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Witches exist at all levels of society, including the top echelons. These individuals summon the orgone within themselves to perform various feats of magic through invocations. This form of magic is slow, requiring ingredients, circles, and rituals that can take minutes to hours to perform. There is, however, a quicker form of magic that focuses specifically on attack and defense. This works through a series of intricate runes that are magically imbued with orgone. An individual simply focuses their power while reciting the incantation, using their physical body as a conduits for the spell.

Every spell requires a certain amount of orgone for use in order to have an effect. If that amount isn't applied, the spell is inoperable. The more powerful a spell is, the more it requires of its user. Most witches have a orgone level of under 100, with the most advanced spells being high than that. This means that high class spells requires more orgone than one individual witch possess, and must siphon power from other sources. Drow males possess hundreds of times more orgone than females, but are incapable of using magic due to reasons. Special runes can be used by witches to draw power from male counterparts, adding their orgone to their own to meet the requirements of a spell.

While this is a good solution, it makes the power scale among witches pointless. If you lack a high amount of orgone, you could simply siphon power from others. This makes being born with a high power level less important, which is not what I want. I would like to apply some importance to having high levels of orgone, while keeping the advantage of these siphoning runes.

How can I make this work?

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    $\begingroup$ If "orgone" is essentially the same as mana, this is a relatively common problem in gameplay. You can put a number of restrictions on siphoning process - make it slow, or difficult to establish, susceptible to being turning against the caster or otherwise unreliable. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 27 '19 at 17:15

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Siphon = Inhale; Casting = Exhale

(and you can't simultaneously do both)

You need some sort of friction or force cost to the siphoning. Make siphoning a weak return on investment: if I have X power, I can use that power to draw X+Y from someone else, where Y is barely larger than X. In that sense, siphoning makes sense to do, but it isn't a big gain. If you tie that to a time cost, then you're really making it a burden: suppose it is like inhaling and exhaling... When I'm casting a spell, I'm exhaling power. When I'm siphoning, I'm inhaling power. I can't inhale and exhale at the same time. So I have to siphon, draw in the power, then cast. People with high natural supplies don't have to waste time... they're more responsive. Natural casters may even be able to do "continuous exhale" -- the rate at which they regenerate their internal supplies may match the cast rate of some spells, allowing them to infinitely sustain an effect, whereas someone siphoning can only sustain it for a while before they have to go inhale some more.

Making siphoning and casting analogous to breathing gives you a whole realm of options to play with, all of which give advantage to the person who never has to inhale.

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    $\begingroup$ If you're going with the respiration analogy, it's also worth noting that a fit athlete has a larger lung capacity and more efficient metabolism than normal; so, a powerful witch could also be able syphon more total orgone and apply it more efficiently to her spells. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Dec 27 '19 at 22:10
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This sounds like a fantasy version of electrical engineering almost. I would liken orgone to voltage, i.e. the amount of power available; and we can hook up a bigger battery (a male drow in this case) or multiple batteries (several witches) to boost power.

In this case I would look to the other parts of Ohm's law for some inspiration. Sure, high power reserves are important BUT what about Amperage and Resistance? Electrically Amperage is the flow or "rate" of your voltage. So perhaps another measure for a witch would be the ability to "apply" the orgone into the effect of a spell.

Lastly Ohms the measure of resistance in electrical stuff could have a counterpart in orgone as well. Since large spells tend to require lots of orgone (several other people generally) there could be a measure of a persons ability to absorb this energy. If you have a low resistance, you can quickly absorb this from others and make spells happen faster.

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The first rule of conjuration: never call up what you can't control. Sure, you can call on a theoretically infinite amount of power from other people, but if you can't control it, it's useless - or even dangerous. (Think about what happens if you give a steam engine "too much power" - it explodes.) A witch can't use borrowed power to direct or guide borrowed power; she's limited to her own personal pool of energy for that. Therefore, not only does a higher power level give her more ability on her own, it also means she can channel more power from other sources without problems.

Bonus: depending on exactly what happens if a witch calls up too much borrowed power, you could create some spectacular desperation weapons.

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If you lack a high amount of orgone, you could simply siphon power from others. This makes being born with a high power level less important, which is not what I want. I would like to apply some importance to having high levels of orgone, while keeping the advantage of these siphoning runes.

You already have the solution for this. Drow males possess hundreds of times more orgone than females but can't cast? Why not?

Because casting requires more than orgone. Having a high orgone level and a low casting level means drawing power from others is pointless. Reverse that and having help from others is useful. But at no point are levels meaningless.

Drow males are simply the case of having 0 casting level. Orgone is useless to them without someone else to cast it.

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It requires a willing participant
By itself, this isn't the most limiting thing in the world, but at least it prevents witches from just sucking unlimited power from everyone around them. To draw the power, the source must open themselves up and allow it to be taken. This may even require specialized training and meditation techniques (more on that below).

