Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
-Arthur C. Clarke
This is one of the themes of the Darkhive. There are primal forces capable of being manipulated by the inhabitants, sometimes these forces are directly manipulated by the mind (psychic powers, which have a tendency to drive the individual gradually further from the consensual sanity of the masses), sometimes they focus through the flesh (mutations, which have a tendency to transform the appearance of those who use them too often), and effects focused through intermediaries (fungal powers and artefacts, which have a tendency to wear out through constant use).
Using fungus or artefacts as foci to manipulate the mysterious underlying forces of the world are considered the safer options. The problem with fungi is that they require skills in cultivation and harvesting. Artefacts are considered the most accessible of the mystic foci, and can be used by almost anyone with a bit of technical savvy. The simplest of all artefacts are known as Amulets, they require no knowledge at all, beyond a key phrase or button pressing sequence that activate them.
The full range of mystic powers in the Darkhive may know no bounds, but this is due to the infinite potential of the imagination. An amulet is not a conscious mind, it is simply a conduit defined along a specific set of parameters. Every amulet has a specific effect, and a specific activation sequence. When things go wrong with an amulet, it is more likely that they will simply fail to work or spontaneously short circuit with a flash of psychic energy. This is far better than the potential ramifications of a failed direct psychic connection which could render the user into a coma or induce a psychotic break, or the failed use of mutated powers which could permanently mark the users flesh and DNA with rewritten randomness.
Even though a single amulet will only perform a single task, the range of potential amulets in virtually infinite. Amulets may be made from intricate circuitry of varying metal and crystals, they may be made from more natural sources such as fungi, stones, pieces of fern wood, or animal bones. The components used to construct the amulet always have an attunement to the energies that are focused through them, and a knowledgeable appraiser will have a general idea about an amulet's effect through a simple glance at the item. Often when an appraiser examines the carefully inscribed circuitry patterns and runes on an amulet, they'll have a more specific idea of the item's true purpose (which may be quite different to it's first appearances). Only through psychically bonding with an amulet, or seeing it in use, will the specific purpose of an amulet truly be revealed. This can be tricky, because there are known artificers who produce amulet traps designed to lock the psychic potential of anyone who forms a psychic link with them.
There may be no limit to the number of amulets that an individual may carry (beyond the sheer weight that might be accumulated when dozens are carried), but most survivors in the hive are only able to activate a single amulet's effects at a time. There are a few groups of mystics who have mastered the art of unleashing the effects of two amulets simultaneously, and a very limited number of individuals recorded in historical texts who were so adept with the use of amulets that they could unleash the effects of three or more at once.
In many communities, non-functional amulets are used as a form of basic currency, while functional amulets are considered a more valuable trade commodity (with a value dependent on a combination of the effect they manifest and the cost to achieve that effect).
5 hours ago