Stargazer Revision as of 12:58, 7 September 2021 by Rafferty
Stargazers are scholars of magical lore who possess a deep and powerful love of magic in all its forms. Even the most cerebral stargazer is excited by magic - exuberant in their desire not just to perform it, but to deepen their understanding of it. They push the boundaries of magic, seeking out new understanding, uncovering new secrets, and performing new rituals that have never been cast before.
Magic is the highest discipline and the quest to master it is a stargazers personal arete. They believe that there is no problem that magic cannot address. Because of the fundamental limitations of magic, true mastery lies in finding creative ways to use it. "There is no riddle that cannot be answered by magic," said Suplicia of Calator in the Book of Mount Lutum, "provided you know how to reframe the question." She was writing about the refinement of the ushabti, but the sentiment has inspired stargazers ever since.
Stargazers are the greatest magicians of the Empire - the ones who have constantly pushed back the boundaries of Imperial magic. Always driven to know more they are theoreticians, experimenters, and debaters - constantly challenging what is taken for granted.
Stargazers take their name from the Urizen magicians who first studied the heavens, exploring the magical character of the constellations. Magicians have been drawing on the power of the constellations since before recorded history, but the stargazers were the first to develop and share a consistent system for mapping the heavens. "The Book of Names", published by the Arch of the Sky in Zenith, codified the constellations, describing their properties, and the nature of their tulpas. Sharing the work revolutionised the study of astronomancy in Urizen, providing a unified theory with which practitioners could discuss and develop their magic.
The early stargazers were obsessed with determining whether the stars influenced mortal events, or whether mortal events were reflected in the stars. To this day it remains one of the great unanswered questions of magic, - whether the stars influence the mortal world, and so it is possible to predict significant events or whether stars reflect things that are happening in the world, and so it is possible to gain insight into current events by studying them. Disagreement between the two camps continues to be fierce to this day, though both tend to look down on magicians who argue that both statements might be true.
Stargazers place great weight on the sharing of magical knowledge and were enthusiastic supporters of the idea of Imperial Lore. In the decades after Urizen joined the Empire, the stargazer philosophy underwent something of a renaissance. For the first time they enjoyed easy access to the magicians of the other nations and their unique theories of magic and arcane traditions. While the magi were busy establishing Urizen as a participant in the politics of the Empire, the stargazers served as ambassadors of a different kind. They visited covens all over the Empire, sharing their own magical lore and enthusiastically learning from magicians in all walks of life. The enduring image of Urizen as a nation of scholarly magicians arose from these early interactions with the stargazer "missionaries".
Despite their enthusiasm for the Conclave, many stargazers vehemently opposed the Declaration of Interdiction, which they saw as an attempt to position the Conclave as an "arcane militia" restricting magic and its use. Similar criticisms were levied at the Declaration of Imperial Lore - the idea that the Conclave magicians needed to see a ritual as "useful" before it would be widely shared. Prominent stargazer, Kyros of the Arch of the Sky, publicly denounced these restrictions claiming that "Magic flows from the heavens, it should not be counted and clipped like coins. We are magicians, not gaolers!" Their concerns were ultimately discounted, but many modern stargazers oppose efforts by the Conclave to control or restrict magic, quoting Kyros and voting in favour of Imperial Lore and against interdiction, regardless of the ritual's nature. "If a magician has misused magic to cause harm," they say "it is the magician who should be punished, not the magic."
A number of important rituals were first postulated by stargazers or were codified with their assistance. They were critical to the formulation of the three Imperial enchantments - Wondrous Forests of the Night, Hallow of the Green World, and Bright Eyes Gleam in the Depths. Attempts to create equivalent rituals using Autumn, Summer, and Winter magic were stymied by opponents who were unhappy that the resources of the Lyceum had already been tied up for several years on a project they considered unwise, impractical, or self-indulgent. Despite these setbacks, stargazers remain committed to achieving the omnihedron, a task whose completion depends on formulating and performing the remaining rituals.
For many stargazers the excitement of performing new magic is matched only by the satisfaction that comes from using familiar magic in new ways. They strive to find creative uses of magic, looking for ways to address known problems with a new approach. Stargazers are sometimes criticized for this approach - not content to reach for tried and tested methods, they prefer the novel to the proven. In their defence, stargazers argue that the only way to learn is to try new things - that every proven technique was novel once.
