Saturday, August 24, 2013

Exerpt: Branches of Arcana

Eli Sharona of the Grey Angels. Character property of the
The following is an exerpt from a companion work to my master saga - as such, that saga may occasionally be spoiled. The original objective was to collate concise notes on the "physics" of my world, particularly in cases where characters of radically different archetypes interact - my work has a tendency to range from hard sci fi all the way through to High Fantasy. The work, entitled Saffron Primer: Introduction to Arcane Theory, began its life as a list of all my notes about how "magic" works in my world. It wound up morphing into this current form, as a light textbook produced by the Saffron Academy, one of the world authorities on the matter; essentially a collection of vaguely-related, entirely fictitious essays. Accompanying it is a commissioned piece of one of my characters - the most famous necromancer of our age. The work was produced by Carter Doody, whose website appears to be down at the moment.

And now, without further adieu, selected trimmings from the chapter Branches of the Arcane Sciences.

Now that we have a familiarity with the fundamentals of the Arcane Sciences and the distinction between them and Divine Mysticism, it is important to recognize that, much like in mundane science, Arcanistry is far too complex a subject for any one arcanist to master it in its entirety. Even being divided into fields, in much the same way as the sciences, no mortal could ever master such a field, and the various subfields which many do master are too numerous to list in print - any attempt to do so would be met by a small chorus of arcanists, all irritated, and possibly insulted, that their highly specialized field (say, Ferrocuprous Transmutation) was not included in the text. As such, we will attempt only a passing overview of the various master branches - the biology, physics, and chemistry of the Arcane Sciences, as it were.

Fundamenal Arcanistry (formerly Epistecanistry)

Still referred to by many as "Numismatics" or "Metametrics", Fundamental Arcanistry to to the Arcane Sciences as math is to the mundane sciences - indeed, there's much crossover in each in terms of their derivation from formal logic, and very few master one without the other. A basic grounding in Fundamental Arcanistry is provided to every student of the Saffron Academy, and includes such topics as you will cover in this book, as well as fundamental ideas like Essentia Measurement and the various Cadabaric Alphabets. Most mages, therefore, have a passing understanding of Fundamental Arcanistry, while few are specialized in the field. The key journal of Fundamental Arcanistry happens to be the Proceedings of the Saffron Academy at Azuldorf, which is, of course, the main campus of the Saffron Academy. While this may seem like a limited field, those who are advanced in its application are counted among some of the most powerful non-Divine spellcasters in the world.

One noteworthy application of this field that every Arcanist should familiarize themselves with is Essentia Visum, a technique for seeing magic (and, with expert practice, magical sources) without external aids. While some never master this ability, it does come highly recommended.


Conarcanistics is another field studied by most arcanists, though arguably more frequently by those outside the Saffron Academy than those inside - being too involved in this field is alternately seen as having something to hide, or being a heroic guardian, depending on the general inclination of the observer toward the mage in question. The field, of course, is involved with preventing things - mundane or arcane - from affecting the caster, or otherwise. As a general concession to tradition, other effects directly related to security without necessarily being direct counters to threats is also considered part of Conarcanistics - of particular note in the present age are the various equivalencies to mundane cryptography. To a limited extent, there is some crossover with other fields, as higher-level branches of Conarcanistics concerns the creation and control of private planes. The journal of note is, naturally, Tutamen, which is put forth by the Tallische Order of the Bear.

A very noteworthy application is the whole suite of warding magic, used to prevent access/egress to or from rooms, buildings, containers, and so forth, without the express consent of the arcanist responsible for the ward. Of course, another noteworthy application is the breaking of such wards.

