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A Guide to Arcana

An OOC Guide on how to roleplay and moderate Arcana in game.



The art of manipulating the essences, also known as arcana, is limited only to a select few that have been Unbound. The results of this manipulation, however, can affect everyone in the world of Aelyria. Spellcasters can use their skills to wreak devastating havoc or conjure powerfully restorative effects. These are limited only by the player’s imagination and the gameplay mechanics governing the “common sense” of its use in game.
Further Reading: Primer to Arcana


A mage must always prepare a spell, the intricacies of which can range be simple and mere moments or days using magical artifacts and complicated weaves. The effect the spell causes is directly dependent on the level of preparation: an “on the fly” spell will have a lesser effect than a well-prepared spell using arcane reagents or a staff of arcana. The determination of the spell’s success, results, and degree of effect comes from the following three questions:
  • Is it thematic?
  • Is it within the realm of the character’s current ability?
  • Does it make sense to function given the current circumstances?

[top]Sphere Themes

Spells cast can come from one of two categories: they can either be a standard spell or a custom spell.
Standard Spell: A standard spell is one whose requirements, description, and results are listed exactly in the sphere treatise. They will have been either Imparted to the mage by a higher-level spellcaster or learned through careful study of in-game treatises and writings on the subject.
Note: More proficient mages can cast standard spells that are below the spellcaster's current level at a higher level up than the treatise describes, up to theirs. This will increase both the chances for success as well as the effect it causes. Mages may also improvise or tweak standard spells. The success and effect should be determined by the moderator.
Further Reading: Sorcery, Mysticism, Elementalism, Druidism, Thaumaturgy, Necromancy
Custom Spell: A custom spell is one that the spellcaster creates from the blank slate of their mind that has not been Imparted or previously learned. Though the types of spells able to be crafted are limited by the theme of their sphere and its four cardinal categories, the details are limited only by the imagination of the spellcaster.
Further Reading: Sorcery, Mysticism, Elementalism, Druidism, Thaumaturgy, Necromancy
Spells that do not follow the theme of the sphere and fall out of its categories cannot be cast. The essence’s nature will not allow the caster to form the appropriate weave, and thus the spell can never be formed no matter how hard the mage tries.

[top]Spellcaster Ability

Once Unbound, the mage is immediately classified as an Initiate and has access to both basic standard and custom spells at this level. After investing time and gaining appropriate experience at each rank, mages may undergo the process of Amplification to increase their vis stores, the types of spells, and the level of effect their spells are able to create.
An Initiate Mystic Bind would be cast in moments to numb a target’s hand for a few minutes.

An Adept Mystic Alacrity could be prepared over half a day to significantly increase a target’s combat level.

An Archmage Mystic Extinguish All Thought could be prepared for over half a day to wipe out all sentient beings within a one-mile radius.
Proficient mages may also cast lower level spells at a higher level than described to increase their degree of effect, up to the mages' current level. This process requires a proportional increase in the mana required.
An Initiate Thaumaturge Heal would mend minor cuts and bruises over the area of a single hand.

An Adept Thaumaturge Heal would be able to set a broken bone in the leg with only minimal residual damage in the target.

An Archmage Thaumaturge Heal would, with the lost limb present, be able to reattach an arm to a mostly functional state and only minor residual pain in the target.
Further Reading: Primer to Arcana
Every spellcast, regardless of level or effect, costs vis no matter how high the mage's rank. When the mage is out of vis, they must wait for a period of time before it is regenerated, usually one whole day. It is impossible for a mage to artificially increase their amount of vis or alter its regeneration rate, except through amplify.

[top]Spellcasting Circumstances

It is rare that a mage is allowed to cast their spell uninterrupted, particularly when practicing their craft in the real world. Physical distractions, such as loud sounds, nagging wounds, or headaches, can negatively affect their concentration. This can lessen their control of the weave and add randomness into the spell’s effects, dependent upon the severity of the distraction. Sometimes the distraction can be enough to unfocus the caster entirely and prevent them from attuning to the essence at all, thus not allowing them to create mana to fuel their spells. The complexity of the spell being cast also determines the mage’s sensitivity to distractions. The more intricate the spell, the easier it will be to break the mage’s focus, no matter the mage’s level.

Over time as mages gain experience with their craft, they will become more resilient to ignoring potential interruptions and exhibit more control over their casting even in trying circumstances. However, mages will never be completely immune to them so long as they exist.

All arcane essences are properties of the surrounding world. By manipulating the essence into their casting, mages are thereby able to manipulate the world around them with their spells’ effects. For many spheres, the concentration of essence surrounding the caster has a direct effect on the dramatics of their spell.
An Adept Elementalist Water Shock cast in the desert may gather half a cup-full of liquid out of the surrounding air.

An Adept Elementalist Water Shock cast at the ocean may summon a wave strong enough to send any men caught in its path painfully off their feet.
In turn, spells also connect mages to their surrounding environment. The actions created and consequences that follow move between environment and mage. Spells are never cast in a vacuum and thus one cast can set off lengthy chains of events.
An Initiate Mystic Sentinel can interface with two dozen sentient minds nearby, but will cause a dull headache.

An Archmage Mystic Sentinel can interface with all sentinent minds in an entire city, but will cause a paralyzing migraine that may prevent them from casting again until dissipated.
Every spell successfully cast also creates a proportional amount of arcane contamination that clings to the mage. This contamination is unusable residue or “essence poison” that is benign in low concentrations, but can have detrimental effects at higher levels. Arcane contamination is built up on a mage with every spell, but also does decrease naturally over time should no new spells be cast. It can only be sensed and actively removed or used by Spellbreakers.

The negative effects of “essence poisoning” are entirely dependent on the nature of the essence and the concentration of Arcane Contamination. They should be felt by every mage after every cast to a degree proportional to its concentration.
After two sequential casts, an Initiate Sorcerer may be begin to feel slightly dizzy due to Force Poisoning.

After two Archmage-level sequential casts, an Archmage Sorcerer may pass out unconscious and suffer extreme pain and life-threatening internal damage with joints off-center and misplaced due to Force Poisoning.
Further Reading: Contamination, Spellbreaking


Credit goes to Nimh for the original write-up. Written by Charybdis.

Created by Charybdis, July 11, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Last edited by Charybdis, January 27, 2015 at 05:21 PM
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