NOTES ON ENCHANTMENTS
By Adriana Elver, Order of Utu
The Order of Utu is perhaps one of the least understood, and enchanting in particular, is generally considered a difficult path to follow. While this is certainly true, there is still so much considered mysterious about enchanters and enchantments generally, that I have endeavoured to pen a simple guide by which curious magi might find some level of illumination.
Perhaps the question I am most asked by the unintentionally ignorant is why specific enchantments aren’t available in a preferred material. This is generally followed by the often unfulfilled request for a personal item to be enchanted in a specific way. I doubt I am the only enchanter who has been met with irritation when I explain that enchanting is a far more delicate art than simply imbuing any item with any enchantment.
As such, this simple guide should offer some use to magi seeking enchanting services. Enchantments by themselves are of little value if they do not reflect the unique path each magi endeavours to take – to understand this, is a first step. Only then can decisions be made on the enchantments sought and the materials required, and neither of these decisions should be made without the guidance of an experienced enchanter.
Order of Utu
The Order of Utu followed the trivium that became known as Enchanting, Alchemy and Inscribing. At its heart however, the source of its truth was form and its target was energy.
(From Theory of Magic by Professor Fauldrin Masaufer, Order of Naru)
Belonging to the Fee theory of magic and is one of three dimensions to energy. Alim relates to a magi’s internal capacity for magic. The greater the alim, the deeper the magic pool for executing incantations.
I am surprised of late with the number of young magi who insist on obtaining a small stick of wood to assist with their magical capabilities.
It appears as though wands are going through somewhat of a resurgence. Of course wands have the advantage of being portable, concealable and are quite simple to wield. In the past, they were generally used by novice magi who were being taught to concentrate on the direction of energy. The tip of the wand of course provided a simple means to fulfil this requirement, as they were simply aligned with the target. Yet, the capacity for energy within a wand is quite low and it will therefore only enhance the alim slightly.
By extending the length of the wand, we now come to the staff. Again, this item has its adherents, and was quite popular among traveling magi many centuries ago. The appeal again is somewhat evident, as most travellers without armed escort would resort to staves as both a means of rudimentary defence, and as mild crutch for steep inclines. As such, the staff would never look out of place for wandering magi. The length and girth of a staff also has obvious advantages over any wand, and depending on the wood used will easily surpass the alim of the strongest wand by tenfold or more.
Other wooden items include shields, weapon handles, amulets, furniture and even elements of a building itself. However the diversity of this material does not always translate to a practical use for its enchantment. While wood excels in its capacity for alim, its drawback is that it cannot hold an incantation well at all. This means that it is quite impossible to create a wooden door that has been amplified in strength due to an enchantment – something I have been requested more times than I care to remember.
Now, the advantage of using wood for energy enhancement is quite obvious. Wood comes from a form that has previously contained energy. It is therefore far more amenable to holding it. It is, however the enchanter’s understanding of the wood that will inevitably determine the item’s ultimate alim. Some of the determinations will include: the type of wood; the age of the wood; the place of the cutting; the means by which the wood was won; and the place in which the plant took root. Knowing these things is the first of three steps for an enchanter imbuing alim. The second is knowing which Order’s energy to utilise. Despite the fact that most wood will accept any Order’s unique energy, the wrong Order will severely impair the alim and so should be avoided. The third step is correctly modifying the right incantations – for every item is unique, and thus so too must be the ritual.
Clothing is another item that is often used for energy enhancement. Now cloth can come from plants, fleece or hide – and in some circumstances, will be a combination thereof. Cloth is notoriously difficult for holding alim, and is therefore used for different purposes entirely.
Where cloth excels is in its ability to passively channel energy and hold an incantation. This is very similar to bone, although the difference lies in the way the energy is utilised. Cloth has excellent alir, whereas bone excels in alar. Simply put, cloth is utilised for lower level incantations that require longevity. This might be providing its wearer with an invisible barrier of greater defence, or allowing the wearer to maintain a consistently higher physical attribute. Bone on the other hand can be enchanted with powerful incantations but as it does not contain intrinsic alim, it will require considerable time for an incantation to execute.