Stargazers are enthusiastic about esoteric lore. While they may be passionate about their own particular pet theory, they are usually eager to discuss any hypothesis no matter how unlikely it may seem on the surface. There is a common belief among stargazers that no theory is worthless and that every idea reveals something about the world. Just debating a concept, picking it apart to consider its ramifications or examining the evidence for or against it, may reveal some unexpected insight. Stargazers will often present ideas for discussion not to get others to agree with them, but because they think that breaking them down may prove useful.
Whatever their personal interests, stargazers agree on the importance of magicians sharing their work. They urge everyone - stargazer or not - to publish their discoveries and theories so that other magicians can study and discuss them. There are cautionary tales of arcane scholars who have died or disappeared without leaving any evidence of their theories behind them, their insights lost forever. By creating a body of work, a stargazer leaves a legacy. Even the most outrageous speculation might inspire a future reader to some more concrete understanding. This is one of the reasons that stargazers are keen to see the creation of more Imperial colleges of magic, providing places for magicians to gather and collaborate on projects, and expand the Empire's understanding of the arcane.
Resonance and the Omnihedron
Resonance is traditionally understood to refer to the resonance and dissonance of the realms, the known strengths and weaknesses of each of the six spheres of magic. However, stargazers also use resonance to describe the mental influence that a realm exerts on the target of a ritual. For example, a Spring ritual might make someone prone to anger, or a summer ritual might make them vain and boastful. The resonance of a powerful enchantment doesn't remove free will - direct mind-control is impossible with magic - but a skilful magician can sometimes use resonance to move the subject in a direction they favour. This potential intrigues stargazers who seek novel ways to use magic to achieve their goals; the right ritual on the right citizen at the right time might influence a vote of the Senate or change Imperial strategy.
The Net of the Heavens amplifies the effect of resonance; the more pivotal the node the greater the potential effects. The most important node of all is the Empire itself - the one node that is capable of affecting all the others. By enchanting the Empire, a magician can achieve a profound influence on the lives of everyone in it - and indeed on the other nations outside the Empire who interact with it. The handful of times that magicians have enchanted the entire Empire with a magical effect demonstrate the power of this magic. Recent examples such as - LINK TO WINDS OF FORTUNE - have all provided significant benefits to the Empire. "Shaping the omnihedron" - evoking magic on such a scale - is still a poorly explored art but the potential is massive.
Resonance creates the potential for unexpected side effects which are not always positive and the more powerful the magic, the more likely this might prove troublesome. For example, Hallow of the Green World encourages the growth of plants, but at it's core it is still a ritual of Spring magic - the life it encourages grows without concern for boundaries or respect for civilisation. If the Empire were permanently enchanted with this ritual, then the results would be disastrous as verdant plant life overran every town and city.
The solution, according to stargazers, is to cycle through these rituals, using each in turn in a specific order. Doing so could bring unprecedented benefits, depending on exactly what rituals were used and in what order. This "key to the omnihedron" is a topic of heated discussion among stargazers. Some argue that until Imperial lore contains one Empire-wide enchantment for each realm the omnihedron must remain theoretical; others point out that with three rituals already complete it is possible to test the hypothesis by performing them in order to see what happens.
All magic is persuasion. The difference with eternals is they have something to say.Arenia of the Boundless River
Eternals and the Realms
Many stargazers are eager to converse with eternals, viewing them as an opportunity to extend the limits of magic. Most realms of magic have familiar and well-understood limits, but eternals present a chance to push these limits. For example, while the Winter realm has a resonance for endings, it usually achieves those ends through the relatively subtle acceleration of natural effects - crumbling a castle wall or causing an opponent's blade to snap when it is struck just so. The eternal Surut by contrast has well-recorded abilities to unleash devastating supernatural fire that burns and consumes everything in its path. Mortal magicians are unable to access this fire using Winter magic... unless Surut gives them permission to use it for a specific purpose.
This restriction frustrates some magicians, but stargazers view it as a natural consequence of the performance of magic. Most rituals can draw on the strengths and resonances of the Winter realm without difficulty, but some aspects of Winter magic cannot be accessed by mortal magicians in this way. Stargazers often talk of needing a key to access these "hidden" powers of a realm - with the understanding that the key is an eternal. By successfully negotiating with an eternal for access to their "part" of the winter realm, a stargazer can create a ritual that breaches the limits of what their magic can otherwise achieve. Nobody is certain why some parts of the realms require this approach, but then stargazers point out that nobody is certain why the rest of the realm doesn't require it either.
