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Truths and Principles: Towards a United Metaphysics of Magic
Brief out-of-character note: This is my attempt to reverse-engineer D&D's system of spell schools into a consistent metaphysics that can be used to correct some of WotC's weirder choices when assigning spells to schools. It's intended to work within the "default" shared cosmology as defined in Planescape, but could theoretically also be adapted to work with homebrew settings that lack a preexisting magical metaphysics. In-universe, it is written from the perspective of a pompous blowhard, and annotated by another, equally pompous blowhard who hates the first guy on principle.
A version of this essay with properly formatted footnotes and better formatting, hosted on google docs, can be found here; I recommend reading from that source if you can as it's much more visually pleasing. Finally, a thousand thanks to The Magic Hermaphrodite for not only proofreading the essay, but also expanding upon it with his summary and theories, the former of which serves as a much-needed TLDR for a rather daunting read and the latter of which brilliantly derives elegance from my initially hacked-together system. Both may be found in the subsequent post.
Without further ado:
Spoiler: Recoverer's Initial NotesThe below work was purchased from a trader in magical reference materials in the Clerk’s Ward. Given the low price at which I was able to acquire it, it is unlikely that the trader was aware of its true worth. It is unclear how it came to be in that person’s possession; had he known it was one of the few surviving writings of a prominent Incantifer, he would likely have either auctioned it for hundreds of thousands of jinx, or possibly burned it, depending on the extent of his fear of Her Serenity.
Magnus Aurelius is far from my favorite author, and this has proven to be very far from my favorite tract of his. Nonetheless, it is a previously unknown, unpublished original, and given Aurelius’ importance to both history in general and the Fraternity in specific, I cannot deny that it has its place in our library. I simply urge future readers to heed my notations and take the Incantifer’s screed with a great deal of salt. In fact, it may behoove future readers with access to adequate magical protection to travel to that particular quasi-elemental plane before reading, as not only does it provide sufficient saline, but it also comes with a persistent feeling of discomfort and frustration that is an excellent accompaniment to the emotions inspired by this volume.
Truths and Principles
And how they may be Overcome by the Magick of the Superior Will
By Magnus Aurelius of the Incanterium
When I was a member of the Fraternity of Order, like all members of that misguided faction, I devoted my energy to the discovery of Universal Truths: laws, inviolable and unalterable, that governed reality from its most fundamental interactions to its most complex phenomena. Being, as I am, Magnus Aurelius- the greatest mind yet formed within the Wheel- I naturally succeeded. (Recoverer’s Note: I will give Aurelius this much: he lets you know what you’re in for.) My former compatriots within the Guvners rapidly rewarded me for this discovery with expulsion from their ranks, for which I cannot blame them; it is the hallmark of lesser minds to reject realities which discomfit them, and I cannot claim I would not have left their ranks in any case. (Recoverer’s Note: That’s one theory for his expulsion. I personally believe that we kicked him out because he was a pompous, pretentious bore, but I suppose all things are possible. Honestly, I find myself surprised he did not declare his intention to form his own faction, perhaps incorporating gambling and jinkskirts. Surprised, and thankful.) After all, the Truths that I discovered were indeed laws, but they were not inviolable, nor were they unalterable. Indeed, I found that the fundamentals of the bounded cosmos were fickle indeed. Those unfortunates incapable or unversed in the Arts may indeed be bound by their strictures, but those of Will- the practitioners of Magick- need never be constrained by them.
It is now known to me that apparent reality within the bounded cosmos is the result of the interactions between five fundamental Truths: the Truths of Energy, Order, Division, Psyche, and Physicality. (Recoverer’s Note: Perhaps alphabetic order is one of those things which the “Magickal Will” renders one exempt from?) Each of these Truths may be married to one of its compatriots to produce a Principle, and it is the resulting ten principles which govern the functioning of reality. To those who cultivate Magick, these supposed Truths and apparent Principles are revealed to be mere illusions that may be enforced, relaxed, suspended, or twisted by the application of superior individual Will.
Spoiler: The Five TruthsEnergy
In all things, there is power. We of the Incanterium know that better than anyone. There are the physical powers: the energy of motion, of heat, of galvanic lightning. And there are the more numinous powers: the energy inherent within those acts the ignorant term good and evil, law and chaos, from which arise the planes; the energies of generation and annihilation, termed positive and negative; and of course, the boundless potential of magic, constant across almost all planes and primes of the Wheel. The Truth of Energy is that nothing exists that is not either energized or energy itself, for without energy, nothing could exist. By the processes of nature and the application of Will may one energy become another.
