In the outlying regions, particularly the Northern Provinces, the Ancient Makoo are spread thinner. Villages are built where Patron Saints provide protection, but this protection is weaker. Weather is cold and unpredictable. Fearsome beasts and even monsters prey on travelers. It is considered an act of extreme piety to bring these Saints new somna to help them in their constant labors, especially that blessed by Saints from elsewhere. This exchange of energy helps to keep these provincial Saints connected to the Empire's heart, and maintains the Unity of the Dream.
Sometimes in the provinces, and in the northern section of the Fouled Lands, rumors are heard of Lost Islands, regions where a single Makoo Ancient has become isolated from the rest. The land surrounding him or her becomes disconnected from the main part of the Empire, and wanders in space and time. Some Lost Islands date to before the Alliance, and the Makoo god of the Island may be suspicious of any variety of sentient animal.
In the Fouled Lands themselves, there are corrupted Makoo whose dream has been replaced by a nightmare of madness. This is echoed through the land. These Makoo are viewed as more victimized than evil, but that is little help to the unwary traveler who gets trapped in their surreal and hideously distorted realm.
Other supernatural inhabitants of the civilized portions of the Radiant Empire are creatures of mind, not spirit. Mythagoes are embodiments of archetypes. They can reason and speak, and act as if they had desires, but actually just fulfill roles laid out by the collective unconscious. There are some who worship Mythagoes; the worshippers' faith empowers the mythago, and in return, it grants its followers some of that power. Imagoes are similar, but are figments of one individual's imagination. Phantasms are echoes of thoughts and feelings that recur in a ghostly repetition. They can be frightening or touching, but have little lasting impact on the viewer.
In the provincial regions, minor godlings and elemental spirits have dealings with mortals. However, such dealings are suspect, since they undermine attempts of the Saints to fully bond to the area.
More threatening are the Chthon, the old evil gods of the Sipsa delta. Each of the three Chthon are associated with a symbol, that is sometimes found on petroglyphs in wilderness areas, or in the Fouled Lands. These symbols are thought to be arcana. However, the Chthon have been bound to the symbols so long that their original natures have been replaced with the meaning of the symbols. The Gibberer is the ancient enemy of the Palace, and is blamed for the Fouled Lands. His is the symbol of madness.
The Thing with a Thousand Limbs is a gigantic sea creature. She is hunger personified. She once blocked trade with the Spice Islands via the Sipsa for ten thousand years, until she was circumvented by Archon Liu's canal. She was finally driven out by the Great Alliance.
The Stone Face represents despair. It last attacked the Empire by erupting in the form of a new mountain to the Northeast of the Palace, with the side of the mountain being the Stone Face's symbol. Eventually, the symbol was eradicated by an army of golem. The new Mount Despair was pacified, but not cleansed, by this action.
The Oldest Animal is sometimes called a goddess, but is really the Arcanum of the cycle of life and death. She has little to do with sentients, but can be summoned using her horn. The summons causes the creatures of the forest to be cursed, so that killing them or eating their flesh causes the predator to transform into the prey. She returns the next full moon and lifts the curse.
The goddess Huma rules over the Sea bearing her name. She is on good terms with the Empire, currently, but demands tribute in somna and precious gems in return for safe-guarding vessels to the Spice Islands. She gives pirates the same treatment as trade vessels, as long as they pay their tribute.
The Horn of the Oldest Animal represents the cycle of life and death. Actually, it is the Oldest Animal itself that is the Arcanum, but the Horn allows the bearer to summon the Oldest Animal. This power is entrusted to the Warlord, but is only used in extreme emergencies.
The Phoenix Feather represents creation from destruction, and destruction from creation. It was lost in the fall of the Science Tower, but Heir to the Feather is a carefully maintained title of social significance. The Heir is a direct descendent of Liu Kahn Min’s. The Phoenix Feather is credited with the resilience of the Empire in the face of catastrophe. With the Feather lost, eventual recovery of the Empire’s glory seems much less certain.
The Seed Crystal spawned the extra-dimensional Crystal used in the construction of the Palace. It was lost in the Science Tower. It represents progress.
The Empire has possession of many less prominent Arcana. Some were lost in the fall of the Science Tower, but others were in the possession of the Warlord in the Tower of Vision. Many came from the outlying provinces when they were conquered or annexed. These are used as standards by the divisions of the Army, and give each division a distinctive culture and specialization. The harshest penalty for a division is to be deprived of its standard, and the biggest reward is to be presented with a new standard. Divisions usually refer to themselves by the division standard. The Bamboo Chair is an Arcana of prosperity. Having been confiscated from Bama in ancient times, it was given back to Lord Jeff of Bama as part of the treaty that returned Bama to the Empire, albeit with a large amount of autonomy. Since then Bama has flourished. Many of the Outward Faction believe that the gift of the Chair was treason, and that it should be re-confiscated, and the autonomy of Bama be revoked. This is violently opposed by almost all Gorillas in the City, who view the hereditary lords of Bama as heroes.
