"It would seek to destroy me, as if it were a living thing. It has a will of its own: a will that none can hope to control. I did not think myself to be a weak person before now..." - Sect Prasem, founding member of the Seekers.
Since the beginning of mortal society, emotions have shaped and influenced decisions. The sorrow of a ruler led the enslavement of Hiladrith and the rage of Immortals has laid waste the world before. One might be so bold as to argue that emotional power is the fabric of what spins the cosmos. Empaths, taken from the word 'empathy' which means to understand another's emotions from their frame of reference, grew from that singular understanding. There is power in the emotions of the self and more in the power of others. Those who can master these threads can affect lasting and total change to both themselves and the world.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Weaving
- 3 Emotional Colors
- 4 Reference Guide (Knowledges for techniques required)
- 5 Dangers and Overstepping
- 6 Initiation
- 7 Suggested Mutations
- 8 The Maven
- 9 NOVICE
- 10 COMPETENT
- 11 EXPERT
- 12 MASTER
- 13 Revealed
Empathy is first and foremost a magic of understanding. Those who do not have the capacity or interest in other people will inevitably be unsuited. The mind must want to grasp out and understand those around them, feel as they do, for whatever reason. A loathsome manipulator and a truly kind hearted therapist both share similar proclivities aligned with the practice of Empathy and are equally suitable to learn it. Empathy manifests as the Tangle, a word the Empaths use to describe an emotional makeup of another person. The Tangle is the messy and confusing state of emotions most creatures struggle with daily. It isn't often that one feels only one emotion at a time, or views any one event with the clarity of a single feeling. Instead, psyches are a mire of knots, interwoven strands, and impossible snarls. Most often we refresh between days or events, but sometimes those knots are immortalized deeper within us. Empathy is the ability to grasp the strings of ones emotions and influence the Tangle, either for the self or others.
Most of what an Empath does is Weaving. Knowing where to put new strands or remove others is a task that an Empath learns throughout their development as a mage. Within Weaving, the two principle techniques are Sewing and Severing. Sewing is the introduction of a new thread into the Tangle while Severing is the removal. While a novice Empath may only be capable of sewing (and indeed, adding emotions will always be easier than removing them), at competence and beyond the Empath becomes capable of severing emotions entirely from the Tangle. Severing never guarantees an emotion's erasure from a Tangle. As emotional beings, new strands are created often within the Tangle and severing one only temporarily erases the emotion from the mind of the subject. In a situation where a certain emotional stimulus is present and unmitigated, severing only momentarily arrests the feeling from the subject's Tangle, while a new strand begins to weave so long as the cause remains in place. Many advanced techniques can only be utilized by using a mixture of severing and sewing, some Empaths even going so far as to learn their trade in thread. Some say that knowing how to sew as a profession helped them concentrate their efforts as a mage.
In order to begin Weaving, the Empath (especially at early stages of development) must establish some sort of a connection. Many empaths achieve this with conversation or eye contact. Some find that skin to skin contact makes the experience more vibrant. Usually this contact must be direct and the attention of the subject must be on the Empath for the power to truly work best. As one grows in their mastery, these restrictions are relaxed. Regardless, at no point in time will an Empath ever be able to influence the emotions of someone that is not in their range, or at least not with the air of another magic. In addition, an Empath must seek new emotions to become the master of manipulating them. Knowledges of specific emotions become essential for ease of manipulation. Empathy is a deeply personal magic that only works on semi-sentient and sentient beings. While staggering in its capabilities, it is rarely 'seen' more than felt.
Not all emotions are easy to see. Subtle emotions hide behind the stronger ones in the ever twisting Tangle. To most Empaths, emotions have a certain feel to them, a color that their mind learns to quickly recognize the longer they practice their craft. Below is a suggested wheel to determine the color of emotions, but Empaths from different cultures and even those with different backgrounds can sometimes see things differently.
