Author’s notes: This is a magic system based on re-interpretations of the principles of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements (Wu Xing) and the Eight Symbols (Ba Gua). The first section is mostly research based and is there to give readers needed background while all subsequent sections are creative adaptations.
The concept of yin-yang is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (such as male and female, light and dark, high and low, hot and cold, water and fire, life and death, and so on) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept.The Five Elements are metal, wood, water, fire and earth. These are viewed as the basic energy forms that gave brith to the world. The Eight Symbols are Heaven (Qian), Earth (Kun), Water (Kan), Fire (Li), Wind (Xun), Thunder (Zhen), Mountain (Gen) and Lake (Dui). These are sub-components of the Five Elements and relate to the specific way in which the Five Elements can be channeled into spellcasting. The Water (Kan) and Fire (Li) symbols correspond directly with the Water and Fire elements. The element of Earth corresponds with both the symbols of Earth (Kun) and Mountain (Gen). The element of Wood corresponds with the symbols of Wind (Xun) (as a gentle but inexorable force that can erode and penetrate stone) and Thunder (Zhen). The element of Metal corresponds with the symbols of Heaven (Qian) and Lake (Dui).
Embodiments of Yin Yang:
Yang and Yi each have four embodiments that characterise the possible nature of the spells that correspond to these two base concepts:
Yang- ri (day), ren (realm of the living), dong (movement), ti (body)
Yin- ye (night), ming (realm of the dead), jing (stillness), wun (soul)
Wu Xing in relation to each other:
The doctrine of Wu Xing describes two cycles- a creation cycle and a destruction cycle, of interactions between the five elements in the following way:
- Wood feeds Fire
- Fire creates Earth (ash)
- Earth bears Metal
- Metal enriches Water (as in water with minerals is more beneficial to the body than pure water)
- Water nourishes Wood
- Wood parts Earth (such as roots; or, Trees can prevent soil erosion)
- Earth dams (or muddies or absorbs) Water
- Water extinguishes Fire
- Fire melts Metal
- Metal chops Wood
Wu Xing and Distinguishing Spell Characteristics
Metal- balanced characteristics in terms of casting speed and effects
Wood- almost instantaneous effects from spells
Water- spells with long-lasting effects
Fire- spells that deal heavy damage
Earth- effects of spells appear slowly but cover a wide area
Ba Gua and Corresponding Map Bearings and Formations
Ba Gua is the Shou term for the octagonal instrument that magic practitioners of the Eight Symbols use to detect the presence of ‘energies’ corresponding to the Eight Symbols as well as the Eight Symbols themselves. (To prevent confusion, from this point onwards, only the instrument will be referred to Ba Gua). This instrument also serves to remind them of the corresponding formations for the Eight Symbols.
There are in general two possible formations for the Eight Symbols to be assembled in, respectively known as the Heavenly and Earth formations (aka the Yang/Yin or Dawn/Dusk formations). The Heavenly formation has the top right hand corner of the Ba Gua designated as North and the rest of the map bearings are allocated in a clockwise function. In contrast, in the Earth formation, the top left hand corner is the Northern direction and all other map bearings are assigned anti-clockwise from North.
Spell Types, Characteristics and Signature Spells (SS) under The Eight Symbols:
This is the domain where mortals have no control over encompassing elements such as time, space, life, death and the general weather. Magic practioners under this system adjust their spells to work around elements of the Heaven domain.
