The Fourth Cause
Specialties: Cloning, Creation, Disease, Evolution, Healing, Improvement, Shapeshifting, Wounding
Those material things that move, grow and change come under the purview of the Sphere of Life. While other Patterns remain stagnant, or are self-contained flows of Quintessential energy, life Patterns are different. They connect to the Tellurian, drawing Quintessence as they live and grow and returning it to the flow with their own contributions and excretions. Only in death does this process cease, the Pattern stultifying to base matter. It is this connection to the cosmos that makes life unique, and it is from this everchanging flow that life adapts and draws its infinite complexity. The power over life is a great one, the power to create and influence all creatures. Mages who study Life learn to heal and alter animals and later themselves and others. As the mage’s knowledge grows, he learns to affect more complex Patterns. Eventually, the mage can change shapes, restore youth and health, heal injury. Conversely, he can strike down foes, rend apart the living and spread disease in his wake.
Among the Traditions, study of life is a respected discipline. Life mages are the healers, the nurturers and the defenders who bring health and the joy of living with them. Even potent necromancers and the undead cannot stand against the ever-renewing power of life. With the strength drawn of life, the mage can be whole and effectively immortal.
Life magic holds sway over any creature or cell that still moves with the ebb and tide of living breath. Even cells in plucked fruits or severed parts may still be governed by life while there is yet the spark within them. Once the subject finally dies — its Quintessence still and its connection to the universe inert — it returns to Matter.
Masters of Life are without blemish or imperfection, carefully healing away the foibles and flaws of their own bodies. Strong and radiant, they seem to glow with the unending bounty of generous life. The appearance of such a mage reflects her desires and moods, and she eats or drinks, breathes, ages or changes according to her will.
Note that when a mage alters or heals a Pattern, she does so to the limit of her capabilities. If a mage pulls off a Life Effect, she cannot recast the same Effect for more successes until the Pattern has undergone some natural change (that is, a change of scene). Thus, the mage can transform herself and then change differently or change back, but if she heals an injury or causes a wound in a given scene, she cannot use that power on the same subject again — she’s done all that she can to the Pattern at that time.
If a mage affects a Pattern and changes it away from its true nature — that is, increasing or decreasing Attributes or adding new characteristics that are not natural to the creature — then the subject suffers the phenomenon of Pattern leakage (or bleeding). Over time (once per day, sometimes more often) the creature suffers injury as its Life Pattern fights the changes, generally taking one health level of lethal damage for each gross change. A mage skilled in Prime can use Quintessence to offset this injury, but when he runs out of Quintessence (or if the victim is not a mage), the problem will set in again. The only way to overcome this Pattern bleeding is to alter the Pattern permanently or to remove the changes.
• Sense Life
The most basic principles of Life magic involve the study of living Patterns and their motions. The mage starts by learning to feel the flow of life energy. From that point, the mage can sense injury or sickness, and he can feel the potency of vibrant health. Given experience, the mage can easily learn to sense nearby living creatures, to determine their nature, health, sex and age, and to sense any tears or imperfections in her own Pattern.
With the other Pattern Spheres, Life senses allow a mage to tell not only if there are people nearby, but what they wear or carry and whether the forces and objects around them cause injury. Entropy with Life tells- whether they will suffer from disease or mischance and what form it will take. Time and Correspondence magic lets the mage sense the living Patterns of far-away individuals or people in the past or future. With Prime, the mage can actually see the stream of Quintessence that bonds all living things to the cosmos.
• • Alter Simple Patterns
A mage’s manipulation of living Patterns begins with the most rudimentary ones, and with the ones most familiar to her. The budding Life mage learns to affect sessile Patterns and ones that make up very simple creatures. She also learns to recognize her own innate Pattern’s form, to help it in the process of restoring itself.
A novice of Life magic can heal herself, restoring her Pattern to its original form and closing wounds or removing alterations. She cannot actually transform herself into new forms or change her Pattern from its original base nature yet, but she can at least defend herself if others do so. She can determine if her Pattern has been affected in some way, sensing disease or imbalance long before any symptoms manifest. With control over simple Life Patterns, the mage can also influence rudimentary life forms like bacteria and plants. Any plant, invertebrate, algae or fungus is within her purview, and the mage can harm or change them as she desires, perhaps shaping them to grow in certain ways or striking offending creatures dead. The mage can’t totally transform them yet. Such Patterns must retain their original nature, but they can be coaxed into moving, growing and changing in certain ways.
