The act of stealing the identity of another can only come from violence. The assumption of the physical appearance of someone else demands payment of a visceral debt. Of those who study magic and have made the historical investigation of arcane lore their specialty, most agree that all Identity Magic predates any known records.
Even with only patchy understanding of the magic of Symbaroum, loremasters note that Identity Magic predates the them. That the Elves use it and have, in some measure, made it part of their culture seems to support this position. Evidence, sketchy as yet, from the expedition at Ambra draws connections between the builders of the ancient settlement and horrific acts of ritual identity theft – personified in the likes of the Collector of Faces.
In respect to the three great powers1, Identity Magic lies closest to the tenets of Wratha, as the lore neither abides nor cultivates, but seeks control through rage and destruction.
It isn’t clear how long the Elves have partaken in stealing the babies of other races. Stories passed down as warning make reference time and again to the practice of the forest folk, switching babes in their cradles for duplicates that do not reveal their true heritage until puberty, in which time they have rooted themselves firmly with their community.
The horror that comes with the discovery perhaps settles the final price paid in the complex blood rituals that create the Changelings in the first place, as these are not common babes of the Elves. The fae – known as Spring Elves by the learned of Ambria – are the true offspring of the Elves, whereas the Changeling are something altogether more.
What price the Elves pay in the creation of these imposters and spies is a matter for conjecture amongst loremasters, as the Elves themselves – even the more diplomatic and friendly amongst the emissaries of their kind – are utterly unwilling to even acknowledge the existence of the Changelings, no matter what evidence might come to light. Indeed, no single piece of concrete evidence has come to light that would stand in a court of law that the Elves have direct involvement.
(Note: Article will be extended to include additional material on barbarian culture and their use of masks)
Price in Blood
The business of not attracting attention to oneself makes demands, in magic, that necessarily draw more attention. Obfuscation requires its absolute mirror, stealing the identity of another through rage and, often, blood. Blood Shrouding (see Symbaroum – The Mark of the Beast) serves as an extreme example, wherein the mystic must not only kill but multilate in the act of assuming an identity. The rage-filled ritual of torture and slaughter imbues the flayed skin with a measure of essence that serves as an anchor for the corruption that the mystic channels.
Not all Identity Magic involves such callous and inhuman acts, but all find their quintessence in a blood cost. Certain theories have arisen that Identity Magic may pull form and substance from the Yonderworld. Theories, muttered under threat of damnation for heresy, propose that the Yonderworld mirrors the world of the living and is not simply some abandoned husk. Scholars of occult lore posit the theory that the Yonderworld is not a single world but a multitude of ragged and corrupted echoes. Certain rituals allow the mystic to reach into these contorted parallels through the bond of blood and steal the likeness of the reflections of those who exist in the living world.
(Note: Article will be extended to include additional material on Rituals and Mystical Powers relating to Identity, and Identity Magic as a new tradition)
The nature of Identity Magic makes it far harder to uncover as the mystic literally assumes an new appearance rather than mimicing or smothering their features with greasepaint.
The Boon Augur provides a positive benefit in piercing Identity Magic, due to the character’s innate attunement to obfuscation.
Con Artist will only provide advantage in where the character witnesses an actual deception – for example, where a disguised individual seeks to explain themselves or speak on a matter they should know.
The Ability Witchsight becomes useful only on attaining Adept ranking, where the confused and overlaid Shadow of the mystic becomes obvious to the character’s otherworldly sight. At Adept level, the mystic must still make a [Vigilant] test to perceive the nuances of the Shadow of an impersonator as overlapping layers rather than a singular color.
1 As outlined in the campaign overview, The Throne of Thorns, most factions, organisations, races and powers relate in some way as aspects, facets or fragments of the three greater forces: of nature, cultivation, and industry (destruction) — Wyrhta, Wielda and Wratha.
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