Arselu`Tel`Quess


High Magic

ďWhere Art is life, Lore is thought, and Song is beauty; Arselu`Tel`Quess is all three in their immaculate forms yet combined into a new, purer whole. No N`Tel`Quess can conceive of achieving such a union with life, thought, and beauty to weave such wonders, for only the People can touch the Weave in this way. I realize some of the People and even some savant humans seem to cast the same magics, but these are mere effigies of the true magics they mime. The humans have copied the replica spells, but they have never felt the Art sing in their breath, their pulse, and their heart as the Selu`taar do. This you will learn, youngling, or forever know the loss of such resplendence in Art.Ē
High Mage Pheardryn Ealataerin to an elven initiate

Elven High Magic, the rarest and most wonderful of magic still practiced today, is called Arselu`Tel`Quess, or the Great Art of the People. High Magic is nearly a myth among the N`Tel`Quess, referred to erroneously as Old Magic or Ritual Magic. In truth, it is both and neither, as these simple concepts fail to embrace what High Magic truly is. True, it is old, for the elves practiced this magic long before they ever trod the loam in Atlan`ysse. Likewise, it is ritual, for the ceremonies of High Magic are as necessary as elven blood to attune what is a communing flow of forces among the elven caster or casters and the Weave itself. Casters of this powerful Art are secretly called Selu`taar, the Artís Disciples, or the High Mages. No non-elf can withstand the powers involved in High Magic, and elves are equally in awe and fear of such forces and their conduits, for most of them are also found wanting by the energies and disciplines of Arselu`Tel`Quess. High Magic is known to the elves, though its practices and practitioners are secret (or, at least, not publicly acknowledged). As an open secret, High Magic is never discussed, nor are High Mages officially recognized as anything other than wizards; given the elven nature to share and commune, the mysteries of High Magic cannot be shared, and thus it is better to be left unmentioned among the elves, rather than allow it to be a divisive power to be grasped. It is as much a power beyond the reach of mages as magic is above the prying reach of a thief. While most elves are unaware of the identities of many High Mages, some have been publicly witnessed as such practitioners, such as the Valishar. Despite a lack of official status and acknowledgement, known, or suspected, High Mages are granted greater respect due to their hidden power (and the fear and respect it engenders).

The Theories of High Magic

To understand High Magic, one must fully understand the elves. From birth, they are part of a communal tribe, community, and race that shares a subconscious mental link. They can boost this link through magic and other rituals to actually become of one mind and spirit with other elves of like attitudes. In fact, elven reverie is both a reflection on one elfís life and likewise a meditation on all the lives of the elves of a tribe or community. All elves also feel a pull toward the elven homeland of Arvannaith, the home of the Seldarine, and this pull grows stronger with the passing centuries. It is not so much a call by the gods to pull elves to their sides but a yearning for all elves to journey to Arvanaith, the hidden homeland realm of the elves. In Arvannaith, according to belief, all elves become of one mind and one spirit with the gods. In all, this ability to be part of a greater whole and link one mind with many is discretely elven. High Magic both interferes with and fulfills the needs of exceptional elves by al- lowing them to touch the Weave and become part of its greater whole while still in mortal realms. Given the length of time involved in learning High Magic for the defence of the elven realms, an elf must ignore the call of Arvannaith and remain on the world far beyond the years when many elves move beyond. In essence, High Magic and its learning is a conscious decision to delay oneís movement to Arvannaith by relegating the need and longing for the mental communion of Arvannaith into High Magic workings. On a basic level, elven High Magic illustrates the most fundamental difference between humanity and elvenkind. The magic that humanity is capable of mastering without the gods decree is individual in nature, and the wizard has only to rely on himself and his knowledge for this power, in only exceedingly rare cases can humanís magic be worked among more than one caster, and this requires trust and cooperation, things the elves believe humans have in only limited amounts. Elven magic, on the other hand, relies on cooperation and community, and High Magic depends on that unequivocally. Culturally, humans stress every man for him self, while the elves culture embraces the idea of all for one and one for all their magicís reflect those very same ideals.

