Following the initial Magic in Mortalissar post we made 26 April 2019, here then is a comprehensive expansion of the different magic systems practiced in the world (at least during the time of Tae 4329). Unlike most fantasy secondary worlds, where the magic system is primarily the same in terms of spell-casting method, ingredients required, rituals needed, results expected, costs incurred, etc., Mortalissar is different in a sense that a wizard from one part of the world practices magic differently from a wizard from a different region.
As you can already see from the interactive guide map above, there are eight main magic systems spread out across the world. Each system is unique not because they reside within a specific continent, but because they have different cost-benefit/effort-result systems. For example, the Core Collective Magic System is perhaps the most widely practiced, but it is not limited to just one or two continents. Let's delve into each magic system so you'll gain a better understanding on how different they are.
The Eight Systems are:
Here's a quick summary of each system. In later posts, we'll deep-dive into each system and provide greater details and examples.
The Elemental Force Magic System (Order vs. Chaos): Practiced in the northern territories (ie. the Ice Kingdoms of Serpentriss, part of Calandaria in Iorensia, northern Oeren Highlands, part of Soseizaki in Iosia, some parts of the Island of Dessan and the principality of Essan in Aramyss), the Elemental Force system places emphasis on the concept of order and chaos. As most of these regions are covered in year-long ice and winter, a wizard trained in this system must master the ability to generate heat, summon fire, stay warm and harness the power of light and its absence. An elemental wizard will have at his disposal mastery over the elements - fire, ice, darkness, light, wind, sea, thunder and rocks. However, with the mastery comes the importance of balance. If a wizard wants to summon heat to stay warm in a blizzard, he must first sustain being freezing cold long enough to summon the warmth he needs for the duration. If he wants to break an ice-field in two and drown his pursuers, he must mentally draw a line across the field and end it where he stands. Draw it too eagerly and the ice under his feet may shatter and drag him down along with the rest. This is why there is never certainty in elemental wizardry, as chaos abound when order is needed.
The Core Collective Magic System (Focus vs. Scale): Practiced in parts of northern Iorensia, most of the Oeren lands and Praemos, including Argand in Zargandar, and part of the Island of Dessan, the Core Collective system takes on the concept of the wizard's Core. Similar to our initial post, a Core wizard believes in the four cores in a living creature (Body, Mind, Spirit and Soul) or inanimate object (Body, Spirit and/or Soul). By manipulating the wells of energies within each of these Cores, and how they interlink with one another, in relation to the wizard's own Cores, different spells can be imagined and then released, powered by these energies. There are patterns inherent in how to manipulate these wells (ie. hand gestures, spoken words, etc.) to open the portal for these energies to flow into the mortal realm. This is the Focusing part. If a Core wizard is interrupted while casting a spell, he loses his focus and the energies have to dispense somewhere. Trapped in the mortal realm, they normally backfire and manifest within the wizard (as the link is created with the wizard's own Cores), resulting in really bad repercussions. However, with the right focus and no interruptions, a wizard can summon really powerful manipulative spells out of thin air, limited by the wells in his Cores. To increase the intensity and scale of his magic, he relies on the Collective. In other words, he is backed up by a group of Core wizards who basically open their own Cores to power his spell, giving it a tremendous boost in power, scale and duration. Should his spell fails, gets disrupted or he is unable to sustain his spell, it will backfire. It will impact not just the lead wizard who opened the portal, but everyone within the Collective linked to him, resulting in the possible demise of an entire linked chain of Core wizards. One reason why the Core Collective Magic System has greater acceptance and practice is because a wizard can tap into another wizard's Core without needing to always be physically present in the same room. Once permission is granted, the wizard can rely on a multitude of Cores to create some really powerful magic (but in return, exposes his own Cores to a multitude of other sinister forces). Note also that in some regions, like in the Oeren lands, Core wizards must abstain from establishing romantic relationships in order to focus on their craft to the fullest.
