The Origins of Magic Physical / Metaphysical Law in Numiastra | World Anvil

The Origins of Magic

The origins of magic, and the different ways it can be utilized and mastered


  Magic within the broken land of Numiastra, much like elsewhere on the planet of Ea, is the manifestation of any being's connection and ability to manifest the ancient and ineffable power that permeates the cosmos and the entire Planescape, an unlimited energy source that flows through all things that is the last and greatest gift left behind by the creator god and Overdeity Atlas after he gave his divine existence at the beginning of reality to birth the planes, life, and all realities past, present, and future. This force, which permeates all things and all people and can warp all of reality to the will of they who have the gift of wielding it, is referred to as "Atlen", "Mana", or "Atlas Energy". This "force" known as Atlen permeates all things and beings - an invisible force that ties the universe and all its inhabitants together, from the smallest blade of grass to the mightiest god; Atlen embodies not only magical energy, but life energy itself - a great, ineffable tide that others can call upon ever so briefly to enact changes in effects that utilize it which have come to be known as "Magic". It is, as mentioned, made up of the last remnants of the great cosmic Overdeity Atlas(Read more about Atlas here: The Cosmology of Ea) - a great and largely unusable primordial energy that flows through the planet in the Veins of the World better known as Leylines; massive flowing rivers of Atlen that sprawl out like veins beneath the planet's surface, thundering with vast amounts of the primordial magical and life energy known as Atlen which serve the vital role in the ecology of the planet by keeping the "blood" of the living organism that is the planet of Ea flowing smoothly. This force, which thunders through the Leylines beneath the world's surface and which bursts forth from every living being upon its surface like a great, invisible net that covers and binds all things, is notoriously hard to utilize in its base form - ever since the dawn of reality when it was first formed the act of using Atlen or Mana on its own has been a source of great trouble for Mortals; much akin to trying to paint without use of a canvas, the utilization of raw Atlen is a thing that no amount of study or learning can help with - only raw instinct and primal "understanding" can possibly bring one closer to learning to channel or use raw Atlen. Because of this, the main method utilized by mortals to paint their magic is The Lattice - the great "canvas" or "interface" created by the God of magic to bind the otherwise esoteric and ineffable force known as "Atlen" and codify it, binding it to a series of tangible laws and systems to allow for not only mortals, but for gods as well to properly and reliably interface with it.  

Different Methods of Use

While magic as a whole is a very hushed and hated thing in the lands of Numiastra, many elsewhere on the planet of Ea as a whole can recognize the various ways which Atlen, or Mana, can be used to manifest magic in the world, however rudimentary that understanding might be. These uses of magic are largely broken down into several broad categories which all casters fall under in one way or another, described and linked below - however, it should be noted that by and large, most means of magic wield Atlen or Mana as an "ink" of sorts to create magical effects with the aid of The Lattice; using the caster as the brush, Atlen as the ink, and The Lattice as the canvas upon which the magic is invoked and brought into being. This system is the greatest advantage of The Lattice - without it, all the inhabitants of the planescape would find themselves having to serve as Brush and Canvas both if they wished to invoke magic in any sort of notable way; a much more monumental task that would rely as much as on instinct as it would on luck.  

Arcane Casters

Arcane magic is the art of drawing power based solely on one's own personal knowledge, training, and experience - whether that power be due to study or innate bloodline ability. Arcane Casters rely on no one but themselves and their own innate magical talent to draw on Atlen, or Mana, to fuel their various spells and abilities. It is a talent that cannot be learned - one must be born with a certain "spark" to use magic in this way, though whether that "spark" comes from one's own blood or is fostered through dedicated training and study is a wholly different matter. The ability to use Arcane Magic is tied inexorably to one's own immortal soul, and while not every being can claim to possess the gift of magic and thus will never glimpse into the mysteries of it, Arcane Magic's incredible power and variety of use can be seen by all who witness a magically gifted being use this ineffable wellspring of power to power their spells, convocations, rituals, and arcane might to shatter mountains, incinerate forests, summon tsunamis and more all at their merest whim. To grow older and stronger is said to open one up even more to the power of The Atlen, and as such those skilled in its use as Magic Users generally grow stronger and more powerful in its usage as years pass and they age, their growing wisdom and knowledge allowing them to more easily understand the infinite mysteries of The Atlen. Long ago, the first Magic Users were said to be not sentient creatures in the traditional sense, but the legendary and primordial Warlock Bugs, the ancient primordial magic-wielders which dwelled at the bottom of the World's oceans, supping deep from the world's leylines which eternally run deep with Atlen(Mana) to channel its might through them for sustenance and survival. As the first humanoid life found these ancient insects channeling this foreign and strange power, it is said, they mimicked the bugs' techniques and thus learned how to draw Atlen into themselves and channel it into spells and arcane power. Thus, it is said, did the Gods teach the first life how to utilize this ancient force...however, many others dissuade this notion, claiming The Atlen still resonates with a will of its own...a remnant of the Overdeity Atlas's divine will that even now, still thrums with a fragment of his intellect that sought out the first humanoids worthy to wield it and taught them of its power.  

