Come out here onto the street and take a look! This is a strange sight indeed. I spotted them just a minute ago. There was a lady standing next to the street torch over there that don’ walked up the street to talk to that other gentleman you see, next to the alley, and it looks like it got pretty heated rather quickly. Really, I was just watching because I wanted to see if the lad would hit her. Call it my sick curiosity. Ha! Anyway, in the middle of the argument, I tell ya, this lady reaches over to that wall next to her and grabs her own shadow in her hand, and pulls it over her head! I lost site o’ her after that, but the gentleman seemed like he could still see her ‘cuz he appeared to be scuffling with someone. Weird!
Anyways, look, the lady is back over there by the torch. Is she looking at me? …. Wait. What was I just sayin’ about? -- Calrick “Buzz” Tern, Proprietor, The Horse Skull Inn, Malekia, Seven Cities
Note: This information is not implemented in the game mechanics of Neverwinter Nights
Note: This information is unavailable to all but the most knowledgeable of scholars and researchers.
Long ago while the newly created nine gods were locked in battle with the deadly Negerai Prime, a creature was tasked with an important experiment that would ultimately shatter the unified Vortex of Magic into its four components. This powerful entity was the only avatar the Negerai Prime ever created, and its success in its mission gave rise to the Transitive River along with the four other pieces of the original Vortex of Magic. As it continued to follow instructions, the avatar diverted the Transitive River through the Plane of Shadow to create a taint that would spread among the demons and be transmitted to all who fought them. It was the Negerai Prime’s intention to completely negate resistance through infection and recruitment of his adversaries, ultimately tainting the new gods themselves.
Unfortunately for the evil Negerai Prime, his plans fell short. Though his shadow taint was released and began to infect the population of spirits, he was killed and his only avatar was jolted into unconsciousness. The avatar that was now cut off from its true self was no longer a god and relied on the taint it took upon itself just to stay alive in that deep sleep. Its physiology came to rely on taint for sustenance, and whenever a tainted creature wandered near the resting place of the avatar, it would be consumed and its taint absorbed. After more than 2,000 years and thousands of small tainted creatures consumed, the Dark Avatar finally rose again.
From 1266 A.O.D. to 1379 A.O.D, the lands of Khanjar Kuro were at a tumultuous point in their history. The world in which the Dark Avatar awoke was quite different from when he was put to sleep. He noticed that taint was still spreading through the spirit and mortal population of Khanjar Kuro where he now found himself, but that it was proceeding slowly and not in a particularly virulent fashion. Fortunately for him, the creature knew exactly how to increase that virulence and complete what his old self started. Spreading the taint required access to the Plane of Shadow, at which he was extremely adept. However, to make things more efficient, he would need to teach others his craft and recruit them as carriers and agents of the disease. Quickly, he put his plans to work.
Gifted with much of his old knowledge of human and spirit psychology and personal motivation, the Dark Avatar made his way quickly in disguise to the upper echelons of Khanjar Kuro society. He used his position as friend to some of the major noble families to recruit them to his art, which he called Pathomancy. Certain factions of the noble families saw great promise in this power to use against their enemies, and as they learned to tap into the Transitive River in the Plane of Shadow to achieve their ends, they unknowingly fell under the power of the Dark Avatar and spread his evil taint.
The Pathomancers were able to produce spell effects from this energy they tapped. However, as they did so, they opened themselves up to infection with taint by the Dark Avatar at a much higher rate than the normal way, which was to exchange blood or body fluids with a tainted creature. This exchange of shadow energies was highly potent, and the more tainted a creature became, the more its worldview began to match the Dark Avatar’s. After only half a century, the infection was so prevalent that nobles of Khanjar Kuro began to purposely infect and convert their entire houses to the service of the Dark Avatar.
The Dark Clans quickly rose up and destroyed the stability that had existed for the last 500 years on the island. In the first years where they were nearly unopposed against the untainted legions of original noble families, the casualties were great. The Dark Avatar War nearly destroyed the Empire over many battles taking place within the next century. The reigning Tenshin of the era decided that something had to be done, but he did not know what could possibly effective against this onslaught. It seemed the end was near.
The most powerful weapons against the Dark Avatar were not destined to be found in the Empire's capitol. Instead, an unlikely hero would stumble upon the key. Kodhi Kama was an Onishin of the contemplative sort, who longed to be away from the village and city life. He did not care for the company of others, nor did he desire to farm the land. Kodhi was a philosopher who spent his time thinking about the mysteries of the spirits and The Celestial Council, as well as his own race’s demonic and spirit origins. On one of his meditative outings in the forest, Kodhi happened upon a clearing where a disciple of the Dark Avatar was instructing a student on how to tap into the Transitive River on the Plane of Shadow, and it occurred to Kodhi that his spirit kin did much the same thing as part of their normal existence: some tapped into the Plane of Shadow, and some tapped into the Ethereal Plane. The difference was the Transitive River. Spirits and their ilk tapped into these planes and used the planar energy itself to exist. The need for a flowing river was an alien concept to them because they lived off the wider energies of the ethereal and shadow realms. Kodhi wondered if this same river could exist on the Ethereal Plane and if that would be useful in some way.
As Kodhi found a safe spot and set himself to meditate on this subject, he went into a deep trance. For days, part of his subtle being wandered the Ethereal Plane searching for this theoretical equivalent to the power source of the Dark Avatar. Just as he was about to give up his quest, Kodhi saw a vision of a beautiful shimmering veil of energy pervading in two directions as far as he could see. The liquid of the veil was silky and smooth as it reflected all colors. When he reached out to touch the liquid, a part of it entered his finger and flowed up his arm, around his back, and out the same finger on the other hand. Kodhi was astonished. He found what he was looking for in his vision and he named that liquid “ki”.
