student_of_impossibility: (Furycrafter)
Tavi of Calderon ([personal profile] student_of_impossibility) wrote2011-11-01 09:54 pm
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[OOC] On Furycrafting


Alerans wield what is essentially elemental spirit magic. Jim Butcher was challenged to write a story about a Lost Roman Legion with Pokémon, and in the process of writing this discovered that Pokémon was rooted deeply in two major aspects of Japanese culture: Shinto tradition and sumo wrestling. When researching the former, he delved deeply into all the aspects of the kami that were involved, and eventually came up with furycrafting.

There are six elements Alerans work in, and crafting tends to come in three forms, internalized, active and manifest. What abilities someone has depends on their power level, and some people have peculiarly unique skills. The internalized forms, though usually associated with the lowest power level, nonetheless increase with crafting strength; it has been known to happen that a strong crafter will have fully developed internal crafting before any manifest. Also, even high powered crafters need to train, and might be constrained to mid-level skills prior to training. The internalized and active skills are listed below. Manifest furies are essentially elementals which take some form, animal or somewhat more rarely human. Those furies are single elements, and are usable anywhere. They are also sometimes passed down a family.

Strength usually runs in bloodlines, though there are flukes. Most people have low to medium skill in one or two elements; others have high power in one to two. More rarely someone will have that as well as weaker skill in a third. Only the highest nobility have all six, and those in immense strength.

Having any furycraft at all means being able to turn on a furylamp (flicking a light switch). The strongest crafters can attempt to control or at least bind huge natural furies (volcanoes, mountains, storm systems, rivers and oceans, etc.).

Note: these limits are a general kind of rule, and fairly fluid: people have different strengths, and there's no clearly delineated 'this level or that' system. Further note: it is a little debatable whether crafting is a mutation, something psychic, or flat out magic. Due to the below analogy to Avatar-'verse bending, I just assume magic (until I have a chance to ask Butcher about it).

And yes, before anyone comments: this is very similar to bending in the Avatar universe. Some of the the uses or origins of power are slightly different. It is entirely possible-to-likely that some of these uses could be discovered in the future of Alera, which according to Butcher would go steampunk at some point.

- Internalized: mildly heightened sensory perceptions, invoke mild superspeed
- Low power: Create a mild breeze; bend air to effectively create a magnifying or telescopic lens
- Mid power: Stronger air movement; create an auditory veil (soundproofing)
- High power: Powerful, weaponizable gusts; confining lightning in storm clouds and other weather manipulation; bending air to create a visual veil (invisibility); flight
- Special:
- A blind man has been known to use windcrafting in place of his sight.
- It is noted that thinking of light as a stream like air makes it bendable and more given to manipulation by an windcrafter (helps out with veiling).
- A strong and highly subtle windcrafter has been able to fine-tune the lightning control for use as a defibrillator.
- Blockable by dirt or salt

- Internalized: sensing movement in the earth; invoke mild superstrength while touching the ground
- Projective empathy: calm or startle animals (or people); induce basic biological hunger (i.e., food or sex)
- Low power: Small manipulation of earth/stone (toss rocks, etc); speed travel along ground, especially furycrafted roads
- Mid power: Mid-strength manipulation of earth/stone; mask the feeling of moving over or under ground (veiling vibrations); easily hide things seamlessly by opening and closing earth or stone without a trace
- High power: Powerful manipulation of earth/stone; move through the earth; perform the group crafting below single-handed
- Special:
- Earthcrafters in groups can build much stronger walls and bridges and roads; similarly can do stronger demolitions work.
- Earthcrafted walls can be opened to let someone in and then closed again (good for security)
- Highly useful for tracking, especially in conjunction with woodcrafting
- Walls can be strengthened over time with intense earthcrafting to being nearly impossible to destroy; this, by the way, approximately cannot be earthcrafted down except by a huge team and/or a ton of power. Definitely not by any one person's (or two people's) earthcrafting.
- Blockable by not touching the ground

An in-depth treatment of healing via watercrafting is found here.
- Internalized: Receptive (or actively scanning) empathy, including truthsensing (increased by touch)
- Low power: Mild water manipulation (water may boil when angry), sense things in water
- Mid power: Stronger water manipulation; healing minor to middling injuries while patient (and healer's hands, probably) immersed in (the same) water
- High power: Major water manipulation (make rivers flood, etc); use the water systems as a videophone link; healing most injuries, infections, and poisonings; unlikely to show aging as much, though this is possibly a conscious choice (once in adulthood, very little change until ~40sish, at which point age shown is likely about age divided by two); shapeshift (into other human forms)
- Special:
- Truly high-power crafters can heal without the patient being immersed in water
- Manipulating ice and snow is watercrafting, but most aren't creative enough to see it
- While most watersendings (videophones) are transparent, a handful of the most powerful can keep the images in full and accurate color
- The most powerful can create objects which, when placed in water, will essentially ring up the maker to reply with a watersending
- Crafters known as witchmen specialize in watercrafting to help ships move quickly and silently around leviathans
- Strong crafters find it hard to handle cities and large crowds without metalcrafting paired with it, because the empathy cannot be turned off
- Watercrafting seems to be the underlying principle of the bond between crafter and fury(furies). Watercrafting helps forge the bonds to control bigger and nastier furies. Used early enough, it can also hinder crafting and physical growth.
- Blockable by fire and drying out the air

