Magic in the World of Mythania
In the world of Mythania, magic is quite prevalent and pervasive. While only a small fraction of a percent of people are able to wield magic (estimated between 0.2% to 0.5%), this still amounts to well over a million persons. Of those, less than 5% are able to display any degree of significant potential–most are limited to a few basic abilities or a smattering of simple spells and folk charms. Nevertheless, practically every city has numerable magic shops, apothecaries, and potion vendors, to say nothing of magic-related services such as fortune-tellers, healers, scryers, enchanters, illusionists, and wizards-for-hire.
Every intelligent race (or species if you prefer) appears to be capable of wielding magic in some form or another. The Eldrien (and Scaith as well, to a lesser extent) are masters of natural magic, harnessing the forces of nature and the powers of the elements to marvelous effect. The Triclopes, likewise, are masters of psychic powers such as telepathy and telekinesis. Humans seem to be the only race interested in studying astral magic, although Scaithi and Kaffrians have recently begun taking an interest as well. But no matter the person, be they Human, Eldrien, Scaithi, Dworgh, Ogre, Triclops, Kaffrian, or Marsid, the ability to harness and control the forces of magic seems innately intertwined with the qualities of self-awareness and self-determination. Perhaps all intelligent beings have a capacity for magic, but only in a few does the the miraculous gift awaken.
Today, most wielders of magic are organized into guilds and orders, the largest being the Esoteric Order under the direct jurisdiction of the Archidoxy. Prior to the fall of the Imperial Republic, the Esoteric Order was the only sanction magical order–although many others did exist underground. During the Age Reconstruction after the War of Tyranny, the Archidoxy’s political hold over the nations of Celaphania and Tarrona. Because of this, many other independent magical orders now exist, including the Thaumaturgical Order (found by the renowned wizard Soren), the Order of Triquetra, and countless smaller groups. Royal courts, government bodies, military forces, mercantile companies, and exploration groups, also employ wizards and mages in one capacity or another. Many can also be found as independent agents. Since the beginning of the War of Wars, two new magic orders have also arisen: the Order of the Knights Empyrean (loyal to the Commonwealth and her allies), and the dreaded Tenebraean Order (loyal to the Grand Imperium).
A Brief Overview of Magic
Discounting the legendary Age of Gods innumerable aeons ago, the first people to ever wield magic were very likely the Talic Eldrien of Celaphania and the Ultic Eldrien of Tarrona. Humans learned of natural magic from their Eldrien brethren, becoming wizards and shamans, and in the course of time such knowledge also passed to the Dworghs, Kaffrians, and even the Ogres, or where more likely taught to the Ogres by the Scaithi who split from the Eldrien during the Second Age of Darkness. According to the legends of Nanshin and Tai-tsing, however, dragons first taught magic, alchemy, and astrology mankind. Perhaps for the inhabitants of ancient Haikoning this was true–after all, their magic and alchemy is considerably different from that known by Celaphanians and Tarronans.
Over the course of history, the arts of magic have undergone considerable change and development. Before the age of Elinica, shamanism and spiritual magic were the only forms of magic practiced; and those who practiced magic made little distinction between natural and spiritual magic. During the Age of Elinica, the development of astrology led to the discovery of astral magic, and by the age of Marada, astral magic was practiced almost to the exclusion of all other forms.
In his Principia Magicae, Soren lists five primary schools of magic: Natural Magic, Divine Magic, Spiritual Magic, Astral Magic, and Psychic Magic. Although Soren was careful to distinguish divine magic (theurgy) from other forms of spiritual magic, such as sorcery and necromancy, it is clear from his writings that he considered all forms of spiritual magic to be one-in-the-same. Thus, the astute reader of the Principia Magicae will find that Soren’s five schools are indeed just four, but with theurgy separated from “necromancy” to placate the Archidoxy.
Natural magic, then, was perhaps the first form of magic that was practiced as such. Sometimes called wizardry, elemental magic, or shamanic magic, natural magic works upon the living energies of nature and the elemental aspects as they are reflected in the aether. Early practitioners of magic, and many modern practitioners as well, have no concept of the aether as presently understood-instead, they saw the aetheric aura of living things as the “life force”, and work upon that life force through the connections and correspondences inherent in nature. The elements, fairies, beast spirits, and other natural spirits that they may call upon or communicate with are all part of the “invisible world” that exists just beyond the mortal veil of conscious perception (which is, of course, the Aether). Today, natural magic remains the most widely practiced form of magic, primarily because of the Eldrien, as well as the continued developments of scholastically inclined wizards and elementors.