Ren- spells providing spontaneous healing to the body, based on that which springs from the earth and their life forces
SS- The Healing Hand: a healing spell that will instantaneously remedy small injuries (cuts and bruises) and partially heal a more substantial injury (temporarily stem internal bleeding)
Dong- offensive and evasion spells based on terrains
SS- 1) The Quicksand Trap: conjures a quicksand at a designated spot; 2) Moving Earth- conjures a path of earth that can move (more or less randomly for those with weak mind discipline but becoming more controlled in fashion if the caster has strong mind discipline)
Ming- enchantments for increasing strength/stamina/endurance/resilience
SS- The Mallet: a spell cast on oneself that subjects the body to a source of stress (physical tiredness, small amount of poison, pain etc.) for a short period of time
Jing- magical seals and spells for detecting whether items have been tempered with or disturbed
SS- The Seal: a spell that puts in place a magical seal tuned to individuals through blood (a drop of the individual’s blood is needed to open the seal) or specific items (the key item needs to be in touch with the seal to open it)
Ren- spells that provide gradual but sustained healing effects
SS- The Healing Spring: a healing spell that will steadily but slowly heal wounds. Its effects last for a given number of time that varies with the caster’s power up to a maximum of one hour
Ti- offensive spells based on the element of water and diffusion spells
SS- 1) The Water Arrow: conjures a fast-travelling jet of water to hit a particular target; 2) The Water Curtain: conjures a screen of water that will diffuse attacks with multiple points of contact i.e. anything besides a needle or similar projectiles
Ming- poison and corruption spells, mimicking the properties of water from the nether realm
SS- Song of the Water of the Forgotten: conjures a puddle of water that is slightly toxic and with a somewhat pungent scent that if inhaled, clouds the mind
Hun- preservation spells, spells providing immunity from psychological attacks (illusions, suggestion spells)
SS- Hymn of the Clear Spring: a spell that can be cast on oneself or others to calm the mind, effective for increasing concentration and repelling psychological attacks
Ri- flames that are furious and quick to expire
Ren- a red flame, the flame of the living
SS- Flame of the Cauldron: a flame of a dull pinkish colour that can burn off a variety of poisons and materials harmful to the body from wounds and items
Ye- clinging, burns for a long time
Ming- a blue flame from the nether realm, highly corrosive
SS- The Nether Flame: a flame of a florescent but cold-toned blue colour that is deadly for its acid-like properties. It will reduce a human sized target to a puddle within seconds.
Dong- speed enhancement spells, tracking/tracing spells
SS- Song of the Chase: a spell allowing speedy travel to a mark or an item pre-tuned for this particular spell
Jing- spells that create cyclones
SS- Song of the Gale: conjures a cyclone at a designated spot
Yang Ti- spells with paralysing effects
SS- The Cage of (insert appropriate deity associated with thunder): conjures a circlet of thunder that holds a target in captivity and paralysis
Hun- spells that sear the mind/soul
SS- The Righteous Thunder Strike (aka The Thunder of the Ninth Heaven): conjures a bolt of lightning that has especially potent effects on the undead and has a light stunning effect on other life forms
Dong- offensive spells based on the power of rockslides
SS- Formation of the Folding Screen of Rock: a spell that can trap multiple targets within an illusory environment with loose boulders that can directed by the caster to hit those trapped
Jing- defensive spells (shields/barriers)
SS- Hymn of the Mountain: a spell that will not only provide a boost to defence but also keeps the target immobile
Dong- spells that are based on the principle of ripples
SS- The Field of Ripples: a spell that conjures a 'force field' that has an all-round augmentation effect on attack, defense and damage share between multiple targets. Its augmentation effect can also be focused on a specific area at the caster's will
Yin Jing- spells that are based on the phenomenon of reflection
SS- Hymn of the Mirror: a defensive spell that reflects any damage back to its source
Practitioners need to be able to draw on the Eight Symbols in some ways in order to cast magic under this system. Each practitioner will have natural empathy to one or more of the Eight Symbols. There are a number of possible ways for drawing on the Eight Symbols:
- Be in proximity of natural phenomena that fall under particular Symbols eg. be close to water sources if needing to cast magic under the Water Symbol and sources of fire for Fire magic
- Stand in the corresponding map bearing for a specific Symbol
- Draw on reservoir items that contain a large reserve of stored “energies” corresponding to a particular Symbol eg. a pebble that had been at the bottom of a lake for decades. Depending on the potency of “energies” stored in such items, even practitioners without natural empathy might be able to cast spells based on a particular Symbol with the help of such an item
- Set up a formation (in the spirit of the Heavenly/Earth formation) that enhances the plenitude and potency of particular Symbols within the vicinity
In the actual casting, practitioners draw on the Eight Symbols and then channel and direct their powers towards the spell via their minds. In particular, this channelling and directing process is a very individualistic one in the sense that one caster might picture it as a process of manipulating the Symbols via strings (and this will become his unique way of channelling and directing the power of the Symbols) while another might immerse himself/herself into a particular Symbol and coerce particles under the same Symbol towards certain behaviours.
