WBM: It’s Over

Well, world building month is over, but I've decided to keep going. Why? Well, first off it's because I started late. I didn't hear about it until almost a week after it started, which means I missed out on almost seven days worth of world building anyway. Most importantly, however, Lindsey was visiting from England for three weeks of August, which means that for three weeks of August I was preoccupied with more important things (such as spending time with the woman I love because we don't get to be together like normal couples on a day to day basis). So, I'm going to continue with the world building and post about it here on WISB. I like Altern and I don't want to stop just because world building month is over.

So, I shall continue!

(Don't click the read more, there isn't any more after this!)

WBM: Bestiary–Knockers

Location and General Information
Knockers are found underground either in undiscovered underground caves and caverns, or in mines. Some knockers have been found in the sewage systems of cities, but it is thought that these are either rejects of knocker culture or confused or poisoned individuals who have become lost. On some occasions a particularly crazy knocker may inhabit a cellar.
Knockers are best known by miners for their mostly helpful nature. They are naturally in tune with the earth and can sense where the richer veins of minerals are, signalling with knocks or bangs. So long as the knockers are fed, they are more than willing to help miners find their riches, but the moment someone denies them their indulgences they can become violent. They are too small to cause serious damage by themselves, but they can lead miners to dangerous areas or cause havoc.
For fun, the knockers like to make their appearances more disgusting than they naturally are. This can scare miners who aren't expecting it.

Knockers are roughly a foot tall. Their faces are wrinkly and covered in warts and bumps and they have milk-white eyes; their heads are too large for their bodies, but they seem to show no strain in holding up such big craniums. Their torsos, arms, and legs are almost always sickeningly thin, even though they are healthy. They tend to have no hair, but sometimes they have little greasy strands on the points of their heads. For clothing they often wear small helmits and worn clothing of various colors. Sometimes they have thick boots, but most of the time they walk barefoot.

Knockers, as mentioned, are naturally in tune with the earth, always aware of where the rich veins of minerals are or where the earth is loose and might post problems for miners. Additionally they have the ability to alter their appearances, but only in one direction--making themselves look uglier. Beyond this they have no other magical abilities.

There are no female knockers, oddly enough. They are instead born from the earth. Altern's inner core produces surges of lava on occasion that plow over rich soil and forest. It is from this explosion of molten rock that they are born, rising from the drying remains of volcanic eruptions. They mold their faces while the lava is still pliable and then they walk away in search of dark recesses to hide in or miners to aid.

Knockers are not an overly complex people on the surface. They seem more like tricksters or mimickers rather than individuals, seeing how they spend their days helping minors, pretending to be minors themselves, or trying to ruin miners who have wronged them. But they do have a culture that is relatively unique that is not influenced by human culture. There have been twenty-seven knocker wars, all of which have resulted in the closure of many mines that were once profitable. Knockers absolutely hate arrogance, especially among their own kind, and it is seen as a sign of disrespect and worthy of punishment. The problem is that knockers often become arrogant when dealing with arrogant knockers or people. Wars break out regularly, but thankfully humans are mostly unaware of them.
Additionally the knockers are quite fond of celebrations and are greatly honored when humans invite them to human parties. Knocker parties are far different from human parties, however, as they often play a game called Bontrussle--almost always in intense competitions. Bontrussle is essentially a rock throwing competition, but inside of a cave system, where each knocker takes a turn chucking a rock down the tunnel, the object being to have the most ricochets and the longest distance. Accusations over someone cheating are made every single time.
So, knockers are not as simple as they might seem.

WBM: The Five Substances–Bunglefish

I figured I should add more about the unstable substances of my world. There are now going to be five in total, all filling different positions in the earthly spectrum (plant, animal, mineral, etc.). So, here is the Bunglefish.

Location and General Information
The bunglefish is one of the five unstable magical substances. Unlike the other four, this substance is actually an animal--a fish to be exact. It can be found in fresh water lakes and rivers and is most abundant in deeper waters.

Bunglefish are roughly two to three feet long, and three to four feet tall with large finger-like spikes protruding from their backs. Their tails are dominated by loose strands of skin that flap behind them lazily. Two tiny, black eyes are overshadowed by a massive, toothless mouth used for eating other fish and rocks. They weigh anywhere from two to fifteen pounds, depending on where they are found--the deeper the water, the larger they become. One of the strange features of the bunglefish are their gills, which seem to glow a bright gold color underwater. Much research has been done into this area, but the reason for this strange glow is yet unknown--there are no gold flakes on their gills or any deep water gold mineral veins.

