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Magic was the ability possessed by some individuals to manipulate the ambient energies of the world to produce desired results, or so most thought. In the Realms, arcane magic was commonly referred to as "the Art", while divine magic was referred to as "the Power".[1] In addition to granting spellcasting abilities, magic was an influential force in the Realms. It served as the source of energy for enchanted items,[2] allowed Faerûnians to travel across Toril and through the extra-planar cosmology[3] and even shaped the physical landscape of the planet.

The goddess Mystra controlled the Weave which was the main medium for channeling the arcane energies of Toril. The goddess Shar controlled the Shadow Weave, a dark and distorted imitation of the Weave which flowed in-between its empty space.[4] Divine magic was drawn from specific deities and[1] not influenced by either Mystra or Shar as evidenced by the fact it continued to work when arcane magic ceased to function. Historically this made it the most reliable form of magic.[citation needed]

HistoryEdit

Main article: History of Magic

Creation of the WeaveEdit

Lord Ao created the universe. At first it was nothing but energy, with neither light nor dark, heat nor cold. Eventually the energy created two deities – Selûne and Shar. Together they created heavens and Chauntea, the embodiment of the world of Toril. Chauntea begged for light and warmth so that she could create life on the new world, Selûne supported this endeavor and Shar opposed it vehemently.[5]

The subsequent war between the sisters created new deities – war, murder, and destruction among them. When Selûne lit one of the nearby heavenly bodies on fire to provide the light and warmth needed for Chauntea, Shar became enraged and tried to extinguish light everywhere. Selûne tore the energy from her own body and flung it at Shar, where it joined with Shar's energy and passed from both of them, thus creating the goddess of magic, Mystryl. The birth of Mystryl not only brought a truce to Selûne and Shar, but created the Weave.[5]

In the newly created Toril, magic abounded in everything, but in its raw state it was too dangerous for mortals to use. The Weave was a like a fabric, consisting of many threads, all woven together to create an intricate design. Spellcasting and the use of magic items pulled individual threads and reweaved them, creating new designs. After this, both mortals and deities could use magic through this fabric that was both the embodiment of Mystryl and a conduit to raw magic.[citation needed]

Karsus's FollyEdit

When the Phaerimm, a race dwelling under the surface of the earth, began to cast spells draining the empire of Netheril of its magic,[6] a powerful mage named Karsus created a link to Mystryl in an attempt to steal her power, become a god and save his empire. This caused a great rift in the Weave, and Mystryl was so weakened that she sacrificed herself to save the world. Since she was the Weave, magic immediately ceased all across Toril. A new goddess of magic named Mystra was born, and she was able to repair the weave in a way that such powerful spells could never be used against it again.[7]

Elminster2

Elminster, one of the most recognizable wizards in the Realms.

Avatar crisisEdit

In 1358 DR, the gods Bane and Myrkul attempted to steal the Tablets of Fate, artifacts that recorded the names and duties of all of deities, from Lord Ao. In retribution, the Overgod declared that every god be forced into mortal bodies upon Toril. As a result, divine magic ceased to function unless the the caster was within one mile of the avatar of their patron deity. [8]

During the crisis, the avatar of Mystra was destroyed by Helm, which caused the force of the Weave to be released into the land of Toril itself. This resulted in the appearance of areas of wild magic and dead magic across the Realms. The goddess of magic was eventually reincarnated in the body of her chosen, a wizard named Midnight.[8] After the tablets were returned to Ao, he destroyed them,[9] thus beginning a period known as the Era of Upheaval.[10]

SpellplagueEdit

On Tarsakh 29, 1385 DR,[11] a storm of massive blue flames erupted over Southwest Faerûn and rapidly grew in size.[12] The changes to Toril were immense, the planet exchanged continents with its twin Abeir, resulting in the Plaguewrought Lands over what was the nation of Halruaa[11] as well as the appearance of Earthmotes within the sky.[13] Some creatures and people became warped and dsifigured by the storm. They came to be known as plaguechanged,[14] some of whom gained arcane powers through spellscars.[15]