In conjunction with other Pattern Spheres, the mage can imbue herself or a living being with resistance to certain objects or forces, or she can cause such other Patterns to influence the growth and development of simple creatures. She can set up Effects to heal herself upon the receipt of injury (with Time magic) or use Correspondence to sense and alter life anywhere in the world.
• • • Alter Self
Transform Simple Patterns
By the time the mage reaches a significant understanding of Life, she unlocks the keys to transformation: the means to turn a life Pattern away from its original nature and into something different. She can change her own Pattern in startling ways, and she can exert mastery over simple living things. To more complex creatures, she can exert change, causing the entity to grow or change as she desires.
By working with her own Pattern, the mage can take on new qualities or change old ones, perhaps giving herself unusual features. She can grow claws or suspend briefly her need to breathe. She must remain fundamentally human, but she can stretch the limits of her own capabilities and surpass her normal limits of mortal flesh.
With total mastery of simple Patterns, the mage can transform them into new shapes, turning a crawfish into a cedar tree (albeit a very, very small one) or reweaving a simple bacterium into a deadly killer. Her understanding is sufficient to create and destroy such Patterns utterly, and to cause them to grow, change or die as she sees fit.
By using simple Pattern-transformation in conjunction with other Spheres, the mage can create simple living things out of nothingness, or turn nonliving matter or forces into living creatures, although such creations have no minds of their own unless the mage uses the Mind Sphere. She can also alter creatures across a distance or push or pull such beings into other places, even the spirit worlds, with the proper Spheres. She can cause a change that will not affect a creature for some time, such as causing an apple tree to suddenly blossom in the middle of winter some years later, or she can render plants and simple animals safe from disease and injury.
• • • • Alter Complex Patterns
The Patterns of all living things are accessible to the Adept of Life. The mage can not only rewrite her own Pattern as she desires, but she can shift and change the Patterns of nearly any other creature, including sentient beings. She can heal with a touch, gift someone with great strength, cause wounds or make a being manifest robust youth and vitality.
With self-transformation, the mage can reshape her Pattern in any form that she desires. She can take on new characteristics, become an entirely different creature of the same rough size and mass and even bolster her natural capabilities beyond human levels. However, such gross manipulations often lead to difficulties. It may take some time to get used to a new animal form, and the form itself may not have the capacity to store the mage’s human knowledge and intellect. Animal forms often come with instincts as well, and the mage risks losing her identity over time. The Pattern itself usually has a tendency to grow back into its natural shape, too, so a mage who alters her own Pattern too radically may suffer injury as her Pattern fights against the confining magic.
By altering complex Patterns, a mage can heal people or animals and perform small manipulations to them. She cannot yet create duplicates of them or totally change their true nature, but she can guarantee health or instill weakness or injury. In conjunction with other Pattern magic, the Adept of Life can assume various supernatural properties: becoming a fire-breathing dragon or eating metal, for instance. She can make wounds that will not heal or set transformations that will revert at a set time, or even stretch out to heal or harm people that she cannot see.
• • • • • Transform Complex Patterns
All living things become as putty under the sculpting hands of a Master of Life. Her command of life is flawless, bringing her into perfect harmony with the flow of life energy. She can change all life at her whims, and she can heal or harm as needed and desired.
The mage can rework a creature into any form as long as the mass and size remain similar, thus turning a man into a tree or raising up a small dog into a human child. Such transformations are difficult, of course, but spectacular. The mage could reduce a group of enemies into large, flopping fish, for instance. She can also smooth out Pattern defects and deformities completely, and she can mutate the Pattern into any sort of natural or unnatural change.
With her total control of her personal Pattern, the mage can immunize herself from the rigors of age, disease, hunger or injury. She can regenerate nearly any damage, although direct Pattern damage may take time and effort. Better still, she can surpass many of the usual limits of Pattern transformation. She no longer needs to worry about the problems of losing her identity to animal instinct, for example. She can even cause her own Life Pattern to grow or shrink as needed, allowing her to change her size.
Most phenomenally, a Master of Life can combine her powers with other Spheres to create complex living creatures from Quintessence or from other Patterns. She can make clones of existing beings, make mythic monsters or let her creative whims take her as far as her resources allow. She can gift such creations with their own minds and spirits by use of the appropriate Spheres, or leave them empty, perhaps as homes for a disembodied spirit. She can even create a new body and move her consciousness into it, or reincarnate into a successive body that will be born in the future. With access to Prime and Correspondence, the mage can open her awareness to the entire vast glory of life and touch any living thing.