Some Imperial citizens who are concerned about relations between magicians and eternals criticize this approach - the idea of a mortal having to request permission from an eternal suggests a relationship that might contravene the Doctrine of Human Desinty. But proponents of dealing with eternals point out that once an eternal has agreed to the creation of a ritual using their power, then as long as whatever bargain is made in the process is not breached, the eternal appears utterly unable to withdraw their consent. This, the stargazers claim, makes eternals little more than the tools of mortal magicians, albeit argumentative tools that must be coerced into allowing themselves to be used.
The study of eternals is a popular subject for esoteric lore, with as many different theories about them as there are eternals. Some claim that eternals should not be thought of as people at all - so much as personifications of their part of the realm. The claim is that they exist only so that magic can negotiate with mortals to set limits on its use. Others believe that eternals were all once mortals who have somehow fallen into the realm and been consumed by it. Some even go so far as to claim that eternals do not actually exist, or rather that they are an illusion created by a mortal mind forced to confront the reality of one of the six incomprehensible realms of power.
Tulpas and the Heavens
A tulpa is a barely sapient incarnation of the magical laws expressed by a specific astronomantic constellation. When they appear they are often able to work magic that is unavailable to practitioners of a single realm. Although they cannot be reliably conjured, they often spontaneously manifest in an area in conjunction with local events. Whether they appear because of the associated events ,or whether the events happen because a tulpa has appeared, is debated alongside wider questions about the role of the stars in mortal affairs.
Stargazers see tulpas as another opportunity to push the limits of magic. While they cannot be bound to pacts like eternals, tulpas can be manipulated to perform magic by a skilled magician. Because the magic of the tulpas transcends the limits of an individual realm, successfully directing one to act according to your wishes can produce results that are not possible for a single magician or coven.
Some stargazers view tulpas as embodiments of magic, akin to eternals. Their theory is that magic flows into the mortal world from the stars - like light coming from the sun. Just like light is made up of many colours which can be separated with a prism, so the magic of the stars is made up of all the realms. The mortal world serves as a prism, splitting up this magic so that it settles into its six component "colours". Of course nobody has ever found a way to manipulate the magic of the stars, in the way that the magic of the realms can be manipulated... except by dealing with tulpa. Not surprisingly then, most stargazers are keen for any opportunity to converse or interact with a tulpa if they get word that one has manifested nearby.
Creating a Stargazer
Stargazer is an archetype for players who are excited by magic. Not just the mechanics of it, or the way it can be used to create game effects, but the in-character ideas and theories that surround it. Stargazers aren't just interested in talking about magic, but are excited about casting it as well, and love to use magic in novel ways to solve problems.
Every stargazer is a magician, and realistically you need to take at least a few ranks of ritual lore. While anyone can be a magical theorist, ritual magic allows you to submit an arcane projection to potentially develop new and unique magic. The crucial decision is what lore or lores to choose - you'll need to decide if your character is going to try and master one lore or is going to dabble in more than one realm of magic. The former route will allow you to cast more powerful rituals, but taking more than one lore will give you more flexibility. Don't worry too much if you can't decide exactly which realm or realms you want to master; you can save some of your points for later, or even slowly retrain skills if you need to.
It is a good idea to have some understanding of how magic actually works in Empire. There's a wiki page for each of the realms of magic, as well as a page of ritual theory, and these will help you get a grip on what magic at Empire can do, and what it struggles with. Getting the hang of resonance and dissonance is important - so you can always send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this. Don't feel like you have to understand it all immediately - that just gives you more reasons to talk to other magicians once you start playing.
Who you are going to cast rituals with is an important decision for any ritual magician and stargazers are no exception. If you are part of a group of magicians, then it's good idea to talk over which realms you'll all take with the group. You are likely to have more fun as part of a ritual coven casting powerful rituals together than as an individual working alone, so it's well-worth discussing with your group what kinds of magic you are all interested in and picking accordingly. This will make it easier for you to work with arcane projections which often require high levels of ritual lore to perform, and may allow you to explore high magnitude rituals in pursuit of the omnihedron if your coven is powerful enough. If you are attending Anvil on your own, then it's best to keep your options for magical expertise open if you can. Finding a coven to join is likely to be an important early goal for your character. If you keep your options flexible then you'll be more appealing to any potential ritual groups you might want to join. While it's appealing to want to be the most powerful ritual mage ever known - it's better to have that as a character goal than a characterisation!
