Students gifted with a keen intellect and an unwavering discipline may decide to walk the path of the Mage. The arcane magic available to magi is both great and dangerous, and is thus revealed only to the most devoted practitioners. To avoid interference with their spellcasting, magi usually wear only cloth armor, but arcane shields and enchantments give them additional protection rivalling even the greatest plate or dragonscale. To keep enemies at bay, magi can summon bursts of fire to incinerate distant targets and cause entire areas to erupt, setting groups of foes ablaze. Masters of ice can command blizzards that tear into flesh and limit movement. Should enemies manage to survive this assault, the mage can shrink them into harmless sheep in the blink of an eye.
Powerful magi can even generate enhancements and portals, assisting allies by sharpening their minds and transporting them instantly across the world.
Hello, Argent Dawn!
I previously made a guide on Arcane magic. It covered the Arcane well enough but it was in dire need of of a touch up. The lore has since changed and rather than bump a dead thread, I figured I’d make a new one.
I’m creating this guide to help people determine what the Arcane is, what it can do, and if it’d be fun to roleplay. There are a fair few people who are interested in roleplaying with the Arcane but don’t really understand it, so this is more aimed at them.
Saying that, the first section is less about roleplay and more about the lore of the Arcane. If you believe yourself to have a good grasp, you can skip it. But I’d advise rereading it to make sure that you’re up to snuff with recent changes made to the lore.
With that, let’s begin at the basics.
- 1 - Arcane and It’s origins
1.1 - Arcane and Azeroth
1.2 - Arcane and Mana
- 2 - Arcane and It’s Laws
2.1 - Arcane and Weaving Spells
2.2 - Arcane and The Schools
- 3 - Arcane and It’s Application
3.1 - Arcane and Power
3.2 Arcane and Everyone Else
- 4 - Arcane Afterthoughts
- 1. Arcane and It’s Origins
To understand where the Arcane comes from, you first need to know how the universe works. Azeroth, the world your Mage will most probably inhabit, is just another speck of dirt in a vast universe. It adheres to the same rules everywhere else does. Those rules are governed by six cosmic forces; Light, Shadow, Life, Death, Order and Disorder.
Arcane derives from the forces of Order. That is to say, the power of the Arcane comes from wielding it with precision and disciplined concentration. Fel, the antithesis of Arcane and it’s opposite, derives from Disorder. These two were born from the forces of Light and Shadow clashing, the chaotic mashing of the two forces forming the universe as we know it.
With the creation of the universe came the eventual birth of a race, the Titans. These creatures roamed the universe, composed of primordial matter and arcane power. The very embodiment of Order, they could reshape worlds and quell raging spirits all across the universe. They were born as world-souls, their goal to help other world-souls reach a state of maturity where they could travel the cosmos. They eventually happened upon Azeroth.
- 1.1 Arcane and Azeroth
This is home to many different races and many different magics. It’s also a Titan in a world-shaped egg but for now we’ll continue to focus on the Arcane and how the two are tied.
When the Titans arrived at Azeroth, they noticed malefic creatures attached to it. These cancerous lifeforms currently embedding themselves into Azeroth were Old Gods. Their one purpose is to corrupt the sleeping world-soul.
Realising what a threat these Old Gods posed, a Titan reached down to the surface and tore an Old God from the world. In doing so, the Titan ripped open a wound on Azeroth and it’s arcane life essence began to flow forth. The Titans, in a bid to close the wound, created the Well of Eternity via wards. This allowed the wound to settle, giving it balance and allowing it’s power to seep into the world.
- 1.2 Arcane and Mana
I will gloss over the majority of the story that led to the Well’s destruction. It’s stuff your Mage can research in-character and only important for the sake of knowing a major event. A race of trolls lived besides the Well after it’s creation, and they eventually became what we call the Kaldorei (Night Elves) and after another few millennia they nearly reached levels of power that could rival the Titans, all thanks to the Arcane. They were domineering with their control of magic, going so far as to arrange marriages to strengthen their bloodlines with potent mages.
