Inheritance of Magic – Six Month Mark

We’ve almost finished with the Five Limits in the Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft series – the fifth and final article will be on the Limit of Operation.  That’s all written and ready to go (and will be coming out next Friday), but as of this week, we’ve just hit the point at which An Inheritance of Magic has been on sale for six months.  So this post’s going to be an overview of how the book and the series is doing.

First, a little bit of background on how the publishing industry works.  Books published by mainstream publishing nowadays generally use the advance against royalties model – you can read the details in that link, but the short version is that you can roughly measure how well a book is doing by dividing the royalty earnings by the total advance.  As a general rule, the break-even rate for the publisher is around 100% of the advance – if the royalties are below 100% they’re probably making a loss, if it’s above 100% they’re probably making a profit.

In the case of the Alex Verus books, all 12 eventually cleared the 100% mark, meaning that all of them were profitable for the publisher.  In some cases, they were very profitable – while writing this post I went and looked up the US sales figures for Fated, and the total royalties compared to the advance are currently sitting at around 650%.  This was the reason my US and UK publishers were so happy to keep on publishing my Alex Verus books – I’d earned them a lot of money.  It was also why I had such an easy time getting them to publish the Inheritance of Magic series afterwards.

So how’s Inheritance of Magic doing?

Well, the short answer is:  pretty well!  I’ve just got my royalty statements for the second half of 2023, and my UK royalties from book 1 come to around 80% of the advance.  My US number are harder to estimate, since they take an extra month to send me my sales reports, but depending on how I eyeball it, the numbers come to somewhere between 50% and 90%.  Given that this is after less than 3 months of sales, it’s looking as though both the UK and US editions are on course to comfortably break the 100% mark, which is the important thing.

So it looks as though the series is going to be a success, which means I’ll be able to keep on writing it, probably all the way to its conclusion.  I was fairly confident that this was going to happen, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.  I put a lot of effort into developing the setting and storyline for the Inheritance of Magic series – if you add up planning, writing, and rewriting time, the first book alone took years.  I could have scrapped all of that and started over from scratch – I’ve done it before – but it would have been a pretty miserable job, so it’s a big relief to know that I’m not going to have to do it.

As to when that conclusion’s going to be, I don’t have any solid numbers as yet.  If I had to guess, though, I’d estimate the series length of Inheritance of Magic to be somewhere in the ballpark of Alex Verus – i.e. around 12 books.  Which means, at the current rate, with me putting out 1 book a year, the last one is likely to come out around the mid-2030s.  It feels a bit crazy to plan something THAT far ahead, but looking at my writing speed and my writing patterns, that does feel like the most realistic prediction.  But then again, who knows – maybe I’ll get faster at writing, or more condensed when it comes to series length, we’ll just have to see.  In any case, it’ll be interesting to look back at this post 10 years from now and see how accurate it was . . .

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #15:  Limit of Creation

You can’t change a sigl after it’s made. 

The Limit of Creation states that sigls can not be modified or redesigned.  Once they’re created, that’s it – if you want them to do something different, you have to get a new sigl.

Although this restriction might seem uncontroversial, it has been the focus of quite intensive study.  In fact, the Limit of Creation is probably the second-most-heavily researched of all of the five, outmatched only by the Blood Limit.  This is unsurprising, as the two are closely related.

The Sunk Cost of Sigls

A sigl represents an enormous amount of time and resources.  This is particularly extreme once you go up the ranks;  while D-class sigls are relatively cheap, a single A-rank sigl costs millions.  Of course, for those wealthy enough to afford it, that can actually be quite a good investment – while a high-grade, professionally made solid sigl comes at a fantastic cost, it’s a one-time cost.  Since such a sigl can be expected to last for its wielder’s entire lifetime, in practice the benefits it gives, spread out over thirty or forty years, can easily outweigh its price tag.  But what about afterwards?