It hurts the source
Drawing from your own power is painless and easy. Drawing from someone else causes them pain, which may be reduced with sufficient experience, but never fully eliminated. (Note: this should probably be paired with the willing participant idea, so as to not be weaponized.)

Non magic users cannot regenerate their supply
Witches can rest and recover their supply of orgone, but others cannot. Drow males may have hundreds of times more to start, but once it's gone it's gone.

If you run out, you die
Anyone left with 0 orgone in their system instantly dies. If there is no way to know how much someone has left, or how much they have in the first place, there is always a risk of killing them. You must draw from them and hope they have enough left. Alternatively, you could have some method of knowing how much is left, requiring them to carefully manage their resources. (One interesting option would be to have the potency of the power increase inversely with how much is left. The last few "drops" can produce near infinite power, making the most powerful spells (hundreds of thousands of orgones) require a willing sacrifice.)


Given the above ideas, here is how I would probably merge them together

Females (witches) are born with the ability to channel orgone into spells. They typically have relatively low overall capacity (though it can be higher, this is very rare), but it regenerates over time when resting. With specialized training they can learn techniques to increase regeneration rates, but they cannot increase their overall capacity. Channeling the orgone into spells requires high concentration, potentially leaving her vulnerable.

Males (we'll call them batteries for now) are typically born with very high orgone capacity, but this varies greatly (possible genetic components?). They cannot channel their own orgone, but can increase their capacity and, with sufficient training, can open themselves up to allow a witch to channel it instead. They do not regenerate orgone, but with special rituals a witch can channel her orgone into them, increasing his supply. At advanced levels, the battery can choose to train in battle meditation, opening themselves while simultaneously fighting, but this is an incredibly challenging skill. After many years of training and practice, those that are more skilled in combat are assigned to a witch to be her guardian. Those less combat oriented, who focused primarily on meditation and increasing capacity, serve the witches (organization? conclave? guild?) as a whole, using their abilities to assist in channeling the most advanced spells and rituals.

While it is possible for a which to draw power from an untrained and unwilling source, it is incredibly difficult and causes the source great pain. Channeling from a trained battery that has opened them self up to her is still tricky, but only slightly more than channeling her own. (Note: a witch cannot transfer orgone back into herself from a battery. The battery's orgone is channeled directly into the spell.)

There is no limit to how quickly a witch can channel her own orgone, but channeling from a battery faster than he is capable causes pain proportional to the excess, so a witch must take great care to know the battery and his abilities well. In desperate times it may become necessary to over-draw and some experienced batteries have been trained to handle this to a certain point, but pushing too far can cause serious injury, loss of some or all orgone storage abilities or even death.

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What I see as the simplest way to keep drawing orgone from another individual from making personal power level irrelevant is to tie that ability to the personal power level. A witch born with more personal power is also able to channel more power from an external source, and in direct proportion. This would make the most powerful witch, with the most powerful male partner/battery, almost impossible to overpower (unless witches are also able to combine their power, either internal or external, by casting in a group ritual, of course -- making the Council always greater than any member).

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Go quantity, not quality

Males have just as much (or more, but not orders-of-magnitude more) orgone as females, yet cannot use it themselves. In a society that values this power and does not want it to go to waste, females will accumulate males in a sort of "mana harem", and use a large number of those batteries-with-chest-hair as fuel for their spells. The most powerful witches could even sway some of the less powerful ones to join their harem and allow themselves to be drained of their orgone in exchange for benefits normally inaccessible to them (eg. social status or access to spells more draining than in the capacity range of the weaker witch).

More magically powerful witches (those with more innate orgone) will have more sway in the socio-political structures of the society that values their power. This will lead them to have more draw to unclaimed males and benefits to offer them, thus being able to draw more orgone from more sources, thus being more magically powerful, thus being more respected in the society, thus gathering a larger harem... You see where I'm going with this.

You can combine this idea with:

  • diminishing returns on draining orgone from others, so that for example to double your power, you'd have to drain two people of orgone levels comparable to yours.

  • a resonance effect that strengthens the orgone pool beyond the sum of orgone provided by participants.

  • slow regeneration of orgone, which means you cannot drain the same person two times in a short period of time, whether that period is an hour, a day, or a month.

All of the above put more pressure on larger harems for slightly different reasons.

This solution will also have interesting effects on the society as a whole: male children will have vastly less value compared to females, as it's the females that run the power structures, probably government and military too. Pushed to extreme, this could lead to some families killing off most or all of their male children (see China and girls). Let one family have too many girls in one generation, though, and you're facing a potential war for succession, or at least a very heated conflict among sisters about which of their harems will their brothers join, or which one of them should be seen as the most powerful and leader of the family. Not to even mention how would the leadership, government structures or societal hierarchies work...

