Magic of the Ring Realms

General Definition of Magic

© Will Greenway 2000

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General Definition of Magic

Magic in the Ring Realms is a science, but unlike a technical science it is an elitest pursuit. While anyone can study and understand biology and put its principles to use, the same cannot be said for magic. It's largely believed that all creatures have the ability to wield magic to a certain degree, however the spark which allows us to tap into that power is typically too small to do anything significant with. The evidence of this at work are those isolated moments in our lives when we experience deja vu, briefly see another's thoughts, or foretell the future.

While magic itself can be learned, the powers that can be attained cover a vast range, from simple hand illusions to the altering of reality on a interdimensional level. In some cases, creatures can substitute personal and psionic (mind power) energies for the gift that allows most mages to cast spells and manipulate magical energies.

Magic is not a specific energy or range of energies. It is more of metaphor that encapsulates a "principle" of action and reaction.

Magic is defined as:
The persistent ability to manipulate the environment in ways otherwise impossible without the utilization/leveraging of natural phenomena, the influence or cooperation of physical bodies, or the use of external artifices.

By this definition then, powers such as telepathy, and telekinesis, and other abilities of mind qualify as magic. However, they are not what is considered "traditional" or "ritual" magic.

Ritual magic uses the wielder's magical spark and aspects of "sympathetic bonding" to generate interactions of forces that take the place of energy manipulating abilities granted by heredity or mutation.

Rituals are schemes that utilize materials, gestures, vocalization, and thought in combination to create a "manipulation". Typically, the "token" empathetic materials used in the ritual serve a symbolic function as well providing a consumable "fuel" for the reaction. By concentrating, creating vocal tones, and specific physical movements the mage unlocks causal "loopholes" that allow them to tap into external influences that designate or illuminate the way to create the energy structure of the spell.

The act of performing such a ritual is called an "incantation". The incantation itself has no power. It is merely a path or gate that gives the mage access to specific knowledge and instincts necessary to foundate, create, unleash and control a manipulation. This externally tapped cognizance is derived from various sources that include actual crypted coding within memorized vocalizations, racial memories, and the universal super-consciousness. In some cases the incantation serves as a medium to allow external forces to control or act through the mage. In fact, almost all shamanistic (clerical) magic works in this fashion, as the source of the shaman's power is coming from a specific source (a deity or a servant of one).

Once the code or "cipher" is accessed, the mage's awareness fills with the spell "template", the blueprint that shows them the interactions necessary to create the manipulation.

Aside from the physical potential we can unleash with our muscles, the typical human body generates a negligible amount of energy that can be used to directly perform work. However, through the principles of catalysts and chain-reactions, insignificant amounts of energy can release tremendous potential. If the total energy contained within a thimble-full of water were unleashed, it could easily destroy a mountain. The actual force needed to catalyze such a reaction is actually tiny. So generating stupendous amounts of energy is simply a function of being able to precisely control the body's bio-electric potential to stimulate a reaction in a sacrificial "fuel" source. Actually, the "fuel" need not even be the material component of an incantation. It can be the oxygen in the air or the ground at the mages feet. In fact, for most mages, the problem is not the lack of energy— but the super-abundance of it.

It is the super-abundance of energy and the relative fragility of the human form that gives rise to the ritual science. The amount of energy the mage can safely channel through their body is limited, so in order to yield larger effects the mage must "chain" or "link" energies together. This is done by "starting small" with a spell foundation or "binding". The binding reinforces the mage's body, creates a restraining shell, or actually acts as energetic "proxy". Through the auspices of this binding, the energy level can be stepped up, or in the case of a proxy binding it may invoke child bindings which each have their own potential to replicate. Through a combination of these binding techniques, the mage can build up gradually more energetic layers of power until the desired level is achieved.

From the description above, it's not hard to imagine the complexity of the "binding" necessary to create even a trivial spell effect. This is why few practice the art, and why many die trying to master the skills. Some individuals possess an innate ability to work and synthesize the control of bindings. This is key to creating the incredibly involved frameworks necessary to cast the master orders of magicks.

As a mage increases in power and knowledge, his/her reliance on "ritual" totems for the performance of magical feats grows less. Constant use of magic toughens a mage's body and mind. Their bodies adapt to better channel and "conduct" the energies of binding and casting. As experience increases, the mage develops instincts that allow them to skip steps and short-cut the process of building the chain of interactions. At a certain point, they've adapted to the degree that simpler bindings become unnecessary and the mage can perform "flash-binding" which is a surge or burst of power that is shaped and redirected "on-the-fly". This kind of casting is fast, showy, and potentially dangerous— but it is the stuff from which legends are born...

Magical sophistication falls into categories as follows:

Magical Sophistication in the Realms
1st OrderRaw Ritual The most basic level where all principles of magic are taken by rote and no underlying understanding of the physics or laws is assumed. Most shamanistic magic exists at this level
2nd Order Reinforced Ritual Rituals are assisted by a rudimentary knowledge of natural laws and fundamental sciences. This is the level of most trained lower order mages.
3rd Order Academic Ritual Rituals are combined and enhanced with more sophisticated studies and scientific principles like chemistry and alchemy. Mages who understand magic to the point that they can expand their abilities without the guidance of a mentor possess this order of magic.
4th Order Elaborate Ritual Lower order rituals can be performed by force of will alone. The mage's academic understanding of rituals and their interaction with nature and physics allows them to create simple rituals that can be followed by other mages. They can also alter rituals to create slightly different effects. At this level of skill, a mage can insinuate ("bind") magical energies into an artifice. Magical staves, swords, wands, and the like being examples of this.
5th OrderSophisticated Ritual The mage begins to develop pseudo-psionic capabilities, and many lower level rituals can be performed with little or no concentration. The mage's reliance on ritual regresses to following "templates" or "guide paths" which tap the interactions of energy. The mage begins to manipulate the powers "manually".
6th OrderPsionic / Pseudo-Ritual Pure psionics are considered to practice magic of the sixth order. However, a being who uses mental energies like telepathy or telekinesis do not have the broad scope of abilities a ritual mage will possess. On the other hand, a creature who can perform such feats without resorting to rituals tends to have more flexibly and control in their application. Generally, they have greater capabilities in their narrow spectrum of power. Ritual mages at this level can work with magical energies in abstract ways and can combine them into newer structures. Rituals become "source material" that can be treated as building blocks.
7th OrderReinforced Psionic / Free ritual At this level the creature's psionic potential affects a broader spectrum of the physical world and chains of interaction can be stimulated into motion. They can perform feats like cellular adjustment (healing). Mages of this order rely little on ritual. Their understanding of ritual is complete enough that they can "make it up as they go". They are essentially still using rituals but are now only using them as anchoring or controlling points in their magic.
8th OrderPsi-Master / Ritual Independent Psionic creatures begin to exhibit broad powers that are in many ways like ritual magic only performed by force of will alone. They can develop skills like self teleportation, dimensional travel, and can in some instances control their psyche so completely that they are independent of their physical bodies. Mages at this skill level no longer rely on ritual except for reference and ideas. They freely combine energies and are limited only by the endurance of their physical bodies.
9th Order Living Magic The highest order of psionics and magic is cosmic or "living" magic where the creature becomes in tune with the physical nature of the cosmos and can manipulate it directly. The 9th order of magic is the top of the scale but creatures that possess this ability have a tremendous range of what their abilities can affect. At one end of the range might be the ability to control storms or perform miracle healing-- in the Realms the other end of the scale is the strength to destroy stars and alter the flow of time.