"It is one thing to know of magic, it is another thing to be a Mage. Magic is born from the notion that the fact of our world being governed by laws of physics, which keep us trapped on an isolated rock, are limited; incomplete. A mage transforms that notion into something tangible, hopefully without blowing themselves up in the process."
Mages are humans that are born with the ability to perform arcane magic. Individual names for mages differ from culture to culture, even city to city or individual; some call themselves wizards, others use the term sorcerer or arcanist.
Whatever the name, these individuals can sense magic potential in the world around them and use it to rewrite reality around them.
Mages are believed to have existed almost as long as humanity itself. It is thought the first mages came into existence as the result of the touch of magical creatures in one's bloodline or perhaps it was the result of children born under an auspicious sign or omen. Others believe that the first Mages were the children of ancient black magic practitioners who could not naturally work magic but were exposed either to otherworldly energies or artifacts.
Unlike witches, who were generally respected or revered in many lands, Mages were generally feared by those around them. It was thought that they had made pacts with the Devil, or maybe they were demons themselves. Many throughout Europe and the Middle East were killed. Even in regions where witches were revered, mages inspired fear and violence. In India, they were considered unclean and in Japan, Mages were considered enemies of the public enemies; many samurai were tasked with hunting down and killing mages in many famous stories.
Throughout history, there have been several very powerful, important individuals who were mages. The most famous of these was Merlyn, the court wizard of King Arthur. Merlyn served as both adviser to the crown and a powerful ally to the throne. Arthur, on several occasions, attested the success of his rule to Merlyn's wisdom.
At the same time, Morganna Le Fey, the scorned lover of King Arthur, rose to power, a terrifying mage in her own right. Merlyn and Morganna were enemies for years, until Merlyn banished Morganna to an alternate Plane of Reality, where she would be sealed for all time.
Merlyn's bloodline was said to have descended from Gold Dragon (though this is largely considered a myth, as there's no way to prove it either way) and many mages today are said to have some connection to Merlyn's bloodline. When Merlyn died, his apprentices and students gathered together to form the Order of Merlyn, a scholary order of mages whose purpose was to study new magic, improve existing magic, teach magic to new generations and--most importantly--to continue to protect the world from rogue mages, monsters and magic unleashed. Today the Order acts as a loose governing body for magical activity, though some see them as little more than bullies.
During World War II, many mages were counted among the SS Paranormal Division, though quite a few numbered among the Allied Forces.
In the modern day, mages have become darker, fighting to stay alive and warping reality however they have to in order to make that happen.
Mages are basically human, and thus can be found anywhere in the world that supports human life. However, certain mages are capable of magically creating biomes or enchanted dwellings or otherwise use magic to exist in environments a human would normally be incapable of living, such as underwater.
Some mages have taken to living outside of reality in the first place, creating palaces of crystal in the Astral Plane or dwelling with spirits in necropolises located within the Ethereal Plane. These mages use arcane magic in order to maintain their presence in such alien environs.
Mages are capable of eating anything a human can eat. However, they are also capable of ingesting certain magical foods, drinks and gels that would kill a human.
Breeding & Transformation Edit
Magical ability is an inherited trait passed from parent to child. The Order of Merlyn classifies mages by bloodlines. There is no guarantee that possessing a magical gene will make a child a mage, but it's likely. Two magical parents make the possibility of a magical child even more likely.
All children born with at least one magical parent have the gene. Even if the gene never activates and magic never manifests in an individual, it's possible that their descendants might one day awaken as mages.
Nature & Psychology Edit
Mages have a longer life expectancy than mortal humans; the average lifespan by the current day is about 147 years old. The oldest mage on record reached the age of about 800 years old.
Mages, being at the command of such vast power, tend to be cocky and dangerous; they lean toward taking unnecessary risks. Many are arrogant and have a great disdain for nonmagical humans. Mages control the fundamental forces of the universe as well as the threads that comprise individual thought, emotion and perception. This can cause some mages to develop a god complex, though they do not suffer from the lack of empathy that many psychics suffer.
On some occasions, when a mage looks into someone's eyes, they see more than just their color. Eyes are windows to the soul. When they make eye contact for too long, or too intently, they get a peek in through the curtains. You can't hide what you are from a mage and they can't hide from you. You both see each other for what you are, within, and it's with clarity so intense that it burns itself into your head. Looking into someone's soul is something you never forget--no matter how badly you want to. Many mages wear sunglasses to prevent this effect from happening.
