Magical Tricks & Disciplines Of Note


Some of the things that mages (or witches, sorcerers, or however they choose to call themselves) get up to and how they do it!

(Note that if there's anything you want any mage characters of your own to do that isn't listed here, you can use how things work here as a general guideline for how you might write it - large effects take a lot of energy and effort, and many things take a lot of practice to be able to do proficiently. Essentially, magic always takes work, moreso if the result is large or drastic in some way.)



Warding

Wards are symbols or charms that repel and hold back magical energies and suchlike. For example, anti-scrying wards might be used to keep mages from remotely viewing sensitive areas, and anti-malicious magic wards can keep curses out. A ward could also be designed to make unwanted people feel strongly averse to entering into a particular area.

Wards can also be used to repel physical beings that are magically sustained, such as vampires. This works because their magic fields are so strongly bonded with their physical bodies. So a vampire trying to enter an area protected by an anti-vampire ward might find itself running into an invisible wall or walking through what feels like a sea of thick syrup, depending on the strength and nature of the ward.

Wards can't do much against strictly physical objects, however, and they can't stop raw, unpurposed aether from getting through. This means that a mage cannot be physically warded out.


Illusions

Illusions can fool every sense of the body, and are incredibly useful to mages. Their uses include diversions, disguises, camouflage, decoration, and simulation. And illusion magic often takes only a fraction of the cost and effort that alternative magical techniques might take. For example, where magically mending a tattered old dress could take exhaustive effort, throwing an illusion over it for a few hours can be done without too much trouble.

Illusions can also be created through more than one means. Visual illusions, for example, can be created either by manipulating the light to create an image, by influencing people's minds to see an image, or a little of both. They can also be created by casting an enchantment that makes some elements of an object more noticeable and others less so, or by making it more likely that others will perceive an enchanted object a certain way. In 2009, a mage from the Seattle area who made a living selling handbags enchanted them all so that people would notice the designs moreso than the poor craftsmanship, and sales went up. (That said, many customers were very unhappy once they finally realized how poorly the bags were made.)

Power drawn from the moon is especially suitable for creating illusions, especially ones that work on the mind or that affect perception.


Elemental Manipulation

Many mages have the ability to manipulate certain types of energy or substances. It can be almost anything - light, water, fire, electricity, earth, etc. Usually, what a mage can affect thus is in harmony with what the mage can draw power from. Power from the sun is good for manipulating fire and light, power from the moon is good for manipulating light and water, power from snowstorms is good at reducing temperatures (and thus making more ice), etc.


Scrying

The art of seeing things through time or space. There are plenty of ways to scry. Many old-fashioned mages look into a crystal, a bowl of water, or a black mirror, though younger ones might use the screens of their cellphones or their coffee. Some don't even bother with this at all; they just close themselves into a room with few distractions, close their eyes, and try to visualize what they wish to see. Of course, scrying's not easy (and few genuinely have a gift for it), and many mages end up mistaking things produced by their own imaginations for reality.


Divination

There are two main approaches mages take to divination, depending on their preferences. Some try to petition the spirits to answer their questions, while others focus more on manipulating probability to give them an outcome that's useful to them.

There's no end of methods that mages can use. They might make a pendulum from a coin or pendant, or they might use a deck of cards, or they might even shuffle their MP3s. They might use dice or draw bits of paper from a hat. Some have elaborate wooden spirit boards; some hastily scrawl some letters on a piece of junk mail.

Of course, there's always the possibility that the mage will misinterpret the results, or will mistake nonsense results for something real. In one notable case, a cartomancing mage read a message that should have been taken as "be cautious before jumping into anything new, don't try to be too controlling, and everything will turn out okay" as "everything is going wrong, so you'd better just run away and start a new life somewhere else." The mage did exactly that, only to realize 2000 miles and one stolen suitcase later that he'd done exactly what he'd been told not to do.


Teleportation

Teleportation via magical means is extremely difficult even to the most seasoned of mages, and as such it's only done very rarely. Very, very few mages can teleport on their own without help, and when they do it requires a tremendous amount of power. In the olden days, mages who needed to cross long distances to talk to someone else in a hurry might project doubles of themselves wherever they needed to go. Nowadays most of them just use the telephone.

Most materials can hold a magical charge to some degree, even regular glass. The best materials are mysteranium alloys and crystals containing traces of mysteranium, but if you need something to hold a charge that packs a real wallop, your best bet is to get your hands on some high-quality viricite.

Magical teleporting, when it is used, is most commonly done with objects or spaces with permanent teleporting enchantments designed to activate upon a keyword. Raissa Cordoso, a very accomplished mage from Brazil, made use of an enchanted mysteranium alloy bracelet set with viricite crystals to get around quickly when need be. Cordoso's bracelet held a maximum of three charges, and once the charges were depleted took approximately a week to recharge fully.

