A Lesson in History
In ancient times, there were but three types of magick: that of the priest, that of the sorcerer, and that of the runist. Then daemons brought dark magick into the world - but that is another tale altogether - and upset the balance of the whole thing. Nobody likes balances if they're not, well, balanced, so dark magick was all but extinguished in a great crusade. But it had introduced interesting concepts to the world of magick. Dark magick employed a variety of new methods to do its work. It drew mainly on energy which the caster himself produced through exercising his darker passions; it fed on and manipulated emotion, and was geared primarily to subtly influencing other sentient beings.
In the end, dark magick diverted from this path - again, another tale - but its principles gave scholars of magick all sorts of interesting thoughts. One of these thoughts was to fight fire with fire. Although attempts to teach people dark magick in order to fight the traditional practitioners of that art succeeded only in delivering more people unto darkness, several important mages of the time theorized that a new style of magick could be built upon the dark art's principles, thus creating an effective weapon without the drawback of actually dealing with daemons and defilement. Thus, the idea of mindcraft was born.
Nobody is completely sure how the style came into being in the end - apparently, daemon fae came into it somewhere, but nobody knows why - but any scholar of magic can tell you how mindcraft was instrumental in defeating the users of dark magick and banning its use from Tazlure. Afterwards, the style was all but abandoned as a relic of the holy war, a successful experiment that had outlived its novelty and usefulness. But scholars and universities of magick kept its memory and practice alive, and one important group of people on Tazlure adopted the style as its own: the bards. This is how, slowly, mindcraft came to be known as Bardic Sorcery.
It is this obscurity and lack of tradition that prevents the practice of mindcraft from becoming so popular. Think of magick, and the average Tazlurian will automatically assume you speak of sorcery; discuss it with an adhiel and he will find his mind wandering towards runic magic. Bards themselves are notoriously silent on the subject, preferring their little edge to remain mysterious and secret.
Nevertheless, practice of mindcraft still exists. In recent years, it has even been flourishing; while this trend is inexplicable to most, some believe that the old guardians of mindcraft's lore fear the return of dark magick and the forces of darkness, and have begun training a new generation of mindcraftsmen in order to form a line of defense. Most people don't see it quite so bleakly, though, and figure that the relative unobtrusiveness of the magick style is the main reason why people are once again flocking to its practice.
Demon Fae, Indeed
History whispers of the involvement of daemon fae in the inception of mindcraft. And indeed, bards often warn their apprentices, before passing the mental art along, that daemon fae will somehow be involved if they ever abuse their power. And as if that wasn't enough, rumours of disappearances and grisly deaths follow the practice of mindcraft around like a beggar would a sack of gold. The truth is that daemon fae were indeed involved in the creation of mindcraft - very closely so, even. When the demons first spread the art of dark magick around Tazlure, they infected a group of otherwise peaceful fae with their tainted energy. Growing hideously twisted, these fae turned to dark ways but never joined the forces of darkness; it was one thing to defile their surroundings, quite another to outright destroy them. To be honest, the fae, now possessed of a malignant mischievousness, would rather torture the world and prolong its suffering than end it in what could even be explained as an act of mercy.
At the same time, scholars of magick were experimenting with dark magick, attempting to understand its principles in order to defeat it. Every time they got close, though, one of their own would succumb and actively start practicing the dark art, which invariable resulted in prosecution and always involved fire, oil, and a form of cleansing that left its recipient little more than a pile of ashes on a marble floor. One of the scholars eventually found out about the fae, and a bargain was made: the fae would lend their understanding of dark sorcery to the scholars.
Of course, as with all things demonic, there was a bargain involved - a very dark one, indeed. With their newfound understanding, the scholars eventually developed mindcraft. It was, as they had hoped, a powerful weapon against the followers of darkness, but it had one lethal flaw: its very nature tied it to the demon fae. They could exercise their wicked ways on mindcraftsmen, who were by nature now susceptible to them; a daemon fae who could find someone trained in the art of mindcraft could look through his eyes, hear with his ears and taste with his mouth, and, if the taint in the person was great enough, could even control that person's thoughts. They had to find such a person, though. And a mindcraftsman whose mind isn't tainted in a demonic way is just like any other ordinary person to a demon fae, unless his mind is very closely scrutinized.
