Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago
Magic in the World
The Middle Kingdoms – The first cooperations between the human and elves involved teaching the lore of the arcane. The Empire was founded with a strongly magical foundation, and there are several colleges of magic throughout the Middle Kingdoms. Wizards are generally regarded well in major population centers, though they have a tendency to be labeled as nerds. Sorcerers are generally looked upon as scoundrels, however, the wild nature of their magic making it hard for them to fit in to the rigidly lawful society.
There is a branch of the military that trains magically talented fighters into a deadly combination of wizard and warrior. The Magus Corp. is an elite team of spellswords who are used as strike teams against foes that have magical means of defense. Non-military magi are rare, usually mercenaries who quickly rise to the top of their organizations. To be trained at the special school for magi costs nothing, but requires the trainee to serve two years of military service. This leads to many more magi being from rural areas than is true of wizards.
In the more rural areas people tend to dismiss wizards as “too fancy” and it is true that the majority of college-trained wizards come from rich families. Magi are viewed with respect, but also a healthy dose of fear. Sorcerers and witches are treated inconsistently. When times are good and people are happy the eccentricities of the wilder spellcasters are over-looked. Many witches even live in towns and help their neighbors with potions and cures. However, things can get ugly if there’s a bad harvest, or too many cattle die of unusual circumstances, crowds can get ugly. Rural witches and sorcerers are in danger of lynching, and the mystical and sometimes lethal methods they use in repelling attacks by angry mobs only sours their reputation.
Bards are so varied in personality and ability that their reputation is hard to define. A bard could be a courtier versed in magical lore to further his skills in negotiation, or a dirty street performing using the arcane arts to filch from passersby.
The magic of the Divine is much more favorably received. Priests of the Imperial Pantheon can be found in every province. Every major city has at least one temple and there are many small chapels in the countryside. Clerics form the bulk of the clergy, though a number of oracles can be found as well. Paladins serve as a liaison between the clergy and the government, as well as the martial arm of the church, protecting temples and citizens from the depredations of heretics, evil cultists, and corrupting monsters. Inquisitors are more feared than loved, as they hold rigorous adherence to the tenets of the Imperial Faiths as their highest doctrine. The inquisitors do not only hunt down and exterminate cults to the evil gods, but also those among the followers of the Imperial Pantheon whose ideologies are deemed dangerous to the faith. Those who preach too much deviance from the lawful coda of the gods tend to disappear.
Oracles working outside the church get much the same treatment as witches and sorcerers. Their odd behaviors and strange powers make people wary of them, though killing one so favored of the gods is often thought to be too great a taboo for the mobs to go after them.
Druids are actively pursued by Imperial inquisitors due to their chaotic beliefs and their heretical disregard of civilization and law. Druids individually vary greatly, some are quite benevolent and work with local farmers, while others reflect the harsher aspects of nature, or hunt down and pay bloody vengeance to those who harm the natural world on the edges of civilization. Local attitudes toward druids really depends on the local druid.
Rangers, like druids, have such a close connection to the natural world that they can call upon the gods of the earth, sky and sea. This wild magic is frowned upon by the Imperial Inquisition, but rangers tend to be so far out in the wilds that their chaotic ways rarely get noticed.
Khitai – Khitai is the land of magic. The very earth is saturated with arcane energies and dragons still roam the land. The people of Khitai are accustomed to magic, even the simplest rice farmer has some knowledge of the workings of the arcane. There are many more sorcerers in Khitati, relative the the Middle Kingdoms, though there are still many wizards poring over ancient scrolls and mastering the manipulation of arcane energy as a zen art. A Khitain magus may be the traditional warrior scholar of legend, equally versed in swordplay and arcane lore, or he may be a brutal bandit chieftain who has mastered arcane tricks to further destroy his enemies. Witches feature greatly in Khitain folklore, and bargains with powerful spirits are easy with so many spirits so close to the mortal realm.
The role of bard is more common to the upper classes of Khitai, an arcane entertainer, equally using performance and magic to entertain, seduce, or spy.
The Divine seems to be closer to Khitai than the Middle Kingdoms as well. Clerics tend not to be devoted to a single deity, but rather are advocates for the Kami, divine spirits who live in every stone, every creek and every leaf. There is little difference, in the eyes of a Khitain, between a cleric, a druid, and an oracle. Paladins and rangers, too, sometimes call upon the local Kami to aid them.
As more of Khitain culture spreads to the Middle Kingdoms, scholars have noticed that there is a separate form of magic practiced by some Khitain. It is the magic of the mind, or soul. These psionics can use their own will to manipulate the world around them directly, rather than manipulating the currents of magic as traditional arcane casters do. To the average person, there is little practical difference between a psionic and any other spellcaster.