Divine Casters

Divine Magic is the art of drawing power from a higher being, and relying on them for all of one's prowess and talent. While many traditionally associate Divine Casters with those who indebt themselves to Gods, High Beings, Patrons, or otherwise, it is not exactly always the case(Though it is the most common) - instead, it is more accurate to refer to divine casting as the art of drawing magical power from faith; a means of gaining power from an outside source that comes from a distinctly mortal place. While Gods such as Tavross, The Iron Emperor and Kali, The Broodqueen are obvious examples of Deities who grant power to a follower who beseeches them for magic of their own, those who seek Divine Power can in truth acquire the spark of magical prowess and power in exchange for prayer and tribute to anything that both has recieved mortal belief and 'faith' and is in some way capable of responding to the wills of those who believe in them, whether that be Gods, Patrons, or even more commonly on Numiastra, Concepts and Stories and Tales whose cultural belief and decades of history grant them a life all their own which allows any who dedicate themselves to a tale, legend, or story the ability to draw magical power from the ideals espoused in the object of their worship(See Mythmaker for more info). To those born without the talent for Arcane Magic or those who wish to serve a higher power, this is their true calling and only method of using magic - but this method also behooves one to the creature, being, or cultural touchstone that gave them their power, meaning it can be taken away if one fails to uphold their agreements with said entity.  

Natural Casters

The ability to use Natural Magic is, unlike the mysteries of Arcane Magic which tends to flow from the self and one's own soul and potential, a thing that comes from the world around you, from the trees and from nature itself, and from the vibrant life that lives all around everyone. Rather than tap into one's own potential and the soul like an Arcane Caster, a Natural Caster such as a Druid, who pulls their power from nature, instead relies upon the latent Atlen or Mana present in the forests, thickets, and places of nature in the world, drawing upon the massive amount of Atlen or Mana that such places have at their disposal and offering themselves up to such places as vessels, emissaries, or messengers for their power. Since life, naturally, all holds some amount of Atlen within it, forests and other large gatherings of nature tend to accumulate massive latent stores of Mana, and can even develop dim "souls" to them, or a "spirit" of sorts that pervades the forest and gives it a life and vibrancy all its own. Natural Mages such as Druids cast their magic by taking the Atlen present in the life around them into themselves, borrowing it gently and with kindness, to use for their own purposes, spells, and invocations before releasing it and returning it to the nature from which they borrowed it. In this way, Natural Casters are servants of the natural world, and serve the overarching "spirit" of the forest or home in which they reside from, drawing power from the very trees and grass themselves in a unique bond between man and nature that sees them as the conduits for something far greater than themselves, a power that takes a much different form than the Atlen wielded by an Arcane Caster - though one that makes them reliant on the forests or natural locations they draw power from. A druid whose forest is burnt to cinders is a Druid no longer, after all. In contrast to the Magic wielded by an Arcane Caster which is powered from themselves and their own intelligence and drive for power that lends itself well to forceful evocation and manipulation of the fundamental aspects of reality, Natural Magic utilized by druids is more gentle in nature, more suited to heal and to protect and shepherd than to harm or evoke titanic firestorms...though, the Atlen gifted to Natural Casters is like Nature itself, and is capable of wrath untold of should Nature be threatened, or the natural balance be upset. Druids wield power that is foreign and incompatible with Arcane Magic, and that carries altogether a different spirit than Arcane Magic does. It is gentle, healing, and equal parts furious and wrathful...its touch soothes nature and life because that is the very stuff with which it is made such, though they can draw upon similar spells and invocations that a Wizard might, a Druid or Natural Caster's power is wholly unique, and special. Carrying such natural Atlen within them, Druids and other Natural Casters thus become incredibly in tune with the world around them...being conduits for the power of the natural world and its Atlen, these Natural Casters are naturally empathetic with wildlife and beasts of all kinds, and can even sense the feelings of plants and trees. They have a sense for plants, alchemy, poisons, and all sorts of natural remedies and concoctions that more studious Arcane Casters would never take the time to understand...for serving a higher power and consciousness is alien to them, and anathema to the source of their Atlen. Long ago, the first Natural Magic users were said to be humanoids who, after seeing their fellow man find the Warlock Bugs and begin to learn the ways of Arcane Casting from them, sought solitude in the forests and natural sanctuaries of the world...and in doing so, they stumbled upon and became fast friends with the latent souls of their forest homes, became capable of feeling empathy with its denizens, of sensing the condition of life itself, and carrying within them a natural spark that their Arcane Kin could not fathom. They thus became servants of the first great forest, gifted their power by the ineffable soul of the forest born from the forest's collection of Atlan that had given it a sort of consciousness. They commanded life itself, and their touch could heal and harm with equal measure...and thus, they became the guardians of the natural world that had given them their power.  