Reference Guide (Knowledges for techniques required)
A novice Empath is fairly adept at understanding their own emotional strands within the Tangle and become quite able to sense those most prominent strands in others. Strum is a fairly simple technique but instrumental in the manipulation of others. Strum vibrates a single emotional strand in either the self or another, temporarily bringing it to the top of the Tangle. While fairly easily dispelled, Strum sets the stage for conversations. Fear can be strummed to bring a slight discomfort into a strong suspicion, or a strand of attraction can be strummed into a humming lust. These emotions are more suggestions than imperatives and both the caster and the subject can easily dismiss the emotions if the situation doesn't merit them. Many manipulators and Empaths will set up a situation so that the emotions they strum to mind walk hand in hand with the situation they are influencing. For a novice, it is merely a way to practice and understand the Tangle. For a master, this simple technique can be frighteningly powerful.
At novice, one is only capable of creating new emotional strings rather than severing existing. Although what is a useful ability at novice becomes a powerful ability at later stages of Empathy. Knot is the careful manipulation of an existing emotional thread in the Tangle, tying it so deep within the Tangle that it temporarily is not felt by the individual. Severing does not necessarily guarantee that a new emotional string won't be created, depending on the urgency of the situation, but Knot allows an Empath to recognize an emotion and temporarily withhold it from their own psyche. This ability is temporary as an Empath will be forced to face the emotion later, but often allows a cowardly mage to knot away their fear temporarily when faced with a situation they cannot afford to turn from. Knot can only target a specific instance of fear. Each emotional response must be Knotted individually. Fear of a wild dog in the room and fear of the house additionally being on fire are two different instances of fear and must be treated as such. Empaths can rarely shut off an entire emotion through Knot, but usually choose the most prevalent emotion in response to a stimulus to bind. This ability can be used on others but can be overcome with discipline.
Tapestry is an ability Empaths treasure. Learned on the cusp between novice and competence, Tapestry assigns some order to the Tangle, creating much needed context between the Empath and the one they observe. For an Empath, this ability manifests while focusing on a thread or a certain bunch of threads in the same place. The threads, under scrutiny, will impart suggestions on what caused them to develop. Strings of rage and sorrow may bend to reveal the clumsy shape of a grave or sword, suggesting grief from loss on the battlefield. Greed and lust may shape the hazy outline of an object or person to whom or to what the strands are connected to. While this is not mind reading, it provides key context clues to guide an Empath into understanding why someone feels as they do. This ability grows stronger as an Empath gains proficiency, as it can be used on every layer of the Tangle as they become available to the Empath.
Entwine is a power learned at competence along with the ability to sever in Weaving. While the novice only has experience in weaving a single emotional strand, Entwine is a complicated art of weaving multiple strands of one emotion together or combining the emotional strands of multiple emotions to elicit a more complex response. While this can take time to properly create in the Tangle of the Empath, when utilized and tied into another's Tangle, one can coax a more nuanced emotional response than any singular emotion might. An Empath might draw taut a line of desire and entwine a strand of confidence to encourage an otherwise shy individual to make the first move. A thread of sorrow might be entwined with a touch of rage to produce bitterness. An Empath will tell you no emotion is truly cut and dry. Pure emotions are rare in the Tangle as most end up entwined. When severing, an Empath generally ends up removing the whole strand as the strongest emotion targeted, unable to pick out the nuances of underlying emotional textures. Entwine, like Strum, is an ability that widens the ability of the Empath to work and manipulate others. By uniquely weaving a complex emotional strand with Entwine, a skilled Empath can master any conversation in which their magic is in use. Strong discipline, as always, can forgo these effects...but an Empath will say that Discipline should never come into play against a skilled manipulator. One must control the situation and emotions to seem natural, thus never triggering the need to hold back or be suspicious. Empathy is a magic of subterfuge.
Hem is the natural evolution of Knotting, and requires one to be aware of the situation around them. Whereas Knot identifies an emotional thread and ties it deep within the Tangle, preventing new strands from being created of the emotion (as would happen if the emotion was severed), Hem prevents the thread from even forming in the first place. More powerful than Knot in its ability to stop the formation of many emotional threads under a single aegis, Hem uses the Tangle against itself, weaving a practiced lattice designed simply to prevent one or more emotions from being formed while under the Empath's control. All fear can be blocked, as can desire, sorrow, joy, and other such emotions...even nuanced versions of them. Hem only lasts as long as the Empath can hold it. This grows more difficult if the mind 'wants' to create threads of emotion to handle a situation only to be stymied by Hem. They may logically recognize they should feel something, but be unable to motivate that emotion into their psyche. A bit more overt than Knot, Hem is a all-cure when one emotion absolutely should not manifest in the subject for the duration of the manipulation. This can also be performed on the Empath as well to safeguard the mage when facing troubling situations or events...although every Empath knows that you can only temporarily stop an emotional strand from forming in the Tangle. Eventually, one feels all.
