“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke’s Third LawEmpathokinesis is an exceedingly advanced and near-godlike technology that was created millennia ago by the now-extinct Ardent Empire. Currently, on Earth, the only active practitioners of empathokinesis are Platicore and the Spirit Guard. The exact mechanisms and rules by which empathokinesis function are not understood by the protagonists, such that to most of the Spirit Guard and their allies it is more magic than science. (The notable exception would be Spirit Guard Serenity / Robynne Darling, who embraces the scientific aspect of empathokinesis to such a degree she will argue every mention of it as “magic.”)
Long ago, the Ardent Empire became fascinated with the concept of emotion as the motivator behind one’s ability to decide whether or not to act. After the Ardentia Royalty commissioned extensive research on the topic, it wasn’t long before the Empire’s scholars were able to learn that emotion was not just a philosophical or abstract concept to describe a physiological state. They learned it was possible to affect their physical reality through proper utilization of emotion, and thus dubbed their new field of magical study “empathokinesis.”
Empathokinesis was, unfortunately, a power few could actually learn to wield. Much like magical abilities in most forms of fiction or learning an advanced scientific degree, it took a great deal of time to learn to wield effectively. Also, much like intelligence and talent, the ability for a person to become a strong empathokinetic was largely influenced by one’s individual aptitude. In the beginning, because of the time, training, and focus required to learn empathokinesis, only the Ardentia royalty, military, and academics bothered to learn the ability.
Eventually, after centuries of research, the existence of investiture was discovered. As study into both investiture and empathokinesis progressed, the Ardentia were eventually able to create tools known as “foci.” The purpose of these foci were to give those with large investitures the ability to use both empathokinesis and investiture at the same time, giving birth to the incredibly powerful state of empathokinesis as it is exists at the time of the Spirit Guard and their past lives.
Function & Abilities Edit
The basic premise behind empathokinesis is the ability to affect one’s environment by harnessing one’s emotions. The limit of what could be accomplished with early forms of empathokinesis, in the centuries before the discovery of investiture and the creation of foci, remain unknown. Foci allow those with large investitures and skills in empathokinesis to summon forth the elements, exponentially augment their physical abilities, heal wounds, and convey knowledge.
In the current model of understanding, the emotional components of investiture are the power source, empathokinesis the technique, and foci the tools required to use the supernatural abilities we’ve seen. Which emotional component of one’s investiture that is used to power empathokinesis is very important. Channeling the emotions (known as “intoning”) has important effects on not only the empathokinetics performed, but profound side effects on the user. Healing others magic needs to be fed by charitable or generous emotions, so it stands to reason that attempting to heal with other emotions will be either drastically reduced or will fail altogether. More profound, however, are the effects on the user, as using empathokinesis powered by negative emotions will eventually warp and twist both the body and the mind of the practitioner.
Because of the side effects, the Ardentia had outlawed using negative emotions to power empathokinesis. Known examples of such negative emotions are anger/rage, fear, sorrow, denial, malice, disdain, pride, and detachment. Examples of positive emotions (ones that would have been encouraged and emphasized) or even just acceptable emotions include compassion, boldness, urgency, excitement, whimsy, courage/valor, tenacity, joy/jubilation, generosity/charity, hope, and tranquility/serenity.
Empathokinesis, despite operating like “magic,” still requires a power source for its effects. Though the primary power source is the investiture of the user, a physical toll is exacted as well. Passive healing abilities use up the physical resources of the user’s body, such as calories, fluids, and various nutrients to affect repairs. Overuse of empathokinetic abilities will also leave the user physically and mentally exhausted, to the point of collapse.
Known abilities derived from Empathokinesis are as follows, though it is by no means a complete list, as it is expected that more abilities will be revealed over time.
Auras – Perhaps the most basic form of empathokinesis, it can even be employed subconsciously by the untrained. Typically auras seem to serve as more an identifier of a specific individual than anything else, textured auras can even be used for emotional manipulation. It is unknown if the nature of one’s aura is in any way indicative of their personality. The only common theme thus far identified is that all of the Spirit Guard’s members have floral-themed auras. Trained empathokinetics can also use their aura for defense, making them invulnerable to many things without an empathokinetic charge of its own (ex: bulletproof).
