The Fourth Cause
Specialties: Artifice, Channeling, Creation, Destruction, Perceptions, Resonant Effects
Above and beyond the Pattern Spheres sits the Sphere of Prime, the study of raw creation and the energy that fuels the Tellurian. Prime is the study of Quintessence, literally the “Fifth Essence.” To every Tradition this is a sacred or valued power, for with Prime the mage can tap into and manipulate the keystones of cosmic forms. Quintessence is also known as ether or Odyllic Force, the underlying nature of the fabric of reality, the First Essence or Prime. Through Prime magic, the mage directs the flow of universal energies to create, destroy and reshape as she sees fit. While the other Spheres influence the actual stuff of creation, Prime controls the power from which they all spring.
According to the united theories of the Traditions and Technocracy alike, Prime energy fuels everything. It is everywhere, flowing through living Patterns, swirling in Forces and coalescing into Matter only to be released again. The cycle of Prime energy never ends. This cycle is the cycle of magic itself. From Prime energy, a mage can create the base materials of the Pattern Spheres, or he can reduce such objects to the sublime constructs of Spirit and Mind. He can convert Quintessence into magical force and draw out the natural power inherent in places or object. He can cast enchantments of permanent power over things, nullify the workings of other mages and use the power of Prime to combat the rebounding force of Paradox itself at the greatest levels of mastery. Such mastery does not come lightly, but it is the foundation of the most powerful and permanent workings in any Tradition and any Sphere.
Masters of Prime energy carry in themselves a reflection of that power. Although even mortals can feel the eeriness of mages, Prime Masters surpass that level of energy. They almost glow with radiance, be it divine or profane. The magical power at the hands of a Prime Master lends the mage a definite palpable aura of other worldliness.
• Etheric Senses
Effuse Personal Quintessence
An Initiate of Prime studies learns to sense and see Quintessential energy, be it stored in Tass, welling up from a Node, traveling across a powerful line, swirling through a natural Pattern or shining during a Juncture of power. His Prime senses allow him to detect the use of magic, to determine when a coincidence was the result of a magical Effect and to see the flow of magic energy as it is shaped and cast forth. Although such perceptions are not necessarily sufficient to determine the exact Effect, they do alert the mage to the bending of the Tapestry.
Just as each Tradition has its own view of Prime, each mage has a different sort of Prime sense. Some mages recognize Prime as a brilliant white or blackness, a color that surpasses natural vibrancy. Others hear it as a sort of music or melody. A few ascribe to Prime a different sense entirely, a sort of comprehension that cannot be translated into the natural senses. Regardless of whether it is a pure, crystal matrix or a swirling darkness of the original Void, it represents power.
By sensing the strongest currents of Odyllic Force, a mage may align himself so that they flow into his own Pattern, charging his Avatar. Without the first rank of Prime, the mage cannot store free Quintessence within his own Pattern beyond the amount he receives from his Avatar. Mages without Prime magic cannot gain Quintessence ratings above their Avatar rating. The mage can’t necessarily use this power to gain additional Quintessence from meditation, but if someone tries to empower the mage with additional Quintessence, the mage must have at least this rudimentary understanding of Prime to be able to hold the excess energy.
In conjunction with the other Spheres, the mage can see Prime energy in various Patterns or recognize specific sorts of Resonance and their strength. The mage can also determine if an area has a strong Prime wellspring (like a Node) or when a Juncture that creates Prime energy might occur.
• • Weave Odyllic Force
Summon Prime Weapon
Activate Quintessential Matter & Forces
By reaching out and touching Prime energy metaphysically, the mage can create tiny diversions in the energy that fuels the Tapestry. She can twist the power of Quintessence, storing it in an object or turning it to use in specific cases. She can also use this power to cast other magic into stronger forms.
The patterns of physical matter and forces may be enchanted, creating magic swords that may damage spirits or etherically charged lasers to burn vampires. Moreover, Odyllic Force itself may be spun into a blow that hammers at Patterns, allowing a mage to launch bolts of pure Quintessential energy or to form a glowing weapon of mystic power.
Base matter and energy that are already infused with Quintessence, the inert but magical forms of Tass, may also be activated, structuring its essence so as to compose potions or temporary Charms. In conjunction with various Spheres, the mage can create materials, forces or creations from the ether. The mage can also spin dreams, nightmares and quasi-real phantasms with Mind magic, or generate new constructs of Spirit energy.
Whenever a mage creates a Pattern “from nothing,” she uses this power of Prime to divert a small amount of the Tapestry’s-energy into that new Pattern. Thus, all Effects that create Matter, Forces or Life out of nothingness rely on the mage also using Prime 2.
• • • Channel Quintessence
Sublimate Quintessential Matter & Forces
Activate Quintessential Life
Normally, a mage cannot pull Quintessence directly from the Tellurian itself. Although the flow is immense and consign, it is also tied intimately to the shape of the Tapestry. However, in some special places (Nodes) and times (Junctures), excess Quintessence bubbles up through the Tapestry, there to taken by a mage with command of Prime. Even though the mage cannot steal the Quintessence directly from a Pattern, he can take advantage of the rare opportunities where Quintessence arises unconnected to any Pattern.
