by Max Barry

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by The World Machine of Shwe Tu Colony. . 32 reads.

On Magic

Eight base affiliations: Atmosphere, Fluid, Energy, Life, Light, Dark, Ordo, Chao
Other affiliations: Artificial, Mind, Arcane, Primordial
When studied, arcane and primordial combinations may either have their own set of spells or strengthen the abilities of other spells.

Affiliation combinations
LinkImproved organization

Elementary particles are the source of magic in World Machine/Shwe Tu Colony, with each having a particular signature that determines its interactions with a target's specific elementary particle aversion or strength.
Everything that can be affected by magic either can be manipulated by particles and used for alterations, or does not actively interfere with magical interactions. In the case of modern-tech items — even light switches to MT lamps — there is generally too severe of an impurity for World Machine residents to use them, due to interference between Foreign electrical energy and World Machine magical energy. In Foreign worlds, the lack of World Machine magical energy allows for MT equipment to be used.
The few waves and substances (e.g. anti-magic bombs/fields) immune to magic lack, harmlessly disperse, absorb, or reject these particles.
Electrical energy is replaced by magical energy and conducts easiest through specific elements and materials rather than a general group. Otherwise, electromagical energy is similar to standard electricity.
Spirits and ghosts are immune to kinetic energy.
The more magic one learns, the more magical power one can store within them.
One can overdose on too much magical energy if their magical expertise is inferior.
Crystals are the best way of storing magical energy due to their structure.
Magical energy can slowly be transferred to worlds lacking magical ability by constant casting of magic or magical devices, which both leak out magic that remains in the environment & alter it to produce more magical energy.

A spell consists of the following factors:
Current emotive state. The more emotionally pressed an individual is, it generally follows that their spellcasting becomes more erratic or powerful. That is, someone who is fighting for their life will receive an immense bonus to their spells, whereas a friendly duel may have very little bonuses. However, such emotional instability will generally reduce one's focus ability.
Value. The more essential or meaningful an affiliation is to an individual, the more its effectiveness changes.
Raw magical energy cost. Generally, the more magical energy put into a spell, the more powerful it becomes.
Cast time. Spells with longer casting times are more effective, but of course, it does leave one vulnerable, unless one multicasts, in which case there will likely be a focus penalty.
Focus. Spells that require minimal focus to cast will generally be weaker, but allow one to move or multicast with less effort. Spells that require intense focus to cast will be much stronger, but will obstruct one's adaptability.
Requirements. Spells with more requirements (e.g. requires an item's sacrifice, continuously drains magical energy, self-inflicted damage, may not multicast, etc...) will be able to use said requirement presence to boost other factors.
Area. If one converts a single-target spell to an area effect, spell effectiveness will decrease accordingly unless another component is altered.
Control. The more easily a spell is controlled, or the more definitively targeted it is, the greater the factor penalty. Standard spells have friendly fire toggled off with only mild penalty, but some eccentric magicians may choose to remove it for chaotic reasons or something.
Effects. Slotting in more debuffs/status ailments will decrease a spell's effectiveness accordingly unless one alters another factor.

These all add up to some arbitrary number that the World Machine uses to manifest a spell's damage, efficiency, or costs. That is, if a penalty is added to one factor, another stat must rise accordingly; perhaps a higher focus is used to reduce raw magical energy cost, or a ridiculous amount of requirements are added to massively amplify efficiency at the price of it being generally useless outside of those situations.

For example, consider a generic fireball, with each variable changed:
A standard, low-cost, basic fireball can be casted by a beginner magician to deal minor Fire-affiliated area damage.
A fireball that hinges heavily upon emotive state may not be available or effective until that state is entered. A fireball that can be casted in any state will still receive emotive benefits, but not to as high of a degree as attuning it wholly to that emotion.
A fireball from a fire elemental — that is, a being made entirely of fire — has more value, and thus more effectiveness, than a random mage. In contrast, a water elemental or those with pyrophobia will have a severe penalty to effectiveness.
A high-mana-cost fireball will require a more skilled mage, with a higher mana pool, to cast. A low-mana-cost fireball will not need such expertise, but will have reduced effectiveness.
A high-cast-time/high-focus fireball will need better planning, to ensure one does not get interrupted or hit. Low-cast-time/low-focus fireballs can be casted with much greater ease of movement/multicast.
A fireball that requires a sacrifice of, say, gunpowder, can reduce an effectiveness factor or add another factor, at the price of said gunpowder.
A large-area fireball will have more diluted effect than a single-target, narrow fireball unless another factor changes.
A fireball that can be controlled in flight will cost more to cast, as well as require an in-flight maintenance cost.
A fireball that shatters armor or leaves behind plenty of fire will generally reduce its initial effectiveness.
A fireball that is casted specifically on oneself (for some reason) and is able to harm one will generally be able to have boosted effectiveness.