(As a side-note, this does in fact imply that an affinity for the Arcane is hereditary, but as proven by many characters in lore, not required to be powerful. Your mage can come from nothing or be born from a long lineage of magi.)
Eventually their indulgent use of the Arcane drew in forces from beyond Azeroth and caused an unprecedented invasion unlike anything seen by a mortal race yet. The resulting war led to the Well of Eternity’s destruction and in aftermath of the Well’s implosion, sundered the world.
Quick Disclaimer: This brief section is a combination of both lore and speculation. I’ll try to keep it clear which is which, but both use lore as their basis.
Mana is the fuel for your Mage’s spells, so here is some minor information on what a Mage uses.
Lore: Mana is essentially a secondary form of stamina. The more of it you expend, the more drained you’ll be. The character will become sluggish and visibly tired and spells cannot be maintained indefinitely. If your Mage is somehow reliant on mana to sustain themselves (in the form of spells) and they are drained of it, they may die. These are extreme cases.
Speculation: Mana is naturally generated from the cosmic forces of the universe (Light/Shadow/Order etc) converging onto one point and forming a extremely large vortice of mana. This allows people to tap into this force and use it to turn Mana into the Arcane. The best metaphor to use is to compare Mana to water and the Arcane to steam. Your Mage is just forcing a “chemical” reaction.
End of speculation.
- 2. Arcane and It’s Laws
Now that we have some understanding of where the magic comes from and how you bring it into being, these is one more step before you even consider what race, schools, or personality you decide for your mage. The four laws.
Every practitioner of the Arcane will adhere to these laws. These are not enforced laws, but they are fundamental to the beliefs of Arcane’s use and define it.
- Magic is powerful.
- Magic is corrupting.
- Magic is addicting.
- Magic draws the denizens of the Twisting Nether to those who wield the arcane.
These are the rules given by every Mage trainer to beginners in a letter. These are meant as a warning. If your mage chooses to ignore these warnings, they will set themselves on a road to either glory or downfall.
If your Mage outright chooses not to believe in these laws, that’s fine too. But they’d possibly far more destructive and irresponsible with their use of magic, causing them to draw the unwanted attention of others.
There is a fifth law, The Law of Sympathy, but this one is not a warning. Although if your character is cowardly enough, they may take it into consideration. When someone handles an item, they leave a part of their magical aura attached to it. When a person continues to use the same item over and over, the stronger their ‘sympathy’ to the item becomes. As everyone has a unique aura, this means the item with traces of the aura can actually be tracked. Articles of clothing, written books, locks of hair, these can all be traced back to Mages who use them over and over.
- 2.1 Arcane and Weaving Spells
Now we get into the good stuff, casting arcane magic. There are many different examples of different ways to cast magic. Some spells use grand hand gestures, some use verbal components in a language many do not understand, others rely on reagents along with carved runic patterns.
Whatever your character chooses to use, even if it’s a combination of all of the above, it needs to be used in some form to cast a spell. This is what makes a mage so versatile. Even if they’re bound and gagged, with a wiggle of their fingers they can free themselves easily out of conventional bindings.
If a mage is Silenced, a magical affliction through curse or spell, they will not be able to use any form of magic. There are many prisons and bindings that sever a mage from their connection to the Arcane. It will then fall to you to use your quick wits to get out of that situation quickly.
Even if your Mage is not an alchemist, they can create a gem to tap into and recover some of their spent mana to keep soldiering on. These are mainly used for Mages who have run out of mana and are in a pinch, such as the middle of combat or to prevent someone draining the entirety of their reserves.
That does not mean your Mage has to be a combatant though. There are many aspects which can be explored which allows them to avoid combat entirely. The potency is always there.
If you’re stuck for examples of magic to use in roleplay, simply look to your action bar. Think about how hard the spell would be for your character to use. An apprentice would not be able to make himself invisible instantly, but an archmage would have no issues.
- 2.2 Arcane and The Schools
The majority of arcane spells can be split into eight separate schools. This idea was first put forth by the Highborne, presumably to help students easily digest their lessons, rather than practising the entire spectrum all in one go. I’ll go through the schools in what I believe their order of importance is.
