The Magefolk are unique among the descendants of the Seed Tribe in that their physical appearance remained unaltered. They lack raw strength, fangs or claws, and while they live longer on the whole than Seedmen, their lives are shorter than the rest of the races of Remnas. However, despite their fragility, they gained the ability to absorb and channel the mystic energy that runs through the earth. They call this ability magic.
Mages are as culturally varied as the beastmen, but three factors remain constant across all groups. The first is the taboo against working magic directly on flesh. Bespelling a living creature causes magic to alter and morph in unpredictable ways, giving rise to curses. Mages fear curses above all else as they are nearly impossible to break, are fatal to the accursed and can spread rapidly like a mystic disease. Second, they tattoo their bodies to assist with the channeling of mystic power. Third is the fierceness with which they guard the secrets of their mystic arts. Mages record their research and grimoires in Mysterion, a written coded language. The 150 characters may be read three different ways and with careful word choice, a skilled writer may create a puzzle with false leads. The secrets to working advanced techniques are carefully guarded by powerful collegia, or organizations of elite mages. Members of collegia tend to be leaders in politics, education and finance as well as the most powerful in terms of magical ability. They rarely share their secrets with outsiders and membership is hereditary. As such, since those outside the established circles of power are rarely admitted, deep inequality exists in mage society. A few families dominate in all areas while the vast majority of mages are badly educated and possess no more than the ability to work rudimentary spells.
The secrecy of the Magefolk proved to be their near undoing. The middle years of the Second Age was their Golden Era, when the mystic arts reached its peak. However, during the War of the Litch King, most elite mages were killed during the battle to save Remnas from a mage who had learned to control the corpses of the dead. Their knowledge died with them, leaving the survivors to struggle during the Third Age to rediscover it. Few kingdoms in western Remnas were untouched by this magical dark age, but rumors persist that there are great mage empires beyond the Gods Back Mountains on the eastern half of the continent. Their mages are said to be as powerful as demi-gods. Adventurers have long dreamed of visiting the fabled empires of the East, but few have survived the journey over land through the Gods Back range and no sailor attempts to sail through the Bay of Serpents, the only navigable route by sea.
The sects of the Magefolk are legion, their techniques and methods are countless as the stars, but most mages fall into one of four groups:
Alchemists use their mystic energy to alter matter from one form to another. They can change salt into barley, water into acid and rocks into diamonds. As their art can greatly affect the price of commodities, alchemists are limited by law in the quantity and the materials they can change, but alchemist greed is legendary. They study economics and finance as fervently as they do magic.
The sorcerers, who work enchantments upon objects, have an eye for style and beauty that is second to none. A people who revere the arts, they put as much effort into making their enchanted objects as aesthetically pleasing as the magic within them is powerful. Once an object is bespelled, it can be used by anyone even if they don’t possess any magical talent. The relics can demand a high price for this reason. Examples include shields that repel magic, cloaks that allow one to glide through the air and necklaces that can strangle the wearer. The infusion process is slow and methodical, and despite this, sorcerers have a tendency toward excess, fecklessness and debauchery.
Magicians are the scholars of the magic world, holding learning above all else. They work spells through the sacred symbols, characters that the Six Makers used to write the universe into existence and revealed to men so that they might shape the world around them. A complicated spell chain could raise a city overnight from the earth. They excel at mathematics and engineering, creating great clockwork cities fueled by mystic energy. Most bright scholars dream of joining their city’s civil bureaucracy after completing their studies and eventually representing their hometown on their country’s governing council. Creatures of logic, they downplay the role that emotions and passion have in life, and outsiders often describe them as being dry, humorless prudes.
The wizards live close to the earth. They channel the mystic energy of the natural elements from their surroundings. They can calm raging rivers, make crops grow overnight and summon fierce gales. Living simple lives, guided by a philosophy that calls for physical and mental discipline, they are a free spirited people. The most physically inclined of the Magefolk, they can be skilled fighters, but they shun weapons, relying on a fighting art they developed that uses only the hands and feet. They augment their battle skills with the use of elemental magic.