Low MagicEdit

Low magic is shorthand for ritualised magic, it shares a lot of attributes with alchemy, mantra and every day magic, but is a skill separate from these. This article will deal primarily with it as a skill and not delve too deeply into its cultural aspects and how to roleplay a low magic user.

Mundane vs. MagicalEdit

Those who practise low magic tend to view the world as a sliding scale between the mundane and the magical. Low magic occupies both a position of strength and weakness towards itself. The further someone or something is from the mundane, the easier a time low magic will have in manipulating it. Therefore an archwizard will be easier to affect with a magic spell, than the common peasant. Most low magic users counteract this with layers of defensive spells, there are wizards who no longer dare to leave their towers for fear of the spells that may assail them the second they leave their place of power.

Of course, this weakness extends to a number of things. It's much easier to create a spell that will effectively make someone feel pain or make them think that they cannot move in a certain direction, than it is to actually wound them or restrain them. The ethereal is always more magical than mundane, so manipulating the ethereal is always easier than the physical for low magic users.


The most important thing to note about about spellcasting is that it takes time. Even the smallest of spells will generally take over an hour to cast, the most powerful spells have been known to take months and even years to cast. There are some spells that can only be cast at certain times, or given certain circumstances.

The importance of casting a spell properly cannot be understated, not filling the ritual requirements of a spell can be the difference between success and catastrophic failure. Spells can fail for many reasons, though the most common of all is sloppiness on the spell caster. Of course, a spell failing can have all manner of strange effects, from simply not doing anything to tearing holes in reality and all manner of intermediate effects. For this reason, apprentice wizards are generally considered to be the most dangerous and are rarely allowed near powerful spells. An important part of a spell caster's training is learning to recall by rote the intricate rituals required for spellcasting.

Spell ComponentsEdit

A spell is made up of several components, the most important of which are the Power Source, the Sigil and the Interface. Their roles may overlap and something which is used for the interface may also be part of the power source.


Every spell has an interface, it's what allows the caster to decide its application. The most commonly used interfaces are Numen and Prime Words. The former allows the caster to control the spells mentally, although at the cost of some effort on his behalf. It is generally used for spells which need to be adjusted on the fly. The latter is a textual interface, Prime Words function much like a programming language, allowing the caster to create a spell which works without the caster's input.

An example of the former would be a wizard casting an illusion of himself, he would constantly need to alter it to mimic speech and movement to make it look realistic. By using his Numen the wizard could do this in such a way that the spell responded in real time. Whereas if the spell were merely a recording of something that had happened in the past, the illusion would not require input and the wizard could use Prime Words or some other interface to cast it, however the wizard would have little to no input in what the spell did beyond choosing before time what would trigger it to do certain things.

Power SourceEdit

The power source is another integral part of a spell. It is what provides the energy necessary for the spell to have the desired effect. While wizards have a range of different power sources at their disposal, the most important lesson is that power can be drawn from just about anything. Some curses have been known to be powered simply by people believing that the curse exists.

An important part of what powers the spell is the ritual itself. Certain materials are known to lend themselves to magic better than others, such materials are often found used in spells. The more mundane the materials used in a spell, the harder the spell is to cast. The kind of materials used will depend on the spellcaster though. A druid or shaman might use strange herbs and bones of animals, whereas a wizard would be more the kind of person who uses silver and athames.

Of course some power sources are worthy of note, among the most potent are leylines, whose power can be harnessed for the most terrible spells. It should be noted that most power sources have their advantages as well as drawbacks though. While a leyline is easily among the most potent power sources out there, it can be shifted from its course leaving the spell suddenly bereft of power. Sacrifice is another power source, but it is often a fleeting one, the taking of life can only be done once and cannot sustain a spell indefinitely.

While a small spell such as the Dark Mirror might be powered solely by the use of Prime Words, a more potent spell such as one to reanimate the dead would require more than merely Prime Words, but would require the energy which is released when someone dies. Leylines are rarely used, except to power the most powerful of spells, such as those powering stationary magical machinery.


A sigil is generally used in spells designed to effect a certain area or which is made to take a particular shape. Sigils are made to direct and constrain the flow of power within a spell. A ward might have a sigil as simple as a circle, to define its boundaries, whereas the holding spells of some summoning spells requires more elaborate sigils, often involving pentacles and similar designs.


Spells containing a seeking is targeted at something or someone specific and will generally include a True Name or some object connected to the thing which the spell is targeting. Curses often use a seeking, as well as Scrying spells intended to look for a specific person.

