The Elder Scrolls Sandbox
Advertisement
The Elder Scrolls Sandbox

Cultivation is an Akaviri training method where one follows certain meditative rites and practices to gain power. Cultivation was originally invented by the Kamal in the distant past, but has spread to the entire Akavir as their main form of magic.

Effects and Abilities

Cultivation is an art that practices the internalization of magicka generation and the utilization of the resultant magical energies, known as Qi, through meditation, self reflection and martial arts. A strong constitution and will is needed to learn and actuate the abilities that Cultivation can be used for. As such, it generally takes a lot of hard work and effort to master usage of Cultivation, even if one has an innate aptitude for it.

Affinity for the method via one's Spiritual Roots can make learning Cultivation much easier, while the lack of affinity can make it hard to impossible to learn for others. The Kamal are known in Akavir to have the most affinity to Cultivation because of their naturally high quality Spiritual Roots, with every individual of the race being able to learn it.

Magicka is absorbed externally from the environment and converted into Qi until one enters the Golden Core stage, where Qi is generated internally by the Golden Core in a practitioner as they practice and enhance their Cultivation. The magical energies are circulated by Spiritual Meridians and absorbed or released via acupoints. This means that effects that cut off the inflow of external magicka do not affect Cultivators that are of the Golden Core stage or above.

To practice Cultivation is to go against and hopefully eventually surpass the heavens. Cultivation allows the soul, mind and body of the practitioner to be refined to a superhuman state able to generate its own magical energies and can supply themselves as much Qi as they can generate and store. This also explains the long life and perpetual youth of all its practitioners.

Cultivation power is not determined by how many techniques one knows, but how large one's Qi supply and flow is and how much power one can release from their body. The basics are always more important than the techniques as all techniques still boil down to the control of Qi and the translation of Qi to effect (the basics). This makes Tamrielic Spells and Magic forms redundant to Cultivators in general, as they obtain their full elemental, energy or matter manipulation type skill upon successful practice and refinement of Cultivation and external skills related to Cultivation. However, it is possible to adapt Tamrielic spells to Cultivation based energy release or as Talismans. The opposite is not possible as Qi cannot be considered as magicka.

As their basal theory is different from each other, Qi and Magicka are incompatible and one cannot have both. This is because they are different ways to utilize the energy present in nature. Magic is using the body to gather and then expel magicka as spells, while Cultivation draws in the energies in nature to build the self and then generates one's own energy. Magic is in harmony with nature and moves according to the heavens. To cultivate is to steal the fortunes of nature and go against the heavens.

Powers actuated using Qi have a certain ability of bending nature itself and forcefully flowing with the bent nature. As Qi itself is not magicka, it is not affected by magic negation and absorption effects. Furthermore, effects that would cancel spells by preventing unnatural effects are greatly weakened when facing Qi. Attempting to drain the Qi from a Cultivator using a magicka draining skill will invariably backfire on the one attempting the drain. However, Qi fueled attacks can still be blocked by physical barriers and shielding abilities, as with any mystical skill.

While Cultivation does strengthen the physique to some degree, Body Tempering is required to truly gain a superhuman body that surpasses other Cultivators at the same stage of Cultivation. Cultivation itself is also necessary to progress in Body Tempering, hence both arts are more often than not performed simultaneously.

Spirit Root

To even perform Cultivation. one requires a Spirit Root of sufficient quality, which serves as one's connection to magic and supernatural powers. Without the adequate spirit root, one would not be able to start cultivation unless they are able to improve the quality of the spirit root. All individuals have Spirit Roots, but most are unsuitable as their rank is too low.

Spirit Root has Levels ranging from virtually unsuitable to perfect for Cultivation, as earlier stated. These are listed as follows:

Mortal

  • True Mortal (Completely unsuitable)
  • Spirit (Minimum Standard)

Houtian

  • Earth
  • Sky

Xiantian

  • Half-Divine
  • Divine

Celestial

  • Celestial
  • True Immortal (Perfect)

An individual with a True Mortal spirit root is no different from one who has no spirit root. It would be impossible to cultivate if one had only a True Mortal spirit root. In general, an individual with a Spirit Rank root would barely be able to cultivate, and would be restricted to the Nascent Soul level all their life, Those who have Houtian rank roots would be able to enter Ascension with some effort, but attaining Earth Immortal would be difficult. Those who have a Xiantian root will be able to cultivate past Earth Immortal and perhaps all the way, but this is dependent on individual talent and comprehension of Cultivation.

