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Encyclopdedia Eternica

Magic in the History of Eternia

Talia/Jen (Talia J. Higgins)
MattDBA (Matt Gutting) quickly sent back some helpful comments and such - they are included in orange italics, mostly in section 3. Talia/Jen's response to any comments will be in dark blue italics.

last updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Magic in the History of Eternia

     During the mythical Age of Reason, both technology and what is known as "magic" were at fairly advanced levels. (Technology = advanced steam age.) Magic was used in many aspects of life and for many purposes. Skilled craftsmen used magic to create artifacts with remarkable qualities - from  simple bags or boxes that reduced the weight of their content to bows/arrows that would unfailingly find their mark. Medicine and magic were undeniably intertwined and skilled apothecaries used magic to augment their potions and cures.
     Great scholars of magic studied it in detail, striving to understand every aspect of its nature. In fact, magic was considered almost as another science, or an aspect of the advancing technologies of the time. Magic was generally believed to be a natural force  that could be focused through human intervention to create various effects. Using magic required skill and also took a certain amount of personal energy on the part of the magic user. Controversy about the nature of the energy drawn from a magic user abounded. Was it actual physical energy, as would be expended by a physical task? Was it mental energy, creating the illusion of fatigue? Was it a form of spiritual energy? Various schools of thought on such topics abounded. The greatest dream of many a scholar was finding a way to use magic without expending human energy. It was discovered that the energy could be drawn from a person other than the spellcaster, but this was highly taboo. Various rumors of magicians who could draw energy from stones, crystals, plants, etc. were never proved to be factual.
     Oddly enough, combat magics - spells designed specifically to harm or control another person - were not particularly well developed. Perhaps because magic was so common, people's natural defenses to its effects were also quite strong. In any case, affecting an unwilling (sentient) target with magic was difficult to do. It could also have unpredictable, sometimes severe, backlash effects. To avoid backlash, combat magic needed to be indirect. One way was to magically enhance normal weapons - with superior sharpness, or to do extra damage by means of fire, poison, etc. The other way was to use magic to exploit people's personal weaknesses. For example, distracting a greedy person with a vision of gold, or creating an illusion based on someone's fears in order to manipulate them. So-called "vice magic" was somewhat experimental and was looked upon with disfavor throughout most of society.
     In the year 758, the Eternals, creatures of immense magical power, were released upon the land by a King's reckless curiosity, all was thrown into upheaval. As they and their mutated creations began to attack the human population, panic ensued. Many perished before it became known that steel weapons and magic were the most effective ways to deal with these new enemies. Even with steel or magic, it was still difficult to defeat an Eternal. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, combat magic was largely undeveloped. With little experience in such matters, even the best magicians often failed or were burned out by backlash effects when they tried to defeat Eternals (or their creatures). The few vice magicians that came forward to fight were less likely to burn out, but their magic was not as strong or effective, particularly against the Eternals.
     Finding their struggle against the Eternals terribly overwhelming, the remnants of human society began to flee their homeland for sparsely settled lands to the North. Fortunately, the Eternals did not seem interested in immediately pursuing these refugees, and remained in what became to be sorrowfully known as the "Land Beyond."
     Having left their cities, homes, and much of their machinery behind, people scattered into the new lands in various small and large groups. During the Age of Separation, technology pretty much reverted to a medieval level. Too many records, and many of those with technical skills/knowledge had been lost, and people had to re-learn many basic survival skills. Likewise, magic knowledge and skills fell into a major decline. Practical matters of putting food in mouth and roof over head usurped any desire to study mystical matters. Also, having been deprived of their relatively comfortable lives and being stripped of their organized society, people became somewhat more contentious in nature. Thus, some of the few magic skills to survive were those formerly shunned - the spells that could attack or defend against human opponents....
     During the lengthy Splinter war(s) at the end of the Second Age, Magical skills began to be valued again - but almost exclusively for combat purposes. Jafra Ulshek the Magnificent used magicians a great deal in consolidating his power base, and rewarded many with high political positions in his new empire.
     Sometime around year 192 of the Third Age, a group of mutants called Dreamers, began to appear in various communities. They seemed to have a natural aptitude for the nearly-forgotten magics from the ancient Age of Reason. They drew upon their own energy for magical power, and needed no runes or other devices of focus. With these particularly mystical powers, many Dreamers rose to high political positions. Their rise to power was aided by the fact that Dreamer rulers were known to be good and just - perhaps because their very nature required a certain amount of self-control and inner balance.
     Unfortunately, in 310 of the Third Age, a group of Dreamers rebelled against their traditions and began gaining extraordinary power by diverting the backlash of their magic onto their foes. They besieged major cities and were rapidly gaining total control of the empire when they, and all others, were diverted by an invasion of Eternals (and their mutant armies). After the defeat of the Eternals, some of the Dreamers sought to reconcile with human society. However, Fulk the Black of Andoria had already planned to eliminate any future threat from the Dreamers. He began the "Cleansing Wind", a brutal campaign to exterminate each and every Dreamer.
     In this, the Fourth Age, Dreamer magic is considered insignificant and undesirable. Dreamers are thought to be virtually extinct, and are still generally killed on sight if discovered. The remaining users of magic wield the standard "vice magic", based on exploiting a target's personal weaknesses. Vice magic has become roughly organized into six schools: Lustspell, Lunaspell, Revelspell, Pridespell, Wrathspell, and Greedspell. Each school is based on exploiting a specific vice, and may have different effects. The ability to permanently enchant items is believed to be lost (though ancient artifacts of power still exist).

This is an excellent summary history of magic!  I vote for it to be the (first draft of the) primary Encyclopedia Eternica entry on "Magic - History". --MG (MattDBA)