The General Theory of Mythals and of Mythal Crafting
This publication is available in Common, Auran, Terran, Ignan and Aquan and found in most major libraries across Amia.
Mythal crafting has largely replaced the Thayan magics that preceded it in years past. Although this new form of crafting is no more aged than the youngest sprouting tree, and indeed, although this tree appears to be of a genus destined for great and magnificent proportions – that is, although its potential is immense for growth and extrapolation, little progress has been made in this field, an observation that is most disappointing. It is my hope that by laying down this thesis, that interest will be kindled in the minds of the wizards and craftsmen of Amia to increase effort and resources into its study – whether from a desire to elaborate upon my findings or from an equally important desire to prove my theories incorrect.
-• Solus Arcana •-
"By the light of knowledge and reason all things are illuminated"
Written by -
Seth'rinyon of Halruaa, former inquisitor
Discussed in great length in this thesis is the nature of mythals and the proposed mechanisms by which they are utilized and indeed act. Based on the theory herein and the models of study chosen, five postulations have been proposed on mythals and their use in crafting:
- 1. The power of a mythal is directly proportional to its mass.
- 2. The power of a mythal may only once be accessed, upon which all of its potential is released and the mythal is entirely consumed.
- 3. The effects of a mythal do not stack with, but override any existing magical traits which they target.
- 4. The total amount of advantageous mythal energy any substance can contain is limited by its general capacity.
- 5. The size of a mythal used in crafting is directly related to the energy state of the target trait, but indirectly related to the contribution the system makes towards the total energy of the target item.
The weave is an infinite well of energy from which all living things draw their power. It engulfs us in its omnipresence and, one would dare to say, possesses too the power of omnipotence. Those blessed with the ability to cast spells are able to draw magic from this endless cache and mould it, much as a pot-maker would clay, in a way that is entirely specific to they, the spellcasters; the vessels that accept it. But alas, so many a wise and learned being make the mistake of belittling the weave by claiming its division into numerous domains; but the true weave is the raw stuff from which any worldly manifestation thereof is molded, the most simple and original substance from which all branches – it is, in the simplest of terms, 'stem' energy.
To understand this basic concept is to lay the foundation stone for any true magical endeavor, and indeed the topic at hand. For now it is appreciable that this raw and ancient power is accessible in o-so many ways and that its uses, much like its own self, are truly infinite.
Now it so happened, whether by chance or some godly intent, that vessels of considerable power found their way into existence upon this most fortunate island of Amia; vessels that were somewhat presumptuously called 'Mythals'.
These stones, while they appear to be as physical and finite as most other mineral crystallizations upon this plain, are of a much grander ancestry. For these crystals are the physical manifestation of the Weave, storing within them magical energies – but not the differentiated, 'polluted' kind which has long lost its versatility at the hands of an individual who channeled them into existence; not the kind which have now only one purpose as specified by the dweomer or enchantment that draws upon it.
No, for mythals are the manifestation of the original weave of which so much has already been spoken; the stem energies whose uses are yet infinite. It was indeed fortunate that those of Mystra acted so quickly to monopolize mythal use for that of construction, for had they not created this ignorance in the minds of men, one can only imagine the uses these energy-stores will have been put to.
Consider however the implications of this statement that magic does manifest itself in the crystallized form of mythals. For if these basic stem energies are manifest in physical form, and if indeed these energies are accessible, it must immediately follow that the weight, volume and density of these crystals must directly be proportional to the amount of magic and indeed power which they store and may therefore release.
Figure 1 shows the truth of this statement by listing the numerous mythals commonly known by order of power and showing their average weights.
Figure 1. A comparison of weights of numerous mythals. Note that as weight increases, quality increases.
It is from this theoretical basis and empirical evidence that I propose the first postulation of mythals and of mythals crafting:
- The power of a mythal is directly proportional to its mass.
Indeed, this postulation bears significant and particular importance for it is the basic concept from which grander laws are extrapolated. But what is the nature of this rawsome, original energy and how would he who is devoted to the pursuit of its secrets approach its crystalline form?