Inevitably, sigls outlast their wielders.  Sometimes the wielder dies from old age.  Sometimes they perish unexpectedly, from accident or illness.  And sometimes they’re relieved of their sigl involuntarily.  However it happens, those who inherit the wielder’s property (legally or otherwise) are left with a sigl – potentially a very valuable sigl – that they can’t use.  An incredible amount of value and power, right there in the palm of one’s hand, yet totally inaccessible.  It’s intensely frustrating, and quite naturally, drucrafters have spent enormous amounts of time and effort trying to solve it.

Unfortunately, solving it is easier said than done.

Difficulties in Modification

The first problem with modifying a sigl is that shaping a sigl is less like assembling a machine, and more like sculpting a piece of pottery, where the clay can be easily moulded when wet, but becomes hard and rigid once fired.  In the same way, essentia can be freely sculpted while in its natural state, but becomes hard and unyielding once transformed into aurum.  Modifying a sigl thus requires the targeted section (and only the targeted section) to be first transformed into free essentia, then altered, and then turned back into aurum again.

While doing any of these three things on their own is not particularly difficult, doing them together, in order, and without damaging the rest of the sigl in the process, is very, very hard.  What makes the problem worse is that, as mentioned in the previous chapter, sigls have three layers:  the shell, the outer core, and the kernel . . . and the part of a sigl that drucrafters generally care most about is the kernel.  This means that before you can start on any modifications, you have to get through the sigl’s shell and outer core first, and you have to do so without doing irreparable damage to the sigl along the way.  This is so difficult as to be, in many cases, functionally impossible.


Despite all these problems, the twentieth century saw a vast amount of research poured into circumventing the Limit of Creation.  The prospect of taking the same A-class or S-class sigl and using it over and over again was simply too tempting to resist.  Finding a practical solution to the problem would effectively nullify the Blood Limit and break the drucraft economy wide open.

Although many avenues were explored, the most promising one, and the one upon which research eventually came to focus, was “modular sigls”.  The idea was to design a sigl with a removable kernel, where the kernel could be extracted and replaced.  Thus, by “swapping out” kernels, the same sigl could be used by different people.

Modular sigls worked.  Their development caused great excitement in the drucraft community, and many predicted that they would become the new industry standard.  However, more than fifty years on, this has not happened.  In fact, modular sigls have almost entirely fallen out of production, for several reasons.

First, the modular approach required various compromises in the sigl’s design.  Since the kernel couldn’t be fully integrated with the body, much of the sigl had to be built in a less efficient manner.  Second, despite their best efforts, the researchers into modular sigls were never able to make them as stable as solid ones.  The “sealed sphere” design for sigls is the standard for a reason – it’s exceptionally durable.  Modular sigls thus had a shorter lifespan than traditional ones, negating much of the benefit to building them in the first place.

But the biggest reason for the failure of modular sigls was that they were never a true workaround.  You can’t convert a standard sigl into a modular one – for it to work, the sigl has to be created as a modular sigl in the first place.  This means accepting substandard performance in exchange for the (not at all guaranteed) possibility that someone else will be able to use the sigl in the future.  Unsurprisingly, most drucrafters were unwilling to make this tradeoff.

As such, modular sigls fell out of favour, and are nowadays only used as curiosities or for certain very specific purposes.

Starting Afresh

The final “workaround” to the Limit of Creation is simply to remake the entire sigl from scratch.  You sublimate the sigl into free essentia, then use that essentia to make a new sigl – essentially the same process that shapers use to create a sigl out of pre-existing aurum.  However, this is subject to the same inefficiencies as creating a sigl from aurum, and in any case is basically the equivalent of melting something down for raw materials.  Most people would consider this “destroying”, rather than “changing”.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #14: Blood Limit

You can’t use someone else’s sigl. 

More than any of the other four, the Blood Limit shapes the drucraft economy.  It is the primary reason that sigls are so expensive.

