Ask Luna #38

From: Wodden

Dear Luna,

Thank you for your most kind responses to my questions over the last two weeks. I am much more enlightened.

Going back to utilising ambient air moisture for certain ice and water effects, does this mean that in environments of zero (or extremely low) ambient moisture, ice and water effects would be limited to energy-only effects?

And an unrelated question, but are there mages which control and communicate with the natural world (animals and plants)? And if so are they more a specialisation of Mind mages than anything else? Do they see themselves as universalists or living mages?

Indeed, I suppose I could ask if that, if one was to conceive of a given magical skill set/focus, is it possible that it exists somewhere? So a Sand Mage, Animal whisperer, Shadow Mage etc?

And one final question (an please feel free to ignore any/some when answering):

With regards “National Councils” of Mages – what are the relations between them? Do “alliance blocks” exist, and is there ever open conflict between them? Was the last Light-Dark war a “world war” or just one limited to the UK (possibly also those with descendant/analogous council mechanisms, like the US, Australia etc)?

Thank you once again for your patience and indulgence. I have taken up more than enough of your time.

You’re very polite. I kind of like it.

Yes, ice and water mages are a lot more limited in what they can do in really arid environments. One of the reasons they don’t like hanging around them. Though usually they just get really good with energy-only spells to compensate.

And yes, there are animal and plant specialists. Some of them overlap with shapeshifters, others are called nature mages or druids. You tend to get less of them here in the big cities, for obvious reasons. They’re classified in the living family.

As for relations between the national Councils . . . oof, that’s a hard one. Yeah, there are alliance blocks, and yeah, there are disagreements and sometimes fights, and it’s really really complicated. There haven’t been any serious Light-vs-Light battles for a long time, though. The last few wars (including the big one) were basically Dark-vs-Light, though the sides were pretty mixed up. And yes, the Gate Rune War was a world war, not a local one, though there haven’t been any shortage of local wars in mage history either.

From: Geli

Hi Luna,

first of all thank you for answering my last question if Richard “changed” Alex. I’m still thinking about the topic, and I’m wondering…
Alex is clearly a lot more combat orientated and more willing to enter fights than pretty much any other diviner. The thing that stands out is, that Alex seems to use his divination *best* within a combat situation. He’s not bad outside of battle, but it’s within he excels. So I wanted to ask, could it be that outside of fights and labyrinths/decoding, Alex is pretty much inexperienced? After all, Richard is definitely no diviner and Alex didn’t seem to know if his nightmares are about the future or not. Also, let’s face it, for a diviner Alex gets “danger warnings” on a really short notice, while during the first adventure every other diviner in the whole country was already in hiding.

Wish you a great day!

Good question. I don’t honestly know, since the only diviner I really know anything much about is Alex, but my guess is that because of Alex’s history he’s ended up getting a lot better with combat divination than’s usual for a diviner – most of them are more likely to spend all their time making sure they never get anywhere near a fight in the first place.

The thing with his nightmares is weirder. Apparently some diviners can get warnings and prophecies through dreams – I asked Alex about it once and he says he goes in for the Apollonian style and not the Dionysian one, whatever that means. Still, oneiromancy is supposed to be a diviner thing, so maybe he can do that too, who knows . . .

From: Aguido

Has anybody tried harvesting imbued objects? I’m wondering whether the side effects are inherent to the process, or only arise when there’s a mind on the other side…

I am NOT looking Harvesting up in the encyclopaedia. Who even wants to know about that stuff?

From: John D.

Dear Luna,

After reading the latest adventure, I got a little confused with regards to how focus items work. Originally, my understanding was that focus items didn’t actually carry any magic of their own – a one-shot had a single spell they could use, and an imbued item had a range of lasting powers that could be called upon, but I thought that focuses only worked for mages with a particular specialty (for example, a Water focus required Water magic, or a type that included Water in its purview such as Storm, and acted to help “shape” the magic rather than execute an effect). That was my understanding when your “ex” in the “Cursed” case (sorry for bringing him up…) was looking for an Imbued item – since he couldn’t use a specific type of magic, he couldn’t use focus items.

However, in Hidden, there was that tea cup that made everything taste like chili, which Alex said was a water-type focus, but implied that it would work for potentially anyone – if a mundane was to put water into that cup, it would taste like chili to them.

So are focus items capable of executing a spell or set of spells repeatedly for anyone, or am I missing something (i.e. the person has to be able to use magic already)?

You basically had the right idea to begin with. Focus items can’t actually create effects off their own bat, they need an energy source. So the standard way you use them is that you channel energy into them, and they convert that into whatever particular spell that focus is designed to produce.

One of the ways mages have come up with to work around that is ambient focuses. Ambient focuses are designed so that they can automatically draw in energy from the area around them, kind of like water draining down a sink – the idea is that they feed off the ambient magic in an area, or in a person. That’s how that teacup works. It’s meant to feed off a person, preferably a mage. So a mage could make it work in only a few minutes, just by being around it. An adept might take twice as long, a normal or sensitive would probably take more like an hour, and if it’s on its own in an empty room it wouldn’t work at all.

The problem with ambient focuses is that the amount of energy they draw is really low compared to direct-channel ones, and since there’s no-one actually guiding the spell it has to be very crude. Fine for flavouring a drink, pretty useless in a fight.

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One Response to Ask Luna #38

  1. ahd says:

    Oh, if you cannot think of a good reason to do something, you might want to know enough about it to defend or prevent or mitigate. See also: life magery.

    But the answer you gave me told me enough, and thank you for taking the time. I’m glad no-one’s come up with the idea of creating imbued objects and then draining them for power. If the smartest Dark mages started averaging more powerful as well as more practical, it could get awkward.

    Besides, it’s not as if anybody’s ever going to unearth an imbued object with a fugitive mind mage hiding in it, and if they did you could always just destroy the object rather than try and pull them out.