- Projective empathy: incite courage/fear or happiness/grief in a person or large crowd
- Low power: Set a small fire/send up some smoke; store heat in a stone (heat-pack)
- Mid power: Better fire manipulation; thermodynamic manipulation; wielding a sword on fire; pull heat out of a stone (ice-pack; used for iceboxes)
- High power: Even more fire
- Special:
- Coldstones and firestones can be broken to freeze or set fire to their surroundings instantly
- Gemstones can be firecrafted to carry happiness in them, making the wearer feel happier when wearing them and probably giving a little extra glow in general
- Can be used to break bindings on a fury, whether connecting them to a person or simply containing them. This is Very Dangerous and Stupid.
- Harder to block, but cold and being drenched does not help

- Internalized/Low power: A little unclear as to what might be internalized and what is merely low powered: mild sensing of locations/types/changes in local plantlife; excellence for tracking; and aiding in archery by helping to draw stiffer bows and with preternatural accuracy may count as internalized.
- Low power: Minor plant manipulation; use of wood such as making small holes in wood seamlessly and without later mark.
- Mid power: More plant manipulation; accelerating growth a little; camouflage
- High power: Seriously accelerating growth and strengthening of plants
- Special:
- Woodcrafting, possibly with some earthcrafting, can hasten crops through several seasons to help prevent famine
- It is possible that woodcrafting can be done on a plant to keep it fresh and growing without anyone to tend it
- Blockable with metal

- Internalized: draw on metal somehow touching skin to block pain, hunger, fatigue, sleep requirements, etc for supernaturally long times; sense any metal in the vicinity.
Metal is curious in that it has few distinguishing factors between power levels; it seems to be based as much on control as on sheer strength. In general, it can affect shaping metal in smithing; it can strengthen and support a blade during battle, as well as making an edge function as unnaturally sharp; similarly it can strengthen armor. Metalcrafting can be used to strengthen a metal door to try to keep things from breaking past it. As far as its use with blades goes, the blades can become capable of slicing through stone as if through butter, and there tend to be sparks when swords clash. Frequently the color of the sparks is indicative of the family colors of the crafter if such is applicable.
- Special:
- Metalcrafting aids in empathic shields (possibly psychic ones as well); this can both shield the crafter from notice or scanning and helps a watercrafter who has both block out and ignore the pain of their empathic input, which can otherwise be quite painful.
- Metal crafted repeatedly over time grows stronger; metalcrafted gates on the major cities are nigh-unassailable.
- There have been two cases of powerful metalcrafters actually integrating the metal into their skin temporarily, making them essentially made of walking steel.
- Blockable by not allowing contact with metal.

Final notes:
A special case note: Alera has slave collars which punish or reward the wearer for doing the master’s bidding; usually, it can only be taken off while said master is alive, or it will kill the slave. The master’s death will not kill the slave otherwise. The collars are created with a mix of metal and earth crafting (and maybe others); there is an even more dangerous version which turns the wearers into brainwashed drones, called Immortals.

There are some other cases of mixed-type furies: the synthetic kind (e.g., gargoyles which are on fire are a composite of earth and fire) and the natural world not-personal-furies kind (e.g.,hurricanes could be a mix of water and wind). That said, those are not personal furies of anyone's, they're either constructs or untamed.

All furies can be used as a de facto alarm system; some may also be used as defenses.

There is evidence that some people's crafting has a distinctive feel, and furies can be ordered to react to that specific crafter's activity in an area.

At the Academy in Alera Imperia, strength and skill is measured in beads; having one to three means it is clear the skill exists, though is not necessarily powerful (or even useful).

Due to universal skills (such as bonding to furies, turning on lamps, some semblance of better fighting and speed on the causeways) there is an argument to be made that all Alerans have some tiny droplet of all six variants of crafting, but this is a point of debate. There are other curiosities of theory, but those are for another time.

A type of manifest fury not created by the crafter are the ones associated with particular locations, be they wild or tamed. The tamed ones can become essentially the manifests created by a person, handed down through families and usable anywhere. They will probably be stronger in their home location, though. The wild furies can be vicious and hard to control, and are similarly usually single elements. Then there are the Great Furies. Some of them are also single elements, but others may have two fused together (notably a constant storm system which may be both air and water and a couple volcanoes which might be fused earth and fire), but no sign of any more than two at a time. There are no given examples of large wood or metal furies, but their existence is not absolutely denied.


Prior to Cursor’s Fury, only Alerans have ever displayed signs of furycrafting, though it is theorized that the Icemen have some form of watercrafting. Kitai is the first non-Aleran to show any, and develops hers due to her chala bond to Tavi at the same time his crafting finally emerges. Post-series, the other races on Carna will begin developing crafting. Also, crafting will become based on merit and effort rather than (or possibly in addition to, it is unclear) any genetic capabilities.

There has been one case in history of an artificially created Great Fury, capable of feats of power even beyond those of the natural ones and composed of all six elements. It no longer exists by the end of book six.