Theurgy, or divine magic, was for a long time considered separate from magic all together, belonging to the realm of religious miracles and holy powers. Particularly devoted priests were often gifted, or invested with, the ability to invoke the power of their god, performing great feats and miracles, healing the sick, vanquishing spirits, and even blessing entire armies before battle. Likewise, sorcerers and necromancers called upon the so-called “dark powers” of the mysterious spirit-world and kingdoms of the dead, conjuring specters and wraiths from the aether, raising mortifant corpses, and laying blights upon hapless towns and villages. Of course, most who practiced “sorcery” and “necromancy” were merely spiritors interested in contacting the dead, or fulfilling their own personal desires for wealth and knowledge. In spite of what many legends say, few practitioners of such spiritual magic sought to inflict harm and wreck mayhem–a part from a few who could rightly be called insane.
During the Age of Elinica, the development of astrology and astral projection led to the discovery of astral magic. By the age of Marada, astral magic was practiced almost to the exclusion of all other forms of magic. With astral magic, the astral-mage (or simply “mage”) draws aethergy directly from the astral plane, and with certain rites and formulas, is able to focus that energy into a desired effect. He must also take into account the influence of the planets as they directly affect the eddies and currents of aethergy in the astral plane. For centuries, astral magic was almost exclusively practiced by Humans, and even today the percentage of Human practitioners far outweighs those of other races (being about 95%). The reason for this is uncertain, however, astral magic is far removed from natural magic, being more of a pure science that taps the energy of the Cosmos to produce thaumaturgical effects. Many other races, Eldrien especially, but also Kaffrians, Dworghs, and Ogres, seem better attenuated to natural magic than the “cold calculations” and exacting formulas required for astral magic. However, anyone who is willing to dedicate themselves to the years of study that are required can learn astral magic regardless of any inborn abilities or talents.
Psychic magic is another form of magic that seems apart from the others. Since recorded history, there have been individuals who displayed a kind of inner power, or supernatural talent, such as the ability to see auras, read minds, or move objects with a thought. Many who have such powers seem to be born with them, and may learn to use their powers without any formal training. They were once thought to have been gifted by the gods, and at other times to be cursed by demons, but such notions are nothing more than quaint superstition. The Chi Masters of Haikoning, and later Tai-tsing, were the first to develop training schools where promising students would go to learn the arts of meditation, philosophy, and mental control, thereby developing their psychic talents to their full potential. By the age of Marada, similar schools had opened in the major cities of Celaphania. By far, the Triclopes display the greatest abilities in psychic magic of all races, followed distantly by Humans and the other races. In fact, every Triclopes has some degree of psychic talent, while present estimates seem to indicate that only 1 out of 500 Humans has significant psychic potential (or 1 out of 200 in Tai-tsing and Nanshin).
Wielders of Magic
Wizards, mages, sorcerers, elementors, spiritmasters, and shamans–truly, the names and classifications used to describe all manner of magical practitioners is quite diverse and confusing. The common man may call a shaman a wizard, or a spiritmaster a sorcerer, without a second thought or even knowing the difference. Of course, in some cases there may not be a discernible difference, while in other cases such confusion can potentially be construed as insulting, or worse, insight anger and conflict.
Of practitioners of natural magic there are those who call themselves Wizards and Witches, or even Warlocks, and still others who don the title of Shaman, or prefer the designation of Elementor. A wizard should generally be thought of as a neutral designation for any practitioner of natural magic. Witch can be used to designate a female practitioners of natural wizardry, however, many today simply term themselves Lady Wizards because some female spiritors also call themselves witches. The term warlock, however, should only be applied to wizards who abuse magic in such a manner as to wreck harm and destruction, or to commit crimes against nature and civilized societies. A shaman is essentially the same as a wizard, but having a more primal philosophy and generally preferring to deal with animal spirits rather than elemental spirits. Elementors, as they name implies, work primarily with elemental energies and elemental spirits, though certainly not to exclusion. Some elementors, in fact, are more similar to wizards, and the designation may simply be a matter of preference from individual to individual.
To practice divine magic, one must by definition be a priest–however, not all priests work divine magic. In fact, the vast majority do not. While in ancient times no really distinction was made between priests who invoked divine magic and those who did not (other than perhaps their hierarchy), the Archidoxy designates their priests who wield divine powers as Theurgists. Those who are not priests, or who are priests of other religions, who delve into the mystical arts of spiritual magic, are branded by the Archidoxy as sorcerers, necromancers, and witches. Technically speaking, however, a sorcerer is a generic term for any practitioner of spiritual magic, but it has been used disparagingly for such a long time that it has taken on a negative connotation. The same can be said for necromancers (who are by definition simply those who communicate with dead spirits) and even witches. However, many female practitioners of spiritual magic prefer to be called witches, as do some practitioners of natural magic confusingly enough. The more general and acceptable terms of spiritor and spiritress have become more popular in recent years, but spiritmaster should only be applied to spiritors of considerable skill and experience.
