A Treatise on Magic
In the Desert Realm
This document provides information regarding the origins of magic in the Desert Realm and explains some of the basic operation of magic here. This information, however, is basically unknown to characters existing in the Desert Realm. Only a few people have learned even a little of this, the primary person being Lord Yelkshire of the Poor District who obtained this information through research of various documents in his efforts to understand the relationship between psionic power and magical power. Wizards and High Level Psionics in the Desert Realm do not typically have this knowledge. It is provided here primarily as a means of understanding how magic and psionics work when creating magical artifacts, runes, new spells and new psionic powers.
The Origins of Magic
In the beginning, when this universe was newly created, the Gods were bequeathed by their creator with what they simply called, 'The Power.' The power allowed them to bend reality to their will. They could create anything they wished, however it required concentration, understanding and focus. Making living things required that they understand living things down to an atomic level. To create even the simplest of one celled organisms, they had to determine exactly how the various components within that cell operated together. They had to create a means of resperation. They had to create chemical messengers. They had to create the various means by which the cell would react and interact with its environment. And they had to understand and design the dynamics of protein formation, reproduction and evolutionary adaptation. In effect, they had to create and design everything about how life existed in order to make it live.
For a human, this task would have been impossible. But these were not humans. These were Gods. And each God possessed an intellect far beyond that of a mere mortal. They had the ability to segment their minds into separate personalities, allowing them to think and operate on many things at once with full focus. They had total recall to all their memories, and they understood the physical laws and rules on an instinctive and cognitive level.
And so they did create this way for a time. Focusing their will upon the fabric of reality. Merging pieces of supernova remnants to form worlds. Driving asteroids down to create oceans from hydrogen and oxygen. They bent gravity to their own will. They looked upon the many possible futures, and they built what they desired in the present so that it would eventually become the future that they wished.
But after creating many such worlds using these techniques, the Gods grew weary of continually needing to focus their will. And therefore one of them, we know not which one, determined to create objects that could do this work for them. This God took his will and created into the Ethereal realm an artifact known as the arcane essence. This artifact had no physical substance, and no real mind or will of its own. If it had resided in the ocean it would have been akin to a jellyfish. But in the ethereal realm it was like the wind. The arcane essences were invisible, even in the ether, and while they were in a sense "alive," they were so different from any other life they were more of an elemental creation than a physical one. But it was not to merely provide ethereal wind that was their purpose. The arcane essences were imbued with the ability to focus their absolute yet mindless will upon the material realm and use the power of the Gods to perform specific effects from instructions that it could be fed. When a God or Goddess wished to have an effect occur that required constant will, they could instead compose a pattern from the ethereal lines of force that formed the life-blood of these creatures. Thus 'programmed' they would focus their will upon the effect using the divine power of the Gods, and therefore cause a physical alteration of reality.
The Gods found this technique very usable, and they began to rely upon it. For eons the arcane essences were a very reliable tool for the Gods. Although, as all things do, eventually other methods were developed, and the arcane essences were left on their own. The Gods ceased to use them. Not all at once, and not absolutely, but eventually the Gods created other methods for divine power that did not require the arcane essences. And they were virtually abandoned by the Gods.
Abandoned, but not at all forgotten. For many of the life forms the Gods had created were very capable of using the arcane essences themselves. And while their power, when used by mortals, was far more limited, it was still very useful for them. Mortals considered the use of the arcane essences to be magic. And while they did not (and still do not) understand what is occurring, they have learned to weave the ethereal patterns necessary to program these creatures and engage their reality altering capabilities.
The Origins Humanity
(Note, this all took place so long ago, it's basically all forgotten or uknown to mortals. Information on it comes only from temporal visions and prophetic writings)
When the Gods finally determined to create Vola, they made many different races. And, at first, many of them were simply too powerful. This was typical of the Gods. They did not always confer with each other during the initial process. They had found it was more enjoyable if they all worked their part alone, and then later cleaned up a world by determining which life forms they had designed would work well with each other.
