"They laughed when I told them fire was a friend of mine and lit the pyre anyways. They screamed when I proved my point. Now they don't say much of anything anymore." - Seeker Nolin Kaiva
The elements of Idalos are the lifeblood of mortal society. The wind fills sails of ships, fire warms the hearth, water strengthens the crops, and earth is cut to build. Once it was only the purview of the Immortals to control these essential natural manifestations, but with the discipline of Defiance, mortals reclaim the right to manipulate the world around. To be masters of Idalos.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Relationship
- 3 Dancing
- 4 Reference Guide
- 5 Dangers and Overstepping
- 6 Initiation
- 7 Suggested Mutations
- 8 Exemplar
- 9 NOVICE
- 10 COMPETENT
- 11 EXPERT
- 12 MASTER
- 13 REVEALED
Defiance is often misunderstood as a discipline. Considered to be simply hurling fireballs or making shapes in water, in reality it is a relationship between mage and the natural elements surrounding them. While not delving into the spiritual element, as Pact does, Defiance is a way of understanding the truest nature of these humble and important aspects of Idalos. Gaining its namesake for the overt means by which the elements can be manipulated, Defiance spits on the Immortal masters of the element merely by existing...or at least that was the intent when first developed. Truthfully, most Defiers have a grudging respect for how well the Immortals have controlled the element up till now. Elements are fickle things, easily roused to chaos and just as quickly given to passive silence. What begins with a spark becomes a dialogue, and the dialogue becomes a kinship. While an Immortal controls the elements imperiously, mages of this discipline Defy that. No. For them, it is the relationship that is paramount; Defiance is about the bond.
What needs to be understood about Defiance is that it is unique, even among other magics. The spark in the mage's soul affords them a real connection with the elements around them. From the moment they are inducted, rain will sometimes fall around them, fire will struggle to warm them, even in a heavy wind, and even the earth is a soft bed for them to sleep on. Defiance is a magic that is felt in minor but significant ways. For a Defier, the elements are friends more constant than those of flesh and bone. Some of the mutations involve a difficulty communicating with ordinary people. Why bother when such fragile beings only pretend to master the elements that you have come to love and cherish? A Defier is never alone and so these mages tend to be more confident than others.
Of course, this relationship applies to ALL Defiers. Many Defiance mages truly loathe to fight each other. In a way it's like forcing a generous lover, a true friend, to turn against someone they care about. The elements hate to be manipulated and with the protection Defiers receive, most fights between Defiance mages tend to rely on secondary magics or physical skills rather than their strength in this discipline to fight each other. Of course, the superior Defier can overpower a lesser one but equally skilled masters will warp their environment before they do any damage to themselves.
Some mages fancy a romantic relationship with the elements, a kinship men of flesh and bone would not understand. It is not uncommon for those who can see spirits to see the spirits of elements following and clinging to such mages. Even powerful Induk show deference to a mage of elemental precision. Of all the magics, Defiers are the least likely to become unraveled and insane. Their power comes from the support of their friends around them, and that place of nurturing promotes a healthy and sharp mind. While Defiance can certainly be used for evil, there are few, if any, who would consider what they do harmful to the elements around them. Despite loyalties, many Defiers can put aside their differences to hunt down a rogue Defier who has taken to hurting or manipulating the elements in truly horrific ways. This solemn hunt, called the Severing, always ends in the rogue's death.
Dancing is encouraging the elements to act outside of their ordinary purview for the purposes of the Defier. Most elements behave as people expect them to. Wind blows around objects or in one direction, water fills the area it is placed within. Earth remains steadfast and fire burns along the objects it devours. We understand these manifestations and ordinarily cannot control them. To the purview of Defiance, however, Dancing becomes a singular expression of ones connection with the elements around them. Water can be made to coil like a snake or jet from a puddle into someone's face. Fire can be encouraged to blaze and burn between open hands and be hurled as a projectile. Earth can roil and create pillars, hurl stones, and become jagged obstacles.
At first Dancing is clumsy, the elements stay close to their true form and must be encouraged. Fire will still require substance to feed it and both earth and water will need to be connected to itself in order to act. Floating stone pillars are not the purview of beginning dancers, but rather the masters who learn stylistic expressions. A Defier takes great pride in the development of their dancing skill and most cultivate signature manifestations and routines involving the elements. A talented Becomer who was also a master Defier commanded the elements into the likeness of animals briefly. Dancing follows the control of radius, the prowess of the Defier stretching no farther than their ordinary area of influence.
