The major difficulty in constructing higher levels of Matter magick is that there is no obvious theme to the advance of the mage's understanding in this Sphere. Careful study, however, reveals that, as with Entropy, the basic concepts are all learned within the first few (in this case, the first two) levels. From this point on, the mage is involved in understanding the different levels of matter's structure. These levels are not arranged simply from smallest scale to greatest, or vice versa. Instead, they are arranged in the order that they most obviously impinge on one's consciousness--what is a thing made of? what basic shape is it? what lesser shapes are contained inside, and are they all of the same substance? finally, what is the underlying means by which the objects properties fit together?
The Oracle continues this progression. How does a Matter Pattern differ from the superficially similar Life Patterns? How are substances arranged into a whole significant on the scale of the landscape? What is the ultimate outcome of a particular type of structure, and how can a structure be spread? And how do different landscapes come together to create an entire world?
Matter and Stasis
There is a single exception to this rule. Just as the Sphere of Forces deals with the ways Quintessence manifests as Patterns of change, so the Sphere of Matter deals with the opposite end of the spectrum, where Quintessence is least like itself. Here, the Patterns formed are static--they do not alter unless acted upon by something outside themselves. But because of this very effect, mages studying Matter fail to fully understand the metaphysical significance of the Sphere until the very highest level of study. Then, at last, they gain the ability to comprehend how a force of change can become a static object.
At this level, the Archmage at last comes to understand the way in which apparently static Life Patterns are different from truly static Matter Patterns. Although the Archmage is beyond the boundaries of paradigm, she may nonetheless be most comfortable thinking of this difference in one of two ways. Those ascending from a variety of technomancy most often consider this a matter of organization--the Life Pattern possesses a higher class of order (in either a qualitative or quantitative sense, or both) than a Matter Pattern. Mages previously of a mystic or religious bent, on the other hand, generally think in terms of a vital force that living things have and dead matter does not. Nonetheless, the Archmage understands that these concepts are essentially interchangeable.
As a result of this, the mage now gains the ability to affect living beings with this Sphere more directly than ever before. The Archmage of Matter can alter the composition of a living being in such a way as to disrupt the smooth functioning of its Pattern. This does standard, non-aggravated damage just as other Spheres are capable of creating. However, the detailed control needed to repair damage to a living being is beyond the scope of Matter, and requires Life magick.
Alternately, the Archmage is able to transform a living being into a completely different form of life, composed of different substances than the normal life of Earth. A trivial example would be a being based on silicon rather than carbon, but much more exotic alterations are entirely possible. The game results of such a power, should it ever be used, must be determined by the individual Storyteller.
In a similar manner, the mage is capable of creating forms of pseudolife truly different in organization from anything seen on Earth. The most common examples are beings composed of nanites (such as the HIT Mark 6), beings composed of "pseudo-organic" polymers, and beings whose body structure is much like that of a machine (like the "techno-organic" creatures bandied about in comic books). However, other sorts of creations, such as golems without spirits, are possible for mages oriented toward other concepts than science.
An Oracle or Archmage of Life is capable of manipulating an area's ecosystem; an Archmage of Forces can alter an area's climate. Similarly, at this level an Archmage of Matter is able to alter the actual landscape of an area. In theory, this could be done by a Disciple of Matter at the third level, just as a Disciple at the second level could theoretically sculpt an object by transforming bits and pieces of it to more easily altered materials. However, doing so would take much longer and be much less practical, as would manipulation of the geography on this scale by any ordinary mage.
The Archmage of Matter is capable of altering landforms in any way he desires, building mountains, sinking valleys, forming or destroying rivers, lakes and oceans, and the like. In much the same way, he might also choose to build vast edifices, far beyond the skill of lesser mages to construct in a reasonable time. Hubris becomes a grave danger here, as the mage could create enormous images of himself and the like--even in static reality. Fortunately, the majority of Archmages have progressed beyond this form of self-worship...or have they?
Likewise, other factors such as soil, water, and air composition can be altered on the same scale to benefit different sorts of life. An oasis created in a waterless desert with Life 7 would fail within a short time; but with Matter 7 as well the mage could choose to properly supply it with the water and minerals it needs.
Even for the Master of Matter, some things are still impossible. She may create plutonium, or cloth as strong as steel, but her concoctions are still bounded by the limits of finite properties. Plutonium decays eventually, and even steel can be bent or broken. Nor can she make such alterations applicable to any patterns but the one she is working on--the tensile strength of a golden object may be increased, but all other gold remains the same.
The Oracle of Matter transcends these limits. She can create materials indestructible by any natural force, increase or decrease an object's density while leaving its weight and volume both untouched, or invent a substance capable of holding an infinite amount of electrical charge. Unfortunately, the one power still capable of harming such creations is Unbelief; just as a dragon walking down the street will be injured by the shock of the Sleepers watching, so will a building that stretches impossibly high or has survived a nuclear blast undamaged (if anyone is around to see it).
Such a mage can also transform the very nature of a substance. Not just the half-life of a single uranium object, but the half-life of all uranium (or many different pieces of uranium) can be altered, as can the density of water, the surface tension of mercury, or the strength of Kevlar. However, such alterations are incredibly paradox-prone and thus extreme care must be taken in bringing them about.
At this rank, the Oracle is capable of transforming the landscape not just on a local, but on a planetary scale. Whole oceans or continents can be formed or obliterated; atmospheres can be altered, destroyed, or created; and the mage can even construct planets of his own design to orbit existing stars. This is completely independent of the ability to create such an object within a new Realm, as with Horizon Realms; a planet or system created in this way outside such a spirit field will exist only in material reality, though in time it may come to form its own Realm(s). Without this level of Matter, such objects can only be practically created at the time of a Realm's creation, during which the vast amount of Quintessence being funneled "carries" the effect.
At the pinnacle of the Sphere of Matter, the Oracle at last fully understands its metaphysical significance. Just as Forces 10 provides the ability to transform any force into the raw material of change, so Matter 10 enables the mage to bind any pattern into ultimate stasis. If she so desires, the Oracle of Matter can eliminate or assimilate all mobile Quintessence in a Pattern, transforming it to a static, essentially material state.
Used on a force Pattern, eliminating the Quintessence being used for change destroys the Pattern utterly. The whole sustenance of the force is recycled back into the cosmic pool of Quintessence, and it vanishes from reality. If, on the other hand, the Prime Force is converted into a static form, the Pattern is "frozen," essentially becoming a permanent "force field" that can be altered as if it were matter. (Of course, a Forces mage can create a force field as well, but such a field can only be sculpted by a mage's will, and is not nearly so lasting.)
In a similar fashion, the Oracle can eliminate such Quintessence from a living being or from a spirit. This effect does aggravated damage to living organisms, ultimately leaving a dessicated husk; used on spirits, it does normal damage, reducing the spirit to a pile of ephemera. By assimilating the Juice into the static part of the pattern instead, life forms can be placed into a sort of suspended animation, and spirits can be calcified as though into the Pattern Web, but take on material reality.
The Oracle is also capable of vast feats of creation on scales still larger than planets, such as entire stellar systems at once. (Creating stars, however, involves either Forces or Prime or both,depending on the Oracle's point of view.) Such vastly powerful mages have been known to create Dyson spheres and similar structures, and it is not impossible that the Copernicus Research Station is actually the product of some unknown Oracle rather than of the Technomancers or the Nephandi Master-allied "cosmic squid" (as seen in the _Book of Worlds_).