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Note: Not all of this information is directly translated into Neverwinter Nights game mechanics.
Note: This information is not common knowledge on Avlis. Scholars may uncover some of it through intense research sanctioned by the DM Staff.
The Four Centers of Power
“Magic” is generally defined as a type of non-physical energy used to produce an effect. Spells and spell-like abilities from creatures and items are powered by this energy. Unlike the energies defined in physics, magic comes from a source. It flows out from that source to the user and produces the desired outcome. In the world of Avlis, it is helpful to imagine four sources or centers of power: the body, the emotions, the mind, and the spirit. Power derived from the body represents physical power so often wielded by warriors and their ilk, but it is also possible to derive supernatural effects from physical essences, such as herbs, inscriptions, combinations of elements, and other things found in nature. These sources of power are all closely tied to the physical realm, i.e. the Prime Material Plane containing Avlis. Emotional power, by contrast, is derived from the astral realm and other transitive planes. In those who have strong egos, this type of power can be quite substantial. On the mental level, power can literally control physical objects and shape elements. These abilities belong to the familiar psionic powers. Finally, the spiritual level embodies the outer planes where all or most deities live, and where the Vortices of Magic have their roots.
All of these separate sources of magic are really pieces or aspects of a single source. The different aspects are accessed in different ways which produce variations which give rise to new character classes and other new rules rely on these firm platforms. Essentially, each center of power can drive its own type of caster with its own subtypes, sets of feats, skills, and items. Hybrid classes that harness two or more forms are also possible in certain cases.
The Vortices of Magic: Magic from Spirit
The Vortices of Magic are the wellsprings of most commonly-observed magical energy on Avlis, flowing into the world from the Outer Planes. To the naked eye, and even to the magically enhanced eye, they are all but invisible as they permeate the entire Prime Material Plane that contains Avlis. Only those who are sensitive to magical energy, i.e. clerics, mages, bards and other types of magic users, can feel the presence of these vortices. Though completely undetectable by non-magic users, these colossal funnels of raw energy contain infinite amounts of power that constantly self-renew from the Planes of existence. There are two known Vortices that make up these sources of magical energy on Avlis: The Divine Magic Vortex, and the Vortex of Mortal Magic.
Upon casting of an arcane spell, a magic user draws an infinitesimally tiny piece of energy from one of the vortices and shapes its energy into the desired spell effect. If the user is an immortal, hero, or deity, the spell’s energy is drawn from the Divine Magic Vortex, and alternatively, if the user does not possess immortal status or higher, the spell’s energy is drawn from the Mortal Magic Vortex. For the purpose of this definition, undead and neverdead creatures are classified as “mortal”, because they do not possess an “Immortal” character template. In the end, the desired spell effect is the same. For example, a deity who casts magic missile will draw the energy from the Divine Magic Vortex and produce the same damage, duration, and range as a 10th level vampire wizard who casts the same spell but draws the energy from the Vortex of Mortal Magic. The only difference between the two spells is that those who possess immortal status or higher are impervious to harm, i.e. 100% resistant, to any magic cast from the Vortex of Mortal Magic, but magic cast from the Divine Magic Vortex affects them normally according to the spell’s effects. Clerics and other divine casters are an exception to the rule. When a divine caster casts a spell, the energy of that spell comes from the deity or force to which the caster devotes herself. Since that entity is usually of hero status or higher, the magic is drawn from the Divine Magic Vortex. However, all deific entities filter the energy they give to their devotees so as not to overwhelm them with the intense strain associated with drawing directly on the Divine Magic Vortex with a mortal body. Thus, a spell cast by a divine caster has the same effects and status as a spell cast from the Vortex of Mortal Magic by an arcane caster. For example, Glocknal the 20th level cleric of Gorethar casts flamestrike on a cluster of orcs surrounding their Chieftain who is a 20th level immortal fighter. The spell damages all the orcs in the cluster except the Chieftain, because the spell was cast by a mortal divine caster and follows the rules of magic cast from the Vortex of Mortal Magic. During the next round, Glocknal’s friend Vian, an immortal cleric of 30th level manages to close with the Chieftain and cast harm. Since Vian is an immortal, he draws his spells from the Divine Magic Vortex directly, and manages to damage the immortal orc according to the normal effects of the spell. In the following round, Glocknal scores a hit with his mace on the immortal Chieftain and kills him.
