Quintessence is the raw material of reality. It is what flows through the patterns of reality and what makes magic possible. The primal force, quintessence can not truly be divided, measured or contained. The patterns of all supernaturals, mortals, inanimate objects, and the whole of the Tellurian is woven from Quintessence. The term literally translates to 'Fifth Essence'.
Quintessence is the same thing as Chi, Sekhem, and Gnosis. Glamour is a form of quintessence, just as diamonds are a form of carbon. Vitae is theorized by mages to be fused with Quintessence, thus explaining its supernatural properties.
Tass & Quintessence Edit
Quintessence is 'found' in two forms, although only one of them can be touched. It flows through the pattern of everything in existence, essentially keeping them in existence, however, it has been, and can often be, found as Tass; Quintessence trapped inside a physical existence, and when loosed, can be absorbed much like meditating at a node, where the stuff is found. When raw Quintessence crystallizes into tass, it takes a coincidental form for the type of node where it wells up: mushrooms growing in a forest glade, previously-lost socks in a laundromat, etc.
The true nature of Tass is practically unknowable, since Quintessence is immaterial and free-flowing; it shouldn't be hypothetically possible for Tass to exist, yet it does. Metaphors of Quintessence being water and Tass being ice are the most common way of explaining the abnormality, but it goes nowhere towards explaining why something that should travel through a pattern could get trapped by it; some theories are that excessive Quintessence at a Node has to go somewhere, Tass doesn't trap Quintessence, it merely has an extremely long pattern that can store a large amount of Quintessence inside, and another theory is that Quintessence isn't getting used enough by the world, trapped by the static nature of the world engineered by the Technocracy, a lot of Quintessence simply has nowhere else to go and condenses at Nodes, although all of these have logical flaws in them.
Quintessence is used as a trait on a mage's character sheet, describing the amount of 'fuel' a mage has in their system to cast magic. It is measured on the same track as Paradox, and can be cancelled out by it. It is possible to use Awakened magic without Quintessence, but creating something out of nothing (Technically, fueling a pattern), is not. Quintessence can be expended to lower the difficulty of magic by one, or to make pattern changes or temporary patterns Permanent.
Manipulating Quintessence Edit
Manipulating Quintessence is the purview of mages who study the Prime Sphere of Magic. Quintessence is invisible to those who don't have at least a rudimentary (one dot) knowledge of this sphere; without it, you cannot recognize a Node (although you need points in Avatar to take Quintessence from one) and anyone could sell you anything as being Tass without you being able to know any better.
The Prime Sphere is dedicated to detecting, collecting, manipulating and condensing Quintessence and tass. Quintessence can be expended to ease magical effects, filling in the gaps between a mage's will and the Consensus. Quintessence can be drawn from Nodes easily, processed out of tass by adepts of Prime, or ripped from the patterns of creatures and objects. Stealing quintessence from the pattern of reality is always a vulgar effect, and can cause rooms to suddenly grow colder, lights to start flickering and falter, and sudden weakness in affected creatures as their very fabric is unwoven.
Those with a high rating in this Sphere can take Tass and create magical artifacts with their magic from it, can syphon the energy directly from it for themselves with ease or transfer it into another mage or artifact designed to hold it... Some can even draw spare quintessence that isn't being channeled into patterns into themselves, pulling Quintessence from the universal stream (Prime 5), although a large number of inexplicable phenomena will most likely occur when this is performed.