Basic elemental theory

All material objects are made up of different proportions of the six elements. Light, the white element, is associated with illumination and also with illusion. Dark, the black element, is associated with sleep, negation and coldness. Air, the blue element, is associated with movement, changeability and lightness. Stone, the grey element, is associated with heaviness, stillness and strength. Fire, the red element, is associated with heat and ash. It is the most destructive to mortal flesh. Water, the green element, is associated with mutability.
Magic is the manipulation of one or more elements in order to bend the world to your will. There is one colour of magic per element, with light opposing dark, air opposing stone and fire opposing water.

Colourless magic

There is also a seventh colour of magic, which has no opposite; this is Colourless Magic, or “Wild” magic in the legends of the elves, which is the power of the elements combined. Colourless Magic is less powerful than the other kinds of magic - for it draws its power from the opposition and annihilation of six different elements - but far more versatile, for it has none of the weaknesses of any other style of magic.
Magic deals with physical objects, the physical world, and manipulations thereof. Both blue magic and spiritual miracles can silence someone, for example, but the magic does so by destroying the sound created whereas the miracle does so by taking away the person's voice. Magic is innately harmful to living things - even to the flesh of an elemental elf or similar magical creature - and a spell to infuse someone's body with pure elemental energy is generally a spell to seriously injure that person. There are ways to reduce or eliminate this harm, for example the Grey armour-creating spells and the Black spells of magic negation. It is well known that different types of magic are good at certain things and bad at certain other things. Colourless magic, of course, is good at nothing and bad at nothing, typically requiring a slightly higher level of mastery to perfect the same effect as a pure elemental spell.

The elemental lords

Something that many students of magic forget is that the ultimate sources of magic are wilful and ruled by intelligent - and alien - beings. Most of the rules governing magic are simply expressions of the will of the Elemental Lords and Ladies, which are some of the most powerful entities that exist in the multiverse. Each Elemental Lord or Lady - there is one for each element - controls a single plane, the plane from which all of that element derives. Each sort of magic has a 'personality', so to speak, and that personality reflects the personality of the element's ruling Lord or Lady. Understand the personality of your Elemental Lord, and you shall understand how to channel their magic; this understanding lies at the root of Elemental Skill.

Other elemental beings

Elementals, sentient accumulations of magical energy, may be summoned and bargained with or bound via ritual magic. They are excellent tutors and near-perfect (if intimidating) servants, but again it must be remembered that here we are dealing with forces never meant for direct mortal comprehension or manipulation. Politeness and care, even to the smallest and weakest of elementals, is the best policy. Apparently some sort of hierarchy exists among elementals; there are certainly different types, physical forms and sizes even within the ranks of a single element. Exploiting this is the key to getting the most out of peaceful interactions with elemental beings, though it would be folly to expect the elementals of one colour to have a similar hierarchy to those of another.

The interaction of magic with spirit and metal

It has been found that magical and spiritual powers are fundamentally incompatible, and any attempts to combine their effects generally ends destructively. For example, attempting to cast a ritual or a powerful protection spell on a very blessed individual may result in sparks and an explosion if not quickly terminated. For this reason, very few individuals are both mages and priests. It is possible to be learned in the ways of magic while being spiritually awakened, but wearing a focus and a holy symbol simultaneously can have extremely negative, if not immediately obvious effects, and attempting to channel either power while wearing the (OOC: please inform the refs if you are planning to try this, or believe you have done it accidentally or deliberately.)

Magical power tends to flow toward metal, so that it acts as an "earth". This means that magic and large quantities of metal often interact badly. In general, a mage carrying about 3 daggers-worth of metal (or wearing a suit of full studded leather carrying no metal weapons) is on the brink of an embarassing accident. Above this threshold limit, magic will spontanesouly discharge, draining the mage's mana reserves and quite likely injuring them and anyone unfortunate enough to be closeby. Elemental elves, whether or not they are mages, are similarly affected, and tend to be uncomfortable being in direct contact with metal in any way. Performing a ritual while carrying metal, or upon someone who is carrying metal, is likely to result in serious injury and potentially send the ritual circe spewing out errattic bursts of power until it can be safely contained. Warriors who even step too close to a ritual circle while carrying large quantities of metal can feel the tension in the air waiting to reach out and scorch them.