The Magic ArtsEdit

There are several magic arts, each describing a different kind of spellcrafting. The line between them can often be shifting and most effects can be achieved in more than one way. Most spellcasters will have certain magic arts that they specialise in and are known for, but any sufficiently advanced spellcaster knows at least the basics of any of them. It should be noted that this list is not conclusive and that the arts are largely a cultural expression in character.

The Basic ArtsEdit

These are the easiest magic arts and are generally considered to be the easiest to learn. This doesn't mean they're less inherently powerful than others.


Hexing is the casting of curses with potentially harmful effect towards others. It relies a lot on Resonance. While you do not see it very often among wizards, it is relatively common among shamans, village witches and similar.


Enclosing is creation of wards and powerful magical barriers. It relies a lot on sigils and can contain everything from simple spells to make people get lost to powerful traps that imprison even the most powerful of entities.


Sortilege is a grab bag term for spells that do not fit in any other category, it contains many strange spells.


Mantike is an art which deals with altering the properties of the body through body point and more permanent tattoos. It is one of the few arts of low magic practised by the dragonkin.


Necromancy is an art of low magic which deals with raising the dead and controlling them through the use of a Fetish. While it carries a certain amount of stigma, necromancy also has a high standing in certain communities as querying one's ancestors is generally considered to be important.


Scrying is primarily an art that deals with the finding and spreading of information. Many apprentices start out learning some scrying and it is one of the most common art, but not one many choose to specialise in.


Summoning deals with calling, holding and ultimately banishing creatures from other Planes. Each Summoning spell only summons one individual and for game play purposes each summoning spell is a summoning, banishing and holding spell. Summoners rely on bargaining with their summoned creatures to get them to obey their will.

Advanced ArtsEdit

Certain arts are considered to be more difficult to learn than others, these often require a great deal of insight into low magic to perform. A character should be at least level ten before starting to master these arts.


Where Creation is all about creating a new kind of living being, artificing is about creating magical machinery. Spells capable of sustaining themselves indefinitely, strange sources of power. Everything from flying ships to murder machines have been made using artificing. Much like Creation, Artificing takes a lot of time to cast.


Creation is an art wherein the wizard learns to create life forms independent of himself. Unlike summoning and necromancy, the life forms are both independent of the spell caster and (usually) devoted to their well being. Creating an intelligent creature from scratch is considered to be a highly difficult task even for a seasoned wizard, as a result most of those created by Creation are fairly dumb.

Those just starting out with Creation will often use it to splice together already intelligent life forms and using them as their building blocks rather than make something entirely from scratch.


Techniques are different from spells and spell components in that they are more of a trick that a spell caster can learn, they are not a spell in their own right, but spells can sometimes be made to imitate their effects.


Auramancy is the ability to be able to view a person's aura. The term is generally used to cover the senses a spell caster tends to develop over time, an ability to sense when magic is being used nearby, viewing a person's aura, and similar. While viewing someone's aura is by no means the same thing as reading someone's mind, a skilled auramancer may be able to pick up on the general mood a person is in.

Death CurseEdit

A Death Curse or a Great Work is the act of a spell caster fashioning their entire numen into one last, completely new spell. Unlike other spells this is often created immediately, but it is done so at the cost of their life. The differentiation between a Death Curse and a Great Work, is merely that the first is generally what spell casters cast on those who have tried to kill them, whereas a Great Work is a spell which is not intended to be a curse, but more of a productive effort.


Enchanting is the creation of magic artefacts. When a spell caster knows this technique they can bind on of their spells into an item, creating a magical artefact. This process is time consuming, often taking months to complete and tends to leave the wizard weakened for some time after its completion.

Familiar RitualEdit

Using his numen the spell caster may be able to semi-permanently bind themselves to a familiar, be it an animal, a demon or anything else living the spell caster chooses. The familiar acts as the eyes and ears of the wizard and may do all manner of mischief in their name. Of course, if the familiar proves more powerful than the spell caster, it is the spell caster who will be bound to the familiar and not the other way around. Shamans often use this deliberately allying themselves with spirit animals, potent genius loci and similar.


A Geis is a magical contract, it holds the most power if entered into freely so most of those who enter into it are aware of doing so. It is not a spell in its own right, but most wizards will know how to make one.

