In order to truly understand how magic works in the world of Illora, one must first understand its origins, and how it came to be in the modern world.
Long before the humans, or the elves, or the tuvuls, or any other civilized creatures roamed the world and claimed land masses as their own, a people know as shurn lived and thrived on Illora’s landmasses. These people were peaceful, intuitive, and most of all - masters of the arcane.
Approximately five centuries prior to this roleplay taking place, remnants of shurn society were discovered by an excavation team in Suul Thanoor, the homeland of the tuvuls. Bones, fragments of structures, and most importantly - ancient writings, were among the artifacts found. Word of the discovery spread quickly, and soon enough, scholars from every corner of Illora were traveling to the southern continent to study the findings.
The writings of the shurn were one of the most thoroughly examined of the discovery. Written in a language unknown to anyone at the time, the words inked onto the paper held great power - a power that would not be unlocked for several years.
As more and more studious folk studied and transcribed the words of the shurn, the true purpose of the written records were revealed - the chants were used to pull mana from the air, where it rested in translucent pockets known as “pools.”
Mana, the base source of power behind each arcane incantation, is a mysterious substance. By speaking the words the shurn have written, spellcasters are able to open up these pools, and pull the mana from the air using the specific vibrations the chants elicit from the speaker’s vocal chords. This is the beginning of every spell - minor or major - and as a result, the mouth has become one of the most important parts of a wizard’s body.
Once the ancient words are spoken, the mana seeps out from its pool, and slowly takes on a much less gaseous state. It thickens, and becomes a much more liquid like substance. As the caster continues their chant, the mana slowly creeps toward their body like metal to a magnet. Once the mana reaches the body, it embeds itself in the skin, seeping through the pores until it can no longer be seen with the naked eye.
From this point, the caster must carry out a precise pattern of body movements in order to mix the mana, and shape it into a new physical state, where it will seep out once more from the skin and perform the task the caster has in mind. For the most part, these movements are nothing more than hand gestures, though some larger-scale spells are known to require the full body to be in motion. The mana could take the shape of a ball of flame for the caster to throw, or create a barrier around the caster, protecting them from possible harm. The manipulation of mana can also be used as a means of creating small wounds, recreating creatures long dead, summoning creatures seemingly of another world, looking through the eyes of other people, or even completely changing the caster’s shape, allowing them to take on the form of another creature.
The list is seemingly endless, and as more discoveries are made in the ancient language of the shurn, the possibilities of magic continue to grow.
As wonderful as mana manipulation seems on the outside, it is a dangerous process, and rather difficult to master.
Firstly, wizards must be cautious of what they wear when attempting to pull mana from the pools. As mentioned, as the mana seeps into the physical world, it takes on a more liquid like state. As a result, it cannot pass through solid objects like leather or steel - two components commonly used for armour. It is recommended that simple cloths and fabrics are worn when pulling mana from the pools, as the mana can easily seep through such garments to reach the skin. If mana fails to reach the body, and instead comes upon an impassable substance, it will dissipate, abandoning its new physical form and returning to the pools in an instant.
However, if only some mana manages to reach the caster’s body (such as an unprotected head or hands), then the amount of mana that infuses into the caster’s skin will represent the spell’s chance of success. If, for example, a hopeful spellcaster wears steel armour on their lower body, covering only their legs and feet, and remains bare from the waist up, it would be safe to assume that approximately 50% of the mana reached their body, uninterrupted. This means that the spell will have an approximately 50% chance of success when the caster attempts to finish casting. The amount of mana that enters the body will not alter the actual strength of the spell, and only the success rate for casting.
Clothing choice also comes into effect for the second half of the casting process, as body movement is an important aspect of a successful cast. The required gestures and movements are strict, and an incorrect movement, or motion that has otherwise been restricted, can result in unfavourable or random effects unrelated to the desired outcome of the spell in mind. For example, a wizard wishing to cast a bolt ice at a foe may instead encase their hands in an icy enclosure if they do not carefully execute the proper hand gestures. With this in mind, nonrestrictive clothing is favourable when manipulating mana.
Due to these restrictions, wizards are rarely ever seen adorning traditional armour. Instead, many prefer to wear regular clothing made of simple fabric, or cloth robes, relying instead on mana for protection if need be. However, the further north one travels, the less common magic will be, as soft fabrics and thin cloth do little to protect against the bitter temperatures, which ultimately get in the way of successful casting.
Due to the unfamiliarity of magic in many parts of Illora, alongside the dangers it presents to both casters and innocents, the study and practice of mana manipulation is often regarded with contempt. It is a common belief in many parts of the world that magic is unnatural, and should not be tampered with. As a result, several major countries have prohibited the practice of magic entirely, though laws vary from place to place.
Some countries, for instance, may prohibit magic use within city walls. Others may deem only certain areas of magic illegal - necromancy and demonology being two popular choices.