Abjuration: This is the school of protective magic and wards. An apprentice’s greatest danger is going to be themselves. They lack the finer control and discipline required to master their craft. Unfortunately the results of this can be humiliating, debilitating, or downright lethal. This magic can be used to protect yourself from physical or magical attacks. Once an apprentice has learned how to protect themselves, they can start learning other magic.
Shields created from raw power are taxing on an apprentice with a minor mana pool, but luckily the Arcane is extremely malleable (a callback to forcing “chemical reactions”). If you apply an element such as fire or ice to a spell, it’ll take on that element. With the combination of both an element and a Mage’s own power, spells do not require a large amount of raw power to maintain.
Conjuration: This is the school of creating something from nothing. When a mage conjures food and water, they are using their mana pool to create something to revitalise them. An apprentice would apply this so they have something after an intense studying session or an expedition where rations are sparse. This is also where a mage can apply the elements to their spells. This conjured element will substitute most of the power that raw arcane would.
With time and effort a Mage can construct water golems out of air and water vapor. Usually these are just mindless, enchanted by a mage to do as they wish but there is evidence that a mage can make a pact with elementals and serve each other in a mutual partnership, the mage offering knowledge in place of brawn. If a mage is powerful enough, they can summon multiple elementals to aid them.
If a mage doesn’t particularly feel up to conjuring something to do their dirty work for them, they always have the possibility conjuring arms and armour.
Divination: This is the school of scrying. It is the art of gathering information. With a world that can be so easily manipulated by outside forces in an effort to try and twist perceptions, Divination is invaluable in the act of exposing the truth. Of course, a Mage can employ this in the reverse and manipulate their surroundings to appear as something else or not there at all. Why fight an enemy stronger than you when you can simply ignore it?
This also allows a mage with enough practice to see across planes and worlds, even access memories provided the subject is willing. Why scout a location when you can divine what is there? Of course the visions a Mage may be granted are not always clear and with high costs due to expensive reagents, it may be better to simply look with their own eyes.
Enchantment: This is the school of imbuing or dispelling magic from objects. An apprentice may start off enchanting a quill to write their notes for them, a master can enchant a carpet to fly for them. Your mage has conjured a sword but doesn’t actually know how to swing it? Enchant it to fight at a distance for you. A spell has gone horribly awry and something is crawling out of your Mage’s tome? Dispell the original spell and hope for the best. If a Mage also truly wishes, they can disenchant items, destroying the item and reducing it to it’s basic components.
Illusion: The school of deception. Mages can use this to turn their voices to hushed whispers, hide the sound of their footfall or even vanish from plain sight. It also allows the user to employ a disguise or make multiple versions of themselves. Over reliance on this school may lead to the Mage questioning reality itself and wondering what is true, or they may simply avoid the reality altogether and live a permanent lie. Divination spells can see through most illusions, so your Mage should take caution in who they deal with when employing this school. Things are not always what they seem.
Quick Disclaimer: The next school is a point of contention between some and may not be truly representative of the lore. While the RPG is non-canon, it does point to this being one of the eight schools, along with text from an in-game book and spells seemingly pointing towards gathering mana. Please take this with a grain of salt, as it is by no means the definitive truth but makes the most sense personally.
Evocation: This is the school of gathering energy and bringing clarity to a mind to allow better flow of magic. One of the mainstay spells gets it’s name from the school, Evocation, a torrent of mana gathered to refill your own pools. This spell is more than likely reserved for adepts and archmages who’d need to employ the spell in a dire situation.
Transmutation: The final school most Mages will learn and probably the most difficult, as it is the most broad and dangerous. This is where Mages begin to differ in ability, where they can advance leaps and bounds above others. This school allows a mage to manipulate space and time, ripping open portals to travel across the world instantly or reversing time to close up wounds on themselves. Of course, just teleporting anywhere is dangerous and allows for a mage to end up fused into walls or worse.
