The source of all magic is The Aether. The Aether is a sub-dimension of undifferentiated energy. Humans have access to this energy and thusly are able to mold it into the various forms of magic (i.e. taking undifferentiated aether and molding it into fire). There are countless variations from light magic to body augmentation to alchemy. The body innately accesses this sub-dimension and stores the energy. Thusly, humans have a limited energy supply.
Most people do not have the storage capacity or the sufficient ability to mold magic to be considered for mage school. Theoretically, it is possible to compensate for a lack of storage with a faster uptake of energy but it is extremely rare for this to be fast enough to make up for lack of storage. In fact, it may never have occurred in recorded history. The person that did would have a seemingly limitless source of magic, though there is a possibility that it might shorten the life span or cause the mage to “burn out”, thus becoming unable to access The Aether.
Most people are “attuned” to specific moldings, magi included. That doesn’t mean that a person can not be attuned to several, but it isn’t possible to be proficient in all magic.The idea of the universities is to train people on how to recognize any and all attunements they might have, how to use them, and how to explore new possibilities their attunements might open up.
In this world, technology exists in the form of items enchanted to mold magic for the user. It consists of 2 parts. A runic/geometric focus and aether. The idea is to amplify the aether that the average person can stream and to direct it through the focus whereby it is molded into the desired magic. The enchantments can be quite simple such as a torch or extremely complex as in the auto-carriage.
Just about anything that has a solid physical shape can be enchanted. The focus must be engraved into it and a certain amount of aether unique to each enchantment applied. The user then applies a small amount of aether into the object and the enchantment does the rest.
Types of Magic and Their Properties
Fire/Light/Lightning- molding raw aether into a usable form of energy in our dimension. Has very destructive capabilities. Light magic, though it falls into this category, is not usually considered for offensive capabilities because of the raw power and control required to mold light for that purpose. On the other hand, it does have some very unique qualities (i.e. healing, seals, etc.).
Earth/Water/Air-molding aether to reshape the physical environment in close proximity to the mage. Usually, because of the radically different behavior of the states of matter, a mage will not be able to reshape multiple states. In other words, an earth mage usually does not possess abilities with water or air and vice versa.
Alchemy- the science of enchanting. All magical technology is made possible through the study of alchemy which, in and of itself, is the study of all other forms of magic in order to design a suitable focus for the proper molding. In some extremely gifted individuals, the ability to reshape magic itself is manifested. These individuals are known as “spellbreakers.” This is also, very rare and has not been seen for hundreds of years.
Augmentation-a magic that alters physical properties of one’s own body or some other organic source like a plant. Enhanced speed, growth, and shape shifting are all common uses of the art.
Dimensional-the creation and/or use of sub-dimensions. this art is one of the most difficult because it is entirely possible to rip a hole to The Aether or Oblivion with disastrous results. The adept spends years just becoming acquainted with the essence of the various sub-dimensions gaining “resonance” before ever opening a gate.
Summoning-in this art the mage performs a “binding” with a creature of some sort. Once complete the mage can “summon” the creature to do his bidding. Most of the time it is done with animals but there are creatures from other sub-dimensions that it might be possible to bind.
Psionic- molding aether as an extension of the mind. This can come in the form of mental communication to physical manipulation with the mind. Physical manipulation is not to be confused with the magic of an Earth/Water/Air mage. The psionic mage applies a mental force to the object as opposed to manipulating its very essence.
Dark or Black Magic is not so much a separate type of magic but, rather, a perversion of magic in all its forms. It takes many forms and is not something to be taken lightly. Not only is it highly illegal, but it has very, very serious implications.
Each school of magic has some application that would be considered “black”. Usually, it consists of exerting some sort of control on another intelligent entity. For instance, a psionic mage compelling a person or a summoner binding a person or creature against their will or binding creatures from Oblivion. That is just the beginning. It could be a light mage using their power to inflict disease instead of healing it. Augmenting another person’s body instead of your own or willfully opening a gateway to Oblivion. These are all taboo and carry with their practice a death sentence by order of the Emperor which will be brought forth with all the might of the Empire in all expediency. May the Empire stand forever.
-Seram Troika, Council of Magi, Grandyne University-Headmaster, Order of the Chromatic Flame 982 SA