This type of creation occurred in waves that lasted millions of years. The Gods would create, and then move on to other worlds, returning later to see how their creations had evolved. Vola was no exception to this. Yes, a portion of the Gods minds remained on each world, watching in the form of Angels, but much of the time their greatest attention was elsewhere. And the world of Vola moved up and down in its habitation and ecology as various life forms changed over the millennia, battling for good or ill to achieve a place for themselves.
During the fifth wave of creation on Vola, the Gods created a race of humanoids called the Kaiy'an. These people were beautiful and very strong. They were imbued with the same 'power' that the Gods themselves used. This power allowed the Kaiy'an the ability to alter reality, although they were more limited than the Gods simply because they did not possess the same intellect. And they were mortals. But they were very powerful.
For tens of thousands of years, the Kaiy'an existed on Vola, spreading themselves across the world and building vast cities. They were forced to compete with some of the other races. In particular their association with the Dragons and the Rachneid were rocky, and wars did erupt from time to time. It was not competition with these races that eventually fragmented the Kaiy'an though, it was Hell itself. For Hu saw the Kaiy'an as a valuable source of souls. Like many many worlds, Hu viewed Vola as a place to conquer and corrupt. It has been, and has always been, the purpose of Hu to corrupt what life he can so that it becomes unwanted by the other Gods. Then it is his for the taking.
The Hell Wars began with the formation of the great Infernal Gate. Hu corrupted and tricked a group of Kaiy'an into building the gate for him, and once it was ready he promised them that they would rule after Hell on Vola was established. But the Gods saw what was happening, and they struck out. The other races on Vola arose to the battle, and the Dragons in particular. Millions of Kaiy'an were destroyed in the Hell Wars, and tens of thousands of Dragons also perished. In the end, the forces of Hell were driven back for a time.
Although the gate was not destroyed.
The Kaiy'an were split up. Their race was scattered across the world of Vola. And so it was that their technology was laid waste and their cities crumbled to dust, and they were forced to live in caves. The Gods took from them their ability to use the power, though not all of them. There was a group that had steadfastly held onto the Gods and resisted the corruption of Hu. To these people, the Gods left the power. And though they eventually were absorbed over the millions of years that followed, their bloodstream still flows in the many variety of races which have become of the Kaiy'an.
The Elves, Dwarves and Humans of Vola are all the children of the Kaiy'an, although how much Kaiy'an lies within them varies a great deal. But this is why they may interbreed with each other. In the beginning they were one race, unlike the Orcs, but that is another story. And among the Elves, Dwarves and Humans there still exists remnants of the power that was given to them by the Gods. They call it 'Psionics' now, although the ability to impress one's will upon reality is actually the same power used by the Gods. Psionics, at their heart, are the basis for divine magic. And magic is merely the use of psionics through the proxy of an arcane essence that has been programmed using ethereal threading.
Standard magic operates by an ethereal conduit that connects the mage with the arcane essences. When a mage casts a spell, they are sending a sequence of ethereal codes to the local arcane essences in the ethereal realm. This is why magic requires study. It's not so much different than computer programming. One needs to know the language and limitations of what an arcane essence can do and how it understands things in order to instruct it to impress it's will upon reality. But because it operates through the ethereal realm, the effects are somewhat different than psionics.
Magical artifacts operate by binding ethereal essences to objects. These essences move through the ethereal realm to remain stationary with the object they are bound to. And they continue to function to produce the effects they were instructed. So a magical flaming sword, for instance, has its flame produced by a manipulation of reality performed by the arcane essence bound to it. This essence, or cluster of essences, continue to create the flame whenever the appropriate parameters they have been given as triggers exist to follow.
Some materials and spells focus on anti-magic and dispelling. These operate in a couple of different ways, but the simplest and most obvious is to interfere with the arcane essences in the ethereal realm. Without them, there is no magical effect. However, it is often not a simple thing to disrupt the ethereal conduit. Ethereal connections can vary greatly in their strength.