Quilting is a technique that most empaths begin to learn in their competency as they master control of their own Tangle. Quilt is a passive ability once learned that naturally guards the mind and emotions of the Empath against intrustion. An Empath becomes adept at identifying which emotions did not originate within their own Tangle and more easily resist attempts at influence from outside their own selves. While this is not advanced enough to stop any of the divine marks from putting thoughts in their own head, Empaths are naturally much more resilient to marks that change or influence emotions and an Empath is always aware (if not always capable of defending) intrusions to their own Tangle. Only Empaths of a higher mastery than the Quilting Empath stands a chance of weaving without them realizing it.
While all emotions are different, some resonate with a similar wavelength. Nexus is a powerful ability an Empath makes use of in expertise allowing them to draw and simultaneously sever all similar emotions from the Tangle of those around them, drawing the strands together into a Nexus. A Nexus strand is one of the most powerful emotional strands an Empath can use on another. They must be careful to Knot the Nexus strand in their Tangle before choosing who to unleash it on, otherwise risk being caught up in the emotion itself. Some Empaths have chosen to frequent a brothel and draw all the strands of lust to them, tying a burning passion for carnal intimacy into a victim they want to manipulate. While this can sometimes backfire, a careful Empath knows best how to manipulate those who refuse to think with logic and only emotion. Other Empaths have drawn the rage from a barfight they created and tied it to the mind of someone they want to encourage to violence, or worse. Nexus simultaneously severs similar emotions from everyone within the Empath's radius, making this a remarkably powerful safeguard against the Legendary ability, Patchwork. However, for those that absorb too much emotion, the strand could easily overtake the Tangle and burn an Empath out completely. Care must be taken when using this ability as there are dangerous extremes an emotion can be built to, dangerous extremes that cannot be handled by most minds. Unlike regular severing, an Empath cannot simply choose to draw the threads together and let them go. The Empath must draw the threads together into a powerful and thick emotional string in their own psyche before unleashing it. To simply destroy that amount of emotional energy would leave an Empath exhausted and certainly well into Overstepping.
Embroidery is the evolution of Tapestry. While Empaths are able to derive hints and understand where certain emotions are tied to by studying the Tangle, Embroidery allows an Empath to weave emotions tied to such hints and suggestions. While, before, an Empath must control a situation and the attention of a subject in order to elicit emotional responses to the things they want, an Empath who learns Embroidery can more easily manipulate the subject of emotional responses in the Tangle. While this practice is complex, tiring, and can sometimes take a little longer than traditional manipulation, Embroidery is utilized by most Empaths at this stage of mastery to make their interactions easier. Embroidery allows an Empath to put 'suggestion' into the emotion when sewing it into a Tangle. They can tie rage to a man at the bar, lust to themselves or another, or any combination of possibilities. They could coax guilt into a murderer that was otherwise unrepentant or flare the protective nature of one man to defend another he barely knows. Empathy is all about pushing and pulling, the slight nudges to encourage action. Falling short of direct control, Empathy simply leads. Strong discipline is able to ward against the emotion, especially if it makes little sense...but some may be swept up in the power of the emotion itself and compelled to act upon what they are suggested to do.
While most uses of Empathy are temporary by nature, Loom bridges that shortcoming by preserving powerful emotions for use later in an Empath's work. While ordinarily a complex weave of nexus or manifesting emotions is necessary for an Empath to begin suturing threads into another Tangle, Loom allows an Empath to sever strong emotions and tie them deeply within their own Tangle, isolating them from the matrix of emotions and thoughts they already have. In this way, a powerful emotion can be 'preserved' for use on another at a later time. While some would find this ability underwhelming, an Empath finds few other abilities so thoroughly necessary. Working onseself into an emotional frenzy, weaving and severing can be exhausting work. Most Empaths tread the line of insanity by taxing their empathy and Tangle. Loom allows extreme emotions to be severed and preserved in a place the Empath need not feel them any longer, saving them to be unleashed or summoned when the Empath has need of them next. Once used, a thread from the loom is gone and the Empath must procure or create another, but this can be a particularly potent ability combined with Ensnare. An Empath can preserve two threads in the Loom at mastery and one additional thread every two points until Legendary.