Performing a ritual on a blessed paladin in platemail is a very bad idea.

The focus

A focus is a small object of any kind (unlikely to contain metal; see below) which the caster has empowered as an aid to focusing the power which they draw from the elemental planes. Empowering a focus takes a just under a fortnight of laboratory work, so if a focus is stolen or destroyed the mage will be unable to cast for a fortnight until they have empowered a new focus in downtime (if it is lost on a Saturday linear, it should just be finished by Friday's interactive.) They will also be unable to do anything else in downtime because they are busy in the lab - this sort of thing cannot be safely hurried or skimped on. Mages without a phys-rep of their focus will be unable to cast as they are assumed to not have their focus with them. Foci "ping" under Detect Magic and answer 'Focus' to Recognise Magic. It is necessary for Mages to tell the Refs what form their current focus takes and if it changes. Each Mage has their own focus; they cannot be shared.

Spells and matrices

All magical spells are cast by means of a 'spell matrix', a mental construct containing a series of gestures and a 'feeling' which must be evoked by means of spoken words. The actual form of words used is not that important, and may be specific to the individual student, but the mental effort involved is always identical for a given spell. This channeling of magic through the voice draws forth the matrix; all who hear the matrix manifesting can understand the vocal, no matter in what language it is spoken (Tengwar, the common tongue of the elementals, is the easiest language with which to express the correct feeling). This spell matrix is difficult to teach, mostly because it is difficult to correctly convey a 'feeling' in text form, but once learnt it is difficult to forget. There is a standardised form of notation for feelings, developed by the elves in times long past, which serves as the written form of Tengwar; most works of romantic fiction and poetry improve when translated into Tengwar, and it has all the best insults.

Correctly written spell matrices collect small amounts of passing magical energy, and feel magical to a mage's perceptions; most books of magic are bound in iron (a very good magical 'earth') in order to reduce or prevent the stray discharges of magical energy that magical libraries are prone to. Scrolls harness this effect; by using specially made ink and paper and additional ornamentation to the spell matrix, they collect just enough mana to power the spell without causing random discharges. Breaking the pattern (typically by tearing the scroll) will cause the energy to be released, and with but a single Tengwar phrase the magic can be correctly directed.

Casting Spells

In order to cast a spell, a Mage must have learnt that spell (have it on their character sheet) and be able either to see or to touch their focus. They then say the vocal for the spell. If they have enough mana, the spell will work. A spell costs the same number of points of mana to cost as its level (a Level 3 spell costs 3 mana points, etc).

When casting a spell the Mage must have a hand free in order to indicate the target of the spell; the hand may not be holding a weapon or other large object for the duration of the spell vocal. Props such as wands or foci are fine; a staff or other weapon is not unless the spell description says otherwise. This means that a mage immobilised by STASIS or PARALYSE cannot cast spells, as all spells must contain a somatic component.

If a weapon or effect, or any call strikes you while you are casting, then your casting is interrupted and you must start the vocal over, but do not lose any magic or spirit. The only exception to this is if the call is, precisely, "NOTHING". This is very strict, so a RED NOTHING will interrupt anyone, even a pyrokin, as it is not a "NOTHING" - the reason being that even that effect is distracting enough to break your concentration. This means you are interrupted in all other situations, for example if you DODGE a blow, or you have magical armour. You are not mechanically interrupted when someone distracts you, say, by throwing a bucket of water over you, however you should feel free to roleplay losing the spell or miracle and starting over. You can't parry when casting, it's as good as an interruption. You can hold your weapon out in front of you in a vaguely threatening manner, but you can't move it around to parry, or push against an incoming blow, without losing your spell.


