BRCS:Chapter three/Magic/Arcane magic

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This article is a Birthright Campaign Setting (D&D 3.5/D20) page

The BRCS Document is a comprehensive toolbox consisting of rules, races, classes, feats, skills, various systems, spells, magic items, and monsters compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons from Wizards of the Coast.

All arcane magic in Cerilia originates in the land itself. When arcane spell casters perform magecraft – whether simple cantrips or mighty realm spells – they marshal the wild power of the untamed wilderness and unspoiled plains to empower their mystical effects. The elves name this the magical energy that inhabits every rock, tree, and stream of Cerilia; mebhaighl (meh-VALE), but commoners often refer to this force as earthpower .

Sages speculate that mebhaighl ran mighty in the years before humans came to the continent, as the young land had little civilization imposing demands upon it. Elves say the arcane potency of nature crackled with vibrancy and force that could be felt by those walking the ground. Although human occupation has since caused mebhaighl to weaken, it is too essential a force to ever fade completely.

It is the manipulation of mebhaighl that empowers magecraft. Whether it is a subtle charm to determine the sex of an unborn child or a raw channeling of the mebhaighl to create balls of fire and storms of ice, all arcane lore is empowered through the shaping of the earth's vital energy. Lesser mages train extensively to master the subtlest manipulations of this energy. The lore of true mages, on the other hand, focuses on channeling vast amounts of mebhaighl to awesome and often violent effect. Thus, while both the lore of the lesser mage and the greater mage bend the same forces to achieve their ends, they are each capable of feats that the other is not. The lore of lesser mages is based in the subtle manipulation of mebhaighl. Lesser mages are masters of the arts of knowing (divination), seeming (illusion), commanding (enchantment), and healing (conjuration [healing]).

Magic and society

It is said among some that mages differ by the spells that they study, the methods that they use to invoke their lore, the goals that that set for themselves, and the company that they keep. Surpassing their many differences, however, Cerilia's wizards all share a common bond; they thirst for knowledge of the arcane, and they embrace magecraft with their hearts and minds. But above all, mages define themselves by where they come from – who they are and what land they call home. Specialist wizards of each race usually practice in the schools favored by their culture; generalists select the majority of their spells from these schools. Some schools of magic are in disfavor for a particular region and thus training in spells of disfavored schools is difficult to come by. Mages practicing the magic of shunned schools are often themselves shunned by other mages and ostracized by their people.

Acceptance of magic and those who practice it varies widely from culture to culture. Except for the elves, who view magic as a natural part of daily life, most races believe sorcery to be an essentially unnatural activity. Because most commoners regard spellcasters with suspicion, human sorcerers tend to keep either their abilities or themselves out of the public eye. Even "court wizards" seldom perform any but the most minor magics (illusions and divinations) at court.


Most Anuirean mages come from the ranks of the nobility. Free of the responsibilities of scratching out a living, members of the noble and gentry classes have the time and money necessary to devote arduous hours to the study of magic. Most Anuirean mages dabble in the mystical arts as magicians. Even among scions, who have the potential to wield true magic, few take their studies seriously enough to become wizards or sorcerers.

Like most Anuireans, Anuirean wizards tend to cultivate an interest in politics. It is not unusual for a powerful wizard to use his abilities in support of his kin – when asked. Most Anuirean wizards respect those who make a living off the land or through crafts. Anuirean commoners respect the nobility, and extend this regard to any wizards who practice nobleese oblige. Though peasants might fear a spellcaster's power, given sufficient encouragement they can come to trust him.

Anuirean mages, living in a region ravaged by civil war, sometimes believe they own a debt to the land. Anuirean mages realize the toll that civilization imposes upon nature and are taught to turn their skills towards restoring the land in areas that bear the harshest scars.

Many Anuirean mages receive their training at the Royal College of Sorcery in the Imperial City of Anuire. Others, particularly those from titled families, study under private tutors. Only rarely will a less well-to-do family apprentice a child to a local mage.

