The term "Maddux" was first coined by Jaimev Ulkeav; a Skaldevanian from the land of Decathros. The word itself derives from the old Skaldev 'Madatux' - meaning someone or something which is the height of annoyance and hindrance. It is reputed that Jaimev became tongue-tied in fury and screamed "Yeh curs'd Mad-dux!" instead of Madatux in a particularly volatile instance of magical disturbance, where all of Jaimev's farm tools and equipment grew a sentience of their own and began hewing apart his newly sewn crop. This meant, of course, that Ser Ulkeav not only no longer had a crop, but he had to break apart his own farm tools to prevent them from wreaking havoc on neighbouring crops! The term 'Maddux' stuck, and was used colloquially for some time before it fell into mainstream language as the correct term for the phenomenon.
But what is Maddux?
Let us think of it as thus: Reality is a tightly woven fabric which is made up of all things we can experience. It is sturdy and strong, and all things are defined by the weave of this fabric. Now, consider magic as a calm, deep pool bulging just beneath this fabric of reality. Magicians and spellweavers are able to gently pierce through the threads of reality to access a tiny stream of this infathomably large pool, thus creating and utilizing spells by bypassing reality (i.e. what should be possible).
Maddux is a phenomenon which occurs when, at a particular location in the world, the threads of reality are slightly weakened or frayed. Sometimes these locations are less than a hundred meters across. Sometimes (Such as in Scaldevale) they are much larger, and can continue for dozens of kilometers. This is not a serious or dangerous thing as far as reality is concerned - there are bound to be weaker spots in the weave. However, it does allow for 'bubbles' of magic to slowly grow through this tiny fault in reality. These bubbles are rare, and usually only occur once or twice a year - sometimes even going several years between them. When a bubble breaches the thread of reality, it expands slowly (between a couple of hours and up to several days depending on the size of the bubble). Whilst this bubble expands, the weave of reality is tightened slightly and all sentient, living things within the reach of Maddux will feel this - usually in the form of anxiety and worry. this bubble of magical energy will reach a point where it cannot expand any further, after which it will 'pop'.
The Skaldevanians have a name for these burst bubbles. They say that it is 'Maddux's Song'. After one of these magical bubbles explode, a phenomenon will ripple through all the affected lands like a wave. Maddux's song can last for half a day up to several weeks, if it is a particularly large instance. Maddux's Song is in fact a wave of released, primordial magical energy - the kind which was used in the original creation of the world - and has a nasty side effect of warping some small aspects of reality until the weave can close back over properly again. These effects are widespread and often have no rhyme nor reason to them; although they do not tend to directly affect living creatures to a large extent. Below is a collection of examples of what Maddux has done through history:
* Never-ending night (Lasting for eight days)
* Freshly tilled soil rising up as earthen golems and attacking farmers (Occuring sporadically for three days. One hundred and twelve fatalities.)
* Region-wide insomnia, where nobody in the region was able to sleep. (Lasting for five days. Many people suffered temporary insanity.)
* All cold iron becoming pliable, like clay (Lasting four hours.)
* All plantlife became hardened, like metal - grass and leaves cut like razors. (Lasting 40 hours. Numerous wounded from lacerations, forty eight dead.)
* All sound removed from the land. (Three days)
* All plantlife growing to maturity within 24 hours (Lasting six days. This occured in Skaldevale, a farming community, and was particularly profitable for the Skaldevs.)
*All creatures which were formally herbivorous become Carnivorous. (Lasted eleven days. Three hundred and four dead.)
Maddux's song usually only changes one, single aspect of the world around it for a small period of time, however multiple changes in one instance have been known to occur.
But what can be done about Maddux?
Maddux is an immeasurably large phenomenon, and it is as impossible to change as the weather. All one can do is prepare for it. Maddux is the most dangerous when travellers arrive in a new area and don't understand what is happening. If one is informed and organized for Maddux, they know that they only have to wait it out and things will return to normal.
Due to the forewarning Maddux brings, people are often able to prepare to some extent for it. In Skaldevale's capital city, all shops are closed once Maddux's foreboding anxiety is felt, and the townsfolk tend to keep indoors, having quiet drinks in big groups until it pops, and they find out exactly what they are dealing with.
General notes about Maddux.
It is theorised that spell users can sometimes inadvertantly create instances of Maddux by using too many spells in one small area, thus weakening the fabric of reality. This theory is largely condemned, however, and it is more widely accepted that Maddux is simply a result of naturally weaker places of reality.
Some users of magic find they are able to cast spells more easily in an area where Maddux lies. This is due to the already thinner/weakened fabric of reality, meaning they don't have to try as hard to reach the pool of magic beneath.
- PC's don't necessarily have to know about any of the reasoning behind Maddux. Just unleash it on them and see how they react when their world stops making sense!
How can I use Maddux?
- The PC's have just entered a new land, and everything seems to be as per normal. A couple weeks in, however, they start to feel ill-at-ease. Something worrying is happening and they don't know what it is! The townsfolk are whispering to one another with fear in their eyes and all the shops are shut. What is going on...!?
- A cabal of great mages have been paid to attempt to fix the weakened thread and put a stop to Maddux. But should they really be toying with the very threads of reality? What if they make the problem worse!? Is it even possible for the thread to be healed!? That's up to the GM to decide.