Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Magic and everyday life

Not every little boy wants to grow up to be a fireman, train driver, or jet pilot. On Podroth, some of them yearn to be mages. There's a certain glory to remodelling reality - even though, for the most part, there's some fairly strict boundaries to a mage's power.

The various mage guilds train their members in specific areas of magical skill. There are those who teach evocation, those who teach conjuration, guilds for divination, enchantment, illusion, transmutation, and even prestidigitation, although the latter are somewhat looked down upon as "magic for those who can't master REAL magic". The guilds are not exclusive, but most practitioners have one preferred school, and merely dabble in others as a hobby.

As a career path, magic is like any other; you invest the time and effort to learn a skill, and then you perform that skill for those who will pay for it. Most spellcasters will learn one, or maybe two spells, and achieve mastery of just those spells; such commercial casters are generally referred to as trade-mages, and are valued in the community as tradesmen. The true masters of the art, though, devote their entire lives to study; the rewards are great, but seldom financially viable, and the guild leaders receive a proportion of the guild dues to enable them to maintain their studies.

But even the greatest of mages cannot fathom the enormous power at the command of the 'walkers. For those almost-mythical beings, it's not just teleportation - it's world-hopping. Dimension-walkers are held in some awe, whether they come for good or for ill; those who visit in peace are welcomed, those who wish conquest are feared. Since a walker's arrival is such a momentous event, some mages maintain a part-time job - royally funded - watching for hints of a walker, and greeting them when they come. These walk-trackers buy and sell information occasionally, but mainly use magical means of detecting the disturbances made by a walker's arrival or departure - the forces involved invariably leave some traces behind.

For the general public, magic is just another service to call upon. Magical healing takes the place of first-responders, illusionists help people "test out" construction plans prior to building, and divination is very popular as a means of learning gossip! Even among the poorest of people, magic still has influence; in times of crisis, the whole community will pitch in to help, and every now and then there's the odd spell cast their direction.

From the magnificent to the everyday, magic is important to most Podrothians. But for those in the trade, it's just another line of work, albeit one in which you are comfortably in control of your own life - which, for many, is infinitely preferable to a salaried job.

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