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The Siphoning Rune is a long-running spell with the rune as its result

The siphoning rune is a spell of witches, designed to multiply her orgone reserves temporarily through the use of a male donor. Given that by the question males have a capacity within two orders of magnitude higher than women with some approaching three, this potentially allows for a high multiplier effect if the plot allows it.

This rune spell, when activated, uses a portion of her own orgone, and channels it through the rune to draw out a multiple of that amount from the donor the rune is attached to. Based on what you are aiming for, this could be any reasonable number. Conversely, it could be that multiple subtle variants of this runic spell exist for different multipliers.

It was originally designed to not interfere with a witch's spellcasting, and in fact was designed to work with the more orgone intensive spells in their arsenal specifically because one witch alone could not power them. That typed, the rune has two critical features that were part of its design to prevent certain misuses.

Firstly, it is a multiplicative effect. This means that a witch that can input more orgone into the rune can extract more orgone as a result. The highest multiplier that the rune can achieve was found to be the limit of what a witch could control. The second is that only orgone from the rune's creator (a witch) can activate the rune, preventing exponential draw through multiple donors or another witch activating the runes to drain the batteries.

Another restriction is that because this is a long-running spell, a single "unit" of orgone is always drawn from a witch to feed the donor rune, meaning that a weak witch, in addition to not being able to pull as much from a single donor as a powerful one, may only be able to connect to a certain number before problems start to arise.

To give an example: We have a witch -- let's call her Hazel. Witch Hazel uses a siphon rune on her donor, puts in 3 units of orgone and the donor gives out 30. Had she put in more, she would have gotten more. Now how much of that 30 units she can use is a different matter -- the ability to use another's orgone for their purposes.

Power as Status

Social power is just as much of a thing as magical power. While a weak female is still going to be socially ranked above a gifted male, a gifted female will be ranked higher than both of them. In this case, social power is granted to those that can demonstrate great personal power. In the case of the Witch Caste, this is directly related to magical potential.

While this does not address the issue directly as a witch can compensate for a lack of personal power with magic donors, a woman of higher status may have access to more or better donors. The strongest witch may not be the one with the largest pool of donors to choose from, but the one that travels alone or with a single donor, confident in her own power enough to not require multiple people to prop her up.

Elven Resources

Naturally, there is a resource crunch in everything -- in this case it is the magic donors themselves. There are only a certain number of male drow around, and as such a certain amount of living magic batteries. If you want to keep it a resource management issue, then consider some of the limitations of the males, such as their recharge rate and capacity.

As a side note, if males and females have the same recharge rate, then it will take males longer to fully recharge due to their much higher capacity.

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Add a transfer cost for siphoning orgone. When a drow transfers orgone to a witch, the drow uses up a larger amount of orgone from themselves than if the witch just uses their own personal supply. Siphoning large amount of orgone also takes precious seconds in battle, while personal orgone supply are available immediately, and excess orgones in a witch will deteriorate/leak out over time, so it limits the usefulness of transferring large amount of orgones ahead of battle. A witch has a natural overcharge capacity that they can improve with training, little over charge above their natural capacity can be maintained for a long time, but massive overcharge will leak out much more quickly.

Experienced witches and drows can transfer orgones more efficiently than inexperienced ones (transfer bandwidth is higher and orgones wasted in transfer cost is lower). Lower level witches would waste most of the orgone in the siphoning process as transfer losses, while higher level witches can draw much larger amount of effective orgone from drows that they have high affinity with.

Additionally, if a large number of drows are transferring simultaneously to a single witch, the effective percentage of orgones that the witch can actually use are reduced than with smaller number of drow as some percentage of the orgones had be spent to synchronise the transferred orgone's wavelengths before the transferred orgone can be used. This limits the number of drows that can simultaneously transfer orgones to a single witch.

After draining about 5 drows or so, even very experienced witches would waste more orgone in overcharge leakages, transfer losses, and synchronisation losses than the effective amount of orgones they'd receive from additional siphoning.

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What is magic in your setting?

Most games, for example, make magic a resource management aspect. That's why you have limited spell slots, limited mana, limited components, casting time, etc. etc.

Making a powerful secondary source of the main resource available does, indeed, break the resource management aspect and you will have to add a restriction. Such as a limited ability to channel that additional energy, or limited availability (can't tap into any male, he must be willing to give, or whatever).

Many stories, however, do not make magic resource management but consequential. You have tons of power at your fingertips, but what do you do with it? Who bears the cost? Do others suffer from your magic or is it dangerous (to yourself or them)?

If that is your angle, there must be a cost or danger associated with tapping into the male energy. Maybe it can blow over, or the way to do it is ethically questionable. In a consequences setting, you wouldn't limit the available energy, you would dwell on what it means to use it.

There are probably more approaches, but these two seem to me the by far most common. Which one does your setting follow?

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