Some Notes on Magic and Society
|Magic functions as "advanced technology" within the world of Geoza - but only up to a point. The main limitation on what can be done with magic at the current time is something called conceptual lag - the period between when something is technically possible and when someone gets the idea to do it. Many groups of adepts have the technical ability to achieve some very sophisticated magical effects, but most of them haven't yet imagined developing any of those effects. The reasons for this are varied, but one prominent cause is that magical groups in Geoza are very competitive, and rarely share any degree of magical knowledge, theoretical or otherwise. Often, a magical group will limit its own use of a particularly clever idea, knowing that to use it too often will increase the likelihood that another group will take notice and attempt to discover how it was done. If other groups discover how to do something, it may become less useful.
|These "silver bullet" types of effects are thus closely guarded secrets, taught only to the most trustworthy members of a magical group ("Omni"). This is less true, of course, for members of deific Omnis, since duplicating any of their effects would not be possible without being a servant of the deity in question. They may limit the use of certain effects, however, for doctrinal reasons.
|Another limitation on magic in Geoza is the fact that not anyone can do it - magical talent is uncommon even in societies where magic is a prominent social force. At most, only 3-4% of the Human population is born with magical talent. Many of those with talent never develop it, either because they lack the opportunity for training, or because their society disapproves of their particular variation of magical talent (this is commonly true of those with spirit sensitivity, but may be true of those with Manasense as well). Then, too, the degree of magical talent possessed by a prospective adept may be minimal, and thus discourage training. In general, only about 1% of the total Human population are practicing adepts.
|(Note: the percentage of Human population with psychic talent is somewhat higher - as much as 10% of the population might have some degree of psychic talent. However, the relative percentage of trained psychics is even lower than for adepts - less than half of one percent of the total Human population are trained psychics. Most of the rest have some latent talents, but either do not realize what the talents are (this is especially true for many who have only minor latent ability), or have actively repressed their talent for some reason. Some cultures fear psychic talent, even more than magical talent, and suppress it among their populations. Those cultures have understandable reasons for doing so.)
|Because of the generally low occurrence of magical talent among the population, magic is often regarded (appropriately, perhaps) as something the average person could never really understand. There are no classes in "principles of magic" in any mundane school (although certain religious traditions may have classes on the "evils of magic"). In almost every society, only those with magical talent are actively taught about magic (with the possible exception of Karatas, where the primary deity is also the goddess of magic). A non-talented person who makes use of a magic item that can replicate spells (active effects, as opposed to a protective charm) is generally regarded in one of two ways - as a minor sort of adept, who knows how to make use of magic, or as someone who "thinks too highly of themselves" by using things meant for their betters. Since magical items are so expensive, this is an understandable reaction.
|All this is not to say that some forms of magic are not part of everyday life for most people. Alchemy is regarded in many societies as more of a common man's sort of magic, and many people make active use of alchemical products. Even more common is the use of religious magic, although few would think of their religious behavior as magic, exactly. Regardless, most societies benefit from some form of common deific magic, whether healing, blessings on the crops, or protection from unfriendly spirits.
|Because of these cultural factors, many effects which are technically feasible for the various Origins have never been developed, or are less common than one might expect. One example would be an item the Merochasans call a vayesta jamarato ("blazing crossbow"), or sometimes just a jamara. This is a small crossbow-shaped device that is enchanted to fire bolts of flame rather than arrows. Older versions are often real crossbows that can be fired normally if the enchantment runs out. Newer devices, however, are often only stylized crossbows, with a stubby non-functional bow, and a spring-loaded trigger mechanism that does nothing more than activate the enchantment. Such weapons are of little use without an adept nearby, since the amount of mana stored in the device can only produce a few shots (half a dozen, at most). The devices are, however, quite effective for that brief amount of use, both in direct damage to an opponent, and in damage to the morale of potential opponents. Note: although a jamara fires bolts of magical flame, those bolts are less controllable than similar bolts an adept might create himself. Because a jamarator cannot actively control where or when the bolt will "explode," the devices are commonly set to function so that the flame-bolt will explode on impact with any solid object. The bolts are generally effective out to a range of about 100 paces. Beyond that, the bolt fades quickly into nothing, its enchantment dissipated.
