Magic of Ados, Part 1
“This time it had been magic. And it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.” Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men
Magic, magic everywhere. It seems you can’t turn around in fantasy without coming across a magic system, and they run the gamut on how the magic is used. This series of posts is not to discuss the differences or the pros and cons of different magic systems (though that could be a fun discussion to have over pizza and beers). I enjoy seeing how magic is used in different ways by different authors and I have read many creative ways of using magic. (As I write this post, I am also having a discussion via text with an author friend on her ideas for a new magic system. I won’t steal her thunder, but it is an interesting concept and I look forward to seeing what she does with it.)
What I want to do is talk about the magic of Ados. If you are not familiar with Ados, it is the world that is the setting for our Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series as well as a forthcoming (i.e. when we get off our duffs to finish writing the different parts) serial adventure. Ados: Land of Strife was originally created as a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons (3rd and 3.5 editions). So the magic in our world is loosely based on the D&D magic system with quite a few embellishments, changes, and modifications thrown in to make it our own.
In Ados, magic falls into two main categories, each with several different types of practitioners. There is faith-based magic, which is magic that is bestowed by the gods and is used by the faithful in whatever manner they call themselves (clerics, priests, druids, etc.). Then there is arcane magic, which was a gift first bestowed to the ancient elves, by Qurna, the goddess of magic. She taught the elves how to harness magical aether (see below) and use it to craft their magic. The arcane group is split into two distinct types: wizards and sorcerers. We will dive deeper into wizards in this post and discuss sorcerers next time.
Wizards learn their craft through intense study of how magic works. They create gestures, sigils, and words that allow them to tap into the aether and shape it to what they want to accomplish. Wizards spend years in study, either from tutors or in a master/apprenticeship arrangement, or by attending specializes schools. (In Tenyl, the setting for Reva’s adventures, Auros Academy is the largest and most prestigious wizard school in the Kingdom.) Wizards value order, repetition, and symmetry. The spell they are casting works because its been done this was since the very beginning. Sure, they will tinker and make changes to a spell, but they are meticulous and methodical when it comes to crafting new spells.
Raw magical energy – the aether – is not useful by itself and can actually be dangerous. For this reason, a framework – the spell – is used to direct and control the aether. Whether the spell is very simple or very complex the mind of a wizard will find it difficult to keep all of the necessary words, gestures, and other minutiae needed to cast the spell straight. This is why wizards record their spells in spellbooks and foci (staffs, wands, amulets, etc.) are used to center the mind. Wizards can cast spells directly from their spellbook but this takes time to perform. To speed up the process wizards spend time each day studying their spellbook for the spells they plan on using that day. This allows them to prepare the spell in advance so it can be cast quickly when it is needed. (Scrolls work differently because the process of writing the spell onto the scroll is actually casting the magic into an external holder – the scroll – and allowing it to be cast instantly.) But the mind can only hold so much information at a time, and so, wizards are limited in how many spells they can memorize and cast in a day. It’s for this reason that many wizards spend their free time creating different magical items to prepare spells in advance so the magic can be used when needed.
Wizards consider themselves to be the guardians of Qurna’s gift. The complexity of the spells, the intricate gestures, and the cumbersome language is the heritage that ties their profession back to Qurna. Without the ceremony, the ritual, and the adherence to tradition then – in their minds – magic simply will not work.
This doesn’t mean that wizards are not curious, nor do they not seek out knowledge. A wizard who can craft a new spell, or devise a new way of casting a spell, is lauded for their work. Fame is a great motivator for many wizards looking to make their mark in the world. What is important is that they follow the fundamentals and traditions that have been set down before.
Wizards that complete their schooling or apprenticeship will find work wherever they can. Many take to “adventuring” as a ready way to find fame and fortune. While magic is prevalent on Ados, it is not pervasive in most people’s lives. Magical items take time and money to create, so usually only the wealthy can afford to purchase magical items to improve their daily lives. The larger wizard academies (like Auros Academy) are expensive to attend, so many newly trained wizards are in debt when they start their careers. This tends to increase the prices wizards charge for the spells they cast. Plus, as with many things, a group that can control a commodity, resource, or skill, will often limit its use and distribution to keep the power in their control.
There are many different types of wizards: Evokers, Enchanters, Illusionists, Warlocks, Battles Mages, Thaumaturgists, Elementalists, and so on. But no matter what they may call themselves, if a spellcaster studies their magic to prepare it, they are a wizard. But there is another group of arcane spellcasters on Ados who cast their magic differently. Sorcerers. And they will be the topic for the next post.