One of the greater gifts given to us by the Creators. As brute beasts, we knew nothing of the wonders of grasping the raw forces of the cosmos and turning them to our own devices. Now, this knowledge is seeped into our very bloodlines. This is most plainly seen in the Water Folk, who exert familiar water magics, passed from parent to child. Any being with sufficient drive can unlock the secrets of magic, in theory, it is our birthright, as mandated by the Creators. As is written in the First Text, 'Our special children, you will dance in the air and hold fire in your hands. The water will be your ally and the earth will yield bounty and shelter.'
Becoming a Mage
In reality, there are many barriers to the common being becoming a magician of any more than the most rudimentary levels. Magic is a science, an intense and rigorous one that lays heavy demands on the mind and body. Although some, like the Water Folk, can learn the basics through their inborn affinity, advancing beyond that requires study, and practice. First, one must learn the math of the magic. Every effect is a complicated morass of numbers and equations. Once it is learned, it must be forgotten. Any magician who must step by step through an equation is useless. Only when it is fully embedded in the unthinking mind, the sleeping mind, can a magician cast a spell in the way that most people imagine it. A wave of a hand, a wiggle of a tail, some squinting and a few words, and a dazzling display is had for all to enjoy. It looks so easy.
Most magicians learn their trade from more experienced magicians. Larger cities have academies or magician's guilds that offer such training, for a price. Only the great Magic City of Cliffside offers magic training as a right, instead of a luxury. This creates the first barrier to becoming a magician, economics. Many beings, no matter how talented, simply cannot afford to attend these classes, or to travel to Cliffside to start a new life there, if they can qualify to begin with. Is it possible for a being to be a self taught magician? Yes. I would not recommend it. You will spend years rediscovering what is taught in the first months of formal training. No matter how simple magic appears from the outside, each number and balance of force must be just so, or you do nothing but waste time and energy. Worse, self taught magicians often do not have the benefit of centuries of fine tuning behind them, and when things go wrong, they go wrong in large ways.
Of course, this does not include the new breed of being, the soulless. I will not go into detail on them. I recommend 'On the Nature of Soulless' by Leonard Tobin, Clever Folk of Sweetwater, if you wish to read more on their special aptitudes.
The next obstacle is the mind. Not every being is suited to the massive memorization of so much technical knowledge. While this can be circumvented, in part, with raw drive, there is a certain amount of, for lack of better word, talent, that makes magic practical. Most aspiring magicians spend their first weeks in class measuring this talent. Those who are deemed to be lacking in that vital spark are encouraged to reconsider their career paths. Some persist despite, destined to mediocrity. Always the assistant, never the arch magus. I would be remiss if I did not note a famous exception. Kevin, no last name given, a Small Folk who was born in 290, of hare descent.
He failed aptitude tests soundly, but refused to be deterred. When shown equations of even the simplest of spells, he would stare for hours before he collapsed with a, by his own report, skull splitting migraine. Despite this, he came to class every day, just to stare in futile incomprehension. It was a full lunar cycle before anything changed. He strode into class and when the instructor placed the equation of the day on the blackboard, Kevin began to draw. He made a strange pattern on the paper that made no sense to his fellow students, or the agitated arch magus. When he was done drawing his many circles and geometries, with strange lines that intersected and made right angles, of spirals and squares, the teacher held it up. By all reports, the arch magus was furious, thinking Kevin was playing some childish jest by doodling in his class. He roared at Kevin to explain himself, and so he did.
Kevin had discovered a second way of recording and displaying the divine equations. Every line and shape, each size, angle and even the darkness of each mark had significance. Now called Kevinscoping, it is an alternate, but beautiful, method of learning and scribing the equations. Though his mind could not grasp the raw numbers, these shapes came easily to him, and others who came after. It is said that roughly twenty percent of the population has improved understanding of Kevinscoping over the traditional numeric presentation, most notably amongst those who fail to understand the traditional format. Do not be deceived, learning from a Kevinscope is just as difficult and intense, just different. The Creators made us different to rise to any challenge, and this remain true.
If you can overcome these two obstacles, then you have a bright future ahead as a magician. Apprenticeship typically lasts three years, followed by another two years of noviate rank, when a budding magician is permitted to take on tasks and duties under supervision of a fully qualified magus. Assuming all proceeds well, on the end of the fifth year, the noviate is awarded full status as a magus and is free to set off on their own, or to remain with their instructors, studying and teaching and taking on jobs to pay their way and support the school.