Just like the gemstones they resemble, sigls can last a very long time.  They’re short-lived in geological terms – aurum naturally sublimates into free essentia, and if left for long enough, a sigl or a lump of aurum will wisp away into nothingness.  However, ‘long enough’ on a human timescale is a very long time indeed, and a solid sigl can easily last for thousands of years.

This raises an obvious question – why isn’t the world filled with sigls?  Nowadays the vast majority of sigls are threaded rather than solid, with exponentially shorter lifespans, but even if only five percent of the ones made each year were solid ones, that’s still an enormous number that would only continue to accumulate century after century.  So why are they in such short supply?

The simple answer is that a sigl made for one person won’t generally work for another.   There are indeed vast numbers of sigls in the world, sitting in museums and bank vaults and private collections – it’s just that the vast majority of them can’t be used, since they were made for wielders who are now long dead.  Thus, while the absolute lifespan of a sigl can be measured in thousands of years, its practical lifespan is, in generational terms, very short.

Anatomy of a Sigl

Sigls are comprised of three layers.  The outer layer, known as the shell, is an ablative and largely inert coating designed to protect the sigl from erosion and damage.  The middle layer is referred to as the body or outer core, and comprises the majority of the sigl’s mass.  However, it is the inner core, otherwise known as the kernel, that is the reason that the Blood Limit works the way it does, because a small but critical fraction of the kernel is made up of the wielder’s personal essentia.

Shaping a sigl with someone’s personal essentia is something like forging a lock with a human key.  It’s the only reason that sigls work at all.  Making a sigl without any personal essentia just produces an inert lump of aurum, and trying to use a sigl whose personal essentia doesn’t match yours is impossible.

This means that if you want a sigl, you can’t buy one second hand.  You have to either make one yourself, using your own personal essentia to shape the kernel, or have a professional shaper take a sample of your personal essentia to make one for you.  Most people pick the second option.

The result of this is that the drucraft economy doesn’t work like the markets for manufactured goods such as jewellery or furniture, where the products can (in theory) be maintained indefinitely.  Instead, it follows a cycle where new sigls are created, remain in circulation for a finite time, then disappear.


The Blood Limit is probably the most extensively studied of all of the Five Limits, and the workarounds to it are well-understood.

The simplest workaround is to have the shaper, when they create the sigl’s kernel, mix in someone else’s personal essentia with their own.  Creating such ‘mixed sigls’ is inherently more complex than creating a pure one, but the techniques for doing so have been exhaustively practised over the centuries and the procedure is now quite routine.  However, you don’t get something for nothing:  the more of someone else’s personal essentia there is in a kernel, the weaker the sigl will be when you try to use it yourself.  This method is thus less of a true workaround and more of a compromise.

The second (and more famous) method is to use a sigl belonging to someone whose personal essentia is sufficiently similar to yours.  This generally requires the sigl’s creator to be a blood relative, the closer the better.  In this way sigls can be passed down from parent to child, or from sibling to sibling.

This method is not infallible.  The closer a blood relation two people share, the more similar their personal essentia tends to be, but there’s still variation.  Parent to child or brother to sister almost always works, but it’s not a guarantee, and as the relationship becomes more distant, the chance of the sigl working drops like a rock – two ‘steps’ in the family tree is usually the realistic maximum.  And this assumes a pure sigl, rather than a mixed one.  If the sigl was shaped by someone else, the  personal essentia in the sigl is effectively diluted twice over, reducing the viability even further.

Still, even with its drawbacks, the ability to pass sigls down to the next generation is incredibly powerful.  Even if you can’t get more than two generations worth of use out of a sigl before it becomes useless, that still represents an enormous advantage over anyone who uses a sigl for only one.  The concept of inherited wealth takes on a whole new meaning when children can inherit not only a house and money from their parents, but magical powers as well.  This is a major reason for why the equivalents of Drucraft Houses developed independently in so many places around the world . . . and even in countries with no House traditions (or in ones where such practices are specifically banned) family-run corporations and political and financial dynasties fill the same role, passing down their wealth in exactly the same way.

