The History of Magic, Part 1 - Noble Phantasms

  • They told me that I should probably write a shorter title, but I suppose this will have to do. I mean, it's only 10 words, 50 something letters, and a number. I once knew this man who wrote about *ahem* "The collective powers of the unending and never dying species of the Apostle Ancestors, their history, survival and continuing existence in a world full of power". And that was his shortened title so mine is just fine thank you very much.


    Now, Noble Phantasms are an interesting concept. It's completely undeniable that some weapons throughout history have had an immense amount of power. The Dawnbringer's famed ability to literally cause undead to explode is well documented (though to be fair, there are people who have written about alternate powers, but that's an entirely different subject), and that is obviously far beyond anything a modern enchanter can do. Noble Phantasms aren't neccessarily weapons, but they are mostly objects of immense power that hold a very specific history and are generally well known, at least among the more educated populace. They can be broadly divided into the following fields


    Item Based Noble Phantasms


    Ability Based Noble Phantasms


    Conceptual Noble Phantasms


    Let's start with the first and most simple one. Item Based Noble Phantasms are simply weapons, armour or any other object that can closely be linked to a certain person. The Lord's Mail is an obvious example, an item almost synonymous with Morihaus and has powers that are far, far beyond anything that normal people can do in the modern era. This is a Noble Phantasm, and while it is one that can be wielded by people other than Morihaus (unlike, say Jyggalag's Sword) it is still something that when worn by Morihaus is so powerful that it makes mortal armour look like paper in comparison. Now to be fair, The Lord's Mail had it's power from the beginning of its legend since it was powered by a god but there are items that are essentially just normal but when worn or used by a certain Heroic Spirit (read part 3) will be much more powerful. I believe that a good example would be the Emperor's Robes. Normally these are just fancy robes, they aren't enchanted or otherwise mystical but they do have a legend based on them, they're tied in with the role of Emperor that a Heroic Spirit wearing them would gain extra benefits if they were Emperor in life.

    Short Version - These are just items that have a lot of history behind them, and thus have powers that vastly out-strip modern items of similar make, especially when wielded by certain people.


    Ability Based Noble Phantasms are somewhat more complicated than Item Based Noble Phantasms. Right, think about the power of a Dragonborn to Shout. It's so intricately tied in with their nature, legend and everything we think about them. Because of this, any Heroic Spirit (again, read Part 3) that was considered Dragonborn would be capable of learning Shouts, absorbing Dragon Souls and everything that a True Dragonborn could do. This is the most simplistic version of an Ability Based Noble Phantasm, and is one that could also be considered a Conceptual Phantasm (more on that later) but it's the best way to describe it. There are probably an infinite number of different Ability Based Noble Phantasms, with nearly every Heroic Spirit having a different one, or possibly more than one.


    I briefly mentioned the idea of a Conceptual Phantasm earlier (really if you forgot at this point you should probably stop reading.) and while the idea is complicated it's also simple at the same time. A Conceptual Phantasm is a concept that has become so entrenched with a legend that it manifests in a somewhat esoteric manner upon a Heroic Spirit. A warrior that is rumored to be immortal would probably have some sort of Conceptual Phantasm based off of his immortality, with a weakness based on something in his legend, even if that was really just an exaggerated rumor spread by his allies. They, well to be blunt, if that made no sense to you then any continuation of this topic won't help you all that much. I suppose that there might be better examples, the Dragonblood of the Emperors manifests with them being summoned as Dragonborn despite the fact that they probably didn't have those powers in life, but there are just so many differnet Conceptual Phantasms that it would be impossible to describe even half of them. 



    World Cycle ToC (as a quick note, the entire History of Magic series is connected with World 17 of World-Cycle, and is extra but useful reading/LORE).


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