Full Item Description
True ether is a clear liquid, except in large quantities, when it begins to gain a blueish tint. The expense of condensation is enough to prevent most people from ever seeing enough ether to notice the change in light refraction. It has a light shock while touching skin, much like we would get from holding a lightning globe.
Traditionally mages had ignored the possibility of condensing magical energy into a material form. After all, when one can simply reach out and shape said energy into what one wills, one doesn’t see much need for a storable form of that energy.
Likewise, the general populace had no need for storable magic, and thus they ignored the possibility as well. Magic wasn’t an essential in their day to day lives, and thus the constant powering of spells was, and to a large extent still is, a completely pointless endeavor (e’en though the fruit of such an endeavor could be potentially huge).
At the University of what is now Steamcity Firdon, the quest to find storable magic energy was mostly just a thought-child of some upper-level students, with potential applications for enchanting and other, more arcane topics.
Through a series of mishaps and revelations during experimentation, researchers were able to create a magical vortex of the right frequency and of sufficient strength to coalesce the planet’s natural MFE (magic field energy) into a mostly stable liquid form. Liquid mana had been discovered, and thus was the magidustrial revolution born.
Ether is condensed magical energy, and thus is a fully capable power source for spells, items, magic glyphs and anything else that needs to be powered by magic. It isn't permanent, however; over time it will lose its material form, evaporating into nothingness. This takes approximately 2 weeks for a standard ether cartridge.
When ether enters the bloodstream, it binds with the body’s natural energy field. In mages, this produces an effect extremely similar to a classical mana potion, increasing magical capabilities for a time and invigorating the mage, allowing him to push his limits farther. The effect of ether on ‘normals’ is roughly similar to that of mages; the subject feels stronger, faster and more energetic than normal.
Caution must be taken, however, as the downer experienced after the ether effect wears off can be debilitating, both to magical abilities and to physical capabilities.
Ingestion or skin contact both result in the same effects, thanks to a high absorption rate.
Ether does have it’s dangers however. Because it’s concentrated magical energy, too much of it in one place will overload the local magic energy field, producing random effects until the energy concentration lowers to more natural levels. The magnitude of these "magic leaks" scales upward as concentration of magical energy increases. Evaporating ether will also contribute to this effect; more than one storehouse has spontaneously exploded due to stocking more ether than could be used.
- One of the PCs gets splashed by a sizable dose of ether, and must then deal with the horrifying downer from absorbing so much ether into their body.
- A crime lord has his loyal retainers consuming sizable amounts of ether before gang-fights, and is taking over the entire crime syndicate. The PCs must stop him before he has a monopoly on crime in the city and can bribe is way past anything the authorities can do.
- Enchanted items given an ether bath soon after creation hold their magical charge better, needing to be refreshed much less often. Items with spell-charges have those charges completely refilled by the ether bath.
Something to also consider when utilizing condensed magic (of any form, not just Ether) is the concept of efficiency. The earliest processes to refine and produce physical manifestations of magic are likely to be horribly inefficient, both in quantity and in quality. As in life, most technologies take a while before the processes to utilize them efficiently come about, and this should be no different.
The quality of Ether can vary, initially starting as extremely low-grade 'magical dregs' that can barely power a cantrip due to impurities, then slowly improving until it becomes possible to truly power upper-level spells with it.
As Moonhunter once said, magic is a technology, and should be treated as such. Increases in quantity and quality are a trademark of advancement, and so it makes perfect sense to incorporate this into your campaigns.
In addition to the mentioned effects when ingested, the imparting of magical ability to the imbiber is also a potential result. This might be more suitable to certain campaign worlds that would be ruined by any sort of technological revolution, be it magical or mechanical in nature.
Whether it merely magnifies the latent abilities of the subject or actually imparts magical ability to the truly ungifted is a choice for the GM to make. Regardless, this doesn't have to simply be a substance usable only to the mages and their ilk.
Danger: Mana Poisoning
One thing often not considered with magic is that generally, the body of a bog-standard human isn't capable of dealing with the raw concentrations of mana that comprise spells. Thus ether, being condensed, highly-concentrated magic, is likely to produce mutagenic effects in those exposed to it.
Depending on the method and time frame of exposure, this can range from cancerous, radiation poisoning sickness from long-term evaporation, all the way to explosive tentacular growth for heavy physical saturation.
As a tool, ether has many uses and much utility, but it also presents very real dangers, especially for those who are exposed to it for long periods.