The power inherent in all things should render all things unstable, but this is not so. The Wheel is inherently balanced on its axis- for each force that may act, another force opposes. Each inner and outer plane to its opposite, in alignment or nature; upon the Prime, expression of energy balanced by a reaction of equal and opposite strength. Following the causes and consequences of these reactions through time, all history and future may be revealed. This is the Truth of Order, to which even Chaos is bound, though Will supersedes. No true randomness exists.
For each thing to be balanced by its opposite, a distinction must exist between the thing and its opposite. For each cause to have its effect and each effect its cause, there must be a difference between cause and effect, between past and future. For each plane to be opposed by another of opposite alignment, there must be a dividing line between both physical locations and ideological constructs. Division, then, is a Truth necessary for the existence of Energy or Order, and one which is just as subject to the overriding force of Will.
Within the bounded cosmos exist many orders of mind. Some, such as my own, are cosmically vast and puissant; while others, such as your average Signer’s, are so nigh-imperceptible one might be forgiven for concluding they do not exist at all. (Recoverer’s Note: One might also be forgiven, while reading this tract, for concluding that the most “puissant” thing ever done by Aurelius’s mind was figuring out what the word “puissant” means. And I’d be willing to bet he had to consult a dictionary.) Nevertheless, minds and souls do come into existence, and by their thoughts and actions manipulate the reality they perceive. The fact of conscious thought, and the effect which thought has upon reality, cannot be explained by any other Truth, and so Psyche must be declared a Truth of its own- perhaps the greatest of these weak Truths, since of them all it is closest in nature to ineffable Will. (Recoverer’s Note: At times he really does lay it on a bit thick.)
And now we come to that most base and uninteresting Truth. Things exist, not only as energy or mind, but also as base matter. Corporeality is a function of reality which, save by Magick, cannot be denied. I will speak no more on this topic, as it is both uninteresting and self-evident to all but the most deluded Signer. (Recoverer’s Note: Only an Incantifer could look at a truth as prevailing and complex as the existence of matter and declare it “both uninteresting and self-evident. Perhaps a magic-only diet results in a nutritional deficiency which addles the brain over time? … Things to ponder.)
Spoiler: Magick and WillIn this summary, I make use of the term “magic” and “magical” to refer to a specific sort of energy- the energy of boundless potential, spread throughout every single plane and prime of the Wheel. In all but a few of these planes, magic exists in the form of the weave (discussed further in the section on the Principle of Binding). Although any number of grand powers and parochial gods may claim to be the creator of the weave, the sheer number of such claims, and the extent of the weave’s permeation of the cosmos, reveals this to be an obvious fiction; whatever force or power originated the weave is unknown to even my vast intellect. However, what is undoubtedly true is that both the weave and magic in general may be leashed to the exercise of supreme Will. As a mage’s intellect directs, this energy of potential may be realized in the form of the manipulation of the Truths and the various Principles that arise from their interaction. This Art- the use of Will to control magic, defy the rules that govern reality, and establish one’s own paradigm- is what I mean when I refer to the practice of “Magick.” (Recoverer’s Note: Or you could just call it “wizardry” like the rest of us. But, from what I can tell, Aurelius was never the type to let minor concerns like readability get in the way of a chance to feel exceptional.)
Spoiler: The Ten PrinciplesAs each of the five Truths interacts with each of the others, ten Principles emerge, each a unique combination of two Truths. The Principles govern the operation of reality at a more immediate level than their progenitors. Each Principle may be associated with a single school of Magick, though (frustratingly) two of the eight schools encompass two Principles simultaneously. The schools, it should be noted, are not fundamentals of reality like the Truths or Principles; rather, they are means by which mages have traditionally classified their spells. I assert that although many of the schools match quite nicely with specific Principles, the revelation of the Principles also necessitates some changes to the traditional school system, which I will expound upon further as I describe the individual principles and their associated schools.
Binding: Of Energy and Order
The Principle of Binding states that all high-complexity phenomena are the result of the binding of more chaotic, low-complexity phenomena into an ordered state. Energy may be Ordered and balanced against itself to produce ever more complex systems. The archetypical example of this Principle would be the binding of raw magical energy into the orderly weave, or the binding of the primordial concept of evil into the Lower Planes and their denizens, particularly the Yugoloths. (Recoverer’s note: Aurelius’s Principle of Binding does not include Physicality in its parentage, yet he describes it as giving rise to physical beings. Perhaps the material nature of creatures of belief is merely apparent, and their true nature is otherwise. Or, more likely, Aurelius is simply addle-coved, and his screed reflects that.) Even the Slaad, who would claim to be born of fundamental chaos, are still bound to only express that chaos through specific mediums, because the energies of chaos that compose them are ordered into a specific state. A Slaad is a more complex manifestation than the stuff of Limbo, yet, due to the Principle of Binding, it is also more constrained. This principle is manipulated by the Magick of abjuration.