This most basic ability of a Defier is the tentative acceptance of the elements. A measure of resistance is gained to each elemental manifestation. At a beginning level, this resistance is not much. One might last longer in a burning building or stand stronger against the wind than another of their race. The elements pull their punches against a Defier, showing them a certain grudging deference. It is the beginning of a conversation. The conversation culminates at expert when the Defier gains improved resistance (a noticeable and drastic improvement) to whichever elements they currently manipulate and immunity to their Kin element.
Another basic ability, the Defier becomes aware of an element's voice and can follow it. A Defier intuitively senses a shift in the wind which heralds a coming storm quicker than almost any other creature, can find water in the desert, gold in the dirt or the flicker of a campfire on a cold night Defiers disagree on what the voices of elements sound like. The closest any of them agree on is that the bigger the manifestation, the louder it is.
A talent learned in competence, a Defier calls an element to augment one of their own weapons or tools. As they are capable of Manifestation at this stage, the element can be called directly rather than coaxed from a nearby source. Due to the nature of competent Defying, taking it from an existing source will always be stronger. As a Defier progresses in their mastery, this may one day no longer be the case. Examples of this power include setting a sword ablaze, encasing a shield in another layer of spiked stone, or augmenting the head of a mace to hit with both wind and the force of the swing.
Another competent ability, the Defier begins to shape the manifestation of an element. Fire can crash like a wave and water can encircle. Earth can be shaped into crude sculptures and even air begins to allow some mutability. Defiers call this dancing because it is what they consider this technique. They encourage the element to dance, to show off, to be comfortable under the Defier's control. While most may not understand trying to make earth comfortable, a Defier understands all too well that sometimes a building doesn't crumble because it was poorly built, but because the earth was not comfortable in that shape. This ability grows in power and versatility as the Defier progresses in their discipline. Some have considered the elemental dancing master Defiers capable of breathtakingly beautiful.
At competent a Defier is offered a choice. They must choose one element to become their Kin. Although a Defier may have trouble choosing between the four elements, this choice is pivotal on their further development. Their Kin element is their closest and boon companion in the world. While their relationship will progress with the other three, none of them can compare to the grace, versatility, and power that the Defier can call from his Kin element. It is said that a Master Defier can name a second Kin Element...and a legendary Defier can name a third.
An ability a Defier acquires at expertise. Elements can be called to embrace the Defier in protective armor during times of duress. In addition each element brings its own blessing to the embrace, a gift for the mage. Wind allows for flight (albeit for the few breaks this ability can be maintained), Earth allows for Meld, sinking and moving through earth as though it were water. Water imparts Riptide, the ability to create and move through a personal high speed current. Finally Fire imparts Conflagration, the ability to set nearly any material encountered by the Embraced aflame.
Guardian is perhaps one of the more remarkable expressions of an element's kinship with a budding caster. At expert level, a Defier has gained such a rapport with their kin element that it protects them wherever they go. Spirits may tail a mage of this level, feeding from the manifestation of that element around them. This ability is not one that is activated but rather one that activates in spite of the mage casting. The element lives in the latent ether around a mage and when that mage is pushed into danger, it springs to life. An earth Guardian might fracture the earth around an assassin seeking the mage in their sleep while a fire Guardian might explode into a sheet of element around the mage when he is at the point of a sword. The way the Guardian manifests is up to the writer but it errs on the overprotective side and always counts as 'casting' a spell, but is preempted in dangerous situations. A wind guardian might be keenly aware of an arrow slicing toward the mage while a water Guardian might sense a rising storm on the water and push a mage's boat away. An earth Guardian would be aware of anyone treading upon it heading toward the mage. While these manifestations are usually more protective than offensive, they have been known to be deadly if an excess of the element is in the area and the mage is particularly powerful.
An ability gained at mastery, Support is one of the more intimate expressions of Defiance. Simply defined, Support is the ability to call upon a Kin element to restore vitality and heal what has been damaged. Utilizing the ether and one of the mage's Kin elements, they can draw the power into themselves and heal. For a moment, the mage converts the area of the injury into the element, draws in outside elemental influence, and then reforms their body in its whole state. Support is the beginning of Coexistance, a Legendary Defiance tactic, but one that master Defiers have used to heal themselves after drawn out battle or in the face of unexpected adversity. This ability can be used on the battlefield but will often lead to overstepping if the injury is too great.
When a Defier reaches mastery and names a second kin element, the relationship between the mage and their two chosen elements grows. In addition to the power afforded by two kin elements, the master is also capable of convincing these two elements to coexist long enough to form an elemental refinement. This ability can only be combined with two elements. Even if one unlocks a third kin element at legendary, there are no three element refinement combinations known. For Water and Fire, the heat of fire combines with water to create Steam, the easiest to maintain of the refinements and quite dangerous. Fire and Earth create magma, the most deadly of the Refinements but the most exhausting to command. Fire and Air create Lightning, the fastest but most limited in Dancing and Shaping of the Refinements. Water and Earth create Mud, the most versatile elemental refinement, unparalleled in its Dancing and Shaping ability. Wind and Water create Ice and of the Refinement manifestations, it tends to be almost as flexible as mud, but a bit more durable. Finally, Wind and Earth create the manifestation of Storm. Easily the largest of the Refinement manifestations, Storm tears the earth into the air and creates an environment of dangerous, hurtling objects and low visibility. Tornados, Dust storms, Sand storms and the like are all the purview of this Refinement. While not necessarily the most powerful, it certainly spans the largest area.
As a Defier reaches the pinnacle of a relationship with the elements, the trust between the two is absolute. The Defier understands things about the elements that none other save the Immortals would dare claim. This enlightenment gives a Legendary Defier unprecedented control over even the most cataclysmic of elemental phenomena. Utilizing their Kin elements, there is little limit to what a Defier cannot overcome. They can command a tidal wave back into the sea, calm a storm, or even suffocate a forest fire. By the same token, they can encourage these phenomena as well. The process of calming or creating a cataclysmic manifestation of their Kin element is never something easy or done in the space of a few moments. A Defier will take hours, even trials to summon up and convince the elements to Rampage as they desire. While an entire Storm cannot be accurately controlled by even a legendary Defier, they do have the power to calm these cataclysmic sources if dealing with them directly. To Calm them instantly is to act for moderate to severe overstepping.
The Revealed form for a Defiance Mage, detailed below.
Dangers and Overstepping
Dizziness, Migraines, Loss of elemental control, Loss of precision, Loss of balance, Numbness, Crushing loneliness, Elemental Scorn (light)
Minor paralysis, Severe Exhaustion, Depression, Elemental aversion (Moderate), Abandoning (minor)
Consumption, Abandoning (moderate), Elemental Aversion (Major). Extreme Depression
Elemental Scorn: This consequence can manifest in three different severities. Minor suggests only a small aversion to the elements. Usually this applies to only one element, the one that was being abused, and tends to make the caster uncomfortable for up to a trial afterward. They may get windburn or a fire will burn to hot. The earth will be uneven under their step and water will creep into their most secure possessions. Moderate suggests that an element is actually somewhat harmful. The uncomfortable wind before will bowl them off their feet, fire will almost deliberately seek them out and water will try to actively drag them into its embrace. While this can still be resisted and only lasts a trial or so, depending on the severity, the Defier is encouraged to avoid that element in any of its incarnations wherever possible. Major Scorn marks the Defier to the elements as someone to be temporarily hated. Their powers will not work on this particular element and, in fact, the element seems hellbent on causing them some severe bodily harm. While rarely fatal, the Scorn will at least attempt to mark the Defier as a warning or consequence for misusing or overusing the element.
Abandoning: Unlike Scorn, this consequence is the complete ignorance of the element to the Defier's will. The Defier has badly insulted or hurt the element they were manipulating and recompense must be made before it will bend to the Defier's call again. Often this is simply solved by waiting a few trials for the element to 'forgive' the mage, but some have even gone so far as to try and personally make it right with actions. How does one apologize to an element? That's left to the mage's ingenuity.
Consumption: Perhaps the most terrifying of consequences, Consumption is when a Defier has crossed a line one too many times or done something egregious. The elements swallow up the mage, never to be seen again.
