Animancy: the Seventh Gift

Common Skills | Druids | Training | Witchcraft | Return to Magic in Lyran Tal

Animancy SymbolAnimancy is loosely defined as 'spirit magic.' It is the harmonious union of mind, body, and spirit and as such, it is by far the most complicated of the Seven Gifts. Although each animancer possesses a natural inclination toward one aspect of their gift (mind, body, or spirit), they are not limited to that aspect alone. As a matter of course, their greatest spells and skills will be those that spring from this intrinsic preference.

An animancer can communicate with animals, feel the emotions of others, communicate with spirits, dreamwalk, move objects, or (more rarely) shapeshift, depending on their power level and experience. An animancer often tends to have a preternatural awareness of their surroundings. Everything that is done involves an investment of one's own personal energy, the manipulation of their essence.

While scholars have labeled the Seventh Gift 'animancy,' there are extremely few beyond the hallowed halls and books of learning who actually use the term. Recent events have given rise to increasing knowledge about the Seventh Gift, but much of it is still shrouded in mystery and ignorance. To further complicate the issue, each of the diverse branches use their own terminology. Practitioners (when they are singled out at all) are variously called 'witches' (whether they are male or female), 'sorcerers,' 'druids' (often wrongly) or, for lack of a more informed choice, simply ''mancers.'

Whether by chance or by choice, the office of Archmage of Animancy (or Archmage of the Spirit Gift, as it would be more commonly known) has historically been clouded by obscurity. Rare ancient tomes do make mention of the existence of such a position and, indeed, it is certain that Spirit Magic follows the conventions of the Laws of Magic and there is always an archmage for each of the Seven Gifts, whether the knowledge of who holds the position is public or not. The most recent Archmage of Animancy, Sherakai dan Rikash, left the empire in 1279. A certain amount of controversy surrounds his quiet assumption of the office, but supporters point out his participation in the Healing of the Leylines (Blossumbud 1275), which required the combined efforts of all the archmages of all the Gifts -- archmages that noticeably did not denounce him on the spot. Since his departure, there has been no word of anyone stepping forward to claim the position.

To avoid potential confusion, it must be pointed out that while animancy is 'spirit magic,' the Twixt and/or Spirit World does not form the energy source of the Seventh Gift, it is, however -- on its own plane of existence -- linked to the Seventh Gift. Animancy uses the 'mancer's spiritual connection with the world to draw upon the ley lines. It is the focus of spirit that calms the chaos of the leylines.

Becoming an Animancer

There is no one region that particularly produces or supports animancy, and the Gift is said to be extremely rare. One must be born with the ability to utilize 'spirit magic.' The Seventh Gift can affect nearly anything, animate or inanimate, using the spirit to channel the power of the ley line. It can not, however, affect water, air, or fire. As with any Gift, the amount of power one is able to draw depends upon the ability of the user.

The Seventh Gift is utilized through the connection one's spirit has with other things or with one's self to perform some action/event. Some use spells. Others can perform skills through application of sheer will, though they tend to be very strong in their gift. Most animancers can perform a number of skills, but they usually incline toward only one of the three aspects: mind, body or spirit. The stronger the mage, the more likely he/she is to develop abilities in a second aspect. It is very rare, however, for any single mage to have mastery over all aspects of the Seventh Gift. Additionally, without formal training the potential to learn -- and become proficient in -- more than two or three of the major skills (listed below) is almost unheard of. Under the auspices of dan Rikash, a new school was established for budding animancers. Upon his departure from the region, he bequeathed Streylan Farm to the school and the students have taken up residence there. While part of the original property was sold, the remainder is used to grow and sell foodstuffs and the now famous Streylan Mint used for tea.

In addition, it must be pointed out that some of the branches of the Seventh Gift (Druids, witches, shamans) have their own methods of teaching, and they are not taught at what is now referred to as the Streylan School.

Common Skills

Note: the word "common" indicates only that these skills are among those most likely to appear in an animancer's repertoire and does not take into account the length of time needed either to learn or perfect the skill. As with any other magic, it takes years of practice to develop the focus and technique needed to perform some of the higher-level skills. The chart below gives a basic idea of the divisions of the skills and suggests an appropriate level at which they may be accomplished. At this time the sphere of Animancy has no specific ranks. As with any other magic, each spell is subject not only to the power and focus put into it, but develops in strength according to practice and experience.

