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"Magic-user" is essentially a pointless distinction in the world of Empyria. The manipulation of mana is an innate skill that nearly all humans possess, and as long as one knows the shape of a spell one can cast it even without understanding how it works. Many people in many different careers have memorized spells to help them do their jobs; mercenaries and adventurers are most famous for their spell collections, but even a stay-at-home parent might know a couple utility spells to charge their phone or boil water faster. People whose jobs heavily involve magic can be referred to as spellcasters, witches, or hedge-mages; however, the coveted title of mage is reserved exclusively for certified magic scholars of sufficient knowledge to invent and customize their own spells for different situations.


There are 12 academies in Empyria equipped to educate and certify mages - 7 in Orlis, 4 in Wywick, and Valefar Academy which is on neutral territory. They vary significantly in curriculum and general quality; a diploma from Valefar or Phenex carries much more weight than one from a smaller academy. Most academies offer a basic 4-year program after which students can legally call themselves mages, with a wide variety of postgraduate options if they want to continue their studies afterwards. Since magic is a broad topic with countless potential applications, most mages specialize in a particular category of spell, either by effect (healing spells, teleportation spells, etc) or magical taxonomy (spells requiring fire mana to cast, spells using a particular glyph, etc).

Since the "grammar" of a spell circle is fairly loose, there are many ways to arrange the glyphs of a spell and get the same final effect. Each school establishes its own conventions and rules for spell construction as their researchers communicate with each other, eventually forming a little programming language of its own. A knowledgeable and observant bystander can often determine which school a mage graduated from just by watching them cast.

Three different implementations of a basic fireball spell.


Most professional mages write spells for a living. Stereotypically, mages are commissioned by companies and governments to devise spells with specific effects, to be written down and cast later by a non-mage. For example, a municipal government might commission and distribute a cooling spell to the citizens to reduce strain on the city's power grids from air conditioning use. These services still exist, but more and more often these days, mages write mana circuits for magitech devices.

Ironically, flashy and high-powered combat spells are among the easiest to cast, since they require very little adjustment other than aiming; the only requirement is a large internal reserve of mana, which can be built up with practice. Even particularly incompetent mages have no trouble finding work as adventurers or in the military, at the cost of some derision from their former classmates. Army mages can eventually earn some respect for writing artillery spells and leading other soldiers, though. Many of today's noble houses rose to power this way.

Ruin Delving

Ruin-delving is the most prestigious and most perilous job a mage can take. Delvers descend into Telosian ruins, retrieve First Age magitech artifacts, and reverse-engineer them to further the study of spellcrafting. Since most knowledge of glyphs and spells was lost during the Cataclysm, huge leaps of progress can be made by studying pre-Cataclysm artifacts. The ruins are dangerous places, though; even the remains of innocuous buildings were built for a society of mages with far more power and knowledge than even the most learned people in present day. Many security systems and machines with completely unknown purposes are still active, and threaten the well-being of careless visitors. Worse, the robots attacking you are also valuable artifacts and shouldn't be damaged...

Most delvers are full-time researchers at one of the twelve academies, and submit their discoveries to the board for review. A few non-mage adventurers try their hand at delving, too, and simply sell their finds to an academy instead of doing the research themselves; these unofficial delvers have a bad reputation though, being seen as innocently destructive at best and outright scammers at worst.