Aether as a Substance
Aether is a magical substance that runs through and is produced by every living thing on the planet of Koegama. It is expelled when overproduced, in a similar manner to bile. Weather (and the rain cycle) is not involved in the production of aether; in fact, aether cannot freeze or evaporate at all. Instead, if given enough time, it sinks into the earth.
Aether starts to decompose once it leaves its producer, though the rate of decomposition varies based on climate. Warmer, more humid climates slow the decomposition, while colder or drier climates accelerate it. It can be preserved by removing air from its container, so bottling aether is a common practice.
Aether that is not adequately preserved eventually degrades into oil. Oil has much less magical utility than aether, but it can be used to power electrical machinery, and some choose to use it over solar power for religious or personal reasons.
Vast veins of oil run underground, and wells of aether are often found nearby. Though these wells form from overproduction of aether by subsurface flora and fungi, some hanasei (especially Ichorists) believe the planet is alive because of them.
Types of Aether
There are three basic affinities of aether, and every path and discipline falls under one of these categories. While every living thing produces aether in its base form, different forms of organism are drawn to a specific affinity, usually based on the other organisms around them, their habitats, or their ways of life. Hanasei, for example, are members of the Life affinity. This is why they are able to use aether to reproduce. However, due to their artificial origins, every hanasei’s ability to harness aether is dormant until awakened by a specific trigger.
Hanasei admire the other creatures of Koegama for their abilities to use aether, but most creatures are unable to master the paths they are most closely affiliated with, and instead only harness the ones needed for their own survival. Hanasei, on the other hand, have the potential to master any path they choose. This, too, is due to their ancestry and artificial beginnings.
Mastering a path often comes with both power and danger, as aether can be a volatile and unpredictable substance when stretched too thin. Overexertion during an attempt to reach the final “level” of a path has been known to result in grave injury, unforeseen mutation, and death.
This affinity concerns all of the forces that keep the creatures of koegama alive. Many of the organisms that fall under this affinity are carnivores, herbivores, or flora.
Level 1: You can encourage plants to grow at a slow rate, as well as having an inherent knowledge of how each plant’s needs can be met. Growing hybrids is easier with this aether.
Level 2: You can force plants to grow quickly, even bringing them back from the brink of death. Additionally, you can manipulate what shapes the plants will take.
Level 3: You can grow an entirely new plant from a seed, as well as the skills from the lower levels.
You unlock the ability to grow plants (such as flowers or moss) on your body.
Level 1: You can summon a small flame from the tip of your finger, with enough strength to light candles and leave minor burns. You can also encourage natural flame to stay burning. You have a higher tolerance to heat.
Level 2: You can summon a palm-sized flame that can cause some serious damage when weaponized. You can stoke natural flames with aether alone, as well, keeping them burning for as long as you have the strength to.
Level 3: You can withstand blazing fires without so much as a burn, as well as conjuring large flames of your own.
You unlock the ability to breathe fire (powered by your aether) and light flames along your spine or tail.
Level 1: You can encourage drizzles and breezes to go in the directions you want them to. You have an innate knowledge of weather conditions as far as two days out. You are also able to form small clouds from the vapor in the air, as well as manipulate naturally-formed puddles.
Level 2: You can control the direction of storms, including raising their intensity. You are capable of pulling vapor from the air to form liquid water, as well making waves in bodies of water.
Level 3: You can call storms and strong winds, raise their intensity, and encourage them to cease. You are able to cause lightning.
You unlock the ability to run currents of electricity over your body (like an eel) and form storm clouds around your neck.
Level 1: You can combine aether from several hanasei to create a new, fertilized egg. It takes a lot of time and concentration. You are also able to round out jagged edges on bodies (such as on broken or sharp horns) and dye small patches of your own skin a different color, similarly to a tattoo.
Level 2: You can combine less aether to form a new, fertilized egg. The process takes less time, energy, and concentration than before, as well. Additionally, you are capable of forming a new, temporary limb on your own body. This takes fat and muscle mass from elsewhere on your body to do, however, and the limb will be reabsorbed.
Level 3: You are capable of forming new hanasei eggs and growing new, permanent limbs on your own body. You unlock the ability to grow featherless, membranous wings.
This affinity concerns properties that aid in decomposition and inorganic matter. Many creatures with Death aether affinities are scavengers or decomposers.
Level 1: You can lower or raise your own body temperature by several degrees without any adverse effects on yourself. Your tolerance for extreme temperatures is higher than others.