Bardic Casters

A unique specialization of Arcane Casting, the art of the Bard is the art of profane chanting and wizardry most ancient, and those who have learned it are those who have learned an art more ancient than arcane magic - the words of power they learn to channel and sing and chant carry immense power in their own right, and the power they tap into requires no spark or inborn talent as Arcane Casting does - with proper training, any creature can learn to master the arcane words of power that give Bards their might. Long rumored to corrupt in body and soul, the art of Bardic Casting is the art of literally speaking magic itself, of stringing together attacks in the songs one sings...of manipulating the fundamental forces of reality with ancient words of power so mighty the mere act of speaking them can rend flesh, create fire, or twist minds. While they are indelibly mysterious and the origins of their magic a delicious mystery, no link between Bardic Casting and corruption has been definitively proven - though their actions in service to the people of Numiastra as Mythmakers more than proves their worth and clears them of any supposed "Corruption" charges. Though any creature can master the art of Arcane Speech and learn the ways of bards, Elves of all breeds tend to have more affinity for it for reasons that are as of yet distinctly unclear.  

Kinetic Casters

Kinetic Magic, long described as "The Lost Form of Magic", is a type of magic casting that is tangentially related to Natural Magic Casters that, unlike nature magic, has been largely forgotten in its true form and only survives in bits and pieces across the world of Ea at large. Even the origins of Kinetic Magic is in the modern day almost entirely unknown, as those skilled in its practice seem to be nearly extinct - rare and solitary figures who are the subject of some mystery to the people of Numiastra, as they alone wield magic that seems to slip the bounds of the Broken Leylines and Circuitbleed that plagues the land and its casters. Even the means of becoming a Kinetic Caster have been mostly lost - a treasured art practiced by a treasured few who seldom find reason to teach their art to others. Today, it survives only in the hearts and minds of those who have learned to "Sit, and listen" to the world around them - to wait patiently, forsaking other paths of magic to walk the path of the Kineticist by learning to manipulate the raw building blocks of reality. It is a wholly unique and special method of utilizing magic, and one unlike any other in all of reality - not only does it predate existing nine-level casting systems, but it uses systems and methods wholly foreign and alien to modern casters. In this way, Kinetic Magic is very much a 'primal' form of magic - unlike modern nine-level magical casting systems used by Arcane, Natural, Divine, and other forms of casters, Kinetic Magic has no correlation to and does not require the use of The Lattice, which normally is used by all casters regardless of type of magic used to transform Atlen or Mana into actual Spells by channeling and "painting" the Atlen into effects using the sprawling interface built atop the primal force of Atlen known as The Lattice. Instead, Kinetic Magic and those who wield it act in a method all their own, similar to Natural Casters in basic theory but wholly different otherwise - instead of relying on their own reserves of Mana or greedily learning to absorb more and more Mana to power more and more powerful spells, they simply act as conduits for the Mana latent in the world around them, letting the Mana that surrounds them flow through their bodies to achieve the desired result. In this way, they do not rely on the Atlen of large bodies of nature(and are thus not beholden to their continued existence), nor do they use The Lattice to invoke Spell Effects - the resulting effects are unlike any other caster on all of Numiastra and indeed, in the planescape at large.
Metaphysical, Arcane
We have no need for gods here, in this broken land we call home. Where were these so-called Gods in the aftermath of the Skyfall calamity which ruined our land forever? Nowhere to be found. They abandoned us - only the two who remained perservered through the calamity, and now the only gods we need are right beside us and within us, all along; Ourselves. Our own faithand belief. Our stories and our myths. Say it with me, brothers - No Gods but Men! No Gods but Men!
— Abel Elliot, On the subject of Divine Magic and Mythmakers
It is difficult to understand, to comprehend. There is difficulty in giving oneself over to the soul of the forest, to the Mana that flows within the roots of trees, within the leaves of plants and the hearts of serve such an ineffable thing, and to accept one's own small worth in the cycle is a difficult task, one many cannot bear. But there is nothing more rewarding.
— Yonnigan Leafwarden, Grandmaster Druid


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