Another week, another spoiler from Mummy: the Curse!
Today CAS posts as little more about magic and how it works in M:tC. As always I’ll see if I can spot some interesting tidbits as well:
Magic as Lifeforce
Wherever life exists—or even the potential for life—mystical energy bubbles up from the cosmic firmament like water into an oasis. This flowing energy is called Sekhem (“lifeforce”), and it is the source and substance of all magic. On its own, Sekhem is a passive force of emotional resonance, often revealing itself through remembered passions and pains. Given sufficient mystical knowledge and willpower, however, Sekhem can empower miracles and wonders beyond imagining, even to the point of rebuking death itself.
As creatures of necromantic power, rather than simple living beings, the Arisen do not create Sekhem. Yet they alone concentrate and radiate this energy through the Rite of Return empowering their existence, and they therefore feel its ebbs and flows on a base, instinctual level. This is perhaps Sekhem’s greatest irony—that it sees purest expression in the most impure of forms. When a mummy calls upon his eldritch power, whether to strengthen his physical form or to unleash a mystical effect, it is the power of Sekhem upon which he draws. Like memory, Sekhem is so fundamental to a mummy’s existence that it’s represented by a game Trait.
Pieces of the Past
As a source of power, Sekhem emanates from the living world and comes to reside in objects, which the creators of the Arisen called vessels. The most common form of vessel is the vestige. These objects, from the humblest baubles to the grandest artifacts, are the touchstones upon which the Arisen can moor their memory against the eternal turbulence of time and fate. Vestiges resonate with the inner being of a mummy, and his purpose draws him to them as an iron filing to a magnet. While the Arisen prize ancient vestiges most of all, modern vestiges can sustain and comfort them as well. In times of need an Arisen can strip a vestige of its accumulated pathos, to cannibalize it for the power required to continue his earthly toil, but doing so removes its Sekhem from the living world forever.
All vessels contain dim memories of the past, a reward precious enough for the Arisen, but some vessels are “supercharged” with distilled Sekhem and infused with strange magical powers. This type of vessel is known as a relic. Often times, these objects were crafted by the same beings who birthed the Rite of Return, or by those who copied their great art, but a rare few are the organic products of a more long-term distillation of Sekhem. Like vestiges, relics can be cannibalized for their Sekhem, but a mummy never, ever does such a thing lightly, for there are… consequences to murdering the world. Of all vessels, the Arisen prize relics from their own bygone empire most of all, and are drawn to (re)claim them like no others.
And of course, woe be to any soul who would dare steal a treasured piece of a mummy’s past….
Until next week,
Well that was interesting. Let’s delve into the obvious bits first: Sekhem as magical fuel, similar to how Mana works in Mage. What I like about this is while Mana is a conceptual and cerebral power, Sekhem is equally ephemeral but associated with the emotional spectrum. Tied to the idea of memories (and the pains and joys they bring) Sekhem is a fascinating (and brilliant) concept that I would definitely love to see expressed in a mechanical manner beyond “I spend Sekhem to power this ability, what happens?”
The inherent irony of having a dead guy thrive on memories of life is a classic for me, and one that I love. I remember the Skull in The Last Unicorn thriving on the memory of wine rather than being able to actually drink it.
Relics and Vestiges are an interesting concept as well, as the idea of associating memories with items is not alien to us. The very reason people take souvenirs is to commemorate experiences of having gone somewhere and done something. Same goes for portraits, photographs and even home videos. These things shore us up against the eventual loss of memory due to time and age. For an immortal, such reminders of potent events in their lives must be valuable indeed.
Again another week and I’m stunned with what’s been revealed. There’s a ton more hidden there, especially with the mention of those who copied the arts of the beings who created the Rite of Return, but that’s up to pure speculation at this point.