Overlay is an advanced technique only seen in a master's manipulation of the Tangle. As understood, a Tangle constantly refreshes itself between rest and different events, a chaotic mess of emotional stimuli. At mastery, an Empath can ferret out deeply woven emotions in the center of the tangle, perpetual emotions that may not even be fully apparent to the subject. Deep hidden fears, loves, desires too strange to confront swim in the darkest reaches of the Tangle. Following along that, there exists an area in the Tangle that does not refresh as often as the rest, creating a place to tie emotions that will exist long after the Empath has departed. Overlay is a technique that usually works well in tangent with Embroidery. The Empath will weave a series of even a single emotion deep within the subject's tangle and tie it through Embroidery to a stimuli. This can be a sight, sound, or circumstance. When that stimuli presents itself, the Overlaid emotion will rise to the surface of the tangle, unleash itself and cast its intended effect on the target. An Overlay is not permanent, rather it expends itself as soon as the preset conditions are met to release it. In this way, an Empath can create emotional manipulations that lie hidden in a subject's mind, ready to leap forth at a trigger word, song, or even specific outfit the Empath might wear. They don't have to limit it to themselves, however. They can tie a strong aggression to a certain individual to flare the next time the individual makes a snide remark. Only one Overlay command can be implanted per 5 points of Empathy from mastery to Legendary and one additional command at legendary.
Of all the Empathy techniques, Ensnare is the most violent. Primarily, Empath is a guile sort of magic, best done without the subject being fully aware of the weaving. Ensnare, however, is the Empath's response to unexpected and violent circumstances where traditional manipulation and time are no longer an option. Ensnare is meant to cripple a psyche or Tangle, weaving in an emotion so virulent and strong that it literally cripples the mental capacity of the victim. Combined with Nexus, this ability can be truly horrifying. The difference between weaving a strong Nexus emotion and using Ensnare is mostly in the ether expended and the power of the magic. Ensnare resonates an emotion at such an extreme that most mortal minds can barely comprehend it. Instead it translates into agonizing mental and emotional pain no matter what the original emotion was at the core. The victim is often incapable of thinking, much less acting against the Empath who casts this upon them, but those with high discipline or even other Empaths have been known to act under the influence of Ensnate, albeit with great difficulty. Ensnare must be maintained as without the direct influence of the Empath to pour ether into the magic, the emotion will subside and be dealt with naturally by the mind. Some Empaths have regrettably used this technique to torture, leaving lasting psychological harm in their wake.
Patchwork is an ability only Legendary Empaths are able to conjure. Whispers of this ability in regents have persisted through the ages, although if there is truth to them, none have done more than rumor. Legendary Empaths understand the nature of all Tangles and manifest an understanding, a revelation, that not only are all Tangle's similar...but they're all connected. Body language, facial expressions, emotional stimuli is rife between sentient and nonsentient beings. Patchwork capitalizes on that very principle. When an Empath uses Patchwork, they create a single, powerful emotion and release it into as many Tangle's as they can. The thread is infectious and can be communicated by anyone who can perceive the emotion that is being expressed by those around them. Patchwork, when released into a crowd, can incite a peaceful demonstration to riot or an army to lay down their weapons, overwhelmed with despair. If the emotion can be seen, heard, or in any way intuited by someone near to them they are infected with Patchwork as it forces the strong emotion into their psyche. Those of iron-clad discipline may be able to act under the influence, but they will feel the strength of the emotion as strongly as anyone around them. Only those incapable of feeling emotion are free from this magical ability. Patchwork is not a permanent infection, it can only maintain for half a trial, but the damages that can be done when this ability is unleashed in a crowded area is nearly unthinkable. This ability, unlike most in Empathy, takes a powerful toll on the caster who likely oversteps in order to cast this ability, or at the least puts him on the edge.