However, no matter where a wizard may find him or herself, there is no doubt that their interests will ultimately be met with derision of some kind. For millenia, the use of magic died with the shurn, and is often considered, though there is no solid proof of this, to be the direct cause behind the ancient people’s extinction. The discovery of the shurn and their culture led to the re-discovery of mana manipulation, however, and is thus a relatively young and unexplored power. A mix of rumours, lack of education, perversion of power, mistakes, and the general mysteries of magic has given it something of a negative reputation in almost every corner of Illora.
Over the years, as the study of magic continues and expands, more and more spells have been discovered, and the reaches of the arcane have expanded tenfold. However, it is still a largely uncharted source of power, and the surface of its full potential has yet to even be scratched.
Arcane scholars in Hathaia have managed to categorize the majority of known spells into several different schools, to aid in the simplifying of study. These schools are as follows:Pyromancy
- Any magic that creates and manipulates fire falls under this category. A mage who focuses on this school will likely be able to create small flames, release blasts of hot air from the palms of their hands, surround themselves in flames, and attune their body to withstand extreme temperatures. Often deemed a dangerous and risky area of study, it is not uncommon to find novice practitioners of pyromancy without eyebrows, or with significant burns on their skin. In more extreme cases, the remnants of bodies of unlearned pyrokinetics have been discovered charred, or burnt to nothing but ash.
Often looked at as a strictly offensive school, it is not entirely without use in day-to-day life, much like fire itself. Careful pyromancers rarely need to worry about finding heat sources to prepare meals, and colder seasons are hardly a problem for someone well versed in the art of creating flames.Geomancy
- Likely the most foreign of the three elemental schools, geomancy gives wizards control over nature - be it the rocks beneath the surface, or the wood of a tree.
A favourite of druids who isolate themselves in forests, away from society, geomancers can both create and control stones, boulders, vines, leaves, and plants - both magical and natural. Thought to be the middle ground between offense and defense when it comes to the elements, geomancy offers spells that both damage and protect, though its uses often go beyond combat.
Summoning a small boulder to burst forth can be useful for one caught in the heat of battle. However, surrounding oneself with stone, or coating one’s skin with bark can sometimes be just as effective as man-made armour.
A forest would quickly become a geomancer’s refuge of choice. Such an environment would be very beneficial to the wizard, as being surrounded by the very thing in which they choose to study, while also being in an environment that allows for the use of mana without any deadly repercussions, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, or distraction from civilized life.Cryomancy
- Much like pyromancy, cryomancy is a strictly elemental school of magic. Though, much unlike pyromancy, it deals strictly in the colder components of nature. Cryomancers are capable of summoning forth water in both a liquid and solid state, utilizing it however they see fit. Perhaps deemed as the most civilized school of magic, there are very few immediate dangers to both the practitioner of cryomancy, as well as those around them, if things go wrong. Misplaced cages of ice can be melted, and water, unless reaching extreme temperatures, poses no immediate threat.
Looked at as more of a protective form of magic than anything else, cryomancers are among some of the most well respected wizards, and are often found at the forefront of natural disasters such as forest fires, aiding those who would otherwise perish at the hands of nature.
One thing to bear in mind when studying and practicing cryomancy, is that magically summoned water has similar effects as salt water when consumed. Though it tastes rather sweet instead of salty, it will ultimately make one more thirsty, and too much consumption can have ill effects. This is perhaps one of the most deadly uses of cryomancy, if the wizard is also gifted in subterfuge.Demonology
- Demons are one of the only physical clues that there are realms outside of the one Illora exists in, and even then, none other than demons themselves have experienced cross-realm travel. It is, in fact, a popular debate among scholars as to whether or not the plane in which demons claim to live - Ixillithit - truly exists, or if the creatures are simply the result of a form of magic that is not yet thoroughly understood, and are nothing more than manipulated mana.
As a result, demonology is one of the most controversial schools of magic to exist in Illora. If magic itself is not completely outlawed, demonology and necromancy are often the two exceptions. This is because, whether or not the summoned demons truly are beings of another world, or simply magical creations, they are known to be inherently mischievous, delirious, or downright evil. Very few summoners are capable of truly controlling demons, and those that do, rarely live long. However, the power and riches promised by summoned demons is often difficult for weak-willed sorts to pass up, and as a result, the practice is unusually prominent.
The casting process for demon summoning requires a slight bit of extra effort, as well. While still calling for a chant in the tongue of the shurn, and body movements, demonology tends to require a sacrifice in order for the demon to come into existence. Whether that be a small piece of flesh, a puddle of blood, an entire appendage, or a living creature, is entirely up the caster, however, it has been deduced that the more there is to be taken, the more powerful the demon will be. This is often the base of the argument supporting the idea that demons do not actually exist, but are instead the result of mixing mana with a life force. However, a single conversation with a demon may convince someone otherwise.Necromancy
- Toying with the dead is, in and of itself, a vile act in the eyes of many. Necromancers, however, tend to revel in death, and celebrate it instead. Those who study the magic of death and undeath are capable of giving mock-life to carcasses long since passed, creating deathly wounds and illnesses, and insulting the idea of death entirely.
