Magic in the world of Merceria
The Magic Disciplines
Addressing a Mage
The Effects of Magic
- Magic has existed since the dawn of time. The Elder Races were known to have practiced the craft, and ancient texts have been found indicating that even among Humans, magic has been around for thousands of years. The classification of magic falls into disciplines (The Elves call them schools, a name adopted by most non-magic users.)
- The first magic to be discovered was the elemental schools; Earth, Air, Fire and Water. These were used to significant effect by the Elder Races, and it is believed that Humans learned magic from them. The Elemental Schools deal with the manipulation of each element, though over the years their knowledge has increased and the boundaries have blurred. It is not uncommon, for example, for an Air Mage to be able to conjure birds and the like, something typically associated with an Earth Mage.
- Humans have always been an inquisitive race, and their advances in the magical arts led to the categorization of new schools of magic: Life, Death, Enchantment and Hexes. Life Magic deals with matters of healing and spirituality, whereas Death Magic is the reverse and is often called Necromancy, the study of which is forbidden in most lands. Enchantments are a subset of spells that enhance or grant bonuses, increased strength, more accurate arrows etc. Hexes are the reverse and are cast at one's enemies. Life and Death Magic are opposites, and an individual cannot learn both. The same holds true for Enchantments and Hexes. The reasons for this are unknown, but the speculation is that they cancel each other out.
- Universal spells were discovered about 500 years ago by the most powerful mages of the time. Universal spells can be learned by any school, though each school will have its own, minor, variation. A Water Mage, for example, can enchant an arrow or sword to do extra damage, in this case from ice. A Fire Mage can cast the same spell but will produce a flaming arrow or sword. The incantation is the same, but different energies power the effects.
- So where does the power for magic come from? It is agreed that every being contains a form of energy but only a few can harness it. This force is referred to as ‘Magical Energy, Energy for short, and an individual that can use magic has learned to manipulate it. Energy is a raw force; it takes the power of the mind and body to focus and use it. Not everyone can become a mage; it takes the ability to harness their energy and years of training with a disciplined mind. In all the years of magic, no one has found a foolproof way of finding those that can use magic. Many apprentices train for years and are unable to cast the simplest of spells. As a result of this, the number of mages in Merceria has dwindled over the years. By the ninth century, there are very few mages in the land and only one in the service of the king.
- The most common way of learning magic is by an apprentice system. The first task of an apprentice is to learn what is referred to as the magical alphabet, a series of runes that represent the primal forces of magic. These runes form the basis of all spells, and each rune has a set of movements (both physical and mental) that represent it. In correct combinations, they produce the effects of spells. In incorrect combinations, they are usually harmless, but occasionally there can be unexpected results. This has resulted in the accidental discovery of new spells over the years.
- The energy held within a body is a finite amount and is depleted with use. If this pool of energy is used up, magic can still be used, but the body will deteriorate. Luckily the energy can be restored with rest. Magebane, a herb, can be used to prevent the body from regenerating its magical energy. Brewed into a tea, this substance also keeps the mage in a slightly sleepy state, preventing them from concentrating.
Addressing a Mage
- In Merceria, the term mage is used. Andronicus was the Royal Life Mage of King Andred. Outside of Merceria, the term changes. Dwarves prefer the term wizard, but Elves are more precise. An Elf would refer to a Fire Mage as a pyromancer, or an Air Mage as an aeromancer. Orcs label all spell casters as shaman’s, regardless of their speciality, though there is evidence that in years past, at the height of their empire, they had terms similar to the Elves.
- In Westland, the term arcanus is used as an honorific, thus a mage such as Revi Bloom, when visiting Westland, would be referred to as Arcanus Bloom. The title Master Arcanus is reserved for those of high skill and experience.
- In Human lands, it is normal for a mage to adopt a ‘mage name’ upon completion of their apprenticeship. Names tend to be grandiose and typically multi-syllabled. Thus you find “Arcanus Tyrel Caracticus”, not “Arcanus Bob”.
The Effects of Magic
- There is a rule of thumb that the mages refer to as conservation of energy. The amount of energy consumed to cast a spell is equal to the effects of the spell. This means that an individual might be able to destroy a single person with a spell but could not incinerate an entire castle or company of men. A spell cannot make someone invisible but might make them harder to be seen. Of course, some mages work hard to develop their magical energy to higher levels through rigorous training and discipline, but even this has its limits. An enchanter, for example, might have sufficient skill and energy to make archers shoot better or to make a single archer shoot much better, but not both. The higher the skill, the more energy that may be tapped, up to the limit of what they have available. In Servant of the Crown, we see Andronicus, the Royal Life Mage, cast a spell. This is a regenerate spell which repairs the damage to the body. It restores damaged flesh and bone, but cannot create new blood. The target of the spell still needs to rest and recovery afterwards. Later in the book, we see the newly minted Revi Bloom. He uses three spells in total, with only localized effects, and even he is surprised by the effects of his casting.
- Even with discipline and training, the effects of magic can vary greatly. A well-seasoned mage may not be one hundred percent accurate with either his physical or mental actions and his spell may not be as effective as he wishes. In magical terms, this is called waffling. A waffled spell has a diminished effect. A skilled mage can diminish a spell on purpose, reducing its energy cost and producing less of an effect. This is a practice common to Fire Mages who wish to light a fireplace without burning down the house.
- So what kind of spells can be cast? Many, but you’ll have to read the books to find out more. Servant of the Crown introduces Andronicus and Revi Bloom, both Life Mages. Revi also appears in Sword of the Crown (Book 2) along with another mage, but I don’t want to give anything away. Other mages are mentioned in Book 1, but only by reputation. These, as well as others, will appear in future volumes.