Life is one of the ten Arcana of Mage: The Awakening, the Primal Wild's Gross ruling Arcanum. Mastery of it grants control over the physical forms of all living things; Life spells might heal wounds, transform the bodies of living creatures, spread disease or exert gross physical control over animals and plants. The Arcanum of Life allows a mage to influence the various life forms of the Fallen World. Any terrestrial organism may be affected by the spells of this Arcanum, and their effects range from the healing of wounds and transformation into other creatures to the spreading of disease and sapping of physical strength. The mage can change her shape, make her body stronger, alter her physical appearance, control the behaviour of life forms all the way up to humanity, and raise life from one state to another. The Arcanum of Life is primarily used by the Thyrsus, a Path very much in touch with the natural world.
Mages learning the lore of Life begin with control over only the simplest organisms; as they grow in knowledge, they may affect more complex lifeforms. For these purposes, all living things are designated as Base (plants, fungi, microbes and insects), Median (other non-sentient animals) or High Life (humans and other thinking animals). The Undead - even thinking, previously living humans like vampires and revenants - cannot be affected by Life magic; they fall under the purview of Death.
Life magic cannot make permanent unnatural changes to the Patterns of living things; a Life spell may not be of indefinite duration. The only way around this limitation is to use Fate magic to establish a conditional duration.
Disease, evolution, healing, metamorphosis, vigour.
Nature and Power
The Arcanum of Life is the Gross Arcanum of the Supernal Realm of the Primal Wild, a realm from which also comes the power of the Arcanum of Spirit. The Primal Wild is carpeted in life forms. Trying to find a place where life does not exist is a futile task, as it is the nature of the Primal Wild to play mother to such creatures. From its vast jungles teeming with insects, birds, and other beasts to its oceans swarming with fish and exotic creatures of the deep sea, the Primal Wild is quite literally blanketed in organisms; even such inhospitable lands as its deserts and mountain peaks play host to a verisimilitude of creatures. If one is to survive for any length of time in the realm, then, it stands to reason that one must be able to exert a little bit of control over the native creatures. The life of the Fallen World is, of course, readily susceptible to the power of the Arcanum, so it makes a great tool for nature-oriented mages. The rise of the Abyss has reduced the power of Life to an extent, but, like all the Gross Arcana, its primary field of influence has remained in the Fallen World, so there’s still plenty of material for a mage to work with.
Life is somewhat less common in the Fallen World than it is in Arcadia. Much of the material universe is both uninhabited and uninhabitable to life as we know it. As far as humanity is aware, Earth is the only planet confirmed to hold life. But on this one sphere, life reigns triumphant. The surface and the oceans teem with various examples of flora and fauna, as does the world beneath our feet and even in places as bleak and inhospitable as the peaks of the tallest mountains, the craters of geysers and volcanoes, and the deepest undersea trenches. The life that dwells in the Fallen World doesn't take root all that often, but when it does, it thrives.
More diminished in scale, but more relevant to the everyday mage, are the lesser fields that the Arcanum of Life covers. A mage conversant in this Arcanum can heal wounds, regenerate limbs, and purge disease from the bodies of those she wills. She can speak to, tame, and control the beasts and plants of the wild, and even exert control over the biological impulses of humanity, generating emotions or simply puppeteering the minds of the Sleepers. She has the power to improve the physical qualities of others, making them stronger, faster, or tougher, or she may instead weaken and degrade them. She may create miraculous beasts out of thin air, turn animals into people, turn people into animals, or turn animals into other animals. She may change her form as she pleases, becoming any person or any creature suitable for the task, or make herself or another a bizarre hybrid of characteristics by taking features from one life form and attaching them to her subject in whatever way she desires.
Levels of Mastery
Using the power of the first level of mastery, an Initiate of Life may use her Mage Sight to detect the resonance of life forces, perceiving their vital animation as threads in the Tapestry. She may analyse a creature to determine its species, age, and gender, or perform larger detections to sense the proximity of specific types of life. She can analyse a wounded or diseased creature to learn the nature of its injuries or ailments, and purge herself of harmful substances such as poisons or drugs.
