Post:Sorcery Lore - 7/19/2010 - 21:05:22

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Sorcery Lore · on 7/19/2010 9:05:22 PM 12310
Sorcery Definition:

This is a mixture of clarification and retconning to the concept of sorcery in DragonRealms. Anywhere this post conflicts with previous material, this post takes precedence.

Sorcery refers to two distinct but related concepts.
Functional Definition: Sorcery is the manipulation of mana that exists outside the magician's attuned realm.
Legal Definition: Sorcery is a branch of spells which require the manipulation of two or more frequencies of mana to function.

In many cases, the act of sorcery encompasses both concepts. When it's necessary to be more nuanced, however, the functional definition refers to when the Sorcery magic skill is contested, while the legal definition refers to when you get accused of using sorcery by society.

Some examples:
Bob the Moon Mage casts Mana Disruption. This is both illegal (a sorcery spell) and contests the Sorcery skill (manipulating Elemental and Lunar mana).
Jane the Cleric casts Clear Vision. This is legal (not a sorcery spell), but still contests the Sorcery skill (manipulating Lunar mana).
Dan the Necromancer casts Butcher's Eye. This is illegal (a sorcery spell), but does not use his Sorcery skill (manipulating Necromantic mana).

Sorcerous Cosmology: the Mana Field

Conventional magical theorists understand that Elanthia is overlaid by four (or more) webs of energy streams called mana. While each web, or realm, is produced by the same basic physical laws and thus shares many traits, they are fundamentally distinct. Each one draws together and magnifies different concepts of power and has its own niggling rules and quirks.

Sorcerers argue that this is wrong. They propose that all mana is a single, holistic force which pervades Elanthia and is colored by it. Specific realms exist due to human weakness: when a magician perceives the mana streams ending, he merely detects the edge at which mana leaves his realm's perceptual field and enters another. When a magician becomes attuned, sorcerers argue he becomes attuned to the entire mana field, both visible and invisible.

Attempts to prove the Mana Field hypothesis have so far failed. Careful observations demonstrate that the mana of the four realms do not neatly join together like building blocks, and to answer this problem proponents of the theory descend even deeper into the theoretical, arguing for invisible mana and the existence of field-warping, unknown forces. However, the field hypothesis does have one advantage to the conventional approach: it tries to explain why sorcerers can do the seemingly impossible and manipulate mana without the correct attunement.

The Act of Sorcery:

At the basic level, a magician performs sorcery the same way he performs any other magical act: it is a directed psychic effort made possible by attunement. Anyone who is attuned is physically capable of performing sorcery.

However, the effort sorcery requires is distinctly different. Conventional magic is for the most part a very logic-driven, methodical act. Sorcery, on the other hand, could be described more as a "right brain" activity. The pure sorcerous act is performed through intuition and violent exertions of will, pulling on a force that the magician cannot perceive and cannot monitor except through faith.

The experience of sorcery is also different. While manipulating mana is always exhausting, sorcery is distinctly painful. It requires a violent, darkly emotional "kick" which directs the mind beyond what it logically knows and into a realm of terrible fantasy. While very rare, some magicians are known to "fall into" or accidentally perform sorcery in the grip of madness or emotional disturbance.

So far we've described the pure sorcerous act, but this is rarely how it works. Pure sorcery is incredibly dangerous, emotionally harrowing, and to top it all off grossly inefficient. Attempting to cast a high-powered sorcery off the cuff could conceivably waste a thousand streams of mana on the effort, something which is flatly beyond the physical endurance of most magicians.

Most sorcery is aided by a device known as a sorcerous focus. The focus is a carefully enchanted device that translates magic work in one realm through it and into another realm, essentially manipulating other frequencies of mana by proxy. In addition to lacking the emotional terror of pure sorcery, these devices can be tuned to only transmit into specified realms, greatly increasing the efficiency of the act.

However, even with the best equipment and surpassing skill, sorcerous efficiency is never perfect. At best, a magician is splitting his attention and attunement across two entirely different frequencies of mana, and that assumes he's using his native realm in the process. Magicians can never "remove himself" from his natural attunement, which presents another possible drain on the magician's sorcery.

Kinds of Sorcery:

There are many sorcerous spellbooks, but they are separated into two general categories, High and Low Sorcery. High Sorcery refers to sorcerous spellbooks that are not only technically refined, but also possess some sort of philosophical purpose behind it. High Sorcery is not for dabblers; not only is it usually hidden, but it requires background knowledge or access to magical confounds that only specific groups have ready access to. There are four known High Sorceries, each one a perversion rooted in a specific realm and an element of the tripartite "dualism" that Elanthians know.

Low Sorcery refers to the bric--brac evil magic which most people think of when they use the word "sorcery." Low Sorcery is almost always usable by anyone who can come across the spell pattern. There is no grand philosophy or refined argument for using Low Sorcery, it is the violent, unstable magic of people who want to shortcut through realm restrictions or, more commonly, who simply have an immature need to taste forbidden fruit.

Regardless of kind, mana combination, or philosophy, sorcery has three stable characteristics:
1) Sorcery is violent. It may be darkly pervasive, metaphysically violent, or even literally violent, but at some level it will be breaking something. This is an infuriating but nonetheless immutable element of sorcery spellbooks: it's never "nice."

2) Sorcery is unstable. Even the best sorcerer is groping for at least half his mana blind, deaf and dumb. Even the most erudite sorcerer cannot hope to encompass the exponential growth in laws and mechanics that comes from interfacing mana frequencies that were never meant to work together. Even the luckiest sorcerer cannot escape that sometimes two streams cross and that's the end of that. Sorcery has an inherent tendency toward creating an unpleasant explosion of curses and half-formed spell effects.

3) Sorcery is greedy. High Sorcery exists to create in the world that which does not and cannot exist, because the magician arrogantly says it should. Low Sorcery is often lazy, attempting to do alone with sorcery what could be done with outside help or with an intentional mien of misanthropy.

The Sorcery Spellbooks:

High Sorcery:
Antinomic Sorcery
Hylomorphic Sorcery
Teleologic Sorcery

  • A Necromancer named Jonathan Kigot coined the term "Ontologic Sorcery" for his blasphemy. Not many people understand what he meant, and no reputable scholar would be caught dead using the term.

Low Sorcery:
Feral Magic
Lay Necromancy
Low Sorcery

Antinomic, Hylomorphic, and Teleologic sorceries are guild-based. They can be permanently memorized, but can only be used by the relevant guild.

Feral Magic, Lay Necromancy, and Low Sorcery are scroll-based. They cannot be permanently memorized, but anyone can use them.

The High Sorcery "Necromancy" is not a single, distinct spellbook in practice, but the entire range of material the Necromancers Guild uses. It's placed there for completeness sake.


This message was originally posted in Abilities, Skills and Magic (4) \ Magic - Suggestions, Discussions and Thoughts (16), by DR-ARMIFER on the forums.