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Lore - A Primer on Magic
#1
What is Magic?
Magic is a very broad term, but it’s definition can be boiled down to: “the use of mana to influence the world by bypassing or shifting the standard laws of nature”. There are five “circles” of magic, Arcane, Divine, Natural, Psionic and Outsider. Each of these circles of magic cover a vast array of spells and effects that often overlap. What is important to remember is that each of these circles are defined more by the method in which a spell is cast than anything else. It is also worth noting that several of the circles can be learned by just about anyone with enough practice, though it is often unwise to spread oneself thin. 

What is Mana?
The one thing that all magic has in common is Mana. It is the fuel source of all spells. It powers the machines that you use and permeates the cosmos. Mana is infinite and indelible and originates in the Astral Plane, the vast ocean between universes. It is a cosmic force that is not to ever be taken lightly. It can and will burn the inexperienced and foolhardy from the inside out, leaving them as scorched and irradiated corpses.

By the very nature of Mana, a caster of magic can perform spells as much as he or she so desires. A caster is only limited by their physical tolerance to mana and it’s toxic properties. Repetitive casting can cause a buildup of mana taint which often manifests as burns on the fingertips, back, and scalp. Sufficient rest is good enough for the most part to purge the taint of mana. Excessive mana taint will eventually cause an illness known as Mana Poisoning. Mana Poisoning is expensive to treat and as the symptoms progress will also prove fatal to the individual.

There are other ways to become afflicted with mana taint and poisoning. Simply being exposed to raw mana is dangerous. Underdeveloped and impoverished areas are often rife with ambient mana from leakages and faulty equipment. Mana Poisoning is the single most pervasive and fatal illness in the world of Matai.

The Order of the First Circle, also known as the State Mages, have access to medication called ‘manaway’ that can be used to quickly purge mana taint from the body.

The Five Circles of Magic

----Arcane Magic - The First Circle
Arcane Magic is considered a science, performed by equation, practice and repetition. Unlike other magic that can often be hampered by the forces of whim, will, and emotion, Arcane magic is predictable and reliable. Arcane ‘spell equations’ are made up of a series of runes put in a particular order and charged with a measured amount of mana. Unlike the other circles, Arcane Magic has a strict list of schools of magic that are taught in the State Academies. Arcane Magic draws mana directly from the astral plane and manipulates it through careful calculations and patterns.
Pros: Reliable Magic
Vast spell variety
Cons: Complex casting
Easily countered
The Schools: Abjuration, Divination, Evocation, Illusion, Conjuration, Vitomancy, Enchantment, Transmutation

----Divine Magic - The Second Circle
Divine Magic is derived from the worship of the gods. Just as each god claims dominion over one or more aspects of the mortal realm, so to do their clerics, priests and devout. Worship of a particular deity can offer one access to spells called “miracles” that can be performed as long as one remains firmly grounded in the dogma espoused by their particular faith. Divine Spellcasters are often limited by the “domains” of their particular patron deity. Their spells are cast by the respective deity ‘acting through’ the caster, sending Mana through the caster’s body.
Pros: Reduced Mana Cost
Cast spells more Freely
Cons: Strict belief/dogma rules
Limited spell variety.
Example Domains: Death, Light, War, Strength, Wisdom

----Natural Magic - The Third Circle
Natural Magic is derived from natural forces, energies that persist throughout the mortal realm and are empowered either by raw belief or the vibrant life force that persists throughout the world. Whether it be manipulating shadows, channeling totem spirits, praying to wolves or singing a magically infused ballad, Natural magic is by its very nature the most conceptually diverse of the circles. Natural magic often requires multiple factors to work, the caster’s state of mind, the environment, and the target, making it somewhat unreliable. Natural Magic relies on ambient mana and draws it in from the surrounding area into the caster.
Pros: Diverse
Easily Learned
Cons: Mildly Unreliable
Weakest circle early on
Example Sources: Animal Spirits, Plants, Music, Totems, Shadows

----Outsider Magic - The Fourth Circle
Outsider Magic is the penultimate unnatural magic, its power is drawn from a pseudo-divine source. Instead of worshipping or entreating a being or force to aid the caster, the caster performs oft-unholy rituals to bind an entity to their will or form a pact. The most common outsiders to be bound or bargained with are Demons and Devils, as a result this form of magic often requires blood sacrifices and sordid devotion. This kind of magic is unpredictable at best and has a habit of mentally influencing the user. The upside being that the high price is often worth the output to those already committed. Outsider Magic draws Mana from the direct pact between the extraplanar being and the caster.
Pros: Extremely Potent
Morally Flexible
Cons: Costly
Difficult to Cast
Example Sources: Demons, Devils, Rogue Angels, Fey, Old Gods

----Psionic Magic - The Fifth Circle
Psionic Magic is the method of turning thought and feeling into reality by way of will and creativity. Psionic magic does not rely on specific rituals and rigid concepts. Instead, psionic “powers” are manifested by the caster by sheer force of will. Emotional state can interfere with the output, often creating unpredictable results, just as well though, Psions often can tailor their powers to fit a theme and create a comfortable arsenal. Unlike the other circles, Psionic Magic is an ability passed down through various bloodlines and cannot be ‘learned’ through natural means. Psionic magic draws mana directly into the brain and converts thought, will, and creativity into reality.
Pros: Very Versatile
Easy Casting
Cons: Extremely Draining
Unpredictable for the inexperienced
Example Disciplines: Metacreativity, Psychokinetics, Telepathy, Psychometabolism
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