Pacts of Darkness are the primary form of magic that is used among sorcerers in the Age of Industry Canon. It involves pacts with spirits of darkness, basically the non Auroran Daedra most of the time, although any form of spirit servitor or messenger can invoke the Pact of Darkness. This magic form proved to be much more effective and wider reaching than pure magic forms from earlier and so it superseded them.
Invoking a Pact of Darkness often involves the use of many occult symbols and sometimes even bloodshed. Due to the twisted nature of the rituals alongside their potentially harmful outcomes and the fact that Pacts of Darkness often led to insanity, disfigurement and other undesirable effects, the practices were outlawed by the Empire under the Dynasts that descended from Kamodus. It is punishable with a jail term or hefty fine for a simple use of a weak spell, or execution for a blood ritual.
Pacts of Darkness are still formed, although only few practise such an art and it is often kept secret, due to the risks involved. Many people do not know of the existence of such magic and so it is often treated as an urban legend or myth.
Other Common names
- Blood Pacts
- Black Magic
- Occult Rituals
- Daedric channeling
- Spiritual bonds
There are many ways to invoke Pacts of Darkness. As an invoker gets more experienced with performing dark pacts and so channeling the power of dark spirits, he or she gets the ability to perform rituals of ever increasing complexity and power. There are seven levels of Pacts of Darkness: Apostate, Apprentice, Acolyte, Adept, Aspirant, Ascended and finally the highest level Aspiritual.
Two main mediums are known. Firstly, is the drawing of a blood rune (any liquid state magic catalyst like holy water or similar is fine, blood is by far the most common) upon the palm of the caster. This essentially provides a catalyst and channel for the daedric dimension and its spirits to act through to create a specific action. This is a very specific form of magic, but it always requires line of sight and can be tricky in combat, unless one has a good memory and can draw very fast.
Tattooing a blood rune into a hand can make the spells re-castable infinitely no matter the level of mastery over the Pacts of Darkness, available at anytime, but the caster is restricted to casting the chosen spell with that hand, and no new rune can be drawn on that hand. It is therefore rare to see someone tattoo both hands. Spells performed via a tattooed rune on a hand also progress far faster, allowing one to reach higher levels of a spell via training. For example, if an Apprentice tattoos a lightning symbol on his palm, they can perform it similarly to an apprentice at first, but with consistent training with that one rune, might even progress to Aspiritual level, for that one spell, without becoming any greater than an apprentice. Tattoos are generally used for destruction magic, to make it simple to cast and provide a "basic" magical attack that can be cast repeatedly in combat without pesky drawings.
Second, a direct sacrifice of living blood can be made to the Daedra. The wishes will be conveyed to the higher beings and the daedric forces will act upon the sacrifice of the caster, creating effects as the caster sees fit, allowing one to affect even targets across the world. It is far less specific than blood runes, though. It also requires complicated set-ups, difficult incantations and a sacrificial altar, so is impossible to perform in combat. It can aid in combat, though, if the caster knows the enemy is going to come, and acts to weaken the enemy first.
Blood is always used, since it is a sacrifice of blood and life. Generally, the blood used to draw blood runes come from crows or bats. Those used for higher rituals come from animals such as goats and sheep. Mortal blood from sentient creatures (e.g. humans, elves etc) creates extremely powerful rituals, but can be hard to manage and misuse can very well kill the caster, so only very powerful practitioners use such. Higher levels of sorcerers can shed their own blood to perform effects, but these effects are much weaker compared to a properly set up ritual, and utilize disproportionate levels of blood.
A Pact of Darkness is a purely mortal skill, as the Daedra use such to corrupt mortals. No pureblooded daedra is capable of invoking any form of pact, and they use purely normal magic from the old days, which does not require any preparation of sorts. Half Daedra, or Daedra - Human hybrids with enough mortal blood can still use a pact, and in fact do not require a familiar to perform well.
An apostate is named such since he or she has not began to fully believe in Dark Pacts, but only dabbles in them to create half-hearted effects. Most Apostates can draw runes of blood on their palms to perform a simple, single use spell, like paralyzing others or electrocuting them. Apostates do not have a spirit familiar as the spiritual world has not taken interest in them and thus their powers are based on their own magicka and life force, with fatal consequences if too much life force is used. Therefore, invoking rituals, which do require a robust life force, are meaningless to Apostates. Most sorcerers are at this level.
An Apprentice is one who finally garners the approval of the spiritual dimension. They do not have a spirit familiar yet. Most apprentices are capable of not just crafting blood runes on their palms, but they can invoke spirits far more easily and so rune drawing becomes much more intuitive and simple for them. Apprentices can also perform basic curse rituals requiring animal sacrifice to curse others with weak curses such as ill luck, sicknesses or weakness, so long as they know the names of the person.
An Acolyte is a sorcerer who finally gains a spirit familiar, making it far easier for his wishes to be conveyed to the daedric dimensions. They are able to use each blood rune very effectlively and can draw them with even less blood than an Apprentice. Their mastery over ritual cursing due to having a familiar participate in it also allows them to curse small groups of people through blood sacrifice of animals. Their cursing powers can inflict relatively dangerous effects that might be lethal in the long run, such as sickening someone with Khenaten flu like symptoms.