Skill Aspect(s) Approx. Level Description
Dreamwalking Spirit mid Dreamwalking is a form of teleportation; it is the act of seeking out another person's mind through dreams and affecting it by 'shaping' their dreams and using the dreams to influence the dreamer's thoughts and feelings. A mage is able project images and emotions via the dream state. The plane on which this occurs is referred to as the 'Dream World.' Some animancers touch the dreams of those close to them, intentionally or no. This dream state can also be used for communication.
Empathy Spirit low Natural empathy is the ability to read body language and draw from that what another is feeling. Magical empathy enables the 'mancer to vicariously experience another person's emotions. The depth of the former is based on the strength of the mage's ability. This skill, at a more advanced level of ability, can also be used to project emotions (real or simulated).
Healing Body/Mind/Spirit high

First and foremost, animantic healing is not to be confused with vivomantic healing. Vivomancy physically repairs the body, whereas animancy requires the mage to affect physiological activity by tapping into the unconscious or involuntary bodily processes (heartbeat, brainwaves, etc.) in order to manipulate them by conscious mental control, thereby accelerating the healing process. The more gifted animancer can take his efforts further by employing other skills (such as telekinesis) in conjunction with this acceleration. As an example, an animancer can move broken bones together while hastening the healing process. Rare indeed is the animancer who has the ability to heal another, and it requires drawing heavily upon both the leylines and the mage's own energy. It is quite limited and not nearly as potent as vivomancy. The better the 'mancer knows the person, the better he/she will be able to accomplish his goal.

Unlike vivomancy, an animancer has the ability to influence the function of their own body, accelerating their own body's healing or stabilizing a critical wound. However, the degree of pain caused by the wound will affect the mage's ability, and clearly an unconcious mage cannot do any healing at all. Often, recovery from extensive or deep wounds can be accelerated when the mage enters a healing trance, but this takes extreme focus and experience.

Yet another aspect of this skill is the ability of an animancer to bind another's spirit with their own, holding it to this world until the critical wound is healed instead of letting it drift into the Twixt.

