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A Primer to Arcana

Arcana, a branch of the known magical arts, is the art of manipulating the latent properties of the planes.

Arcana of the Magical Arts



In the world of Aelyria, magic surrounds everyone and is a part of everything, whether it is realized or not. Throughout history, the ability to harness these powers has been passed down between generations to the select few individuals able to use them. Arcana is a particular branch of magic-users whose practitioners have been unbound to release their inherent abilities to control their surrounding’s particular properties, called essences, to create dramatic effects. It is estimated that only one out of every thousand individuals can be successfully unbound and thus have the potential of becoming a mage. One’s heritage, whether gemblooded or mundane, and one’s race can increase or decrease the likelihood.
Further Reading: Magic Primer, Races, Companions Races

[top]Disciplines of Arcana

Mages are unbound to one particular essence in the universe at a time whose aspect includes a variety of properties and abilities. This essence allows the aspiring mage to harness its power and influence to create specific effects on the Material Plane. It is postulated that there are infinite essences, but only a select few have been identified, understood, and manipulated by mortals.
Sorcery: As Force Magic, Sorcery utilizes push/pull and movement, or lack thereof, on material objects and can manipulate pure destructive energy. It is considered the most direct sphere with huge instantaneous damage.

Elementalism: As Elemental Magic, Elementalism utilizes the primal natures of the universe by harnessing and controlling the power of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth and their sentient elementals. It is one of the two spheres with the most control over the physical universe with high damage potential, powerful summoned creatures, and defensive spells.

Mysticism: As Psionic Magic, Mysticism utilizes the power of the mind to create illusions, suggestions, and behaviors in the minds of others to motivate particular behaviors. It is considered the most subtle and surreptitious sphere with the best ability to counter other mages but limited direct damage.

Thaumaturgy: As Order Magic, Thaumaturgy utilizes the influence of light and order to boost individuals’ abilities, mend injuries, and form powerful protective and retaliation spells. It is considered the most defensively-minded sphere and the strongest and most direct of the three spheres of healing.

Druidism: As Nature Magic, Druidism allows control and manipulation over the natural world around the caster, including plants, animals, weather, and restoration/destruction. It is one of the two spheres with the most control over the physical universe by controlling the environment and its natural resources to both destructive and restorative ends, with its healing done over time.

Necromancy: As Entropic Magic, Necromancy allows manipulation of death and its causation, prolonging, or negation, such as disease or decay. It does most of its damage to living beings over time, can raise bodies to become Undead in huge amounts and with the most immediate obedience, and can leech life or energy out of its targets.

[top]Caster Levels

The spellcasting ability of a mage and the arcane techniques they may use are determined by their arcane rank. Over time, mages can increase in rank and skill with use, practice, and experience in their craft. This increases their powers, abilities, and control for individual spells as well as their understanding of their sphere in whole.
Further Reading: Techniques
An adventurer looking to become a mage must seek out fellow practitioners, who have the power to Unbind prospective students. Should the potential Initiate be successfully Unbound, their education is then given into the hands of a Journeyman or Adept, who Imparts spells and instructs the Initiate on the basics of both utilizing techniques and spell casting. Initiates typically spend their time under the wing of their mentor, but are just as often Imparted spells and thrust out into the world under a watchful eye to endure real-life circumstances that test their mettle as mages.
Non-Traditional Unbinding: In very rare cases, some individuals have experienced becoming Unbound in an organic fashion, their minds opened to arcanic energies as a result of extreme or intense life experiences. It should be noted that an adventurer Unbound in this fashion has no particular tie to any sphere and does not harbor any Imparted spells or techniques. They are, essentially, a blank slate that cannot cast spells. Some who have experienced this may not even know that they have been Unbound.

Further Reading: Techniques
Journeymen mages are quite often teachers at academies, instructing Initiate mages in the nature of their spheres and walking them through the basics of arcana. Sometimes traveling to other academies or to work with other mages, they often seek to expand their own horizons within their sphere so that they may better themselves. At this point in their careers as mages, some Journeymen also seek out the creation of a Staff of Arcana, using the Unbinding technique to harvest Enchanted Wood from one of the various Enchanted Glades found in Aelyria.
Further Reading: Staff of Arcana
The Adept mage is expected to be independent and develop a curriculum all their own, sometimes seeking guidance for that training within the walls of an academy, but just as often exploring their own abilities out in the world by adventuring and real-world experience or plying their skills as an occupation. The custom of crafting a Masterpiece, a spell that defines the Adept as a mage and displays his skill at its best, still remains, usually to use as a showcase to guilds once he gains the title of Master.
Master mages are among the elite of their spheres, crafty and skilled at spell creation and casting. Many masters form elite and powerful guilds meant to increase their influence and skills. This, however, does not mean that all mages desire or need to seek out a guild. Some Masters may remain aloof from these formal gatherings, choosing to be independent and have more unique or individual aims for their skills. At master, mages are able to wield huge swaths of influence the size of cities with their powers and capabilities.
At the pinnacle of his magical career, the Archmage is a fifth level proficient mage who stands strident across the arcane world. A recognized innovator and brilliant leader of his school of magic, the Archmage wields all of the tools and techniques of his trade, the complete magical arsenal available to his craft, and is capable of affecting entire provinces.


The average spell is created and cast by first clearing the mind of distractions through focusing, a process that generally takes a matter of moments, barring any drastic conditions surrounding the mage (such as a severe wound). Successfully focusing heightens the mage's arcanic senses and attunes them to the essence to which they have been unbound. This essence is drawn in towards the mage's own vis reserves, creating mana, the fuel for all spells. The mage can then manipulate the aspects of their essence to produce a desired effect, whether by following a framework they already know or by improvising. The spell’s effect is manifested on the Material Plane by a reaction called arcalysis.

