An overview on the mechanics of magic in this setting. As per previous entries, these are general thoughts and concepts, and might not be how things work out in a “final” printing.
It’s kind of ironic that, despite wanting to write a story in a setting where magic plays a part in the daily lives of the people who live in it, no matter how minor or remote, I didn’t actually put much thought on how the magic worked. It was just something that did, you know.
Of course something like that isn’t going to fly, is it? Even “magic” will have its own set of rules explaining why it works, the mechanics behind how it works, and whether or not there are limits to what it can do. The limitations are particularly important, as it will go a ways to help explain why, for example, despite magic being “common” people in the world setting I came up with ride combustion-engine vehicles, and still commute to work on trains, rather than just riding on flying carpets or simply teleporting to their places of work.
The Source of It All
On top of the physical universe, there is another, unseen realm overlaid on it, just slightly out of synch. Named simply as the World of Possibility by the dragons, it is from this place that magic-users of all stripes draw power to cast their spells, but even non-magic users can unconsciously access it, manifesting in those rare (but obviously preternatural) instances of foresight, insight, luck, or recovery.
It is a realm of energy, yet only beings with souls can draw power from it. Indeed, one can say that the soul is just the reflection/imprint of an individual’s ego upon this plane. This does mean however that objects without souls — like constructs (which the Taras researches found out to their extreme chagrin) — are unable to truly “cast” magic on their own. Now if they were somehow infused with, or somehow spontaneously gains a soul, that’s another matter entirely…
While in the modern day the knowledge of the existence of the World of Possibility is taught even in primary school, knowing that it exists doesn’t necessarily mean one would be able to tap into the energies there with ease. And while there are recorded instances of people tapping into this unseen realm unconsciously, and enhancing their skills to do what normally be physically impossible (the best example would be the thief who was so good at eluding pursuers that he or she could literally slip through any crack, no matter how narrow, or so skilled at pickpocketing that they could steal their mark’s underwear without disturbing the rest of the mark’s worn clothing), it takes training to truly manipulate the energies available there to their fullest potential.
Connecting The Threads
Not So Empty Is It?
And the place is not uninhabited either — it is populated by beings born from the same dreamstuff, who gained egos either spontaneously or through outside interference. They come in all shapes and sizes, can be strange and wondrous, helpful or dangerous, but the trait that they all share is the fact that, compared to those living on the mortal plane, they are effectively ageless and immortal. And what’s more, there’s no real way to destroy a native of this place — even seemingly total destruction of their “body” will just reduce it to its most primal essence, and given enough time (whether it takes millenia or eons), it would eventually reform, though whether it will still “remember” its former identity is a different matter entirely…
Those Who Are Worshipped
Those who manage to survive long, accumulate power, and somehow gain the attentions of mortals, often get revered as deities. While said reverence usually results in an absurd surge of power, over-reliance on it can have dire consequences when said reverence (or the source of it, like the civilization doing the worshiping) suddenly stops. For the power gained from reverence can be likened to an addictive drug, and coupled with the additional strength it provides, there is often no going back for the entity in question.
Rare is the inhabitant of that twilight realm to willingly relinquish that what was gained, but those who do eventually diminish, as the memories of their existence fades from the minds of mortals. It may take ages, but eventually they return to what they began as, barely-sapient spirits inhabiting places or objects, that linger on in the forgotten niches that echo of their past grandeur.