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An Instruction in Shadow – US Cover Reveal

A break from worldbuilding articles this week, since I can finally show you all the US cover of Inheritance of Magic #2!

Looks pretty nice, I think!  Planned US & Canada release date is October 15 2024.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #13: Primal Limit

You can’t use drucraft without a sigl.

If Euler’s Limit covers the creation of sigls, the Primal Limit covers why sigls are important.  Simply put, no sigls means no drucraft.

New drucrafters generally find the Primal Limit the most confusing of the five.  After all, the three disciplines – sensing, channelling, and shaping – are the foundation of drucraft, and you obviously can use all three of those without a sigl.  If you couldn’t, it would create a chicken-and-egg situation – if you can’t use drucraft without a sigl, where do the sigls come from in the first place?

This confusion can be resolved by drawing a distinction between foundational drucraft and practical drucraft.

Foundational and Practical Drucraft

Foundational drucraft covers the fundamental skills necessary to become a drucrafter, which mostly (but not entirely) consists of the three disciplines:  sensing, channelling, and shaping.  They give the ability to detect and manipulate essentia, to understand and operate sigls, and to create sigls for the use of oneself or another.  Although these skills are what differentiate a drucrafter from a non-drucrafter, they are not, in and of themselves, very useful.  Without sigls, the study of drucraft would be considered a rather niche and esoteric field of little applicability.

Practical drucraft covers the working effects that drucrafters with access to sigls can produce.  These are the things that people think of when they hear “drucraft” or “magic”:  flight, invisibility, superhuman strength and endurance, the manipulation of space and time.  They are the “finished product” of the art.

When the Primal Limit states that drucraft cannot be used without a sigl, it is referring to practical drucraft.  Technically speaking, as long as you restrict yourself to foundational drucraft, you can use drucraft without a sigl just fine.  It’s just that it’s not much use.  And since most drucrafters want to be able to do things of use, then “you can’t use drucraft without a sigl” is, for practical purposes, almost always true.


The one big exception to the Primal Limit is in the name.  Primal drucraft, for whatever reason, can be performed without a sigl . . . though note that just because something can be done, that doesn’t mean it can be done in a way that’s effective or useful.

The question of why Primal effects don’t require a sigl is one that has interested drucraft researchers for some time . . . after all, if they could figure it out for Primal effects, it might be possible to find out a way to use the other branches without a sigl, too.  At the moment, the generally accepted theory is that the Primal branch can be used without a sigl because Primal essentia is pure and undifferentiated;  drucrafters can use it because the skills to use Primal essentia overlap significantly with those required to manipulate their personal essentia via channelling or shaping.  Beyond this, opinion diverges:  some argue that Primal effects are inherently different to the other branches, and thus using effects from the other branches is impossible.  Adherents to this theory sometimes go on to argue that, because of this, Primal drucraft shouldn’t be considered a “real” branch of drucraft, in the same way that “white” shouldn’t be considered a real colour, and that there should be only five branches, not six.  This is a minority view, however.

Others who have studied the subject believe that the difference between Primal drucraft and the other five branches is a matter of complexity, not anything fundamental, and that theoretically, a drucrafter with a strong enough affinity and sufficient training should be able to use, say, a Light or Matter effect without a sigl.  However, just because something is theoretically possible doesn’t mean that it can be done in practice, and it’s worth noting that, as far as is currently known, all attempts to accomplish this particular goal have failed.

Primal Drucraft:  Assisted vs Unassisted

Primal drucraft is thus the only branch of drucraft where the same effect can be performed both with a sigl, and without.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest benefit to using a Primal sigl is amplification;  a drucrafter using a Primal sigl can output vastly more power than one producing the same effect unaided.  Using a sigl is also much easier;  while creating a Primal effect unaided requires a solid fundamental grasp of the spell, any minimally competent channeller can use a basic sigl without any real understanding of how it works.

