While the distinction between Magic and Psi-phenomena is highly controversial there seems to be a large community that not only accepts that magic exists, but apparently also largely agrees on which kinds of phenomena are to be considered magical, even if they may not agree on what the exact definition of magic is.
- Main article: Essence
Normally essence (also called quintessence) is required for spells. Normal baseline humans start out with at best a negligible amount of essence, which must be either painstakingly gathered or supplied by a mentor. Essence can be stored in a reliquary.
Essence flows along ley lines, and a sufficiently powerful and talented mage, usually a mutant with a high level Wizard Trait, can directly draw ambient essence from the ley lines or even manipulate the ley lines themselves for certain effects.
Whateley Academy's Education on Magic
Nikki nodded. “Right, that’s one of the base principles of magic.”
Caitlin traced a finger along the back of the grip, where it looked like a part of the handgrip along the back was disconnected and raised. “You have to hold this correctly to disengage the trigger lock. And if you pull the trigger too high, there’s another lock to keep it from firing. Multiple safeties built in to prevent you from accidentally killing someone unintentionally, or yourself.”
“So what the teachers are doing is building trigger locks?” Nikki looked at Caitlin curiously.
“That’s effectively it. Another chunk of it is if you don’t understand it, or you think it’s bogus at a core level? Then it won’t work for you.” She looked over to the side and made a crooked-hand gesture perfectly. “This shit is a focus, a trigger association between your intent and your will to harmonize them so you don’t fuck up and explode, or blow a hobgoblin load all over the innocent people nearby.”
“So it’s not necessary?”
“Not really, bluntly I find the stupid contortions to be imbecilic. There’s better ways to focus, in my opinion, and bluntly I find them stupid because they telegraph your intent. That obstinate pragmatism means I have a very hard time tracking on what they’re trying to teach. The latin, hand gestures, none of them ultimately mean shit. You don’t need it, but it’s a trigger lock, a way to focus so that you don’t make a mistake.
Laws of Magic
- Main article: Laws of Magic
Magic is governed by laws quite unlike those of science in that many refer to information a purely mechanical universe ought not to have available at a fundamental level, like intent, subjective harm, or subjective similarity. These laws limit what mages are able to do, often by placing unwanted consequences on their actions, but also allow for staggeringly powerful effects by working with rather than against them.
There are actual core laws for magic, and violations, and attempts at them, are really bad.
- there are actual RULZ such as sympathy, opposition, etc. cant fuck with time, no resurrections, et al.
- attempts and (seeming) successes to violate these core laws dont actually succeed. they violate and defile reality enough to let things bleed through wounds opened by the attempts to defy these absolutes.
Types of Magic
- Main article: Types of Magic
There are many different kinds and varieties of magic and it is not at all clear to what degree the magic users agree on how to call and differentiate them. One might reasonably speculate that the Law of Precedence plays a role in creating some of the differences since workings within a particular area could be expected to be more likely to work consistently than workings that try to mix areas.
Based on comparison of real world magical traditions (some of which clearly were major influences on the fictional Whateley magic systems) one might further speculate that there should be fundamental practices that work across all, or almost all, of the different areas. Plausible candidates include evocation, summoning, illusions, transmutations and elemental effects, all of which are known to be terms in use. Even if this is the case these practices would likely be integrated into the various areas and might not look like variations on a theme to the uninitiated, so a good grounding in magical theory before deciding on the particular area to specialize in may be helpful.
While there exist a number of human magical traditions, including traditional Western magic, Taoist magic and Shamanism, there are other kinds that are not necessarily suitable for ordinary humans or mutants. GOO Sorcery tends to drive the practitioner insane, Sidhe magic may only be available to Sidhe and demons and inherently magical beings might likewise have abilities not available to mortal humans.
- The Mystic Arts Program of the Whateley Academy itself constitutes one of the best magic schools in the world, but since Whateley is a school for mutants the focus is on teaching the use of magical abilities already present, and only in exceptional cases can a student without such abilities learn to use magic there.
- Master Zheng in San Francisco is a master of Taoist sorcery and alchemy and famous for his ability to open the eyes of initiates.
- The Bonewitz Center for Magical Studies at the University of California, Berkeley technically doesn't teach performing magic, but does have faculty members qualified for that task and presumably turns a blind eye towards extracurricular mentoring, and also offers access to rare works.
- Beyond Berkeley similar is the case for Harvard, Yale, Tulane, Sarah Langley, Raft and Bromwell, the other 6 of the schools termed 'Seven Sisters of Sorcery', and also Trinity College in Dublin, Trinity at Oxford, Duns at Edinborough, St. Albins in Lincoln and Prado in Madrid.
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Thaumaturgy's Mystic Arts Program has a website that's refreshingly coherent.
Known Spells and Tools
Fool's Circles / Casting Circles
As Elizabeth Carson explains in their second appearance in the series:
- a formal casting circle. These have many names, but they are most accurately called Fool's Circles. I cannot force you to enter it without whatever magic I attempt to cast on you reflecting on me. You should never, ever enter such a circle without trusting the mage who is going to use it to cast on you not just implicitly, not just with your life, but with your soul.
- Think your basic 'Devil and Dan'l Webster' deal with a silver-tongued devil. Classically, it involves a written contract written in blood, but in practice all it really requires is a willing agreement and the mage in question touching the other party as she casts the spell. You can even do it without the other party being aware of it. But once it's sealed, the very Threads of Fate itself will work to enforce the wording of the pact, in the most effective way possible. Bad luck will dog the steps of the breakoath, making working even the simplest of charms possibly lethal.
- Sorcerers can evaluate, keep track of, or manipulate events by manipulating the mystic ‘cords’ between people, places and objects. The classic sorcerer’s problem is keeping track of all the ‘threads’ that are involved in their working. That’s where the compass comes in. Each of those pegs has a ‘fate cord’ associated with one of the things that Jadis has going down. The pegs influence the needles, which are drawn to the appropriate glyph on the ring on its level. Different combinations of glyphs mean different things, so the knobs adjust the positions of the rings.”
She-Beast's Sorcerer's Compass
A brass instrument that looks like "a squat drum, about 10 inches across by 3 inches high. It was constructed along the lines of ship’s compass, only with five needles floating one on top of each other, and five concentric rings of glyphs and symbols that the needles pointed to. Each of the five rings could be minutely adjusted by dials built into the compass."
There are needles for Passion and Conflict.
Other Spells and Tools
- Enchantment Tiles
- Mahasuran Refutation
- Geotic Reversal Charm
- Circle of Concealment
- Spell slips (Which have some requirement for grammatical correctness?)
- protective amulets
- bozo-avoidance talismans
According to Bek at the forums :
- 'Sarah Langley' is a very obscure reference to the classic movie 'The Philadelphia Story', with Katherine Helpurn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Ruth Hussy. In on scene, a quite tipsy Jimmy Stewart refers to the 'Sarah Langley Medal for World Peace', an award that doesn't exist.
Raft and Bromwell appear to be both references to the animated series Daria.
- Silver Linings: Part 2
- Siblings and Savages (Chapter 3)
- Joe Gunnarson on the Forums
- There's an Angel in Dickinson Cottage: Part 1
- Five Elements Dancing: Book of the Earth
- Bek D. Corbin on the Crystal Hall Forums
- You Don't Know Jak, Part 1
- Whilst Any Speaks: Chapter Four
- Silent Nacht: Chapter 5
- The Widening Gyre
- There's an Angel in Dickinson Cottage: Part 3
- What's Up, Dork?