A fundamental element of Fantasy and one of the biggest things that changes from author to author, Magic/k is timeless and terrifying.
Grab your wand and pointy hat, trim thy beard and prepare to delve into the mysteries of the universe! Or go and trim your toe nails.
Ok, first off. Why do you keep putting a /k at the end of it?
Ah, excellent question that disembodied typeface!
The /k is usually used to signify the difference between sleight of hand/trickery and the other sort. It is a fairly new invention and something I’m personally not fussed on. As Pratchett says;
“90% of magic is knowing one extra thing.”
So for the sake of clarity and your eyes in this blog we will be speaking of Magic. Also known as Wizardry, Sorcery and Witchery amongst others.
What is Magic then?
Magic is the ability to effect the material and the immaterial universe without any physical intervention and/or changing things in a way that is otherwise impossible.
Gudguff concentrated. The scrum of the melee in front of him with its wordless bellows and screams shrank down to an annoying buzz in the background. His mind felt like it was starting to come apart like a wet sponge and somewhere in his disintegrating sense of self the wizard smiled at the familiar feeling.
Loosening and coiling around the inside of his head like smoke, the wizard’s personality flexed. He cast a tendril of himself outside the confines of his head and began to probe the nature of the local reality.
There was no sight or sound, no smell or tactile sensation. Instead, Gudguff Perceived in the purest sense.
At a ball, many years before, Gudguff had tried to explain what happened to a crowd of rapt but vapid noble ladies. They had nodded and gasped at the wrong places and not a one had understood him.
“…best way of describing it is that… when you…”
Gudguff had paused, looking for a particularly clear metaphor or simile. One occurred.
“It’s like when you’ve gone to the privy and the door is broken. You can tell the moment someone comes within twenty feet of you, even though you can’t see them, you know they are there and you know they are about to walk in on you. That’s what it’s like.”
His description had hung in the air like a bout of flatulence for several long moments. It had cleared the area around him in much the same way.
So what’s the difference between them?
Well, mostly it’s down to the type of Practitioner. A Witch cannot, for example, perform Wizardry any more than a sorcerer could perform an act of Witchcraft.
Ultimately though it is down to the author. However there are various established groupings of powers and acceptable behaviours in Magic circles as well as a strange sort of pecking order which might help.
Commonly held to be the most powerful and ambitious of all magic users, Sorcerers are a tricky bunch. Come in both His and Hers varieties. Commonly accepted powers can include but are not limited to:
- Destruction of solar bodies-planets, moons suns etc.
- Buggering about with Time.
- Avoiding fate.
- Absolute command over the elements, including the weird ones known only to mushroom users.
- Mastery of all levels of Demonic entity up to and occasionally including the Arch Enemy
Wizardry is the next rung down, and whilst Wizards are more common than Sorcerers they are still fairly rare, which is just as well given the amount of Magic they chuck about. Exclusively male. Powers include:
- Mastery of the eight commonly known elements.
- Opening jam-jar lids first time, every time.
- Mastery of most grades of Demonic entity and Spirit
- Ambitious political meddling.
- Control over the hearts of men. Their minds are difficult however and women are a law unto themselves.
- Excellent memory.
Witches are usually on a par with Wizards in the pecking order of Magical prowess. Witches are often good and evil but most often are simply realistic and survivalist. Powers include:
- Mastery of the important elements.
- Flight, both outer body and actual with the aid of an aerodynamic household cleaning item.
- Symbiotic mastery of natural spirits and forces.
- Makes a great cup of tea.
- Medicine, of some sort.
- Curses and charms, both the application and removal.
- Potions of all descriptions.
- Wiseness…yes it’s a word and a power.
· Mages are often sneered upon by other Practitioners as Dabblers but they do belong on this list as a very clear third place. Powers include:
- · Communing with the Otherworld.
- · Astral Projection.
- · Astray Protection.
- · Love potions.
- · Dungeon Crawl survival.
- · Map reading
- · Ancient Prophecy Interpretation (to varying degrees of accuracy)
Those are the top three ranks, below them in a context dependant order of supremacy are also;
- Necromancers- Raising the dead, making more dead, messing with the living to think they are dead, serving the almost dead and absolutely nothing to do with that horde of Zombies outside your window (how many of you just looked?).
- Paladins- Are to Magic what Arnie’s characters are to bullets; the best delivery mechanism going that is likely to survive. Mainly tend to be found in RPG’s these days but do crop up in Fantasonia occasionally.
- Hedge Wizards- Wandering Practitioners, usually a tiny step above that mad tramp who lives in a bush and are mainly concerned with the cultivation of luscious shrubberies.
- Witch Doctors- Not to be confused with Necromancers, even though they do deal with a slightly different sort of Zombie and often commune with both the dead and Demons.
- Shamans- Really, really weird men and women involved in potions, placebo-ing, layman-psychology, fire worship and bestialsim (not to be confused with bestiality) which is the Magical study and worship of animals. Or at least, it is now.
Right. That’s actually slightly helpful.
Of course it is.
So what about Magic?
Oh…yes…I got a bit off topic there…
Well, Magic tends to be divided into various categories, which will appear in the next blog.
Gudguff felt at the material of the universe and found the chink in the armour of reality he was looking for. Energy pulsed and pounded just out of reach and beyond the ken of most people. Distantly Gudguff felt his body smile.
He reached out with arms that didn’t exist and grasped the tiniest sliver of the tempestuous energies swirling beyond the bounds of the real world, it squirmed in his ethereal hand and Gudguff squeezed it into compliance with a flex of mental muscle.
Slowly he came back to himself. His mind coalescing around the sliver power he had dragged back with him. It formed a core in his mind and Gudguff focussed in a totally different way.
He went cross-eyed as his lids went up, the strain of holding the power within him taking its toll, it didn’t matter too much, his target was so very close. He muttered the complex word of power that would release the forces building up behind his gently watering eyes.
The tavern rushed back into focus as his eyes uncrossed themselves and he was able to blink the tears away. Gudguff felt as though he had been beaten on every inch of his body. Worth it though.
The pipe in his mouth sparked once and then gave out a gentle curl of smoke which wafted up toward the stained rafter. Gudguff smirked in a satisfied way and raised a saucy eyebrow at the wench who had been serving him.
“What did you think of that then, lass?”
The woman looked at him with the harried, distracted and uninterested look that all service staff get in the middle of a long shift.
“Sorry grandfather. I thought you’d nodded off for a second there.”
As she turned to leave she nodded at the smoking implement in his mouth.
“Your pipe’s gone out again by the way.”