Axioms define what is possible within a reality, and represent how efficiently a living being can use a non-living tool to make the energy associated with that axiom to do useful things. There are four areas governed by axioms: Magic, Social, Spirit, and Technological (Tech for short.) Each axiom limits the interaction between creatures with free will and their environment, specifically how much each individual may use to change the world around them.
Any tool, whether it’s a technological device, social construct, or magical spell, has an axiom requirement affecting its operation. Axioms range from zero to 30, with zero representing a total absence of the concept and 30 as its ultimate expression. Note that operation requires free will and is governed by the axioms, but environmental effects and reactions are not.
Axioms represent what is permitted in a cosm, not necessarily what is found there. In some cases, one or two elements of the reality are at the highest axiom level permitted, but in others the actual level of advancement is less. For example, the Living Land’s Tech Axiom of 6 supports primitive sailing ships, copper smelting, and wheels, but there is no evidence that any of these innovations are actually found anywhere in the cosm. Tharkold has a decent Magic Axiom, but the people there shun it for fear of the demons that rule them. The Cyberpapacy has a Social Axiom of 18, which supports the Church’s vast social programs, but Malraux’s society is otherwise downright medieval, more indicative of Social Axiom 14.
Bending the Axioms
The axioms impose boundaries on what is possible within a world, but are flexible as well. The limits can be pushed outward in isolated cases or for short periods of time where the inhabitants have a special affinity for an action or practice that pushes them, like monasteries, arcane colleges, or universities. Axioms also bend—and eventually change—as the beings bound by them advance.
The Magic Axiom limits how the population of a cosm may use the arcane energy that exists in their world, and in turn how strongly it manifests on its own or affects them. It determines the types of magic that are available and how strong spell effects may become without causing inherent Contradictions. Magical energy is all around, even if it is unable to be fully utilized by the living.
- 0 No magic is possible. People don’t believe in magic spells, good luck, bad luck, or the supernatural. Not even in stories.
- 1 Concepts of luck, omens, and superstitions exist but do not actually occur or have power.
- 2 Visions of other locations are possible, but as an innate ability and occurs only by accident. The images are of random places, never other times.
- 3 Innate, accidental visions of the future or past can occur in extraordinary people.
- 4 Magic exists only as lengthy and uncertain rituals, each unique to its creator. Divination allows images of specified distant places, but not the past or future.
- 5 Rituals may be taught to other spellcasters. Unreliable divination rituals can see into the past and future.
- 6 Spells that may be cast in 10 seconds or less appear, though creating and learning them remains a lengthy and difficult process. Divination spells directed to specific conditions or phenomenon become viable.
- 7 Divination can target individuals. Minor apportation spells are possible, but can only move insubstantial or very light objects such as air, dust, or smoke.
- 8 Movement spells become dependable, and can propel objects like bullets or small stones.
- 9 Magical traditions develop, allowing the organized study of magic. Alteration spells become possible, but can only affect insubstantial things, such as magic itself. These two progressions make much more powerful, complex, and varied spells feasible.
- 10 Larger objects (up to 40 kg) become movable through apportation. Alteration may temporarily change the abilities of living beings, but not substantially change their shape.
Inanimate objects may be significantly altered, such as changing water into fog.
- 11 Wards or spells which react to triggers and conditions appear. Direct communication between minds is attainable. Alteration may transmute elements. Items may be temporarily enchanted, so lucky charms and talismans appear.
- 12 Magical creatures such as elves, fairies, centaurs, and demons may exist. Alteration may change emotions and the appearance of living things, but not their general form. Enchanted items such as wands or staffs may have charges, and last until the charges are used.
- 13 Highly magical creatures such as elementals and dragons spontaneously manifest and thrive. Mind reading becomes possible. Living beings can transform into other living beings, but risk is involved. Conjuration spells become possible, but only illusionary effects. Permanent magic items, such as enchanted swords and rings, may be created.
- 14 Human-sized objects may be easily transported with apportation. Conjuration of ephemeral objects like fire, lightning, or gas becomes practical.
- 15 Communication with other dimensions is feasible. Human-sized objects may be teleported directly between locations in the same dimension by apportation.
- 16 Connections may be established between dimensions, allowing travel or summoning. Spontaneously occurring magic items are possible, but rare.
- 17 Alteration of living into inanimate matter possible. Reversing the transformation is dangerous and often fails. Solid objects may be conjured from nothing with great difficulty.
- 18 Conjuration of living beings becomes a reality.
- 19 Spells may be made permanent, though this significantly increases the difficulty of casting them.
- 20 Advances in magical theory reduce the casting time of many rituals down to equal spells. Accurate information regarding the future may be divined with minimal risk.
- 21 Objects the size of tanks may be lifted and moved through apportation.
- 22 Improvised magic becomes possible.
- 23 “Intelligent“ magic items with a personality and an agenda emerge, though they can only communicate indirectly through empathy.
- 24 Fully sentient magic items capable of speaking are possible.
- 25 Trained spellcasters may create spells and rituals as they cast, allowing more powerful results of improvised magic. Apportation affects objects the size of supertankers.
- 26 Unreliable wishes emerge, spontaneously interpreting desires of casters or extraordinary people and altering them with permanent effects.
- 27 Wishes may conjure effects, and may apply to more than just one person.
- 28 Anyone may attempt improvised magic without trained magic skills. Apportation may literally move mountains.
- 29 Wishes become predictable and reliable with proper training.
- 30 All thinking beings can intuitively use wishes whenever desired.
The Social Axiom governs interactions between individuals and organizations. It affects how quickly information may be transmitted and converted into a cooperative effort. The Social Axiom is associated with psychic energy created when people become attuned without a framework like faith or magic.
- 0 Individuals can’t cooperate or interact with one another.
- 1 Individuals interact, but don’t form lasting social units or bonds.
- 2 Family or pack bonds form. Hierarchies exist, governed by instinct or combat.
- 3 Spoken language emerges.
- 4 Oral traditions allow passing knowledge from one generation to another. Extended and fostered families become common.
- 5 Tribal groups and alliances form. Pictographic writing and art appears.
- 6 Group leadership becomes more complex than physical strength or ancestral loyalty. Communities such as villages are practical.
- 7 Commerce and differentiation of labor develop. Specialized roles like tradesmen, soldiers, and slaves are supported.
- 8 Social units grow to encompass city-states or networks of communities with standing armies for conquest or defense. Taxation becomes commonplace.
- 9 Trade of goods and ideas commences between different cultures.
- 10 Crude democracy emerges, usually with a limited or elite electorate. Information collection is centralized thanks to libraries, educational institutions, and symbolic writing systems.
- 11 Feudalism and imperialism arise, allowing for larger and layered communities that include multiple subcultures.
- 12 Postal and news services spread information and individual influence across larger communities. Laws begin protecting individual rights and concepts rather than just property.
- 13 Society supports companies and financial constructs such as credit, interest, rentals, and price fixing.
- 14 Financial exchanges allow trading stocks, commodities, and futures. Insurance policies and lending libraries appear.
- 15 Notions of human rights replace systems of duties. Independent charitable organizations develop.
- 16 Hierarchies such as caste and class structures begin to dissipate, and equality between different groups becomes a priority. Slavery is abolished or becomes unfeasible.
- 17 Human psychology and psychiatry mature, and the practice of hypnotism begins.
- 18 Capitalism, socialism, communism drive national economies. Theories of the subconscious and collective unconscious emerge.
- 19 Exceptional individuals begin to exhibit precognition, usually feelings about the future or “knowing“ when harm has befallen a distant relation.
- 20 Pluralism rises, balancing diverse factions and cultures within a single society. Large bureaucracies and welfare become sustainable. Very rare individuals manifest weak telepathy or kinesis powers. Telepathy requires physical contact, while kinesis only affects the psi’s own body.
- 21 The rise of global agendas and efforts. Leagues of nations arbitrate disputes and enforce treaties. Precognition becomes reliable, but still very rare.
- 22 Multinational corporations emerge with legal and economic power equal to some countries.
Telepathy no longer requires physical contact but can only read or transmit to other minds. Kinesis powers can create fire, heat, or cold, as well as move air.
- 23 Standard rights of all individuals and rights of the group are accepted. Common interests begin taking priority over nationality. Distribution of memes and information is rapid and inspires collective action and coordination on large scales. Telepathy allows the alteration of other minds. Kinesis can move objects slowly, with the mass of those objects depending on the strength of the psi’s mind.
- 24 Supranational organizations with authority over nations are practical. Economic theories accurately predict production, distribution, and sales. Individual rights, responsibilities, and economic needs are balanced efficiently. Non-destructive methods for conflict resolution are established. Psionic manifestations may be bolstered with technological assistance. Kinesis can move objects about as fast as a speeding car.
- 25 Culture and language are no longer barriers to governance or cooperation. Social equality and justice become the norm. Decision-making processes reach solutions that please everyone most of the time. Telepathy can seriously damage minds. Kinesis can accelerate small objects to supersonic speeds.
- 26 Social structures seamlessly incorporate factions and societies even of a completely alien nature. Psionic powers of all kinds manifest commonly without assistance.
- 27 Rights are extended to non-intelligent animals. Economies are sustainable and compatible with the environment. Only rare individuals are unable to manifest psionic ability.
- 28 Anti-social behavior (“evil“) is identified and contained. Social memes develop which are highly resistant to evil, allowing society members moral freedom previously impossible. Anti-social actions become Contradictions.
- 29 Telepathy connects all individuals into a collective hive mind. Thoughts and actions are instinctively coordinated between all intelligent beings, including the transmission of Possibility Energy.
- 30 All living beings are interconnected, and function in complete cooperation.
The Spirit Axiom rates the availability and power of divine energy. Usually this belief manifests as faith in gods or forces that can’t be understood by science and technology. This energy exists even when the axiom is low, it’s just harder to perceive and utilize.
- 0 Gods, spirituality, faith, and the afterlife aren’t even concepts.
- 1 Concepts of existence beyond the physical and visible are possible, but have no effect.
- 2 Belief, focused by intricate rituals allows visions of other physical locations. Such powers only work for the truly faithful, and require sacrifice, study, and unwavering faith.
- 3 Believers with the Miracles Perk may participate in rituals, speeding their completion or strengthening the results.
- 4 Believers with faith may assist a ritual without requiring the Miracles Perk. The presence of skeptics or nonbelievers no longer disrupts rituals.
- 5 Belief supports direct communication between individuals or unnatural phenomena such as spirits. Direct invocation of divine power becomes possible, but is unreliable and subtle. The effect never directly confirms divine agency.
- 6 Miracles are possible, requiring only quick prayers to execute but rigorous study or ascetic sacrifices to accept. Spiritual power may directly affect the invoker’s mental abilities.
- 7 Religious artifacts can be imbued with spiritual power as a result of divine agency. Rituals may affect non-participants, regardless of their beliefs. Miracles can heal mental trauma.
- 8 Divine power can subtly affect the physical world. Miracles may physically enhance the invoker. Wards against spirits become possible.
- 9 Divine forces begin to act independently on the world. Direct observation is impossible, and such forces never respond to requests, even from the faithful. Miracles that enhance abilities now affect anyone.
- 10 Miracles capable of physical healing emerge. Observable signs of divine become evident.
- 11 Religious symbols and artifacts may gain spiritual power through the belief of a community—divine action is no longer required.
- 12 Miracles that cause direct mental harm to opponents become possible. Such powers usually require touching the target, or elaborate rituals to deliver harm over distance.
- 13 Spiritual energy can cause direct physical damage.
- 14 Symbols or artifacts that imbue blessings or powers begin working for any wielder, regardless of whether they have a matching faith skill.
- 15 Miracles are capable of affecting mental states over great distances.
- 16 Manipulation of the material world or dealing direct damage is viable at long ranges, and may not even require line of sight.
- 17 Evidence of divine power is observable and a routine part of daily life.
- 18 Gods or similar divine forces may appear corporeally. Sites or artifacts may have independent spiritual energy, allowing their effects to function continually and without a wielder.
- 19 Spiritual realms such as “hell“ or “paradise“ gain material existence. Individuals may physically travel to these realms and back.
- 20 One single faith becomes predominant for the cosm. Corporeal appearances of other gods cease, but their spiritual power remains available.
- 21 Select miracles become available to individuals with faith adds in the dominant religion, even without the Miracles Perk.
- 22 Rituals increase in power, and can affect entire cities, mountains, or rivers.
- 23 Items with spiritual power are created by popular belief, without aid of gods or priests.
- 24 Gods from the dominant faith may arrive in person when called upon, and often bestow favors on the faithful. Such gods are powerful, but are neither omnipotent nor omniscient.
