What is Magic?

This is a question that is often asked. Magic, by definition, is not something that can be easily explained by common views of science or the way reality works. But, at the same time, in New Earth, magic is just another branch of the sciences (albeit, a somewhat rogue branch).

So, what exactly is magic, then?

Put simply, magic is the science of channeling a natural energy to alter reality. Those who understand the concept of magic, and how it works, are able to perform feats that seem to break the laws of science as it is commonly understood. Just as those who have a deep understanding of physics can explain seemingly impossible feats, those who know magic can bend the rules of science. So, really, mages are merely scientists. They just happen to be scientist who practice a more flashy and visually impressive field of study.

Anybody is capable of learning to harness magical energies. There is no innate genetic trait or talent that give one person the ability to use magic. Nor is there any inborn trait that one may lack to prevent access to magical energies. If someone takes the time to study the field, they can cast spells.

It isn't always that easy. Just like some people have a hard time understanding advanced mathematics, some people have difficulty understanding the core concepts of magic. There are also those who understand the idea of magic on a conceptual level, but in practice lack the talent for applying this knowledge. Magic is also a very intense field of study, often requiring more time and discipline than many people are willing to devote. This is why there are not more mages in the world.

So, what effect does magic have on the world?

In a short term, general way, magic has not had a huge effect on the world at large. It is a fringe science at best, still not completely understood (and in some nations, not even accepted as a reality). The other, more tested and understood, sciences still reign supreme in the world. Magic and technology do not mix well, either. So, the technology that has been used for generations all the way back to life on Terra is more widely accepted and used than the much more new technology based off of magic.

In a longer ranging view of the world, magic is still to new of a discovery to fully understand the effect on the world. Magic has spread to a number of aspects of life. Mages are uncommon, but not so much that finding someone to cast a spell for you is out of the question for those with the money to do so. Magic has been around long enough, people are willing to accept it when it appears in their life. Not common enough to be a daily occurrence, but enough so that it is less shocking when seen. It can be viewed in the same way as finding money on the street. It is a rare occurrence, but not mind blowing.

It does seem to be that the use of magic, as it increases in the world, makes magic more common. Not just in the way that you would expect more people studying a field to mean more knowledge of the field. Creatures out of myth and legend have been encountered throughout the world. The more magic becomes common, the more these magically-aligned beings seem to increase in number. Whether this is merely a coincidence, or an actual connection between the two is yet to be discovered.

The Origin of Magic

The use of magic is described as controlling the effects of a natural energy, newly discovered after the colonizing of New Earth. This energy is commonly known as mana.

The more scientific name for the energy is telluric energy. This literally translates as "energy originating from the earth." This stems from the fact that the energy is tied so closely to planetary bodies. The further from surface of a planet, the less strong the energy becomes. By the time the stratospheric barrier is breached, the ability to tap into a source of mana is non-existent. This has lead to the belief that magic is tied directly to the planet, and thus some planets may not generate mana of significant levels to allow magic. That would mean magic is not like other energies, in that it is not a universal constant.

Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case. Of the numerous planets humanity has colonized, as well as the other planets to have been visited by the human race, all have had significant mana fields. There are also limited stories of non-planetary bodies that have held a magical charge. Certain asteroids in the Ga Belt have been shown to support magical activity. So have the artificial planets in the Icominic system. Also of note are the stories of mages on space journeys who have successfully cast spells while in route between planets. This leads researchers to believe that magic is not tied in to the planets themselves.

Magic Theory

There are three major theories on to the actual origin of magic. Each has its strong proponents, and an equal number of detractors. The true origin is likely to lie somewhere in between the divergent views.

One belief, touched upon already, is that magic emanates from planetary bodies. Some planets have higher magical fields than others. This belief is strengthened by the fact that magic is virtually impossible to use off world. As explained above, this is not always the case. Some mages have been capable of using their magical abilities in space. The reason why some people have been able to do so, while others have not has been a major argument against this theory.

