Short Introduction to Magic

Short Introduction to Magic

by Anna Vaillancourt

In this section we will discuss the various principles and theories of magic, the classifications of magic-users, its origins, and finally a proposal for a methodology of measuring the ability to manipulate it.


This report was composed with the assistance of two mages, without whose assistance this report would not have been possible. First is Mr. Llewelyn Parwell, who assisted materially in imparting an understanding of magic outside of that seen by most Earth-born observers. The second is my mentor Grace Bragdon, who acquired a great collection of books and papers over the course of twenty years of study and research, and willed them to me upon her death. These materials contributed greatly to the formulation and methodology I developed to study magic scientifically.

Executive Summary

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Classifications of Mages

Classification of mages can be made simple by asking four questions:
- When, where, or how did the mage receive their ability?
- How much breadth of ability do they have?
- What is the depth of their ability?
- What is their finesse?

By asking and then answering these questions, we can establish a rough outline for how to classify mages. In order to do this, we must first establish our definitions for each of the terms:
- Breadth: How many different types of ability is the subject capable of using? A werewolf, which possesses the ability to change between only two shapes, has less Breadth than a shapeshifter capable of taking any form they are able to envision.
- Depth: How much magic is the mage able to use, and continue using over a sustained period of time? For instance, an Ilfirin is capable of casting powerful magic almost nonstop for days, while goblin mages appear to be limited to only one or two powerful spells each day.
- Finesse: How much fine control does the mage show? A mage able to control the effect of a spell to the centimeter shows more finesse than one only able to control their effect to a few meters radius.
- Origin: How did the subject acquire their ability to manipulate magic? Did they receive it from birth, acquire it as a gift from another mage, or some other source?

The discussion of the origin of a mage’s powers requires some definitions. The following terminology is based on that used by the Oseolteigh of Inverindor, recognized as one of the major authorities in the study and theory of magic.

  • Freeholder: This sort of mage has been able to use magic since birth. Freeholders may occur randomly within the population, although there appears to be a genetic link where magic runs in families.
  • Receiver: This type of mage acquired their ability to manipulate magic as a result of receiving it from another mage. A Receiver’s source may be capable of recalling their gift in certain circumstances.
  • Sacrificer: Some mages gain their powers by sacrificing something of value in order to obtain the ability. This type of mage is rare, but usually powerful; and generally highly disliked.
  • Bearer: This type of mage has received an item which gives them the ability to manipulate magic.
  • Dealer: A Dealer acquires the ability to use magic by making a pact or bargain with a freeholder or a supernatural power. They differ from Receivers in that they have to pay back a price for their power on some future date. The concept of the Geas or Vow was created primarily to govern Dealers.
  • Broker / Outsourcer: A Broker or an Outsourcer is a sort of freeholder who cannot manipulate magic themselves, but can serve as a source for Receivers or Dealers.

Proposed Terms

  • Anchor: A point at which a spell comes into existence and stays attached. A mobile anchor allows a spell to be moved, while a static anchor leaves a spell in a particular location, unable to move.
  • Draw / Depth / Recharge: How much energy a mage can replenish into the ready pool at any given point. Is scientifically measureable.
  • Pattern / Path:
  • Ready Pool / Stockpile: How much energy a mage has on hand to work with at any given point.
  • Visualization: A visualization is an illusory image which contains background information about an active spell. Each mage tends to develop their own customized visualization based on a combination of their personality, life experiences, etc.

Fields of Magic

  • Sorcery: This field of magic is most intimately involved with the manipulation of matter, motion, and energy. Sorcerers have a very mobile anchor, meaning that it has longer ‘ranges’ than many of the other fields of magic.
  • Enchantment: This specialization is concerned with pouring magic into a physical item. It usually has a static anchor, though not universally.
  • Shapechanging: Shapechanging deals with re-shaping the caster’s physical form into another shape. This study has a static anchor, always on the caster themself.
  • Glamour: This is a form of magic which affects a viewer’s perception of the caster. Also known as “Graces”. This has a static anchor.
  • Illusion: Illusion magic deals with affecting a person’s sensory input. It usually has a mobile anchor.
  • Teleportation: No data input yet.
  • Telepathy: No data input yet.
  • Compelling: No data input yet.


  • “To those whom much is given, more is acquired”: This principle outlines the tendency for the talent for magic to increase throughout the mage’s life. A young and powerful mage will inevitably grow in power and skill (provided they have achieved a particular threshhold of power). This is because an active mage draws more magic to themselves.
  • “Magic is like a muscle, and must be exercised: A mage who does not use the Art begins to lose their ability to use the Art. If a mage does not use their abilities for several years, or uses them irregularly, then their ability may end altogether. Conversely, someone who practices magic on a daily basis will not only become better at using it, but will acquire new abilities they didn’t have before.
  • “Shapechangers seek the familiar in the strange”: Shapechangers tend to establish strong preferences toward acquiring several familiar alternate forms which they use, often to the exclusion of all others. For example, a werewolf will generally look the same as a wolf or a human whenever he/she shifts.