Level 2: You can lower or raise your temperature at concentrated points on your body (such as your palms or mouth) enough to boil or freeze water. You are capable of forming small sheets of ice on your body, though they will melt when you stop concentrating.
Level 3: You are able to melt most metals from concentrated points on your body. Additionally, you can lower your own body temperature enough to form hard ice crystals on your body. You can also withstand and thrive in extreme temperatures.
You unlock the ability to form permanent ice spikes on your body and cause a small aura of ice crystals (like little bits of snow) to form in the air around you.
Level 1: You can produce numbing venom, either from your fangs and claws or as a bile to be spit. You have an increased tolerance for toxic substances.
Level 2: You can produce a paralyzing venom. You are capable of encouraging wounds to close and heal, though there is usually heavy scarring as a result.
Level 3: You produce a deadly venom as well as a panacea. The healing substance can be ingested to fight illness and infection.
You unlock the ability to grow a cobra-like hood on your neck, small retractable fangs and claws, and a reptilian tail.
Level 1: You are a much stronger digger than others, and the earth seems to part easily for you. You have an innate knowledge of precious metals and gems that might be nearby.
Level 2: You can change one type of precious gem into another. For example, with enough aether, a ruby would become an emerald. You are also able to shape rock as if it were clay.
Level 3: You are capable of changing rock to gemstone and back again. You are able to dig quickly and effortlessly through the earth, and you can raise spikes of rock from the ground.
You unlock the ability to grow crystalline patches and spires from your skin.
Level 1: You have an innate knowledge of how recently a creature has passed away. You can ingest rotting matter without growing ill.
Level 2: You are able to plant unique spores on organisms that have died. These spores will decompose the body after several days, leeching energy from them for you. Additionally, you can puppeteer dead organisms that have been infected with your spores, so long as they have been dead for less than two weeks. The organism will follow simple instructions. You can only do this to up to three corpses at a time.
Level 3: You can use your spores to puppeteer dead organisms regardless of how long it has been since they died, so long as the body is mostly intact. They will follow simple instructions. You can do this on as many as ten corpses at once.
You unlock the ability to grow mushrooms and other fungus on your body.
This affinity concerns properties of existence excluded by the other two affinities. These paths have to do with perception and the senses. Many creatures with Light affinities are mischievous, isolated, or otherwise have a need to stay hidden.
Level 1: You can control the soundwaves you generate to make yourself quieter or louder. You also have an increased sense of hearing.
Level 2: You can change the soundwaves around you to replicate other pitches and sounds, such as voices. You are also able to “throw” soundwaves, so they sound like they have a different source.
Level 3: You can manipulate the reach of the soundwaves around you, increasing or lowering the volume significantly. You are also able to create sonic boom-like “blades” of sound to stun or deafen others. The intensity of these blasts depends on the soundwave being used to create them.
You unlock the ability to grow a throat sac.
Level 1: Your senses of sight, hearing, and smell are heightened in darkness. You are capable of shrinking and stretching your own shadow.
Level 2: You are able to absorb all the light within your line of sight, plunging the area into pitch darkness and invigorating yourself with the absorbed energy.
Level 3: You are capable of melding with the darkness, turning yourself invisible (but not incorporeal.) Additionally, you can summon tendrils of shadow that are capable of interacting with solid objects to perform simple tasks, such as grabbing and lifting objects.
You unlock the ability to grow glowing eyes and claws.
Level 1: You are able to withstand greater pressure than others, and you have a higher tolerance to changes in elevation and pressure.
Level 2: You can change your own density, making yourself lighter or heavier, and you are able to slow your own falls as a result. Additionally, you have an even greater tolerance to changes in pressure, and you are able to survive great depths.
Level 3: You are capable of manipulating the density of anything you are actively touching, though the level of change depends on the amount of energy and aether exerted to change it. Additionally, as long as you retain concentration, you can change your own density enough to walk on liquids, such as water.
You unlock the ability to grow gecko-like toes for clinging to surfaces and a thin membrane under your arms (similarly to flying squirrels.)
Level 1: You are capable of creating small balls of floating light to dazzle and confuse others. The light is the same color as your aether, and it is intangible.
Level 2: You are able to create large shapes and designs out of light. The illusions you create can be any color, and they can give off enough light to illuminate a large room, but they are intangible.
Level 3: You can create large, impressive illusions out of light. Your illusions can be bright enough to temporarily blind, and you can make smaller, tangible walls of light that break after a short time.
You unlock the ability to grow a glowing “aura” around yourself. This aura can include sparkles and shapes, and may manifest as a halo.