The Purpose of High Magic

While High Magic separates an elf from his fellows and severs some of the sacred ties with Arvannaith, the High Mage and the elves understand it is for the greater good of both the Mage and the community. High Magicís primary use is the protection and support of the Weave, the forces of nature, and for the betterment of the elves, all of whom are dedicated to physically and magically supporting those same goals, albeit less directly. High Magic may create mythals to protect cities and gates to allow instantaneous transport across the planet, or allow elves to grow majestic buildings and walls around their sylvan cities. However, High Magic also (and far more frequently) is used to prevent droughts and blight from destroying forest glades, slow or speed the flow of rivers or winter run-off to prevent (or some- times cause) floods, and work with the magics inherent in the planet to find large-scale problems and solve them for the Weave and all the races of the world, since the Weave cannot do so itself, and the mortal races cannot ignore the immediate to see the inevitable.

High Magic Loss or Abuse

The communion of the elves and their spirit is one of the primary reasons they alone have High Magic. High Magic depends on the unity of mind, spirit, emotion, and sense of self and community within the High Mage and his surroundings. If a large number of elves are at odds with their community or a High Mage, the emotional conflict can sometimes spill into the Weave and disrupt a ritual, causing even powerful High Magic to fail. Dissension among the elves makes High Magic nearly impossible, for it relies on supportive power from the surrounding community on many occasions. It is a measure of elven solidarity that this has rarely happened since the Crown Wars and the Descent of the Drow. Even antagonists can work together for the greater causes, allowing High Magic to flow among them, as was evidenced during the raising of the mythals at Myrith Veyraalis and Myrith Drakkor. It is this need for cultural and communal togetherness that makes many theorize (and secretly thank the Seldarine and the Weave) that the Dark Elves are denied High Magic. Given their almost-human individualization and constant strife, the Drow can never achieve the oneness their surface brethren can with the Weave. However, given their array of other powers, the Drow have achieved a link with another power source of sorts. While the original Dark Elves from before the Crown Wars were merely dusky elves with pale hair, the Drow of the Underdark have, over the millennia of exile, darkened to obsidian and taken on their more familiar visages as enemies. And many shudder when they hear tales that the Drow are trying to create some sort of fell analogue of High Magic to replace what they do not have.

The Forms of High Magic

Like many forces, High Magic is both one thing and many. In its fullest essence, High Magic is the direct energy of the Weave, the web of energy that sustains the planetís life (and that of every living being upon it) and provides the source of magic for both wizards and High Mages. Whereas wizardly magic pulls an infinitesimal bit of energy out of the Weave to harness its effects, High Magic maintains the Weave but redirects and manipulates the local flow of energy to achieve the effects of the ritual. Three types of High Magic rituals are known, all of which tap the Weave, but each draws upon a different level of power.

Rituals of Solitude

These most basic forms of High Magic are spell rituals that are performed by only one caster. They are low-level effects (in terms of directly touching the source of all magic and life) that can be harnessed without immediately endangering the caster or the target of the spell/rite. While this appears similar to standard wizard spell castings (one caster), solitude is misleading, for all High Magic ceremonies tie the caster with the target of the power subliminally (from the targetís perspective). The caster reaches through the Weave to connect with the target of the ritual in order to effect these simplest of High Magics. On a remote but very basic level, many wizard spells such as magic missile work on this principle, though wizards are taught that line of sight is the important feature (and the spells are crafted to rely on such).

