To: Academician Sakharov, Yantar Institute
From: Magda Nowak, Pathfinder and Affiliate of the Institute
Abstract: By expanding on the isolating properties of the shielded room within the institute used for item study and identification, to further refine the mechanisms by which the Zone's effects are manifested within Artefacts.
Background: Magic is broadly understood by non-specialists to broadly fall into two categories – intrinsically and extrinsically powered. Crudely, these are termed "Arcane" and "Divine" magics. This split has been long studied and documented, and is attested in classical antiquity1, 2. Through the post-Carthaginian period, scholars attempted to further refine this classification by defining as separate sub-types of magic such as Druidic and Bardic3, and even specific schools4. During this period, Elven and Dwarven scholars also tried to argue that their specific racial traditions, including spellsinging and runecarving, fall outside this basic dichotomy, but more recent scholarship refutes both these splits5.
Scholarship on the effects of the Zone has largely assumed its effects to reflect magical structures categorised as intrinsic, or 'Arcane'. Both in terms of quantifying and describing the effects, and in terms of assessing future risks and mitigations, known arcane spells are generally used as a baseline6. It has also been assumed that Artefacts function as crystallised arcane power, and that their abilities are entirely inherent7. Few Artefacts have been significantly removed from the Zone itself (the majority remaining in Kyiv, or greater Ruthenia), and the ongoing efficacy of their powers following removal has not been studied. This proposal wishes to test the counter-hypothesis that the powers of Artefacts are related not just to their form, but to their link with the Zone itself.
Primary Hypothesis: The Zone itself has a primitive form of genius loci analogous to that seen in some Druidic magic, and Artefacts acquire their power not just from their form, and the Blowouts emanating from the centre of the Zone, but also from an ongoing link to magical emanations, whether from the Zone itself or from an individual when attuned. A sympathetic or harmonic link is theorised.
Secondary Hypothesis: Certain materials are able to provide better links – indicatively an ascending hierarchy is proposed of organic materials (stone-like, wood-like); base metals; precious metals; gems and crystals. The magic of Artefacts is therefore proposed to be both intrinsic and extrinsic, and therefore represents a different category to any previously studied. Consistent with the assertion that the Zone's magic differs from previous classifications, the association of high levels of power with crystals is reminiscent of the magical traditions from the New World, dubbed "psionics" by early discoverers8.
Additional Hypothesis: For many Artefacts of which only weaker varieties have been studied and attested, rarer and more power variants are likely to exist, following the ascending hierarchy proposed above. Based on similarity of function, it is predicted that a Periodic Table of Artefacts can be constructed, and that this will include gaps implying the existence of new Artefacts.
Method: Phase One of this proposal calls for enhancements to the physical capabilities of the Institute’s facilities.
An isolation chamber can, to a limited extent, screen the background magical effects of the Zone and allow detailed focus on an item without background interference. However, to date, this screening has not been able to block all external effects. Additionally, residual magical infusion upon the investigator, as well as the instantaneous magical burst associated with the effects of practical Divination, will still necessarily affect the Artefact under investigation. By lining the screened chamber with materials known for their magic-absorbing powers, including boughs of Hazel and Mistletoe, and Salt crystals, it is theorised that a more efficacious boundary can be formed. Particular focus will be applied to the edges and corners of the construction, as angles and vertices have been known to concentrate magical energies9.
The effectiveness of these modifications will be tested by using practitioners of known magical ability and power to test their ability to identify (both passively and actively) Artefacts of both known and unknown powers and quality. In order to establish robust Control Groups, measurements will be taken in a wilderness area, inside an unprepared building, in the unmodified screened chamber, and in the modified chamber. The nature of the artefact will be concealed from the investigator prior to testing by the use of a thin cloth or other covering. Both active and passive identification will be assessed (Active characterised as Identify, in which energy is injected into the subject material; Passive as Detect Magic, in which the target’s own energies are absorbed). Effects will be measured both quantitatively (whether the artefact was successfully identified) and qualitatively (investigator's subjective assessment of the ease of identification and effort expended; a draft form for capturing feedback is included as Annex A).
Subject to satisfactory results of chamber enhancements, Phase Two proposes to institute rigorous procedures to manage and maintain the magical integrity of the room. This includes introduction of the Artefact under test to the test chamber not less than 24 hours prior to the proposed test, by a non-magical member of staff who has been decontaminated as far as reasonably practical (no more than a single visible mark on the employee’s Canary Stone). The investigating academic will be thoroughly decontaminated (no visible marks on a Canary Stone) prior to ingress. Detection during Phase Two will be limited to strictly passive measures only. Tests proposed for Phase Two include the ability to successfully identify Artefacts which have previously resisted classification, as well as a long-term study of an Artefact of known power, to determine whether its power or magical aura changes as a result of being cut off from the Zone for an extended period of time. Following the Secondary Hypothesis listed above, it is proposed that this should be initially conducted on a weaker Artefact theorised to be more weakly linked to the Zone. If successful, the test could be repeated on Artefacts of increasing power (metallic, crystalline), although it is expected that longer testing durations would be required.
1: Hanno of Carthage (185). Magic of the Spheres
2: Carolus Arcanus (351). Writings recovered from the Hoard of the Dragon Rachlevex
3: Moonsilver, Samia (664). A Taxonomy of Magical Cause and Effect
4: Godfrey, William (692). Godfrey's Enumeration of Magical Schools and Traditions
5: de Bertrand, Marie-Jeanne (1228). "Toward a re-unification of fundamental magical theory." Procedings of the Academie de Vannes, 1228, pp 362-367.
6. Petrikov, Ivan Fyodorov (1365). Common Artefacts and Anomalies of the Zone. Author's note – although Petrikov's analysis is known to be vastly flawed in areas, believed to be as part of a ploy to disadvantage any competitors, the taxonomy used is common with many later authors.
7. von Wallenberg, Helga (1366). Safe Handling of Artefacts; a Buyer's and Seller's Guide.
8. Cortez, Marina (1291). Magical Traditions of the Indigenous Peoples.
9. Valletti, Tomasso (1054). Generalising the Pentagram Principle to an Arbitrary Geometric Shape.