Forces magick is perhaps one of the most directly dangerous Spheres. Next to Entropy (and perhaps Prime itself), Forces represents one of the prime mechanisms for change in reality. Forces, however, represents a different perspective on change - it describes some of the mechanisms that CAUSE change, rather than the mechanisms of change itself, unlike Entropy (or, again, Prime).
Like all other pattern magicks, the patterns of Forces directly manifest in reality, in this case as energy. However, the patterns of forces do not linger very long - they manifest, affect reality, and dissipate. As such, Forces patterns are the most tenuous as well. If you imagine Quintessence as being the clay-like substance of basic reality, and pattern creation as the sculpting of that clay, then forces would require the least amount of sculpting of all the patterns. In fact, as levels progress, less and less sculpting is used in favour of raw quintessence. Raw quintessence, free from any pattern, is change in it's purest form. It is the definer of reality, and throwing it at reality in it's raw form is like throwing wet clay at a fine sculpture - it changes and warps reality in unpredictable ways. Forces magick is all about manipulating raw, destructive forces. It is about riding the bull in the china shop. It is about removing the glossy surface of reality, be it a surgical removal or a great rending, and revealing the raw stuff of change underneath. This change can be funneled and directed for constructive (electricity powering machines), or destructive (electricity grounded through a man's face) purposes, as defined by the mage.
Forces is almost barely a Pattern Magick - Forces are just a re-channeling of raw, quintessential change into static patterns. As the Mage surpasses the boundaries of the static, however, the 'patterns' become less and less like patterns, and more and more like raw quintessence.
The Forces Mage is most like the Prime mage, but differs in several important ways. The Prime mage works with quintessence in terms of itself, as the definer and sculpting substance of reality. The Prime mage deals with Prime irregardless of the form, and views its effect on reality as but one aspect of Prime, whereas the Forces mage deals with the dynamic, mutable, mutating aspects of Prime. The forces mage brings quintessence into reality, in increasingly more raw and pure forms, and lets it run amok in both controlled and uncontrolled fashions.
To derive the forces of the Oracles, one should look at the Lesser and Greater forces, the so-called 'static' forces, to see what happens to them as they increase in complexity and energy levels. The Lesser forces, Electricity, Magnetism and the Electromagnetic spectrum, cause the least amount of change. They primarily affect other Patterns on a very superficial level, causing no great amount of physical change except at higher levels.
The Greater Forces, Gravity, Kinetic, and the 'Strong' and 'Weak' forces, however, affect patterns in a deeper fashion, changing their physical state of existance at the lowest energy levels and, in the case of the 'strong' and 'weak' forces, define the basis for the existance of physical patterns. As the Mage attains higher and higher levels of understanding in the sphere, the forces they can manipulate become more and more powerful. As such, the forces of the Oracles should be quite powerful indeed. The higher the energy level of the effect, the greater the amount of understanding about that force is required.
[Maccabeus' note: The above was obviously done during the Mage I era, as the lesser and greater forces referred to demonstrate. That, however, does not really change the validity of the concepts below, especially when one takes into account the last sentence above.]
Iteration X has theorized that at extremely high levels of energy, the barriers between each of the Forces begin to dissolve, and at even higher levels of energy, the forces themselves lose cohesion and become an energy unto itself. They call this theory the Grand Unification Theory, as it defines the Force that defines all of the 'static' forces. The Unification forces are all of the Lesser and Greater forces combined. Energy from the Unification Force can manifest in any of the Lesser and Greater forces, as well as in any combination of them. It is the force from which all of the Lesser and Greater forces are defined. It also allows the Mage to create odd things like Magnetic Monopoles and stuff like that that can only exist at such high energies.
[Maccabeus' note: It looks as though Gil's conception of these forces is purely Technocratic. That's reasonable, especially in the context of Mage I, because the average person with a sufficient level of education to be interested in a game like Mage will have developed a tendency to think of forces in modern scientific terms. However, this shortchanges groups such as the Verbena (no, an Oracle will not be "Verbena" anymore, regardless of origins, but a Verbena should be able to comprehend the _idea_ of Unification and Cosmic forces within his/her paradigm).
