Following are some write-ups of the magic system within the nine kingdoms of the Nightblade Volumes, as well as some explanation of how the existence of magic has affected the society throughout the years.
I hope to create more posts like this in the future. Please, if you have questions about things, let me know. I’ll answer them in the comments or maybe even create a whole new blog post about them.
MAGIC’S FOUR BRANCHES
WIZARDS IN SOCIETY
In the nine kingdoms, less than 1% of all humans are born with magic. It is rumored that things are different in other parts of the world. In the east, where native tribesmen ride horses across great fields of grass and live among nature, it is said that almost everyone is born with magical talent, but it is a small thing, nothing flashy like Elementalism. But the tribesmen are understandably wary of their western neighbors, and so little is known about them.
Elves, of course, are in full command of all magic at all times, but seem to use mentalism above the other schools. They also possess a “fifth branch” of magic, little studied in human kingdoms, but ineptly labeled “Soulspeech” and which may be understood in modern terms (again, ineptly) as an advanced form of telepathy. To date, no human has displayed this branch of magic. And since Elves are a terrifying force of nature, whose nature cannot be predicted and who cannot be understood, they are avoided at all costs, resulting in even less knowledge of this “fifth branch.”
Among wizards in the nine kingdoms, less than a quarter are born with abilities that anyone would consider impressive. But many with weak magical abilities are able to use them in clever ways to become VERY useful. Auntie, for example, can change her skin color, hair color and appearance (handy for a pickpocket).
Magic depends on an innate ability one is born with, but beyond that the branches differ in their application.
ELEMENTALISM AND TRANSMUTATION
Elementalists and transmuters require the use of their hands and verbal commands. The verbal commands are in the common tongue. It is possible that the gesturing of hands and use of words are merely mental crutches, something to aid the wizard in visualizing their magic, but so far as history is concerned these wizards have always needed hands and tongues to cast spells. The most effective way to neutralize these wizards is to gag them — or, for a permanent solution, remove the tongue.
Therianthropes use their powers like flexing a muscle, much as any person does to smile, frown or draw their eyebrows together. The muscles required depend on the therianthrope. Werewolves, for example, require the entire body. Binding hands and legs will prevent them from changing. Others, like Auntie, are subtler, proving difficult to restrain or disable. Of course, if Auntie already lies in chains, one doesn’t much care what her face looks like.
Mentalists require line of sight. They must see an object and visualize the force they would place against it. This is what prevents them from working inside of a body, for example, although extremely powerful mages can obviate the problem by forming knives of pure will and slicing the target open — although, by that point, further internal damage hardly seems necessary. Blindfolding a mentalist will cut them from the source of their power.
NOTES ON THE WIZARD KINGS
Though one is born (or not) with magic, it is NOT hereditary, and therefore the magical percentage of the population never varies greatly. Wizard kings in the past engaged in many selective breeding policies, trying to create more wizards for their armies, but all failed. (Many of these policies formed the brutal basis for a later ban on any wizard taking a throne). It seems that whatever force has bestowed magic upon the world does not wish to see its strength wax or wane.
At one time, wizards were allowed to become kings just like any other. And in many kingdoms they ruled, for few could stand against them.
But wizards as kings drew no end of problems. Kingship has always been hereditary, passing to the eldest child, but with the odds stacked against any wizard’s child possessing the same abilities, it was common for a wizard king’s heir to assume the throne only to be killed by a wizard usurper. This, combined with many brutal acts by wizard kings drunk with power over the centuries, led to the Fearless Decree.
Andriana the Fearless outlawed Wizard Kings over six centuries ago. Before that time they were common, and often much feared. After the last rise of the Necromancer, the kingdoms suffered turmoil for many decades, and the people suffered greatly as the many wizard kings fought each other for the resources they need to rebuild.
Andriana served as the High King at the time, and was herself a wizard king. After issuing the decree, she abdicated the throne and forced a new election among the nine kingdoms. Many wizard kings sought to use force and take the High King’s seat for themselves, but all who did so faced the wrath of Andriana. The world has rarely seen a more powerful wizard than Andriana, and she laid low all who opposed him. By the time she died (at an incredibly old age) the Fearless Decree had passed into immutable law, and no wizard has sat a throne since.