The Symbols of the Chthon are Arcana, of madness, hunger and despair. The Chthon get their power from these Arcana, and are so linked that using the Arcana usually summons the Chthon. It is believed that the original nature of the Chthon might have been less corrupt, but through countless ages of association with the Symbols, they have become totally identified with them. The original Symbols have not been located (by anyone living) but even carved or drawn copies of them draw enough of their power to be deadly.
Since space is not Euclidean, the chaos realms can be reached without linear travel. When Crystal is duplicated from the Seed Crystal, it stays fluid for a while, but then internal forces twist it through other dimensions, bringing it elsewhere, usually to the chaos realms. The fluid Crystal can be added to and molded, but once it hardens it is fixed until destroyed. Fluid Crystal can be molded to have a hollow center. When it settles, this can create a tunnel to the chaos realms, a spiral that coils back and forth between realms, or a sphere whose inside is in a different realm from its exterior. The Crystal Palace itself is (topologically speaking) such a sphere, with many handles interconnecting through other dimensions, and tunnels connecting to the chaos realms. Only at the entrance by the Docks is it actually anchored to the real world.
As potentia is raw being, somna is raw meaning. As objects decay into potentia in the chaos realms, somna is released, due to the breaking of the metaphorical bonds between the objects’ components. The Palace’s waste is directed towards small chaos realms called Chaos Vats, and the somna released is channeled through the Crystal walls back into the city. Somna is attracted to, binds to, and is responsive to imagination and belief; it seeks definition. Crystal conducts somna, and so somna can be stored in crystal circuits until mentally summoned for use. Permeating the city, it connects the minds of the inhabitants in a loose network of bonds.
Much lower levels of somna are available in civilized lands outside the city, mostly locked in the Dream of the Eldest Makoo. Most of the barbarian lands have almost no background somna. In these places, somna-based magic will not work, unless somna is transported in Crystal tools for use there. Even then, magic which relies on the network of somnatic bonds will not be possible. (However, there are rumors of magic places within the barbarian lands that might be exceedingly rich in somna, such as the Land of Baal in Neng.)
There are several occupations that either commonly involve magic, or are exclusively practiced by those with magical skill. However, inhabitants with these occupations would almost never refer to themselves as "magicians". Analogously, in the 20th century U.S., a mechanical engineer is assumed to have trained in mathematics, but would rarely call herself a "mathematician". Occupational uses of magic depend on the style.
Education is left to the species according to Crystal Palace law, with the one exception being "on the job training". For this reason, advanced magical education is either a private matter, working with a specific tutor or master, or associated with employment in one of the guilds or ministries. Unicorns are the exception, since they make magical training a priority in primary education. (Most other races think of child magicians as dangerous and try to avoid giving their young ones more magical skill than they can be trusted with.) Many magicians are self-taught, since the bulk of magic is practice, repetition, self-confindence and imagination. The traditional ways of learning depend on the style.
An animator's style depends on what materials they have studied, what motions they tend to project, and the extent and manner of anthropomorphization. Some animators specialize deeply in a few materials, like rope or cloth, and have astonishing control, to the point where these objects seem more like creatures or extensions of the animator's body than inanimate things. Others delight in creating anthropomorphized tools and servants, that serve their whims. Animators can bring mechanical devices to seeming life, and so operate them from a distance. Golems can be manufactured to serve special needs; the animator designs the golem's body to fit her imaginings, rather than imagining how a pre- existing object moves. A particularly nasty specialization of Animation is re-animation, bringing the bodies of the dead back to seeming life. Although the spirit of the dead person is untouched by this process, it is disrespectful of her memory. Thus, re-animation is forbidden by the religious law, and is grounds for permament banishment.
As mentioned above, re-animation (animation of the dead) of intelligent creatures is strictly forbidden, and grounds for permament exile. It is also frowned upon for dead animals. Animation of large, potentially destructive objects is controlled by the guilds. One must belong to the appropriate guild to animate heavy golems, or to animate fire. Fire animation is only legal inside specially created fire pits used in manufacturaing.