Sorcerers, Wizards and Bards draw their power from these vortices. The god Andrinor is the only known individual to succeed in controlling the Vortex of Mortal Magic, and thus, it is now he who determines which individuals have access to it. As the god of magic, all wizards acknowledge him as being in control, and most, though not all, ascribe loyalty to him because he is now the source of their power. Another deity, Angadar, is the god of Arcane Knowledge, and is credited with the power for Arcane advancement. It is Angadar who gives the ability for Mages to scribe scrolls, and to understand the scrolls' meaning. Wizards respect Angadar as their source of Arcane Knowledge.
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Deities, clerics, spirits, and other divine beings draw their magical energy from the Deific Vortex. This vortex is controlled by no single god: Every cleric who wants access to such a Vortex will have to go through her deity. However, for cantrips and slightly more difficult spells, (Level 3 spells and under) there almost always is some other god who will hear your prayers as a deityless cleric. For more powerful spells, above level 3, a cleric needs to have a single specific deity. In game, this means there must be a (correctly spelled) deity in your deity field when you cast a spell of higher level than 3, and you must have exactly the same alignment as your deity. You can change your deity field either in game or at character creation.
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The Mind Wind: The Power of The Mind
The mysterious Mind Wind is a subtle vibration that permeates every plane of existence, yet has not been proven to originate from any particular source. It has no speed, direction, texture, or consistency that can be definitively declared, and many argue that it does not exist at all for this reason. Though it is only marginally detectable by those who have psionic ability, even those individuals are never quite sure if what they are detecting is real or imagined. Most go through their entire careers never noticing the subtle feeling of The Mind Wind. Non-psionic individuals have absolutely no hope of detecting this phenomenon. Nevertheless, this innocuous force that seems to simultaneously flow around and through everything it touches is the source of all psionic power.
Whenever a psionic user engages thought in some direction, the Mind Wind coalesces and flows into and through the user’s thoughts and powers the effect that is desired. Unlike the case with the Vortices of Magic, there is only one Mind Wind that powers all psionic exertions, whether they come from mortals or deities. This means that Immortal and mortal characters are on even footing when it comes to being affected by psionics, although powerful Immortals may certainly have more skill or level-based resistances.
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The Transitive River: The Magic of Emotion
On rare occasions, when someone is in a highly agitated or elated state, a sense of being surrounded by a flowing substance can occur. This feeling is akin to being submerged is a turbulent and fast-flowing river. Though some individuals are more highly attuned to this feeling, it is not difficult to tap into it with a little bit of awareness and release from inhibitions. That flowing energetic buzz experienced by creatures in sensitive states is sometimes referred to as The Transitive River. Ultimately, this river consists of subtle energies coming from the Transitive Planes, i.e. the Astral, Ethereal, and Shadow planes. During any given age or epoch, The Transitive River originates from only one of these three planes, but it always flows through all of them in a twisted fashion, back and forth, before reaching the Prime. When it finally reaches the Prime, it permeates the entire plane, much like the Vortices and Mind Wind do. No one is ever able to isolate the river’s location, direction, or speed, but it can be subtly felt and drawn from by those magicians that are able to do so.
When specialized magic users who are trained to use this source for their power decide to cast spells, a small amount of the river’s substance is siphoned off and poured into the spell’s effect. Like the case with The Mind Wind, there is only one Transitive River, which puts Immortals and mortals on equal footing.
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The Prime Nature: Magic from All That There Is
When the original source of magic was split or transformed into its multiple forms, a lot of that energy entered the physical realm directly. However, instead of taking the form of a vortex, wind, river, or other feature, the energy simply leaked into everything, infusing all objects. Everything on the Prime Material Plane, therefore, contains some amount of energy that can be channeled and used by those who know how. Moreover, this energy is constantly self-renewing. Characters that possess any sort of meditative skill, such as monks, are able to feel this vibration within objects, and even the untrained can sometimes catch this phenomenon unexpectedly in moments of quiet. This power is referred to as The Prime Nature. The name refers to the Prime Material Plane, and the idea that all objects in Nature possess this power. In a deeper sense, this vibration is sometimes thought to be what allows everything to exist on the Prime, which means that this energy is the true nature of every object.
Certain specialized casters are able to extract, channel, and direct this energy from objects or themselves to produce desired effects. Often, language of magic, or Magya, can be used as a tool to access this energy. The language of magic is thought to be the language of the first spirits to inhabit Avlis, which means it comes from a time that predates the differentiation of magic’s source into five separate ones. Thus, it can be used in conjunction with most sources of magic, and this is especially true for magic dealing with the Prime Nature.
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