I regret to announce at this point that here we must pass into the realm of uncertainty, for these waters are yet uncharted, this road yet untaken, and all that one may bring with them for sustenance and direction is their mind and willpower.
In order to truly understand the mechanisms by which mythal energies are used, one must use a simple model to compare and contrast them with. To this end, I bring before you the process by which a spell-caster creates magical dweomers and spells.
This process must essentially contain three distinct stages that must follow in chronological succession. A spell-caster must first obtain a source of power to draw upon, and so the first stage is defined as that fractional period of time where the spell-caster creates a bridge between this plane and the infinite well that is the Weave, and taps into the energies that flow into this world to fuel the desired effects.
The first stage is marked by an interim period where this breach is forced to solidify into a certain size and maintained in this way so that the inflow of magical energy stays relatively constant. However, it is important to note that keeping this gap at the desired size requires continuous focus and even as the caster works to manipulate these incoming energies he must simultaneously maintain the rate of this magical influx.
The second stage does involve the essential manipulation of these 'stem' energies according to precise parameters defined by factors such as the spell itself, the spell-caster, the surrounding environment and the spell's target. Note, though this does not directly concern the matter at hand, that it is at this second stage that spell-focuses and specializations come into fruition. For it is here that the wizard revels over the sorcerer; here that precision, empowerment, maximization and extension of spells all occur, and it is here that the bulk of concentration is required.
But when these energies have finally been molded to the hearts' desires, when these stem energies have been forced to differentiate into their intended form, that they desire above all else to fulfill their purpose - it is this final distinct stage, that of release, that marks the end of the casting and the unleashing of the spell into the world.
Understand therefore the relevance of this mechanism to the use of mythals, for much like the first stage one must first gain the knowledge to access the potential energies that do lie in store within the crystals, and much like the second stage one must then learn to manipulate and finally release them as is the dictation of the third and final stage.
But why do these energies flow into the world at all? Why, if one creates a bridge between the weave and the world, does magic flow into the prime?
It has already been mentioned that 'stem' energy is a wild thing, and that it's entry into the world is carefully regulated by spell-casters. The reason for this, and herein lies the answer to the proposed question, is that in the simplest of terms stem energy flows down its gradient. Much as a river flows down the gradient of a mountain, or compressed air flows into the surrounding environment, 'stem' energy flowing from the endless well of the Weave moves naturally into this world, if permitted. Realize also that failure to regulate this flow of energy may cause the influx of immense amounts of wild and dangerous energies which may cause a vast array of harmful effects.
To fortify this concept, consider the fact that a great explosion occurs whenever a crafting attempt is successful. To explain why this phenomenon occurs, one must first contemplate upon the implications of the wild nature of 'stem' energies. For the process of crystallization relevantly means the increase in order, where domains align in compact and steric (or, size compatible) conformations that greatly restrict any entropic (or, chaotic) behavior. This then entirely contradicts the basic nature of stem magic which above all else desires to be wild and free.
Imagine now the impact of the first stage of crafting – for this spatial hole that the crafter creates permits not only the flow of magical energy down its energy gradient but also creates the greatest opportunity for this magical energy to become free of its caged, ordered existence within the crystalline mythal. And so it happens that even the smallest hole becomes the focal point from which the trapped energy explodes outwards, and even the greatest of crafters cannot prevent the widening of this hole until energy is permitted to escape in all directions, in a wild explosion.
But while these observations answer the questions proposed they also reveal, to the discerning eye and the open-minded analyst, a far more generalized and practical realization; that once the powers of a mythals are tapped, an all-or-none effect must essentially follow where either the crafter fails to open a hole and therefore access the energies (in which case the crafting immediately fails), or, if the crafter meets with success in the creation of this bridge, the magic of the mythals must be entirely released upon that single occasion.
This is evident in the process of crafting where indeed, either crafting fails and the mythal is unaffected, or crafting succeeds and the mythal is entirely consumed.
