Attunement


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Attunement


“All things have a voice. All things want to sing. One just needs to learn to listen” – Thomas Terrance, Seeker


Introduction

It is said that the first magic to be granted to mortals was Attunement. Attunement opened the door for mages to begin interaction with Idalos and the magical properties mired in its geography. Today, Attunement is largely overlooked for the more terrifying disciplines, but any student of magic knows that Attunement is the cornerstone, the point at which all magic grows from. There was a time when Seekers insisted that one magic a student should have is Attunement. Often they were not considered for a second or third spark until they had mastered the basic tenants of their first magic and thus more fully understand the world around them. Although that practice has dwindled in the now disparate Seeker cells, some still teach the importance of Attunement as an initiate’s first discipline. The power to see, to understand, and to hear the unique frequency that ether exists on is a valuable skill to any mage. Transmuters may work with the raw essence of ether, but Attuners do not seek that control...only to understand.

Extended Information

Attunement is the aligning of ones soul and senses to specific frequencies. At its most basic, Attunement is simply a form of magical focus. Although some scoff that such results could not simply be achieved with meditation or the honing of intuition, Attuners know that not all focus is derived from the mind or other senses. Attunement is the use of the soul to form temporary or permanent bonds with the outside world through magic. Mostly benign in application, Attunement was not developed for war as many other disciplines seem geared. Rather than altering reality, Attunement simply illuminates the realities and breaches of reality that exist, allowing one to open their senses to the Frequency.

Frequency

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Every person, object, and power has a Frequency. Just as there are definable weights and mass to be observed physically, everything has a certain presence in the weave of Idalos that Attuners seek connection to. A Frequency is a unique signifier, an etheric chord that resonates slightly differently for each and every thing an Attuner encounters. Some describe this as music, others as voices, and still others interpret it through different senses entirely. Attuning is not so narrow as to necessitate one specific interpretation of Frequency. A Student might have a radically different understanding or experience with Frequency than their teacher. The only answer to this is that the Spark adapts to the specific soul it is in, inducting the mage through layers of additional understanding in the world they’ve come to know.

Frequencies do not often change, although many will acquire subtle variations as forces act upon them. These changes, or ‘notes’ are the language by which an Attuner comes to understand how different forces interact on a level most cannot perceive . Notes suggest a multitude of different possibilities within frequencies. For objects, a note can indicate if the object is near to its breaking point, or if there is a spirit or soul attached. For people it can indicate a general idea of how their body is going to move or a blunt sense of how they will react. There is nearly no limit to the amount of information that can be intuited from notes. Although not the same as telepathy or empathy, it reads the individual or object as a whole and processes the small differences as a symphony unto itself. By attuning to this chorus, an Attuner is able to suss out incredible details.

Notes

In a way, Notes are like the Qualities that Transmutation is familiar with. While Transmutation focuses on sensation and physical properties, Notes tend to be more abstract in nature. Each frequency is a host of different notes to an Attuner. When they allow themselves to listen with their Spark, they come to be aware of many different curious dissonances and chords within that Frequency that communicate information. Depending on the object, place, or person...this information tends to be wholly different. For instance, if an Attuner listened to the Frequency of the city they were in and sought murder, they might be led to a place where someone was killed, or where strong guilt was associated regarding a death. If they looked for the note of murder in a person, they might only be able to tell if others think of or the person thinks of themselves as a murderer. Notes can range from being very specific to extremely vague.

Generally the more abstract the note, the more vague the information. An Attuner examining an old piece of pottery, for instance, might seek how it was broken and look for notes of violence or entropy associated with the object itself. An Attuner that examined a jail cell in the wake of a prisoner escape might seek notes of magic, of entropy in the locks, or a note of secrecy leading to the discovery of a hidden passage when one removes certain loose stones.

Attuners are encouraged to be creative with their interpretation of notes, and collect lores related to the way certain notes interact so they can spot it in others. To an Attuner, each object, place, and person is a cacophony of sound and only through careful examination of each note can one discern the wealth of information around it. This will never be specific enough to be mind reading when used on others, but can impart general impressions. Although similar to Empathy, notes tend to range into the abstract. Instead of Attuning to find out if someone was happy, one might Attune to find a note of inebriation (drunkenness), Triumph, and Violence to suggest that the person they are Attuning to may feel rather gleeful after perpetuating some violence against another.