Having a special physique or fortunate encounters can change this. As cultivation ultimately goes against the heavens and one’s fate as a mortal, with the correct conditions, the initial restrictions of spirit roots can be bypassed by several means, such as directly upgrading the root or the cultivation base.

An individual Spirit Root can also have elements. These elements are based on the five major Elements of Akavir, which are listed below:

  • Fire
  • Water
  • Earth
  • Wood
  • Metal

A spirit root is not restricted to having a single element. A spirit root can have one element, a few elements, all five elements or even no elements at all. Having an affinity for a particular element in the Spirit Root would make it easier to acquire skills from an element and strengthen the power of that element when the learner uses it, but learning skills that do not align with the element of one's spirit root is entirely possible. A five elements root is considered optimal in most cases, but not all.

Special traits can also exist within a single Spirit Root, but these are generally rare. The most common special trait is either an additional Yin or Yang trait to the Spirit Root. Other more specific traits exist, such as Sword root, Blood Root, Sky Fox root etc, but these are far rarer than Yin or Yang traits and some may only be found in singular individuals.

It is possible for Spirit Roots to be extracted and transplanted. However, the body and soul have to be compatible with the spirit root in particular if a transplant is carried out. As a result, a woman cannot accept a Yang type root and a man cannot accept a Yin type root. Furthermore, if one's physique and soul is too weak to hold the root, the body will collapse and death results. It is generally impossible to extract a Spirit Root from a cultivator who is in the Gold Core stage and beyond, unless said cultivator has forcefully crystallized their root before passing away.

Yin and Yang Aspects

The Yin is a female aspect of Cultivation and can be found only in females. The Yang aspect is the male counterpart of the former. These two aspects are interconnected yet contrasting, never in isolation from each other despite their opposing traits. Yin type spirit roots are only found in women, while Yang type spirit roots are only found in men as a consequence of this.

The Yin and Yang both represent many things. The former represents the Dark, the Feminine, the Night, the Soft, and other similar concepts. The latter on the other hand represents the Light, the Masculine, the Day, the Hard, and other similar concepts.

Despite this apparent contradition between the two Aspects, Yin and Yang cannot exist independently of each other precisely because of these opposing concepts. In accordance to this, the Akaviri believe that everything has both Yin and Yang aspects (for instances, Men and Women cannot exist in isolation and hope to create any offspring. The day gives way to night just as night gives way to day. The Sun and Moon take turns to grace the skies. Light always casts a Shadow, and Shadows don't exist without Light.)

The Akaviri believe these two concepts hold special sway over the laws of cycles and creation. It is the intersection of Yin and Yang that creates and destroys all things in the Akaviri worldview. Hence, miracles and disasters necessarily are creations of Yin and Yang.

Therefore, Akaviri Cultivators generally would look for a Dao Companion of the opposite gender to perform dual cultivation with, as this is a form of cultivation that allows the balancing of Yin-Yang in a mutually beneficial manner.

Bloodline

Besides the spirit roots alone, the bloodline of a cultivator can either be helpful or detrimental to cultivation, depending on what it is. Most Bloodlines are known to be helpful when it comes to cultivation and they can partially compensate for a lower rank spirit root. Cultivators who have powerful bloodlines and high comprehension can surpass more mundane cultivators with a better spirit root in the ability to cultivate to immortality.

Bloodline is a special trait that runs in families and is generally required to practice specific Body Tempering methods which are restricted to the families that carry the bloodline. There are many known bloodlines and the exact method to acquiring a bloodline trait is still rather murky. It is thought that bloodlines were created when an ancestor of a family absorbed and refined highly magical powers and substances to permanently alter themselves on the genetic and soul level.

An example of a bloodline is the Amamiya Golden Blood and Golden Heart. All who descend from the Amamiya clan of Okashiro possess this trait.

Ranks and Progression

To begin Cultivation, one requires an appropriate, good manual that details how to start (and suitable for Qi (Magicka) movement) and an adequate Spiritual Root. One may begin practicing via Meditation of the basics after committing the necessary steps needed to memory.

