Welcome to Quiar
Created by Elizabeth Barrette.
I cheated and copied everything from the word document she sent me, because I couldn’t write about this world as well as she can. Quiar is a beautifully created world and I can’t wait to post the first story about it. I’m hoping that, if she feels like it, Elizabeth may also explore this world.
There is a lot of information behind the cut, which is why it’s behind a cut, so take your time and enjoy exploring Quiar.
Most of Quiar’s population lives on three full-size continents and two island continents. Many different anthropomorphic races live there. They arrange their alliances based on phyle (broad biological groups like reptiles), urn (sleep cycle), and hame (homeland). These factors also influence which kinds of magic a race does best. Their magic also varies in strength based on the time of day and time of month, influenced by the changing position of the two moons and other natural forces. Note that the descriptions of groups and individual races indicate the path of least resistance, which a majority of people follow; there is variation, and exceptions occur in most cases.
Cosmology and the Magical Cycle
Quiar has two moons of equal size: Solas, the light moon; and Dorchadas, the dark moon. Solas shines with a brilliant, silver-white glow like burning magnesium. It is slightly visible in daylight and strongly visible at night. Dorchadas shines with a dim gray-black gleam similar to hematite in sunlight. It is strongly visible in daylight and slightly visible at night.
The two moons orbit a central point between them, and together they orbit Quiar. The central point allows magic to flow between the moons. As they move, sometimes Solas faces Quiar while blocking Dorchadas, sometimes they are side-by-side, and sometimes Dorchadas faces Quiar while blocking Solas.
This process governs the magical tides of Quiar. When Solas faces Quiar, magic flows from Solas to Quiar; for example, in magical rain. When Dorchadas faces Quiar, magic flows from Quiar to Dorchadas; for example, in magical geysers. When the two are side-by-side, a mix of magical weather occurs, which is challenging to predict in specifics although the general direction of change remains constant. Magical clouds and fog are most common at these times.
A month lasts 40 days, divided into 4 moonweeks of 10 days. The first moonweek is called lightweek, when Solas faces Quiar. During this time, magical rain falls, and otherwise there is a gradual flow of ambient magic from Solas to Quiar. Ocean tides are at their lowest. The second moonweek is called evenweek, when Solas is moving away and Dorchadas is moving forward. Magical clouds of glossy white form high up, but rain down less often over time; the ambient magic swirls constantly before reversing its direction to flow upward. Ocean tides are moderate and rising. The third moonweek is called darkweek, when Dorchadas faces Quiar. During this time, magical geysers erupt, and otherwise there is a gradual flow of ambient magic from Quiar to Dorchadas. Ocean tides are at their highest. The fourth moonweek is called mornweek, when Dorchadas is moving away and Solas is moving forward. Magical fog of dim gray cloaks the ground in places, but rises into the sky less often over time; the ambient magic swirls constantly before reversing its direction to flow downward. Ocean tides are moderate and falling.
A year lasts 9 months, 360 days total. A season lasts 3 months, 120 days total. There are 3 seasons: hot, moderate, and cold. Because of Quiar’s magical nature, the seasons change abruptly rather than gradually. The local plants and animals are designed for this, so for example, those that hibernate have a 3-month dormant season which begins and ends at specific and predictable times. For this reason, few living things from other worlds can thrive here, and Quiaran ones tend to do poorly when transplanted elsewhere. The sentient races have a better chance, however, because they can deliberately modify their environment to meet their needs.
Clock time is the same as on Earth. A day lasts 24 hours. An hour lasts 60 minutes. A minute lasts 60 seconds. However, the ratio of light to dark does not change seasonally. There are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness every day. Daylight is provided by a blazing golden sun, which orbits Quiar opposite the two moons. Night is lit by the moons (one or both, depending on the moonweek) and a sprinkle of stars, mostly silver or gold but a few in brighter shades of red, blue, or green.