Attuning tends to focus around certain categories of Notes. Events (Triumph, Murder, Defeat, War, Crime) and States (Destruction, Creation, Entropy, Mage vs Non Mage, Species, Sickness, etc)

Attunement is as much about speculation and interpretation as it is about fact. Places, People, and Objects ALL are different categories of Frequency, and so the notes associated are often different as well.

The Act of Attunement

Attunement is far more complicated than simply listening. Although an Attuner is always naturally Attuned to themselves, they are never Attuned to anything else unless they want to be. With the wealth of notes in every frequency across Idalos, an Attuner would be overwhelmed if they had to listen to it all at the same time. Instead, Attuning is an ACTIVE act. When an Attuner decides they want to use their power, they focus on the object, person, or place at hand and open themselves up to that particular Frequency. Depending on the size of what they want to attune to (like a city) they will have needed to traverse at least the length and breadth of it. When an Attuner opens themselves to a new Frequency, it takes a few moments to fully feel and hear the Frequency running through their body. Once the Frequency is established, the Attuner may selectively examine each and every note (or as many as they want) of that Frequency. If the Attuner does not already possess the Knowledge for specific notes, they will need to isolate it in their mind and identify it with their spark, which can sometimes take time. If the Attuner has the Knowledge, they can hear the familiar note immediately within the Frequency and need not selectively identify it. In addition, they can use techniques like Dowsing to seek that specific note in objects, people, and places around them.

It takes no concentration to maintain an Attunement. Once one is open to the Frequency, they are open until they choose not to be. Due to the development of the spark and the limits of an Attuner’s mind, only a certain number of Active Attunments can be held at any given time. One must be in the presence of the object, person, or place they want to Attune with and so if an Attuner chooses to lose their connection to a person in favor of picking up another Frequency, they will need to be in the presence of that person again to regain an active Frequency. In addition, it is not possible to know when one is being Attuned with unless one is actively seeking the mage in question when the Attunement is created. As everyone and everything naturally gives off their own Frequency, it is remarkably difficult to know when someone is listening in.

Reference Guide: Knowledges Required

Static

Static is a basic technique that seems similar in effect to Abrogation’s muting. In essence it scrambles ones Frequency for the purpose of masking magical energy and certain other information, but unlike Abrogation this ability goes much farther. Static can be implemented on any object, person, or thing that the Attuner has attuned to. As an Attuner is always attuned to themselves, it doesn’t take much to shift their Frequency. Static, likewise, offers a small resistance to other abilities that might seek to identify or learn information about the Attuner or the things they have also affected with static. Certain divine mark powers that rely on gathering information from an Attuner will find that information harder to extract or somewhat garbled. For a Novice Attuner, Static is only enough to minorly offset some divine sensing. For competent, many favored marks will have trouble or fail completely. At expertise the same could be said of Adored abilities and a Master can contend with an Exalted. A Revealed Attuner pitting their might against a Champion of an Immortal might still have difficulty concealing what the power seeks from them, but they certainly won’t make it easy. Likewise the sensing ability must be pitted against a similar expertise level to successfully allow Static to maintain a disguise. Particularly powerful well based tools may still suss out the truth of an Attuner’s static, depending on its type. At expertise, Static evolves into Mimic, a sub ability that allows the mage to obscure their Frequency by mimicking an active Frequency they currently hold. At Revealed, Static becomes Absence, explained in the Revealed entry.

Compass

Once an Attuner has memorized the Frequency of an object, person, or power they have encountered, this ability allows the Attuner to always sense the direction and general distance between them and what they sense. While this ability can only be used on ‘held’ Attunements, it ensures the mage will never be absent the important things they’ve chosen to resonate with in their Spark. Compass also allows an Attuner a perfect sense of direction and general spatial awareness. An Attuner will never become lost wandering alleys or the forest, always able to retrace their steps and determine when they might be moving in circles. By Attuning to ‘a city’ the Attuner can use compass to lead them to all sorts of interesting avenues. By identifying certain notes within a city, an Attuner could use Compass to track them to areas that resonate high with crime, justice, pain, or many other general concepts that steep a city.


