What is Magick?Edit
Magick is the ability to give tangible form to the ideas and emotions of the caster. It is transmutation, a way of making the immaterial into the material, and sometimes even vice versa. Although Magick can bend the laws of nature, that does not mean it feeds from order to breathe life into chaos. If life is a symphony, then Magick is the first violin of the orchestra, able to rise higher than all other instruments and lead the way. The violin is a medium able to form music from the ideas and emotions passed through it, but beneath every song there is an underlying logic and form, and for those who understand it there is a subtility hidden behind it. Some might know her to be the beautiful sister of mathematics, because she is art and passion, yet at the same time notes, tempo, scales, silences, octaves… in other words, perfect order. Without a careful and masterful performance, the sublime orchestra of the magickal practise dissolves into a shocking cacophony of unruly disharmony.
Magick and your Character. How does it work?Edit
Through Magick, mages can make what would otherwise be impossible, such as controlling a raging fire or healing with the touch of their hands, possible. Magick however is not something that comes naturally nor by instinct. Just like poets, mages are born and made. While some people might discover on their own that they have the potential to use it, they need to study and train before they are able to do so with relative safety. Knowing that, it is a given that all mages are scholars.
Learning Magick is not like learning how to cook or how to play with a sword. It is a hard discipline that only a few can master. If you want your character to be a mage, then you must make sure that it is something that really matters to him, not some extra detail or an afterthought. Why did they decide to learn? Who taught it to them and why? Do not expect to randomly find wizards willing to teach you. They are secretive and would rarely share their learning with any uninitiated.
Furthermore, Magick is more an art than what it is a science. What does that mean? It means that even if you repeat the same words, the same moves, the same thoughts, and the same emotions, the spell will not always be exactly the same. Unlike science, Magick does not give exact results every single time. Mages are like artists, and spells are like paintings. Every artist has a style that can be recognized on each of their works, but every painting is always different.
Casting a spell is thus like painting on a white canvas. Possibilities are as boundless as the colours available for your brush that permit you. They are painted into reality from your ideas and emotions, and the means to weave them are called Sleepnir. A Sleepnir is a wizard’s medium to bring their spells out of their mind, and there are countless numbers of them: wands, staffs, musical instruments, rings, strings, puppets, voice, arm movements, writing, etc. It is very common to see combinations of Sleepnirs too, for example, to defend himself from bullets a wizard could point a line in the earth in front of him while he shouts: “Rise and protect me!”, and a wall then forms to shield him. Each mage chooses what works best for them.
You might be wondering now: “if it is such a creative process, then why does my character need a teacher? I am sure he can cast a spell by his own just like I can pick up a pencil and draw without any art classes!” Yes, technically any human of average intelligence could possibly draw some decent stick figures without plucking an eye out. Nevertheless, Magick does not work that way. It is far more complex and dangerous due to the underlying order we spoke above when we made the comparison with music. Trying to cast a powerful spell without any proper education would be like trying to paint “Spring” from Botticelli with a pencil, impossible.
Why is it impossible? Because you must first cultivate your ideas and emotions so that they serve as lovely colours, and because you must learn techniques, such as you would first need to learn to create depth in a painting, play with shades and to portrait movement before you create anything other than stick figures. So please, receive proper training before attempting to use Magick because unlike doing five year old drawings, you could actually pluck both of your eyes out or have your head explode. While that would most certainly be amusing for some to read, I am sure it would not be so funny for your character. Always remember that Magick comes after a profound understanding of the specific elements with which the mage is dealing with.
As stated above, mages must be taught before being able to use Magick properly. Apprentices usually learn the basics of one of the main Disciplines, and from there they start to create their own spells and combine other disciplines. Note that it is not the same to know a few things about a Discipline than to master it. It takes years and years of studies and practice to become a formidable mage in any of the disciplines or to simply become a powerful mage.
There are three important factors to determine the power level of a spell: space, time, and gravity. The higher it is in each of the three, the more Magick is it required to cast and the stronger its effects.
- Space: What area does the spell occupy? It should naturally be easier to shoot a beam of frost forth from your hands than to cause the heavens to hail. As a matter of fact, spells that change the weather are amongst the most costly of them all due to the sheer amount of Magick it takes to affect such a large area, even if you are causing a simple rain. Only very powerful and experienced wizards would be able to alter the weather, and even them would rarely do it because it takes a significant toll and would be a waste of Magick in almost every situation. Always keep in mind that space does not only include the area of effect of the spell but also the distance between the caster and the Magick, meaning, if you are controlling some earth golems, the further away they are from you, the more costly will they be to sustain.
- Time: In Nyxheim spells are not neon coloured beams you shoot from wands and then stop to shoot another. They may endure for as long as the caster keeps fuelling them. Let’s say you shoot a fireball for example, not only must you gather the initial energy to summon it but you must also sustain it until it reaches its target, or else it will begin to disintegrate as soon as it appears. This factor however does not apply equally to all spells.
- Gravity: It is the effort it takes to materialize whatever is within the mage’s mind into reality. Gravity deals with two main concepts, complexity and energy. Complexity refers literally to how sophisticated the spell is; it is not the same to heal a scratch than to heal a heavily fractured leg, because while in the former you are just repairing the skin, in the latter you are dealing with skin, bones, muscles, etc. Energy is the ability to do work; it is the amount of Magick you need to cast your spell; you obviously require more energy to wake an undead dragon than a mindless zombie. Usually complexity and energy are equally proportional, meaning, the more complex the spell the more energy it takes and vice versa, but it is not always so. For example, you could summon a fireball that explodes stronger than another one of the same size; the complexity is the same but the energy required is higher.
