Loremageddon 2019, Day Twelve: Psionics, Channeling, Spiritual Possession

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Day Twelve of Loremageddon. This time we’re taking a plunge into the supernatural on multiple levels. First, altering reality itself with raw willpower isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (until it is), then, a look into wielding the power of other entities–is it for you?–and last of all, how it works and what to do if you should suddenly be overtaken by a mischievous ghost while in an alternate universe. Now then:

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Snippet #1: Psionics in the Twin Spirals (Worlds: All)

Psionic power is direct, intuitive, and self-contained. It relies on no external power or energy, though it can be used to manipulate these things. These are the reasons why psionics can become so potent. These are also the reasons why the vast majority go mad or take their own lives long before that happens.

While it might be obvious to the introspective, the universe contains an astounding amount of matter and energy of which most sapient minds experience only a tiny portion at any given time. The eyes are only capable of seeing so much detail, for example, much of what they could otherwise see is hidden by obstructions and differences in light, and the visual cortex processes the signals it receives in ways that prioritize certain information over the rest.

A psionic, however, is not limited to mundane sight, or even necessarily mundane perspective. A psionic is directly able to process the space around them with their consciousness. Those who last long enough and develop strong enough wills to endure the side-effects consider this a great gift. They can simultaneously see, “touch” (in the sensory meaning of the word) and otherwise perceive their surroundings in three dimensions.

A psionic directly experiences distance, scale, and the like in ways no other being can properly understand. The vision of most creatures is a cone, or set of cones; the vision of a psionic is a sphere within which they can learn to see all sides of an object at once–yes, even those which should obscured by the other sides!

Without even delving into the fact that they can perceive emotions, imprinted memories, and arcane powers with equal clarity, one can already see how the sheer amount of information causes mental overload. Young psionics spend many of their days veering between a panicked state of “shuttering”–as they confine their senses entirely to their physical bodies–and renewed attempts to apply and control their powers. Experiencing foreign matter too directly causes extreme pain; the soul loses little pieces of its essence through this contact, and is all too aware of the wounds.

Because they’re always using their power, even if it’s just to contain themselves to the bodies which anchor their identities, those psionics who don’t destroy themselves through narcotics or self-harm experience much swifter rates of power growth than even demons. Of course, a pure psionic demon can exist, but these are perhaps the rarest form of psionic in the universe: lacking an organic body to anchor them, already at risk of losing themselves in the emotions they feed on, such demons require extraordinary will to avoid feedback loops which can destroy them within seconds if left unchecked.

Snippet #2: Channeling (Worlds: All)

Psionics are forever at risk of going mad. Mages’ own spells inevitably turn against them if their control falters for a moment. Every path one can take to achieving power carries great responsibilities and perils. Many have to ask themselves: “Does it really make a difference in the end where the power comes from as long as I’m the one who gets to use it?”

Channeling is an intuitive concept even for most visitors or immigrants from outside the Twin Spirals itself. The name explains nearly everything–this includes implications which might not be obvious to the less-insightful, as will soon be seen. Broadly, a channel is any sapient being who has the ability to, well, channel the power of an external entity in order to create certain effects.

Obviously this means those effects are limited by the entity from which they’re channeled, but in practical terms this only matters if one makes a poor choice of entity. Especially mighty demons may make pacts with mortals to provide powers connected with their chosen Sphere, of course. While a favorite example in stories, this arrangement is among the rarest to see in reality. The demon’s essence can still be detected by other planar beings even though they aren’t acting directly, and harm which befalls the mortal may also befall them.

The most common channelers, by contrast, are priests! This makes them the favorite subjects of arcane scholars interested in understanding more about how channeling works. First and foremost, it requires a certain level of spiritual compatibility. This isn’t just a matter of whether the Channel themselves obeys the commandments or agreements expected by the entity allowing them to channel. The Cannoan goddess Hosri, for example, has countless disciples, but only a handful can actually channel her power effectively.