Bunglefish can be eaten or turned into fish oil and rubbed on the skin. The problem is that consuming the meat fills one's belly with water in unpredictable quantities. Many have died by consuming the fish purposefully or by accident, drowning in water as it came pouring out of their mouths like rivers. This can go on for hours. Rubbing the oil on one's skin can produce a more painful result if used in large quantities: the skin begins to seep water and blood and eventually this results in an exceedingly painful death.
Humans are interested in the bunglefish for its ability to rehydrate almost instantly. Like with cacticles, the bunglefish is hard to control. There is no way to tell how effective a particle bunglefish will be, at least not with the technology available to the people of Altern.
Unfortunately, due to the high mortality rate of bunglefish, they are used rarely and are often avoided.

WBM: Bestiary–the Portunes

Location and General Information
The Portunes are a type of faery found almost anywhere where farmland is present, though more often in rural areas as the owners of farmland around cities are less friendly to creatures of magic.

The Portunes look like old men with long beards that they tie around their necks when working and have abnormally large ears. They often wear coats covered in pockets, presumably for keeping the strange things they find on their journeys. They are roughly the size of a finger in height, however the record height for a Portune was two and a half fingers (a Barthum Mugnus, who died at the age of twelve-hundred and seven; his name was given to him by a farmer that thought he looked remarkably like his deceased grandfather). Sometimes they have extra large noses instead of ears, but this is very rare. They are remarkably friendly during the day and helpful. At night, however, they become a nuisance, unable to resist engaging in acts of mischief (such as leading tired travelers into ditches or ponds, and other such cruel, but relatively harmless activities). As such, they are often locked up at night by farmers; the Portunes don't like it, but they usually forget about it when the sun rises.

The Portunes don't technically have any magic to speak of. They are exceptional gardeners and are of great use to farmers who need a little extra hand in the fields. Whether this is just a natural talent or actual magic isn't exactly known. The only magical thing about them, if one must have something to say, is that they live an average of four-thousand years.

Mud is the life force of the Portunes. That's where they are born and that's where they like to sleep. Humans who see Portunes regularly are always surprised by how clean they are, and they should be, for Portunes never shower; they are just naturally clean. During the fall of every year, just when the rains start to kick in, new Portunes appear from the mud, growing like little weeds until they are whole and can walk. Humans have to be careful of them from time to time because they have a tendency to grow on roads and it's considered a bad omen to kill a growing Portune, knowingly or not.

The Portunes have a simplistic culture that revolves entirely around the farmlands they live in. Because they are mischievous at night and hard workers during the day, they don't really have the time to come up with anything on their own, so they follow their human "friends" as best they can, mimicking them during the day. This becomes a bit of a joke among humans who find it rather funny to see the little creatures trying to act the part of housewife or farmer.

WBM: Bestiary–Gnomes

Location and General Information
Small creatures made of various materials (usually clay). They come to life almost exclusively at night, however they have the ability to awaken during the day if they deem it necessary. Most gnomes, however, only awaken at night, for they are incapable of daylight travel and remain as structures of whatever material they were constructed of (such as a clay statue). They are notoriously vicious when careless humans injure them or destroy their property. They can be found just about anywhere, though they are more common in the more rural areas of cities and especially among those with at least modest wealth. They are mostly unknown to people, remaining more as folklore. Few people take the tales of their existence seriously as gnomes are quite good at remaining hidden; that and one can never know which lawn gnomes are likely to come alive.

They are usually in and around two feet tall, rarely larger, and occasionally shorter. Large white beards extend from their faces--even the females--and they tend to wear little farm suits with pointed red caps, though they sometimes wear other things, depending on who creates them. They are rosy-cheeked and look similar to miniature Santa Clauses. Basically, a standard lawn gnome.

For the most part the only magical thing about gnomes is that they are alive. Gnomes do have a natural ability to regenerate: all they need to do is consume the substance they are created from or the blood and flesh of a human being. Their kisses do have healing properties. They almost never have any other forms of magic.