An Aspirant has mastered all the basic principles of the Pacts of Darkness and can draw power directly from his or her spirit familiar. This allows them to use a few drops of blood to draw runes that can perform an effect multiple times if reinforced with an echo rune (which will cause the spell to fire multiple times), so long as it is magically possible, as Aspirants can draw two runes and use them simultaneously. Dark rituals performed by an Aspirant can easily be used to curse a whole community of people and the curses can be far more potent, such as death curses that will cause the targets to waste away and die, with more than one animal. Aspirants can place single person curses by shedding their own blood.
An Adept has obtained more than one familiar spirit and thus can invoke multiple effects. They have the ability to perform a blood rune like effect simply with a dot of blood on their palm and runes can be used repeatedly multiple times till the catalyst is destroyed, without the need for an echo rune. A dark ritual performed by an Adept can potentially cause city changing effects, like creating massive plagues, but generally a ritual of such power will require a multi animal sacrifice or the sacrifice of a person. An adept can curse small groups of people by shedding their own blood.
An Ascended has begun to synchronize with his or her spirit familiar and gains many supernatural abilities. They can perform blood rune magic without blood, but drawing runes can amplify the power of their spells and using runes will not consume the catalyst. They can draw three overlapping runes to combine effects. A dark ritual performed by an Ascended, if powered by a sacrifice of a black soul, can invoke massive world changing effects. An ascended is capable to shedding their own blood in combat to mimic the effects of an Aspirant level ritual. They can be considered nearly daedra by this point.
An Aspiritual is a sorcerer who is so attuned to the daedric world, he or she no longer needs spirits to convey their wishes to the spiritual plane. Aspirituals can cast any blood rune effect simply by willing it and they can draw invisible runes on their hands to massively amplify the power of the spells. Also, rituals performed by Aspirituals might take up many mortal lives, but have the ability to warp reality to a large degree, across the Aurbis, if carried out properly, by commanding alignment of the daedra. Asprituals can also shed their own blood to create any ritual like effects instantly, making them far more potent in combat. To become Aspiritual is nearly impossible and generally requires daedric organ substitution (which is dangerous and normally leads to death) or many, many years of practice and meditation. It is generally regarded as a theorectical rank, since no Aspiritual sorcerers are known and the Ascended rank is generally regarded as the highest practical rank. It always requires imbibing daedric blood, or a transfusion of such, to complete the binding to the spirit dimension (Oblivion).
It is conjectured that there might be theorectical levels even beyond an Aspiritual, which would allow the sorcerer to directly alter the world with their will and blood, or to cast magic without a catalyst such as blood or other magical reagents. This has never been conclusively proven, although Daedra mages probably can perform at such a level, and most magically inclined Daedra can actually cast magic directly with no catalyst. As for mortals, the possibility is unknown.
Uses and side effects
Pacts of Darkness are basically magic spells made far more potent with the power of incantation and runes. This allows a practitioner to create many spell types by combining runes, or cast powerful magic effects via sacrifices. The spells are easily adaptable for many purposes. As Pacts of Darkness draws a daedra's magicka and powers to use instead of one's own, it is much less magicka intensive than normal spellcasting.
Also, due to the direct communication with the spirit world, practitioners might gain benefits as side effects, such at lengthened lifespan, increased resistance to diseases and poisons, greater worldly awareness and sometimes even strange powers gifted by the daedra directly, powers that would not be accessible through a normal Dark Pact.
Over practising of Pacts of Darkness and the subsequent spiritual blending, though, carries risks and negative side effects. Practitioners will become more twisted as they progress to greater levels. It generally leads to the bleaching of skin and hair. The eyes might also turn crimson, making the practitioners stand out. Disfigurement is not uncommon, although it does not happen all the time. Powerful illusion effects can conceal the fact that one practices the Pacts of Darkness, though. Such a disguise is broken when runic spells are cast, though, and must be reapplied. Also, as a sorcerer progresses to higher levels, banish spells and silver/daedric weaponry become more effective at hurting them.
An Ascended sorcerer is capable of reversing their disfigurement, if afflicted by such, but they cannot reverse the crimson colour of their eyes or their wraithlike features, since they are partially spirits. An Ascended and above sorcerer will further receive a bonus of having an Animus instead of a soul, which makes it even harder to destroy them. Also, Ascended sorcerers are only more vulnerable to daedric weaponry, but banish spells can instantly banish them to the plane they draw power from, as they practically become daedra. Some Ascended Sorcerers will even ditch the mortal plane for the Daedric ones.
it might be possible to draw powers from Aurorans, using an Auroran spirit familiar, but such is generally thought to be impossible, due to the distaste of Aurorans for the Pacts of Darkness. However, as the Aurorans are a force of light and combat the other daedra, it is unknown what the side effects might be. Liliana Beleren is the only user of an Auroran spirit familiar.
- Anna Gilliet
- Jean Guetierre
- Liliana Beleren
- Lyrissa Syphre (although she uses them in a different manner, and does not need a spirit familiar as she is a daedra. She also invokes Meridia purely)
- Several sorcerers in the Adamantine Monastery
- Pacts of Darkness are based on occult rituals and witchcraft.
- The reason why Pacts of Darkness are banned are similar to the reason why witchcraft was banned.
- Pacts of Darkness can be used to benefit people, like heal others. It is still seen as a evil form of magic, though.
- Daedra do not invoke Pacts of Darkness, instead using magic conventionally.