Thought to be the epitome of evil, necromancers rely on the existence of corpses to carry out the true power of their chosen area of study. The carcasses they work with often serve as thralls to the necromancer, walking as if they bear life once more. However, anyone with eyes, ears, or a nose is capable of deducing that the reanimated corpses are not alive by any sense of the word.
Necromancers are not only capable of toying with the dead, but they are well versed in the art of creating the dead as well. Or, as many may describe it - killing.
Necromancy spells include things such as the creation of wounds and diseases, and the production of deadly poisons to be attached to blades or mixed into food and drink. Ultimately, anything capable of causing death at the hands of the necromancer, falls under their preferred school.
It is believed, though not entirely proven, that all living creatures attract mana in some way, before chants are ever spoken. When a creature dies, that mana does not pass on, and instead lingers around the corpse. This is where it is believed necromancers truly harness their abilities, and explains why they are capable of animating even single, detached fingers, when such an appendage otherwise has no means of movement on its own.Shapeshifting
- Although proper alteration of other objects and beings through mana manipulation has yet to be discovered, there is a means of altering one’s own body via magic, albeit a lengthy and dangerous process.
Shapeshifting is considered the ultimate understanding of another creature. From their physical appearance, how their brain operates, and how their inner organs function, the shapeshifter must know and understand it all. Wizards are capable of, with proper study and understanding of the target shape, morphing their bodies to resemble that of another creature, ultimately becoming the creature themselves, save for the brain, which retains its original capabilities. Other than that, however, the wizard becomes the creature they aim to be. Though the process is far from permanent, it is known to be rather painful during the morphing phase.
However, much like cryomancy, the general public tends to regard shapeshifting as a relatively innocent form of magic, and can in fact be rather beneficial under certain circumstances.
For example, a wizard looking to travel great distances can study a horse for an extended period of time, and with enough concentration, take on the creature’s form in order to travel great distances. Likewise, a wizard who feels threatened could, with enough passion and study, take on the shape of a great bear to fend off attackers, or a small mouse to escape danger.Mysticism
- This school of magic is perhaps the most diverse. Mysticism spells tend to deal with the minds of other creatures - creating illusions, summoning strong emotions, or discerning motives. However, it also deals in divination as well, allowing casters to see through the eyes of another, hear the thoughts of other minds, and understanding words spoken in foreign tongues. As such, the mysticism school is known to be both very dangerous, and very advantageous.
Known as mystics, practitioners of mysticism spells are often regarded with great caution, though very few treat them with disdain, for fear of losing control of their own minds.
Powerful mystics are capable of controlling the mind of another creature, or overwhelming said creature with powerful thoughts and inducing rage, depression, fear, or even happiness and excitement. They can also conjure up illusions, convincing people and creatures that what they are seeing is reality, and not simply manipulated mana. The idea of losing control of one’s mind and thoughts has given mysticism something of a frightful reputation - sometimes, even more so than necromancy or demonology.
Mysticism also has its practical effects as well. Mystics are capable of vision beyond their physical eyes through the use of scrying stones, or by seeing through the eyes of another being, similar to the way they read another being’s thoughts. Likewise, spells in the mysticism school can give mystics the ability to understand foreign words and sentences, be they man-made or natural, ultimately giving mystics a particular affinity for animals.
As powerful as mysticism sounds on the outside, there have yet to be any mystics capable of controlling more than only a handful of minds at once. No single wizard holds enough power to sway entire armies, and, as such, mysticism is not quite as frightening in the face of multiple foes. This is often considered the major downfall of the school.
Since magic requires such focus of the mind, and the sacrifice of the caster’s physical body, many wizards tend to focus on a select few schools, as no creature possesses enough mental prowess to master all the different areas of magic. Instead, it is common practice for mages to limit their study to only a couple schools at a time. Usually aiming for two, though truly dedicated scholars sometimes add a third to their studies, though this often leads to antisocial, uncivilized lifestyles.
If you are looking to play a magical character, by all means, do so. Magic in Illora is ever-expanding, and despite the restrictions, can be a very powerful ability. However, keep in mind that magic is not the be-all-end-all of this world, and your character will not be able to evolve into a god among men - just like a warrior is incapable of becoming indestructible, a wizard in Illora is incapable of solving all the world’s problems. There are no healing magics, and the casting process makes it so that no wizard, novice or master, is capable of casting spells with the flick of a finger. Wizards must be intelligent enough to know and understand mana manipulation, but they must also be wise enough to stay aware of their surroundings when casting, and do not put themselves, or others, in harm’s way.