Patterns of Power

Energy flows in patterns. Those patterns define the mass and shape of objects, their motion and interaction. To influence the energies that underlie all things, one must understand those patterns and ply the energy into the patterns needed to produce the desired effects.

Patterns are formed as diagrams, glyphs, drawings, words... Patterns are formed as music and words. Patterns serve as mnemonic devices to access and shape the energy that underlies everything. Ways to push and pull energy. Patterns are the cornerstone of everything.

Devices designed to tap into that power are arrayed with patterns in the form of symbols and lines, acting as conduits of energy, akin to the web of wiring and circuit tracings of electronics and the bits of hardware punctuating their patterns.



Artificing is the design and crafting of mechanical devices and various other constructs. Usually, these creations operate via mechanical action involving gears, screws, levers, chains, springs, etc. These mechanisms can be powered by human or animal action; wind, water, or steam action; anima; or other energies. The more precise the mechanism, the less energy needed to operate it.

This article is a stub. If you would like to add to it... oh yeah, I will need to finish it.


Black Anima

Anima reveals itself in living things as an aura to those capable of detecting it. These auras, and the anima, glow with color. But there is anima without color that does not illuminate, but shades, drains, and darkens. This is Black Anima.

Black Anima is death energy. It is rarely used to bind anything wholesome. Corpses or minor constructs are often lightly bound in black anima, while the remains of potent individuals and artifices are heavily bound, so much that they drain the life energies from living things that draw to close, creating sensations of dread and freezing. Black anima often clings to such things, and even as the vessel it was once bound to rots away, it lingers on, ever so slowly loosing the memory of its shape. Some of the strongest stitchers of Black Anima are entities bound in it themselves.

Regular anima can also be used to bind corpses, but this is rarely done; anima stitched to a body is at risk of turning black. There are remnants of memory in the body, and binding such things can have erratic or even dangerous results akin to using a corpse brain as a control. Such animated bodies are sometimes used as guardians of wild places, where dark energy may be unwelcome, but erratic or dangerous guardians are of little concern or may even be desirable.



Anima is, broadly speaking, the energy that animates living things, or can be stitched or infused into things to give them a semblance of life. Some consider anima to be a 'shapeable' element, but the process of its manipulation is more complex and generally inconsistent with shaping dynamics. The manipulation and binding of Anima is known as Stitching. Anima is not the same as concepts of Soul, Self, or Identity.

Anima is coalesced from various sources, and is intangible in its native state to any but those with an affinity for it. Stitchers can pull Anima into 'threads' and it is those threads of Anima that are stitched. Anima will interact with objects it is stitched to with an amount of force relative to it's strength, which is a function of both source and binding, and these are largely dependent on the Stitcher's aptitude and potency.

It is possible to animate almost anything with Anima, but the amount of effort one must put into doing so is a function of the structure of the target. Far more anima must be stitched into loose cloth to animate it than would be required to animate an articulated frame. Furthermore, the more sophisticated and precise the construction of such artifices are, the more efficient it becomes.

Anima can be stitched to a living target, entwining it into the natural anima of the target. This is most often done with prosthetic limbs. As suggested above, the finer the mechanisms of the prosthetic, the more articulate, strong, and efficient the limb. Simple jointed limbs with no mechanisms beyond a few hinges would be sufficient for cosmetic purposes and awkwardly accomplishing simple tasks. Mechanical limbs with sophisticated mechanisms can easily exceed human strength and agility. Properly stitched limbs provide tactile feedback. The better the stitch, the finer the feeling, including temperature and even subtle shifts in air.

Anima can be stitched to inanimate objects, creating anything from simple toys to elaborate automatons. Such things require a controller of some sort. Artificial controllers are anima imbued objects designed to act as an artificial brain. Simple anima controls are usually embedded in cognates of some sort. Artificial controllers have carved labyrinthine channels on their surface, carefully designed to channel the anima to react to specific stimuli in particular ways. In essence, a computer powered by intangible life-force.