Therefore, based upon this proposed theory and its interpretation of common events, I offer the second postulation of this thesis:
- The power of a mythal may only once be accessed, upon which all of its potential is released and the mythal is entirely consumed.
But alas! Woe is to he who would state "I now know all" and turn on his heel to head for more familiar shores, for while this pair of postulations does deal with the origin of crafting energy they fail entirely to even touch upon the mechanisms by which these magical energies are integrated into physical items.
For magic does affect all that it contacts and for the protagonist, the weary scholar who is now charting these new horizons, enlightenment awaits if he would but extend out his hand and claim it as his own – for here a metaphoric lighthouse appears beyond the mist, that of the mechanisms by which mythals interact with matter, which will serve as a reference point from which all observations are recorded.
Now imagine if you will that every distinct piece of matter contains an arrangement of overlapping systems, each of which consisting of numerous circular orbits (Figure 2). Attempt now to focus upon one single such system and visualize that the outermost orbit is the largest of them all, and that its counterparts progressively shrink in diameter as they come closer to the centre. Exiting this singular system now compare two such systems to each other and note that one appears to posses a greater number of orbits than its counterpart.
Figure 2. Two systems of magical traits – note that the outermost and largest orbit indicates the magical capacity of the item, as will be explained.
A. System 1, containing two orbits.
B. System 2, containing three orbits. Note that the specific capacity of system 2 (b) is greater than that of system 1 (a).
After time spent visualizing this magical domain consider that a system may only exist in one orbit 'state' (Or, Energy state) at any given moment, and that an orbit of increasing size represents its ability to accept and retain increasing amounts of magical energy. Also note therefore that the maximum amount of energy a given system may accept depends solely upon the largest, outermost orbit it possesses. Lastly, consider that each system essentially represents a single magical trait that the overall substance possesses, and that a change to one system, that is, one magical trait, has little effect on other systems (This is not so in the case of power limits, a topic the fourth postulation addresses).
It is through this model that one may now introduce the concept of specific capacity, the intrinsic potential of a substance to accept certain types of magical energy (represented in the form of magical traits) to a greater extent than others.
Specific capacity is characterized in this model by the amount of orbits each system of a substance possesses (and the largest orbit in which the system may potentially exist) and therefore the maximal power that each magical trait may reach (Figure 2). While the scale of a dragon may contain numerous orbits in many of its systems, a strip of metallic copper may contain few to none and is therefore used for lesser designs.
However, one must truly revel in the nature of crystalline mythals, for they somehow possess the ability to target these energy orbits and displace systems from one orbit to another, whether by elevating them to higher intensity orbits or by depressing them to ones of a lesser nature.
An example will now be presented in this thesis, for the mind becomes weary with increasing theories that appear to possess no relevance to reality, and emotion becomes negative in the presence pointless intellectualizations.
Consider a sword of small proportions which was enchanted by a sorcerer to produce an acidic coat along the surface of its blade (Figure 3.). Note that the system that governs this acidic trait currently exists in the second energy state, and that its specific capacity for this type of magic permits it to rise to the third level. A mythal possesses the ability to either reduce the effect of this acidic trait by lowering it to the first energy state, or to increase its effect by elevating it to the third energy state.
Figure 3. A system of the acid damage trait of a shortsword. This particular system exists in the second energy state, and can either be elevated to the third level by a larger mythal, which would result in an increase in the intensity of this trait, or it can be depressed to the first energy state by a smaller mythal, causing a reduction in the intensity of this trait.
Note however, the inevitable restrictions that our pair of postulations place upon this scenario, for if the energy of a mythal is directly proportional to its weight, and if indeed the energies of a mythal are entirely depleted upon activation, one must approach the use of mythals on magical items with the utmost caution and trepidation, for the correct mythal (according to its weight) must therefore be picked to achieve a specifically desired effect.
But while this model, much like its predecessor, functions to further our ever-growing understanding of mythal crafting it also reveals to those of us who have now found their metaphorical light-house an observation most crucial and informative.
