Behold, the Metaphysic! These are the rules by which the Universe of Maleficarum was governed.

Everything present here is OOC, although quite a bit of it was discovered by various characters throughout the course of the game.

The Cosmos and the Planes of Existence

The Cosmos consists of many 'Planes' - abstract worlds with distinctly different properties and metaphysics. The important ones are the Aether Plane, the Nether Plane and the Material Plane.

The Aether Plane

A vast, primordial realm brimming with magical energy known as 'Aether', but very little else. The supply of Aether is thought to be vast, however this is the only source of it, and there is no way of knowing whether it will last forever.

The Nether Plane

A still, intangible expanse of nothingness, into which all Aether magic eventually falls. Those few scholars who know of it agree that it must be of infinite size, for despite the spectacular quantities of Aether it has absorbed since the dawn of time, it shows no sign of reaching saturation.

The Material Plane

Our world. A tangible, three-dimensional realm woven of matter and energy. It essentially follows the same physical rules as the OOC real world, however, numerous rips between the Aether and Nether planes and this one have suffused the Material Plane with the power of magic.

Aether Fonts

In some places, links to the Aether Plane have opened up. These are known as Aether Fonts, and it is through them that Aether magic enters the Material Plane. Aether Fonts can only be created from the side of the Aether Plane, when an area becomes so concentrated with Aether that it bursts through to the Material Plane. Once a Font has been created, however, its size may be adjusted in the following ways:

  • If left alone (i.e. no magic cast in entire area of effect) for some time, the Font will gradually shrink in size, although will not disappear entirely.
  • If vast quantities of Aether are channelled within the area of effect in an uncontrolled (i.e. normal cast) way, the Font will grow larger to compensate, allowing more Aether to flow through.
  • If no magic is cast within the area of effect, except for careful, controlled drawing of Aether from the Font in a precise, targeted and managed way, the Font can be 'starved', and so can be made to shrink in size much faster than if it were left alone. The Font could even be sealed permanently in this way in some cases.

Nether Cracks

There are also links to the Nether Plane. These can only be opened from the Material Plane side - when large quantities of Aether accumulate in a single area, the hunger of the Nether Plane to drink the world's Aether supply dry causes cracks to open between the Planes, into which the Aether forever falls. The size of these Nether Cracks can be altered as follows:

  • If left alone (i.e. no magic cast in entire area of effect) for some time, the Crack will gradually shrink in size, although will not disappear entirely.
  • If vast quantities of Aether are channelled within the area of effect in an uncontrolled (i.e. normal cast) way, the Crack will grow larger to compensate, as there is more nearby Aether to consume.
  • If no magic is cast within the area of effect, except for careful, controlled flow of Aether around the Crack in a precise, targeted and managed way, the Crack can be 'fed', and so can be made to shrink in size much faster than if it were left alone. The Crack could even be sealed permanently in this way in some cases.


The uncontrolled use of great amounts of Aether in one place causes the expansion of both nearby Aether Fonts and Nether Cracks, as detailed above - and with Kaomancy, this effect occurs even faster. Of course, this leads to the possibility of Fonts and Cracks being expanded so far as to come into contact with each other.

When this happens, the Aether and Nether Planes become almost directly linked, using the intersecting location in the Material Plane as a conduit (like sticking a metal paperclip across battery terminals); at this point, the Nether Plane drinks vast quantities of Aether directly from the Aether Plane, causing an almighty explosion of magic at the intersection point in the Material Plane. Such events - Cataclysms - are incomprehensibly destructive, bathing the surrounding area in purest Aether, searing the fabric of reality. In doing so, however, the relevant Font and Crack are soon sealed shut forever, preventing the Cataclysm from being unending and destroying all of the Cosmos.

Other Planes

The Timeless Plane

A realm with a concept of matter, but no concept of time. The Chronomancers of Cor Tewdws accidentally became trapped here.

The Spirit Plane

Where Spirits naturally reside. The Spirit Plane shares a strong convergence with the Material Plane, allowing Spirits to look from one Plane to the other, however only the strongest Spirits can actually move themselves between the Planes of their own volition (see Familiars). With the assistance of a Summoner, however, a Spirit can be brought through into the Material Plane for a short time, through the use of Enchantment magic (see Spirit Enchantment).

The Spirit Plane itself is teeming with Spirits, which have come to inhabit the realm in great numbers over the course of time. When a Wytch casts a Summoning spell, they are in fact transferring a Spirit temporarily from this realm to the Material Plane, rather than creating a new one. The Spirit transferred will generally match their needs, but will require some form of Material body to possess - this could be a golem, an item, a potion, or similar. Golems must be of the Spirit's element. In the case of Arcane Spirits, a body of Malformed Embercryst will be created by the Summoning process (note it is malformed due to its very fast formation, and cannot be used as actual Embercryst) (see Adamasite).

Spirits are essentially their own species unto themselves, existing in a strange, foreign, and completely unintelligible hierarchical structure that bears little resemblance to human society in the Material Plane.