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? Responses (23)
Very good. What if you put that in a water pistol?
Depends on how much water we're talking about. One of the small $.50 pistols? You'd get the normal effect. A Super-Soaker XXL MegaStrength UltraWet? You're going to create a superbeing for a very short period of time.
Updated: Added Plot Hooks
Stronger, faster and more energetic than normal? Is this mana or meth? Seriously though, I think this is pretty interesting, the fusion of water with MFE is a little odd, but I can roll with it, and I like the implications of what this stuff can be used for. Fill a container with it and sling it with a trebuchet, mayhem ensues.
Oh yes, Chaosmark, I love this.
We should do a steampunk submission series, you and I...
If I ever get around to writing that Locastus book, your True Ether has a given place in it.
Thank you for an excellent sub,
I must thank you myself. If it wasn't for you posting Locastra, I never would have been inspired to start creating this steampunk-magitech setting.
Nicely done Chaosmark!
Why do I see war-golems fueled by this stuff. Is it flammable?
Get writing that book David - I'd buy it!
Perfect idea val! I hadn't even thought of powering golems with this stuff yet. Flammability is a possibility that should be explored, if and when this is utilized.
I could see it being less flammable and more conducive to being rendered into a kind of plasma - like a lightning discharge rather than a flamethrower. If you mix it with other substances, though, I could see strange result occuring - mixed with normal volatiles, it might wind up with a kind of thaumic flame that burns even when it shouldn't, or that lasts much longer than ir reasonably should, letting it be used to create, say, a 'moat' across a harbor that can be ignited during times of war to deter enemy vessels, or a literal firewall around a defensive position that can last for an extended period.
I could see a use for this in Kuramen, as well, much like Ouro sees for Locastus; distilled magical energy would be a very popular thing in the alchemical branches of thaumatechnology, although concentrations of it would, if anything, be even more dangerous. Since magic there is divine in origin no matter the usage, a bottle of this stuff would basically be like a bottled Divinity. No wonder it has that effect on mortals when they absorb it...
In such a case, I doubt it could be coalesced in any fashion short of a divine mandate of some sort, as the premise of this was a pervasive magical field of energy being coalesced into a liquid form.
In most worlds, this is certainly true. Kuramen is... A bit different. Magic is less the blessing of a god and more their effluvium, a complete innate discharge of energy they have no real aware control over. Godsweat, as it were. In this world, it's very easy to tap into their energies, although rather dangerous to do so directly. Mages tend to be rare, but the potential of magic is enough that it led first to the rise of basic thaumatechnology in the form of runecrafting and crude alchemy, and then, when the steam revolution began, to 'goblin thaumatechnology', the dirty, dangerous craft of blending technology and thaumaturgy in as effective and dramatic a way as possible.
"Godsweat". Wow. The imagery there is...just wow.
The more I think on the name, the more I like it.
Godsweat is going to definitely be a substance in Kuramen.
Edit: Actually, I rather strongly suspect godsweat is going to be a drug produced by thaumatechnology, either on purpose or as a side effect of another process - perhaps even a two-drugs-for-one deal in the production of Deadman's Drops.
One plus for the term 'Godsweat'. :)
Updated: Removed the turbine explanation of discovery and generalized it as per general thoughts of "not-quite-fitting-in"-ness, as 'twas not essential to the original concept.
Original has been saved, if common opinion is that this version is worse it can be reverted back.
I'm going to use this soon in a submission.
Looking forward to seeing it!
Excellent work, Choasmark! I like the possibility of golems carrying/enhanced with this stuff. Siege weapons might also be a good idea, but for a short time after firing you would have an even tougher time attacking than before, don't know if it would be worth it.
You honestly wouldn't want waste so much expensive Ether to flood the enemy walls with it, when you could instead use a lesser amount to torch them with a Wave of Fire spell, or some such thing. My personal thoughts are that you'd only ever see Ether used as a combat tactic as a one-off "What the heck did he just DO?" thing.
Yep, raw mana, the stuff dreams are made of (or at least potions)!
In my version, raw mana cannot be permanently stored, as it slowly looses the binding into material form and becomes free magic again. This process seems to halve the amount of mana in regular intervals (like radioactivity). It is also said to attract some monsters...
Slight bump, to make note of the fresh idea added to the post-script of the submission. Not sure why it didn't occur to me originally, but it's something to definitely consider.
Update: Added a little bit about evaporating ether, as per Manfred's suggestion. It just makes sense that magic would eventually unbind from material form and return to the environment.