A note on magic

My friend Victor got a case of The Inspiration and wrote a piece about magic and wizardry. I’m posting it as a comment to this post.

A note on magic

8 thoughts on “A note on magic

  1. Originally written by Vic S.

    General Philosophy

    The idea is of course to create fun. Fun often comes through conflict, at least where games are concerned. Putting magic into a modern day setting creates a great base platform for conflict, namely what kind of role magic has in a society that also has science. This same debate then goes one step further when you include religion into the debate as well, but that is a subject for a different write-up. But to make it fun, to create a distinct view on magic for the setting, and to create some base conflict in the world which can be used for adventures, I chose to sorta angle the view on magic into the two main views of magic as being a tool for science, or magic being superior to science. Old school vs new school as it were. In between is of course those wizards who just don’t care, and do magic for its own or at least their own sake. But as with everything, idealists and extremists will exist, and as such you can have the white robed technomancers of the large companies and the hedge wizards who want nothing to do with technology, and the conflict that creates. Even those wizards who don’t care will invariably get drawn into this debate in some way. And so fun begins… :)

    Wizardry – A Primer on its interaction with society

    Magic is a power older then the world itself, and one which was the primary force for change in the world for a long time before the rise of technology and industry. Since then it has undergone a big change to adapt to how the rest of society has changed around its practitioners, leaving people with some rather distinctly different view on the purpose and applications for magic.

    Old Magic in a New World
    Some magical practitioners still refuse to accept that the world is changing around them, and are clinging onto old ideas about the purpose of magic. Some, like the Hedge Wizards, do this because they believe it is necessary to preserve magic, and through magic the world itself, whereas others do it simply out of old traditions.

    New Magic for a Brighter Tomorrow
    The more modern uses of magic is best displayed by the white-robed Technomancers. These are wizards who have wholly dedicated their study and application of magic for the betterment of Science. Many of them are also students of Science who merge the two skills for a greater good, while some are still only practitioners of magic, but who are simply putting it to use for the furthering of science. The exact nature of the application of this kind of more modern magic still does vary greatly from person to person though, with some keeping it a bit more primal and still relying on some rather old school rituals and practices, with only the purpose made modern. Others put their magic to use through computer programming, or even go as far as to forsake the practical use of magic completely in favor of the theoretical study of it, viewing the use of spells as an archaic practice for a less civilized time.

    Old Magic, and Bringing About a Bygone Age
    Just as most modern practitioners of magic are trying to adapt and change there are still those who feel that the rise of industry has caused nothing but harm to the world. Especially among the students of the arcane these kinds of thoughts do still linger, and all around the world there are odd sects and cults spread out that still try to use their magical influence and powers to cause the direct or indirect collapse of technology again, and try to restore the world to simpler times when magic ruled supreme.

    Learning Magic and Practicing It

    Magic is learned in a great many ways still. While the more modern magic is often taught in proper schools and universities and many companies requiring a formal PhD or at least a doctorate from an aspiring white wizard. There are also many similar formal educations within sanctums, colleges and universities around the world for other magical traditions and styles, with the exact nature varying from school to school. Many of the less mainstream magical traditions are also still taught via a simple mentoring system, as was the primary practice in bygone times. For such traditions a more experienced wizard would take the role of master and mentor for a hopeful apprentice, and train them in the arcane arts in exchange for the help of an assistant, servant or sometimes almost even a slave. Certain institutions also have their own training regiments for training new wizards, such as the Red Wizards who get their training directly from the army.
    Finding and receiving training is only the first step in the making of a new Wizard though. Once trained a Wizard also needs to obtain a license, in most countries at least. These licenses generally apply to certain types of magic, so while a mage might have license for lesser utility spells, they could still get into trouble for throwing fireballs around. Of course even with a license regular laws still apply, so having license for any form of destructive magic does in no way give a wizard the right to use them on people. Exactly which governmental body regulates the applications and approvals for licenses does vary from country to country, and some countries are much more lenient with passing these out, making wizards much more common. Same as mentioned above too, red wizards who receive their training through the army will usually also get their specialized licenses handled by the army as well.