Methodology for Measuring Ability

Measuring ‘Draw’

Experimentation undertaken by the British mage Mrs. Grace Bragdon has demonstrated conclusively that the amount of magical forces necessary to achieve a particular result do not change over the course of a mage’s life, nor does the quantity vary between mages. With this in mind, Bragdon proposed establishing a unit of measurement to quantify how much magic is required to achieve a particular task. She therefore established the ‘val’, which is the amount of magic necessary to lift a one-kilogram lead weight one meter into the air and then hold it up stationary for one minute. (See the paper “Measuring Spellpower”, by Grace Bragdon, for more information.)

After some experimentation, I have determined that each mage has a maximum amount of draw, and have developed a method and a tool to measure vals. (See the paper “Manatometry: Developing a Method to Measure Magic” and “Oscillating Signal State Valoscope”, by Anna Vaillancourt for more information.) Using this tool and methodology allows us to measure a mage’s average draw. In testing of six known mages including myself, data strongly indicates that each mage has a theoretical maximum amount of draw, which is usually measured best in “vals per second”. Observed ranges varied between 60 vals per second to over 400 vals per second. [Note 1] Based on firsthand testimony from witnesses, it is believed that Ilfirin are all capable of manipulating magic with draws over 1000 vals per second.

To draw a comparison to a more physical subject, we may imagine a pipe filled with water. A pipe fifteen centimeters in diameter may carry a certain volume of water at different velocities. Eventually, friction within the pipe and water pressure will limit the volume carried per minute until no nore volume can be gained nor velocity added. In our example, the mage is the pipe through which the magic is flowing, and each mage can only transmit a specific quantity of magic per minute.

It must be emphasized that higher draw does not necessarily make a better mage. Mages with low draws often develop techniques to ‘stockpile’ magic for later use, or become more economical in their choice of effects. Oseolteigh reference material relates the example of smallmage Feidhlim Ó Cuinn, who currently serves as the High Mage of Iverindor despite having an estimated draw of slightly over a hundred vals per second.

Mages who use magic to establish a long-standing spell on themselves usually do so by linking it directly to their draw. For instance, Subject Four in the tests maintains an illusion spell which maintains his disguise as a human, rather than an elf. This continual effect is powered by his draw. When undertaking other significant magic, the individual may overload his available draw, at which point this effect is crowded out and the disguise ends.

Measuring the ‘Ready Pool’

All mages possess a ‘Ready Pool’ or ‘Stockpile’ of magic. This serves several purposes. A mage may collect energy in the ‘ready pool’ in order to use a spell normally beyond his or her draw limit. The ready pool additionally serves as the ‘down payment’ for all magic which is cast by the mage, essentially starting the flow of energy for the desired effect. This author hypothesizes that spell anchors can only be created using energy from the ready pool, although this is currently unproven.

While conclusive evidence cannot be gathered due to the low statistical quantity of test subjects, an emerging trend leads this author to believe that mages generally can maintain the equivalent of three to five seconds of draw in their ready pool. (Example: if a mage has a draw of 200 vals per second, their ready pool may be six hundred vals on the low end to a thousand vals on the high end.) It appears that mages with lesser draws have instinctively developed methods to expand their ready pool,

When a mage depletes their ready pool, they may refill it using their draw. However, while test data remains inconclusive, it appears that no more than five to fifteen percent of a mage’s max draw can be used to refill the ready pool. (In our previous example of a mage with 200 vals per second draw, his rate of refilling his ready pool may be only thirty vals per second. He may require over twenty seconds to completely refill a depleted ready pool.


Note 1:

  • Subject 1: Anna Vaillancourt. Notables: female dragon, age 23 years old, enchantment specialization. Maximum measured draw at 185 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 684.5 vals (3.7 seconds worth of draw).
  • Subject 2: Theodore Fisher. Notables: male human, age 24 years, smallmage specialization. Maximum measured draw at 65 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 331.5 vals (5.1 seconds worth of draw).
  • Subject 3: Betsy Mercer. Notables: female half-elf, age 170 years, glamour specialization. Maximum measured draw at 184 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 625.6 vals *3.4 seconds worth of draw).
  • Subject 4: Llewelyn Parwell. Notables: male elf, age 64 years, sorcery and illusion specialization. Maximum measured draw 425 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 1,445 vals (3.4 seconds worth of draw). Note: Indications that subject was ‘burned’ by an overdraw in the past which restricts his draw somewhat.
  • Subject 5: Name Withheld. Notables: shapeshifter, presumed male, shapeshifting specialization. Maximum measured draw 61 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 292.8 vals (4.8 seconds worth of draw). Note: According to subject, shapeshifting is sometimes a painful and lengthy process and may take up to ten minutes due to mage’s low amount of draw.
  • Subject 6: Valgrim Magaron. Notables: male dwarf, no specialization declared. Maximum measured draw 210 vals/sec. Ready pool estimated at 693 vals (3.3 seconds worth of draw). Note: subject very uncooperative.

Short Introduction to Magic

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