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Laughing Prophet @LaughingProphet

Kelicho: Magic Primer

For a moment she didn't notice pulling away from him. It was only after he failed to answer her question that the widening gap grew apparent. It was a struggle against the crowd to return to where he stood glassy-eyed, fingers tracing the top of his cane as he idly gazed to the horizon. He hardly responded at all to her hand reaching to his shoulder, so trapped was he in whatever vision had struck him.   "We should go home," he droned. He swayed unsteadily on his feet as his hollow stare grew wary. Uneasy. It was easy to follow him as his eyes lowered from the mountains to the treeline past the rough wooden palisade that had been erected around the town. "The tide is coming in."   Ari stifled the sigh that threatened to escape her, smothered the dull ache in her chest. She chanced the risks of snapping him from his vision of the past, gently turning his head to face her. "Oh, Papa... We haven't lived near the sea in years. You're just remembering-"   "No, Ari," he hissed. There was a fire in his pale eyes, weathered knuckles turning white with his grip on the cane. "The Tide is coming in."
— A sensitive old man and his daughter

The Ebbing Tides

The tides of Kelicho's great and treacherous oceans, much like those of a more familiar place, are wholly bound to the will and whims of the Moon. The essence of magic is much the same, the remaining power in the world inexorably drawn to something in Kelicho's silver ring.   While the ambient presence of Kelicho's inherent power has reduced enormously over the life of the New World and the times prior, its residual presence has proven more than sufficient to fuel the Spelltides globally.   This Spelltide ebbs and flows and idles through the lands with little care for direction or duration, drifting as it pleases to seemingly random and often inconsequential places. Much of the phenomenon remains an enigma even after centuries of comprehensive study by an indeterminate number of dedicated scholars.   The heights of power available to individuals capable of applying Magic in Kelicho are often limited to the heights of the Tide. While the residual dregs of power left behind as the Spelltide withdraws from a region are more than adequate for spellcasting there remain some subtle, potent benefits to its full presence.   Directing magic is significantly less strenuous when encompassed by the Tide, and recovering from its use is similarly accelerated when faced with an abundance of magic in the environment. In stable, civilized regions this is an enormous boon as magically-proficient defenders are empowered and those with the potential that had otherwise been overlooked find their inherent talents unleashed.  
In wilder lands the Spelltide is a godless nightmare.
  Magic is an inherently dangerous force in the world. Its most common uses are either lethal or a means to become lethal through mobility, enhancement, or mitigating the lethality of your enemies. Some of its myriad uses are sufficiently heinous that they warrant immediate execution even where the Arcane is common.   Unfortunately for the skeptical and superstitious one of the worst uses of Magic is leaving it unused. Without a sufficient outlet to counter the unyielding weight of the rising Tide, the power of magic will build in the environment until it simply cannot be contained any further. In the parts of the world still so unstable that the landscape can radically change over the course of mere months this can have disastrous consequences.   Without an outlet Magic will set upon the weather or call something that might make use of it... may that be a man of unknown intent, a beast skulking across the world, or something entirely other to the world itself.  
... Wood splintered as the still air suddenly roared to a howling frenzy. Wind cracked across skin and flesh like a harsh lash, carving the flesh of any poor soul caught outside cover...   ... The earth twisted and warped before their eyes, clawing at the roots of buildings and trees alike until they were pulled below the surface. The river churned as it slowly became a wasteland...   ... The clouds above thundered. Not water but fire poured forth, fit to consume the land below...   ... Something walked from the Woods. Was pulled from the Woods. Something followed the Tide...
— Excerpts from various logs recounting disastrous events
Be it known: Magic is subject to the Ring, where something wicked walks.

Form and Function

The practice of Magic is one of numerous facets, be its purposes Arcane or Occult, but these facets would be meaningless without a means of manipulation and conveyance. While the lingering essence of magic passes through all living beings equally, not all beings are capable of twisting its presence to their benefit.   Some, such as the Azekarans, simply lack the properties that permit them to inherently channel the power.   Others, such as Nulls, are nigh impervious; so resistant that mere physical contact can disrupt magic entirely.  
Magic was never made for mortal hands, and they are poorly structured for its uses as a result.