Dynamism: Of Energy and Division
The Principle of Dynamism is that which divides energy into discrete types, and that which distinguishes discrete instances of energy as it interacts with reality. The former is exemplified by magic itself; magical potential may be divided into energetic primary forms, such as kinetic, galvanic, and potential, and these primary forms into their sub-forms, such as the various “elements.” The latter is typified by the natural physical processes in which energy is concentrated in a single location or diffused from that location, as the energy of a flame is concentrated into charcoal. Any time energy is trapped, released, transformed, or simply moved from place to place, the Principle of Dynamism governs the interaction. The only exceptions are the energies of growth and waning, known as Positive and Negative, each of which is governed by a Principle of its own. This principle is manipulated by the Magick of evocation.
Experience: Of Energy and Psyche
The Truth of Psyche demonstrates the existence of what one might call consciousness. However, consciousness does not exist in a vacuum, independent of what the Signers may say. (Recoverer’s Note: I once knew a member of the Sign of One who believed he could discover his own identity as the One by the practice he referred to as “systematic doubt;” when all of reality was revealed as a potential falsehood, he thought, only his own truth would remain. Perhaps twenty-four hours after he began this project, he vanished in his entirety. This constitutes one of the rare situations in which Aurelius is proven correct: the Signers are completely barmy.) As the conscious being interacts with stimuli, those stimuli have an effect upon the being itself, in the form of qualia, conscious experiences. Emotions, sensations, thoughts and imaginings, all of these qualia are experienced by the active mind and alter it as they impact memory and instinct. Both the qualia themselves, and the means by which they alter mind and memory, are governed by the Principle of Experience, which is manipulated by the Magick of Enchantment.
Growth: Of Energy and Physicality
A clueless and no doubt Magickless prime once declared the mysteries of living things to be “infinitely beyond” any investigative inquiry. Obviously the berk had never heard of positive energy. Any mage worthy of the term will tell you that there is a definite difference between living and nonliving matter, with vastly different classifications of spells required to affect each. This is because the operations of living things- their growth, healing, and reproduction- are governed by different Principles than those which do not live. Living things of animal complexity or greater may apply spontaneous energetic force to their muscles and may replicate themselves nigh-indefinitely under the correct circumstances, neither of which is possible for nonliving matter; this is because all living matter draws upon and channels positive energy, and as such is governed by the marriage of Energy and Physicality. This is the Principle of Growth, which is manipulated by the Magick of Transmutation. (Recoverer’s Note: Interesting to see how Aurelius stops just before he would be forced to explain how the operation of positive energy upon living matter actually works. Powers forbid he be forced to actually demonstrate his supposed genius instead of merely touting it to all and sundry.)
Decay: Of Order and Division
The Doomers will be thrilled with this Principle, I’m sure. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold. Every operation within the physical universe produces a degree of waste; the more complex the operation, the more waste is generated. This is the Principle of Entropy in effect. As Order states that each thing has its balancing opposite, and Division states that each thing becomes distinct from each other, Entropy guarantees that the number of distinct, opposing forces will only ever increase until all the universe is held stagnant and motionless in perfect balance. Furthermore, this Principle guarantees that, given enough time, every system will break down, no matter how perfect it appears. Living systems are particularly susceptible to this effect; although the death of one being may preserve or enable the life of another, something is always wasted in the process. The Principle of Decay could be considered the opposite of the Principle of Growth, and so it is no surprise that negative energy falls under its purview. This Principle, and the negative energy associated with it, is manipulated by the Magick of necromancy.
Appearance: Of Order and Psyche
For the mind to perceive the reality around it, the composition of that reality must be arranged in such a way as to be comprehensible to minds. The Truth of Psyche demands that the Order of the bounded cosmos express itself intelligibly. (Recoverer’s Note: And this is where Aurelius delves headlong into a solipsistic false cause fallacy, and in the process rescinds any right to mock the Signers for their own beliefs, though I readily admit doing so can be quite therapeutic.) As such, reality takes on distinct qualities relative to consciousness as governed by the Principle of Appearance. It is important to note the distinctions between this Principle and the Principle of Experience. While the latter governs the nature of conscious experience and how qualia interact with the conscious mind, this Principle instead deals with the stimuli within apparent reality that produce qualia in the first place; that is to say, the “images” of things. The distinctions between these two Principles will be made more apparent as I discuss the schools of Magick associated with them; in Appearance’s case, the school of Illusion.
Form: Of Order and Physicality
Objects, in case you were not aware, possess physical properties. Density, hardness, luster, propensity to tarnish, tendency to react with other materials, even things as simple as physical size and shape. Such things are governed by the Principle of Form. (Recoverer’s note: when they’re not being “willed” into being by the conscious mind according Principle of Appearance, or whatever unhinged mibix Aurelius spouted in the prior paragraph.) Much like its parent Truth of Physicality, the Principle of Form is almost entirely self-explanatory; it determines the properties of objects and thus how those objects interact with one another and with energetic forces. Like Growth, this principle is manipulated by the Magick of transmutation.
