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.

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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.