Another strong argument is that of they fey. It is believed that some creatures, communally known as the fey (or fairies) exude a natural energy that we know as magic. Much in the same way that most living beings have their own personal electromagnetic field, these lifeforms have a natural telluric field. This theory would explain how these fey beings seem to be more capable of manipulating magical energies, as well as their natural resistance to magic. There are a couple problems to this theory. One is that, while the fey do seem to have a natural connection to magic, they were relatively unheard of when magic was discovered. It is hard to claim magic comes from a being, when the being was not discovered until well after the magic was. The other major argument against this train of thought is the strength of the magical field. While it is true that most beings have a natural electromagnetic field, this field is not very strong. Far from the level of output that would be needed to properly power any major technological creation. Fey, therefore, are unlikely to give off the amount of magic needed to power any significant magical effect.

The final theory on magic is that magic is all just an exercise in mind over matter. Magic is based off of belief. The more you believe something can be done, the more likely it is to actually work. The more you believe something can exist, the more likely it is to exist. While this can be a fun train of thought, and is relatively popular, it poses some problems. If belief is everything, why doesn't it always work? Why can't someone who is homeless or destitute just believe themselves into riches? Why can't someone use the power of belief to disbelieve something out of existence. These are questions that cannot be fully answered. Those who follow this school of thought claim that the belief of one person can be overwhelmed by the contrary beliefs of others. This is why you cannot simply believe someone out of existence or yourself into greater riches. You believe it to be so, but those around you do not, so you are outnumbered. Another explanation is that the older one becomes, the less strongly they believe their own beliefs. A child is able to believe something into effect easier than an adult. The other argument against this theory of magic is that there is no viable way to test it. Without scientific testing and proof, it is hard to justify this thought process.

Magic Laws

As a science, magic has its own sets of rules and constants. While it is theoretically possible to do anything with magic, some effects are easier than others. Knowledge of the laws of magic allow mages a better chance of actually getting the effect they desire. These laws are not exact. Sometimes they may apply to a spell,and sometimes they do not. Magic, as always, is a tricky subject.

Law of Knowledge

The more you know about the target of your magic, the better the magic will work. If you want a spell that will create fire, you will have a better chance of success if you understand how fire works. The more detailed the information you have, the better the chance of success. Knowing that fire is hot doesn't help much, but knowing the details of thermodynamics will make your fire spell very successful.

Law of Self-Knowledge

If you know your own strengths and weaknesses, you will better you will control your magic. Magic requires a level of introspection that other sciences do not. Examining your motives for why you wish to harness the control of this energy provides a deeper understanding of the magical process. Casting a spell "just because" does not provide a great result, but doing it because it will help you with a deep seated goal or belief makes the spell all the more powerful.

Law of Cause and Effect

If a spell is cast in the exact same way over multiple castings, it will be more effective. Familiarity breeds ease of use. This is why the formulaic spells are widely taught by the College of Magical Studies. It is also why so many mages do not share their spell research. If everyone knows how you do it, they can do it just as well as you do. This makes your use of the spell less impressive.

Law of Synchronicity

If two events happen at the same time, regardless of the distance between them, they are linked in some way. A child born while a thunder storm rages, a major event occurring during an eclipse, a spell spontaneously being cast when the caster is being attacked. These all have meaning, if you know how to discern it.

Law of Association

If two events or patterns have a common element, control of one is control of both. The more elements in common between the two, the more likely this control will be possible. For example, take a painting of a man in a maze. If there exists a maze that is identical to the one in the painting, that is a common element. If someone walking the maze happens to be dressed like a person in the painting, there is another element in common. If it is raining in the painting, and there is rain at the location of the real maze, yet another common factor. So, casting a spell on the painting allows you to have the spell affect the actual maze as well. As evidenced by later laws, this law is one of the more important and far reaching of the rules of magic.