Qi Training

Cultivators in the Qi training stage are almost mortals. They would be at the peak possible state of health and will never fall sick or weaken, but their lifespans are no longer than regular people. A Cultivator in Qi Training has a long but still normal life of between 90 - 110 years. When a Cultivator begins Qi training, they will no longer be able to release Magicka similar to Tamrielic Magic, restricting them to close ranged attacks. However, as their training progresses, they physique and physical performance will improve.

The first stage of Cultivation begins with Qi Gathering when one makes their body adapt to moving Qi around their body and allow their mind to move Qi, while also gathering Qi into the body, forming Vital Qi. The practitioner needs to gather sufficient Vital Qi before they can progress further in Cultivation, as this forms the basics.

Qi gathering is marked by absorbing the energy in nature via the Meridians, channels possessed by all individuals that allow the absorption and release of natural energies. The Vital Qi is gathered to first form the Mind Sea within the soul, then expand and fill it. As this proceeds, one's ability to take in and transform natural energies into Vital Qi will increase.

The next step is the Nine Layers of Body Refinement, where one practices it to allow their body and flesh to accept Qi. The practitioner needs to weave the Vital Qi from the Mind Sea into the flesh and organs, strengthening them and optimizing their functions. This is critical, or later steps in Cultivation may be too stressful for the body to bear. Should the physique collapse, one would naturally die.

The last step for the first Rank is the Nine Layers of Marrow Washing, done to expel impurities from the body in every breakthrough, unblocking acupoints and easing the flow of Qi through the body. The body has a total of 108 great acupoints situated along the Meridians, with 12 of these being the critical acupoints. All of them need to be unblocked.

Unblocking the Meridians is done by using Vital Qi from the Mind Sea and forcefully opening the acupoint. Without the earlier body refinement stages, opening an acupoint may be too stressful for the body to handle and an individual may receive backlash. Hence this is normally done after Body Refinement. Only when all acupoints are opened will Vital Qi circulation become smooth and easy.

While Qi training is the most basic level of Cultivation, it is important to perform it well, using as strong a technique as one can utilise, so one can build a foundation that is as perfect as possible. A good foundation is necessary for all later cultivation steps and indicates how far a Cultivator may proceed through their whole life.

Foundation Building

After Qi Gathering, the practitioner proceeds to the next step by building their Foundation for it, by compressing and transforming all the Vital Qi in the Mind Sea into True Qi, which can only be done when every acupoint has been unblocked. On completion, this allows the practitioner to take in external Magicka far more efficiently and release it in far larger amounts. This also renders them immune to all soul trap effects and allows the release of Qi based attacks from the body, allowing use of energies like magic. A Cultivator who has built their foundation can generally live about 200 years without life extension methods. With a foundation level life extension method, about 400 years is possible.

To attain the next rank, one must complete the prerequisites needed to form their Gold Core: Core Gathering, Core Condensation, and Void Core. Only after the success of all 3 steps can one proceed to the next. The Core Building stages are divided into 9 small realms for easy understanding, but it is very hard to actually define them and generally how complete the Golden Core is will serve as the metric for measurement.

To achieve Core Gathering, one needs to increase their True Qi supply through purifying and compressing Qi from the environment, before drawing this True Qi into the Mind Sea. This is very much like continued foundation building and strengthening, however this gathered True Qi is separate from the foundation and will likely exceed it by many times when complete.

Core Condensation requires sufficient True Qi gained via the Core Gathering. The True Qi has to be used to compress the foundation into the Void Core. As one progresses down this, the foundation will slowly transform into the shape of the core and when the shape of the core is fully formed, one moves into Void Core.

The Void Core requires continued compression and refinement to transform into a Golden Core of a cultivator, by increasing the pressure of the True Qi in the Mind Sea. When the Void Core transforms into a golden core, the Cultivator is considered to have entered the Gold Core stage. The quality of the foundation coupled with the technique used to form the Gold Core determines the quality of the Gold Core.

When a cultivator enters gold core stage successfully, they will release a promotion fluctuation that distorts the local magical energy around them. The higher the rank of the gold core, the more powerful the fluctuation. Should the gold core have 10 marks and above, the promotion will generate a localized phenomenon where golden lights continue to fluctuate for a short period of time, with a higher rank core generating a wider ranging, more intense golden light. Promotion to an iridescent core causes a solid golden shine above the cultivator in addition to a large area of dense golden mist that shows hazy reflections of star like patterns. It is possible to use mystical techniques to hide the promotion phenomena.

