Back to Sarradar.
For how magic works in game see Magic Mechanics.
Magic permeates Sarradar along with the other worlds contained within the bounds of the Veil, bathed as they are in the magical energies of the Aetheric Winds. It is a source of power not only for the spellcasters of the world, but the lifeblood for aethereal entities from gods to ghosts and many other magical creatures as well.
Magic has been a potent force throughout the history of Sarradar. In the distant past the empire of the Ancients used vast quantities of magic to shape the land and build their civilisation, while at the same time using that power to conquer or destroy those of their enemies. For thousands of years, spellcasters of every variety have sought to unlock the secrets of magic and use them to solve the problems that life poses. These solutions have helped the humanoid societies to develop and thrive on every continent, and despite the recent rise of technology, the use of magic is still an integral, and in many cases more powerful aspect of life throughout the realms.
Most people can sense the presence of magic by a tingle at the base of their neck when it is active in their vicinity. For a commoner this is generally enough to tell them not to enter a strange cave or to be wary of the tiger-eyed man in the corner of the room. For those versed in the art of spellcasting, awareness of the magical world around them is the first step in bending its forces to their will.
A mage is one who has successfully attuned their conscious mind to the latent power of their soul and can use it to harness the energy of the omnipresent aether to bring forth spells of their will. Anyone can in theory become a mage regardless of birth, but some are indeed born of bloodlines that show a greater disposition towards arcane ability than others. More importantly, to be a mage requires a sympathy with the flows of the aetheric winds and a talent for the art of weaving those flows into spells, developed through formal training and/or practical experience.
Spellcasters work in a number of varied roles and positions throughout the Five Realms. Some may have great influence within a their realm, while others are reclusive hermits quietly practising their talent in mountain hideaways or arcane towers. Though it is always good to be careful when dealing with spellcasters, the are fundamentally an accepted and highly useful part of the populace and serve vital functions in war and peace.
Many novice spellcasters fill specialist roles within the general populace. Some serve the churches and provide healing and spiritual guidance to the people, while some arcanists work to produce magically enhanced goods for sale. Others serve by guiding the weather to enhance crops, or aiding in the construction of buildings. Many of these general spellcasters can be found belonging to various mage-guilds or organisations, where they can be contacted if their services are required.
The other main type of spellcaster is the adventuring type. For a variety of reasons some mages take to travelling the land and lending their talents to tasks that suit them. Some do this for personal gain, while others do so out of some higher ideals, but often it is among these spellcasters that one will find masters of their talent.
Most citizens throughout the Five Realms cannot afford to have even a low-level spell cast upon them purely at their request. The reagent cost and mana toll for removal of diseases, for example, put those spells out of reach of most citizens unless the circumstance is exceptional or the spellcaster particularly generous. This has means that disease and other ills are unlikely to be eliminated from any of the Five Realms in the near future.
On the larger scale though, even the poorest residents still benefit from the everbright lanterns found along major thoroughfares in large cities that magically generate a glow to illuminate the streets and allow people to stay active well beyond the disappearance of the sun. Several large banks exist that use arcane marks to notarize paper money and letters of credit that allow the wealthy to access their significant resources almost anywhere throughout the Five Realms. Tinkers working to tight deadlines sometimes use mending spells and to repair important equipment or household items as long as minimal finesse is required. Particularly in Korashur, some cities and towns even boast laundries and street cleaners who rely on special cleansing spells to enhance their work, and restoration mages are employed keep major water sources pure from contamination. As with any other services, some magical effects are easily affordable and widely available, and others are within the reach of only the wealthiest people.
It should be noted that for all the temptation magic offers for easy power and prosperity, it can come with a cost. Matter created from magic retains a certain mutability to it, leading to ill effects for those that regularly consume magical food or dwell within high magic zones. For this reason, the use of magic is carefully managed by spellcasters and non-spellcasters alike.
In the distant past, the Ancients are known to have used magic to create wondrous structures, the likes of which have for the most part yet to be replicated by humanity. While minor magics are frequently used to help in the construction of buildings throughout the Five Realms, it is only amongst the secretive mountainfolk that magic aided construction has been perfected.
With a mastery of understanding and working with earth and stone that common people of the Five Realm fail to possess, the mountainfolk, particularly of the Order of Stone and Iron, are able to reshape the rock and dirt of the land to create the components for solid and sturdy abodes. Their services are requested right throughout the nations from Korashur to even the Dra’zhar lands, and although they do not come cheaply, such talent results in buildings that are able to stand the test of time and other hazards better than standard constructions.
Healing by magical means can typically be found within temples dedicated to the gods of the Silver Court in Alteraan and Valeria, within the temples of Hydros and Stratos in Korashur, and by local town and village mages in Sachsenheim and the Dra’zhar lands. Most such casters are willing to provide minor healing free of charge, so long as the recipients are members of the church, village or tribe, or agree to do a favour in exchange. More powerful healing usually requires a donation on the part of recipients to cover the enhanced reagent costs, but as the only people usually requiring these services are professional soldiers or adventurers, the costs are usually within reason.
Communication and Transport
While technology has changed the way in which most things are done, the noble and wealthy still rely on magic to transmit the best and fastest messages throughout the world. Secure written communications are created with invisible script and documents and paper money is notarized with arcane signet marks. Message stations are operated throughout most of the civilised parts of the Five Realms and beyond by the Wayfarers Guild. For a fee, a person can send a short verbal or written message from one station to another, where it can be picked up by, or otherwise delivered to, the recipient in a relatively timely manner. Faster still, but more expensive, are the courier services offered by the Guild. For a hefty fee, a teleporter from the Guild can carry a document or small package from one location to another. Cheaper than both, though not as fast, is the mail service operated by the Guild and protected by the notarization process.