As with Earth, a majority of Quiar consists of ocean. There are five major landmasses, whose ecosystems roughly correspond to some from Earth. Fasach relates to Africa, Inish to Madagascar, Larnach to Europe and North America, Mothar to South America, and Theas to Australia. Larnach lies in the center and is the largest, about the size of Eurasia with a ragged horizontal oblong shape. (20,846,000 mi2 or 52,990,000 km2). It is connected by narrow land bridges to Mothar in the southwest and Fasach in the southeast; they are the next largest, each about the size of South America (6,888,000 mi2 or 17,840,000 km2). They have an upright bracket sort of shape, similar to Africa in the east and a mirror-Africa in the west. Theas lies due south of Larnach, separated by a narrow sea (about 221 mi or 355 km wide); it’s about the size of Australia (2,900,000 mi2 or 7,600,000 km2), with a similar rounded shape. It has the most magic. Inish lies west of Fasach, separated by a somewhat wider span of ocean channel (about 500 mi or 805 km); it’s about the size of Greenland (822,706 mi2 or 2,130,800 km2). It has an upright oblong shape. It has the least magic.
Quiar is home to a wide diversity of sentient, anthropomorphic races collectively called Tropes. They are the dominant lifeforms, and anyone else coming to this world must deal with them. Humans are not native to this world. However, some have entered Quiar from elsewhere. Most of those come and go. Others have banded together to create a few small settlements.
Because humans have hunted or enslaved some of the Tropes in the past, most Tropes distrust humans in general. Relationships between the Tropes and the fae are more mixed, and typically follow opinions on magic. Where magic is respected and freely practiced, the fae are usually known and welcomed. Where magic is feared or disbelieved, the fae may be attacked or considered mythical. Different species of Tropes don’t always get along with each other, so their knowledge of their world, its origins, and other races is patchy.
The many species of Tropes tend to bunch themselves into groups. Phyles are groups based on biological relationships. For example, there’s a divergence between mammals and non-mammals. The mammals subdivide into placentals (such as mice) and marsupials (such as kangaroos). The marsupials really think of themselves as the pouched phyle, which is why pup birds are most often counted there, even though they are biologically birds. The non-mammals subdivide into reptiles (such as komodos) and birds (such as ravens), and invertebrates (such as centipedes). Furthermore, reptiles and birds tend to ally closely with each other, most often against invertebrates. Reptiles and birds consider themselves subgroups (scaled and feathered) of the same egg-laying phyle, even though everyone else considers them separate. This is also why platypi are more often counted as birds, even though they have mammary glands and thus should be counted as mammals; but neither group really wants them. The phyles feature shifting alliances — the two branches of mammals will unite against the three branches of non-mammals, but when that’s not in active conflict, they’re just as likely to fight amongst themselves.
Urns are groups based on activity cycles. The three main urns are diurnal or lightweek races, crepuscular or halfweek races, and nocturnal or darkweek races. The moonweeks come into play because magic corresponds with time of day and time of month. Diurnal races (such as macaws) tend to have magic that peaks during the day and/or lightweek. They are best at fire magic and summoning. Crepuscular races (such as deer) tend to have magic that peaks during morning and evening and/or mornweek and evenweek. They are best at balance and polarity, and defensive magic. Crepuscular races recognize a further distinction, in that matinal races peak only during morning and mornweek, while vespertine races peak only during evening and evenweek, not both. They may have closer relationships within that subgroup, but do not compete or conflict across subgroup lines. They are also the most likely to interact with people outside their own urn, because their active period separates day and night, and this is the most acceptable crossover. Nocturnal races (such as moths) tend to have magic that peaks during the night and/or darkweek. They are best at shadow magic and banishing. These three urns are widely recognized. They function a bit like work shifts; people who are awake at the same time have far more interaction than people on opposite shifts.
