The Practicals of Magic in Tales of Veltrona | World Anvil

The Practicals of Magic


Through mana comes magic, and through magic, the world expresses itself in fantastic ways. For every civilization, the practical concerns of magic are a fundamental matter to address. While magic's limitless potential can do almost anything, it is seriously informed by its users (e.g, mages, cultivators). Over time, through success and failure, common trends have arisen.    

Chant versus Chantless

Also known as 'word versus wordless', 'spoken versus unspoken', and so forth, chant versus chantless entails the verbalization of magical incantations. As a whole, all magic is divided into these two categories, and it is a very important way to begin framing one's magical talent.   Chanting involves the articulation of magic through verbalization, such as shouting "Fireball!". The words themselves are merely triggers to a more complicated mechanism. When one studies and internalizes magic, formalizing it into something useful, this entire process is how one transforms raw mana into magical ability. Through diligent practice, by repeating this process and ascribing a chant to it, it becomes a stratified, regular-to-access method. Thus, the mage who shouts "Fireball!" can do so, having internalized all the mental mechanisms needed to actually materialize a fireball as they imagined it.   Thus the advantage of chanting becomes clear–it encourages specific and particular design to magic. Similar to having a tool set on one's belt, chanting gives one predefined tools at a moment's notice. However, unlike chantless magic, this rigid methodology means magical persons following it have overall less versatility; e.g, losing the ability to chant is losing the ability to use magic. This has resulted in some adaptations, like the usage of hand symbols over verbalization. It is technically considered a form of chanting, even though it no longer uses a verbal component.   Jiuweihu are often seen as the most popular proponets of this ideology. The stable and easy-to-pass on methods of magic create long, millennia-old stratifications to how magic can be done. In turn, others who study or learn of these methods branch off. Many schools end up directly or indirectly influenced by these ancient traditions.   On the other half, chantless methods–also sometimes called instinctual magic–is the utilization of magic without any stratified methodology. It is overall more flexible, and directly tied to the magic person's mental faculty/capabilities. Having to make up literally all their magic on the spot, chantless users spend more energy and stamina operating their magical arts. It is true, however, those who frequently practice can obtain ease of access similar to the chanting technique; it is not much different from exercise.   However, because of how internalized such a process is, it's very difficult to spread chantless techniques to others. Many magic users under this category are ultimately self-taught, in one way or another, and it makes their many approaches to the same idea quite varied. While common mental training techniques do exist, ultimately, magical potential is not handed out in the ease of which chant-based designs are. A fire mage who throws fireballs, then shoots fire darts, then makes a flamethrower, overall has more versatility, but pays for it in mana upkeep and bodily stress.   Cultivators, despite using informed institutions to pass teachings down, ultimately 'personalize' all their magic in ways similar to the chantless. Dragons are often the pinnacle of this form, as they embody magical ability deeply. Similarly, the baarham internalize their magic ability, but have refined their natural talents into familial lineages that jealously guard their secrets.   It can be said that both these methods have significant advantages and disadvantages. One is also not intrinsically trapped in one method or the other, but mixing the two can be dangerous to novices and other ill-prepared persons. Some schools blend the two together so extremely they can't be distinguished, for better or worse.    

Schools of Magic

Magic, being a purely mental mechanism, is greatly informed by one's intelligence, knowledge, perception, and willpower. This informed nature is not strictly tied to aptitude in the same way physical ability is, and that is a very important qualifier in magical education. One must internalize to the fullest extent the magical force they wish to make, and so what that person knows, perceives, believes, and imagines shapes much of what they can do.   Because it is such a varied field, numerous schools and standardization attempts at magic theory arise the world over. It is supremely important for one to always remember the information given to them by others is tainted with bias, and can sometimes produce incompatible magic theory.   Thus, one can see numerous schools of water magic all approaching the same fundamental idea differently. Some may seek to create water out of thin air; another manipulates the water in the air; another draws upon the water they carry on their person; and so forth. In the end, they are all making and manipulating water, but through very different ways. Schools of magic tend to pass down certain teachings and techniques, and it can be obvious to seasoned magic users who trained where because of it.   While specific institutions will keep themselves wrapped in secrecy, more general schools of understanding are somewhat common. For example, the principles of fire magic, veltron magic, water magic, and wind magic are fairly universal. Much of these end up becoming simpler forms of magic, mostly useful in day-to-day living.   More complex magic, or the kind approaching a war-capability, is where many choose to form laws and regulations.    