On the dark side of anima stitching, actual brains, bound in anima, can be used as control devices for objects. Automatons controlled in this way usually have faster reactions and interpret imprecise directions more creatively, but they are also more likely to exhibit quirky or rebellious behavior, often going rogue, requiring they be de-animated or destroyed. Some autonomous constructs have had some semblance of the person who's brain was used to animate them exhibited, but the art and science of such bindings is so elusive and unpredictable that no deliberate attempts at doing so have met with genuine success. Efforts at this usually result in dangerous, malicious, or indifferent entities with erratic cognation.


A shaper's potency and skill is often referred to as their 'Savantry'. The term Savant is applied to Shapers of the utmost power. These terms are used in the same manner that Mastery and Master are used in crafts and trades. Shapers with little talent or poor control are known as Pushers, which refers to the habit of those who have failed to form a smooth connection to their element to shove at it, relying on whatever force of will they have to dominate it instead of engaging the element and deftly manipulating it into doing the work of moving.

Most shapers have only rudimentary skills, very frequently untrained and completely unrefined. Some, usually those with greater natural affinity, stand out enough that training and suitable trades are found for them. The potential savantry of a shaper can be inferred by the breadth of their affinities. This is often expressed by scholars of shaping dynamics as 'the broader the base, the taller the tower'. For instance: dense crystals and refined metals require greater affinity, and are considered pinnacles of savantry. Those capable of shaping such things typically have broad basic affinities for stone, earth, and even some borderline affinity for molten stone or damp clays.

The elements arrayed.
In some cases, a person is identified early as a shaper of a particular material, and then, after poor advancement, is deemed a pusher and no further effort is made to train their talent. Some languish in the roles assigned to them because of the label, but some persist, later to be discovered that the affinity they originally demonstrated was a borderline affinity, and their natural savantry is in another element entirely. These erroneous assessments are common with air and fire shapers, who's natural affinities are unexpected or difficult to test for. This often happens when a community, school, or family is predisposed to a particular element with which the young shaper has only borderline affinity.


Shapers, continued

Previously, I spoke of the more tangible aspects of shaping. Other elemental affinities exist, and there are shapers for them as well, unfortunately, identifying such shaping talents and finding viable outlets for such skills can be more challenging.

Air or Wind Shapers are often found in the riggings and on the decks of ships of the sea and flying craft. The talents of the best are capable of ensuring more favorable winds, and even in the case of calmed air, can help keep enough wind in the sail to maintain motion. Flying craft rely on shapers, their talents can help maintain pressure and lift in the envelope, as well as provide superior steering for what is otherwise an extremely fickle craft to pilot. Other trades and crafts can make use of such talents, but often, these skills go untrained and unnoticed, a smith or cook who's fires burn hotter (or with less need of bellows), a shop keeper who's store is remarkably dust free with a lack of cleaning, etc. Air shapers have been known to be able to smother people by withholding their breath.

The least talented Fire Shapers often become potters, glazers, smelters, smiths, cooks, or other trades that rely on fire, particularly if there is a need for those fires to burn either hot or with precision.  While all shaping has some martial application, fire shaping has the most to offer in such service, where shapers of considerable skill can raze buildings and set towns ablaze. Often, such shapers find peace-time roles on fire-brigades, capable of snuffing small fires entirely, and suppressing large blazes and allowing bucket brigades to dowse it quickly. Fire and Air shapers working in unison can create monumental fires, or choke them out entirely.

Water and fluid shaping are often very difficult to spot and harder to apply. While there is some naval application for influencing water flow, reducing drag on the hull, such shapers rarely gain the respect of the air shapers aboard. Water shapers are usually found in agrarian or medical roles, where their talents lend to healthy growth in plants and animals. Plant and Tree shapers usually have fluid affinities, although they are also attuned to the cellular structure in the trees and plants, and often have some affinity for anima as well.



Shapers are those with some elemental affinity that are able by will and want to manipulate elements, coercing them to bend, flow, mould, break, and shape according to their natural properties and the desires of the shaper.

Shaping is generally considered a trade-craft, as it is slow and methodical with little application outside of manufacture, repair, and maintenance. Mining, excavating, carving, sculpting, masonry, carpentry, glazing, smithing, and many other trades are all accomplished with less physical labor when shapers are employed.