Gnomes are created almost exclusively by accident. Usually humans are responsible for their creation, though other sentient creatures have been known to create gnomes. Whenever someone creates a gnome for their yard or home there is a high likelihood that that gnome will be born. Much like werewolves, gnomes who will come to life do so on the first night after their creation. After that, they will either awake whenever they want, or every night. Rarely do they work on a lunar cycle where the full moon is the activator. You build them and they will come to life.

Gnomes are incredibly territorial. As such, they tend to be exceedingly violent towards outsiders. Owners of lawn gnomes who attempt to bring in new gnomes that aren't created in the same manner as those currently residing in a yard will find either the local gnomes cut up to pieces or the new gnomes in the same position.
Beyond that, however, gnomes in the same group tend to live relatively peaceful lives. They like to party in the manner of ancient times, smoke pipes filled with herbs considered toxic to most anyone else, and prefer the comfort of miniature homes built from their own hard work rather than from the hands of humans. They also perform mock-courting ceremonies in which two gnomes engage in low-contact acts--what one might see with young teens today. Because gnomes are predominantly heterosexual, this can be a jarring experience for them and for humans. Gnomes look practically identical, meaning that even the gnomes cannot differentiate between male and female, and it is considered extremely rude, if not horribly offensive to ask if a gnome is of a particular sex--hence the courting ceremonies, which tend to lead to the discovery of the true sex of an individual. Of course, it is also very embarrassing for a gnome to find out that they have been courting a member of the same sex, which is made possible by the fact that males and females may court at any time, without any restriction. It is generally considered wrong among gnomes for there to be discrimination against sexes, not to mention that it would be incredibly difficult to isolate one group from another.

WBM: Bestiary–the Bugganes

Location and General Information
The bugganes are curious creatures who tend to be bad omens wherever they are found, no matter the circumstances. They inhabit regions less populated, for there they are more likely to remain unnoticed for a time and the relatively small population of remote areas is less able to deal with a buggane properly. Finding bugganes in large city complexes is rare, and when it does happen the buggane is almost always destroyed within twenty-four hours as cities tend to have specialized keepers of the peace who deal with incidents of the odd or magical. Unfortunately for the bugganes, they are quite easy to kill: anything that can kill a human works on a buggane, though more easily considering that the bugganes tend to be rather frail in the first place.

They are tall creatures covered in long, greasy hair that extends from their heads to their feet. Whether they always wear clothing is unknown. Sometimes they are seen wearing tattered robes and other times it is impossible to tell amidst the loose skin and long hair. Their arms are especially long, with long fingers and fingernails and their teeth are lenghty and sharp, creating a jaw that looks inhuman and menacing. Bugganes, however, are not intentionally violent and rarely attack people unless provoked, which is almost always anyway.

What makes bugganes particularly hated among the creatures of Altern is their uncontrollable ability to affect fate. They are attuned to the magic that flows through Altern, which results in their bodies becoming conduits through which accidents of potentially lethal consequence can occur. When they are around, people tend to die or fall victim to horrible accidents: such as falling off ladders, landing head first on a table full of knives, or even having a tree randomly uproot itself and crash on top of you. Beyond that, the bugganes contain no other magic.

Where the bugganes come from isn't entirely clear. A few humans believe that they are part of the spirit world, existing on Altern as markers of individuals who committed horrible crimes and got away with it, for one who bears the secret of horrible acts is unlikely to reach heaven in one piece. Other humans believe they are mean spirits sent from darker reaches of Altern to annoy and punish humans, though the people who believe this are rarely capable of arguing a logical reason for this. Generally it is accepted that the bugganes are simply extensions of the magic that exists in Altern as sort of "bubbles" of excess negativity that just happens to be condensed into a buggane as a way of releasing tension. It is known, however, that the bugganes do not reproduce.

For the most part the bugganes have no significant culture. They rarely interact with one another and never interact with humans. Even if they did interact with someone other than themselves they would barely be able to do more than mumble considering their exceedingly full, toothy mouths. They are more like sentient creatures who wander and cause accidental havoc.

WBM: Bestiary–the Ellefolk

Location and General Information
Creatures who inhabit the forests of Altern, particularly around the area of Barksville. They are generally considered beings of folklore, rather than reality.

Males are generally shorter than the females, have giant noses, white hair, and large heads. They wear robes or suits and sometimes walk with a cane. They also have eyes that are narrow and yellow; much like a bird of prey.
Females are tall and unusually beautiful in a more "strange" way than a "typical" way. Their beauty is cause for intense curiosity from human males. They are tall, generally long-haired and blonde, and have piercing eyes.
Both male and females have gaping holes where their backs should be, as if their fronts were created to seem human, but the rest of them were left mostly unfinished (although they do have bottoms and legs, just no backs).