Information: Of Division and Psyche
The Principle of Information states that knowledge exists, not merely as a nebulous phenomena, but as a thing within the bounded cosmos. Energy, matter, or qualia may be arranged in specific patterns, which may then be decoded by the intellect to grant insight. Given the Divided nature of these patterns, they appear separate, but each is in fact a single facet of the overarching Truth of Psyche. All facts are a single fact, and all of reality is a pattern that may be decoded; individual pieces of knowledge appear only as a result of scope and distance. This principle is manipulated by the Magick of divination. (Recoverer’s note: Shock of shocks, this one may actually prove useful in expanding the Fraternity’s understanding of the rules by which reality operates. Only natural then that Aurelius barely touches upon it.)
Location: Of Division and Physicality
Just as the knowledge of Psyche appears separate due to Division, so too does the matter of Physicality seem separated and Divided. Instead of a unified whole, apparent reality takes the form of an infinity of discrete parts and objects, each of which may itself be separated into its discrete components, and so on ad infinitum. This gives rise to the concept of physical “places” and the distances between them. The Principle of Location governs these concepts, from the distance between my hand and my chocolate pastry to the “distance” between the Spire and Avernus across planes. (Recoverer’s note: Somewhat relieving to be able to identify that particular stain as chocolate. Still, ew.) Note that the speed at which distance is traversed is not governed by this Principle, as that would be the purview of kinetic energy under Dynamism; rather, it is the distance between spaces itself that Location cares for. This distinction will be further elaborated upon as I discuss the Magick associated with Location, that of conjuration.
Pneuma: Of Psyche and Physicality
And here we come to the soul. When Psyche and Physicality meet, the seat of consciousness becomes tied to a thing within the world- the soul- which itself becomes bound to physical stratum. The workings of the soul, and the nature of its interaction with the physical world in particular, are governed by the Principle of Pneuma. It is this principle by which each body comes to have its soul and each soul its body. Furthermore, alongside the Principle of Binding, this principle determines how souls naturally gravitate to their aligned planes and form new bodies from the stuff of that plane upon the death of their first corpus, becoming petitioners. Like Decay, the Principle of Pneuma is manipulated by the Magick of necromancy.
Spoiler: The Eight Schools of MagicAbjuration
The school of Magick known as abjuration manipulates the Principle of Binding. With it, the Will may construct complex bindings, unravel or disrupt them, or change one type of binding to another. This school includes spells that directly alter the weave (such as counterspell or antimagic field), spells which “knot” the weave to create entities or constructs of magical energy, or spells that deal with "aligned" energies, the creatures such energies are bound into, and their interactions (such as the "evil and good" spells). Because many of these spells appear “defensive” in nature, a sophomoric approach would be to classify all sufficiently “defensive” spells as abjuration, which indeed many lesser mages have done. Do not be fooled! With the Principles revealed by my genius, it is immediately apparent that the school of abjuration must refer only to those spells which manipulate the Principle of Binding; defensive Magicks which draw upon other Principles, such as Dynamism or Form, ought to be classified according to those Principles’ associated schools.
(Recoverer’s Note: Lo and behold, alphabetical order is discovered at last! Just in time to render the order in which the schools are presented completely decoupled from the order of their associated Principles. I honestly think Aurelius may believe “consistency” to be a type of fruit.) The school of Magick known as conjuration manipulates the Principle of Location. With it, the Will may refute the illusion of distance to transport themselves or others from one place to another, or enhance that falsehood to create “location” where there was none. This school includes spells that enable interplanar or intraplanar travel (such as teleport and plane shift), the summoning of extraplanar creatures (such as summon elemental or summon greater demon), or the creation of “extended” or “extraplanar” spaces (such as demiplane or rope trick, the latter being egregiously misassigned to transmutation in most modern grimoires). (Recoverer’s Note: For someone who once lambasted the tendency of “lesser minds” to “reject realities which discofit them,” when Aurelius’s views conflict with those of the existing academic establishment, he is rather quick to declare that it is everyone else who is wrong.) The summoning spells may also incorporate abjurative or divinitory principles, depending on whether a creature is summoned based on its precise location (conjuration), its ethical alignment (conjuration and abjuration), or identifying features such as a “true name” (conjuration and divination).
