Oracle Level Life
Foreward : I can't take full credit for the following bout of verbal diarrhea; email@example.com came up with the basic framework for the shift from individual life patterns to ecosystems. I just filled in the blanks ;>
Life...feeds on life, feeds on life..
feeds on life, feeds on
- Tool, "Disgustipated"
Like the above song, the fundamental concepts that form the basis for Oracle-level Life is that of cyclic dependancy. Kind of a combination of recursion and scope, where one level of a system both depends upon and, in most cases, supports the former.
The difference is muchly akin to the differences in scope for Forces Magick; the same general pattern pervails, but just expands in scope. Conceptually, as the Life mage increases in understanding and power, they learn to control bigger versions of essentially the same thing; Life. It starts with the most simple life forms; plants, insects, invertibrates, etc. To go back one step of complexity from the bottom would leave the mage with a pile of Matter. Complex patterns, such as humans, and essentially a collection of simple life patterns strapped together in a bundle. These simple life patterns are, of course, organs. When a mage metamorphasizes a simple life pattern, they are simply re-arranging the base Matter patterns that form it's existance. When a mage metamorphasizes a complex pattern, however, they are rearranging the simple life patterns, as well as modifying the structure of the simple life patterns; their interconnections and such. This principle can be used to extrapolate the next level of complexity after the complex life form. A collection of interconnecting complex life-forms; an ecosystem.
Like the pre-oracle levels, ecosystems come in varying levels of complexity. Following from the pre-oracle levels of life, the differences between simple and complex ecosystems is akin to Forces magick; it is an empirical description rather than an exact measurement. The principal advantage that the Oracle of Life has over the pre-oracles is that they can view a life-form on a collective view, whereas the pre-oracle could only view life on an individual basis.
Ecosystems are divided up into 3 categories; Simple Ecosystems, Complex Ecosystems and Ecospheres.
Following along from Master-level Life, the Archmage of life is not affected by the change of intellect caused from changing a higher life-form into a lower. Any Complex Lifeform transformed by the Archmage of Life can retain as much or as little of their former self as the Archmage designs.
Simple Ecosystems are rather small-scale affairs like a brook or someone's lawn; something whose components cannot be grouped together in any other cohesive form except for the ecosystem itself. The lawn, for example, is a collection of individual blades of grass. A brook is thousands of microorganisms. As well, a simple ecosystem should be limited in the complexity of the life-forms that comprise it. The number of complex lifeforms should be few, if any.
Note that with Rank 6, you can only affect a collection of homogenous simple life patterns, so the brook can only be affected by affecting the thousands of microorganisms. The fish in the brook cannot be directly affected, but may starve or flourish as a side-affect of this modification of their food source.
With rank 6, the mage can affect simple ecosystems in the same fashionas they could affect simple life patterns ar rank 2; they could make the lawn more plush, or wither it away to nothing. They could make the termites infesting a house develop ant-like organization and demolish the house with minutes, or have them all decide to leave. They can also sense anything that the ecosystem affects, or is being affected by. If a brook is being used as an outflow for a city dump, or a tomato garden being attacked by bugs, the mage can sense this with a successful roll.
[Maccabeus' note: As a biologist, I believe that either Gil or K. E. has too simple a concept of what a "simple" ecosystem is. (Sorry, guys, and no offense!) I personally would recommend that the "simple ecosystem" referred to in these rules be thought of as either a population (a group of organisms of the same species, regardless of individual complexity) or a community (the total ecosystem of one locality, such as a stand of pine trees and the organisms therein, or the life in a single pond--again, disregarding individual complexity). A "complex ecosystem" in the same game would then refer to an ecosystem proper--say, following a forest until it reaches a natural boundary (the transistion to grassland, or a massive line of cliffs). Such an ecosystem wouldn't have to be perfectly uniform, within the Storyteller's discretion; it could consist of an array of small patches of woodland and grassland, so long as the two are interdependent and in the Storyteller's opinion the patches of one or the other don't become too far separated.]
At this rank, the Archmage can transform a simple, homogenous ecosystem into another form of simple, homogenous ecosystem, or create one where one did not exist before. Note that the ecosystem will still be affected by the environment it was created in if not carefully planned. An oasis with palm trees in the middle of the desert will not last long if a source of water is not present.
The Archmage also gains the ability to affect more complex ecosystems on a very small scale. The type of ecosystem that can be affected at this level is an ecosystem that is created by a number of homogenous simple ecosystems, like a glade or a small park; any ecosystem in which complex life forms play no direct role, but may still be indirectly affected by it. A rust-garden empty lot can be made to flourish with flowers, or a lush forest can be made to wither and die.
At this rank, the Oracle can affect major changes on a major ecosystem. Complex Ecosystems can consist of any number of complex or simple lifeforms that are dependant upon one another to create a greater whole, like a city park or a small farm. The general rule that an ecosystem is defined as anything whose components cannot be grouped together in any other cohesive form except for the ecosystem itself still applies, but Complex Ecosystems can contain any complexity of individual lifeforms. The magnitude affected can reach from a city park to a city the size of Boston. A city can have a drought, or a countryside can flourish and have a bumper crop.
The Oracle can also sense life on a global scale now. If a tree falls in the forest, the Oracle can know where, when and why with a successful roll.
An Oracle at this rank can now perform some pretty bizarre effects. The Oracle can create a Complex Ecosystem from nothing, or take a current complex ecosystem and transform it into another form of complex ecosystem. Such things as turning a large expanse of arid desert into a tropical rainforest are now possible. A city can be overrun with insects and turned into a collosal hive, or a grassy plain can be transformed into the equivalent of a rural region. Note that the landscape of the region will not be changed by any Life effect; that is the Sphere of Matter. The landscape will be affected only as a side-effect of the change in life, like erosion from a lack of trees, or inhabitants on the land building shelter.
The Oracle can now also alter an entire Ecosphere. An Ecosphere can only be defined as any number of Ecosystems of any complexity. The entire planet could have a sudden rise in plant-life, or an entire arid continent could experience a general increase in vegetation. Not a total increase, but a general increase. (Say the number of cacti in every desert in the United states all of a sudden doubling or tripling.)
The ultimate mastery of Life; the mage can now create or transform any complexity of Life. The entire globe could be turned into a desert world, or reduced to a barren, airless rock. Moons could be terraformed into stable environments, etc. The magnitude of complexity is now without definition.
[Maccabeus' note: Possibly without intending to, one of the authors of this document has mixed in effects on inorganic matter that, on his own terms, should only be secondary. For instance, if the whole world were "reduced to a barren...rock" with Life magick alone, it wouldn't be airless, though before too long in the cosmic scale the atmospheric balance would go wonky and the air would end up composed of unbreathable gases. It's not too major a flaw--the basic concept more than makes up for it, and ecologically speaking an ecosystem can be considered to include necessary inorganic material--but I thought I'd better point it out.]