The Ellefolk are primarily masters of the art of manipulation, and mainly the manipulation of males. Their magic is exceedingly effective against human males, who tend to be more inclined to curiosity and, unfortunately, weaker willed when it comes to temptation. One of the key magics of the Ellefolk is the use of magic as a means of controlling by inserting emotion or sensation. They are capable of controlling men by making them genuinely obsessed with pleasing the ladies of the Elle, which can sometimes spark intense jealousy amongst the affected males. Generally, this magic is difficult to break. One must wait quite a long time for the magic to wear off or someone must kill the lady whose magic has hold of an individual. The easiest way to break the spell is to keep knots, holes, and cracks in trees covered up or stuff full of clay or some other substance
Women are rarely affected by the Ellefolk, though they can be, on rare occasions, struck by a similar manipulative magic found within Ellemen. This magic, if it works on the individual woman, will be instantaneous, but less difficult to break than the hold the ladies of the Elle have over human men.
The limiting factor, however, is that the Ellefolk's manipulative magic is only effective when the target looks through the knot, hole, or crack in a tree. Other magic includes creating a genuinely pleasant environment that glitters. Their homes in the forest are filled with glittering gold particles that make anyone caught within it happy by default. This isn't so much a spell as an environmental thing, as the Ellefolk are not actually in control of this so much as just living in it.
The breath of a lady of the Elle is like a corrosive acid. It causes death in seconds and melts the skin and tissue from the victim's face, causing agonizing pain.

The Ellefolk are not born normally, as most creatures are in Altern. While humans breed through intercourse, the Ellefolk do not breed at all. All the Ellefolk on Altern were there from the beginning, or what seems like the beginning, and as such there is a finite number of them. They cannot create new Ellefolk, nor can anyone else. As such, the Ellefolk are essentially immortal, part of a spiritual/faery world rather than what one might consider the human world of mortality. They can be killed, of course, and generally this is pretty easy as thy are subject to the same physical weaknesses as humans.
Ellefolk are born in giant stone eggs found buried in the Earth. The Ellefolk are constantly searching for their kin, digging wherever they can find them. This is a constant preoccupation, which goes hand in hand with their ability to manipulate human men, providing them with free labor. The stones are brought to the surface, dipped in enormous containers of water, and left to sit. Eventually the rock softens and becomes more like a boiled chicken egg without a shell and then the Ellefolk inside breaks out and is born. At least, that's how the folklore goes; nobody actually knows how they bring out their young from the stone eggs.

The Ellefolk never have any wars. Because there are a limited amount of them across all of Altern it is not considered worth dealing with the complications and ramifications of war. Why fight your own kind when you can move and maintain the population? Whenever a dispute arises, members of a particular group assess the situation and make a mutual beneficial decision (usually one group moves elsewhere with the help of the group that gets to stay). This may seem quite civilized, but it should be known that if the Ellefolk reproduced normally, no such peaceful decisions would be made. It's simply thought as better for the species not to fight over anything, no matter how horrible or annoying.

The Ellefolk have a very simplistic culture in comparison to the cultures of mankind. They are dominated by the desire to essentially dig up their own kind. This prevents them from developing cities or separate cultures. In a way they are like animals--lions might be a good example. Their young, once dug up and brought to life, either remain with their "parents" or move on to other groups or create groups of their own, expanding and seeking to hunt down their kind from other locations--to be released, of course. Beyond this, the Ellefolk lack any sort of complex culture. They do no create music, except in certain regions where non-human, sentient creatures exist who are not so easily swayed by Ellefolk magic--and music has a higher success rate with certain creatures, and a lower success rate with human beings. They are not, by default, an artistic people, creating little art, except the glittering gold air of their woodland homes that produces bliss for anyone within its grasp, which might be considered artistic. In fact, the only thing that makes the Ellefolk more than animals is the fact that they are sentient, capable of intentionally luring humans (and other creatures) into their grasp and subjecting them to threats of death to get the labor they need to find their fellow people of the Elle. They can speak, and seemingly are limitless in their linguistic skills, being able to use most any language known with ease. They even have emotions that span the entire range of human emotions, though they are more prone to deceptive modes and emotions related to anger.