Magic: Channeling
Generic article | Dec 3, 2018
Channeling is the oldest and most direct method of manipulating magic in the world. First used by Immortals and Demigods to exercise their will upon the Old World, it is now practiced exclusively by a race never meant to have it: Humanity.   Channeling is the art of manipulating the energy that passively flows through the body at all times, forcibly twisting it into the catalyst of your desired effect and redirecting it to your target.   A wave of flames boils out through the skin of your arm. A shimmering ward growing from your back deflects a hail of crossbow bolts. A single step springs dozens of meters between heartbeats.   Exhaustion and pain overwhelm you as you push too far and lose your hold on the foreign powers.   These and more are examples of Channeling.

Ritual Casting

Magic: Ritual Casting
Generic article | Dec 3, 2018
Ritual casting is the lingering echo of the Old World, the last surviving remnant to show even a hint of Magic's potential and limits before Kelicho began to collapse. Most mortals can utilize Rituals, though power often carries a hefty price.   The limitations of Ritual magic are not well documented, capable of producing effects otherwise thought to be impossible. Otherwise impossible powers are all in the domain of Rituals, including things such as full Regeneration and Teleportation.   Unfortunately, not all Rituals are consistent; two with the same end result may require wildly different requirements. Many a recipe requires some ghastly item or unsightly act to function at all.   Whatever the end result, Rituals are draining and best performed in communions. For your own sake.

Runic Tattoos

Magic: Runic Tattoos
Generic article | Dec 31, 2018
While Channeling is the most common form of controlling magic in the world, not all modern mortals were created with the capability to do so. For the Azekarans, external means of control were required for the outside force.   While Runes are generally designed to appear artistic, the actual appearance has no impact on their efficiency. The ink alone is responsible, capable of absorbing ambient magic like a battery to release on command at a later time.   Volume and quality of ink both have a substantial effect on how powerful or efficient the rune can be, and as an externalized power source there is little risk of harm or fatigue to the user.   The main drawback is a lack of versatility. Any single batch of ink is only attuned to one exclusive form of magic, such as the single element of fire, and some options available to Channeling simply cannot be replicated in the medium.

Glyph Engraving

Magic: Glyph Engraving
Generic article | Dec 3, 2018
Markings composed of a long-lost ancient tongue, Glyphs are a rare and subtle force when compared to the directly applied forms of magic.   In most circumstances these engravings are used to temporarily alter the physical properties of whatever material they are etched into. These alterations can range from simple effects such as strengthening or weakening a physical object to more complex ones that can radically modify the chemical composition of working materials in the correct conditions.   Due to the precise nature of the etching and propensity towards utilitarian effects over flashy and direct, the variety of options available for combat uses are extremely limited.   At their most dangerous Glyphs are a key feature in a number of ancient trap mechanisms. This still leaves them only a threat by proxy and their limited duration may only mitigate it further.

Even still, past the practices and understanding of magic, there are things that cannot and should not be done by mortal hands. Some, like Necromancy, can only be conducted with the assistance of a focus; an object so attuned to unknowable forms of magic that they cannot be produced without an outside influence.  
Strange powers are at work in this world, and it may be too late to stop them reaching out.
Magic is not a toy. Not a game. Some day you will remember this lesson and grieve for your folly.
— A Master to a student that has pursued the wrong studies

