by T.A. Saunders ©2009, revision v2.9, 12.16.14
Magic: A Definition
To understand the magic of this world, one must first define accurately what magic is and how it exists in the world. Magic, as it is defined on Imarel is the result of Mana being channeled by a being through one of three methods of spell-casting, then use this channeled magical power to call into effect what it is the spell is supposed to do, through force of will.
Mana is the name given to the ambient arcane energy that exists naturally in the world. So long as this ambient energy exists, spells can be weaved and items can be imbued with arcane effects. Without this arcane force, spells would simply cease to function regardless how much sorcerous knowledge an individual might have. While Imarel is abundant in Mana, it is a finite resource. At some point in the distant future, it has been speculated that it may well run out.
There is also different classifications of Magic. Arcane Magic is the physical drawing of cosmic forces from other places, using one of several casting styles to bring about the desired effect. Mystical Magic is the drawing of those same cosmic forces, except it is the chosen deity, demon, etc. of the caster that empowers the effect, rather than a direct evocation from the caster. Divine Magic involves no drawing in of power by the caster, but rather relies on the caster’s deity, chosen demon, etc. to both grant the use of those powers then infuse their worshiper with the power to call said magic forth.
Because of the subtle differences, bonuses that effect Arcane magic will also affect Mystic, but not Divine and bonuses that affect Divine will also effect Mystic but not Arcane. While Mystic magic would seem the most potent, it also requires the devotion a priest would normally have from the mystic caster and a chance to be struck down, cursed, etc. for its misuse.
A Primer on Magic and its Place in the World
There is little dispute that magic is the single most powerful force on Imarel and the Shar’Vaire and Quar’Vess are the undisputed masters of controlling it. Magic (and its abuse) have also led to the destruction of two civilizations and has almost destroyed the Shar’Vaire themselves as a people. The lessons learned from the Imperial Era and the War of the Eternals has taught the Shar’Vaire that their power cannot be squandered or allowed to freely wander into the hands of those who would not use their potent methods for evoking it without care.
All magic originated with the Old Gods and their first children, the Asyndi. They were entrusted with the knowledge of how to gather Mana from the world around them, draw it within themselves and use the gathered energy to fuel the force of their will into reality. An Asyndi does not evoke a fireball or a stroke of lightning into existence by drawing on power elsewhere, they will it into existence. Because of this the Asyndi do not need to use verbal, somatic and material components to create spell effects. Magic for them is as fast as thought.
This means of spell- casting is not how all races of Imarel cast spells, the actual knowledge to utilize magic in this fashion must be taught by a Quar’Vess or a Shar’Vaire; it cannot be learned on one’s own. Below is a list of the three methods in which one may invoke the power of Magic on Imarel:
Albadosian Method: Unlike the other casting methods, Albadosian casting method, or what is more primitively is referred to as ‘siphoning’ is not a casting method that can be taught to those not born in Albadosia. The reason for this being, the unnaturally high concentration of Starmetal in their blood is key to making this form of casting possible.
This style of casting harnesses the highly unusual radiation of Starmetal, which normally repels magic, and alters it by means of a rune-etching rite similar to Rune-Forging that allows the Starmetal, and any Starmetal near the caster, to act instead as a mana siphoning device. This mana is taken out of the ambient air and environment rather forcibly and cas sometimes leave magic-dead areas for short periods of time. Otherwise, mechanically Albadosian Method behaves like Asyndi Method (see below).
Asyndi Method: As stated above casting magic in this fashion means that magic is created by the force of one’s own will and fueled by the Mana they draw into themselves. Spell-casting in this fashion means that spell-books do not contain spells that must be memorized or selected but rather contain concepts, ideas and bring understanding to the Shar’Vaire or Quar’Vess caster so they might better visualize the effect they seek, then bring it to fruition. Because of this, interrupting an Asyndi Method caster is exceedingly difficult.
Casting in this method can cause Mana Depletion if the caster isn’t careful. With Mana depletion, the caster begins to take on symptoms similar to dehydration and exhaustion. If pushed much further, bleeding from the mouth or nose can occur and possibly a loss of consciousness.
Shei Method: The Shei (or Elf) method of spell-casting involves tracing symbols that stand for different parts of the spell into the air to evoke their power. It is similar to the Asyndi Method, in that the caster still does not require material components to call forth magical power. Mana is not channeled into the caster, but rather directed through the runes to bring forth the desired effect. Elvish Spell-books show how to trace the runes and explain the power they draw the magic from, to educate the would-be caster.
Using the Shei Method does not have any one particular weakness, other than the time it takes to trace the runes in the air. This makes it vulnerable to being interrupted a well-placed punch or similar blunt-force trauma. A well-trained caster can work through such things, but not always.
Sengaardian Method: The Sengaardian Method of spell casting was first taught to the primitive Humans of Ishaela by the rogue Sivanoshei Elves as an intermediary step to learning the Shei Method, since most Humans could not conceptualize how the runes created and sustained the power to generate whatever magical effect was being called upon. Seeing as they were able to evoke the same sort of power as their Elvish teachers by having actual material components to draw the power through, rather than runes the Sengaardian Method became the favored approach to magic amongst the Sengaardians who then taught magic to each other in that tradition.
The Sengaardian Method is slow to cast, but does not ever drain the caster for the casting like the Asyndi method does. However, it does suffer from requiring verbal, somatic and and material components to cast, making it the slowest of the three methods. It is also somewhat easy to interrupt if one a good blow to the head, though a good caster can still get the spell off with some effect. The Sengaardian Method requires the memorization of spells from a spellbook that explains in great detail everything required to evoke the spell.
Magic in a Fight: The Effects and Resisting the Effects
Magic is essentially the altering of reality to create an effect that would not normally exist in the natural world. Because of this magic to a degree can be effected by a person’s perception as well as the good old fashioned method of getting the out of the way. An unskilled caster throwing a lightning bolt at a highly trained warrior may find him or herself a bit disappointed that the warrior only has a bit of hair standing on end, rather than being blown across the room. Conversely, a powerful archmage casting the same spell can put enough of his or her will into the spell to make it more effective against even a highly-skilled target.
In terms of game mechanics, a mage’s overall spell hit determines, along with rank, the overall potentially of the spell. The total spell hit is subtracted from the target’s armor value and the final percentage to hit is calculated.
This works fine for directional spells, like a lightning bolt or area of effect spells, such as a radiant blast, but when targeted spells are used, or illusionary magic, what then? Since either type of spell doesn’t need to be aimed, or attempts to destroy a specific area, the character’s mystic defense comes into play.
Mystic defense, unlike physical armor and agility is an unseen trait, that is a manifestation of a character’s inherent resistance to sorcerous or divine attack upon their person, but is calculated in the same fashion armor rating is. All characters start out with a 0% mystic defense, unless their class or race has innate bonuses for it. In addition, while there are items that directly effect mystic defense, there are items that further increase it for specific effects, such as illusion or mental attack. In these cases, it is possible to say, for example that a hero with a mystic defense of -100% could have a mystic defense of -125% vs. illusion, if he was wearing some sort of magic or technomagical item that increased his mystical defense against that form of attack.
Finally, there are forms of abjuration magic, that can increase a group’s mystic defense, or increase it for a specific form of attack as mentioned above. These spells never go over a bonus of -25% however, unless the caster has created a masterwork abjuration spell.
Learning Magic on Imarel
The pursuit of sorcerous knowledge is an often sought but rarely attained practice. While true that the Shar’Vaire and Quar’Vess societies are both based on magic (A Shar’Vaire king or queen must be a magic-wielding individual for that house to remain the ruling one and to sit on the Farwind Council of Magi, one must also be well-versed in arcane knowledge, though being Quar’Vess is not a requirement) there are large portions of both populations that do not practice magic at all.
In fact, perhaps ten percent of those total populations know enough magic to be considered a mage, or a wizard though in both societies all people know a small handful of spells. In the Elvish populations, it varies but the numbers are similar to the Shar’Vaire and Quar’Vess in ratio of magic-wielders vs. generally non-magic oriented individuals. In Human societies, the number plummets to merely three percent of all people are capable of wielding magic.
To be taught any of the methods of spell-casting, one must have the deepest commitment to arcane studies and discipline. While the knowledge comes easier to some races more than others, all must spend decades of their lives understanding the principals, theories and dangers of the power they are attempting to control. To that end, there are schools across Imarel that teach different methods and further, center around different kinds of studies. These schools are listed below:
Am-Raynia School of Magic
Teaches: Shei Method
High Spheres: Blood Magic, Spiritism, Transmutation, and Temporal Magic.
Am-Xitha School of Magic
Teaches: Shei Method, Asyndi Method
High Spheres: Dimensional Magic, Plague Magic, Radiant Magic, and Shadow Magic.
Anthalas School of Magic
Teaches: Asyndi Method
High Spheres: Chaos Magic, Dimensional Magic, Fleshcraft, and Shadow Magic.
Farwind School of Magic
Teaches: Asyndi Method
High Spheres: Blood Magic, Dimensional Magic, Radiant Magic, and Temporal Magic.
Moonfall School of Magic
Teaches: Shei Method, Sengaardian Method
High Spheres: Blood Magic, Shadow Magic, and Transmutation.
Windsong School of Magic
Teaches: Shei Method, Sengaardian Method
High Spheres: Dimensional Magic, Radiant Magic and Transmutation.
By and large, one gets into a School of Magic much like they get into any other prestigious university. There is an application process, interview and an entry test to check the competency of the applicant. The difference is the students accepted into these schools are much younger in order to properly develop the mind to wield magic properly. While there are always exceptions, studying at a school of magic is done instead of going to normal school, rather than an extension of it. That means students are children for their race’s lifespan, when they attend. Adult students, who have chosen to study magic or an aspect of magic later in life are taught separately from the student body as a whole.
This process can take several decades to finish and at the end of it the spellcaster in question becomes a journeyman, where they are expected to go out into the world and gain a practical understanding of how their knowledge applies to the real world. A journeyman spellcaster may remain so for several years before being granted the title of mage.
It should be noted that other kinds of magic are taught at Schools of Magic as well. Such cases include Witchcraft and Ritualism, which are part incantation and part draw from otherworldly powers. Only a seer’s coven may allow him or her to join a School of Magic, whereas a Ritualist must prove their competence and have the coin, as magi must. The process remains long and grueling regardless of how it is attained.
Below is a list of the advancement ranks of a wizard. It should be noted that specialists that follow a less divergent path, like necromancers and illusionists, use the same advancement ranks as a wizard, but will add the appropriate suffix to the rank, ex. Adept of Fire, Arcanist of Conjuring, etc.
Wizard Advancement Rank
Initiate: The initiate wizard knows a few basic cantrips and perhaps one spell. A potential wizard is an initiate for the first year of their training. Initiate robes are always dark brown as they are plain and discreet.
Adept: The adept has proven their commitment to magic and has progressed to their second year of study. They know several basic spells and are given their robes. The robes of an adept are always beige in color. One often remains an adept for several years.
Arcanist: The arcanist is a student who has advanced through basic studies and is learning advanced sorcery. These students know some advanced magic and have mastered a casting method and are knowledgeable in various topics of arcane interest. The Arcanist is in their final years of study and will soon take their test of sorcery. The arcanist wears dark green robes.
Journeyman: The journeyman mage has passed the test of sorcery and has been sent out into the world by their instructor to learn how magic applies in the world. These students often travel the world and keep a correspondence with their instructor about what they are learning and how it applies to magic. The journeyman phase is often a year or two, depending on the instructor, but can be as much as five. The robes of the journeyman mage are always red.
Wizard or Mage: The title of wizard is reserved for those who have completed their journeymanship to the satisfaction of their instructor and are granted said title. Most halt their progression at this point, wishing to ply their skills and profit from them somehow. The title of wizard allows the mage to wear whatever color robes he or she wishes. If the spellcaster in question is a specialist, they will use the title of Mage, rather than wizard and include a proper suffix for formal address, ex. Mage of Wind. Alternately, specialists can refer to themselves by their focus title, ex. Aeromancer, Conjurer, etc.