The school of Magick known as divination manipulates the Principle of Information. Although I have rarely had need of this school myself, as my intellect may decipher the nature of reality without Magickal assistance, I can acknowledge how it may prove useful to more limited minds. (Recoverer’s Note: Aurelius’s relentless belief in his own ability is inspiring, in a way. Like a dog with three legs missing, insisting it can make it on its own. You can always look to him and think, “Well, at least I’m not as bad off as that.”) With divination, the Will may refute the illusory division of knowledge to identify informative patterns in other times, places, minds, or entities, or to make the informative patterns stored in one’s own mind available to others. The Will may also render intelligible forms of knowledge-encoding that are unfamiliar, or enable one to encode information in a way which is more easily decipherable by others. Examples of knowledge-identification spells include legend lore, scrying, detect thoughts, or commune with nature, while examples of knowledge-transmission spells include sending or telepathic bond. Comprehend languages is the quintessential example of a decoding spell, while tongues is the same for encoding.
The school of Magick known as enchantment manipulates the Principle of Experience. With it, the Will may alter the qualia that determine what is experienced by consciousness. This school includes spells which change a creature’s disposition towards another (such as “charm” spells), those which filter a specific variety of qualia to prevent them from being experienced (such as heroism), those which force the consciousness to experience significantly unpleasant qualia (such as synaptic static or power word pain), or those which completely rewrite the sensory reality a creature perceives (such as dominate person or phantasmal force). Not the inclusion of a spell which is traditionally classified as a Magick of illusion; in fact, phantasmal force and its counterpart phantasmal killer perfectly demonstrate the difference between the Principles of Experience and Appearance. Where an illusion changes the way reality Appears to consciousness-in-general, thus creating an intangible image that many viewers may perceive, an enchantment changes the way reality is Experienced by specific minds, thus creating a mental “hallucination” that is only perceptible to its specific targets. The “phantasmal” spells are clearly examples of the latter, and thus are revealed to be misassigned. (Recoverer’s Note: I could invent hundreds of imaginary “Truths” or “Principles” and they wouldn’t reveal a single thing about the Schools of Magic that have existed for myriads. It takes consensus to change the way things are done, not some barmy Incantifer’s half-arsed attempts at metaphysics.)
The school of Magick known as evocation manipulates the Principle of Dynamism. With it, the Will may change one form of energy to another and control the emission, transmission, and interaction of energies. It is for the most part an unsubtle school, with examples ranging from the ubiquitous magic missile to the ultimate meteor swarm. However, it is also worth noting that certain spells traditionally considered to be part of other schools would be better classified as evocations; for example, mage armor and armor of agathys, both traditionally thought to be of abjuration, in fact draw upon the Principle of Dynamism and are thus of evocation. Notable missasignments to this school include a variety of curative positive energy spells- which I will discuss further under transmutation- and, for some unfathomable reason, telepathy, which any unhende berk could tell you belongs in divination. (Recoverer’s note: He’s technically right, so long as the unhende berk in question is named Magnus Aurelius.)
The school of Magick known as illusion manipulates the Principle of Appearance. With it, the Will may manipulate the visible appearance of objects, as in disguise self, or decouple appearance from fact so as to create intangible images or false sounds, as in major image. More advanced manipulations may even create false sensations of touch or smell, as in mirage arcane, although it is worth noting that the latter also incorporates elements of transmutation in order to apply material Form to the illusory terrain and enable it to interact with matter.
The school of Magick known as necromancy manipulates two principles: the Principle of Decay and the Principle of Pneuma. In the case of Decay, the Will may draw upon and control the application of negative energy (as in inflict wounds), create constructs animated by negative energy (as in animate dead), ape or accelerate the process by which life emerges from death and death is caused by life (as in vampiric touch or contagion) or suspend the same (as in gentle repose or feign death). In the case of Pneuma, the Will may reverse the Principle to return souls to bodies (as in raise dead), invoke it to send souls directly to the afterlife (as in power word kill, incorrectly labeled as enchantment), or twist it to bind souls to other materials than their original corpus (as in magic jar or clone).
The school of Magick known as transmutation also manipulates two principles: the Principle of Growth and the Principle of Form. In the case of Growth, the Will may draw upon and control the application of positive energy, either to directly improve the health of a living thing (as in cure wounds), to enhance the growth of plants or animals (as in plant growth), or to bolster some aspect of a creature’s biology (as in expeditious retreat, which bolster’s a creature’s metabolism to enable it to run faster, or enhance ability, which may be used to aid in various aspects of a creature’s function). Many of these spells have been incorrectly assigned to evocation, of all schools, by someone who evidently failed to recognize the obvious difference between positive energy and the energies associated with Dynamism. Recoverer’s Note: Still waiting on him to explain exactly what that difference is.) In the case of Form, the Will may change the physical properties of objects; for example, levitate changes its target’s weight and relationship with gravity, while transmute rock changes its consistency, density, and chemical properties. Some spells of transmutation make use of both Principles simultaneously to not only bolster a creature’s abilities but also grant it new capabilities and forms; for example, alter self can combine Growth and Form to grant functional gills to a creature that lacks them.