WBM: Bestiary–Erdluitles

Yes, Erdluitles are in my WISB universe, but I like them so much I want to keep them for the world of Altern. Besides, they fit into the scheme of things anyway. So here is what you need to know about these little guys:

Location and General Information
Erdluitles are primarily found in plain lands or farming areas and almost always avoid wooded areas--the exception being for the relatively few who have acclimated to life in human cities. Due to their affinity with farming communities, particularly their good nature and willingness to help farmers either by offering magical aid to crops or by offering their services as laborers, they are often seen as good omens or markers of particularly fine products wherever they are found. As such, they are loved by farmers and often well fed, though Erdluitles will make it very clear that they require no handouts at any time, seeing as they are quite prideful little people and don't take kindly to what they perceive as insults to their kind. They also vehemently defend other little people. When they are offended they can do unimaginable damage to one's crops or livelihood until the Erdluitle in question is appeased. It is considered a great offense in human culture to do anything questionable when an Erdluitle is around.
Erdluitles are short--around three feet tall--and thin. They always wear suits, including a small, rimmed hat, and have pointed ears, though less so than elves or other little people; females wear long, green dresses with frills and neither males nor females have any facial hair. The most pronounced feature of these small peoples are their feet: they have goose feet instead of regular five-toed feet. This, unfortunately, is something they are most ashamed of. As a result they almost never expose their feet, even when washing, choosing instead to soak their shoes rather than risk someone laughing at what they consider to be a disfigurement. Beyond these simple differences they are practically human in appearance, just short and extremely proud of it.
Erdluitles are some of the more magical of beings in Altern. While many creatures have little magic, the Erdluitles are exceptional magic users. They are able to manipulate the weather, levitate objects, and even cause physical harm to someone. Their most powerful magic, however, is related to plant life, as they are powerful in the art of growth, making plants grow in record time, bear incredible fruit and vegetables, etc. They take great delight in matters of growth and can be found dancing or frolicking gleefully whilst making peach trees shoot up to record heights with massive, gushing peaches bursting from the branches--they are often mistaken for children when doing this. They have great control over magic, as stated, but it should be noted that they rarely use magic that doesn't have something to do with farming or growth for they consider physical attacks or destructive magic to be mostly vulgar and for last options. They are destructive creatures when offended.
It's not entirely clear where the Erdluitles came from. Some human cultures believe they are the spawns of elves and lesser little people, while others have considered the myth that they are related to the very fabric of the universe, from which the stars and Altern itself was created. The reality is, however, that Erdluitles simply popped into existence...and that's how they all come into Altern--pop, pop, pop. The most disturbing thing about this is that they have no idea that it is going to happen and are always exceedingly confused when they suddenly appear in a field or under a rock or, on rare occasions, in the cell of a jailhouse. This explains their being spread quite thinly across the continent of Altern. The process of their existence seems random, but all Erdluitles believe there is a reason for it all; elderly Erdluitles who are no longer capable of tending to fields--due to being retired, of course, since it would be quite insulting to tell an Erdluitle he or she is just too old--spend their days contemplating the reasons for their existence. No answers have been found to date (Erdluitles want their existence to have a higher purpose in the world).
Erdluitle culture tends to be small, yet complex. They don't share a religion of any sort, but there is a great gathering every year where Erdluitles from all across Altern meet in a predestined place--usually the home of the most successful Erdluitle of the year--and celebrate a year well done. There is a massive feast and it is generally acceptable to invite human farmers and their families to the celebration. Dancing, singing, and music playing is a necessity. The last party that lacked one of those three things ended in a two hundred year war between different "clans" of Erdluitles, which made the lives of farmers particularly uncomfortable: it isn't easy to appease a very angry Erdluitle.
Their music is not entirely unique, usually stealing from whatever place they might be in at any time, but it is almost always beautiful. They do not have the greatest of singing voices, but they are exceptional dancers. Some Erdluitles have found pleasure in poetry, churning out farmer's epics with complex rhymes and structures. Additionally other avenues of art have found their way into Erdluitle culture in recent years, such as painting, which they find to be a particularly fascinating venture.
Erdluitles do not generally build towns; it does happen, but it is rare. They are often given shelter by farmers, who are kind enough to allow the little people to occupy their barns or attics. They do have a complex set of rules that governs the proper method of interaction between Erdluitles, which is too complicated for any human to even begin to understand. This they take pride in and talk "down" to humans who simply cannot fathom all the bizarre rules that come with Erdluitle culture (such as one must never bow more than thirteen inches unless accompanied by a goat).