Arch-Mage: The arch-mage is a most committed individual to the study of the arcane. They are magi who have, rather than halting their studies, have continued to delve into the deep mysteries of the arcane and have learned powerful spells. Some have invested their time and effort to pursuing a High Sphere of Magic. While wizards will use the term arch-mage, specialists will add their focus title instead of the word ‘mage,’ ex. Arch-Pyromancer, Arch-Conjurer, etc. To that end, arch-magi are ranked by Circle which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires that arch-mage to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Scion: Those who have attained the rank of Scion number perhaps a few dozen in the entire world. These individuals are vastly knowledgeable in advanced magic and have mastered a High Sphere of Magic as well. While wizards will use the term ‘Scion,’ specialists will use a proper suffix after the title, ex. Scion of Fire, Scion of Conjuration, etc. Like arch-magi, scions are ranked by Circle, which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires the scion to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Arch-Scion: Before the Cataclysm of D`Mir, there had been at least eight known Arch-Scions. The Cataclysm claimed seven of these known eight; the eighth, Mourne Dur’lane trained and tested his grandson, Chance. With Mourne’s death and Ascension as the new Spirit of Vengeance, Chance is the only known Arch-Scion on Imarel.. While it is possible there are Arch-Scions of specialist magics, they are secretive and not widely known.
Thaumaturge: There are no known Thaumaturgists on Imarel. The last of this powerful rank of magi died out with the Cataclysm of D’Mir. Nobody has lived long enough since that time to attain such a high rank, or if they have, they have kept such knowledge a closely guarded secret. Like the other two ranks below it, there are seven rings of Thaumaturgist, then a Grand Thaumaturge. These sorts of Magi existed in the Time of Twilight and could invoke both terrible power and incredible acts of creation. Grand Thaumaturges wrote the ‘First Words’ and created Eldritch Sorcery.
The Test of Sorcery
To the arcanist, much of their time and training is spent focusing specifically on passing the Test of Sorcery. In their final year of study, the test could come to pass at any time. An arcanist could be tested on the school grounds, or just outside his or her dorm. They could be tested on the street or they could be tested by being randomly teleported to an obscure location. The object of this randomness is to ensure the arcanist in question is on his or her toes and can adapt quickly using their arcane knowledge; this quality the Schools of Magic feel is important for when the candidate becomes a journeyman mage and is plausibly tested every day.
It is possible to fail the the test, simply by being unprepared for it or making a poor choice. It is also possible to die during the test, but this is not usual by any means. However, each student understands this risk and understands the pursuit of sorcerous power can lead to one’s doom. Those who fear the great mystery of death and beyond are likely not good candidates to be magi anyway, given the incredible risks involved in the highest tiers of magical knowledge.
Once the test is passed, the candidate is taken before the Headmaster of his or her school and given their red journeyman robes. After a small ceremony the newly made journeyman mage meets with an instructor that chooses them to be their apprentice. At this meeting, traditionally the instructor explains his or her choice in selecting the journeyman and then explains what their task will be. This journeymanship is at the bare minimum one year but the instructor can make it as long as five if there is a sufficient reason.
Spheres of Magic
Magic can be broken up into several categories from which the potential mage can either specialize in or choose a broader course of of study from which several spells from all spheres are learned, but none are focused upon exclusively. Most choose the latter route, preferring to not limit themselves, but those that do specialize have access to some rather potent and custom spells. It should be noted that not all Primary Spheres have a specialization simply because the usefulness of such specialization would be limited. Below is a list of Primary Spheres and the High Spheres of Magic:
Primary Spheres of Magic
Abjuration: This sphere covers all protection magics, such as wards and shielding spells, protective circles and the like. Abjuration also covers anti-magic spells.
Alteration: This sphere addresses spells that alter the state or shape of an object or a living creature like shapeshifting or polymorph spells and teleportation spells.
Charm/Domination: Any magic that controls the mind against their will is covered by this sphere.
Conjuration/Summoning: This sphere revolves around the calling forth of creatures or objects from other places or planes. This can simply be a calling forth of an elemental creature or it could be the summoning of an infernal or divine being.
Divination: Spells that allow the caster to gain knowledge or scry by arcane means are covered by this sphere. This can sometimes bring the caster in contact with extraplanar, possibly infernal or divine beings.
Elemental: This sphere covers all spells involving the calling, summoning, manipulation and alteration of elemental forces. While this sphere could be largely covered in the other spheres, elemental magic has enough of its own specific sorts of spells that deign its own sphere.