The teleporting process itself is done through visualizing the location one wants to go to, usually with an added intent of make sure I land someplace safe for me. Since portals do not readily open in the middle of solid objects, accidentally teleporting yourself into the middle of one is not really a concern; the portal will just open itself wherever there is adequate room in the space specified by the visualization.

Teleporting is usually easiest when it's done in and out of locations where rifts in space-time occur. (Such rifts can form and vanish spontaneously, but those that are used frequently will usually stay open.) Portals also do not easily open between or through areas where there are large gravity or air pressure differentials; thus while teleporting yourself over to your grandmother's house might be a fairly easy affair, teleporting yourself to the moon is a whole other matter. (Some would-be space explorers have tried this; none have succeeded.) Furthermore, it's typically very hard to keep portals open for longer than a few seconds, and portal creation can be blocked with wards.

Important to note is that the creation and collapse of magical portals inevitably results in the creation of trace amounts of mysteranium. A person who has a sufficient amount of mysteranium in the body and then exposed to a high energy source such as electricity, electromagnetism, or radiation of some sort may undergo abnormal physiological changes. (Curiously, mages and other people with high magical fields have never been known to experience this effect.)


Transformation

The skill of changing oneself into another form is one that has been cultivated by many throughout the years. But as any transformation requires a tremendous amount of concentration and willpower, it's usually done only by the most skilled of mages. It's very important to note that knowing how to change into another form doesn't mean being you'll be able to use this form well. Turn yourself into a bird for the first time, and you'll find yourself flailing about for awhile before you get the hang of flying. Turn yourself into a different kind of bird, and you'll discover that every bird body you try handles a little differently. Mages who can pop into just about any conceivable form you can think of probably can't actually use those forms worth a hill of beans because they would have never had the time to practice using them.

To transform another person, the mage must under most circumstances make physical contact with the target of the spell. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as through creating a potion to induce transformation, or through enchanting an object so that it transforms someone who touches it (either upon contact or recitation of a trigger word). Such transformations are typically temporary without extra power to sustain it; depending on the power put into the spell, it may last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. (Mages can sustain the transformations longer if they are able to draw in extra power.) The less one has to deviate away from the original form, the easier the transformation usually is.

Basic transformations (such as those described above) can give a person the general shape and biological features of another creature, but their lifespan will remain the same. If they take the form of a fantasy creature, they will not have any special abilities associated with it. Mage and fugitive Anna Bartlett disguised herself as a Welsh corgi to evade federal agents for over twenty years from 1972-1995, aging at the same rate as any other human.

To carry over the full essence of the creature in question, transformation must be induced via a potion containing part of the target creature. Such transformations are permanent, reversible only by another potion. Transformation potions of this type are highly effort-intensive, requiring careful attention and focus. Though various methods of producing these potions have proven to be successful, no one has been able to produce a working potion in less than twelve weeks, and every formula has required the use of mysteranium oxide. Potions that have gone wrong in some way (such as by being rushed, contaminated, or brewed by inept or unfocused mages) can have disastrous results.

In 1994, Dr. Dai Chiang conducted an experiment on transformed plants to determine to whether transformed organisms could be bred and cultivated. The first set, the "non-essential" transformation set, resulted in either sterile seeds, or seeds that produced offspring like those of the parent plants pre-transformation. The second, "essential" set, resulted in offspring like that of the plants they had been transformed into. The third "hybrid" set, which blended two different plants together, produced sterile offspring.

In the late 90s, it was suggested that such potions be used to restore endangered or extinct species, but it was ultimately determined to be non-viable solution for several reasons. Among many issues cited was the fact that in the case of extinct species, there simply weren't enough genetic samples to create a sustainable breeding population. In the case of living animals, a transformed organism often wouldn't know how to live as its new species and would end up following its old patterns and habits to its detriment. Finally, it was determined that the high cost of mysteranium oxide was too high to make it a worthwhile solution.

In 2003, a military science experiment attempted to create potions that could imbue people with superpowers, in the hopes of creating a safe and reliable method to induce them in people. Some of the subjects were given a dose of mysteranium beforehand; others were not. The experiment was conducted using highly experienced and powerful mages to create the potions, and the potions themselves included biological samples from donors to ensure that as much of their essence was in the potions as possible. The test subjects took on the outward physical forms of the donors, but did not exhibit any of their powers.

Throughout the years, many have tried to transform non-living objects as well. One notable instance of this occurred in the early 20th century, when some individuals attempted to transform bits of glass into diamonds. Some attempted a basic transformation; in these cases the glass remained in a diamond-like form long enough to fool some buyers. Others experimented with making essential transformations with varying degrees of success; the few who succeeded kept their techniques secret. However, due to the necessity of mysteranium oxide in every formula, synthesizing materials thus has never become common practice.


Related SoulMettle content:

Magic: An Overview
Mysteranium



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