[SYSTEMS] MAGIC - TINI HOWARD/JONATHAN HICKMAN, PART 2
Don't touch anything at all.
Okay, before we get into the last part of this, a little heads up on what’s going to be going on next week. You’ll want to pay close attention to our post on Monday as we have big announcements regrading all aspects of 3W3M. We’re pretty excited.
But today...the final section of our Magic system.
3 Worlds 3 Moons is a reader-supported initiative. Paid subscribers get access to exclusive comics, live events, and more. And for this weekend only, we’re offering a 30-Day FREE trial, so sign up now:
There are nine types of magic, which we’ll call schools in the non-literal sense. They exist outside of mortal definition, as nine forces that are borne from the connections between each larger planet and each smaller elemental moon. As mentioned before, magic is not about defined elements, but the relationships between them.
This is what the magical powers are, and what they would remain - both at their weakest points (as they would be when the story begins) and at their zenith, what I imagine the story would be building to. Obviously I’m not writing the story, but the thought I had in mind when I designed this was that it would be highly fractured at the beginning: so much so that these mystery cults, scattered across a planetary system and separated by fragmented traditions and long-term games of historic telephone, wouldn’t even have any idea about one another, and if they met, wouldn’t assume a relationship. It would be like a Celtic Druid meeting a Zulu Sangoma - we may recognize them both as holy men, and the two of them might have much to talk about, but they’d be likely to view one another as enemies before anything else, if they came upon one another. However, in this setting, I would assume their power came from the same source, and in a high-magic society, they would both simply be users of particular schools of magic, (or even possibly, wise men who would continue in their magical study to become archmages.)
There are THREE Elemental* forces tied to each planet: FIRE, WATER, and EARTH.
*This is a shit name. EVERYONE uses the name ‘elemental magic’ and they always mean the most basic, dumb type of magic - like fire people throwing fireballs and water people throwing ice. That’s not what we’re going to do here, but the forces are elemental in nature, so I’ll call them that for now. If you need help with a better name hit me up.
NOTE: I’m indifferent to this stuff because I don’t have a problem beating people over the head with obvious naming systems (because it makes it easier to swerve when it’s time), but maybe LEMENTA, LEMENTAS, LEMENTOS or something?
Each one governs the creation, destruction, and preservative forces of the universe in and around those spheres of influence. Which are as follows:
Tini is looking at this (appropriately so) from an emergent perspective -- what’s going to be bubbling up between the cracks as we emerge into a magic cycle.
But for our story -- which will work in both directions -- I think it works best to use this how it worked last cycle, what the archeology of that looks like, and how it changes in the new cycle.
So, from where we left off:
FIRE - The Sinjiro of the Broken Path
EARTH - The Knights of Khorless Way
WATER - The Pacigisto Warlords
FIRE: SACRAL MAGIC
(Physics, change, gravity, inertia, temperature and any other force of nature.)
As the people of Fire Planet are strict and disciplined, the magic honed and developed on that planet is the extension of that. Inner fire becomes outer fire. Internal focus, denial, discipline, and structure are the hallmarks of their connection to the magical forces of the world.
Sacral magic controls areas of great change, so it, and not ‘earth’ magic, is what one uses to control forces such as the weather or the seas. While the schools derived from Earth and Water do not teach the literal manifestation of rocks and water, Sacral magic does indeed often produce fire - more the result of high speed friction and physics than any sort of magical flame.
At the height of a science cycle, practitioners of all of these arts are rare, but each tradition of magic persists among hidden buried traditions and mystery cults. I’ll include some loose cultural examples of archetypal mages that might be found amidst these hidden traditions.
HIDDEN TRADITION: Druid types, monks, weather callers, dowsers, mad scientists harnessing lightning, secret orders of monks.
Additionally, one of the aspects of FAYRII that (I think) we haven’t revealed yet is that the place where ‘Magic’ is hiding his among the monarchy and the rest of the royal class.
They have the second largest collection of magical ‘artifacts’ from the last cycle (next to the INSTITUTE, of course), and a lot of the pageantry and ceremony among the royalty is based on bastardized versions of what lore survived the fall of the last cycle.
WATER: IATRAL/PSYCHAL MAGIC
(A tradition divided amongst itself, water is the school of life. The traditions tend to rise fractured, one focusing on the healing and crafting of the body and the other on the healing and crafting of the mind. Such highly personal magic suits a very religious culture, where trust in the higher power’s control over your very body and mind is...encouraged.)
