In Magic Part 1 I gave a general overview of magic including the types of magic, the deities connected to each type and who can use magic. In this post, I’ll go into a few types of magic and explain the rules that govern their usage.
Shamanism and divination: The main aspect of shamanism is divination, where a shaman can know anything he or she wants provided Ulax will give it to them and it exists in the present reality. By present reality I mean the shaman cannot see into the past or the future, only what exists now. For example, a shaman can read minds, but only what the subject is thinking about at that very moment. A shaman won’t know deeply guarded secrets, unless the subject is thinking about it at the very moment. Also, a shaman can only tell you where someone is, not where they’ve been or where they’re going to be.
Divination, unlike every other form of magic, requires active participation on the part of the deity. For every other type, the energy is there and if you can harness it you can do what you want with it. But for divination, the deity can choose whether or not to provide what you want, tthough Ulax is pretty lax about giving it to his shamans in good standing. In Tiny Ads and Shaman Juice (which chronologically takes place after the Impending Darkness), it’s mentioned that Eluna, K23’s main shaman character, cannot divine anything regarding her employer’s cases. That was a choice made by Ulax. Is it a cheap way to avoid plot holes? In some ways it is, but in-universe it makes sense.
New Delta has something called the Shaman Rule: Evidence gained via divination is not admissible in court, period. A shaman can’t even point you in the right direction without the case running into a trouble if it comes out. I’m not going to explain how or why Eluna works with the K23 Detectives (read the books) but in order for her to remain employed, losing some of her divination ability has to occur to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
As a side note, I mentioned last time that elves have to go through Illwyn to practice divination and are therefore less powerful. Elven “shamans,” called seers, cannot divine at will. Their divine connection only goes one way. With shamans, the connection goes both ways. Seers can only receive, shamans can ask and receive.
Healing: Healing magic can only heal physical injuries and poison. Basically, if it can be to done you by others, magic will heal it. But there are a few exceptions.
- Magic can’t cure disease, since microbes are living too, and Illwyn won’t kill them simply because she can.
- Healing can’t regenerate missing limbs and organs.
- Healing magic can’t bring you back from the dead. Nothing can.
- Magic can delay the effects of aging and extend life, but it’s not forever and only works if someone undergoes regular “treatments.”
So if you get shot, magic can heal you. But if you’ve got heart disease, go to a doctor. I’ll go more in depth when I get into technology in a later post, but this is one of the few places where science outperforms magic in every way.
Necromancy: Every living creature has a soul, from the smallest microbe to the largest Uthiran. When a creature dies, its soul goes away and the creature becomes lifeless. Therefore, the dead cannot rise on their own except with the help of a necromancer.
A necromancer places a part of their soul into a vessel and the vessel comes back to life. The vessel is under complete control of the necromancer and retains nothing from its previous life. The number of corpses an individual can raise depends on their skill. Souls are not infinite and a necromancer must have some of their own soul in their bodies to remain alive. Less adept necromancers need more soul per corpse to raise and control them and therefore can only raise a few. The most powerful are able to create rampaging hordes of the undead because they can control them with very little soul in each vessel. One only learns to do this with practice. Finally, if a necromancer dies with undead under their control, the undead go back to being dead.
Dead Periods demonstrates necromancy in action.
Summoning: Item summoning, which creates items out of Alpha’s divine energy, has a few rules attached to it:
- You can only summon inorganic items. This means no food, no natural fibers and no living creatures.
- Any item summoned must have a real-world template available. For example, early on in A Clear and Feathered Danger, Quintanelle summons on her mage robes. She can do this because her actual robe is kept in a sealed, temperature-controlled vault in Teolos. Her robes are made of an inorganic cotton substitute.
- Summoned items have a lifespan of exactly 24 hours before they are dispersed.
Teleportation: Teleportation requires a portal, either made from stone or crystal. The further you need to teleport, the more mages you’ll need to open the portal and keep it open. You also can’t teleport off-planet.