A fourth urn is recognized primarily by those who call themselves metaturnal or moonweek races. They are adaptable to shifting light levels and therefore capable of activity at any time of day or night. Similarly, their magic is less dependent on the time of day or month, which gives them a versatility that some envy and others disdain; but they lose the high as well as the low, giving them a narrower total range of performance. They are best at transformation and travel magic. In theory, they should be able to connect with any other urn. In practice, it’s more like the way bisexual humans are often shut out by both heterosexual and homosexual communities; nobody wants them, everybody considers them misfits. Only the mice have really overcome this prejudice, mainly due to their exceptional power.
Hames are groups based on location. These approximate some of the continent and subcontinent groups on Earth. Fasach corresponds loosely to Africa, Inish to Madagascar, Larnach to Europe and North America, Mothar to South America, and Theas to Australia. So for instance, tigers (thylacines), kookaburras, and spitfires belong to one hame: Theas (Australia).
These different groups create an intricate network of shifting alliance and animosity. Part of it depends on the current political climate. When there’s a serious conflict between mammals and non-mammals, phyle membership takes priority, and issues of urn or hame become less important. Part of it depends on who is present in a given situation. If the participants include a zebra, a bat, a goanna, and a hawk then the breakdown will probably be zebra and bat (mammal phyle) vs. goanna and hawk (non-mammal phyle, reptile/bird alliance). If the participants include a kangaroo, a bat, an owl, and a butterfly then the breakdown will probably be kangaroo and butterfly (lightweek urn) vs. bat and owl (darkweek urn).
The most common order of priority is phyle, urn, hame. So people typically relate best to members of their own phyle, but will switch to urn or hame if there is no match in phyle. Hame is actually the most prevalent because it’s based on location — most people in an area will share the same hame — but that’s also why it comes into play less often for determining interpersonal relationships. It’s the local default, until someone travels quite far. However, some of the major wars have been hame against hame.
Many individuals therefore prefer to stick with their own species, because it makes relationships simpler. However, the larger the population, the more mixed it tends to become. Rural households and villages often have just one species, or sometimes a few similar (wolves and foxes) or compatible (cows and horses) species. Towns tend to have a dominant species plus a sprinkling of several others. Cities are almost always mixed, and may have a barely-dominant species or several populous species plus a wide variety of others. Larnach has the most diversity among sentient races and the least segregation across settlement sizes. Also, each hame has a few prevailing races who appear in most places.
It is considered weird to form friendships across lines of phyle, urn, or hame; especially so if the individuals have none of those in common. Forming sexual relationships across those lines is considered downright perverted, widely met with hostility or even violence. Conversely, almost nobody cares about a partner’s sex, and interspecies relationships (as long as the phyle, urn, and hame match) are accepted more often than not, just mildly kinky.
Note that, unlike most anthropomorphic cultures, Tropes also care little about diet. The carnivorous or omnivorous species eat only nonsentient prey, so the herbivorous species don’t mind being around them. Preying on each other is as rare and unacceptable as cannibalism among humans, and regarded much the same way: a horrifying aberration.
The hames reflect a combination of territorial, political, and religious lines. There are smaller divisions within them, but most of those have minimal effect on interactions and are more administrative than political. Most races originate in one of the major hames; a few, such as komodos, come from somewhere else.
Fasach (Africa) is a medium-sized continent that lies southeast of Larnach (Europe). It includes a mix of climates, mostly hot and dry or hot and wet, some temperate. It features large expanses of jungle, grassland, and desert with some mountains. Fasach has plenty of sentient races.
The Fasachi people have mixed feelings about magic; they use it, but often warily and grudgingly. They are warlike; they tend to kill people who use magic in unapproved ways, such as traveling between worlds or breeding chimerae. However, water sources in dry parts of Fasach are considered sanctuaries; fighting over or even near them is forbidden. Fasachis practice slavery and take captives when invading other hames. They are best at offensive magic. Giraffes tend to be pacifists, despite living in a warlike hame. Knowledge about the fae is uncommon, mainly restricted to experts, and Fasachis tend to distrust the fae.