Law of Similarity

Effects tend to resemble their causes. Casting a fireball spell is much easier if you start by lighting a match. Creating a magical gust of wind is more likely if you have a fan. The more accurate the visualization is with regard to the five senses, the more accurate the spell effect will be.

Law of Contagion

Objects are linked to everything they have ever touched. The strength of this link is determined by the relationship between the objects. Picking up a rock and putting it back down provides a link between you and the rock. Picking up a rock and carrying it with you every day for years makes the link much more powerful. The link also works with two living beings having come into contact with each other. The strongest of links come from pieces of the target of the spell (such as hair or fingernail clippings from a human target).

Law of Positive Attraction

Like attracts like. If you wish to create a positive reaction, you need to go about it in a positive manner. If you want to create fire, you need to generate heat. The more similar your method of casting is to the intended effect, the more likely the spell is to work as desired.

Law of Negative Attraction

Opposites attract. The reverse of the above law, it would seem this is contradictory. In a way it is, but the law still holds true. There is similarity found in equal opposites. If something is cold enough, it begins to burn. If a link can be forged between the method of casting and the intended effect, even if that link is an opposite attraction, it strengthens the spell.

Law of Names

Knowing an object's true name gives you power over it. With an inanimate object, this is relatively easy to accomplish. As long as you know the proper name of something, you can manipulate it with magic. Regional dialects and slang does not always fulfill this criterion. With people, the true name is a little more difficult. People go by nicknames, aliases, and code names or call signs all the time. A person's true name also sometimes is not the same as their given name. Learning a true name for a person is a great gain, and being trusted with this information is a high honor.

Law of Words of Power

Some words have mystical power. Just as true names have power over the objects or people they label, so too do certain words hold special meaning. Using these words, in the right circumstances, can improve the functionality of a spell. Magic has a unique language all its own, and the better ones fluency the better a mage they are.

Law of Personification

Any phenomena can be considered alive, with its own personality. This is not to say that everything in the world is alive, nor that everything that is alive has a personality. What it is saying is that, to help control and shape the world around them, a mage needs to think of it as having a distinct personality. It is a mental device to help control the energies needed to affect the changes being made.

Law of Invocation

It is possible to draw energy from within ones self. It is a documented fact that the magical energy field of a given body varies from location to location. Some regions are strong in magical energy while others are weak (or in rare occasions, bereft of magic entirely). Due to the variable nature of the energy needed to cast a spell, it is sometimes necessary to draw energy from another location. Luckily, all living beings carry a small portion of magical energy within themselves. So, in some cases, it is possible to draw the energy out of oneself to power their spells.

Law of Evocation

It is possible to draw energy from ones surroundings. Converse to the prior law, this law states that it is possible to power a spell from the ambient energy surrounding everything. This is not the same as accessing the general magical field of the planet. That is a given when spells are being cast. What this is talking about is tapping into the magic of other beings, as well as the rivers of magical energy known as ley lines. Drawing on the energy of others is considered taboo without the permission of those being drawn from. Many consider it immoral to do so regardless, with exception made for life-or-death situations.

Law of Identification

If you know enough about something, you can become it. A law that is often overlooked, it means exactly what it sounds like it does. If you know enough about something, you can become it either psychically or physically. If you wish to transform yourself into another form, you must understand what is is the be that thing. The more fully you understand it, the better the transformation will be. Likewise, if you wish to use magic to control something, it is more effective to understand it from every aspect you can.

Law of Infinite Data

The number of phenomena to be known is infinite. There is always something more to learn. No matter how knowledgeable a person is, they can't even begin to know a fraction of the information to be had. Mages who understand this make an effort to continue learning. The more information you gather, the more information you can use to power your spells.

Law of Finite Senses

Your senses are finite, but magic is not. That is the point of magic. It can do anything. Magic can be used to enhance the senses, or provide new sensory perceptions. This can be used both on oneself as a form of enhancement, or on ones enemies as a form of attack.