Godly magic is, in fact, psionic in nature. However, to the Gods the term 'psionic' doesn't really apply. They call it the 'Power.' And in them it is far greater than anything they have ever bequeathed to a mortal life-form. In the Gods, the Power is absolute and can control reality in near limitless ways.
When the servants of the gods pray for miracles, and use their holy power, they are petitioning the Gods for aid. Angelics residing in the ethereal and astral realms watch these servants (assuming they are appropriately holy). And they grant these blessings using the Power of the Gods that resides within them.
Rune Lore binds arcane essences in the same way as magical artifacts do. The visible portion of a rune is merely what is called a 'signet.' It indicates what type of magic the rune is meant to provide. The magic itself is in the binding, which takes place on the material surrounding or beneath the rune.
SpellBinding is a similar but slightly different process. Rather than binding an arcane essence to an object, the SpellBinder embeds the spell pattern (instructions) into the fabric of the object, and gives it energy and capacity to evoke an arcane essence on its own. This means that any arcane essence can be used rather than simply one bound to the object. This means little on Vola, but if a character should move to another reality where different arcane essences reside in that reality's ethereal realm, artifacts made by SpellBinders could concievably continue to operate by connecting with them. Objects using standard rune lore will lose their bound arcane essence and will no longer function.
Psionic power is the name humanity and the descendents of the Kaiy'an have given to what power they have remaining of the original power granted by the Gods. This is the ability to focus the mind to manipulate reality. In the descendents of the Kaiy'an, this power has become fragmented across many lines. Very few of them have access to the full potential of this ability. Most of them focus on one specific aspect, such as telepathic communication, or energy (thermal and electrical) manipulation, or kinetics. Psionics do not require the arcane essences to operate. But they are limited in a different way, as those who have the ability can only use the specific skills they have learned in them. Mages ' those who use the arcane essences ' can perform many effects, and study to create new ones. But psi can only focus on their own specific talents and expand on them.
A few psionic-based organizations exist throughout this world. These are usually in Null Magic zones ' places where the lay lines do not pass and ethereal conduits cannot be formed. In these places, only psionics can operate, and magic does not work at all. The Amneumoraq are one such organization. They are considered to be a cult by outsiders, but in reality they are a group of individuals dedicated to training those who are the descendents of the Kaiy'an and have access to some of the power.
The Ultralatim is a realm of the mind. It has no connection to the ethereal realm, but it does have a connection to the Astral realm. As is described in other sections, the Ultralatim is a network of pteropus nodes (their embryonic children) that can be accessed mentally by certain psionically powered individuals. Inside the Ultralatim exists a land of illusions that can be controlled to various extents by those who dwell there. This is because they are existing inside the mind of a pteropus node, and here everything is unreal.
Astral "rifts" can form here, and entities dwelling in the Astral realm can sometimes enter the Ultralatim. This is not good for those who spend a lot of time in the Ultralatim, and they do their best to destroy or watchguard Astral Rifts.
Most psionics consider the Ultralatim to be a place of refuge where they can practice their mental talents without danger. Here psionics operate as a very real illusion that effects things that exist here in the same way as they would in the real world. Additionally, it is possible to create objects here from nothing. It is a realm of imagination, and when a psi learns to access their imagination and impress it upon the Ultralatim, they can create cities, life forms, and objects of any type they can imagine. As a result, the Ultralatim has become a fantastic place filled with wonders. But human psionics are not the only ones who have the power to enter here. Dragons and Rachneid and Dromodae may also enter the Ultralatim - and do.
The Ethereal Realm
The Ethereal Realm is a pocket universe that mimics the material realm and overlaps with it completely. It is sometimes considered the 'ghost realm' not because ghosts dwell there (although they sometimes do and can) but because when in the ethereal realm it is possible to pass through object in the material realm. And also because the material realm itself appears ghostly and translucent from the ethereal realm. People in the ethereal realm are invisible and intangible to those in the material realm. They cannot touch or interact except through magics, psionics and artifacts specifically designed to bridge the gap between the two realms. Angelics are fairly common in the ethereal realm, and they attack and destroy daemonics that enter there whenever they are detected. For this reason, the ethereal realm local to Vola is relatively safe. This is not as true for the Astral realm.
