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.

Workarounds

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.

Workarounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Worldbuilding Articles: Reader Poll

Something a little unusual for this week!  Work’s going ahead on Book 3, and progressing well at the moment – I’m currently finishing up the first section, and should be sending it out to my beta readers shortly.  In the meantime, I’m planning out which worldbuilding articles about the Inheritance of Magic setting to put out next.  The ‘Phase 1’ articles were the nine ones that I’ve written already;  now that the basics are covered, I’m moving on to Phase 2.

However, when I tried to come up with a first rough list of the topics to cover for Phase 2, it turned out to be long.  Very long.  I spent a little while trying to decide which to focus on first, before it occurred to me that since I’m mainly doing these for the interest of my readers, I might as well go ahead and ask you.  So here we go!

My current working list for Phase 2 articles is as follows:

  • Branches of Drucraft
  • Light
  • Light Sigls
  • Matter
  • Matter Sigls
  • Motion
  • Motion Sigls
  • Life
  • Life Sigls
  • Dimension
  • Dimension Sigls
  • Primal
  • Primal Sigls
  • The Five Limits
  • The First Limit:  Euler’s Limit
  • The Second Limit:  Primal Limit
  • The Third Limit:  Blood Limit
  • The Fourth Limit:  Limit of Creation
  • The Fifth Limit:  Limit of Operation
  • Measuring Scales:  Faraday vs Universal
  • Houses of the United Kingdom:  The Great Houses
  • Houses of the United Kingdom:  The Lesser Houses
  • Houses of the United Kingdom:  The Minor Houses
  • The Exchange
  • Advanced Sensing
  • Advanced Channelling
  • Advanced Shaping
  • Limiters
  • Shapers and Manifesters
  • Country Affinities
  • Corporations of the United Kingdom
  • Corporations of Europe
  • Corporations of the USA
  • Sigl Fashion

As I said, it’s a long list.  Even if I was putting out one of those a week and doing nothing else, it would take a full 34 weeks . . . and in practise the number is likely to be a lot bigger than that, since I usually only put up worldbuilding articles once a fortnight or so.  So realistically, this is likely to last well into 2025.

What I’d like you guys to do is leave a comment on this blog post with the items from that list you’d be most interested in seeing.  Single favourites are fine, Top 3 or Top 10 is fine, but no more than 10 items, please.  Also, if there are topics that you’d like me to cover that aren’t on that list, feel free to add as write-ins.  I’ll generally consider pretty much anything as a viable topic, so long as it doesn’t strike me as particularly boring or likely to count as a major spoiler.

Note that in the long term I’m probably going to do every item on this list one way or another;  this poll is just to figure out which order to do them in (and whether to put any other items on the list ahead of them).

And that’s it!  Post your requests below.

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Alex Verus #11 in Germany

Alex Verus #11, Forged, is out in its German edition as of last week.  The Alex Verus books have been translated into quite a few languages by this point, but it’s been the German translation that’s been the most successful, and this year the last book is due to be translated and released.  It’ll be the first time one of my series has been fully translated, which is a small (but nice) milestone for me.

Book #12 ought to be coming out in about six months or so, after which my German publisher is going to get to work on translating and then releasing An Inheritance of Magic too!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Drucraft #9: Shaping

The third, last, and hardest of the drucraft disciplines, shaping is also the rarest.  Channellers aren’t exactly common, but they’re not that hard to find;  learning to channel is slow and difficult, but anybody who works at it long enough and hard enough can become a channeller eventually, and at the higher ranks of Houses and drucraft corporations, basically everyone can channel.  Shaping is a totally different story.

There are two reasons that shapers are so rare.  First, going from channelling to shaping requires a drucrafter to pick up a new skill;  the ability to manipulate and work with free essentia.  “Free essentia” is just the drucraft term for regular essentia – the kind that isn’t attuned to anyone, but is floating around in the air or resting in Wells.  A drucrafter can attune it by taking it into their body, but shaping even the weakest of sigls requires vastly more essentia than any living creature’s body could possibly hold.  This means that the only way to shape a sigl is to learn to use free essentia . . . which is a problem, since directly controlling essentia that hasn’t been attuned to you is impossible.

