Essentia in its natural form is highly mutable. It attunes to anything it passes through, and this attunement can be quite fast – a matter of seconds, in the case of living creatures. This means that drucrafters don’t generally need to worry about maintaining a reserve of personal essentia; it’s not a battery that needs to be charged. As long as they’re in a sufficiently essentia-rich environment, they can replenish their personal essentia in five seconds flat. Of course, they can also expend all that personal essentia in five seconds flat, but since there’s usually plenty more where that came from, this isn’t generally a problem.
But while essentia is mutable, it’s not ever-changing. When essentia currents converge to form a Well, the essentia takes on a certain quality and stays that way. These qualities tend to be quite stable, and Wells will typically produce essentia of almost exactly the same type for year after year, decade after decade. It’s so consistent that someone who’s really familiar with a particular Well can reliably pick out a sigl that was shaped from it, even one created fifty or a hundred years ago.
From the very beginning, drucrafters noticed that the essentia from Wells seemed to divide into six distinct categories. These have come to be known as the six branches of drucraft. A brief overview included below: for more detail, turn to the respective chapter for that branch.
Light drucraft grants control over the electromagnetic spectrum; everything from visible light to infrared, ultraviolet, radio, microwaves, X-rays, and gamma rays, though for practical reasons sigls from this branch tend to focus on visible light. Light effects can create electromagnetic radiation out of essentia (projection), turn that radiation back into essentia again (negation), or bend and redirect existing electromagnetic forces (manipulation). Relatively weak in terms of the raw energy it can deliver, but the usefulness of its concealment and vision effects means that it sees heavy use in the military and security sphere.
Matter drucraft can alter nonliving matter by changing its physical properties (mass, hardness, brittleness, strength, reactivity, conductivity, etc). The change is only temporary and only one property may be changed at a time, but this is still extremely useful for various industrial processes, enough so that the vast majority of global Matter drucraft production is funnelled into manufacturing. Mass-reduction sigls are also quite popular for personal use.
Motion drucraft grants control over kinetic energy in all its forms; heat, cold, momentum, sound, etc. The most common Motion effects are ones that directly create kinetic energy out of essentia, allowing a drucrafter to generate sources of heat, hurl themselves or an object through the air, or deliver a kinetic strike to a target. However, as with Light drucraft, this can also be used in reverse; turning kinetic energy into essentia allows a drucrafter to do such things as slow a fall, create zones of freezing cold, or stop a projectile in mid-air. Generally considered to be the most directly useful of the branches for offence and defence.
Life drucraft affects living creatures, generally by stimulating, enhancing, or suppressing specific systems within an organism. Its sigls can accelerate a particular bodily system while also fuelling it with energy, allowing it to function at superhuman levels. Enhanced strength, speed, dexterity, senses, and sensations are all possible. By far the most popular use for Life drucraft, however, and the one for which it is most famous, is medicine. Life drucraft, when combined with modern medical care, can heal or cure most conditions – broadly speaking, anything that a body can heal itself from, a medical drucrafter can fix faster and better. The vast majority of Life sigl production goes into the medical industry, and sigl-wielding doctors are always in high demand. There are never enough, though. No matter how many medical professionals are trained and equipped with sigls, there’s always a demand for more.
Dimension drucraft affects space and time. Its basic effects allow a user to accelerate or decelerate the flow of time in a small area, or stretch or compress space with a similarly small range. Generally considered the most difficult of the branches to shape and channel. More so than any of the others, Dimension is considered the ‘generalist’ branch – it doesn’t excel at any one particular thing, but it’s almost impossible to find a task that it can’t help with somehow. After all, it’s hard to imagine any problem that can’t be affected by space and time. Due to this, as well as the inherent difficulty of the branch, Dimension experts tend to be specialists. Probably the least commonly encountered branch in the West, due to the global pattern of Dimension Well distribution.
Primal drucraft can be thought of as ‘meta-drucraft’ – its effects deal directly with essentia itself. This makes it useful primarily as a supplement or support. Primal effects can be used to produce or access more essentia than one would be able to use normally, store personal essentia for later use, infuse essentia into things or people, or extract it in turn. Also used in the creation of sigls – limiters require Primal drucraft to make, although not to use. Primal is also the ‘anti-magic’ branch, with several effects that can disrupt or weaken other spells. However, if you don’t have some other sigl effect that you want to either boost or hinder, Primal drucraft is of limited use.