However, these effects paled in comparison to the overall destruction across the other planes. The homes of the gods, previously known as the World Tree were set adrift across the Astral Sea. Mystra herself was assassinated by the god Cyric, via the machinations of Shar. Seemingly as a result, the bonds of the Weave were destroyed and magic ceased to function as expected.[11] This change in magic, along with the effects of the storm on Toril, would rage for 10 years, in a period that would come to be known as the Wailing Years.[12]

Although many believed the collapse of the Weave to have been caused by Mystra's death,[11] this was not the exact truth. After Mystra's death, Shar believed that by destroying Mystra's divine realm of Dweomerheart, via power from the Far Realm, she could gain control of the Weave. Instead, the Dark Goddess destroyed the bonds of the Weave and released all the magic of the Realms. Cyric's insanity had manifest physically, further corrupted by the plane of madness, and entwined into the magic released by the unraveling of the Weave.[12]

Present AgeEdit

The Era of Upheaval continued for almost a century, until Lord Ao decided to rewrite the Tablets of Fate, and begin the Second Sundering.[16] Many of the changes brought on by the Spellplague were reversed,[17] and perhaps most notably, Elminster reattained the rank as Mystra's Chosen and returned to the Goddess of Magic. Over time this brought back her power,[18] and by the year 1479 DR, her divinity was restored.[19] Both She and the Weave returned to their roles before the Era of Upheaval. As it was centuries before, Mystra was the Weave.[17]

Divine magicEdit

Main article: Divine magic

Magic that originated from a spell-granting deity, usually through prayer, was considered divine in nature and called the Power by the common folk. Clerics, druids, paladins, rangers and others all derived their spells and spell-like-abilities from their deity. A practitioner of the Power had no affinity with the Art, as their spells were planted in their minds directly by their patron deity, and they did not tap the Weave.[1] Casting divine spells was more like an exclamation of faith that brought about a sensation appropriate to the patron deity to whom the faith was devoted.[20]

Spheres and domainsEdit

As each pantheon had spiritual reign over certain regions or populations on the world of Toril, so too did each deity have dominion over specific spheres of influence,[21] or as they came to be known after the Avatar Crisis, as domains[22] (part of their overall portfolio).[23] The spells of clerics, paladins and other divine casters came from these domains or spheres.[24]

Prior to the Time of Troubles a deity's divine realm was referred to as their domain.[25]

SubtypesEdit

  • Faith magic: A small subcategory of divine spells could make use of the "devotional energy" that came from many worshipers congregated in a specific location dedicated or sacred to a deity. Once a focus was created to harness this energy, it could be used for protecting people, improving harvests, controlling weather, aiding communication between diverse peoples, and improving public health.[26]
  • Candle magic: The mystics of Faerûn took herbalism to greater heights and could create candles that had the same or similar effects as some spells.[27]

Arcane magicEdit

Main article: Arcane magic

Any magic that didn't originate from a deity was defined as arcane magic. [note 1] The use of arcane magic was referred to in day-to-day speech as the Art, and a wide variety of people were able to practice it, to a small or larger extent, though the way in which they accessed the Weave differed dramatically.[20]

Most wizards spent long years researching their art, gathering spells to their personal book, and each day they could only memorize a small fraction of these. The memory of the spell is wiped from his or her mind as it was cast. The wizard had to re-study the spell before he or she can cast it again, unless more than one casting of the spell in question was prepared.[28] [29]

Sorcerers, also known as innanoths,[citation needed] for their innate mastery of the Weave, were not required to research spells. They tapped into the Weave in a more direct manner, but because of this, the selection of spells available to a sorcerer was more limited than those available to a wizard.[30]

Warlocks gained access to their arcane power by forging pacts with supernatural beings of the Realms, such as powerful aberrations from the depths of the Underdark,[31] or even the ancient fey of Evermeet.[32] Even bards of the Realms had access to the Weave to use certain magical abilities.[33] Some, such as assassins[34] and swordmages, could blend their arcane gifts with martial prowess.[31]

SchoolsEdit

Schools of magic, also known as schools of philosophy,[35] were categories into which spells were organized by function. Spells were created by wizards with these schools in mind,[36] though divine spells fell within these preset categories as well. Still, there were also some spells that defied categorization within a school.[citation needed]

Wizards chose to specialize in spells from a certain school; they focused more effort into these spells than any other, but at the expense of all spells from one or more other schools. These schools of magic had been in existence for ages and their origins were mostly unknown.[36] They were not yet used by the arcanists of Netheril, however, who only distinguished three schools or Fields of Mythal: Inventive, mentalism and variation.[37]

The major schools of magic were:

Second Edition Schools of Magic Relationships

The opposing schools of magic.

