Magic is the manipulation of the natural energies found within Valenth.
Not to be confused with Alchemy- which is sometimes used with magic, but is a process used to craft magical goods and objects rather than immediate effects.
Those who practice magic are considered mages, though more specific titles exist depending upon area of expertise (see Mage entry for examples).
The Three Styles
Magic is an ancient art, with origins dating at least thousands of years before present day, if not far longer.
It has evolved over time, from complex but powerful Ritualistic Magic to the quick-and-dirty Sorcery.
Ritualistic Magic, or Ritual, is the earliest and most potent form of magic.
Often worked with alchemical assistance, rituals involve complex calculations, the alignment of stars and distant planets, gathering of rare components and incantations of powerful arcane magics.
Although the method is both time-consuming and difficult to perform even poorly, the results are often powerful and permanent-- this style of magic lends itself well to large-scale enchantments, blessings, and curses (transforming a barren area into a lush grove or a teeming forest into a dead zone, or cursing an entire family line), summoning powerful entities such as greater elementals and beings from other planes, and communing directly with the supernatural forces of the universe.
Such magic is rarely seen in modern ages, as the most potent ritual spells have been lost to the sands of time, buried or destroyed forever with the peoples who once used them.
When it does appear, the mages of Lassenbhurg tend to fly out of the woodwork to claim and study it.
A subset of ritual magic, Bardic Magic is a special craft in which the magician-- typically a Bard, though musically-talented mages may practice it as well-- weaves a spell through the use of tone, music, dance, and rhyme in addition to simple incantation.
This type of magic can be cast in much less time than standard ritual, but is also more powerful than sorcery, and capable of affecting many more people at once (via performance, for example).
The catch is that bardic magic cannot be used to cause direct harm. Mood-affecting, hypnotic, and coercive spells are the most common uses for bardic magics.
Different genres of music may affect listeners differently-- people are more easily affected by genres they are especially fond of, while musical styles they dislike may result in a weaker or even failed bardic spell.
Any song can be converted into bardic magic-- but the lyrics sung must always state the magic's effect, which can be a warning sign for anyone paying close attention.
As a unique twist, bardic magic can be crafted and cast on the fly, provided the practitioner is skilled enough to improvise relevant lyrics and supporting music all at once.
Alchemical Magic is both less potent and more versatile than ritual-- and also deeply rooted in the elemental powers of the planet.
Alchemical magics require advance preparation and careful casting, but are ultimately more forgiving.
Where Alchemy utilizes the elements to craft objects and substances, alchemical magic calls upon their aid directly.
Alchemical magic is especially useful for summoning and guiding elementals, and for direct manipulation, transformation, and blending of the elements themselves-- such as calling thunderstorms and lightning from clear skies, coaxing new growth from soil, enlarging or extinguishing flames, and so on.
Notably, alchemical magic requires a personal relationship with and respect of the elements in question-- without such, this type of magic will always fail.
The newest form of magic, Sorcery is a swift and temporary style of spellcasting, used when immediate effects are needed rather than permanent ones.
Sorcery has a wide range of uses, from offensive spells (the classic fireballs and lightning bolts), alteration spells such as shapeshifting and charms, temporary enchantments and locks, defensive magics such as force shields and barriers, and even curative and healing spells.
Sorcery has many practical applications and is reasonably easy to learn-- but of course, difficult to master-- which makes it attractive for new students.
Save for exceptionally powerful elementalists, sorcery is typically the only type of magic used on the field of battle.
Elemental versus Non-Elemental Magics
Magic can be further divided into two groups-- Elemental and Non-Elemental.
Elemental magic invokes the power of the Alchemical and Prime elements to create various effects, while non-elemental magic often directly affects and alters the functions of creatures and objects.
The Alchemical Elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water
Elementalists and Sorcerers are most likely to make use of the four alchemical elements in their spells.
Each element has its own uses; fire is best for warmth, cleansing or deadly offensive magics, while earth is good for bolstering growth or enhancing armor, air may manifest as passive increases in speed, or dangerous gales or tornadoes, and water makes for an effective purification agent-- as well as a powerful force in the form of waves or storms.
The Prime Elements: Vitae and Mirajin
Vitae and Mirajin are potent and versatile magical elements in their own right.
Vital energy is the driving force behind all life and light-based spells, making it a useful tool for healing and battling against undead and other forms of corruption.
Mirajin is an essential energy for working dream and mind-based magics such as illusion and arcane mind control-- although it is rarely used specialized in by non-Dreamkin, as it can be exceptionally stubborn and chaotic even in skilled hands.
Note that the power of the mind is most efficiently and effectively manipulated with the mind itself, rather than outside forces such as magic-- see Psychic.
Morte and Necromancy
Morte is a corruption of the energy of life, used in magics involving the power of death and decay-- the forbidden art of Necromancy.
Necromancy is practiced by demons and rogue magi-- it is outlawed in every established country but Hel, as the creation of morte alone by its very nature requires a great deal of spiritual trauma.
Necromancy involves the summoning of foul powers, or the enslavement of sentient souls within their own corpses, which has marked it as an undeniaby evil sort of magic.
The punishment for practicing Necromancy in Valenth is, ironically, death.
Non-elemental magic is a rare discipline which utilizes none of the seven elements.
It often manifests as spells which alter time and space, create visual and audio illusions and enhancements, and non-elemental enchantments and conjuration.
It can also be used offensively-- non-elemental magic harnesses the power of arcane energy itself to blast, pummel, pierce and disorient foes much like non-magical weaponry.