Rituals of Complement

The mid-range High Magic rituals requires three High Mages to cast different parts of the ceremony for the High Magic to be tapped and controlled. These rituals link the trio together in a conscious sharing of minds while each performs a particular (or, in some cases, identical) ritual within the larger ceremony. Each of the Mages drops all mental defences in order to take part in a multi-person ritual such as this; they all share their knowledge and perception of the ritualís workings, and they experience the wonder that at least (for High Mages) approximates the ascension the elves feel upon entering the Oneness of Arvannaith. Rituals of Complement are more complex and longer than the lesser rituals and on average take at least an hour or longer to cast. During this entire time, the casters are mentally linked and casting in unison. While not all of the elves are casting at once, they can communicate and read each otherís minds, though they do the latter only if invited. Anyone who would use such an intimate bond to reap knowledge or power is either immediately outcast from the clan and all elven contact (a fate worse than death!) or killed outright. If another High Mage were to do so disruptively during a casting, the High Magic would treat that caster as if he had breached the Ritual Wards with all three versions of the backlash defences (see Ritual Wards below) should he survive that, one set of the previous consequences is imposed.

Rituals of Myriad

These are the most powerful magics cast by mortals; while the humans contest this with the wish spell as evidence, High Mages contend that the effects of that not-inconsiderable spell are extremely local and individual and often fall under the attentions of some divine agent. The Myriad rituals of High Magic are the titanic sorceries of which legends are born, and woe upon the enemy who forces the elves to unleash these forces. Rituals of Myriad require a team of at least five High Mages at the castingís centre, in the identical manner used in Rituals of Complement, with all the attendant dangers and protocols. Myriad-level High Magic takes far more time to cast, due to many factors. Extended preparation and purification rites open the ceremonies, and these cleansings take nearly as long as a Ritual of Complement in itself. Once the site of the central casting and all the extended casting sites for all the other secondary casters are purified and readied, there is a delicate opening liturgy cast by the central caster that links the secondary (and any subordinate casters or link supporters) to the primary caster at the spellís centre. Once all five (or most often, nine, with a quartet of tertiary High Mages casting a supporting rite) casters are linked and focused, the casting of the ritual actually begins. Depending on the ritual, Myriad High Magic can occur in as little as three hours or could last from dawn until dusk of the following day.

Ritual Supporters

Unmentioned factors to High Magic workings must be noted, as they involve the other elves of the realm that the High Mages support. It is quite the point of honour and pride for many elves to be included thusly in a ritual, and a few elves brag of their role in old rituals. Of course, bragging for an elf is mentioning something with pride more than twice in a single decade. High Mages often count on diviners to foretell and forewarn them of major portents and events to come. While High Magic was never intended to be used for combat, often, it best serves the elves by carefully marshalling power when needed. Thus, the High Mages cannot fall prey to poor planning and mislaid strengths, as did at least one of their predecessors, when lack of preparation and lack of High Magic led to the death of the realm of Kael. Myriad rituals draw upon a great amount of power and are massively taxing upon all the casters of the ritual draining for the secondary and tertiary casters and potentially life threatening for the primary caster. Therefore, many of the Myriad rituals allow the casters to draw upon energy and mental support from normal elf wizards who volunteer to passively join the link and freely offer up energy (and spell memory) to sustain and bolster the High Mages. This allows the High Mages the luxury to concentrate on the ritual without having to worry about keeping their bodies functioning (breathing, heartbeat, etc.). The support from these volunteers further grants the secondary casters the freedom to monitor and adjust the major working of the central caster; for example, when casting a mythal, the primary caster weaves the primary framework, but the secondary casters determine its final breadth and many effects. Without the energy of their brethren, none of the casters could afford the attention to finer points, and High Magic would be far rougher. Finally, from the supporterís point of view, it allows many normal elves a chance to participate in a magic they donít normally experience until they pass to the realm beyond.

To Wield High Magic

High Magic is puissance as rarely embraced among the elves as wizard magic is embraced among humanity. It is a path of learning, power, and self-discovery that few tread, but those who do touch aspects of the elven nature that most find only when they pass beyond to Arvanaith. High Magic grants elves the power to aid the Weave by supporting the natural world that sustains it; in return, High Magic helps preserve the elves presence among the mortal realms. High Mages help shape the Weave of The world and concentrate it at various places to create mythals and gates and other great magics. Finally, High Magic allows its wielders to experience the joys of the oneness of Arvannaith through their links to the Weave, as their own abilities and learning prevent them from experiencing it firsthand, for- ever separating them from their comrades for the good of all.

