As I'm very fond of saying, energy is nothing if not malleable. Were that not the case we'd have a pretty difficult time getting anything to happen. It will, within reason, do what we tell it to do. This is a simplistic view, of course, but the concept I'd like to convey is a simple one also. While energy will do as we tell it to do, it will also do a lot of things we don't tell it to do. This is not to say that it will disobey us, but it will obey commands we have not consciously programmed. Let me cite an example.
I've always done my best work on the fly. In fact, for a time I was unable to make a decent shield if I had time to think about it. By shield in this context I mean a barrier to psionic input. If a friend in need requested a shield due to excessive input, especially if it was a situation where the person was in distress, I could knock one up with no trouble whatsoever. The intent behind the shield was for it to be... a shield. Without specifying such details, the shield would Block empathic and telepathic input, as well as outside intrusion. The need was there, and thus the required programming was inserted.
I tend to call this method of programming "expectation", though "passive programming" or "passive intent" would perhaps be a better choice of words. In this sense, passive refers only to the unconscious nature of the programming. You are still actively programming your object, simply without consciously intending to.
We as human beings do this in the mundane world as well. Can you think of any occasions where you've made a mistake by "over-thinking" something? The purpose of this article is to look at how passive intent can improve energetic workings. Consider the dancer or martial artist who, through constant repetition of a given move, is able to pull it off flawlessly and without thought. Once this is achieved they can then use the move as part of a complex sequence without having to focus on the mechanics of how each part is done. This level of unconscious competence is the first step in using passive intent as an active tool.
To use my above example once more, the reason I had difficulties in creating an effective shield was that I lacked the level of unconscious competence required to free my mind from thinking about every single separate operation required to create such an object. When forced to do so quickly and without thought I was able to act freely. Without the additional element of urgency I was stuck. Unless you half-arse it or are forced into a situation where no other option is available and your mind simply takes over, it is difficult to program passively unless you can already do so, do it well, and do it with little effort and no forethought. You need to "just do it". The infamous just do it method is nothing more or less than unconscious competence.
Passive intent is actively utilised by creating a set of rules which define what an energetic object is in the mind of the mage. Let's start with the basics here... an energetic object, be it a Construct, a piece of tech or a spell, is an object which is composed of energy. It is crafted by the mage to perform a function. These are attributes which are common to all items. The reason I commonly call passive intent "expectation" is because I expect my items to conform to specific rules when I create them. Everything I create will conform to these rules. Here are a few examples:
* Objects will be as durable and "tough" as is reasonably possible
* Objects will auto-heal when damaged
* Objects will always be switched "off" when created, and require activation before they will operate
As stated above, one does not focus upon these things when casting. Simply cast, and it will happen. It's a good idea to restrict yourself to things which will be good for all items. As I'm not in the habit of creating short-term devices, I like to make sure that they'll be as hard-wearing as possible. Ditto for having them heal themselves. The final rule listed is more a matter of convenience. As with all things in magic, implementing the above is a matter of will. Choose to do so, and it will happen. Do it enough times, and it will become automatic.
Expectation isn't really what I'd term an advanced skill. As a matter of fact, I brought it up under the list of "useful tricks" for my student recently. It is not overly difficult, but like all skills it's worth putting in the effort. Particularly in this case, as your results will only be as good as the amount of work you put into them. It's my considered belief that we all learn to do this at one time or another. After all, how many of us really go to the trouble of shelling a construct after working with them for a few months? It's automatic before too long. By taking Control of this and turning it into a useful skill we not only gain another tool but we gain a better understanding of how we work.