The Revealed form of the Empath, detailed below.
Dangers and Overstepping
Note: It should be warned that Meditation and Discipline are necessary for a developing Empath. Especially as their ability begins to include more and more people, the madness of interacting with many Tangles at the same time can overwhelm an Empath that has not learned Meditation or Discipline to counteract the chaos writhing in their minds. A safe bet is to have meditation and Discipline at equal or greater levels than ones Empathy score when interacting with multiple people, but an Empath may be able to run the edge by having it within one level lower of their skill level. Empaths who do nothing to cultivate Discipline or Meditation are far more suseptible to overstepping and longer lasting effects, easily overwhelmed by the forces they toy with.
Minor Overstepping for an Empath most frequently results in headaches, thread-share, dizziness, mania, and depression.
Moderate Overstepping usually manifests as crushing migraines, extreme vertigo, temporary Fraying, temporary loss of sight, hearing, or sense of touch, temporary insanity, crushing depression and Broadcasting
Severe Overstepping, if one is lucky, may only result in a debilitating migraine that persists for trials, permanent vertigo or altered perceptions. If one is unlucky, insanity, Complete Fraying, Selective Fraying or developing severe mental conditions.
Thread-share: Thread share is a minor overstepping possibility that involves the sharing of a thread between two Tangles. Both the caster and the subject will temporary share a thread between the two of them and feel each other's emotions. Usually this is just as surprising for the Empath as it is the victim. Sometimes this link can be capitalized on and even replicated when an Empath wants to share what they're feeling with another...but the first time is always an accident.
Broadcasting: A much more serious version of Thread-share, Broadcast temporarily links the Tangles of all others in an Empath's area to the Empath. This easily overwhelms Empaths who usually need to quickly leave the presence of others to rest and gather their thoughts. Broadcasting in a crowd can lead to an Empath being entirely overwhelmed by the Tangles around them, unable to do much more than writhe in the madness of every emotion passing through their mind.
Fraying: The Frayed or Fraying is what happens when a Tangle is damaged. A Frayed is unable to feel emotions. Their Tangle is reserved to basic survival instinct and is nearly incapable of Empathy. A Frayed can neither use Empathy nor can have Empathy used on them. There is simply nothing to attach anything to. Selective Fraying is less severe but still quite crippling. An Empath may lose the ability to weave with or feel a certain emotion. While it still allows them to weave the others, the emotion they lost will only exist in concept for them, forever out of their reach. For an Empath, becoming a Frayed is worse than death...a fate too horrible to imagine. To date, save Immortal intervention, there are no known cures to one who has become permanently Frayed.
To Initiate a mage into Empathy is an intimate affair. The teacher must carefully transmit their spark, wrapped in their own emotional threads, into the mind of the student. This is a delicate and complicated process, although only Empaths would be able to observe it. To any outsider, it appears as though the teacher and the student sit across from each other for hours, maintaining unblinking eye contact. If the teacher successfully weaves in the spark deep enough in a student's Tangle, they will emerge from the experience an Empath. Unlike other magics that can be initiated at competency, it is recommended an Empath wait till expertise or higher to initiate another student into the art. There is a far greater chance of success at expertise than competency, far more than other domain magics. Failure in initiation destroys the Tangle of the student and leaves them Frayed, virtually emotionless, forever.
For Empaths, much of the initial mutations are emotional and psychological. As their magic deals primarily with the spirit and mind, their own mind and spirit become muddled and strange. The Witch Brand for Empathy are noted by small faintly hued scars on the pads of an Empath’s fingers, or just below their eye if they have no hands. The hue tends to be the color of the most dominant or understood emotion to the Empath at initiation.
Mutations tend to be strange and related to the mind and spirit. An Empath may develop an appetite for certain emotions that drives them to create or influence events to elicit them. Similarly as most Tangles are similar, an Empath may also develop a mutation causing them to contract a kind of racial blindness. Some Empaths see people only as collections of twisting strands woven into the shape of a man. Still other Empaths may develop a specialized synesthesia and both taste and smell the emotions they weave.
