In general, Magic itself is defined as the extra-ordinary manipulation (either consciously or unconsciously) of natural and spiritual forces towards an intended result. Magic can also be a term for a phenomena that is currently unexplained through natural processes.
Origins Magic is a manipulation of various forces that came about as a natural defense mechanism for specific beings. Angels were created with the gift of divine magic, Jinn with arcane magic and Humans with natural magic.
On a more philosophical level, one of the great debated questions is the true nature of magic. While Magi, Seers, and Shamans and similar types are a common fixture in Kaf society, knowledge of the truth behind their powers was until recently, was hotly debated throughout history. All that was commonly accepted was that spirits and some sort of 'other-world' or spirit realm were involved. Several schools are:
The Clerical School believed that spirits are divine beings ('gods' might be a better word) who guard the world against demons. Magic is power granted by the spirits to those they consider righteous. They believe books of laws must be followed, and certain rituals performed, in order to achieve this level of righteousness. Evil spirits (demons) exist and can possess people, or grant powers to those of evil will.
The Ritualistic School contended that magic is an impersonal force that obeys a set of fundamental rules, like gravity. 'Spirits' are either humanity's attempts to personify this force, or beings who dwell within it, but are otherwise just as real and classifiable as any other mundane animal or plant. Their studies are devoted to learning these rules and attempting to test them by performing spells. Their name comes from the elaborate systems they have designed for trying to call upon these powers, which include things like playing particular musical notes, drawing mystical shapes, burning certain types of incense, or consuming various mind altering substances.
The Mentalist School is unique in that it stated that there is no independent 'spirit world'. They believe that magic is simply an extension of the human will, and spirits are voices within one's own head, giving voice to subconscious knowledge. All sentient beings are theoretically capable of performing magic, they simply need to unlock the hidden potential within their own hearts and minds. Mentalist practices include intense meditation and physical exercise, which is dedicated to giving one as much control over their body and mind as possible.
A fourth (relatively minor) classical faction is the Death School, whose practitioners are known as necromancers. They believe that spirits are the souls of the dead, and the other-world is a realm where the collected wisdom of every being who has ever died is collected into a single whole. Their studies centered around attempting to contact the dead and questioning them in order to gain access to this unlimited pool of knowledge. A few more extreme members even believe that it is possible to become one with this store of knowledge while one is still alive, and thus achieve physical immortality.
It should be noted that with a lot of explanations for phenomena, there are multiple theories that together help paint a clearer picture than they could alone. Even if the philosophies were not 100% accurate in all cases, all of them have contributed a significant amount to the advancement of knowledge in the subject.
Magical energy is gathered, usually by the practitioner from some source. This source can be the practitioner themselves or some other source. Common sources of energy are living things, items of power (also known as focii or focus), and natural elements, such as dirt, plant life, shells and so on. Certain supernatural beings can also lend their power to a practitioner, or in other extreme cases it can be taken by force (such as sacrifices). The Law of Contagion applies here, as certain energies may be required for certain uses. It is important to remember the source one gather's from or the effect of a ritual could turn out very different.
This could be described as where "the magic happens". The practionier takes the gathered energy and begins to focus and refine it to achieve a desired result. There are many methods with which to focus and refine the energy:
Ritual Circles Crystals Imbued Tattoos (acting as a kind of ritual circle) Focus or Incantation Material Components (different roots, herbs, elixirs, soil samples, among many items) Vacant charms or gylphs
The key component however is the user themself. They are always the source of the focus and cannot be replaced in a ritual. (In other words, some wizards have the power to cast great spells with no focus aids at all, some require many)
The energy in and of itself is not used up but simply altered to affect the immaterial and material planes. This is also the most dangerous part of magic...If too much energy is gathered or too little, the effect can be much different than what was desired. Also, if the proper methods of focusing are not utilized properly (poorly drawn circle, wrong crystals, or if the practitioner is impure from substance abuse). In this sense, equivalent exchange plays a huge role. There must be an equilibrium maintained between the energy gathered and the effect, with the practitioner as the focal point. Most magical study is devoted to maintaining this equilibrium between Focus and Energy.
The result of the practitioner's hard work. There are variables associated with effects that even an accomplished magic-user cannot always predict so each user should be keenly aware of what is at stake when using magic (especially when it comes to one's intentions). Magic users should also be wary of the law of contagion when it comes to the effect of the spell since, the energy does not dissipate but rather returns to the aural plane. The contact it makes with the material can have a lasting effect (on the person, object or place where magic rituals have been conducted or items have been used).
