The Nature of Magic Physical / Metaphysical Law in Tremanac | World Anvil

The Nature of Magic

How it works and how we can utilise it


The five types of magic

Most scholars will tell you that there are five forms of magic:
  • Arcane – Creating magical effects by asking the universe to perform certain actions. Utilised by wizards.
  • Divine – Magic granted by the gods to some of their worshippers. Those that use this form of magic are called Clerics.
  • Psionics – Magic channelled through the mind of certain adepts called psions.
  • Elemental – Magical effects created by drawing energy from one of the four elemental planes. Users of this form of magic are called elementalists.
  • Natural – Magical effects created by manipulating nature. This is mostly used by druids.
We shall examine each of these forms of magic in turn, detailing how they are normally used and how wizards can duplicate the effects of all of the forms of magic. Furthermore we shall show that there are in fact only 3 forms of magic  

Arcane magic

As most of the people studying this document will be aware arcane magic is the magic of manipulation. A wizard alters a small part of the universe to create effects that we call magic. What is not commonly known is that what a wizard is doing in casting a spell is making a request of the universe to do something.   When a wizard prepares spells from a spell book they are in effect telling the universe what they want to happen. Because the wizard knows how to phrase this information the universe responds by implanting certain triggers in the wizard’s brain. When that wizard completes the spell and designates any variables (such as target or position), the universe uses the trigger in the mages brain to enact the required effect. While the completion of spell is common to all spellcasters the actual language and grammar of the initial casting is unique to the wizard (hence why you need help to read another’s spellbook). A wizard’s power is based on several factors:
  1. The mage’s knowledge of spell formula.
  2. The mage’s knowledge of what is possible.
  3. The mage’s knowledge of what is not totally impossible (similar to above but not exactly the same).
  4. The mage’s capacity to store spell energy in their brain.
  It is because of these factors that so many mages spend time locked away studying. Many mages do not realise what it is that they are doing when they cast a spell. For example, when casting a fireball you are asking the universe to do several things. Firstly, you are requesting to be protected from fire for a brief period. Next, you ask for a small sphere of force to be created in you hand. Finally, you ask for a small portal to the elemental plane of fire be opened within the sphere of force. While anyone who is intelligent enough to be able to read a spell book can cast a spell, understanding these concepts is vital to mastering wizardry and developing new spells.  

Spell books

A spell book is vital to a mage. It contains all the spells they have researched and recorded. Each mage has their own unique way of recording their spells. While the teacher may influence this, each mage has his or her own unique style. This is because as magecraft is asking the universe to do something and everyone perceives the universe in a different way, what each mage is asking for is unique to him or her. Because of this it takes some effort and a good deal of knowledge about the universe to decipher another’s spellbook.  

Verbal Components

The verbal component of the spell completion is the mage telling the universe to enact the spell. While it is possible to complete a spell without this, it takes far more mental energy and so most spells are written to utilize the verbal completion to make them easier to cast. The main drawback is that you cannot cast a spell if you are restricted from speaking.  

Somantic Components

The somantic components of a spell completion are the gestures that help to emphasis what the mage is asking. As with the verbal components these are not truly necessary for the spell completion although they do make casting the spell easier on the mage. The main drawback to these gestures is that any form of clothing or armour that restricts movement will interfere with these gestures and may cause you to loose the spell.  

Material Components

The material components or foci serve the same purpose as the previous two components. They are there solely to make the communication with the universe easier. An experienced mage can simply ignore the lesser components, but it does take special training. The more unusual or crafted material components are still required as they form a major part of the ritual. There are occasional rumours that some of the archmagi are able to ignore even these components.  


We refer to the adaptation of spells through personal power rather than by rewriting the spell as metamagic. Metamagic abilities include altering spells to remove the verbal or somantic components, or increasing the power of the spell. Naturally, these alterations take more power than the usual spell but they can be most effective. Some of the most common forms of metamagic are the abilities to cast a spell without using the hand gestures for emphasis or in some cases forgoing the verbal communication with the universe.  

Schools of magic

Arcane magic can be broken into nine distinct groups called schools. The schools of magic are
  • Abjuration – Spells that create protective effects.
  • Conjuration – Spells that summon creatures and objects or create objects.
  • Divination – Spells that allow you to discern facts unknown to others.
  • Enchantment – Spells that influence or control behaviour by affecting the mind.
  • Evocation – Spells that manipulate energy or call upon the outer planes
  • Illusion – Spells that deceive the senses or minds of others.
  • Necromancy – Spells that manipulate the power of death or negative energy.
  • Transmutation – Spells that change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition.
  • Universal – Spells that do not belong to one particular school.
It is possible to become a specialist in one of the first eight schools of magic, but only at the expense of one or more of the other schools. In fact, most mages have a tendency to specialise because they find they have a greater affinity for one particular aspect of magic.  

