Magic

The Plane of Magic

Parallel to the physical or material plane is one of magic. Instead of physics, this alternate universe operates on ideas, concepts and metaphors. Elementals are native to this plane, and there many of them are not aware of anything outside it. Sometimes wizards draw elementals into the material plane and communicate with them. All elementals can speak the language of the person they wish to speak to, so language barriers do not exist with them. They do, however, have multiple languages native to their plane that they prefer to use.
When a magician casts a spell, they draw power from the mystic plane. Elementals may notice this. A few take offense at the power being taken from their realm, but it is difficult for them to enter the physical plane without being summoned.


Paths of Power

It takes decades of study for a magician to learn his first spell. An in-depth understanding of the forces involved is required before being able to coerce even the slightest amount of power from the plane of magic. Even the ability to make a connection of any kind with the parallel plane is a task that requires many years of practice. Wizards in their forties are the neophytes, having just grasped the basics of magical control. This path of power is the most reliable, and the safest. Those that reach the levels of power where they can summon elementals are old in years and usually wise (or cunning) enough to keep an upper hand when dealing with the otherworldly beings.
The impatient can take an easier route. A (relatively) young and brash wizard may seek out an elemental to accelerate his learning of magic. The elementals are often willing to grant ability, but rarely without a severe price. The most common demands of elementals are that in exchange for power, the magician's soul passes to the elemental after he dies. Many elementals consider this a safe investment, as humans tend not to live more than a century. This is a flash in the pan to the immortal elementals. Magicians following this path of power still use magic like standard magic-users, though their power is provided directly by an elemental rather than using their own skill to draw from the elemental plane.
The third option is for those that have no interest in learning magic at all, and just want raw power. Elementals are capable of granting abilities comparable to the Starborn powers to humans. The empowered human must make a deal with an elemental to gain this power in a similar manner to impatient wizards. Again, the soul is the most common form of payment, and loyalty to the elemental is usually required as well. Alternatives may include performing a great favour or obtaining a powerful artifact for the elemental, after which the powers may or may not be retained.


Controlling and using Magic

Any given magician knows a limited number of spells. Each magician has access to two subspheres and may know several spells from each. Balance is not required; a magician may specialise in one subsphere to the neglect of the other. Most wizards learn about four spells - two in each of their subspheres - shortly after completing the training required to access power. It takes exponentially longer to add more spells to the magician's repertoire. The most experienced magic users rarely know more than twelve to fifteen different spells.
The casting of a spell requires controlled hand gestures and the speaking of arcane syllables. Sometimes odd material components are employed in the casting of spells. All of these components of casting are highly variable between different magic users. Some may dance and sing to activate their magic, while others draw runic sigils. The end result is the same: Power is drawn from the plane of magic (or an elemental) to create the effects of the spell.
Casting spells weakens the magician's link with the plane of magic. More powerful spells destabilise the link the most. Quick successions of castings may sever the link, preventing further casting. Usually, an accomplished magician can not cast more than four to six spells in the space of an hour without breaking the link. Reestablishing the link with the plane of magic requires a couple of hours of meditation, ritual or equivalent quiet activity, depending on the magician's style of spellcasting.


The Spheres

Any given magician has power in up to two subspheres. Each magical sphere contains two subspheres, one focused on combat and harm, and the other focused on manipulation and aid. A magician may select his or her subdomains from two different spheres. Being especially experienced with magic does not allow access to more subspheres

A magician with power in a subsphere may contact elementals or spirits linked to that sphere. This allows the magician to bargain for power or aid. If the magician has subspheres in more than one sphere, the elementals may be hesitant to give their aid, seeing the magician as having ties to their rivals.