Perhaps the most notable examples of transmutation are Polymorph and Blink. Polymorphing a creature is not limited to a smaller animal alone. People can be turned into vegetables, crows into dinosaurs or vice versa. It is ill-advised a mage attempts to polymorph a relatively weak creature at risk of it turning into something far more threatening. It should be noted that most creatures retain their original mind in the new form, aware of all that is happening to them. Blink is a self-descriptive, short range teleport.
Quick Disclaimer: The below school is arguably not an Arcane one anymore. With recent changes due to Chronicles, there is another force (Death) behind it which will not be explored.
Necromancy: Necromancy is pr was considered a school of the arcane by the Kirin Tor and Highborne. It is the art of studying the dead. It’s also forbidden and illegal. Necromancers employ this to raise endless and tireless armies to assault their enemies and employ diseases to slowly waste away their enemies.
- 3. Arcane and It’s Application
Now your mage knows how most of Arcane how it works, it’s time to apply it. Think about how your mage lives their everyday life and what they’d use it for. Perhaps they’re a snobby noble living in decadent apathy, a plethora of enchanted items performing their tasks while they get rich off said enchantments.
Perhaps your mage was employed by the underworld to carry out assassinations with flawless disguises. They may even be a battle-mage, carrying sword and shield and using their magic to slow their enemy. They may still be a student, under the watchful eyes of a mentor, only able to apply the basic spells. Regardless, all of the above schools can be mixed and matched to simulate nearly anything. The more schools you combine, the greater the spell and the more powerful you’ll need to be.
- 3.1 Arcane and Power
While mainly centred around Arcane magic and what it’s used for, this is still a roleplaying guide. When your Mage is on their travels, they’ll run into many situations they’ll probably wish they were not a part of. Confrontations, ambushes, people pulling strings, falling off a cliff, it can all happen at a moments notice.
Power is a thing that must be measured responsibly. If you want to roleplay an archmage, that’s fine. But you must remember that mages are both intelligent and wise. An archmage is not going to unleash their full fury on a beggar for calling them a name. Likewise, an apprentice will not be able to stand up to a Deathknight barrelling down the battlefield in a full set of armour. Impose a set of limits on yourself relevant to the character. If you end up playing a mary-sue with a solution to everything at a moment’s notice, people will not want to roleplay with you. If you end up playing a character with no power at all, you’ll be at the mercy of people who can take advantage of that and put you in dire positions. At the end of the day, we’re here to have fun and craft stories together.
Use your wit. Use words to talk yourself out of a situation, use a sword to bash the Kobold’s head in. Spells can fail, they can take time and they can drain your mana. It’s always good to have a back-up and let it lead to something inventive and memorable.
- 3.2 Arcane and Everyone Else
With all of that guff out of the way, we now reach the final stages of creation.
It’s not just you out there slinging spells and racing chairs against tables, other people will be represented by other classes and organisations. As time has gone on, the only real thing that can define your character is the race’s history and your own.
Not all mages adhere to the law of the Kirin Tor for example, it’s just one body which has had (arguable) the most success and the most members. Blood elves as a whole have their own magical academies and orders. Couple that with the wrongs the Kirin Tor have inflicted on the Blood elves and vice versa, it’s quite easy to say that your Blood elf mage becomes furious at the sight of one of their kin still serving under that glorious purple eye.
- 4. Arcane Afterthoughts
That has covered the majority of magic. It’s better to understand the race before you pick the class. Someone people may love the idea of a Troll mage more than a typical Human one, but the way their magic works is fundementally different.
I’d advise looking up a few beginner guides and researching the lore of any race that you want to roleplay, as it will allow you to weave your backstory and inspirations for being a mage into one neat little package.
For example, many orc roleplayers will pick warriors to better represent the savage power they wield, leaping and shouting battle-cries to strike fear into their enemy before turning their skull to paste.
That’s all I have for now. I hope this guide taught you something and made the Arcane a little less daunting. I’ll post my sources below and if anyone has any questions, feel free to post them on the thread.