Body Transformation – Empathokinesis has the capability to complete remake one’s body. Though the original applications can only be guessed, the application has in the story been used exclusively to alter the bodies of the Spirit Guard to be more in-line with those of their past lives (who were extradimensional humans). While most of the changes have been minor, such as gaining an inch or two of height, changes to hair length/color, clearing acne, or improved muscle definition and figures there have been more major changes. Kara being cured of asthma and Vivian’s vision being corrected are the more minor examples of extensive changes…while Robert Dreese, of course, became Robynne Darling.
Elemental Summoning – The practitioner can call forth and manipulate a particular element, which appears to be tied to the emotions intoned and the practitioner’s school. Known controlled elements include Earth, Lightning, Fire, Light, and Water. Using specific elemental attacks appears to require some level of voice activation, though it’s yet to be explained why.
Empathic Reading – Essentially, this is the reading of another’s emotions. There seem to be two levels of emotions: overtones, which are the primary emotion one is feeling at a particular moment, and undertones, the secondary or nuances to one’s overtoned emotion.
Extrasensory Perception – The ability to gain information from empathokinetic sources that cannot be gotten from one’s physical senses. Examples include sensing someone’s location even though their vision is blocked (say by their hair) or even if the other individual is invisible or hiding behind a perception filter. Sensing auras (even if synesthetic in nature), feeling an empathokinetic golem jump bodies, and the sensation of someone having their investiture drained are also examples of this ability. Empathic reading could also be considered a form of extrasensory perception.
Golemancy – The technique of creating golems using investiture. The only known practitioner of this so far is Platicore, who uses the investiture stolen from citizens of Kessia City to bring life and a degree of self-awareness to his constructs. All of Platicore’s golems have unique personalities, physical appearances, and attacks that are based on a theme corresponding to the specific object used in their creation. It appears this is done to allow the golem to hide as long as possible and to maximize the amount of investiture it can steal, all without scaring away victims and before being discovered by the Spirit Guard. Known golems are Polygal (video game), Day la Mode (fashion mannequin), Saturationa (pool), Barbella (weightlifting), Dramatica (theater), Confection Cathy (bake sale), and Alena Alfredo (Italian food). (Cory loves the terrible names.)
Healing (Passive and Active) – The ability to passively heal is a technique employed by all of the Spirit Guard, and is likely an ability shared by many emapthokinetic warriors. Passive healing is an accelerated version of one’s natural ability to heal, for instance allowing wounds that would take weeks or months to heal in less than week. Passive healing does seem to work on some sort of stored, “ideal” template, since the spirit guard cannot even alter their hair length without it growing back to its basic length within a day. Passive healing is limited, since major injuries will still overwhelm the healing factor so that death is always a very real possibility. It is hinted that speed may not be the only benefit to the healing factor, since it may not form scar tissue and the limitations that ensue, but this is unconfirmed.
Active healing is more akin to the magical healing employed in most forms of fiction. Empathokinetic healing is far more medical in nature compared to fantasy healing magic, which can be applied with a general spell. The healer not only has to be well-trained in physiology, because requires a specific type of person, as active empathokinetic healing needs to be fed by emotions of charity/generosity. It is also an extraordinarily draining form of empathokinesis, as the mender heals their patient by giving them their own energy to generate the vastly accelerated healing required to save someone’s life. It can often (though not always) be performed without traumatic surgery, since bones can be reset and start to knit without ever breaking the patient’s skin. This skill also requires a great deal of concentration by the part of the mender manipulating another’s physiology.
Investiture Manipulation (Others) – One of the empathokinetic “dark arts,” as its name suggests it is forcibly manipulating the investiture of another person. Most often in the story, this takes the form of one of Platicore’s golems stealing investiture from an unsuspecting citizen and story that energy in its empathic capacitor. Not only does this stolen investiture power Platicore’s equipment, it is also what he uses to breathe life and a degree of sentience into his golems. In the distant past, he could forcibly implant stolen investiture into another person and even combine their body with a focus that channeled negative emotions. This allowed Platicore to turn average people into empathokinetic warriors to fight against the Ardentia government without requiring many years of training them. This process, however, twisted the mind, body, and soul of every individual upon whom it was performed.
Invisibility – Proper invisibility is possible by bending light through either direct manipulation (mentioned by the Shrine Maiden) or by using empathokinetically charged water (used by both the Scholar and Spirit Guard Serenity).