Great WorkEdit

A Death Curse or a Great Work is the act of a spell caster fashioning their entire numen into one last, completely new spell. Unlike other spells this is often created immediately, but it is done so at the cost of their life. The differentiation between a Death Curse and a Great Work, is merely that the first is generally what spell casters cast on those who have tried to kill them, whereas a Great Work is a spell which is not intended to be a curse, but more of a productive effort.


Resonance is the bond between one thing and a thing related to it. It is often used in Scrying and Cursing for establishing a bond between the spell and the person it is supposed to target.

Skill TreeEdit

Most practitioners of low magic will only learn a handful of spells from their mentor in the course of their apprenticeship. For the purpose of character creation, the number of spells your character knows is equal to 5 plus the number of experience points in low magic. The spells can be spread across most of the known branches of the magic arts.

As practitioners of low magic advance in their knowledge of low magic, they will become more able to improvise with their spells, adapting them for different power sources and more spectacular effects. However, as a trade off, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hostile magic.

For every experience point a low magic user accrues they may add one spell to their spell list, so even if you have reached the level cap, they may continue to gain spells.

  • 0. Someone without any knowledge of low magic generally has very little insight into it, wizards guard their secrets carefully and most would only be able to tell that low magic is afoot, insight into the mechanics of spellcasting is jealously guarded.
  • 1. The point at which a low magic practitioner enters training.
  • 3. Rigourous training allows a low magic practitioner to manipulate their numen to allow for controlling spells with their minds.
  • 5. By this time a spell caster has picked up the ability to see auras and their senses will have expanded somewhat to allow them to sense when powerful magic is being practiced nearby.
  • 6. The spell caster may at this point have gained enough control over their numen to fuse it with a Familiar without the guidance of their teacher.
  • 7. A spell caster generally starts becoming more aware of how spells are put together and may start their first clumsy steps in modifying spells for greater or smaller effects.
  • 9. This is about when the spell caster becomes able to make a Geis.
  • 10. For wizards, they will now be nearing the end of their apprenticeship. Outside of wizards and heavily specialised spell casters you rarely find anyone with low magic skills greater than this.
  • 11. At this point a spell caster may learn how to make use of the more advanced arts of low magic.
  • 13. As their skill with Prime Words and magic increases a spell caster may be able to hazard an educated guess as to what another spell will do merely by studying it.
  • 15. Around this point the spell caster may learn the costly technique of enchanting items and infusing their spells into them.
  • 17. Around this time a spell caster becomes so proficient with using their numen that they may fashion it into a Great Work or Death Curse at the cost of their lives.
  • 25. The pinnacle of low magic skill, those who reach it are considered the very most potent of wizards and may be so ensorcelled that the very air around them feels unreal.

Role Playing a Spell CasterEdit

Role playing a low magic user will always be something of a challenge. They are not the best suited to combat, as their spells can take hours to cast and their will only be useful if prepared beforehand or used in ambushes and similar situations where the spell caster lures the enemy onto their turf. They also face something of a challenge as those they are most likely to run into are generally those who are the hardest to use magic against. Low magic is at its strongest when dealing with the magical, and at its weakest when dealing with the mundane. It is therefore generally advisable to avoid spells which are directly geared towards combat and focus on other uses for magic.

The cultural aspect of a spell caster is also very important. What a user of low magic calls themselves will tell you a lot about them, a shaman will generally have spells that are very different from that of a high born wizard or sorcerer. Low magic seeps into every day life in Adylheim through folk or everyday magic, you can find someone in most villages who practices a little bit of low magic, witches, shamans, wise folk, etc. Even though they are not the same as a wizard they will generally command a greater degree of respect than the common man. At the same time, should they overstretch their powers, they may easily become a target for the witchfinders and other dangers.

Every spell your character has should reflect themselves in the history or personality of your character. A shaman will cast a spell very differently from a wizard. Druids may have strange sacrificial rites where animals are slaughtered to power their spells, whereas wizards will draw elaborate pentagrams, use expensive candles and things like that. The spell should always reflect where your character is coming from, if he learned a few magic tricks on the streets, he might cast a scrying spell on a pool of water rather than the pool of ink a wizard might use.

Part of the fun of playing a low magic user is knowing your limits and when to exceed them in the name of fun. There is a reason why the apprentice who learns the wrong spell out of his master's spellbook and sets loose terrible peril on the world is such a fantasy classic. Low magic users can always have spells which are more powerful than their current level, but casting such spells may end in terrible danger for all those involved.

Pages in category "Low Magic"

The following 6 pages are in this category, out of 6 total.

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