Immediately upon coming out of his trance, Kodhi began to test out some of his ideas about ki. He applied it to his meditations and his movements and began to understand how even someone like himself, who was not an exceptional combatant could increase his ability to punch and kick. Over the next five years, Kodhi Kama worked on this angle trying to understand how to become more in tune with ki and to use it to fight. He also continued his meditations to learn as much as he could. The time soon came for Kodhi to reveal his findings, now that he was confident that he had something to combat the Dark Avatar.
Kodhi sought out his friend Ajaga, another Onishin and lifelong friend of his. She listened to his stories and watched his demonstrations with great fascination. Being almost as versed as Kodhi was in the ways of meditation, she wondered if more could be done with this Transitive River. Specifically, she wondered if someone could duplicate the spell effects of the Pathomancers by channeling this energy. Kodhi agreed it might be possible, so the two began to dwell together. Kodhi continued to hone his skills in combat, and Ajaga sought to learn how to channel Transitive River energy from the Ethereal Plane.
For Ajaga it was a hard problem. Much of her early research failed and for two years she labored to understand the Ethereal Plane’s energies and failed. The breakthrough came when she and Kodhi began to covertly watch the Pathomancers in operation. They noticed that one of the primary ways they accessed their power was by partially entering the Plane of Shadow. One of their elementary abilities was to grab their shadow off the ground or another surface and pull it over their heads, using it as a partial portal of sorts, from which they would then be able to cast their spells. Ajaga believed there had to be some ethereal equivalent to a shadow, and after several more failed attempts, she sat idly one day in her room staring at a candle wondering what to do when the urge came over her to grab the halo of light around the flame. As she reached out, she forced her mind and emotions to focus on the ethereal nature of things and her hands slowly closed around the globe of light emanating from the candle! Quickly she yanked it up and over herself and her world changed forever. Ajaga had found the key to ethereal-based Pathomancy.
This discovery set her into high gear and she began to train heavily. Soon Ajaga was able to replicate most of the feats she had seen the shadow-based Pathomancers perform, and a few more they had not. As Kodhi and Ajaga’s power grew, they both decided it was time to teach it to others, and they founded a school on one of the smaller mountains near Kazani'e, Mount Funsui.
Kodhi and Ajaga fought many battles and taught many students over the next century. After solidifying their monastery and school atop Mount Funsui, they set about creating a new academy in each of the major clan lands, with each curriculum specially tailored toward the inhabitants of that realm. Though all five schools practiced the same monastic and pathomantic arts, their styles and philosophies differed accordingly to their cultures. It was not long before the number of monks and ethereal pathomancers increased enough to stop the advance of the Dark Avatar’s forces.
Though Kodhi and Ajaga would only live long enough to discover the Ethereal and Shadow planar natures of the Transitive River, it is also thought that the Astral Plane hosts a piece of that same source and that pathomantic magics could derive from there. Khanjar Kuro's inhabitants are only recently discovering this information as of 2250 A.O.D.
On rare occasions, when someone is in a highly agitated or elated state, a sense of being surrounded by a flowing substance can occur. This feeling is akin to being submerged is a turbulent and fast-flowing river. Though some individuals are more highly attuned to this feeling, it is not difficult to tap into it with a little bit of awareness and release from inhibitions. That flowing energetic buzz experienced by creatures in sensitive states is sometimes referred to as The Transitive River. Ultimately, this river consists of subtle energies coming from the Transitive Planes, i.e. the Astral, Ethereal, and Shadow planes. During any given age or epoch, The Transitive River originates from only one of these three planes, but it always flows through all of them in a twisted fashion, back and forth, before reaching the Prime. When it finally reaches the Prime, it permeates the entire plane, much like the Vortices and Mind Wind do. No one is ever able to isolate the river’s location, direction, or speed, but it can be subtly felt and drawn from by those magicians that are able to do so.
When specialized magic users who are trained to use this source for their power decide to cast spells, a small amount of the river’s substance is siphoned off and poured into the spell’s effect. Like the case with The Mind Wind, there is only one Transitive River, which puts Immortals and mortals on equal footing. However, a Pathomancer may only draw from one chosen plane to access this source. Light Pathomancers draw from the Ethereal Plane, while Silver Pathomancers draw from the Astral Plane, and Dark Pathomancers draw from the Plane of Shadow.
How It Works
In order to gain access to spells, a Pathomancer must first partially enter his chosen plane from which he accesses the Transitive River. This is accomplished in different ways depending on the Pathomancer's "polarity".
Light Pathomancers have the ability to harness light from a light source and by pulling the light over bodies they achieve the subtle planar shift needed to begin casting.
Silver Pathomancers are required to do the same thing to access their magic but they grab and use their reflections found on any surface in order to achieve this.
Dark Pathomancers do the same thing by grabbing and pulling a nearby shadow of themselves overhead.
Once thus primed, the Pathomancer operates much like a Sorcerer, except that there is no limit to the number of spells known, and there are other abilities gained depending on the character's polarity. The Pathomancer can also remain in this partially plane-shifted state for a limited period of time while casting a series of spells. Upon completion of the barrage, the plane shift ability is dismissed. The more powerful the Pathomancer, the longer he may remain in this partially plane-shifted state, but if that limit is exceeded there can be consequences ranging from fatigue to death.