Dousing

Unlike Compass, that allows one directional awareness to the things they attune to, Dousing allows a mage to seek out things they have yet to Attune to. Primarily used to discover Fractures and the wells that reside within, Dousing can also be used on certain note-like concepts. If an Attuner was Dousing for a murderer, they might be led to someone who is actively thinking about or who has recently gotten blood on their hands. As murder is a step beyond the taking of life (but taking of sentient or valued life) this could lead a Dowser to a soldier, an assassin, a thief, or a child who had the misfortune of having to put down a favored pet. Dousing is never specific, but works only on the general notes an Attuner can conceptualize. The more ‘notes’ an Attuner memorizes and experiments with, the more accurate their Dousing can be. Dousing, likewise, will substitute for Compass when an Attuner has dropped an active Attunement. If they stopped Attuning to a particular person, place, or thing but still remember what that Attunement was, Dousing can give them a general direction to travel. While not as specific as Compass (as it could simply lead the Douser to people drastically affected by the object, person, or place) it is a step better than wandering blind.

Omnivision

Attunement is often understood as ‘hearing’ but many have suggested it is instead a sixth sense that encompasses multiple modes of interpreting information. At Competency, an Attuner’s own knowledge of self expands to allow them a certain awareness around their entire body. An Attuner can actively focus their ‘sight’ in any direction from their body, pushing their awareness out without the need of their eyes. Often, the blind will seek initiation into Attunement for this very reason, regaining a certain vestige of their sight. While this expanded sight is not the true sight of the eyes, it is an awareness. An Attuner can walk through a pitch black room without ever tripping over furniture or obstacles. It is remarkably difficult to sneak up on an Attuner, and an Attuner can ‘sense’ the contents of a room simply by pressing their body against a wall or door. While this sense is not perfect (It does not impart colors, or details, simply generalities) it is often more than enough for Attuners to seem remarkably cognizant in their surroundings and unnaturally graceful.

Project

Projection is an expert level technique and only available with an active Frequency. While before, active Frequencies needed to be examined at the source, Project allows an Attuner to fall into a meditative trance and project their senses out to that active Frequency. Once connected, the Attuner can gain information about the object, place, or person they’ve Attuned to through their notes and gain an impression (as through Omnivision) about the area around what is Attuned to. Due to the limitation of consciousness, Projection targets start rather small (objects and people) and only grow to locations as an Attuner progresses in power. Many Attuners tend to use this ability to keep an eye on loved ones, places of importance, or even to spy. Sound, including voices, can be heard when the mage has Attuned.

Soothe

As one progresses into expertise of Attunement, they will become familiar with the nature of Sparks. Each one gives off its own unique Frequency, but within the same family they fall under similar sounds. Mutations are a result of that Spark awakening and imposing its will on the body. An Attuner comes to understand at mastery that a Spark does not belong in a human soul, but that both organisms can coexist...albeit with some difficulty. Often mutations can be difficult to overcome and force a mage into changing their lifestyle around the strange whims of their magic. At mastery, an Attuner learns to use their Spark to soothe the Spark of others. Soothe is an ability where an Attuner with an active mage Frequency can temporarily suppress the mutations of other mages, and even themselves. In order to do this, it takes up to two slots per spark being soothed in terms of an Attuner’s active connections but can be done for trials at a time, provided the mage is in close proximity. When a Spark is soothed, ALL active mutations are suppressed, both the beneficial and the problematic. An Attuner can conduct this on themselves if they have other Sparks within them. A Revelation cannot be Soothed, no matter the power of an Attuner, and only the mutations of that Revealed Mage can be temporarily suppressed. This does tend to weaken the subject’s magic, but not so much that they are incapable of casting. Soothe is also capable of healing the damage done by Overstepping, while useless against ones own Sparks, the Attuner can link themselves to the Spark of another mage who overstepped and soothe those overstepping penalties to healing in half the time they normally would have been. Given long and consistent soothing, even some permanent effects created by Overstepping can be eased or even erased.