  • Abjuration : A collection of spells of a protective nature.[36]
  • Alteration : Formerly also known as trasmutation, these spells could transform the nature of the physical world or objects in it.[38]
  • Conjuration : This group of spells created or transported people, energy or objects.[36]
  • Divination : This school had fewer spells than others,[39] but allowed the caster to see things that they normally would not be able to.[36]
  • Enchantment : An area of arcane study that specialized in manipulating the minds of others.[39]
  • Evocation/Invocation : Although spells of this school seemingly created effects out of nothing, they drew raw power from out of the Weave.[39]
  • Illusion : This school was almost a secret society prior to the Time of Troubles, even possessing their own language. Their spells were those that fooled the senses.[39]
  • Necromancy : A dichotomous school that wielded positive energy into healing spells, and negative energy to effect both the dead and undead.[39]
  • Universal : A small number of spells were not associated with any school but universally available, even to specialists.[40][41]

Other schoolsEdit

The rarely studied schools of chronomancy[42] and wild magic[40] were special cases, as they contained many spells that can be used only by those specializing in them.[42][40] The latter was even a school of magic in the discipline of thaumaturgy.[43]

Some schools of magic were unique to certain cultures. These spellcasters of Maztica each used their own selection of exclusive spells, which was somewhat of a cross between a school of magic and a priestly sphere.[45]

  • Hishna : Talonmagic shaped the dangerous aspects of nature with the help of talismans to dominate and help in warfare.[45]
  • Pluma : Feathermagic used the benevolent aspects of nature, in what were often bird-related spells, for the benefit of communities.[45]

Similarly, the mages of Zakhara distributed their spells into the elemental provinces of wind, sand, flame, and sea, as well as the universal province, open to all wizards.[46]

Alternative systems of magicEdit

Some casters organized arcane spells not into the traditional schools of philosophy, but, based on what they produced/. These were known as schools of effect:[47]

  • Dimensional: Mages known as dimensionalists employed space, time and the planes for their purposes.[48]
  • Elemental: Spellcasters that worked in this school of effect, known as elementalists, specialized in spells of one of the four elemental schools of air, earth, fire, and water.[47]
  • Incantation: This magic specialized in spells that affected magic itself. A practitioner of this school was known as Incantatrix.[49]
  • Shadow: Practitioners of this school, which was also known as talfirian magic, used twilight, darkness and forces from the Plane of Shadow.[50]

Followers of path magic did not recognize schools of magic, but specialized in paths of power, much smaller selections of spells of increasing power unified by a single topic.[51]

ThaumaturgyEdit

The schools of thaumaturgy did not only put spells into categories different from the traditional schools, but used alternative ways to access magical energy: [52][53]

  • Artifice: This school taught the use of substances and magical items to channel magic.[40]
  • Song: Any spell that required singing or command of the voice belonged to this school of thaumaturgy.[40]
  • Wild magic : A school whose spells that tapped into raw magic, with powerful but often chaotic results.[40]

Raw magicEdit

Raw magic was a powerful force, locked within all matter, that was difficult and dangerous for even the most patient of mortals to wield.

  • Spellfire: This rare, supernatural-arcane ability was refined and controlled raw magic,[54] drawing the living energy from diverse sources throughout the world. This manifested in a variety of ways, such as destructive silver bolts,[55] healing radiance of silver light or white-hot jet of consuming energy. It was believed to uniquely manifest in a single person once per generation, granting the wielder magnificent feats capable of great magical transference or absolute mass destruction.[54]
  • Wild magic: Areas where the weave had been badly damaged during the Time of Troubles, which produced wild magic effects, were scattered sporadically throughout Toril, similarly to dead-magic zones. They caused spells and spell-like abilities cast within their borders to exhibit random complications like spell failure, effects rebounding back to the caster, or random creatures being assigned as a spell's target, among others.[56] Study of these effects inspired the development of a thaumaturgical school of magic.[40]