As for practitioners of astral magic, the terms Astral-Mage, Mage, Magus, Magician, and Thaumaturge, are all commonly used and are, generally speaking, interchangeable. Thaumaturge, like wizard and sorcerer, is a generic word for anyone who practices the magical arts, but few other than astral-mages seem inclined to use the term. The other terms, these being mage, magus, or magician, are also technically generic, but have since the Age of Marada become all interchangeable with astral-mage (that is, one who practices Astral Magic).
Finally, individuals endowed with mental powers are most often termed either Psychics or Mentalists, according to their personal preference. Both terms are interchangeable and carry no negative connotations. Certain psychic individuals, however, may exhibit talents in particular areas, such as clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, and so forth, and may prefer the corresponding designation of clairvoyant, telepath, or telekinetic. Although Triclopes have by far the greatest number of mentalists of any race, they have no separate designation for a psychic or mentalist of their race–this is primarily because it should be assumed that any Triclops naturally psychic. The Chi Masters of Tai-tsing (and similarly the Ki Masters of Nanshin) are also psychics, but using the term “Chi” (or “Ki”) to refer to their mental powers and abilities.
Measurements of Aethergy
Aethergy can be defined as “a fluid-like luminous energy carrying a measurable charge that flows like currents and eddies through the aetheric medium of the astral plane”. Aethergy can be envisioned as ever-changing harmonies of songs, flowing silently and invisibly through the eddies and currents of the astral light between the stars and planets. These harmonic patterns of aethergy center around heavenly bodies, like ripples of water around a stone; they change continuously as the planets move in their courses, forming new patterns, magnitudes, and tones. The currents of aethergy can thus be harnessed by astral-mages, who create sigils and signs to mirror the patterns in the heavens, shaping and adjusting them through thought, gesture, and incantations. Magines and other magical machines may be used to create waves and patterns in the aether, which, though notably artificial, can nonetheless be harnessed by astral-mages and other aetheric machines. In fact, artificial aethergy powered nearly all the advanced technology of ancient Marada.
One of the first things astral-mages are taught is not how to harness more aethergy, but how to control the tiny fraction of power they are capable of taping safely. Astral-mages who channel too much aethergy from the astral light can be burned, injured, or killed–some have even been reduced to piles of smoldering black ash. It is believed by some scholars that enough aethergy flows around the world that if it were all to be harnessed at once, the world would be annihilated in a flash of pure light and energy. Of course, nothing aside from a god could harness that magnitude of power.
Astral-mages, out of convention, measure aethergy in “maits”. One mait, or 1 mt, was original described to be “the unit of aethergy necessary to produce light to fill a room”, which is to say, 1 mt can generate the luminosity to light a room. This was more recently standardized at 1 dyne, so 1 dn may be equated to 1 mt (a dyne being a measurement of electrical energy,equal to 1 horsepower). However, the terms “mait” and even “aethergy” are still almost exclusively used by astral-mages and scholars. Some alchemist, wizards, elementors, and those who study various forms of magic, also use this convention. Most practitioners of natural and spiritual magic shun the use of these terms, and aethergy is practically irrelevant to mentalists.
Modern astral-mages have a new and awesome weapon at their disposal–magines (an abbreviation for magical engines). A magine is any kind of magical engine, device, motor, or mechanism that either generates aethergy, harnesses aethergy to function, or produces magical effects through the mechanical application of aethergy. Aetheric dynamos and aetheric condensors are the most common kind of magine; the former being a device that converts mechanical and magenetic energy into aethergy, while the later stores aethergy in a di-aetheric alchemical solution. Less common machines included celestial engines, which focus aetheric energy through a rotating orrery, and elemental furnaces that initiate aetheric reactions between elements. Which such machiens can theoretically produce near-unlimited magical energy, the aethergy is artificial, and can only be harnessed by astral-mages and other magical machines.
Over-science, also termed over-technology, is the engineering and application of such magical engines and devices. While magines may produce magical energies, other over-science devices use aethergy to drive their function or to produce a magical effect. The ancient Gollans and Maradians were prolific in creating such devices, and eventually built such terribly destructive machines that the world was all but destroyed in the cataclysmic War of Gollan and Marada, 1000 years ago. Today, over-science devices are quite rare. Apart from the few functioning Maradian devices that are found from time-to-time, the majority are handcrafted by skilled mages and gearmeisters. Such devices may included luminaries, enchanted automatons, magically enhanced ocular devices, magically powered clockworks, and intricate mechanisms designed to produce various magical effects.
The range of postulates offered by over-science and over-technology devices is truly astonishing. We can only hope that the lessons of history are remembered, and another cataclysms such as that which fell Marada will wisely be avoided.
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