The vocal for a spell must have at least (8+spell level) words, excluding the OOC effect call at the end; there is no maximum length to spell vocals. A vocal must be (OOC) in English, the vocal must be said at least as loud as a clear speaking voice; it is impossible to affect a target ten metres away with a whispered vocal in a noisy room. Genuine spell vocals are always heard in the native language of the hearer, and must call upon magical or elemental power in some fashion. It is noted that mentioning the name of a mighty being in a vocal is liable to draw their attention, and the Gods and Elemental Lords are somewhat stroppy concerning demarcation issues. If you are unsure, please ask the Refs for examples of good and bad vocals.

If you are interrupted while casting a spell, by taking damage or any other call that is not 'Nothing', then the spell has no effect, but the mana points are not expended.

Brotherhood Mages

Students are taken on by the Colleges of Magic every October, in accordance with ancient tradition. They spend a varying amount of time (depending on ability, this can be as little as a few months or as long as three years) learning basic Elemental Theory and basic Elemental Skill and Power. When they feel they are ready, they are administered a series of three-hour written examinations and a demanding practical test before being formally recognised as Mages. (The Quenyar word used for this rank translates as 'apprentice'.)

Once graduated, a mage who wishes to progress further in the practical applications of magic will enter advanced studies under a Master from one of the Colleges, typically the one at which they first trained. They will be taught a coloured Elemental Lore, as well as more advanced techniques of Elemental Skill and spells from the teaching syllabus. They are also assigned a 'supervisor' from among the Journeymen of the College, typically of the same race as them, who assists them with assignments they are given and helps them to develop greater Elemental Power. They are given restricted access to the libraries and laboratories of the College and encouraged to develop their own repertoire of magic. Further information on each College is to be found in the College player-guides and elsewhere on this website.

The Colourless College takes on a few students every year, teaching them the Colourless magic of the elements combined, rather than the pure elemental magics. There is a greater emphasis on spell research and independent work, but otherwise tuition proceeds much as above. The Colourless College also undertakes to teach Colourless Lore to any mage from another college who shows an interest.

Independent Mages

You may choose to play a mage who is not a member of the Brotherhood of Magic, however the added freedom this provides may come with disadvantages relative to the more focused study afforded by the Colleges. Independent master mages often take on young people with potential as their apprentices, teaching them Elemental Theory, Skill and Power along with whatever lore(s) and spells they feel is appropriate. Mechanically, this means you will not have to stick to the prescribed syllabus and you will have free access to a lab, but you will not have automatic access to the College libraries and their better-equipped labs. Your master may also occasionally require services of you in return for continued tuition, but on occasion you might be able to obtain assistance with (for example) ritual design or item identification.


The Guild of Warlocks is a militant organisation dedicated to the defence of the Brotherhood of Magic and the policing of magic use in the city and its environs. They have access to jealously-guarded proprietary magic which breaks some of the rules of Elemental Theory, which they equip their members with in return for oaths of secrecy and service. Being a Warlock is a job for life, if you want it; while it is possible for a Warlock to take a job with another organisation, the eye of the Warlocks' Guild will be on you for as long as you retain the ability to teach their spells. Warlocks in good standing also have access to warmetal, a valuable nonmetallic material with all the useful properties of metal, often used to make weapons and armour.

Warlocks must have Warrior of greater or equal level to Elemental Skill. As of November 1290, Warlocks are now allowed to learn any colour of magic, the old tradition that the Guild would not accept Black and White mages having been superceded in favour of equality. They gain access to a special selection of additional spells including the famous Warlock Cantrips (see the Colourless spell list) and others to be found in their player guide. If their Elemental Skill ever exceeds their Warrior level, they lose the ability to cast these spells and risk being expelled from the Guild.