Initiation for Defiance is one of the more dangerous of the magics. The teacher takes a student with them to a private place. In order to become a Defier you must take the first and most important step, be vulnerable to the elements. Defiers always use their Kin elements when initiating a student and although the elements are different, the process is similar. The teacher will coax a spark from their own and give it to their Kin element. For water this ritual is often conducted in a deep lake or the ocean. For wind it is atop a mountain or any perilous drop in open sky. Fire is set up within a burning pyre and earth is represented in a deeply dug pit. Once the spark has been gifted to the element, the teacher will lead their student to where the element is strongest and immerse them in it. Pushed off a great height, buried beneath the earth, consumed by fire, or swallowed by the sea. The teacher will wait for their student to emerge, unharmed, in order to know the induction has been successful. It is said that a student must allow themselves to be vulnerable, reach out for the Element and request its aid. The first step of a relationship is connection. If it is made, the student will live and emerge a Defier. If not, they perish.
Teacher and Student have a close bond to one another. The teacher, the 'parent' spark will always know when their student is in danger. Vaguely they will be warned through the element around them. While this cannot pinpoint their location or explain the danger, when bodily harm is threatened, the teacher will know. And likewise, the student will know when their teacher perishes. The elements will mourn the passing around the student briefly. It is said that a student can never completely overcome the parent's Defiance at the same level of mastery, but admittedly little data has been collected on such confrontations.
Ordinarily a Brand for Defiance is one that is somewhat difficult to obscure but somewhat easy to explain. The elements seem to cling to the mage who has recently been initiated into Defiance. An ordinary Brand for Defiance mage is the stubborn clinging of dirt or water to their skin, an accompaniment of breeze even in a dead still day, and a somewhat worrying habit of their items catching flame if put too close to the fire. The elements follow and shadow them, marking them as their own. There are stories of stranger brands, but it's a rare occurrence.
Mutations in Defiance tend to be a little curious. One might suddenly lose the ability to heal without the assistance of their kin element, a Defier slapping mud onto a laceration to aid in the healing process. Some others may find their Brand expands so that they're always covered in dirt, or their entrance is punctuated with a brisk and very noticeable wind. Some may find they can only eat when the food has been utterly charred by fire, but can still gain full nutritional benefits. Stranger mutations as stones inlaid within the skin or eyes that burn with real heat and fire are rarer, but not unheard of.
The Revelation of a Defier is one baptized in their kin element. The moment of merging with their Spark is full of action and movement, and the few recorded often transformed during combat or deep in Dancing with their elements. The Exemplar eschew mortal society entirely and their former body, becoming beings of fire and stone, or transforming into a strange creature of water and wind, easily merging with both as they travel across Idalos. Of all the Revelations, Defiers tend to have the most trouble masking themselves. By the same token, most Exemplar have no interest in hiding their true nature. As their relationship grows with the element, they tend to become defensive of hiding that connection. After all, most can only simply interact with the elements, desperately relying on them for life. An Exemplar IS the elements and thus easily above the others.
When an Exemplar is revealed, they often retain many of their goals, personality traits, and memories of their time as a mage. Whether the Spark wins dominance or not, an Exemplar is the hardest revelation to tell the difference between. Both versions, Spark, or Mage, tend to have similar shared goals and ideas about what their new existence means. For those few Exemplar that try to blend in with society, often masks, other obscuring magic, and heavy clothing can cast a disguise on who they truly are beneath. The Exemplar is a combination of kin elements cosmetically, their body painstakingly reformed with the elements that are alive and moving within them. Although they retain an internal system, the importance of the heart and the head, mystically speaking they are more akin to the raw elements than anything they were before. When an Exemplar is born, they become capable of learning Coexistence, the truest expression of a completed relationship. For an Exemplar, this goes beyond the separation of self that is ordinarily maintained throughout the Defiance relationship. Instead, this ability takes the element into the self and merges it. An Exemplar who invokes this ability will merge with one of their Kin elements, drastically increasing all manipulations of the element they are capable of. It is difficult, truly difficult, to harm a Exemplar while in this state. As an elemental manifestation, everything that element is capable of becomes second nature to the Exemplar. Soaring through the air at immense speed while merged with wind is no trouble, just as one merged with earth can carve out new geological features with their command. In areas where the element is occurring naturally, this ability is remarkably powerful. Twisters can be called up from nothing, fires encouraged into raging infernos, and earth will shatter and churn throughout the battlefield. This form can only be maintained for five to six breaks before risking Overstepping.
