Use & Application of Magic

The Noble Art of Arcanology

For many of the people in Ulskandar, magic is a known phenomenon, but the majority of people have likely never directly experienced magic or seen it in action. Magic can be used by any practitioner for good or ill, at the end of the day the ethics of its use come down to the conscience of the individual magic user. Only a very small percentage of the global population are magic users and they tend to be concentrated amongst Dragonborn, Elves and Tieflings. This does not mean that members of other sapient species cannot be magic users, or magic sensitive it is just more uncommon.


Overall, individuals become magic users through the following paths:   Wizards: Those wishing to become Wizards must have a base level of magic sensitivity, but it does not need to be especially potent. The Provost of the Academy of Arcanology in Harbotha famously stated ‘give me a grain of arcane potential, and I will give you one capable of moving mountains’. Regardless of the strength of the ‘grain’, all Wizards need to be academically tutored in the arcane arts in order to wield any significant power. Those who are able to become magic users without any formal training are Sorcerers (see below). In Turoza, there are several Academies of Arcanology, but all of them are in Zhisbon, and only one of them, the Academy of Arcanology, Harbotha, accepts non-Dragonborn pupils. There are itinerant Wizards who move across Ulskandar, and will happily teach in order to earn some extra money for the road, but anyone with potential who can afford it, attempts to gain entry to Harbotha’s Academy.   Sorcerers: Individuals whose natural magic sensitivity is very high do not need academic training to begin to use magic, and are known as Sorcerers. The magic of Sorcerers tends to be a lot  more wild and untamed, compared to that of other magic users, but is often more powerful, as their base magic sensitivity is higher than average. Sorcerers can benefit from training, if only to curb the danger to themselves when casting spells, but it is not necessary. In the societies of Ulskandar Sorcerers tend to attract a significant level of respect, due to their power and unpredictable nature. Sorcerers can be found acting as tribal shamans or priests in tribal or isolated societies, and it would be unusual to find one living permanently in a settled community.   Warlocks: For those individuals either who have a very weak sense of magic sensitivity, or who have none at all, becoming a fully-fledged magic user is not completely out of reach, if they are willing to tread down the dangerous path of the Warlock. Unlike the other routes to magic use, Warlocks draw their power through a pact that they have made with another being of great power, fey or foul, base or divine…. The details of the pact they have entered into can vary wildly from Warlock to Warlock, even if they were granted powers by the same entity. Once granted, a Warlock does not necessarily need training, presumably because the theory of how their powers work is communicated by the entity bestowing them. Nevertheless, Warlocks will tend to grow more comfortable and confident in their powers as time goes by, and Warlocks who attempt to jump into the deep end and explore the limits of their power immediately tend to meet a quick and sticky end. At the end of the day, what this path boils down to is whether the Warlock is able to accept the gravity of what they might have to do in return for their gifts.   Clerics & Paladins: Some individuals that are magic sensitive can become magic users through interactions with the divine, and are known as Clerics or Paladins. Unlike Warlocks, the relationship that Clerics and Paladins have with their divine sponsor is a much more active relationship than that between a Warlock and their patron. Whereas Warlocks have to undertake a difficult and often dangerous path to bring themselves to the attention of their would be patron, Clerics and Paladins are instead recognised for their potential by their divine sponsors, who communicate directly with them. Often those who become Clerics or Paladins are already faithful followers of the gods and goddesses that choose them, but in some cases a deity may pick someone who shows great potential, but does themselves need proselytising themselves to bring them fully into the faith. In exchange for the bestowing of magical power upon them, Clerics and Paladins are expected to be paragons of the virtues espoused by their sponsoring deity, to defend the faith and work to increase its spread across Ulskandar. Failure to stick to their sponsor’s doctrine, or a loss of their own faith can see their sponsors withdraw the gifts that they have bestowed on their chosen, so it is important for Clerics and Paladins to have a strong sense of their own faith in order to cope with the rigours and demands of being one of their deity’s chosen representatives. Clerics and Paladins can be both ‘good’ or ‘evil’ in the traditional sense of the words, it just depends on the nature of the deity they worship and who sponsors them.   Druids: Druids have been characterised as a strange mix between Sorcerers, Wizards and Warlocks. They are all magically sensitive beings, but rather than being innately powerful, needing specific training or needing to be bestowed power by another entity, Druids instead gain their power through connecting themselves to existence itself. Druids will tend to be individuals who are immersed in nature, and give significant time to meditation and connecting themselves to the global network of living things, and through doing so gain access to magical powers that can be incredibly powerful. Becoming a Druid requires an immense amount of time, with some spending decades or even centuries establishing the strength of their connection sufficiently to become Druidic magic users. This means that it is often Elves who predominantly become Druids, but Druids from other species are certainly not unheard of.   Bards: Perhaps the most enigmatic of ways that a magically sensitive individual can become a wielder of magic, the way of the Bard is one that is perhaps the rarest to encounter in the whole of Ulskandar. Unlike other users of Magic, Bards are naturally able to draw fairly freely on magic by imbuing it into the notes of a melody, or the words of a song, story or poem. By being able to link their magic to something that does not have a physical presence, they are not for instance using their own bodies to channel magic as Sorcerers do, they are able to have a greater control over what they are doing, and provide themselves with greater protection when things do go wrong. However, the ephemeral nature of what they use to channel magic, does mean that their spells are perhaps not as potent as the spells of other magic users, especially when it comes to attempting to physically harm something or someone. But then again the type of social spheres that Bards operate in mean that their focus is not generally around causing harm, but playing on the emotions of their targets to manipulate their mental state to match the tune or tale that they are being regaled with. As Bards generally tend to be artistic souls, their focus is rarely to inflict harm, but to enjoy the pleasures that life can bring, and help others to do so. Notwithstanding this, given enough time, Bards can become incredibly powerful, more than a match for the other types of Magic users in Ulskandar.   Species Intuitive: Some species in Ulskandar are particularly sensitive to magic, which they use either intuitively or with training. Dragonborn and Elves are among the most common species to use magic with training, and Tieflings tend to produce the most Sorcerers. In addition, the many varieties of Fey, Celestial, Demons, Devils and Dragons, amongst others can intuitively use magic with great control and without the need to be trained. Some creatures in Ulskandar also possess inherently magical properties, that manifest passively, rather than actively.

Access & Availability
Unless one is born naturally sensitive to magic, then the only way to become a magic user is to take the pious, self-sacrificing path to being a Cleric or Paladin, or to follow the long and dangerous path to becoming a Warlock.  Even for those who are magically sensitive, the majority who are not innately powerful enough to become a Sorcerer must seek proper training and education Arcanology in order to become a fully fledged magic user. This training is almost always expensive.   Access to magic is already heavily restricted by the sheer lack of magically sensitive people being born in the first place, and when compounded with a Arcane education system that rules out those who cannot afford it, access to the use and application of magic is restricted indeed.

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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