Enchantment: The Enchantment Sphere covers the imbuing of weapons, armor and objects with permanent magical effects. Often a sphere specialized in those who wish to become smiths of arcane weapons or sorcerous trap-makers.
Evocation: Calling forth power directly from ambient magic or another plane and unleashing it covers the evocation sphere. Spells that call forth blasts of fire, or lightning bolts cover this sphere.
Illusion: Magic that creates people, objects or events that are not there, or alters perception is a part of this sphere. Invisibility spells or spells that alter the appearance of a person to look like another person or perhaps a monster are considered illusions.
Necromancy: Magic that centers upon undead, including raising and calling such fiends from the afterlife is part of this sphere. This particular sphere also allows for its most powerful casters to become a lich, raise entire legions of undead or to steal souls form the living.
Transmutation: Changing the state of one form of matter into another, such as lead into gold or rock to mud, etc. considered transmutation. This sphere of magic is wildly popular amongst builders who seek out transmuters to make building materials more sturdy than they might be normally.
High Spheres of Magic
Blood: Blood Magic is the use of one’s own blood to increase the potency of magic or use another’s blood to control them. This sphere has wide potential for being combined with enchanting or for combining it with charm/beguilement.
Chaos: Chaos Magic is the sorcery of controlling, directing and manipulating Chaotic energy to achieve a desired result. This form of magic is exceedingly dangerous, perhaps more so that Radiant Magic, in that losing control of the primordial power of Chaos can not only kill the caster, and those around them, but cause widespread and long-lasting devastation after. This magic is highly controlled by the Asyndi, who use it to craft their massive Chaos Engines that power airships. Any other race with this knowledge is likely an Asyndi-taught Technomancer for that reason, but this is not always true.
Dimensional: Dimensional Magic is the understandings of the complexities of the Multiverse and how to open gates to different places in other realms and the necessary spells to survive in those realms. Dimensional Magic also allows magi the possibility of dismissing extraplanar beings, but not summoning them.
Fleshcraft: Fleshcrafting magic is not necromancy (which employs a more crude method, of flesh-warping that can only be conducted on the dead), but rather the fusion of two or more living creatures, into a single living agglomeration of beings. This magic creates abominations of nature, mutations in living beings and other such afflictions. This magic can also be used to mend living beings who have been assaulted by such magic, or have suffered unusual damage that otherwise might not be repairable.
Plague: Plague Magic is the creation and manipulation of viruses and diseases in such a way that they increase exponentially in both difficulty to cure, potency and efficacy. This also includes the creation of sorcerous pandemics; such examples include the Crimson Scourge of 1319 AC and the Shei Reaper of 120 BC. These were spells that wiped out whole populations, but are truly the height of this dangerous craft. This knowledge could also be used to cure such terrible maladies as well.
Radiant: Radiance is the direct channeling and controlling of energies from Tala, the Sea of Light1. This includes the calling of creatures that dwell in the Sea of Light. Radiant magic is perhaps one of the most dangerous, for the fact that the unskilled caster can not only be consumed by the very power he or she is calling forth, but could also then become a temporary conduit for such power, effectively blasting a very large area into nothingness.
Shadow: Shadow Magic is the direct channeling and manipulation of entropic energies from the Shadowlands2. This encompasses mastery over spectral creatures that exist in the Shadowlands as well as spells that drain both life-force and mana from their opponents. The strongest shadowmancy spells are capable of reducing buildings into crumbling ruin, simply by exposing them to massive entropic forces. In many ways, this sphere is the diametric opposite of Radiant Magic and contests between Radiant Magi and Shadowmancers are often spectacular.
Spiritism: Spiritism Magic is a very intimate form of High Magic, that involves creating bonds between people to make both stronger for the bonding. The very primitive form of this is Hedge Magic involving blood pacts or spirit bonds, however Spiritism takes this to a far greater level. It can be used to link allies together, through positive camaraderie reinforcement and morale boosting, create spiritual bonds of closeness between a mother and her children, so she may instantly know if those children are in danger and the like. Crudely, Spiritism has been referred to as sex magic, for some of the strongest sorcery involving intercourse between two people seeking a particularly potent bond of protection. While normally used as a strengthening magic, it could be used for breaking such bonds as well, or cause the Spiritist to gain influence over a person they have bonded themselves with, much like a vampire controls their blood-slave. Spiritism is exclusively taught by the Shei, who are quite selective as to who learns it.