However, working through a sigl also comes with a cost in terms of fine control and feedback.  No sigl, however well-crafted, can match the sensitivity of a drucrafter’s personal essentia, in the same way that no tool is ever quite a substitute for a human hand.  As such, in areas where precision and delicacy are a priority, such as anything involving Wells, many drucrafters still prefer to work without a sigl where possible . . . though many don’t have the skill to do so in the first place.

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Inheritance Series – Spring Update

It’s been a while since I’ve done a news update, so here’s a rundown on what’s upcoming with the Inheritance of Magic series!

Inheritance of Magic #2, titled An Instruction in Shadow, has finished its copy-edits stage and is with my publishers as we speak.  I still need to do the proofreading and author questions stages (if you’re curious about what these are, I did an explanation here) but the version currently with my publishers is 99% identical to the version you guys will be holding in your hands this autumn.  Provisional release date is 15th October 2024 in the US, and 17th October 2024 in the UK.  Cover art is being done right now – I’ll post it up here once my publishers release it.

Inheritance of Magic #3 (currently untitled) is making good progress.  It’s up to 25,000 words, which probably translates to around 25%-30% complete.  I’m going to be working on this pretty much non-stop for the rest of the spring – ideally I’d like to finish some time around mid-summer, though late summer is probably more likely.  But it’s definitely going to be done by end of summer at latest, meaning that you guys can expect the finished book to be released around the autumn of 2025.

As for the blog, my main project for this year is going to continue to be the Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft series.  Next two articles are going to be on the Primal Limit and the Blood Limit, and both of those should be finished by the end of March.

And that’s about it!  Everything on my end is going to be quiet, routine, and busy for the next few months as I work my way through my list of writing targets.  Exactly how I like it, really.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #12: Euler’s Limit

Sigls can only be created from essentia.

The first of the Five Limits, Euler’s (pronounced “oilers”) Limit is also the most obviously important one.  Sigls can only be created from essentia, and this essentia can only be found in sufficient quantities in Wells.  No Wells means no essentia means no sigls means no drucraft.

Euler’s Limit is named after Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) though it should be noted that Euler himself never tried to attach his name to the principle – he viewed himself as primarily a theoretician, and gave credit for the details of the discovery to Isaac Newton’s work in the early 1700s.  Euler’s name stuck, however, partly due to his work on the Five Limits as a whole, and the name “Euler” is now used daily by drucrafters who have no idea who Euler even was, to the great irritation of mathematicians.

Euler’s Limit Explained

When a sigl is created, it takes the form of a small object resembling a gemstone, measuring roughly 2mm to 16mm in diameter.  The essentia used to create the sigl takes the solid form known as aurum.

A sigl can be thought of as something like an electric circuit.  Personal essentia (the electric charge) is fed into it;  this flows through the channels of the sigl (the wires of the circuit) and produces a spell (the circuit’s output).  The function of these channels is to “conduct” the essentia.  Sigls work because aurum is conductive to essentia – if you try to use other materials for the “wires”, the essentia won’t flow through them.  Thus, to create a sigl, you need aurum.

(IMPORTANT NOTE:  this analogy falls apart as soon as you look at it too closely.  Obviously, essentia does flow through things that aren’t aurum – it flows through everything.  But the electric circuit model is quite a useful one for describing the way sigls actually work, so it’s a good place to start.  In pre-electronic times, drucraft teachers typically used the analogy of water in a hydraulic system, instead.)

This creates a significant problem:  while essentia is abundant, aurum is not.  In fact, ounce for ounce, sigl-grade aurum is one of the rarest and most expensive substances on Earth.  As such, there has always been an enormous incentive for drucrafters to find an alternative.  Developing an “aurum substitute” has been one of the three Holy Grails of drucraft research for centuries:  any company, government or House that could develop one, and produce it consistently and cost-effectively, would become unimaginably wealthy almost overnight.