Synchronize

As an Attuner grows more adept at understanding Frequency in mastery, they become capable of a much more thorough use of the Attunement power. Only one use of Complete Synchronize can be utilized at a time, as it requires one’s entire body. This ability is only useful on humanoids and those with human shape. Synchronize takes an active Attunement and deepens that bond, copying the circuits between the mage and the subject. There are two states of Synchrony that fall under this ability. Complete and Partial. Partial Synchrony is of immense benefit to the Attuner as it grants the mage near perfect ability to predict the movements of the subject. Up to two Partial Synchronies can be maintained at a given time. As they are synchronized, the mage can feel the muscles moving and even the subject’s emotional state. While this does not allow an Attuner to necessarily react fast enough to avoid the attacks of a master or Grandmaster swordsman...in a one on one battle, an Attuner is always able to gain an edge on their opponent provided they have actively Attuned to the person first. This Attunement is not possible if the opponent is under the effects of Static or is otherwise masking their Frequency. Some Attuners have used this ability to truly empathize with certain targets, synchronizing in order to feel as they feel, although many combat mages have used this technique to dangerous effect in any duel. Curiously, Attuners have found that those mages who control minions and issue commands are linked in such a way that an Attuner Synchronizing to a Necromancer’s Frequency will also gain the benefits of Synchrony for all his minions, save Revenants. Complete Synchrony is a much more extreme version of the ability and effectively creates a loop of exact action between the subject and the mage. If the Attuner moves their left hand, so will the subject. Often, one's meditative ability is paramount as the link allows the victim to also try to enforce their own movements on the mage. Some mages have used this ability to transmit messages across vast distances, Projecting to a friend or Apprentice and then Completely Synchronizing, writing out instructions or the urgent missive in their friend’s own hand. Complete Synchrony has a limit and that limit is often survival. Should the Attuner attempt to force another into unavoidable self destruction, the flare of survival in most individuals will shatter the Synchrony. Should the Synchrony shatter, so too will the active Frequency. The Attuner will be unable to re-establish a connection to that Frequency for several trials afterward.

Jamming

As one’s knowledge of Sparks increases, a Master becomes capable of taking things a step farther. Usually only one use of Jamming can be active at a time (except in the case of the Broadcast) and it lasts until the Attuner is out of the range of their subject. Jamming is when an Attuner synchronizes their own Spark to the Spark of another mage. While the Attuner holds it as an active signal, their spark will emit a counter-signal so powerful that it completely suppresses the Spark of another mage. This ability still cannot negate a mage’s Revelation, but it can prevent them from using all other magic associated with that particular spark. For the Revealed, this ability is agonizingly painful to endure (as they have fused with the Spark being suppressed) and the few Revealed mages that exist seem to agree that it is the most sublime pain they have ever had the misfortune to experience. While Jamming is active, other active uses of Attunement are not available, as the Spark puts all its power into simply keeping the other Spark from accessing or utilizing any Ether. This same ability can be used on magical items (with a bit more ease, depending on the mastery of whomever crafted the item), and can even be used to disrupt the connection between an Immortal and their servant temporarily. Champion level abilities cannot be disrupted by Attunement, but up to Exalted are able to be temporarily removed from the options that an opponent might have to use.

Singularity

Born from Synchrony, Singularity takes a step beyond simple emotions or mimicked body movements and steps into the somewhat dangerous territory of consciousness melding. While in Complete Synchrony, the mage’s mind Attunes to the mind of the subject. In that moment the mage has access to any secret the subject has. However, this ability is not the instant transmission of information. The mage must think a question, a query they think the subject might know and the subject is forced to think of the answer if the answer is in their mind. The subject will be aware they are thinking of the information but be unable to resist as the Attuner is thinking ‘for’ them. Should a fatal action be attempted on the subject while this synchrony is in effect, the backlash will catastrophically cripple the mage as their minds and experiences are linked together.