Spoiler: Conclusion: Improving Upon the SchoolsAssuming you are not a simpleton (hardly a safe assumption in the Cage, but I live in hope), the prior section on the schools of magic ought to have thoroughly demonstrated to you not only the connection between the schools of Magick and the Principles, but also how ignoring this connection leads to rampant confusion and ultimately the breakdown of the usefulness of the school classification system. (Recoverer’s Note: Centuries later, I open my spellbook and see… the same eight schools, remaining quite useful for organization and classification. Perhaps if Aurelius had bothered to make a study of Divination, he wouldn’t be quite so abysmal when it came to making predictions.) However, never fear, for following my guidance it is within the power of the magical community to rectify this error.
The first and most fundamental change that must be made to the spell school system is to eliminate the pointless restriction that a spell must lie within one school and one school only. Numerous spells, common and esoteric, draw upon more than one Principle to accomplish their purpose; what sense does it make attempting to pigeonhole such a spell into a single school? Rather, a spell that draws upon multiple principles should be classified under multiple schools, so as to more accurately represent its true nature. (Recoverer’s note: Another thing I find when I open my spellbook is a set of spells neatly organized by school. I am hardly alone in this; not only do many wizards organize their spellbooks thus, but almost all respected libraries of magical institutions do the same, including the Fraternity of Order’s own. What does Aurelius propose to replace this ubiquitous method of organization? Nothing, of course; he ignores the issue as he does every issue with his proposed “reforms.”)
Secondly, it is nonsensical that, although there are ten Principles which govern reality, there are only eight schools of magic in traditional discourse, with Necromancy and Transmutation picking up the slack by manipulating two schools each. In the case of Transmutation, the mistake is partially forgivable, given that it is not always clear to limited intellects whether a particular change to the living body is caused by the application of positive energy or the manipulation of physical properties. However, in the case of Necromancy, the only reason the Principles of Decay and Pneuma appear to be lumped together is because each is in some way associated with death. This is unfathomably, embarrassingly sloppy thinking, particularly from one who would claim to be a practitioner of Magick! (Recoverer’s Note: Note that there is precisely one person in history that has claimed to be a practitioner of “Magick.”) Now that the magical community has been made aware of the existence of the Principles (you’re welcome), the obvious next step is the creation of two new schools of Magick for the classification of spells which manipulate the principles of Growth and Pneuma respectively.
Finally, with the prior two changes implemented, one may begin the laborious process of actually reassigning misplaced spells into their proper schools. I have already pointed out some of the more egregious examples in previous sections, but regrettably, these are far from the only mistakes I have found, merely the ones most emblematic of the problems with the current system; and I have no doubt there remain many more that I have simply not yet noticed. (Recoverer’s Note: What’s this? An admission of mortality and fallibility? I suppose this must be the moment when he was hit with the sugar crash from the aforementioned pastry.) A concerted effort must be made to identify the rest of these misassignments and rectify them. Then, with the necessary changes made, the body Magickal will be prepared to truly prosper and seize the power that is ours by right. Long live Will, long live Magick, and long live the Incanterium!
Spoiler: Recoverer's Final NotesRecoverer’s Final Note: Long didn’t live Magnus Aurelius, who disappeared- along with the entire rest of the Incanterium in Sigil- not one week after this draft is dated.
A few closing remarks. Despite my overall antipathy towards Aurelius, his metaphysics, and his ideology, there are a few nuggets of insight within this tract that are worthy of further investigation. However, beyond any personal disagreement I may have with his ideas, the primary problem with his proposed “improvements” is simple- any attempt to implement them would be going up against the inertia of literal myriads of magical history. Oh, spells have had their schools reclassified before, though perhaps not on the scale Aurelius suggests, which would leave some schools- like abjuration- near empty of spells and bereft of many considered archetypical of the discipline, while others, such as evocation, are glutted with counterintuitive selections. Even still, it is the first and second reforms he proposes that are the most problematic, as they would render unusable the most common forms of organization in both personal and cooperative collections of spells and magical works. Nobody is going to want to go through that much trouble, particularly considering Aurelius’s obscurity as an author and the ill-reputation of the Incantifers in general. His books and tracts are too rare to have achieved a wide following (not at all helped by his overall arrogance and unconcealed sense of superiority relative to his readers). This rarity may increase their value in jink, but few value them as an actual source of insight, and nobody would be willing to champion such a project as he recommends based purely upon the fact that it is his recommendation. For better or for worse, it is highly unlikely that we will see significant change to the organization of magic any time soon- and almost certainly not the changes that Aurelius believed necessary. The schools as they are are here to stay.
--Donnell Greyweather, Factor and Historian of the Fraternity of Order.
