Life is the study of Patterns which are constantly developing and changing – in other words, alive. Once a Pattern is no longer developing and changing, it becomes the realm of Matter – so corpses and wooden chairs deal with Matter, not Life.
Life is a versatile Sphere, not only allowing the Mage to heal and change his body, but to harm and twist the bodies of others. At higher levels, Mages can shapeshift into creatures unimagined by humans – or reduce their opponent to a pile of water and goop.
Life cannot affect anything other than living things, making it quite limited. It also cannot cause inorganic changes – you could turn your skin to bark, but you couldn’t turn it to steel without Matter. Likewise, you can’t alter someone’s emotions or mind without using Mind. Furthermore, drastic changes to Patterns cause Pattern Bleeding – if the Mage wants to stay in an unnatural form for more than one day, he takes one level of Lethal Damage each day. It may be easier to simply let the change fade, then suffer the Paradox of casting again, or make the extra push to make the effect permanent. Permanently changing his body can cause the Mage to risk forgetting who he really is, however.
- Apprentice Life (Sense Life)
- The Mage can feel the flow of life around him. He can sense injury or sickness in a subject, and can feel how much life is around him, and where generally it is. With practice, he can focus on a single life pattern to learn its type, sex, health, and age. Although he cannot yet affect this flow of life, just feeling the presence of living things can be comforting. Correspondence and Life together make a nice sort of 'radar sense.'
- Initiate Life (Alter Simple Patterns, Heal Self)
- The Mage can now exert some control over the life around him. Healing himself is simple – he knows his own body, how it should be, and how to fix it. Dealing with other life is more difficult, and the Mage must follow the path of evolution. At this level, he can only affect plants, invertebrates, algae or fungi, coaxing them to move and grow in certain ways. However, causing an enemy stronghold to crawl with deadly bacteria is quite a useful feat in and of itself, and it only takes one quick-growing plant to cripple the delicate insides of a machine.
- Disciple Life (Alter Self, Transform Simple Patterns)
- The Mage now understands himself better, not only able to repair his Pattern, but to alter it as he wishes. He must remain fundamentally human – altering oneself into a bird or a fish cannot be done yet – but could grow gills or flaps of skin for gliding, deadly claws or tough skin. With simpler Patterns, a Mage can make more drastic changes – turning a crawfish into a clump of grass, or making a simple bacteria into a deadly killer. He might also strike at his foes, twisting their Patterns to cause damage. With the aid of other Spheres, a Mage might create life out of nothing, or turn rocks into mice. However, it is important to note that without high levels of the Mind Sphere, these creations will have no thoughts. Furthermore, the crawfish turned into grass will still think it is a crawfish, and a Mage growing flippers won’t instinctively know how to use them. At this level, a Mage can also heal other humans, although with a lengthy process, as her understanding of human Patterns is lacking.
- Adept Life (Alter Complex Patterns, Transform Self)
- The Mage now has enough expertise to work with humans and larger animals. He can heal with a touch, gift an ally with great strength, or cripple a foe. He can perform anything he could do with Alter Self on others, although with the same restriction that they must remain fundamentally human. As for himself, the Mage can transform his Pattern into anything he desires, keeping roughly the same size and mass. But he still gains no instinctual use of his new body, and must spend time becoming accustomed to not being human.
- Master Life (Transform Complex Patterns, Perfect Metamorphosis)
- The Master of Life can now alter life at his whim. He can reshape any creature into any other, as long as the mass remains similar, or he uses another Sphere to account for it. A group of enemies can become large, flopping fish. The Mage can make himself immune to age, disease, hunger, and injury, and quickly regenerate nearly any damage. His self-transformation is perfect, allowing him to alter not only shape but size and mass, and to instinctually gain some measure of control over the new body. Perhaps most impressively, a Mage can create complex life from nothing, with the aid of the Prime Sphere. With mastery of Life, Prime, and Mind, a Mage could create from nothing an intelligent human being. Of course, creating life raises all its own ethical and spiritual questions…
A Note About ShiftersEdit
Natural shapeshifters (garou and other fera) are nearly impossible to effectively transform, though they can be affected with Life as per normal. Though the Effect may take hold, they can simply change their shape to whatever of their "natural" forms they wish, just like always. The only way to get around this is to add a conjunctional Spirit3 effect to the attempt, affecting both their physical and spiritual shape.