Hind Sight Spirit mid to high The ability to sense actions or emotions that have taken place at a location in the past, or upon a certain object. Derived from the animancer's sensitivity to the spirits of others, it is almost like 'historical empathy,' and is sometimes confused with 'Second Sight.'
Illusion Spirit mid to high Used by projecting false sensations and/or perceptions -- a twist on telepathy and empathy. It is usually used on single targets by touchinng them with one's own spirit. In order to affect more than one individual, the 'mancer would be required to manipulate each 'thread' or focus individually, which requires great strength and ability. Those who are not being actively cast upon will not see the illusion, no matter how hard they 'look.' At the same time, the person upon which the illusion is being worked will see, hear, feel, smell or taste (depending on the proficiency of the caster) the illusion as though it were real. Real damage is possible through the target's reaction to the spell, either physically or mentally (escaping the perceived threat or mental shock from false pain and/or fear).
Portals Body/Mind/Spirit high Opening portals is a part of teleportation, but to maintain one for a long period of time, like the naturally occurring portals, requires an extraordinary amount of magical energy. Because of this, 'mancers use such spells for personal travel and the populace at large uses the stable portals. Also, it is important to note that one can only connect the newly opened portal with a previously existing one.
Precognition Spirit - - Knowledge of an event or state that has not yet occured. Such knowledge is not completely reliable, as the future is not absolute. This skill is extremely rare and apparently limited to females -- and possibly archmages.
Second Sight Spirit low The ability to garner information about an object, person, or location (or occasionally an actual event). Similar to - and often confused with - Hindsight.
Shape-shifting Body/Mind/Spirit high One of the most difficult skills (if not the most difficult), shape-shifting requires the use of all three aspects of the Seventh Gift and is most often associated with the Druids. It is easiest for the 'mancer to shift into a single particular species with which he is extremely familiar. This involves many years of study, observation and meditative trances so that the animancer knows what it is to be the animal. This also allows the animal spirits to learn the Druid's spirit so that they can choose to be his talisman. The actual act of shape-shifting involves drawing the spirit of the animal inside the 'mancer, allowing him to take on the attributes of the beast. Through that spiritual connection, the 'mancer forces his body into the shape of the animal's.
Spirit Link Spirit mid to high Some animancers have the ability to form a spiritual connection through which they can affect (or be affected by) those to whom they are linked. It is limited by ability, distance and familiarity with the subject.
Spirit Reading Spirit low Spirit Reading is related to empathy and is in some ways another facet of it. It is the ability to read strong aspects of a person's soul and character rather than current surface emotions. These could include malicious or benevolent intentions, naiveté or worldliness, being highly trustworthy or treacherous, etc. High level 'mancers would be able to ascertain more than low level. Where one might just feel uncomfortable around a certifiable evildoer, another would recoil in horror.
Spirit Speaking Spirit low This involves the ability of the 'mancer to contact and speak with the spirits of those who have died. On another level - associated with Witches - one may coax, force, or otherwise manipulate the inhabitants of the Spirit World/Twixt. A low-level caster might be able to tell fortunes and predict futures (by asking the spirits to reveal what they see). She might also be able to ward off curses (or place them) and 'create' luck (by asking spirits to either protect or harm others). Finally, they might be able to coax spirits to perform tricks or mischievous acts.
Constitution Body low Drawing upon the leylines, a mage can temporarily 'boost' some aspect of his physical constitution (strength, endurance, grace, speed.)
Telekinesis Spirit/Body mid to high Moving items requires a detailed of knowledge of the object. The caster does not channel himself into an object, but instead draws it into him, making the action an internal rather than an external process. Of course, the higher the level of the 'mancer, the better he/she is at becoming attuned to an object. The distance the item can be moved is directly proportional to the 'mancer's ability. Generally, it is limited to the area local to the 'mancer.
Telepathy Mind low The ability to transfer information by means other than the five senses is most often done with animals. Animal minds are in many ways extremely foreign to most humanoids, but always share certain base drives, needs and desires. An animancer communicates with emotion and through shared images rather than words. Where it involves humans alone, such communication is very strongly influenced by emotion, but coupled with experience and intuition the caster would be able to 'speak' to another person. Animancers cannot simply 'read' minds. However, depending on ability, they may be able to be *heard* by another being whether they are telepathic or not. Two-way communication requires a 'partner' with similar abilities (another telepath).
Teleportation Body/Mind/Spirit mid to high Every gift has its own method of teleporting. In the instance of the animancer, since the 'mancer has intimate knowledge of himself (body, mind, and spirit), he also has the ability to move himself, changing location from one place to another. Another aspect of Teleportation is moving solely the spirit, leaving the body behind. It is dangerous and risky, for it is far too easy to become severed from one's own body and be forced to roam the land without physical form. It must be pointed out that such 'movement' must be to a familiar place.

Users of Animancy

The Druids are the oldest widely-known practitioners of the Seventh Gift within the Empire of the Silver Moon, and are the Lyran Tal counterpart of an Earth's Shaman. Their school is widely influenced by their worship of Gaia (also called the Earth Mother,) and is reflected in the spells taught through their Seventh Gift. The Druid's main belief is that all things, of nature, inanimate, wild life, as well as humans, possess a spirit. In recognizing this, they can use the focus of their 'essence' to drawn upon the Ley Lines and manifest various spells and abilities, again using the mind, the body, or the spirit as their focus. Druidism is also a cultural belief as much as it is a school of magic.

Using the focus of both body and spirit, they can manifest Teleportation. The Druids are also known to foretell the weather, but likely this is due to their close observation of nature and wildlife rather than the connection to the Ley Lines, although there is some speculation that it may also be linked to their close understanding of the Spirit of Earth Mother.

A Druid can bring plants to life, for in their careful nurture of their own individual territories, Druids can invest their own 'essence' into the plant life and thereby exercise the druidic version of telekinesis. This expansive empowering of 'essence' can only happen however, within a land they have already nurtured through time. A Druid perceives such a manifestation as linking their spirit and will to the spirit of nature to bring it to life.

Shapeshifting is another manifestation of the Seventh Gift occasionally practiced by the Druids. It manifests through the all aspects of the Seventh Gift, when a trained Druid is able to channel a pure spirit of an animal power. A Druid can use the focus of the mind, to communicate with animals as well.

Due to their strong spiritual focus, the Druids use dreams and altered level of consciousness to call upon the spirits, and have a strong respect and link to the spirit of their ancestors. They also practice meditation extensively to strengthen their own spiritual focus as well as their sense of peace and connection with nature.

