- A mage is more properly known as an agent, as in “one that acts or exerts power”. Separated from the rest of the cosmos, an agent is essentially a miniature universe all their own, with complete control over their destiny, free to pursue whatever future they wish. They do this through magic, the art of using one’s understanding to control Fantasy, the stuff of sheer willpower and imagination.
When an individual becomes an agent through the use of magic, they fundamentally change the nature of their soul and undergo a spiritual evolution to better accommodate this. As a result, agents have a number of inherent abilities and traits, and some that aren't inherent but widely used and more or less omnipresent, and all of which become more powerful given time.
These abilities include:
- Type 2 Acausality: Agents no longer exist in the past and future of the universe, nor the broader Kaleidoscope as a whole, instead internalizing their histories and world lines to become wholly distinct beings, cosmologically speaking. This is the heart of agency, as it allows agents to cast aside ideas of fate and predestination and seize complete control of their destiny.
- Limited Causality Manipulation: Repression is a technique available to all agents that allows them to temporarily erase their own injuries, essentially offloading their wounds to deal with them later. While repression is active, an agent is unaffected by the effects of their suspended wounds, but they can't offload them forever and will have to deal with them eventually.
Most agents let them trickle down outside of combat slowly so they can deal with them properly, but it's possible to "break the dam" with severe injuries, forcing all the repressed injuries to reassert themselves. Certain individuals with incredibly powerful repression can ignore lethal injuries, even those that should kill them on the spot. Certain idiots also happen to abuse repression and avoid facing their wounds, a bad idea that could result in instant death when their dam is broken.
- Damage Transferal: Most agents that bother with combat learn "grounding" techniques eventually, a broad term used to refer to tricks and exploits that reflect damage dealt to an opponent's body on their soul. There's a lot of ways to do this, and experienced fighters will utilize multiple methods in concert, getting around defenses and forcing open backdoors if necessary.
Advanced grounding can do things like destroy a lich's phylactery from a great distance by punching the lich in the face, hurt someone through their duplicates or mind control victims, and so on. Rather than simply focusing on the soul, these advanced grounding techniques can exploit any similar link.
- Extrasensory Perception: Agents have a magical "radar" (a misnomer) that allows them to keep track of their surroundings through a magical sense managed by a background process. These radars are much more reliable than conventional physical senses and are a lot harder to fool, but novice agents will still be more reliant on their original sensory array. At a higher level, many agents have incredibly precise, long-range radars that can gauge power levels and read souls, and use them as their primary sense.
- Flight: It's not an inherent power, but most agents figure it out eventually, as it's both fun and useful.
- Forcefield Creation / Resistance: The souls of agents have a number of protective barriers meant to keep their identity intact and defend them from spiritual harm. Exposure to magic will eventually refine these into absolute barriers, which adapt, like a magical immune system, to protect an agent from all forms of harm and anything that may infringe on their agency. These barriers are always active. More on them here.
- Type 1 Immortality: It's not an inherent ability, but knowledge on how to remove any natural limit on one's lifespan is widespread in many cultures, such as 20th century Earth.
- Non-Physical Interaction: An agent can interact with immaterial or incorporeal entities, such as ghosts, as well as things that don't exist. They can also manipulate and destroy metamatter, an alien form of matter that reacts abnormally to and rejects most physical phenomena. They can potentially control it as if it were regular matter after adjusting their abilities and calculations.
- Pain Manipulation: Combat-ready agents can induce "true", spiritual pain with their attacks, allowing them to affect those who cannot feel pain normally (such as angels), or mirror the pain one should feel from their wounds on their soul.
- Reactive Evolution: Besides the adaptive defenses demonstrated by absolute barriers, agents can also prepare adaptive offenses to deal with them. These usually function based on mutation programs, background processes that mutate spells as they are used, creating a number of slightly different variants and eventually producing functionally identical versions that can still get through specialized counterspells and defenses.
- Reality Warping: Magic in general functions by warping reality, but a particularly common vector are "Override Sigils", pre-prepared spells that alter physics in set ways to achieve certain results. At a high level, Relative Lightspeed sigils are omnipresent and allow agents to surpass the speed of light, by changing the value of that constant for themselves.
- Regeneration: Pretty much any agent dealing with combat will have to learn to regenerate eventually. No matter how tough the soul may be, if an agent isn't equipped to survive traumatic organ damage, it won't matter. As a part of the process of growing past their original physical bodies, most agents will learn how to heal from things that would normally kill them and many will automate these processes.
However, the body will remain necessary, even in the smallest and most irrelevant manner, until the agent undergoes apotheosis and completely transcends all containers, though such cases aren't exactly common.
- Resistance Negation: Due to the existence of absolute barriers, this is often a necessity in combat between agents, allowing an agent to pierce an enemy's magical defenses to enact the adverse effects of their attacks and spells. If given the chance, capable agents can even fully strip them and all their resistances away, leaving an opponent defenseless. More powerful and skilled agents can do this more easily, finding and exploiting any vulnerabilities to render even absolute barriers useless.
- Type 1 and 2 Self-Sustenance: Over time, physical needs such as air, food, and drink will become less relevant for an agent, and eventually completely unnecessary as their soul becomes more important than their body. However, rest remains a psychological necessity in most cases, and is especially important for spiritual healing.
Forgoing sleep completely is perfectly possible, but ill-advised. A human agent is still a human at heart, and will retain human needs such as rest, as the human mind is not equipped to exist without it entirely. Of course, an alien that never needed to sleep won't need to sleep as an agent, either.
- Subjective Reality: The essence of magic, which is forcing Reality to comply with one's Fantasy. Even basic and purely physical magic focuses on this as a vector; the Fantasy can be as simple as "that person is gonna stub their toe".