Hello, everyone, and welcome to Day Nine! This time on the docket: the Ansethi art movement known as Asymmetrism, and a rather impressive illusion spell! Here we go:
Full Segment #1: Asymmetrism (World: Canno)
Asymmetrism is an art movement unique to Anseth which is believed to have originated among the rocky dwellings and hill country constituting the Republic of Osoye. While some theorize that the rock formations themselves inspired this movement, what with their jagged angles and offset faces, there’s no evidence to support this. Asymmetrism often, but doesn’t always, relies on spiraling or parallel sets of lines, adding sharp ridgelines or engravings to work.
The earliest known artist in the movement, which emerged early in the Age of Splendors, was Acheya Miruba, a transwoman sculptor. When they can be confirmed, her pieces sell can sell for anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of Regals depending on who’s buying.
A quote attributed to Acheya, possibly apocryphal–though an invented quote would likely be pithier–runs, “Many people who have read a little about my childhood think I’d got some big idea about the world being made of all these off-angles that somehow come together to make something harmonious, and it’s a metaphor for all of us, but people aren’t sets of lines and the idea that we should be disharmonious just because we’re different… that bothers me. A lot. My real reason? I just liked how the lines looked.”
Acheya is believed to be the originator of Asymmetrism, and at a minimum remains one of the movement’s most important figures. Her work epitomizes many of the techniques common in the Asymmetrist style even millennia later. Her sculptures often directed lines to nearby but separate focal points, such as a series of flutings which create the shape of a face being anchored at the nose on this side and an eyebrow on the other. Asymmetrism requires extreme precision to apply in sculpting–a single misplaced line can render the entire work garbled.
Every Ansethi kingdom has its own tweaks to the form. The Kiwodans regard it as a pain, and don’t have the same attachment to it as most other Ansethi kingdoms. Nilabora, meanwhile, usually includes only one focal point on any given area of a piece. Some Nilaboran armorers take this a step further, directing all lines on a suit of armor to a single offset point for a baffling radial shape. Not everyone finds it aesthetically appealing, but the armor’s wearers assert that these lines disorient their opponents and confer an advantage in battle.
Asymmetrism has come to reinforce Anseth’s sense of common identity, and inspired generations of artists across Canno to attempt their own innovations.
Full Segment #2: The Cyclical Glamor
“Never before have I seen a mage go to so much effort to preserve something so thrice-damned frivolous. I love it.” Thus spoke Morsibrand the Mighty, legend among mages, when one of his students, the invoker Matthias Leavenworth, first presented the Cyclical Glamor to him.
Matthias had, in fact, been forced to study several fields of science he’d never read into before to build the knowledge which allowed him to create the Cyclical Glamor, and those less familiar with Morsibrand’s peculiar relationship with his students or his views on the arcane have misinterpreted this quote as an insult from the older archmage. Morsibrand believed that the brute quest for arcane power and efficiency–meaning “simplicity” rather than “what works best”–was the worst instinct for a mage, and sooner or later led the best person to become a tyrant.
Morsibrand was thus commending Matthias on a multitude of levels at once. As to the work’s merit, some of Leavenworth’s original Cyclical Glamors remain active and vibrant more than millennium after his death fighting the Loar on the Ormesk heights of Temana. The Cyclical Glamor is an illusory enchantment which repeats a set grouping of stimuli at regular intervals. What separates it from simpler illusion spells is that the Glamor comes equipped from the start with the components needed to change its stimuli.
Matthias’s original Glamor featured a dance of sprites–as well as a “secret” component for adult audiences only in which the spirits had a different sort of fun–as well as illusory blossoms, autumnal leaves, snowfall, and spring rains combined with changing the colors of the arboretum on which he cast it. While impressive, this wasn’t Matthias’s masterstroke. A proper Cyclical Glamor involves a carefully-crafted neuromancy component, where the individual’s desires for the scene and their own imagination change it in real time.
In order to make this last component work, Matthias had to study neuroscience and psychology in detail for years to ensure that he’d grasped the difference between a passing whim or intrusive thought and a person’s actual desires. He understood that many folk have negative or unpleasant thoughts pop into their minds, and wished to be certain these thoughts weren’t the ones driving images in his enchantment.
This means that the experience will be greatly or even completely different based on those viewing it. In Firasca, for example, asking the object of one’s affections to view a Cyclical Glamor can mean many different things. If working up to a courtship, it can be a suggestion of one’s hopes to see an impressionist swirl of colors showing a first kiss between the couple-to-be as the Glamor’s neuromancy brings love’s first flicker to the fore. Between spouses, it grows far more charged. Happy couples will likely see themselves growing old together.
Unhappy ones, of course, may well see an affair.
As for its other mechanics, the Cyclical Glamor uses complex energy redistribution principles to renew itself far more efficiently than most enchantments, allowing it to be cast by an Initiate-level mage with minimal risk and giving it unparalleled wear resistance. For that matter, this efficiency meant that any given casting could be modified with many new components with little worry of taxing the enchantment to the point that it burned out. Though complex, Matthias took pains to codify every scientific principle and each association he used for the invocations involved in his Cyclical Glamor as well as writing out the methodology behind it.
Even in the Age of Splendors, when mages mostly worked together to construct monuments and weave greater magics than a mere fireball, it was unusual for someone to be so forthright about their own views on the arcane–lest a competitor take advantage and derive methods from the mage’s theories which they themselves hadn’t reached yet. Had history marched down a different road, Matthias would likely have been a mentor and archmage as famous as Morsibrand himself.
Until his death, his illusions often provided a saving grace against the Loar, obscuring formations from bombardment and ensuring the escape of defeated armies. In Temana, a tarnished silver statue of him stands out among the Ormesk Heights–right at the point where he fell. It’s been enchanted with a Cyclical Glamor of scenes from Matthias’s own life.
Alright, that’ll do it for Day Nine! Once again, leave a comment if you’ve any thoughts you’re burning to share. Otherwise, likes are always appreciated, and please share this post with your friends. You could, of course, follow me on Twitter if you’d like to see more of my word-fusillades–it’s a Saturday, of course, so I’m day-drinking, and I don’t promise coherency among the results!