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Alphatian Art of Magick

by Andrés Piquer Otero

1. After going over and over through DotE and GAZ3 I have found that Glantri has quite a detailed "particular" spell system, but that Alphatia, the Empire of Magic, does not display a special set of magical tradition and powerful crafts (the sourcebook only gives some new spells that, mostly, could also be general knowledge in the KW). I really do not like this view, because, as I think magic should work, the magical power of a culture comes from their access to secret lore, not just from the number of 36th lvl mages who belong to the nation.

2. Reading the GAZs and other Mystara material, we get the impression that the most powerful and distinctive magics from the KW are in fact alien in origin:
* Alphatian magic (mostly Followers of Air from Old Alphatia)
* Glantrian Flaems (Followers of Fire from Old Alphatia)
* Radiance Magic (the Nucleus of the Spheres from Federation Starship)
* Avergoinese Magic (as brought by the d'Ambrevilles and Madame de Sephora)

3. There are, nevertheless, magics which appear in Mystara from the beginning of sentient races:
* Blackmoor Magic (apart from Technomancy)
* Elvish Magic
* other nations prominent in magic powers, like the Nithians.

4. So, I got the idea of dividing magic in two: High Magic and Low Magic:

* Low Magic is the standard OD&D spell system: thanks to some natural aptitudes, experiment and practice, the mage learns formulae which allow him to tap the energies which permeate the world and get some tangible results.

*High Magic delves into the nature of the force beyond this mundane energy: the Spheres. IMO, I think that this knowledge was only reached by two cultures in Mystara, both of them alien: Alphatians (including Flaems) and people from Old Averoigne (which for the moment I will not explain, as I am centring myself on Alphatia). So, High Magic may transcend the limited power of simple spells and reach the direct powers of the Spheres "behind the curtain", BUT it also requires some commitment: as Spheres oppose, consecrating oneself to one path excludes the others.

(My invention of Alphatian Old Magic is developed upon RW traditions of Gnosticism, Hermeticisms and Qabbalah, as well as some Taosim and hermodinamics, but everything is changed and fantasy-altered to fit OD&D patterns, so do not expect scholarly precision!)

5. The Paths of the Spheres were discovered by the Old Alphatians via a combination of intellectual research and mystical experiences. This made them grow powerful and conquer whole worlds, but it also caused society to polarise into factions: the well-known Followers of Air and Fire, the less-known Followers of Earth and Water and the nearly unknown Followers of the Shell (see below). a fact which ultimately brought about the end of Old Alphatian civilisation.

6. The Paths of the Spheres (DARKE SEPHIROT in Old Alphatian) are expressed in an old text, "The Book of Infinites" (SIPPARUM DE-AINE SOFIM). Here follow some passages (notes appear in brackets):

* Before the Beginning was the No-Beginning
and it wandered the BELIMA (Void)
and in the Void expanded.
(This No-Beginning surpasses and antecedes any Sphere. Some wise Alphatian mages -most of them now Immortal- suppose that this No-Beginning is related to the Old Ones)

*As it expanded and rotated, it took the form of one Sphere,
burning and dry.
And it held the power of the No-Beginning,
and its name was HAYL, which is Energy.
(the first Emanation is the Sphere of Energy. It is the full power concentrated before the existence of the Multiverse)

*But HAYL could not be confined unto limits,
for it came from the No-Beginning, which limit has not,
and as it spun it expanded
and gave birth to another Sphere, the second:
its name was MABUN, which is THOUGHT.
And MABUN tried to set a path to the ardour of Energy.

(The Sphere of Thought. As Energy is unable to exist per-se eternally, it emanates a consciousness which sets an order to its expansion)

*And MABUN emanated another Sphere,
ZABNO, which is the River of Time,
so that Energy and Thought could fare together for all eternity.

(Time. At this moment, the relationship cause-effect is made possible: energy bends itself to a path and Thought puts the initiative to the change processes happening)

*But the high of HAYL should be abased,
for if change would not be, all would return to No-Beginning.
And MABUN took HAYL to cool along the path of ZABNO
and it got hard and cold
and so was born QUSSOYO, which is Matter.

(The last Sphere: Energy transforms itself freely into it. At this stage, Energy and Matter could transform into each other freely moved by Thought and following the line of Time - time is here reversible, which now "fixed time arrow". But thinks won't be so perfect for long)

*But the four Spheres, infinite as the were and will be,
could not hold the Glory of the No-Beginning,
and their shells broke
and their cores were drift asunder
and the shells were driven in bits and pieces to the heart of the Void
and some of them were lured to the call of their mothers
striving outwards from the centre of the Void
and they took to their image like faces on wrinkling waters.

(As the fracture happens, some bits of the Spheres merge, touch and oppose; as this happens, the Astral, Elemental, Ethereal, and Prime Planes are born. This is ruled by proximity to the original Sphere:

_ Astral: is a rest of the Void subject to the emanation of shell fragments from all the Spheres
_ Elemental: Further from the Spheres than the Astral, but more orientated to a Sphere than to others (Energy-Fire, Air-Thought, Water-Time, Earth-Matter)
_ Ethereal: A region of the Void subject to emanation to the Elemental Planes
_ Prime: the centre of the Void, a balanced mixture of all Spheres).

*But as the Shells condensed and churned,
they drew the line of SHIUR (Limit).
And then was the Beginning;
and Beginning called to SOF (End),
and SOF brought
Wear to Energy,
Silence to Thought,
Direction to Time
and Death to Matter;
the Bigger QELIPPAH (Shell) to hold Them;
so that they would not grow again
and with shards the Creation smother.

(This concise lines describe the start of Entropy: it is a Shell which contains the other Spheres. Its main effect is putting an arrow to Time, so that NOTHING IS REVERSIBLE. Spent Energy is spent Energy. That means that, some day, the degradation of spheres into "parts of the SHELL" will make the Multiverse end. But many Alphatians interpreted this as a return to the No-Beginning, as the conversion of the whole of the Spheres into "Shards of the Limit", would mean that there is No-Limit, starting a new cycle. Others think differently. I will resume their postures:

1. Those that think of QELIPPAH (Entropy) as a natural process which favours renovation into a new cycle.
2. Those which think that the victory of QELIPPAH will bring an end to all existence (eternal stagnation) and oppose it.
3. Those which do not care of the End, but staunchly support an Sphere to gain power (like Immortality)
4. Those psycho guys who think of the End like a desirable thing, for it will destroy everything they hate.

Which one is right? It is up to you as DM. As far as I know, no D&D campaign has gone as far as reaching the end of a Multiverse cycle (the longest I run, not in Mystara, lasted for 100 game years), so, PCs may only guess...)

This is my first par, a theory of the basis behind Alphatian Magic. More on schools and game mechanics in following postings (if you are interested).