"The Immortals did not give me freedom, priest. He did. The Harvester - the one who sees through your self-proclaimed Gods. The one who has given me the power to set their cities to dust."
Aberration is a magic closely related to the act of flaying. It is due to this that the magic is generally perceived as evil as a whole, as in order to utilize its full potential, one must often rely on the death or degradation of others. It is for this reason that it is named as such, with its adherents called 'Aberrants', individuals who fall far from the norm . . . so far that they are hated often as much as Necromancers, if not even moreso.
To the great distaste of many Immortals, this magic is often called reality-warping by many mortals. Such a thing should not be in mortal hands - but in a way, it is.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Spheres
- 3 The Will
- 4 Aberrant Ether
- 5 Conjunction
- 6 Harvester
- 7 Harvester: Energy
- 8 Can I Abandon Aberration?
- 9 Reference Guide
- 10 Dangers and Overstepping
- 11 Initiation
- 12 Suggested Mutations
- 13 NOVICE
- 14 COMPETENT
- 15 EXPERT
- 16 MASTER
- 17 LEGENDARY
While flaying normally results in regular energy to be utilized by mages, an Aberrant who flays an individual acquires a different result. Firstly, the energy gained is much more well-utilized, with the mage capable of storing this over a long period. This means that Aberrants do not need to go on mass murder sprees to be powerful. Generally, they murder and flay targets perhaps seasonally. Many Aberrants are thus categorized as serial killers due to their elaborate murders across cities that occur ever frequent enough to keep attention focused on their crimes. The result is obvious: the decimation of the victim's body, all life drained from them as they wither and rot.
Secondly, this energy is only barely kept within them. While the energy is much more effectively used, empowering the mage for a longer period of time, the truth of the matter is that the energy gained by flaying is addictive due to its empowering effects. While Aberrants can battle with the addiction better than most - due to the development of the spark within them after obtaining this magic - they know the great fear of being tainted and destroyed by flayed energy, and the energy they gain from flaying is even more toxic and chaotic than the sort you'll find in other mages.
As a result, all Aberrants form a bond with a sentient entity known as a Harvester, a ravenous creature that comes originally from Emea and seeks after mages who will provide it with raw energy. This entity is counted not as a spirit, familiar or pet, but something else. Within the Harvester, the powerful energy swells and gains ultimately new effects. The mage's energy and the Harvester's bond to create a symbiosis that unlocks the full potential of raw ether.
The Spheres, brought about by the mage via energy, are manifestations of this aforementioned symbiosis with your Harvester. They are large spheres of chaotic energy with simple coloring, often a deep shade of blue, purple, red, black or white. The energy and colors within their compressed form appears to be as if pulsing, attempting to escape. These spheres can range from about the size of a man to the size of a hand, and the smaller they are the more densely compacted the flayed energy is within them.
The orbs are extremely chaotic. Passing through a foe or object may result in them being completely decimated, shriveled rapidly into nothingness. They may melt through someone or make them endure the anguish of being shocked by extreme voltage. What pain and suffering they manifest in the individual they pass through is variable considering the unpredictability of this magic itself. One eventually learns to control the spheres to do as the will commands, but even a true master of Aberration must expect divergence from what they expected from time to time.
As one begins as an Aberrant, they only possess the ability to conjure and control one sphere that they may move according to their mind. The number of spheres they have increases with their ranks. Additionally, the speed of the sphere depends on the size. The smallest of spheres are exceptionally quick, while the average sphere - roughly the size of a small adult - may only move somewhat quickly. Conjunctions, due to their size, move the slowest.
Note that due to the nature of the spheres as powerful and dense energy, they can very certainly destroy or defend against other attacks and abilities, though with their inconsistent results one shouldn't often trust them to protect their wielder. As a note, there is no standard or basic appearance for spheres. Their appearance depends on how the spark manifested in the mage when the magic first made contact with them, though their general size and dimensions are the same for everyone at the same level.