An Apprentice of Life, commanding the second level of mastery, can use her powers to heal wounds that she has sustained, or that have been inflicted upon a non-human creature. Her mastery of body purging allows her to force the drugs and toxins out of others, and she may rid herself of diseases and illnesses. She may exhibit full control over her bodily functions, allowing her to change her heart rate, metabolic rate, breathing, and reflexes as she pleases. She gains power over the base life forms of the Fallen World (insects, plants, fungi, etc.), allowing her to control them through manipulating their instinctual behaviour, transform them into other base life forms, or graft their features onto other base life forms. She may confer her ability to see living resonance upon others, and may bolster her Pattern with vital energy, becoming more resistant to harm.
The use of the third level of mastery allows a Disciple of Life to fortify the corporeal forms of others in the same manner as she can bolster her own. Her powers of healing grow to the point where she may bind the wounds of others and cleanse diseases from their bodies. She gains power over median life forms (most mammals, fish, reptiles, birds), allowing her to control their instincts, transform them into other median life forms, or graft their features onto other such creatures. She may even take on selected physical characteristics of median and base life forms herself, though she cannot yet fully become one. She gains the power to strengthen or weaken her body, and those of base or median life forms, and may alter her features to appear as whoever she pleases.
An Adept of Life, wielding the fourth level of mastery, increases her ability to control base and median life to the point where she can exert bodily control over them, rather than simply nudging their instincts in a given direction. She gains the ability to affect multiple facets of her form or that of an animal at a time, bolstering or degrading them as necessary. She may now exert limited control of the physical power of another human, both to improve and weaken. She can alter the features of another person or give them the traits of a base or median life form, and gains enough control over her own form as to allow her to change any characteristic of her body into that of another human being. She can trigger base instinctual reactions in humans, and can transform a base life form into a median one. Her abilities to control disease increase to the point where she can create it in others, and she may launch direct assaults on the life force of another. Finally, she gains the ability to change her shape into that of any creature she pleases, though this comes with a risk of being lost in the new form’s instinctual reactions and briefly losing control over her actions.
Utilising the fifth level of mastery, a Master of Life gains the formidable power to create life from Mana and thin air, without needing to build off an existing creature. She may convert animal life into human form (though without the Arcanum of Mind, they gain none of humanity’s advanced intellect) or even transform it into any kind of creature she can conceive. With a little more magic, she can give the new creature the ability to breed true, creating a bloodline of hybrid beings or newly made creatures. Limited control may be exerted over human life, but self-destructive commands or actions that run counter to the person’s morality are more difficult. The mage’s shape changing abilities advance to the point where she can shift forms without risking mental conflicts, and can transform others in the same manner. She gains the ability to improve or degrade multiple aspects of a human’s form, and can temporarily regrow body parts lost by herself or another.
Archmaster and Above (●●●●●●+)
Archmasters are rare but not unheard of. They don’t follow the same rules as the other ranks. Archmasters become Avatars of the Arcanum they studied, living embodiments of the Watchtower their power comes from. They become conduits for power and are no longer barred from their power by the Abyss and so aren’t subject to Paradox. They take on the physical characteristics of their Arcanum. They should be addressed as Arcs (i.e. an Arc of Life). Archmasters can cast all the spells from Initiate to Master, without using any Mana, and in any preferred duration. They gain the powers of a God, including limited immortality (e.g. aging is slowed down), but they’re still human beings and can be killed just like anybody else, but only if they get careless. They still suffer penalties of their Inferior Arcanum. A mage can’t over come that until he/she has become the Arc of that inferior Arcanum. Archmasters no longer belong soly of the planet of their birth they now become citizens of the cosmos, so their concerns must move beyond their planets to our Universe.
An Arc of Life is very nearly indestructible, to start with all physical imperfections are corrected; if they have bad vision, it becomes 20/20. All physical attributes are boosted, and whether your 12 or 66, you gain the strength and vigor or an above average 20 y/o. Arcs of Life can feel the ebb and flow of life in the blood, they can communicate with all forms of life; microbes, plants, and other animals. They can regrow limbs within 30 minutes of losing them, can heal anything as long as they use the right combination of spells. Its conceivable that an archmaster could create bizarre life that doesn’t melt away under the gaze of the Sleepers. Arcs can wield full control over humans, using them as puppets. Archmasters can permanently regrow lost or damaged appendages and organs, making her a truly powerful healer. An Arc of Life knows the anatomy of every living creature, on every world that exists with life on it. They make doctors look like amateurs.
In Conjunction With Other Arcana
An Adept of Life and Master of Matter can forcibly transform people into other substances, typically stone. This transformation is only temporary, though an archmaster may gain the power to make the effect permanent.