Temporal (Chronomancy): The temporal sphere includes travel, halting, slowing and accelerating of resident temporal flow. This sphere is by far the most dangerous, for the great possibility of causing temporal paradox if the caster is in the least bit careless with even the most minor detail, but it is also considered the most powerful of all the High Spheres.
Transmutation: Transmutation Magic is the alteration of one thing into another thing. Living matter can be transmuted into inert matter, but inert matter cannot be transmuted into living matter, save in instances where the inert matter was previously altered from living matter (i.e., reversing a flesh to stone spell). To transmute one thing, into another thing, the Transmuter must have a good understanding of both things (i.e., a transmuter cannot turn rocks into Vocorium if he or she has never studied the metal at length, or through a tradeskill). Barring these limitations, Transmutation has an extremely versatile range of use.
1Tala, the Sea of Light is an Outer Plane of pure energy and Mana.
2Lyth, The Shadowlands is an Outer Plane of entropy and a place where all shadows are linked.
The Magic Specialist
Sometimes a spell-caster will opt to specialize in a certain primary sphere of magic. In the case of necromancers and illusionists, this specialization is both very popular and yields very powerful spells that only an individual schooled in advanced studies and concepts of that particular sphere can attain. The drawback to being focused in one area of study is, the loss of access to other general sorts of spells that might otherwise prove useful in a given situation.
By and large all specialist casters follow the same regulations and ranks of wizard advancement, with notable exceptions and changes listed below for the necromancer and the illusionist specialists:
Necromancer Advancement Rank
Necrolyte: The necrolyte knows a few basic cantrips and perhaps one spell. A potential necromancer is an necrolyte for the first year of their training and must wear robes stolen from a grave for that year, never washing or mending them regardless of their condition.
Dark Savant: The dark savant has proven their commitment to necromancy and has progressed to their second year of study. They know several basic spells, including the ability to Speak with the Dead and to Raise Undead. They also are given dust gray colored robes which they must sleep in an occupied grave with as part of the ritual of passing into this rank. One often remains a dark savant for several years as they advance in the necromantic arts.
Dread Servant: The dread servant is a student who has advanced through basic studies and is learning advanced necromancy. These students know some advanced necromantic spells and have mastered a casting method and are knowledgeable in various topics of occult lore and knowledge. The Defiler is in their final years of study and will soon take their Test of the Damned. Dread servants wear charcoal gray robes with a single lighter gray glyph on the lapel.
Death Minion: The Death Minion rank is the necromancer’s version of a journeyman mage. The necromancer in question does not travel the world seeking knowledge as the mage does, but rather must endure indentured servitude to the necromancer tutoring him or her for one to five years, depending on the generosity of their master and how fast they learn. Death Minions wear robes similar to a dread servant, but have instead a black glyph on the lapel.
Necromancer: The title of necromancer is reserved for those who have completed their servitude to the satisfaction of their instructor and are granted said title. Most halt their progression at this point, wishing to ply their skills and profit from them somehow. Necromancers are not required to wear any sort of robe, unless their affiliation with a particular group requires it.
Arch-Vile: The arch-vile is a most committed individual to the study of the dark arts and mastery over Death itself. They are necromancers who have, rather than halting their studies, have continued to delve into the deep mysteries of the dark and have learned powerful spells. Some have invested their time and effort to pursuing a High Sphere of Magic. To that end, arch-vile are ranked by Circle which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires that arch-vile to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Defiler: Those who have attained the rank of defiler number perhaps a few dozen in the entire world. These individuals are vastly knowledgeable in advanced necromancy and have mastered a High Sphere of Magic as well. Many of these individuals go on to become Shadowmancers. Like arch-magi, defilers are ranked by Circle, which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires the scion to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Arch-Defiler: The number of arch-defilers on Imarel is unknown; such masters of necromancy are secretive as their fellows often seek to kill them to attain the knowledge they themselves no doubt murdered to attain. It is said, Skaryn, the lich lord of Miroa is an Arch-Defiler of considerable and devastating power. Were a defiler powerful enough to seek recognition of this title, it is assumed that presenting the School of Magic with an item, or the remains of another suspected Arch-Defiler would be proof enough to achieve the title.