The Will is what shapes the manifestation of energy within the Spheres. When spheres pass through objects and individuals, it is akin to formless reality desperately attempting to create itself. The chaos that ensues is vast - millions of things could happen in that moment, and almost all of them are negative. Some have even reported those contacted by spheres to quite literally be sucked into them, as if drawn into a black hole or something.
The Will commands the spheres to act as the Aberrant dictates. While it does not always work perfectly, the Will can often create form from formlessness and determine the outcome of a sphere making contact with an object or individual. However, the Will requires at least a semblance of ether to invoke, and so many Aberrants merely allow the spheres to do their work for them; usually the result is as they desired regardless.
It should be noted that the Will is the combined result of the Aberrant and their Harvester crafting reality within the sphere. When they are more in tune with one another, the results are much easier to bring about and more likely to be accurate.
Aberrant Ether is unique - the flayed energy utilized for the purpose of Aberration is made especially chaotic, unique, volatile - but also virulent. Aberrant Ether, and Aberration in general, is almost solely utilized for the degradation and breaking down of matter - organic, material, or otherwise. As such, there are many things that it cannot do. It is not true reality warping, but rather willing a form of chaotic reality to operate in the destruction of things.
Aberrant Ether cannot:
- manipulate gravity
- control space-time
- slow or halt time
- utilize "absolute zero"
- destroy or warp literal matter (fabric of reality)
- manipulate physics
A mage who pursues Aberration will almost certainly learn of the Conjunction. All Aberration mages eventually come to utilize the Conjunction, and at higher levels it becomes the primary feature of this magic. The Conjunction results in your spheres - however many you have - coming together, melding with one another and then expanding. The result is the density of chaotic energy being spread out further, which often spells lesser individual results, but with a larger area of effect as well as the ability to greater micro-manage the alteration of reality via the Will.
The more spheres one has (ie the further their progression), the more dense the energy within the Conjunction. Meaning, the more proficient you become in Aberration, the wider the range of your extremely powerful and destructive control of reality. A good way to imagine it is that a sphere a bowling ball in size may be extremely destructive to the point of near instant decimation of whatever it contacts, while a sphere the size of a house may only slowly degrade and imperil foes that lay within the Conjunction. However, as you gain greater effective control of your spheres and their numbers increase, even a Conjunction the size of a home can be extremely imperiling and destructive to foes caught within it, capably of killing them quite quickly.
However, there are rules regarding the Conjunction. Firstly, while the user is protected by the Harvester from the effects of this quantified and warped reality, this protection cannot continue and extend if the user has drained themselves of their energy. If the Aberrant has drained themselves of their ether, they become somewhat vulnerable to the effects of their own spheres and Conjunction, and can be annihilated.
Secondly, the Harvester can direct and control the effects of the Conjunction. They can choose who is affected and who is not, which often leads to this magic being labeled as one of "area and field control", twisting the battlefield to degrade and wither enemies while allies may press on.
Thirdly, one can (except in certain circumstances) leave the radius of the Conjunction. While the Aberrant and their Harvester can move the Conjunction to follow a fight, very agile foes may be able to dance around the radius of it. Often when fighting agile foes, Aberrants will merely follow and corner them with their collection of spheres.
Fourthly, this is not complete reality-warping, only somewhat. Physical properties of things are almost always damaged rather than improved. You cannot warp walls of wood into gold or any such thing. You cannot turn a man into a sheep. Almost always, the result of this warping of reality is simply the destruction of others. The exception is Evolution, but this comes later, and effects only the Aberrant.
Fifthly, the Conjunction is not an auto-hit. If you can stay away from the spheres for example, you can likely avoid the Conjunction when it expands, unless it's a very large one (usually by a powerful Aberrant or one content with low ether density in the reality field). Even if you are touched by the Conjunction, the damage is almost certainly not going to kill or maim you with speed unless you're caught in a very dense one - one populated by extreme quantities of Aberrant ether within the field.
