Upstarts in Felac'Delb
How magic works
Since magic was re-released to the world, it came to people in two different ways.
Divine magic is given to an individual from a god. The process for acquiring divine magic is centered around a religious ceremony. After The Gods were made known to the world after The Return of Magic, they appointed emissaries and prophets to communicate these rituals (as well as how they expected to be worshipped) to the people. These rituals involve a test of both one’s knowledge of the religion and one’s willpower to assess their worth. Many desire to receive divine magic, but few actually get far enough to go through the ritual. The pre-screening process that sorts out the potentially worthy from the unworthy requires the individual to either seek contact with their god or have a priest do it on their behalf. If the god does not respond its taken as a sign of your lack of worth, which ends your trip to wielding divine magic.
It is possible to lose one’s ability to use divine magic, which usually happens when said person displeases the god they worship. “Displease” usually means you broke the tenants of the faith, or you used your magic to do something inappropriate in the eyes of the god. You might wonder how it is the gods would know about these things, and you must remember that a priest or other divine caster uses their god’s own powers. This means that the god knows when their power is being used, since its a part of them. As for breaking the tenants of the faith, that’s usually less obvious to the god directly, but others in the faith community are asked to police their own so that the unfaithful will not use the power of the gods.
A commonality through all organized religions is that a priest must be able to wield divine magic. For the less organized religions (like that of Lamder, Neyathir, and Sheshtui), where priests don’t exist, anyone can lead, though wielding divine magic certainly adds to your credibility.
Part of receiving the powers is gaining an understanding of how to do certain things with them. For example, a person who just received powers from Semadra would just know how to use life magic to close wounds. This is but an elementary use of the power, and more advanced applications, like curing people of diseases, are things that the priest will (hopefully) figure out as they exercise their powers more. With divine magic, the more one wields one’s powers, the more powerful they become.
Using divine magic requires invoking the name of one’s god or saying a prayer consistent with the tenants of the faith. Performing a gesture from one’s faith tradition may also be helpful in casting a spell. It varies from god to god, but its all explained to you by the priests or by the god him/herself upon granting you a fraction of their powers. A holy symbol is required for a focus for the power. Something on the order of a dagger’s size is appropriate to channel the magic.
Arcane magic is something that a person is born with. Arcane magic requires a great deal of focus to use at all (perhaps by design, so that there are no children conjuring up fire storms), so its safe to say that any half-competent arcane caster (called wizards, except by The Kalashek and The Hirogen, who call them mages) received extensive training to be able to wield significant amounts of arcane power. The amount of time it takes between learning to light a candle with fire magic and learning to fling fireballs about is much less than the amount of time it takes to learn how to light a candle in the first place. The reason for such a learning curve is that its simply difficult for a person to learn the right frame of mind for using arcane magic.
The frame of mind has several parts to it. Firstly, one needs to open their perceptions to magic. This requires that one become aware of how magic “flows and rests” in a certain place. The “starting schools” that a beginning wizard may be taught relate to things we can already perceive. Take water magic for example. The way “currents” of water magic flow and rest are different at the ocean than in grassland or in the desert. Once a student can do this with a beginning school, they are taught to sense the currents of more abstract schools, like telekinesis and glamour. This takes up most of one’s time as a student wizard. The next stage is believing that you can not only sense these magical currents, but that you can interact with them. In order to wield the magic of these currents, reaching out to them must become something as second nature to you as knowing that walking involves putting one foot in front of the other. This usually takes less time than sensing the currents since your mind has been opened to strange ideas and since one can reach out to the currents as long as they can remain conscious. At this stage it is possible to wield magic, but one would do so with little speed or finesse. For example, one could reach out and grasp the currents of water magic in the area in an effort to move water out of a cup, but in their effort to move the water, they would greatly overshoot or undershoot the amount of effort required, and fling the water into the ceiling at lethal velocities, or cause the water to rise slightly. The third and final stage is learning is where the student learns to get a sense for how much effort is required for what they’re trying to do. This is much easier, and is akin to learning how hard to swing your arm when throwing a ball a certain distance.
Among the Kalashek, being a mage is one of the more prestigious callings. They frequently send mages out into the community to search for people (children more commonly) with arcane abilities so that they can come and fulfill their calling as a mage. The attach great importance to which school one was taught in. There are five mage colleges in the Kalashek lands, each with its own particular focus. Upon graduation, a mage goes into arcane research, where they spend their time perfecting their knowledge of the arcane.
An elven wizard in The Combine is usually appointed to a position in the government or in the military, and a dwarf would put into the service of the king (though arcane magic is favored by the elves, while divine is favored by the dwarves). The Combine has two wizard academies, both of which are on Lorath. A person with arcane abilities that is not a dwarf or an elf is usually turned away from the academy (for which one must apply with a sponsor), though those who are accepted are usually appointed to military positions or something insignificant upon their graduation.
The Orcs have one wizard college on the mainland of Prack. The college is run by the bored lords, and is shunned by most orcs and their subjects, who would prefer to take up the blade than spend a decade gaining no glory, never mind the end product of wielding magic.
Magic in the The Free Cities of Jara is an imported product. They have no wizard academies of their own, but most who realize they have arcane talent go to the Hirogen for schooling. The Hirogen have two colleges, one in the Pimen lands and one in the Polaris lands. In the Hirogen clans and the Free Cities, being a mage/wizard is something you put on your resumee (its just another thing a person can be good at).
Gesturing and speaking are vital tools in conditioning a person to connect to the currents of magic. They are also helpful in gauging how much power to direct from the currents. If the word you have trained for fire is “ska”, then saying it quietly to yourself would make paper blacken and smoke, saying it firmly would light a campfire, and yelling it like a maniac would cause fireballs to rain from the sky.
Arcane magic requires a focus that is attuned to the specific magic you wield. Larger foci can be attuned to more types of magic. A magic staff, about six feet long, is the standard focus, and is large enough to be attuned to nearly every type of magic. Wielding an improper focus is to be avoided, just as cutting bread with a greatsword is. Its possible, but not nearly as easy. In magic terms, attunement of a focus means that it “pulls” the currents of a specific type of magic around it, usually repulsing the other types to so.