Illusionist Advancement Rank
Trickster: The trickster knows a few basic cantrips and perhaps one spell. A potential illusionist is a trickster for the first year of their training and must spend every day of their training mentally impaired in some way, whether by being drunk, hallucinating due to a drug such as opium or jukuarai. The trickster must also find a way to fool his or her instructor in some clever way within that year to earn advancement. Tricksters wear no sort of robe at all and are encouraged to not do so.
Mystifier: The Mystifier has proven their commitment to illusionist magic and has progressed to their second year of study. They know several basic spells, including Alter Self and Invisibility. They are given dark purple and yellow-trimmed robes as a mark of their station and encouragement to use their powers to make them look less hideous. One often remains a mystifier for several years as they advance in the illusionist arts.
Hallucinatist: The Hallucinatist is a student who has advanced through basic studies and is learning advanced illusions. These students know some advanced illusion spells and have mastered a casting method and are knowledgeable in various topics of arcane knowledge and lore. The Hallucinatist is in their final years of study and will soon take their Test of the Dreaming. Hallucinatists wear golden robes with dark green trim upon them; while less hideous than Mystifier robes, the sheer gaudiness of these garments is enough to make most hallucinatists use their magic to alter them.
Dream Walker: The Dream Walker rank is the illusionist’s version of a journeyman mage. The illusionist in question does not travel the world seeking knowledge as the mage does, but rather is placed in a sorcerous sleep for a period of one year. During that time, the illusionist in training must tell his or her instructor of their dreams during that time and what they learned. If the instructor is satisfied with what the student gained from the sorcerous sleep, the title of Illusionist is granted. The robes for this rank are a striking opalescent cloth with golden runes upon the trim, collar and hem, which are worn for the entire time they are in what is called The Dreaming.
Illusionist: The title of illusionist is reserved for those who have completed The Dreaming to the satisfaction of their instructor and are granted said title. Most halt their progression at this point, wishing to ply their skills and profit from them somehow. Illusionists are not required to wear any sort of robe, unless their affiliation with a particular group requires it.
Grand Illusionist: The grand illusionist is a most committed individual to the study of the illusionary arts and have achieved the ability to not only affect the waking mind, but the dreaming one as well. They are illusionists who have, rather than halting their studies, have continued to delve into the deep mysteries of the mind and have learned powerful spells. Some have invested their time and effort to pursuing a High Sphere of Magic. To that end, grand illusionists are ranked by Circle which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires that Grand Illusionist to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Phantasmist: Those who have attained the rank of phantasmist number perhaps a few dozen in the entire world. These individuals are vastly knowledgeable in advanced illusionary magic and have mastered a High Sphere of Magic as well. Arch-Phantasmists are capable of entering one’s dreams as well as creating illusions that have a subconsciously implanted component to them that make disbelief nearly impossible, save for the most strong-minded or protected individuals. Like arch-magi, phantasmists are ranked by Circle, which number 1st through 7th (7th being the most powerful). Each Circle advancement requires the scion to be tested by his peers at a School of Magic.
Arch-Phantasmist: The number of arch-phantasmists on Imarel is unknown; such masters of illusion are as enigmatic as their profession suggests. Rumors persist that one known arch-phantasmist is a Shadow Elf who goes by the name Nirho. So vast are his powers over the mind and the eye, it is said that he no longer exists in the material plane, but co-exists simultaneously between a living dream and the real world. To achieve this rank is a mystery onto itself that the Phantasmist must unravel. There is no single truth or method that will grant the title of arch-phantasmist; it is said the answer rests in dreams of all who live or perhaps under a rock. Whatever the case, so few have attained this title that it had been thought for several decades that none existed, until a report of Nirho’s existence made its way to the Windsong School of Magic.
The Robes of a Mage and their Meaning
As stated previously, students of magic are assigned different color robes so instructors can more readily sort what kind of student he or she is dealing with at any given time. When the title of Mage is earned, it is no longer required that a mage wear robes of any kind. Simply, all magi are restricted to not wearing armor of any kind as it makes channeling magical energies within one’s self difficult. Most wizards will have sorcerously reinforced clothing by this point anyway, so the point is a moot one.
