Ajjamah: The Nine Gifts

On the planet Ajjamah, there are nine known types of Gift, or magical ability. The Five Peoples have access to some of each, depending on their respective levels of power. Humans, who have the least access to the Dream of any of the races, have nine Gifts with fairly limited power, while djinn, the only race to live full-time in the Dream, have only one Gift at godlike levels. Phoenixes, leviathans, and behemoths have three, five, and seven Gifts respectively.

Passive skills are generally weaker but more frequent, and often form a fundamental characteristic of a particular race or subspecies. Active skills are not inherent, but may be learned through effort, and may be more potent than the alternative. Some skills may be either active or passive, depending on the race and on the species.

The Gifts, in order of first appearance in the world, are as follows:

  1. Spell-Making (Active). Spinning raw aether together to create small, useful creatures is something the djinn learned to do long ago, usually for fun. Usually comprising the cast-off fragments of decomposed souls (the only bodies which can really hold aether together for long enough to form pseudo-molecules), spells tend to be quite short-lived pets–they last on their own for maybe a local century or two, depending on how much power their makers put into them. The more they are used, however, the more new energy flows through them, keeping them “alive” for quite some time. And they, unlike the djinn, don’t need contact with a tethered soul to work on the Physical Plane; they can ground themselves. (It often helps to bind them to an animal or plant spirit, though, for ease of access.) The most powerful spells have lasted for thousands of years; like the djinn, they spin themselves webs of memory, enhancing their richness and complexity. Spell-making is the sole Gift, active and passive both, of the djinn, who use it to interact with the Physical Plane. It is common, however, to all of the Five Peoples. It has been suggested that all other Gifts are in fact incredibly long-lived spells that have bonded with sapient souls.
  2. Spirit Sight (Passive). Do not let the wording misguide you; spirit sight is not merely the detection of spirits. Spirit sight is also used to refer to looking out into the Dream, where magic resides, and sometimes even into the Deep, the record of all things that have happened on the Physical Plane. Other senses may be affected as well, such as hearing, smell, heat, and even touch. No djinn possesses it, because no djinn needs to; instead, it is common to all the Peoples who inhabit the Physical Plane, and was first seen among the phoenixes, whose connection to the atmosphere and jungle habitats would make sight over great distances something of a priority. Spirit Sight may work even if one’s Common sensory organs do not.
  3. Spirit Blanket (Active). Another phoenix innovation, the Spirit Blanket is the earliest form of channeling specifically from the Dream that is performed from the Physical Plane. It can be used for a great many things, from creating a personal bubble that defies gravity or fluid tension (like the Winged People and Divers), to constructing an entirely new body for oneself in a blaze of light (the phoenixes’ magnum opus), to forming a protective shield around oneself, to acting as a source of power for the local ecosystem. For phoenixes, the Spirit Blanket may be an active or a passive Gift.
  4. Spirit Cocoon (Passive). The first specific Gift of the leviathans, among the earliest of the aquatic placentals, the spirit cocoon is a reflexive version of the Spirit Blanket, used to keep the body in stasis while the soul repairs damage done. It can be used to withstand any number of threatening situations, from extreme heat or cold to a lack of oxygen, for up to years or decades (the record goes to a behemoth in the Senok Desert, who fell asleep in a sandstorm and woke up three hundred years later).. It is not uncommon to see leviathans, whose power comes from the hydrosphere, floating peacefully several hundred metres above the sea or snow-capped mountains while their bodies deal with crossbow bolt wounds caused by overenthusiastic hunters.
  5. Dream-Walking (Active). The second Gift brought into existence by the leviathans, Dream-Walking is the ability to pass through the Dream. The applications are manifold, from teleportation to spirit quests to cloning (imperfect teleportation, with the soul acting as a hive mind). In leviathans, Dream-Walking May be active or passive.
  6. Healing (Passive). The first specific Gift of the behemoths, descendants of the earliest placental mammals to return to the land after their long-gone marsupial ancestors took to the sea. Similar to the Spirit Cocoon, energy from one’s soul-self is drawn into the world to repair physical damage. Unlike the Spirit Cocoon, however, one cannot completely regenerate oneself; one is still susceptible to things that kill one quickly. The tradeoff is the ability to heal oneself while conscious from everything short of dismemberment, as well as the limited ability to heal others around one (in some cases). Behemoths, who draw their power from movement in the geosphere (tectonic plates and the like), often use this Gift to share fragments of their souls with one another–a form of reincarnation, and one that will ensure safe passage to sources of water regardless of whether or not the matriarch is killed along the way.
  7. Telepathy (Passive). In a bit of a break from the established order, telepathy was a passive Gift, developed in the gentle and childlike behemoths. Like Dream-Walking, telepathy involves a “wandering mind” across the Dream; like Spell-Making, telepathy involves the connection inherent in minds. Unlike either of these, however, telepathy may be used to gain access to the emotions and basic thoughts of individuals–as well as the sensations felt by the collective souls that make up most unintelligent multicellular species–and even to coax certain reactions out of these “minds”, if one is persistent enough. For the behemoths, telepathy is either active or passive; the active variations are used by certain groups to create broadband information connection systems.
  8. Spirit Control (Active). The first Gift exclusive to humans, Spirit Control is the unusual ability to actively morph spells or even actual djinn to their bidding. This bending of the literal forces of nature to their will is very much in line with humanity and her cousins, who derive their magical power from the biosphere itself. Mostly this manifests in the form of the capture and enslavement of djinn in some fashion, usually within jars or lamps or rings. But equally as often, among the more devout races, this is used to perform prayers for natural events to occur that actually work, seemingly proving the correctness of one’s religion. And in the Far East, centuries of using this Gift in more…extreme ways has led to the near-eradication of the djinn in that part of the world, leaving perhaps the most “normal” area on Ajjamah, physics-wise.
  9. Metamorphosis (Active). The second Gift exclusive to humans, metamorphosis manifests in the ability to actively reshape one’s own body in a manner similar to a Spirit Blanket. Changing into a convenient but local shape is quite common, such as animal or enhanced human forms. Altering one’s features is occasionally found as well, either permanently or nearly so. A small group of people living on the Akotoyan Archipelago have for thousands of years had the ability to change sex every year or so, so long as they are not pregnant or nursing at the time. Mostly the forms are temporary, but a few may be quite permanent. Metamorphosis may be an Active or a Passive Gift.
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