- 25 Miracles and rituals from faiths outside the dominant religion become Contradictions, regardless of their axiom level.
- 26 The gods of the dominant religion become either omnipotent or omniscient.
- 27 Miracles and rituals are no longer possible for alternative faiths. Treat any attempt as an automatic Mishap.
- 28 Spiritual belief is so strong that there is no longer much distinction between priests and the general population. The Miracles Perk is no longer required to attempt miracles.
- 29 Rituals have power on a planetary scale.
- 30 All aspects of the dominant faith become literally true. Gods become both omnipotent and omniscient.
The Tech Axiom represents understanding, control, and exploitation of the physical energy and laws of the natural world. A new technology usually appears across many axioms: theoretically at first, then crudely or unreliably, then in a practical form, and successively refined.
- 0 Science and tool use are impossible.
- 1 Rocks and sharpened sticks are cutting-edge appliances.
- 2 Fire may be started artificially. Tools are carved from wood, bone, or chipped stone.
- 3 Animals are domesticated. Textiles and armor are crafted from animal skins and fur.
- 4 Agriculture and fired clay pottery develop. The first small buildings and boats appear.
- 5 Wheels become available. Mathematic concepts and theories develop.
- 6 Copper may be smelted. Smaller bronze tools and weapons are produced.
- 7 Bows and oil lamps become practical. Ships grow larger and seaworthy.
- 8 Pulleys, levers, and block and tackle appear. Early medicine and astronomy develop. Iron may be smelted for armor and larger weapons. Difficult animals are domesticated.
- 9 Plumbing and irrigation increase city sizes. Silk and hard metal tools emerge.
- 10 Surgery and pharmaceutical drugs do more good than harm. Arches, bridges, concrete, and dams alter the environment. Lock-and-key mechanisms are possible.
- 11 Gears and screws allow water-powered mills. Magnetic compass navigation arises.
- 12 Steel weapons and tools proliferate. Wind powers mills and pumps.
- 13 Block printing allows for mass-produced books. Chemistry may manufacture acids and gunpowder. Hot-air balloons fly. Glass mirrors and crude lenses are constructed.
- 14 Telescopes and microscopes become practical. Cannons and crude handheld firearms appear on the battlefield. The scientific method is developed.
- 15 Industrial steam power and the printing press become prominent. Calculus understood.
- 16 Coal engines provide power. Precision-machined parts enable pocket watches, bifocals, muskets, and rifling. Inoculation and anesthesia become common practice.
- 17 Electric batteries are invented. Telegraphs and railroads spread. Crude calculators, sewing machines, and reaping mechanisms change labor. Vulcanization discovered.
- 18 Machinery supports repeating rifles, recoil-operated machine guns, and internal combustion engines. Submarines, hydrogen airships, and gliders become available. Theoretical physics can describe and predict almost all everyday phenomena.
- 19 Automobiles, brain surgery, and radio voice transmission are practical. Automatic pistols, submachine guns, and crude airplanes appear. Relativity and quantum physics are developed.
- 20 Aircraft are metal-skinned and prop-driven. Tanks rule the battlefield. Radar invented.
- 21 Nuclear power and bombs operate. Devices like jet engines, electron microscopes, television, helicopters, and large mainframe computers appear.
- 22 Materials become lighter, stronger, and more adaptable thanks to polymers, plastics, and composites. Integrated circuits, the first home computers, and functional robots emerge.
- 23 International computer networks, augmented reality, and computer-assisted operations exist. Genomes are understood; crude genetic engineering and cloning become possible.
- 24 Bionic or cloned organ replacement becomes practical. Advanced batteries allow high-energy lasers and energized melee weapons. Supercomputers achieve limited awareness.
- 25 Portable fusion generators make personal energy weapons common. Nanotechnology and “memory“ materials become practical. Cybernetics are superior to natural components.
- 26 Light projection becomes precise enough to allow holograms without a medium. Crude force fields and lifting fields appear.
- 27 Artificial individuals are indistinguishable from humans and may be reality-rated.
- 28 “Living“ biotechnology reshapes itself as needed. Teleportation and manipulation of Possibility Energy are possible. Living beings are rendered virtually immortal.
- 29 Practically unlimited energy becomes available. Devices may affect mass and volume, or impose selective physics.
- 30 Complete control over reality. Space and time manipulated directly. Time travel.