The finest shapers are generally sculptors of whatever material they have affinity toward. Such shapers are often able to produce intricate carvings and sculpture, with little if any actual chiseling or hammering, instead applying relatively soft pressure to move the material or cause unwanted material to release and fall away. The finest artificers are usually shapers as well, capable of forming intricate mechanisms and delicate devices usually to be imbued with anima.

Shaper-masons and -carpenters are able to create perfectly jointed buildings with minimal if any use of mortars, nails, or similar construction aids.

Shapers who are accomplished at working with living plants can coax them into a variety of shapes and forms, even when mature, creating living buildings, fences, furniture, and more fanciful forms.

Often the least finessed, shaper-miners and -excavators often have far more potent shaping ability, and use it to break apart solid stone and loosen hard earth and clay for removal, and reinforcing walls and ceilings to prevent cave-ins.


Circular Wall Shelves

For some time, I have been wanting to get a nice shelf unit to put over our platform bed, in lieu of a headboard. I had a notion for a circular, semi-spherical shelf for the wall.

I searched for a manufactured unit, and when that failed, searched for images. I found this unattributed image, and reverse-engineered the dimensions, using the CD cases in the image for sizing. I then created a 3D CAD model as a baseline model for adjustments.

The shelf in the photo is made of 3/8" plywood, and is about 43" across. I wanted a slightly more substantial material and size to fill the space over the head of the bed; scaling the entire model 4/3rds, made the material thickness 1/2", and about 57" across, just the size I wanted. That simple operation also made the shelves go from just under 6" to a over 8", making them more accommodating for general use.

I have made the center rows and columns slightly larger, and reducing the shelf size of the tapered ends in the process. I also adjusted the stock thickness to 3/4", which gives the unit a more assertive look. Renders rarely do a finished product justice, but here it is:

Because of the modeling process I am using, the edges of all the shelves match the spherical contour. I would like to keep that feature, but crafting such cuts without the benefit of a good band saw and patient sanding will be problematic. I don't know what I would do if I had to buy a good band-saw!



I have never been entirely satisfied with the rules of capture and control, but it has always been a game of pleasure in pattern, not strategy and winning, so perhaps I am just trying to hammer a hexagonal peg into a square hole. Regardless, this will be an opportunity to feel the game in my hands, share it with friends and family, and discover how we feel about those rules.

A render of a 3X panel
I found there were several schemes for the game board panels Osbolique required, and while many resolved the issue of tessellation, and most only required one type of panel, only one schema did all that while also being aesthetically pleasing and practical:

A quasi-hexagonal pattern, following the standard color tile distribution pattern and laid out in a way that the number of tiles along each face is a multiple of three. These panels are rotationally self-tessellating (with other panels of like size) and lock together with a 'saw-tooth' edge. While a single 3X panel (one with three small hexagonal iterations on each major face) is a bit small for a game, three or four such tiles together make an adequate field of play. A 6X, 9X, or even 12X panel is sufficient for a small game, and can be further tessellated to create much larger games.
    Most board games have clearly defined starting positions, but by its very nature, Osbolique resisted that tradition: When piece creation is achieved dynamically as a result of movement and promotion, defined starting positions compromise that fluidity and restrict the potential of the game. By allowing placement only on one's own panel, it encourages pattern development, neither being influenced by preordained starting positions, nor the influence of an aggressive opponent.

    A game played on four 3X panels (what I deem to be an optimal 'small game') allows each player to begin on their own panel, giving ample opportunity to evolve patterns and position before any interaction is achieved. When playing larger games, perhaps on 2 or more 6X, 9X, or 12X; the additional space on each panel simply allows for more elaborate patterns to be evolved before interactions occur. In all these situations, the number of panels used should set the tone of the game.  Fewer panels will force earlier and more aggressive interactions, while the greater the number (and size) of panels, the more relaxed and 'expansive' the match.

    This is consistent with the design premise of ancient and long lived Elvorae who played on infinite fields in never ending matches that were explorations of patterns in growth and conflict, where victory could only be scored in the context of the most recent move, and only in that finite portion of the field it affected.