The Astral Realm
In DR, the Astral Realm is similar to the Ethereal Realm except that it is a connection between the Immortal realms and the Mortal realm. You might think of it as "one step up" from the ethereal realm. In essence, it is the dimension that lies between mortal life and the Heavens and the realms of Hell. It is through the astral realm that the angelics and the daemonics may enter the mortal realm. Though this is a difficult journey for them and they prefer astral gates.
It is not easy for mortals to travel in the astral realm. And it is not typically done by anyone. Mages and Psis may learn a way in, but they can go in mind only. Their bodies remain in the mortal realm. No physical essences may enter the Astral realm. No material objects exist there. It is strictly a place of spiritual, mental and life force energy.
The Astral realm permeates the ethereal realm and goes beyond it. The ethereal realm only exists as a parameter of the known universe (the mortal realm), but the Astral realm spans into the realms of the Gods. You cannot travel to the realms of the Gods using the ethereal realm, for it does not extend there. But the Astral realm does.
There is a reason why Hell Lore does not operate easily in the mortal realm. In its purist form, Hell Magic is daemonic in nature and relies on the aid of various daemons just as normal magic relies on arcane essences. However, in the mortal realm where Vola resides, very few of what are called the "damonic host" reside in the ethereal realm. This is because the Angelics destroy them whenever they are encounterd. To use Hell Lore effectively, a black mage must access the Daemonic Host and give it instructions in the same way a standard mage would access an arcane essence. Unfortunately for the black mages, the only place they are guaranteed to access a dameonic host is through the Astral realm. This makes casting Hell magic more difficult and time consuming.
Effectively, a black mage must reach out to the daemonic host through the Astral realm and bring it temporarily forth into the ethereal realm before they can send it instructions through an ethereal conduit. This adds an extra step to Hell Lore, and also places the daemonic host in a vulnerable position where it can be destroyed by the Angelics of the Gods. Of course, Angelics don't often find these daemonic hosts right away, and in many cases the Hell Lore can work and operate with no problem for an extensive period of time. Unless a holy servant directs the angelics through prayer to destroy or oppose the daemonic host.
Standard Hell Lore used by the servants of Hu in the mortal realm is fragile and difficult. At the same time it is lethal, destructive and addictive. Hell magic is focused on destruction and corruption. It can do and be used for things that standard magic was simply not designed to perform. So while it is more difficult to access and perform, it is also more versitile and in some ways more powerful when it comes to annihilating opponents and performing vile and abominous acts. It often uses life, soul and spiritual energy as a power source to boost its effects in the mortal realm. The purest victims are the best for this, as they have the most direct connection with the mortal realm of this world, and the Gods of this realm. Corrupt victims are the worst because they are too vile and their connection with the Gods too weak to create the opposition between purity and corruption. It is this lawfull opposition that aids in the generation of power. And this is why black mages seek innocent victims (their blood, souls, spirits and minds) as sacrifices to power their magic. The polarity of the destruction of good by evil causes rifts to form in the astral fabric and weakens it, giving greater access to daemonic hosts and their power.
The Dark Elves of the Desert Realm have come to rely on a combination of both standard magic and Hell magic. To create Draconian Lore, the Drow studied the magic of the Dragons and fuzed it with Hell Lore. Thus they use both the daemonic host and arcane essences in their spell casting. This results in a more stable base, and a more effective form of magic. Drow spells often use the arcane essences to open channels to the daemonic host. Thus they can bind arcane essences using standard magic and rune lore, but these essences can then summon for connections with the daemonic host, resulting in access to Hell Magic, but at the same time keeping the angelics from destroying it by allowing the daemonic host to return to the astral realm as soon as the appropriate effect has been generated.