Spells cast under this system are mostly static or have limiting impact in terms of geographic coverage. In fact, there are a large proportion of spells that operate on the basis of triggers. That is, these spells are tuned to specific locations and intruders or other stimulus are set as the conditions for the spells being activated.
Credits: While this system arises because I am picturing geomancers (individuals who practice Fengshui) as a split off from the Tuner Mages, the impetus for writing this submission really comes after reading an online novel (written in Chinese) which outlines a magic system based on the Five Elements and the Yin/Yang principles. The system I’m outlining here is obviously built upon this basic idea and in addition, the day/night distinction as well as the colour of the flames in relation to the Fire Element are largely borrowed from this novel as well. However, the rest is original work.
Additional Ideas (2)
These are spells derived from combining at least two of the Eight Symbols and are commonly known as Formations. They are all trigger spells in nature. All combination spells need to be balanced with respect to Yin-Yang. That is, both Yin and Yang aspects have to be present in a combination spell but it can be skewed towards either the Yang or the Yin. Depending on the spell’s purpose, Symbols are arranged* according to either the Creation/Destruction Cycle of Wu Xing or the Heavenly/Earth formations. The strongest combination spells are ones that combine all Eight Symbols, followed by ones that combine Five Symbols that belong to each of the Wu Xing elements.For all other combinations, it does not necessarily follow that spells utilising more of the Eight Symbols would be more powerful. Complexity of the combination spell is directly in proportion to the number of Symbols used to weave it but this does not hold for its power.
Some samples of Combination Spells:
1) The Formation of Ba Gua: This is a combination spell built on the basis of all of the Eight Symbols, with each of Symbols being arranged in accordance with either the Heavenly or Earth formation depending on its purpose. The Heaven Symbol is represented by a common pebble containing no traces of the Symbols if the formation is entirely powered by reservoir items. In addition, the casting of this particular spell is tied to specific times of the year. Depending on the purpose of the spell, these times change. This formation is a all-rounded spell and can be utilised for a variety of purposes such as to entrap but not harm,
for attack/defence as well as others (up to GM discretion).
2) The Formation of Wu Xing: This is built from five Symbols that correspond to each of the Five Elements (Wu Xing). Another all-rounded spell that makes up for its relative weakness when compared with the Formation of Bagua by not having the limitation of being tied to particular times of the year. In addition, this particular formation has the advantage of being self-perpetuating to an extent if arranged according to the Creation Cycle.
3) The Formation of Three Stars: An offensive spell maintained by three mages drawing on a distinct Symbol or if powered entirely by reservoir items, is composed of three sub-formations based on a single Symbol.
4)The Formation of Six Harmonies: Drawing on the six Symbols besides Heaven and Earth, this spell is a powerful cleanser of all negative effects in an area, including plague and evil influences.
Under Revamp! Ignore for now!
This is a system of magic evolved from Tuner Wizardry. Practitioners (known as Geomancers) work solely with enchanted items containing elements of the Eight Symbols. In terms of combination spells, Geomancers set them up to be in accordance with the Bagua (an octagonal instrument used by these Geomancers), which designates a range of alternative formations that each of the Eight Symbols need to be arranged in to achieve a particular purpose.