Over time, of course, the knowledge of this curse faded; today, the bard's warning of misuse being subject to the attention of daemon fae is the closest anyone is to knowing the true nature and extent of the art's taint. That warning of misuse of the craft is perhaps overly dramatic; but rest assured, any who defile themselves enough will find that their use of mindcraft had an unexpected price, indeed.
The Variety of Practice
See also Applications of Mindcraft
Of course, with mindcraft traditionally having two very different and separate groups of practitioners, interesting things are bound to occur. Bards are no sorcerers. Certainly, they can learn to employ mindcraft, but it is only to augment their ability as information gatherer and propagandist. Bards are by their very nature entertainers who value social skills and musical talent above scholarly matters. That's not to say they don't appreciate a good book; it just means they want to be able to have an interesting story to tell out of or about the book after they work it through. That a bard might learn mindcraft at all is simply because his skills and talents make them naturally suited to its art.
Traditional mindcrafters, however, are a far cry from the bard. Grim and disciplined, they have had to develop their minds and willpower to a great extent; because they can read and influence thought and emotion, they have no use for social skills; because they view meditation as a way of strengthening the mind, they lack the bard's drive for being among crowds and finding out all sorts of interesting things. Mindcrafters are silent, contemplative figures who often ponder the gray areas of morality and promote the development of the mind in general.
Imagine the look on one another's face, then, if a traditional bard meets a traditional mindcraftsman and the two find out what they have in common. The mindcraftsman will undoubtedly wonder how on earth such a frivolous character could ever learn his art and might even be worried about possible misuse on the bard's part; the bard, by contrast, will see the craftsman as extremely limited, learning the magick style without having the position or the wit to use it appropriately. It is exactly because their worlds are so different that the two groups rarely interact. Indeed, younger mindcraftsmen are often unaware that the bards sometimes use the same type of spellcraft. And similarly, many bards are unaware of the existence of the mindcrafters.
For the purpose of clarity, this document will from now on speak of the two groups as factions, and keep to set names for them. The rigid mindcrafters who practice the purer form are called the traditionalist faction, or traditionalists; those practitioners who come from the bardic side are called the bardic faction, or bards.
Mindcraft is the art of using one's mind and possibly one's voice in order to weave certain types of spells. While speaking is an important part of mindcraft, its use differs fundamentally from the way the voice is used in sorcery and faith magick. Additionally, mindcraftsmen practice their art in a much subtler way than any of the other types of magick: gestures are often minimized, and because the amount of energy used in a weaving is low and because most of it is generated by the crafter's own mind, practitioners of the art do not need to center, ground, or shield themselves.
Therefore, the definition of a mindcraftsman is: a spellcaster who employs energy from his own mental faculties to empower a spell using his will and mental prowess, and who delivers the spell by use of voice or eye contact. This means that, in order to be able to cast a spell, a crafter must either be able to make eye contact, or speak clearly and directly to his target.
And The Skills Are...
Magic:Mindcraft - The basic skill for the usage of mindcraft, and the only one actually required for casting. Basic mindcraft gives its user the power to perform minor readings and give one-word commands or suggestions, with each level improving the complexity of reading or suggestion. Additionally, Apprentice level allows the use of telepathy and telekinesis, and starting at Journeyman level, a mindcraftsman may employ eye contact instead of his voice to deliver the spell.
Magic: Manipulation of Energy - Being able to do mindcraft is fine and dandy, but unless the character is aided by an experienced mage, he cannot see the flow of energy around him. Mindcraftsmen who gain the Basic level of Manipulation find that they can perceive the flow of energy; a skilled practitioner of mindcraft can then use strands of human mental energy to power some of his spells, saving strain on his own mind.