Cloth items can include anything from undergarments to superfluous trimmings such as capes and sashes. The most commonly enchanted clothing however, are pants, shirts and coats. Again, each item has its use and the most effective incantation will be determined by a number of variables. These include: the type of cloth; the method of tailoring; the constitution of the thread; a garment’s length in the limbs and torso; and their respective ratio to each other. Even dyes will have an impact on the type of enchantment applied. All this is to simply say that it is far better to allow an enchanter to engage the services of a tailor for custom clothing enchantments, than it is to simply bring an enchanter your favourite shirt.
The benefit of cloth of course, resides in the fact that that we all wear clothes anyway. While the incantations that cloth holds will only be low level, the effect will be persistent. That is to say, that its alir will be high enough to maintain an incantation without requiring alim. A second benefit is that cloth does not affect the internal flow of a magi’s alim, and can thus be used without penalty (see my notes on the Endra Paradox below). Finally, as an extension of this benefit, incantations from different Orders can be accessed through enchanted cloth.
Belonging to the Fee theory of magic and is one of the three dimensions to energy. Alir relates to a magi’s ability to restore alim. Also known as ‘flow’ or ‘channelling’, a high level of alir allows a magi to restore their internal capacity for magic rapidly.
Belonging to the Fee theory of magic and is one of the three dimensions to energy. Alar relates to a magi’s power. The greater the alar, the more alim can be expended for any incantation. This in turn increases its effectiveness, power or magnitude.
Blood and Bone
The Three Branches of Magic
Within the Fee theory of magic, there are three branches of magic. These are the Branch of Form; the Branch of Energy; and the Branch of Essence.
Often these two items are considered to be the necromancer’s augmentations of choice and are thus grouped together. However this is really only half true. While necromancers will often use both items, they actually behave quite differently to each other. Blood is a very dangerous item to enchant and even experienced enchanters will often refuse this request. Bone however has similar properties to wood and is generally quite stable. I would therefore suggest that the inclusion of bone in a necromancer’s armoury of enhancements relates more to the ready access they have to this material rather than any unique enrichment it offers to their Order.
Nevertheless, let me first explain the dangers of blood. If you will recall, a vessel that has previously contained energy – like wood – is more amenable to holding alim. Blood however is quite different – it is in fact the energy. Blood is in many ways the power behind all form magic, and can react quite violently if any attempt is made to enchant it. Now there are many theories behind why this occurs, but let me be clear – many enchanters have been seriously injured and some have even died attempting such enchantments. While this necromantic material is not always resistant to enchanting, it is a brave enchanter indeed who will offer such a service, and those who do, will no doubt charge a King’s ransom for the attempt.
So why then is blood a mainstay of necromantic augmentation? Once enchanted, blood is perhaps one of the most powerful materials we know of. It’s capacity for both alir and alar is unrivalled. It is well known across all Orders that Necromancers occupy a Branch known for powerful, but ephemeral incantations. Without blood, a Necromancer may struggle to animate a small animal for an hour or two. Yet, with a blood augmentation, the same Necromancer may be able to animate a number of fallen magi for days.
Bone on the other hand is an excellent – though somewhat morbid – material for holding powerful incantations. Unfortunately it lacks significantly in alir and thus shares some similarity to alloy. The difference here though, is that alloy can execute a powerful incantation immediately, but will require a lengthy period of time to return to its maximum alim. Bone on the other hand requires a lengthy period of time to complete the execution of an incantation, but can be utilised at any time – even when it is already executing one – although each subsequent incantation will greatly lengthen the completion of each.
Like all other materials, an enchanter’s understanding of blood and bone will have an impact on its enchantment. Some common considerations are: the age of the material; and the creature from which the material came.
Earth and Water
Raw earth and water are almost impossible to enchant. This mainly has to do with the fact that they are not really one type of material, but many types in a singular structure. Only when earth and water are refined can an enchantment take place. For earth, we call this material ‘alloy’; for water, we simply call it ‘pure water’. Both materials can be refined by an alchemist. Now here is the curious thing, for which I cannot delve into within such a simple guide – despite the fact that earth must be refined in order to hold an enchantment, the purest metals do not behave like any other material. In fact many metals in their pure form do not enchant well at all. It is for this reason that an enchanter who works with alloys will generally dedicate their life to this form of enchantment.