However, so far this has not happened, and there is some reason to believe that it’s never going to happen.  Newton’s research theorised that the unique properties of aurum derived specifically from its point of origin, and he even produced a mathematical proof to that effect.  The proof has been questioned, resting as it does on certain unproven assumptions, but the general consensus among drucraft researchers today is that aurum works the way it does because it’s comprised of solidified essentia.  In other words, it’s impossible to find a substitute for aurum that doesn’t require essentia, because it’s the fact that it’s made out of essentia that makes it behave that way in the first place.

This means that sigl production, and thus all drucraft, is fundamentally bottlenecked by the global supply of Wells.  This, along with the Blood Limit, shapes the drucraft economy.


More so than any of the others, Euler’s Limit has stubbornly resisted any attempts to bypass it.  Over the centuries, drucraft researchers have tested a truly astronomical number of substances in attempts to find one that would serve as a substitute for aurum.  They’ve tried every naturally-occurring mineral on Earth (as well as more than a few non-natural ones), a dizzying variety of organic compounds, every element in the Periodic Table, vacuums, and even matter in exotic states.  All have failed.

The best that drucrafters have managed to do is to reduce the volume of aurum in a sigl.  While it seems to be impossible to use no aurum, it does seem possible to use less aurum.  This was the inspiration behind the invention of threaded sigls, which replace nonessential parts of a sigl with pockets of vacuum or gas.  Threaded sigls proved to be significantly more cost-effective than solid ones, and their use quickly spread.

These savings, however, came with a tradeoff.  It turns out that while much of the aurum in a solid sigl isn’t necessary, it does a lot to stabilise it.  Aurum in its physical state naturally sublimates, turning back into free essentia, and shaping a sigl with a threaded design instead of a solid one accelerates this process – often massively so.  While solid sigls can last for hundreds or even thousands of years, threaded sigls have lifespans that are only a fraction of that – heavily threaded sigls typically last two or three years at the most.  Their tendency to fail with time or under stress has made many drucrafters hate threaded sigls with a fiery passion, though this hasn’t stopped them from becoming the industry standard.  A solid sigl will last for a drucrafter’s entire life;  a threaded sigl will break after a few years, forcing them to go back to the manufacturer and buy another one.  Most companies see this as an advantage rather than a problem . . . the fact that they can produce threaded sigls at a lower cost as well is just a bonus.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #11: The Five Limits

More than any other principle in drucraft, the Five Limits define how drucraft operates.  The Faraday Point, the Lorenz Ceiling, and the geographical distribution of Wells are all important, but on a larger scale, none are even remotely as significant as the Five.  The Five Limits define what drucraft cannot do.  Everything not covered by the Five Limits is at least theoretically within the bounds of drucraft.  It may be impossible in practice, due to requiring finer control over essentia than any human could ever achieve, a sigl more powerful than any Well on our planet could ever produce, a violation of the laws of physics, or all three at once – but there’s nothing about drucraft itself that inherently forbids it.

The Five Limits are usually summarised as follows:

  • Euler’s Limit:  Sigls can only be created from essentia.
  • Primal Limit:  You can’t use drucraft without a sigl.
  • Blood Limit:  You can’t use someone else’s sigl.
  • Limit of Creation:  You can’t change a sigl after it’s made.
  • Limit of Operation:  A sigl won’t work without a bearer.

It is very important to understand that although this summary works well as a teaching aid, it is also wrong.  Every single one of the Five Limits, as summarised above, has specific situations in which it is misleading if not outright false . . . accounting for all of the exceptions and edge cases, however, quickly turns each of the Limits from a single sentence into a long essay, so the summaries are still worth remembering.  Still, novice drucrafters should be warned that they’ll be laughed out of the room if they treat them as the whole truth.  Their goal of these summaries is to function as a stepping stone on the route to proper understanding.

History of the Five Limits

The Five Limits have been practically understood, at least in fragmentary form, ever since the beginning of drucraft.  Current opinions, however, are that drucrafters didn’t reach a good theoretical understanding of the Five Limits until the classical era – surviving documents indicate that the Limits were established and codified more or less independently in both the Greco-Roman world and in Imperial China.