The Rebirth Cycle Magic System (Life vs. Karma): Practiced mainly in the Praemos land of Dreuden and most parts of Aramyss, the Rebirth Cycle Magic System puts the focus on the deeds the wizard has done in his first life. First life, in this case, means the day he was born to the day he died. When he is reborn (be it as another person or in a different form), the deeds he has done in his past lives will result in how great or weak his magical affinity is. Thus, a Rebirth wizard will always find ways and means to escalate his rebirth, reference his family tree, keep records of his past lives' actions, as each cycle enhances his magical ability. The cost to doing this of course, is that he has to face his mortality head-on and reconcile with his deeds in his past lives. The determinant on how powerful his magic will manifest in his future life is determined by who he worships, who he is related to, who has he come in contact with, who has he hurt, killed, tormented and who he has comforted, consoled and saved in all of his past lives. His actions, past actions and future actions come into a mix (Karma) that, sometimes like the roll of a die, determines whether his magic will work or fail.
The Ritualistic Dance Magic System (Symbol vs. Omen): Practiced in most of Zargandar and by the border of eastern Fawyrn nations, the Ritualistic Dance Magic System is deep in symbolism, praying to the gods, reading signs and blood sacrifices. Most ritual wizards have symbolic tattoos, piercings and sacred trophies to mark the spells they've learned and mastered. Others would perform dances in a desert or wasteland to summon rain, which could take days or months, at the risk of being dehydrated or waylaid. The cost of this system is that symbolism is often frowned upon in the region. Not all local folks welcome wizards, calling them devils and witches meant for sacrifice and appeasement to their gods. Another cost is the duration and effort it takes to cast a spell. A ritual wizard will normally need tools, isolation, the right location, the right date (down to the hour) and many other precise elements before even doing his first chant or dance. He has to read the signs around him correctly or the spell will lose its potency. But when he does get it right, the result is often tremendous and resounding, altering the perceptions of the superstitious folk around him, vice versa. For a region rife in suspicions and jealousy, a ritual wizard has to be extremely wary of who he serves and performs his rituals for.
Two magic systems - the Technology of Time and Dream Sight Magic Systems - require the wizards to look beyond the mortal world into dimensions other than their own. What they find, what they bring back, what they leave behind have an impact not just on the spell they eventually cast, but on themselves and the people around them.
The Dream Sight Magic System (Sun, Star vs. Moon): Practised in Fawyrn mostly, the Dream Sight Magic System is attributed to the Serpent-God Ywral. Dream wizards must first earn the dream sight, a sort of affinity to see beyond the mortal realm into the dream world. He falls asleep or goes into a trance, and from there, gain an insight or steps to summoning the spell. Different dream wizards have different encounters in the dream realm, some have spirit guides who follow them into the mortal realm, telling them what to do. Others speak of having their spirits and souls trapped in the dream realm, and the only way to summon anything in the mortal realm is via someone still living and listening to them. Then there are those who must complete entire quests in the dream realm only to return to the mortal realm with hardly a minute passed, or vice versa. The time of day is critical. The period when the wizard sleeps or falls into a trance (under the sun, stars or moon, or combination thereof), will determine the potency of the spell (not to mention the risk to his physical form if left unguarded). The period he casts it also plays an important part. There are dream wizards who have traveled to the dream realm and manifested their dreams into potions and vials, where when inhaled or drunk, summons the spell immediately.
The Technology of Time Magic System (Age vs. Space): Practiced in some parts of western Fawyrn and most of the Morassin monarchies, the Technology of Time Magic System attributes much of its beginnings to the Gods Niolmyr, Old Grymnark and the Nameless Gods of the Aessari. There is a belief that there are dimensions beyond the mortal realm where other mortal worlds, much like Mortalissar, exist. Some of these worlds have technologies way more advanced than Mortalissar's while others are less advanced. To cast a spell based on this system, a time wizard must first isolate the correct age or era from these dimensions, then reach across the distance to pull the right spell (or in some sense technology) to summon and sustain. An example of a time wizard's spell is to cause someone's heart to stop beating. He can age the person by concentrating on just his heart and forcing time to advance fifty, sixty years ahead. The technology he uses to cast his spell can be a contraption (he acquired, invented or stole). However, to sustain his spell over the span of fifty, sixty years on the victim's heart, he will draw on the beating of his own heart to guide the spell. The contraption is thus a sort of age/space link between his heart and the victim's heart. Should he fail to sustain the progression of time, the spell will backfire and his heart will take on the effect instead. Think of the contraption like a pistol that either fires the bullet or backfires on the gunner's face, but with full concentration over a longer period of time. In the example above, the cost of failure is literally a test of time.
