by Max Barry

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by The Red Tape Singularity of Yegla Islands. . 113 reads.

[OOC] Sepulchers, Sorcery & Subatomic Shenanigans - a quick™ guide to Yeglaverse "magic"

For Your Attention

The following documents encompass a series of miscellaneous data points, and files that could not be placed into any other category. More documentation will be added as it is written, declassified or discovered.


The Yeglaverse. A place of generalized political cursed-ness, literary neglect, and drastically-overblown, likely never-to-be-completed side-stories by the handful. A place where technology jumps between the barely-feasible and the wholly insane. A place of revolutions and revelations, of barren wastes and battle-wizardry... except that last part is a tad suspect.

The question "does the Yeglaverse have magic?" has only one concise answer - this being laughter, followed by tears, and maybe a little dance for added effect. Spells and incantations? Check, up to a point. Folks prancing about in robes, hurling fireballs? Granted, they're closer to terrorists than wizards, but check. Actual magic?

...Not quite. Or at the very least, not in the traditional sense. But also pretty much in the traditional sense. Let me explain.

On the Thaum, and related matters

What drives a story? Action. Intent, progression. Literary motion, so to speak. It's the thing that prompts characters to do stuff, in some abstract sense, dancing along plotlines towards whatever uncertain end is plotted out by their respective author (or auteur, if you want to be artsy and pretentious). Within the confines of the Yeglaverse, it is a... somewhat more tangible thing.

The Thaum is a particle of intent. It is also a wave, because I can and will cram pseudoscience into this. It is, in very, very basic terms, the thing that makes everything else do stuff. For a moving object, it allows for and guides that motion, but also allows the object to be an object in the first place. For a character, it grants them traits and features, steers their actions. It makes up what some would call the soul. Others would call it the morphic field, or thaumic field if we want to keep things simple - the swirling, mutable bubble of thaum-stuff that keeps each and every thing as what it is, and stops it from bursting into metaconceptual un-goop. Keep this in mind - it'll be important later.

It is by no means a conventional particle. Practically impossible to detect without external help, or really fancy pseudoscientific equipment provided via external help (see below), and more or less non-existent to those incapable of detecting it. But it permeates everything. In the Yeglaverse, it is the key to pretty much everything of note - the meta-handwavium, the locus of power. The driving force of conflicts aplenty, in a multitude of ways.

It may also be tapped more directly. This is where things start getting a wee bit magical.

Power by right - The "Natural" Magics

The question of what is and isn't natural is a finnicky one, especially in the Yeglaverse. But for the purposes of this, let's consider semi-random statistical happenings natural. It is therefore natural for certain people in the confines of this 'verse to be born with a slightly altered connection to the world around them. Remember the thaumic field? The more-or-less soul of every conceptually-defined thing? That's where the differences are made manifest. Why? Because of random chance, and metanarrative pseudo-Brownian motion, and my own desire to add spice to this story and 'verse.

In any case - every once in a while, a person is born... different. It's not a question of genetics - rather, the way they actually fit into the narrative is a bit off from the norm. They aren't quite slaves to the Thaum, the narrative force that shapes their lives. By will alone, they may impose themselves on the world. They are granted some degree of direct, conscious control over thaumic fields - both their own and those of others, or simply the ambient wordly soup that holds everything together. And this may manifest in a variety of actual, in-verse manners - really, each and every one of these individuals takes to it differently. Since it all ties into will and mentality, someone with strong pop-culture influences may be capable of similar feats (and subject to similar restrictions) to a high-fantasy wizard. A naturally-gifted mathematician may influence local probability metrics. A particularly creative individual may gain the capacity to quite literally rewrite reality. A rationally-driven person could even become a sort of reality-anchor - dampening the thaumically-sourced capabilities of other such individuals with their mere presence.

There isn't really a unified name for these individuals, and their very existence is clouded over by a few... societal factors, shall we say. They're typically regarded as something of an urban myth, a product of superstition - the fact that they're immensely rare doesn't help, nor do the machinations of a certain magical doomsday cult seeking to find and lay claim to as many of them as possible. Those that do figure out the usage of their power without getting drafted into shadowy anprim terrorist cells or accidentally blowing themselves up tend to end up as recluses, or at the very least careful with regards to actually using their capabilities.