Going by Gil's own rules regarding the area of effect for a force, it would seem that natural equivalents to the Unification forces include things such as climate and large-scale weather patterns, volcanic eruption and tectonic plate motion (not just volcanos and earthquakes, but the underlying "hot spots", faults, and magmic currents that create them over the long term and on a large scale), river and ocean currents, and the like. By the same token, but following my alterations, Cosmic forces (see below) would include not just solar winds, but the sort of massive asteroid strikes found in _Deep Impact_ and _Armageddon_ and other phenomena we associate with "normal" happenings in space, like nova and supernova explosions.]
Now, if the Unification forces are the definer of all the 'static' forces, then what defines the Unification forces? It's the chicken and the egg problem, what defines the definer? Unification energies are just starting to become part of the Earth's Paradigm, mostly through the work of Iteration X, but there are still energies that do not have a place in this hierarchy. All of the Unification energies can only travel at the speed of light. What about particles that travel faster than light, like the tachyon. Or what about Solar Winds, which only seem to manifest in the Deep Umbra? These have to originate from somewhere. The force that defines them is the defining force of all forces, the intermediary step between Forces and Prime. The Cosmic force. Cosmic Forces are barely patterns. They are so esoteric they cannot even concieve of manifesting on the earth without great big holes being rent into the paradigm. These forces are so powerful, they could create a Big Bang if not handled properly. They cannot be defined in terms of static reality as they are neither static, nor 'real'. All Forces are, at their most basic and fundamental level, a Cosmic Force. If you were to 'strip' the pattern from a Force, ALMOST to the point of pure quintessence, there would be a Cosmic force. They are the very building block of Forces Patterns - that which all forces patterns are formed from. As a Cosmic force can be 'shaped' into whatever force the mage wishes, any 'force' formed at this level can exhibit whatever properties the mage wishes. You could have an energy that is conductive to wood and plastic, and when comes in contact with a Life pattern, bonds to it and make it look Orange, while irradiating it with lots of Hard radiation and making it fly upwards. Kind of a 'Matter 5' of Forces. It might be good to describe the Cosmic force as a force without definition - the primal state that all forces are derived from - the greatest dynamic force in the Universe, excluding only Prime. The 'rules' of electricity are that it likes to travel along conductive substances, and likes to ground itself. This is because the mage who created the electrical force was using the 'cookie-cutter' mentality when it comes to forces. At the level of understanding associated with cosmic forces, the mage understands the fundamental structures and patterns that goes into the 'construction' of a force, and can make any force that they can think of. Now what is meant by 'cookie-cutter' is using already established patterns IE Lesser and Greater, that have been established by 'something else'. When the Mage spawns a bolt of electricity, it's the same old bolt of electricity that any yahoo Disciple of Forces can spawn. It may have a few minor differing characteristics, like differing voltage or whatnot, but it's underlying pattern is still the same - electricity. Cosmic Forces allow for the mage to create their own force patterns, which follow whatever rules the mage deems necessary.
From this level, the only force that could be considered the definer of a Cosmic force is Prime itself, the most potent harbringer of change that can ever exist. At the highest level of understanding, the Oracle Forces mage can take Prime in its purest form and channel it directly into reality. The most fundamental mechanism of change being flung into reality unchecked. The only force of that magnitude that is rumored to exist was, in fact, the first explosion to occur, the Big Bang of the Technocracy.
[Maccabeus' note: Something to remember about Forces 8 and 9 (and the equivalent Matter 5) is that every so often, someone (usually the Technocracy) introduces new forces and materials into the common paradigm. I seem to be coming in after the end of a debate on this, but my opinion is that these things initially involve Forces 8/9 or Matter 5, but after some Sleeper exposure and theoretical demonstration they become part of static reality and drop into lower levels. Probably the reason for this confusion is that the debate has centered around the trans-uranic elements which have not yet entered the common paradigm fully. A better example would be germanium. The Artificer Mendeleev first created this element in the 1800s to fill a space on his periodic chart, intended as a limitation on what elements could be created so as to restrain the activities of reality deviants. He assigned it a set of essentially harmless properties and gave it the temporary name "eka-silicon"; because he had already defined its theoretical background and because it did not violate any expectations from the public, it dropped into static reality almost immediately. This is not a new thing; elements and forces have been entering static reality at least since the Sundering, building on the original substances such as gold that humanity knew from the beginning. On rare occasions, forces become a part of static reality without dropping out of the Cosmic forces, so long as they ordinarily appear only in the Deep Umbra; solar wind and major asteroid strikes fall into this category. On still rarer occasions, effects of pure Quintessence become Cosmic forces, as is the case with black holes (which are still in the process of dropping levels).]