An Empath Awakening is often the most alarming transformation an Empath might experience. Beforehand, all their transformations were contained to their psyche and spirit, but a Revelation transcends such limitations into the Physical. Awakenings are rare given how few Empaths reach such a level of expertise. Recorded in history, however, is the story of a Queen who lost herself to the magic within. When the Spark had completed Awakening, she appeared to be of finely woven strands, capable of forming and discorporating at will. Meliene, one of the legendary Fallen was the only known Empath to reach Legendary skill in Empathy.
An Empath Awakening is often the most alarming transformation an Empath might experience. Beforehand, all their transformations were contained to their psyche and spirit, but a Revelation transcends such limitations into the Physical. Awakenings are rare given how few Empaths reach such a level of expertise. Recorded in history, however, is the story of a Queen who lost herself to the magic within. When the Spark had completed Awakening, she appeared to be of finely woven strands, capable of forming and discorporating at will. Meliene, one of the legendary Fallen was the only known Empath to reach Revealed skill in Empathy.
The Revealed form of an Empath is the Maven. When the transformation occurs, the Empath will be quite suddenly flayed, reduced to ribbons of flesh, bone, and viscera before being drawn back together. The new Maven is bound so tight that it would often take a fairly close examination of the Empath’s body to note that they are actually woven together rather than contiguous skin. Mavens who keep their personality are especially rare, given the manipulative and insistent nature of the Empathy Spark. The few who Reveal will often become deeply ambitious, even ruinously so, and necessitate a position that would afford them a palette of minds wherever they go. Those mages that manage to keep their sovereignty when Revealing will still find that they are different than they were. Now merged with this ambitious, controlling Spark they will find its aspects drifting into their personality and their focus on grander and grander ambitions difficult to stave.
The Maven is a creature of possibility and woven body. A Maven is capable of regenerating any loss of limb or injury simply by weaving more strands to where their body was lost. Some particularly powerful Mavens can learn to discorporate their body into a river of fleshy-red and white strands, slipping into cracks and escaping danger when necessary, even knotting and re-weaving their appendages into what they need at the time. At the center of a Maven is their own Tangle, far more developed and powerful than others. A Maven’s emotions are always much grander and more difficult to ignore. A Maven becomes quite capable of the last ability for an Empath, the power to be Weaveless, although their body has become so similar to the Tangles they order through their development. An Evolution of Quilting, Weaveless is the ultimate in an awakened Empath's defense. Other Empaths have described the Tangle of a Weaveless Emapth as ordered and steel, nearly impossible to weave within outside of a master or Maven’s influence. The Weaveless no longer suffer from mental intrusions. No emotions that are not their own or thoughts are put into their heads without their knowledge. An Empath at this level becomes nearly immune to sorceries or abilities that affect the mind without their own permission. Their own minds are fortresses, accessed only with the greatest of difficulty. Something about their thoughts are no longer human, worrying even the Immortals capable of perusing a mind.
At Novice, Empathy is new and can sometimes feel overwhelming. The novice is not yet capable of Severing. Instead they learn to sew the emotions they feel into someone else. An empath must feel the emotion first, bringing the strand up into their own Tangle before replicating it in another. Empaths at this level need a consistent contact to aid their Empathic magic. Whether this is touch, through conversation, or eye contact, the Empath is not yet capable of influencing without being personally invested in the sphere of communication. Only one target may be designated at a time at this level, but learning Strum, Knot, and Tapestry can make a remarkable difference between ordinary manipulation and the skilled encouraging of an Empath. An Empath's range to manipulate is somewhat small at Novice, able to sense and weave emotions within twenty feet of the mage. Most emotions seen in the Tangle are strong ones that lurk near the surface. An Empath is capable of reading the emotions tied to the thoughts on someone's mind at the moment, and have trouble differentiating between the minor threads that wrap the major emotional threads in a Tangle. Manipulations at this level are sweeping, dealing with the strongest emotional strand understood.