The Tide

The strengths of the Aether and Nether Planes wax and wane over the centuries, each in opposition to the other. When the Aether is at its peak, magics are much easier to cast and of far greater effect. When the Nether is at its peak, the opposite is true, with spells being weaker and harder to cast. The tides do not affect the size of Fonts and Cracks; only the strength with which Aether flows through them (think of it like pressure). The tidal balance alternates in a sinusoidal fashion from one peak to the other over the course of around 500 years.

The peaks of recent times are believed to have been as follows:

  • 600 - Aether peak. The time of Arthur, Merlin and Camelot, all able to thrive in this time of high magic.
  • 1100 - Nether peak.
  • 1600 - Aether peak. Middle of the Witch Hunts, brought about in part by the increased visibility of magic caused by the peak.
  • 2014 - Game Start. Approaching a Nether peak - however, the recent dramatic increase in Kaomancy usage has mostly obscured the effects of this due to increased flow of Aether through the Material Plane.
  • 2100 - Nether peak due, assuming normal tides.

Wytches and Spellcasting

Very few materials can channel or store the Aether that has suffused the Material Plane - including most organic matter. Some creatures are different, however, and in the case of humans, those beings are referred to as 'Wytches'.

Wytches have the ability to channel Aether from the environment through and into their bodies, and draw on this energy to cast spells. While they cannot visualise this magic within them directly, they have an indirect 'feeling' of it through their 'pool' - a visualisation of their magic that takes the shape of their affiliated element.

Due to the complex interactions of the Aether and the Material Plane, Aether magic generally only works if used in a specific way - i.e. in alignment with the schools of magic. Wytches are born with a slight tendency towards one particular school, however this is not a permanent choice - there is nothing to stop them casting other schools inherently. However, most Wytches are taught, and so believe and pass on, that their magic schools are chosen and birth and cannot be altered. That successive generations have been brought up in this belief for centuries, if not millennia, has closed the minds of the general Wytch population to the idea that they could cast from other schools. Those that wish to do so must learn first how to throw away their preconceptions and re-visualise their inner pool.

Spellcasting itself is the process of channelling the Aether around you to perform magic. Higher level spells require more effort and time to channel the Aether, although precisely how much is dependent on personal casting style (Freeform, Reactive or Ritualistic).


Wytches are not the only denizens of the Material Plane capable of channelling Aether. There are many other creatures able to cast spells, and while most appear to be animals, most are also highly intelligent. The precise mechanics of why are not widely understood, as no such creature has ever agreed to the necessary vivisection needed to undertake the required research! However, the general assumption is that these creatures are in fact animalistic bodies that have been possessed by Spirits.

This assumption is indeed true - the most powerful Spirits of the Spirit Plane are possessing of far greater intelligence and magical skill than their inferiors, and are able to move themselves to the Material Plane under their own power. Once there, they must quickly find a body to possess. Some possess humans (the Possessed quirk), but it is easier to possess the mentally-weaker animals.

Many such creatures chose to become the Familiars of Wytches, but their temperaments vary wildly, and not all such creatures are friendly. The relationships between Wytches and Material Familiars function much like ordinary friendships / enemyships, with some Familiars sticking around to be helpful, but others only appearing to cause trouble.

Magical Materials

Aether Crystals / Embercryst

Aether Crystals are crystalline structures that grow naturally around Aether Fonts in the right conditions. However, they take a very long time to form, and since most were mined long ago, there are very few naturally occurring clusters of them out in the world. Due to their general scarcity at the present time, the name has become mangled as they passed into rumour and myth, and as such any mentions of them now refer to them as a strange material called Embercryst.

Embercryst has various special properties that make it suitable for enchantment (see Embercryst Enchantment).

In game, Embercryst can be found mainly around certain Aether Fonts, particularly those that have gone untouched by man for some time, and within magical items which they power.

Malformed Embercryst / Adamasite

There are a few ways to produce a crystalline substance that is physically similar to, but lacks the properties of, Embercryst. Due to being formed incredibly quickly, this solid but brittle substance cannot be used for enchantment like Embercryst, but has its own uses in a few simple magical phenomena. The modern magical community calls this substance Adamasite.

Summoned Arcane Spirits will form a golem-body of Adamasite when brought into the Material Plane, if they are not channelled into some other item / potion. Similarly, Arcane Alteration can be used to coalesce the Aether into constructs formed of Adamasite.

Nether Crystals / Nethercryst

The precise mechanics of its formation are unknown to any, and its very existence is a strict secret known to only the most powerful mages, but there also exists the strange substance of Nether Crystal, or Nethercryst. This material bears a strange relationship to the Nether, in that it forms a temporary null zone around itself. Each of the schools owns a single Orb of Nethercryst bestowed long ago, used purely in modern times for the keeping of order at Covens.

Any and all Aether channelled within the vicinity of a Nethercryst object seems to flow straight into the artefact, inhibiting the casting of spells. It is unknown whether that Aether then flows to the Nether, or whether it is simply stored within the material - no-one has ever dared break an Orb to see if the Aether it has taken is released…


There are two forms of Enchantment. All are cast through Enchantment magic.

