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Passives

From ThornsWiki

Passives are nonmagical persons born to magical parents. A passive has no controlled magical ability and no field, despite being born of two galdori (or wicks). They are the product of a rare genetic mutation. Passives make up about 1% of all magical births.

Wick passives are just as likely to occur as galdori passives.

Passives born in the country of Mugroba are known as imbali and lead quite a different sort of life than the passives of Anaxas.

Physical Description

Passives are indistinguishable from the galdori save for their passive tattoo (in Kingdoms that mark their passives at all) and their appearances, which usually distinguish them as a member of their race. A passive has all the physical traits of his or her parents, since they are, for all intents and purposes, a galdor seemingly without magic. Many passives are far stronger than their magical counterparts, however, having been put to work immediately after their tenth birthday.

See the Genetics and Appearancespage for their physical traits depending on Kingdom of origin.

Discovery of a Passive

Almost all galdori passives are discovered when they take their initiation test. They are immediately branded with the passive tattoo.

At this point, the passive's parents decide what is to become of their child. Most parents give their passive child to work at the school; they believe this to be the most merciful and charitable decision. The school generally assures the parents that their passive child will be hidden from sight and kept safe for the rest of their life. Some galdori parents take their child home, only to set them loose in the world. A small percentage of the parents keep their passive child at home, but this is unusual, as having a passive child is seen as very shameful.

Wick passives are usually discovered after they are unable to perform magic; there is no test involved.

Passive Magic

The current theory on the origins of a passive's inability to do magic is that it comes from a mysterious blockage of their natural ability, that their monic pathways are somehow not functioning. Its cause is unknown but theorized to be genetic, and no cure for the disorder has yet been found. Magical theorists have many differing hypotheses, but religious leaders claim that the mona have cursed the passives. Not even the spell Psionics, which can occasionally induce magical abilities in non-magical beings, can cause a passive to have the ability to do magic.

Sometimes, in times of great stress or danger, a passive will unleash a powerful spell, called a diablerie by magical theorists. This spell comes directly from monic will, with no spoken instruction from the passive in question. Passives cannot control this power and it can be very dangerous. Fear of the diablerie is the cause of most prejudice against passives; galdori believe that diableries are innately evil and destructive. A passive's diablerie cannot be knowingly triggered, and the specific catalyst is still is unknown.

Some passives are more volatile than others, with diableries that manifest quite often. For most passives, the manifestation of their diablerie is rare, often only occurring a few times in their life.

It is possible for a passive child to be detected before they take their initiation test. Although it is dangerous to perform magic before the age of ten, some galdori parents test their child's aptitude with a series of complex spells. These spells require a great deal of skill; both parents would need to have reached a high level of study in order to perform the test.

There are no degrees of passivity (for example, you can't have a passive with a partial field, or a very low degree of magical ability). The degree score given to passives during the test is basically irrelevant, as they show no score whatsoever according to the calculations.

Passives in the Six Kingdoms

A passive's diablerie is volatile and often dangerous; many galdori treat passives with disdain, while they are inwardly fearful of them. In some Kingdoms such as Anaxas or Bastia, galdori can be cruel to passives, treating them like animals, refusing them medical care, or even enslaving them as a punishment for a trumped-up charge. It is considered socially uncouth for a galdor to even speak to a passive unless it is necessary. In other Kingdoms such as Gior and Mugroba, passives (or Imbali in the desert Kingdom) are allowed to be educated and live rather free lives in comparison, but they are still viewed with a reserved sort of pity or stigmatized in ways that are perhaps less visible than in the troubled kingdom of Anaxas.

This treatment, regardless of the form it takes, stems originally from a belief that passives are cursed and unlucky. Additionally, there is a very real concern that a passive's spell will go off unexpectedly and cause untold damage. Galdori believe that passives need to be controlled, for their own protection and the protection of the galdori.

When they are discovered in the Mainland Kingdoms of Anaxas, Bastia, and Hesse, passives are marked with a small tattoo on their upper right arm. This identifies them to galdorkind. Passives are not allowed to own land, get married, or reproduce (though many do in secret). There are many rules in place to prevent them from passing on their "defective" genes. Ironically, passives have perfectly good genes, and in fact the union of two passives can produce a galdor. Because they are rare in these Kingdoms, however, this does not happen often. Note that Mugroba and Gior are something of exceptions to this, but both Kingdoms still approaching their passive population very differently.

Humans and wicks tend to treat passives with indifference in most kingdoms, and often feel pity for their condition, though there is usually a cultural rift between passives and other races. A few humans and wicks carry some form of cultural resentment toward passives, particularly in the Mainland Kingdoms: their being related to galdori, retaining some galdori principles, and being raised in a relatively comfortable lifestyle for the first ten years of their lives set them apart from the human population. Please see further information on each of the Six Kingdoms in order to see how passives fit into society in each of the very different cultures.


