Feb 5, 2012

Sorcery in the Dawnlands: Psychomimetism

Psychomimetism is the most widespread form of sorcery in the Dawnlands. It is the ascendant style in the Dawnlands, practiced in the Orthocracy of Kaddish and amongst the Forest People, with small groups of gnostics scattered across the plains. Its practitioners are at the forefront of magical innovation, especially in Kaddish.

Psychomimetism is the codification of the ancient dream magic that the ancient halfling founders of the Forest People practiced, as taught to them by Yamon the Dreamer. It did not spread outside of that culture until the arrival of the Dawnmen, who appear to have independently discovered it. Zulaith the Patriot, the greatest wizard of the Dawnlands, was originally a student of Psychomimetic techniques, and it is the last and longest section of his famous spellbook the Zulanthine Catalogue. The school he founded, the Zulaymna, continues to teach students in Kaddish to this day.

Psychomimetic sorcery focuses on dreams, the imagination, and the construction of mental images so vivid that they impose themselves on reality.

Psychomimetic Spells

All Psychomimetic spells use the same skill Sorcery (Psychomimetism) regardless of their source. When a PC sorcerer learns a spell, it should be noted which tradition they learnt it under. PCs may learn the same spell in multiple styles, and may choose which style (and thus skill) they wish to use. Psychomimetism contains all sorcery spells (as do the other two styles), but most schools and teachers focus on a subset of the available spells when teaching new pupils.

Costs for Psychomimetic Spells

Casters using the Psychomimetic style who cast spells with ingredient costs calculated in gold ducats do not pay gold ducats. Instead, they must sleep for a number of days equal to the cost in gold ducats. They must remain asleep the entire time, which will require them to take sedative drugs and have assistants care for their body (feeding it, cleaning it, etc.). The spell is cast while asleep. If they are successful, then upon awakening they will find the scroll or magical item in their hands, having crafted it in the dream world.

Some Ways to Learn Psychomimetism

Vanthir's Recension

Only seven copies of the Zulanthine Catalogue are known to still exist. Five are in the hands of the Order of Five Patriots, the greatest wizards the Orthocracy has ever known. One was given to the king of Dwer Tor, and sits in a well-guarded sub-vault of the Palace Eternal. The last, and most easily accessible, is in the Zulaymna's library, where the members of that school may examine it at their leisure, though outsiders are forbidden to. A rogue member of the Zulaymna named Vanthir who had seen the book copied out a small portion of it, specifically the portion containing the Psychomimetic spells. Absent any explanation or the detailed notes that Zulaith had included, the book is simply a manual on how to perform the 23 non-variable spells. It is widely circulated amongst gnostics in the Orthocracy and elsewhere.

It contains Cast Back, Damage Boosting, Damage Resistance, Fly, Glow, Haste, Hinder, Holdfast, Mirage, Mystic Vision, Neutralise Magic, Palsy, Protective Sphere, Regenerate, Skin of Life, Smother, Spell Resistance, Spirit Projection, Spirit Resistance, Treat Wounds, and Venom.

The Nightmare Halls

The Nightmare Halls are what remains of the school where the mighty war-wizards of High Kaddish once studied. Zulaith himself began as a student here, though his prestige has transferred to his own school. The Nightmare Halls are located in the Pit district of the New City, bored into the side of one of the large sinkholes. Here, in lightless halls, long rows of students lie dreaming for days on end as they are instructed in the science of magical slaughter by long-dead masters whose minds live on in the dream world.

The Nightmare Halls teach students Animate (Dead Flesh), Cast Back, Energy Projection (Fire), Energy Projection (Lightning), Form (Dead Flesh), Neutralise Magic, Summon (Tulpa-Shoggoth) and Treat Wounds

The Coyolihani

The Coyolihani are the sorcerers of the Forest People. They serve a protective role, guarding the priests and temples of the Insect Gods against intruders. They also protect the forest as a whole, ensuring that foreigners, especially the Dwer, who attempt to invade become hopelessly lost and fail to discover how advanced the Forest People actually are. They are organised into a communal sodality that operates in small groups across the entire forest.

The Coyolihani teach all spells, but most commonly Fly, Mirage, Vision Projection, Hearing Projection, Summon (Insect Spirit), Venom

The Insect Gods

The Insect Gods are the gods of the Forest People who live in the dream world, in a portion of it known as the Hivehome. Of all the entities of the dream world, they are the least hostile to dreamers, though they are still utterly inhuman. They allow the Forest People to summon their lessers, the insect spirits, to assist them. The Insect Gods are well-versed in psychomimetic sorcery, and will occasionally pluck a dreamer away from their dream to teach them magic for their own inscrutable purposes. Willingness does not matter - the person will not be allowed to wake until the gods are satisfied with their progress. The Insect Gods consider such people to be indebted to them, and the gift, unwanted or not, must be repaid in due course.

The Insect Gods know all spells and teach what they please, according to their own agendas.


  1. What I like about these is that they are distinctive without artificially restricting what kinds of spells a sorcerer can learn.

    1. Thanks. I tend to play wizards when I am a PC, and it drives me nuts when there's a lot of ill-justified restrictions on what kinds of things you can learn. In setting, the explanation is that the same guy codified the three schools in the first place, and he simply translated the spells he knew into each practice so they could be cast whichever way was most convenient.