The Harvester is the heart and soul of Aberration. It is an entity that arrived from Emea, often immediately during the initiation of the Aberrant. A Harvester is a sentient and often power-hungry entity that seeks to store the power of flayed energy, especially by mages, in order to increase its standing and dominion in the realm of dreams. As the mage develops within Aberration, the Harvester begins to grow more and more unique and diverse. They often begin appearing as merely shadowy silhouettes in the shape of men and women, approaching you in a form you understand. Later, as they evolve due to your connection and your feeding of their energy, they could become great giants or appear as a tiny, strange insect. Their form varies vastly from each Harvester. Let it be noted that their form is for appearance sake only, as they do not use their physical features to engage in combat, but rather their control over the pocket reality formed by the spheres. To that end, they can appear as anything. Some mages have even had harvesters that look like regular humans, though this is rare.
The Harvester can be of many personalities. Many have been said to be good towards their bonded mages. In truth, evil and good do not matter much when it comes to the relationship between a Harvester and a mage. They will generally enable the mage to do as they please and rarely have complex personalities that include judgment and criticism. This is one way in which they are extremely fundamentally different to the spark of Schism, another Domain Magic, as a Harvester's cooperation with its 'retainer' is a power dynamic rather than an emotional, spiritual and mental accord. Not surprisingly, Aberration cannot cooperate alongside Schism. The spark will often despise the presence of the Harvester, and vice-versa. More than a few mages have been ripped apart, inside and out, by a feud between their inner spark and their outer dream-beast.
Importantly to mention, the power dynamic between a Harvester and Aberrant is one that exists regardless of how close they grow. Sadly, even a Harvester can't deal with the addictive nature of flayed energy, especially not with the especially corrosive ether gained by an Aberrant's flaying. As a result, if the opportunity presents itself (the Harvester becoming so powerful it's uncontrolled), the addiction will consume them and they will not be able to resist the compulsion to devour their mage. If this occurs and they succeed, they will become a beast of nightmares - literally and figuratively. A Harvester who has consumed their mage, especially a powerful mage, is said to be one of the most powerful and terrifying of beasts on Idalos. The power they gain from the destruction of this bond is permanent; this rush of energy overpowers them and they will often go on massive sprees of murder and flaying across regions, their gluttony unable to be fulfilled.
If the power dynamic is maintained - often by pursuing another magic in tandem with this one, to protect yourself - the Harvester can assist a mage in surpassing their limits. Mages who have truly balanced their power with their Harvesters and have pursued this magic to the fullest are renowned for their astounding and deadly control of reality, as well as their stores of energy that seem nearly limitless by comparison.
It should be noted that the Harvester develops special abilities over time that assist the mage. They and the Aberrant learn to completely micro-manage their miniature, condensed reality. This manifests in unique things that can be done for the good or ill of others.
Finally, let it be noted that the Harvester can appear crystal clear whether or not the mage has enacted the Conjunction, but generally only operates by directing the warping of reality within spheres. It can fade in and out of view and essentially dreamwalk away from altercation if necessary. While it is manifested in a way that allows it to hurt and flay an individual, it is vulnerable to harm and can be damaged or even killed. Otherwise, it is essentially naught but formless reality.
Note: A Harvester can't just randomly manipulate reality within a Conjunction and kill or wound their retainer. It is only when the power balance is crossed that they can show a warning sign of beginning to turn on you.
The dilemma of the Harvester is clear and evident in every Aberrant. While it is less of an issue for more powerful mages who have mastered or extensively pursued other domains, it exists regardless. Here is the choice you must make as an Aberrant: do I take upon the flayed energy myself, do I give it mostly to the Harvester, or do I go 50/50? One who takes it for themselves becomes extremely powerful and mustn't worry about the Harvester trying to take them... but like a supernova, it will only last for a time before it fades. This energy is even more addictive than energy gained by Flaying regularly, and mages who choose to starve their Harvester and give only to themselves often end up going on murderous rampages for flayed ether before being put down.
So, the option then becomes to give it all to the Harvester? While this often results in the mage being addiction-free and maintaining peak mental condition, it also may result in the Harvester completely overpowering them, especially as they advance in this magic. So most mages strive for 30/70... they keep some for themselves and have the Harvester assist them in controlling the growth of their addiction, while giving most of the flayed energy to the Harvester. This is up to the mage and the benefits and consequences can be determined IRP.
Can I Abandon Aberration?
A mage who wishes to redeem themselves and abandon this terrible addiction to ether can do so. However, this will usually result in your Harvester leaving you since you're no longer feeding them, and without their guidance most mages cannot handle the Aberrant ether. This leaves one having to deal with an addiction so absolutely profane that it will kill most mages, gruesomely. The withdrawals of those who try to leave Aberration are more than just astounding; they are unknown to the fields of science, medicine and psychology. It may require an Immortal to cure your addiction at this point.
As a beacon of hope for Aberrants, those who wish to reduce the danger of the addiction while pursuing this magic, or to guide them through their withdrawals can seek out someone who has mastered (or is legendary in) the skill of Medicine. They can diagnose your issue and treat you to a state of better health, via medicinal reagents as well as lifestyle changes and physical therapy. A doctor who is truly excellent can eventually remove the dangers of addiction from an Aberrant and - for lack of a better term - save their lives.
Harvesters can flay and drain individuals by making contact with them from within a Sphere or Conjunction. This is gained from Novice, and expands in power and efficiency over time. After a while (Expert), they can basically begin to outright flay targets if they can gain hold of them.
This is gained within the second stage of development for an Aberrant, at the rank of Competent. This allows for the Harvester utilize the spheres or their conjunction to drain the willpower from an individual caught within a sphere or conjunction. They can command them to reveal desired secrets and information, and the cornered individual will simply obey.
Disbanding is gained at Competent rank and expands all the way to Legendary. It is the manifestation of the Will, the ability to control the effects of reality warping within the Conjunction and the sphere. By master, you can almost assure results. You may for example be able to start to set individuals within the sphere ablaze by igniting flammable materials on their body simply via the Will. This is of course not automatic and has some wind-up, but damage can be consistently applied to those within a Conjunction or those contacted by a sphere.
Utilizing a more specialized conjunction formed around the self, the Aberrant (upon reaching Expert level) finds the ability to focus their corrosive ether to specific locations, signatures or attacks, in order to derail them or destroy them. It is at this point where the Aberrant learns how to focus the Conjunction's ether to a specific point, though this ability is unable to be utilized to rapidly degrade organic materials. Instead, this can be used to block, alter and corrode weapons, projectiles and other assaults, including energy-based ones.
Radiation is an ability gained at Master proficiency. It requires a significant deal of ether to utilize, whether directly from the mage or their stores of flayed energy. The benefit of Radiation is that it is extremely fast and lethal. Foes caught in a dense Conjunction can begin to experience scalding, deformities, mutation and death not long after they are contacted by the Conjunction. This ability is astoundingly dangerous against all forms of organics, though tends to be less useful against objects, spirits, ghosts, etc.
This ability is gained at the rank of Master. It welds a weighted energy into all present Conjunctions that dramatically weighs down targets within them, with more weight and movement restriction depending on the density of the Conjunction. In some extreme cases, such as with a Conjunction locked completely and tightly around a target's body, Containment can be used to entirely bind them. This ability works in three different ways, increasing severity over time: one, by adding weight to the target's body. Two, by degrading their muscles to prevent them from moving. Three, by battling opposing Ether to prevent magical escape. Overall, this is often how an Aberrant secures their kill.