The prevailing races are baboons, wildebeests, and zebras. The common races include aardvarks, guineas, hamsters, and scorpions. The uncommon races include giraffes, lions, ostriches, parrots, painted dogs, and snakebirds. The rare races include elephants, mambas, and locusts.
Inish (Madagascar) is a small island continent that lies east of Fasach (Africa). It is mostly hot and wet, a jumble of rainforest and mountains; but the climate is tempestuous and unpredictable compared to the other hames. Moonspear, the largest field of magical geysers, exists in Inish; a majority of the few people with magic are born in bordering territory. Because of the size, Inish has fewer sentient races.
The Inishan people widely disbelieve in magic because it’s rare and weak in their hame. They have the lowest frequency and strength of magic among the hames. Many Inishans who have magic don’t even realize it, and thus don’t use it. They are insular, rarely emmigrating; and they don’t like immigrants much either. They are not the best at any type of magic. Knowledge about the fae is nearly nonexistent, and Inishans tend to disbelieve in them. They also disbelieve in chimerae.
The prevailing races are lemurs and tenrecs. The common races include chameleons and hamerkops. The uncommon races include fossas and hamerkops. The rare races include lovebirds.
Larnach (Europe) is the largest continent, lying between and north of the others. It is primarily temperate, edging into cold at the north and warm at the southern edges. It has the most diverse environment including a mix of mountains, forests, grasslands, and deserts. It has the greatest diversity of sentient races, and the most dispersal of its races across other hames.
The Larnachi people are the most tolerant of mixed races and of magic. Their settlements are the most integrated, and even small villages often include several races. They routinely compensate for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They put up with chimerae, and consequently have the most of them. Hermit crabs are insular and pugnacious; they don’t really like anyone, despite living in the most diverse and tolerant hame. Larnachis tend to take a neutral, prosaic view of magic (and politics and religion). People with magic tend to use it without making a fuss over it; people without it rarely care, because they can usually hire or barter magical services if necessary. They know about travelers between worlds and have the most tolerance for outsiders. Larnachis are the best at practical magic.
Larnachis have average awareness of the fae: educated people know about them and Quiar’s origin, while less educated people often don’t or have only a sketchy idea. Worship of the fae is not native to Larnach and remains rare. Larnachis practice various religions, often casually. The Sequestrian religion, followed mostly by herbivores, believes that everyone should live only in single-race settlements; their enclaves are small but widely spread across this hame.
The prevailing races are cows, mice, and sheep. The common races include butterflies, deer, horses, moths, ravens, and seagulls. The uncommon races include cats, centipeds, chimney swifts, cornsnakes, fireflies, foxes, hawks, hermit crabs, owls, plaster bees, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, timberdoodles, vultures, and wolves. The rare races include black widows and rattlesnakes.
Mothar (South America) is a medium-sized continent that lies southwest of Larnach (Europe). It is primarily hot and wet, with a lot of jungle plus some mountains, grasslands, and deserts. It has plenty of sentient races.
The Motharan people are deeply religious in ways that impact many other aspects of life. The prevailing religion is worship of the fae, and they are strongly evangelical about that in ways that annoy pretty much everyone else. They believe in practicing magic only within a religious context, and they are aggressive about pressuring other people to do likewise. The Anlainn religion encourages chimerae, especially those with wings whom they call celestials; everyone else considers this heresy. Most Matamatas are atheists, an unpopular position in Mothar. The Jade Basin is a vast ancient crater now filled with rainforest, within whose region people do not build temples but rather integrate religion — and its attendant magic — into everyday life. Other Motharans consider this heresy. They know about travelers between worlds and prefer their own. They only accept native but foreign travelers who convert to the local religion, and it’s difficult for outsiders to gain acceptance even if they convert. Motharans are the best at spiritual magic.