There are too many variables which may differ between a mortal’s identity and that of a deity to explain exactly why one person makes a good channel and another–who may seem very similar at first glance–makes a bad one, but the risks for a sub-optimum channel are clear. No channel can wield their patron’s power without receiving some trace of whatever effect it’s producing. It’s one thing if this is a healing tide, of course, but quite another if it’s a lightning bolt! A channel with good compatibility won’t experience any long-term effects from these, and many consider the brief side effects–which should ideally be harmless–part of the fun.

Snippet #3: Spiritual Possession (Worlds: All)

Though infrequent, it’s not uncommon to come across a spirit which wants to make use of a mortal body for a little while. Often these are benign entities ignorant of how traumatizing it can be to lose control of one’s own body. Less common yet, but of course more infamous, are those which seize control of a body in order to put it to evil purposes.

In every case, a few core rules apply. The body’s original owner has a relative advantage in regaining dominion over it at first, but loses more and more of this the longer the opposing spirit has some measure of control. If the spirit is sufficiently powerful, this may not matter. While the original soul attached to a body has a greater connection to it, souls are not the flesh-and-blood they inhabit, so this connection isn’t unbreakable. Spirits this strong rarely bother attempting to possess bodies, however, and will usually succeed too quickly for the below advice to apply anyway; against them, help by an outside supernatural power is the best defense.

Invading spirits will often start by targeting a certain body part, and it can be tempting for the current occupant to drive them out by focusing on that body part. This is a good approach for a psionic who already has the will and power to project themselves into the world on a much larger scale anyway; the concentrated burst of power is guaranteed to throw out the would-be invader and often destroy it for good measure.

For anyone else, it’s a crucial error, and most spirits aren’t foolish enough to trifle with psionics anyway. The invader will give way against this push immediately, and use the difference in attention to seize control of the entire remainder of the body instead.

Bodies do provide some energy to the souls that occupy them, so this can be all it takes to permanently tip the balance of power. To avoid such a disaster, the victim of an attempted possessing should avoid focusing on any one part of the body. They should try to encompass it all in their consciousness, continually reasserting their soul’s attachment to it while also drawing on the body’s energy to fuel themselves further. If the invader is more powerful or just especially stubborn, this may turn into an exhausting war of attrition.

The longest possession attempt recorded on Canno, for example, ran for eleven consecutive days before the invading spirit–an ancient merchant intent on selling the body back to its original owner–was finally worn down, cast out, and Shattered by the gods as punishment.

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There we are, Day Twelve all good to go! As per usual, let me know any thoughts you’re burning to share down in the comments, leave a like, and share this post with your friends. Of course, you can always follow me On Twitter if you’re fishing for a little something extra.

10 thoughts on “Loremageddon 2019, Day Twelve: Psionics, Channeling, Spiritual Possession

    1. If all goes well, I’ll be running some campaigns in a professional capacity with DnD 5E starting somewhere near the end of December or early in January–can’t say too much about that just yet but I’m obviously excited.
      I also have my own system, SpiralBrew, and obviously its mechanics are built from the ground up for this universe–I’m running ongoing text sessions through that.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Not precisely! We’re still in the early planning phases, so it’s difficult to give exact details, but it’s most likely to be run digitally.

      Basically, a good friend of mine wants to do something for their community while also having a reliable way to get some DnD in under their work schedule, so they picked me to DM some community campaigns.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I’ve always wanted to write stories–the first one I ever threw together was this very strange combination of a sapient otter on a naval frigate which shipwrecked on a tropical island. I was six at the time and it was only a few hundred words long–the pictures added a lot of the mass.

      The Twin Spirals, though, has its origins back around 2007. I started writing fanfiction based around Deekin from the Neverwinter Nights games (this got so much weirder than you think, but I’m probably going to save that for its own post).

      Eventually it morphed into a sprawling fantasy/scifi mashup, and since then I’ve just been refining that mashup’s balance.

      Liked by 1 person

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