Prerequisites

To become a student of High Magic, an elf must have a basic understanding of magic and its related forces. Thus, the elf needs to be a wizard, and only elves of at least 15th level are capable of beginning the study of High Magic. The candidate also must be of far sounder health to wield this power than he ever needed for traditional wizard magic, and must be among the more erudite and wise of his race in order to contemplate the powers he may eventually touch (minimum ability scores: PE 18, IQ 18, ME 18).

Education and Learning

Just as he is separated from his comrades for his training in wizardly magic, a student of High Magic must undertake a voluntary apprenticeship to a High Mage. This apprenticeship lasts for approximately 75 years, though it can last longer. While the finer points of a High Mageís education are cloaked in secrecy, enough elves have witnessed some of the practices of apprentices to get a broad view of the elements of training. Students are taught meditative techniques to allow themselves to more readily feel, see, and sense the Weave around and within them. In essence, the apprenticeship teaches the students to look beyond the physical world without the use of spells or other devices. The ability lies in many an elf, but those with the industry to learn wizardry do not necessarily have the diligence to sit patiently and learn to see what the Weave teaches them unconsciously every day. An apprenticeís exercises entail reflection and looking at the world with new eyes. By concentrating on the flow of water, an elf can learn how and where it moves, what forces are at play within it, and how any intervention affects that flow. Once students master that, they learn the same about wood smoke, meditating in a smoke lodge for months or years at a time until they can track the tiniest cinder into the sky above the trees. By the time a student learns to see the flow of incense, then wind, and then heat, he begins to see hints of the Weave. Students then learn to focus on the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies. They study each in turn, watching them rise and set, following the flow of light, energy, and the many forces set forth by each in succession. By the time an elf has endured 40 to 60 years of training, he may begin to learn the patterns that are the Rituals of High Magic. The teaching of these Rituals is an intensely guarded secret, though the performance of them is not, since they are obvious in effect, once begun; apparently, more magic is always inherent in the ritual than is visible or understandable to non-casters. There are hints that the things learned in the latter half of apprenticeships are such secrets as true names of animals and folk, the location of places of power across the world, and ways to unravel wizard magic after it is cast.

The Rituals of High Magic are exhausting in all senses of the word, and the more powerful they are, the more arduous they become. Once a High Mage casts her maximum number of rites (of any level) in a ten-day, she must rest for a ten-day before attempting any more High Magic. If a High Mage meets the casting limits posted in the table, the next attempted ritual to exceed these limits (e.g., a fifth ritual in a ten-day) has only a 50% chance of success. If it succeeds, the High Mage suffers no ill effects; if it fails, the High Mage is consumed by the Weave due to the overtaxing effects it has on mortal forms. This is treated as a retributive strike or wild-magic surge. Further attempts at a ritual that exceeds the casterís limits, results in automatic failure and the destruction of the High Mage with no chance for resurrection. Elven songs and legends tell of High Mages who dared the Fates for the sake of their people and exceeded the limitations of High Magic. One legend, The Phoenix Rises from Cysar Vale, tells of a High Mage who attempted one too many Solitude rituals to bring relief to her vale and, even when tapped for small effects, the Weave proved too much for her and she burst into flames, becoming a great bird of fire that flew aloft and burned into nothingness.

