Phew! Finally getting this one posted. Last up in our preliminary previews for Situation 0 -Amor Fati- is taking a more in-depth look at one of the principal phenomena in Sit-0‘s world; Thaumaturgy and Thaumatech.
Origins of Thaumaturgy
For those who read Situation 0 -Precursor- in Fiction Junction, some of the thaumatech available during the war may already be known to you. To clarify, however, the events of Precursor take place in an (as-of-yet) unspecified time later on in Karamia’s military career, and things like thaumacite are still quite new to the ARA. Even before getting into the specifics of thaumatech, we first have to take a look at the principles of thaumaturgy itself.
The term “thaumaturgy” was an archaic reference to both miracles done by saints and mystics, and also used to essentially explain technology to the layman. Specifically, it was coined as technology working by way of what was perceived as magic by the uneducated in the 16th century. It seemed appropriate to refer to a brand of technology using thaumaturgy as a base, while thaumaturgy itself also happens to be used to describe general magic use. In this way, thaumaturgy is explained in a more scientific manner, manipulating molecules and other matter in our world to create different effects; when a thaumaturge (magic user) shoots a fireball, he’s using his EVE particles (soul energy) to manipulate matter, forcing molecules to rapidly jar and combust, producing the fireball. Put simply, thaumaturgy is magic use explained scientifically, and thaumaturgy is also science using magic.
Regular old thaumaturgy is performed through distinct knowledge of the world and its elements, and as such is something that was mainly used by people of high intellect. If you remember what was mentioned about EVE particles in the previous preview, you know that élan vital is the bridge between the Realms of Matter and Spirit, and a thaumaturge is using his own spiritual energy to interact with matter in a way that can’t normally be done. However, manipulating matter isn’t as simple as thinking it; it requires oftentimes intimate knowledge of the forms of matter one intends on manipulating, and at the same time requires intense discipline in order to use élan vital to fuel thaumaturgic reactions.
To best explain Sit-o‘s concept of thaumaturgy, we have to jump back to a time when it was much more commonplace. A thaumaturge would spend much of their formative years learning first to use their own élan vital to create any sort of magic reaction. Usually the first thing learned through much of their studies are non-elemental-based spells, referred to as Kinetics. A magic missile or pure energy shield are a thaumaturge’s preliminary lessons, simply because it’s mastery over spirit energy itself, which is then used to help manipulate matter. Over the course of their life, a thaumaturge would seek to learn the ways of the world itself, to better understand the elements. In many other fantasy settings, a wizard’s library might consist of tome after grimoire of spells and incantations, but in the world of Sit-0 a thaumaturge’s library consists of books on physics and other important sciences that explained how the Realm of Matter worked. So while a thaumaturge’s tome would have pages on how to shoot fire from one’s hand, it’s more about understanding how fire and heat are created, in turn allowing the thaumaturge to manipulate molecules specifically to form fire in their hands, powered by EVE particles they control. Put simply, a thaumaturge isn’t explicitly studying spells themselves, but instead studying up on what is referred to as “elemental knowledge.” This is in great contrast to how magic is used in the present, mainly due to how magic is not a common thing in the world to be learned, and because of the existence of thaumatech, particularly thaumacite. For those of you who read Situation 0 -Precursor-, you already know a bit about Thaumacite.
Thaumacite are pure, crystallized EVE particles made through a yet-to-be-revealed process. When it’s assimilated into the body, thaumacite imparts elemental knowledge to the user, as if they were remembering it. Assimilation of thaumacite is done by simply willing it. This is possible because élan vital longs to learn and grow as part of organisms, so when a thaumacite is assimilated, it loses its physical shape and joins together with the “host’s” élan vital, at which point it imparts the elemental knowledge it contains, giving the host magical abilities. It’s like having knowledge downloaded directly into your brain for use, but it’s only available when a thaumacite is assimilated in the body – when removed, it takes its knowledge with it. While still only in use by the military at this point, the fact remains that the process of using magic has changed considerably, and while it’s still possible to learn the old ways of thaumaturgy, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could teach them.