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Re: Truths and Principles: Towards a United Metaphysics of Magic
The below is The Magic Hermaphrodite's excellent set of notes, summations, and theories expanding upon the original work. Please give it a read!
Preface: What follows is, essentially, a series of observations and interpretations of the original work, particularly one that attempts to divine an accurate (if not basic) working theory of the nature of reality itself as it emerges from these principles. A handful of corollary theories are proposed at the end of the document.
Spoiler: Notes on the TruthsTL;DR: Magic is divided into five fundamental (albeit somewhat nebulous) Truths or forces: Energy, Order, Division, Psyche, and Physicality.
• Energy is a loose combination of natural physical forces (magnetism, gravity, nuclear force, etc.) and D&D's own forms of pure magical energy (positive and negative force chief among them). If energy is the most overriding, fundamental force, then the remaining four forces are grouped according to their affiliation with the positive and negative.
• Order is natural law in summation, basically. It postulates a grandiose design that governs all reality, the source code of the simulation itself.
• Division is order, but backwards. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; good, evil, and everything in-between exists in brutal, interminable opposition. Mordenkainen just creamed his khakis. Or not, given the atrocities he's committed in the name preserving what would otherwise be a cosmologically dictated Balance.
• Psyche is the collective will/psychic force embodied by all sentience. It thinks, however dimly, therefore it is. Naturally, one might manipulate this force to manipulate the minds of others.
• Physicality is the basic quality of being at least minimally tangible. It is, therefore it is.
Spoiler: Notes on the Principles and SchoolsThese truths can be combined to produce a total of 10 Principles, which are mostly analagous to the 8 schools of magic: Binding, Decay, Dynamism, Experience, Appearance, Information, Growth, Form, Location, and Pneuma. Principles are direct manifestations of these Truths in ways that actively alter reality.
• Binding is Energy + Order, and it governs the ability to precisely partition magical creatures and forces. It is primarily abjurative, one that necessitates the principle of Dynamism by virtue of the manifold entities the delineated by the principle of binding.
• Dynamism is Energy + Division, and it governs the fundamental interactions between even the most minute energetic distinctions as embodied by the school of evocation and its myriad damage types. My one confusion here comes from the fact that matter is (presumably) inherently energetic, and that the energetic distinctions typified by this principle would therefore eventually bleed into both the Truth of physicality and the school of transmutation. If Physicality and Psyche constitute subgradients within both Order and Division, however, this discrepancy is a natural consequence of the "hierarchy" of fundamental truths.
• Experience is Energy + Psyche, which governs conscious subjectivity and the stimuli that influence it. Thence comes the school of Enchantment. I am my thoughts in sum.
• Growth is Energy + Physicality, which governs the accumulation of potential energy in (typically living) matter as embodied by the forces of positive energy most of all. It is primarily transmutative and so influences abilities like healing magic, Wild Shape, and spontaneous generation/duplication.
• Decay is Order + Division, the manifest consequences of the forces of entropy. If Order dictates the basic functions of natural law, its combination with Division postulates their inevitable end. Necromancy appears first here.
• Appearance is Order + Psyche, which governs the psychic phenomenon of perception. Truly, the most essential of skills. Naturally, as the school of illusion distorts the perceivable world, it is associated with the principle of Appearance. This principle is inextricably linked with that of Experience, as the act of perceiving (limited as it is by a creature's myriad accumulated blinders, be they physical or mental) irrevocably colors one's subjective experiences.
• Form is Order + Physicality, the minor antithesis (assuming the validity of the provisional theory of axiomatic subgradience as postulated under the Dynamic principle) of the principle of Appearance: the objective, material qualities of objects within the real as contrasted with the subjective sensory qualities attributed to those objects by sentient beings. It is the second transmutative principle, the primary means of cataloging and categorizing the state changes governed by the principle of Growth.
• Information is Division + Psyche, the principle that governs knowledge as an entity unto itself. Its psychic association suggests that information is emergent from consciousness, and would not exist if there was nothing to know that which comprises information. If observable reality is finite, so, too, is the sum of all knowledge. This principle is, naturally, divinative.
• Location is Division + Physicality, the principle that governs (or, more accurately, expresses) the physical relationship between all matter. Although I dispute the claim that matter can be subdivided ad infinitum. The application of this principle allows one to alter that relationship and, therefore, the relative position of objects and creatures from across the wheel in whatever order one might desire; notably, this application does not interact with time or speed (the purview of Dynamism); transposition occurs instantaneously, ensuring the principle can only affect the spatial relationship between compositionally discrete entities. This principle is wholly conjurative.
• Pneuma is Physicality + Psyche, the soul incarnate within the material. It is primarily necromantic, if only because necromancy is the only school of magic that can meaningfully interact with the soul as a discrete, physical entity. This principle represents perhaps the greatest failure of the spell school classification system, as it shares not a single truth with the other "necromantic" principle.