For if the stem energies of a mythal function only in altering the power of specific magical traits, it must immediately become apparent that mythal energies cannot be stacked upon one another in such a way as to produce the specific amplification of these traits. This is of course already known to any novice craftsman - that indeed if one were to attempt to add a specific magical trait to an item which already possesses this trait, the effects of a mythal would rather than stack simply override the existing effects.
Therefore, based upon the presented model and the evidence that is consistent with it, I present the third postulation of this thesis:
- The effects of a mythal do not stack with, but override any existing magical traits which they target.
It is said "He who soweth, reapeth" and we have only just begun to see the fruits of our labor, the first sprouts of the great tree that is to be – for we must tend to this growing thing, and continue on our long journey to enlightenment. There are many questions yet unanswered, many doubts yet to be abolished; For I have explained the site of action of mythals and their nature, but I have yet to explain other concepts, such as the power limit of items.
Understand then, traveler, that the independence of each system from its counterparts is not entire; that the energy state in which each system may exist is severely dependant on the energy state of other systems, despite their individual specific capacities. This is because every substance, and indeed every item, appears to have a certain upper limit at which it can accept a maximum amount of energy, and this is termed the general capacity (Note the difference between general and specific capacity).
The simple and intuitive reason for the presence of this limit is that magic, as has been stated so many a time before, is a wild force in itself and that if infused at a concentration too high in a material object of finite proportions, it can overcome and escape this physical, ordered cage.
Precisely what it is that defines this limit has however, eludes me; I am certain that mass plays a significant role in this limit, as well as the magnitude of specific capacities in a large range of traits, but the precise theoretical or mathematical relationship is an enigma to me at present.
However, despite this theoretical block, general capacity is obviously present in any substance or item, as any craftsmen will readily verify, and through some empirical experimentation I have been able to compile a generalized average of this limit for various items (Figure 4).
Figure 4. The average general capacity of a variety of different item classifications.
I stress that figure 4 is only an average of a large sample number (n=250) for each item classification, and that the standard deviation was very high (2), thereby demonstrating that this is highly variable and that no item is limited solely by its classification.
However, based on much empirical evidence and some limited theory I propose my fourth postulation, that
- The total amount of advantageous mythal energy any substance can contain is limited by its general capacity.
It is important to note that of course mythal energies are not independent of other energies and that energy states of systems that were fixed by means other than mythals, for instance by normal magical crafting, still contribute to these limits. Another important note is that malign magical traits do not appear to contribute to this limit, but it is beyond the scope of this thesis to explain the underlying reasons for this. Together with these two notes, this postulation is of particular importance because it restricts the amount of energy any item may possess, very likely a law laid down by the gods themselves to prevent mortals from achieving such degrees of power so easily.
But ah, how soothing are the rays of the sun as they pierce through the mist and make clear our path – for we have traveled long and far upon this unfamiliar road, and have now reached the footsteps of a mountain; a mountain that we must now attempt to scale. For while the general capacity of any item has been revealed, the factors which contribute towards the reaching of this threshold have not yet been defined.
Begin scaling the first hillock by understanding that it is within the very nature of each system of traits that, depending on its energy state, it will contribute some amount to the Total energy of the item, that is, the sum of energies contributed by all of the systems together. This total energy has an upper limit, for reasons which were already explained, and this limit is the system's general capacity – for when the total energy reaches the general capacity, the item can hold no more magical energy and magic cannot be infused with it. However, and this is indeed a function of this most elusive and chaotic energy, each system appears to be different as to the contribution it makes to the total energy of the item: consider two systems, that of health regeneration and of energy resistance and consider that both currently exist in the third energy state. Intuitively, the objective observer will predict that both these systems will contribute an equal amount to the total energy of the item, but this is not so.
The reason for this, much like with general capacity, eludes me. I speculate that the spell circles the traits may be compared to play a role, but it is, sadly, beyond the scope of this thesis to elaborate upon this mechanism.
Suffice to say, each system is different in the way it contributes to the total energy, and so each system under these circumstances must be regarded differently. However, it is within the basic nature of the human psyche to classify and simplify complex variables, and so I have designed a system, based on a number of key definitions, to allow a direct comparison of contributions of different systems at varying energy states to the total energy.