In the way that the Water Planet is unfocused on a moon and instead highly devoted to the dangerous fluidity of their own planet, they have developed two distinct schools of magic in one. Even in a science cycle, their two schools of magic do not interact - but as they both exist on one planet, and as the schools are those of the body and mind, it is a fertile ground for the first illicit sharings of information as the Science Cycle rises…
As a magic cycle rises, they might be a bit of a test case - either one of the first places for the schools to begin joining (and indeed - they may even have record and memory of a time their schools were one, it might be simply a known heresy which seems limited to the planet’s politics, but is instead Cosmically Real. )
Magical forces seek balance the same as scientific equations, so as Fire magic encourages devotion and inner discipline to access higher powers in the same way pressure may make a diamond, water magic seeks different fuel entirely. Perhaps the sacrifice of the body and mind in madness or self-flagellation, or, if they’re really feeling like religious zealots, someone else’s blood might do just fine.
The highly sectarian religious groups - as well as the planet’s natural lessons of fluidity and change - lend themselves to two distinct schools of magic:
This, obviously, syncs up perfectly with what Al built in his religious system.
So we’ll take all of what he did, and what Tini, is suggesting below and integrate it into the trappings of each of two main religious arms on AKVA.
WATER ONE: Iatral. (Body) Magic of the body and healing. Iatric magic users are everything from healers to bioengineers, rebuilding bodies, creating golems, connect large biotechnical systems as bioengineers, and heal wounds.
HIDDEN TRADITION: During the height of a science cycle, these would be your ‘local healers,’ your witches in the woods, your midwives. They preserve the art of healing magic. Or...they’re face dancer-style killers who take on the shape of others. Or both!
This will be nested inside of THE WORSHIPPERS OF VODA-IN-GLORY.
WATER TWO: Psyche. (Mind) This is the magic of healing minds from trauma and misery, but opening one’s mind up to others for tweaks offers them a powerful and dangerous sense of mental control. One can see how this is one of the most dangerous magical arts possible - but also quite valuable. Think Eternal Sunshine memory tourism and Black Mirror time prisons.
HIDDEN TRADITION: Assassins, fortune tellers, grifters, psychics, babbling mad oracles who scry into gazing pools. I imagine there’s something to the idea of crossing traditions to be touched on in the sacrificing of physical parts for mental powers - like Odin losing an eye for wisdom, or prophets cutting out their tongues.
This will be nested inside of THE CRUSADERS AGAINST VODA-IN-DAMNATION.
(A FORBIDDEN JOINING: It seems to me that powerful mages who controlled both the body and mind like puppeteers would be quite dangerous. Makes sense to not let people learn both. Those almost seem tailor made to be your necromancer types, your misunderstood dark mages, who are tapping into something ‘forbidden’ that is actually cosmically true.)
This will be nested inside of THE FOLLOWERS OF THE CYCLIC APOCRYPHA.
EARTH: ARCHAIC MAGIC
(The material, the eternal, that which persists and cannot be created or destroyed - they manipulate matter, where Fire governs natural forces and Water the body and mind. With two moons - order and chaos - and a natural sense of bureaucracy, it makes perfect sense: matter must be conserved, and the equation must be balanced.)
They are rich. Of all the magic traditions, the water traditions have their medical usefulness and the fire tradition has the power of force to get their way, but money makes each and every world go round, and the Archaesans can manifest just about anything - for a cost.
But they are also strategists, engineers, brilliant generals, fortress builders, and while they don’t use their “earth magic” to make seeds grow from gardens, their ability to synthesize perfect soil and perfect water makes them expert farmers. (Just one more reason they are so rich.)
HIDDEN TRADITION: Archaesans are also master chemists, drug synthesizers, alchemists, or even genies who spin straw into gold and grant wishes of jewels.
And on THERRA -- the most susceptible to the push/pull of KAOSO and ORDO -- the massive overcorrection of the emerging science cycle led the INSTITUTE to implement draconian measures to erase/destroy/steal any remnants of magic on Therra.
Which, naturally, lead to magic having a thriving underground ecosystem as that kind of control never works.
Nature finds a way, right?
As for this last part, I want to keep it all.
Tini implies she’s noodling here -- not sure if we want to get this far into the weeds -- but it all works as the high and low systems inside a now-dead/dormant magic cycle.
I’m just going to sort them.
ONCE THE HIGH MAGIC PART OF THE CYCLE REACHES ITS APEX, and these traditions unify, they fragment again almost immediately - but it doesn’t seem like a fracturing. Ideologically - technically it is - by nature of being sorted and separated it is a step away from the apex of a Magic cycle. But timeline-wise, it still allows for hundreds of years (or whatever) of mono-culture magic-school stories where the knowledge itself is taught in various schools, like D&D or Harry Potter or whatever. And those names of those schools have their roots tied to the larger/major elemental forces, and whether the magic they manifest is creative, destructive, or both.
Beneath are what I imagine the schools might look like, being as they are derived from those nine relationships between those forces as seen above. I didn’t add in any cultural flavor, I tried to keep it rather flat for you to hang story on, but there are just ideas for what you could do with any of these ideas, and it would make thematic sense to me, a magic nerd.