|Such devices, although effective in some situations, are still uncommon over ten years after their invention (the jamara was actually invented in Jyvelik, but can be found throughout the region). One reason is the need for a mystic to re-charge the device (an expensive proposition, unless one has an adept friend or employee), but such devices are also very expensive to obtain. Because the items are relatively uncommon, few enchanters have developed the skills necessary to construct them, which keeps the price up, which keeps them uncommon. This cycle of low supply and low demand has yet to be broken, probably because of the first reason - they are impractical for extended use away from an adept of the Mana origin.
|Similar cultural, mystical, and economic factors limit the application of other magical analogues to technological devices. Many of the most sophisticated effects would require a combination of magical talents (often Mana and Spirit combined). Since the incidence of multiple magical talents is even lower than simply one talent, enchanters who can produce such effects are very rare.
|The following is a summary of magical influences on the various technology scales. The comments are divided into two columns (for now): Merochas, and the Rest of Geoza (RoG).
|Rest of Geoza
|Metal vruherico (witchmetal) is the primary form of magically improved material. It is expensive, and rarely used for anything but enchanted weapons or armor.
|Witchmetal is known to the enchanters of many lands.
|Power Sources & Manufacturing Innovation
|Magical heat and/or flame have been used for centuries to achieve the temperatures needed for some key manufacturing processes - later technological developments (blast furnaces, etc.) have reduced the need for magical heat in many processes, and have made such products more common.
|Agriculture & Environmental Innovation
|Religious magic of
Natup (goddess of hearth and fertility) and Daedo (goddess of rivers) helps the crops
grow, controls flooding, and keeps animals healthy.
Some special crops are magically enhanced while growing; some herbs and other special plants are grown specifically for alchemical purposes.
The creation of huerto boyante (floating gardens) has also been aided by magic. More huertos boyantes are being created as demand for food in the city increases.
|Construction / Architectural Innovation
|Major buildings are
often magically strengthened - a skilled mystic can locate potential flaws in structural
supports and magically alter the material.
Mortero vruherico (witchmortar) is a technique which bonds stone or brick together by flowing two pieces of a join into one another, rather than by mortaring them. This can be an expensive and time-consuming way to build, but results in a solid, water-tight building. The technique has seen many successes in the city of Merochas.
|Some newer buildings
in Karatas make use of mystically "lightened" stone, allowing the creation of
seemingly impossible airy and slender towers.
Other innovations in Karatas include mystically changing the coloration of stonework in intricate patterns, in effect embedding a painting into the very stone.
|Transport & Communication Innovation
Merochas is centered on the rivers. Magical methods of propulsion for riverboats are
effective, but expensive to maintain - few riverboats outside the Rontaria (river
patrol) use them.
Road building is a secondary art, but has progressed as settlements in the west and the interior have expanded. Some main roads (such as the route between Remaj and Vortine Joeste) make use of mortero vruherico to smooth the surfaces of flagstones into one another.
Navigation has been drastically improved through the use of magic. Experienced mystics can precisely locate themselves by triangulating based on the relative positions of known Mana phenomena. Although such phenomena do move and change, a skilled mystic can sense such change and adjust for it. Merochasan sorcerers have developed sophisticated methods of detecting and measuring Mana phenomena, and have even exceeded the mystics themselves in some applications of this method.
Communication has benefited from the magical arts, but not nearly to the degree one might expect. Adepts can conjure images and sounds from one location to another through a variety of means, but all require some familiarity with the target locations. Obviously, a well-traveled adept is more valuable as a communications enabler. Devices that produce such effects are more practical, but typically function as matched pairs, communicating only with their like counterpart. Needless to say, such devices are expensive, and only the wealthy or their agents use such items.
|In Jyvelik, the smoothing of flagstones has been developed further into a process called vlujopietra (flowstone). This is a magical variant of concrete which has been used in the building of portions of roads in Jyvelik, as well as the surfaces of most stone bridges. Vlujopietra consists of a mixture of chips and/or chunks of hard stone mixed with granulated limestone or sandstone. This mixture is spread out across the road surface, and then magically flowed together to form a solid, seamless surface.
|Merochas uses both sorcery and enchanted weapons in its military, but mainly aboard its riverboats and ships, and less among its land-based forces. This is in part due to the fact that most of Merochas' land-based forces are mercenaries. Some special mercenary units do use magic, however.
|All countries use some form of magic in battle, even if only for healing and protection against hostile magic. See the discussion of military magic for more details.