The gifts of mathemagic are splendid and we should always bow in thank to our Creators for them, but they are not without some draw backs. The mindset that produces the magic comes unbidden. The more a being focuses upon sacred math, from determining the circumference of a circle to designing the correct arc of an arbalest's arm, the more the being's soul begins to reach for the power of mathemagic. The more training and talent one has in mathemagic, the more severe this distraction can become, making non magical math almost an impossibility. This limitation has been blamed for the loss of much of the Creator knowledge we once had, and the slow innovation of our own methods and techniques.
Keep in mind that no matter how far a being delves into the study of magic, one will never become incapable of performing the absolute basics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division will still be possible.
Magic itself is divided, as the Creators has written it, into four major elements.
Air magic, native element of the Clever Folk, covers mastery of the winds, and also related aspects. Moving swiftly, ensuring the flight of arrows, taking flight and manipulating the winds for a sailing ship all fall under air's domain. The most talented of air magicians can exert pressure against weather, stopping or causing gale force winds. Rain can be blown away or urged closer with the same sorceries, but not created, that is the purview of water.
Water magic, native element of the Water Folk, allows the controlling of raw water, be it fresh or salt. It also allows use of chilling effects, creating ice or simply drawing the heat from things. Turned to enhancement, water allows one to turn aside blows, breathe water, to become more flexible, and to perform minor feats of body alteration. Water can be called from nothing, as well as ice, with the proper divine equation.
Fire magic was said, in the First Text, to be element that the Creators favored most. Perhaps it was a jealous relationship, as none of the clans feel a kinship to it. It is a useful and dangerous element. Fires to forge, fires to cook, fires to warm, fires to burn those that displease you. Skilled fire magicians are rarely seeking for work long. Turned to enhancement, fire turns to violent strength.
Earth magic is said to favor females, but no paper or proof has surfaced to validate the rumor. No clan feels direct kinship for it, but all enjoy its effect. Most walls and grand architecture stands by benefit of an earth magician's help. The moving and shaping of dirt and stone is a deeply practical skill. Other earth abilities include the blessing of land for bountiful crops, and toughening the flesh against adversity. Protection, bounty, and beautiful forms. It is little wonder that many admire skilled earth magicians.
Some fields of magic are just being discovered and explored.
Dark magic was discovered in the war against the shadow, fighting fire with fire, as the old saying goes. It can curse, hex, and drain targets of vitality, sometimes destroying, otherwise funelling portions of the diminished capacity for the wielder's own good. Turned to enhancement, darkness tends to create reactive wards that hinder anyone foolish enough to get in the way of the target.
As magic grows more complex, the required effort to make it work increases along with it. If a talented mathemagician can perform the operations entirely by rote, in their head, it is the most wondrous thing. They just gesture with a light gesture, and things happen, all the math contained within their brilliant mind. For the rest of us, this is how it generally goes.
|Proficiency Requirement of Spell||Ritual|
|4||Addition or Subtraction|
|10||Multiplication of up to three Numbers|
|20||Square roots and powers|
|25||Solving quadratic equations|
|30||Logarithms and long sequences(golden ratio to the fiftieth place, pi, and others)|
|35||Radicals and Derivatives|
|40+||Increasingly Complex Calculus|
Oh, but the reward of magic! To determine the general scale of a formula, examine its 'optimal' level of proficiency. Of course, the effect of the math remains the same. No amount of skill turns an enchantment of the self outwards or turns a single bolt into a field affecting math.
|Optimal Proficiency of Spell||Effect|
|4||A single person putting out mild effort|
|10||Two people doing mild effort or one person moving quickly/vigorously|
|20||Four people doing mild effort, or two people moving quickly/vigorously|
|25||Six people doing mild effort, or three people moving quickly/vigorously|
|30||Ten people doing mild effort, four moving quickly|
|35||Fifteen slowly, six quickly|
|40+||Twenty slowly, ten quickly|
Vigorous movements tend to be short lived. For instance, if something would normally take ten minutes of work by a single person, it could be done almost instantly with a sorcery of the same basic effect and ten optimal proficiency, but if the same thing needed an hour of work, the spell would barely start the effort. Assume ten minutes of work per 'person' of quick movement performed in under a minute. Likewise, mild effort takes about two thirds the normal time as the time saved.
For example, if you had an earth shaping enchantment, and needed a wall built that would require a hundred being hours, and you had a master sorcerer at hand with an appropriately grand spell in hand. They could assemble the wall with the force of twenty beings(100 divided by 20 is 5), working together with math enhanced grace(300 minutes * 2 / 3 = 200 minutes). It would take three hours and twenty minutes of effort to assemble the wall.
For instant effects, the same sorcerer could assemble anything instantly that took one hundred minutes or less. The previous wall would be too large for any single spell, but if they settled for a smaller wall, it would be possible.