Spoiler: Corollary TheoriesCorollary Theories
I. The Theory of Axiomatic Subgradience: The five absolute truths or universal axioms exist within a hierarchy of primacy, nested within one another as one descends the hierarchy. Axiomatic Energy is the wellspring of all things, the subgradient truths of Order and Division flowing forth first. Contained within Order and Division each are the further subgradients of Psyche and Physicality.
a) The Theorem of Antithetical Subgradience: Each truth within its subgradient pair is antithetical to the other. Although one would expect this to be evident by dint of definition alone, it is not born out axiomatically as are the truths themselves. Hence, its status as an extrapolative theorem.
This theorem further postulates three degrees of relative principle antithesis: absolute (between two wholly antithetical principles, such as Form and Information), major (between a greater pair of antithetical principles which share a lesser synthetic principle, such as Information and Appearance), and minor (between a lesser pair of antithetical principles which share a greater synthetic principle, such as Form and Appearance).
Degree here is separate from magnitude due to the unifying presence and primacy of the truth of Energy. The difference between Binding and Dynamism is greater than that between Form and Appearance, for instance, despite each principle containing a minor antithesis.
II. The Theory of a Finite Reality: The sum of the truths acting upon one another (particularly by way of the principles of Growth, Decay, Dynamism) suggests that reality is quantitatively and qualitatively finite. Namely, these principles combined dictate that there is a maximal amount of energy whose arrangement is governed by two equal and opposite forces, and, more importantly, that the boundaries thereof can be divined.
Per the laws of large and, more importantly, truly large numbers (as evidenced via the application of the principles of Information and Location), one can theoretically calculate a functional arrangement of all such permutations as can be feasibly contained within reality writ large. Even so, the raw intellect required to perform such a feat is (apologies to the late Magnus) likely beyond the capabilities of any intelligent entity that has existed or yet will exist within the Wheel. From this representative function, one can further derive the mean of the slope of that function, revealing a set of configurations to which reality will inevitably revert.
Last edited by GlyphicEngineer; 2023-09-07 at 08:48 PM.
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Re: Truths and Principles: Towards a United Metaphysics of Magic
I can't help but interject standardized Aetheric Theory and its nonspatial revelations which have led to countless successful "arcane deviations" from the more archaic "schools" of earlier centuria.
Explicit conceptualizations of magic as an energy is too often hampered by the personal experience of 3rd to 6th dimensional beings. Once operating in 7 or more dimensions, the fundamental experience of "reality vs insubstantiality" can be recognized. Alas that we should have to discover these perspectives with numeromancy and imagination. This recognition of magic (Aether for the educated) as insubstantial leads to the natural, mathemagically provable realization that without substance there is no need for dimensions of space or time. This understanding itself, when equipped with the correct tools, like High-Code Engrams of Terminal-Time Corespeakers or the Flowstep talents of that same era's Sojourners, allows individuals to travel instantly across vast distances, draw beings of spiritual essence into physical forms, or convert the Aether itself into the fundamental cosmic forces or their expressions as lower energies. All of these feats are explicitly magic, some of them identical in ultimate effect to spells of bygone eras.
The arrangement of "Spell Schools" was rooted largely in a misunderstanding. It was once thought that Aether took the form a great weave that permeated all of space and time, instead of acknowledging the more fundamental unit of Aether as needing no space, and all space and time arising from it. Imagining Aether as the seed from which every leaf grows allows one to more easily consider that any given moment is a thing with neither space nor time, it is an expression of potentials from within that singular origin. When calculating with each moment as a successive bloom of potential from the original seed, our consciousness of it, plans for the future, and memories of the past, are all read as emergent properties unconnected to that which came before and unnecessary for that which follows. This interpretation allows one to more readily expand the scope of their magic for broader or more precise application.
According to "old school" methodology, most means of bringing lightning to bear are a matter of Evocation, bringing lightning into being. In reality, countless variations could execute identical effects without the need to convert Aether into such an energy flow. Once could instead Transmute the air into a more base form, loosening the excitable aspect of its rude matter to spark as a bolt or charged touch. One could conjure lightning from some other plane and guide its flow toward a target. A gifted enough wielder of Illusions might be able to convince a creature or the universe itself so thoroughly of lightning's presence that its physicality revolted from the white hot sting no differently than it would the real thing. A highly advanced application of necromancy may alter the workings of the target's brain or other loci of magnetism to cause the body's destruction in line with a lightning strike. I could go on.
If you have more concrete evidence to back up more "traditional" school delineations, I'm certain there's no shortage of those interested and you can count me among them.
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Re: Truths and Principles: Towards a United Metaphysics of Magic