Editor's note: The following is a slightly cleaned-up partial transcription of pre-publication notes found in Imperial Research Alpha before its destruction in 210 AC. Anything that would allow someone to reconstruct the work has been excised.
As souls are made of anima, magic can manipulate those souls, consuming them as fuel or transplanting pieces of them into other things. The soul-manipulations described here fall into two broad categories--blood magic and nimbus transplants.
Blood Magic--Souls as Fuel
At its most basic, blood magic is the use of anima harvested from living beings as fuel for enchantments or rituals. This is true whether the anima is surrendered willingly or not. While both animals and sophonts have anima, the much greater density of a sophont's nimbus makes them more efficient candidates.
Most of the directly useful anima in an individual is in the nimbus--the body is too compressed to be readily convertible and the spark is difficult to manipulate. This leads to the crudest form of blood magic--the sacrifice of a living thing in a ritual. If the soul is not a willing sacrifice, the bonds between body and nimbus must be weakened, often through torture or through vivisection. Once the nimbus has been detached, the practitioner channels it into the desired shape. <diagrams and details removed> This inevitably snuffs out the spark, leading to the destruction of the person that was. This practice is terribly wasteful--an average person contains approximately 400 thaums of anima. At most 5 of that (usually less) is recoverable this way.
Editor's Note: a thaum is an archaic unit of magical energy; it represents the energy needed to magically heat one person-weight of water to a comfortable bath temperature. Animals, despite their much higher vitality, have lower extractable anima due to their weaker nimbuses.
More sophisticated containment and channeling constructs can help, but the theoretical efficiency of "traditional" blood magic is only 32%, much too low to practically power the needs of the Empire without depopulating large swaths of the countryside. Traditional blood magic is also difficult to store, as most proper vessels can't intake the power fast enough, resulting in significant waste due to conversion inefficiency. As a result, traditional blood magic is the domain of cults and demon-worshippers who need large bursts of energy and aren't concerned about waste.
One hundred and 3 years ago [943 BC] the research team led by Sapientum Korvan of the Imperial Research University discovered a method to compress the entire soul, including body, nimbus and spark, into a small solid block. Each such block contains approximately 350 thaums, enough to power Imperial Research Alpha at full output for an entire day. Including conversion losses, this is an efficiency of 80%, more than 2.5x the best possible efficiency for traditional blood magic. Although the yield is lower, this process can convert dead bodies into fuel as well. As an additional benefit, these blocks are shelf-stable and non-volatile, so they can be stored and transported easily.
<diagrams and instructions removed>
The Korvan Process was a major advance, but it had some drawbacks. First and foremost, both the conversion ritual and the consumption ritual require the active participation of a circle of arcanists and is relatively exhausting. This limits the utility of this process significantly. In addition, the ritual weakens the fabric of the world, causing elemental or spirit-based magics to act strangely (including not functioning entirely) in the surrounding area. Participants in the rituals must be rotated out frequently or else they run the risk of becoming saturated with the anima, leading to unpredictable exclusion events editor: this means that they became demonic and were forcibly excluded from reality and ejected into the Abyss.
The present results describe how these drawbacks can be ameliorated. By amalgamating several souls and anchoring it into a single, non-biological container (described below, designated as "conduit") and using this combined soul as a conduit (both for Korvan conversion and utilization), the process can proceed without interruption. Encasing the reactor in a high-density casing of abyssal-aspected anima (in the form of obsidian that has been exposed to demonic energies using the Tor'al'eim ritual), the contamination can be contained entirely, although the conduit does experience significant warping effects.
Nimbus Transplants--Moving the Soul
The other, newer, use of soul energy is to move the soul from one container to another. This takes several forms, labeled "anchoring" and "fusion."
Anchoring is the process of extracting a living spirit (spark and nimbus) from a body and housing that spirit into an inanimate object. Not all spirits are suitable for this process--unless a spirit is particularly strong it tends to disintegrate on extraction. In many cases this is acceptable, as many spirits can be combined into a single viable entity (sharing traits of all of them but not having any of the personalities of the original creatures). The destination for the anchored soul is a sphere of magicite (grade III or better, <other details removed>). Once housed in a properly prepared housing (which can be as small as the magicite vessel permits or as large as a building), the spirit takes that housing as a body and can manipulate it as needed. The one drawback of this process is that due to the imperfect attachment of the soul to its new vessel, the anchored being can no longer produce its own anima; as such, without an outside source of power it will inevitably fragment and degenerate into madness and senescence at a rate depending on the strength of the soul and on the fit between body and soul.
The anchoring process requires a conduit--an outside living soul that guides the soul to be anchored and preserves it in transit. At Imperial Research Alpha, this is part of the responsibilities of IULIA (Intelligent Unembodied Living Infrastructure Amalgam), the aforementioned amalgam entity. Housed in the central core of the research facility, this amalgam of four souls facilitates all the soul-transfer work (including the Korvan Process) of the facility. Without IULIA, the fusion research of the facility would be impossible. Since it is constantly fed by the Korvan reactor's output, it is safe from senescence. It also houses backups of all the research conducted at the facility, as well as a complete duplicate of the Imperial Library, updated monthly.
The process requires <removed>.
Fusion is a brand-new process developed by Grand Sapientum Iorda. It is destined to eclipse the archaic methods used by the eldadrin and wood elves of yore to create new species--no more do we need to inject small amounts of aspected anima into recipients and breed the survivors together for generations (as the eladrin did) or convince animal spirits to possess the breeding groups and select for the persisted traits over time. Instead, we can create new species by directly fusing fragments gathered from the souls of the donor species into the growing souls of fetuses, skipping the intermediate generations and tuning the outcome to our desires. Adults can be modified in a more limited fashion, but those attempts usually produce sub-par results.
We have found that the best donor souls come from powerful creatures such as dragons; attempts have been made to acquire a Leviathan sample or one of the major giant species, these attempts have failed. We have achieved limited success with animal species as donors or recipients, but blendings between sophonts and animals have always resulted in non-sophont intelligence. Our current donors are two dragons--a green and a red. We have 6 eggs in stasis; donors are disposed of once they reach the adult threshold (when their strength becomes too great to restrain).
The best results for recipients have come when groups of women (mostly human, although goblins have also been used for this) are recruited, brain-wiped, and then repeatedly impregnated by chosen males; the resulting fetuses are treated at 4, 16, and 32 weeks gestation. The altered specimens are removed from their mothers and raised by brain-wiped wet-nurses until they can enter training creches at the age of 18 months. Brood-mares are utilized at 50% intensity and usually last 4-8 cycles.
<remaining details removed>.
Game Mechanic Notes
The thaumic content of a creature is a function of its hit points and is given by the equation E = 100 (HP)p, where p = 1 (if the creature is of near-normal intelligence) or p = 1/2 (if the creature is only of animal intelligence). It is believed that some fantastic beasts have p-values even higher, but that is unconfirmed.