Learning Spells

Learning a spell from your College's teaching syllabus is as simple as spending the required XP. The labs are already set up, and the College undertakes to teach you this as part of your continuing magical education.

You can ask what's in the library and you will get a sample list, this represents the most well known spells in the library. (e.g. it is well known to apprentices that the grey spell: Buzby's insulting gesture is in the book "101 other uses for Buzby's hand spells"). Learning a non-syllabus spell from the library takes 2 weeks.

Other spells can be researched, research will usually take 2-6 weeks, and requires lab access. The mage may get lucky during their research and find that the spell actually exists in the library, but wasn't on the general reading list (Spells that are solely system calls that a given colour of magic is good at have a good chance to be discovered this way). In such a cases they manage to learn the spell after 2 weeks. It is also possible that in addition to the end result of the research, after 2 weeks the mage will have a partially completed / work in progress spell of limited utility/has serious drawbacks. You may purchase this spell with XP if you wish.

When learning a spell you expended twice that spells mana cost whilst learning, then must cast it once to "fix" the spell into your mind, thus expended 3 times the spells normal mana cost. When learning spells through the college it is assumed that characters spread the research and learning over several days so do not require 3 times the spells mana, unless they are doing it via midnight splunking into a masters library to peek at his spellbook!

Creating scrolls

Mages can inscribe scrolls, which allow them to take a spell and store it in paper form, ready for quick casting. A scroll 'pings' to Detect Magic, and responds with the spell description and effect to Recognise Magic.

To inscribe a scroll, a mage must first acquire some Enchanted Paper and some Magical Ink. These two commodities are both expensive. They are available for purchase from the Brotherhood of Magic. The Brotherhood is the only legal source of these items in Sussex; their sale is strictly controlled and monitored. A scroll appears to be a piece of paper containing a description of the spell written in Tengwar, and must be physrepped as such (a significant amount of runes or glyphs that aren't trivial to decode.) It is also a good idea to write the spell call on the scroll in English. Ask around OOC to see examples.

Each spell a mage wants to inscribe on a scroll requires a single sheet of Enchanted Paper, and one dose of Magical Ink per level of the spell. Mages may only inscribe scrolls with spells they have previously learnt (and hence have on their character sheet).

The process is very draining and requires a full day of lab work to prepare the components and inscribe the scroll. It also requires the mage to expend twice the normal mana required to cast the spell. This mana does not return in the normal way until a fortnight has passed after the inscription of the scroll.

A mage may never have more scrolls inscribed than his Elemental Skill level. The mage will know when one of his scrolls has been used, but not where or by whom (the mage will be told by a ref when a scroll of his has been used). The enchantment on a scroll is permanent until it is used.

Example: Alice is a Fire Mage and has learnt the spell Fireball. She has Elemental Skill IV and Elemental Power IV, giving her 20 points of mana per day. She decides that she wishes to inscribe a scroll of Fireball, so purchases 1 sheet of Enchanted Paper and 4 doses of Magical Ink from the Brotherhood. She now spends a day in the lab inscribing the scroll. This drains her mana by 8 points, so her maximum mana pool is now 12 points for the rest of the fortnight; it will return to 20 points after this time.


Mana is an IC and OOC term for the magical power provided by the Elemental Power skill. It is stored in the link between the mage and their focus, like the energy in a twisted rubber band. Mages gain five points of mana for each purchase of the Elemental Power skill, and ten points of mana for each purchase of the Elemental Might skill.

Mages can regenerate small amounts of mana between encounters by spending 30 seconds in concentration recollecting mana from their surroundings. Whilst in concentration, major movements or actions above telling people to go away are not allowed without breaking the whole process. Damage also disrupts a mages concentration. Only the mana from between now and the last regeneration is available for regeneration. Begining a regeneration cancels all the mages active spells. Mana spent on healing or inflict-duration spells can not be regained in this fashion. The amount of mana regenerated in this way is calculated by (level of Elemental Skill + level of Elemental Power + Level of Elemental Might)/4 , with fractions rounding down.