Anuirean mages favor the schools of evocation and divination and magics capable of determining the course of large-scale military and political conflict. Though their feeling for the land is second only to the elves, it is a distant second – Anuirean wizards love powerful evocations spells (though they try to use them sparingly). Anuireans mages tend to disfavor the school of illusion, as illusions tend to bring attention and suspicion without providing any lasting benefit. Anuirean mages shun spells from the school of enchantment, viewing them as dishonorable.


Brecht mages, rare among their people, treat their understanding of magic as an asset to be exploited and controlled for their benefit. Brecht mages reflect the nature of Brechtür's mercantile society: Magic is a resource to be developed and exploited, usually as a complement to other resources. Magic is a more common part of the Brechtür's economy than it is in other lands. Although there are more wizards in Anuire or Khinasi, nowhere is it easier for a common spellcaster to earn a living plying his trade. Magic guilds exist; divination spells can be had for hire on the docks and streets of Brecht cities; illusions and magical talismans are available for purchase; and shipping fleets keep mages on retainer.

True magic, however, is rare – and even lesser magic is rarer than it seems. Fakers, charlatans, and tricksters thrive in Brechtür, and failed spellcasters peddle inferior products to the unwary and ignorant. Brecht wizards live in the world of practice, not theory. Magic guilds are businesses, and wizards are rare commodities. Many of the lesser magical items found throughout Cerilia are fashioned by Brecht wizards.

Brecht mages favor divinations and enchantments (although they have laws against charming potential customers). Brecht mages dislike illusions and alterations, as irresponsible practitioners can use spells of these schools to disrupt trade. Brecht mages shun no school as inherently evil or wrong. A cosmopolitan people, the Brecht prefer to be generalists, because any type of spell might be valuable in the right circumstances.


Cerilian dwarves almost never use arcane magic directly. Living within the hearts of the mountains, they are both aware of, and greatly moved by, the powerful rhythms of the earth and the flow of her blood (mebhaighl). They have no fear of magic, and, in truth, constant exposure to the earth's power has rendered the dwarven people largely resistant to spells and spell-like effects. Perhaps due to this resistance, Dwarven mages of any sort are rare. The rare Dwarven mage is held in no more, nor any less regard, then any skilled craftsmen.

Dwarves are not prolific breeders and relatively few dwarves were present at the cataclysm of Deismaar. There are very few blooded dwarves, and thus only a handful of dwarves that have even the potential to master the lore of greater magic. If there are any Dwarves capable of casting Realm magic, they have kept their existence a well-kept secret. Even so, the dwarven people have secrets of which they keep to themselves, for powerful dwarven artifacts from before the cataclysm reveal that the Dwarven craftsmen imbued items with greater magics well before Dwarven scions allowed them the practice of arcane magic as performed by other races.

Dwarven mages favor alterations, abjurations, and spells that allow them to modify nature to suit their needs and protect their homes. Dwarven mages shun necromancy and illusion spells, and disfavor spells with ephemeral effects.


The first to have embraced magic, the elves remember a time when they alone understood the secrets of mebhaighl. Magic is as familiar and non-threatening to them as windmills and waterwheels are to humans. While all Sidhelien have within them the potential to wield true magic, only a few experience a calling to become a mage. Thus, while magic is familiar to the Sidhelien, even among them it is not commonplace. Sidhelien mages hold positions of respect and influence in their communities equal to that afforded any well-trained and learned teacher, leader, or artist. Elven spells are sung, not chanted, and the beauty of their spells has been known to bring listeners to tears.

Elves favor the schools of enchantment and illusion as these magics cause the least disruption to the natural flow of mebhaighl. Elves are particularly fond of spells that bring them closer to nature. Sidhelien spellcasters favor spells that allow them to vanquish foes or accomplish a feat without risking any damage to nature.