Metatransmutive Catesis

Sometimes shorthanded to conjuration - and naturally the butt of many jokes associated with that work - Metatransmutive Catesis seems to be the art of creating something from nothing. Naturally, that would violate the mundane laws of physics, and a better definition would be the conversion between matter and energy - this "theoretical" metatransmutive catesis. Applied fields involve travel between planes, the summoning of objects from one location to another, and, to a minor extent, exercising some control over Extra-material Planes. The field is large enough that several journals exist, but SA Azuldorf produces a collation of significant studies, Corpus Mutatio. This journal is popular among generalists, as it provides a way for those who are not specialized in catesis to keep up with the latest developments in the field.

One famous, albeit subtle, version of this class of magic is the familiar concept of a "hammerspace", or impossible appearances from one location to another, known as the teleport. Famously, Malvolio Coultier, Headmaster of SA Azuldorf, uses the former application extensively, to produce the object of present necessity from a sleeve or a waved coat.

Permutative Analysis

Known in older hand (and in some of the less rigorous communities) as divination, permutative analysis works mostly in temporal and spatial spheres, seeking to parse together the happenings of present, past, and future. It is seen by many as one of the less-reliable branches of arcanistry - proponents, naturally, assert that it is simply one of the less-developed fields. Unfortunately, skill in this area is largely intuitive - permutative analysis can only be taught, at the higher levels, to those who are naturally skilled in its application. No amount of book learning or hard work seems to suffice for this inborn talent.

Study is necessarily informal, and techniques vary wildly from practitioner to practitioner. Nevertheless, SA Binnensee produces Cognitio Visum, a collection of studies on the subject that meet the proper quality standards. Most arcanists, however, pick up Permutative Analysis as a passing hobby rather than an actual field.

It should be noted that an understanding of Permutative Analysis is helpful in uncovering Conarcanistic Cryptography for what it really is - using it in this way is referred to as Permutative Cryptnalysis and was famously used by Juarez et al. in their reconstruction of the Moses Reports, which proved instrumental in preventing the Second Slipher Coup before it began.

Another famous application is Visio Arcanum, which produces a remote-viewing experience. Use of this technique is illegal in most jurisdictions due to privacy concerns. Naturally, proficiency is widely valued by intelligence agencies.


Metapsychology is a field both feared and admired, in much the same way that Conarcanistics is. Used for good, it can be a powerful force for preventing conflict before it begins, controlling unruly populations (such as those responsible for violent offences), and attempting to unravel psychological conditions that are beyond mundane treatment. Used for evil, it can inflict those same conditions, and provide a leg up in any field. Naturally, metapsychologists are themselves subject to surveillance. The powers of metapsychology are perhaps more responsible for mundane distrust of the Arcane Sciences than those of any other field. Various specialist journals exist, but the journal of record is Igimperto, which is produced by the Derrida Institute.

One infamous case involved the technique Vinculum Imperto, sometimes called Long Sleep, which embedded a somatic or verbal trigger in the mind of the subject, the delivery of which could bring on coma. Despite frequent reappearance in banned technique lists, the Vinculum Imperto continues to be studied and learned among both the heros and villains of our age. The techniques for detecting such cues are basic learning at the Academy, among the very first lessons undertaken by students at any of our campus.


Simultaneously the meat and the flash in the pan, Energistics covers the wide range of techniques from the conjuration of light-shows to the embodiment of fundamental forces. Most who study it wind up specializing in one or more fields, usually relating to an energy of interest. Many of the most "showy" techniques fall into this category and many young arcanists delve into the field for that reason alone, though veterans can tell you that the best in the field learn to curb their enthusiasm for flash before they lose eyebrows - or worse. At the highest level, a skilled evoker can hold the sun in the palm of his hand (figuratively!), call down meteor strikes, or walk calmly through a blast furnace. Journals in the field are hotly demanded, and accordingly some of the most affordable. The most widely circulated is put out by Academy Akasha, entitled Praecantio.

A staple technique of the Evoker (persistent Old Hand term for Energistics) is, naturally, the fireball, properly termed Ignis Fractus.