Upon reaching Legendary Aberration, the Aberrant unlocks the greatest of their abilities: a total symbiosis with the Harvester, during which the two become utterly melded to one another. Their pools of corrupt ether are conjoined, as is their influence over the Aberrant ether, which is even further empowered. The Spheres, the Conjunctions, and the Will all become more powerful, steady, accurate and increased in size. The Aberrant will appear as if a horrific monster, an appearance typical of a Nightmare of Emea, even further drastically altering their revealed appearance. In this state, their conscious is one with the Harvester, the two of them reaching a perfect unity.
Surrealism can only be maintained by the Harvester for a limited amount of time, typically up to a break before severe exhaustion steps in. Due to the amount of ether typically expended in this form, if fully utilized for the entirety of this break, one will often find themselves overstepping, potentially to a dangerous degree.
Dangers and Overstepping
Much of the dangers of Aberration come from the power imbalance between the Aberrant and Harvester as well as the addictive and dangerous nature of flaying. If one can manage these properly by empowering themselves in more than just Aberration, they can likely survive with this magic and surmount these ordeals as they come. Of course however, Overstepping is always risk, especially for those who believe their amplified quantities of energy to be far vaster than they are.
Slight dizziness, slight exhaustion, claustrophobic reaction
Paranoia, Bleeding from nose (sometimes eyes), Dizziness, Fatigue, Harvester Unrest, weakening of "The Will"
Internal Bleeding, Aneurysms, Unconsciousness, Violent outbreak by Harvester, Reality field complete loses the ability to distinguish; you and all caught within it will suffer equally, likely leading to your death.
Aberration is very rare because of its volatility and the fact that most Aberrant mages have to deal with the addiction to their lonesome, often with a vindictive Harvester. The mortality rate for new Aberrants is astoundingly high, perhaps higher than all other magics combined. It is usually gained when a mage Flays someone and then resists the addiction, going into terrible withdrawals as the energy becomes more violent, chaotic and needy within them. Usually mages who initiate Aberrants do so purely to watch them fail so they may flay them when they've exhausted themselves.
Sometimes, the initiation is the result of an Aberrant mage who wishes to exploit the benefits of the initiation. The initiation has been frequently known to form a link between the initiator and initiated, which results in the assistance of fighting the addiction to Aberrant ether (the flayed energy). Simply put, the initiated and initiator have an effect on one another that helps to reduce the symptoms and issues that come with the addiction of this magic. Often times, these two may perhaps be their only companions in all of Idalos, though many a tragic bond between them ends in one flaying the other, their need for energy too corrosive to properly manage.
Once the initiation process has begun, a Harvester will draw interest. They will contact the mage and make a deal - for the control and harnessing of this vile ether, they will provide Aberration, the power to command chaotic energies to one's will, shared by both Aberrant and Harvester. They will inform them of the power of crafting reality to their disposal, alluring them to the magic. This process is experienced similarly by most Aberrant mages, with most merely wishing for the withdrawals to cease.
The Harvester is unique in that it comes from Emea, a place of formless reality. This is what allows it to augment the mortal's manipulation of reality, one that is difficult to master on the walking plane. The process of actually being initiated is often performed in dreams, with a lucid vision of this deeply compelling power, one as vibrant and chaotic as Aberration itself.
In truth, these mutations can be quite literally anything due to the chaos of Aberration and its limitless possibilities and realities. It is up to the player to decide, as long as they are fair and reasonable. The only constant is a somewhat significant tendency to have 'predatory' mutations, whatever that entails. And indeed, many of them will be negative. Keep that in mind.
At novice, the Aberrant has begun to gain control over the spheres and begins to align themselves with their Harvester. They can use a total of one sphere and can perform a small sized Conjunction. The density of energy within their sphere and Conjunction is smaller (and less efficient) than that of a more skilled Aberrant. They gain access to Draining, listed in the reference guide. One thing to note about Aberration is that even at Novice it has the potential to be deadly, simply because of the wild and violent nature of the Spheres. Extended contact with an individual can result in them being horrifically murdered or simply irritated; the Will at this point is negligible so you can't predict the results.