Each unit in figure 4 describing general capacity (2 for ammunition, for instance), termed a capacity unit, is an integer, devoid of fractions. This same unit is used to define the contribution of each system towards the total energy of the item. Hence, the total energy of an item, and indeed of the general capacity, may only be defined as a whole number, that is, 0,1,2,3,4 and so on. Note also that the contribution of each system will often relate to the energy state at which it exists (though, as was stated before, the relationship between energy state and contribution is not direct).
Consider for example, once again, the acid sword. It has a general capacity of 4 (figure 4.) and currently has an intermediate acidic trait that exists in the second energy state. While this is so, it turns out that the Contributionthis system makes towards total energy is only 1, even though it exists in the second energy state.
Contribution, while a somewhat confusing term to conceptualize, is very much connected with other matters that have been discussed. For it is a general rule of thumb that as heavier mythals are used to elevate energy states of systems, the contribution generally increases (Figure 5). However, note that this is not always the case, simply because the chosen units are only whole numbers and so a value between two whole numbers will be rounded off, thereby giving the illusion that contribution has not changed. Despite this, contribution is a term most important and crucial to the understanding and subsequent utilization of mythal energies.
But even though these terms provide us with powerful tools one must always remember that the weave in itself is a creature of pure chaos, and that while these definitions allow for much easier communication and comparison of items and traits, they by no means attempt to explain or define the true nature of these mechanisms – for they are only for the gods to truly comprehend, and all we may hope for is the slightest glimpse, one that we may utilize to our own ends.
Included in this thesis is a table with contributions of some systems depending on the energy states in which they exist and the mythals required to achieve the various energy states (Figure 5.). This was achieved by a standardized test of a large sample number (n=250). Interestingly, the standard deviation was significantly smaller in this experiment, suggesting that this designed model is reliable.
Figure 5. The contribution of a number of systems to total energy depending on their energy states. Note that very often, Energy states increase as larger mythals are used and that resultantly contribution is also increased.
It is with some degree of glee that I propose, based upon this experimental evidence and the theory here given, my fifth and last postulation, that
- The size of a mythal used in crafting is directly related to the energy state of the target trait, but indirectly related to the contribution the system makes towards the total energy of the target item.
Note that figure 5 includes a very limited number of traits, a reflection of the scarce amount of resources placed into this field of study. It is my hope that future research and experimentation will some day permit the classification of a much more extensive number of traits – but alas, until that day has come I will continue to conduct my research and update my findings here.
However, to continue on our train of thought, these terms were designed for very simplified communication and conceptualization of more complex ideas. To fortify this goal, the capacity ratio, defined simply as the total energy divided by the general capacity, has been included. This fraction allows for immediate identification of two important properties of an item, and the amount of magic that can still be infused into it. Recall for instance our acid sword, now worn with explanatory use. Consider that its acid system exists in the second energy state and that the system of enhancement bonus has now been infused with a lesser mythal. The contribution of the acid, as discussed before, is 1, and according to figure 5, the contribution of the enhancement system is 1 as well. Hence, the total energy of the item is 2. Since the general capacity of the sword is 4 (figure 4), the capacity ratio is 2/4, and hence 2 more capacity units may be contributed from other sources.
Interestingly, there is also a large range of traits which appear to only have one energy state, and appear to require very specific mythal sizes to infuse with an item. These systems, such as the keen system, all contribute one capacity unit to the total energy, without exception. Refer to the appendix for a list of such traits assayed.
By beginning at the very basic nature of mythals and then elaborating upon the mechanisms by which they act and their inherent limitations and relationships, it has been shown that mythal energies are released only once and that the amount of energy released depends upon the mythal's mass. Furthermore, it has been shown that mythal energies contribute towards the power limit of an item in an indirect manner, that this limit is determined by the item's general capacity and that mythals act by displacing trait systems from one energy state to another. These findings are the basic principles by which mythals act, and to the reader who has braved the length of this thesis, it will become clear that there is still yet much to discover.