Every decent RPG needs magic. Science fiction needs implausible technology. Epics need divine intervention and shamans. Sword and sorcery tales need... well... sorcery.
Just making up a system won't do. There are thousands of years of recorded history, and sprinkled throughout that history are tales of Supernatural happenings. To be plausible I have to be able to explain a lot of what has been seen and unexplained until now.
So, me being me, I decided to look at my network map of the mind, and see all the places where the mental world and spiritual world overlap. I then started thinking about ways were people with abnormal wiring or extraordinarily well developed wiring could mix and match the two worlds.
My overall theory for magic is that each life form has a footprint in the physical world (the body), the spiritual world (the soul), and the mathematical world (the mind).
The Physical world is the one we are familiar with. It is what you can hear, and see, and taste, and touch, and smell. Every living thing forms a body in the Physical world.
The spiritual world is pure connectedness. There is no "place." There is no "time." Technically there is no "self." Every living thing forms a soul in the spiritual world. All life connects through the spirit world. Yet nothing actually lives IN the spirit world.
The Mathematical world is pure concept. Our DNA is a projection of the Mathematical world into the physical world. Mathematical patterns in plant growth emanate from their connection to this world. Crystal structure in rock originates in the Mathematical world.
Magic requires one final ingredient: Chaos. Our world, the Physical world, is teeming with energy. Life as we know it lives on the knife's edge of connectedness, form, and activity. Connectedness twists form. Form resists connectedness. Enery is trying to spread itself uniformly across the cosmos, destroying both connectedness and form. Life brings these three elements together and somehow gets them to play nicely. At least for a time.
The key to remember is that life as we know it is the intersection of these three worlds. Our "self" is a projection into each world, simultaneously. That leads to the richness and complexity of life as we know it. But it also means we never really get a true picture of any of the worlds. Our understanding of the Physical world is limited by our body. Our understanding of the spiritual world is limited by our soul. Our understanding of the Mathematical world is limited by our mind.
Supernatural ability stems from being able to connect the three worlds in ways that are surpass the usual miracle that is the Natural world. I had prepared a list of recognized abilities, but was is quite long, so I've pushed them to another page: Here
I have classified each special ability into one of 5 categories:
If we compare what is described to my map of the Psyche... there are a few problems.
Intuition and channeling have definite paths to the spiritual parts of the Psyche. These are also powers that can occur spontaneously and unwilled. Someone will receive a premonition, or hear a voice, and have no idea from whence it came. The current mind map explains them perfectly.
But there are no connections between the spiritual and the sensational parts of the Psyche. Nor between the spiritual and implementational parts of the Psyche. And what the heck is Projection? I either need to add a lot more links, write off these phenomena a pure hokum...
I have to think about what kind of guidance teachers give to students when teaching these powers. And universally, the development of most powers starts with visualization. Kinesis, Projection, and Sensation are applications of the rest of the Psyche using imagination to develop thoughts and the spirit and mystical to translate thoughts into spiritual deeds. But now we need to give our Mystical portion of the Psyche a few more tools.
If you focus on the Mystical section of the map, we now have 4 sections. Intuition is a higher level thought process, so intuition gained by Spiritual means is still intuition. Likewise, communication and the sense of other people is also an unconscious process that has both physical and spiritual connections.
Supernatural abilities are given a level to describe the amount of training required to manifest them, if any. A "Natural" ability pops up sponteneously in individuals, and they may not even be consciously aware of using it. An "Advanced" ability can be learned by any person of average intelligence with some specialized training. An "Expert" ability can be learned by anyone, but requires years of practice and regular training. A "Legendary" ability is manifest only in gifted individuals. We know of legendary abilities from history or occasional examples studied by science, but the ability cannot be replicated through training.
The spiritual realm knows no distance, nor time. This allows souls to communicate across vast distances. These powers of communication are grouped together as Channeling
Anyone can develop a limited ability to sense powerful feelings from people that one is intimately familiar with. This power doesn't require any special training. It can be developed in individuals who lack it.
Telepathy works like a walky-talkie to communicate with other practitioners. The more familiar the person, the easier it is to tune into them across the spiritual realm. Note that Telepathy communicates thoughts directly. Language is not a barrier to communication via Telepathy. However, both parties need to be telepathically trained for it to work.
Advanced practitioners can beam messages into the minds of strangers. They still require targeting information, be it from contact with a personal effect of the person, or by locating them via Astral Projection.
Practitioners of charm can cause another individual to feel an emotion the caster wishes them to feel. This power can develop spontaneously in gifted individuals.
Practitioners of charm can bypass the intuition of another individual, and make them believe what the caster makes them want to believe.
A form of Charm which works on groups, large or small. The individual must have a connection to the group. Effectiveness varies with the level of belief the recipient shares with the group.