Types of Magic Edit
While applicable in alchemy, this rule also holds true for magic. The desired effect of magic must be equal to what the user brings forth (whether in terms of aura gathered during the spell or in the use of focii and magical aids). The only way to truly understand this law and the equations it requires is through study and experimentation.
The Power of the Spoken Word and True Names
In the magical sense, words are powerful and can have a great deal of effect on the aural plane. For magic users, words are their bond and hold a great deal more significance than just communication. As a result, magic ritual and practice is always strengthened when it is paired with an appropriate incantation. The same goes with Names, which allow wizards to exert their power. Knowing someone's true name creates a strong link between the magic-user and the person and vice-versa.
The Law of Contagion
Once two objects or energies have come in contact with one another, they continue to affect each other even if they are separated. Magic users are more sensitive to the aural world than most and can feel and comprehend this law beyond the physical sense.
They also can feel the effects of positive or negative energy much more acutely than mundanes, to the point where it could have affect their personality, behavior, or well being.
The Oneness of All
This law is subject to much debate and controversy. It contends that all energy and life is one and interconnected, founded upon the fact that magic users are not able to create energy, rather can only manipulate what is already present in an existing form. But this view can be seen as at odds with traditional magical understanding. Some contend that aura can be "re-written" to fit a practitioner's purpose regardless of where it came from, while others see the law as more in a social sense.
Specializations of magic
As mentioned before, the mind and body of all sentient beings has an energy field around it consisting of their life-force/spiritual energy. This is a natural and unconscious barrier to certain types of energy. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and force of will to bypass the natural barriers of an unwilling target. Thus it is very difficult though not impossible for cleric/healers and bards to bypass this natural barrier and affect a target unless they are willing to be affected. This is the true also for those casting mind affecting spells (more on this later) therefore it would take the skills of a highly advanced mage to perform such feats. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and force of will to bypass the natural barriers of an unwilling target unless the target itself is unusually weak of will.
Non-mages can form spiritual pacts with Mages. With a pact formed a mage no longer has to bypass the energy field surrounding the non-mage. Under such circumstances bards or cleric/healers will expand little to no energy in affecting those with whom they formed the pact with, if willing the non-mage can have a gem(s) magically embedded into their body. The mage at any time can imbue the gem with a single spell. For example a gem loaded with a minor regenerative spell that will automatically heal the minor wounds of a non-mage consistently as long as it has the required energy.
Group Effects: Mages are especially powerful when working together as a large group of willing participants can combine energies. Blood magic or sacrifice magic is the use of other creatures or beings life energy in substitute of your own to harness and control magic. The vitality of living things is distributed throughout their bodies but is concentrated in the blood and to a far lesser extent other bodily fluids. Mages can be "blessed" by spirits after making a pact with them. They can then use a portion of the spirit's power as their own. This universally comes with a price. A price may include a mage becoming a servant of the spirit and in doing so is subject to being temporarily possessed by the spirit whenever the spirit wills it. Extensive use of controlling the element will leave the mage with magical energies that surround them for a while after use. Examples extensive use of elemental forces such as controlling the wind will leave a mage with leaves and papers fluttering around them, fire magic leave a magic hot to the touch, random sparks of electricity can shock others after a mage doles out lightning.
A few extra things about magic
Usually refers to a particular kind of magic (usually a particular element) that a mage excels at. Can also refer to a specific brand of natural magic performed by Lunarians. As their homes are saturated by material resonant spiritual energy, the raw mana they would normally use resonates with various elements and allows for them to be manipulated as well.
The elements employed in affinities are:
-Fire (Heat) -Electricity
-Earth (Mineral) -Sound
Anti-Magic Complete magic nullification, even causing mana to decay into low grade spritual energy and dissipate. It affects mana plasma, ordered spellcraft, divine magic, and even a magic device's output. For beings with this as their innate ability, they essentially invulernable to directed offensive spells due to this, butmagic affecting a fixed space around its target can overpower this defense as well as magical effects that the individual wills to affect their body. Capturing and sensory altering magic will also work but the effects are weaken to the point where bonds can be broken with little effort and meditation can clear the senses.