While magical transport is useful and incredibly quick, it has enough drawbacks that it is a minor method of transport compared to mundane means. The primary disadvantage with teleportation is that it requires that the destination have a teleportation beacon, or else the spell has a high chance of going awry, and thus the possible destinations are limited.
Still, the Wayfarers Guild operates a number of guildhouses throughout Sarradar linked by these beacons, and provide access to mages able to transport willing travellers between these locations, for a price of course. Additionally, due to fluctuations in the Aether or the influence of malign entities, a teleporting mage and anyone with them might find themselves redirected to unintended destinations, especially if they are someone of importance.
No less prevalent than magical services are products made with the use of magic, whether or not they retain any lingering inherent spellcasting capability once the creation process has ended. Magecrafting allows an artisan can produce fine goods in as little as three-quarters of the time normally required, and an artisan who might otherwise find masterwork goods too challenging to produce can create them by using magecraft. As a result, the Five Realms has a larger supply of highquality goods available, while mage artisans make their goods faster and thus earn more money for their labour. The downside is of course that the reagent cost for manufacturing these items is substantially higher than mundane methods.
The aetheric winds can have a transformative effect on living species exposed to particular resonances in extreme quantities or over extended periods, and the result is that Sarradar is home to a variety of species changed by and generally more attuned to the magical world. A boon for mages results from the fact that particular organs or parts of these creatures can be used as magical reagents if harvested correctly, though this typically necessitates the death of the creature. These reagents are infused with power resonating with the aetheric winds that empowered the creature, and allow for far more effective spellcasting than other methods.
It is theorised that the existence of the greater creatures such as dragons and kraken is down to the long-term exposure of lesser creatures such as drakes and squid to elevated levels of aetheric energy. While never absolutely confirmed, this is the leading theory amongst most academics as the the prevalence and continual reappearance of these creatures even in areas where they had been previously eradicated.
Aethereals are a broad type of entity that at the lesser end of the spectrum include such things as ghosts, shadow-rats and luminals, and at the greater end dahaka, archons and void dragons. What distinguishes them from normal creatures is that they are native to the Empyrean, and require more in the way of magical sustenance to survive within the material world for extended periods of time. Being creatures of the Empyrean though, their knowledge and powers are enticing for many mages, scholars and those seeks to improve their lot, and often targeted for arcane bargains and infernal deals. Typically this is done through a summoning ritual, though it is not uncommon for people to take an opportunity as it arises if one is encountered face-to-face during one’s travels.
First developed by the Ancients for use in controlling particularly problematic human slaves without killing them, the process has been refined to an art by the Korashurans. The intent of the thralling process is to turn a person into an utterly loyal servant that still retains all or much of their intelligence, depending on their desired range of functions. It is simple enough to render a person a mindless husk controllable through mind-controlling magics, but to have them act as anything more than a vacant fool when not explicitly controlled takes considerable effort.
To start with, a candidate is fed a range of drugs over the course of several days or weeks that induce sensory and physiological changes in the person. This is to prime their body for the next stages of modification, and though it can have lingering side-effects, is generally completely reversible if the process is halted at this stage. A subject may have visual, auditory and sensory hallucinations, and often some degree of amnesia.
Subsequent to this, physical surgery is carried out in which several locations in the brain are intentionally scarred to suppress certain thoughts and behaviours. This stage is only reversible if the subject is treated by a suitably talented restoration mage who can weave the damaged brain tissue back together and restore proper function. It should be noted that simple applications of restoration magic can reform the brain matter, but typically do not restore the lost function.
The next stage is the embedding of a psychic anima within the mind of the subject, essentially creating a set of embedded behaviours and predetermined triggers that set the subject up to fulfil the desires functions of the mage or their designated master. At this point, undoing the process becomes prohibitively difficult, as the subject is essentially enchanted with the controlling magics. Simple dispellation does nothing to remove the effects, and successful disenchantment usually kills the subject.
Finally, to engender a connection between the thrall and their master, a sympathetic connection is created through a process over several days where the psychic anima is attuned to the master and they are exposed to association tasks to enhance their ability to perform their desired functions.
A soul is the symbiotic aetheric presence of a living creature, grown stronger by age, life experience, self-actualisation and various other experiences. It is inexorably bound to the physical form that generated it, until death releases it. For most, death sees the soul transit to the aether and from there travel to a place of afterlife that it shares a resonant sympathy with, i.e. the souls of devout followers of Chiera tend to travel to the Celestial Vales of Thrannacor. Many things can interfere with this process though, from unfinished business binding the souls to the world as ghostly revenants, or demonic hellions snaring and enslaving souls en-route to their desired destination.
The souls of mortal creatures are something of a source of nourishment to aetheric entities, and aethereals will tend to souls in much the same way as a mortal gardener will tend to a fruit tree or a water spring. Although all souls naturally fade into the Aether over time, a careful aethereal can keep a soul intact and nourishing for an extended period of time and by the same token burn a soul out in a fraction if poorly managed. Mature souls give more sustenance than new souls (especially created souls), while the souls of children are not fully developed, and like a flower not yet bloomed, are largely unappealing to the entities that feed them. The souls of madmen and primitives are also less appealing, as their patterns are largely woven from the primal desires. While still sustaining to the entities that need to feed, they are unappetising.
Don’t take the easy way out
Though people may find themselves in some fairly dark places in their state of mind with a temptation to end their own lives, the wise counsel them against such action. Those who take their own lives or seek others to take it for them are highly prone to becoming lost souls, scarred by the choice of the act with the path to ascension all but barred to them. For those aware of this, it takes a very strong will to carry out such a deed, knowing that whatever suffering they endure in life will be far greater in death.