Law of Personal Universes

Every being create their own unique universe. Since we have limited sensory capabilities, unique to ourselves, no tow people perceive the world in the same way. Thus, we all live in a universe that is tailor made to our own perceptions. Magic allows this to be breached, giving glimpses into the personal views of another.

Law of Infinite Universes

For every possible action, there is a reality in which it occurs. This concept is one that is difficult to fully grasp. Every action, potential or actual, has the possibility to exist. This isn't to say that every possibility will happen, just that they all could happen. Part of magic is using the energy to enable the possibility you wish to have happen, instead of the other realities where your intended action does not. Fully understanding and utilizing this law of magic is difficult for many.

Law of Pragmatism

If a pattern of belief allows a being to live, it is true. Reality, especially personal realities, exists only so long as it is witnessed. If a being dies, their reality cease to exist. Therefore, reality itself strives to prevent the death of the being responsible for it. When two realities come into conflict over whether a being should live or die, the least disruptive reality will triumph. The death of one is more acceptable than the deaths of many. Comprehension of this law allows the mage to twist this in their favor.

Law of True Falsehoods

It is possible for a concept to contradict reality, and still be true. The limitation on this is that the concept must make sense in some version of reality. Blatantly impossible concepts or actions are never true. However, the list of concepts that cannot be real in any version of reality is so small as to be nearly nonexistent in itself. This is very important to the casting of a spell. A man throwing a ball of fire out of his hands is not possible in reality as most people know it, but in some reality somewhere it is possible. Thus, casting a fireball spell is possible in this reality. It is all a matter of knowing where it is possible, and how it can be so.

Law of Synthesis

If two opposing patterns merge, they will form a more perfect pattern. Since all realities are merely different variations on a particular being's personal perceptions, or on divergent actions, all realities depend on one another. They all have links that bind them together. The synthesis of two divergent realities causes both preexisting realities to have relevance for more realities, due to the increased links with others. It is important to keep in mind that the combined reality may not be anything like the two separate realities that existed before.

Law of Polarity

Any pattern can be divided onto two opposing characteristics containing the essence of the other. This is illustrated frequently with the yin-yang symbol. The opposing forces are both at conflict and in harmony with each other. This is not the same as the more common view of opposing forces. Viewing the separation of the pattern into tow concepts at odds with each other, your perception is limited. The opposing forces are not completely in opposition. There is a small piece of of each in the other, showing that no matter how much they are separated form each other they still contain a small piece of the other. There is harmony in the opposition.

Law of Dynamic Balance

To survive, one must remain in a state of balance. It is best to avoid extremes. Keeping your own personal reality in check, limiting it to a more center line and harmonious existence is the best way to ensure it continues to exist. Extremes of any sort cause strife, and strife causes conflict. As stated before, when two realities are in conflict, the one with the least disruptive tends to be the one to survive the conflict. Thus, it is best to keep oneself in a state of balance to ensure your reality does not cease to exist.

Law of Perversity

If anything can go wrong, it will (and in the worse possible way). The universe has a way of surprising you. No matter how much you know, how much you take these laws into account, there is always a way that things will go wrong. Connections exist in ways that are not conceived of, and that can cause your magic to go awry. It is smart to keep this in mind. It isn't possible to always be prepared, but it is possible to be wary of the chance of failure. By contemplating the unknown, when it comes to pass it is easier to turn the result to a favorable one regardless.

Law of Unity

Every phenomena is connected in some way, breaking physical and temporal barriers. Everything that ever was or ever will be is connected. Personal realities are mirrors for the greater whole. Some links are weak and tenuous, while others are strong. Some links are singular, while others are many. What is important is that when something happens, it affects everything else. This is a grand idea, and hard to fully realize. being able to understand this law allows you to better craft your magic. When you remember that everything is connected, it is not hard to find lesser connections to manipulate to fulfill your desires.