At competent, one gains a second sphere. Their precision with the Will increases somewhat. As a result, if someone makes contact with a Sphere, they might be able to Will - for example - that the Sphere will melt through their flesh or scald them. While the result is not guaranteed, it becomes exceptionally more likely. The Conjunction and its density becomes more notable and one can create fairly large Conjunctions via their two spheres, though the effects within them will be minor at first. They can begin to Will damage and degradation to be inflicted on their foes within the Conjunction, but it will not happen very quickly if the Conjunction is even relatively large. Disbanding is the usage of the Will to increase your likelihood of results within the Conjunction, and it is gained at this rank. Thievery - the ability to steal specific information from others within a Conjunction or if contacted by a sphere - can also be performed at this rank.
A third sphere is gained at the rank of expert, and the density and compression of each sphere expands significantly. Conjunctions can become quite large at this point, with even the somewhat large ones applying bothersome if not painful and damaging effects to those within them that the Aberrant and their Harvester target. The Harvester and the Aberrant have bonded well at this point and can more fine tune their control of the warped reality. This means their success rate when commanding things with the Will increases significantly, and as a result their spheres can become easily lethal if they make extended contact with an enemy. Evolution is gained at this rank of proficiency, allowing the Aberrant to improve their physicality and shape themselves in odd ways via the Will. Disbanding as an ability increases in power in general, and at this point the user has likely learned to some degree how to control their addiction.
A master Aberrant possesses four spheres and can create a large and dense Conjunction. Even one roughly the size of a house can be very quickly deadly at this point, though the speed at which spheres and Conjunction can be moved does not increase. The Will has become quite predictable at this point, with the mind of the Aberrant almost fully in tune with the chaotic energy. Flayed energy, while addictive and dangerous, becomes an extension of the wielder and almost like a life blood. While they essentially require it to some degree, it also becomes natural for them to use and feed off of. The Harvester at this point is likely quite strong, but matched by a wielder with significant control over the Will, the Spheres and the Conjunction. The master Aberrant gains two abilities at this point, listed in the Reference Guide. The first is Radiation, which allows for the rapid degradation and mutation of those within more dense Conjunctions, or a somewhat slower mutation of those in less dense ones. Containment allows for the caster of Aberration to amplify their physical abilities dramatically for a time via the Will while within a Conjunction.
The Harvester and the user - at this stage - often begin to conflict significantly, with the Harvester's stored energy likely quite large in quantity and their ability to exert it to domineer the mage becoming evident for those who have not successfully balanced between the two.
A legendary Aberrant possesses six spheres and can create massive, fairly dense Conjunctions. It is for this reason that they are often considered 'field control' mages, as they can apply dangerous effects to a large group of hostile individuals with the expansive nature of their spheres. The Harvester and the Legend have tuned their energy nearly perfect to one another, and so the Will becomes extremely accurate, the chance of failure or unintended effects quite low. Effects within this chaotic reality sphere - the Conjunction - can begin to manifest quickly. One can degrade and destroy buildings and people with some relative haste. The mutations and deformities caused by Radiation at this stage can be life-damning if the foe is unlucky. The spheres - if making contact with a foe - can have extremely deadly effects on a spectrum of millions of possibilities. One can learn to use the Will to apply each of them and precisely, the precision of the Will the hallmark of a Legendary Aberrant.
Finally, as an Aberrant exists to taunt the Immortals, they gain access to the ability of Ascension which allows them to perform a conjunction within someone's body, including their own. The power and options that come with this pure reality warping within someone are nearly endless, though it will almost always come down to the manipulation of their organic or material nature. An Aberrant may use this ability to significantly increase the potential of their physical form, which in turn assists them in dealing with the addiction, which at this point is almost certainly lifelong but also a natural part of the Aberrant's psyche and so not usually as volatile. When it does begin to affect the Aberrant's brain, however, the mage can often follow up by wreaking absolute havoc upon cities and villages for flayed energy. It's best to keep your addiction satiated - to an extent.
Credit to Incubus