The Bureaucracy - that is, those elements of it that maintain awareness - typically refer to them as either Conduits or Avatars, with the former being preferred in an official capacity. A few other world governments are also either expressly aware or convinced of their existence, and specialized "wizard ops" squads do in fact exist. The Yeglans, however, do not maintain any such unit. And this brings us neatly to our next point.

Power by guile - Thaumaturgy

The Crescent War was not a nice war, insofar as there is such a thing as a "nice war". For Bephegua at large, it meant a few toppled regimes, a whole lot of corpses, and a whole new superpower to contend with. For the fledgling Federal Bureaucracy of Yegla Islands, it meant a massive tech boost, plenty more corpses, and newly-acquired superpower status (showing that even the worst wars tend to work out well for someone). And it started over a submarine.

Not exactly your average attack sub, mind you. Nor was it an operational sub in any sense. Discovered at the bottom of a marine trench during an oceanic survey, it had lain there for... quite some time. And this is because it was technically a Sepulcher.

Now, what is a Sepulcher, I hear nobody ask. And that's a very good question, because it's kind of crucial to this whole thing. Sepulchers are a series of scattered, ancient structures (or, in this case, vehicles) all over Bephegua. Their designs vary, their original purposes are inscrutable, and they tend to be packed to the brim with precursor-tech goodies. Or at the very least, that's what they're assumed to be by most people - all that's really known is that they've lain around for a long time, and that they tend to be miles ahead of anything currently-extant in terms of tech. They tend to be guarded very, very zealously by nations they happen to be within the borders of - it's not hard to see why. The discovery of one is typically cause for a massive leap in technological innovation, an equally-massive war... or both. In this case, it was both.

Spanning half a decade and involving most of the world's notable powers, the Crescent War came rather close to both world war status and the cause for a nuclear exchange - while neither actually happened, it helps illustrate just how badly everyone wanted whatever was inside that sub. When the Yeglans actually got their hands on it, that desire became fully justified. Because what they found inside was a method of utilizing the thaum without having to be born as a one-in-a-million special snowflake. And it was a method that could be utilized on an industrial scale. And utilize it they did.

The core principle behind thaumaturgy is that the thaum can be condensed. Pulled out of the weird state of semi-existence it usually occupies, by means of some very specialized tooling, and squeezed into what can more or less be called conventional matter. Referred to as mana (because i honestly couldn't be assed coming up with a creative name, and hey - it fits), this crystalline substance may then be routed into even more specialized equipment, allowing the everyman to exert a similar sort of narrative control to a Conduit.

This comes with a few caveats, however.

The first is that aforementioned equipment - while efforts to streamline it are, and have been, made, it's still pretty hefty stuff. There's a reason the average UYDF thaumaturge is a power-armored behemoth lugging around a man-sized projector-cannon - and that reason can be summed up as "weight to power ratio". You want the capacity to freeze enemy platoons solid and chuck 'em into orbit, you need a lot of hardware on you. Support thaumaturges have lighter rigs, but they're also incapable of doing all the really flashy tricks, simply because they lack the power output. This is why caster fleets are such a terrifying asset - there's a lot of thaumic hardware you can fit into the average warship.

The second, and perhaps more notable pitfall, is that while your average Joe can now make use of the thaum, they can't really control it directly by intent. They can't simply bend things to their will - the provided equipment must act as not only a conduit, but a targeting system. This means that what a thaumaturge may actually do with the mana at their disposal is limited by the number of predetermined patterns, or settings, their equipment is capable of outputting. These patterns are officially termed Constructs, but most people tend to simply label them as spells. And it's hard not to use the colloquialism, considering the similarities the system shares with magic systems in videogames and literary fiction.

Besides granting more or less everyone access to de-facto magic, thaumaturgy has a few more upshoots. Firstly, it's a lot more stable than what a Conduit may or may not be able to do - since output isn't bound to mental states, a thaumaturge doesn't risk vaporizing themselves because of a mood swing, or having their powers fail due to a lack of self-confidence. Secondly, since the power draw is external, rather than relying on the user's own thaumic field, the user won't be subject to fatigue after extended casting. They may instead run out of ammunition - that said, since ambient thaumic fields are pretty much all-pervasive, all they need to do is bring a condenser along, granting them an effectively-unlimited supply of mana. Finally, thaumaturgy doesn't actually require a human caster - while channeling without direct access to a sentient will can be tricky, it remains doable. This allows for some interesting fringe applications and unmanned weaponry - something the UYDF exploits quite extensively in its equipment lineup.

The Red Tape Singularity of Yegla Islands