What makes alloys unique as a material is that their capacity to hold alim, alir, alar and enchantments, are entirely dependent on the type of alloy as well as their forged design and purpose. This makes them quite diverse and alloys have earned a reputation of being the highest form of enchanting material for this very fact. In the hands of a master, alloy can be enchanted for almost any purpose, although it must be remembered that an alloy’s rigidity and weight will impact its practicality for everyday use. These days, jewellery is often the preferred forge of alloy, although in time long past, swords, armour and other such battlefield items were also enchanted.
Precious stones are also powerful and unique materials of the earth. Their strength lies in their capacity for holding incantations. In fact, this capacity is so great, that most enchanters prefer to use them as receptacles for entire rituals rather than single incantations. Rituals best suited for precious stones will be dependent on many considerations including: the type of stone; its colour; its cut; its clarity; its carat; and the location from which it came. The drawback for gemstones is that they have no intrinsic alim, alir or alar. This means that they remain unusable unless amalgamated with another material that contains the prerequisite energy to execute the incantation. This is no small feat – particularly when a precious stone has been imbued with a complex ritual. This invariably means that the most common amalgamations containing precious stones are again, small items of jewellery. In these items, the precious stones will generally only contain a single incantation, and an alloy will be used to provide the required energy.
Finally we come to pure water. This material is can hold small amounts of alim and alar, but little else. However, imbued with the correct parts of these energies, pure water becomes an integral part of many recipes within an alchemist’s inventory.
The unique process by which two or more incantations are combined in order to produce a magical outcome that no single incantation is able to produce. Rituals may be conducted by one magi combining different incantations, or it may be conducted by more than one magi and even magi from different Orders. Ritualists specialise in the methods of combining incantations.
Magi can expect such a ritual to take at least three hours for the most simple body inscription and with the prerequisite preparations. More complex inscriptions have been known to take about three days and often require weeks of preparation for both the Scribe and Enchanter. Rarely will a body inscription take longer – simply because participants in the ritual will find it immensely difficult to concentrate for longer periods of time.
Throughout Athema’s history, body inscriptions have fallen in and out of popularity like the rise and fall of ocean swell. Such augmentations are not only expensive, but often the benefits they provide are tempered by their penalties.
Body inscriptions are essentially passive enchantments that are connected to a broad application of incantations. They will generally take the form of some kind of protection to the magi. The benefit of having this kind of protection is similar to cloth enchantments, whereby an invisible barrier of greater defence will aid the magi when they are the target of an offensive incantations. The difference however is that this barrier will only execute at the time of the incantation.
So what then is the difference? Well, cloth items hold only low level incantations but have a persistent effect. As they have high alir, their ability to provide the same level of defence never diminishes, nor does it affect a magi’s alim. Body inscriptions on the other hand, passively hold high level incantations but reserve a portion of a magi’s alim. This is the substantial drawback to a body inscription. Unless a magi believes they are going to be the target of frequent and powerful ambushes, it may be better to retain their alim for a wider scope of incantations.
Of course this is only one of the many uses for a body inscription, and I do not want to dissuade magi from investigating this form of augmentation further. However it should be noted that some Orders are better suited to this form of enchantment than others.
Amalgamations, Compounds, Ritual Items and Interactions
Items that consist of more than a single material are incredibly difficult to enchant and will often take a Master Enchanter months to complete for even the most simple of items. For this reason alone, amalgamations are incredibly rare and are often the subject of tales whispered excitedly around campfires.
In times past, it was once a requirement for all Master Enchanters to produce an amalgamation before they would be admitted into the circle of Grandmaster. These days, experienced enchanters will often see it as a life ambition to produce an amalgamation, although this is not always the case.
The appeal of an amalgamation is quite clear. An item of clothing for instance may be laced with an alloy. The clothing will hold an incantation and the alloy may be used to increase its alar. Or a staff may be surreptitiously enhanced with a core of a different species, thus modifying its effects.