1 - Arcane and It’s origins - Chronicles Volume 1 /Dave Kosak @twitter
1.1 - Arcane and Azeroth - Chronicles Volume 1/War of the Ancients Trilogy/Warcraft 3 Manual
1.2 - Arcane and Mana - Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War
2 - Arcane and It’s Laws - [Glyphic Letter]/WoW TCG: Khadgar’s Kilt of Abjuration/The Last Guardian (Pg40 of ebook)
2.1 - Arcane and Weaving Spells - Ingame spells (Mana Gem, Silence)
2.2 - Arcane and The Schools - Dressing with Class/The Schools of Arcane Magic (A series of in-game books)/Polymorphic Rules & Regulations/Thinking With Portals
Reserved for any relevant questions not covered:
Thank you, this helps me. I struggle remembering all these schools.
Please add more about what Arcane Missiles and other offensive magic counts as!
Answer: Offensive magic is usually via the school of Conjuration. Fireballs are elemental and a Mage will have to conjure that element and add it to their arcane power. The propulsion of the object would be within the spell’s craft itself. This can be seen with Flamestrike/Fireball. Arcane Missiles is a bit harder to pin. Much like Blink was learned and refined over the years, it is a standalone spell which has a very specific function, eliminating the need to put it into any school.
Answer: It’s an enchantment bound to Atiesh which allows Khadgar to shape-shift and will allow anyone who wields it to do the same. Assuming this isn’t a Guardian specific power as Dragonwrath allows the caster to also shapeshift (into a dragon), the spell is most likely extremely difficult and powerful.
I’d say these are not self-inflicted polymorphs but closer to druid’s shapeshifting. Can Mages turn themselves into something else? Yes, but there are obvious dangers involved. It’s up to you to roleplay what these dangers are. There are two sections from Polymorphic Rules + Regulations which highlight this actually.
Check out the comments if you want the full list;
There are some standout lines which indicate a lot can be achieved with Polymorph alone. Silithids, Ethereals and even Dragonkin. These seem to be illegal in the Kirin Tor’s laws, but if nobody knows your Mage is doing it…
The next bit is a little on the nose with the “blue-checkered cube” and obviously meant in good fun, but with mur-elves and amphibious worgen, you can definitely use that as a stepping stone for other ideas you may have.
In-universe even great mages like Medivh, Khadgar and Kirin Tor itself don’t know for a fact how it comes to being. There’s dialogue in Tides of War that suggests the elemental spells they conjure have actual elemental spirits that shamans can hear (and in Thrall’s case, wrestle control from the mage).
Food for thought.
Answer: I didn’t expand on this as much as I would have liked and have given it some thought. It is yet another theory debated in character, with evidence for both sides. As mentioned before, when Jaina Proudmoore manipulates a great amount of water elementals to conjure a tsunami. These elementals cry out to shamans. In other instances (namely smaller spells) the elements have apparently no cares and/or presence regarding a Mage casting Pyroblast.
Answer; As Trallick put above, there doesn’t seem to be any way of telling until someone tries to practice it. It is suggested that people can simply be talented at using the Arcane and need little practice to have a mastery.
On the other hand, eugenics has been practised among the Highborne and produced stronger mages. Evidencing this is two particularly strong mages (Aegwynn and Neilas Aran) producing Medivh. Granted he was a Guardian but the intent was still there.
As for strange phenomena, it seems to be mainly contained to when someone powerful loses control, their power fluxes and causes indirect results (Illidan Stormrage once burned an Orc like this).
Answer; All of the Dragonflights and their individual aspects were gifted their powers by the Titans. Titans are stated as having the Arcane as their lifeblood, so that’s the source of their power. In regards to Nozdormu (Aspect of Time) and Bronze Dragons in particular, they were given the power of time by Aman’Thul (Leader of the Pantheon) to watch over and maintain it’s purity. So yes, it is arcane magic with a golden tinge.
This is the best quote I can find for it. Hope that answers your question.
Turns out that the thread was unlocked for some reason so I’m happy for people to post here again but if you need to reach me personally, my B-Tag is; Agtherian#2679