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Image:Scroll2.png "Directive #1 - Make entire population happy.
Observation - Only one way to accomplish Directive #1 was found.
New objective - Bring total population to 0."

- Failed Supervisor prototype
World magic
Full nameAnimation
AvailabilityMainly eastern Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptGiving life to lifeless things
UsesMaking animated items, golems and undead
RisksCreations getting out of control

Animation is a discipline of world magic that allows the user to bind life or life-like traits onto objects. Beginners cannot infuse true life, but only simple reflexes, which are refined into instincts and further into more complex behaviors. Masters of this craft can bind actual souls, generating a class of sentient undead such as the Nuit.



It is said that Animation was knowledge stolen from Kihala, goddess of life, by Yshul, goddess of thievery, with a little bit of information provided by Uldr, god of the undead. To this day, Kihala is known to frown upon this craft, its products and those who practice it. While the basics of this discipline have been around for a long time, with evidence of its use among Protohumans, it has not risen to prominence until much more recently, about 650 years ago in the Empire of Alahea. Alahean wizards developed it into a full-fledged science, giving birth to mighty golems for use as both expendable labor force and specialized military units. Before, it used to be mainly an esoteric mix of rituals for binding souls into bodies, such as the Daek-nuit. Great Animators such as Yovinkus Wotch and Zarik Mashaen have helped shape the discipline into what it is today.


Basic layout of a pair of Animation circles.

Animation works by attaching a Life Principle (LP) onto a given object. A Life Principle is an artificial soul, though in most cases it is a highly simplified one. Being a forged soul, the LP also possesses an astral body, the intermediate substance that can control the movements of a physical body. This is how an Animated construct can move around, provided it is designed to do so. The object's physical structure must have a reasonable weight and suitable joints allowing for the desired behaviors. For example, a granite statue will not be able to move if Animated, because it lacks joints to use as pivots for movement.

The LP is never created from scratch; instead, another creature's soul is used as a template. All knowledge and behavior necessarily come from another source and are basically copied into the Animated object, though the Animator can modify them as well as mix and match behaviors from many different sources to one destination. The transfer of information takes place inside a pair of linked circles in a manner similar to Summoning, in that they are activated with a drop of the Animator's blood or other vital sap. The source of behavior stands inside the first circle, whereas the object to be Animated is in the other. The circles can even be customized and enhanced with Glyphing runes.

The Animator gains a link to the circles in virtue of his blood sacrifice, and can mentally direct a flow of information from the first to the second circle. It helps if the creature in the first circle focuses on the actions and behavior to be transmitted, even rehearsing them during the transfer. The Animator himself can serve as a source, staying in the first circle and sending information from his own soul into the object.

Animating an object can easily require several sittings and take days or even months and years of effort in the case of exceptional golems. The source may vary every time, if the Animator wishes to instill bits of knowledge from different people and creatures. Of course, if the Animator is poor at the craft, the resulting behavior will be far from seamless and will resemble a patchwork of unrelated actions. If he is good, however, he can make the most of the different sources, merging that knowledge into something greater than the sum of its parts.

The process in detail

First, the Animator needs to acquire the physical shell to be Animated. Building these requires other skills, though the actual skill depends on the specific object. Anything solid that is not already alive can be Animated. Liquids and gases cannot preserve the structure of the LP and as such cannot be Animated. Golems tend to be creations of Carpentry and Metalsmithing, with Gadgeteering thrown in if they are complex enough to have working joints. However, an Animated object needs not be a golem in the traditional sense; for example, Zarik Mashaen's favorite scarf was Animated with a snake's behavior patterns.

It is crucial that the object not leave the circle until the process is complete and the Animated being has been awakened. Also, the item should not be altered in any way until that time, or the half-baked intelligence might get corrupted and become ruined - or, in a few cases, even go berserk and incontrollable.

The source will be positioned in the first circle, and they, too, must not leave it prior to the end of the current sitting. The Animator may need to restrain the source to make sure this condition is fulfilled. At this point, the Animator will begin by shedding a drop of blood (or equivalent life juice, such as ichor for the Nuit or clay for the Pycon) on the circles. Then, he will deeply concentrate on transmitting information from the source to the destination.