Oracle-Level Forces damage
At this level of power, describing forces damage in terms of levels is rather extreme (if not ludicrous). Trying to determine how many health levels someone takes from a Nuclear Blast, while fun for lawyers, is pretty dense. As such, each level of force has at the end of it the range of destruction a typical blast of that magnitude would create. Each success above the initial one creates a blast that affects a greater area of that scale. For example, a Forces 6 nuclear blast could destroy anything from a city block to a huge metropolis. A Forces 7 blast could destroy anything from the Eastern half of Canada to the entirety of North America. Different numbers of successes denote Different areas of effects within the scale listed.
Forces Levels 6-10
The mage can combine more than one force into one pseudo-GUT force, exhibiting the effects of all the forces used in the process. The typical Forces 6 blast is a Nuclear one, taking as many of the lesser and greater forces and plowing them into one big force (then running like hell). The area of effect could range from a small battlefield to an entire city.
The mage can create forces which can have as many characteristics of the pre-defined Lesser and Greater forces as the Mage deems necessary. Forces blasts of this magnitude include things like comet strikes; things that could affect continents.
The mage can 'strip' the pattern from a Force, revealing the Fundamental structure of Forces; Cosmic Forces. This 'stripping' effect makes the force MUCH more potent and dynamic, but does not constitute a 'Spawning' effect - any pattern imposed upon the stripped pattern cannot violate any of the 'force laws' the originating force adhered to.
Controlling a Cosmic force means that you can still recognize the underlying structure of a Force, but cannot actually CREATE anything using these principles yet - that comes with Spawning. That doesn't mean that the mage can't apply this knowledge. If they know there's an underlying structure, they can tear the pattern off of it, revealing the Cosmic Forces underneath. When they reform it into a pattern, they can reform it in ways it couldn't have been reformed before, AS LONG AS it doesn't violate any of the pattern's original rules. For example, the Forces 8 mage strips the pattern from a bolt of electricity. When he reforms this bolt, he can add the characteristics of heat and radioactivity, but this new 'pseudo-bolt' will still ground itself, and travel along conductive materials. It will, as well, spew out great amounts of heat, and will spew out great amount of gamma radiation. (Until it grounds itself, of course.. ;> ).. Hmm, that sounds like a Forces 7 force, exhibiting as many of the Lesser/Greater forces as the mage deems necessary. Add in that fact that the mage can make this new force be conductive to wood, rubber, and glue, and you have a forces 8 force. The new 'rules' don't violate the old rules of electricy, just expands on them a bit.
Forces of this Magnitude are associated with thing like the collision of planets and Supernovas. It typically affects planets, but can affect entire grouping of planets at higher levels.
The Mage now has total and complete control over any Force, as well as having the knowledge to 'shape' any force imaginable.
Forces of this magnitude are associated with Black Holes, Galaxies colliding, pretty much anything short of a Big Bang. Blasts of this Magnitude tend to affect entire constellations.
At this level, the barrier between Quintessence and Force is stripped clean away, and the Mage can use Quintessence as a Force. Quintessence is the essence of change, and the Forces Oracle can now channel Quintessence in it's most primitive and primal form into reality, blowing holes in the very fabric of reality and tearing anything in it's path asunder.
The only explosion of this magnitude has been theorized as the very first one-the Big Bang. If there is anything that this blast could not affect, get nervous.
[Maccabeus' note: In my humble opinion, the power of the Forces Oracle has been made to stretch out too far. In the other three Spheres Gil defined, and in all of mine, even the tenth-level Oracle still has some limitations, powers that cannot be achieved without Ascension. I would suggest that Forces 8 be dropped to affect only planets, usually only one (remember that the whole planet is much more massive than even a continent--it has a core, remember?), Forces 9 be dropped to affect stars and solar systems (thus coming into the range of novae and supernovae, as well as stellar ignition), and even the mighty Forces 10 affecting nothing larger than a galaxy or two, which is plenty enough for any non-Ascended one, even with pure Prime (galactic collisions, giant black holes). Big Bangs would remain the province of the Ascended.]