As the Ahl-i-Batin explain, Quintessence is either free or fixed and it’s like water in a desert land — just as common and just as precious. Nodes are like wells and oases, with mage Chantries the caravansaries that are built
around them. Periapts are gourds to hold the water, while Junctures are the rare rainy days. There is enough water in the air and sand to let a palm tree grow, if you give it time, just as there is enough free Quintessence around you to spin into the Patterns of the elements or life. The remaining Quintessence, like water, is fixed, giving life to palm trees and camels and women and men, and you can no more drink that Quintessence than you can drink the air or the sand. Yet a mage is a fortunate man, for he has a righteous djinn in the form of his Avatar, pouring cool sweet water when he asks and carrying it as a slave would hold a precious gourd as they travel from oasis to oasis, asking hospitality. But only an unrighteous man or a desperate one would slay his camel for the water it holds.
This poetic analogy holds true. At this level of understanding, a mage skilled in Prime gains the ability to pour water from gourd to gourd or drink blood from his camel. That is to say, free Quintessence may be transferred from Periapt to Periapt, or from a Periapt to a mage’s Avatar or back. The mage can pull Quintessence out of inert Tass for personal use, as well.
At this level, inert Tass may be sublimated and forged into permanent Artifacts and Talismans, as the mage forged it into Charms at the previous level, and living Tass may now be activated so as to become a living Charm. Chimerical and ephemeric Tass, such as the substance of dreams and the ectoplasm of ghosts, follows the same rule as physical matter — sentient chimera and living ephemera are treated the same as living beings, while inert dreamstuff and ectoplasm follows the rule of Tass created of base matter and energy.
As he enchanted swords and flames before, the mage of this level now gains the ability to enchant living beings, such that hands and claws can now inflict damage directly upon Patterns. In conjunction with other Spheres, the mage can create items of power or fuel them with energy. The mage can not only create items from nothing, he can steal away a small measure of Quintessence from Patterns as they decay. Such energy returns quickly to the flow, and it is more directed than harnessed, but it can offer a small measure of additional power to the mage’s workings.
• • • • Expel Base Energy from Matter & Forces
Sublimate Quintessential Life
Permanently Enchant Matter & Forces
Suffuse Matter & Forces
As Disciples of Prime learned to divert and ripple the flow of ether through the Patterns of existence, Adepts discover how to return the Quintessence to the Tellurian, at least from settled and unconnected Patterns (Matter and Forces). Doing so has the direct and deadly effect of erasing them from mental, physical and spiritual existence. This energy returns immediately to the Tapestry as the object vanishes forever, but with proper use of other Prime magic, the mage can sometimes divert a small measure of the released power into his other Effects.
Adepts also learn how to sublimate the Quintessential patterns of living Tass so as to create Artifacts and Talismans, as well as those nonliving wonders meant to be grafted to living creatures, such as cybernetic arms or jeweled slippers that never come off until the wearer is dead. The mage also learns how to take the nonliving Patterns of existence which are not suffused with free Quintessence and infuse them with Quintessential energy from his Avatar, creating Tass, or sublimating that Tass into a Periapt resonating with the power of his own Avatar. Such a Periapt is called a Soulgem.
At places with strong Resonance, the Adepts of Prime also possess the wondrous ability to reach deep into the earth and tap a wellspring of free Quintessence. This act is the metaphysical equivalent of opening a fire hydrant on a hot day — it will soon be shut off, but is very refreshing while it lasts. Doing so may also recharge the Quintessence of Periapts in a controlled Effect.
In conjunction with other Spheres, the mage can enchant objects with selective qualities, enhance magical powers and place them into items permanently or disperse all manner of Patterns back into the Ether.
• • • • • Expel Base Energy from Life
Alter Quintessental Flow
Permanently Enchant Life
Fountains of Paradise
Masters of Prime can blast living beings out of existence — body, mind and spirit — shutting off the flow of Quintessence to their Patterns like cutting off light to an image on a screen. The Celestial Chorus calls this act “erasing a name from the Book of Life.” Fortunately, doing so does not affect the Book of History or the Book of Destiny (although Masters of Time and Entropy can do both these deeds).
More kindly, Masters of Prime may also increase the flow Of Prime through ? being, refreshing the Quintessence of Avatars instantly. Masters of the Chorus in particular learn how to atone for their sins against reality, channeling Quintessence to nullify Paradox as part of “Penance.” Pope Honorius, also a Master of Time, used this Effect to create the fabled “Perpetual Indulgences of Pope Honorius,” which forgave not only one’s present sins but a measure of one’s future sins as well. Dreamspeakers are known to charge special crystals with Prime energy designed specifically to attract and nullify Paradox, while Hermetic mages form elaborate wards and counter-sigils to reinforce their spells with Prime energy. Masters also know how to enchant any living being or spirit permanently, able to grant them blessings as do the fae and the spirits of the Umbra. Living things may also be suffused with Quintessence to create living Tass, and the Master may also suffuse a living thing with the Quintessence of his own Avatar to create a Soulflower, a living Periapt (though it needn’t be an actual flower).
The Masters may now also reach into the earth and tap a wellspring of free Quintessence anywhere, not just at spots with strong Resonance, creating pure uncolored magic in an Effect the Ahl-i-Batin call “The Fountains of Paradise.” Even more wondrous, where Resonance is strong, Masters of Prime can harness the power of the ley lines and dragon paths to create a new Node, or consecrate a certain cycle of the seasons as a Juncture, though these are mighty rituals that are not lightly attempted.
It is theorized that the Oracles of Prime may create a Node or a Juncture wherever they please.