Competence jettisons an Empath into a host of new possibilities with their craft. A competent Empath is capable of both sewing and severing within their own and other Tangles, deftly cutting away emotions to sew in new ones with their target. An Empath is beginning to come into their own at this level and their skills in persuasion and intimidation become far more powerful with the aid of their craft. Although an Empath must still engage themselves with their singular target, eye contact no longer needs to be constant, nor touch or conversation. As soon as contact is ended, the Empath's sway over their victim begins to diminish and so most Empath refresh this link throughout an interaction, but no longer seem as suspicious doing so. Entwine, Hem, and Quilt become available to learn at this level, greatly magnifying the already frightening manipulative prowess Empaths possess. An Empath's range of sensing grows to nearly forty feet around the mage and some have a little trouble concentrating when in heavy crowds.
Expertise brings another alarming evolution in an Empath's abilities. At expertise, an Empath is now capable of discerning the nuances and subtle, smaller emotional strands that make up a Tangle. Fear is no longer simply fear, but wrapped with jealousy or rage, all available for the Empath to poke and prod at in their manipulation. At this expertise, Embroidery and Nexus can be learned. While an Empath's perspective remains close to the top of the Tangle, an expert Empath can choose to dive into that mess of emotions seeking feelings just beneath the surface. While not as sophisticated as mind reading, nagging thoughts and emotions just beneath the conscious surface can be touched and even strummed to the surface by a careful and patient Empath. Likewise an Empath becomes capable of weaving multiple people. While within a range that increases to sixty feet, an Empath is capable of manipulating up to five different individuals at the same time. Capable is not quite the same as 'encouraged', however, as the more weaving that takes place the greater the possibility of Overstepping. Ambitious Empaths that ascend to expertise often lose their minds to Overstepping by repeatedly pushing the limits of their manipulative prowess. Connection can be made with a single action, establishing a connection through a gentle caress, catching a victim's eye, or gaining their captivation on your conversation or song. Once the connection is made, the Empath chooses when to break it, although it automatically snaps if the Empath steps out of range.
A Master Empath is a rarity. Given the probability of insanity or Fraying, few Empaths ever ascend to this level of power. Those that have must be careful not to overwhelm themselves with their own abilities. The range of a master Empath extends to nearly 150 feet, a massive jump that demonstrates the gulf between Expertise and Mastery. Loom, Ensnare, and Overlay become available at this level to learn, making a manipulator who is rarely outmatched. A Master has learned how to subtly sever and sew so easily that most would never believe a mage has been in their head. A master has studied emotions and the races of Idalos and has created a number of safeguards to prevent discovery. Master Empaths can reach and weave up to fifteen people at any given time. The number isn't an upper limit, it is a safe amoutn for an Empath who fears being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of minds and Tangles within their range. Risking overstepping, an Empath can push that limit an additional five but surely courts magic to do it. At mastery, an Empath no longer needs to initiate a connection with another to form it. An Empath must simply be aware of the individual within their range. By virtue of their ever increasing range, an Empath can become difficult to assassinate or surprise without extreme discipline training or magic to guard one's thoughts and emotions from being detected. While still not a mind-reader, Mastery Empaths are fairly adept at intuition and Tapestry has become second nature to them.
There are few, if any, Mavens in all of history. Most fall victim to insanity, lose their emotions entirely, or accidentally expose themselves long before ascending to their Awakening. Those few in history who have are rarely remembered fondly in hindsight. Powerful rulers, demagogues, cults of personality are all easily attributed to masters and legends in Empathy. Patchwork and Weaveless are abilities learned at Legendary. None could claim that a Legendary Empath's mind feels 'human'. In a way, they've transcended that limitation of being ruled by their emotions into another sort of being entirely, something old and often cold. Empaths at Legendary are either gluttons of emotions, seeking more and more powerful sensations to weave within their own and others minds or curiously aloof, distant from the worries and stresses that often plague other individuals. A Maven has easy control of themselves and almost any other around them. The range of a Legendary Empath extends to 300 feet and there is no upper limit on the number of people a Legendary Empath can Weave. Although even a Maven should fear Overstepping, they've become adept enough to stop short and test their limitations safely. Legendary Empaths are capable of plumbing to the very depths of the Tangle, uprooting primordial terrors and traumas long hidden by years or denial. The underlying emotional strings at the very depths of the Tangle are as easy for them to pluck and strum as any other in a victim. Of all the revealed, Mavencan be the most terrifying to mortals and Immortals alike and are often hunted, lest madness or ambition create something beyond the Empath's understanding.
Credit to Plague and Whisper