    Hedge Wizard – These are Wizards who generally feel that the rise of industry and the effects it has had on society are not for the better, and that these advances in turn has harmed the world as a whole by pushing magic to the side. They generally believe that magic is the true lifeblood of the planet, and that it should be practiced the same as it always has. The majority of Hedge Wizards are perfectly harmless idealists in some way, but they do also range into the realms of Anti-Technology Terrorism in some more extreme cases.
    White Robe / Technomancer – A Technomancer is a Wizard who primarily uses his skills for the purpose of scientific research and development, and larger scale theoretical applications. They are also called White Robes, due to the white lab robes they often wear within the multitude of large companies that employ them. Many such wizards never actually use magic as such, and only study it and its theoretical applications.
    Gutter Mage – A Gutter Mage is a Wizard who either practices his arts without a license, with a license not covering the specific arts being used, or simply a wizard who has distanced themselves from the established order of things. This was originally a derogatory term, and while many Wizards still view it as such there are also those who fully embrace the term and take pride in their status.
    Red Wizard – Red Wizards is an informal terminology for a formally trained War Wizard, usually serving with some nation’s armed forces. The exact actual name for such Wizards will vary from country to country. Their primary duty is that of an arcane artillery piece, usually working together in groups to perform large rituals that can cause large scale havoc on their enemies. They can also serve in other exact functions, and most will also have some training in personal defence and offense, but those specific skills are less unique to those of other traditions.
    Warlock/Witch/Sorcerer – These terms all apply to practitioners of illegal, black magic such as necromancy or demonology. Both NATO and the UN have forbidden the use of such magic, and encourage all of their member states to do the same, leaving such wizards with very few places around the globe where they can work without fear of persecution.

  2. Magical energy can not be stored, only channeled.

    This one of the few fundamental laws of magical theory as it is understood in the world. What this means there is no magical equivalent of batteries. You can’t channel magical energy into something and then extract it later.
    Items can still be enchanted, though all but the most powerful enchants will eventually expire.

    Using magic is a one way process – the magical energy is channeled and transformed into something. Once that is done the magical energy used can not be extracted again.

    In the real world the light from a lamp can be used together with a solar cell to generate electricity, but it will not generate enough electricity to power the lamp.
    A mage can conjure refreshments (food and water), but the nourishment provided will not be enough for the mage to conjure the same amount of food and water a second time.

  3. morkka says:

    Moar stuff! :)

    The Nature and Origin of Magic

    Magic is not just something you learn, but something you are born with, to an extent. Just as some people are born with large ears, some people are born with a larger ability to grasp the aether and channel it through them. The base capability for magic exists in almost 90% of the population, but only as many as about 15% of the population is able to channel it to a great enough extent to cast regular spells, regardless of how much training they have had. The rate of such magic abilities does of course vary a bit with some races, where elves are a good example of a race where this is quite a bit more common, especially with the older elves.

    Magic itself is believed to come from a force which is nowadays called Aether. In bygone times different cultures and traditions used different words to refer to it, but now in the age of globalization “Aether” is the term that has taken hold. Aether is generally described as a metaphysical gas that exists all around us, across the whole planet. Being able to sense and channel this Aether is what allows the creation of spells and magic, through invocations and actual spells as means for focusing and directing.

    While Aether is an ever-present existance it is not always a stable one. Winds ripple through the Aether of the world, causing eddies and swirls, leaving areas weakened or strengthened as through an unseen magical weather force. For the most part these winds are quite weak, making the shift in magical power in an area barely noticeable, but at times they do pick up speed and can cause some noticeable disturbence, good or bad. Some regions are also more prone to such Aetherstorms, most noticeably the great deserts around the equators which is one of the contributing factors to why travel across it is so hazardous. In some very rare cases there have even been Aetherstorms of such magnitude as to rival that of a hurricane, leaving some regions free of Aether alltogether for as long as a few days, or in other areas leaving the Aether packed so thick that even untrained people stumble upon it and accidentally channel it to devestating effect. This somewhat fickle nature of the winds of magic is a constant source for fascination and study in the wizard community, but so far no one has ever been able to find any real pattern or reason to it.

