Thaumic Arts in Uncharred | World Anvil
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Thaumic Arts

The thaumic arts - or magic, as they are colloquially known - are the area of natural philosophy concerned with properties and use of the planet's thaumic field (commonly referred to as simply the Field).   All physical and some metaphysical objects naturally have thaumic potential energy, or the thaumic charge. Trained thaumists (magicians) are able to perceive and manipulate this charge, affecting the physical world through it.  


  Some species, such as sprites, wyrms, unicorns, hilderath, and leralath, are able interact with the Field naturally, the same way they naturally interact with gravity. Humans, however, while also naturally affected by the Field, can neither directly perceive nor manipulate it without special training.  


“They don't interact with the Field like we do. We have to twist and break ourselves just to perceive it, but they — they live and breathe it.”
~ Ivolga Nezvana, court seer of Tregorie (discussing the hilderath)
  Nearly any human can learn to manipulate the thaumic field, the same way nearly any human can learn how to sing or draw. However, to gain access to the Field, the training must begin at an early age, before the brain is fully developed. (There have been cases of adults learning magic, but that requires a severely traumatic experience comparable to brain damage. Such magicians rarely attain a high level of skill.)   There are different training methods and programs, but, overall, training in magic generally begins around the age of 9, and continues for approximately a decade.   The most difficult part of the training is learning to perceive the Field. Since it can't be done directly, all successful students become synesthetes, fusing one or more of their senses with perception of magic. Most common types of perception are sight and sound, but some people might smell or taste magic, or experience it as a certain type of texture.   Once students learn to perceive the Field, they are considered practicing magicians, even if they can’t actually do anything with it yet. This is because perception of the Field requires a neurological restructuring that is heritable.   It is, theoretically, possible to cease being a practicing magician. If a magician doesn’t access the Field for (approximately) seven years in a row, their neurological changes will reverse and they will lose access. In practice, however, this is akin to a person who has healthy eyes trying not to use sight for seven years straight by simply squeezing their eyes shut. It’s basically impossible to do without external “blindfolds” such as magic-suppressing potions — which are extremely expensive and have unpleasant side effects.  


  Human children born to a practicing magician will have direct access to the Field from birth. Their access can be cut with magic-suppressing potions, but, unlike trained magicians, they cannot lose access to the Field permanently, no matter how long they are kept away from it.   If such a child survives to adulthood, and is given training, they will almost certainly possess higher skill — and much more raw energy — than a regular thaumist. However, mageborn infants almost never survive even the first few hours. They lash out with magic in the same way a lay infant cries, inadvertently killing people around them and, usually, themselves.   For this reason, in most cultures, people wishing to practice magic are required to swear a binding oath of childlessness for as long as they practice and seven years after they cease. In Halqueme, it's commonly known as the Dry Tree Oath - the idea being that while a dry tree cannot bear fruit, it can contribute to life in many other ways.  

The Twelve Thaumic Arts

  The Twelve Thaumic Arts are twelve classical areas of thaumic studies. While in practice they may overlap and intersect, the separation of them into twelve distinct disciplines has begun in the ancient world before the Sundering and continues to this day in most mage schools of Halqueme. No magician learns all twelve of them. After a broad introduction, students are generally expected to specialize in only one.  


“Rule of air”, air magic. Aerarchs study, and to a certain extent control, movement of air. The most common applications are in engineering, especially architecture. Aerachs have also been known to attempt climate control for agricultural purposes, but so far with little success.  


The study of materials and elements, which includes the study of chemistry and of herbs. Apart from medicine, alchemy is commonly used in agriculture and construction. It’s one of the least magic-intensive thaumic arts, and it’s possible to be a fairly successful alchemist without being a practicing magician, though at the higher levels practical magic is necessary.  


The study and production of artefacts—thaumically-charged objects that permit magic to be used without any thaumic impulse from the user. This is the second most common and widely popular branch of magic, since this is what makes magic available to the population at large.  