High magicEdit

Main article: Elven high magic

This ancient form of magic, Arselu'Tel'Quess in elven, meaning the Great Art of the People,[57] went far and beyond normal spellcasting, often affecting massive areas and vast populations of their kind. It was an incredibly rare type of magic to learn, required decades of study and research and was only taught to a select few of their kin. A single spell, or ritual, required anywhere from a single to dozens of mages casting a spell over the course of days.[58]

MythalsEdit

One of the more widely-known uses of Elven High Magic was the ritual used in the creation of mythals,[58] such as the one that protected the ruined city of Myth Drannor.[59]

Shadow WeaveEdit

The Shadow Weave was a source of magic, alternate to the Weave, that in a way, occupied its negative space. It was created by the goddess Shar as a response to the birth of Mystra. This source of arcane power was not without its advantages; it was immune to disruptions of the Weave, such as areas of wild magic or dead magic. However, as it was still a source of magic itself, antimagic effects would still nullify any spells[60] cast by those who tapped into the Shadow Weave, such as the Shadow adepts.[61]

Spellcasters accessing the Shadow Weave were bolstered when using spells from the necromancy, illusion and enchantment schools of magic but experienced weakened effects with evocation and transmutation spells. [62] While magic from the Shadow Weave was evocative of shadow magic,[63] they were in fact unrelated,[64]

PsionicsEdit

Unlike traditional arcane arts that tapped into the Weave, or that which accessed the Shadow Weave, psionics was a manifestation of magic came from the inner life force of their practitioners, known as scions.[65] Also known as the invisible art, psionic abilities appeared in only a select few, but were more common among certain races such as illithids, yuan-ti and even the ghostwise halflings.[66]

The collective psionic powers were broken down into 6 disciplines, analogous to the philosophical schools of arcane magic.[67] Scions were capable of crafting magical items through a process known as empowerment.[68]

CastingEdit

PreparationEdit

Arcane spellcasters copied all of their known spells into what was an invaluable item to them, their spellbook.[69] These often included personal notes and specifications from the mages, and their own personal mage sigil.[70] Before they slept for the night, or otherwise rested for an extended period, they would prepare certain spells from their book for use for the next day, or at least until their next rest.[69] These books went by other names such as arcanabulae, a workbook used by mages during travel, and grimoires, large, often disproportional anthologies of magic.[71]

Arcane casters from certain wizard guilds could also often access magical reservoirs known as spellpools. These locations allowed casters, who had been granted access, to swap one known spell for another that had been placed within the pool, albeit at the cost of one of their own.[72] The circle magic extensively used by the Red Wizards of Thay and the Witches of Rashemen allowed groups cooperating spellcasters to grant extraordinary powers to a leading wizard.[3]

Divine casters were required to pray to their patron deity for access to the power of their spells. The time of day of these prayers would typically be at dawn, noon, dusk or at midnight, depending on the deity.[73] For example, priests of Ilmater prayed for their spells in the morning,[74] while the clergy of Waukeen prayed just before sundown.[75]

ComponentsEdit

The casting of both arcane and divine spells required certain components. Some spells only needed one or two, while others required all three:

  • Verbal component: Many spells required the caster to speak certain words, or, in the case of a bard, create music, to cast a spell. Being prevented from speaking, such as being gagged or magically silenced, made it impossible for a caster to cast such a spell. A deafened caster could fail when casting a spell, by misspeaking, which caused the spell to be lost.[76]
  • Somatic component: Many spells required the caster to make a motion to cast the spell. If the caster was immobilized or otherwise unable to move their hands or body, the spell could not be cast. Wearing armor or using a shield interfered with the somatic components of arcane spells, creating a risk of spell failure. Some casters, like bards, could cast spells in light armor without this risk.[76]
  • Material components: Casting a spell often requires that the caster sacrifice some sort of material component. While often these were virtually worthless, some spells, such as spells to raise the dead, required material components costing thousands of gold pieces. If a caster is unable to access or use the correct spell component, the spell cannot be cast. As the spell was cast, the material components were destroyed and were not reusable in any way.[76]
  • Magical focus: Alternatively, casting a spell could require that the caster have access to a holy symbol or other special object, to focus on when casting the spell; after which they were not damaged and could be reused. This was required more often in the casting of divine spells.[76]