Elves disfavor the schools of evocation and conjuration, particularly distaining spells that create an overt force of mebhaighl into the environment. This disfavor does not extend to transmutations spells, which are considered to be a bending – not a breaking – of natural laws.

Elves shun the school of necromancy absolutely. An elf who even dabbles in death magics faces the censure of his peers and risks ostracism from the community. Elves practice great caution when casting spells that could harm nature. Elves have been known to hunt down spellcasters, including other elves, who have ruined nature with their carelessness.


Torn between worlds, half-elves often study magic with their elf brethren but expand their studies to include human magic, or vice-versa. The impatient human blood mixed with the keen insight of the Sidhelien often causes half-elves to be more willing to entertain other views than members of either of their parent's races. Half-elves should use the favored, disfavored, and shunned schools of the race from which their beliefs and philosophies on magic are adopted. However, half-elves are far more likely to seek out knowledge disfavored or shunned by their culture. Quite often, half-elves cross-train in many schools of magic merely to satisfy their curiosity of their own magical heritage and to understand how Cerilia's arcane forces adapt differently to humans and elves.


Goblin mages are short-tempered, avaricious, and violent. Very few goblins have the necessary dedication and patience necessary to learn the lore of the magician or wizard. Most goblin mages, therefore are weak scions that pursue the more informal arcane arts of sorcerer. Goblins favor evocations and other spells with brutal, unsubtle results delivered from long range. Goblins disfavor enchantments, as they view intimidation on the basis of overwhelming strength a more reliable form of coercion. Goblins shun no form of magic, they will take advantage of any lore which they unearth, however dangerous.


Halflings are, if nothing else, a highly adaptable people. Halflings usually adopt the philosophies and magical customs of the Big Folk around them. However, halflings do not generally fear magic; indeed, they are fascinated by it. Regardless of the attitudes of the region, halflings favor spells from the school of illusions, especially shadow magics or other magics. All halflings shun necromantic magic, as they avoid all things which bear the taint of the evil that corrupted their homeland.


Khinasi mages, revered and admired by their fellow citizens, practice magic openly in their city-states. These tall, dark people have no fear of magic and things arcane. In fact, commoners, laborers, and nobles alike consider the study of magic to be the highest calling. Promising fledgling wizards often receive donations from businessman and tradesmen to encourage successful study. In some city-states the ability to cast spells of even moderate power can earn a wizard a minor noble title. Khinasi mages are more often sorcerers than wizards.

Being a true mage in Khinasi society carries some responsibility and protocol. Any Khinasi spellcaster able to command true magic is legally bound to make the dangerous journey to the temple of Rilni (Ruornil) in southeastern Khinasi and swear the Five Oaths of Service.

  • To obey the commands of the lawful ruler of the state.
  • To preserve and protect all knowledge.
  • Never to raise a hand against another mage sworn to the oaths, except as commanded by the liege in lawful war.
  • Never to use magic to raise or communicate with the dead.
  • To destroy any wielder of true magic who does not abide by these oaths.

An ancient and awesome power binds any mage taking the Five Oaths irrevocably. Once bound, mages find it impossible to violate the oaths, even if they want to do so.

In theory, Khinasi mages revere all magics – except necromancy – and believe that all magical lore is equally worthwhile. In practice, however, Khinasi wizards pride themselves on power and tend to distance themselves from spells that can be cast by a lesser magician. Khinasi sorcerers favor conjuration spells and other spells with impressive, highly visible results. Khinasi sorcerers disfavor divination. Khinasi sorcerers shun illusion and necromancy.


Rjurik mages, distrusted even by their kinfolk, sometimes envy the respect and acceptance enjoyed by druids. The Rjurik people fear magic and, by extension, those who command it. Wizards of this race, therefore, tend to live apart from other people and need to be largely self-sufficient. Only among those who do not know of their abilities can they move freely without drawing nervous looks.