Technically, Embercryst Enchantment is the 'true' enchantment of the setting. However, with the scarcity of both crystals and knowledge over time, this information has been lost. In response, Wytches worked out how to summon Spirits from the Spirit Plane instead, to try and achieve the same effect. This is the reason that only Spirit Enchantment is known to players at game start.

Spirit Enchantment

The use of Summoned Spirits to inhabit golems, items, potions, etc.


  • The Summoner uses Enchantment to summon a Spirit with powers they desire.
  • The Aether used to cast this spell goes to the Spirit Plane, and shifts the Spirit to the Material Plane, forming a temporary link with the Summoner.
  • So long as this store of Aether remains in the Spirit Plane in the Spirit's place, the Spirit will remain in the Material Plane. Once the Aether is depleted, the Spirit Plane will pull the Spirit back to it.
  • This Aether store slowly depletes over time. The Spirit draws on this to cast magic of its own. As a result, once the item into which the Spirit has been placed has been 'used', the item loses its power, as the Spirit is gone.
  • Null zones do not deplete the Aether supply even if the Spirit enters one, as the Aether is in the Spirit Plane, not the Material Plane. However, if the Spirit tries to cast magic using its Spirit Plane supply within a null zone, then the supply will still be used, but as expected no spell will be cast.
  • Enchantment magic can be used to top up the Aether supply in the Spirit Plane, to extend the Spirit's duration. However, it cannot be topped up above its initial starting (maximum) capacity.


Spirits must always be summoned into Material objects - they cannot survive the Material Plane on their own.


Spirits may be summoned into Golems of their element. Arcane Golems are formed of Adamasite, formed during the Summoning (or by Alteration if the caster wants to build a more complex / specialised body). Golems can move around and cast spells under the Spirit's own power, as directed by the Summoner.


Spirits may be summoned into Items. These Items are one-shot usage.


Spirits may be summoned into Potions. These Potions are one-shot usage.

Embercryst Enchantment


Only that which is living can absorb and channel the Aether to cast magic (assuming it is enabled to do so - i.e. born with magic), with the sole exception of Embercryst. Embercryst can be imbued with magic under the process of 'enchantment', under the following stipulations:

  • Embercryst fragments come 'untouched', but once enchanted, retain the imbued spell permanently, with but a few exceptions (see below).
  • As such, one fragment can store at most one spell.
  • The fragment, much like a living being requires to cast magic, contains two things: a 'memory' of the spell, and a supply of Aether. The Aether supply is drawn naturally from the environment - if artificially given more Aether, it will cast the spell with greater strength; similarly, if exposed to a Nether Crack (or similar inhibitor), it will be unable to cast as it lacks the necessary Aether store, however will not lose its memory of the spell.
  • A fragment may lose its spell memory in two ways: by being outright inserted into a Nether Crack (although getting it out again would be an entirely different matter), or by being shattered by intense force (although the remaining pieces may well be too small or damaged to be usable). Clearly neither of these is that helpful.
  • The larger the fragment of Embercryst, and the better quality it is, the higher spell level can be stored in it and the greater the amount of Aether it can store and channel.
  • Fragments are magic-school-agnostic; there are not specific crystal strains for separate elements.

Once a spell has been enchanted into Embercryst, it does not start casting immediately, however it does have its own pool of Aether. The crystal remains dormant until given a 'kick' by something else using Aether - either a Wytch, or possibly (in case of crazy mechanism science!) another Embercryst. At this point, the Embercryst starts casting continuously, until such time as it runs out of Aether, after which it resets to gather more Aether, without casting.

This allows enchantments to be made that can be triggered under different conditions:

  • Permanent, ever-casting crystals: casting low enough level spells that they were drawing in Aether from the surroundings faster than they were spending it, so never switched off. Or alternatively casting higher-level stuff in the presence of an Aether Font.
  • Triggerable artefacts: triggered by the above method, but use so much Aether in a short space of time that once they complete their spell, they deplete all of their Aether and so reset, ready to be triggered again later when their energy is recharged.
  • Triggerable artefacts with cooldowns: their spells are so powerful that they require a full charge of Aether to work, which, depending on the quality and capacity of the Embercryst in question, may take a while to reacquire.


Embercrysts can be enchanted with any spell, and so have many uses: they may be worn to provide their user with an aura, or inserted into an item to make it a magic item. All Magic Item Quirk items will contain a suitable Embercryst, although players may not be aware of this unless they actively examine its workings (with the appropriate Academic skill). It is possible if desired, by some degree of careful design and engineering, to create more complex items that use multiple piece of Embercryst doing different things at once.

The Aether storage of each Embercryst fragment is limited and has a natural recharge rate (see above), but can be augmented by a magic user - for instance, by sharing their Aether with it. For instance, a Magic Item Fire Sword could be generally on fire, but by focusing their energies into it, the wielder could make it burn much more brilliantly.

By the same mechanic that inhibits player power, Embercrysts will not function around Nether Cracks, such as those present in session.

eternity/metaphysics.txt · Last modified: Tue 17 Jun 2014, 08:53:18 UTC by gm_jamesw
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