WBM: General Information About the Bestiary

Since I'm going to start delving into the creatures of Altern and what not over the next two weeks, I figure it's about time I give some general information regarding the world. So here goes:

The Bestiary
The non-human creatures of Altern are all born unnaturally, meaning that they are not born through human means of reproduction or by any natural means. They are, by default, creatures of magic and myth. Humans are the only ones who reproduce; obviously by means we're all familiar with.

There you go. I know, it's basic and what not, but so be it! I'll also be digging more into the magic and providing a definitive definition of it. And I'll have the five unstable substances all ironed out!


(Don't click the read more, there isn't any more after this!)

WBM: Magic (Part One)

Ah, magic, the one thing everyone loves to have in fantasy. I've been thinking quite a lot about this, mainly because in my world there isn't a whole lot of magic, or at least the magic is more of less uncontrolled, or unaccessible. So, yesterday my girlfriend and I were walking to one of the national parks around these parts and I started thinking about it. My world is quirky as it is (what with there being evil gnomes in New Timberfax and haunting, man-stealing faery creatures in Barksville). That very quirkiness means my magic has to match it. I can't have stuff that will seem too, well, magical when everything else is magical in a strange way.
So, let's get down and dirty on the whole magic thing.

Who has it?
Only non-human creatures, specifically spirits, faery, sprites, and other such mythical critters. Humans themselves have no innate magic, meaning they aren't born with it and can't "magically" gain magical abilities. There are no human wizards shooting fireballs in this world.

How powerful is it?
Depends. For the most part magic is relatively low key. There is lots of manipulation of the mind and the environment, but again, no fireballs or crazy magic (at least not intentionally). I don't want magic to be a force that can essentially destroy the world through a single creature's hand. No evil magic-weilding overlords and stuff.

Can non-magic folk use magic?
Yes, actually. Even though humans don't have magic, there are elements within the world that contain magic within them. Gnomes, for instance, cannot come to life unless they are built by human hands; the clay itself is magical. Then there are other substances that can be manipulated using alchemy/chemistry, which produce results that can, for the most part, be controlled. Healing potions exist in Altern.
Having said that, I do have one substance that I've created that will have unstable results:
  • Cacticles
    Very similar to cactii. They're sort of a mixture between a vine-like plant and a cactus. Cacticles, however, contain properties that are completely unstable and, for the most part, uncontrollable. Every time you use cacticles for any purpose, the results are random. A person chewing on the plant might light on fire, or turn to stone, or float away, or explode, or a number of other things. As a result, when experimenting with the plant, a lot of precautions are taken. For instance:
    A person chewing the plant will stand in a bucket, be chained with thick metal that can't be burned or melted (and so the person can't float away), then be surrounded by thick walls, in case of explosion, etc. Every time a new result is found that is potentially hazardous, a new element is added into the mix to prevent damage to innocent bystanders.
    So, the point is that cacticles are extremely potent, making them exceedingly valuable for study, since the potential of the plant itself is limitless. The problem is that controlling it is just about impossible (or so the human folk think).
So, magic can be in the hands of the non-magical, just not in a way that is controlled by the individual, but controlled externally through chemical means.

Why do I want it like this?
Well, to be honest, I'm about sick and tired of all the fireballs and super magicians. I'm more interested in making the human more of an outsider, sort of how we might be outsiders in this world if magic were ever to be proven to exist (or mythical creatures for that matter). Or perhaps the magic folk would be the outsiders in this world? Well, in my world, the outsiders are the humans, since they are the ones mostly out of touch with the natural elements surging around them. As a result, they become isolated or targeted by the magic community. I wanted magic to be limited on purpose, because I don't want there being the possibility of super overlords and what not.
Humans will, of course, have ways of using magic, just not directly. They're means of magic is limited too, since it revolves around understanding natural elements and plants and being able to manipulate them to do what one wants. One can't just go "abracadabra" and make a magic healing plant. It takes time and dedication to find the right formula. Cacticles may have immense power, but that power is uncontrollable. One would have to have tremendous luck to use it for evil means and not explode or die in some other horrible manner.

I think that's more than enough on magic for the time being!