So, you may not ever even get to this stuff. Or you may decide you want to incorporate it into the ‘fall of the science cycle/rise of the magic cycle’ stuff above. But my thought initially was that these schools only appear after the apex of magic, and not before. But again - it’s your book. Feel free to use this stuff, or if it’s too granular, don’t.
ORDER: -techt. (Sacritecht, Iatrotecht, Psychetect, Architect.)
-Techts are builders, constructors, healers, makers.
ORDER OF FIRE: SACRITECTS
The Sacritects are precise scientists who are able to micromanipulate forces to create weapons, from handhelds to nuclear weapons, minature deployable gravity wells and singularities, you name it. They can stop a heart with an electric shock from as far away as they can see, or increase the friction on a whole fleet of warships as they enter an atmosphere so they go up in flames. hey might also be massive colonizers - that kind of control over the forces of things makes me think one could terraform a planet in a heartbeat.
ORDER OF WATER: IATROTECHTS/PSYCHETECTS
Iatrotechts are necromancers, golemancers, hospitallers and hospital ships, as literal builders of bodies. The clone planet from the Star Wars prequels, where they built the clones, those long-necked aliens - they’d be iatrotechts too. Psychetechts build minds from the ground up, heal trauma, and teach others their ways in order to spread word to the masses. At their worst, they become New World Order types who seek to remake the minds of the masses in their own name. Both are tamperers - but both generally stick to methods with predictable results.
ORDER OF EARTH: ARCHITECTS
Exactly what it sounds like. Builders, fortress designers, armorers, builders of magical weaponry, alchemists, mad scientists, etc. Planners of great battles, master designers and engineers.
TECHTS and all the related subsets exists under the branches of the ACADEMY as follows:
MAJOR: The Sinjiro of the Broken Path
MINOR: The Knights of Khorless Way and The Pacigisto Warlords
CHAOS: -ficer (Sacrificer, Iatrificer, Psycheficer, Archaeficer)
- Ficers are branding themselves really well. Sure, they want to make anew, after they’ve destroyed what is currently present. Destroyers, bombs, assassins. The ‘Evil’ side of each elements’ magic.
CHAOS OF FIRE: SACRIFICERS
If the orderly version of these guys are weapons, I’m not sure what the chaos version is, but I’m imagining an inherently unstable molecule of a person who has to be handled like sentient radium lest they break down the forces of physics around them. But there’s much wisdom to be gathered at the edges of society...
CHAOS OF WATER: PSYCHEFICERS
Psycheficers are madness wielders. They can break the mind, show things that aren’t true, make people hear things that aren’t there. Again, perhaps not made for polite society.
CHAOS OF WATER: IATROFICERS
Minds intact, their bodies likely twist with the strangeness of their chaotic life magic. Among them are cancer mages, spreaders of death and disease, like the god Chernobog. Plaguelords. These folks like genetic tampering as much as their orderly brethren, but likely utilize methods with more chaotic (read: magical) results. (You know how Leda fucked a swan who was secretly Zeus, and the genetic result was the world’s hottest woman? I’m just saying.)
CHAOS OF EARTH: ARCHIFICERS
Matter destroyers. Like human black holes. Illusionists, who create visions where there are none. Warpers of reality.
FICERS and all the related subsets exists under the branches of the ACADEMY as follows:
MAJOR: The Pacigisto Warlords
MINOR: The Knights of Khorless Way and The Sinjiro of the Broken Path
HEAVENS: - ist (Sacrist, Iatrist, Psychist, Archist.)
-ists are terribly boring to most folk, as their nature is stagnation and preservation. They choose to dispense knowledge and preserve tradition, or remain still and silent in meditation and have others come to them.
FIRE OF THE HEAVENS: SACRISTS
Physicists, brilliant sort of spelljamming cosmic spacetime magicians who can track trajectories and understand the movement of the heavens. Galileo, Carl Sagan, and Merlin.
WATER OF THE HEAVENS: PSYCHISTS
Psychonauts who push the limits of their minds by eating drugs and other mind expanding practices.
WATER OF THE HEAVENS: IATRISTS
Those who seek higher knowledge through physical transformation.
UNION OF EARTH AND SKY: ARCHISTS.
These are the mountaintop gurus. The Yodas, but also sometimes - a consciousness trapped in a gem, or something like that - they get very funny about matter.
ISTS and all the related subsets exists under the branches of the ACADEMY as follows:
MAJOR: The Knights of Khorless Way
MINOR: The Pacigisto Warlords and The Sinjiro of the Broken Path
All right, we have our magic system. For the past and the future.
Thanks again to Tini Howard for the bang-up job, and we’ll see you Monday!