The World of the Royal Sorceress

12 Nov

The World of the Royal Sorceress

Magic and its Institutions

During the same winter that saw General Wolfe’s capture of Quebec (and his own fall in the battle) Professor Kaufman, a Prussian émigré living in England, finally managed to develop proof of the existence of magic. Kaufman, who had been interested in the supernatural from childhood, eventually deduced that magicians developed specific talents, rather than general-purpose magic, talents that accounted for most of the garbled legends about witchcraft and magic. He was fortunate enough to be able to present the proof to Pitt the Elder, who permitted the funding of a government-sponsored research institute into magic and how it could be made to serve the British Crown. Lord Bute, who became Prime Minister in the wake of Pitt’s fall from glory, continued to fund the school. By then, it had shown remarkable results.

The first magicians to enter service with the British Crown were mainly Seers and Talkers. They proved to be enough to allow the unification of the British Empire to a degree unimaginable to anyone prior to the discovery of magic. Where it had once taken months to get a message from Britain to North America, or to the expanding Empire in India, it now took seconds. This proved to be a decisive advantage when relations between Britain and the American colonists deteriorated down into civil war, with forces flooding in from Britain to suppress the rebellious Americans. Able to coordinate their forces on a scale the Americans simply could not match, the British Army was able to cut off and trap General Washington’s army at New York. Although the Continental Congress continued to issue bulletins and struggle to raise military forces throughout the remainder of the year, they proved to be unsuccessful in maintaining the war. A combination of localised amnesty for all, but the most implicated Americans – and British willingness to look the other way on expansion into the American interior – eventually succeeded in ending the revolution.

By then, a number of other talents had become manifest within the magical population, creating a series of problems for the British Government. Worse, the French and Russian governments (which had not believed the reports at first) had started their own programs to develop magical forces – despite heavy opposition from the Church, which regarded magic as a sign of demonic influence. The British Government eventually passed the Magical Power Act, which provided the foundation for laws designed to control and regulate magicians. Specifically, the Act insisted that all magicians register with the government and provided for them to serve the Crown in times of trouble. Magicians with magical powers too dangerous to be trusted – necromancy, mainly – were summarily sentenced to execution.

Having designed the law, the British Government created an institution to enforce its dictates. The Royal Sorcerers Corps served as the principle magical arm of the British Government. It was headed by the Royal Sorcerer. In order to study magic and perhaps refine it, there was the Royal College of Sorcery. All young magicians were supposed to attend the College, although that did not prove possible. In particular, magicians from lower class backgrounds were often forbidden to use their powers altogether, or executed by the Corps. Although it was never officially acknowledged, the Corps also effectively kidnapped magical children from the lower classes and arranged for them to be fostered with parents from more respectable backgrounds.

Outside the official institutions, there is a thriving underground of magicians who tend to avoid official notice as much as possible. Some of them, allied with the criminal or rebel element, cause considerable problems for the Royal Sorcerers Corps.

Magic is a talent – you either have it or you don’t. Magic is energy and a person’s capability to use magic often depends on how much energy they have at their disposal. This tends to mean that richer magicians tend to be better at magic than poorer magicians – and some poor magicians with very low-energy talents tend not to realise that they’re using magic. Magic talents are subdivided into a number of categories.

Infusers generate magic which they can then infuse into objects. This allows them to create magical artefacts (including some that can duplicate the powers of other magicians), weapons and potions that help heal the sick. Infuser magic requires careful training and development to ensure that the talent is not wasted.

Blazers manipulate magical energy directly, allowing them to throw fireballs, summon lightning and other such talents. Their magic comes easily once they realise that they can use it, but it tends to be very energy-intensive and Blazers run out of power quickly. They are often hired as shock troopers in armies.

Charmers can manipulate minds, depending on the target’s strength of will. Even a weak Charmer is capable of subtle manipulation, while a strong Charmer can literally take control of an entire army, or enslave a person beyond hope of salvation. Charm is a very subtle magic, with Charmers sometimes unaware of their own nature and never realising that they’re using magic to get their way. Infusers can create Devices that provide some protection against Charm. Oddly, a weaker (and unknowing) Charmer can manipulate even when denied access to their powers.

Changers can manipulate the structure of matter itself. They can create gold from lead, given enough talent and skill, although only the most capable of Changers can create something that won’t rapidly decay (owing to instability, something that is recognised, but not understood). More dangerously, Changers can literally transfigure a person into an animal, something often used as punishment in some parts of the world.

Talkers can talk telepathically to other Talkers instantly, no matter where they are in the world. The more skilled Talkers can ensure that a conversation remains private; weaker ones know that their messages might be overheard by another Talker. A very strong Talker can transmit to a non-magician or even read minds. Talents of such power are very rare and tend to keep their abilities to themselves.

Seers are capable of remote viewing; they can watch almost any location on the planet and spy on its occupants. Weaker Seers tend to become voyeurs; the stronger ones tend to get tapped as spies for the aristocracy or commercial interests. Infusers can create locations that cannot be Seen, but this has obvious limitations.

Movers can manipulate objects with the power of their minds. The more powerful ones can actually fly (more like levitation), allowing them to reach hidden locations or escape enemies.

Weres can transform from human form to animal form (a werewolf would become a wolf, not any other animal). Weres pay for their powers through often taking on the savage nature of their alternate form, sometimes losing control and lashing out at anyone close enough to be considered a threat.

Sensors can touch an object or person, receiving an intuitive flash of awareness – or, more rarely, a glimpse of their possible future or futures. A flash of a person’s future can be misleading, or simply doesn’t come to pass because of a warning from the Sensor. Sensors are rare; most of them go mad before they learn how to control their powers. Those that survive tend to work as counter-intelligence operatives as it is very hard to lie to a Sensor.

Necromancers have power over the dead. Some can raise ghosts to answer questions, others can create zombies. Necromancy is the most dangerous power as some of the walking dead can escape their master and start attacking innocent civilians, creating a nest of zombies that pose a threat to the entire world. Some countries have laws permitting necromancers to be executed on sight, although several states prefer to use necromancers as intelligence operatives.

Finally, Masters. Masters share all of the Talents to some degree, but they tend to lack the fine control of single-talented magicians. Masters are rare; officially, the Royal Sorcerer always has to be a Master. Their ability to combine the different talents makes them the most dangerous class of magician.

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