The Wanderlust Legion
Magic in the World of Turann
The following is an excerpt from the in-character book A Treatise on Magic and its Users, the Shining Tower’s most important and defining work.
The Shining Tower is Ohma’s most influential mage’s guild. They essentially have a monopoly on the legal magedust industry, and they grant access to their magedust only to those governments that agree to abide by their laws.
From the beginning of recorded history, the mortal peoples of Turann have used magic in at least one of its many apparent forms. The earliest users were the alfar, those fair first-born who gave birth to the modern races of elf and svartalfar, and from their hands came the first written records of spells and rituals. This document serves to detail the Shining Tower’s current knowledge of magic, the users thereof, and its place in the world at large.
To understand what magic is, it is important to know that which magic is not. Many early primitive cultures, and indeed some modern tribal peoples, viewed magic as strictly the priest or shaman’s domain. It was his role alone to speak with the gods, spirits, or fates and work their will in the world. This is erroneous; though priests still work magic in the name of their religions today, it is possible for anyone to perform magic. All that one needs is the knowledge of the proper ingredients, gestures, and incantations for the spell, and the magedust to fuel it.
Styles of Magic
There are three major styles of magic, divided by their effects on the world and the methods by which they are harnessed.
Arcane magic is not an eldritch force of mystery, unlocking the secrets of the universe. It is simply a natural phenomenon; as the authors of this treatise strove to show, arcane magic is well-studied, documented, and observed. It follows its own laws and rules, which admittedly supersede the perceived rules of the physical world in many cases. Understand that this does not mean everything about magic is understood. Magical scholars are still undecided as to the source of magical effects, the origin of magedust, why specific combinations of items, motions, and phrases produce spells, etc. Even so, the academic community knows enough about arcane magic to view it as a science as opposed to a mystery.
The styles of magic known as ‘primal’ and ‘divine’ are different to arcane magic. They are granted by supernatural beings, rather than harnessed by wresting effects from the forces of the arcane. Divine magic is harnessed by those with a close connection to the gods of the world. Rather than memorizing combinations of ingredients, detailed hand movements, and mystical incantations, practitioners of divine magic are granted spells directly by their deity, usually after a period of prayer. Of course, these deities still choose to work in Turann by way of magic, meaning that even divine casters must use magedust to fuel these godly spells.
Primal magic, most likely the first style of magic harnessed by mortals, is granted by the spirits of the natural world. For many primal mages, the reverence and relationship with natural spirits is in itself a sort of religion. The many different practices, names for spirits, and personal beliefs relating to primal spirits is collectively known as the Green Faith. The spirits who grant mortals magic abilities are still restricted by the laws of magic, and primal spells use aether, provided by magedust, in the same way as any other caster.
“Spell” is the term commonly used to describe the effect that takes place when combining two or more of the four cardinal ingredients: incantations, hand gestures, material ingredients, and magedust. This fourth component, magedust, is the only component necessary for the casting of all spells, no matter the complexity, origin, or intended effect. In crystal form, it appears much the same as amethyst, but glitters gold and silver. When powdered, it resembles lavender-, golden-, and silver-colored sugar. Because of its ubiquitous requirement, it is paramount to understand the properties, effects, and uses of magedust.
The origins of this magical crystal are unclear. Peronius Lavilus, the first Archmage of the Tower, hypothesized that it linked to the tails of comets in the night sky. Years later, influential wizard Harill the Blue put forth the theory that it was simply the result of a reaction between oxygen and the Gathering Stones. This was the leading theory until the year PE 448, when current Archmage of the Tower, Alistair Kinley, performed a study that linked magedust to the debris of stars which had floated down to Turann from the heavens.
The use of magedust has generally remained the same throughout history. Magedust must be ingested into the body; usually it is mixed with food or water or taken as a pill. Its taste and texture are often likened to that of sand. Once in the body, it will pass into the bloodstream and be metabolized into a mystical energy known in the magical community as aether. It is this aether that is expended when a spell is cast. When a mage exhausts his reserves of aether, he cannot cast any more spells. The mage has an innate knowledge of his aether reserves and, with practice, can conserve or expend as much or as little as he wishes (provided he still meets the bare minimum requirement to produce the spell effect). A mage must ease himself into taking a regimen of magedust each day. If he takes too much too quickly, his body will reject the aether, and he will develop Sorcerer’s Sickness. Typical symptoms of this disease include a hacking cough, dysentery, vomiting, nosebleeds, blurry vision, paralysis, migraines, boils, madness, and eventually death. For this reason, purchase, sale, and use of magedust must be supervised and licensed by a representative of the Shining Tower.
The aforementioned Gathering Stones are the only known way to collect this magical fuel. A Gathering Stone is cut from a special kind of red rock that can be found deep underground. Traditionally, the stones are carved to resemble an obelisk, but this is unnecessary; a totally uncut chunk of Gathering Stone can be used to the same effect. When left out in the open, crystallized magedust forms on the Stone, like crystals of salt. The crystals are scraped off, powdered, and either sold or used for personal ingestion.
A prospective Gathering Stone owner must state his intended purpose (sale, consumption, or both) to a representative of the Shining Tower. If he intends to sell the dust, he must obtain a license. This procedure involves passing an evaluation of mental fitness, completing a background check, and paying a nominal licensing fee. In addition, he must agree to restrict the sale of his magedust to licensed mages only. The Shining Tower is entitled to tax the seller up to 15% of his net profit from the sale of magedust. If he intends to use the dust for personal consumption, he must obtain the same License to Practice Magic as any other wizard, as well as passing an evaluation of mental fitness, completing a background check, and paying a nominal licensing fee. Failure to adhere to any and all of these laws is punishable by a fine and license suspension, as enforced by the Tower Guard. For all of the laws, sanctions, and regulations imposed by the Shining Tower, refer to Laws and Restrictions on Magic.
Tursei and the Well
It is widely held that all magic in the world today is drawn from the Well, a metaphysical source that existed since before the creation of the universe. A young woman named Tursei found a location where the Well and the material world were very close, and crossed the dimensional threshold, drinking of the waters of the Well and becoming one with its nature. The influx of magic granted Tursei the powers of a goddess, and she became eternally and irrevocably linked to the Well. Now, the Well is Tursei, and Tursei is the Well. Devoid of any motives other than the use of magic, Tursei grants her powers to any that can pull on it through the use of spells.