The Nature of Magic Edit
Magic is a dangerous, invisible, all-powerful force that many humans and creatures come into contact with. Magic entails forces or phenomena that somehow transcend the natural laws that govern the world by directly manipulating unknown energies that bend the fabric of reality to create the desired effect. Magic works without any discernible physical cause and often without any rational explanation.
Unlike science, which is dependent on the physical nature of the universe, magic is metaphysical and driven by other metaphysical sources, such as vigor, courage or evil. But like science, there is a certain logic to magic, as logic is the universal truth and answer.
A spell is defined as a magical effect brought forth through the will of a spellcaster, the act of which effectively rewrites reality around the mage as they see fit. Most scholars agree that magic is an energy field created by all living things that surrounds and penetrates everything, binding reality together. It is present in the universe in the same way ordinary matter is present. Many theorize magic to be a sort of energy that binds the rest of what mortal perceive as reality, which can be manipulated by those with the skill to do so. Magic exists everywhere in the universe, though most creatures are not aware of it and cannot feel its presence.
For more on Arcane Magic, see here.
Magical Schools Edit
The uncertainties surrounding magic haven't stopped morals from promulgating various theories and systems for its use. Perhaps the most successful of these concepts is the system of categorization into separate magical "schools", which is heavily relied upon by wizards and other spellcasters who must dedicate long hours of study to master. After centuries of observation, mages have observed that all spells share certain traits: energy signatures that help bind the raw, unshaped magical potential into a spell. These traits are known as schools.
All mages are born with an innate connection to one of these schools, and likewise, a shallower connection to two others. Some rare mages are Universalists; mages who do not possess an Arcane Affinity, though they also do not possess any school which they are weak with.
The magical schools are:
- Abjuration: Magic that interferes with something else. Whether it blocks, banishes, protects or rescues, an abjuration is dedicated to preventing or ending some other event or effect. Abjurers contend that the power to unmake something, whether that be magic or material, represents the ultimate power over that thing. By extension, they hold abjuration as the most powerful school of magic.
- Conjuration: Magic that creates or summons a real object or creature to you. The effect can appear in the mage's hand, arrive nearby from some other plane of existence or take shape in front of them. Conjurers believe that their magic is drawn from the leftover energy that created the universe. They like to imagine that through spellcasting, they take control of the fundamental material of reality. Some prefer the company of their summoned, alien creatures to other humans.
- Divination: Spells that detect and reveal veiled information. The effect can disclose hidden traps, expose well-told lies or foil enemy plans. Diviners subscribe to the philosophy that you must know all of the players at the table in order to win the game. Diviners see themselves as seekers of truth, even while they keep the most powerful secrets for themselves. Many see diviners are the wisest of all mages. They believe the best of all possible preparations is the course of action that avoids all conflict and peril. They aren't cowards, but they dislike rushing into things before they absolutely understand every angle of a situation.
- Enchantment: Magic that focuses on tricking the mind into believing something the mage wants it to believe. They effectively manipulate emotions, perceptions and even thought, penetrating the most vulnerable parts of a creature's being, convincing them to do or believe something that normally would not. For the enchanter, controlling the actions of another, particularly an influential one, is akin to guiding fate.
- Evocation: Magic that creates an effect out of nothing. The effect could blind its target with searing light, immolate them with explosive fire or shock them with an electrical current. They prescribe to the belief that the best defense is a good offense. Evokers are almost fatalistically drawn to the limitless raw magical power of their spells, oblivious to the inherent danger. They see their school as a highly necessary one that focuses magic from its most turbulent and volatile state.
- Illusion: An illusion creates a false impression that the target senses. The spell could hide one's presence, summon a target's greatest fear or manifest a visage limited only by the mage's creativity. Illusionists believe that reality is what you make it and maintain that earthly stability never really existed, and that reality is the biggest illusion of all. Reality is defined by perception and observation, so possessing control of that observation is the ultimate form of power.
- Necromancy: Magic that holds dominion over life and death. Their effects directly influence and manipulate the lifeforce of others, draining the stamina out of their bodies, instilling paralyzing fear in a creature's being or infusing a dead body with a twisted lifeforce, granting a semblance of life to the undead.
- Transmutation: A spell that modified energy and matter. The effect could change a creature's shape, boost mental or physical qualities or change the way something interacts with the world. They subscribe to the philosophy that if life gives you an orange, make lemonade. They claim that any hurdle, no matter how daunting, can be solved by changing it into something harmless. All things in the universe must inevitably change into something else. They're just accelerating that ongoing evolutionary momentum to suit their needs.