The Shades of Sand Magic System (Loss vs. Purity): Practiced in most of Djasandur and eastern Praemos, where desert sand is in abundance, the Shades of Sand Magic System relies heavily on the purity of the sand the sand wizard consumes. While desert sand has many graininess and form, its purity is highly prized when it comes to magic and only a few industrious ones can tell which ones are pure and which ones are of a lower grade (known as different 'shades'). So to cast a spell, a sand wizard must first identify the purity of the sand he's using and consumes it, sending him into a drug-infused state. The sand itself becomes the fuel to open his mind and power the spell. There are entire industries in the region dedicated to finding and protecting desert sand (think barons, warlords, mercenaries and cults), putting much of those in the practice of sand wizardry at risk. Not only that, when lower grade sand is consumed by the sand wizard to cast a fairly complex spell, he suffers what some would call a Loss. This loss can either be in the form of a memory loss, a loss of a physical nature or a loss of someone dear to him. It is often said that a sand wizard has as much to gain from the purest sand as he has to lose from the impurest sand.
The Broken Mirror Magic System (Self vs. Sacrifice): Practiced in most of the Iosian Provinces and the Iorensian Bridgelands, the Broken Mirror system believes in the concept of self reflection. Similar to how one looks into the mirror or the surface of a pond, one sees not just his reflection, but his every existence. A mirror wizard not just has to reconcile with the fact that he is flawed and fragile, he is also prone to putting self above all else if his magic becomes too powerful. Which is why the concept of a broken mirror translates powerfully to how a mirror wizard casts his spell. In the Bridgelands for example, entire paladins wear just gloves into battle (ie. no weapons). When they faced their enemy, they will grab their enemies' swords by their blades and with the power of mirroring, reverse the swords they've grabbed with the hilts settling in their hands. The danger of course is that the paladins are exposed and may not even get to grab any sword. But if they were to wield their own swords and go into battle, if their spells backfire, their swords will reverse instead, posing some major logistical problems in the battlefield. In the Iosian Provinces for example, mirror wizards (the localized term is usually warrior-priest or witch) can reverse entire droughts to turn fields into bountiful harvests at the cost of seeing greater droughts in the next season. There are kings who summoned mirror wizards to reverse their aging process, only to see their sons and daughters age in advance as well. As the hubris of success piles on the mirror wizards, they begin to lose the virtues of self-sacrifice. Thus, a necessary equilibrium will eventually follow.
So there you have it - a quick summary of the eight magic systems within Mortalissar and how they function from a general sense. One question probably remains from this summary though - is it possible for a wizard to learn from more than one system? The quick answer is yes. Verathgar the First Mage mastered most of these systems over a long time, but the collusion of different magic systems incurred a heavy toll on his health and sanity. Well, that in itself calls for a different story.
Anyway, over subsequent posts, we'll deep-dive into each system in greater detail, explore its history, the lands known to practice these systems, the famous wizards and the spells they cast based on these systems and the cost they incurred in doing so (and whether they survived...) - maybe even toss in a few of Verathgar's famous spells and samples.
Till the next post, hope this has been insightful and fruitful.
About the World
This section highlights the world of Mortalissar in greater detail, especially her territories, countries, races, magic, calendar and belief systems. Occasionally, I will write short fiction stories relevant to a particular realm to define its unique characteristics set against a larger canvas. Hopefully, over time, the collection gives you, the reader, a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of this world, and her many qualities and flaws.