Atop the Shoulders of Giants
Magic and You
Magic and You was a compilation text put together by an anonymous 16th century Kelandish scholar (rumored to have been Saul Elward II) aimed at being a comprehensive text on the history, analysis, and practice of magic. The text first appeared in three volumes – one each for history, wizardry, and sorcery – but later editions were in four volumes – the fourth being a volume on ritual casting – and often featuring several additions to the volume on history. The following are a summation of themes and information from the book.
The current traditions of spellcraft are descended from the surviving texts of the ancient Dwarves. As a result the unofficial language of magic practitioners is Dwarven, and it is a very rare thing to meet any caster of spells – and almost impossible to specifically meet any wizard – who has never learned to read and write Dwarven.
In the mid 13th century began what is now called the Renaissance Arcanum – a time in which the study, practice, and advances of the magical arts experienced an extreme resurgence both in popular culture and in scholarly pursuit. This included, among other things, an increase in the popularity of trading in magical items – making even the smallest magical trinkets into items of high demand.
The Renaissance Arcanum is said to have ended – or perhaps simply begun its decline – in the year 1591 with the All Fires Forge disaster. In many locations over the previous two hundred years wizards, sorcerers, and ritualists had pooled their knowledge and resources to try to create lasting works of magic to benefit their communities. However in the case of the All Fires Forge – which was meant to draw on the source of all fire to heat the forge and never require fuel – a mistaken calculation resulted in a catastrophic explosion, devastating three city blocks in the city of Lisil and starting a fire. The disaster claimed so many lives that the citizens of Lisil erected a monument to the dead where the forge had been meant to stand.
A short list of famous works of the sort the All Fires Forge was attempting to mimic includes:
- The Lansi Clock over the Capital City of Golir
- The Sentinel Ship of Lalsim
- The Obsidian Headsman of Huelin
- The Suspended Lighthouse of Leiln
Wizardry has become a part of common-place life for nobility, and a point of aspiration for those of less wealth. Books, ink, and tutoring are expensive, but among the nations of the known world the practice of wizardry is seen as a sign of education, wealth, and power.
At least one school of wizardry stands in almost every major city, and in large metropolitan areas such as the Capital City of Golir and Lalsim there are as many as two or three, plus a guild of arcane tutors. The most famous and prestigious school is still the Academy Arcana in Lisil, renowned for its long history of scholarship and for the incredible contributions of its graduates to the study of magic.
Unlike theories of wizardry prior to the 1300’s, in the past two or three hundred years most students of wizardry have come to hold the theory that wizardry is not completely divorced from sorcery in its source and function. Recent scholars have begun to hypothesize that part of the practice of wizardry relies on a natural magical connection which is available to all people, but which is simply stronger in sorcerers, allowing them a more natural and intuitive means of affecting magical influences.
Sometimes referred to as “natural” magic, sorcery is the ability to manipulate magical forces without the necessity of careful study and extensive research – such as wizardry requires. Sorcery is incredibly rare and some people theorize that sorcery is derived from sources such as descendence from naturally magical creatures, being strongly effected by magic at a young age, or – in some cases – even being influenced by the positioning of the stars.
Whatever exactly causes the rise of sorcery, it manifests in a wide variety of ways. Many sorcerers – and the most common sort – cast spells very similar to those cast by wizards, but often with their own unique quirks. Some sorcerers, however, have any number of other, widely varying powers.
A small number of schools for sorcerers exist – due mostly to the rarity of their clientelle – generally positioned in easily reached, centralized, and highly populated cities. The most famous of these is the Ephemeral Academy in the Capital City of Golir.
Ritual Casting is a technique of spell casting which sacrifices convenience for power. A careful ritualist can create a ritual that will do anything a normal spell can do and more, but the use of ritual techniques takes time, money, and even more time.
Most schools of wizardry teach ritual techniques at least in passing, however relatively few such schools offer a curriculum emphasizing ritual casting. Generally to study very specifically into ritual casting a student must either take up the subject as a personal hobby, or must attend one of the few – usually more prestigious – schools of wizardry which offers a ritualist curriculum.
Ritual casters are – for all intents and purposes – still wizards and can still cast spells like any other wizard, but their study of ritual casting generally divides their attention away from traditional spell casting in order to gain some notable insights and practiced techniques in the area of ritual casting. One of the greatest differences is that ritualists generally learn to perform a number of very short and quick rituals to augment normal spell-casting abilities, but sacrifice the ability to specialize in any given school of magic the way wizards often do.
What Magic and You does not cover regarding magic is that magic which is not Arcane. The term “Miracle Worker” once was used to refer to almost anyone who manifested the ability to use non-arcane magic, especially those who could heal wounds. However after the events of the Planar War, the dissolution of the Goblin Nation, the emergence of the Blades of Behril from its prior secrecy, and the rise of orders similar in structure, abilities, and aim to the Blades, a proliferation of terms has arisen.
The term “Miracle Worker” in common vernacular is reserved for someone who mimics Saint Verick in their spell casting abilities. Someone who can produce magics granted by divine beings as frequently and with as much potency as any wizard. Since the death of Saint Verick, there has been no record of any other “Miracle Worker” by these standards, leading most to believe that the divine beings believe that there is less need of such influence in the mortal realm, though leading more cynical people to claim that this is a sign that mortals have somehow displeased the divine in the wake of the Planar War.
Alternatively, members of religious orders which grant minor to moderate magical powers, such as the ability to lay hands on the wounded and to smite the wicked, have come to be referred to as Paladins. These Paladins have grown in number and diversity over time, and have become powerful representatives of their faiths, with one major point of consistency between the otherwise diverse orders – which is that all of them follow strict codes of conduct handed down within their order.
Modern goblins and members of smaller tribes in the Nada’Fan still speak sometimes of the powers of their “Shamans” who purportedly drew magical power from nature or from The Great Spirit who is said to be the patron of the Dark Woods. However the both traditions are all but dead. Outside the Dark Woods such a shaman hasn’t been publicly recognized since the disappearance of Birik Kaelalk, nor widely in the Nada’Fan since the year 800.
Generally most people from outside the cultures where these Shaman traditions were once active regard stories of their powers as little more than myths and legends.