Magical Technology

The exact definition of what 'is' or 'is not' magical technology varies. Does it use mana as a fuel source? Does it perform a magical deed? Does it use mana to achieve an otherwise impossible action? These questions and others are the endless battlegrounds engineers and scholars argue over. It's further complicated by using magic to create 'mundane' objects as well. In the last few centuries, baarham innovations with their machkin technologies has shifted the conversation somewhat.   The general consensus across most of Veltrona is that some degree of mana consumption fuels the device, or it is enchanted in some capacity. Mana consumption is a clear indicator, but including enchantments into the mixture causes no end of friction with smiths. A sword with an enchantment would qualify as magical technology, and perhaps that is technically correct. Most people generally do not view it that way, or perceive it under different ideas. Magical technology, as an idea, is evocative of something more complex, like a windmill or elevator.   While it could be easy looking at the applications of war, the vast majority of magical technology is actually in civil pursuits. Reinforced housing, mana-fueled water pumps, auto-lift elevators, variable temperature cooking ovens, massaging devices, air-creating purifiers, and so on are some common examples. Like magic, these innovations deeply reflect their parent cultures, and some may have never developed certain ideas as a result. Traders and merchants often keep eyes out for these marvels, for they can be ridiculously lucrative.   Some examples of magical technology would be:   Atenkhet maintains several notable, civilization-changing forms of magical technology. Their Black Pyramid project, along with Solar Obelisks has created an entire field of engineering for sunlight harvesting. They utilize this abundant and nigh-endless source of mana to create drinking water in the deserts of Sa-kemet.   Dragon engineers eventually created an incredible form of knowledge storing in the Torzei. Able to house an entire civilization's collective knowledge, these 'small' devices are imminently priceless in their contents. Their creation consumed the vast libraries dragonkind once kept, ensuring knowledge could survive. Some contains works literally tens of thousands of years old, a thought that keeps some scholars awake at night.   The discovery of mana-steel is what many historians consider as the start of the end for the Imperium. The incredible material allowed the creation of weapons that could feasibly kill dragons on the regular. The once seemingly invulnerable dragons suddenly found themselves dealing with dangerous enemies. Its reputation as the 'dragonkiller metal' is well deserved on that front, and effectively ended the eternal rule of dragons.    