Gold Core

When one's own Golden Core is built via compression of the foundation True Qi, one creates their own supply of Qi, enabling the practitioner to cast magical effects without reliance on external sources. The Gold Core thus serves as a perpetual energy source that grows stronger as one's cultivation advances. However, Cultivation speed will slow as one has to forcefully absorb Qi from the air, purify it and compress it into True Qi, which is used to upgrade the Golden Core and advance it, by filling the Mind Sea with True Qi around the Gold Core. A Golden Core cultivator can generally live about 500 - 600 years without life extension methods. Using Golden Core level life extension methods may allow one to live up to 2000 years.

The Golden Core has 14 different grades, and the grades of the gold core will determine how far an individual may continue to cultivate. This is directly linked to the firmness of the foundation and the talent of the individual, along with the skill used to create the gold core. In general, the grades are as follows:

  • Unmarked Gold Core (Lowest Grade)
  • Marked Gold Core, with 1 to 12 marks. The more marks the stronger one's potential
  • Unmarked Iridescent Core (Highest Grade). This represents the highest potential in an individual, such that even the heavens may not bind them.

As a rough guide, the potential of a cultivator can then be seen from their golden core. An unmarked Gold Core generally will never enter Ascension and be trapped at Nascent Soul for life. A gold core with 1 - 3 marks will not become an Earth Immortal and be trapped as an Ascension Cultivator. A gold core with 4 - 6 marks will progress into the Earth Immortal Stage but not attain Sky Immortal. A gold core with 7 - 9 marks will become a Sky Immortal but would have great difficulty proceeding while a gold core with 10 - 12 marks can cultivate to far higher realms should they manage to become a Nascent Soul cultivator. An iridescent core would grant one a smooth cultivation path with no limits other than tribulations from heaven.

The practitioner must then complete the Nine Realms of Infant Transformation within the third step afterward should they wish to proceed to the next rank. This is done by advancing the Golden Core by forming the Infant Reflection of the self within the Gold Core through compression using the Mind Sea. The division into 9 small realms is more clear cut than the Core Formation steps and can be seen as carving of the core by using the pressure of the Mind Sea. When one has formed the Origin Infant, the Cultivator then has to perform the unshackling.

The number of marks on a gold core are indicative of one's talent, and the more marks, the more restrictions the heavens has placed on the individual. By erasing the marks through comprehending their divine laws and breaking through them by force, one's overall understanding of the cosmos will increase. Only when every mark is removed can the Origin Infant be released from the gold core. An individual with an iridescent core has already beyond the heaven's shackles and is heaven's envied, so they would be able to skip unshackling and directly progress into Nascent Soul.

By releasing the Origin Infant from the Golden Core successfully, the Cultivator promotes into the Nascent Soul Realm. Once the cultivator has succeeded, the Golden Core will rise out of their body above the mind sea and break apart to reveal the Origin Infant, which takes on the form of a vaguely infantile humanoid. Celestial Phenomena will occur as various images formed of the golden mists released appear, such as lotus flowers, soaring cranes or other visions. More powerful cultivators will manifest the Origin Infant as an infant with far more features and detail standing on a golden lotus as a wider and more sustained show of visions occurs. The strongest cultivators will invariably manifest grand visions and their Origin Infant floating above a golden lotus, with an immortal halo behind them, the Origin Infant being an infant copy of themselves. The oppressive pressure released by such strong cultivators is so high, people may mistake it for a Nascent Soul to Ascension breakthrough.

Nascent Soul

A Nascent Soul Cultivator possesses much longer life and much greater powers than one at the Gold Core stage. Furthermore, the amount of Qi they can generate is far greater and their base physique is stronger. As one is reflective of the Origin Infant and the Origin Infant is reflective of one, this allows an individual to have far stronger resistance to unnatural effects that seek to alter the body and soul, such as curses. A Nascent Soul cultivator can live about 1500 - 1700 years without life extension methods. Life extension methods may increase this to about 6000 years.