Magic itemsEdit

Main article: Item enchantment

The power and energy of both arcane and divine spells could also be imbued into items.[77] Many items shared similar effects to the point where they were named, such as blueshine[78] or everbright armor[79], while others, such as the longsword Namarra, had unique properties.[80] The most powerful magical items, typically created by archmages, liches or even the gods themselves were known as artifacts and relics. The main difference between the two being the significance of the latter to a particular faith or holy sect.[81]

CreationEdit

Although there could be a dozen different ways to create the same magical item, the crafting process generally followed the same steps:[77]

  • Design:The crafter planned out the form and function of their item and prepared their focal stones.[82]
  • Primary casting: The energy of spells, from which the item would draw its properties, were linked to the stones via the casting of specific spells.[83]
  • Shell creation: The non-magical components of the item were prepared, usually made from select woods and metals,[84] and then magically joined together, if multiple substances were used.[85]
  • Enstarment: Spells were used to allow a prepared shell to accept magical energy.[85]
  • Mastering: The focal stones, holding the energy of cast spells, were joined with the prepared shell in a time-sensitive stage of the process that determined whether the item came out successful or otherwise.[86]

Rune magicEdit

This form of magical writing, similar to the process of inscribing scrolls, originated from the shield dwarves of the north.[87] Symbols of the Dwarven written language of Dethek,[88] were painted, drawn or engraved on a surface and imbued with a spell's magical energy.[89]

After a runestone, or other rune-inscribed surface, was imbued with magic it would be triggered by touch. Unlike glyphs of warding they were not magically concealed at all.[87]

Gem magicEdit

Similar to how a gemstone could imbued with the energy of a spell to create a focal stone,[82] a gem could be attuned to receive the same magical energy, to store it for release later on. A practitioner of this long-since-lost art could imbue a gem with the effects of a spell, affix it to another item, say the pommel of a sword or end of a staff, and in the willful process of destroying the gem, release the spell's effects.[90]

Other items created with these attuned gems, known as gem wards, could be harmlessly handled until their wielder chose to trigger their effects. These preservative items tended to be enchanted with protective magics.[90]

PortalsEdit

While capable of travelling vast distances across Toril, or even to other planes of existence, portals were simply just a permanent teleportation effect (akin to the spell teleport without error. For a magical means of conveyance, they were particularly durable, often remaining for centuries or millennia after their creation.[3]

Portals came in a number of varieties including, keyed portals, which required a specific trigger to activate,[91] portal networks, where one portal entrance had multiple destinations,[3] elfgates to the island of Evereska[92] and the elemental vortices that permanently connected Toril to the four elemental planes,[93] among others.

Magic locationsEdit

The world of Toril was abundant with places of magical power, both natural in origin and artificially created. Some could hamper the magical powers of spellcasters within while others would amplify their abilities.[94]

  • Earth Node: Geological anomalies where streams of arcane energy crossed one another. They were often linked to particular rituals, granted boons to spellcasters in a manner similar to a spark and could be used as if it were a permanent teleportation circle.[96]
  • Earthmotes: These floating patches of land were a result of the geographical shifts between Toril and Abeir in 1386 DR, following the Spellplague.[13]
  • Fey mounds: Hidden within the deep, untouched locales of nature, these were the communal burial sites of fey creatures such as dryads, pixies, satyrs and others. As generations of fey were interred and had decomposed within the same barrow, the ground became hallowed (as per the spell) and radiated magical energy that promoted growth of flora, caused hallucinatory effects, induced sleep and even put creatures under a geas.[97]
  • Spark: These phenomena would greatly magnify the effects of any spell cast therein. As such, knowledge of their locations were well-kept secrets. When rumors of a newly-discovered spark did arise, wizards would flock to its location for an opportunity of increased magical power.[97]

AppendixEdit

  1. Note, while all magic is accessed through the Weave, which is maintained by a deity, this does not make all magic divine magic.

Further readingEdit

  • Dangerous Games (Arcane Age, Netheril Trilogy Book Two), Clayton Emery; 1996 Wizards of the Coast

ReferencesEdit

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