A Novice Defier has access to all four elements. Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. At this stage in development, a Defier is only capable of channeling one element at a time and within a range of 30 feet. At the beginning of their relationship, a Defier can only encourage elements where they already exist. Coaxing wind from the air or fire to leap from its hearth and onto another surface. Water can be encouraged to flow the direction you prefer and earth can be convinced to soften or harden at request. These elemental manipulations are suggestions, coaxing, not orders. Both Deference and Calling are available at this level.
Growing in their relationship with the elements, up to two elements can be manipulated at any given moment. At this level, the ability to encourage the elements where they exist becomes stronger. Their range increases to 60 feet. A Competent Defier can convince a small campfire to flare into a bonfire, call a small breeze into a stiff, even powerful wind, call at least a small pond's worth of water to flow or roil where desired, and shake and shatter the earth around them for almost twenty feet. A Defier becomes capable of Manifest at this stage of expertise, calling forth the element even from where it did not previously exist. Many Defiers will manifest an element before encouraging it to grow to the power they wish and a competent Defier will never find themselves without wind at sea, without water in a desert, or without fire in the cold. Dancing becomes available at this stage of power, although its movements and shapes tend to be erratic and clumsy. Caress tends to be learned after Dancing and a Defier names their first Kin element.
Now capable of commanding three elements at the same time, a Defier truly comes into their own as a powerful elementalist. At this stage a Defier should always be careful of how many elements they juggle at once. Defiance is the easiest magic to take to Overstepping. At this stage a Defier can manifest a bonfire from nowhere or call a deluge of water from empty air. Moderate manifestations are Moderate Encouragements pulled from nowhere. Their range extends to 100 feet of influence. While it is always harder to create an element from nothing than to encourage it where it currently resides, Defiers are often afforded no choice when the call this element into being. They can encourage a bonfire into a pyre, towering flames to scorch their foes or draw mighty waves from the sea or lakes. Earth can be called to move as desired and the wind becomes gales strong enough to tear signposts from the ground and hurl foes off their feet. Dancing is easier now and an expert Defier tends to spend a lot of time learning new ways to shape and control the elements around them. At expertise, Defiers tend to take on stylistic approaches to their magic. One mage might like the serpentine motion of snakes and all his elemental manifestations will act the same way, while another, proud of their body and martial arts, may dance elements into the form of fists, feet, and massive heads. It's up to the Defier how they choose to approach this new enlightenment of magic. At this stage, while three elements can be controlled, only two may be allowed to dance. Embrace and Guardian become available at this level.
Truly a rare breed of sorcerer, the Defier who reaches Mastery gains a second Kin element. Encouragement grows to its height at this level, a Defier turning a battlefield into shaking earth, cracks, fissures, and schisms. Their range can reach up to two hundred feet, although such hubristic encouragement could lend to disaster and overstepping. Range extends to nearly 200 feet of influence. Manifestation potential grows as well, torrents of flames conjured from nothing and wind they once had to encourage to gale strength can now be forced into existence. As always, the price of such creation is invariably taxing and most Defiers will never try to manifest an immense display of their element for fear of of Overstepping. All four elements can be controlled at once at this stage and it is Dancing that tends to have the more dramatic evolution. With so many elements, impressive combinations can be created, shaped, and used. The craftsmanship and display of these elements are as breathtaking as they are deadly. Refinement and Recovery become techniques available at this level as the Defier reaches the near pinnacle of their relationship with the natural elements around them.
It is whispered that few, if any, mages ever reach this level of power. For an Exemplar, the elements are boon companions, trusted allies. An Exemplar gains the ultimate in Encouragement, Rampage, and additionally the power to Coexist with a kin element. A third kin element is chosen at this level. Range becomes what is within the Exemplar’s sight. A Legendary Defier is terrifying not in the potential of what they can do, but how easily they can do it. For the Legendary, manifesting, encouraging, and dancing the elements are almost second nature. An Exemplar has nearly twice the capacity to use Defiance as a master before threatening Overstepping. These elemental lords tend to eschew modern society and live uninhibited within the world of Idalos, shaping their environment to their pleasure. Like some Legendary magic, Defiers have been the most likely to be worshipped as gods and are among the most likely kind of mage for an Immortal to personally hunt if their power grows too great. While no Exemplar has ever stood to an Immortal of the element and lived, it is said that such battles change the nature of the landscape and press that Immortal in a way that no other combat can. To have one's own domain turned against you so fervently is galling, and rarely expected by the timeless Immortals.
Credit to Plague