The Nascent Soul realm has the nine realms of ascension, where one has to draw in and compress more Qi to form the Platform of Ascension within the Mind Sea, upon which the Origin Infant will meditate. The Platform of Ascension is built in layers and a total of nine layers have to be built, corresponding to the nine realms of ascension, into the tower of ascension. The process is fairly straightforward and simply requires a technique that can effectively draw in vast amounts of energy before compressing and shaping it. Each layer of Ascension greatly increases the power of the Cultivator as the Nascent Soul gets closer to "Birth and Awakening".

To enter Ascession Realm, one has to fully build the Platform of Ascension. After which, the Origin Infant has to be stimulated and awakened, causing the "Birth of the Nascent Soul". The Origin Infant of the self will awaken and proceed into Ascension using the power of the Ascension Platform.

As one attempts to enter Ascension, one has to embark on the true road of immortality. Hence, mortal shackles have to be broken. The heavens seek to chain Cultivators to Mortality and hence the Cultivator faces their first tribulation, the Heart Demons. The Heart Demons are reflections of the Cultivator's past that will use myriad ways to keep the Cultivator trapped in an illusion of their mortal origin. This prevents the Ascension of the Nascent Soul.

If a Cultivator can clear their Heart Demon before they die, they officially enter the Ascension Realm and begin to transcend the limits the heavens have placed on them, since the Origin Infant truly ascends using the Platform of Ascension. Should a Cultivator be unable to clear it, they will be trapped in their dream until their eventual death from lack of sustenance or old age, depending which one comes first.

Successfully transcending the Heart Demon tribulation will have the Tower of Ascension appear above the Cultivator as a nine story pagoda. The Nascent Soul turns into a ray of light and enters the tower. Undergoing layers of purification, the Nascent Soul will then break through the tower layers and eventually the tower itself, causing the tower to erupt into a ray of light that pierces the sky. The stronger the cultivator's potential, the wider and higher the ray will reach.

Ascension

An Ascension Realm Cultivator is a fearsome existence for mortals. They possess mysterious powers and deep insight into nature, which grants them abilities that would make a Nascent Soul Cultivator seem weak. The Ascension Realm is however also incredibly dangerous, since a Cultivator has only 300 years to promote to Earth Immortal once they enter Ascension. Should they fail, they will die, no matter how many years of Nascent Soul lifespan they have left. Specific life extension methods can prolong this limit to about 2000 years at most, but even then, there is a time limit.

The Origin Infant, now awakened, has to grow and age into the True Reflection of the self. By continuously absorbing the energy of nature into the Mind Sea and expanding the Mind Sea, the Origin Infant will grow as one's cultivation continues to increase. The nine small realms are known as the nine steps to immortality, and are reflected as changes to the Origin Infant. Each step is represented by an age range of a person with a 90 year lifespan, with 10 years serving as each step.

As the True Reflection ages, the Cultivator will gain ever increasing power as their "Death" approaches. Upon reaching the end of the Ascension Realm, a Cultivator has truly run out of Mortal Life and hence has to use a method to gain Immortal Life. This is not a tribulation from the Heavens, but the self, a consequence of replacing the mortal with the immortal. This is therefore known as the Life Reduction.

During the Life Reduction, a Cultivator will lose all their mortal life for good and they have to quickly fill up their True Reflection with new, immortal life. This causes a withering effect on the Cultivator's real body, making them age extremely fast and causing them to rapidly weaken as they have started dying. By continuously refining the True Reflection into an Immortal Soul using life energies, a Cultivator starts to approach true immortality.

Failure to promote to Earth Immortal causes the death of the Cultivator from running out of life. However, should the Life Reduction be crossed, the Cultivator will undergo a qualitative transformation as their Immortal Soul fuses with their body and merges with the Mind Sea. This causes the withered physical body to shed, like a snake shedding skin, and the Cultivator will be reborn as their young self again, with any physical abnormalities removed. The Cultivator will therefore be rejuvenated and gain an immense boost in power as they enter the Earth Immortal realm.

Earth Immortal

Earth Immortals are indicative of one having conquered life and death, becoming above it. Hence, the upper bound of an Earth Immortal's lifespan is unknown and none are known to have met with a natural death at the end of lifespan. This also grants them unconditional immunity to any killing effect. It can be said that Earth Immortals cannot die or be killed through death, but can be destroyed. Their abilities and powers far exceed an Ascension Realm cultivator in magnitude. Furthermore, all Earth Immortals are able to stand on thin air and fly using a skill known as Realm Flight.