AIR EARTH
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A magician who controls air magic can manipulate small objects by using small gusts of wind, vibrate the air to cause shockwaves, effect some changes in weather patterns such as calling on thunderstorms, and even call the lightning bolts down from the sky. With concentration, magicians studying this subsphere can even solidify the air inside of a person’s lungs, and if they keep it up, cause suffocation. It also allows the summoning of air elementals. With the help of the power of air, magicians can create a barrier in front of themselves to prevent harm, see through any kind of air conditions (even when their sight would normally be obscured by dust or fog), calm the weather or lift themselves off the ground. Magicians studying this subsphere are also exceptionally common due to having the ability to cleanse the air: almost all such mages survived the starfall. By harnessing the power of Earth, rocks and minerals can be forced to do the magician’s bidding against foes. Earthquakes, the destruction of stone (which can be forceful enough to cause some shrapnel), and the violent throwing of boulders are not feats beyond a magician who studies this subsphere. It also allows the summoning of Earth elementals. Through the careful application of this subsphere, an Earth magician can use the ground itself as a barrier (lifting it to create a wall), make earth based materials more solid, move earth or see through solid stone and ground. One studying this sphere can also use one’s magic to travel through the Earth as if immaterial or make skin as hard as rock.
FIRE WATER
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A magician studying this subsphere knows how to burn stuff. Whether it is by throwing balls of fire, creating a dangerous wall of flames or combusting a person’s clothing and causing horrible burns, such a magician can burn, burn, burn. Fire elementals, which someone studying this subsphere can summon, are even better at burning stuff. On this side of the fire sphere, the effects of thermal vision, fireproofing and the creation of warmth can be brought about by the magician studying it. Instead of focusing ones ability on keeping up a warmth spell, a magician studying this subsphere can also create a campfire or other small flames to keep warm. An offensive water magician is capable of throwing bolts of water, bringing down torrential downpours, drawing water into the target’s lungs, or drawing water out of a target’s body, causing dangerous levels of dehydration. This magician is also able to cause freezing temperatures very quickly, which can certainly be harmful for one’s health. This subsphere also allows the summoning of water elementals. On the more helpful side of the water sphere, a magician can conjure up fog, put up a water wall and give the ability to breath under, walk on, or swim in water. These magicians are also able to purify water, thus making it potable or non-hostile to life if it was previously polluted.
LIGHT DARKNESS
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The offensive side of light magic allows the magician to strike with searing beams and blind with flashes of light. During the height of the day, powerful beams of light can be drawn from the sun itself; inaccurate (it takes eight minutes to arrive) but destructive. It also permits the summoning of light elementals. This subsphere allows the magician to grant protection from light magic as well as protecting vision from blinding effects, magical or mundane. It also allows the creation of fist-sized illuminating orbs that last for most of a day and create daylight within about ten metres, decreasing beyond that distance. The power of darkness can wreathe opponents in numbing fire that saps the will and causes pain and weariness. It can cover eyes in darkness that cannot be penetrated by any mode of sight save the magical protection of light magic. Darkness elementals may be summoned. With aid of darkness a magician may shroud himself in shadows to become near invisible in dark places and to block light from an area. The magician may also shape the shadows in an area, moving and animating them as willed. This magic may also negate the draining effects of shadow fire, and can grant the ability to see through any darkness, even in the complete absence of light.
LIFE DEATH
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The force of nature is under the control of this magician. Plants may grow into entangling and thorny vines very rapidly and animals can be directed in aggression against a target. Once a powerful tool of the wizards of the wilds, this subsphere is less common now due to the expansion of civilisation and the distinct lack of lions, bears and wolves in the city. The rare life elementals may be summoned by magicians of this subsphere. This side of the life sphere allows the magician to heal wounds and cure lesser diseases. With great expenditure of power and lengthy rituals, lost limbs can be regrown and chronic illnesses can be purged. This usually requires the aid of a benevolent and willing life elemental. Commonly called necromancers, magicians who choose this subsphere are masters of undeath. They can raise corpses from the ground as mindless servants and even grant themselves a form of perpetual life as liches. They can locate and trap bodiless souls and drain them for power. While souls cannot be destroyed, this experience is very traumatic. Death elementals may be summoned by necromancers, but it's not usually a good idea. Death elementals tend to be psychopomps that believe in the sanctity of life and death. The benevolent side of death also allows the magician to find disembodied souls. Rather than trapping them, they may be propelled on to their rightful afterlife. The undead may be repelled or laid to rest. The magician may also cause a person suffering a terminal illness or fatal wound to be preserved in a form of biological stasis until aid can be found. Funnily enough, this same spell is great for preserving food.
ILLUSION DIVINATION
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A student of illusion magic is a master of confusing enemies: this magician can launch spells that will make the target perceive things that aren’t there or not perceive things that are. Such an illusionist, if strong enough, could even overload a person’s senses: this could cause anywhere from a headache to a coma, depending on the magician’s skill and creativity. Also, illusion elementals may be summoned. A helpful illusionist is able to aid people by providing disguises, granting invisibility or other such obscuring effects. The illusionist’s magic is also useful for creating distractions in order to be able to escape otherwise nasty situations. It is interesting to note that such a magician can imitate the results of hallucinogens on willing subjects, though most do not waste energy on it. A magician studying this side of the divination sphere learns to read minds and, to a certain point, even control the minds of others. When controlling the mind of someone else, the diviner can see and perceive from that person’s point of view; the justification for this being divination at all is that sometimes the people who are being controlled have access to places that the magician doesn’t. This magician can also summon divination elementals. A magician choosing to study this subsphere is capable of seeing truth where others would be deceived. An intuitive ‘always on’ ability to sense if people are lying or not, the magical skill to figure out about the past of objects and beings and the spells to find things that were once lost are all at this magician’s disposal. A diviner may also attempt to use magic to foretell the future, but no matter the skill of the caster, this is a sketchy ability at best and therefore not worthwhile to use often.
SHAPING STASIS
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While both forms of shaping allow the magician to alter his features to some degree, the hostile school permits the transformation into warped, destructive forms useful in battle. Such war mages can summon spikes and claws from their body and the more experienced may even be able to generate additional limbs or organs. It is truly a horrifying art to behold. With sufficient will, they can also cause temporary distortion to the bodies of their enemies. Shaping elementals may be summoned, twisting the landscape around them. The other side of shaping focuses far less on battle and more on subtleties of shape. These magicians of shape may enhance their appearance to unearthly feylike beauty or disguise themselves as other people. They may grant temporary alteration to willing targets. Another beneficial application of the magic is to improve a workman's ability to craft sculpture, guiding the tools with utmost precision. The magic cannot grant creativity, however. Harmful stasis affects the body and the mind of foes, throwing them into paralysed or comatose states so long as the magician concentrates. It can shock by briefly halting bodily functions on the caster' touch and repeated application of this may cause severe trauma or even death. Stasis elementals, despite being naturally immobile, can be summoned to fixed places. Beneficial stasis magic is perhaps one of the most sought after spheres. With it an experienced mage can cease aging, though this does not prevent death by other causes. It permits the creation of immobile barriers of force and can guard against hostile magics. Stasis may also dispel the effects of magic, returning people or objects to their natural state.
SPIRIT
Spirit is undivided. It allows the summoning of any kind of elemental, though being unaligned to any element may mean these elementals may be uncooperative or hostile to the summoner. Also within the domain of Spirit magic is the binding or warding of lesser or weakened elementals and communication over distance or between planes. If chosen, Spirit must be the magician's only sphere.

