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Summoning

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Image:Scroll2.png "It is a nice world. Pity the food talks too much."
- Summoned Kavaki
Summoning
World magic
Full nameSummoning
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books, astral coordinate logs
Key conceptCalling creatures from other worlds
UsesAny task the summoned creature can perform
RisksAny task the summoned creature wants to perform


Summoning is one of the more secretive disciplines of world magic. It allows a wizard to breach other worlds, possibly transferring one or more creatures to his current location with the help of circles and diagrams. Before the Valterrian, Summoning was closely regulated and only state-sponsored wizards were allowed to practice it, due to the risks it posed to the general population. Many alien creatures are dangerous and the Summoner has no ultimate way of controlling them, though he can negotiate with them in various ways or simply try to banish them if worse comes to worst.

Contents

History

Mankind was aware of the existence of other dimensions from its early history - indeed, there are many sources claiming that Humans originally came from an alternate dimension on the brink of collapse. It is likely that Humans developed Summoning by studying the occasional breaches caused by interworld travelers, though this art was closely guarded from the very beginning. Starting from the age of city-states, Summoning was often considered a secret weapon, its users forbidden from leaving the land and forced to bolster the ranks of the local armies with alien creatures. It is often said in stories that one of the early city-states was lost to Summoned creatures: this is the long dead city of Nykalia upon which the modern Nyka rises.

Officially, Alahea and Suvan signed a bilateral agreement forbidding usage of Summoned creatures in their endless wars. This document was signed to reassure the people of both Empires that there were no risks of a planar rebellion resulting in massive civilian slaughter, and simply served to cover the truth of actual deployment of Summoned creatures. While never used in major battles or densely populated areas, Summoned beings were employed for specific reasons and missions, and most witnesses to these events were bought, blackmailed or eliminated.

In post-Valterrian Mizahar, Summoning is almost completely unregulated except for some cities like Syliras which forbid its practice within their walls. Being less widespread than most world magic has so far helped keep the number of incidents down to a small number, but dimensional mishaps are becoming more frequent by the day.

Overview

Summoning opens gateways to other worlds through circles drawn on a surface. This is all it does - it will not force any being to cross the portal, and it will not give explicit control over anything passing through. It is up to the wizard's intelligence, rhetoric and other skills to ensure that Summoned beings do his bidding. The Summoner has a few bargaining chips, though; when a creature crosses a portal, it is initially surrounded by the portal's thick Djed aura. This aura constrains the creature's movements and blocks it from using magical powers, effectively keeping it inside a Summoning circle. From this position of relative safety, the Summoner can negotiate with the creature - or get it to obey him by other means.

The Summoner can control the amount of restraint coming from the portal's aura, even after they have left the Summoning circle. A thick Djed chain still links the creature to the portal, functioning as a "leash" of sorts that keeps it from wandering too far from the portal. This leash, which the Summoner can control mentally, can also be pulled back to drag the creature back into the portal and to its native world. A heavy leash interferes with the creature's strength and abilities, though. The Summoner can strengthen the creature by weakening the leash, but this also reduces his ability to banish the creature should it rebel. Moreover, once a constraint has been lifted, the Summoner cannot change his mind and put it back. An unleashed creature is fully independent and has full access to its powers and magic, if any. Overly powerful creatures can break the leash by themselves if the circle is too weak; great care should be taken before trying to Summon such beings.

Circles

The Summoner is proficient at crafting circles that are later activated to serve as gateways. These circles range dramatically in size and complexity, and are often enriched with Glyphing runes; while Glyphing itself is not required to practice Summoning, it will often help in the construction of better circles as well as to define Summoning triggers and filters.

All circles are not born equal - the more complex it is, the more power it holds. Different circles can have properties like:

  • being able to channel more creatures
  • lasting longer once activated
  • giving tighter control over the creature's strength and power
  • opening gateways closer to local lifeforms (making it more likely for them to be crossed)
  • looking and feeling attractive to creatures
  • being able to filter what types of creatures can and can't pass

There is an endless variety of circles; the following are just a few major guidelines for the practitioner. New circles are created through risky trial and error, or (more safely) from someone else's writings and teachings.

Minimal circle

A minimal circle contains the bare minimum of information needed to open a gateway. It has an outermost circle for keeping the reaction inside its boundaries, and an inner circle connecting sixteen spaces. These slots contain numeric glyphs for the astral coordinates of the destination world. Without these coordinates, added to the circle in a counter-clockwise fashion, Summoning from a world is impossible. Some coordinates are well-known, others are highly prized secrets. Finally, there is a small circle in the middle and lines connecting the coordinates to this innermost circle. The minimal circle can Summon from any world, though it should only be used to Summon lesser beings as its constraints can be easily shattered by a greater one.

Focused circle

A circle putting emphasis on a specific point inside its area is one that tries to open a gateway to a particular area of the planet, maybe to draw in a peculiar breed of creature, maybe to avoid a certain breed of creature. This can be applied to any circle.

Elaborate circle

The more connections a circle has, and the more complex, the stronger it tends to be. However, placing links at random may even invalidate the whole circle, so the Summoner needs to be very careful. A good circle is a balanced one from a geometrical standpoint. One should pay attention to which numbers have the greatest importance within the circle. Being the square root of sixteen, four is considered the safest number, hence squares are the most common shape encountered in circles. It is a conservative choice, though - in order to give a circle more advanced properties, one needs to promote other numbers, as well.

3-Circle

A circle in which the number three is prominent opens wider gateways, allowing for longer connections and possibly more Summoned creatures (the triangle is a very stable shape).

5-Circle

A circle dominated by the number five is the best for the purpose of augmentation with Glyphing triggers. These gateways are inscribed with commands that specify simple conditions that must be met for something to be allowed to pass. Very skilled users can prevent or allow passage to creatures based on their names alone.

6-Circle

The number six is dissonant with sixteen, and as such should be used with care as these circles tend to deteriorate faster than most. However, they grant more control to the user in terms of constraints placed on the Summoned creature. If one really has to Summon something strong, a hexagonal circle would probably be best, with the caveat of making it quick.

8-Circle

Octagonal circles are highly harmonic and are the least uncomfortable to cross. They are generally used for human travel and reverse Summoning. At high levels, these circles are even attractive to most creatures, even enticing some High-worlders to enter spontaneously out of curiosity.

Activating and controlling the circle

Once drawn on the medium of choice, the circle is ready for activation. This requires but a drop of the Summoner's blood, usually taken from a finger with a needle. The Summoner touches the outermost circle with the injured finger and his Djed activates the circle through his blood. The inside turns into a swirling vortex reminding of a watery surface; Summoned beings look like they emerge from underwater as they rise from the circle, surrounded by a powerful colored aura. If for some reason the creature is not surrounded by this aura, it means something went wrong and the being is completely out of control. Activation of a circle is accompanied by phenomena such as lights, sounds and a peculiar oily smell.

Most creatures will not be able to leave the circle until the Summoner decides otherwise. The exceptions are creatures too powerful to be contained, or creatures Summoned with insufficient, poor or damaged circles. If the gateway closes while the creature is still inside the circle, it is sent back to its world; otherwise it stays on Mizahar permanently, and unleashed. For this reason, if the creature is to perform tasks in other places, the Summoner have a partner waiting by the circle and keeping watch over it. A Familiar is often the best candidate as it can communicate telepathically with the wizard and keep him informed. The average circle can be maintained for a couple hours at most, though specific circles can last longer than that.

The Summoner can see the aura "leash" connecting the creature to the portal because his blood was used in its activation. In addition, those who know Auristics can see the leash, as well. This is useful as it gives an indication of where the Summoning circle is.

In force of his link by blood, the Summoner can control the leash by pure strength of will, pulling on it as he deems fit. Pull is not painful for the creature, but it will interfere with its movement and magical powers. The creature can literally be dragged back into the circle against its will. Of course, it will usually rebel - and the Summoner must be careful, lest the leash break from the stress. The leash can also break from very strong magic cast by a third party, or if the circle is broken.

The big drawback to the leash is that, while the Summoner can loosen it, he cannot tighten it back. If he gives the creature more of its abilities and power, he cannot take them back. Many intelligent creatures will refuse to collaborate unless the Summoner gives them considerable leeway. The looser the leash, the weaker its pull. At some point, the creature might be able to break free with its powers alone - often turning on the Summoner himself. Not surprisingly, many Summoners are also proficient at personal magic to defend themselves against such threats.

Progression

All Summoners are assumed to know the astral coordinates of the common worlds. Coordinates for other worlds are Lore that must be acquired separately through quests or research. Gaining experience with the skill will make one better at Summoning, but will not increase one's selection of worlds.

Novice (1-25)
The novice Summoner knows enough to Summon a creature with a minimal circle or little more. He should only Summon minor creatures and for minor tasks if possible. His control over a Summoned being is very rough.
Competent (26-50)
The Summoner can experiment with more complex circles and tailor them to more specific needs. He will feel comfortable Summoning intelligent beings, and violent beings, though he should refrain from Summoning things that possess both qualities.
Expert (51-75)
An accomplished professional, the Summoner has fine-grained control over where and how he opens portals. He can comfortably Summon multiple creatures from the same portal, and even open more than one portal at the same time, though it is hard to concentrate on more than one leash at a time. At this level, the Summoner is often a skilled negotiator (or he wouldn't have lived this far).
Master (76-100)
A master Summoner can accomplish almost anything with a portal as long as he has learned the coordinates. He knows the gateways better than anyone else, and has usually developed friendships, rivalries and deadly feuds with half the known universe.


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
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology