Animancy is the field of study that uses machines to examine essence, i.e. soul energy. Animancers are scientists that specialize in understanding how souls work. They tend to be mechanical inventors and tinkerers since so much of animancy is only possible through technology. Most of them also advocate using technology to manipulate souls with various goals. While it is not inherently evil, its purview of control over our soul and possible life/death is a sensitive subject for many. Some Animancers even capture souls when a person dies and use the captured soul to create a construct. Some regard this as attempting to disrupt the natural cycle of life and death are considered to be engaging in necromancy.
Animancy existed for centuries, but it didn't come into its own until the last hundred years or so; before, studying the soul was taboo, regulated, and/or banned. There were numerous prohibitions against it due to religious beliefs, traditions, and ethical concerns. Many political forces opposed Animancy, notably in the Aedyr Empire and its colonies Dyrwood and Readceras. However, in the last hundred years, Animancy has flourished. While legal to research and practice in the Dyrwood since the revolution a few centuries ago, Animancy only lately received more official legal recognition and has benefited from extensive interactions with the Vailian Republics. The Dyrwood and Vailian Republics are the two leading nations in animancy research.
Currently Animancy is at the beginning of a golden age of discovery of scientific fact and of human nature. Animancers try to answer questions like: do animals have souls? How are their souls different from our souls? How do our minds, our actual physical brains, interact with the soul that is in us? If we put an animal soul in a human's body, or a human soul in an animal body, how does that change those things? And in this world, many ethical problems arise, with Animancy still being regulated or banned in most nations of the world.
Despite a not-insignificant contingency of people who think souls are best left alone, Animancers have decided the benefits are too powerful to ignore — curing insanity, adjusting personality flaws, and even understanding the nature of life, death, and reincarnation. Major discoveries have been made — people have found out how to adjust and influence a person's soul and personality through this — but there are also catastrophically bad things that have happened — the creation of monsters and horrible creatures.
- In 2260 AI a group of Animancers in the Aedyr Kingdom transfers a soul in a dead body, but the reanimated body ravages. After this event animancy is outlawed in the Aedyr Kingdom.
- Pandgram discovers a way to bind a soul in a body and so creates undead.
- In 2704 AI an animancer working in Baelreach accidentally shattered the souls of about a dozen volunteers who had been helping him. In retaliation for the deaths, the citizens of the area stormed his house and killed him. Most animancers moved from the rural areas where they were studying and settled in Defiance Bay, many of them choosing Brackenbury as their new home of operations.
- In 2780 AI the Dyrwoodan government allowed some animancers to begin training and experiments in conjunction with the Glanfathan ‘mind hunters’ and some animancers gain limited access to some of the training sites where the Glanfathans practiced.
- In 2809 AI animancers in the Dyrwood begin to implant animal souls in the hollowborns, that appear after the Saint's War. The children are called "saved". After entering puberty the children become Wichts.
Fields of study
For centuries Animancers thought to develop a discipline or technology that would allow people to connect with the soul of another living thing—not just reach or strike out toward it. Wizards and priests had developed abilities to overwhelm or inspire the mind, but not to connect with it. Animancers theorized that it could be possible for one soul to reach out and connect to another, but they had no proof. Animancers studied folk legends about figures called Watchers who reportedly were able to see lost souls and perceive an individual's ancestral lives, but claimants to that title were typically charlatans at best or mentally unstable and violent at worst. A few intrepid animancers attempted to communicate with the reclusive spider-like race known as the vithrack. The creatures, obviously of advanced intelligence and extraordinary capabilities, seemed to possess the ability to connect to an individual's soul—albeit with horrifying consequences. The dangerous nature and rarity of the vithrack combined with their inhuman physiology have still proven to be insurmountable obstacles in understanding how their powers work.
Following the War of Black Trees Dyrwoodan Animancers discovered that Glanfathans had developed mental abilities that allowed them to perceive and contact what animancers categorized as "housed" souls, i.e., souls held within a physical vessel. Excited by these revelations, animancers in Defiance Bay began working with the brîshalgwin. For decades now, the ciphers and animancers have worked together, each generating new ideas and expanding their collective understanding of soul manipulation. Spreading all over the world
Animancers will sometimes capture souls when a person dies, but placing a soul back into a body that has already died usually produces *~ bad things ~*. Engwithans placed warrior souls into bronze armor to create animats (a Vailian term, not theirs), but animats have limited memory and consciousness. Dyrwoodan and Vailian animancers have been creating their own constructs using contemporary mechanics and metallurgy. Making a construct takes a lot of time and money, but the results have exceeded what the Engwithans were capable of on an individual scale.
- Animancy in the Modern Age
- The Life and Discoveries of Pandgram
- The Dyrwood, Part 5: The Proliferation of Animancy