The way shapers get around this problem is to use indirect control instead.  They learn to use their personal essentia to set up currents, causing the free essentia to be drawn in and concentrated.  Shapers sometimes describe this as ‘painting’, where the shaper’s personal essentia is the paintbrush, or as a ‘whirlpool’, where the free essentia is visualised as a vortex, or even as ‘birds following a leader’ or ‘flock of sheep and a sheepdog’.  The fact that they have to come up with such weird metaphors to explain it is a hint as to the inherent difficulty of the task.  Most channellers find it mind-bendingly impossible at first, and it doesn’t help that most drucrafters are rather bad at sensing, having skipped those parts of the drucraft curriculum to get to that part where they can use magic as quickly as possible.  A drucrafter can get away with this as long as they stick to basic channelling – if all you’re ever planning to do is use not-too-complicated sigls that other people have made for you, then an understanding of your own personal essentia is all you really need.  But it’s woefully inadequate for shaping.

Assuming that a channeller can get past this first hurdle, the next step is to learn to shape an essentia construct.  A construct is basically a blueprint for a sigl, created out of thin strands of essentia, and if you can make a construct for a sigl, you can make the sigl . . . in theory.  In practice it’s quite a lot more difficult than that, partly because making an actual sigl is much more stressful and demanding on one’s shaping skills, and partly because it’s actually quite difficult to know whether you’ve made the construct correctly.  Analysing an essentia construct requires very good sensing skills, so it’s easy to create a construct with a giant flaw that you’re totally unaware of until you try to shape it for real.  This is where a good teacher is enormously helpful – a shaping tutor can analyse a student’s essentia construct and identify such flaws, speeding up the process massively.

Once a would-be shaper has learnt to manipulate free essentia, and can reliably make an essentia construct, the next step is to scale things up.  At this point, paths split.  The “traditional” approach is for a shaper to continue to practise with constructs, making them larger and denser, until they start to work directly with Wells.  This process, however, is quite slow and demanding, and in recent decades it has become more and more common for shapers to focus on training with limiters instead.  Limiters greatly simplify the shaping process by offloading most of the hard work onto the drucrafter who created the limiter.  It does mean that you can’t make a sigl without having the right limiter, but nowadays most Houses and virtually all corporations use this method exclusively, considering the loss in flexibility an acceptable trade-off for the reduced cost and difficulty of training the shaper in the first place.

But even with the limiter method, these costs and difficulties are not small.  The unfortunate fact is that no matter how much they train and practise, every shaper fails their first real shaping attempt.  Most fail their second, third, fourth, and fifth attempts, too.  And this is a problem, because shaping a sigl requires Wells, and Wells cost money.  The easiest way to learn to shape sigls is to practise on a powerful, stable, permanent Well, with a lot of time to try things out and make mistakes . . . but the sort of people who own such Wells are very unlikely indeed to be happy about some newbie messing with them, particularly since it’s entirely possible to damage a Well if you misuse it badly enough.  The most likely way a novice shaper is going to get access to such a Well is if it’s one that their family (or sponsor) owns already.

All of this is a long way of saying that learning to become a shaper is typically very expensive;  training a shaper has a high up-front cost, and someone is going to have to pay it.  Typically that someone is going to be a sponsoring organisation, whether a House or a corporation.  It’s possible to learn shaping without the backing of such an organisation . . . it’s just significantly harder.

Posted in A Beginner's Guide to Drucraft | 5 Comments

Off Sick

Had been planning to do the Shaping article this week, but I’ve come down with a nasty bug and it’s taking all I’ve got to keep up work on the book.  On the plus side that’s making decent progress (first chapter is about done).  Shaping article should be up next Friday!

Posted in News | 5 Comments