As examples:
Em Dai-Baishi, for example, always uses a mid-cost, long-duration self-buff to all stats that requires all of his focus because he's not supposed to cast it in combat. It has little attachment to his emotive state as well; thus, Em usually casts it when he's safe, and the spell is consistent, but not exciting. In contrast, he has a fire spell with a tiny initial-shot area, very little focus, and very little cost, so it is reliant on him effectively spewing out his drink in order to create a large-enough area to ignite. Of his drink, its replenishment has high value to him, it is contained inside an Artifact that provides its own magical energy, and it is tied entirely to the vessel it is within. Thus, it has no practical cost to himself.

Assassin Jelloucroix Dejani uses his magic alongside his inherent dexterity to create masterpieces. In such a case, his crafting spellcasting is linked to high-control, high-focus, high-time, small-area — a perfect array for when a master artisan like him is at work.

Domeses of Food Magic Sousundowa Carκme has a requirement cost to their magical cooking, that being that they have to use one of 31 different forms for each relevant part of the meal; that is, any dish will likely necessitate Sousundowa changing forms at some point in order to best create it. The major cost is that they do have to maintain 31 separate individuals even while they're dormant, so while switching/calling out forms may be inexpensive in part because of value, Sousundowa's existence is relatively high-cost.

The system also qualifies for Innate Abilities, which, while nonmagical, still function akin to spells.

For example, D'aillisioux's primary ability, Art Therapy, requires very little focus, cast time, and requirements; incurs no magical energy cost; and has a wide potential area. However, his ability is divided into a stressed and unstressed format, and of this, his unstressed format has very minimal damage output compared to his swordsmanship. In exchange, his ability's low costs allows it to be highly adaptable, making it useful for non-combat scenarios, such as getting stuff off of a higher shelf because D'aillisioux is like 4 ft 6 in. On the other hand, his stressed form has extremely high damage potential and is entirely useless outside of situations where he is under attack, but he can not control it, and it acts automatically with little regard to strategy. Also, it passively damages him and puts him under undue stress, so it's not great.

Anh Jumin-Shirō's Innate Ability summons his longma mount with little time and energy cost, but in exchange, requires intense focus, which isn't really a problem for him because of his personality and resolve.

Thallian Tarocco

0 Fool, infinity
1 Sage, free wisdom and sense-making
2 Bishop, restricted wisdom and control
3 Merchant, social acumen and accumulation
4 Recluse, self-realization and asceticism
5 Falconer, unrestrained freedom
6 Perla, recovery
7 Lovers, great unity
8 Rivals, enormous challenge
9 Fisher, fortune in capricious circumstances
10 Farmer, endurance in capricious circumstances
11 Sun, overflowing joy
12 Moon, only hope amidst nothing
13 Eclipse, balance
14 Justice, rules and fairness
15 Garrote, unjust sacrifice
16 Charred Man, chaos and destruction wrought by one's own pride
17 Drowned Woman, inability to act amidst destruction
18 Cavalier, brave charge into the unknown
19 Ship-of-the-Line, full effort forward in the known
20 Jester, ignored potential

Zone cards are used to alter a pulled card
1 Land, reduces variation of effects
2 Sea, increases variation of effects
3 Sky, duplicates card
4 World, activates all cards

Card actions are what a Tarocco may do with their card
Use: Activate card on oneself.
Throw: Activate card where it lands.
Summon: Activate card as aura buff/debuff.
Sacrificare: Activate card and amplify its effects, but temporarily remove card from deck.
Rip: Inverse card, used with Use/Throw/Summon.
Lacerare: Inverse card and amplify its effects, but temporarily remove card from deck.
Pull again: Discard card and receive another.

Unlike other spells, the Thallian Tarocco is entirely reliant on chance, resulting in the simplest-powerful effects, at the price of not being able to control it
Skilled Tarocchi — Tarocco mages — can "shuffle" their decks to raise the chances of certain cards, or outright alter luck in the immediate area
Apprentice Tarocchi from the Dance of Tarocco are often known to shuffle with such natural ease that there is a near-certain chance of their ideal card being chosen
The only exception is the World card, which usually serves as the final measure of Tarocchi, and is not pulled naturally
Of the cards, it is known that Drowned Woman and Charred Man are representative of the old Druzakh and Wastes, and are representative of the disaster thereof