Mages regain their power whilst they sleep. For one full hour's sleep they regain mana equal to their Elemental skill level, so during a night of 8 hours' uninterrupted sleep, a mage will regain 8 x Elemental Skill mana points, limited by the maximum level allowed by Elemental Power. Note that this means that a mage with much more Elemental Power than Elemental Skill will not regain all their mana with a night's sleep.

Using scrolls

When the scroll is completed, the spell inscribed upon it may be cast by anyone with the ability to read and speak Tengwar. To cast, the caster must read from the scroll, and use a vocal appropriate to the spell (see Vocals, above). On completion of the vocal, the scroll should be ripped in half, to show that the power stored in it has been used. The spell is cast as if the mage that inscribed the scroll cast it, but with any ranges centred on the person that ripped the scroll. All scrolls work as if the user of the scroll cast the spell him or herself.

Ritual magic

Mages with the appropriate skill (Ritual Magic) can perform rituals at ley nexi (generally known as ritual sites), which allow access to far more powerful and versatile effects than standard magic; ritual magic is variable in effect and may not act exactly as desired. Anyone with Elemental Theory may also assist with rituals performed by other characters; the more mages performing a ritual, the more powerful the final effect, but a mistake by anyone within the ritual circle will cause the ritual to have an undesirable effect.

Rituals will tend to take a lot more forethought and preparation than spells. Assistance from other mages, magical items, sacrifices of certain material components and so on, will all improve the final result. Not all ritual sites are created equal, and the nature of the site at which the ritual is performed will also have an effect. The ritual site in the Wessex Arms is powerful and commonly supposed to be free of any taint; it is a popular choice for those brave enough to go into that establishment to perform their rituals.

It is possible to summon elemental or demonic beings, either to communicate with or to wield the power of the ritual site in a specific manner; it is also possible to draw up the power oneself and attempt to wield it personally. The latter approach is more extreme in effect, either for good or ill; all of the power is directed in the indicated fashion, but the wrong indication can be unfortunate. It is quite possible to accidentally cause quite large magical explosions with a botched ritual; not for nothing does the Sussex Arms have heavy walls and a light roof, and the building has been rebuilt several times in the past few years.

There is no fixed format for a ritual; it can be as simple as a single mage chanting, up to full theatrical performances including many people, music, dancing and whatever. A ref will watch the ritual being performed and provide the result that the ritual deserved. Confidence, panache and entertainment will be rewarded; hesitant, boring and formulaic rituals will be more likely to end badly. It is of great importance not to misspeak while commanding the primal forces of creation.

Rituals are hard to describe to those who have not seen one. It would be advisable for new mages to speak to more experienced mages IC about rituals when they first start out. They may get the opportunity to watch one, or take a small part, then progress as they get more experience to more complex parts and rituals. There will usually be opportunities to discuss rituals IC with an NPC master mage, probably by appointment.

Arcane connections

An arcane connection is an object which can serve as a supernatural link to another person, for instance a personal possession, or even a part of them, eg hair clippings, blood. They can be used in both magical rituals and spirtual rites, most famously those of cursing from a distance.

Arcane connections decay over time. Personal possessions last a fortnight, hair maybe a month, blood a couple of months or so and a severed limb/holy symbol about a year. A Spirit weapon will remain a powerful arcane connection for as long as the weapon remains empowered.


When a mage has exhausted their mana supply, it is still possible for them to cast, but the price is extremely high. By drawing power from within themselves (the internal magical power of elemental elves, and some believe the soul of humans,) the mage may cast any one spell they know before dying from this exhertion. Young elves must be careful not to strain themselves by accidentally spending this power from within themselves. To successfully overcast a spell, the vocal for that spell must include the words "I OVERCAST".

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