Alternate Names Among the TraditionsEdit
- Akashic Brotherhood: Internal Alchemy
- Celestial Chorus: Vis, Vitalis
- Cult of Ecstasy: Lakashim
- Dreamspeakers: The Cycle of the Green Corn
- Euthanatos: Prana
- Order of Hermes: Ars Animae
- Sons of Ether: Etheric Biology
- Verbena: The Art of Blood
- Virtual Adepts: Carbon-Based Complexity
- Genetics Scan
- Using her computer, a Virtual Adept with Life Arts can execute a program to scan her immediate vicinity for signs of life. Graphics indicate any nearby life forms and their position relative to the mage herself, as well as anatomical readouts of the detected forms based on their Patterns. The Adept usually filters the input so her computer doesn't show every gnat and cockroach. She can scan for single species, or even for specific individuals if she has the person's Pattern scanned into her computer's memory (automatic if the mage has previously scanned the target). After about a quarter-mile range, the scan becomes highly inaccurate and may even show ghostly images of life forms that aren't really there.
- Prayer of Healing Revelation
- The Celestial Chorus studies Life Arts to detect illness and injury. These Disciples learn to identify flaws in a life form's Pattern that indicate various diseases, injuries, poisons and parasitic infestations. The mystick must usually make a Perception roll when scanning the Pattern. The more successes scored, the more specific the information she receives. One success might reveal poison, two might reveal the poison is affecting the respiratory process, and three successes might determine the poison to be cyanide.
- Heal Simple Creature
- A healer can attempt to repair a life form's damaged Pattern. Virtually any affliction can be corrected this way. General healing is decided the same way as damage is. The GM must decide the number of successes required for other restorative Effects such as regrowing limbs, curing paralysis, etc.
- Each attempt at healing a Pattern assumes that the mage does as much restorative work as she is able. Repeating the Effect will not heal more damage. At the GM's discretion, the mage may attempt to fix more Pattern damage after the creature has had sufficient time to heal. Any new damage suffered by the subject can also be treated by the mage. Some sorcerers have been known to cure a little bit of damage, cause more and then try again. Of course, these same mages tend to botch this Effect and cause immense damage.
- Certain types of wound require special treatment when healed through magick. Aggravated wounds can only be treated using vulgar magick. Aggravated wounds such as damage from Paradox backlash or Pattern leakage (see Better Body) cannot be healed with Pattern magick; only natural healing will work.
- Finally, two mages cannot successively heal a single subject. After one mage has cured a subject, another cannot try until the subject suffers more damage. Two or more mages may still act in concert to heal a subject.
- Ho Tien Chi
- Chinese for "Breath of the Day after Birth," Ho Tien Chi is a breath control exercise mastered by the Akashic Brotherhood. Through this powerful Effect, the mage can restore damage done to his body. The results are the same as those of Heal Simple Creature, above. Other groups practice various methods of healing, from the Celestial Chorus' laying on of hands to the crazed Technomancer theories involving electrical stimulation of the body's healing faculties.
- Little Good Death
- This Effect is the first form of killing Euthanatos Disciples learn. With it, a mage mentally grasps and shreds the Etheric Pattern of any simple creature. Other Traditions use similar Effects, though less frequently.
- Mold Tree
- Verbena use this Effect to reweave the Pattern of a tree, causing its branches or even its trunk to bend and twist into new shapes.
- Better Body
- By reweaving the Pattern of his own body, a mage can improve on Mother Nature. Each success rolled lets him increase one of his Physical Attributes or his Appearance by one dot. These improvements can exceed the regular five dots, but the Effect then strays into vulgar magick. The Effect has the usual duration; if the mage wants it to become permanent, he must pay experience points for the improvements or suffer Pattern leakage. (Editor's Note: Might want to make Pattern Leakage its own section. Also figure out how permanence works with +lteach)
- Pattern leakage is caused by a metaphysical imbalance between a mage's outer form and his True Form - what he is, versus what he appears to be. As time progresses, this leakage causes physical trauma (i.e. Health Levels) as the mage's body feeds on its own life energy in an attempt to sustain its exaggerated form. A mage with this syndrome is, in fact, a thaumivore. If he's skilled in Prime, he may feed his body from the Quintessence in his Avatar instead. When a thaumivoric mage exhausts this alternate energy supply (which commonly happens if he doesn't meditate at a Node), his body will turn back to feeding on his life.
- A mage will suffer one Health Level of damage for every day that he maintains a boosted form as his thaumivorism drains Quintessence from his life energy itself. If he exerts the capabilities of his improved body, this interval can decrease to hours or even minutes. This damage cannot be corrected or healed until the mage allows his Pattern to revert to its natural form (losing the points gained in Attributes) or he pays for a permanent upgrade. Damage suffered from Pattern leakage can only heal at a natural rate, not through Pattern healing, and Pattern leakage continues until the mage dies, spends the points to pay for the improvements, or allows his body to revert to its natural form.