Mages are manipulators, not creators. Arcane essences are latent in all surroundings and influence those surroundings even when they are not being used by mages. Mages can increase, decrease, or completely alter the influence of the arcane essences already extant in their surroundings, but they cannot create essence. The higher the concentration of the essence, the more potential it has of being manipulated. For example, the Elementalist Water Shock cast at the ocean will have more damaging results than the same spell cast in a dry desert. For all spheres, spell effects do not happen in a vacuum; every action has an appropriate reaction. For example, the Mystic Sentinel to communicate with others' minds can cause mental pain and fatigue in the caster and targets, or perhaps be a distraction from the users' perceptions of their surroundings.

When a mage is casting, all sentient beings, both mages and nonmages, in the near vicinity can sense a minor disturbance in their surroundings, but nothing more. Even other mages cannot identify the spell, level, or sphere and cannot see the weave while it is being crafted. Mages cannot identify other mages by any means unless they physically see their spells' effects afterward, such as an inanimate object moving by Telekinesis or a target's mind inexplicably crippled by Psionic Orb. (Exception: certain Mysticism spells may be attuned to find this information). Mages also cannot see the residual arcane contamination left on a caster after a spell.
Further Reading: Arcana Roleplaying and Moderation

[top]Casting Factors

As a mage becomes more proficient in his craft, lower-level spells may be easier to cast while other spells require more time, preparation and sometimes additional items. A Master Elementalist, for instance, may quickly summon a globe of fire to illuminate a passageway, but will spend a considerable amount of time gathering essence and shaping mana to create a city-devastating hurricane. In some cases, a mage may find that he requires the additional presence of a Staff of Arcana to help focus and ground his energy or the process of Evolve or the use of Amplify to further expand his own power.
Staves of Arcana: With the possession of a Staff of Arcana, a mage can ground and intensify not only his concentration but the power of his spell, allowing him to cast big effect spells. The mage must be holding or in physical contact with his staff as he works the spell, not merely in close proximity.
Further Reading: Staff of Arcana
Evolution: Some spells require a mage's extreme connection to the aspect of his craft that he is shaping. For instance, an Elementalist may require a high concentration of wind for a fierce wind storm or a Necromancy a strong tie to the undead. Without this connection, the mage may be unable to cast the spell of his choosing. Should the mage Evolve and form a bond with that particular attribute of his sphere, he has a greater chance of success.
Further Reading: Techniques
Amplify: Sometimes a mage requires more vis than he has access to in order to cast a spell. In an effort to expand his vis reserves, the mage will use the Amplify ritual to expand his reserves, the amount of which is individual to the mage and circumstance. After casting, the mage will be fully drained and exhausted. This increase may be temporary or permanent.
Further Reading: Techniques
Reagents: Some mages may feel as if they require an additional element in their spellcasting to help boost the strength and reach of their spell. Examples of reagents include the blood from a mage (gemblood), signe gemstones, staves, Ancient Aelyrian feathers and dragon talons. Each item has its own use and unique way in which it allows the mage to channel power.

Arcane Contamination: Spellcasting always results in some residual, unusable energy left on the caster, called contamination. In small amounts, arcane contamination is benign; in larger, it can lead to erratic spellcasting, loss of control over the essence, and essence poisoning, the latter of which can be life-threatening. This contamination is only visible to Spellbreakers, not mages, and must be dissipated either naturally over time of refraining from casting or by a Spellbreaker's intervention.
Further Reading: Contamination, Spellbreaking

[top]Spell Statistics

Spells Per Level: A mage can cast three spells of his level or more spells of lower levels before his vis is depleted. If the mage tries to cast past his vis reservoir, he will feel mental pain and faint or endure other effects from residual arcane contamination. Vis can only be restored over time and after a brightening of relaxing, a mage will find his vis reserves full again. Larger, more dramatic spells will take a greater amount of vis to cast than lower-level, smaller effect spells. Every spell, regardless of effect or level, costs the mage vis.
Initiate: 3 Initiate Spells
Journeyman: 3 Journeyman, 9 Initiate
Adept: 3 Adept, 9 Journeyman, 27 Initiate
Master: 3 Master, 9 Adept, 27 Journeyman, 81 Initiate
Archmage: 3 Archmage, 9 Master, 27 Adept, 81 Journeyman and 243 Initiate
Shaping Times: Small scale spells take a matter of moments to shape, regardless of the mage's level of skill, while large scale/big effect spells may take several candlemarks to prepare and shape. The quickness of these big effect spells may also depend on other factors, such as a Staff of Arcana or Evolving, that may reduce shaping time, but never fully reduce it.

Spell Durations: Spells that have a duration, such as summoned beings, sensitive spells, and transformations, may exist on the Material Plane for a limited amount of time. Summoned creatures are always temporary, with the duration of their manifestation dependent on the level of the caster, the level of the creature, and the degree to which the sentient creature has been subdued. The duration of defensive spells, including shields, transformations, and others is initially dependent on the level of the caster, but can be effectively shortened by the amount of damage and external effects they absorb.


Some mages may be unbound to more than one essence. A hedgemage is an individual who has trained in not one, but two spheres of arcana. Hedgemages are often regarded with extreme disdain by others in the arcanic community, believed to be tainting the purity of a single sphere as well as dividing their focus in such a fashion that will never allow the hedgemage to Master either sphere. It should be noted that not all academic institutions regard hedgemages with disgust, but rather as vessels of experimentation and learning. This, however, is a very rare view point.
Further Reading: Hedgemages


Credit goes to Kaelon and Nimh for the original write-up.

Created by Charybdis, July 8, 2014 at 07:48 PM
Last edited by Charybdis, November 3, 2014 at 12:39 PM
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