These days, true amalgamations are uncommon as compounded items have tended to become more popular due to the greater ease in which they can be produced. Compounded items are those which have been broken into their singular materials and enchanted separately before being recombined to form something of greater power. The benefit of a compound is that it can provide multiple enhancements in a single item. However, each enchantment must be activated separately and may interact with each other unfavourably. Amalgamations on the other hand, are activated all at once and work together to enhance the overall effect.
Ritual Items on the other hand generally consist of a single material, but more than one incantation. While many materials can be used to create a ritual item, precious stones are by far the most receptive – despite the fact that they must also be amalgamated. Either way, this is an extremely difficult enchantment. Such items remain some of the most legendary artefacts in all of Athema, and perhaps make up some of the most common stories in any given tavern.
As I have already mentioned, enchantment interactions are something else that must be considered by any magi utilising augmentations. This isn’t simply an issue for compounds, but extends to every enchanted item a magi wears. Generally any unfavourable interactions will be imperceptible. However on rare occasion, one form of enchanted item may lead to unpleasant or unpredictable results. Of course on even rarer occasions, the interaction may be favourable. In most cases, even a seasoned enchanter would find it difficult to predict these interactions unless they had intimate knowledge of each enchanted material.
Choosing the right Enhancements
What is not often explained to novice magi, is that with each augmentation, their minds are imperceptibly relearning how to call upon their energy – for a change in a magi’s energy will change their ability to use it, as will the placement of the augmentation. Let me explain: If a novice were to insist on training with a wand in their right hand, their alim, alar and incantation subtleties would be greatly affected if they suddenly found themselves unarmed or forced to use the wand in their left hand. This is what is known as the Endra Paradox. Simply put, the utilisation of energy enchantment will always provide greater energy over someone without it, yet it will increase that person’s vulnerability to the same proportion. So, if someone is relieved of their augmentation, their ability to use their raw energy will be substantially less than someone else, despite it otherwise being equal.
So what is the most useful action? To wield a powerful energy enhancement, and accept the higher vulnerability? Perhaps to only use low level enhancements that allow you to achieve slightly greater power, but won’t leave you useless if you are relieved of the item? Or, should you avoid energy enhancements altogether? This will leave you, generally speaking, far less powerful than those with enhancements, but you will be confident in knowing that nothing will affect your energy.
There is of course, another way if one has the inclination. One may divide their training between the use of an energy enhancement and without. However, this division of time leads to less training in both. So one would be less powerful with the same enhancement and less powerful with no enhancement at all. However, on this same note, I am aware that there has been a recent practice for magi to utilise alim enhancing items for the sole purpose of training themselves for one or two powerful incantations, while using their raw energy for everything else.
At Utu’s fall, there is only one answer – whatever works best for the path you walk. Interestingly, of late, it appears most magi are content (or perhaps forced) to walk the same path. It is rare indeed for magi to shun all augmentations and rely only upon their raw energy. Indeed, most magi would probably agree that the quest for greater power affects us all. Young magi covet the expensive augmentations of the masters, and even within the highest circles, rare enhancements offer a status that often goes beyond one’s station.
I cannot of course go into the finer details of enchanting. Nor would it be useful to write about enchantments that do not directly affect a magi – such as fire, air or seed for instance. These special types of enchantments serve different purposes entirely. Enchanting is a lifetime of learning for any enchanter, and I have tried my utmost to simplify an otherwise complex subject. I am in no doubt that other enchanters will find my explanations oversimplified and perhaps even patronising. I understand, and all I can say in my defence is that this has not been written as an introduction to enchanting, but as a guide for the otherwise perplexed.
As I alluded to in the beginning, enchantments are useful only in so far as they enhance a magi’s ability to walk a path they have already chosen. Strong enchantments will perhaps remain a magi’s greatest investment, both in terms of gold spent and benefits derived. By taking your time in understanding enchanter’s materials and the constraints under which enchantments are created, you will hopefully make the right decisions when it comes to selecting your next enchanted item. At the very least, you will avoid looking ignorant when you ask an enchanter to enchant your favourite shirt with ultimate power.