Topological crystallography concerns the ways crystal can twist in higher dimensional space. Before the loss of the Seed Crystal, it was used to calculate ways of molding fluid Crystal to achieve desired effects. Now, its primary purpose is to allow Archaeomancers to predict the nature and destination of existing Crystal tunnels within the city. For example, some tunnels twist to be totally within the chaos pools, where the surrounding potentia exerts a force that largely neutralizes gravity. Others, like the Lifts, turn at an angle so that “up” and “down” are reversed. It is also needed to modify or transport Chaos pumps, unanchored tunnels into the chaos realms which suck in matter at a fixed rate. Chaos pumps can be huge fixtures in the Palace works or hand-held devices. Even for the portable sizes, moving them requires difficult calculations, since most of the pump is in other dimensions. The main tool of the practical topological crystallographer is the resonameter, a device set to record responses of crystal to various frequencies of noise.
Somnatics is the study of how crystal conducts somna. It is essential to understanding and manipulating somna storage crystals. These are not only the power source for most Crystal technology, but the monetary unit of the Empire. Somnatics controls the timing and patterns of energy release.
Photismics is the study of artificial energy organisms that live in somna-enriched crystal. They act as controls for crystal technology. During the Age of Rationality, the photisms were evolved into almost sentience, and they were bonded together in a network. To this network was entrusted most of the records and data of the Empire. This network of sophisticated photisms was corrupted, either as a cause or a result of the fall of the Science Tower. Only a few of the near-sentient photisms escaped corruption, mostly in the Tower of Vision, in protected areas. Now, somna devices from the Age of Rationality are mostly dangerous to use, because they are controlled by these corrupted photisms. Simple crystal devices from the Age of Rationality are safe, and one of the prime uses of photismics these days is to identify which tools do not involve photisms. Also, pre-Rationality devices controlled by primitive photisms are safe, because they were never bonded to the network. For these, a working knowledge of photismics can help coax desired complex behaviour from the tools. Photisms are responsive to thought, but primitive photisms need every concept to be broken down into sequences of simple instructions, which can be frustrating to the novice. (And moreso to the expert!)
Memnosomatics is the engineering discipline which records thoughts, sounds, and pictures in somna patterns. These can be used to direct the somna to produce the effect thought of, or to record information.
Spectacles are loud, brilliant displays of light or loud sounds. They are not believable images of anything, and so are projected by the conjurer, and fade when not actively concentrated on. They can be used to blind, deafen or distract, as well as to entertain.
Shades are realistic illusions supported by the conjurer and the viewer’s beliefs. They rely on the conjurer to maintain them, and fade if not concentrated on.
Phantasms are realistic illusions, created by the conjurer but maintained by the belief of the viewers. They can follow preset programs, or respond to the expectations of the viewers. They cannot perform any action that is surprising or requires intelligence. If not observed, they fade.
Conjurers can create imagoes, illusory beings maintained by the conjurer’s sub-conscious. Imagoes can perform independent actions and exist even when no one is consciously aware of them. To create an imago is like creating a protagonist for a good novel; all details of the personality and form need to be imagined, until the conjurer really believes in the imago’s reality (at some level). Once created, they cannot be erased from existence, although they tend to appear when the conjurer concentrates on them, and disappear if ignored.
Mythagoes are illusionary creatures of the collective unconscious. Conjurers cannot create or destroy mythagoes, but can learn to summon individual mythagoes through concentration.
Glamours are illusions that change the appearance of objects that exist, rather than creating new illusory objects.
Auras do not change the appearance of objects, but change how the viewer feels about them.
Finally, by molding latent potentia as well as somna, Conjurers can create seeming physical
objects. However, these objects eventually fade back into the potentia they came from. The Conjurer
must have a clear image of the form and nature of the object in mind.
Somna from different chaos realms differ in nature. The “flavor” of the somna field thus fluctuates as different amounts of substance are converted in the different chaos vats of the city. This interacts with the mood of the inhabitants, the Zeitgeist of the city. In the somna-rich city, what is believed occurs. Thus, by sensing the mood of the city, and the flavor of the somna, Diviners can predict the future. Their predictions are by no means infallible, being just the best indications of likely events. They usually take the form of determining whether the time is propitious or unfavorable for various actions or individuals.
Diviners gain access to the somna field in various ways. Most diviners are trained in astral projection, moving their consciousness to places outside their body. The astral forms of diviners can only be sensed by other Diviners and Sensitives. Since it is an imaginary focus of the Diviner’s awareness, the astral form does not necessarily have the Diviner’s appearance. To ensure privacy, many citizens set up barriers to wandering diviners, such as pain or confusion fields. Diviners can also draw on the field to give themselves sharper or different senses. Less direct methods of gaining information from the field are: Interpretation, using pseudo-random processes (cards, dice, I Ching, etc.) reveal truths; Visions, trances in which the diviner’s spirit quests for information, power, and status; Seances, which bring together those that knew the deceased to reconstruct their knowledge and personality; Object Reading, tapping into the traces of thought associated with an object; Daemons, sub-conscious processes that alert the Diviner to events or ferret out information; and Dowsing, finding a probable direction of an object, person or substance.