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The Broadcast

Of all the Revealed mages along the known Disciplines, The Broadcast is by far the most mild. Known for having very few mutations during the course of developing this magic, the Revelation at the end of their line does impart a transformation, but nowhere near the severity of other magics. The Broadcast gains a third eye, usually in the center of their forehead. The eye is otherwise indistinguishable from any other eye the Attuner possesses. While the Broadcast is afforded a boost to their own Attuning abilities (detailed in Revealed), they are capable of an additional ability that no other magic possesses. Temporarily, they can initiate someone into their own practice. So long as the Broadcast catches the subject in the sight of their third eye, they can impart temporary access to the Frequencies of the world. Some Broadcast might use this to instruct and others open one’s senses to Frequencies all at once, assaulting them with such sound, such information, that it registers as a devastatingly crippling psychic attack. Few, if any, could hold their own wits under the onslaught of such overwhelming Frequencies and while this ability is not fatal on its own, it certainly forces others into unconsciousness or indescribable agony so long as they are held within the Broadcast’s gaze. A Broadcast can choose to selectively open others up, under their third eye, to certain Frequencies in order to illustrate in a way others might understand. Should the third eye be blinded or damaged it will regenerate, but while damaged the Broadcast cannot use their ability to force others to hear Frequencies.

Dangers and Overstepping

Light Overstepping

Tinnitus, Persistent blurry vision, Muddled smell, Pulse

Medium Overstepping

Temporary Deafness, Temporary Blindness, Temporary loss of Balance. Feedback, Temporary loss of Attunement Ability, Mutation

Heavy Overstepping

No known cases of heavy overstepping have occured with Attunement, but presumably the consequences would be severe.

Pulse

A relatively common overstepping consequence for Attuners. When this occurs, their notes are subtly changed as is their Frequency and how it reacts to others. Pulse turns their Frequency into an echo chamber, mimicking notes and other bits of Frequency of those around them. This makes the Attuner almost impossible to overlook. Eyes and attention are naturally drawn to the Attuner, even if no one could quite explain why.

Feedback

A rare but brutal overstepping penalty. The Attuner unlucky enough to earn this finds themselves unable to completely interpret one of their active Frequencies. Like a temporary loss of understanding following a blow to the head, Feedback is the discordant shrieking an Attuner will ‘hear’ whenever they try to attune, as their spark has temporarily forgotten how to process certain notes.

Initiation

Initiation for Attunement is often the most misunderstood of all Initiations. To an outsider, Initiation might seem gentle and benign whereas the truth is far more brutal. The Attunement spark is a volatile one and it takes the skill of an expert attuner to perform a successful initiation. Often the teacher will take the student to a private and enclosed space, instructing them to relax as best as they are able. When the student and teacher are ready, the teacher will often hum the spark from their own soul into the soul of the learner. This initiation always involves music, both terrible and beautiful to hear. If any other ears are present to intercept the Spark being sung, the Initiation will fail and those besides the teacher who heard the song will be made deaf for the attempt. When the song is understood by the Initiate, they are overcome with a melody they cannot quite place and will never fully remember. This divine song fills their body and reconstructs their mind in sudden violent motion. Attuners have described the sensation as at once beautiful beyond words and more painful than any sensation they’ve felt before. When this is completed, the Initiate is finally an Attuner.

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Suggested Mutations

Attunement is also known as ‘The Gentle Magic’. Those who practice it find that they do not accrue any mutations save through Overstepping. The first mutation of Attunement, the Witchmark is seen in the eyes and only if one looks closely. They will find that the pupil and sclera are divided by a myriad of proportionate lines, almost as though the eyes were deconstructed and places back together. These ‘Puzzle Eyes’ are the only way to identify an Attuner without magic or their own admission.

Any accidental mutations within Attunement are usually attributed to the senses and the mind rather than any physical mutation.

Novice

A Novice Attuner has just begun their journey into learning the Frequencies of the world. Often they begin with learning their own Frequency and from that understanding comes the ability to learn Static. Usually after learning to mask oneself from other Attuners and magical detection, Compass becomes the next ability Attuners discover in their path forward. At this stage an Attuner takes almost five bits to properly open themselves up to a new Frequency, a process made much longer by identifying and classifying the myriads of notes in each Frequency. A Novice is capable of holding as many as three active Frequencies at any given time (not including their own). Any more and the Novice will find themselves quickly overwhelmed. Many novices do not hold onto Frequencies long in order to identify and discover as much information as possible. The Frequencies of people and animals becomes the first category of things the Attuner can interact with as objects continue to elude them.

