One of the things I periodically forget during my design work on the Seven States, is how the States are intended to replace the elements of a typical fantasy setting. Whether it’s the Greek elements of Fire, Earth, Wind, and Water (alchemy includes Aether), the Chinese phases of Fire, Wood, Metal, Earth, and Water, or one of the roleplaying schemes that includes Light and Darkness.

If the States had corresponding elements, they’d probably look like this:

Natural … Earth
Primeval … Time
Elemental … Void
Empyreal … Divine
Ethereal … Spirits
Sidereal … Stars
Umbral … Dark

They don’t really have opposites or enemies, or generating/overcoming relationships like the other element systems, because they aren’t really intended to be used that way. They’re meant to be viewed more like states of matter forming a complete circle, and including inbetween states. From there, they serve as the basis for competing philosophies inspired by several real philosophical worldviews.

Again, while those philosophies are meant to compete with one another, they’re also intended to be positive in nature and balanced against each other. No one is the good guys … everyone is the good guys. It’s intended to serve more as the basis for internal strife than external strife, as factions form around a core philosophy and then bicker over different interpretations.

Those I refer to as goals and motives, and I actually have a draft of what it should look like, though I know it still needs a lot of work. It’s all … very complicated. I’m still not sure how the goals and motives of a particular state can be used to relate to other mechanics, but I’m thinking I may use them as the basis of magic.

If you see magic as an extension of its user’s will, then understanding and defining the will of the user is important to determining the effect of a given spell. For that, you need to know what the user wants (goal), and where they’re coming from (motive). The end result is the magical effect! That’s the theory, anyway.