Focus on Magic (book)
Focus on Magic
The construction of magical devices, save for the simplest summoning talismans, is far beyond the ken of the young mage. However, their use requires but a touch of patience. As with any skill, one learns and improves with practice.
Many impatient young novices think there is nothing more to using such a device than waving it around, rubbing it, or whatever may trigger it. These are the same ones that wonder why the devices suddenly crumble into dust, or why so very little energy goes into the spell. The ones who will wear a device out entirely without ever learning what spell it held.
I occasionally hand these novices completely mundane stones with pretty but meaningless "runes" etched on them, and ask them to identify the spell. After a few hours, sometimes days, they will return to me with hangdog expressions telling me they could not activate the spell. It is then that I teach them about Focusing, which could have answered my question in half a minute.
All one needs to do is hold the object in question in both hands. If it is too large or suspicious-looking to pick up (after all, some of the ancient booby-traps of the Elves still lie scattered about in forgotten places), you can kneel and place both hands on it. Then, you need only FOCUS <object> to examine its magical pattern. If it has no pattern, it is not a magical device (although one cannot rule out the possibility that it has some sort of enchantment).
You may be able to determine the thickness and brightness of the lines that make up the pattern. The thicker the lines, the more energy which CAN flow through it. The brighter the lines, the more the energy which IS flowing through it. Often you will find a pattern with good thick lines which are glowing dimly - in all likelihood, with a bit of concentration you can make a small modification to the pattern, increasing the flow of energy and thus making the spell more effective.
To do this, FOCUS <object> <amount>, where the amount is the target percentage of the pattern's maximum capacity. There are good arguments against always trying for 100 percent. The pattern may be able to carry far more energy than you can harness, and many spells become more difficult to control when you feed them more power. You will find that some patterns resist adjustment more than others, and you may encounter difficulties. But as you have doubtless been told before, magic is not an easy path. As in all other things, patience and persistence can lead to great rewards.