Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Power of the mind: imaging in the Imager series (spoilers)

Like I mentioned in my post about Imager, one of the really interesting aspects of the book was the imaging ability of the titular imagers. As I explained, imaging is the ability to create or even move objects from one place to another (I suppose teleporting would be the right word) by imagining it with their minds. An early example of the latter is shown in an scene where Rhenn, the main character, moves a raisin from his bowl to his spoon, which allows him to finally come up with a solution to a problem that his teacher had him working on for several days. An example of the former is when he images a comb as a personal test to see whether or not he had any significant imager power.

There is a counter-balance to imaging, much like magic in other books. Imaging can be taxing, depending on the object being imaged. Simple objects are inconsequential, but the bigger, more complex an object is, the more exhausting it can be and it can also lead to headaches. The composition of an object also plays a factor. There's another point in Imager where Rhenn is tasked with imaging aluminum rods and after four hours, he's left worn out and with a headache. Another constraint is that there has to be enough material nearby to in order to create an object. Rhenn images a bookend during another point in the book, one made out of stone and glass, and he remarks to himself that there should be enough stone and sand in a nearby courtyard to do it.

Make no mistake, though, imaging isn't just creating or moving objects; it can be a deadly weapon. Rhenn is trained throughout the book in how to disable or kill using his powers, mostly by imaging air or chemicals into a person's heart or brain. He's also trained in more non-lethal approaches, such as imaging oil on the ground to slip someone up or tar to slow them down. He also learns how to create invisible shields to protect himself, which come in very handy. The most basic type of shield is an anti-imager one that doubles as an alarm to alert him if another imager tries to hit him with something. Aside from that, Rhenn learns to create and shape shields to protect himself from bullets, knives, and anything else short of an artillery shell.

Imaging is actually a very fascinating power, but I'm not entirely certain if it qualifies as a magic system. Then again, given some of the rather far-out systems I've read about (I'm looking at you, Brandon Sanderson), it could very well be magic. The question is, could it be used in a RPG?

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