Supernatural Creatures

All creatures influenced by the plane of magic in any significant way are termed 'supernatural'.

Empowered

Similar to Starborn but always elementally themed. Usually bargained with an elemental for power. Can cause problems. Power has a price.

Possessed

A human (or other creature or object) inhabited and controlled by an elemental, usually a malevolent one in the case of people. A person possessed by a death elemental may pretty be much a vampire, for example. Someone possessed by an Earth elemental may gain Earth based abilities, but also try to purge anything unnatural from the ground. This is usually a method for malevolent elementals to exact their goals.

Elementals

Immaterial beings from the plane of magic. Elementals can be good, evil or any way inclined regardless of their particular element, though stereotypes exist. Elementals may grant a portion of their power to a human (sorcerer or not) in return for something, maybe immediate or maybe a long-term deal. Souls are often bartered with the evil elementals, as it benefits the elemental to grant a fraction of its power now to receive a whole soul when the person dies. Return on investment.
Elementals are immortal. Many of them have lived for unending ages. New elementals can be created by any elemental that knows how. The knowledge is common, but the act is very rare. It requires the elemental to split off a piece of its soul to create a new being. The new elemental grows to maturity over a space of centuries. Its mind and powers are always similar to those of its progenitor but can diverge over time.
Elementals are not indestructible. They are magical power incarnate, so running out of power kills them. Opposing magical spheres can cause an elemental's power to diminish. Shadow magic is especially good at draining elementals. Spirit mages may trap elementals in bindings and take their power. The only ways for an elemental to regain power are to drain it from a source as a mage would, or to return to the plane of magic and recharge naturally.
As far as anyone knows, Elementals don't get an afterlife. Naturally, they do their best not to die.

