Poetry: Dead Week

Caught in a dead week
Only waiting, come for me
Trapped by the cold and
I won’t reach out for help

I don’t suffer in loneliness
I enjoy it all the time
I’m not sure if I can live
or my lack of drive will kill me

Waiting through the dead week
Surprisingly warm in the snow
I wait and wait for the call
Will anyone reach out for me?


Art: Landscape Advance

Well, this is a bother.

It seems that the dpi setting in Krita doesn’t affect how a picture is displayed on a computer screen. This means that I have don’t know how to scale up a picture. Half the reason for making pixel art is so that the viewer can see the individual pixels (the other half is being able to be very precise), so…I’m sorry, I guess? I’ll have to look things up.

The ‘Advance’ comes from the fact that this picture is 240 pixels wide and 160 pixels tall, which is the same dimensions of a Game Boy Advance display. While I was researching video game displays, I came across a website, lospec.com, that had examples of pixel art made with limited color palettes. I think I want to try some of them out now.

If you like this picture, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Thoughts on the Aura Field, Part IV: On the Auras of Things

Aura, in the world of Occulted, is a form of subtle matter that surrounds a person or an object, or suffuse a place. The person or object so surrounded, or the place so suffused, is called the aura’s generator. Aura can be active, and have a visible effect on the world, or inert, in which case the generator gives no sign of being connected to the Occulted world.

When the generator is a living or thinking creature, an active aura responds to the generator’s will, in much the same way a person’s limbs do. However, places and inanimate objects cannot control their auras, although these auras can still have an effect. Instead, the auras of things and places contribute to the aura field of this essay’s title.

There are several qualities I want the aura of things to have. First, I want the characters to be able to affect the inanimate auras. Second, I want the auras to be able to change under certain circumstances. Third, I want to be able to bring in abstract concepts into this. I will also speak of the auras of places and how they connect to the auras of things.

The reason I want characters to be able to affect the auras of inanimate substances has to do with Jessica’s feeding. I need her to have a reason to drink blood regularly. An obvious need blood fills for her is that it’s the only way she can refill her reservoir of magical power. I’m don’t think I need to fill in the details about why it’s only blood that can do this, beyond the substance having a very dense aura. It’s much the same way that sunlight weakens Jessica’s aura. I suppose that instead of characters being able to affect aura, I want auras to interact with each other in ways the depend on the specific auras.

Jessica’s weakness to sunlight brings me to the second quality, of aura’s ability to change. Sunlight weakens Jessica, but moonlight does nothing to her; similarly, moonlight empowers Eric, but sunlight does nothing to him, even though moonlight is just sunlight that happens to have bounced off the moon. Even though out of universe, this simply because I want to copy folklore, in universe, it’s clear that bouncing off the moon changes the photons, or at least their aura. Some of you may notice that this bears similarity to the anthropological concept of contagion.

As for the abstract concepts, it would be better to say that I want symbols to have auras of their own. Draw a symbol in ink, and it has an aura with distinct qualities not present in the aura of the ink. Draw the same symbol in blood, and its aura has qualities associate with the symbol and blood, but not of ink. I’ll leave the exact implications of this to another essay, when I cover sorcery.

Abstract ideas can also explain why different kinds of auras act in similar ways. Both sunlight and crosses suppress a vampire’s power. What do sunlight and crosses have in common? Nothing, except that they are both associated with holiness. We can say that both crosses and sunlight have holy auras, but I suspect that what exactly makes them similar might be beyond the scope of the story.

As for the auras of places, they might be similar to the aura field, in that they are the combination of the auras of every object in the place. But I’ve already decided that ink arrange in one pattern has a different aura from the same ink in a different pattern. Therefore, there’s every reason for a room or area or any other space to have effects of its own, like having a barrier that keeps certain kinds of beings out or contained.

One kind of power that’s ubiquitous among places in the Occulted universe is the creation of additional spaces that normal people can only rarely enter. I will say now that there is no effective limit on the size of natural extra spaces, although artificial ones would be limited by the abilities of the creator. I want there to be entire planes of existence, the Jotunheims and Fairylands, out there, and I don’t want anyone to have created something similar. Or if they have, it was something unheard of.

You may have noticed that the three qualities I want the auras of objects to have all make the auras manipulable. This is because I started this series of essays trying to figure out how I want sorcery to work in my universe. The next and final part will bring it all together, and explain how ritual spellcasting works.

If you like this essay, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Thoughts on the Aura Field, Part III: On Monster-forms and Personal Abilities

As Occulted is a story about being caught by surprise by the true nature of the world, I need a way for the strange things in the story to appear as normal. So when sentient, talking monsters (like most of the Occulted were inspired by) appear in the story, they need a way to pass as a normal human. I have referred to the form where the disguise drops as the monster-form.

But as I kept writing, I found a place for characters, like Vanessa, who is inspired by the invisible man, and Miss Karas, who’s inspired by certain kinds of ancient Greek nymphs, that didn’t need a monster-form, and it would be jarring if they had one. Even Jessica, one of my main characters, would have a monster-form that’s little more than bringing out a pair of fangs.

Transformation can be little more than another personal power. The personal powers, the superpowers, the powers that an Occ can use without a ritual – I need a better name for these things, but if I can’t make it stick in my head, it doesn’t matter – the talents of an Occ is determined by the nature of their aura. This extends to everything from transformation to elemental manipulation to mind control.

Alima’s talents might be the strangest. Her aura can turn her body into dust when she is attacked, until she is little more than a heart, which can survive without the rest of her body, and can even let her regenerate if given enough time. This is mostly because I was inspired by mummies when I created her, and all of her powers are connected through that.

Getting away from the monster-form being the true form also allows me to answer a question I’ve had some serious trouble with: how did Alima’s mother carry her to term? Inherent to the concept of the monster school (another part of Occulted’s inspiration) is the idea of parents passing powers to their children. If Alima’s true form is a pile of dust in a humanoid shape, so would her mother, and in which case, where would her womb be?

One last thing I want to talk about is the difference between aura pressure and aura reservoir. Aura pressure is how much energy an Occ uses at a given time, while aura reservoir is how much energy an Occ has available. Picture a sack that needs to be squeezed to power a machine, and you can get a picture of the relationship between reservoir and power.

The original idea of the monster-form was that it was a state in which aura pressure went up greatly. This is most apparent with Eric’s transformation: as moonlight increases, the amount of power in his reservoir also increases, until it’s finally full to bursting and he has to transform. However, as I seem to enjoy writing about characters using their abilities in a clever manner than simply seeing who can punch the hardest, reservoir and pressure a background elements, mostly used to explain why Jessica needs to drink blood.

To explain how that works, however, I need to explain the auras of things. That’s a subject for next time.

If you like this essay, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Poetry: I Won’t Give In, I Won’t Give In

Blue winds in the sky
Danger comes from either side
I tremble with fear for future’s time
I won’t give in, I won’t give in

You strike me down
Only to crusade even further
I’m crawling after you, on knees and hands
I won’t give in, I won’t give in

Another dies on your blade
I rise again, still trying to win
Turn and face me, tremble at my will
I won’t give in, I won’t give in.


Digital Art: Le Montange

I tried doing something with Krita’s pixel art functions because I got too many games for Christmas and now I don’t want to hook up my scanner for a while. My computer only has three USB ports, you see. Anyway, I also discovered that if the picture is too big, there’s no real point to making pixel art, because the pixels will just resolve into a single object. That might actually make the pixel art tools useful elsewhere, now that I think about it.

If you like this picture, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Thoughts on the Aura Field, Part II: On Aura Itself

Aura, in the world of Occulted, is a type of subtle matter that surrounds people and objects, and fills certain places. Aura can be inert, in which case it has no effect and whatever it is associated with acts like anything you’re familiar with, or it can be active, in which case its generator is Occulted. It is that latter category, of course, that this essay is really interested in.

An active aura owned by a person reacts to that person’s will. What effects the aura has on the world changes from person to person. Jessica’s aura gives her super-strength. Vanessa’s let’s her become invisible. Many Occulted, like Eric and Angelica, can physically transform because of their auras.

Perhaps I should note here that when I say ‘will,’ I don’t refer to only to intentional actions. In particular, Eric’s transformation into a beast is linked to the phase of the moon. The idea was that he received some kind of energy from the moon, and when it built up to a certain point, he would have to transform into an uncontrolled state, where he was a danger to everyone around him.

There’s also the strangeness of Alima’s body. Physically, she is little more than a heart surrounded by a body that’s prone to turning to dust under stress, but I want it to be possible for her to live as a human, eating, drinking, even possibly raising a family. In a sense, her powers are a reverse of Eric’s. While his powers allow a human to become an unnatural existence, hers allow an unnatural existence to become a human. Or maybe it should be that her powers are instinctual and defensive, leaving her monster-form nearly helpless (but alive) while most others make them more dangerous.

I need to think about the monster-forms. I only realized that while writing this essay, but they probably deserve one for themselves. However, I’ve also introduced several other concepts that need to be covered; namely, I need to consider the difference between active and inert auras, and to think about the auras of things and places, as well as people. Funny how essays can branch like that.

To get back on track, aura is a form of subtle matter associated with a person, place, or thing. I’ve decided to call the associated person/place/thing the aura’s generator. Everything, or nearly everything, in the world is a generator for an aura, however, most things a person encounters in life has an aura that’s inert, and has no effect. The Occulted are people that have active aura’s, which lets them use their superpowers, including transformation.

From this, it is obvious that different generators have different kinds of auras. Different kinds of aura’s have different attributes. I might be able to make use of this kinds of things as an explanation for the rituals. However, I still need to figure out how inert auras figure into things.

Another thing I want to think about is spirits, beings that are made out of aura. As they would be independent existences instead of having generators, it might be wrong to call them aura. There’s another essay to write.

This essay is a mess. I’ve touched on aura proper and the free-floating stuff I also call aura, and on the difference between active and inert aura. I’m slowly groping my way towards an understanding of Occulted’s magic system. I’m not sure how the ritual spellcasting works, but I think I need to figure out how an Occ’s personal superpowers work first. I think that can be the next part.

I’m sorry about how disjointed this essay wound up being. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about when I started it, and in the actual writing, I wound up figuring out what the other parts of the essay were going to be about. I’m still going to make it available, just so that you can see how I thought of things.

If you like this essay, please support the House Apart on Patreon.