A form of Suggestion which works on groups, large or small. The individual must have a connection to the group. Effectiveness varies with the level of belief the recipient shares with the group.
Legendary practitioners of telepathy and charm can actually occupy the body of other individuals. Subjects who are on the receiving end can hear and see what is going on, but they feel like a passenger in their own body.
Extra-Sensory Perception is the ability to take in information through the soul via the reality/spiritual boundary. Note that ESP utilizes an entirely different set of sensory apparatus than the conventional 5 senses. Any reports of "second sight" or "spiritual hearing" are largely a figment of the imagination, albeit inspired by actual sensation in the spiritual realm. Students of ESP are encouraged to develop the sense apart from imagination in order to produce repeatable results.
Aura detection is the ability some people spontaneously develop to be able to read the emotional state of people nearby. When informally developed, this detection can often be interpreted by the Psyche as colors or smell or sound. These "sensations" are actually the brain utilizing the imagination to overlay spiritual sensation over the other 5 senses.
Strictly speaking, one cannot "travel" in the spiritual plane. It has neither space nor time. One can, however, move one's soul around the boundary between the spiritual plane and reality to access information about a different place and time in reality from where one is physically located. The view one gets is strictly what the soul could see, however. Eyes and ears do not travel. But it is good enough to see if life forms are present, the types of materials in the area, and for advanced practitioners, the emotional state and physical health, and identity of anyone in that area.
Before one develops basic projection, one can experience spontaneous out of body experiences. While what one "sees" or "hears" is largely imagination, the movement of the soul apart from the body is real, as is what one detects through ESP. This is largely why leaving physical signs and symbols around to "prove" OBEs happen is pointless, but tests that revolve around detecting people in a distant room do.
Basic astral projection involves moving in distance, but not in time, along the reality/spiritual interface. Using this power one can detect the presence of living things. This ability is required for damage control investigators, as it helps enormously with casualty recovery efforts.
Advanced training in Astral Projection allows the practitioner to detect far more information than the presence of life. They can also detect physical properties from remote locations. Mining ships employ advanced practitioners to detect ore bearing bodies, estimate ore content, and even sense mass, density, and velocity. This training is combined with advanced ESP.
Legendary practitioners of Astral Projection can travel along the physical/spiritual boundary in time as well as space. They report that the problem is less the travelling itself as figuring out the way back home. According to those who have made it back, the spirit realm connects not only the reality we exist in, but countless other realities. As decisions are made reality shifts, and thus there is a horizon beyond which they can travel, but for which no useful information can be obtained. Oddly enough, that horizon extends as far backwards into the past as forwards into the future.
Instead of travelling within the reality/spirit boundary it is possible to lower the barrier between soul and the spirit realm to gain eternal truths. Practitioners at this level can learn to quiet their mind and take a broader view of reality.
Lowering the soul/spirit boundary one can glimpse at eternal truths. Mathematicians, Philosophers and Poets visit these reaches. Concepts found here are abstract perfections that while they cannot exist in reality, they can be a useful inspiration. At this point special training is required to allow a Psyche who works at this level to re-integrate with reality if exposed for long durations, especially occupationally.
Lowering the soul/spirit boundary further than advanced can take one into what the ancients considered the realm of the Gods. Beyond shapes and concepts, ventures this far out glimpse at the high level architecture of the spiritual realm itself. We cannot go in depth into what explorers have found here. Words cannot describe it. And continued exposure, even with proper training, has been demonstrated to loosen the bonds between a Psyche and reality itself.
The Kineses school focuses on bringing energy back and forth across the Reality/spirit boundary.
Individuals can spontaneously develop an ability to manifest low-probability events in their presence. The outcomes can be good or bad. (Often both.)
With training individuals can learn to manipulate probability to bring about a favorable average on otherwise random events.
Gifted individuals can learn to manipulate probability to bring about specific outcomes.
Practitioners can spontaneously knock over small objects or break delicate objects if startled. The ability develops spontaneously without training.
Individual can shift small objects at will.
Individual can shift large objects at will, and levitate small objects.
Individual can control the movement of objects without regard to size.
Specialized form of telekinesis. Individual can cause him or herself to float on command. Gifted practitioners can fly energetically.
Individual can erect an energetic barrier to prevent injury from blunt force or falling.
Individual can direct a bolt of energy of sufficient force to stun another individual.
Individual can direct a bolt of energy of sufficient force to injurer another individual, pop doors, or destroy equipment.
Individual can direct a bolt of energy equivilent to a lightning strike.
Individual can open a tunnel from one point in space/time to another sufficiently to send small (hand size) objects. Range is limited to the caster's ability to astral project.
Individual can open a tunnel from one point in space/time to another sufficiently to send people and equipment through. Range is limited to the caster's ability to astral project.