The Five Limits as currently understood, however, were only fully formalised in the 1700s, by the combined work of a large number of independent researchers.  When Leonhard Euler wrote his treatise on the Five Limits in 1774, he was largely collating and organising work that had already been done.  Much has been written on the Five Limits since then, but all of it can be (more or less fairly) described as a series of footnotes to Euler.

Beyond the Five Limits

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, research into the Five Limits mostly took the form of establishing and categorising them – finding out exactly where the boundaries were.  In the 20th century, however, there was an extended period of around forty to fifty years – historians argue over the dates, but the most cited timeframe is 1939 to 1982 – where drucraft researchers seriously attempted to push beyond these limits.  The goal was to find, not yet another workaround, but an genuine breakthrough that could radically expand what drucraft was capable of.

The effort produced a great many discoveries, and for this reason is often regarded as the golden age of drucraft research.  Threaded sigls, the one major workaround to Euler’s Limit, were invented during this time, and modern limiters owe almost all of their design to advances produced as a result of this work.  However, in its central goal, the effort was a failure.  Drucraft had advanced, but the Five Limits remained an apparently impenetrable barrier.

Gradually, research into the Five Limits began to tail off.  Companies founded with the intention of finding a breakthrough ran out of money and disappeared, and larger corporations redirected their R&D departments to other tasks.  The end of the Cold War brought a cutback in military budgets, and defence companies suddenly found their governments far less willing to fund ambitious drucraft research that had no clear goal.  With funding drying up, and no existential threats to act as a motivator, progress slowed to a halt.

In the modern age, things have now come full circle.  Much as in antiquity, the Five Limits are viewed as impassable boundaries.  Although research is still conducted into new types of sigls and new uses for essentia, the vast majority of modern drucraft R&D is relatively unambitious, focused on producing results that are commercially viable (which in practice mostly means creating sigls that appeal to industries, militaries, or rich consumers).  Still, the dream to find a way past the Five Limits has never quite gone away, and there are still people working away at the edges of drucraft society, hoping they’ll be the ones who’ll finally discover a way through . . .

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Worldbuilding Articles Poll: Results

Okay, results are in for the poll on the Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft articles!  Thanks to everyone who wrote in.

I’d originally been planning to start off with the articles on the various branches, going through them in order – Light, Matter, Motion, etc.  However, reading through your responses, the overwhelming winner for what everyone was most interested to see was actually the articles on limits.  Which makes sense now that I think about it, but wasn’t something that would have occurred to me on my own.  So I’m going to change my original plan and do the series of articles on the Five Limits first.

The branches come in at joint second place, tied with articles on the Houses and on limiters (again, I wouldn’t have guessed the last one).  So I’ll do those next.  There’s a bit more interest in the more esoteric branches (like Dimension and Primal) than in the simpler ones (like Light and Matter) but not hugely so, so I’ll probably work through the branches in order.  However, I think I might leave the sigl articles for later, since 6 articles on the branches is quite a lot on its own without doing another 6 (at least) to give even a very brief overview of sigl types.

Third in the priority list are Country Affinities, Corporations, and the articles on advanced sensing/channelling/shaping, so they’ll come afterwards.  Sigl Fashion, The Exchange, and Measuring Scales come in as the fourth group, which isn’t too much of a surprise (honestly, I’m surprised an article on “Measuring Scales” got as many votes as it did).

So current rough order is likely to be:

  1. Limits (overview, then 5-ish individual articles)
  2. Branches (6 individual articles)
  3. Houses (2-3 individual articles)
  4. Limiters (probably only 1 article)

2, 3, and 4 may be shuffled around, depending on what I feel like, but given how much interest there was in the Five Limits, they’re definitely getting covered first.  In any case, this comes to around 15 articles, so this’ll definitely keep me busy for quite a while!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #10: The Branches

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.

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