Mortals having magic was a fluke. Originally restricted to Demigods and other Immortal beings in the world, magic only slipped down to common people when an unsatisfied few cast aside their own immortality in pursuit of something they considered more interesting.   It was never corrected, so the Gods agreed.
Burning Out
Mortals lack the inherent ability to safely act as a magical conduit. Exhaustion and physical harm are common side-effects of overcasting, and Burning Out is the safety mechanism the mortal body developed to compensate for the inevitable Drain of spellcasting.   Burnout refers to the condition a spellcaster enters when they exceed their physical tolerance to conducting magic. Mages often find themselves physically and mentally exhausted as their body attempts to recover.   During this recovery period, they are rendered completely incapable of manipulating magic in any form. This recovery can take weeks depending on the local level of ambient magic.
Manifest Forms of Magic
There tend to be certain misconceptions about mages and the different means of spellcraft. To the untrained there seems no difference in effort between feats such as calling lightning and sealing mortal wounds with a touch.   Even in its current anemic state, when much of its forms are made to cause harm, magic is a broad and varied craft. Mages are rarely created equal and even related forms of magic are learned and controlled very differently.   Ritual Spells may bear a varied range of more powerful and bizarre effects, but conventional magic such as Channeling is far more widely available and has less risk of unsavory costs.  
The following list of magical subtypes primarily relates to Conventional Magic.   While some examples on this list are fairly common fare, Tooltips are included for additional information and to explain any of Kelicho's unique variations.   Some names listed may be temporary.
Elemental Magic
The Elements are the most common form of applied magic used in the New World, as well as the primary option to directly wound hostile creatures, monsters, or other adversaries.   Most elements can be merged together in the spellcraft process. Unfortunately some have become inert from the slow decay of magic over time and can no longer be combined.  
Fire - Ice - Lightning
Earth - Air - Ether
Light - Darkness
Merged Elemental Magic
Lemme tell y'what. You go poke fun at th'mage because y'think Starlight sounds too pretty t'be dangerous, and I'll skip town while he's busy.
— Discussing a Channeler's Specialty
Merged Elements are measurably more taxing than individual forms, but make up for the increased drain by being dramatically more powerful when used in the right conditions.   Elemental combinations are all categorized as Sorcerous, Celestial, or Tainted.
For our list, this order will be matched.  
Radiance - Antiflame - Arclite
Sunlight - Moonlight - Starlight
Banefire - Felrime - Soulburn

Striding is the magical art of personal short-range transposition, as well as one of the most demanding spelltypes currently known.   Due to the triggering function of the spelltype itself, Striders must be capable of moving in the direction of their destination. This often requires taking a step or jumping.   Some governments have access to Farstriding, though this remains rare and fiercely guarded.  
Menders are capable of diminishing or wholly repairing physical injuries on a living being. Diminishing to safe levels instead of complete mending is preferred, as excessive overhealing can shorten lifespans or cause forms of cancer.   Activating the spelltype requires physical contact with the recipient, most effectively in proximity to the injury itself.   As it partially acts through natural healing, the recipient can also be fatigued by the rushed recovery. Severe injuries will still tend to scar as normal, but this process typically prevents complications beyond specific circumstances.  
Warding is the art of protecting oneself from harm, along with those around them, through the use of arcane barriers and enchantments.   Sentinels are most commonly associated with physical protection, but their specialization makes them similarly adept at disrupting the effects of tainted magic and curses that often originate from the Old World's fouled ruins.  
While Evokers expel magic from their body to harm their foes, Binders channel their magic internally to augment physical abilities.   While most Binders focus on themselves due to the inherent difficulties of binding magical energy into a living entity, some particularly skilled individuals are able to empower others in a similar manner. This is a more intensive form Infusion to maintain, though, and larger distances between caster and target can strain control even further.  
Illusionists are masters of misdirection and confusion, shaping magic into sounds, visual images, and phantom sensations.   While illusory magic is unable to inflict tangible injuries, the combinations and forms are able to fool its victims into believing otherwise. If not, the visual interference can remain a valuable distraction.

Cover image: Fall of the Lights by Merli Luca


Please Login in order to comment!
2 Dec, 2018 12:32

I like what you did with the double column thing for the magic. For the sidebar, you could break down the different classifications or subtypes of magic in a nested format, i.e.: Channeling

    • Channeling subtype or element or ritual 1
    • Channeling subtype or element or ritual 1
Runic Tattoos
    • Magic Tramp Stamps
    • Tribal Dragon Tattoos are Racist
And so on

9 Dec, 2018 05:46

I appreciate the feedback! I meant to comment back to you earlier when I had the main update, but after some consideration I figured some of the information in question here may have been more suitable to get into in the primary articles. Things like relations of magic and cultures and why tribal dragon tattoos might be considered racist in certain cities.

As bleak as the world can be at times, sometimes I can't resist hiding a joke or trick somewhere. That's probably going to get some form of reference in the actual Runes article in the future.