The prevailing races are capuchins and llamas. The common races include bats, capybaras, macaws, matamatas, and possums. The uncommon races include chinchillas, emerald tree boas, jaguars, kinkajous, quetzals, sloths, and yellow-crowned night herons. The rare races include anteaters and titans.
Theas (Australia) is a large island continent that lies due south of Larnach (Europe). It is primarily hot and dry, although the coast is wetter. A ring of jungles surrounds the central area of grassland and desert. The Umbral Desert is a null zone for magic, located near the heart of Theas. This hame has fewer sentient races than the full-size continents, but more than Inish (Madagascar).
The Theasian people are fully immersed in magic, which they consider an ordinary part of life and not something separate. They encourage and celebrate the practice of magic. They have a higher chance of multiple talents. They know about the origin of Quiar and the fae, but do not worship them. Theasians don’t approve of everything the fae have done, especially regarding the split between different ways of traveling between worlds. Theasians know about travelers between worlds, but distrust outsiders and only trust their own. Bilbies may have magic, but don’t use it; they think it’s ridiculous and mock everyone who uses it, despite living in the most magic-friendly hame. Theasians tend to kill chimerae, except for the more recent tiger-chimerae. Theasians are the best at phantasmagoric magic such as illusion and transformation.
The prevailing races are kangaroos and numbats. The common races include goannas, koalas, kookaburras, and pup birds. The uncommon races include bilbies, platypi, and spitfires. The rare races include tigers (thylacine).
The degree of anthropomorphism varies from one race to another, but there are broad tendencies within phyles. Placental mammals have the strongest anthropomorphism and the highest number of humanoid races. Some are bipedal while a few are quadrupedal. Many are ambipedal, able to stand or move either on two legs or four — especially ungulates. Odd-toed ungulates (horses and zebras) lack hands, while even-toed ungulates (such as cows and giraffes) may be knuckle-walkers or have fingers concealed between hooves. Marsupial mammals, reptiles, and birds are more variable. Invertebrates have the lowest anthropomorphism, tending to look similar to their nonsentient analogs. Magic allows for giant invertebrates, and also enables sentience in rather small bodies.
Another thing that magic does, which is not so good in this cultural context, is to facilitate interracial breeding. The resulting chimera combines traits from both parents, and is usually ostracized everywhere. Two-species chimerae are sometimes called halfbreeds, or crossbreeds if they cross over lines of phyle, urn, or hame. If chimerae breed with each other, their offspring can have any combination of traits from the ancestral races. These are hated even more.
Larnach (Europe) has the highest number of chimerae and the most tolerance for them, which is to say, they usually aren’t killed on sight. There are a few small settlements where chimerae live together away from purebreeds. In Fasach (Africa) and Theas (Australia), chimerae are typically killed. An exception in Theas is that tiger chimerae are tolerated. Mothar (South America) has the Anlainn religion which encourages chimerae, especially those with wings whom they call celestials. Everybody else in Mothar considers this a heresy, and it causes intermittent warfare. Inish (Madagascar) produces extremely few chimerae, and those that exist are almost all born of Inishan emmigrants in other lands. Consequently, the people of Inish generally don’t believe in chimerae.
Placental mammals make up the most numerous phyle. They comprise the prevailing races everywhere except Theas (Australia), which as the home of marsupials has no native placentals. Many of the common races are also placental mammals. Races that live in herds or other groups tend to dominate civilization, and especially settlements. The magical gifts of this phyle include temperature control, textile magic, dairy magic, and telepathy. Placental races are assumed to be eligible for these gifts unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Marsupial mammals form the dominant phyle in Theas (Australia), where there are no native placentals. The only marsupial native to another hame is the possum in Mothar (South America). Therefore they tend to have a higher percentage of magic and greater power throughout the population. Marsupials have access to phyle talents including clairsenses, precognition and postcognition, warding, and temperature control.
A key difference between marsupial and placental mammals is that marsupials give birth to undeveloped young that immediately go into a pouch, latch onto nipples, and stay there for some time. Some species normally give birth to more young than the mother has nipples, in which case the strongest and fastest ones survive while the others do not. Marsupials view pregnancy as trivial and only count offspring that attach to nipples. Their routine form of birth control is simply to prevent unwanted young from attaching, and they consider this a responsible form of family planning. This is prudent because they don’t have other reliable methods, and their homeland is much smaller than the mainland is, so they need to moderate their population. Placentals view pregnancy as important, and they frequently view marsupial birth control as infanticide. That can cause a lot of stress between the phyles, and is the main reason why they are counted as different phyles instead of just “mammals.” Placentals are even less happy about races that lay eggs and break or abandon them as birth control, or whose natural cycle means laying eggs and then leaving them to hatch alone. For this reason, marsupials often have better relations with reptiles, birds, and insects than placentals do.
Reptiles are cold-blooded egg-layers. They thrive in barren environments. They tend to think of themselves and birds as belonging to two subgroups of the egg-laying phyle, so they have a close alliance. They don’t always get along well with other phyles, especially placental mammals. Reptiles have a wide range of anthropomorphism, from almost nothing to quite humanoid. They have access to phyle talents including egg magic, regeneration, shielding, and stasis.
Birds are chiefly distinguished by their feathers, also by their eggs. They tend to think of themselves and reptiles as two subgroups of the egg-laying phyle. The two have a close alliance. Birds with low anthropomorphism rarely have hands and can usually fly; they may use their feet and/or beak to manipulate things. Intermediate anthropomorphism tends to reduce aerial ability, so some birds can only glide. They may have little hands at the forward joint of the wings, similar to an archaeopteryx. Higher anthropomorphism means that the bird cannot fly, but usually still has vestigial pinion feathers, and may have humanoid arms and hands.
Magical abilities common in the phyle of birds include air magic, sound magic, egg magic, navigation, and levitation. There is also a branch of formulaic magic, feathercraft, which is easiest for birds to practice and rarely learned by anyone else. These are available to all birds unless stated otherwise.
Magic and Travel Between Worlds
The amount and type of magic available to people varies across species, in addition to the temporal cycles already mentioned. In some races, individuals who can use magic are common, in others rare. In order of frequency, Theas (Australia) has the most, then Fasach (Africa), Mothar (South America), Larnach (Europe), and Inish (Madagascar) has the least. The power level varies widely by individual, but also, some races tend to have more or less power than average. The most powerful races are tigers (thylacine), platypi, and mice. The weakest races include chameleons, cows, hissing cockroaches, horses, hamerkops, matamatas, and seagulls. Each species has one or more magical abilities that typically manifest; many individuals can only do one of those, although some can do more, especially in the more magical species.
The terminology deals primarily with usage. A null is someone without magic; this is most often used in Theas where magic is the most widespread. A mage is someone who has a significant amount of magic and applies it competently, especially in a professional context. A wizard is someone with exceptional magic, adept in power and finesse, but also in subtler aspects such as magical theory. A conjurer is someone without innate magic, who has learned some kind(s) of formulaic magic.
There is considerable diversity in people’s opinions about magic, too. In broad strokes, the hames determine the prevalent attitude. Theas (Australia) actively respects and encourages magic; people generally know about magic, how it works, and how Quiar was created. They know about travelers between worlds, but distrust outsiders and only trust their own travelers. Fasach (Africa) varies between grudging acceptance (because magic can be useful) and dislike (because it can be dangerous). They know about travelers, and actively kill all they can. They can be hostile to ordinary visitors sometimes too. Inish (Madagascar) tends to disbelieve in magic; people there know little about it and nothing about how the world was created. They aren’t hostile, just shy and awkward and reclusive. Mothar (South America) allows the use of magic, but only in religious context. They know about travelers, prefer their own and will only accept outsiders who convert to the local religion. They’ve been known to send out missionaries, which many other cultures find very annoying. Larnach (Europe) is eclectic, with versions of all the opinions, usually milder, centering around neutral. They know about travelers, and are the most likely to accept outsiders for trade purposes. This hame is the most tolerant on average, because it’s more diverse and has contacted the other hames at least somewhat.
However, opinions within individual races or regions may differ from the surrounding hame. Giraffes tend to be pacifists, despite living in a warlike hame. Another exception is that water sources in dry parts of Fasach (Africa) are considered sanctuaries; fighting over or even near them is forbidden. Bilbies may have magic, but don’t use it; they think it’s ridiculous and mock everyone who uses it, despite living in the most magic-friendly hame. The Umbral Desert is a null zone for magic, located near the heart of Theas (Australia). Hermit crabs are insular and pugnacious; they don’t really like anyone, despite living in the most diverse and tolerant hame. The Sequestrian religion, followed mostly by herbivores, believes that everyone should live only in single-race settlements; their enclaves are small but widely spread across Larnach (Europe). Lemurs are playful, whimsical, and utterly gullible. Some of them will believe anything, including magic, whether it is true or not; even though their hame generally disbelieves in magic. They don’t seem able to distinguish between prestidigitation and enchantment. Moonspear, the largest field of magical geysers, exists in Inish (Madagascar); a majority of the few people with magic are born in bordering territory. Matamatas tend to be atheists, a very unpopular stance in their highly religious hame. The Jade Basin is a vast ancient crater now filled with rainforest, within whose region people do not build temples but rather integrate religion — and its attendant magic — into everyday life. Other people in Mothar (South America) typically consider this a heresy.
The distinction between “world walkers” (officially sanctioned travelers with tattoos) and “demons” (unsanctioned travelers with innate talent) is considered irrelevant by most Tropes. What matters to them is whether someone is native to Quiar or is an outsider. Most commonly, they mean “native” as in one of the Quiaran races; less often, they count members of offworld species whose ancestors settled in Quiar. “Outsider” usually means everyone not of Quiaran descent, but rarely includes members of a Quiaran race who were born elsewhere. Native travelers are welcome in Theas (Australia), Larnach (Europe), and sometimes Mothar (South America). Outside travelers are only welcome in Larnach, and even there the reception is variable; in Fasach (Africa) they are killed on discovery.
It doesn’t help that a majority of outside travelers are humans or very similar humanoids, which the Tropes tend to consider monsters. Another factor is that the common background of magical construction has left a widespread tendency for dermal allergies so that many Tropes can’t tolerate things like tattoo ink, perfume, or cosmetics. This means there are very few Quiaran world walkers. There are substantially more Quiaran demons, although they don’t call themselves that; the term for Quiarans with an innate talent for traveling between worlds is “moonjumper.”
Innate vs. Formulaic Magic
Most Quiaran magic is innate; people are either born with it or not. (An exception is the rare ability of some tigers to grant or remove magical talent.) Each race has its own set of typical talents. These tend to recur across different races, although a few are unique to a single race.
The talents also cluster so that each phyle, urn, and hame will have certain common abilities. Phyles: Placental mammals have access to temperature control, textile magic, dairy magic, and telepathy. Marsupial mammals have access to clairsenses, precognition and postcognition, warding, and temperature control. Reptiles have access to egg magic, regeneration, shielding, and stasis. Birds have access to air magic, sound magic, egg magic, navigation, and levitation. Invertebrates have access to mental resistance, shields, silk magic, and transformation. Urns: Diurnal races are best at fire magic and summoning. Crepuscular races are best at balance and polarity, and defensive magic. Nocturnal races are best at shadow magic and banishing. Metaturnal races are best at transformation and travel magic. Hames: Fasachis are best at offensive magic. Larnachis are best at practical magic. Motharans are best at spiritual magic. Theasians are best at phantasmagoric magic. (This is the really weird, reality-bending stuff like transformation, crypsis, and mind control.) Inishans aren’t best at any kind of magic.
Most often, a person has only one talent. Some races, such as tigers and quetzals, often manifest multiple talents. The stronger their magic, the more likely they are to have multiple talents. It’s more common for multiple talents to spread across the options listed for phyle, urn, hame, and species than to stack within any of those sets.
Formulaic magic is essentially a set of sciences fueled by mystical power. That power comes from ambient energy, rather than energy that collects in the caster’s body, so it can’t be done in a null-magic zone. It is controlled by the manipulation of materials and processes, sometimes including the caster’s will. Anyone who studies the right references can learn to do formulaic magic, although quality of outcome depends on intelligence and dedication. Some races have demonstrated a knack for learning certain types of formulaic magic even though no innate talent is required. Some major branches include enchantment, potions, spellcraft, diagrams, and feathercraft.
Enchantment creates charms and artifacts by binding magic in a solid or similar form. That binding happens when they are made, so they cannot be made in a null-magic zone; they can be used there, but often work less well and run out of energy faster than usual. Charms are cheaper and easier to make, using ordinary materials. They are often single-use and/or single-purpose, and always less durable and complex than artifacts. Selling fake charms is illegal but ubiquitous. Artifacts are more expensive and more challenging to make; they often require rare and fine materials. They can have ongoing or permanent effects, or repeated uses. Sometimes they have multiple effects. They are more powerful, durable, and complex than charms; thus very difficult to fake. Artifacts have the third-highest mishap rate in formulaic magic. Commonly enchanted objects include jewelry, staves, weapons, and shields.
Potions bind magic in liquid or similar form. That binding happens when they are made, so they cannot be made but can be used normally in a null-magic zone. They are consumable, most often meant to be swallowed, but they also include other things such as safe fur dyes and sharpening polish for blades. Most are temporary, but high-powered potions may be permanent. They are single-use but a given container may hold multiple doses. (Sharpening polish comes in little tins like ordinary metal polish, and lasts practically forever.) Low-powered potions are commonly available in pharmacies within the more magic-friendly hames. High-powered potions are rare and expensive. Quite a lot of potions are illegal, but the details vary widely by location. Healing potions are the most common — about half the total — followed by temporary granting of a single magical effect. Potions to enhance an ordinary or magical quality form another substantial category. Potions have the second-highest rate of mishaps in formulaic magic.
Spellcraft is an enormously intricate and flexible system. It does not work in null-magic zones, and overloads easily in high-magic zones. In theory, it can accomplish almost anything, if the caster has enough skill and resources to pull it together. In practice, it has the highest rate of mishaps in formulaic magic. A simple spell may have only a single component, such as a substance or an incantation, focused with the caster’s will. Most spells combine substances, incantations, and processes for more refined effects. Spellcraft does not bind magic into physical form but rather manipulates it in action.
Feathercraft binds magic to a feather or an object decorated with feathers. That binding happens when the item is made, so it cannot be made in a null-magic zone; it can be used there, but often works less well and runs out of energy faster than usual. The caster’s will focuses on the material of the feather, which may be modified in various ways to refine the results. It is far more a magic of the mind than the previous examples, lightly anchored in a specific material. Birds naturally excel at feathercraft; few others have ever done it, and most of those have been reptiles. Its best effects match those of the avian phyle’s talents, such as air and sound magic.
Diagrams guide magic through a pattern of lines, shapes, and colors. Some tattoos and body paint touch on this. Diagrams may be temporary or permanent. They require the least mental input from the practitioner and have the lowest rate of mishaps. Conversely they require the most precision, and they work much like computer chips in terms of the pattern shaping the effect. There are a few simple, temporary diagrams that don’t even require ink but can just be traced in the air to work. Most diagrams require the pattern to be created whole, such as with ink or tracing grooves in sand. Some diagrams require specific, exotic materials. The more powerful or complex the magic, the more elaborate the diagram becomes.