The Fourth Cause
Although the Avatar is generally seen as a shard of Prime energy possessed only of whatever consciousness and drives it’s picked up through previous incarnations, there is no denying that Avatars do seem to have certain intrinsic characteristics. Mages classify Avatars according to these perceived differences and place them into broad categories. As with all things magical, there is a wide range of beliefs regarding the true natures of Avatars and their actual categorization (or lack thereof). Still, most mages can agree on four general directions to Avatars: Dynamic, Pattern, Primordial and Questing. Theoreticians sometimes further subdivide these groups into more precise types, and add a fifth Essence that has never actually been witnessed in a mage: Infinite. These categories are thought to give some insight into the ways that different Avatars nudge mages toward Ascension, as well as the sorts of goals that such Avatars pursue.
The exact limits and functions of the Avatar remain unknown. Fatalistic mages sometimes claim that the Avatar itself predetermines the mage’s actions, or that it tells which faction the mage will join. Reincarnationists point to the Avatar as the source of past lives and argue that the Avatar seeks out a familiar home, so a mage can be determined to follow in the footsteps of his own previous incarnations. Mages struggling just to survive and understand their unique nature generally don’t have time to worry about such trivia, though. They take the Avatar at whatever level it’s given and get on with forging their own destinies.
Your character’s Avatar plays a large, but subconscious, role in her development. Psychologically, the mage is driven by her Nature and Demeanor, and by the motives and desires fostered in the course of living, as with any human. Once Awakened, though, the Avatar pushes its own direction through dream-messages, subconscious urges and emotional patterns. The mage may find herself engaging in behaviors indicative of her Avatar: jumping from one interest to another with a Dynamic Avatar, seeking ordered perfection with a Pattern Avatar, looking for hidden meanings in everyday occurrences with a Primordial Avatar or forging ahead into new hobbies with a Questing Avatar.
Most often, Avatars only show themselves through soft, barely-noticed whispers and flashes. A mage’s Avatar might sound like a reasonable voice in the back of her head, or come across as a sudden urge to do something. Rarely, strong Avatars will actually manifest, creating a material form and then dealing with the mage directly. Ultimately, the mage may or may not believe in or be aware of the existence of her Avatar, but it’s there as an unseen influence that pushes toward a vision of Ascension.
The various Essences describe an Avatar’s specific composition in Prime terms. Although Avatars carry different sets of memories or goals, most (if not all) can be classified according to the way that they operate. These methods, fractured as they may be, form Essences. Your mage’s Essence determines the basic motives and methods of her Avatar, and it determines what sorts of metaphysical systems she’s most comfortable with.
Just as mages are forces of change, so too are Dynamic Essences the incarnation of that change. The Dynamic Essence pushes a mage in new directions constantly, unable to settle and simply interested in the raw creation of new ideas, experiences and horizons. Even mages with a powerful Destiny may not be able to see their road with a Dynamic Avatar. The paths taken by such explorers are many and varied, and they often defy conventional wisdom. Dynamic mages are true heralds of randomness and inspiration, as they bring forth concepts never before imagined. Though powerfully unpredictable and often moving “outside the box”, the Dynamic Essence also finds it difficult to focus on a single task or goal.
Subtle dynamism shows up by causing the mage to feel curiosity, impatience and flashes of inspiration. Such an Avatar may appear as a strange shadow, a half-formed concept or a jagged abstraction, changing form constantly. Over time, the appearance, goals and emotional tools of a Dynamic Essence often change. Even mages who heed the directions of these Avatars find that the completion of one task simply opens the door to others. Dynamic Avatars do not rest, and their mages can rarely keep up.
People with known Dynamic Avatars:
When other mages create new methods, Pattern mages refine and reuse these methods until they become stable and well-defined. The Pattern Essence cements magic into reality, gives shape to the poorly executed and repairs the flawed. Instead of seeking new and dynamic means of change, Pattern Essences stabilize existing elements or methodically build on solid foundations. Naturally, such Essences are vital to stability, learning and society. As the Essence most driven by a need to form connections, the Pattern Essence fits naturally into such a role.
Mages who feel the push of Pattern often experience periods of crystal clear lucidity. They are commonly rational thinkers driven by a strong desire for familiarity and most comfortable with clearly defined archetypes. These Avatars may manifest in dreams as authoritarian figures, repeating patterns or fantastic machines, but they usually keep the same appearance from instance to instance.
People with known Pattern Avatars:
All things came from a great morass of unformed creation at the birth of the universe, be it the emptiness before a divinely inspired genesis or swirling chaos before a big bang. The universe will return to such a state ultimately. Primordial Essences reflect the raw elements of such creation and destruction. Driven to seek new experiences, yet always comparing them to the past, these Essences resonate with the humming vibration that underlies all creation. Conscious of the keystones of the universe, the Primordial Essences thus seek the root of all things.
Most often, Primordial Essences take on very clearly defined archetypes, roles deeply seated in the subconscious. Such mages are driven by deep and overwhelming emotional urges or needs, but they also seem to experience the heights of grand passion more powerfully than anyone else. When manifesting, Primordial Avatars often take the roles of spirits, animals or gods, typifying the most basic elements of reality in the shells of recognizable forms.
People with known Primordial Avatars:
As a sort of balance between other Essences, the Questing Essence seeks knowledge and new frontiers with purpose and with a final goal in mind. Not content to rest on foundations already laid, the Questing Avatar pushes to some goal and does not flag or change direction. Once a destination is reached, the Questing Avatar sets a new goal and heads off again. Mages with this drive find themselves consumed by the need for a journey, the need to be in motion with a goal to achieve. These Essences seek a union of the other elements, and they strive to find a wholesome balance by treading the roads that lead between other Essences’ paths.
Emotionally, Questing Essences are driven and visionary. Such mages often focus on a new idea and pursue it to its conclusion, then settle on a new project. The Avatar ensures this constant progression by keeping the mage interested in the final steps, with a need to know, understand and experience. In even herself. The Essence leads the mage through the internal appearance and demeanor, such Avatars most often appear in dialogue that opens doors of self-discovery, and sends the mage a form carrying elements similar to the mage’s companions or on quests to understand herself and her world.
People with known Questing Avatars: