A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #20: Sigl Creation (Manifesting)

Sigls are created through the third of the drucraft disciplines – shaping.  Shaping is the art of manipulating free essentia (typically, though not always, in a Well) and causing it to crystallise into a piece of solid essentia, otherwise known as aurum.  If the shaping is successful, this piece of aurum is known as a sigl.

Shaping sigls nowadays is done in one of two ways:  tracing (i.e. shaping with a limiter) and manifesting.  This chapter will cover manifesting, while Chapter #21 will cover tracing.

Manifesting

Manifesting (otherwise known as free shaping) is the original and oldest method of shaping a sigl.  The shaper goes to a Well, draws out the essentia, and crystallises it into a sigl.  To anyone watching, it looks as though the shaper is ‘thinking’ the sigl into being.  They visualise the shape of the sigl, then use the essentia from the Well to make it manifest, hence the name.

Manifesting gives a shaper absolute freedom – they can quite literally shape the essentia into whatever they like.  This freedom, however, is a double-edged sword.  It gives the shaper infinite ways to design a sigl, but also gives them infinite ways to get it wrong, and there are many more ways to design a sigl that doesn’t work than there are to design one that does.

Manifesting can be best compared to freehand drawing or painting.  It’s very easy to do badly, and very hard to do well.  To get good at it, a shaper has to spend a lot of time practising and developing secondary skills, including, but not limited to:  the ability to shape lines of essentia neatly and precisely, the ability to keep essentia out of certain areas, the ability to stabilise the entirety of an essentia construct while focusing on a single part of it, and the ability to do all those things while still drawing in more essentia to build the sigl.  Most importantly of all, the would-be-manifester needs to have excellent sensing skills.  A basic ability to feel essentia is not enough – a manifester needs to be able to sense individual strands finely enough that they can tell when and where they’ve made a mistake.  Otherwise, it’s virtually guaranteed that they’ll end up with a nonfunctional sigl.

Achieving proficiency in all of these things is very difficult, and requires months or years of dedicated study.  Most who try to become manifesters fail, and even those who succeed invariably only do so after many botched attempts.  Essentia constructs help, but even so, there isn’t a manifester in the world who hasn’t got to where they are without at least a few total failures.

History of Manifesting

In the old days, all (or nearly all) sigls were created by manifesting.  It’s the default method used when people have nothing else to draw upon, and it’s still the fallback option today.

However, in the 20th century, the tracing approach saw a massive rise in popularity, overtaking and supplanting its rival.  Nowadays, manifesting is relatively rare, to the point that there are drucrafters (particularly ones in the corporate ecosystem) who’ve never set hands on a manifested sigl in their entire lives.

Nevertheless, manifesting still commands a certain prestige.  Calling yourself a manifester gets attention in the drucraft world – there’s a reason no-one ever calls themselves a ‘tracer’.  Even if isn’t the most cost-effective or practical way to shape a sigl, simply being able to manifest effectively announces that you’ve reached a very high level of shaping skill.  Also, the more powerful a sigl, the more likely that it was created via manifestation . . . and while powerful, custom-made sigls are rare, people are naturally going to find them a lot more impressive than mass-produced weaker ones.

Advantages of Manifesting

  • Flexibility:  Great scope for customisation and adjustment.  A sigl can be created at any level of strength, at any size, and with any essentia requirement or attunement ratio, and these can be adjusted on the fly to better match the Well that the manifester is using or the wielder that they’re shaping for.
  • No equipment required:  A manifester needs themselves, a Well, and enough time to work.  Nothing else.
  • Power:  A manifester is free to make a sigl as powerful as they possibly can, using all the essentia available.  As a result, manifested sigls are, on average, slightly stronger than traced ones.

Disadvantages of Manifesting

  • Unreliability:  The freedom of manifestation has major drawbacks, namely that if the manifester makes a big enough mistake, the sigl will fail completely, wasting some or all of the Well’s essentia.  This rarely happens if the manifester knows what he’s doing, but small quirks and weird unusual flaws are quite common.
  • High skill floor:  It takes years to train a manifester, and the supply of expert manifesters never meets the demand.  As a result, experienced manifesters usually charge very high prices for their services.
  • Burden on the manifester:  To make a sigl, a manifester must have a good understanding of how that sigl works.  Training and guidance can help, but a manifester can never just ‘follow the instructions’ and avoid doing the work entirely.
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5 Responses to A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #20: Sigl Creation (Manifesting)

  1. Celia says:

    Interesting!

    “Shaping is the art of manipulating free essentia (typically, though not always, in a Well)…”

    Is the alternative using aurum instead of a well? Or is there another alternative?

    • Benedict says:

      Alternative is using aurum, yes. Corporations build shaping chambers for this purpose. It has both advantages and disadvantages.

  2. Kevin says:

    Well it seems like Steven if he makes the right contacts might not have to worry about money again especially if he can do more with less.

    Quick question are his sigls stronger/better then average either with his essentia sight/manifesting sigl skills in general? It seems his Flash sigl seems to be quite potent along with the Haywire sigl that seems to bypass the range limit of Drucraft and of course his invisibility sigl that is supposed to cost high five figures to low six figures.

    So would his sigls be roughly
    Slam D Class, Life Enhancer D Class, Haywire D+ Class, Flash D+ Class, Invisibility/Diffraction and Visor C-C+ class? Or am I overthinking this and they are just D-D+ sigls and Steven is just really good at creating sigls especially the Light ones?

  3. Chris G. says:

    So it sounds like people who can’t visualize (such as those with aphantasia) wouldn’t be able to Manifest. Unless there’s some other method, or a workaround?

  4. Bill says:

    Thank you very much (again) for this insightful and thought-provoking article.

    I agree, manifesting sounds a nightmare and without Stephens essentia sight it must be nigh-on impossible. I have enough trouble sorting out my ever-tangled earphone leads. To have any chance of success you limit yourself to school of drucraft where you have a strong affinity? Even then, I would think that there is still a lot of essentia (and well capacity) that would be wasted and hence make Limiter-less far too expense/impractical.

    No wonder most Sigl-makers opt to use Limiters. And thus limit what can be made to the ‘standard’ items.

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