Abreality Studies

The study of Abreality contents itself with creating and unravelling ab-real situations - what can be termed 'illusory' in loose terms. Old Hand for the practitioners of the techniques laid out in this way was, naturally, illusionists. This term is no longer preferred as it has been adopted by practitioners of stage magic, who may or may not be proper arcanists in their own right. Naturally, in this day and age, there is a growing movement to "reclaim" the term, typically by abrealists who make their livings on the stage.

Of course, professional abrealists not engaged in swindling people (as was the case with noted thief Kate Sidhe) or in theater usually find themselves working close to the borders of other fields, creating security through obscurity. Almost any abrealist can make one text (or even digital data) appear to be another, completely different one. Mirrors that are really doors are also possible. Most of these professionals consult Lexio Obscuras from SA Azuldorf to stay current.

Naturally, other applications exist, including some forms of planar travel and secure communication, ruining Permutative Analysis studies, and the ever-iconic power of invisibility. Powerful Abrealists are even physically dangerous, causing phantasmic killers (famously, the Wyrd, or Malum alienis).

A basic Abrealist technique learned by most Saffron students, for good or ill, is of course Vacuus Venonum, the technique for making an object seem more dangerous than it really is. Sometimes, it is simply enough to make your private lab notebook seem prone to spontaneous combustion if tampered with, rather than actually going through the work of placing an arcane trap upon it.


Though a forbidden subject of direct study under international agreement and most nation's laws, Necromancy none the less needs to be mentioned. Many of its "borderline", fundamental techniques remain legal, and are indeed practical, useful, and in some cases essential for other specialties to understand, even to use. Indeed, the early necromancers provided key insights for Metaphysiology (a field of Fundamental Arcanistry concerning the makeup sentient and non-sentient beings). Still, fewer beings are as feared, hated, and hunted as Necromancers - anyone from our hemisphere need not be told the name Eli Sharona to have an understanding of why that may be.

However, younger minds are pushing the boundry, and opinion of the Arcanist community on the ongoing ban on High Necromancy is becoming increasingly divided. This is due in part to Sharona's 'recovery' and subsequent use of High Necromantic techniques in the field of medicine. Indeed, some of these techniques have become so widespread in surgical use that any true ban is wholly ineffective.

None the less, Necromancy deals directly with the sciences of death, the afterlife, and fear. Most necromantic knowledge is still handed down by Infernals (of either camp), with accordingly high and dire price tags. Indeed, Sharona is the only open necromancer to have divulged the existence of a written corpus on the subject in the material realm - the manuscript of which is kept in his possession and is the only known copy. For obvious reasons, all attempts to obtain that document have failed.

The primary technique used by "medical necromancers" is properly termed Mortuus Victus, the living death. The ability to completely stall repertory, circulatory, and cerebral function in a patient in surgery should have obvious applications to anyone who has ever attempted, or even read about, open heart surgery.


The only field to continue to be known under the Old Hand name, and also one of the oldest branches of non-divine magic, transmutation should be plainly known to even the most lay reader of this document. The turning of one thing to another was long a goal of the alchemist, among others - the laws of equivalent exchange are so well understood that a popular show for young-adult featured the short form of the law, though it did incorrectly show raising the dead as a field of transmutation and not Necromancy. Few arcanists ever eschew the fundamentals of this art (which are too useful to be overstated), and those at the highest levels in the field can transmute not only matter, but periods of time as well (famously creating the almost-paradoxical Därk Temporal Anomaly).

Transmutation obviously has a number of specialized journals - from industrial process dissertations to omnibus publications such as Permutatio. Some 143 journals in this field are recognized as Fully Rigorous according to the Saffron Academy.

While everyone knows the old saw about turning lead into gold, another famous application is Volito incarnum, a technique applied in the creation or later augmentation of objects, or even (temporarily) creatures, imbuing them with reasonably agile powers of flight. Many also learn techniques such as Pannus Tutamensica, imbuing metal-like resilience into their ordinary garments. (Famously, Headmaster Coultier has used variations on this technique to create jewellery that, upon demand, become full and functional armour for the wearer).

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