Ritual Wards

While the chances are slim of anyone attempting to disturb a High Magic Ritual, the few intrusive rabble-rousers who have tried over the centuries have found the results not to their liking. As part of the opening ritual of any High Magic, the High Mage cleanses and purifies the site where the casting will occur; this defines a boundary or ward surrounding the caster and most often the target as well. The greater the casting, the wider the cumulative ward radius surrounding the casters (10-foot radius per caster involved), though these wards donít impede casters within a ritual. The invisible ward prevents all interruptions and intrusions (physical, magical, psionic, or other) within the area of casting that are not part of the casting (such as supporters lending mental energy). The ward disappears at the end of a ritual. The wards contain hit points equal to those of the primary caster, combined with his Intelligence and Wisdom scores. The wards are treated as a physical AR of 17; should these borders be subjected to pressure by spell, psionics, or force, they crackle into visibility as an energy sphere radiating out from the High Mages. Should the wards be disturbed while a ritual is in progress, there are dire effects for the intruder (all are allowed saving throws vs. death magic for half effect). Physical Intrusion (physically piercing or crossing the wards): A 50-foot-long 20d6 arcane bolt (visually similar to a lightning bolt but with no known defences against it) rebounds from the point of contact straight back along the contact trajectory (accounting for missiles); if any physical body actually touches or penetrates the ward (with a body part or with a hand-held weapon), the above damage hits the intruder and throws him 1d20 feet outside the ward. Magical Intrusion (casting a spell through the wards, attempting to magically pass through wards, etc.): The magical intrusion is instantly traced back to its caster (via emanations in the Weave) and the caster (whether an actual caster or an item wielder) is subject to a sink spell. Mental or other Intrusions (ethereal, astral, or psionic attempts to breach/bypass the wards): The intruder (or the caster of the intrusion) is subject to a trap the soul spell effect, and the intruder is either absorbed into a small gem created instantly by the ward magic or into the High Mageís selu`kiiru (see Magical Items below). Newly created gems float in the air within the ward and zip unerringly into the hand of the primary caster upon cessation of the ritual. The effects are the same if such attempts are made during a Ritual of Complement or a Ritual of Myriad, but the saving throws vs. the effects suffer -3 and -5 penalties, respectively. Only a carefully worded wish spell or other High Magic allows anyone or anything to breach these ritual wards with impunity (i.e., no harmful effects visited upon intruders).

High Magic Resistances

The final note about High Magic is its strength in resisting the effects of wizards and priests lesser magics. Since it taps directly into the Weave (rather than through the distillation process of component-driven magic), High Magic rituals and their effects have an active immunity against their magics being altered or stopped by lesser magics. In general, High Magic effects are permanent unless they have ways of being nullified set in the ritual (e.g., Reverie of Ages.). High Magic also can be disrupted if the requirements for the magic are not met (i.e., breaking a wall with theurglass windows disrupts the magic if the window frame loses any of its complete four sides); this, however, is not a foolproof method. Ruins still exist where birds fly accidentally into still-extant theurglass that hangs in mid-air, the wall it graced long fallen. Dispel magic, limited wish, and even wish spells cannot cancel High Magic; the spells have respective 40%, 60%, and 0% chances of temporarily nullifying active High Magics. If successful, GMs should adjudicate how the spell affects the more potent magic; a basic cue is to cancel all of the High Magics normal active effects for a number of rounds equal to the spell level of the disrupting magic. After that, the High Magic is revived by the Weave. Two things are important with regard to affecting High Magics with lesser spells. Objects and items created by the use of High Magic are susceptible to these effects provided the entirety of the item can be contained within the area of effect of the disrupting spell. Thus, buildings in Arethane created by the Oacil`Quevan ritual cannot be brought down by a dispel magic. The minor and major wish effects on High Magic entirely depend on the wording of the wishes. Most wizards see and understand only the surface effects of High Magics, and without a full understanding of how High Magic works; their wishes may disrupt only one or two obvious effects of a High Magic ritual. Thus, a wish to cancel the magic of a summoned building might be enough to disrupt the fields that support a normally impossible structure and cause parts of it to collapse, rather than erase the building cleanly from existence.

High Magic Rituals

High Magic rituals are typically long and complex in nature, unlike the quick, battle-ready magic of wizards. All Rituals listed here are identified by their elvish and human titles; however, words in elvish tend to convey more meaning than a single Common word, making for long titles. A description of the ritualís effect follows the title.

Rituals of Solitude

Rituals of Complement

Rituals of Myriad

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