The first sitting is usually very short, and merely consists of creating the Soulcore - the very basis of identity, that which makes one different from another. The Animator will often use himself as a template, though this tends to create some involuntary emotional attachment to the golem. Those who find this feeling uncomfortable will use some other creature as a model. When the Animator feels that there is a working Soulcore - one with the potential to live, albeit devoid of any information - the first step is complete.

The next phase involves creating a Persona, though expert Animators can re-arrange steps to fit their purposes. In a living soul, Persona defines a majority of memories and personality. The Animator attempts to do the same, though most likely at a much lower level. First, the Animator will transmit some necessary memories and concepts to establish directives. A directive is an absolute law - the Animated object will do everything in its power to abide by it, except when overruled by a higher directive. For this reason, directives should be considered very carefully; even more so as they cannot be changed later on. Typical directives include:

  • Loyalty (obedience to one or more masters)
  • Authentication (how one can prove their trustworthiness to this creature)
  • Self-preservation (actions taken to ensure survival)
  • Non-violence (refraining from using weapons except under certain circumstances)
  • Killphrases (trigger temporary or final shutdown when spoken)

Directives are best kept short, simple and to a minimum, and need to come with definitions of the required concepts. For example, in order for an Animation to understand "non-violence", the Animator must transfer the concept of "violence" first. In general, complex instructions should be given later.

The next phase can be very quick or very slow depending on what the creature needs to know. If it only needs to react to simple stimuli, then transferring the required information is very straightforward. For example, an Animated lock that locks a door at dusk and unlocks it at daybreak merely has to know about the sun and what to do when it rises and sets. This is most likely an afternoon's work at most. On the other hand, an intelligent golem may require many days of careful planning and instruction - teaching concepts one by one, introducing language, building up expertise and developing intelligence. While the best Animations can learn new things after their creation, and the extraordinary Supervisors can evolve to superhuman levels in this fashion, it is always best to develop them as much as possible.

The Animator will then shape an Astral body for the creature. This allows the Animated being to use its new shell. The Animator needs to transfer the equivalent of "muscle memory", that is, he needs to teach the Animated creature how to perform every single movement it needs to know. One reason humanoid golems are quite rare, other than the difficult joints, is that teaching them to walk is no easy task, due to their physique being different from a human source's. It is at this stage that the Animator will teach the Animation how to perceive things through its senses. Reflective surfaces such as those of gemstones are used for eyes, whereas thin leather membranes serve as eardrums. A golem can only perceive the world through this kind of devices.

Finally, the golem is awakened and immediately becomes ready for use. In some cases, the Animator may want to have partial awakenings in which not all of the golem's capabilities are not unlocked at the same times. The Life Principle will survive as long as the physical body is in reasonable conditions.


Novice (1-25)
A novice Animator will typically only imbue small, lightweight items with intelligence. Unable to transmit complex ideas, he is limited to simple instincts and reacting to stimuli in a predictable way. The creatures cannot communicate verbally or retain memories of the past.
Competent (26-50)
At this level, the wizard can Animate human-sized creatures, though they are not too strong. "Automaton" is the best word to describe these beings: they can learn some language, will recognize things about the world and can respond to challenges with a minimum of intelligence if they are taught how. They can also be given rudimentary feelings such as fear. At this stage, it is better to only include a single source and just a couple directives.
Expert (51-75)
Animated beings are now remarkably intelligent, having a developed notion of self and being able to converse with people quite naturally. They will only fail to understand the subtle nuances of emotion, but they would otherwise be as intelligent as the average man. Golems of this complexity can take a while to Animate, and they are uncommon. They can also move bodies that would be too heavy for human muscles.
Master (76-100)
True masterpieces, while taking longer than any other Animation to build, can be frightening. They can emulate a person in every way - or pretend to, at any rate. The masterpieces among masterpieces can easily surpass people in every intellectual pursuit, and can even learn all forms of magic. It is to be noted that there have only been four such Supervisors in the history of mankind until now, and they were all made in pre-Valterrian Alahea. Masters can bind real souls to objects, as well as create the Nuit.

Part of a series of articles on Magic
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Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology