How Magic Works in the Winter’s Magic Series

Prior to drafting the first of the Winter’s Magic books, I spent a lot of time developing the lore and documenting how magic would work in my setting. Today I am going to share a glimpse of the fundamentals of my mystic world. If you find this article interesting or helpful in your understanding of my fantasy series, please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Basics

Becoming a Magic Practitioner: Mages are born with magic blood (the offspring of Gods). To become a magic user, mages must study theory books, be initiated (where other mages open their mind to magic), dedicate time to tapping into their magic sources (finding mana attunements), hone their spell casting skills, and physically train their bodies to endure the strain of channelling mana.

There are some magical races who have innate attunements and magical abilities. These include the other demigods (dragons, dwarves, elves, gorgons, orcs, spirits) and most hybrid races (unless they are the offspring of mages), and the cursed. Spell casting is still an art that must be learned even for these races.

Source of Magic: “Mana” is an inexhaustible source of magic that flows through the natural systems of the universe.

Miracles Vs Magic: Miracles can only be performed directly by the Gods.

Magic cannot facilitate:

  • Time travel
  • Unaided space travel

Limitations of magical power:

  • A magic user requires magical blood (being born of the Gods).
  • Must be initiated (other mages open the initiates’ mind to magic).
  • Attunement to mana sources (tapping into different magic sources)
  • Access to mana sources (can be in the form of imbued crystals)
  • Mages’ physical endurance (channelling lots of power takes a physical toll).

The price of practising magic:

  • Years of study
  • Mindfulness (focus) is required to tap into mana sources. The more proficient a mage becomes with channelling a specific source, the less time they need to focus in order to access it.
  • Physical strain (requires endurance training)

A mage’s power level is  determined by:

  • Greater physical endurance (ability to handle greater levels of power)
  • More attunements
  • Knowledge of more spells
  • Greater concentration of magic in their blood.

Long-term effects of practising magic: Mages provide a conduit for mana to flow, and this can take a toll on one’s energy levels and health.

Gaining power can also become addictive and has the potential to corrupt a mage (hence Dark mages and the Cursed).

Corruption: Mages can avoid corruption by maintaining spiritual balance.

A more concentrated magic bloodline can increase the chances of becoming corrupted by power. The way a mage is raised is also a factor. This can also be an issue for other magical races, with some more prone to corruption than others.

Lifespan: The average mage lives longer than the average human because they are generally fitter and healthier and have access to healing magic. But their bodies still deteriorate with age at the same rate as the human body and magic that stops ageing or leads to immortality is strictly forbidden.

Other magical races have different lifespans.

The age of power: A mage gains access to magic when they hit puberty. They become stronger over time with more training, although an old, infirm mage can struggle to channel as much power.

Losing access to magic: Overdoing it results in death. If a mage’s brain is damaged to the point that the mage cannot meditate (such as permanent coma), they can no longer perform magic.

Learning magic: Magic takes a lifetime to learn and master, but the basics can be learnt in a matter of months. Magic training is provided by parents or other senior family members.

Mana Sources

Mages can channel mana from various sources. Being proficient in a mana source is known as being attuned to it.

Aether: the Celestial element, a power source that comes directly from the realm of the gods. It allows mages to communicate with the gods and with the spirit world.

Cosmic: the power of the stars and planets and everything in between. This attunement allows practitioners to gain insight into the past, present, and future.

Elemental: By harnessing the powers of earth, air, fire, and water, a mage can also manipulate them.

Emotions: This is a controversial mana source because of how often it has been abused. Mages are not permitted to inflict pain and suffering on others in order to benefit from these negative emotions, however they may channel such power from themselves. Mages attuned to this mana gain the ability to manipulate the thoughts and emotions of others.

Energy: Any energy source can also be a magical power source. This includes electricity, sound, nuclear, kinetic, light, thermal, gravitational, chemical, elastic, magnetic etc. By harnessing these powers, mages can also manipulate them.

Organic Life: Use of this mana source is largely prohibited or restricted. Blood and flesh magic are forbidden and practitioners are often cursed for dabbling in these dark arts. The one area that is widely accepted is plant magic which is commonly used for healing.

Matter: The states of matter (i.e. solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) can be harnessed and manipulated by mages.

Names: The names of powerful beings such as gods and ancestors can be invoked for the powers they provide. Mages can imbue items with such power to create powerful weapons, armour, and magic tools.

Nether: using the stygian element, a power source that comes from the Underworld, is strictly forbidden. It can be used to summon demons and harness hellfire.

Primordial: this is the ultimate power source, providing access to all other mana sources. It came from the primordial soup and exists within the ancient places of the world. The Arch Mage has restricted access to this mana source.

Physical Forces: this includes applied force, inertia, gravitational, friction, air resistance, tension, and spring force. Those who harness this power can also manipulate these forces.

Senses: the five senses (sight, scent, sound, touch, and taste) can be manipulated by mages channelling this source.

Varieties of Magic

Magic Practice

Practitioner

Description

Typical Mana Attunements*

Abjuration

Abjurer

Protection and healing

Senses & Organic

Conjuration

Conjurer

Create, imbue, or transfer items

Matter & Names

Divination

Clairvoyant

Gain insight & information

Cosmic & any other

Enchantment

Enchanter

Influence minds and emotions

Emotions & Senses

Illusions

Illusionist

Create and detect illusions

Senses & Physical forces

Nature

Shaman

Control the natural world

Elements & Organic

Offensive

Warlock

Deal damage to others

Elements & Physical forces

Necromancy

Necromancer

Manipulate forces of death

Aether & Organic

Transmutation

Alchemist

Transform living or non-living things

Matter or Organic & Energy

* Mana sources are typical but may vary for individual practitioners.

Gender bias: Only men can register as warlocks and divination is more common for women, but the rest are not gender biased.

Spell Casting

Spell Casting Needs: 

In most cases, a mage just needs access to their mana source and the ability to focus their mind.

Some more powerful spells require several mages to participate in a ritual. Rituals require the use of magical tools.

There are types of magic that involve enchanting items or creating potions where material components are required.

Crystals and gems often aid mages by providing easy access to mana, which is why they are used to create magic rings. These are sourced by dwarves and made by Conjurers.

Other enchanted items include weapons and magical tools, which are made by dwarves and mages. Such items can become important family heirlooms.

Magic tools include:

  • Athame (ritual blade)
  • Mirror, Wand
  • Candle holders & candles, Chalice & spring water, Bowl & rock salt, Incense burner & incense
  • Cauldron
  • Crystals which are commonly imbued with mana and mounted on rings for ready access to a mana source
  • Talisman Rings and amulets
  • Mind shields: silver amulets made with Botswana agate and Blue lace agate
  • Crystal chips: a computer chip integrating magical properties of crystals into modern technology. E.g. Amethyst chips provide recording devices with sixth sense.
  • Mystic cameras
  • Ritual Robes
  • Divination tools

Time Required:

Most spells are instant, but rituals can take hours. Working together on a ritual can produce a stronger effect but takes longer than solo spells and requires ritual tools.

Spells cannot be stored for later use unless an item is being imbued with magical properties.

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