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Magic

Magic is the common name given to applied techniques for the application of psionic effort to, and using, refined psionically amplifying crystals. Crystals grow in the lowlands, as a parasitic outgrowth of most deep flora, and are mined in an unusable state; they must be refined to be used, a process no doubt copied from the Invaders. The resulting refined crystals can be used to produce psionic energy or heat for a number of purposes, or be further "named", using psi, in order to manifest a particular function with no use of magic during deployment, at the expense of flexibility.

Magic circuits are caused by a sentient will modulating their psi through the crystal in order to manifest it; some circuits must be conceptualized as an image, simply because people's brains are in large part dedicated to visual processing (most are drawn so that the user can see them, but some are memorized by those with a particularly good memory, allowing figureless casting; gestures and words may also be used to aid memory), while simpler ones can be associated with a word or phrase.

Magic is still slowly moving from an art to a science, circuit theory having progressed to the point where manuals such as Paul Horowitz's "The Art of Psionics" exist detailing common symbols and how to add their effects appropriately. Places such as hospitals and naming workshops will often have common circuits engraved on easy-to-see spots.

As a side note, congenital or long-borne blindness correlates very positively with psi ability -- although it has no effect on psi strength -- since it lessens or removes the need for visualization. "Blinding your psions" is a common accusation in diplomatic meetings and a slang term for pulling off an elegant feat of psionics, although actual occurrences are rare. In common parlance, psi is used to denote common and well-understood psi effects, while magic denotes subtle or complicated work requiring imagery and occasionally ritual -- doing magic denotes the external actions that someone channeling their psi ability has to perform. Named crystals, or refined crystals that are used for their default function of generating energy, always require a will to activate them -- most animals cannot do so, but barring exraordinary circumstances such as brain damage or an extremely unlucky birth even the dullest Womp can do this.

Most people build up some psi charge through doing things that they have a passion for doing and release it near completion of their efforts, which is probably why that homecooked meal tasted slightly better than the same thing prepared by a professional who would be able to do so without effort; psionic energy is known to correlate with the sensation of flow, the act of facing a challenge and meting it.

Magical hand tools, as distinguished from powered hand tools that only have one socket for heat or electricity, generally sport two sockets, one being for the nonconsumable named crystal that gives the effect, and the other for the consumable refined crystal to provide the energy. Bench tools and the like, for efficiency reasons (the named crystal does wear out eventually, since no transfer is 100% efficient eventually the named crystal will also be consumed) only bear sockets for refined crystals, and a diagram (it can be a properly drawn circuit, or just a symbol to remind the user of a circuit they've at least somewhat memorized that came with the manual) to illustrate the effect on the user. Circuit diagramming was originally introduced as a way to standardize crystal use, since named crystals require much time and effort to make; some people feel that by now it is integral to the magic use process, although masters of the craft know better.

(out-of-setting, the idea is that there's spells one can memorize, there's spells that one can modularly build usually by drawing them (just because it's what is commonly taught: if your mnemonic is an interpretive dance, go for it, works well with combat casters specifically beause it's less standard), and there's spells that require multiple wills and a ritual to synch them, so it'd end up looking either very catholic or very coreographic).

Not surprisingly, Tsuxi psi is clearly divided between rule-of-thumb folk magic used to deal with little problems in life, and highly formalized psionics taught within the Bureaucracy. More surprisingly, the psi circuit symbols are a common part of the language -- they were probably derived from Invader culture and thus were formalized before Tsuxi isolationism, so there aren't two standards.

Naming a crystal involves imprinting a psi mnemonic onto the crystal itself, and it's very much an art form to do so reliably. Fortunately, a named crystal will change its hue from the usual shade of green that refined crystals sport, so it can be told apart. Naming a cristal to cause a single-use effect, consuming itself, is easier than allowing a two-crystal system.

Refined crystals are usually the size of a C cell; they are generally inserted into a socket and must be touched by a psionically conscious entity to be activated. A refined crystal that is activated without any mnemonic will essentially short-circuit, a short being the simplest possible circuit; they will generate heat for a while, and then shatter into dust -- this makes refined crystals useful as general purpose fuel for vehicle engines, boiling water, or running electrical devices through thermocouples. Heated crystals will duly glow and are too hot to touch safely, but while thy are occasionally used as impromptu flashbangs, the thrower must know the appropriate mnemonic. Crystals will happily undergo chain reaction, obviating the need for continuous activation in engines -- some simple engines are manually fed, but even most small rigs have a hopper. Crystal cartridges are usually cut to the appropriate size for the bolt they propel. Crystal dust is known to be mildly toxic; things like ground cars generally operate electrically for quiet and ease of dust disposal, while rigs run on the Stirling cycle in order to extract more power.

Crystals can be used to activate psi effects, also known as "doing magic" - quite a few people have some abilities that synergize well enough with their natural psi that no power source is required, and this sort of synergy is a learnable skill for those with the necessary amount of skill and training for it, but most psi effects need activation. A crystal used this way will dissipate as soon as the effect is over. Since effects require generating the correct circuit of thought (which is often not particularly sensical), schematics are often used as an aid to memory. In general, psi effects are subtle; while ball lightning and leaping ten meters into the air are possible, in general a psi-imbued action will be more along the line of landing on one's knees with enough precision to survive a twenty meter fall and get back up quickly, increase visual acuity enough to effectively zoom in on a target prior to a launcher shot, and so on.

As an example, this is a schematic used in a machine shop; it has fourteen foci, affects up to seven people and is used to target fatigue at the end of a shift and time-shift it to later on. A well-versed but not exceptional psion would take a couple minutes to read the schematic, put crystals on the foci, and activate it. A more permanent version would have indentations to hold the crystals in place; this was probably done by one of the technicians as practice. Using crystals in this manner every day is expensive and not particularly healthy (psi that gives without taking away elsewhere is difficult, and this would only delay the fatigue), but can be useful if it's the end of the work week and there's a sporting event on the following day.

All that said, psi mnemonics come in many forms. While formal magic is learned through math and schematics, an alternative method for simple mnemonics uses the four standard suits of playing cards -- a common practice is to draw a schematic to be remembered on top of a card, and go over it until just handling the card -- or even just thinking of it -- activates the mnemonic. This "cookbook" approach does not allow for much finesse or efficiency, but has the undeniable advantage of being relatively quick to learn and very quick to deploy!

A common approach is to associate a figure (knave, king, queen) and a numbered card -- mnemonics are generally marked in order of difficulty on the latter. Following aeronautical tradition, aces are used alone and are associated with mnemonics that are time-critical and energy-consuming; for example, your average motörhead is likely to associate a last-second boost in airspeed with the Ace of Spades.

Hearts - This suit is primarily associated with healing techniques, either to boost someone's morale (Sursum corda, as the ancients said) so that they can keep up the struggle, or to physically mend or alleviate wounds or illnesses.

Diamonds - Diamonds are actually quite useful industrially, but are associated with dazzlement and obstentation; this suit is associated with illusion and misdirection, making something appear richer or fancier than it is. Psi methods that make one more transparent and so less visible are also associated with this suit.

Spades - Traditionally the humblest suit, spades are associated with utility -- a folding serrated spade, after all, can turn a meadow into a field if held by a good hand. Techniques to briefly affect one's environment to one's expediency go under this fold.

Clubs - Violence may be the last refuge of the incompetent, but even the most level-headed Heliconian sage cannot be competent at everything. This suit is associated with asserting one's power, either by increasing fighting prowess or weakening an enemy's.

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Page last modified on April 30, 2014, at 01:49 PM