The Earth Immortal stage is divided into the Nine Lower Heavens and the gap in power between each stage is considerable. It is also far harder to progress from one stage to the next compared to earlier Cultivation small realms. Cultivation continues by gathering even more True Qi. However, this directly advances the Immortal Soul in a form of Deification and this Defication process expands the Mind Sea into the Mind World and elevates the Immortal Soul into the Deity Soul. In essence, one gets closer to becoming god-like as Cultivation continues.

When an Earth Immortal reaches the end of the Earth Immortal stage, they will invariably attract the wrath of the Heavens that seek to suppress them. As the transition from Earth Immortal to Sky Immortal is also known as "Flying to Divinity", it marks the change from the Earth to the Skies. Hence, the Heavens naturally would seek to eliminate such talented individuals as Cultivation has been against the Heavens from the start.

This causes the Lightning Tribulations to befall the Cultivator in question, where multiple waves of lightning will fall from the Heavens and seek to destroy the Cultivator attempting to enter the ranks of the Sky Immortals. Each round of lightning will have double the strength of the previous rounds. The talent of the Cultivator is directly proportionate to how many strikes they can attract, with the weakest attracting a single wave and the strongest attracting more. The number of waves corresponds to the number of marks on the Cultivator's Golden Core which they had in their Golden Core stage. Since the highest number of marks on a Golden Core is 12, the most talented Cultivators will face at least 12 waves.

Failure to resist the Lightning Tribulations will cause a Cultivator to instantly scatter as ashes, leaving nothing behind. However, a Cultivator who successfully crosses the Lightning Tribulations will have stood against the Heavens and entered the skies to become a deity like being. This is known as promotion to the Sky Immortal. Hence, the Lightning Tribulations is also known as the Tribulations which separate the false immortals from the true immortals.

Sky Immortal

Sky Immortals are Cultivators who have successfully resisted the first suppression of Heaven and thus gained the right to challenge the heavens directly. They are no longer shackled by the restrictions of Heaven and consequently have a far greater ability to affect the world than an Earth Immortal, while anything of the world has a far lesser ability to affect them. Their various parameters are thus stronger than an Earth Immortal. Sky Immortals are able to understand spatial laws and can freely teleport across large distances. Furthermore, as they resonate with Celestial Laws, they can perceive nature on a far higher level, making it difficult to hide anything from them. As with Earth Immortals, it is unknown how long a Sky Immortal would live if left to their own devices, since none are known to have perished naturally.

The Sky Immortal Stage is divided into the Nine Upper Heavens and the gap in power between each stage is even larger than that of the Earth Immortals. One will still continue to gather True Qi, but this time, as one already possesses a Deity Soul, the Mind World has to be transformed into the Deity's Virtual World. Hence, one has to shape the Virtual World and advance it to increase the small realm of the Sky Immortal stage. The more detailed one's Virtual World is, the higher one's realm will be.

When the Sky Immortal reaches the end of the Sky Immortal Stage, the Heavens will make another attempt to eliminate them for good before they can complete their Virtual World and begin apotheosis transformation. This results in one of the most devastating Tribulations, the Heavenly Execution. The Heavenly Execution is a desperate, last ditch attempt at destroying a Cultivator and is not divided by talent or skill. All Cultivators face an equally powerful attack, which will instantly incinerate them if they fail to resist, since this is the Heaven's full attempt at causing a Cultivator's extinction.

The Heavenly Execution will start forming as a huge vortex of clouds, before the middle of the clouds parts way and manifests many virtual golden images of various mythical creatures and individuals. This is followed by a golden light that instantly cremates anything it comes into contact with, descending upon the Sky Immortal who is attempting to break through. Anything caught in the golden light is destroyed, even things not related to the Sky Immortal.

No known Sky Immortal in Akaviri history has surpassed the Heavenly Execution.

Golden Immortal

The Golden Immortal is a cultivator who has surpassed the last challenge from the heavens and thus has conquered the heavens.

Primordial Immortal

Dao Entry (Entering Dao)

Celestial

Celestial Emperor

Advertisement