Chaos, The Beginning ...
In the times before cities, nations, librairies, universities, and the three realms of magic, there were the primal forces. These primal forces were dangerous and unpredictable, much like the weather and the ocean; mankind looked upon the Primal Essence with awe as a part of nature. Early civilized men found that some amongst them could influence these forces, bending them after a fashion, to their wills. However, the power was difficult to grasp and even more difficult to control.
These first spell users, if they can even be called that, had no understanding of what they were dealing with or of what they were doing. Many suffered mysterious ailments and perished from contact with Spirits from which (to their perception), the power came. In hopes of avoiding a terrible fate and gaining a great power, these ancestors of all spell casters entreated the Spirits for aid. Subconsciously, the men seeking assistance sent out a mental summons to those attuned to the same forces that they were. In some lands, the Spirits that responded were the Great Drakes, who expected gift and worship in exchange for knowledge. In other lands, beings from Elsewhere, Demons and their kindred answered, giving the men only the knowledge to release more Demons from their extraplanage bondage. Occasionaly , those who sought help with the power were answered by other men who had mastered the primal forces. These masters called these forces magic. These ancient masters had the writings of a previous civilization. These writings pertained to the magic that early men wished to control.
The people from whom the ancient masters had arisen were long since gone, but because of their power, the masters lived on. The tribes which had learned the magic from the masters grew into civilizations, while those who had learned from others were later to become helpless slaves to their evil mentors. The enthralled people formed dark cults and served their hideous masters for countless generations. Even to this day, their descendants plague the good people of the world with the horrors of dragons, demons, and other beings beyond even the knowledge of those creatures. These descendants are not norally versed in Arcane Magic, but employ many of its powers.
As civilizations grew, the men who could employ the primal magic discovered that, because of the danger and complexity of their powers, only a very few individuals could ever master magic as it was known to them. So the masters began to search out those with the ability, hoping to find students who could continue working with Arcane Magic. The new masters' understanding of the foundations of magic was still incomplete; many that the masters found to teach died, their inability to fully control the magic their undoing.
With the deaths of so many students, the masters suffered an emotional setback. Being perhaps altruistic, they did not wish the blood of so many on their hands, and they began to move their perspective back. Standing away from what they were working on, the masters had a broader view of magic and how it operated. More importantly, the masters began to see something new: magic was, in some way, a part of nature and must work in similar fashions . The masters found that, like the weather, the primal magic was chaotic, and that is why it was so difficult to control. The masters began to ponder the nature of chaos, arriving at the conclusion that any force in chaos, while unpredictable, must still have rules that it must follow. The masters surmised that these rules would cause the primal magic to fall into patterns that would allow it to be more easily manipulated. The handful of masters began to experiment again with the forces at their disposal; finally unveiling these rules and the resulting underlying patterns. Once discovered, these guidelines were integrated into the spells of the masters, who began to seek out new pupils once again.
The Three Realms Of Magic ...
Many of those that the masters found to teach still had problems controlling the primal forces, and many still died. Set back a second time, the masters began to rethink their plan, deciding to separate the primal magic into its separate patterns. The masters worked for decades, finding that the Primal Essence (so they had named the magic) had three intrinsic parts. They termed these parts: Channeling, Essence and Mentalism . These three parts were far less chaotic than the source from which they came, being more confined in pattern. This confinement became the key to easier and safer manipulation.
The masters found that they lacked the knowledge to separate only one realm for use but could omit one, allowing the other two to be used for power. The distilling was incomplete, but still successful and the surviving pupils became the first hybrid spell users, and the three realms of power were born of the order brought from the chaos of Primal Magic.
As generations passed, the descendants of the original pupils specialized more and more in their own powers. Learning these powers became vastly easier as specialization increased. Eventually arriving at a point where a single realm of power could be accessed. The ancient magics were, as all of them knew, to dangerous for most to use, and the mastery of the knowledge required decades. The disciples of these new specialized magics went by a plethora of professional names but they all had a name for the old, original primal forces describing both its complexity and its rarity: Arcane Magic .
Eventually, the numbers of Arcane masters began to dwindle. It is unknown whether the easier path of the three realms drew prospective spellcasters away, or whether the masters died of age and attrition, or whether the masters were extinguished by a war within themselves; but few of their numbers remain to teach new students. Those who seek to unlock the secrets of Arcane Magic more often than not, must find the knowledge in scattered and forgotten tomes, teaching themselves ...
The Essence is which is common to all things, living and dead, organic and inorganic. It has been characterized by many names, The Tao, Magic, the Force etc. and represents a power and order which defines the ways of the world. Changes in the patterns of the essence dictate the flow of events, and of course of life itself. It is a power beyond the grasp of any being.
Nonetheless, some who become one with the essence, find ways of manipulating its patterns on a temporary basis. This fleeting strength allows them to redefine the reality around them, molding elements and wielding very real power. Thus , the spells of those who are of the realm of essence can both be beautiful and lethal, affecting one or many. In the end, however, the normal patterns will always prevail, and only the effects will remain to tell the tale. Those things unliving interfere with the manipulation of the patterns of essence. Being essentially inert, they inhabit the usual extension of one’s life essence, creating difficulty for the spell user seeking to alter patterns outside his body’s immediate sphere. This ability to mold the essence is a prerequisite to the succesful casting of spells. It is because of this principle, that users of the essence cannot wear armor or helmets while utilizing spells. Inorganic substances, particularly metal, create even greater difficulties, and provide stronger protection against the powers of the essence. No shield, however, can completely ignore that which is the basis of all things.
Channeling spells are cast from the realm of the deity of the caster, or his “god”. These spells are open to every Channeling caster, and not specifically to the orders of Shamans and Priests Channeling represents the power of the deities (or gods) of a given world as channeled through their followers or other spell users. It is spiritual and religious in nature, and is dependent of the essence. A spell user of this realm may draw his strength from his respective deity, and often does not require that deity’s cooperation. This is especially true where the spell user is employing relatively weak or subtle spells (e.g. healing, detection etc.). Thus, spells of this realm do not necessarily reflect the nature of specific deities. More powerful and significant spells however, such as death spells and the revival of the dead, might require the active consent of the deity (depending on the world system). Inorganic substances, notably metal, interfere with the drawing of power from the deities. No metal helmets or armor may be worn when casting or using a channeling spell. In addition, only a small amount of metal may be carried by the caster utilizing strong spells. This concept is subject to the gamemaster’s discretion, as is one other focal point: Lifegiving.
Lifegiving entails the reunification of a soul (or inner essence) with a body capable of supporting it. It is not the healing of the system shock and damage itself, rather, it is the restoration of the spark of life itself. A physical body which is able to nurture the soul is a natural prerequisite, however. Some deities and/or world systems may also require specific conduct or rituals before a Lifegiving spell can be succesfully employed.
The mind is an amazing tool, especially for those who use it. Yet no one uses it to its full capacity. Mentalism is that realm of power in which the masters of spells strive to use their minds in ways few even contemplate. By using the very personal power locked within themselves, mentalists are able to channel the power of the essence through their own mental corridors, thus manipulating and bending the reality that surrounds them. In a sense, they act as very minute imitations of the deities above, giving power no to clerics, but retaining it and directing its manipulation. Mentalists are masters of the essence within their own minds. Because mentalists are not deities, however, they work within the limitations of their worldy bodies- their spells beyond themselves or one target. Manipulation of one’s own essence does not yield the wide-reaching power of the other realms. Additionally, the physical freedom of the mentalist’s head is a prerequisite to the use of this inner strength. No head covering, especially helms, may be worn while casting or using a mentalist spell. Nonetheless, the power of the mentalist can reach great heights. They are the masters of thought, gatherers of presence and inner strength. Even though their focus is generally limited to singular targets, their abilities regarding personal confrontations are considerable indeed… for, it is the mentalist who seeks to fulfill the destiny of his own mind.