Political Skills - Especially handy for bards, the political skill category contains such useful skills as conversation and public speaking. Nothing is more effective than someone able to weave the use of mindcraft into a normal conversation; when applied properly, the skills can keep uses of mindcraft from being detected and thus hide the true extent of the crafter's powers. Singing is another way of hiding mindcraft use.
Aura Perception - Often, being informed of a person's mental state allows for far more effective use of mindcraft on that person. Many crafters find that this skill comes naturally to them, since they are already quite in tune with the minds of men. Higher levels of Perception also allow the crafter to affect his target more profoundly in cases of suggestion or command
Empathy - Similarly, skill in empathy is a logical extension of the mindcraftsman's magick. Once your own mind is attuned to mental energies, picking up subtle signals from other people's mind is a very small step, indeed. Aside from aiding in appraisal of a person, higher levels of Empathy increase the effectiveness of a crafter's telepathic abilities.
Mental Resolve - Perhaps the most useful complementary skill for mindcraft, mental resolve raises a mindcraftsman's resistance to corrupting influences or the workings of other crafters. Higher levels also increase the effectiveness of any telekinetic abilities the crafter might have.
Faction Difference in Use
Returning to the two main factions who employ mindcraft, it should be noted that each have a different emphasis on which skills should be used to augment mindcraft. Bards clearly emphasize its power in the use of social situations. Few bards ever develop mindcraft to such an extent that it gives them telekinetic and telepathic powers; if they do, then they seldom use the telekinetic part of it. Instead, bards teach ways to augment the use of mindcraft in gathering information and convincing people. This means that, in addition to the mindcraft skill itself, they focus on political skills and, at the most, learn aura perception on the side.
Oddly enough, the one skill that both factions practice to an equal degree is Manipulation of Energy. Seen by both groups as a useful ace but not essential, Manipulation is often possessed by tutors and those who have advanced to the higher levels of mindcraft. The former group requires it to explain the flow of energy to young pupils of mindcraft; the latter often finds it handy to have a reserve of mental energy, since they are able to perform multiple weavings of draining spells.
The traditionalists, who as mentioned earlier keep to a much more rigid approach, often downplay mindcraft's social potential in favour of more practical uses. Reading minds, mental communication and telepathy are the hallmarks of a traditionalist crafter; when it comes to command and suggestion, they rarely attempt to hide their use of mindcraft, and tend to favour command over suggestion.
General Words on Duration
Most uses of mindcraft are instant. They take effect, and then dissipate. Sometimes though, the effect lingers on; illusion and telepathic link are but two examples. In that case, duration needs to be determined. And this is where one of mindcraft's weak spots kicks in. By its very nature, mindcraft magick is low-key and subtle. Because not much energy goes into its weavings, durations suffer. At basic level, duration effects last a minute if the caster is lucky, probably less. This may climb up to half an hour at best if the caster is a Master at mindcraft, but that's already pushing it.
Only support skills can improve duration. Mental Resolve aids in extending a spell's duration. Especially at the highest level, it can improve the duration to as much as a scene, or the equivalent of an hour or so. If the GM judges the caster to be particularly strong-willed, this time may even yet be expanded a little, but only a handful mindcraftsmen have ever been able to extend their weaving's duration even a few minutes over two hours.
A Closer Look
Because mindcraft is such a subtle art, its effects are limited. That is to say, its powers can, in contrast to the other types of magick, be summed up under a small number of categories. Mindcraft is as powerful as any type of magick, as long as one realizes that part of that power lies in the fact that, of all magicks, it is the most subtle and possesses the most potential to be augmented by supporting skills. Each type of application of mindcraft is looked at separately, with a few words on limitations, possibilities and hidden flaws and merits, in the article Applications of Mindcraft. The true extent of the powers is intentionally left vague, though; the individual mod has plenty of leeway to judge these powers and allow for interesting player interpretations.