A spire of stargazers could represent a school or college, or a group dedicated to experimenting with magic. You might all have similar opinions about how magic works or how it is best employed, but there's no requirement to do so. A spire can be just as much fun with competing schools of thought about esoteric lore, the omnihedron, the importance of resonance, or the Net of the Heavens. If you're a stargazer in a mixed spire, asking your fellows what kinds of magic excite them can give you a basis for a realtionship and help you choose character goals. If some of the spire are magi interested in how best to influence the military council, your stargazer can be a real asset if they can develop useful arcane projections for new military magic for example.
The simplest choice of personal resource is a mana site because it will provide you with mana crystals at every event you attend. You'll always want access to more mana than it provides, of course, so be prepared to spend some time negotiating with other players to get the resources you need. You can take a different personal resource, if you think it will be more fun or more effective to trade with other characters for the mana you need.
Playing a Stargazer
Playing a stargazer provides a number of important character goals. If you want to push back the boundaries of magic, then the simplest way to do that is to create a new arcane projection. Understanding what a specific realm can and cannot do is the key to success here. The wiki can help you do that, but it will only take you so far, so you'll want to talk to as many other magicians as possible to find out what arcane projections they have created and what they have learned from their successes and failures.
The counterpoint to creating new rituals is to look for opportunities to use existing rituals in new ways. It's important to appreciate that magic in Empire has fundamental limitations, there are plenty of things it simply cannot do. Your goal as a stargazer is not to violate these limitations but to find ways around them. The best way to do that is to challenge what people are actually trying to achieve with magic. If you can think of a better or even just different way to achieve an equivalent outcome, then you might be able to do something nobody has achieved before.
Sharing the secrets of magic with other characters is another important goal. Stargazers are encouraged to share what they know freely with others - while it can be loads of fun to jealously hoard the secrets you have gained, there is usually more enjoyment to be had by sharing with other magicians. It will give you a chance to discuss theories of magic as well as providing opportunities to learn more about how magic works in Empire.
Don't be intimidated if someone seems to have a new idea that you've never heard before - challenge them to have their ideas tested by having you and other people ask them questions about it. It's expensive to create new arcane projections so that you can actually test new ideas, but you can talk with other characters to your heart's content. Likewise don't be afraid to create your own magical theories - stargazers encourage each other to come up with new ideas for magic with the idea that discussing them might provide some new insight. Part of the enjoyment of playing a stargazer is to find ways to interpret evidence so that it supports your personal theory of magic.
It's well worth taking every opportunity to talk with an eternal - or to investigate the appearance of a tulpa. In either case, it's a good idea to do as much research as possible about the creature you're going to talk with before you meet them. Every eternal is different, they are different people with wildly different goals and abilities. The biggest mistake you can make with eternals is treating them all interchangeably. The wiki can help - but again talking to other character who have experience dealing with a specific eternal is the best way to prepare for an encounter. It is harder to prepare for a meeting with a tulpa, but the more you know about the constellation associated with that entity, the better prepared you'll be.
Most stargazers are not particularly interested in politics, but you can't afford to eschew it completely. The more supporters and allies you have, the easier it will be to convince the Conclave to grant you access to crucial magical resources that can make the difference between success and failure. The archmages control many of the meetings with the eternals, so making allies of them, or claiming one of the titles yourself, opens up many more opportunities for roleplaying as a stargazer. There are a whole range of Imperial titles appointed by the Conclave, such as the heads of the various magical colleges or the Imperial censor, and making sure these positions are occupied by your allies can improve your chances of achieving your goals.
A potential long term goal for a stargazer might be to create or to cast one of the omihedron rituals. Simply casting one of these rituals is a challenge, creating a new one and convincing the Conclave to allow you to codify it is a huge goal. You could easily spend your character's entire life pursuing such a goal but if you can achieve it then you'll have extended the limits of magic and brought the Empire one step closer to perfection.