3 Dec, 2018 02:30

A very well thought out magical system is always a joy to read, and your has definitely hit that mark. The double column under form and function looks really great and does a great job explaining the various kinds of magic.   You write very eloquently, but at times the the concepts are a bit lost in their verbosity. As i gathered, the magic is drawn from the the spelltide which ebbs and flows, but you also said that magic that is not used up has to find an outlet. I'm curious how that works with the ebbing part, as to me it would seem that the magics power would lessen with the ebbing of the spelltide. I think you could work more on the beginning of the first paragraph, perhaps being a bit more succinct in your explanation of the basics of it.   Also, what is wilder lands, why is it godless and what on earth is so nightmarish over there? I'm very curious about that one to be sure.   All in all, great read!

3 Dec, 2018 02:53

The Spelltide only ever highly concentrated in one particular area temporarily but if it starts mounting in one location without anything able to use it, it will find a way to equalize on its own. It won't always catch in one single location but it happens.

Your assessments are otherwise correct. Magic does get weaker when the Tide fades, but only to a minimum ambient level. That primarily has an impact on the difficulty of manifesting equal effects over the actual power of the effect itself, though.

As for wilder lands, well, less civilized parts of Kelicho are unstable, and not in a social sense. The further away from proper civilized lands and cities, the worse it becomes. There was a village here yesterday. A hundred people. It's gone now. Ancient ruins crop up in the countryside. A week later, they are a different set of ruins. A week after, the ruin is the same but everything inside it has changed and been replaced.

Strange things happen out in the country. But I'll get into more global manifest chaos when I make the overall World Primer. Will look into adjusting that opening paragraph for improved clarity though, appreciate pointing it out.

5 Dec, 2018 11:29

Wow! A comprehensive and fascinating approach to magic. I really like the various different expressions of magic which different groups had access to. I would definitely love to know more detail (possibly in subsequent articles) about what kind of things are NOT possible from magic, and where the limits of the force lie beyond just the caster's tolerance.   Also loved that little secret thing, but I won't leave any spoilers here ;)

5 Dec, 2018 11:42

THE SECRET. God I love how well that bit of CSS works.

More details on the exact specifics of Magic will definitely be touched on in each separate article on the forms of magic use. On average it's safe to assume that Kelicho is somewhat low on the Magic Power scale, especially in comparison to higher fantasy settings like in the typical D&D-ready setting.

Although I do realize now, I did forget something in the Air Magic tooltip. It's believed that Air Magic could be used for Flight before Magic started getting weaker, but it either can't be done any more or nobody knows how to do it. I think I'll add that.

10 Dec, 2018 02:15

Good worldbuilding, but is there a way to channel magic into an object (like a clay effigy) and store it to use as a weapon later? (in my head I picture magic stored in bamboo-tubes to form makeshift grenades). Either way, just suggestions. (PS. this is ther3dowl speaking).

10 Dec, 2018 02:26

There are some possible ways to get those sorts of effects. Some potential applications for Glyphs when mixed with some form of material enchantment. Admittedly Mages from Kelicho are likely to look into a practical/conventional explosive option if they want to conserve power.

Bit of alchemy here, a few etchings in the case there... Or just fill the entire thing with Powder and light the fuse.

10 Dec, 2018 02:38

If magic is considered a dangerous force in this world, are there certain restrictions regarding its use (e.g. laws against necromancy/thaumaturgy)?

10 Dec, 2018 02:55

It can vary based on where you are. Magic is a relatively large component of some national cultures, or at least military divisions, but exact regional opinions on it aren't necessarily consistent. Evokers are obviously not welcome if they start throwing fire around in a city and will be punished accordingly, but in less civilized regions even healing magic still tends to bring out superstition and paranoia about Witchcraft and other ill tidings.

There are, of course, some things that people just generally don't like, and most of them involve playing with powers you don't understand and shouldn't even be able to use. Necromancy works because it is using something else's power, for instance. Plus, Undead are a naturally occurring problem on Kelicho and are generally hostile.

Or we can just mention learning how to make Banefire and get executed. That is a valid option.