Magic is the ability possessed by some individuals to manipulate the ambient energies of the world to produce desired results. In Realms, magic is commonly referred to as "the Art".
The goddess Mystra controls the Weave which is what powers the magical energies of Abeir-Toril. The goddess Shar has control of the Shadow Weave which flows in-between the normal weave and enables the use of Shadow Magic.
Types of Magic
Magic that originates from a spell-granting deity, usually through prayer, is divine in nature and is called the Power by the common folk. Clerics, druids, paladins, rangers and many prestige classes all derive their spells and spell-like abilities from a deity. A practitioner of the Power has no affinity with the Art, as their spells are planted in their minds directly by their patron deity, and they do not tap the Weave. Casting divine spells is more like an exclamation of faith that brings about a sensation appropriate to the patron deity to whom the faith was devoted.
Any magic that doesn't originate from a deity is defined as arcane magic. (Note, while all magic is accessed through the Weave, which is maintained by a deity, this does not make all magic divine magic.) The use of arcane magic is referred to in day-to-day speech as the Art, and a wide variety of people (and character classes) are able to practice the Art to a smaller or larger extent, though the way in which they access the Weave can differ dramatically. Most wizards spend long years researching their art, gathering spells to their personal book, and each day they can only memorise a small fraction of these. The memory of the spell is wiped from his or her mind as it is cast. The wizard has to re-study the spell before he or she can cast it again, unless more than one casting of the spell in question was prepared. Sorcerers, also known as innanoths (for their innate mastery of the Weave) are not required to research spells. They tap the Weave in a more direct manner, but because of this, the selection of spells available to a sorcerer is more limited than that available to a wizard. Bards, assassins and many other prestige classes access the Weave to use certain magical abilities.
Schools of magic are categories of spells organizing by general function. Spells are created by wizards with these schools in mind, though divine spells also fall within these preset categories as well. Still, there are also plenty of spells that defy categorization within a school. Some spellcasters (especially wizards) decide to specialize in spells from a certain school. They focus more effort into these spells than any other at the expense of all spells from one or two other schools. These schools of magic have been in existence for longer than anyone cares to remember and no one seems to know who originally came up with them. They also show no signs of being abandoned.
Most schools of magic also have subschools that help define the spells with even more accuracy. The major schools of magic are as follows:
- Spells that protect the caster.
- Spells that create or transport people, energy or objects.
- Spells that allow the caster to see things that they normally wouldn't be able to.
- Spells that affect the minds of other creatures.
- Spells that create energy out of the raw power of the Weave.
- Spells to fool the senses.
- Spells that deal with negative energy.
- Spells to enhance or change creatures and things.
- Verbal component
- Many spells require the caster to speak certain words, or, in the case of a bard, create music, to cast a spell. Being prevented from speaking, such as a gag, or effects that remove sounds, such as certain magical effects, makes it impossible for a caster to cast such a spell. A deafened caster may fail when casting a spell, by misspeaking, which causes the spell to be lost.
- Somatic component
- Many spells require the caster to make a motion to cast the spell. If the caster is unable to make the correct motion, the spell cannot be cast. Wearing armor or using a shield interferes with the somatic components of arcane spells, creating a risk of spell failure. Bards and some other arcane classes can cast spells in light armor without this risk.
- Material components
- Casting a spell often requires that the caster sacrifice some sort of material component. Often, these components are virtually worthless, but some spells, such as spells to reanimate the dead, require material components costing thousands of gold pieces. If a caster is unable to access or use the correct spell component, the spell cannot be cast.
- Magical focus
- Alternatively, casting a spell may require that the caster have access to a holy symbol or other special object, to focus on when casting the spell. This is mostly true for divine spells.
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