Knowledge Transference – This is the ability to pass on knowledge without having to instruct or communicate directly. There have been two major uses that have been shown so far. The first is building of transdimensional gates that don’t require the use of waystones. The Ardentia would use empathokinesis to instruct individuals, via their dreams, at their destination how to construct a gate to match the one created by the Ardentia. This would allow the Ardentia to arrive directly at their target world. The other major use is the way by which the past lives of the Spirit Guard taught their reincarnations how to fight. The knowledge conveyed to the Spirit Guard includes not only physical and empathokinetic techniques of all kinds, but things that cannot normally be taught without training… such as muscle memory, balance, coordination, and some small measure of tactical understanding.
Physical Augmentation – Used by all of the Spirit Guard, Platicore’s golems, and likely most warriors that use empathokinesis. By augmenting their basic movements, it allows for speed, power, balance, and reaction time that are impossible within normal human limits. It also increases resistance to physical damage and effects.
Perception Alteration – Techniques that affect the understanding of another, the most prominent use of which is the Disconnection Effect. The Disconnection Effect makes it possible for the Spirit Guard to fight while making no changes to their appearance other than a wardrobe change and some minor style changes. Though having the same faces as their normal selves, those who’ve seen the Spirit Guard… whether in person, in photos, or in videos… fail to make the connection between the face and the normal person somewhere in their minds, despite not having the image altered. It appears that the Disconnection Effect can weaken over time due to repeat exposure, thus necessitating the Hush Corps to help hide the Spirit Guard’s identities. Whether the Disconnection Effect can be beaten through pure detective work is currently being put to the test by Trace. Another application for this technique is as a perception filter, making places unappealing or causing people to go unnoticed (such as Trace with her stealth bands). It is noted that invisibility via a perception filter only affects processing sight, and cannot hide from a skilled emathokinetic’s extrasensory perception… particularly those of the Tranquil discipline.
Reincarnation – Sort of a moral gray area given that according to Fate, all things are meant to know death. However, given that this is adjudicated by the gods (in the case of the Spirit Guard, the High Spirits) and is more miracle than empathokinetic technique, it is allowed by Fate. Additionally, no one is ever reincarnated as the same person they were before. They retain their investiture as part of the makeup of the reincarnated person’s new soul. Whether the Spirit Guard have visions of their past lives because of the reincarnation or because of knowledge given them by the spirit sticks is thus far still unknown.
Space-time Manipulation – The Ardent Empire, making use of empathokinetic technology, was not only capable of faster-than-light travel, but also interdimensional travel. For most of their history, this was accomplished by gates connected via a series of waystones, which were eventually all consumed by the Other Power. Eventually, in the final years of the Ardent Empire, they created a method of gate travel that only required a gate at each end and no waystones, allowing travel directly through the empathic plane. These gates channeled vast amounts of energy, such that if they were powered down improperly, they would generate a slightly nuclear explosion… leaving behind an irradiated, empathically charged crater.
Soul Overwriting – The darkest of all the empathokinetic dark arts, this theoretical technique would overwrite one’s soul onto the soul of another person, destroying them in the process. The technique was never actually completed, since the Ardent Empire was destroyed before its creation. Research into this essence transfer technique was in direct violation of Fate’s explicit decrees, since it is part of her plan that all mortals taste death and it wholly destroys another in the process.
Known Practitioners Edit
The Empress – The most powerful empathokinetic of an age, if not all time, the Empress of the Ardent Empire was unmatched. Though her abilities have yet to be explicitly detailed other than her intense and powerful aura, it is likely she could also utilize elemental summoning, empathic reading, extrasensory perception, passive healing, and physical augmentation. She was attempting to learn soul overwriting, and somehow appears to have been gifted by reincarnation.
Platicore – An extraordinarily powerful empathokinetic, Platicore rivalled the Empress in sheer power but not in stamina, securing him as the second most powerful empathokinetic ever known. Like the Empress, most of his abilities are still unknown, except for golemancy, passive healing, and the manipulation others’ investiture. It is likely he can also utilize auras, elemental summoning, empathic reading, extrasensory perception, and physical augmentation.
The Knight – The head of the Imperial Guard, and an ally of the Princess. By virtue of his position and for the Empress to recognize him, he must have been a powerful empathokinetic. It is likely he could use auras, elemental summoning, empathic reading, extrasensory perception, and physical augmentation.