Rjurik mages have a hard life among skeptical people and a harsh land. Their kinsmen consider the magic of druids wholesome and valuable, while arcane magic is automatically suspect. Rjurik mages favor spells from the schools of alteration, conjuration, and abjuration. Rjurik mages are noted for researching spells related to the weather. The wise Rjurik wizard learns, and teaches spells that appear natural. Rjurik mages shun spells from the school of evocation. Overt spell effects, such as those produced by evocations, call too much attention to the caster.


Vos magic-wielders, mysterious to their own people and considered barbaric by others, are feared by all. The majority of Vos regard spellcasters with superstition. They avoid wizards and magicians, and sometimes even exile them from their tribe (if they think they can do so safely). The Vos treat their wizards with more animosity than the Rjurik do, and Vos wizards need to be entirely self-reliant.

Many Vos believe arcane magic angers the grim Vos gods and risk bringing their disfavor upon the people. They say to cast arcane magic is an insult to both the priests and the gods. Wizards, they are taught, do not enjoy the blessings of the gods and much be watched carefully.

Although most Vos leaders openly shun mages, very few will order a wizard's death, as they fear the retribution of Lirovka (Ruornil), the successor to Vorynn, the god of magic worshiped long ago by their ancestors. Privately, however, many Vos leaders seek the power to be gained from the quiet service of an allied mage against rival tribes or other dangers of Vosgaard.

Vos mages favor spells from the schools of evocation, abjuration, and necromancy. Vos wizards are feared and sometimes hunted by their own people. Thus, they must be able to survive on their own terms – using strength to frighten foes away and protect themselves from harm. Vos mages have also learned that necromantic magics inspire the fear necessary to encourage others to leave them alone. Vos mages shun spells from the school of enchantment. Although such spells could help them improve their standing in society, they are taught that magical persuasion and coercion are tools of the weak.

Spell research

Cerilian mages spend a significant portion of their time engaged in arcane research. Bards must learn new songs, sorcerers must devise new invocations, and magicians and wizards must pour over dusty tomes seeking the keys to ever greater mastery over arcane powers. Most arcane spell casting classes automatically increase the number of spells that they know when they advance in level under the assumption of "standard" daily research. In addition, wizards, magicians, and clerics of Ruornil can increase the number of spells contained in their spellbooks through periods of dedicated research. Unfortunately, spellcasters that do not prepare their spells cannot increase their number of Spells Known through research.

Researching spells with aid

Spell research is significantly easier if aid is available in the form of an existing spell in a spell book or scroll. Wizards, magicians, and clerics of Ruornil all follow the rules for adding spells to a wizard's spellbook presented in the Player's Handbook (page 155). This mage must have a copy of the spell (in another spellcaster's spellbook or on a scroll), study the work for one day, and make a spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) to determine if they are able to grasp the spell. The mage may gain a +2 circumstance bonus to this check if they have a tutor capable of casting the spell. Tutors generally charge a fee equal to twice what it would normally cost to have the NPC cast that spell for the character (See NPC Spellcasting in the Dungeon Master's Guide, page 149). If the check succeeds, then the mage is capable of casting the spell, but requires an additional day plus one day per level of the spell (and 100gp/day in expenses) to complete the research and add the spell into their spell book.

Researching spells without aid.

By tradition, mages in Cerilia do not share spells with each other, save for the few minor spells that pass from master to apprentice. It is generally believed that a wizard who does not craft her own spells lacks an appreciation for the dangerous power that she commands. Cerilian mages have learned that power given without cost is too freely misused. A mage without appreciation for the forces that they command is a danger to wizards and non-wizards alike.

Adding a spell to one's spellbook without help from a scroll, spellbook, or tutor is significantly more time consuming. Such research requires access to a well-stocked library, one week per level of the spell, and expenses of 1,000gp/week. At the end of that time, the character makes a Spellcraft roll check (DC 15 + spell level). If that roll succeeds, the mage learns the new spell. If the roll fails, the character must go through the research process again if she wants to keep trying. Many Cerilian mages spend much of their time and income on such research.