In the city of Vienda, for example, passives can lead a relatively normal existence among humans, if they survive into adulthood. Most newly-abandoned passives find work in the Soot District. Passives can usually be identified by their appearance, if not by their tattoo: a passive generally looks exactly like a galdor, but has no field. However, the galdori do not usually go looking for escaped passives. This would be a big waste of resources.

Sometimes galdor-born passives attempt to live among wicks, though this is often too great a culture gap for them to cross. Galdori will not interfere with wick passives on principle, as they consider wicks to be sovereign. This is why so many galdori passives join wick tribes.

Wick-born Passives

Passives born to two wicks are also rare. Wick-born passives are called "parse" (singular and plural) in Tek, a corruption of the word "passive".

Parse are not treated badly in the nomadic community. In fact, they are afforded the same love and devotion that a wick tribe would show any other member. Mainly, wick passives dress and act like regular wicks, though they are easily identified by their lack of field.

Though there is no innate prejudice against nonmagical wicks, some parse feel threatened by their inability to do magic, and feel the added strain of not knowing when their diablerie will manifest. Some leave their tribe for human civilization, while some become hermits and go into isolation to prevent their loved ones from being hurt.

Brunnhold's Passive Community

Brunnhold holds many Anaxi passives as slaves, though the administration refers to them as servants.

The galdori believe that keeping passives close will control the damage they could potentially cause with their diableries. They also believe that, since Brunnhold is a highly spiritual place, passives will benefit from the holiness within the walls (possibly offsetting their accursed nature). It is said that the University employs only passive servants in the inner parts of the school because they do not believe the passives to be capable of betraying the secrets of their own people.

Passives are sometimes put to work as punishment for crimes which, often, they did not commit; the servitude is a way of "working off a debt to society." Some passives are assigned to work at Brunnhold from the moment they fail their initiation test, usually at the request of their ashamed parents, who are given the option of giving up their child to the school's care.

The passives at Brunnhold are often close to one another, as they feel they have a lot in common. Sometimes a freed passive will choose to work at Brunnhold (despite the often abusive conditions) if they have family who attend the University. Although, by law, a passive is not allowed to stay with their parents, they can remain quite close to their brothers, sisters, or cousins. Some legal progress has been made in recent years and a number of more sympathetic galdori parents have won court cases to legally keep their passive children at home—to what end is not always a positive one.

Brunnhold's passives are for the most part kept in gender-segregated parts of the school, and relationships between passives of the opposite sex are strictly forbidden. It has been noted that same-sex relationships do occur more frequently among gated passives than they might among the general population. These relationships are often encouraged by the under-matrons as a means of keeping passives content and working well together. The psychological conditions of slavery and captivity imply that not all the passives involved in such relationships are truly homosexual or bisexual; many are simply desperate for contact with another person, sexually frustrated, or longing for a bit of rebellion and freedom.

Passives are allowed a small level of autonomy when they are sent to run errands in the Stacks, but they are always sent in pairs and closely watched by guards. Escape from Brunnhold is very difficult, and more stringent security measures have been undertaken in recent years as public paranoia about passives has risen.

Brunnhold's Treatment of Passives

When a passive misbehaves, there are unhappy consequences.

Beatings are not a daily occurrence - they are saved for big mess-ups. Galdori almost never take part in them. The Matrons, Patrons, and other people in charge of the younger servants dole out the punishment, because if they don't, they get punished for their servants' indiscretions. Beatings are designed to be painful, but not render a servant unable to work. They'd never break a bone, for example, and killing a servant would be a waste of money. Mostly passives are whipped with a short lash.

Apart from martial punishment, servants can be stripped of privileges, made to go without meals, and given extra duties. A very disobedient passive might be tied up in a basement and made to sit in the darkness for a few days. Few passives have died from their punishments, though it has happened, particularly when a galdor becomes angry enough to punish a servant directly.

Currently, it is against policy to beat students, thanks to an emergency measure passed by Ophelia Servalis; how long this policy will hold remains to be seen.

False Passives

False (or functional) passives are galdori who, although they are technically capable of producing magical effects, are somehow hindered from casting - through serious mental problems, speech impediments, or any other disabilities.

These children are considered just as unfortunate as passives, though without the superstition; parents are usually embarrassed or ashamed of them, and sometimes even send them to the University to become servants, feeling that Brunnhold could look after them and put them to good use. A small portion of University servants are considered "passives" even though they are simply disabled galdori who never developed a field.

Most parents, however, keep disabled children at home, away from the public eye. Since they cannot perform magic, some parents attempt to hide this by teaching them another subject. In particular, famous 25th-century author Emilio Barde was a functional passive, though this was only discovered after his death.

Political Correctness

The word "scrap," which refers to passives, is highly offensive but still in common use among galdori, especially students. "Halfsie" is more common; PG is a politically correct term, and "passive" is the kindest way to describe the condition.

Controversy

There are a number of galdori who oppose the way passives are treated, and they currently lobby for relaxed restrictions and the end of slavery. One such group is the Society for Passive Equality (SPE).

Playing a Passive

See Playing a Passive for important tips on how to approach playing a passive. See Passive Proverbs for some cultural flavor on passive life.