are also better at picking up djed trails off individual items than novice Pathfinders. At competent level, djed trails appear more solid to Pathfinders, breaking up or falling into undetectable regions much less frequently. Competent Pathfinders can often pick up one or two details from a djed trail that would completely elude a novice. For example, they might be able to learn the djed trail was laid down by a female human or a male cougar. Any more information beyond age or race usually eludes them until higher levels. Competent Pathfinders can create novice Iraso animals.
Expert (51-75)
At the expert level, Pathfinders increase their abilities tremendously. They can not only Pathfind at longer distances, roughly a thousand miles, but they can see djed trails that are years old. As they've honed their abilities, the ease of telling an 'aged trail' from a 'fresh trail' gets easier and they see pathways rock solid and unbroken. When an Expert level Pathfinder initiates a new pc, the risks are very low that blindness or mental illness will occur. They can also pick out very specific details from the djed trails about the owner of the djed trail. Its not uncommon for them to readily pick out age, sex, race, and even personalities. They might pick up on professions, but this sort of information gathering takes time and effort even to the expert. Expert Pathfinders can create Competent Iraso animals.
Master (76-100)
A master is able to understand a djed trail very well indeed. It takes them no time to locate the trails and they appear bright and vibrant to them at all times, even the ones laid well away from the target's current location and trails that have aged significantly. Master Pathfinders initiate smoothly, never causing issues in those they bring into the Discipline. Their distance is unlimited, and they can often pick up djed trails off artifacts that are long lost or destroyed. Master Pathfinders can gain incredible insight off djed trials, often learning a great deal about the individuals or items they are tracking. They can always determine the exact age of trails even though they appear bright and vibrant to them. Master Pathfinders tend to also untangle woven or complex djed trails easily, especially lose laid on top of each other in complex tangles within cities or confined areas such as a set of ruins or a creatures defended territory or home. Master Pathfinders can create Expert Iraso animals.


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