    I have recently discovered that online manufacturers and rapid prototyping services have become very competitive both in terms of their prices and the quality of their product. In the past, these services could only make products from brittle styrenes and acetates, and for outrageous prices. They now offer a broad selection of materials including wood and stainless steel, and the overall cost is cheaper now than ever.

    The 1/1/1/1/1 Pentimo
    Amongst my game ideas, I have spent some time working on pentagonal dominoes. In the past I have tried to find some pentagonal tiles or blocks that I could mark on to experiment with rules and scoring, but to no avail. I am now committed to making a set of these 'Pentimoes' in a fairly affordable and durable material.

    I modeled a small series of them up in AutoCAD, and uploaded them to a stereo-lithography service to get a price quote: it was still too rich for my blood. I then looked into other methods, and found I could have them laser-cut from wood at a fraction of the cost!

    I haven't finished the cut-file and spec'ing the design, but based on the pricing of the test file I uploaded, I expect it to cost about $140 for the set.  While it is an outrageous price for a regular set of dominoes, these are not regular, and considering I have been unable to find even something with a pentagonal cross section I could cut into tiles, let alone actual pentagonal tiles, This seems like a fair price.

    Before I submitted a design, I needed to choose what units were going to be on the pentimoes, their distribution and arrangement.  The original pentimo sketch had random scratching on each face, while later sketches used conventional numbers. I briefly considered using some collection of wing-dings or shapes, but ultimately decided to go with the domino standard: pips.

    Domino tradition also dictated that there would  be one pentimo for every possible combination of pips in a set. Because pentimo have 5 faces, the number of pentimo for even a small range of pips was huge. Luckily because off their radial nature, a 1/1/1/1/2 pentimo is the same as a 2/1/1/1/1 pentimo, its just a matter of orientation. Clock-wise or counter-clockwise does matter though: 2/3/1/1/1 is the same as 1/1/1/2/3, but not the same as 3/2/1/1/1.  With all that in mind, I settled on making a set of pentimoes with 1, 2, or 3 pips per face. That gives 243 total combinations, but ruling out radial redundancies, that leaves 51 unique combinations. Considering a set of double 6's has 21 dominoes, 51 seemed like a fine number.  Besides, fitting more than 3 pips along a face would have been daunting.

    The CAD file with pip combinations.
    That information has now been graphically incorporated into the cad drawing, and just needs to be converted into a format the laser cutter can work with.

    I spent a lot of time trying to optimize the fill pattern while maximizing shared cut lines to reduce cut-time. Ultimately, because cutting costs are much higher than material costs, wasted material is less sinful than excessive cutting.

    The only thing left to do is get a set shipped to me, and set to work on games and rules. Luckily, dominoes are like playing cards: There is no official game, let alone a single set of rules for any given game. I can comfortably create as many rule variants as I want, without feeling the need to pick a winner!


    Time Marches On

    I got a fun idea, watching some tidbit of a kid's show the other day.
    Mesoamerican calendar discs, like this one, are fairly consistent with a central face, four surrounding character icons, then a wheel with icons for the years/months.  It has been a while since I studied this, and I don't want to dilute my creative process with too much fresh research, so that is good enough for now.

    The notion here is for elemental or spiritual manifestations that appear similar to these discs. They would hover along ominously, the central face speaking and seeing for them. I picture this modified slightly, with the four surrounding faces being facets of a polyhedra of some sort so the central faces could rotate and exchange. I also picture the smaller icons for the years to be able to manifest off the disc, as minions or helpers. There a number of other icons on the disc that may either manifest seperately in this fashion, or maybe animate and function as attached limbs for whatever purposes they are suited. Some, such as the curly-V's are supposed to be symbols of sunlight, as I recall, and maybe some of the symbology could be preserved, and those are actually beam emitters and/or light sources.

    Deviating my design from the historically accurate would actually be fair-game, going forward with the premise that the calendar discs were actually artistic interpretations of these beings. That sort of caveat buys a lot of latitude, when one considers some of the fantastic and absurd illustrations of African and Asian beasts that were produced in Europe during the dark ages.

    Anyhow... just another idea to punt around.