The High Druid takes part in an annual ritual that takes place during the Tivili Celebration. Three high-ranking mages participate. The Archmage of Geomancy to reinforce Gaia's connection to the earth; The High Druid (or in recent history, the Archmage of Animancy) to summon her; and the Archmage(ss) of Vivomancy to heal her so she has the strength to go on. For years Elcine Rivervale has been unable to summon Gaia. There are speculations that this is because Gaia will only answer to a male, but the truth -- kept secret by Tequin Shaldolf-Sundew -- is much more dire than that. What will happen now that Sherakai dan Rikash is gone?

Witchcraft is practiced exclusively by Witches. A Witch is someone who uses the Seventh Gift to coax, force or otherwise use the inhabitants of the Spirit World to achieve a desired effect.

Beings of the Spirit World, or the plane of the Spirits, are different from the spirits that the Druids worship and refer to as the High Spirit. Druids are attuned to and draw upon the spirits that are natural (spirit of all things upon the Earth), as well as the spirits of souls who have passed from life onto death. Witches, on the other hand, draw from the spirits that reside in the Spirit World. This plane is mostly inhabited by restless souls of those that have died, and other supernatural beings that never had an origin as a mortal nor are connected to anything of the tangible world. Scholars of magic say that the demons summoned in the Demon War were from the spirit plane. Witches seem to be attuned to the inhabitants of this dangerous and unpredictable Spirit World, rather than the natural spirits that pervade the mortal world.

Witches are born with an innate awareness of this alternate plane that exists in parallel to the natural tangible world. They also tend to possess some quality that draws these entities forth from the spirit plane to them, a trait that can be beneficial and/or quite dangerous. The ability to actually exert one's will over these spirits however, is something that must be taught. There are no formal schools or places of education for the art of witchcraft, rather it is something taught and practiced quietly and individually, sometimes being passed down through families. Because of this, not much is known about Witches, and there are often misunderstandings about who they are and what it is that they do.

It should also be noted that unlike the other two schools of the Seventh Gift, witchcraft is limited to manifestation of the power only upon the spiritual component of the 'essence'. It may be due to the fact that witchcraft, due to its cultural taboo as well as its rarity and exclusivity, is not well studied nor developed, the knowledge of the Gift being only passed from parent to offspring in most cases.

The control over the spirit world comes from a Witch's own spirit or soul. She uses sheer will to coax or force these entities into performing various acts. Therefore her abilities are largely based on the degree of will she possesses as well as the strength and reliability of the spirits she uses. Suffice it to say, however, that most witchcraft would not be considered terribly powerful magic compared to the other gifts. A Witch might be able to tell fortunes and predict futures (by asking the spirits to reveal what they see). She might also be able to ward off curses (or place them) and create good luck (by asking spirits to either protect or harm others). Finally, Witches might be able to coax spirits to perform tricks or mischievous acts.

It should always be remembered though, that spirits of the Spirit World can be unpredictable. They may have their own motivations, or even seek to uses Witches to their own ends. These manipulative motivations are not usually observed in the naturally occurring spirits of the animals and nature that the Druids worship. Thus, the practice of witchcraft can be a dangerous one compared to the others of the Seventh Gift.

Much speculation remains on where exactly this 'Spirit World' exists. Current beliefs say that the Spirit World is actually 'Twixt, but there is no evidence which can prove this theory. Some scholars say that 'Twixt is but a middle ground, a realm that acts as a bridge between the nether-realm as well as the separate plane of spirits. The exact nature of these spirits is frequently debated; current beliefs link the spirits to both benevolent and malicious types. The benevolent spirits are called simply that: spirits. The malicious types are commonly referred to as Demons. The 'Demon War' which ravaged across the Silver Moon Empire had the redcap Gane calling on an army of 'Demonic' forces. Whether these forces were the same types of malicious spirits has yet to be proven. Some claims have the demons coming from another dimension entirely. The origins of the spirits that the Witches invoke, as well as the nature of the netherrealm and 'Twixt, continue to remain a mystery.

The Khorezim were once renowned for their schools of Talents, individually specialized manifestations of the Seventh Gift. Communication and relations with the Khorezim declined drastically after the double eclipse of 1261 that accompanied mass malfunctioning of the portals. The violent magics of the Cataclysm of 1278 completely destroyed the area and the island sank into the sea.


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