Note: In this series, we look at the different types of magic found in the Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog universe, talk about the limits and bounding effects for them, then figure out the most efficient ways to use those to kill. A lot of books tend to just let magic be magic, but it appeals to my engineering brain to apply some actual rules to it.
Vulnists are the healers. As we learn in Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog the magic has to be carefully directed. It’s far more hands-on than some of the other disciplines where normalized spells work well. The magic becomes an extension of the praecant’s senses inside someone’s body, where they can then affect changes. This can be used to repair physical damage, like Lincoln’s broken leg. What we don’t investigate in the book, but would seem a logical extension from the way things are described there, is the notion of doing body modifications with the power.
Briget uses her abilities to create a matrix around the broken portion of Lincoln’s bone, then pumps power into it to cause the bone and accompanying to grow. There is no rule that mandated that she had to simply knit the bone together. Want a set of real bony horns growing out of your head in the LFBD universe? Find yourself a vulnist.
Of course, the opportunities for damage are obvious. If you can make the tissues of the body flow together, you can make them flow apart or worse. To take things in a horrible direction, a malicious vulnist could cause someone’s tissues to grow rapidly, giving them a kind of magical tumor. More directly though, we have an indication in LFBD that Briget used her abilities to open then reseal a horrible wound on one character’s neck, leaving both physical and psychological scars.
It would be trivially simple for a vulnist to kill someone who wasn’t properly protected. If they can touch you, even in Pittsburgh, there is nothing stopping them from, say, causing your aorta to seal itself shut. In an area where magical energy is more useful, we could allow vulnists to operate (ha) from a distance. However, because their powers require concentration and focus, the further they get from their subject the harder it is going to be to do. Imagine that you are a foot away from someone and tasked with keeping a laser pointer dot on their chest. That’s simple to do.
Move ten feet away, and it’s not so easy. Ten years? A hundred yards? You would need to maintain the focus of your magical sensing and power to make it work.
A vulnist who could really sling power could probably project a large arc of generic “unknit yourself” kind of effect. That would be messy, and once again subject to normal laws of broadcasting on the EM spectrum. In the iron-rich confines of Pittsburgh, projecting this at any distance becomes impossible based on the amounts of energy required.
Put simply, vulnists would do their best (and worst) work where they could actually lay hands on you.
If you find the idea of fictional magic systems that try (ha) to follow some kind of rules appealing, check out Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon!Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)