A discussion earlier today concluded that in order for a magic wielder to target something they are required to be familiar with the target in some way. A target in this case is a person, an object or a location.
For the purpose of targeting anything that can be seen and discerned is considered familiar – including things that have just been seen but aren’t currently in line of sight. Other senses (hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting(?)) can also be used for targeting.
Familiarity comes into play and starts being important once you are not within sight of the target of your magic. The further away the target is the greater the familiarity required to target it is.
- For targeting people (or animals) the caster needs to know the person they are targeting. Just knowing how a person looks is not enough to target them if they are not within line of sight.
- Familiarity with a location is easiest achieved by visiting the location. The other option requires intense theoretical study of the location. This second method is time-consuming and will only yield as good results as the information studied.
- Being familiar with objects is more difficult. Only objects long in the possession of the mage and with great symbolic value can be targeted – even at relatively close distances. Most magic wielders will only have a handful of possession like this; a wedding ring, a family heirloom or a favorite childhood teddy bear are good examples.
Traveling abroad as a mage
Traveling as a mage is more complicated than for non-mages. It has been proven throughout history that magic can cause terrible destruction, especially in war-time. One way of protecting a nation from devastating magical attacks is to prevent mages from becoming familiar with the country and its strategic locations.
Many countries, especially those with any kind of strained relation to other countries, restrict or forbid foreign mages from crossing their borders. Due to this many mages never leave their native country, but some do.
Some nations have signed treaties to allow for mages to travel between them with a minimum of paperwork. A few nations, as a sign of their desire to remain neutral and avoid conflict, make no distinction between mages and non-mages and allow either to enter or leave freely. Other nations have closed their borders completely and won’t allow anyone to enter or leave (but there’s more than just fear of destructive magic at play there).
There is not only additional paperwork to deal with for a mage going abroad. A traveling mage can expect to be observed or even escorted throughout most or all of their stay in the foreign country.
Centers of magical learning
There is another noteworthy consequence of the restrictions on traveling imposed on mages; All (almost) important international magical institutions such as universities, research centers or laboratories are located in the countryside. Usually the institution is situated in some remote, unimportant part of the country, perhaps neighboring one or two little rural villages.
This wasn’t always the case. Having a respected magical institution within your borders is an asset to a country. International exchange is as important within magic as in any other science. Rather than shutting them down the established magical institutions were often relocated to areas that it didn’t matter if anyone was familiar with.
Only in very few places are magical institutions still active within or near a major city or capital.