  4. morkka says:

    Magical Healing –

    Healing is a tricky matter in any world. If a Wizard can simply say a few words and mend broken bone and seamlessly heal a gunshot wound then all of a sudden the whole medical industry gets thrown upside down, along with the fact that there would barely be any long-term consequences for injury, for anyone. This would have some very far reaching effects on the world as a whole, which are ones best avoided. So, as a solution, here is how it works…

    Aether can be bent in many ways to temporarily alter reality, but any and all such alterations do eventually wear out, at which point things go back to how they were before. This does put a few limitations on what, or rather how, some things are done with Magic. On the subject of healing, a Wizard can not simply remove a gunshot wound with magic. If they did so the wound would re-appear in a few days, and the patient would likely not be too pleased. Instead healing is done through speeding up the body’s own natural regenerative capabilities. This allows a treated patient to heal from most wounds much faster then normally possible, but they do still require medical attention to go with it. Also, as the body burns through calories much faster when doing this, people so treated are often left with a massive appetite until the spell wears off.

  5. morkka says:

    The Spellbound –

    As previously mentioned, most humans have the basic ability to draw in aether to some extent. Only about 15% of people however are able to draw in sufficient quantities to weave it into a spell. Then there is also a small percentage among those who are unfortunately too gifted for their own good, and are able to draw in so much aether that their mind is incapable of properly weaving it, causing a sort of magical short circuit in that specific part of their brains and leaving them stuck with just that one weave forever burned into their minds.

    Those so afflicted are known as the Spellbound, and are almost like a wizardly savant. They start showing an affinity for magic even at a very young age, and as most people with a sufficient aptitude they are at some point tested and sent for training as a wizard. At some point during their training or early career they reach the point where they draw in too much aether, and whichever spell they cast at the time gets stuck in them. From that moment forward that is the only spell they can ever weave, but also a spell they form a special bond with, making it become second nature to them. They become true savants of that one kind of spells.

    What is locked is not just the specific unique spell that was cast at the time, but rather the general type of spells. So, to make an example, a wizard casting a fireball would be locked to the creation of fire in general, but not necessarily just as fireballs. By the same way a wizard manipulating kinetic energy to create a forceful push at a target would be locked into the manipulation of kinetic energy in general, and could use this to push targets away, pull targets closer, launch themselves into the air, or even deflect incoming objects, as all of these things would also be a matter of manipulating kinetic energy.

    Over time these Spellbound become closely linked with their unique area of expertise. The fireball wizard from the previous example would not only be able to channel more aether then a normal wizard, but would also master more efficient and effective applications of creating such things, leaving them capable of exponentially more powerful fireballs then a regular wizard. These things even end up being second nature to those who truly embrace their “challenge”, to the point where the same wizard walking into a room would light all the candles in the room without even thinking about it.

    Some of the Spellbound see their situation as an affliction and consider themselves damaged goods because of it, and often become very shy and socially held back by their situation. Others however fully embrace the mastery they do obtain over their specific type of magic, and find ways of using this as a gift instead. Regular Wizards generally view them all with a mix of both pity and envy, but ultimately few are too opinionated against them to pass up the opportunity of working with one.

  6. morkka says:

    So… on the subject of numbers, we’ve had a bit of a change here, as we came to realize just how many wizards we’d end up with otherwise.

    So, disregarding the numbers given above, the total percentage of the population that can channel Aether at all is 10-12%, varying a bit from region to region and race to race. Roughly 1% of the population can then also unleash the Aether, forcing it into the most basic of forms. And just under 0.1% of the total population reach the skill and strength needed to where they would be able to actually weave spells. That 0.1% does include children and generally just untrained people as well though, so the total ratio of actual wizards in the world is closer to 0.06-0.07%. This still adds up to being several million worldwide, but keeps them rare enough still that their uses would be valued and seen as special, and to where technology still has great value as it removes the reliance on this tiny part of the total population.

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