Competent

A competent Attuner discovers a new enlightenment in their abilities. Now both objects and living beings can be examined through the use of Attunement as well. The mage’s grasp on Active Frequencies expands to six at any given time without inviting strain. An Attuner, upon opening themselves to the Frequency of objects, learns a wealth of new notes and information...some of which are variants of what they can already discover through people and animals. Dousing becomes a learnable technique to the Attuner in addition to omnivision, increasing the natural grace and awareness of the Attuner beyond almost any other of their species or class. By now an Attuner has likely learned the identity of many notes and does not take as long examining a new Frequency. It only takes three bits for an Attuner to gain a new active Frequency.

Expert

An expert Attuner is well on their way to having as much information as they might ever want at their fingertips. By now their thirst for knowledge and understanding has driven them to seek out myriads of people and objects, cataloging dozens upon dozens of different notes. Raw ether and Sparks become illuminated at Expertise and an Attuner can tune in to the note of ‘magic’ and follow signals to mages, Fractures, or other things entirely. An expert Attuner becomes adept at seeking magic in any form. In addition the expert Attuner is granted the ability to Attune to locations. At expertise, these locations are often fairly limited such as a room, a home, or a single medium structure but the wealth of new notes and information that can be discerned from such places compels them to seek out strange and forgotten places, learning what they can from the ruins and notes left. Projection becomes available to be learned at this stage, increasing the Attuner’s area of influence and exploration and allowing them to maintain connection to active Frequencies they’ve left cities behind. In addition, their knowledge of Sparks and Magic allow them to learn the ability Soothe, a boon to any mage struggling with their mutation. The Static ability evolves into a much more convincing Frequency disguiser known as Mimic. Up to nine active Frequencies can be maintained at any given time and it takes only a single bit to open a new active Frequency.

Master

By now the Attuner has become powerful indeed. At this level of expertise the skill, remarkable new avenues of information open to them. Now an Attuner can Attune to an entire city or a forest so long as they have walked through it it extensively at least once. While they cannot Project to such a large area, they do gain the ability to Project and gain access to much larger structures such as towers or castles. Only thirty trills are needed to open a new active Frequency and it is likely that at this stage, an Attuner will have gathered so many notes that reading a new Frequency will be almost as swift as acquiring it. Attuners gain the ability to sense the divine essence of Immortals at this level, and whether someone is marked. However, this power is not strong enough to reveal how much favor the marked has accrued. Sensing Mortalborn also becomes available at this level, the traits of divinity remarkably clear notes in a Frequency. Attempting to Attune to an Immortal is an experience some Attuners have only written about, describing the Frequency as ‘pure’ and ‘resounding’. An Immortal’s Frequency would be so full of notes that it may take ages for an Attuner to properly attempt to sort it out and due to the nature of their immense power, an active Frequency can only be maintained in their presence. Synchronize and Dampen become available to learn at this level, the most offensive uses that Attunement offers to most mages. Fifteen active connections is the upper limit of what the master can hold but few Frequencies can hide from their gaze.

Revealed

The Broadcast is a being unlike any other in Idalos. The details of its abilities are noted in the Technique section. A Broadcast gains access to three additional active Frequencies they are able to maintain and an additional use of the Dampen ability, allowing a Broadcast to dampen two sparks for the price of only their one. Granted, to dampen their own spark in order to maintain this can cause some fairly severe discomfort if two are dampened rather than one. Ones use of Static has another evolution at this stage, becoming Absence. The ability to completely remove one’s Frequency from the loom of ether. This effectively makes a Revealed Attuner invisible to even the Immortals, lest they are in the same location as them or have marked them before. In addition the Revealed can learn Singularity and their Synchrony allows two active uses of Complete and Four uses of Incomplete. Little is withheld from a Revealed Attuner and the world of Idalos at large opens for their inquiry.

Credit to Mythic and Plague