cosmic burnout Condition in Vazdimet | World Anvil

cosmic burnout

Beware the lust for power, lest you borrow too much from the Stars...

How am I feeling? How am I feeling?   I was one of the top Void Mages in the universe, I dedicated my life to defending the weak, and now I can't even hop servers without a tow. I'm juuuust fine.   No. I'm sorry. You're asking because you care.   I saved them. I saved them all. And I don't regret it. I don't! I just...   I wonder if I would do it again, knowing what happens after. Now that I understand the personal cost. Death is a transitory thing, but Void scarring... The cosmic burnout is forever. And every day I wonder...   Was it worth it? Or would I have been happier not doing anything, regretting not saving those I could have saved, but keeping my magic? And I don't... I don't know the answer to that... I...   I don't want to talk about this anymore. Did you need my help with something?
  Also known as Void scarring, cosmic burnout is the price paid for borrowing too much cosmic power at once from the Universe. This borrowed power destroys the body and cauterizes the soul, leaving its own permanent marks behind. The Voidburnt are subsequently unable to cast spells or even sense the presence of magic.


Some debts can never be repaid. And some... Some will cost everything you have, and everything you think you are. Always think before you borrow.
— mentor's caution
  Cosmic burnout occurs when a Cosmically Attuned mage borrows too much power from the Universe. A soul can only channel so much magical power before that power leaves a permanent effect, and for the Voidburnt this means a single impossible awe-inspiring spell followed by death and a permanent inability to even sense the presence of the magical energy which once defined them.


The Voidburnt cannot cast magic, or even sense the presence of magic, although they can still be the successful target of spells. The initial Void scarring will also destroy their physical form at the time of the event, burning their soul from the inside out and potentially destroying anything within close proximity. Witnessing a cosmic burnout bears a striking resemblance to observing the tail end of a supernova, albeit on a much smaller scale.  

Cultural Reception

I know what I am. I am intimately aware of everything I lost! I don't need your eyes reminding me every time you look at me.
— Voidburnt mage
  Pity follows the Voidburnt wherever they go, although the reasons vary. Some pity the individual for their loss of magic capabilities, others revile them for their assumed prideful moment and society's subsequent loss of the individual's magic capabilities as a resource. Even many who claim to care for those suffering from cosmic burnout approach the Voidburnt with a mentality of superiority, intent to save them from themselves. Many judge the Voidburnt for choosing reincarnation at all.   As a result most try to pass themselves off as unattuned, those currently unable to cast magic but still with the potential to do so. Due to the nature of Cosmic Attunement, however, many carried a high profile during their careers and thus find it difficult to completely avoid recognition, regardless of their reincarnated form. Sometimes they are able to pass themselves off as a relative or similar robotic model instead, but this too carries its own reminders.  
Oh! I never knew she had a brother. You look just like her!   What a pity, what she did to herself. It must be so hard on your family, to see her throw away her potential like that.
— clueless passerby

Affected Groups

Only the Cosmically Attuned carry the risk of Void scarring, as they are the only mages who carry the ability and subsequent temptation to borrow power from the Stars. Those who receive the proper training are heavily cautioned against taking these powers for granted, and even learn exercises to gauge the power borrowed and their own limitations when paying it back, but these only serve to help mitigate the risks.   One single moment of pride, jealousy, or panic, one instinctive reaction to draw too much and cast too large a spell, is all it takes to subsequently destroy a promising magic career in a blaze of catastrophic glory.  
It's our gift, and our curse. We have the potential to shine brighter than anyone! And the temptation to do so is always lurking, always waiting to destroy us in one spectacular, beautiful, tragic moment.
— veteran cautioning a newly identified cosmic mage
Alternate Names
Void scarring
Chronic, Acquired
Extremely Rare

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Mar 16, 2021 10:55 by Dani

Such a beautifully brutal punishment for taking catastrophic events into their own hands. It's like the loss of a entire sense--they're magic-blind. The quotes are so great to show how people see them and how their own emotional states might fare if one had a wealth of magic and now *POOF* (or rather KABOOM, as it certainly doesn't sound like they can do any ol' small magic and lose it all) they can't even recognize it. I imagine there might be a severe amount of PTSD and difficulty learning to cope with that loss.

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Mar 16, 2021 12:50 by Morgan Biscup

Definitely KABOOM, in the literal sense as well. It's a huge loss, regardless of the reason it happened, and with all the frequent reminders and prevalence of magic society doesn't quite know what to do with them.   Those who decide not to reincarnate, and instead move on to the afterlife, might fare better in that regard. But most of the Voidburnt were Void Mages working for powerful spacefaring organizations with clauses providing them full afterlife planning if they die on the job, so many take what is offered and relive in regret.   Even the brightest stars collapse in a fury of flame and fire. It's the price paid for their power. Mages are no different.   ... I am going to have a lot of deliciously broken characters I can write about.

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Mar 16, 2021 17:13 by Dani

BREAK THE CHARACTERS YESSSSS *coughs* That sounds most excellent. :D I do like that the organization provides security in the event that such a permanent change in life circumstance is incurred on the job--with or without the cosmic burnout. It's a nice touch!

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Mar 17, 2021 16:32 by George Sanders

Whew. "beautifully brutal punishment" and indiscriminate whether hero or villain. A constraint in the land of possibilities that is interesting.

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Mar 24, 2021 01:35 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This sounds like it would really mess up a person mentally. Imagine being able to do something so wonderful and then have it all ripped away from you. I really love the quotes you've included throughout the article.

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