I'm looking for a word describing that something has been done without the help of tools, and an antonym, preferably both without an "un-" negation. They should fit in a classic high-fantasy setting (orcs, elves and wizards).

The specific use I'm looking for is to describe whether or not an elemental construct has been summoned with the help of a physical object, like an idol or a focus specifically made for that purpose (or a ter'angreal, for those familiar with the Wheel of Time), to help sustaining the construct. This focus is only there to anchor the construct to this plane of existence, to keep it from unraveling. Without it, the construct disintegrates quickly, with it, it can be kept alive for some time. The summoning itself is still managed by the mage.

The words "bound" and "free" give associations to the degree of free will exhibited by the constructs, rather than whether their existence is bound to an object. "Assisted" or "aided" falls very quickly into the "verbed-unverbed" category, and the former doesn't fit the fantasy tone very well.

6 Answers 6


The following terms may be suitable for differentiating between sustained and unsustained constructs or forces:

harnessed (adj.): derived from 'harness'(verb), to bring under conditions for effective use; gain control over for a particular end

ephemeral (adj.): lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory


  • 1
    Ephemeral sounds about right, but it doesn't really convey that the very short time is due to the brittle nature of the constructs (that's my opinion, though; I'm no native speaker). How would you say it compares to ethereal?
    – Arthur
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:24
  • @Arthur 'ethereal' is a wonderful 'heavenly' word; I see it referring to benign or essentially 'good' forces, fragile and existing in the upper atmosphere. I am unsure if the constructs are dark or negative forces? As you say, 'ephemeral' captures the brief life span of the constructs, but not their fragile make up. Another possibility is: evanescent (see definition 2: physics). Jun 23, 2015 at 22:52

Transcending the title, which actually detracts from the essence of the question, the connotation of artificial in the adjective contrived recommends it highly:


1.0 Deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously.

1.1 Created or arranged in a way that seems artificial and unrealistic: ODO

The verbal root of contrived adds perspective:


[WITH OBJECT] 1. Create or bring about (an object or a situation) by deliberate use of skill and artifice:

The antonym would be genuine:


1.0 Truly what something is said to be; authentic: ODO

The etymology of these words supports their use for this purpose:

contrive v,
early 14c., from Old French controver (Modern French controuver) "to find out, contrive, imagine,"
from Late Latin contropare "to compare" (via a figure of speech),
from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + tropus "song, musical mode,"
from Greek tropos "figure of speech"
(see trope).
1530s, from Latin tropus "a figure of speech," from Greek tropos "a turn, direction, course, way; manner, fashion," in rhetoric, "turn or figure of speech," related to trope "a turning" and trepein "to turn," from PIE root trep- (2) "to turn" (cognates: Sanskrit trapate "is ashamed, confused," properly "turns away in shame;" Latin trepit "he turns"). Technically, in rhetoric, "a figure of speech which consists in the use of a word or phrase in a sense other than that which is proper to it" [OED], "as when we call a stupid fellow an ass, or a shrewd man a fox" [Century Dictionary].

genuine adj.
1590s, "natural, not acquired,"
from Latin genuinus "native, natural, innate,"
from root of gignere "beget"
(see genus)
(plural genera), 1550s as a term of logic, "kind or class of things" (biological sense dates from c. 1600),
from Latin genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, kind; family, birth, descent, origin,"
from PIE root *gene- "to produce, give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to family and tribal groups.

In the high-fantasy context, genuine objects are born metaphorically into the plane of existence and remain naturally because they are part of its essence, while contrived objects are manufactured in the plane of existence and must be maintained because they are not essential.


You may want to use handmade

Made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality:

his expensive handmade leather shoes

or handcrafted

Made by hand or using the hands, as opposed to by mass production or using machinery.

Each handcrafted sculpture is a unique work of art, and no two are exactly the same.

  • Similar word: handcrafted
    – Archa
    Jun 23, 2015 at 13:54
  • "typically therefore of superior quality" that's the direct opposite of what I'm looking for. Think, for a piece of clothing, rather than made in an automated factory versus made by a person with a sewing machine, it's made by sewing by hand versus sewing by hand wiothout the needle.
    – Arthur
    Jun 23, 2015 at 13:54
  • @Arthur The "typically therefore of superior quality" is in modern context, opposed to mass production which is often done with low costs / weak materials. In a fantasy context, this particularity has no sense, you may want to oppose magic and handcraft, enchanted and crafted...
    – Yohann V.
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:00
  • 2
    @arthur although it's more of a writing advice, playing with the connotation of a usual word is a good writing tool. You could perfectly use handcraft, and let your reader discover little by little that in this world it's a negative trait. For example, listen to Forrengi use the word "human" in Star-trek, you can perfectly understand that it's an insult in their mouth. Or even the word niger, depending on who uses it. A book that doesn't play with the meaning of words is poor.
    – P. O.
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:01
  • 1
    @YohannV. I see now that my question was unclear in that regard. Yes, that is exactly what I'm looking for. It's not the focus itself that does the summoning for you, it's just there to aid you in channeling the energies and managing the mental strain afterwards.
    – Arthur
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:24

Trying a bit here, staying away from free and bound:

offhand vs ritual

roaming vs tied or secured or sealed or grounded ...or anchored.

All fairly common words though.

Reference: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/offhand

  • I like the list "tied or secured or sealed or grounded ...or anchored". They definitely sound right for the aided constructs.
    – Arthur
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:21

I don't think "handmade" captures your sense. "Handmade" means not made by automated machinery. You wouldn't demand that a cobbler stop calling his shoes "handmade" because he used an awl. You might be able to adapt the word "atechnic," from the Greek τέχνη, meaning the work of crafting something. The word is usually applied to a person's understanding rather than his action.

  • As I see it, "atechnic" is more about whether you have knowledge of what you're doing. I suspect in every year at the mage school there are some kids who learn the hard way that you do not summon fire constructs like that. But I still don't think it's what I'm looking for.
    – Arthur
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:29
  • ''The word is usually applied to a person's understanding rather than his action.'' That's the problem.
    – Archa
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:46

Consider instrumental vs. freehand.

Instrumental suggests that something is done with the aid of instruments and freehand is the opposite. Your context can be an analogy to drawing also:

Freehand drawing:
enter image description here

Instrumental drawing:
enter image description here

Image source: gr8lessons.com

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