Some even worry that by putting magic in the hands of the layman, it gives them power that was once gained alongside strict discipline, and there are a growing number of those against magic use, advocating tight control laws like we do for different kinds of weapons. Despite this, magical proliferation has become an interest of many nations, but Almagest still holds considerable control over the supply of up-to-date thaumacite and thaumatechnology.
Applications of Thaumatech
Thaumacite is the backbone of all thaumatech, but it originally wasn’t used on its own, as it wasn’t readily understood that it could interact directly with a user. Before the use of thaumacite became widespread, ARA soldiers and their allies made use of thaumadrives, small devices with thaumacite supplanted in their framework, which allowed the use of certain thaumaturgy at the push of a button. After the revelation that thaumacite could be assimilated, thaumadrives were no longer used as often, and were handed down to lower grades of soldiers.
Another popular form of thaumatechnology are the generic thaumatech engines. With a thaumacite at the core of what used to be its fuel injection system, the spark plug’s electrical pulse causes the thaumacite to spit fire and create combustion, operating much like a regular engine, except without the need for petroleum. In the military, a notable application of this was in Allied siege weapons, and was featured prominently in Almagest’s suits of powered armor. Operating on advanced thaumatech engines, and standing five meters tall, the mechanized, humanoid suits of thaumatech armor allowed ARA soldiers to strap themselves in and tower over the battlefield, offering the power of a tank with the mobility and finesse of a single combatant. Inside siege armor sits a harness that translates the driver’s movements into that of the mechanized suit’s, allowing them to navigate through areas that no other powerful weaponry normally could, and battling against enemy forces like an army of one.
As thaumatech continued to evolve, it allowed the Allies to battle on par with the Axis forces, especially the supernatural phenomena they brought to the front lines.
On the Grand Scale
While thaumacite and thaumatech are important parts of Almagest and the Allies’ success in the war so far, they aren’t exactly up against an enemy that cowers in fear of their power. The Axis forces themselves have employed their own mystical abilities to combat their enemy; the cleftfolk of the eastern canyons are a shamanistic society, and they’ve used their powers of evocation to call forth supernatural beings called “Titans.” Communing with spirits to befriend them, the evokers and their monstrous companions work together against the Allies’ own siege weapons and help turn the tide of battle.
However, evocation isn’t the only other supernatural ability present in the world aside from thaumaturgy. Many other practices of different types of thaumaturgy rest firmly within many cultures around the globe, although some of them have begun to fall by the wayside as globalization and technology becomes more prominent. A select few Gaelans try desperately to hold onto their ancient druidic ties, although the shapeshifters themselves have entered the War, in hopes to protect their homeland from the Axis forces. The druids aren’t just risking their lives in this war, but also the future of their entire culture that they alone preserve.
There are also still whispers in the world muttering about the long lost Espers, the species of magic-enhanced demi-gods that was mentioned in the last preview. Possessing an exceedingly high degree of control over their own élan vital, they have many superhuman capabilities, including strength and endurance. However, without knowledge of their true potential, they can end up being about as magically-inclined as the next human of this day and age.
Who knows what role the Espers might play, or how their existence might motivate others? Are there really any left? You’ll just have to wait and see how all of it plays out, and how magic might change the face of the world!
That’s about all I’ll say about thaumaturgy for now, which is…actually quite a bit. Hopefully this gives you more of an idea about what I mean when I say “contemporary fantasy” in regards to Sit-0‘s setting. It’s the attempt to both retain a lot of that mysticism and fun that you get from a fantasy, but with mashing it together with things you know of from your everyday life.
Creating this entire universe has been one of the greatest conceptual treats for me, and I hope you’re intrigued enough to want to experience it when it’s complete. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, and I might be able to tell you – don’t wanna give away too much, though!