Cryopoetics, “frost-making”, or ice magic, is the study and use of cold temperatures. This is mostly applied in food preservation and air conditioning, and isn’t very common in northern Halqueme. It is also notorious for being the type of magic that is easy to master at basic level, but requires an inborn ability, akin to the absolute pitch, to practice on a large scale. There’s also an ongoing debate whether cryopoetics is in fact an independent art, or a branch of the much more common art of pyropoetics, since they both work with temperature.  


“Earth-talking”, or earth magic, is not yet as popular as the aretefactorics, but is rapidly expanding. Geomancers historically tended to work in construction and mining, but in recent years geomancy has been successfully applied in agriculture, especially in the area of soil improvement.  


“Water-talking”, or water magic, is the study and control of water. It’s most commonly used in irrigation and sanitation, but hydromancers tend to be involved in general water management and handle natural disasters that involve water.  


The oldest, and the most respected, branch of magic. The study of it includes anatomy, artefactorics, and alchemy among other disciplines. A healer is the most common thaumist specialisation, and lay medics who assist the healers but do not practice magic themselves are just as common. The highly developed medicine, along with artefactorics, has had the greatest impact on human society, culture, lifespan, and quality of life since arriving on this world.  


“Dead-talking”, also known as death magic. There are three types of necromancy:   1. Investigative necromancy is practiced by magicians who study pathology and perform autopsies, including interrogation of the recently dead. This type of necromancy is fairly common and socially accepted, and many courts of justice have an investigative necromancer (often titled Inquisitor) on staff.   2. War necromancy, as the name suggests, has military applications. A war necromancer drains energy from the living targets, accumulating rather than expending energy in order to kill, and can then use that energy to raise the dead as puppets (revenants). This art can be very damaging to the user psychologically, and, while most countries wouldn’t mind having their own war necromancer, they often prefer regular battle mages as the less risky option.   3. Dark necromancy. This label is sometimes used flippantly for any war necromancy not approved by the speaker, but the technical definition of a dark necromancer, or a wight, is a necromancer who drained a naturally-immortal sapient in order to achieve biological immortality. The wights do not, as a rule, last very long, because they tend to go mad and/or get themselves killed. They are also vanishingly rare, and history knows about a dozen of them in total.  


Prediction, sometimes also called clairvoyance, foresight, or forecasting, is the branch of magic that attempts to predict the future. The field is notoriously complex, and combines study of time, thaumic field manipulation, and trend analysis, often with unclear results. Court seers have historically doubled as spy masters in order to improve their predictions, and the seers specializing in weather forecasting usually have training in aerarchy as well. The one steadily reliable type of prediction appears to be the so-called dying prophecy; however, because it is subject to the dying seer’s state of mind, and often requires extensive interpretation (not to mention the seer’s death), it hasn’t been very well studied.  


“False perception”, also commonly known as glamour or illusions, is the study of the interaction between the thaumic field and perception. Glamourers most commonly work in security and entertainment, but military applications of the art also exist.  


“Fire-making”, the fire magic, is the study and use of heat. Originally a widely common art, in recent years it has for the most practical purposes been supplanted by artefactorics. However, it remains a highly respected—and complex—academic discipline, and some elements of applied pyropoetics are still used in agriculture, manufacture, and battle arts.  


“Miracle-fighting”, more commonly known as battle magic or war magic. One of the most feared and disliked branches of magic, second only to necromancy. Because the Field has been historically viewed as a life-giving, creative force, turning it to death and destruction has been perceived as an obscene perversion. In addition, the use of battle magic is rumoured to have been the cause of the Great Sundering (the years Asunder are counted from that date). Since then, it has been socially disapproved and severely limited. Until very recently, there were generally only a couple of battle mages per country (usually in the rank of a court sorcerer), but even they took to the field as a last resort only. The widespread military use of magic has only begun after several magicians fought in the Gwelharian revolution of 1548-1550. Even by 1680s, some countries, such as Bereg, still try to get by with very few battle mages.

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