Chronicles of Vulcanica: Defiance
Magic of Vulcanica
There are three different categories of magic in Vulcanica (Within, Without, and Beyond), and five different schools (Divine, Dragon, Pact, Shamanism, and Wizardry)—each with their own unique philosophies, teachings, and abilities.
Magic from Within
Magic from Within teaches that the ultimate source of power is the self. This magic draws both its power and its being from inside the user, and it can only be made more powerful by the user themselves becoming more powerful. Though there is only one type of Magic from Within in Vulcanica, it is without question the most feared, and the most sought-after.
Brought to Vulcanica by the Dragons nearly 1000 years ago, Dragon Magic is simultaneously the most coveted and most sequestered of all the schools. Its secrets are guarded jealously by the Dragons and the Dragonkin—the only mortals who know how to use it—and many of those living in the shadow of Arkhosia believe that learning Dragon Magic will give them the power they need to overthrow their oppressors and end the Domination.
Dragon Magic is, at its core, the magic of empowering the self. It focuses on pushing the user beyond their normal limits, and enhancement of the mind and body are among the first things any practitioner of Dragon Magic (known colloquially as a “Mage”) learns. Later on, Mages learn to control a power known as “the Breath,” which can take many different forms. Eventually, the Mage will learn to modify and change their body, to alter its size and shape to better suit their needs.
However, Dragon Magic is a fickle master, and it does not tolerate being handled by the weak and clumsy. Those who lack finesse or skill, and attempt to use it in a mad grab for power, often find the Magic retreating from their grasp. The more they use it improperly, or fail to push themselves beyond their limits, the harder and harder it gets for them to call upon it at all—until it is eventually completely beyond their reach.
Magic from Without
Magic from Without teaches its practitioners to be in-tune with the world, and to draw upon the strength and power of one’s surroundings when it is needed. Vulcanica is an ancient and mighty entity, and her power is vast; she gladly shares it with those who have her best interests, as well as those of her people, at heart. Magic from Without exists in two separate ways, and they are very distinct from one another, both in form and function.
The truest and most pure of Vulcanica’s gifts, Shamanism is the magic of the earth in its most distilled form. Originally exclusive to the Vulcanii, they were eager to share its knowledge and usefulness with the other races. Today, it is known the world over, and true Shamans—those devoted few who dedicate themselves to the study of Shamanism—are held in high esteem in nearly all cultures as wise and pure souls, forces of growth and positive change in the world.
Shamanism teaches of the five Souls that make up Vulcanica, the five separate shapes of her being. Each of the five Souls (Earth, Plant, Animal, Weather, Sea) represent a distinct and important part of her, and none can be without the others. It is this balance that exists at the heart of Shamanism, and it is this balance that Shamans seek to maintain and preserve in their deeds. Initially, Shamans are “gifted” access to but one of the Souls, and it will remain at the core of their philosophy as they advance in abilities. As they grow in wisdom and power, they will be able to branch out into the other Souls, though the journey they take to get there will be limited by their beginning Soul.
Though on the surface it seems harmless and weak, Shamanism is in fact tremendously powerful in the right situations. Depending on their initial choice of Soul, it usually takes much to rouse a Shaman to action—though once their anger has been summoned, there are few things that can stand in their way. So intense is the power gifted to Shamans, that they are literally capable of calling upon too much, and injuring or even killing themselves if they are not careful. As they grow in wisdom and skill, so too do the limits of what they can handle increase until, eventually, a master Shaman at full power is truly a sight to behold.
Though its origins are unknown, its power is equally unquestioned. The only thing known for certain about Wizardry is that it seems to be exclusive to Humans—the only Magic that is truly choosy in who it allows to use it. Some say it was a gift, others a curse. Even others believe that it chose them for their raw ambition and greed for power. For if there is a magic that seeks to impose its will over others, surely Wizardry is the one.
The magic of ambition, greed, and amorality, Wizardry is all things cutthroat and dispassionate. Though it does not necessarily require or even encourage those personality traits, the gifts it gives are far more suited to one with a selfish mind. Well-suited for breaking the rules that others are forced to play by, Wizardry does little in the way of helping others—and what little it does is really just there to make sure no one gets in the way.
Even the most junior of Wizards quickly learn to master the divide between life and death, and restoration and reanimation of broken flesh is one of the most foundational skills. While these skills can be used to heal the wounded, the treatment is painful, and woefully ineffective compared to true medical care. From there, Wizards often learn to close the distance between themselves and the world around them, gaining awareness of events far beyond the reach of their normal senses. Truly skilled Wizards can further close this gap by learning to interact with objects, people, and even other magics outside of their physical body—an ability some have come to call “telekinesis.”
Magic from Beyond
The gifts of ultimately powerful beings from beyond Vulcanica’s shores, these magics are all nearly identical to each other in function—though incredibly distinct in form. Magic from Beyond teaches the mortal that, though they are relying on the help of a greater power than them, they are capable of more than what their physical limits might imply. It emphasizes devotion to a cause, though rarely cares what that cause is, and always prefers those with a strong soul over those with a strong mind.
Blessings from benevolent entities far removed from Vulcanica’s shores, Divinity has been a strong part of history for as long as anyone can remember. The people have always turned to the Priests and their Divinity in hard times, and few times have been as hard as these are now. Pillars of strength and resolve, Priests use their Divinity to fill the hearts and souls of their allies with courage, and an unflappable will to succeed, long after their bodies would normally fail them.
There is no magic as focused on the community and well-being of others as Divinity. From the very beginning of their training, Priests learn to mend the broken, heal the sick, and cure the lame. So strong is this healing, that a truly skilled Priest can bring back someone from the brink of death. Watching a Priest do their work tends to inspire a sort of awe in bystanders, and fills those nearby with a sense of bravery and determination, even in the face of defeat. As they grow in skill, the Priest can even learn to protect those near them from harm, deflecting sword, arrow, and spell alike.
However, for all its purity, Divinity does carry a price to the foolhardy Priest. The magic itself is virtually limitless in the hands of the user, and Priests are encouraged to take “more than their share” in emergencies for the extra boost of power. However, doing so slowly separates the Priest from reality, and prolonged reliance on this “extra” Divinity will eventually reduce the Priest to an empty husk, unable to act of their own accord. The luckiest among these poor souls go on to live out their lives as avatars of their god, living extensions of the entities’ will—however, not all are so lucky.
Fell winds from the north and siroccos from the east bring ill tidings of a new presence in Vulcanica. Neither being nor beast, this unwelcome guest seeks only to consume and destroy: Pact, the magic of the Demons. Brought to Vulcanica by the desperate, who frantically sought a new way to challenge the Dragons, Pact now exists as a tool for the newly-formed Cambions to crush their enemies.
The truest antithesis to Divinity, Pact exists only to frighten, torment, and destroy. Though originally exclusive to the Cambion people, they have quickly learned that the Demons are eager to share their power with anyone crazy or desperate enough to strike a deal. Indeed, gaining access to Pact is both as simple and terrible as making a deal with a Demon—often, for a deceptively low price. What many mortals fail to realize when signing their contract, is that the Demon has every intention of eventually turning the mortal into an empty shell, unable to do anything more or less than the Demon’s darkest bidding.
Despite its high price, however, Pact is supremely powerful, and even the most inexperienced Warlock—a practitioner of Pact—is capable of wreaking havoc on a massive scale. Spreading fear, pain, and destruction are skills a Warlock learns on their first day, and an experienced Warlock in full splendor is truly a sight to behold. As they grow in power, Warlocks learn to curse individuals, groups, and families, and can eventually gain the ability to transform into a horrific demon—fear and chaos given flesh.