Divine magic

Divine magic is granted by those beings we refer to as deities. When clerics pray for spells each day they request that their deity channel its power through themselves to enact some spell. This of course leads us to the question of where the deities draw their power from.   As far as we are able to determine the deities derive their power from their worshippers. The clergy of the various faiths does not readily spread about this information as it could raise the expectations of the followers of the various deities. It appears that with the power of ‘belief’ a deity channels the power of their plane of existence to the cleric. In the case of the good deities this is the positive energy plane, and in the case of the evil deities this is the negative energy plane. While there are neutral deities we have no confirmed reports of them granting powers to clerics (we are not even sure where the neutral deities reside). The fact that clerics receive their power by channelling power from other planes suggests that they are in fact a different form of elementalist.   The first problem we have in copying divine magic is that the clerics themselves do not know how their spells work. All they appear to know is that they request that their deity grant them certain powers during the day. While the clerics acknowledge that the limits of divine magic are dependent on the cleric rather than the deity, they do not know why.   Our research has shown us that while we as mages channel most of our magic outside our bodies, clerics channel it through their bodies. This leads us to the complication of how to protect the body while casting a divine style spell. The clerics obviously have the protection of their deity but we need to devise a means of protecting ourselves from this energy. It has been possible to recreate lesser versions of various divine spells, although at the time of writing we have been unable to equal the power of the clerics spells.  

Psionic magic

Psionic magic is simply magic of the mind. With sufficient discipline, psions can use the power of their mind to create magical effects or enhance themselves physically.   Psionic magic is something you are born with. While those with the talent can develop their power, it is impossible for one without the talent to learn these powers. Psionics is another form of planar magic. In this case, the spellcaster draws power from the astral plane2.   Every power a psion knows uses the astral plane in some form. For some effects, they draw ectoplasm from the astral plane, for others they set up a vibration in the astral plane that affects the minds of others. Very few psions have the same breadth of knowledge as wizards. They learn far fewer spells than almost all of the other spellcasters as they must fully understand every aspect of how the spell works and how it affects their bodies.  


Psionics can be split into 6 different disciplines. Each Psion specialises in one of these disciplines although they can use powers from outside their primary discipline
  • Psychometabolism – using Psionics to enhance the body.
  • Psychoportation –moving objects in space or time.
  • Psychokinesis – manipulating and transforming physical properties.
  • Metacreativity – creating items from matter drawn from the astral plane.
  • Clairsentience - using Psionics to discover information.
  • Telepathy – Mental contact and control of other sentient creatures.
While some of the psionic powers are relatively easy to replicate by mages, most of them take a great deal more effort. This is because a mage does not have the natural connection to the astral plane that a psion has.  Amongst the civilised races psionics were only fully studied in Balri though several of the monstrous races are known to use similar powers.

Elemental magic

Elemental magic is another form of magic that you can only be born with. You cannot learn it as you can arcane magic. Simply put elemental magic is effects created by drawing one of the elemental planes of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. In fact, as an elementalist grows in power, they can become an elemental of their associated plane. It has yet to be established where elementalists come from. Due to the nature of their magic, two theories have been proposed to explain their existence. The first theory states that elementalists are the descendents of dragons. Because the draconic side of their ancestry would be so far in the past, it is almost impossible to determine the validity of this theory. The second theory states that elementalists are the children of an elemental and a material plane creature. While this would explain their powers, the offspring of such unions (@Genasi) typically display visible traits of their heritage.   Each form of elementalist has a different strength. Fire elementalists have access to a number of powerful offensive spells, earth elementalists are very good at defending themselves, air elementalists excel at movement, and water elementalists are able to alter their form with ease.   Elementalists do not have access to a large number of spells as they draw all their power from one elemental plane. However, the only restriction an elementalist has on casting the spells they know is the how much energy their body can take.   Wizards are capable of duplicating almost every spell an elementalist can cast. Unfortunately as wizards lack the connection to the planes that an elementalist has the casting of these spells is more draining.  

Nature Magic

Nature magic is perhaps the closest to arcane magic in the way it manipulates the universe. The main difference between the two is that druids normally request that Caigat (God of Nature) manipulate the universe for them. While druids are capable of asking the universe directly, they usually prefer not to.   When in an area that has a strong connection to Caigat a druid’s magic is almost unlimited. As a druid does not need to channel energy through their own body as an elementalist does, and as they are not normally required to store energy in their minds a druid has an almost unlimited amount of spell casting. The only limit is on how well they deal with the strain of communicating with Caigat.   When a druid enters an area that does not have a strong link with Caigat, such as a city, the druid is forced to ask the universe directly for magical effects. This normally reduces the spellcasting potential of the druid to a level equal to a mages.   Druids however do not learn spells the way mages do. A druid is taught spells by Caigat herself. This means that while a druid may learn more powerful spells with greater ease than a mage, they are restricted by what Caigat is willing to teach them.   Despite the similarities between the two forms of magic it is extremely difficult for a wizard to replicate a druid’s magic. Most arcane effects are designed for a short duration and a short casting time, whereas druidic effects last longer and take longer to cast. There is also the problem that a mage must always store the energy in their mind while a druid simply needs to call upon Caigat.
The Nature of Magic was textbook written for the Colleges of Magic during the Second Age. It was required reading for all new students.   Most copies of the original version were destroyed or lost during the Years of Darkness. A heavily revised version which has had almost all comparisons with non-arcane magic removed is used in teaching new mages in the elven and dwarven lands.
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Cover image: The party's camp by Tanai Cuinsear


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