- If he wants to warp his True Form, the cost to permanently raise an Attribute this way is half of what it would normally be. This requires at least five successes on a vulgar Life magick roll and costs time and pain besides. Going from Appearance 1 to Appearance 4 through Technocratic magick takes extensive plastic surgery, and most Traditional methods are equally unpleasant, involving everything from noxious potions to funhouse mirrors.
- Permanently rewriting your Pattern into one which is not so much better as different, i.e., exchanging Strength specialty Brawny for Strength specialty Lean, or blue eyes to brown, is more of an alteration than an improvement. This does not cause Pattern leakage, though it can change the mage's True Form.
- If the mage exceeds the human maximum of 5 dots in any Attribute, he must mark off a permanent point of Paradox for every point in excess, e.g. a mage who increased his Strength to 7 and his Dexterity to 6 would have three points of permanent Paradox until he somehow lost such overtly vulgar upgrades. This is a common problem with Iteration X cyborgs - many become too vulgar to safely survive on Earth.
- The mage may also use this Effect to create natural weaponry - fangs, claws, extra-dense bones, poison sacs, etc. Treat these natural weapons as clubs, claws or knives. This Effect is generally vulgar. If she wants to make such improvements permanent, she must also mark off a permanent point of Paradox for each such mutation, though these do not cause Pattern leakage unless they also increase her Attribute ratings.
- Rip the Man-Body
- With this Effect, a Euthanatos can rend the Patterns of more complex life forms. As the mage lacks detailed knowledge of such complex Patterns, she cannot unravel Patterns quickly. The overall effect of this magick resembles Little Good Death, though Rip the Man-Body can affect any life form. This damage often manifests as lesions and internal hemorrhaging.
- Lesser Shapechanging
- With this magick, the mage may alter his shape into that of any higher animal of similar size and mass. His mind, however, is not changed, and he must learn to think and move in whatever form he takes. A mage who takes the shape of a tiger will have to learn how to walk like a cat, drink like a cat and fight like a cat.
- Many new shapechangers have only a basic understanding of what they do. Until he gets to know a given form - which costs two experience points per form - he must expend a point of Willpower each day that he spends in the new form to remember who and what he truly is. While shifted, he cannot regain spent Willpower; if he runs out, he will believe he has always been that creature until something convinces him otherwise. If he returns to his natural shape, he will have to go through a period of adjustment before he remembers his true form and his previous memories, though Mind magicks may be used to get around this.
- Mutate Form
- The mage can alter the form of another living creature, causing deformities (paralysis, amputation, etc.) or beneficial mutations (gills, flexible joints, etc.). Mysticks (especially assassins and secret agents) also use these mutations as the ultimate form of disguise, altering body structure to adjust height, weight, build and facial features.
- The number of successes rolled indicates the degree to which the mage can warp the subject's body. Mutations that last more than one scene may cause the traumatic Pattern leaking effect described in Better Body.
- Physiological Emotion Control
- Many Virtual Adepts view human beings as biological computers. By inducing certain reactions within the physical body, they can "reprogram" a person's behavior. Emotions like anger or fear can be induced by causing the body to release adrenaline, while endorphin stimulation can bring on intense pleasure. Even depression often has biological causes. This "tyranny" of the physical body over the mind is one of the reasons that the Virtual Adepts wish to attain a virtual reality state, where that body is left behind and the mind is no longer a slave to the body's needs.
- Any Adept of Life can induce emotions in the subject by causing the person's body to release or stifle the correct hormones. The more successes on the Effect roll, the more severe the emotion.
- Animal Form
- Verbena Master of Life use this Effect on those who displease them, turning an offender into a lesser creature such as a frog or a fly. The subject of the transformation receives all the benefits or penalties of the new form; her senses are limited to those of the new form (e.g., a human transformed into a tree would not be able to see, smell or hear, but might gain new senses that allow her to "feel" sunlight, water and wind). The subject's sentience does not change, and mages may still make use of magick in any form.
- This Effect can turn mice into horses or a horse into a coachman, a la Cinderella. Animals changed into humans tend to go through a longer acclimation process, but will eventually come to think of themselves as humans - and may fear the witches who wish to change them back to their proper shapes.
- Perfect Metamorphosis
- This ancient Hermetic magick allows a magus to take any shape he pleases without losing his intellect. Size and mass are no object, and body and mind mesh perfectly. The wizard may live in the shape of a griffin while still remembering his history as a man and his status as a mage. This type of perfect transformation is only available to the mage himself, though mages who have achieved this level know that the Oracles of Life understand how to use this magick upon others.