Elementals
AIR EARTH
Air elementals appear as wispy gusts of air, barely visible to the eye but easily felt. Angered, they become like tornadoes or living lightning. Earth elementals usually look like dust devils, often with larger chunks of dirt and stone whirling around. Despite appearances, they are not inherently solid. However, they very often pick up clumps of real dirt and stone to carry with them in their whirling form.
FIRE WATER
Fire elementals are very distinctive. They are writhing flames appearing to burn without fuel. While heat does emanate from them, they are not harmful to the touch unless they want to be. Water elementals appear as clouds of mist. They deposit moisture where they move. They often radiate a slight coldness.
LIGHT DARKNESS
Light elementals are hard to look at directly, being spheres of golden light. Darkness elementals are very hard to see unless light is shining on them, in which case they look like starkly edged, three-dimensional shadows of swirling and indeterminate form.
LIFE DEATH
Life animated are whirlwinds of leaves and flowers. Most death elementals have a close relationship with humanity, and as such tend to look like the various ideas of an anthropomorphic death. As with the other elementals, they are immaterial.
ILLUSION DIVINATION
Illusion elementals in their base form look like constantly changing and amorphous blobs of multi-coloured light. If they want to, they can look like anything at all. Divination elementals are very odd. They look like hovering chunks of crystal, coming in a variety of colours. Indistinct images of possible futures flit through their facets. As usual, they are completely incorporeal.
SHAPING STASIS
Shaping elementals are terrible to behild. Despite being immaterial, they appear as constantly changing and mutating globes of flesh. Eyes, teeth, limbs and organs burst into being and are soon absorbed back into the disgusting form. Stasis elementals are unable to move on their own and are extremely difficult to move by means other than magic. They are unchanging, true to their nature. They appear as regular polyhedrons with mirror-smooth sides, coming in all manner of colours.
SPIRIT
There are no spirit elementals.
Animated

Animated corpses, stone, trees, etc. Not intelligent on their own but controlled by an elemental or magician. See below. I don't like having too many tables. It seems untidy, somehow.

Animated
Animated are objects or creatures from the physical plane animated by magical force. They are not intelligent on their own, but are controlled by an elemental or magician.
AIR EARTH
Air animated are very rare due to the problem of finding something resilient enough to build one from. Strangely, nanomechanical utility fog may be appropriate for control by air magic. Earth animated are simple to create. Clay golems, animated statues both crude and fine in form. They are easy to produce and last a long time.
FIRE WATER
Fire animated suffer similar problems to Air. Temporary animated may be created from burnable materials in humanoid form, this providing a framework for the fire to live on. These flaming manikins have very short lives once fired up, but they can usually move very quickly and deliver their fire to wherever it is needed. The most common water animated are ice golems. They are tough and strong while they last, but as beings made of ice they suffer terribly from environmental heat effects.
LIGHT DARKNESS
Light animated are not known to exist. Darkness animated exist in limited form, as mobile shadows on surfaces. They aren't able to manipulate physical objects.
LIFE DEATH
Life animated take plants, usually trees, and move them like humanoids. They are very slow and very powerful. Of all the animated only those of the life sphere are actually alive. Death animates corpses as zombies, skeletons and even golems constructed from flesh and bone. These undead are not usually contagious.
ILLUSION DIVINATION
Illusion has no known animated. A magic 8-ball or cystal ball may be imbued with real magic to impart some divinatory power. Divination animated are the only ones that have no ability to move on their own. Instead, they are magical support for divination.
SHAPING STASIS
Shaping animated appear much like their elementals, except they are not truly alive. Random scraps of flesh, wood, stone or metal may make up a shaping animated, roiling and changing as they move about. There are no known stasis animated. Even if there are artificial beings imbued with stasis magic, they're not likely to move.
SPIRIT
Spirit has no known animated.
Ghosts

Human souls left in the mortal world. Normally a benevolent death elemental guides them to their designated afterlife, but for a variety of reasons a few aren't taken.


Artifice

Magicians may create magical items by binding magic into objects. This takes a lot more effort than simply casting the spells, and there is a risk that creating a very significant item may break the magician's link to the plane of magic. This shifts their link onto the item itself, making it a major artifact and usually one of incredible worth. However, the magician is left powerless and probably doesn't have another 30-40 years of lifespan left to establish a completely new link.

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