However, there are special ranks within the wizardly community that require robes to be worn, at least for special function or for events that require the skill and knowledge of the mage in question recognized. These ranks and the special robes worn are listed below:
Robe Ranks of Imarel
School of Magic Instructor: These robes are always black with platinum runes lining cuffs and hem of the robes. Instructors are expected to wear these robes at all official functions and events they might attend and are expected to wear a more serviceable version of the robes into battle, during war-time.
School of Magic Headmaster: The Headmaster’s robes are always indigo blue with golden runes on the collar and trim. Headmasters are expected to wear these robes at all official functions and events they might attend and are expected to wear a more serviceable version of the robes into battle, during war-time.
Farwind Justicar: The legendary mage-hunters of Farwind are known by the white robes they were with silver runes. Justicars are expected to don these robes whenever acting on official business of the High Council of Farwind.
Kiris Miran Necromancer: The robes of the Kiris Miran are always blood red with black runes lining the collar and trim. Most Kiris Miran Necromancers are proud of their station and choose to wear their robes openly though such is not required.
Kiris Miran Shadowmancer: The masters of the Kiris Miran wear black robes save for a single red rune on the lapel. Most Kiris Miran Shadowmancers are proud of their station and choose to wear their robes openly though such is not required.
Illumina Valos Elementalist: This cabal of exclusively Moon Elf Elementalists of Windsong don silver robes with white runes etched on the trim and the collars. These are worn for ceremonies only and are not a requirement for the legendary elementalists of Windsong to wear openly.
Shar’Vaire Theocrat: The robes of the Theocrat are always charcoal grey with ruby runes lining the trim of the robe. The Theocrat wears his or her robes as a warning to others that he or she is not to be trifled with and indeed, one should be most wary of any individual wearing these robes as the Shar`Vaire Theocrat has access to magic no other race on Imarel can claim and they are usually most willing to use it.
Control of Magical Knowledge
Because of the mistakes of the past, there is an unspoken but generally agreed upon accord between the Shar’Vaire and the Quar’Vess that no other race will be taught the ancient magic of the Asyndi. The destructive potential of these spells is considered too dangerous to be given to Humans who the Quar’Vess and Shar’Vaire firmly believe would obliterate themselves or possibly Imarel with access to such magic. Generally speaking, some Asyndi magic has shared with certain Elvish candidates, but there has yet to be an Elf trusted with knowledge of the Radiance.
Likewise the Elves have only very recently begun sharing the knowledge of their advanced illusionary magic with the Quar’Vess but simply refuse to share it directly with the Shar’Vaire for fear of them unraveling some of the more ancient and grand illusions that hide certain Tallis-Vyss locations from prying eyes. Such magic was the reason the Elves even survived the War of the Eternals and remains a safeguard against similar aggression to this day.
Methods of spell-casting are also tightly monitored. The Asyndi Method of spell-casting is very rarely taught to Elves and to date, there is only one Human alive that knows this method of spell-casting (to wit, she is also the Queen of the Shar’Vaire). Conversely, only Humans use the Sengaardian Method and can with practice can learn the Shei Method.
This does not stop people from trying to steal or teach themselves such knowledge. There is a large black market across Imarel centered solely on acquiring old Shar’Vaire and Sivanoshei magic and getting it into the hands of those who probably should not have it. A very recent example of this practice gone awry was an ancient Shar’Vaire sorcerous plague unleashed in Tashran, that nearly wiped that city and Sundown out for the damage it caused. A Human salvage raid had gone into the Burning Lands and discovered an old Shar’Vaire keep where a spellbook containing the knowledge was found and translated in such a way that the spell could be recreated by Sengaardian spell-casting.
Unfortunately, the translation was not entirely accurate and the spell cost thousands of lives between the two cities. The Sovereign of Anthalas had considered strongly letting the plague wipe out a good portion of the population as a lesson in tampering with such power. Eventually with influence from Farwind, Sovereign Dur’lane relented and assisted in conveying the knowledge required to end the sorcerous plague.