Everything in the universe has some degree of mana within it. However, these internal and stabilized mana structures are rarely 'useful' in their 'raw' form. The process of enchanting is infusing mana within an object to make it capable of magic of some variety. A good example is a spoon: by enchanting the bowl of the spoon with fire mana, it could be made to be constantly 'warm'. It would be a useful invention to have in colder climates or seasons for eating. The spoon, however, didn't have the native mana structure for that ability: it was enchanted to do so.   Enchanting is a nigh-limitless art, constrained only by the enchantable material, available resources, and personal skill/aptitude. Like broader magical theory, how one envisions the effects of the enchantment affects its 'design'. More complex or capable designs demand more mana, better magic arrangements, stronger materials to endure the stronger mana presence, and so on. True mistresses of the artform can reduce waste and optimize their enchantments so much they can do impossible feats others can't even imagine.   Such things are quite regular when one-of-a-kind mistresses come about. Their works represent pivotal breakthroughs, ever pushing their art to new frontiers. When they or their works are lost, it can be a devastating setback. For many civilizations, enchantment has a turbulent history of ups and downs because of that. More so, perhaps, than mages or other magical people. There are generally less enchanters than other professions since it is a demanding and expensive profession, not everyone supports its requirements.   The availability of materials is also a concern.   Being able to infuse mana into objects beyond their normal amounts is a tricky matter. It can introduce distortions into its existence, which could lead to a fatal collapse of some variety. Too much mana into an iron ingot may cause it to become irreparably brittle, fall apart, disintegrate, or turn into some stranger, mana-warped metal that can't be worked with.   What exactly happens depends, but the end product is almost always something terribly unusable. Having 'ideal' materials, like a purer ingot of iron, that can handle the infusing process is critical to enchantments. Of course, an enchanter's skill does affect what materials they can or cannot use too.   Two types of enchantment families exist: temporary and permanent.   Temporary enchantments are for brief, time-limited enchantments. These are generally quite cheap to make by all accounts, and is popular for things like ammunition. Many archers, crossbow women, and the like utilize this for their arrows/bolts/etc. Some even make it a talent of their own, creating cheap enchantments on the fly themselves. The practicality of that idea varies, and professionals are usually much better at it.   Permanent enchantments are mana infusions that will last indefinitely and as long as its parent material would. How they fall apart or fail depends on the skill of the enchanter and/or the damage done to the object. Consider a sheet of iron: if cut in half, a bad enchantment will fail. A good enchantment will keep one half covered, and a great one would have both halves covered still.   However, if cut, ripped, or blown apart enough then the enchantments lose cohesion and fizzle out. At that point, repairing the object means restoring its enchantment, which can be much harder than the actual mundane repairs themselves. Some pieces of equipment end up with the enchantment attempts of many, many different people upon it. After a certain point there's just too much done, and that object may simply never support more enchantments again.   On the same note, removing enchantments is just as much an art as infusing them in the first place. Untangling the magical design and keeping the mana stable is by no means a joke to do. The magic is liable to go wild, at best destroying the object somehow, at worst unleashing much more devastating damage. Some enchanters even go about setting traps in their designs to prevent removal at all.    

Conveyance of Meaning

Knowledge is power in a very real, tangible way. Yet it is far harder to hoard than gold, for once knowledge is let out into the wild, it can spread like fire. Where magic is concerned, however, the intricacies involved with it change this paradigm somewhat. Consider the book, a fairly common way of knowledge transference.   A mundane book can potentially be copied by anyone who has the materials, time, and skill to do so. People can pass on information directly to each other, but it is often through word of mouth, or simple writings. This becomes the backbone of so-called 'mundane knowledge', where the literal meanings are all that it is, and all that it sends out.   A magical book is radically different because it can convey more than simply 'ideas' as 'written down'. It can transmit experiences, comprehension, memories, and anything else of the book's writer almost directly into the reader. What is sent and how well depends entirely on the writer's skills, and also the recipent's ability to achieve an understanding. Magical books written for humans would have trouble being fully understood by rachtoh or gehurm, for example. Another prominent issue is that one cannot simply 'copy' the book, they must be able to fully replicate all of its attached experiences as well. Otherwise, only a mundane book will be created.   One notorious magical 'book' would be the Tome of Verbosity, whose near-limitless wealth of knowledge drives almost everyone who 'reads' it insane.   The ability to convey meaning in such a complete and total method is where many, many civilizations found a solution to magical education. Grand mistresses could create venerable tomes that students could study, and thus achieve magic similar to them. Nerzin's cultivators and mages created vast libraries of scrolls, books, and tomes describing understanding, immortality and transcendence, and profound epiphanies over the nature of universal laws. Tribal families in Immensio carry parchment scrolls that form their iconic methods, and reinforce familial lineages by proxy. Intricate balls of shermadi storytails formed the first real record keeping of their species, and so magic as well as history developed through shamans.   Mundane methods retain their usefulness, however. Not all magical methods can convey to even an intended reader, as something about them could be incompatible. Similarly, following in the footsteps of another may result in incompatibilities or dire limitations later on. Simple recordings allow for anyone to start building their 'own' understanding, but without the benefit of potentially being boosted further along. All sorts of arguments, disagreements, and philosophies surround how to pursue magical education as a result.


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