A power is an inherent magical ability. Effectively, the possession of a power can be considered a type of enchantment—xenurgical (or perhaps hysplegic) if on a talisman; (usually) auturgical if on a living being—that produces some external effect when sparked. (The act of imbuing an object or being with powers is called empowerment.) Sometimes powers may come from sources not generally considered magical, such as gods, superpowers, or psionics. However, if they are truly immanent (and not just brought about through technological apparatus), these powers are technically magical in nature, even if their practitioners prefer to use another term for their workings.
An object imbued with powers is called a talisman.
Sources of powers
A living being can acquire powers in any number of means. Some species have powers innately, either a fixed suite of powers for every individual in the species (with perhaps a few rare exceptions), or varying by individual from a fixed set or within a particular range. Even where most members of a species are without powers (or without a particular power), an individual being may be born with some power not normally possessed by its species due to mutation or to some enchantment either on its parent or on the area where it was conceived or born.
Other individuals with powers, however, acquire them later in life by other means. The most straightforward way to acquire powers is by enchantment, an auturgical (or rarely xenurgic or tinurgic) epasma that allows the subject to produce some magical effect at will. Such powers may be intentionally granted by other magic-using beings, or may arise through some form of spontaneous enchantment. In some cases, powers may be granted through talismans or even through enchanted locations; a being that gains powers through some tie to a locale is called a lucomon.
The powers of talismans are usually granted through intentional empowerment, through spells or through paracarminical means, although these too may arise from spontaneous enchantment. Sometimes parts of magical living entities may retain some kind of power after their severing from the beings they once pertained to, or remnants of such beings may retain powers after the beings' deaths. This is, for example, the origin of the betath that come from bits of dead golthoi.
Even when powers are truly innate, it could be that with practice and effort they can be developed past their initial levels. Magically empowered individuals may be able to increase the strength of their powers, and even perhaps to acquire new powers by just building on the numen already inherent in them without the need for additional enchantments or other external mechanisms.
Sometimes powers must be practiced, and perhaps even learned before they can be used; the potential to employ the power may exist in some sense within the individual, but requires training or exercise to bring out these latent capabilities. In these cases, the difference between a power and a spell may be somewhat subjective; there are some borderline cases in which the distinction becomes a semantic matter, and one celemologist may classify as a spell what another considers a power.
While beings and objects initially without powers can gain them, or those with some powers can gain others, it's also possible for powers to be lost. This isn't limited to acquired powers; magical beings and talismans can be deprived of their innate powers as well. Certain spells and enchantments—including other powers—may take away a being's or object's powers, either temporarily or (much less often) permanently. Such magics may affect only a certain subclass of powers, either depending on the powers' origin or the nature of their effects, and in any case they aren't guaranteed to work, and some powers may be more firmly fixed and more difficult to suppress or remove than others.
In some cases, too, a power may require effort to maintain, and may be lost if not properly tended. Some powers must be regularly used in order to keep them up, and may atrophy from disuse, not unlike muscles that are not exercised. Other powers may require more elaborate and difficult means to maintain, having to be recharged through periodic visits to particular locations, magical ceremonies, or other paracarminical means.
The possibilities of powers are essentially limitless; virtually anything achievable through magic can be granted as a power to a living being, or imbued in a talisman to be sparked at will. Nevertheless, there are some particular effects that are particularly common. A few examples of powers especially common in living beings follow.
- Offensive beams of flame, lightning, or other effects
- Transfigurement (usually of the being itself, but sometimes also of other entities)
In talismans, the most common powers include the following.
- Auras of flame, cold, or other effects
- Emanation of light, heat, or other emissions
- Increased durability (including possible regeneration)
- Scrying and other forms of divination
While this list comprises some particularly frequent powers, it is very far from being exhaustive. Talismans and living beings exist with virtually any power imaginable.