Besides gathering information, Diviners can utilize the somna field in other ways. They can contact mythago, creatures of the collective unconscious. Some mythagos, called Loa, take on the Diviner’s form, trading their knowledge and skill for the chance to inhabit a living body for a while. Instead of passively monitoring the somna field, they can actively try to change the state of the field, tipping luck in their favor. They can also use their familiarity with somna to detect and analyze other’s magic, and to create mis-direction or barriers for other diviners, or for other types of magic, especially those that depend on belief, like Animation or Conjuration.
Typical uses of prophesy are curses and blessings, granting good or bad luck, prophesying an individual's ultimate fate for good or evil. Curses can include illness, financial disaster, disgrace, or more spectacular effects, like physical transformation. They are more effective when pronounced for a specific offense, especially one the public finds reprehensible. Blessings can include the lifting of curses, the curing of disease, good fortune, or spectacular prowess. Curses and blessings can be on individuals, communities, places or even objects.
Prophets also can use their influence on magic drawing on the
collective unconscious. They can exorcise phantoms, imago and mythago,
creatures supported by belief. They can cause doubt in
Conjurers and Animators, and cause the somna field to reject the
solicitations of Diviners.
Sensitives can sense other’s emotions and thoughts. They can locate and communicate with others over a distance (within the City). They can borrow the senses of other people and animals. They can cause emotion in others, albeit with their best interests at heart. Drawing on Serenity’s Flower, they can relieve suffering, diagnose injuries, and strengthen the connection between body, mind and soul. They can heal both physical injury and mental disorders. They can give others will and endurance. They can borrow others skills, although this works better for mental rather than physical skills. Finally, they can join in the Dream of the Eldest Makoo for short periods of time, and there meet with the souls of dead friends and relatives, and they can share this experience with others. This is the most important part of Sensitivity, especially for Priests. However, it tends to be more satisfying than edifying, as the dead and all else in the Dream communicate at the pace of the Eldest Makoo. Those who can stand being in a trance for weeks, and have the patience to communicate with the Eldest, can sometimes convince them to use their power in specific ways. However, these conditions pretty much restrict this ability to Makoo approaching dormancy, and so high up in the Church Hierarchy. Mental defenses and privacy shields are also an important part of Sensitivity training. The Sensitive who does not learn defenses is in danger of losing her individuality.
As mentioned above, evidence provided through Sensitivity is not directly admissable in court.
Using advanced Sensitivity without the bonding ritual is known as Coercion and is grounds for immediate banishment. Coercion is a sin much more serious than murder, and investigating any rumors of coercion that begin to float around will become the top priority of the Church. That does not stop there from being legends of secret societies of Coercers, that use their mental powers to avoid detection.
Transmogrifiers can change their own form, but gaining or losing large amounts of weight is difficult. Changing form involves visualizing yourself in the new form, and ``method acting'' the new form. Each form requires practice, both in visualizing and believing the form and in getting used to new ways of movement and perception. To train for a new form, Transmogrifiers frequently work with Sensitives to get a mental image to work from. This allows them to take on mental properties of the form, not just physical. For example, a Transmogrifying Unicorn might transform into a Varagh to memorize something.
A Transmogrifier can change form only partially, for example, by growing wings or claws.
As well as taking on new forms, Transmogrifiers can visualize themselves as having properties. Transmogrifiers have been know to gain invulnerability to attack, by visualizing themselves covered in a deflecting shield. Some Transmogrifiers can levitate without growing wings. Many can heal themselves.
Transmogrifiers usually learn through training with a master Transmogrifier or a master Transmogrifier/Sensitive. They spend the bulk of their apprenticeship in concentration, visualization, and empathy exercises. They are expected to be subservient and respectful to the master, but not expected to live with the master or take part in everyday chores. Most Transmogrifiers-in-training do so on a part-time basis, and have a day job that pays for their training. Many consider it a form of personal development, rather than a utilitarian skill, that they excersise for fulfillment as a hobby; much like a martial art.
Besides use in combat, which is of course illegal and disreputable, Transmogrification is thought of as a method of personal growth. Most professional Transmogrifiers are teachers of Transmogrification. While it would be useful for a lot of other jobs, somehow that would cheapen the art. (You don't see too many karate experts working construction jobs, chopping bricks in half.)
Witches can create tools that are bonded to their owner, and so are responsive to the owner’s wishes. For example, a throwing knife that always returns to the owner upon mental summons. By creating bonds to people or creatures, they can create an empathic link and stay in mental communication over a distance. This is often done with a pet, i.e., a familiar. They can form a bond with a place, so that they have a sense of what is occuring in that place. (Often, the witch’s headquarters or home turf.)