Magic and Powers

magic is a strange thing. It doesn't obey any one set of laws, but rather it seems to have its own laws that are unique to the user and even to the situation. Usually magic "makes sense" to the person who is using it, but to a scientist it would make no sense at all. Each race and each person approaches magic in his own way, but to try and explain how it's done is to miss the point of it entirely. Some people can learn it, and others simply can't. Most of the time being able to learn magic is a matter of "feeling it" but the number of different ways to approach it is too great to count.

What are the rules of magic? Nobody can say exactly - it's different for everyone. Some people use magic without even knowing that what they're doing is magic. A good card dealer who can always turn up four aces and figures it's just luck is one example. A gnome who can make a radio out of metal scraps and pieces of glass is another. One thing is for certain though: the laws of physics need not apply. At all.

Consider a dream. In a dream things happen that make sense only to the dreamer. When explained to other people, it sounds like chaos with no order to it and no sound meaning at all, but to the dreamer while it's happening, it all makes perfect sense. The dreamer just "knows" things that she has no way of knowing, sees things from a perspective that often can't be explained. Usually a dream reflects reality somehow, but that reality obeys its own set of laws and the laws seem to change when they feel like changing.

The Astral Plane

the universe has two realities or planes of existence. The primary reality, the material plane, is the one we're all used to. It obeys constant laws and lends itself to explanation by physics and common sense. A rock will always fall to the earth when it's dropped, not float off into the sky. Things don't vanish, and everything follows sensible cause and effect.

The other reality, the astral plane, is quite different. It can best be described as a dream. In the astral plane things do what they want to do. A rock may very well float up from the ground if there IS a ground at all to float away from. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. The sky can be blue, or it can have no colour at all. It can be cloudy one minute and full of stars like deep space the next, or there may be no sky at all because all one can see is a giant castle with stone walls and no windows. The astral plane is a plane of pure meaning. So pure that the average human would be so lost and confused there he might even go insane if he didn't have a guide of some sort to help him along, assuming he found a way into the the astral plane to begin with. Only creatures with the right mindset can navigate the astral plane. To them navigating the chaos is like navigating a giant dream shared by everyone in the plane. Some parts of the astral plane are horrific and nightmarish, inhabited by demons as old as time, while others are serene, peaceful or enlightening.

Creatures on the physical plane who can enter the astral plane are said to have the ability to "side step". Demons, ghosts, or other creatures from the astral plane can be brought into the physical plane but ONLY if someone on the physical plane summons them somehow. Summoning almost always involves preparing an area of ground (with runes, sacrifices, and the like) and most summoners have a way of binding the demon to an agreement or contract that, when broken, will banish the demon immediately. A demon destroyed on the physical plane will simply return to the astral plane.

Magic occurs when the barrier between the physical plane and the astral plane breaks down. It is as if the part of the world that's awake begins to dream and stops paying attention to all the laws it so diligently follows most of the time. A mage is someone who puts the world to sleep, who makes reality look the other way for a minute while he does what he wants to do, and every mage has his own personal way of accomplishing this.


people are rational, and in order to control magic they must rationalize it to themselves somehow. This means having a system by which the person executes what he wants, often (but not always) in the form of a spell. Often times people who think alike will gather together and form a guild where they can exchange their spells and teach eachother tricks as well as practice doing what they know.

Perhaps the most simple system to explain is that of a religious follower who prays to his god to grant him the spells. The god may be a real entity (from the astral plane) or imagined. Either way, it is the follower's belief that fuels his spell, and if the belief is strong enough then reality grants him his wish.

Other systems include those of wizards or mystics, who have strange and mysterious ways of explaining their practices to one another. Witches often call upon nature, runes, or create potions. Many mages have what they call "mana" which is an unseen energy that gives them their powers. Races that are themselves partially magical may not even use a system, but rather "just do" what they want to do, and can always feel the astral plane or even step into it.


skill varies from person to person and from race to race. Elves are notorious for being good with bending reality and are able to wrap their minds around the nonsense of the astral plane. Humans are extremely flexible, and the crazy ones can get as good as the best elves at using magic. Most, though, are not quite so good, and the ones who are good tend to be old, frail, and a bit insane if not completely bonkers.

Dwarves are awful at magic. They tend to despise the lack of sense of the astral plane and the pansy elves who fiddle with it. They hate it so much, in fact, that their sheer disbelief and hatred for it can actually nullify magical effects around them and force reality to obey physical laws. On the other hand, even though they despise it so much, they often create great magical weapons (light a mighty hammer that weighs nothing yet can strike down a giant) and then deny it, saying "that's not magic at all, ye git."

Other races, like orcs, are too stupid to use magic the majority of the time. They may have witch doctors here and there who can do some strange things, but for the most part they just can't understand it. Trolls are so dumb none of them has ever managed to do anything but drool and stare when a spell is cast.

Spell Ideas

even though magic is so diverse, people tend to think alike, and so the things they can do are often very similar. The following is a list of some of the more common types of magic, and is provided as a source of inspiration for your character.

  • Fireballs, lightning bolts, and energy balls.
  • Shields.
  • Telekinetics, such as moving heavy objects.
  • Personal flight.
  • Invisibility.
  • ESP and/or the ability to read minds or see the future.
  • Control over plants, animals, or even people.
  • Healing powers.
  • Constant good luck, or the ability to inflict bad luck.
  • Bending time. (time travel is reserved for the truly omnipotent)
  • Controlling shadows.
  • Conjuring items.
  • Brewing potions.
  • Seduction.
  • Intimidation.
  • Shape shifting.
  • Summoning demons or other creatures. (see section on astral plane)
  • Illusions.
  • Control over weather.
  • etc...

When you create your character, explain how he or she uses magic and put some kind of limitation on how that magic must be used for fairness.