Magical Orders Edit
On occasion, likeminded mages come together to form an organization in the pursuit of particular goals, such as power or knowledge. These orders function like pseudo-governments and most have dozens of members, though smaller Orders certainly exist. Membership in an Order is not required in the magical world, by any means, but membership does afford certain perks in the right circles.
For the purposes of survival, it is a largely agreed-upon law among magekind that they keep their abilities a secret from Sleepers. This is done both to "preserve magical culture and traditions" but also to make sure no more Inquisitions or Witch Hunts are carried out. The rules of the mundane world are equally respected.
Just a a few of the known magical Orders in the world of Shadowfell are:
- Adamantine Arrow: An Order of militant mages that believe it is only through intense discipline that mages will reach their true potential and ascend to godhood. Known militant radicals.
- Hellfire Club: Comprised of the wealthy, the influential and the powerful, the Hellfire Club is a veritable who's who of dark magicians. They have agents and influence across the world and a private club located somewhere in the American South where they meet in secret to discuss the future of the world.
- Mysterium: An enigmatic Order that has dedicated itself to collecting information and solving the mysteries of the universe. Its erudite members are brilliant and cold, relentless in their pursuit of knowledge. They believe that it is through knowledge that one can achieve self-perfection. Their most senior loremasters spend their time reading and mumbling through the endless recitations of knowledge.
- Order of Merlyn: A borderline-worldwide organization that is generally accepted as a sort of governing body. They keep the Ancient Laws that govern mage culture and police their own kind. They are seen as a Big Brother sort of institution who bully mages to maintain power. Governed by the White Council.
Powers & Abilities Edit
- Alchemy: Mages are capable of brewing and concocting magical potions.
- Magical Implements: Mages can utilize certain magical implements, such as a wand, a staff, a crystal orb or some other tool to strengthen their abilities. Such implements allow them to use magic even in spite of certain methods of magic suppression, such as iron.
- Magical Sensitivity: Mages can innately detect magic in both its natural state and worked forms. It's a natural ability in every mage. This power manifests differently for every mage.
- Soulgaze: All mages have the potential to initiate a Soulgaze (see above).
- Spellcasting: A mage can bend the energy that binds the universe together to create magical effects. The act of doing so is known as casting a spell.
- Supernatural Sight: Mages can see representations of magic in the physical world. They see the world for what it truly is: weird, magic and terrifying.
Mages are humans and thus are subject to all of the same vulnerabilities and weaknesses of human beings. They also possess a number of supernatural weaknesses:
- Iron: A hard and strong magnetic metal that is able to repress the supernatural power of a mage. If pressed against the back of their neck, it forces the mage's eyes to glow.
- Magic: Mages are, of course, vulnerable to magic of all kinds.
- Meadowsweet: This herb functions as a magical suppressant. Touching this herb to a mage will cause their magic to go awry and tricking a mage into ingesting it (or otherwise getting it into their system, such as through darts) can remove their ability to cast spells for hours or even up to a day.
- Witch Hazel: This herb functions as a minor magical protection.
- Witchcatcher: A magical binding device that dampens magical power when worn. Usually a collar, though handcuff-versions do exist.
Notable Mages Edit
|Benedict Little||Abjuration||19||N/A||10.5", Blackthorn, Dragon Heartstring||N/A||Alive|
|Bianca Ramirez||Divination||36||Hoffman Institute||12", Cherry, Unicorn Hair||Unknown||Deceased|
|Dominic Tramontin||Conjuration||17||Tramontin Family||9", Yew, Unknown Core||N/A||Alive|
|Jakob Dumont||Evocation||56||Clive Talbot||10", Dogwood, Unknown Core||Blizzard||Deceased|
|Edgar Nulph||Illusion||35||Team Humanity||12", Rowan, Unicorn Hair||Thor & Freya||Alive|
|Holly Corrigan||Transmutation||17||Erica's Army||N/A||N/A||Deceased|
|Dr. Hiram Jones||Divination||43||N/A||N/A||N/A||Deceased|
|Lorraine Nulph||Enchantment||88||Hellfire Club||10", Aspen, Phoenix Feather||Mr. Sprinkles||Alive|
|Odessa Nulph||Evocation||18||Team Humanity||???||Heimdall||Alive|
|Roland Nulph||Evocation||44||Hellfire Club||11.5", Black Chestnut, Phoenix Feather||Unknown||Deceased|
|Victoria Nulph||Transmutation||45||Hellfire Club||10", Aspen, Dragon Heartstring||Unknown||Deceased|