The Princess / Spirit Guard Valor – Leader of the Spirit Guard, she was the most powerful empathokinetic on her team. As Spirit Guard Valor, she can use auras, elemental summoning (Earth), empathic reading, extrasensory perception, healing (passive only), and physical augmentation. She also uses the Disconnection Effect and has been subjected to body transformation via the spirit sticks and reincarnation by the High Spirits. Spirit Guard Valor’s known Earth attacks are Plateau of Nobility (lifting a giant rock from the ground) and Avalanche of Truth (a spray of diamonds from Valor’s shield).
The Soldier / Spirit Guard Tenacity – As Spirit Guard Tenacity, she can use auras, elemental summoning (Lightning), empathic reading, extrasensory perception (very weak), healing (passive only), and physical augmentation. She also uses the Disconnection Effect and has been subjected to body transformation via the spirit sticks and reincarnation by the High Spirits. Spirit Guard Tenacity’s known Lightning attacks are Intrepid Blade (charging her giant broadsword with red lightning) and Determined Arc (summoning a red lightning bolt to crash down on the enemy, even indoors).
The Scholar / Spirit Guard Felicity – The Scholar would have had the same abilities she bequeathed to her reincarntation, Spirit Guard Felicity, but was also a genius at crafting foci. Thus, she would have had to know how to program Body Transformation, the Disconnection Effect, and Knowledge Transference skills into the foci known as spirit sticks. As Spirit Guard Felicity, she can use auras, elemental summoning (Fire), empathic reading, extrasensory perception (weak), healing (passive only), and physical augmentation. She also uses the Disconnection Effect and has been subjected to body transformation via the spirit sticks and reincarnation by the High Spirits. Spirit Guard Tenacity’s known Fire attacks are Encircling Joy (creating a chain of pink flames from her staff) and Inferno of Happiness (while interrupted and never described, likely a large-scale blaze of pink flames).
The Mender / Spirit Guard Charity – As Spirit Guard Charity, she can use auras, elemental summoning (Light), empathic reading, extrasensory perception (weak), healing (passive and active), and physical augmentation. She also uses the Disconnection Effect and has been subjected to body transformation via the spirit sticks and reincarnation by the High Spirits. Spirit Guard Charity’s, known Light attacks are Altruistic Barrier (creating a magical barrier of pure light for defense) and Generous Barrage (fires multiple arrow of pure light from her recurve bow at the same time). Charity’s normal arrows are also composed of pure Light “magic,” and she can create tools of light “magic” as well, such as hair ties, tweezers, or even a pipette. Her Light powers enable her to see into the body of a patient with a technique known as Giving Hands, and can do things like create incisions (using a laser) or hold bones in place as they’re mended.
The Shrine Maiden / Spirit Guard Serenity – As Spirit Guard Serenity, she can use auras, elemental summoning (Water), empathic reading, extrasensory perception (very strong), healing (passive only), and physical augmentation. She also uses the Disconnection Effect and has been subjected to extensive body transformation via the spirit sticks and reincarnation by the High Spirits. Spirit Guard Serenity’s only known Water attack is Geyser of Tranquility (creating a high-pressure stream of water from her daggers that can be used individually or together for more power). Serenity can also use Invisibility with her water-based Placid Mist (summoning a mist that surrounds Serenity and whomever else she wants to make them invisible to sight). The Shrine Maiden also helped arrange for the reincarnation of the Spirit Guard with the High Spirits.
Focus/human hybrids – Never properly trained, these hybrids had much duller senses and no known techniques. It is suggested that they used raw, unfocused empathokinetics based on powerful negative emotions and relied more on their numbers than anything else. No abilities can actually be confirmed.
Trace – While it’s clear she knows of empathokinesis given her conversations with Platicore, and that she knows more than most Earth humans given that she was once in Fate’s holding cells, it’s not clear if she can actually use empathokinesis. She can, however, use her stealth bands, which use an empathokinesis-based perception filter to render her functionally invisible to everyone around her.
Surviving Ardentia – While never mentioned much, as Kunapipi gave the history of the fall of the Ardent Empire, it was mentioned that portions of each faction had escaped through other gates before closing them from the other side and leaving their opposition to be destroyed by the Other Power. Though the Ardent Empire fell millennia ago, there is a possibility that there are still fragments of the Ardent Empire among the various dimensions, and that some still practice empathokinesis.