Guide to the Guild Guides

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Guide to the Guild Guides

Post by Infragris »

Part of a larger effort to define and contextualize teleportation magic within Tamrielic culture. This explains why teleportation is not more commonplace and why it hasn't had a massive effect on the way the Empire functions (yet).

I don't consider this one quite ready yet, but since I'm not going to be available for a while I figured I'd post it so the basic premise can be discussed openly.
An Essay on Modern Arcane Transportation Methods
by Hroka

With the advent of the modern Celaudine method, the cumbersome and expensive teleportation systems of our ancestors became obsolete. Since then, these spells have been rationalized to the point that even a novice can apply them with some degree of success. What's more, the work of sages such as Suma Prenja resulted in a framework for the creation of enchanted objects which can transport their wearer to a specific location without fail.

With all these advancements, many laymen now question why teleportation is not more widespread in our lives. Why do we need ships and caravans, why must armies march and lay siege to fotresses, why even bother building vaults and walls, if one can bypass them by magic?

To answer these questions, we must investigate three key issues which inhibit a the application of teleportation: location, distance, and specialization.

Location is fairly straightforward. If one is to transport oneself or others by magic, one must first know one's destination. To this end, a “spiritual anchor” must be established in the location one wishes to go. In simple terms: one can only go where one has been before.

This restriction explains why teleportation to distant locales is not more commonplace, as few mages have the means (or inclination) to travel far and wide for such a purpose.

Additionally, the ability to maintain multiple "marked" locations is extremely rare outside the specialized training of the Guild Guides, who at best can maintain spiritual anchors in four distinct locations. Even then, connections may waver, a Guide can become confused, or, rarely, an anchor can snap without warning – a phenomenon still ill-understood.

Methods of teleportation that do not require pre-knowledge of the destination do exist, but they are without exception extremely dangerous. The Barilzaritic method was reportedly capable of bypassing these and any other restrictions, but the secret of this method has been lost centuries ago, and further investigation has been forbidden.

There are other obstructions, too. Many places in this world, by natural or artificial means, are capable of inhibiting teleportation. Extreme energies generated by the presence of powerful magical fields can overwhelm the signature of the spiritual anchor, leaving its counter-spell protocol without the required thaumatic "handshake". Other, more subtle means rely on the interference of invisible vibrations. Machines producing such frequencies are used in most Imperial prisons, and, as teleportation becomes more commonplace, we can expect such machines to become a mainstay in any number of settings.

The issue of distance and the expenditure of magic is not difficult to explain. When transporting someone, the magicka and level of concentration required rise sharply beyond a certain threshold in the Lucevarius Curve.

This means that, while teleportation in a range of several miles is fairly simple, the same spell across large distances requires exponentially more magicka. To teleport from Daggerfall to Wayrest is somewhat draining for a standard practitioner. But to teleport from High Rock to Yokuda would require more magicka than a thousand mages in concert could harness.

These calculations do not even come close to describing the requirements in terms of willpower. Even enchantments face insurmountable physical limits in this regard – there are accounts of spellscrolls and amulets which crumble to dust when the requested anchor is too far away, and one (particularly gruesome) story of a man whose enchanted helmet had fused into his skin upon teleporting.

Such horror stories pale in comparison to the real danger of long distance teleportation. The anchor connection can grow unstable, disgorging the passenger somewhere along the way (sometimes without their possessions) or dumping them in the general vicinity of their anchor point, ranging from feet to several miles. But some never return at all – caught, it is believed, between dimensions, utterly cut off from the Mundus in a liminal space from which escape is impossible.

A note should be made of teleportation to and from the realms of Oblivion. First, keep in mind that the infamous gateways to those principalities do not function by the rules described aboce, but by the pacts of the Daedra (though it is often said that their existence inspired the first forays into teleportation). Likewise, the summoning and binding of Daedra by means of conjuration is a completely different field of study, with its own rules and bylaws.

Rumors claim that some mages can use spiritual anchors to return to Nirn from Oblivion or, in the case of the very audacious, travelling to an anchor set withing such a realm. Such tales have never been verified, and, according to standard theories, travel across such vast rifts would require double-folded spatial astrolometries to boggle the mind of even a true master of enchantment and mysticism - if such a master even exists.

Though unlikely, it may be that the very concept of "distance" is entirely irrelevant in this regard, which would suggest that the planes of Oblivion are not cosmically far removed from us, but rather only a hair's breadth away from us, intangible yet ever present. Such a disquiting theory seems entirely improbable, which is why it is best to discount these tales of inter-planar teleportation is unsubstantial myths.

The training of the so-called Guild Guides, mages specialized in the art of mass teleportation, requires lifelong study. This rather unglamorous field, more akin to a ferryman than a master of the mystic arts, has often been derided in academia – the career path is a classic suggestion for students lacking talent or aspiration.

Despite this, proper Guide study is actually one of the most intensive fields of arcane practice. Standard teleportation spells are all aimed at transporting the caster, sometimes in addition to another person, but never to the exclusion of the caster. The few mages who attempted to wield teleportation offensively quickly discovered this issue.

This implicit bias is an inherent flaw in the Celaudine spell architecture, which Guide students must actively train to overcome lest they transport themselves alongside their client.

In addition, most mages can barely handle one spiritual anchor, while Guild Guides must master multiple simultaneous destinations without causing mishaps, "collisions" or other such unfortunate logistical problems.

The routine disrespect, lack of promotion opportunities, unfashionable postings, and high requirements for Guild Guide study make quality Guides relatively rare. Most Guilds can afford to keep a Guide or two on retainer, but it is often difficult to replace one that is sick or incapacitated.

This, too, explains the relative lack of enchanted objects that are designed to send the wielder to one place or another – most guild guides are so specialized in their field that the arts of enchanting are almost completely unknown to them.

These three aspects – location, distance, and specialization – are not the only ones that inhibit the widespread usage of teleportation. However, they are the most pertinent ones, and should suffice to explain why the widespread use of teleportation to ease our lives is still some ways off.

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