Generally speaking, a professional mage would be able to summon a torrent of fire that would extend a couple of feet in front of him to melt a metal door standing on his way in a couple of seconds without getting tired. That would be considered quite formidable. Blowing castles up with a kamehameha wave, making tsunamis swallow cities, and waking up an army of undead is considered overpowered. Don’t do it. Always keep in mind a balance between Time, Space and Gravity. Try to keep your spells reasonably limited. It is fine to be deadly, but no one will be allowed to be a weapon of mass destruction. If you can walk into a city on your own and create chaos and then walk away, then you are most likely overpowered.
You may find more information on limits in the article of each discipline in case you are confused or need more specifics.
Where does Magick come from? The DangersEdit
Magick respects the laws of nature. To create, something of equal value must be given. When a mage casts a spell, the source that enables it to take place may only be one of the following:
- Daevas or High Deities: Whether it is for a defined purpose, rewards or for simple favour, some mages are aided by these divinities to cast their spells. This usually implies a closer relationship to their benefactors but that is not always the case. All mages aided by divinities have a physical mark in their body as a symbol of the bond, which might be forced upon them or taken away just as easily. This type of mages are very rare. [Restricted]
- Muses: While at rare times Muses support specific individuals, they usually lend their aid to races and groups of people that defend their interests or have a good connection with them. In some specific areas of the world it is a common matter, in the majority it ranges from uncommon to inexistent. There is no magickal scar to indicate their bonds but many groups do mark themselves to show their compromise with the Muses. (Depends on the Race chosen)
- Personal: The great majority of the mages rely solely on themselves for spellcraft. Depending on no one of course grants more freedom, since Daevas could ask for fealty and Muses have codes that you must obey. Nevertheless, it does has its terrible risks. With the invention of the Dream Keeper, these risks have been mitigated to an extent.
- Ecclesiarchy: Undead who are part of the Ecclesiarchy are connected to a massive metaphysical network, akin to a soul bank. Their magical power wanes and waxes periodically, as they lend pieces of their soul to help other faithful perform magic, and can in turn borrow power when they need it.
Using Magick destroys your Soul. That is what you give in exchange to be able to cast a spell. Souls can heal, but not always entirely. Smaller spells do scratches to the soul, which might heal with speed and ease leaving no trail behind. Nevertheless, more powerful ones do deeper cuts that leave scars. The more you cast of those, the deeper into your soul you will dig until you must either stop your magick practices or be consumed by them. Rarely would a mage stop though, because the more scars they get, the more desire burns within them to push their limits. It takes great wisdom and restrain to survive the Wraith’s Call, that soft whisper that lead them to become delusional, to become greater, to want more. Mages who heed the Wraith’s Call rapidly begin to lose the grasp of reality for they increasingly see visions of the Dreaming, and lose the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Their addiction makes them lose themselves deeper, until their very existences are trapped between the two planes, the Dreaming and the physical world, and thus they become Wraiths.
Mages who have the blessings of a High Deity do not have to worry about this, but those who have it from a Daeva or a Muse do to a lesser degree. Daevas and Muses can produce their own Magick, and they use the Web to empower those they have marked or support. Nevertheless, the amount of aid they can provide depends how far they are from their subordinates. The strength of the connection is something both can feel as they draw closer or further away from each other. Whereas an Elf would be at his peak of power within the forest of his Muse, when he is far away in the land of the 2nd Republic of Templa the support his patron can give is limited, and if he gets in serious trouble, the Magick he uses will mostly be charged on his Soul.
Be cautious with Magick. Those who dabble with it usually succeed in harming, maiming, killing themselves, or at least turning a little crazy.
Magick in SocietyEdit
The conception of Magick is not something uniform in Nyxheim. Nevertheless, while in some few regions it is a normal part of daily life, in most places it is banned or feared. Not everyone is born with the ability to use it; as a matter of fact, only a minority can. If you are a wizard, chances are you will be feared and hated in a great number of the places you visit. For this reason, most Magick wielders keep their abilities secret when they wander.
Always check how people perceive magick and how common it is before travelling to an area. And remember, even mages frown upon wanton use of it.
-Think before you include magick in your character’s repertoire. Who taught it to them? Why? Why weren’t you taught more? Even if you live in one of the few societies were Magick is considered “normal”, not everyone is chosen to learn it.
-Make sure that Magick is something that matters to your character instead of something you just threw on there as a fancy weapon. If you are a mage, you will be discriminated and distrusted in most places. If you are any good at it, it is something you have spent lots of time and effort studying and practicing. Think of how Magick has shaped your character’s life.
-Magick is not normal, and it is rare to see it around in most cities, and in some illegal. Make sure to keep an air of mystery around it, especially when you perform it around non-mages.
-Think before using Magick. Your character could die of it or turn into a Wraith if they overuse it. It wounds your soul and you might never recover. Make sure that when your character is casting a spell he thinks about it.
-The more powerful the wizard, the more loud the Wraith’s call is heard. The more power you gather, the more you want. If you are going to be a powerful wizard, give a lot of emphasis on the negative aspects and on how he/she fights them. Remember there is a potential madman behind every one of them, and that includes you.
-Magick can go wrong. It can maim and kill you, or your friends. There are a lot of mages who learned to stop their addiction to power the hard way. Don’t think that Magick is like blowing bubbles. It is a risk, always remember that.
-Be cautious and suspicious around mages. It’s normal to not trust the supernatural. You can always know if someone is pointing a gun at you, but Magick can be sneaky. People are narrowed minded around Magick.
-In summary, Magick comes at a great price and it brings bad consequences.